Buzzwords Decoded: Synergy

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘dynamic’ and are back again with ‘synergy’ to take your resume up another notch.

 

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1: synergism; broadly : combined action or operation

2: a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Synergy is pretty much what happens when two things are combined to make something better – at least that’s what its supposed to mean.  The ‘synergy’ of ‘your leadership with your innovative team’s dynamic skills’ bringing about a positive change on your project is just a long and annoying way to say that you led a solid team to achieve an awesome outcome – which can be shortened to you being a good leader.  Period.

Whenever a word is unnecessary, it is being used incorrectly.  More often than not, ‘synergy’ can be replaced with ‘teamwork’ or ‘together’ which are words that are heard more often in conversation and are therefore easier for the brain to process and move on from.  Throwing ‘synergy’ on your resume for the sake of showing off your beautiful corporate jargon will bring about a few sniggers and the trash pile.

 

How to Use it Properly

Just don’t.  ‘Synergy’ could still belong in a high-level corporate meeting when discussing a merger or acquisition, but there are very few ways it could work on your resume.  If you are trying to talk about the synergy of your dedication to maintaining a certain profit and passion for green initiatives, just use ‘and’.  If you want to mention leading a synergy of two teams within your company, just use ‘collaboration’.

Synergy is not a word used in everyday conversation, so it will likely force a recruiter to pause on your resume, think about the word, and then move on after wasting precious time necessarily.  Any reader should be able to glide through your resume as though they are reading a story.  Words or phrases that make them stop and think about the term instead of the accomplishment its describing is useless.

 

Take Away

Don’t use ‘synergy’ unless you have a really, really good reason for it.  It will either get snickered at or ignored – neither of which are desirable reactions to your resume!

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

How to Get Your Dream Job Without the Required Experience

Ambition of a young architect

Right major?  Check.  Enough software knowledge?  Check.  Cultural Fit?  Check.  Sufficient years of experience?  Uh-oh.

You’re looking at the job listing for your ideal gig just a little while after graduation and feel the excitement mounting inside of you with every requirement you know you can fulfill.  Then you see that you need 2 years of work experience – which you don’t have as a new grad.  Ugh.  Do you pull back and look for a position that you don’t want as much?  Do you resign yourself to a job you know will bore you for the next couple of years?

No.  Stop and think like a hiring manager. They are looking for candidates who know their stuff.  It just so happens that the general consensus says knowing your stuff requires some experience in the industry.  This study by McKinsey & Co. and Chegg even says that college graduates are under prepared but overqualified for employment…a finding that will naturally push hiring managers away from hiring recent grads.

So clearly, your next step should be to prove that you are sufficiently prepared for employment.  How?  Build a portfolio of work similar to what you would be doing on the job and submit it with your job application.  Refocus the potential employer’s attention on your skills and potential and away from metrics that don’t necessarily describe what you can do properly.  Here’s how.

 

Step 1 – MOOCs:  Learning the Skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are classes from well known Universities that professors modify for distance learning to allow access to any student for free.  Many of these courses teach exactly the same material as what the professors teach in their traditional classes, but you can take them in your spare time without spending money to build your knowledge and skills base.

Keep in mind that your major and college classes are not the full span of your capabilities.  An English degree is a great base for a copywriting career, but taking a few classes on your own time in marketing techniques can give your writing the boost you need to land that job at an ad agency.

Websites like Coursera and EdX provide great platforms for MOOCs.  It is important, however, to record your work for the class.  The assignments and projects you complete are great additions to your professional portfolio, as they legitimize the coursework you do through MOOCs.  You can keep track of all this by downloading your work as you complete it, or by using websites like Accredible to transfer all of your online coursework to one place that can be linked to the rest of your portfolio.

 

Step 2 – Speculative Projects/Case Studies:  Applying the Skills

There are case studies all over the internet – taking a few and using skills you learned from college and your MOOCs to write an analysis for each can help get your feet wet in the kind of thinking you need to solve problems in your industry.

Speculative or freelancing projects are also great ways to simulate what you will be doing later in a full time job.  Telling a small or mid-sized business or nonprofit organization that you are willing to help them out for free or little charge is an easy way to land some of these projects – this is time you are spending building work experience regardless of the amount you are getting paid.

Specifically working with nonprofit organizations in a volunteer position not only gives you the added experience for your newly developed skills, it also shows a more human side of your personality.  Maybe your volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity relates to your passion for fighting poverty, or perhaps your commitment to proper healthcare is showcased through your extensive work with the Red Cross.  Talking about your volunteer work in an interview is also great way to transition to you personal qualities and cultural fit.

