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Saturday, January 28, 2006
It's a Matter of Strategy
Have you ever seen a resume that you knew was really good but you couldn’t exactly put your finger on why it was good? More than likely it is good because of the strategy behind the writing rather than because of the writing itself. I’ve seen well-written resumes that had absolutely no strategy to them. Well-written doesn’t necessarily equate to effective. Strategy is the key to effectiveness.

Strategy starts with the goal of the job seeker because everything in the document revolves around that goal. Often, we’ll have job seekers who come to us without a particular goal other than “a better salary” or “a shorter commute”. We send these people home to figure out “what they want to be” before we can begin on their project because it impossible to write an effective resume that doesn’t have a goal.

For example, let’s say a job seeker has a goal of Director of IT for a mid-sized company. His background is in IT and he’s had management experience but its been mainly project-oriented. He’s got a sound career progression and no holes. He has a degree that is twelve years old. His experience lies mainly in the telecom industry but he’s not necessarily married to that and would like to move more into the healthcare field because of growth potential. What is the strategy to take with his resume?

First of all, everything that is included in the content of the resume should have some direct relation on what the employer wants to know. There is no need to include interests, hobbies, or other information that has no bearing. The content should speak directly to the target job. Including information that is tangential will not add to the effectiveness of the resume.

Second, pick and choose information that is results-oriented that demonstrates the skill-set necessary for a Director of IT. Leave out low-end skill sets or tasks such as “gave presentations” because this type of information is a “given” at his level. If he was a support technician looking to move into presales engineering, the fact that he has experience giving presentations would be important. It’s not important to enunciate that particular skill at this level, though.

Arrange the resume in the correct order. His degree is twelve years old; therefore it should not be on the first page of the resume or anywhere near the beginning. It should be at the end. If he had been a new grad, it should be right after the summary because it would be his best selling point (since he wouldn’t have any experience if he was a new grad).

He has a good career progression so using a chronological format would be the best strategy. He is aiming at the next step up the ladder but employers don’t hire potential, they hire experience. It will be necessary to show he’s performed the actions and skills that would be asked of a Director of IT even if he’s not actually held the title. Write the resume to the future, not the past.

I can tell by looking at a resume if it was written with strategy in mind (written to the future) or if it was written to make the past sound good (well-written). The difference is always the results. Strategic resumes win interviews, while well-written resumes just win compliments.

Thursday, January 26, 2006
The Name Game
This is the busiest time of year for us. Many people are changing jobs or looking for new opportunities as part of making 2006 a great year. That means lots of resume reviews and critiques for us and a great many resumes sent to us as part of our resume development process. Managing these resume files can be a challenge for us.

Managing resume files from job seekers can be a challenge for hiring managers and recruiters, too. As a job seeker, you should want to remove as many hurdles from your candidacy as possible. Part of that is making your resume very easy to handle for recruiters and hiring managers. The following are a few tips for making sure your resume file isn’t a hurdle for you in your job search.

Name that file. I wish I had a dollar for every resume file we receive that is named “Resume.doc” I could go to Bimini a lot more often. Most job seekers name their resume file for their own benefit. Unfortunately, what you recognize on your system may not be helpful to the recipient. It’s always best to name your resume file with your name in some fashion.

Dates are okay. Many job seekers name their resume files with a date in the file name. Dates are okay but be careful to change the name when you update your file. “Joe Smith resume 2004” doesn’t give the impression that you are up-to-date.

Drop the initials. Many recruiters or hiring managers need to be able to recognize your resume file from a group very quickly. If you use only your initials in your file name, it just makes it more difficult to locate your file. Use your full first and last name in the file name.

Function, function, what’s your function… Okay, I just told my age by revealing I remember School House Rock tunes. Many people name their resume files (if they have more than one) by the function. For example, “Joe Smith Sales Management” or “Joe Smith senior exec”. This naming by function so you recognize it has pro’s and cons. It does give you one more keyword for your job search target (that’s the pro) but it can also give the impression that you aren’t focused laser-like on one direction (that’s the con). I tend to dislike them named by function but rather with some sort of code that you can recognize. Example: “Joe Smith A” or “Joe Smith B” for different versions.

