Up Close and Too Personal – What to Leave OFF Your Resume

A resume serves as a reflection of who you are:  it contains your education, your illustrious work experience, various ways to contact you…  But then, a resume should never really reflect who you are.  We’re talking about the personal details – the little things that make you the fabulous person you are today, but that should really have no bearing on landing a job.

So whether you’re just starting to apply to jobs for the first time, or are a seasoned job search veteran, here’s a refresher course on things that you should never include on your resume:

Religion

If you’re not applying to a job at a religious institution, keep your views off the page.  It’s irrelevant to the job, and hiring managers are not allowed to take it under consideration anyway, so there’s really no place for it.  If you volunteer at a religious organization and you consider this experience especially relevant to the job you’re applying to, you can mention it briefly.  However, if you must include it, keep the organization anonymous and focus on your role instead.  For example:

Volunteer Instructor – once a week, taught a classroom of thirty children, ages 10-12.

Also, keep in mind that anything you mention in the resume is likely to come up during the interview, so include this information at your own risk.

Politics

Again, if you’re not going into politics, leave it off.  These sorts of matters are controversial in the first place, are irrelevant, and if anything, just take up valuable space.  Like with religion, if you consider your political experience extra valuable and relevant to a particular job – and just can’t bear to take it off the resume – avoid mentioning the organization name, and be prepared to discuss further during an interview.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual preference may be a key component to who you are, but it has nothing to do with how well you can perform on the job.  More than this, even though discrimination in the workplace is illegal, it still exists in some places, so don’t take your chances.

Age

Though you may be the perfect fit for the position, ageism in the workplace certainly exists, and you may be eliminated from the pool prematurely if you are perceived as being too old or too young.  If age is an issue, be cautious with including specific dates on your resume as well (most hiring managers can do the math).  So if your 30-year college reunion is around the corner, you might want to keep that graduation date to yourself and also leave off some of your early, less relevant experience.

Health and Disabilities

The law protects persons with health issues or disabilities, but again, you should leave this information off of your resume.  It’s irrelevant and opportunity for discrimination exists.

Criminal Record

The general rule with a criminal record is to be upfront and honest with a hiring manager, but the resume is not the place for this.  Wait until the interview to bring this up.

While you want to give the hiring manager a good idea of who you are, there’s definitely a point where you can become too personal in what you decide to disclose.  Always aim to flaunt how great you are on your resume – just be a bit discerning while you do it.

 

Behaviors that Tarnish Your Office Reputation – Part 2

Financial Planner, New York, NY
Capital Markets Analyst, Houston, TX
Investment Banker, Denver, CO
Brand Marketing Fellow, New York, NY
Corporate M&A Group Associate, Chicago, IL

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Welcome back to our next installment of reputation-tarnishing behaviors at work.  Last time we explored how being too assertive, overextending yourself, and failing to communicate with your boss can all have a negative impact on your status.  Read on for a few more behaviors to avoid if you’re trying to stay on everyone’s good side!

Lack of Coherency

It’s likely that at some point during your job you will have to share your work and progress with either your boss or your coworkers.  And while this may take some extra effort and energy on your part, it’s important to take the time to ensure that what you present to others is clear, logical, and legible.  A presentation that lacks these three factors can really frustrate others, and you may be forced to either rework what you did, spend a good amount of time explaining superfluous details, or have your work be disregarded altogether.  Presenting coherent, understandable work is a show of respect for your audience, so you should do your best to be as clear as possible.

Challenging Your Boss

At all times, no matter what, you should show respect for your boss.  This becomes particularly important when others are around, say, in a team meeting or even just around the office.  It’s okay to disagree with your boss, but set aside a time to do so in private.  If your boss happens to make a mistake in a meeting – and you feel that it’s important to point this out – either try to get the message to your boss discreetly or bring the matter up in as polite a way as possible.  Never try to challenge your boss in public, as this will likely cause you to be perceived as insubordinate.

