08/03/10 — Nonprofit group offers tips on building proper resumes

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Nonprofit group offers tips on building proper resumes

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on August 3, 2010 1:59 PM

Michele Wiggins can tell horror stories about some of the poorly written resumes she came across when she was helping hire new employees for a local company.

Generic resume files attached to completely blank e-mails were a particular pet peeve, she said.

As executive director of Academic Abundance, a non-profit agency that supports educational opportunities, Mrs. Wiggins is now working to help job-seekers learn to create resumes that will catch the eye of hiring personnel or college admissions officials -- and not get tossed in the trash.

"What we're hoping to do is guide people through the process to employment," she said.

Academic Abundance is sponsoring a series of community seminars to give students and job-seekers information on how to present themselves to possible employers or schools. Job hunting techniques, interview skills and the ability to fill out college applications are some of the topics being covered.

At a recent seminar, Academics Plus employee and Academic Abundance volunteer Jessica Hysong talked participants through the process of creating a resume .

Many people have marketable job skills they don't even realize they possess, she said. Working with a church or civic organization fundraiser might involve management duties, organizational skills and planning experience -- all of which are abilities that managers look for when considering candidates, Ms. Hysong said.

It's important for a job seeker to play up his or her most relevant information on a resume, she pointed out. If a candidate has little job experience, emphasis on skills should be near the top of the page. If they have a longer job history, the experience should be at the top. Using a proper format with an easy-to-read presentation, using "power words" such as "responsible," "managed" or "maintained" and ensuring that the resume is submitted in a timely fashion also are important, the experts said.

Preparing the resume document is only part of job hunting. Knowledge of proper electronic communication etiquette is likewise important when looking for employment.

"You need to know how to send an e-mail without sounding like a jerk," Ms. Hysong said.

A polite phone contact is equally important. Even answering the phone, or the voicemail message on a cell phone can have an effect on whether or not a candidate lands an interview.

"If it says, 'Yo, this is Ronald,' that's a bad idea," she said.

It also takes special effort to craft an application package for each job, making sure not to reuse the same cover letter. A resume is a promotional piece, and should be relevant and specific to each job, Ms. Hysong said. She added that checking spelling and looking to spot other errors are also important.

Tyreek Moody, 19, said he has attended several of the seminars and believes they will help him get a job.

"As far as filling out applications and doing job interviews, it will help me know exactly who to talk to and how to talk to them," Moody said.

The group has provided him with useful information on how to find job opportunities and apply for them, he said.

Academic Abundance is a fairly new non-profit organization which grew out of the Academics Plus company in Goldsboro. The group has a board of directors and a grant committee that is looking for funding to provide educational opportunities for people in the Wayne area. And it is especially important in a time when unemployment is high and job opportunities are few and far between, Mrs. Wiggins said.

"Hopefully, they can take away something from the program that they didn't know before," she said.

Academic Abundance was founded by Drs. Kenneth and Marilyn Benton, owners of Academics Plus. Both co-founders have doctorates in education and have worked in the field for most of their lives.

The next seminar will be held Wednesday. It will be on college options and applications. The sessions are held in the auditorium at the Wayne County Public Library on Ash Street. For more information, call 581-7433.

The series of sessions might be repeated later this month, Mrs. Williams said.