Watch out on your file Properties. In Word, you can open the properties of the file and see who wrote it, when it was originally written, when it was last updated, etc. I’ve seen some pretty goofy things in the Properties section that don’t lend themselves to projecting a professional image.

Monday, January 23, 2006
Please Be Brief
A common mistake made on resumes is the inclusion of information that has no impact on the current career goal. Many people get really wordy and verbose in their job descriptions in attempt to either write in high-level language or to cover every possible question an employer might have. The result is a document that is long, unwieldy and doesn’t tell the employer the information he needs to know.

The old KISS rule does apply in resume writing—keep it simple, stupid. It is important to use industry buzzwords, quantitative information, concrete accomplishments, and tight writing. Writing in a style more like a post-graduate thesis can kill a resume. Have you ever read an article in a professional journal or during research on a topic and realized you didn’t understand the article? You don’t want your resume to fall in that category. It needs to be clear, exact, hard-hitting, and to-the-point. Get wordy trying to make your resume “sound good” and you’ll lose your reader.

Good resume writing is just that – good writing. A good writer always follows some basic rules: consider the audience, write to the reader’s needs, be brief but clear, and eliminate unnecessary information. Write with a strategy in mind rather than a mission to cover everything. Consider what to include and what not to include by asking yourself if the information in question would probably (not just possibly) contribute to a call for an interview.

The most common unnecessary information we see in self-written resumes is the detailing of too much work history. In general, employers are interested in the details of the last ten years of employment. Employers are concerned about the challenges they face today and tomorrow. They are not interested in your job description in a job that is fifteen to twenty years old. The challenges you faced, the technology you used, and the techniques you used in 1989 are not what employers face today. The challenges you’ve overcome in the past ten years will more resemble what the employer is facing now. You waste space by including information on old jobs.

But what if…I know – what if your old experience shows progression or might have some possible relation to your current goal. You can show progression by simply listing the employer, job title, and dates without wasting time on description or details. If you have something in the distant past that is relevant today, you must figure out a way to make that outshine the recent experience of your competitors. That can be difficult but can usually be achieved through some very strategic writing and positioning of information in the document.

Employers are busy. They want to be able to look at your resume and tell within a few seconds if you are someone they want to talk with further. If you load your resume with tons of information, they can’t accomplish that task and will simply go on to the next resume. More is not necessarily good. Trying to cover everything is not good. Determine what your focus will be and then select achievements and details that will support that focus. Don’t just dump information in there for a “shotgun effect” hoping that something will catch the employer’s eye. All you do is weaken the resume and make it ineffective.

Friday, January 20, 2006
Hiring Managers Aren't Stupid
I’ve just completed a long week of resume reviews. January is our busy month and everyone wants to make sure they have a great resume to start looking for a new job. As I’m reviewing resumes (about 10-15 per day), I start to see trends that a jobseeker just looking at one resume (his own) doesn’t see. One of the trends is the subconscious assumption that hiring managers are stupid.

Job seekers writing their own resumes make these assumptions and they aren’t even aware of it. For example, I reviewed a CEO resume that was four pages long with work history going back for four or five companies. No where in the resume was there a mention of a date – not a date for employment periods, education, nada. I could tell from just looking at the huge amount of information detailed for each position that the job seeker had been a productive executive for many years, but the job seeker must have thought the hiring manager wouldn’t make the connection. Worried about the age hurdle, the job seeker omitted his dates of employment and thus sent a red flag to the hiring manager.

Think about it – if a company is looking for a CEO they realize most of the candidates are not going to be “twenty-somethings”. Good CEO candidates will have lots of experience, wisdom, and knowledge and the only way to get those attributes is to have spent time in the trenches. Job seekers worry about age when it should not be a hurdle but rather an attribute. Trying to hide age on a resume by deleting dates just shows the hiring manager the job seeker thinks he’s too old. Nothing is hidden but a lot is revealed about the candidate with this tactic.

Job seekers also think hiring managers can’t read between the lines. Some job seekers are intent on listing every single bit of information about their experience rather than allowing the hiring managers to think about it. For example, if someone has worked as the North American Marketing Director for a Fortune 500 company, it’s going to be a “given” the person has written numerous memos, agenda, and given lots of presentations. Hiring managers can read that from the context of the job and the scope of the accomplishments. It’s not necessary to spell it out.

