Resume and job hunting advice needed. [Archive] - Glock Talk

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HarlDane
08-30-2012, 15:34
I’ve seen plenty of job hunting and resume threads over the years here and there is usually plenty of good advice so I thought I’d run my current situation by the GT brain trust. I’ll start with a little background information.

Three weeks ago, I graduated from college with a BS in accounting and a BA in economics. I’m now in full time job hunting mode and trying to dust off a resume that hasn’t been updated in ten years. My goal is to land an entry level position with a small to mid-sized local accounting firm and eventually become a CPA.

I don’t fit the mold of most recent college grads. After graduating HS and spending a few semesters bouncing around community college, I spent the better part of a decade chasing fruit up and down California and later the east coast, working in the Ag industry. I eventually settled down, got married and started a family. I gave up my life on the road for a desk job with a small software company started by my mother and a few partners. Their eventual plan was to sell the business, so I knew it wasn’t a long term career move, but it was a stable 9-5 job with benefits that would hold me over until I could move back into a job in agriculture that didn’t involve living out of a suitcase.

Things were great for a few years and I got comfortable, eventually the plan to go back was scrapped as my priorities continued to change. I knew I still needed a long term plan, so I arranged my work schedule so that I could go back to school. Not too long after that, the business started to tank and eventually after a year and a half of just barely holding things together, everyone, including two of the four owners were laid off. (Things have sense recovered and they’re now negotiating the sale of the business)

At that time I decided to double my efforts at school and graduate as quickly as possible instead of looking for immediate full time work, which would mean dropping out of school mid-semester. For the next two years I took 20-22 units a semester and although I worked, I didn’t exactly have a job. I did some contract work for my mom as her business started to recover a little, my in-laws own a few small businesses as well as the ranch we live on, so there were always small jobs and extra work to do for them, I helped a family friend completely gut, expand and remodel a master bedroom one summer, at one point I even unloaded a U-Haul truck for $100. I basically put out word that I was willing to do just about anything, as long as I could do it around my class schedule and between the odd jobs, scholarships, grants and a few student loans, I was able to get by pretty well.

So now for my questions: At 33, I’ll basically be competing for positions with people ten years younger than me. I’d like to highlight my experience working in agriculture and in small family businesses because many of the clients of the firms I plan to target are farmers and small business owners. I think my experience gives me an advantage by knowing some of the issues they deal with first hand. My first thought was to use a standard chronological resume, but I’m afraid it might magnify the recent two year gap in employment and I’m not sure how much a CPA firm cares about my duties and responsibilities as a fruit inspector or what USDA licenses I held. Most of my peers are using the “recent college grad” resume templates that are more functional in design and highlight educational achievements, coursework and things along those lines and just briefly mentions their part time jobs in retail or waiting tables. I’d like to stand out in the pile of resumes, but not in such a way that my mine gets trashed.

Every job I've had since I was a 20 years old working at a service station pumping gas and changing oil, I got through personal contacts or by someone offering me a job after noticing me work, so this whole process is a bit new to me. Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.

airmotive
08-30-2012, 16:11
It's not what you know; it's who you know.

So...who do you know?

Start by asking the owners of some of those Ag companies who does their accounting...

Bill Keith
08-30-2012, 16:36
What you can do is sell your experience, tenacity, and breadth of skills and ability to WORK. The 20 somethings don't generally have those talents. I'd suggest that you look into agribusiness companies, local outfits that know you and those for whom your mom has done business with - they have a knowledge of the outfit you worked for. A chronologicl resume doesn't have to give a blow by blow of every duty you had, but should point out the skills and responsibilities that you used and brought projects to completion, or worked in a team setting to common goals and success. Good Luck. :wavey:

Huaco Kid
08-30-2012, 16:37
It's not what you know; it's who you know.

So...who do you know?

Good call. I'm a contractor that travels to customers job sites. They run from scheduled quarterly visits to annual visits to one time emergency repair calls.

I take one of every business card I see displayed at customer sites. I've got a 4 or 5 inch stack of them now. They will be my go-to source for contacts if I ever find myself jobless.

BobCZ
08-30-2012, 16:47
Networking is the single best way to get a position. Your degrees are highly desirable right now.

