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Lori's Employment Agency Consultation

Today's guest blogger is Carie Strahorn, from the employment agency Boly:Welch. Looks like she and Lori had a very productive meeting last week; here's Carie's account.

When I met with Lori at Boly:Welch on December 3rd, she was mid-way through a bad head cold, so I was pleased with her perseverance to maintain our appointment. We started with a review of what she has been doing with Family Budget Boot Camp, her progress to date, and her perception of my role in the project. Then we began the employment counseling.

Lori provided a thoughtful and well organized overview of her work history including the culture of the companies she supported, and how she liked working there. We talked about what she wants -- to be challenged, have her skills be appreciated, and to grow beyond the position she takes. It was clear that she is articulate and introspective; a candidate with high potential.

We talked at length about everything she can offer an employer. In my opinion, Lori’s key strengths are:

• She can work within a structure or create one where none exists, then creatively manage her own workload and responsibilities from there.

• She's a solid coordinator, good at managing both tasks and people.

• She's buoyed by challenges and bored by routine.

• It's important to her that she's considered an active participant on the team and a resource for problem solving.

• She has strong computer skills.

• She has a great sense of humor.

Looking at her resume, I felt that there were key skills throughout her work history that Lori hadn't highlighted, so we discussed the need to "package" those assets so that she could present herself better, both on her resume and in her interviews.

Lori admitted that she is uncomfortable marketing herself, preferring to fly a bit more under the radar. Unfortunately, in this economic climate, this can be a disadvantage. She might have to answer for the years on her resume when she didn't work. If the topic comes up in an interview, Lori should know that it's fine for her to say that she took a hiatus to focus on her family. Lori said that whenever she leaves a position she is lauded by her co-workers, and they miss her quiet, steady contributions to the office. I'd like to see her be more confident in her capabilities and experiences. Like all candidates, she needs to be able to confidently tell her own story.

I also offered Lori a few suggestions for fine-tuning her resume:

• Create one email address to use solely for your professional job search, sticking with first and last names rather than personal expressions. Something like "johnsmith@gmail."

• Add a mailing address to the resume. It reinforces stability.

• Tighten up her skills sections by clearly highlighting each one. For example: "Executive level administrative experience including business writing and editing" and "Experienced leader and liaison with volunteers and committees."

• Add dates to all her job listings. Employers see resumes without dates and think, "Instability! Job movement!"

• Spell out the words "one" through "nine."

While I'm here, I thought I'd share a few more (very common) resume mistakes people make:

• You don't have to include everything you have ever done. No one wants to read more than two pages at most.

• Include other interests. If you're too one dimensional (all work and no play), you risk looking dull.

• You don't need to list your references on your resume, unless this is requested.

• Edit your resume, beyond a quick spell check. Ask a friend or two to review it, and give you their honest opinion.

• Never fudge the dates, job titles, or responsibilities. Be truthful in any market, knowing that many companies track down your work history on their own.

I truly enjoyed meeting with Lori and see her as a highly viable candidate who only needs a shot of confidence to move forward with her goals for success.

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