A third way job seekers assume hiring managers are stupid is by outlining all their soft skills right up front as if this information is super-valuable to the decision-maker. Hiring managers read hundreds of resumes a month. Every resume claims the soft skills: “strategic thinker”, “proven track record”, “innovative leader”. Hiring managers are so immune to these claims they don’t even read this stuff anymore! They are looking for hard results. How has the job seeker proven he has been a strategic thinker? What do the numbers say about his proven track record? How has he been an innovative leader? And most importantly, what has resulted from all these nice attributes?

So give the hiring managers some credit. Make sure your resume demonstrates your strengths and not just claims the soft skills. Don’t be afraid of your time spent learning your trade and climbing the career ladder. And realize that hiring managers realize your job entails a great deal more than you can ever list on a resume.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Measuring Happiness
One of the questions we ask job seekers before critiquing their resumes is if they are happy with the resume. This might seem like a silly question since if they were happy with it, they wouldn’t be sending it to us to analyze, but we ask anyway. I’m always surprised at the answers we get to this question because the question we ask just prior to this “silly question” is “What kind of response are your receiving? Are you setting up interviews?” Ninety-five percent of the time, the answer to the response questions will be something like “I’ve sent out 200 and gotten three interviews” or “I’ve posted all over the internet but all I’m getting are a few recruiter calls.” Yet almost all the respondents who report poor results using their current resume also report they are generally happy with the resume.

I don’t know about other resume writing firms, but we measure happiness with a resume in the RESULTS it achieves. If the resume isn’t winning interviews for the client, we aren’t happy and neither should the client be happy. The main job of the resume is to get interviews. A resume can sound good, look good, and receive compliments from peers but if it doesn’t win interviews, you shouldn’t be happy with it!

What is the measure of happiness with your resume? Do you like it because it looks nice? Do you like it because it uses lots of $3 words and is kept to one page? Do you like it because it hides your age? The only reason you should be happy with your resume is if it works for you by winning interviews. Everything else is secondary.

I had one job seeker answer that he had sent out over 25 directly to companies and had conducted a large recruiter blast. His results: one telephone interview that did not lead to a face-to-face meeting. When asked if he was happy with the resume, his reply was “Yes, I’m very happy with it. I had a professional craft it.” He’s happy with a document that doesn’t work simply because he had a professional writer craft it. Big deal. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter if a “pro” did it or your sister-in-law composed it using a resume template. That’s like being happy with a nice car that has a blown engine – it looks good in the driveway but it doesn’t go anywhere.

So what makes a resume ineffective? Rarely is it just one thing wrong with a resume. I often get comments from job seekers seeking a critique stating they feel the resume is too long, or too short, or shows their age, or something. When I examine the resume, it’s usually a combination of things that make it fail. Just as an airplane crash is usually a series of small failures, so is an ineffective resume. Don’t be happy with mediocrity, especially when it comes to your career marketing. We won’t settle for it.

Monday, January 16, 2006
Prime Real Estate
The purpose of a summary section of a resume is to provide in a brief amount of space, an overview of the job seeker’s special value to the employer. Coming at the top of the resume after the name header, the summary owns the prime real estate in the resume – the top half of the first page. It is what will be read the most by hiring managers in that crucial 30 seconds a resume is initially given. A great summary can compel the reader to dedicate more time to the remainder of the resume while a poor summary can result in the resume being dismissed altogether. Needless to say, it’s vital for the summary to be outstanding and be able to stand by itself without the rest of the resume to support it.

What makes a good summary? First of all, value of information takes precedence. Most self-written resumes use the summary to get out all the “soft skills” such as “team leader”, “people person”, “good communicator”, etc. That’s a terrific way to kill a resume. I call it the “blah, blah, blah” method of writing a summary. Let me give you an example:

“Highly competent, results-driven leader with extensive experience and achievements in business sales operations and management. Skilled in training and developing staff to managerial capacities. Well-developed organizational and resource management skills. Able to set and achieve objectives, administering a methodical, focused and thorough approach.”

Just from reading this summary, are you able to determine the following:

--What industry he/she is in or is targeting?
--What is this person’s specialty or exceptional value he brings to an employer?
--What level job he is qualified to perform?
--What makes him different than the other job seekers?