As a finance guy myself, I would find your story compelling. What I look for and what you have to convey or convince is that you will bring value. I want someone that realizes that they are there to make the company money not 'to do a job".

As an accountant at a CPA firm its all about billable time. Focus on your abilities to maximize that.

HarlDane
08-30-2012, 17:03
It's not what you know; it's who you know.I learned that lesson quick in the Ag business and I'm getting a refresher course now.

Networking is definitely a big priority. "Who does your taxes?" is my new favorite question. I'm also trying to get out to the young professional nights that the local chapter of CalCPA puts on as well as alumni functions and things like that.

scottgun
08-30-2012, 17:53
Networking is key. As mentioned, it's who you know. Most jobs are landed by referring a friend or past co-worker. But what if you don't know anyone?

My advice for breaking into a new career is to apply at temp agencies like Accountemps or Robert Half, or what ever is local to you. Apply to all of the ones that are reputable. They will interview you and get a feel for your skills and ability to interview with a company. Then if they find a match for you, you may or may not have an interview with the company. In your situation, I would suggest taking about any relevant assignment that they find for you. Even if its a 2 week assignement while someone is out on vacation, you'll get more relevant experience for your resume and you will gain more professional contacts for networking and reference. Many temp positions are temp to hire, so if the company likes you and you like the job then it could turn into a full time gig.

Especially with tax season coming up, lots of places will hire on temps for busy season.

Remember when employers first look at your resume, they stop reading about half way through the first page. So put all your education at the top, list your relevant skills that you've learned that would apply to your job and then highlight your top achievements. Save the work history for the bottom of the resume. You are right, most CPA firms aren't interested in your non-relevant work, but they would be interested in someone who is a reliable employee and has a good work ethic. Your post is well written, so you have good communication skills. Keep the cover letter to one page, short, concise and focused on why they should hire you. Good luck!

HarlDane
08-31-2012, 12:19
I just finished tailoring my cover letter and resume for a few new jobs that popped up on the Universities jobs website. Many of the adds request that applicants email their resume and unofficial transcripts to the company. Should I include my cover letter as a separate attachment or use it as the body of the email?

arclight610
08-31-2012, 13:19
I just finished tailoring my cover letter and resume for a few new jobs that popped up on the Universities jobs website. Many of the adds request that applicants email their resume and unofficial transcripts to the company. Should I include my cover letter as a separate attachment or use it as the body of the email?

If I am emailing a real person, I use the email as the cover letter. If you are just entering a database or sending it to a generic department, I include it separately. For instance, job ad says "...send resume to Tammy." Email should be cover letter. If job ad says "... send resume to File 13 Resume Processing Center," separate cover letter.

biggun1911
09-01-2012, 06:47
Where do you live in the San Joaquin Valley? I am a partner in a local CPA firm in Fresno. We currently have a position open for a beginning staff accountant. I do the interviewing.

You have a very good work history and you should include it with you resume. It appears to me you are settled where you are and moving is not an option, so your job opportunities are limited to the local area.

Send me your resume if you are close enough to commute.

.264 magnum
09-01-2012, 07:04
Iíve seen plenty of job hunting and resume threads over the years here and there is usually plenty of good advice so I thought Iíd run my current situation by the GT brain trust. Iíll start with a little background information.

Three weeks ago, I graduated from college with a BS in accounting and a BA in economics. Iím now in full time job hunting mode and trying to dust off a resume that hasnít been updated in ten years. My goal is to land an entry level position with a small to mid-sized local accounting firm and eventually become a CPA.

I donít fit the mold of most recent college grads. After graduating HS and spending a few semesters bouncing around community college, I spent the better part of a decade chasing fruit up and down California and later the east coast, working in the Ag industry. I eventually settled down, got married and started a family. I gave up my life on the road for a desk job with a small software company started by my mother and a few partners. Their eventual plan was to sell the business, so I knew it wasnít a long term career move, but it was a stable 9-5 job with benefits that would hold me over until I could move back into a job in agriculture that didnít involve living out of a suitcase.

