Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zooming Thru Life:
Zoom to a New Job with a Spiffy New Resume

by Paul M. Carhart

Unemployment is up. Job security is down. Even if you like your job and you don’t intend to leave, you should always keep your resume up-to-snuff because you never know when your boss will decide that it’s time for you to be, once again, on-the-go. Here’s a few tips to make your resume easily digestable.

If at all possible, keep it down to one page. Of course, this is your chance to toot your own horn. So make sure all relevant information for the kinds of jobs you are applying for is represented. But edit yourself ruthlessly. Eliminate extra words. Cull the heck out of the thing. Mention important accomplishments under each job and/or title you’ve held, especially financial ones. But keep it down to one page. No one wants to search for missing pieces of a faxed-over resume. Break it down to the bare facts. If you wish to elaborate, do so in your cover letter (see below).

Use buzz words for your industry. But you better know what you’re talking about. A knowledgeable individual can spot a fraud a mile away. The reason, however, that you want to use these buzz words is that many job agencies and even in house human resource departments these days use search engines to help narrow down prospects. If they’re searching for certain words, you want to make sure they find them on your resume.

Be Contactable
Make it easy for a potential employer to do what you want them to do: Call. The top of your resume should broadcast your name and phone number. Try this test with your resume. Lay it down on a table, text facing the table surface. Now pull it up and look at it. If your name and phone number do not scream at you immediately, you should bolden it, make it bigger, whatever you’ve got to do to make your name and contact information easier to see than the next guy’s.

Education vs Experience
Of course, with building a resume comes the inevitable spin. If you’re new to your field, you may want to favor your educational achievements. If you’ve been around for awhile, highlight your real-world experience. Put yourself in your prospective employer’s shoes. Why should they hire you? What will you bring to the table. Then shine a spotlight on it.

To Cover Letter or not to Cover Letter?
The answer: Cover letter. Always. Cover letters are expected. Cover letters are also the only place you get to sell yourself outside of the fact-driven resume. Here’s where you can really spin yourself. Here’s where you can use a writer’s voice to project personality. Keep your cover letter to one page too. Start with an introductory paragraph where you will list what job you’re interested in and where you learned about it. Follow that with a brief paragraph that outlines in broad strokes your experience and abilities. Then use three bullet points to list why you're the ideal candidate for the position. Use another paragraph to highlight additional accomplishments or awards. Then briefly summarize and invite for further contact. As with the resume, make sure your contact information is easily found. It would be a terrible injustice if you were to actually convince them to call you but they couldn’t find your number.

Do What You’re Told
Different employers will have different application guidelines. Especially online, it can get extremely confusing. will often have a one-click apply option, for example. But then some employers will ask you to apply through their own system. Or e-mail them a PDF resume. Or e-mail them a Word doc resume. Or link to your online portfolio or reel. You get the picture. Follow their rules, whatever they are and however divergent they might be. There isn’t a silver bullet, unfortunately. Prove to your prospective employer that you can follow directions. You’ll be surprised at how far it will get you.

He Who Follows Up Swollows Up (the Job)
Employers are busy people. In addition to hiring a new person, which admittedly they wouldn’t even have to do if they didn’t need help, they’re often trying to do their regular job as well. So follow up. Immediately after an interview, send a thank you note or e-mail. Give it a few days and place a call. Anytime someone asks you to send or fax them something, you have a great excuse to follow up and ensure that they received it. Each point of contact is a chance for you to shine. It’s a chance for those you interact with to get to like you. Maybe even envision working with you on a daily basis. So be cheerful but make sure you follow up. Remember:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
– Calvin Coolidge

You may not have known where to start before. But if you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to zooming off in the right direction.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, Winter 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Zooming Thru Life:
Sew Up The Hole In Your Pocket

by Paul M. Carhart

If you’re really on-the-go, then you’re feeling the bite of today’s fuel prices. Indeed, in these uncertain economic times, it’s important to cut back wherever you can. Here’s a few ways to save some money, at least until prospects are looking better.

Downgrade The Clothes
I’m not saying you need to dress like a bum. However, if you usually pick up your threads at Nordstrom, it might be beneficial to take a look at what Target’s duds look like. Already shopping at Target? Maybe it’s time to check out Wal-Mart.

