Computer Training Software Roundup: Basic vs. Domain-Specific Packages

With the weak economy and everyone feeling like their job, if they still have one, is in peril, people are trying to add to their skill set and make themselves a more productive and valuable employee. They’re augmenting themselves, not their résumé. If you’re one of these people, you’ve probably considered taking some courses or preparing for exams so you can get additional certifications. If you’ve done a little bit of research about self-paced computer training software packages, you’ve probably come to the same conclusion as I did – there are two very separate and specific “types” of self-paced learning packages and each one is designed to fulfill a very different need.

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Augment Yourself, Not Your Résumé

When I was a kid, my parents taught me that my job was to do well in school so that I could get into a good college. In college, my job was to do well, earn my diploma, and then get a good job. Once I started working, I was told that leaders take leadership training classes and took rotational assignments in areas others didn’t. I, of course, wanted to be a leader (that’s what’s next right?). I started signing up for all these classes that had great names and interesting content but really lacked any application in my day to day activities.

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 Personal Finance 

Ten Recession-Busting Money Tips for Young Professionals

Gray's Papaya Recession SpecialOver three million, six hundred thousand jobs have been lost since the recession started over a year ago. Three million, six hundred thousand. If you’re one of the three million, six hundred thousand, my heart goes out to you and I hope you’ll follow my friend Sarah as she chronicles her battle against joblessness in Diary of a Firee. If you still have your job and you haven’t started preparing for the possibility that you will lose it, start preparing. You have all the tools you need right now to fortify your finances so that, should you lose your job, you will be prepared for it.

These tips were tailored for young professionals but they can apply to anyone. They are focused less on family-related money saving ideas and more on the things individuals and couples tend to do, especially if they’re in the younger working demographic.

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Accomplishment Journal: Record Your Achievements

Accomplishment JournalDo you have an accomplishment journal?

I don’t know if you’ve seen my Wall of Fame & Fortune & Awesomeness but it’s a list of all the awesome publications and websites I’ve have the pleasure of being in, on, or near. It’s essentially a list of my accomplishments as a result of this blog and it’s something I feel very fortunate to have been able to do. I was in the local paper once when I was in 6th grade for reading to kindergartners in my school, the New York Times was a little bigger than that. 🙂

The point of showing that post both here and at the top of every page isn’t to brag or show the world how awesome I am. It’s there because it gives me the motivation to keep doing what I’m doing every day, day in and day out. Life can be a grind, whether its in an office, a restaurant, a factory floor, a job site, or a retail store. Unless you make a record of the highlights, you can often get lost in the grind and find yourself on the flip side without a clue of what happened.

There are a few other reasons why I think an accomplishment journal is crucial.

What Is An Accomplishment Journal

An accomplishment journal is simply a place you can write down and celebrate all of your accomplishments. You define what success is and you define what you consider an accomplishment. The door is wide open and anything you want to put down is fair game. What an office manager considers a success is different than what a stay at home mom or dad considers a success. A student has different goals, and thus different accomplishments to note, than an executive. However, for any one of those people, an accomplishment journal is something that can provide value for years to come.

Why Keep One?

If you ever kept a journal as a child (I didn’t but my wife did and I love reading her cute notes), you know how much fun reading your own thoughts can be. Who and what bothered you, who you liked and disliked, what your concerns were at the time, etc. Now, an accomplishment journal is similar in that you can relive your successes. It makes it much easier to remember the past and offers a glimpse into your own development. That’s the emotional sappy reason, there are also many logical reasons to keep a journal.

It helps you keep your resume up to date. I recommend revisiting and updating your resume every three months, even if you aren’t looking for a job. It’s important to update your resume when the accomplishments and responsibilities are still fresh in your mind. Can you accurately remember the work you did five years ago? If you were put under the gun, like after being laid off, would you be able to remember the work you did last year with sufficient clarity? If you are able to recall exactly what you did, maybe you don’t need to update it every three months. I only know that I can’t, which is why I update it every three months.

It motivates you. One of the biggest things I learned from my wife when she was looking for a job several years ago was the importance of progress when there appeared to be none. One of the tips I offered in my post about Three Morale-Boosting Tips for Job Seekers was to track your progress. Tracking your progress in a job hunt is like tracking your accomplishments. It may seem silly or minor to you but when you send out ten resumes or go out on an interview, those are accomplishments. When you look back after a week of searching, it’s much better to see “I sent out 85 resumes.” than to remember “I spent all week sending resumes.”

It lets you define how success is measured. Mark at Soul Shelter recently wrote about his struggles with the idea of success. Mark is a writer, a midlist writer (where the books aren’t a bestseller but sell enough to justify publication), and struggles each year around the holidays to describe his vocation. While his struggle was with the external barometers of success for his field, bestseller lists and book sales, he does talk about how “we ought to try to recognize and value others’ achievements, big and small, vocational and personal. And most importantly, if we want to be happy and self-confident and continue wholeheartedly doing the work we love—however underpaid or undervalued—we must learn to rely on the measures of success that mean the most to us personally, and strive not to lose sight of them.”

Having your own journal of accomplishments can help further that goal, if only for yourself. Rather than look towards income or other external measures, your accomplishments are whatever you want them to be and when you write them down, they can give you the motivation to work harder. You decide what you want to write down and only you will be reading it, so feel free to write down things that are important to you that may not be important to anyone else.

