Getting Civilly Served: Jobs in Your Local Government Offices

I get these questions pretty regularly, like, “How do I ‘get in’ to working for the city – government – my local municipality?”

The short answer: apply to jobs with an amazing cover letter & resume filled with experience relevant to the position, and take civil service exams appropriate to your experience and what you’d like to do. Civil service jobs are generally long term careers that may take weeks to years to obtain – but then they tend to be the kind of jobs you can stay in until you retire.

I’m not saying due to the current financial state of the US government & related jobs are all secure – but no jobs are.

To see exam info check the website of whatever area you want to work in (posted a few months in advance of offering date, be sure you’re free!) or there are some that are walk-in. Usually exams tend to be offered on Saturdays, but you can have it moved with a  letter from a religious leader if needed (I’ve done it a bunch of times). Then they push it off to the Sunday following the exam generally.

For all US: http://www.usajobs.gov

For a pretty large list of local NY State government exams, see: http://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/cslist.shtm

For NYC DCAS Exam info & online application are here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcas/html/employment/civilservice_exams.shtml

Town of Hempstead, Nassau County: http://toh.li/civil-service-commission/examination-announcements

Suffolk County, Long Island: https://apps.suffolkcountyny.gov/civilservice/Efiling/Default.aspx

*Working smarter tip: If you plan to apply to numerous exams for jobs, save your job responsibilities & info to a word or excel doc you can cut & paste from. When you apply to additional exams it does not save your info (yes even though you need to make a login), and it will save you a lot of unnecessary typing.

Each position has minimum requirements that you must meet, some may be physical, experience, education or residency requirements of a certain length when you apply for the position – otherwise you’re out your registration money. They don’t generally refund you if you don’t qualify and will notify you by mail a few weeks later  – or they may just not put you on the list, even if you’ve taken the exam.

Exams vary in cost, but I believe they’re all under $100, which is an incredible investment if you can do well on a timed multiple choice test, since one year after appointment you get “permanency” which is more job security than you’ll get anywhere else. The salaries aren’t the most incredible, but are strong for non-profits, and the benefits & early retirement are great. 55-60ish retirement with a pension? You won’t find that too many other places nowadays.

What if you have disabilities? They offer a lot of accommodations, so don’t be alarmed about the test part, look into if they can accommodate you or if you can get an exemption to get on a list without an exam.

What if you can’t afford the fee? If you qualify for certain government benefits, you may be able to get the fee reduced or waived.

Where do I find New York City jobs listed? Don’t expect to memorize this website:

http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c000402d63e84407a62fa24601c789a0/index.jsp?cf01pg=1&cf01sz=10

What are the next steps?

The lists of people who passed the exam are ranked (first by score, then by last 4 digits of your social security #). Then when there are vacancies agencies will call you when they have an opening for an interview. Expect very short notice, usually a few days in advance. You’ll be asked to bring a lot of ID, degrees, proof of employments potentially etc. I believe this is all part of the interview process. If you can’t get your act together quickly, you’re out the opportunity.

The lists can take years, generally about 2, until they are released & names get called, so this is a plan to get a long term permanent career – not the way to go if you need a job next week/month.

Good luck!

Shortlink directly to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-C

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My Resume is a Worthless Piece of e-Paper

I’ll get personal today because a lot of career issues are common. Many people are unemployed, and stuck that way.

I hate my resume. I mean it is pretty, thanks to fabulous layout. I’ve done tons of interesting things. I’m on top of all new technologies, innovations, social media, and business news; and I’ve started two successful consultancies.  But that doesn’t necessarily get a person an interview request when you’re only submitting to the best places to work along with hundreds-thousands of other people.

I’m  always telling everyone – here’s what your resume should say, how it should say it, and what the overall feeling you get from it should be. But when you don’t like your resume?

You can’t always write a career summary that would explain your situation positively or in a way that would put you ahead of the person who majored in the right areas in school or who obtained and advance degree in an area you want to enter, who then went on to have only progressively responsible positions in your field, and has been in it for 10 years – not too many more or less.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do the job better that above said person – but on paper it’s obvious who gets chosen for the interview.  You haven’t managed large budgets? You haven’t managed large teams? Don’t have ‘accomplishments’ to brag about that don’t sound like, well, bragging?

What’s a candidate to do when they want to work at google or apple? Or some other fabulously innovating company that values and develops their talent – when you don’t have it on paper?

Different people handle this situation in different ways – but here are a few I’ve seen:

1. Have a simple resume, get a job in a company at the bottom of the ladder (i.e. unpaid internship, administrative assistant, etc.), and work your way up. This if fine for the young, patient, and ambitious. Especially the males, they statistically do better with this method. Women who attempt this generally stay towards the bottom of the career ladder.

