Title: Sharpen résumé focus to improve responses

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Dear Sam: I have proven I can step into any role and excel. With my job search lasting for 9 months now, I really need a job and am willing to do anything. How do I make my résumé reflect that I can do almost anything? - Mike

Dear Mike: While this may seem like an effective strategy, it is actually quite the opposite. I cringe when candidates tell me they can do anything and don't have an idea of what type of jobs they will be applying for. While I certainly understand the need to not limit options in today's job market, a one-size-fits-all strategy is rarely effective. Instead, one should really try to identify a primary objective, even if this means you have a second or third objective requiring modified résumés. If you try to present yourself as a jack-of-all-trades you suddenly become a master-of-none; clearly not a good presentation of your candidacy. Defining your purpose is the critical first step in crafting an effective résumé, a step that facilitates your understanding of what your target audience is looking for and what keywords to incorporate into your résumé. While you may have thought broadening your scope on your résumé would yield more responses, it is likely it is doing the opposite.

Dear Sam: I am looking for a home-based part-time job. At my present government job, I am an executive legal assistant where I demonstrate my proficient typing skills. How can one go about looking for a legitimate part-time, work-from-home job? I have briefly scanned the internet but I can't seem to find "legitimate" jobs. - Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: I get asked quite frequently how one can find legitimate work-from-home jobs. Let me preface this response by saying that you need to fully research work-from-home offers to ensure they are legitimate opportunities, even if that means searching for comments about the company on a search engine like Google or placing a quick call to the Better Business Bureau.

There are some types of jobs that tend to be more telecommuting-friendly such as call center, virtual assistant, and transcriptionist positions. Beware of opportunities promising high compensation and no training needed, in these cases you should follow the old adage, "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is."

So, to find work-from-home jobs search the job boards with "telecommute," "home," or "flex job" as keywords. You may also want to search the net for positions as a Virtual Assistant, a position where you work from home to support the administrative needs of a business/individual. Check out company websites and search for the same keywords; if you find a listing on an actual company website it is much more likely to be legitimate. You can also look at craigslist.com which allows you to search by both part-time and telecommute. You could also set up a profile on elance.com. I like elance as it connects freelancers with businesses who require their services. On this site, you can bid for projects that fit your skill set. You'll notice they have different categories that suit your background well including Virtual Assistant, Research, Data Entry, Word Processing, and more. This site is very simple to use, businesses post their projects, service providers bid on those projects, perform the work, pay a small fee taken from the funds transferred from the "employer" (sort of like eBay), and then you both have the opportunity to provide feedback. Currently there are hundreds of administrative projects listed on elance.com! That may be a good way to source the types and sizes of projects you are interested in and acquire a steady stream of incremental revenue.

You could also contact temp agencies that specialize in administrative positions and ask if they source for any flex or telecommuting positions. Also, use your network. Do you know anyone who either runs a business or knows someone else who does? That is sometimes the best way to source an opportunity as they would already trust your work ethic and ability to work from home. Be sure you have a great résumé ready for these opportunities, one that showcases your administrative acumen, dedication, drive, and work ethic.

Work-from-home jobs are probably not as plentiful as you would like, at least the legitimate ones, but there are some out there. I'd suggest steering clear of the websites that promise big bucks and instead focus on some of the strategies I've listed in an attempt to secure legitimate, rewarding positions. All the best!

Do you have a question for Dear Sam? Write to dearsam@semissourian.com. Samantha Nolan owns Ladybug Design, a résumé writing and interview coaching firm. For more information, call (888) 9-LADYBUG (888-952-3928) or visit www.ladybug-design.com.


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