This summary could be attached to anyone’s resume and tells the hiring manager NOTHING about the job seeker, what kind of fit he would be in the position, or what value he brings to the company. Now, let’s rewrite this with some strategy in mind and take it line-by-line.

Sentence 1
Vice President of Sales and Marketing with track record of increasing territories and driving channel sales for Fortune 500 companies in the wireless telecom vertical. (Information provided: level, specialty, industry, and size of company with which his experience lies.)

Sentence 2
Twenty years’ experience building small- to medium-sized sales teams with emphasis on customer service and promises kept resulting in increased revenues of a minimum of 35% annually for every employer. (Information provided: years’ of experience, soft-skills of team building, and results for the employers.)

Sentence 3
Multilingual in Spanish, English and Portuguese; able to move easily in telecom markets of Central and South America to build global emerging sales operations. (Information provided: what makes the job seeker different, specific job-targeted information, potential existing network contacts in Latin America that could be advantageous to the employer.)

That’s three sentences. Each sentence conveys powerful information that makes this candidate stand out in the crowd and demonstrates the value he brings to the employer who is smart enough to snap him up. It shows the reader the soft skills rather than simply laying claim to them. It demonstrates hard skills through results. The reader of that summary will read the rest of the resume because he’s been able to make a determination of the value of the job seeker. The reader of the first summary will fall asleep before he gets to the end of the paragraph.

Remember, keep the summary short, vivid, and relevant.

Sunday, January 15, 2006
Getting Personal
Sky-diving, fishing, gardening, and golf are common hobbies. Every so often, a resume will turn up that includes mention of these or similar activities in a section all its own called “Personal” or “Interests”. Let me be very blunt – employers do not care about this information and you are wasting your time by placing it on your resume. Inclusion of this kind of information also gives the impression that you are very out of touch with today’s marketplace because this type of information has not been included regularly on resumes since the eighties. Personal data has no place on a resume.

I often get the argument from job seekers for keeping the personal section because “it may snag the interest of a hiring manager” or “it gives us something to discuss in the interview”. If the only thing on your resume that interests the hiring manager is the fact that you like to fly model airplanes, you will NOT be called for an interview. And if your hobbies are the only thing you talk about in an interview, you are not a candidate in the running for the job. Keep all the information on your resume relevant and job-centered – period.

In other countries, it is common to include personal information on a CV such as marital status, age, children, etc. but in the U.S. including such information will get you eliminated from consideration immediately. U.S. hiring laws prohibit employers from discriminating based on marital status, age, ethnicity, religion, or sex. If you include this information on your resume and you are hired, other candidates who were in the running have grounds for litigation against the employer because it is possible the employer used the personal information on your resume in a discriminatory manner. Employers are bound by law to reject any resume that contains this information simply due to the possibility of opening themselves up to a lawsuit.

Often in other countries, specifically European and Middle Eastern countries, it is also common to include a picture of the job seeker on the CV. Most Americans realize that using a picture on their resume (except in the cases of models and actors), is a big no-no and don’t even consider it. Something they do not consider would be inclusion of extra information (possibly in that nasty Personal section) that would give the employer information considered potentially discriminatory.

For example, what if you listed that you are a deacon in your church? You are revealing religion and thus, running the risk of getting eliminated by employers. What if you mentioned that you were a member of a political action group for homosexuals? Or what if you listed you were a volunteer on a prominent political candidate’s campaign? All of this is potentially dangerous information to include on a resume and none of it has anything to do with your experience or the potential you would have as a candidate for the job. It is best to leave it out and use the space in the document for information that would contribute directly to showing you are the best candidate for the job.

Job seekers who are targeting sales-related positions will sometimes include an Interests section that includes sports in an attempt to demonstrate their competitiveness. It is better to show a competitive mindset through showing your competition in the sales arena than trying to pull a correlation between sports and sales. Show how you beat out ten other sales executives to win the quarterly sales award; that shows competitiveness where it counts--for the employer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Know When to Say No
I recently talked with a gentleman who said he had sent out fifty or so resumes, had three interviews, and one offer. The offer came after three or four interviews, one of which involved a panel of the board members. He turned down the offer, though, because it was a family-owned company and he felt he the market was limited. These are legitimate reasons to not be interested in a job but that wasn’t what screeched on my teeth. What bothered me was that he didn’t decide after the first interview not to proceed further. He knew at that point the company was family-owned and he had a good idea of the market the company was in. Why wait until the very end and waste all that time?