 

Step 3 – Research:  Effectively Showcasing the Skills

Know what’s going on!  Read the news, find new articles on techniques and technology, and learn to use the newest software.  Once your profile gets you to an interview, you still need to prove that you can hit the ground running upon receiving an offer.

Having background knowledge about developments the company and its industry can help you come up with possible solutions to their problems before you are even working there – there is no better way than that to show that you would be an asset to the team.

Follow those three steps and you can show the hiring manager that you are perfect for your dream job because even though you don’t have years under your belt, you have the necessary skills and can demonstrate initiative to continue building more in the future.

Buzzwords Decoded: Dynamic

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘motivation’ and are back again with ‘dynamic’ to take your resume up another notch.

 

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

: always active or changing

: having or showing a lot of energy

: of or relating to energy, motion, or physical force

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Saying that you are a dynamic person can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts.  Usually, ‘dynamic’ refers to something that changes.  In the workplace, that may not necessarily be a good thing.  Flexibility?  Yes.  Employee who randomly decides to change his approach to work?  No.  Are employers really that nitpicky about the word and its exact meaning?  Probably not, but if your usage of a word doesn’t click immediately, someone who has mere seconds to look at your resume will just gloss over it and you will have lost an opportunity to make an imprint in their mind.

Unless you have an extensive amount of work experience full of career moves and advances, your resume usually will be limited to 1 page.  Cramming your entire personality and life experience onto a single page is difficult and every word is precious.  Losing the chance to shine because of a poorly used word in an unfortunate opportunity cost.

 

How to Use it Properly

Like any overt claim you make about yourself on your resume, it is important to back it up and provide context. If the executive summary of your resume refers to you as a ‘dynamic go-getter’ and never goes back to explain why later, the word is lost and has no meaning.  Assuming you absolutely must use the word, talk about how dynamic your ideas were on a project.

Still, ‘dynamic’ is simply an overly vague word.  If you mean that you are a flexible person, use ‘flexible’.  If you mean energetic, just use ‘energetic’.  The person reading your resume is probably a person (or sometimes a computer, but that’s just another reason to keep it simple) who doesn’t use flowery vocabulary themselves in real life.  The easier you make it for them to get through your entire resume quickly, the more likely they are to get the impression you originally intended from your application.

 

Take Away

‘Dynamic’ is an odd word that doesn’t usually describe a person clearly without direct examples.  Even with a lot of context, it can usually be replaced with a much more simple and straightforward term.  Just Keep It Simple, Silly!

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

Buzzwords Decoded: Motivation

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘innovation’ and are back again with ‘motivation’ to take your resume up another notch.

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1a :  the act or process of motivating

1b :  the condition of being motivated

2:  a motivating force, stimulus, or influence :  incentive, drive

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Ever since we learned what a resume was and its importance in the job search, we have been taught to toot our own horns.  Obviously, displaying how awesome you are is essential to getting a hiring manager to look twice – but being obvious about it can actually be off-putting, believe it or not.  Your goal should be to make your horn so attractive that people are drawn to it without requiring obnoxious pleas for attention.

The art of ‘humble self promotion’ is difficult to grasp because it is done differently for each person, but taking out the ‘humble’ can make you sound like a bad salesman – and that will put off anyone who is looking at your resume.

 

How to Use it Properly

Going on and on about how motivated you are as a professional doesn’t actually say anything about you without some solid context demonstrating why you think you are a motivated person.  If you want to show that you are motivated, a quick description of a time when you overcame several challenges to get something done on time could be very helpful.

Another way to show you are motivated is to say why instead of how.  Giving examples of instances when you have shown motivation can take up valuable space on your resume.  Instead, you could demonstrate why you are motivated.  Maybe you have a career goal you are trying to reach or believe strongly in the social mission of the company you are working for.  These things can help to not only eliminate annoying buzzwords, but also humanize you out of a pile of robot resumes.

Asking someone to vouch for you is also a great way to show off your horn without tooting it.  Someone else has nothing to gain by praising you.  So when your former supervisor takes the time to write a great LinkedIn recommendation about how dedicated and motivated you were to accomplishing your goals, a future hiring manager is bound to take it seriously.

