Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ten Tips for Building a Winning Resume

I had dinner with a friend last night who's resume I've done some editing. I was thrilled to hear she has an interview coming up. After we ate we sat down with her resume one more time and also worked on her cover letter. Since it's been a while since we've talked job hunting I thought I'd do ten new tips for resume building based on resumes I've been editing and resumes I've reviewed for positions we've been filling:

1. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Typos in resumes may be overlooked by some managers but if you get someone like me who does a lot of editing for a living your resume may be eliminated for typos.

2. Do not use yellow highlights in your resume. They are visually distracting and frankly somewhat annoying to read. To quote one of my co-workers - "that resume is already making me crazy, I don't even want to meet the person"

3. Stick to two pages but don't use tiny font to make it fit. Stick with at least 11 point font so it's easy to read.

4. Do include a brief summary at the top defining who you are - think of it as your 30 second elevator pitch on paper. Who are you and what is your expertise.

5. Do include both your email address and telephone number on your resume and make sure that whoever is answering that phone is answering it in a courteous and professional manner.
Make it easy for a recruiter to reach you.

6. If you are applying to a company that offers a free email service be sure to have an email address from that service - applying to Google - use a gmail account; applying to Yahoo - use a yahoo account.

7. Don't include every detail of everything you've ever done. Finding the balance between too much and not enough information can be tricky so keep working at it. Don't use 10 words when 2 will suffice.

8. Have at least 3 other people read your resume - make sure they will give you honest feedback on what you are saying. And have them identify typos.

9. When you include the time period you worked somewhere just use the year - months just add unnecessary words and make the page appear more cluttered. 2002- 2007 is just fine.

10. Unless you are still in High School - don't include your High School on your resume.

More tips to come.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The 80's Brunch

Yesterday I got to play hostess to the Mount Holyoke College Club of the Peninsula's 80's brunch. These decade brunches began a few years ago and the 80's had never done one. I worked on the plan with Betty Cheng and in December we put it into motion. We selected a restaurant in Palo Alto - Nola. Then sent an e-vite to everyone who graduated between 1980 and 1889. The event was well received and on Thursday we had 12 yes's and 2 maybes. A very good turn out for 55 invitations (the overall club has around 430 members from Daly City to Fresno). When I called Nola on Thursday night for our reservations the very nice woman took the reservation and we hung up. She called back 10 minutes later to tell me that Nola no longer serves lunch - Not a good moment. Thankfully e-vite let me send notices to everyone invited with our new location at Il Forniao in Palo Alto (excellent excellent waffles - I highly recommend them) and we ended up with 8 attendees.

We all had a blast. The group talked for two hours on a wide range of topics and the info was fascinating. Of the 8, five had children, 3 did not. Only one of us was still doing what she had majored in during college and she had created her own major at Mount Holyoke. One had gone back to school in her 40's and just graduated with a law degree. Several of us, myself included, had ended up in marketing. 3 are in high tech and were interested in learning more about what my institute does. Everyone shared their stories on the challenges of work life balance. Perhaps most fascinating was the social media discussion. 5 of the 8 had facebook accounts and used it actively, 3 did not. Some had twitter accounts but most never posted on them or paid attention to what was going on.

So what did I come away from this event with? I have a feeling of great satisfaction at being able to connect with these women. I reconnected with an old friend who had drifted away because of her long commute and my crazy travel schedule a few years ago. We discovered that I don't travel much and her commute is now 3 minutes so dinner is on the to do list for us. I hope I made some new friends. And we've all agreed to do this again later this year.

That leads me to my marketing learning. Everyone was very interested in doing this again but most felt strongly in doing it locally. And the term local has a different meaning to each person. One person shared she would not have gone if we'd done it in San Jose - yet I had come from San Jose with no problem - it's a quick 20 minute drive on a Sunday. Others suggested doing something jointly with the San Francisco club tu others said they'd no desire to drive to SF. Some thought San Mateo might be a good in between place. All in all it showed me that doing the decades brunch is a great idea but to be inclusive we'll need to think very carefully about location. I also recognized that women in their 40's were very willing to engage in more group activities with their peers than many had been in their 30's. Children consumed their weekends in their 30's but now that the kids are older they felt they could take some time for themselves.

So yes, we'll be doing the 80's brunch again this year and I'll be giving the location a lot of thought.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Recession Must Be Over Because Costco Doesn't Want My Business

Yes, it's true. The Recession must be over. There is no other way to explain the negative customer service experience Marina and I had today. Now, you must understand that Marina and I love to shop at Costco. I go with her every other month or so and buy a few bulk items. I should also admit up front I am not a Costco member.

Today, we found that a new sheriff has come to Costco. We were on line when wonder of wonders, a new line opened. We were first. High fives all around. There was someone besides the clerk at the counter and he started unloading our things and we asked him to hold on because we needed to pay separately and he told us that was against the rules. We were shocked. Why was it against the rules? He told us that we weren't allowed to do two separate purchases . We explained that we'd been doing it this way for years, and he told us that it was a corporate edict - he insisted that I had to buy my own membership.

At that point we began to get a little freaked. So I said no, I wasn't interested in buying a membership that day. Now, Marina and I are not easily intimidated, but this guy was acting very aggressively and was, in fact, a little scary. Very quickly, I was ready to punt - two hours in the store wasted but I wasn't about to let a bully force me to buy a membership. I found myself thinking - heck I'll just get go to Smart and Final. Then he said, if you do it I'll give you a pizza. I told him I didn't want a pizza right then. Then he said he'd give Marina a pizza too. Were we on some surreal version of Let's Make a Deal? No one needs a $60 pizza. He finally left us alone with a warning that this was a strict new policy - no more using Marina's Costco card. I told him I wouldn't return and his basic response was that was fine with him.