Things were great for a few years and I got comfortable, eventually the plan to go back was scrapped as my priorities continued to change. I knew I still needed a long term plan, so I arranged my work schedule so that I could go back to school. Not too long after that, the business started to tank and eventually after a year and a half of just barely holding things together, everyone, including two of the four owners were laid off. (Things have sense recovered and theyíre now negotiating the sale of the business)

At that time I decided to double my efforts at school and graduate as quickly as possible instead of looking for immediate full time work, which would mean dropping out of school mid-semester. For the next two years I took 20-22 units a semester and although I worked, I didnít exactly have a job. I did some contract work for my mom as her business started to recover a little, my in-laws own a few small businesses as well as the ranch we live on, so there were always small jobs and extra work to do for them, I helped a family friend completely gut, expand and remodel a master bedroom one summer, at one point I even unloaded a U-Haul truck for $100. I basically put out word that I was willing to do just about anything, as long as I could do it around my class schedule and between the odd jobs, scholarships, grants and a few student loans, I was able to get by pretty well.

So now for my questions: At 33, Iíll basically be competing for positions with people ten years younger than me. Iíd like to highlight my experience working in agriculture and in small family businesses because many of the clients of the firms I plan to target are farmers and small business owners. I think my experience gives me an advantage by knowing some of the issues they deal with first hand. My first thought was to use a standard chronological resume, but Iím afraid it might magnify the recent two year gap in employment and Iím not sure how much a CPA firm cares about my duties and responsibilities as a fruit inspector or what USDA licenses I held. Most of my peers are using the ďrecent college gradĒ resume templates that are more functional in design and highlight educational achievements, coursework and things along those lines and just briefly mentions their part time jobs in retail or waiting tables. Iíd like to stand out in the pile of resumes, but not in such a way that my mine gets trashed.

Every job I've had since I was a 20 years old working at a service station pumping gas and changing oil, I got through personal contacts or by someone offering me a job after noticing me work, so this whole process is a bit new to me. Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated.


HarlDane,

* I'd choose a chronological resume for most applications.

*Try to write a custom cover letter that is short and sweet - every time.

*I like left justified layouts - and center justified a little less. I really struggle with right justification.

*Highlight and sell your work history and that you worked so hard through school. Most employers and hiring managers love that angle when it's real.

*No pictures or crazy typeface either

You're going to find a good job in no time. Once you have the job find ways to help your boss(es) save time - take chores off their plates so to speak.

Own it!

jpa
09-01-2012, 09:40
Where do you live in the San Joaquin Valley? I am a partner in a local CPA firm in Fresno. We currently have a position open for a beginning staff accountant. I do the interviewing.

You have a very good work history and you should include it with you resume. It appears to me you are settled where you are and moving is not an option, so your job opportunities are limited to the local area.

Send me your resume if you are close enough to commute.

My resume advice? Send this guy your resume. :)

I think the chronological resume that highlights the major projects and accomplishments you've completed would be best. Put your education at the top, especially if you graduated with honors or as a member of some honor society.

In addition to the CalCPA mixers, you might want to also check out IMA events http://www.imanet.org/ima_home.aspx

I've had a meandering educational experience much like you and I'm also working towards a BS in Accounting. I'll have my Associates in the spring then I'm transferring for my 4 year. I'm 32, I hope to have mine done by the time I'm 34.

HarlDane
09-01-2012, 11:35
Where do you live in the San Joaquin Valley? I am a partner in a local CPA firm in Fresno. We currently have a position open for a beginning staff accountant. I do the interviewing.

You have a very good work history and you should include it with you resume. It appears to me you are settled where you are and moving is not an option, so your job opportunities are limited to the local area.

Send me your resume if you are close enough to commute.Thank you for that amazing offer. I do live near Fresno and would love the opportunity to send you my resume. PM sent.

fallenangelhim
09-01-2012, 11:46
In hiring people, I look for humility with experience, enthusiasm with inexperience.

Don't come across as a showy know it all, and seem passionate.

My assistant and I usually do the interviews and hiring together. He asks the serious questions and I like to throw in, "what makes you happy?" Or "describe your best friend to me."

Questions that make people dig a little deeper usually gets them to reveal a lot about themselves.

Sent from my Android

HarlDane
10-17-2012, 10:46
Update!