 

Take Away

Saying that you are motivated tells an employer or potential mentor nothing of substance and makes you sound robotic.  Solution:  You must prove it with an example, reason, or recommendation.  These things will help your work speak for itself and you won’t need cliched buzzwords that people glaze over anyway.

 

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

How to Demolish Procrastination in 3 Easy Steps

Do it now

Sophomore year was the worst year of my life in high school – I bit off more than I could chew and ended up in too many advanced classes with too few hours.  Before that year, I was so well organized that getting behind on my work was unheard of.  I would get all my work done immediately, and then proceed to nag my friends to do the same.  Why?  Because I had a great track record of success and was absolutely confident that I would do well on all my assignments.

Then during the Sophomore Year of Hades (SYH), getting my homework done or studying for a test took a lot longer because of all the extra material, and my confidence began to waver.  I became scared of not doing well in school, and so the immediate retaliation was to avoid it.  It was a whole lot easier to play a video game, watch a movie, or go shopping that it was to buckle down and face my new-found fear.

Fear – that was what pushed me toward procrastination.  I wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the SYH or my classes, it was just that I didn’t want to think about what would happen if I couldn’t.  This fear is the root cause of all procrastination, in fact.  Is your friend’s fiance procrastinating with wedding planning? I bet you his ring he’s getting cold feet.  Are you putting off starting on those MOOCs you want to finish before your new big project at work?  You’re probably afraid you won’t get them done in time anyway.

No matter how organized or motivated you are, you have probably procrastinated at some point in your life.  Its just a whole lot easier to binge on a new Netflix series than take notes on the week’s MOOC modules.  Wanting to do something that’s immediately more fun and interesting is natural, so why not use that nature to your advantage?  Try these 3 things to turn your work into fun and avoid procrastination.

 

1.  Set deadlines and reward yourself when you meet them.

Gamification of boring stuff, anyone?  Every time you finish one of those annoying-but-necessary worksheets, treat yourself to some ice cream.  Or a T.V. break.  Or anything else you like.

 

2.  Come up with creative study/work tactics.

My little sister loves Quizlet – whenever she needs to memorize a lot of stuff fast, she puts everything into a Quizlet deck and races a friend to see who can get the most right.  She gets to hang out with her friends and study productively at the same time.  (Pssst…Quizlet is a fantastic tool!)

 

3.  Track Your Efforts.

Finishing a task is great, but being able to look back and see how well your hard work paid off is a whole lot better.  Keeping a journal or calendar to look back at also gives you a template for future projects, which will increase you confidence and therefore decrease procrastination.

 

So the solution is to work backwards.  Procrastination comes from fear.  The goal is then to figure out where the fear is coming from and nip it at its bud.  In the meantime, just make the work fun and it will just keep getting itself done!

 

How to Make MOOCs Count on Your Resume

Resume target

The job market may not be at a point yet where MOOCs are accepted by employers on par with traditional college courses.  Regardless, MOOCs on your resume show that you are willing to take initiative to increase your knowledge base and skills.  Many recruiters see this quality as an opportunity to hire employees who will continue to improve themselves, which will constantly increase the human capital they provide to the company.

It is extremely important that you are showcasing your MOOCs appropriately on your resume, however.  A disorganized list of your classes will look more unprofessional and illegitimate than your resume would be without the MOOCs on it at all.  Instead, try placing them methodically and within categories.

 

Divide and Conquer

Again, your MOOCs will not be seen the same way as a college education by employers, so don’t bother listing them that way.  You want to make sure your online classes are being seen as a positive supplement to your application, and not a glorified accessory.

Instead, MOOCs should be under a separate heading in your resume’s Education section called ‘Continuing Education’.  This simply refers to all of your important efforts to improve yourself as an employee and can include any certificates or diplomas you earned (instead of or after college) along with any MOOCs you have taken.

accredible resume education

 

 

 

 

 

Skills, Not Frills

Categorizing by skills is an easy way to organize your MOOCs effectively.  Not only does it make scanning a resume easier, but it also immediately displays the benefit of taking a certain group of courses:  The development of a specific skill that will be valuable to the company.

These categories also mean that you don’t need a detailed description of each course.  Usually, the course name itself provides a glimpse into the course content.  Listing the skill the course helped you develop is yet another way to state the purpose of the class without a fluffy description.  Cardinal rule: save the details for your interview, keep your resume simple.

moocs resume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality Over Quantity

You don’t need to list every MOOC you have ever signed up for, or even every MOOC you have completed (but never list one that you didn’t complete!).  If you are applying for a marketing position, for example, the hiring manager will probably be less interested in your Intro to Physics class and more in your Creativity & Innovation class.  A list of classes longer than your ‘Experience’ section is unattractive and unnecessary.  Keep it simple, clear, and useful.