First interviews are essentially a time when both parties can circle around each other and get the feel for the situation. Does the employer feel the candidate is viable? Does the candidate like what he sees in the company? Successful job searches have lots of first interviews. You want to be out there on several first interviews every week. You should be bowing out after some of them, too. Not every company will feel right, have the things you are seeking, or be a good fit. If you are not withdrawing from consideration after some first interviews, you don’t have a good idea of the type of company or position you are seeking or you are feeling desperate.

Is it a bad thing to withdraw after a second interview? No, but to get all the way to the end and then bow out because of something you learned on the first interview is discourteous and inconsiderate. You waste the time of the employer. You waste your own time – time that could be used plowing new ground with other companies.

Many say they don’t get a lot of first interviews. If you aren’t getting first interviews, you have a resume/cover letter problem. It’s the job of the resume and cover letter to win the interviews. If you are getting a lot of first interviews but few second interviews, you probably have an interviewing problem. Interviewing is something most people only do once or twice every few years and they just aren’t very good at it. Interview coaching can help that and so can going on a lot of first interviews (practice). That circles us back to the job of the resume to garner lots and lots of first interviews.

If you are getting through the first two rounds and being eliminated after the third round, there may be something lacking in your education, experience, or possibly a problem with your references that may be causing a glitch in your job search. At that point, some investigation needs to be done to find the cause of the problem. If you are getting all the way to the offer and then turning it down due to something you knew after the first interview, you may have a fear problem – fear of getting hired. That we can’t help with.

Monday, January 09, 2006
Leave of Absence OK
Caring for aging parents has become a workforce issue with which many of us are dealing. While caring for aging parents is as old as time, the dynamics of our modern society have changed and now make it a significant issue in many lives. Fifty years ago, most women were still in the home full-time and families weren’t as geographically separated as today. Daughters and sons were closer to parents and had more time to spend in their care. Elderly parents either lived down the street, next door, or even in the back bedroom of the extended family home. If a parent was ill or needed assistance, it was simply a part of life.

Today, both men and women are taking leaves of absence to care for aging parents and then facing the hurdle of getting back in the employment market when their duties are done. It can seem like a daunting prospect.

A common question we receive is “How do I explain this on my resume?” The simplest and best answer is “Tell the truth.” Time off to care for an aging parent is becoming a relatively common occurrence among workers and employers are accustomed to seeing applicants who have taken time off from their careers to care for their aging parents. A small descriptive blurb on the resume is appropriate to explain the time gap, something like:

Leave of Absence May-December, 2004
Took extended leave in order to care for aging mother and see to her final needs.

Beyond that, nothing is needed. If the employer has any questions about it, he/she can bring it up in an interview, the correct forum for giving more details concerning your familial responsibilities. Most employers won’t consider it a black mark against a candidate and the honesty of covering that period in the resume can actually score points for candidates.

But what if you need to continue working while taking significant time away from work to care for a parent? Talk to your present employer and explain the situation first. It is possible that you can alter your schedule to fulfill both your needs and the needs of the employer. Maybe a work-at-home situation would be appropriate. Possibly a job-share situation could be created where you work part-time and share your employment responsibilities with a co-worker with similar scheduling needs. There are a great many scenarios that may be worked out to accommodate both your needs and the employers’.

If your current employer can’t or won’t work with you, make sure you have a great resume and that you are prepared to be clear with prospective employers about your situation and what your requirements will be. Do not accept a job and then blind-side the employer with your need for time off or flex-hours.

Remember, employers are people, too. More than likely they are facing concerns with caring for their parents or they see that concern on their own horizons. By being up-front and honest with your employer, you will be more likely to come to a satisfactory arrangement where you can work and take care of Mom and Dad.

Sunday, January 08, 2006
Don't Make a Living
Today is Sunday and all over America people are ironing their clothes for tomorrow, setting their briefcases by the door, and fixing their lunches for tomorrow. Tomorrow, as people all over the country drag themselves into their cubes with coffee in hand, they wonder to themselves “What other job is out there for me?” The average American changes post-college jobs at least seven times in their lifetime and changes total career fields at least three times before retirement. Eighty percent of college graduates never work in their major field of study. Just because you start out as a widget-maker doesn’t mean you’ll retire in the same field. In fact, odds are that you won’t!