2. Volunteer either in or outside of work for large-scale projects, so you have those accomplishments to put on your resume. This is great if you’re unemployed or don’t have a lot of obligations, as that it’s time consuming – but for someone trying to manage a career, long commutes, and family or other obligations it’s not always practical.

3. Lying. People figure into the recruiters-are-ditzes stereotype and hope their exaggerating what and where they’ve done it won’t be seen through. Ethics aside – people figure ‘everybody’s doing it’, which is unfortunately accurate for a lot of people. Ewwwwwwww.

4. Humor. I’ve seen a woman returning from being a stay at home mom have on her resume, “CEO of Smith Household.” Or, “Executive Director of Childcare.”  You can throw in a few things that might help your personality come across to recruiters. I know that whomever is reading my resume is probably sick of looking at resumes, especially ones that all sound the same – so a little fun with it, tastefully, might help get attention.

Unfortunately, as you can guess, lying generally gets people the furthest into the interview process. Depending on the employer, often the liar may even get the job. Some jobs you only have to ‘talk the talk’, and it doesn’t matter if you ever did or ever will ‘walk the walk’. But for other positions, actual skills and experience are necessary to do a job appropriately. Once you’re figured out you’ll be back on the job hunt again, bringing you back to the beginning of the cycle where said evil people belong.

So what do you do first?

You be patient. You network. You continue to improve your resume. You follow the places you want to work, be on top of their openings that you’re qualified for. You attend events to meet people who work for these companies. If you have time, offer to volunteer or intern for them. You do everything in your power to set yourself apart from the herd appropriately in all of your social media profiles. You follow people and companies on linkedin. You join industry groups on linkedin. You ask others who were in your boat who’ve succeeded how they did it. You You You…it’s all about YOU, and what efforts you are willing to put in.

And then hope that one day it’ll all pay off, as you sit enjoying the view from your corner office of the company of your dreams. Sigh. Dare to dream.

Top 10 Things to Never Put on Your Resume

Resume infographic

Image by Bart Claeys via Flickr

 

  1. Age, date of birth, words like young, youthful. Nothing can be gained by sharing this info other than giving the hiring manager a laugh.
  2. Marital/family/partner status. Sharing this info can make the employer uncomfortable and afraid to pursue you as a candidate as that they cannot take this into consideration legally.
  3. What year you started your degree. It doesn’t matter how many years it took – just the date you finished or anticipate to finish – unless you graduated over 15 years ago – in that case remove graduation date too.
  4. Social Security number or other confidential info if not asked for. You don’t want your resume to be thought of as something that has to be shredded or an opportunity for identity theft.
  5. Current or past salary & benefits. It looks tacky, no matter what the quantity of money made was. If an employer asks for it, include it subtly in the cover letter.
  6. Pictures or physical characteristics. Unless it’s a response to a shady ad or for modeling, it shouldn’t be requested either. Studies have shown very attractive can actually hurt your chance of getting a callback.
  7. Anything negative. Your resume should be a showcase of what amazing things you’ve done, and what amazing things you can do. Especially important not to have anything negative about past companies or coworkers.
  8. Why you left your job(s). Again, if asked, put it subtly in the cover letter. This emphasizes leaving companies, not an impression you want to create.
  9. Explanations for breaks in your resume. Highlight what you did in those breaks if substantial (include relevant volunteering or education breaks perhaps) but in no way should anything about personal issues or economy be brought in. Do not indicate you were sick, caring for a sick family member or took a child leave, do not say you were laid off and couldn’t find anything for three years. You want to give a positive feeling, and an impression that work is your #1 priority at all times.
  10. Grammatical or formatting errors. I know word does a lot for you, but no one will be as impressed by collages as they are by college. Not that patchwork isn’t pretty…but you need to carefully comb your resume for errors and print it to see how it looks formatted.

Stupid Resumes: 5 Content Reasons Your Resume Was Trashed

Shea Stadium demolition

Image via Wikipedia

Please bring the shredder a little closer to my desk. I have a lot of resumes that need to go in there.
So I hear people want to know why their resumes get thrown out some more . Here are a few more tips to stay out of the circular file. Imagining yourself on the other side of the fence can be helpful for figuring out why you didn’t get that call.

1. You’re looking to change fields without explaining yourself. While you might think you’d make an excellent paralegal after your IT position layoff, and have no legal experience whatsoever, just try to imagine what it’s like for the client. They pay mega bucks to hire a lawyer, but the paralegal does a LOT of the casework & preparation for them. You’re paying $500/hr for someone with no relevant training or experience. How would that make you feel?

