Archive for the 'Career' Category

Youth Soccer, PCSing & Resumes

May 29 2015

By: Tom Wahl

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That is an odd combo, isn’t it? But trust me they all relate.

I was sitting at my youngest son’s annual youth club soccer tryouts which determine the team level he makes for the coming year. As I was watching him play. I started contemplating why it is that we parents pay quite a few hundred dollars to an Adidas sponsored club for the privilege of being required to bring our own ball to practices; buy Adidas uniforms at full price, and pay for field rental at the club’s fields.

Fortunately for my well being, I started hearing a half dozen conversations with phrases like: “We just moved here from South Carolina…”; “This is the longest we’ve been in one place…”; “We thought we were off to Okinawa this summer, but it was postponed…” (I felt sorry for them).

These conversations finally hit me – it’s PCS season.

I kind of miss those days – the excitement of going somewhere new. Fortunately for me though, as a spouse, I could enjoy the moves because I didn’t have the stress of finding work. For one, Mary Claire and I set ourselves up with spending and saving habits that allowed me to stay home with the kids (Dave Ramsey would have been proud). Second though, my part time career was teaching a class a term online for UMUC. I started that teaching gig when we PCSed to Okinawa in 1998 and have kept it ever since. Being online, it was a very transportable career – and UMUC was very amenable to spouses teaching.

Now, the resume string (see, it all unfolds logically) – I taught and teach business writing classes. At UMUC and at UCCS here in Colorado Springs, I see a lot of milspouses and vets in my classes. And in the resume section I’ve taught (and teach) every term, I see one primary lesson that applied to all milspouses and vets; and, as readers start their PCS moves and their job searches, I wanted to address that lesson: resume font choice.

It seems a small thing, but when the average review of a resume is 6 to 10 seconds (yes, research has been done on this), job seekers need a well designed resume that stands out to an employer. An important lesson I teach in my business writing courses is document design (if the document doesn’t look inviting or impressive to read, it won’t get read). Along with using formatting tools such as bold and italics, font choice is a primary element of document design.

In resume document design, job seekers want something that stands out from their peers – and nothing underwhelms an employer more than a template with Times New Roman font. That screams “default” – and “default” is the last thing you want an employer to think of your resume (especially if you are claiming to be an expert at Word).

So, before I recommend a font or two, let me start with those not to use. First, as mentioned, is Times New Roman. As one resume design expert says, “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,” says Hoff. “It’s like putting on sweatpants (for the interview).”

Times New Roman has it’s use, but resumes are not one of them.

Next, don’t use Courier. I can’t say why not any better than as the article states: ““You don’t have a typewriter, so don’t try to pretend that you have a typewriter…”

Finally, last but at the top of the “do not even consider using” list is Comic Sans. This looks fine on a middle school student newsletter (and that’s even questionable), but not on a professional document. Let’s put it this way, even Weird Al Yankovic sings sarcastically about using it in a resume.

Finally: What to use? The article above discusses a few good options (even one you can purchase), but it’s best to stick to a professional, business-like font such as Helvetica or Arial. These look sharp, professional, and business-like. It’s that simple.

However though, if you feel compelled to use a font with little feet at the ends of the letters (those are serif fonts), or if pressed for space (a more likely desire), consider Garamond. Garamond is easy to read and will compress your resume a bit. And surveys have shown it to elicit confidence in readers.

As you job search, keep in mind that you need to impress the interviewer, and your resume is the first step in that process – and the font is the first thing that grabs the employer’s attention. I hope this helps.

 

And for more tools to help you keep your career on the move,  be sure to check out MOAA’s Transition Center!

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A Little Planning Goes a Long Way When Mixing College and Military Life

May 14 2015

Author: Erica Schreiner, Marine Corps Military Spouse

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Military spouses can achieve their education goals no matter how often PCS orders arrive. With a little preparation, you can successfully complete your degree program even as your spouse’s assignments move you around the globe.

I am a military spouse and a student working on a master’s degree. The Marine Corps has moved us three times in the last three years but I have kept my commitment to finishing my degree. Here are my five secrets to success:

• Pace yourself. Commit to a class load that will allow you to balance school and life’s other commitments. That may be one class at a time and that is fine – with each class completed you get closer to your goal.

• Don’t stop. You never know when a move will come so you can’t put your education goals on hold in anticipation of what might happen. You owe it to yourself to continue to make progress.

• Take advantage of online options. Some schools are fully online, such as American Public University System, my employer. Other schools have physical campuses and offer some or all courses online as well. Your life will be easiest if you can find a program that is a good fit that allows you to complete your courses completely or mostly online.

• Communicate with your professors. Asking for help can make you feel like you have failed in some way, but your professors are happy to know you as a person and to accommodate your reasonable requests for needed extensions or alternative ways to submit assignments.

• Work ahead. When you have to make a move, use the syllabus to work ahead of, and around, periods when it will be hard to focus on school work.

Planning for Transition

There are things you can do to make it easier to move without derailing your education goals. Start by really understanding all the things you need to complete to earn your degree. What items must be done on campus? What items can be done remotely?

General education course are usually easier to transfer from school to school. Save your course descriptions and syllabi to help with the evaluation process.

Before you leave a school, notify the admissions department. Make sure all of your accounts are current. You don’t want to have a library fee or some other small detail delay your transfer process!

Transferring Schools

It’s not uncommon to have to change schools in the process of completing a degree. As a transfer credit liaison, I work with students who are changing schools all the time. A little preparation can make that process go smoothly.

Before you assume that your move means you have to change schools, check with your university to see if it is possible to complete your degree program remotely. You may have to return to campus for brief periods, but many schools will work with you to help you finish your program.

If you need to make a change, choose the best school to help you meet your goals. Online schools let you work anywhere with an Internet connection. I have done classwork on my cell phone while traveling through Texas to Arizona and at places with wi-fi, such as Starbucks. You may prefer a physical classroom; ideally pick a campus that is convenient, has additional campuses in places where you are likely to move, and/or has options to complete at least some coursework remotely. Ask questions and be informed so you can make the best choice for you.

About the Author

Erica Schreiner is a transfer student liaison at American Public University System. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration from American Military University. Her husband serves in the Marine Corps. She has been married for three years and has been stationed in Quantico, Va., Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and now Twentynine Palms, Calif. Erica and her husband are expectant first time parents. When there is free time, Erica enjoys spending time with her dog and husband, photography, and sightseeing.

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