Focusing Solely on Your Boss

While your relationship with your boss is crucial to your career, it’s important to also cultivate relationships with your coworkers.  These are the people with whom you will be working in teams, and perhaps more importantly, they’re the ones whom you will be working under (or above) when someone is promoted.  Don’t isolate yourself by ignoring your peers, and don’t be seen as a “brown noser” by focusing solely on your boss.  It’s imperative to be friendly with everyone and to be a team player.

Having No Reputation

One interesting point that many fail to consider is having no reputation.  While flying under the radar is certainly preferable to sticking out like a sore thumb, it’s still better to be in great standing at your place of work.  If you show up to work but remain unnoticed, you will likely miss out on many of the privileges afforded to hardworking, friendly, reliable employees.  Having no reputation does not mean that you are none of these things, it just means that you will have to put in a little extra work to be recognized as such.

That’s it for now on behavioral blunders to avoid at work.  As you can see, how you interact with both your coworkers and your boss is extremely important, and it’s worth putting in the extra effort so that people consider you a great component of the team!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Behaviors that Tarnish Your Office Reputation – Part 1

Entry Level Treasury Analyst, San Diego, CA
Administrative Assistant, New York, NY
Research Analyst – Energy, Boston, MA
Consulting Associate, Multiple Locations
Associate, New York, NY

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Maintaining a good reputation at work is a delicate balance.  Because business is business, and there is usually a lot of stress circulating around an office, people are quicker to judge and slower to forgive.  That’s why it’s important to get off to a solid start and do what you can to remain in the good graces of both your superiors and your coworkers.  Here are a few behaviors to avoid:

Asserting Yourself as the New Guy

When you’re the new guy, it can be tempting to want to enter with a bang, but sometimes this can be a huge turnoff.  If you start off trying to revolutionize things too quickly, people might become offended about the fact that you’re trying to change everything around, and put you back in your place.  While you may have the best of intentions, try to hold back just a little bit, adding your two cents when it seems natural or when you are asked – not when you have to fight to get a word in.  When you first get to a company, take some time to learn what they are about and what they are trying to do, and this will likely enable you to contribute in a more valuable way.  After all, you may feel that you have some very enlightened observations to provide, but these may have already been observed previously (possibly more than once), and broaching the same topic all over again will just make everyone feel like you’re beating a dead horse.

Overextending Yourself

Many people feel that they will actually build a greater reputation by being a “Yes Man”.  Indeed, all companies value reliable employees.  But if you get to the point where you are saying “yes” to everything, you may reach a point where the quality of all of your work suffers, or you may find yourself unable to get to certain projects at all.  It’s important to learn what you can and cannot do, and to budget your time wisely.  It’s perfectly fine to explain to your boss that you simply have too much on your plate to take on another project at the moment – he or she will likely respect you for this.

Failing to Check In

Your boss manages a lot of people, and by extension, manages a lot of projects.  He has a lot on his plate, and so you figure you’ll spare him the headache by getting your work done first and then running it by him.  But this can be a huge mistake.  If you’re working on a big project, it’s probably a good idea to update your boss on your progress and allow him to offer feedback.  Managers like to feel that they are a part of the work, and may become aggravated when you try to run off with it on your own.  Additionally, when you fail to check in and end up doing something incorrectly, you’ll create more work for yourself and irritate your boss even more.

As you can see, much of maintaining a good reputation at work relies on learning how to communicate well – and this means being able to talk as well as listen.  So avoid the above pitfalls, and stay tuned for our next installment of behaviors that have the propensity to ruin an individual’s work reputation!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Tips for Staying Organized

Research Analyst, New York, NY
Experienced Consultant, Chicago, IL
Sr. Accountant, Greenwich, CT
Strategy Intern, Birmingham, AL
Analyst, San Francisco, CA

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For many, the constant fight to stay organized can cause stress and cut productivity.  Worse still, it can lead individuals to make mistakes that can have grave consequences for their jobs.  If this sounds like a problem you struggle with, read on for some tips on how to cut the clutter out of your life.