2. Keep in mind cultural fit. It’s very easy for me to tell a hiring manager, hey, this person has the skills you want, just try to overlook their body odor and dirty clothes. You have to fit in where you work, both within your department as well as the company at large. If you’re a PETA activist and an accountant, and your resume screams ‘save the animals’, don’t think you’re going to be called in to interview for a slaughterhouse account role you applied for. You might be desperate enough to want the job due to the economy, but don’t think the company will be desperate enough to call you in for an interview. Check out my post on religious & activist resumes if you’re concerned about how your resume presents at http://wp.me/pWfpN-b.

3. You have to make a compelling case for yourself to be called with your resume. If 500 people applied to the job you’re applying for, what have you presented to impress? If you’re bored reading your own resume, everyone else is too. If you sound just like everyone else, you’ll remain unemployed like everyone else. If you keep repeating the same information over and over and over and over and over and over again, no one wants to hear it, even if you did the same thing at each job. No one wants to read it. No one wants to read it. No one wants to read it. Sick of hearing the same message? So are recruiters.

You need to make yourself sound like you’re done varied things with progressive responsibility. It’s OK that you haven’t always been a director, but faxing, photocopying, and answering phones do not each deserve their own bullets. Just make sure you’re not compelled to do a functional resume. As I’ve said before, Functional Resume = Shady Resume (http://wp.me/pWfpN-8).

4. You’ve included information that makes the hiring manager or recruiter uncomfortable. In other countries marital status, photos, exact salary histories, age, and number of children are required on a resume. Here it just screams: Wow, I hope they don’t sue for discrimination based on info the candidate has included. They say when in Rome, do as the Romans. When you’re applying to a job in America, don’t include personal information beyond talents & what you can bring to the table. TMI (Too Much Info) is a definite turn off. Another post I have about Resume Content (http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P).

5. You’ve included stupid information. Yes, I said stupid. There may be no stupid questions, but there are definitely stupid resumes. You might be an exact fit, but then list on your skills & hobbies your love of the Mets. The hiring manager is a Yankee fan. You just potentially lost candidacy over a completely irrelevant fact on your resume. Again, if they don’t ask for that type of info on the posting,  and it’s not a job to work at Shea Stadium, keep personal preferences and tastes off your application.

Besides, who still likes the Mets?

Hiring Tips from a CEO

(make that a fabulously-talented-yet-humble CEO)

Today I have my first guest blogger who’d like to anonymously share their opinion about hiring.

What’s yours? Send it over to me posts@sharon.cc and I’ll post it if I feel our faithful readers have something to gain from it.

Ever wonder what a hiring manager think when you apply for a position you’re not qualified for?

Do they think, well hey, you love kids, and want to help them, so maybe they’ll hire you to be a pediatrician even though you didn’t go to medical school? Apparently not. Here’s the real reaction: don’t over-reach if you need a job. If you’re secure and looking for a small advancement appropriate to your experience, well then good luck!

“Perhaps it is not your resume itself – rather it’s the content: do your job skills match what you are applying for?

You should realize that sometimes hundreds of people apply for the same job (although sometimes it is only a handful which may not be qualified, so don’t be discouraged completely).

If you aren’t getting interviews or responses to applications it may be that other applicants would be able to hit the ground running immediately, with little training; whereas you might seem to be a smart on paper if your resume is strong enough, but would need to be trained. 

If you know what you want to do, get an internship in the field.  Think outside of the box.  Ask people who work in the field to let you work for free.  Contact a non-profit that will let you work on your own schedule.  Call your college and speak to alumni in the field.  Ask friends and family who they know.  There are a number of non-profit organizations that can help with resumes. Start at the bottom up, with an entry level role in the field you want if necessary.

Sending a million resumes on Monster.com and other similar sites is a waste of time and energy.  Make sure your cover letter/resume matches what you are looking for. 

For instance, when I was hiring for a 10 hour a week job, I received almost 100 resumes.  People who were graduating applied and stated that they were interested in the job.  I knew they would quit the moment that a full time role was available elsewhere.  I only interviewed people who stated they were looking for a part time job and reasons why (for instance, a sophomore in college who would like to get experience to supplement education or someone looking to get back into the workforce slowly).

If you are getting interviews but not getting the job, you may need to look at your interview skills, how you come across (how do you look, how do you speak, do you have any weird mannerisms?) and how prepared you appear. Perhaps you could do mock interviews. Again, there are agencies that can help if you cannot afford to hire a professional.”

So there you have it ladies & gentlemen – a CEO is not thrilled that you’re under-qualified or not an appropriate fit but decided to waste time: both yours and theirs.

Put your energy into strong applications for positions you have a strong chance of obtaining!

