Congratulations, You’re Perfectly Adequate. When Can You Start?

Posted on September 17, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , , |

This entry is the third in our series by Sara, a recent college graduate who has been facing the daunting task of finding her first “real” job. The other two posts are “The Plight of the Recent College Grad” and “Interviewing: Practice Really Does Make Perfect.”

In this post, she talks about receiving her first official offer and discovering that sometimes even when you do get an offer, it isn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

Here’s Sara:

Well, it finally happened; after a strange interview and an extended round of phone tag I came home to a voicemail that offered me a position with a local web-marketing company. It was a full-time job in my field where I would spend most of my time writing and corresponding with other web marketers—what a great opportunity to network and earn money simultaneously!

Too bad I turned it down.

Sure, it was nice to see that someone, somewhere thought I would be an asset for his organization, but too many factors sent up red flags and made me too uncomfortable to accept the position.

First flag, a company that built up clients’ web presence, yet it did not have a website. I spent a half hour before the interview trying to do research on the company, and the only thing I found was a logo. At the interview, I asked why the company didn’t have a site and was told that the company did not need to advertise. It has all the clients it needs and has actually gone so far as to try to avoid picking up a new client. Clearly, the company was not growing—if it was, no one knew about it—which brings me to red-flag number two.

One of the first things out of my interviewer’s mouth was that he “wasn’t looking for a shining star. I don’t want someone to go above and beyond the call of duty, I just want someone to do the work.” Well, if that’s the case, I guess all of my past accomplishments that I’ve spent my life working to achieve mean nothing, so we can just get down to whether I can handle mediocrity.

Another major issue I had with the position was the fact that I had no room to grow. I would be stuck in a tiny office, performing the same task for eight hours a day, with no hope of advancement. What was this job going to do for me other than add another bullet to my resume?

The more I thought about the position, the more I realized that it was a step backward. If I were still in school, then it would have been the perfect position for me to earn money and some basic marketing experience, but it definitely was not the way to start a career. So, instead of settling, I chose to count my blessings, trust that I was better than “perfectly adequate,” and hope that the right position will come along soon.

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The Plight of the Recent College Grad

Posted on July 9, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , , , |

Meet Sara. You probably know many others like her. She just graduated from college, and she is facing her first real job search. Not only is she discovering the job market is flooded with thousands of other entry-level candidates, but she is also realizing that college did not really prepare her for answering that all important job search question: “What are you looking for?”

As Sara continues through her job search, I’ve asked her if she would share some of her experience from time to time. As one of our “noddlers” at, we encourage other grads like her to come join us and band together. After all, “two are better than one…[and] a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Sara’s Journey:

This past May, I received my BAs in English and Communications. All of senior year, my intention was to graduate and settle into a nice, entry-level, marketing or public relations position with a local company and start real life.


I graduated cum laude with a 3.7 GPA, a semester abroad, an internship, a portfolio, as well as some various club and volunteer activities, and I have yet to be called for an interview. My parents’ stress level is growing with each passing week, and they have begun to hint that graduate school may be my best option, despite the fact that, at 22 years old, I have no idea what I want to do with my life.

People have told me that I need to look at this “setback” as an opportunity to experience life before being sucked up into a corporate whirlwind of money, bills, and time-management. Apparently, this is my time to travel the world, meet new people, and discover myself; “live it up,” so to speak. And although that might sound fine and dandy for some people, I’m not too comfortable with such an unpredictable future.

So, for now, it’s me against the job market and who-knows-how-many other college graduates vying for the same position. Resumes and cover letters have been rewritten, revamped, and sent out with little to show for it. I have joined many of the job networking websites like LinkedIn and Noddleplace and scoured the Internet for job leads.

Nothing. Something isn’t working.

It took me a long time and a lot of rejection before I realized why I’m not making any progress: I have no idea what I want to do.
People ask me what kind of job I’m looking for, and I stare blankly at them and stutter. Maybe I do need to go “live it up” in Europe and drink away all of my cares and responsibilities overseas, awaiting the glorious epiphany that will determine the rest of my life.

Or maybe I can make some progress in my job search, by looking for more real-world experience.

Since graduating, I have arranged for enough internships to carry me through the end of the year. If I’m not going to get hired, then I’m going to do everything I can to get experience, which includes working for free, in the industries I’m interested in. These internships are helping me build a network and get me the experience that will eventually give me a leg up on my competition. I’m still applying for jobs daily, but for now, I’m going to take it one day at a time until I figure out what I am supposed to do.

So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?
My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.

The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.

In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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Does Your Resume Make You Sound Like a Robot?

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , |

Just when I think perhaps I have heard everything, particularly when it comes to resume advice, someone has to go and put something out there that seems to come from left field. The flavor of the moment now seems to be: human-ness, making your resume sound more “human.”

And the pearls of wisdom that seem to go along with this concept are that you should incorporate “I” into your resume more often so that it seems less like a robot wrote it and more like a person, i.e., a human, wrote it.

On the surface, it sounds very nice. After all, we want to put a real person with this cold, hard document. And we want employers to see us on a human level. And, hey, full sentences are much more grammatically correct than the harsh sentence fragments utilized in resume documents today.

The problem is, however, once you start putting this into application, often you just end up with a jumbled mess of a document that says nothing more than “I” everywhere. And pretty soon, although you may very much be “human” on the page, you are also totally off course.


Most people fail when it comes to resume writing not because they haven’t cracked some magic code or produced the most amazing document ever written but because they have lost touch with their audience. They’ve made the document all about themselves and who they are. In other words, they have “I’d” it to death (sometimes even without using the word “I”, but just because it is implied with every statement).

Of course, the resume summarizes your work experience and helps shape your image for employers. But all that should be done with an eye not on you but on them. What interests the audience the most? What type of candidate are they looking for?

I’m quite certain that employers are well aware that humans are at the other end of a resume document. After all, they aren’t looking for robots to employ, and if they want you, they are going to call you in to meet you face to face. Furthermore, most employers/recruiters are spending so little time with your document (30 seconds or less) that writing a narrative is pretty much lost on them anyway (the HR pros who keep touting this human voice nonsense should be well aware of that fact!).

So if you want to be special, if you want to make that human connection, through your resume, it isn’t the voice or overuse of “I” that’s going to do it for you; instead, it is recognizing what your audience’s needs are and communicating how your background fulfills those needs.

Tell them what they need to hear most.

Bottom Line: People who spend so much time worrying about human-ness are spending way too much time thinking about themselves. Don’t play that game. When it comes to employment, you will lose every time.


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