Track, List, and Sort

One of the best ways to stay on top of your projects and deadlines is by developing a system that allows you to track what you have to do and where you stand in terms of getting it done.  Consider creating a list outlining all your projects and their respective due dates.  Alternatively, designate a file or bin for all of the paperwork that you need to go through, and place the most important stuff on top.  Once you’ve done this, make sure to check things off your list as you get them done, or move projects from one bin to another once they have been addressed.

Regroup

While in the midst of your work, it’s helpful to take a few breathers where you pause to consider what you’ve completed and what still needs to be done.  Doing so ensures that you don’t get distracted or miss anything important.  This is where your list or designated project bin will be helpful.

Take Advantage of Every Minute

There are many tasks that can be completed in a short period of time, such as filing documents, shooting off a few quick emails, or making copies.  So instead of putting off these small activities for a later date, do them while you’re thinking about them and likely have a few moments to spare.  Putting them aside for later will only create a backlog of tedious work.

Create Space

There’s nothing worse than losing yourself under a pile of papers.  Try to free up space on your desk by creating files or bins into which you can sort random piles of papers.  This will also help you to track down important documents more easily when you need them.

Throw it Away!

When things start to pile up, take some time to go through everything and throw stuff away.  A good rule is that if you haven’t looked at something in several months, or if you’re unsure about a particular document but it’s something you can easily replace, toss it.  People get attached to their paperwork or worry that they might need it at a later date, and ultimately just end up creating more of a mess than anything else.  Don’t be afraid to utilize your trash bin!

The problem with staying organized is that it’s not a one-time overhaul.  Rather, it’s an ongoing process where you constantly have to make lists, shuffle papers around, and throw things away.  But if you get into good habits now, staying organized won’t seem so trying later on!

Keep it clean,

The Doostang Team

Who Makes a Good Professional Reference?

Analyst, San Diego, CA
Marketing Intern, New York, NY
Analyst, Colorado Springs, CO
Graduate Consultant, London, UK
Equity Research Associate, New York, NY

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Employers place a lot of value on references, because these provide both an insight into how well you work with other people, as well as a subjective perspective on who you are.  While a resume is something that you can spend time tweaking and perfecting on your own, a reference isn’t entirely in your control, and is therefore more honest in some respects.  For this reason, it’s crucial that when you are deciding whom to ask for a reference, you choose someone who will not only sing your praises, but who will also be able to speak intelligently about you and give hiring managers a more complete picture of who you are and how you work.  Here are some individuals you should consider:

Your Current Employer

Few people will have a better understanding of how well you work for someone than your current employer.  Hiring managers like to speak to referrers who have a current, realistic take on the candidate being reviewed, and so they will take a lot of stock in what your current boss has to say.  Before you list this person as a reference, however, make sure that you have discussed with them your plans to find another position – otherwise you could find yourself in some hot water.

A Past Employer

A past employer is also a good person to turn to, especially if you haven’t worked too closely with your current employer.  It’s especially helpful if you had a particularly close relationship with your previous boss, and if they can provide a more valuable insight into who you are.  Depending on how much time has passed, it’s probably a good idea to refresh this person’s memory by summarizing some of the highlights from your working relationship, as well as to update them on some of your current professional endeavors.

Your Professor

Many individuals just entering the working world will turn to professors to vouch for them, and this is just as acceptable as asking an employer to refer you.  A professor will have a solid idea of your work ethic, your ability to collaborate with others, and your overall intelligence.  He or she will likely focus on the transferable skills that you possess, which you can utilize in the workplace.

A Coworker

If you feel that you cannot turn to an employer for a good reference, consider asking someone you work with.  A coworker can speak to how well you work in a team; they can also discuss your ability to take the lead on certain projects or help others with their work.

A Customer

Depending on your line of work, another individual to consider as a potential reference is a satisfied customer with whom you have worked closely.  This person can speak about your professionalism, your ability to get the job done in a timely manner, and your communication skills.  A customer who is willing to go out of their way to provide a good reference speaks volumes about your character and working style.

