Job Hunting Tips

I HAVE A RESUME

(PDF, MS WORD, etc. to attach)

  •  Confirm that it is up to date and accurate.
  • Check resume building tips below.
  • In addition to your resume, if asked to complete online job application form even if it seems redundant/repetitive be accurate, complete and honest. Make every attempt to fill-out everything not leaving blanks or unanswered questions.
  • If asked to include a cover letter, use this opportunity to introduce yourself in an honest and open manner describing your goals and objectives, past experience and work accomplishments, training and long-term interests. Stay away from including personal interests or history in sports, activities, politics, religion, etc., unless it is directly related to the position for which you are applying.

I DON’T HAVE A RESUME

What is a résumé? – A resume is a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous experience, most often presented in a clearly typed, single-page document.

  • Many computer software programs have helpful and basic resume templates you can use as a guide to create your own resume. (MS Office, MS Word or How-To-Write A Resume building sites available such as resumenow.com, myperfectresume.com, etc., or see other resources under “Your Support System’ button.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a friend, counselor, teacher for help and make sure to have someone else look at your new resume before you send it to a prospective employer.
  • Make sure to save the final document(s) you’ve created in more than one location (download to cellphone, flash drive, cloud storage, etc.) and make sure to make hard copies to submit when filling out an application in person or to have it handy when you have a face-to-face interview. (Makes you looked prepared and ready!) 
  • Create an email address if necessary that is appropriate and “professional” and that your name and numbers are appropriate. (billsmith11@___ or bsmith11@___ as opposed to nicknames, street names, slang, etc., such as dirtbagbilly@___ or sassysally@___ )
  • Maintain a phone number that you can answer regularly and contains an appropriate and professional voice-mail message if you can’t always answer. (You don’t want to miss an opportunity because an employer can’t reach you in a reasonable amount of time or can’t understand your voice mail message!)
  • Be direct, accurate and honest!
  • Make sure previous employment history dates, company names, job titles/responsibilities are accurate and not overstated or exaggerated. Make sure you can document any diplomas, certificates etc.
  • List all previous employers in succession the more recent backwards. (NOTE: You do not have to release permission for the interviewer to contact previous employers, but again, be honest and open. If asked, openly point out those employers who would give you a good reference and why, as well as those who might not and why?)  These days, companies rarely give recommendations at all. 
  • If there are gaps or lags in time periods between jobs, unless it is an inordinate length of time, it usually does not matter. Again, be honest and accurate and be prepared to discuss any gaps in time. If you were terminated from a job and it took a bit of time to find another, let an interviewer know that and give honest and clear reasons why you were let go and what you learned in the process. That will go far in your evaluation, especially if you’re honest. (See below for more tips!)
  • When asked what your “Objective” is, refrain from using unnecessary colorful words, adjectives and exaggerations, and be specific.
  • You may need to create several different versions of your resume based on the type and scope of the position for which you’re applying.
  • List References on separate page, not on the resume itself. (You may want to vary references depending on type of job you are seeking!)
  • If asked to include a cover letter, use this opportunity to introduce yourself in an honest and open manner describing your goals and objectives, past experience and work accomplishments, training and long-term interests. Stay away from including personal interests or history in sports, activities, politics, religion, etc., unless it is directly related to the position for which you are applying.

Additional Useful Tips & Suggestions…

  1. It is easier to find a job when you have a job, especially if you’re first starting out or just getting back on your feet. Be willing to accept a job that may seem unpleasing or not interesting. You may find that job itself may lead to many unforeseen opportunities and temporarily can help you both financially and mentally especially if you’re in early recovery. In short, “Get-off your behind and do something!”
  2. There is dignity in honest work and many interviewers will appreciate your work ethic if you are currently working in a position that may be described as over-employed, over-qualified or even under-qualified.
  3. If you’re concerned about gaps in your employment? Think about other activities you can use to put a positive spin on those time periods. You might
     have experience relevant to your job target, regardless of whether you
     were paid or not. Volunteer activities, community involvement, special projects, consulting engagements and continuing education can be used in the “Experience” section. Short gaps might not be apparent if you eliminate months from your traditional resume. Draw attention to your selling points and downplay your work chronology. If you’re returning to the workforce after an extended absence, show how you’ve kept up-to-date with changes in your industry. If you’ve been out of work because you raised a family, continued your education, cared for a sick family member or recovered from an injury, be sure your tone is not apologetic. There’s nothing automatically wrong with being out of work [for whatever reason], and a negative attitude might affect your resumes quality. Some jobs are prone to short periods of employment, and job-hopping might not be a concern. For many other occupations, there is less of a stigma regarding job-hopping than in the past.
  4. Job Hopping? The best way to handle job-hopping on your resume depends on your job titles and companies. You may be able to bundle two or more similar positions under one heading. You can list your combined work experience highlights. Independent contractors and temporary jobs, consider grouping their experience under one time period. You don’t need to include every job you’ve ever held. Short-term positions that don’t do anything for you can certainly be omitted. Keep in mind that a resume is a marketing piece, but you will need to provide a complete work history as part of a separate job application, which is will be a signed legal document, for the record. Employers might be leery of hiring candidates with a history of job-hopping due to recruiting and training expenses. Use your cover letter to explain your work history and put a positive spin on your circumstances. Also, indicate your interest in a long-term and/or full-time position.
  5. Criminal Records? The one document that can open doors is your resume, so make it as effective as possible. The purpose of a resume is to help you secure a job interview. For your resume to work, it must highlight your best qualifications for the position and demonstrate that you would be an excellent employee. While it’s important to be honest on your resume, revealing information about a criminal background is best handled in a face-to-face interview. Many states prohibit employers from asking about an arrest record but allow them to inquire about past convictions. If the employer asks a question regarding your criminal history, briefly explain what happened, but keep it positive and don’t dwell on the past. Explain that you have learned from your mistakes and are currently interested in making a positive contribution to the employer’s operation.

When completing job applications that ask about your conviction record, you must be honest. Select “yes” when asked if you have been arrested, and in the section that asks you to provide the details, write something like “will explain in interview.” If your criminal background includes prison time and you took advantage of training or work opportunities during that time, you may include these experiences on your resume. Write the name of the facility and your position/title in your resume’s Work Experience section. Treat this position as any other position and write about key skills you developed and any positive contributions you made. If you completed further education while in prison, write the name of the sponsoring institution along with the details of your training in your Education section. Keep in mind that employers are less interested in your early career; prison-related activities from more than 10-years ago can be omitted.

A SPECIAL NOTE ON RE-ENTRY: If you’ve spent time in jail or prison and are sincerely committed to your SUD recovery and a different life, you’ve taken the first step. Most Federal, State and municipal institutions provide “Re-Entry” counseling and employment assistance programs. TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THESE SERVICES! You’ll find resources and opportunities that have been designed and made available specifically for you regardless of your background. More and more companies are proactively seeking candidates with backgrounds just like yours. Finding a new job for anyone is a challenge, whether you’re in recovery or not. That’s a fact! The more doors you knock on, the more resumes you send out and applications you complete are just one more step to finding your next or new position. We suggest to everyone that in addition to this ecoverycareers job board you utilize all the other online job boards, search through all available job postings in newspapers, employment sites…even any company that you believe you would want to work at by applying directly on-site. In short, use any and all resources and avenues that are available to you today.

In short, be honest, be persistent and keep your recovery the most important element in your life. Everything else will follow, better than you’ve ever imagined. We’ve seen it happen again and again, with thousands of success stories of those who are just like you and have been where you’ve been. 

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