A Bi-Monthly Newsletter
Volume 6, Issue 3, May 2003
Careers & Education
Emma Hamer’s You CAN Do More Career Seminar
In Salem on Saturday, April 12th, Emma Hamer presented her workshop, “You CAN do more! How to reinvent yourself and stand out from the crowd,” to members from both the Willamette Valley and Mid-Valley STC chapters. Emma offered concrete information detailing the most effective and sensible way to find the job you love. Descriptive handouts and helpful worksheets were provided to ensure the information stayed with the participants long after the presentation ended.
The fact that people like to hire people they know and that networking is the key to becoming that “known person” is nothing new in the job-seeking game. But how do you begin the networking process? Who do you speak to? What do you say? How can you actually turn the person you meet into a viable contact who can help you find that job you want? Saturday’s workshop answered all these questions and more.
Since most technical writers are introverts and don’t embrace the idea of trying to engage strangers in small talk, Emma developed rules for introverts to use to make the networking process a little easier. Suggestions as simple as actually rehearsing a brief personal introduction about yourself and developing a short list of relevant questions to ask others can really help relieve the stress of meeting someone new.
Business cards are critical when meeting that potential contact—not only giving yours out to the person you meet, but receiving one in return. It’s important that as you walk away from your meeting you jot down some trigger words from your conversation on the card you just received, especially the time and date you said you’d call your new contact. And even that follow-up phone call should be scripted to help alleviate the tension of trying to improvise such an important conversation.
Perhaps the most thought provoking exercise during the workshop was writing a career objective, which should be the first item that appears on your resume. Instead of simply writing “Senior Technical Writer,” Emma suggests answering a series of questions about your true career objective. WHAT do you really want to do? HOW do you want to do it or what key skills will you use? WHERE or what environment do you want to work in? And WHY do you want to do this work or what impact will you have on the organization? It is imperative that you can answer these questions about your career first, or you may never get a resume that truly represents who you are or get the job that you really want.
After stating your career objective on your resume, Emma suggests describing (in bullet format) your three or four strongest competencies or skills, as you think they relate to your objective. Emma urged the workshop participants to think beyond the typical skills found on most resumes and consider skills/strengths such as “improvising,” “initiating,” “prioritizing,” or “diagnosing” when describing your positive attributes.
These skills and similar ones that best describe your strengths and talents should then be more fully articulated in several three-sentence narratives. These narratives should describe what you did (which skill you used), how you did it (what other skills you used), and the result, quantified if possible, i.e. how much money or time was saved. Your career objective, skills and three-sentence narratives constitute page 1 of your resume, with page 2 containing the more typical employment, education, tools, and awards categories.
Yet writing a unique resume was not the focus of this workshop. Emma reinforced this idea by recommending the book, Don’t Send a Resume—And Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job by Jeffrey J. Fox, ISBN – 0-7868-6596-2, $16.95 hardcover. She also recommended a website, www.thenetworkingguy.com, and a 4-page, very inclusive, laminated folder, Networking for Success, by Tony Shabon-Berger, $4.95, which is available at www.barcharts.com.
Emma doesn’t believe in going through HR or using contract services to find a job, as they can never know or adequately convey to others what your true career goal really is. Being able to hone in on a definite career objective, a mission, a passion, was presented as a critical step in finding the right job. So during your first scheduled meeting with your new contact, when you are trying to establish a connection, if you can just describe what makes you tick, what excites you, the work that you are most passionate about—then you will be remembered for your enthusiasm for yourself and your career, and you will be on your way to getting the job you love.
Donna Reynolds received her Certificate in Technical Writing from PCC and her BA with a minor in Technical Writing from PSU. She recently obtained a position editing and writing the content for the website of a nonprofit organization. Donna can be reached at email@example.com.
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