Drop-In Resume Review

Monday 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Bertha Chandler, Assistant Director for Human Resources at Cambridge (MA) Public Library, Patricia Banach, Director of the Eastern CT State University library, Pat Hollaway, Director of West Hartford (CT) Public Library, and Christine Donohue, founder of The Donohue Group, review your resume and make suggestions for improvements. Take advantage of this helpful session to update your resume, even if you are not currently job hunting.


Even though this was a highly personalized session based on the resumes participants brought in, I’ll post some helpful tips from the handouts given.

Personalized Resume Review from Ms. Donohue:
(Note: I am a career changer seeking a pre-professional position and my resume reflects that. Your mileage may vary.)
– Add MLIS studies, if you are working towards one.
– Don’t hesitate to add volunteer experience, especially if you are working in a library.
– Avoid overloading your resume skillset with jargon from your previous career, especially if you are apply for an entry-level/pre-professional position. Better idea: Read the job description and then “parrot” the skills required by the job onto your resume.
– Mention the career change in your cover letter.

Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters (Ms. Banach)
1) Correctly spell the name of the person to whom you are addressing your letter.
2) Tailor your cover letter to the specific job to which you’re applying. Mention the specific job title.
3) Specify how you can fulfill each of the job requirements in your cover letter.
4) If you have non-library experience, include it anyway if it shows a high level of responsibility, or management experience.
5) Apply via email and attach your resume and cover letter.
6) Follow up with a printed, signed letter and resume on good quality paper.
7) Make sure your resume looks professional.
8) Arrange your resume in chronological order.
9) If there are gaps in your resume, explain them in your cover letter.
10) The cover letter can be more than one page if there are numerous job requirements or if it’s for a senior position.
11) Do not call and follow up multiple times unless you fail to get an acknowledgement that your application was received.
12) If you’re lucky enough to get a phone or personal interview, always send a thank you note to each interviewer, preferably by mail immediately after the interview. Reiterate your interest and emphasize how much you want to work for that specific employer. Fit is important.

Cover Letters/Resumes/Interviews/Follow-up (Ms. Chandler)
– No typos
– Network for background (talk with people who know the library/organization, if possible)

In your cover letter:
– What do you know about the community and why is it a good match for you?
– What ‘added value’ you can offer
– One page
– Include references (or bring a separate page to the interview)

In your resume:
– At the beginning, list your exxperience which relates to the job for which you’re applying
– Make it simple for a reader to follow your employment history and education — explain gaps
– Make your contact information easily readable

At your interview:
– How you dress matters
– Firm handshake, sit up straight, look people in the eye, smile
– Be concise but pithy (precisely meaningful) in your answers
– Read the body language of the interviewers
– Practice ahead of time — read books, read the Internet, etc.
– Bring some written questions

Follow-up:
– Email is ok
– Handwritten note is even better (send it after 1-2 days)

Tips from Ms. Donohue

Resume guideline document: http://www.crummer.rollins.edu/career_management/skills/resume.PDF

some not-so-obvious guidelines:

a) Remember that the resume is primarily a key to getting the attention of the employer..use it as a tickler that will set the stage for more in-depth discussions if you get an interview.
b) Learn as much as you can about the company/institution to which you are applying before submitting your resume. Incorporate this knowledge in your cover letter.
c) Look at the resume from the point of view of the prospective employer. Is there anything that would spark your interest if you were doing the hiring? Is there anything that would seem irrelevant or inappropriate?
d) Ask a colleague to review your resume and give you comments/criticisms.
e) Be neat, not cute. Negative attention is worse than no attention at all.

Additional resources:
Interviewing Styles: Tips for Interview Approaches by Nita Wilmot
Sample Interview Questions
More Sample Interview Questions (courtesy of the Boston Sunday Globe)

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NELLS Leaders Looking for Jobs

Why are we here? Some are looking to polish their resumes, some are wondering where we should be looking for jobs, and others for skills in dealing with budget cuts and layoffs.

