It’s no secret that the language a person uses in a job application can have a huge affect on their success, but not all my students understand just how subtle this is. In particular, I’m often struck by the negative impact the Aussie characteristic of being humble, understated, and playing things down can have on a resume or in a job interview. Students don’t want to seem arrogant, but in most cases they take it too far and actively diminish their experience, skills, and achievements.
This Adobe Captivate project that I created for the La Trobe University careers blog sums up my advice to students in this regard by teaching them to be a little more direct in their language and to remove a couple of common diminishing phrases. To be perfectly honest, it didn’t really need to be a Captivate project, as it doesn’t really have any interactions, but I felt like having a play in Captivate and so here it is.
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of workshops for La Trobe university students on how to use Linkedin.com. Most students know that Linkedin is useful as an online resume and networking tool, but few of them have explored some of the other great features.
My favourite feature right now is the alumni finder tool. In addition to expanding your network, I’ve found this tool incredibly useful in exploring the answer to the question the question “what can I do with a degree in XYZ?”
Basically, this tool helps you limit your search to alumni of your chosen institution, their field of study and field of work, among a few other filters. By browsing around the results of similar people, you can build up an idea of typical career paths, job titles and organisations, necessary further training, or many other factors that are shared by the people you find.
To help students use this tool, I initially planned to make a screencast video to demonstrate how. But after a little planning, I realised that the actual steps required to use the tool are so simple that a video seemed to be overkill. Then, with perfect timing, this post about using animated GIFs in learning design by instructional designer Mel Milloway popped up on my twitter feed.
GIFs were perfect for this project. About one hour later, I had created four small looping GIFs that stepped through the alumni finder tool with great clarity. I like how the images repeat, so the viewer only needs to observe the image for a few seconds to get the full idea. GIFs also look great on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, so I’m interested in using GIFs some more as the most micro of micolearning tools.
How to use Linkedin to explore potential career paths, in 5 easy GIFs
My resume-checking consultations with students often begin with the student telling me “I’ve been sending my resume out to heaps of jobs but have had no replies”. This sentence is loaded with all sorts of danger signals, so before looking at the resume I always take some time to explore what the students’ job search strategies are like.
99% of the time, they’re awful.
It’s telling that the word resume is singular in that sentence. Students are sending out the exact same resume for a wide range of jobs. Leaving aside the fact that job search sites are a poor source of career opportunities, it’s obvious that none of these applications have a well targeted resume. Unfortunately, job search websites such as seek.com encourage this self-defeating behaviour by including an “apply now” button which instantly sends off a stored resume.
To try and combat this I put together this short blog post for La Trobe’s Career Ready website: Beware the job application self-destruct button. I enjoy producing career education nuggets like this, because although they focus on one quite specific message, you can load them up with a lot of incidental learning. For example, this post’s message is “don’t use the apply now button”, but the reader is also exposed to important ideas such as targeting resumes, reaching out to employers, and following application instructions.
I’m very interested in microlearning and using social media for career education. Workplace and social learning expert Jane Hart‘s idea of learning flow neatly summarises this approach:
A Learning Flow is a continuous steady stream of social micro-learning activities – accessible from the web and mobile devices
I’m looking forward to exploring and learning more about how I can use learning flow and social learning to improve the career education outcomes of my students. What this space: further study and research ahead.
The image is my own, created in PowerPoint from a free stock photo from Unsplash.com, a public domain mushroom cloud, and a tutorial on creating a comic book format from elearning design guru Tom Kuhlmann. It took longer than it needed to because there was a learning curve involved in getting the odd frame shapes right, but I learned a couple of new functions. It’s a quick and dirty effort, but I think it does the trick.
A week or two ago I published “Three Easy Ways to Target Your Resume” on the La Trobe Career Ready website. One of the methods, the “Resume Golden Zone” got a particularly good response from my colleagues, both in my office and further afield via social media.
The idea for this came from an eye-tracking study done to see how recruiters read resumes. It showed that resume readers focused more on the left margin and paid less and less attention as they moved down the page. When talking to students about this, I found myself drawing a line on their resume, from the top right corner down to about two-thirds the way down the left margin. The visual impact of the triangle this formed on the page screamed out to me for a quick little e-learning nugget.
For such a short slideshow, the Resume Golden Zone is loaded with several great learning outcomes. The main one is that it helps students understand why the cliche’d objective statement is a waste of prime resume real estate. It illustrates the value of a plain English professional summary, which itself demands that the writer make an effort to prioritise their skills and experience to match the requirements of the job.
The slideshow itself was a very straightforward PowerPoint job, using one of the fantastic free patterns from the Pattern Library project for the background. I’m happy with the result and I’m looking forward to making more nuggets like this.