Barbeques…Friends and family…Children out of school and playing in the street…Time relaxing by the pool…Cool evening breezes…making s’mores on an open fire pit… Memorial Day unofficially marks the start of summer vacation for many households; however, this day is meant to memorialize the military men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation. Previous to 1971, Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day following the Civil War to honor the fallen. However, after World War I, Decoration Day evolved to salute military personnel who died in all wars past and present.
Today, a veteran’s noble act may go unnoticed. Indeed, I find myself at times enjoying life’s opportunities without much thought. Take for instance employment: that is one opportunity we may take for granted. How many of us pray for a job when we don’t have one? How many of us undervalue our current employment? What many may not notice is that employment is a reflection of our nation’s economy. Mike Patton, Forbes Magazine contributor, stated in 2015 that “high unemployment rate is often the result of a slow economy, and notable countries at the top of unemployment rates are South Africa at 25.50%, Greece at 24.62% and Spain at 21.18%.” However, some countries surpass those numbers such as Zimbabwe with an unemployment rate of 95%! That same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the United States ended 2015 with an unemployment rate of 5%. From that perspective, I for one appreciate the commitment of the men and women that have died defending our way of life and do not want their selflessness to go unnoticed.
So to help you prepare for your next employment opportunity, I would like to continue on with our conversation from my last blog, Presidents Day 2018, where I discussed “A Targeted Plan.” That blog concentrated on planning for your job search. Today, I will discuss essential tools for your job readiness toolkit. During this phase, it’s important to evaluate and practice effective communication in applications, resumes, basic introductions and interviews.
A resume’s ultimate purpose is to get the employer to want to schedule an interview. I understand it is quite daunting deciding what should or should not be included on a resume. The idea is to highlight your skills by writing clear and concise bulleted statements. Have you heard of “140 characters or less?” The idea originated with Twitter. I believe it may be over 200 characters now; however, the overall goal is to make an impactful statement within the character limit. With this in mind, remember to begin each statement with an action verb. If you are currently employed, the verb should be in present tense and past tense for previous employment. These tips are crucial in your resume development, and I know without a doubt you will successfully secure an interview utilizing them.
I understand that looking for employment is a full-time job. Managing applications, resumes, contacts, and everything in between to find work can be nerve-racking. You may become easily overwhelmed in the process, but it is important to organize that information and know where the information is needed. Two crucial components of the employment process are applications and resumes. The chart below can help you make the connection between what and where information is needed, be it applications, resumes, or both. When reviewing the chart, compare and contrast applications and resumes from the perspective of an employer and a job seeker.
Okay, let’s say you received a call for an interview. Now what? Before you go searching Google for all the possible interview questions, there is one question the employer will definitely ask you, and that is “Tell me about yourself.” Nailing this question may have an impact on how the rest of the interview will go, so it is important to organize a professional response well in advance. A good answer to this question is your “30-second commercial” or “elevator pitch.” In my Presidents Day blog, you can access the template to create a great response for the employer. Employers often interview hundreds of people and many people make the mistake of thinking this is an opportunity to talk about their personal life. Remember to keep your answers professional and make sure your answers are related to the job you are applying for.
This summer, I challenge you to take the opportunity to improve your job skills by using these tips. Employment is a privilege. The military men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice don’t have the opportunity to be employed, so remember them by giving it your all when trying to find a job, keep a job, or get a better job!
Daniel Mabry is a member of the Workforce Solutions Regional Navigator team in the Houston-Galveston region. After serving in the United States Marine Corps for over 9 years, he connected with Workforce Solutions for career guidance and ended up becoming an employee. This position allows him to utilize his training and personal experience to help people experiencing homelessness.