The program was facilitated by NELLS Co-Chairs Cheryl Bryan and Betsy Bray and Assistant Director for Human Resources at Cambridge (MA) Public Library Bertha Chandler.

Cheryl spoke on the subject of the Resume: The purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. Using a different colored (ivory or grey) paper is recommended. Do not add photos to your resume.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What are they looking for-what are their needs? Do not make it about what the job can do for you. Inform yourself about the position. Make your resume focus on how you fit the position. Begin with action verbs and avoid personal pronouns such as “I”, “me” or “my”.  Employers spend 25-40 seconds looking at your resume-make yours stand out.

The top part of your resume is the hot zone. Make it concise and coordinated. Be careful of mission statements on resumes-if you use one tailor it to the position you are applying for.

There are two types of resumes 1. Chronological  2. Functional

Functional format showcases your qualifications. This type of resume is good for those with diverse work history, little or no work experience, making career changes.  

References: Have people who can be positive about what it is like to work with you.  Do not put anyone on your list of references without their knowledge. You may put a few references and if interviewed present more references. A good reference list may speak highly of you and give you an in on an interview.  Simple reference list is all that is needed-do not attach actual reference letters unless requested.

Cover Letters:  Again-color is important. Cover letters are very important. It is an opportunity to sell yourself. Spell check-proofread–no typos or incorrect grammer!!  Tell the employer what position you are applying for and why you would be a good fit-what value you would add to the organization. You may explain gaps in employment or changing your career focus. Thank them for considering you for the position. Request and interview and follow-up (phone call to verify your resume was reviewed).  Be specific and use examples.

Hiring is a big investment for an organization.  Hiring in public libraries generally looks for follow-up phone calls-where academic libraries may be different-an email may be more appropriate. A job search committee most likely can not take phone calls. Point is-in a cover letter do not say you are going follow-up call and do not.

Email applications: Play attention to your e-mail address and subject line. Do not use emoticons and shortcuts.  Set up the email just like a cover letter. Do you reply or start a new string? Reply-it is good to look back.

If someone writes back an email and signs just their first name-is it ok reply with just their first name? Yes

“What color is your parachute”   by Richard Nelson Bolles is a great resource and likens an interview to going on a first date.

Interview Points:

Do not talk to much.

Behavioral Interviewing: Practice in front of friends or mirror. Think of stories of how you have handled different situations.

Research the organization you are applying to. How can you prove you are a good fit for the organization if know nothing about them.  Checkout budgets and online board minutes.  Networking can lead to some valuable information.

Be nice to everyone. The entire staff is checking you out.

Tell us about yourself: Do not start with where you were born-preschool. Begin with your skills that pertain to the job you are applying for.

Speaker Phone-Web Cam Interviews: phone manners-voice become very important. It was suggested to take notes of the interviewers names.

Presentation: Sometimes you may be required to present. Be prepared.

Take an index card: 3 questions you want to ask the employer and 3 great points on yourself-so at the end of the interview when you are feeling shot and they ask “do you have any questions” – pull out this card

Be on time!  Firm handshake.   Smile.  Eye contact during the interview. Body posture-sit up straight. Watch body language of those interviewing-they will let you know you are going on too long. Its ok to pause-think. Bring a pad of paper-bring out at the beginning of the interview.

Do not ask about salary or health benefits at the interview-only if a job is offered. Board relationship and perception of the library questions are good.

Do you mention your family? It is appropriate to mention you are looking to relocate to be close to family. If in a small town and people know you it is appropriate to mention you have child care in place.

Good question to ask? “What do you like best about working in this library?”

In a library-look for people people.  Retail experience can be a plus on an resume-you have dealt with difficult people.

As a candidate you have to be ready to present yourself sometimes to groups with little interviewing skills and you may be presented with some poor questions.

Do organizations notice when you apply for several positions over time and should I continue to apply to this organization? Yes – keep trying.  Sometimes you can not see the reasons why you were not hired. It may have nothing to do with you, but be totally organizational-may not be negative.