These are just a few of the many individuals whom you can ask for a reference.  Other examples include business contacts, teammates, family friends, and more.  Any person who is able to speak about your work ethic, leadership skills,  ability to learn, value as a team member, and so on, is a possible reference.  Just make sure that you ask them before you start giving away their contact information to hiring managers!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News January 24: How to be a Team Player

Jr. Equity Analyst, New York, NY
Senior Analyst, Washington, DC
Analyst, Los Angeles, CA
Jr. Associate, New York, NY
Investment Analyst, Boston, MA

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Being successful at work is about more than just your own personal achievements at a company – it’s about working well together with others.  After all, this is how you contribute to the success of a company, which is the whole reason you are there.  And being a team player at work is about more than just collaborating on projects (this is, after all, your job), it’s also about your attitude and the gestures you make to convey that you’re a part of the team.  Integrate a few of the following pointers into your routine in order to collaborate more with your fellow workers.

Volunteer for Projects

There are always those projects that will come up at work that require a few more helping hands.  So even if said project doesn’t exactly fall under your job description, offer to help out if the team needs some extra manpower.  You’ll really help out your coworkers, people will appreciate your efforts, and you might learn something new that can help you out in your own work.

Offer to Help a Coworker

If you sense that a coworker is falling behind on their work or that they’re going to be staying late that evening working on a big project, ask them if there’s anything you can do to lighten the load.  It’s often better for the company if the project is finished more quickly, and you may help that coworker catch something that they might have missed in the anxiety of tackling such a large task in the first place.

Go to Lunch

Some people like to use their lunch breaks as a chance to run errands, catch up on emails or phone calls, or get away from the office for an hour; but make it a point at least once a week or a few times a month to sit down and talk with your coworkers over a meal.  You may find that the peers who are high-strung throughout the rest of the day are really neat people during their down time when they aren’t thinking of the work at hand.

Take Part in Company Activities

Whether it’s a potluck, a birthday celebration, or an office contest, try to get involved in company activities when these come up.  If your office is part of a recreational softball league but you just aren’t athletic, show your support by cheering on your coworkers from the stands.  Taking part in the extracurricular activities of your office makes work more enjoyable for you, as well as endears you more to your coworkers, who may work more productively with you as a result.

Not everyone is a natural socialite, but even if you are shy or new to the company, there are still ways to be a team player.  Ultimately, your coworkers will appreciate your efforts, and will reach out to you more as a result.

Time for a good ol’ group hug!

The Doostang Team

Doostang News December 13: How to Make Nice (and Not Naughty) at the Office Holiday Party

Investment Banking Analyst, New York, NY
Online Media Associate, SF Bay Area, CA
Associate Editor, Nationwide, US
Management Trainee, Miami, FL
Hedge Fund Investment Analyst, Los Angeles, CA

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It’s that time of year again.  Holiday cheer abounds, from the store discounts that start in October to… the infamous office holiday bash!  The office holiday party holds a warm spot in many a dutiful careerist’s heart – those who recall episodes of reckless inebriation, Yuletide meltdowns, or scandalous rounds of Spin the Dreidel.  Let’s face it: the combination of alcohol, holiday stress, and surly coworkers is a recipe for disaster.  That’s why you need to prepare yourself, and make sure you know how to behave beforehand!  Let’s discuss some ground rules:

Make Sure You Go

Thought you could avoid the pandemonium altogether?  Think again!  Skipping out on the office soiree is often perceived as a sign of disrespect.  Even though the invitation doesn’t always say it, assume that company gatherings usually fall under the “must attend” category – so blowing them off isn’t really an option.  Employers often spend big bucks putting these shindigs together.  Why?  To thrust you into precarious situations that could jeopardize your career?  Maybe some do.  But most like to celebrate in order to show their gratitude for all the work everyone has put in, and also to facilitate company bonding.  Take home point: don’t even think about home until you’ve put in at least a good 30 minutes of face time.