Do you keep a journal of your achievements and accomplishments? If so, what was your latest accomplishment? It’s ok to share! 🙂

(Photo: shuttercat7)


PFCollege: Always Keep Your Resume Updated

Personal Finance for College Students Series SealIf you’re like me, you probably will have a handful of jobs during your college undergraduate career ranging in length from a real summer internship all the way to a simply work-study at the college bookstore during the semester. No matter what it is, it’s important that you keep your resume up to date every semester because you never know when 1) you’ll need a copy of your resume 2) how much of your work experience you’ll actually remember.

Recently, I was trying to recall all the jobs I held during my college career and while I remembered most of my “real” jobs, I completely forgot about the semester I was a teaching assistant and the one where I was a work-study in some department’s IT group. Honestly, those two jobs aren’t truly resume worthy, I had meaty enough internships to take up the space, but had I needed them I didn’t remember enough to even try to make them resume worthy. That’s why you need to write your work as you do it (or soon thereafter) so that you accurately capture what you did.

This was a suggestion I mentioned in a prior post (update your resume every 3 months) but I felt it was an important enough tip to bring up again.

This article is part of a new series I’ve started called Personal Finance for College Students (hence, PF College).


When Job Hunting, Post Your Resume Anonymously

Always, always, always post your resume online anonymously. With the threat of identify theft so great, it makes no sense to put your name, address, and any other identifying personal information out there for everyone to see. Most employment sites will let you post your resume anonymously and no reputable employer or recruiter will care that they can’t see your name, address, email, or phone number… it’s your skills they should be after, not your identity.

Of course, there are other reasons to remain anonymous… such as if you’re are currently employed. You want to be the one to let your employer know that you’ve sought out greener pastures, not some search on a website. Of course, if you’re at a large enough company then chances are HR won’t recognize you but it’s safe that way anyway. I’ve gotten job inquiriers from my own company before, it’s pretty funny.

Also, don’t divulge any personal information, such as your address or social security number to someone you never meet in person. Don’t give them information to do a background check, phishing for information isn’t restricted to emails about v1@gr@ and mystical lottery winnings; someone can easily email you, get a phone number, and then call you up trying to socially engineer more information out of you. No address or social until you’ve actually gone to their place of business and interviewed. You can give them all that information there anyway. (also, background information checks aren’t cheap, wouldn’t you think they’d want to at least give you a first round interview before they ponied up cash for a background check? Yeah, exactly, it’s a scam.)


Update Your Resume Every Three Months

Have you ever tried, at the end of an internship for example, to recall everything you did on a particular job? It’s difficult to muster up the words to describe every thing of note that you accomplished and even harder to fit all that stuff onto a single page. Now imagine if you’ve been working at the same company for twenty years and were suddenly laid off, with only a pink slip and your 20 year old resume in hand. Now try remembering what you did 20 years ago, or 10, or five… it’s damned impossible. That’s why you should update your resume every three months no matter what. You could be in your dream job working as the right hand man/woman to the CEO of your company right now, it doesn’t matter, update your resume every three months. You could’ve won the lottery and sitting on your ass drinking mohitos in the Caribbean, it doesn’t matter, update your resume every three months. There are a lot of reasons, here are a handful:

1. Your memory now of now is better than your memory of now in a month. No matter how good your memory is, what you remember now will surely trump what you will be able to recall one, two, or ten years later. You never know when you’ll need to pull out the resume so it’s always good to have it updated with the freshest information.

2. It’s important to chart your progress. If you can’t put something new on your resume every three months, you’re not doing what you’re good at or what you’re doing is entirely unremarkable. Every three months you should be able to put something on be it an accomplishment, a new skill, a new award or new something. If you can’t, you need to investigate what you’ve been doing the last three months of your life and figure out if the next three months will be different.

3. People get fired /demoted/transferred out of their dream jobs everyday. You might be in your dream job right now but you might not be your boss’ dream candidate – be prepared for that eventuality. Your dream job might turn out to be your nightmare, your dream job might be gone in the next budget cycle, there are a lot of things that could take you away from your dream job. No one ever expects to get fired. It’s important to keep the one thing that is constant, you, will be covered in the event you need to find a new job.

4. You may one day want to move on. Your resume is your life’s professional work on one single solitary page (or maybe two). It’s easier to keep it crisp every three months than it is to dust it off after three years and try to get it sparkling again. What was the name of that small project worked on two years ago?

5. The grass is greener. It really is. QUIT QUIT QUIT QUIT.

The bottom line is that one day you and your job will separate and for many of us it won’t come with a retirement party, cake, and the obligatory Cracker Jack box watch – be prepared for it.

 Personal Finance 

25 Resume Words To Avoid

CNN briefly touched on the topic of resumes earlier this month by giving some standard, but useful, advice with respect to what you put on your resume, including twenty five words you should avoid. Essentially they suggest that you should drop general terms about yourself or what you experienced in favor of specific things you did:

Instead of… “Experience working in fast-paced environment”

Try… “Registered 120+ third-shift emergency patients per night”

Personally, I always find it hard to write the Objective part of the resume (mine reads something generic about ‘wanting to find a software development position that utilizes by technical and leadership skills’) and I think they’d give a pass at generic words there but my work experience hardly ever has any ‘personality buzzwords.’ I figured I’ll put what I did and if it’s something they’re looking for, they’ll bring me in and learn about my personality and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far.

As for the words to avoid: Aggressive, Ambitious, Competent, Creative, Detail-oriented, Determined, Efficient, Experienced, Flexible, Goal-oriented, Hard-working, Independent, Innovative, Knowledgeable, Logical, Motivated, Meticulous, People person, Professional, Reliable, Resourceful, Self-motivated, Successful, Team player and Well-organized.

Story via CNN.

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