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-7g

Shameless vs. Fabulous: Resume, Social Media & Life Etiquette

154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Icons

Image by webtreats via Flickr

“Self-promotion is an art, not a science, because it takes a bit of instinct and talent to tiptoe across the tightrope between tooting your own horn and sprinting down the street at 6 a.m. with an air horn blaring whilst your soon-to-be-former friends roll their eyes and plug their ears and discuss behind your back how desperately they wish you’d just shut the eff up.”  – Brenna Ehrlich, author of blog Stuff Hipsters Hate – see #5 for full article

  1. Don’t be a school snob. You might have gone to Harvard, but if you don’t have an impressive resume or cover letter & think your school will open all doors for you, it won’t…well, it might open some, there are Ivy Snob hiring managers – but mine aren’t generally. And if you do, you’ll end up working for ‘the man’ you profess to hate.
  2. Don’t be a workplace snob. You worked for google? Well obviously you left or were let go, or are on your way out for a reason. Don’t think that will get you your next job.
  3. Make your online profiles & resumes easy to navigate. Viewers should be able to easily, immediately tell what and why you have done what you’ve done, when and where you’ve done it.
  4. FAIL: Shameless Promoting. We’ve all probably done it at some point, but you have to offer value in return for asking for something. Goes back to the ME, ME, ME complex (see http://wp.me/pWfpN-2M for more about me, myself, and I).
  5. Want tips on how to use social media for self-promotion that doesn’t make people gag? Try http://mashable.com/2010/09/22/promote-online/

Shortlink directly to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-6

 

Footer Fetish: Top 5 Resume Tips

Cool Blog Sociale - 10 July 2008 - I Heart Job...

Image by SOCIALisBETTER via Flickr

  1. Do not list references, unless you like to offer freeloaders access to the info of the most successful people in your life. Recruiters often love this as that it gives them contacts of people who they can send their positions to. If a company wants your references, they’ll ask for them. Don’t even waste space saying they’re available upon request. Of course they are! Use that space for something useful. If anything, write snippets of recommendations from those important people (see below for my example).
  2. Do not include clubs and activities you participated in while in school if you graduated more than 5 years ago. If you did something significant that’s relevant (i.e. fundraised a large sum of money, organized a large event, gathered a lot of people for a good cause) definitely include that, but present it as an accomplishment, not as “Served as treasurer of the Boston University Chess Team and raised money for t-shirts”.
  3. Do not repeat your contact information if it’s at the top of the page, unless your resume is more than one page, which most likely it shouldn’t be. If it is, add it faded as a footer.
  4. Do not put key words randomly at the bottom of your resume. Do not do this in white font for ATS’s to pick up, it will also likely show up then. If you feel it’s important to stress a word use it in the body of the resume, not as a laundry list trailer. I know some people recommend this, but it can also land you in the spam/trash pile where those buzz words belong.
  5. Do use the very bottom of your resume for skills, hobbies, talents, languages, etc. that may be relevant for the position you’re applying to, or might help you stand out of the crowd. Worst case it doesn’t get read, just make sure you don’t come across as an activist or religious zealot if you are not applying to that cause (more on that at http://wp.me/pWfpN-b).

 

Bonus Goodie of the day: Here’s what the bottom of my resume looks like. Yes, it’s a bit much for the average person, but as someone who looks at resumes all day, every day, I make myself laugh with my resume. I probably should make this more formal, but I’d personally like to work for an employer with a sense of humor (oh and one with telecommuting option which allows for a healthy work/life balance, while I’m creating my dream employer).

SKILLS & FASCINIATING THINGS
 Expertise in Word, Advanced Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, SMART Technologies, OpenHire, Recruiting ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems).
 Social Media 2.0 & 3.0 Networking: twitter, linkedin, facebook, myspace, blogger, blogspot, stumbledupon, wordpress, mashable, etc.
 Experience with SEO, NYCAPS (PeopleSoft), SharePoint, HTML, Photoshop, HRIS, Siebel, Visio, Avaya Technology, SPSS, Types 75WPM.
 Published Photographer featured in art shows in NYC. Published poetry author.
 Independently raised & nationally awarded for development of over $25,000 for non-profit organization by editing/publishing journal.

WHAT’S BEEN SAID ABOUT…“Sharon demonstrated an astute judge of talent which was critical in supporting recruiting needs…I would rank her in the top 5% of employees that I have managed in the past five years in respect of her writing ability, research skills, and ability to attract talented staff.” — L.E.S., Asst. Commissioner for External Partnerships and Research, New York State Education Department

“A hard-working individual, Sharon does an amazing job at anything to which she sets her mind…she is very bright, creative and organized. She pays attention to the small details and excels at writing, editing and marketing people, ideas and products. She has the uncanny ability to turn something mediocre into something exceptionally fascinating and vivid. She is also excellent at networking and is familiar with a wide variety of industries. She is never afraid to tackle new projects or ideas.” – E.O., CEO, NYMFCU