How to Land a Great Job

by Steven Wittenberg


Getting a job has always been tough, especially since the recession hit in 2009. It's important to remain optimistic during the job search and remember that you are a great candidate for employment. Whenever you go to an interview, just remember that you are qualified for the role for what I call "RGR" where R is your Relevant Experience, G is how you Grooved really well in that job and R is a significant measure of time or Repetition to make that experience worth talking about.

Job Stats and Background

A huge amount of people lost jobs after the Great Recession following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in late 2008. Even those with prestigious careers like attorneys found themselves against the odds when it comes to employment; there was the infamous "Black Thursday" when hundreds of lawyers were laid off on the same day. Today, many newbie lawyers are faced with doing mundane projects as temps.

The economy has definitely improved, but for many people it doesn't feel like it. This recovery has been filled with underemployment and unemployment. President Barack Obama insightfully noted that, "millions of Americans don't yet feel enough of the benefits where it matters most - and that's in their own lives." He continued by asserting that Americans deserve more from this so-called recovery than "reading about it in stats on a page."

While this is the first time since 2008 that the unemployment rate has been below 6%, the U.S. Census Bureau published a finding that the income and poverty levels remain unchanged. Household income is actually less than it was 25 years ago (adjusted for the change in the value of the dollar).

In times like these whether your employed or unemployed, you need to be on top of your job prospect game. This article is meant to help those who want an advantage when it comes to finding their next job.

Resume Perfection: Substance and Style

I work at a legal staffing agency and regularly see people's resumes: the good, the bad and the ugly. I like to think that I have a decent understanding of what makes a candidate's resume stand out as great or frankly, laughable. Below I spell out the do's and don'ts of resumes.

  1. Do have your contact info at the top of the page with your name in a bigger font size; be sure to include your name, phone number, email address and your city or address
  2. Don't use any weird fonts like Comic Sans or Papyrus
  3. Do have all your text in black and avoid colors at all cost
  4. Don't put a picture of yourself in your resume -- that is what LinkedIn is for
  5. Do have a clear indication on left-hand side (or middle) of your resume of the heading (such as your education, experience and proficiencies)
  6. Don't include fluff. No verbose and unnecessary long sentences. Be straight to the point and illustrate what something is and why it was significant if that isn't obvious already
  7. Do include metrics if possible. Try to give things numbers that are accurate reflects of what you did.
  8. Don't stretch the margins out too far
  9. Do use active verbs to demonstrate important skills, such as: improved, designed, communicated, elevated, prioritized, oversaw, etc.
  10. Don't have any spelling errors or grammatical mistakes
  11. Do list important skills at the bottom such as: computer programs, languages, typing speed, good test scores, licenses and certificates, awards, and anything else you find appropriate
  12. Don't have more than 1 page unless you have a lot of legitimate experiences or publications you want to show.

Everyone's Love Hate Relationship with Cover Letters

I absolutely hate writing cover letters. They are useful but make the job search that much more competitive. Regardless, many employers request a cover letter and it's better to have one than to not. The idea is simple: write about the job and how you specifically relate to the job. This is actually good prep for your interview. Make sure to highlight the RGR's (relevant experience, how you grooved in that role and how much time you spent doing it/how much repetition was involved).

You can briefly discuss your educational background and other things, but go straight into your relevant skills (hopefully drawn from past work experiences). You can also discuss relevant coursework from school here. This is also an opportunity... (article continues in PDF)


About the Author:

Steven Wittenberg is CEO, COO, and Lead Developer and Co-Founder at Elector Games and is an administrative assistant for a legal recruiting firm in Chicago. Steven graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC in 2012 with a degree in Political Science. He spent 2013 teaching English in Taiwan and hopes to go to law school in California starting in the fall of 2015.




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