So that's how I know the recession is over. Perhaps its not all Costco's fault. Perhaps we just got one manager who decided that forcing people to get memberships is his mission. I understand that all companies have policies - we discovered tonight online the Costco policy is that only cardholders can actually pay, but it hadn't been enforce in the past and customers are allowed to bring in guests. Too bad he didn't try being polite and suggesting that we just let Marina pay, I could simply have repaid her. Instead he tried intimidation, browbeating, and ultimately bribery to force a membership sale.

Now, Marina and I just love our Costco runs too much to give them up. However we have vowed not to return to that Costco, we will just have to satsify ourselves at one of the other Bay Area Costcos. I'm still not buying a membership, we're happy to follow the rules. In the future Marina will now pay and I'll pay her back and his store will lose our business. The moral of this story is you can enforce company policy without being threatening. You always should remember that customers do have other options.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Day in the Marketing Life

I realized today that it had been a while since I'd actually blogged about Marketing. Not cool. So I decided to keep track of what I did today. First of all today was ABI's traditional work at home day. We all try and telecommute on Wednesdays - we don't schedule our company meetings though many of us do outside meetings and phone calls on Wednesdays. Whenever I have a video to edit I schedule it for Wednesdays. So when working at home I will admit - I split my time between my home office and my livingroom or deck.

Today started out with a breakfast with Jo Miller, who is the monthly columnist for the ABI newsletter. Her column is must read for every woman in business who is looking to advance. Jo's going to be moving in a few months and I wanted to be sure we had a strategy so the column was covered during the move and that Jo felt comfortable with the plan. We'll be having some guest columnists cover while she's away which makes us both feel good.

After the meeting I came home and hit the phones. I did calls with several co-workers and finished negotiations on a co-marketing agreement. The co-worker calls moved forward several projects and helped me update my to do list for the coming weeks - I have a naming/branding project; a schedule update for a research project launch; a new speaking engagement to record in my tracking materials and a reporter to followup with.

I also spent the morning doing some pitches to reporters. I subscribe to a service where 3 times a day I see a listing of what reporters are writing about and are looking for contributions. The requests range from ideas for gifts (don't laugh - we got included in an article on conference gift bags) to casting calls for reality shows (they never seem to want 40 something women marketers for reality tv). Today I did a pitch for including our research in an article on work/life balance and an article on what people should do after a job interview. Yesterday, in fact, one of my pitches worked and I completed an interview on tips for launching a newsletter. Pitching takes a little time but the investment is worth it - it can result in an article on the organization or at the very least it creates awareness of the Institute at various organizations.

This afternoon I worked on a variety of projects. We finished the postcard for promoting our upcoming Women of Vision Awards (if you want some to give out at your company drop me a line). Alex, our designer, and I also worked on two projects - the new GHC powerpoint template and a redesign of our newsletter Partners visual. I emailed with the artist who does the GHC covers on a new project to make sure it was moving forward. I worked on research for a new press release; edited documents for co-workers; worked with our webmaster on a problem on the site: worked on editing a piece of collateral for updating; selected quotes from our GHC research to use in the collateral; designed a form and worked on updating my 2010 goals to get ready for a meeting tomorrow.

Looking at this list, I realized the thing they never taught in business school - that marketing is all about being able to multitask and move things ahead. It feels great when a project is completed, but you always know you have to move on to the next project quickly. So a course on juggling would not be a bad thing to include in B-School curriculums.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movie Review: Did you hear about the Morgans?

I'm a little behind - I've seen 8 movies in the last two weeks and only done 2 reviews. But I'll try and be a bit faster and get though the other 6 in the next few days. The first of these is Did You Hear About the Morgans - a very light comedy with Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant. The basic premise is separated New York City couple witness a murder and are sent into the witness protection program in Ray, Wyoming. There is nothing in this movie that is at all surprising. Hugh Grant is cute and charming, SJP is a little bit too shrill as the wife who's very angry that her husband cheated on her. He spends the movie wooing her, adopting to country life and being deathly afraid of bears.

Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen play the country Marshall and his wife who are protecting the Morgans. Though for people who are supposed to be protecting they spend an awful lot of time leaving our couple on their own and unprotected.

Is it worth the price? For a matinee probably, especially if you are a fan of Hugh Grant and miss the days when he made films like 4 Weddings and a Funeral. The ending was satisfying if a little predictable. All in all, wait for this to be out on Netflix - which shouldn't be too long. Or wait for Sex and the City 2 when SJP will be in all her Carrie Bradshaw splendor.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Movie Review: It's Complicated

I have seen a lot of movies in the last two weeks and one of my favorites is It's Complicated. The story is very simple - divorced couple are reunited at the graduation of their youngest son, have a fling and hilarity ensues. And the movie is hilarious. Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep are the couple and are beautifully matched. Alec Baldwin has just the right amount of lawyer sleaziness that the audience never truly trusts him, and neither does Meryl. Her character is also being cautiously courted by her architect, Steve Martin.

I highly recommend this movie. It is definitely a chick flick - I saw it twice - first with my friend and her mom and then again on New Year's eve with my friends. We all laughed at the jokes, and sighed enviously at Meryl Streep's gorgeous house, bakery and vegetable garden. The woman seriously has the life we all dream about. As my one friend said, Did you see the size of those cabbages? And we all sighed in agreement. This type of movie is occasionally called food porn and justifiably so, the chocolate croissant baking scene was positively erotic, and all the food gleamed and glistened to the point that after the movie we were all starving.

So go see It's Complicated - take your friends, take your mom and just go. Then plan to eat someplace fabulous afterwards.