Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I really need a mentor, because Im not good at job hunting, but I dont know how to find one. Do I just go up to a person I like and ask if hed be my mentor?
A: Dear Searching, Is your company reducing headcount? If so, and if a person you trust there would help you get out, start by asking for advice about dealing with the changes in the company. Be sure to ask what you can do to help that person and keep doing the best you can at your job.
If you have to job hunt surreptitiously, look outside the company for a person in a professional association or a company. Find one who landed a job after the recession started so he or she has current job-hunting skills in a difficult market. Ask if you can help that person before you ask for help in your job search.
Meanwhile, attend all of the job-hunting programs you can. Read about how to job hunt. Learn to rely on yourself rather than another person. To cut through the isolation, hunt for a fellow job-seeker to team with so you can share leads and war stories.
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, Im a writer, but I have problems selling myself. It shows in my resume. Its not specific enough or targeted. Can you tell me how to write a better one? Out of Words
A: Dear Words, Your resume is probably falling flat because of a fundamental error in the first section and the concepts behind the rest.
Youve mislabeled your first paragraph as a summary, when it reads more like an objective. Call it what it is. Then, give people a reason to hire you by explaining what your copywriting can do for them.
Every statement after that only describes what you did. Shift your focus to the people who paid you. Take each sentence and ask yourself, So what? How did the company benefit from what I did?
If you have problems answering that question, go to the library and read some books about resumes. Look in the index under accomplishments.
Finally, look for any information that doesnt belong. For example, unless youre moving in a new direction, training youve had in a new field doesnt need to appear. If you are moving in a new direction, make that clear in your objective.