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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The Résumé “Wow” Factor

Posted on December 3, 2008. Filed under: Resumes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Magic Formula

As résumé writers, we are amazed at the amount of time we spend discussing the “wow” factor with job seekers. If any concept has been oversold in regard to résumés, it is the idea that a résumé must take on an almost magical quality that casts a spell over the reader, transforming the average professional into the “must-have” candidate of the year!

Of course, this magical quality is a moving target because no one quite knows what the special combination is to unveil this secret spell, and of course, everyone seems to have a different idea of what it means.

Not to mention the plethora of materials that are out there just promising to either create this almost-mythical document for you or to help you create your own.

“Get yours to the top of the pile! Just say our magic chant 15 times, spin around twice, and embed these special keywords behind the text of your document, and employers will be mesmerized!”

Laugh, if you want, but deep down, it is what every job seeker is really looking for…something that will make it easy for them, something that will overcome the fact that, by and large, they are hard-working professionals just trying to create a solid career that they enjoy.

Casting Spells Doesn’t Work

Listen. We’ve seen a lot of résumés. Pretty ones. Flashy ones. Video ones. Two-column ones. Colorful ones. Conservative ones. Progressive ones. You name it.

Sorry to say, but flashy résumés have not really proven to be anymore effective than traditional professional obituaries. Both can seriously hurt a candidate’s chances if they fail to understand what really makes a résumé work.

It’s Not a Secret

So does this mean you can’t use color or get creative with a two-column masterpiece?

No, but a solid résumé must accomplish 3 things: (1) Utilize strong writing skills with solid action verbs, (2) organize the candidate’s information in such a way that a clear picture of the candidate is revealed (scope of knowledge and responsibility), and (3) be attractive without being offensive.

We all like things that look nice, but color isn’t what sells a candidate. Let the “wow” factor be in the strategy employed and in the quality of the writing.

On the other side of things, however, don’t be so rigid that you force the writer to prepare a cookie-cutter résumé (Times New Roman, 10-pt, with lots of bullets!!). You’ll just end up with something nondescript, that looks like it came from a Microsoft Word résumé template, and is not much better than anyone with decent grammar skills could produce.

Problem-Solving Is the Wow

Do you know what really is the “wow” factor for employers? A well-crafted document that highlights the specific skills and accomplishments that they are interested in, that solve the need or problem they have! Please don’t miss this point. It isn’t the skills/accomplishments that YOU are most proud of; it is the skills/accomplishments that THE EMPLOYER is most interested in for the type of position being filled.

Sadly, most job seekers (and even some résumé writers) are all worked up about the font and type size of the résumé and less concerned about whether they really have the right strategy in place to attract their audience. Yes, a résumé should look appealing, but if you can’t speak to your audience, then it is all just fluff and no “wow.”

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it! Or send us a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

The ITtechExec Way

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