Putting the Office in Office Party

Remember:  even though an office holiday party is meant to be a social event, the professional context remains.  This means that your superiors are watching, ever mindful of who is behaving naughty and nice, and who’s going to get the nix, come Monday morning.  Limit yourself to a two-drink maximum if alcoholic beverages are available; or, better yet, don’t drink at all.  Pay attention to the part of the invitation that explains the dress code – formal or casual – and then dress more conservatively than you would normally; office holiday parties are no place for flagrant self-expression.  Finally, behave yourself.  No lewd behavior or forbidden office liaisons – there’s no sense in embarrassing yourself, or, worse yet, getting slapped with a sexual harassment complaint by HR.

Cocktail Conversation

We’ve already established that office conventions carry over into the after-hours office party, but that doesn’t mean that your cubicle chitchat has to also.  It’s okay to talk some business, but this is a social event.  Lighten up and broaden the conversation.  Otherwise, people will avoid talking to you and you’ll get pegged as uptight or boring.  Another mistake is to relax too much, and start complaining about your job, gossiping about coworkers, or discussing your pay.  Avoid any controversial subjects, especially those related to work.  Finally, branch out and talk to some people you don’t usually get to interact with during normal working hours.  Don’t forget that office parties can be a great chance to network, so don’t be afraid to engage with some of your superiors.

Holiday parties at the office can actually be a lot of fun, and bring out a more relaxed, fun side of the people you work with each day.  Just make sure to keep the obstreperous, party animal side of you in check!

Much love,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News November 8: How to Handle a Friend Request from a Coworker

Analyst, New York, NY
Digital Advertising Sales Manager, Los Angeles, CA
Director of Finance, Chicago, IL
Sales Trainee, Boston, MA
PE Investment Analyst or Associate, Philadelphia, PA

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Scroll through your list of friends on your various social media profiles, and if you’re like any other online networking obsessed time waster, you’ll probably notice a myriad of names you don’t even recognize.  How they got there you can’t quite recall, but at some point you’ve given them full access to your profile information.  Yet ironically, those are not the people you’re worried about – it’s oftentimes the people you do know well.  We’re talking about coworkers.  You see these people everyday, you work in the next cubicle over, you eat lunch together during your break.  But when it comes to connecting over the Internet, that’s where you feel you must draw the line.  You like to keep your business life and your personal life as separate, and with good reason.  Goody-two-shoes though you may be back at the office, you’re an all-out hooligan after 5pm, your antics better suited far outside the office.  But how do you bring yourself to turn down a friend request from a coworker and continue leading a double life?  Read on…

Deny Requests from All Coworkers

This doesn’t really seem to answer the present question, but a strict policy that involves denying all office related friend requests diffuses most awkward interactions.  If you make it a point to remain cut off from all of your office peers online, no particular coworker will be personally offended when he or she gets rejected.  If, however, you accept some requests and deny others, you’ll likely have some explaining to do.  Certain cast-out individuals will wonder what’s wrong with them, and worse still, what you’re hiding…

Ignore the Request

You could try to make life easier on yourself by dismissing the request altogether.  Don’t address the issue, and maybe your coworker will forget about the overture they made in the first place.  If they happen to bring it up, simply explain that you don’t spend much time on the website, and thus you haven’t gotten around to connecting with them yet.  You can further spin your web of untruths as you explain that you likely won’t be logging on in the near future, and so they can expect your continued absence from their friend network.  If you do take this approach, just make sure that you avoid making all sorts of public changes to your profile, dispelling the illusion that you have limited your online activity.

Create a Different or Limited Profile

An alternative to denying a coworker’s friend request altogether is to create a different, or in some cases, a limited, profile that your office friends can see.  This is less likely to cause any hard feelings, and the coworker will often be none the wiser.  Yet here too, consider creating a general policy for all coworkers.  You don’t want to get caught up in an awkward situation where a good buddy at work brings up the table dancing pictures you just posted, but hid from others in the office.  (Though is said buddy really a buddy if he sheds light on your rowdy weekend first thing Monday morning?)

As we all know, the advent of social media has brought with it some tricky dynamics in both the job search and the workplace.  Always make sure to put your best foot forward online, and do what you can to protect your privacy.

The Doostang Team would like to add you as a friend!