Cut The Fat
Making meals at home is always cheaper than paying someone else to prep your meals for you. At restaurants, you’re not only paying the chef, hostess and waitress for their services, but you’ll also need to leave a tip. Perhaps cheaper is the fast food option. However, it’s not very healthy and the visits will add up to substantial subtraction from your wallet.

Combine Some Utilities
In the good old days, you had a phone company and a cable company and a company to get your dial-up from for your Internet connection (obviously, I’m not talking about the really good old days). But now, with various companies providing multiple services, it’s possible to save a little coin by bundling many of your services. For example, we get our phone, cable and Internet services all from the same provider and cash in on substantial savings as a result. Deals will vary in every community, so take a look around before committing to your provider (they will often require a year contract or so). Before you commit, in this day of mobile and smart phones, ask yourself if you even need a land line. You might not. You might be able to save some monthly money by cutting that out too.

Walk, Ride Or Carpool To Work
If you live close enough to work to make this feasible, you can get a good deal of exercise by walking or riding your bike to work. If the distance is an issue, especially in this green-happy day and age, many companies offer incentives to carpool. It’s entirely possible that you could save money and even make some additional money by giving up your daily parking space.

Take Your Lunch To Work
If you were to add up how much it costs to go out to lunch every day, you’d probably discover that you’re spending upwards to a hundred dollars a week, especially if you’re eating where tips are expected. That’s quite a bundle of lettuce! On the other hand, a brown bag lunch might only run in the neighborhood of two or three dollars a day for a couple sodas, a sandwich, some fruit, a bag of chips and maybe a cookie or two. Again, restaurants are notorious for their lard and salt content. Sit them out and serve up the brown bag instead.

Smarter Grocery Shopping
Everytime you go to the grocery store, they’ll print out coupons especially targeted to you based on what you’ve bought on that visit. Save these coupons and combine them with other ones from the newspaper. They add up. Also, make sure you’ve got the preferred card for whichever store(s) you frequent to ensure you get the best deals possible. Also, be on the look out for dinners that might provide more helpings than your family can handle in one night. If you can stretch a dinner over two nights on a regular basis, you’ve just cut your dinner grocery needs in half.

Buy Gas With Wisdom
Gas in the car. Gotta have it. Otherwise, your car is merely a hunk of metal taking up space in your driveway. But you’re the boss! Not the gas station owner! Not the oil companies! Don’t give those suckers one single cent you don’t have to. Use this website to locate the cheapest gas in your area. Also, if you’ve got an iPhone or other smart phone, there are many apps that can be downloaded that will provide this sort of information on-the-go.

Movie Options
Naturally, just because times are tough, it doesn’t mean we should go without entertainment. If you look hard enough, you might be able to locate an old-fashioned drive-in theater in your vicinity. Chances are they’ll have an updated sound system, broadcasting the film’s audio over FM radio waves that you can receive with your car stereo. Usually, you can see two movies for the price of one and kids under 10 or 12 get in for free. It’s great fun to pop up some popcorn at home, bring a few sodas and candy bars and spend the evening at the drive-in! If you’re one of those who just gotta buy your favorite movies when they come out, get them the week of their release. You’ll find them a good four to five dollars cheaper. And if there’s not a drive-in theater in your area, there’s always the good old rental stand-by. Whether you visit a video store, use your cable company’s video-on-demand service or click on over to Netflix, a good movie is never very far away and is almost always worth the price of admission. Especially in these troubling times when it’s often a necessity to escape from our everyday tribulations.

Most of us spend more than we have to. If we really look at where the money goes, we can probably find places where we can cut and better our chances of making it to the flip side of this economic crisis.

Paul Carhart’s book, Zooming Thru Life: Creative Tips To Bring Sanity To Your On-The-Go Lifestyle, will be available from your favorite online bookseller, Winter 2009. Stay up to date:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Months Zoom By

Five months since the last post. Wow. The last article was written in the shadow of a true-life tragedy in my family: the loss of our unborn daughter, Lyric.

The past few months have been mostly a time of coping and charting of new courses. Some new publishing goals have also been set and the Zooming Thru Life book was indeed affected. The Carhart Blog has or will have more information on the shifting that has occurred.

Neverthelss, the Zooming book is still on the horizon and this blog is near and dear to my heart so it is my intention to start posting new Zooming articles before the end of June. Thursdays will again be the day of release. Hopefully at least bi-weekly to start.

So meet me here next Thursday. I won't jilt you.

Paul M. Carhart
Author, Zooming Thru Life