Just when I thought I had things all planned out...

I got a call a few weeks ago from a recruiter who had run across my resume and wanted to sit down and talk. I went in a few days later and after going over my qualifications and experience, she tells me I'm exactly what her client is looking for, but that I need to know up front that becoming a CPA is not in the cards with this company. I told her my long term plan was to work on the corporate side of things in agriculture and that I was interested, but it had to be the right position with the right company.

She had me as soon as she dropped her clients name and the details were icing on the cake. The position is with one of the largest privately held companies of its kind in the world and an absolute legend in the ag-business world. The pay is 25% higher than anything else in this area, full line up of benefits, pension plan and a 401K and opportunities to move up every 2-5 years.

So for the last few weeks I've been on a series of four interviews, I knew after the second interview that I was in the final two and when I got the call back for the fourth, I thought I had it in the bag. They took me on a tour of their operations, showed me around town, pointing out how good the schools were, etc. I got a call last Friday from the recruiter, telling me they still couldn't decide between the two of us and that they were going to sit on it over the weekend and make a final decision Monday.

I had gotten the message in the tour that they wanted me to move to town and I was actually in town showing my wife around when I got the call. We talked it over quickly, I called the recruiter back and asked her to tell them that if offered the job I would be moving to town instead of commuting. Two hours later I had a formal offer.

For anyone else thinking about going back to school later in life, if you can, do it. The last few years have come with a lot of hard work, sacrifices and some really tough decisions, but in the end, it really paid off.

Now I get to really enjoy my last few days of being an unemployed bum. :supergrin:

blackjack
10-17-2012, 13:10
Congratulations on your successful job search and landing a plum position. I predict a great future for you and your family. I'm guessing this ag company is one based in Minnesota, given the company attributes you described.

HarlDane
10-17-2012, 13:50
Congratulations on your successful job search and landing a plum position. I predict a great future for you and your family. I'm guessing this ag company is one based in Minnesota, given the company attributes you described.Thank you, the family is very excited.

This is for a CA based company, but on scale with the company I believe you are referencing.

collim1
10-17-2012, 13:54
Keep at it. Times are tough right now. My wife graduated from Graduate school three years ago and just today got offered a decent full time job today after weeks of several interviews.

Congrats on finishing school. I was on the 6 year plan myself.

RWBlue
10-17-2012, 14:47
Congrats

It sounds like this is your first office job so.....now for the work advice
1. Dress for the position you want to have.
2. Don't talk about things you shouldn't talk about at work. (Sex, drugs, politics, religion, how much you get paid or your co-workers get paid.....)
3. IT Security will probably NOT be watching what you do all the time, but play it like there were because IF you are ever suspected of doing something or your boss doesn't like you, IT Security WILL watch ever move you have ever made.
4. Be truthful with your auditors. I worked hand in hand with the financial auditors when I was a PwC IT Auditor. NOTHING will get you in as much trouble as us suspecting that you are lying to us. We will continue to dig and dig and dig until we find something if we suspect an untruth. OR to put it a different way, tell us if you made an honest mistake so we don't have to find it on our own and suspect the worst.
5. If someone asks you to do something questionable, get it in an email. The line works very well with bosses who are honest. "Sure, just send me an email on that so I can track my work, remember to do it, document this for the auditors......"
6. Make a "to do list" in excel on the first day. When things are complete move them to the bottom and mark them complete. Use this for your monthly reports, at the end of the year for your review, to build your resume when you decide it is time to move.
7. Join a professional organization and go to it AT LEAST twice a year. Network with your peers.
8. Have a linkedin account to keep track of your peers.
9. Get your professional certs while you are young. The older you get the harder it is to find the time to get them and the less value they will be to you over your lifetime.
10. Never get so comfortable at a spot that you could not be able to get another spot if they laid you off. (Same thing goes for finances and other aspects of your life....Don't get too comfortable.)


There is a time and a place to break all the above rules, but don't break them until you understand when and where to break them.

PS> Every so often look at the jobs boards. See what positions you would want to apply for and then stick your resume out there to see if you at least get a phone call. I am currently doing this and I am getting phone calls, but not for the positions I want.