Stay optimistic during initial job searches

Dear Amy: I'm seeking a job in advertising. It's really frustrating being without work. I'm thinking about going back to a former summer job (data entry), so I can have money coming in. My dad thinks I need to give it a month, but I can't sit around for that long. You can only send out so many resumes, right? Kelly
Dear Kelly: Well, right. Which is a good reminder that sending resumes is not the same as job search. Since advertising is a tough field right now (lots of cuts going on), spend the next year working anywhere while building up your credentials. The goal is to look appealing when the hiring starts again. Join a professional organization, do some volunteer campaigns for a charity, take a part-time ad sales job for a small newspaper. Don't give up, but don't be impatient. This is going to take some time.
Dear Amy: My husband worked for a company for five years, and he got fired in January. He is working in a different place, and he doesn't like it at all. Do you think it's a good idea to lie on a job application? The reason he got fired is a long story, but I can tell you it was not because of anything illegal. Ana
Dear Ana: Besides the moral reasons for not lying, there's another point to consider: An application is a legal document that you sign.
Therefore, it's a terrible idea to lie on an application. If your husband can stand it, he should stick with his new job for a year and try to build a good rapport with his boss so he can count on a good reference. Then, when he's job searching again, he should rely as much as possible on a resume rather than applications. When required to complete an application, he should leave the box blank where it asks why he left a job, or write "will explain in interview."
Dear Amy: I had a recent interview that was horrendous. On my resume, I have listed the two colleges I have attended. I completed three years total. I was asked whether I graduated. I am an honest person, and I was not trying to do something dishonest. I just thought an employer would like to know if I had any post-secondary education.
When I walked out of there, I felt like dirt. Should I not list the education I have had? Should I note on the resume that I did not graduate? Susan
Dear Susan: You did exactly the right thing when you included your education on your resume. On the other hand, the employer's question was a reasonable attempt to get clarification. The best answer next time would be something like, "No, I completed three years. If the degree is important to this position, I would be delighted to look into finishing the program while I work here."
Dear Amy: I graduated in February with a degree in international business. I have been searching unsuccessfully since then to obtain employment with a nonprofit organization. I have sent out 50 resumes so far. Roger
Dear Roger: You might be making a very basic mistake: Assuming all nonprofits need the same kinds of workers. Define what kind of agency you want to work with and in what capacity. Then create a list of places that might need your services. Contact a few a week, allowing time for phone follow-up and prospect meetings.
Job seekers, the last word today goes to Carol M., whose job requires her to hire others. Here is what she found on a recent candidate search: "I discovered several resumes and cover letters written on the candidate's current company letterhead, mailed in company envelopes and with postage meter stamping. This leads me to question an individual's judgment on the use of company property for personal purposes. An important impression to avoid."
XAmy Lindgren is president of Prototype Career Services, of St. Paul, Minn. Send your ideas or questions to Amy Lindgren, 1086 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, Minn. 55102 or send her an e-mail at

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