 

Many MOOCs are hard work and teach you a lot – there is no reason you shouldn’t receive due credit for them.  They show your versatility, desire to improve, and ability to multi-task and can be a great asset in the job search process.

Bonus Tip:  Make sure you can prove everything on your resume; build a portfolio!  If you have notes, assignments, and projects from your MOOCs saved on your Accredible profile, the only thing you need to prove your involvement in the class is a link!

3 Simple Tips for Recent Grads Looking for a Job

Today we have a guest post by Benjamin Kim of RedHoop, a super helpful site that helps self-directed learners search for online courses across different platforms. Ben’s job-hunting tips are not to be missed! Read on! 

—-

For us recent grads, getting a job in this economy is tough.

The unemployment rate may be around 7%, but according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, 36.7% of recent grads are “mal-employed,” meaning they hold jobs that don’t require a college degree.

If you’re like me, you didn’t go to college and accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt to wait tables or bartend, but that’s the unfortunate reality facing many young people today. During my year of cover letters, job fairs, and interviews, I struggled to make myself stand out – a fancy degree from a private university meant little without substance to back it up.

Simply put, a one-page resume is no longer enough for today’s job search. Spending hours upon hours on job boards may have worked for people in the past, but for those of us who are entering this rapidly changing workforce we must make ourselves stand out.

Here are some job hunting tips to help you put your best foot forward:

1. Display your passion and present it well!

Websites like LinkedIn and Accredible are great ways to get started. If not, consider making an online portfolio – while it may be perceived as a resource for artists, aspiring professionals should consider getting one as well. This way you can display your work from classes, volunteering, freelancing, passions, etc. in a medium that truly highlights your personality.

One note about social media: as it becomes an integral aspect of the job search it’s easy to forget that a simple Google search can reveal more information than you’d like! So before anything, clean up your social media. Toggle your privacy settings. This is not to scare you, but instead I’m stressing the importance of finding ways to separate your personal social life and your professional work life.

2. Hone your knowledge and skills as often as you can

A regular course load won’t be enough to impress an employer. Make it apparent that you’re doing more than just the minimum. Skill-based courses will provide you the practical experience that transfers well into the work force. However, I’m a big proponent in taking a wide range of topics that may interest you, so I recommend taking additional courses or learning valuable skills like online. (You can use RedHoop to find more than 4000 online courses, 1500 free online courses).

3. Create genuine relationships, don’t network

One critical mistake many people make is not conducting a deep, insightful research on your prospective employer. If you’re at a job fair, don’t ask questions like “so what do you guys do?” or “what would I do at this job?” Instead, you should be asking questions that really showcase your deep understanding of the company, as well as its industry. Be ready to emphasize why you think you’d be a great fit by relating your previous experiences with the company’s core competencies.

Recruiters get tens, if not hundreds, of unsolicited emails every day from job seekers. People often forget recruiters are not only responsible for bringing talent to their respective companies, but also making sure new hires fit the culture. If you’re shooting off random emails with your resume attached, those emails will likely go straight to the trash or receive one my favorite replies: “I’ll send this to the right people,” only to never hear from them ever again.

Be genuinely interested in not only the job position, but also be genuine to recruiters. After dealing with hundreds of hungry, ambitious job-seekers, they’ll appreciate someone without a giant “Please give me a job” sign posted on their forehead. Of course, your goal is to get a job, but your relationship with a recruiter is a long-term investment that will pay great dividends if you build a genuine personal foundation. Instead, ask great questions and avoid talking about yourself. After meeting them for the first time, follow up via email and briefly explain again why you’d be a great fit – professionally and culturally. Also, to keep the conversation flowing, consider asking a question to further highlight your interest and knowledge. By knowing whether or not you’ll be a great culture fit, you can separate yourself from the students who interview for the sake of interviewing. Instead, you’ll be a job-seeker that is determined and prepared to tackle the challenges ahead, making yourself stand out from the crowd.

Ben is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in Television and Media Studies. He is currently interning at RedHoop(www.redhoop.com), a website that helps self-directed learners further their education by making it easier to search for online courses. For any questions, clarifications, or comments, he can be reached on LinkedIn (benk.im).