Doostang News September 20: Personal Skills Crucial to the Working World

Trading Assistant, Chicago, IL
Business Analyst, San Francisco, CA
VP Strategic Development, Nationwide
Business Development & Marketing Manager, Nationwide
Distressed/High Yield Analyst, New York, NY

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Being successful in a work environment takes more than just the right job-specific skills and attitude towards the job.  There are also personal skills that you must develop in order to effectively handle the position and the people you work with.  These are skills that don’t come easily to many people at first, but something that everyone should keep in mind and polish up when necessary:

Public Speaking

According to some studies, the number one fear held by individuals is public speaking – it even beats out death!  Speaking in front of a room full of people is one of those things that even the most confident person can have difficulty with.  And so, even if you are a self-assured, charismatic person by nature, your charm and confidence may not translate easily into situations where you need to address your boss or coworkers in meetings or presentations.  If you don’t have much experience with public speaking, try taking a class, and if that’s too much, practice in front of friends or even in front of the mirror.  The more comfortable you become with getting up and listening to your own voice, the better you’ll be able to convey information to the people you work with – and win people over onto your side.

Diplomacy

Dealing with people in the workplace isn’t always easy, but it’s important to always do so with tact.  Losing your temper or making snide remarks are never good ways to approach situations, so its important that you learn to communicate with people diplomatically, whether this be someone that works for, above, or with you.  If you tend to get worked up over stressful situations, take a breather before you speak to your coworkers.  It’s important to treat everyone in a rational way and give them the respect they deserve.

Humility

There are a lot of egos circulating in any one office, and so in order to maintain a peaceful working environment, it’s important to keep yours in check.  This is especially true if you are just starting out at a company.  Fulfill the role that you were brought on to do – even if you sometimes don’t like it – and don’t expect everything to be handed to you.  No one gets to come in and take charge right away.  There are certain tasks that need to be done, and if they are given to you, it’s important to finish them out gracefully.

They don’t teach you everything in school, and certain skills don’t even come with experience unless you make it a point to practice them.  Bear in mind these important personal skills while you’re at work, and they should take you far.

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News September 6: Tips for New Employees

Analyst, Boston, MA
Brand Strategist – Advertising, Marketing, Analytics, New York, NY
M&A Analyst, San Diego, CA
Business Development Associate, Cambridge, MA
Full-Time Analyst Intern – (Fall), New York, NY

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The first day jitters end pretty much with the first day on the job, and the nervousness you feel about being in a new place dissipates pretty quickly after that. It’s easy then to cut corners and fall into habits that you see around you – things that the seasoned veterans of the company do without blinking an eye. But even though you may have the same level of responsibility as your coworkers, there is still a certain etiquette that you must follow while you are new on the job. Consider these pointers:

Connect with Your Boss

While many of your coworkers may embark on projects or make decisions without running them by their superior, you should make sure to check in with your boss when you are doing these things. You may find out pretty quickly that your boss actually likes when the employees take initiative without being asked; but until you do, assume that you should keep your boss in the loop at all times. You might think that you’re making the correct decision on something, but you’re still new and you don’t know if your boss has certain policies on things or if there are exceptions to rules.

Don’t Get Distracted

You may find that you work in a very easygoing office environment when you show up on day one, but this does not mean that you should take as many liberties as you see your coworkers doing. These people have been with the company longer than you and they have proven their value over time. Without a track record to back you up, you may just look like you’re wasting time.

Stay Positive

Even though your coworkers will probably want to put on a good show for the “new guy”, you’ll oftentimes encounter complaining or gossiping. While you may be equally stressed out about showing up to work on a certain day, avoid broadcasting this to the rest of the office like some of your peers might be doing. Try to act graciously about being there, and make it a point to be friendly to everyone – even the people that get on your nerves from the very outset.

While all workers are created equal in an office environment, as the newbie, you don’t have equal right to get distracted, act negatively, or take off on your own. So focus on the work at hand and the office relationships you need to cultivate, and the rest will follow eventually.

Welcome to the club,

The Doostang Team