Gone are the days of thirty-year careers in one field culminated with a retirement party and a gold watch. Corporate loyalty to employees is nonexistent and employee loyalty only extends as far as the next bonus check. Career changes are common occurrences these days.

I was reading an old edition of Mental Floss magazine and there was an article about previous careers of famous people that I thought was very interesting.

Did you know:

Dr. Ruth used to be a sniper for the Israeli Defense Forces?
Sylvester Stallone scooped poop at the Bronx Zoo?
Whoopi Goldberg worked in a funeral home as a make-up artist? (I guess she had no dissatisfied customers.)
Liam Neeson drove a forklift at the Guinness brewery in Belfast? (Now THERE’S a job!)
Elvis Costello was a computer programmer for Elizabeth Arden?
John Malkovich drove a school bus?

Everyone changes careers. Life is too short to do something that makes you miserable. The key is to find something that you love and meets all your other requirements (like the mortgage). I have a young twelve-year-old friend who attended a demonstration over the weekend on the rehabilitation of raptors (eagles, hawks, etc.). He became so excited about the thought of working with these magnificent animals that he volunteered at the end of the demonstration to travel to the rehab center to clean cages, change water bowls, and handle dead rodents (food for the birds) on his Saturdays. Working on Saturdays meant giving up baseball, a sport he had played since he was four years old. He asked me if I thought he could make a living working with wild animals because he was thinking of becoming a falconer. I told him, “Do what you love and you won’t make a living – you’ll make a life.”

Thursday, January 05, 2006
Resume "Strategery"
There is a prevailing belief among many job seekers that a resume is simply a repository of all work experience ever obtained, no matter how old, how unrelated, or how meaningless. Just throw it all in there and call it keyword richness. Let the recruiter figure it out. It’s one reason that so many self-written resumes don’t work. I call it the “data dump” method.

The mentality behind the data dump is usually good intentions. The job seeker knows he/she should get the important information in the resume but isn’t sure exactly what is important and what isn’t. To the job seeker, everything is important and has some sort of emotional connection. Not mention the fact that you were the winner of the state spelling bee in ninth grade twenty-five years ago? Unbelievable! That was a big moment in your life! In the interest of safety, the job seeker just includes everything and hopes for the best, hanging onto past trophies for dear life. Unwittingly, by throwing everything in there he has just killed the resume. Recruiters do not have time to wade through tons of information in search of nuggets of gold. They need the key information right up front and speaking to their needs.

To avoid a data dump in your resume, you must start with a focus. One of the underlying causes of too much information, or scattered approach in the resume is lack of keen focus. Do not try to be everything to everyone. I’ve seen resumes with areas of expertise listed that stretched to ten or fifteen different items, many not related. Resumes such as this leave the reader confused and gives the impression the job seeker is also confused. Employers are looking for problem-solvers with experience solving problems that are similar to the ones they currently face. They don’t hire people who MAY be able to solve their problems – they are looking for specialists. Employers don’t hire jacks of all trades so don’t try to be one in your resume.

After you find your focus, you need to very critically examine the content of the resume, and perhaps content that you originally did not include in order to identify the pieces of your experience that support your focus. This is called strategy. Most job seekers who write their own resumes don’t think of strategy as a key part of a resume but rather concern themselves primarily with mechanics and format. A professional resume writer starts thinking strategy immediately – “How can I position my client’s experience to speak to the employer’s needs? What information will support the client’s goals, support the targeted salary level, and portray the client as the answer to the hiring manager’s prayers?”

A resume must be built around the strategy. Sometimes, a job seeker isn’t sure what he/she wants to do – maybe stay in the same type of job, maybe find something in the same industry, or maybe go in a completely new direction. The indecision makes it impossible to write an effective resume because there is not a focus around which to build the strategy. No strategy results in a weak document.

Do you have a resume that’s four pages long? More than likely you need to find your focus and start working on your “strategery”.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Work-Life Balance - Priceless
In a recent survey conducted by, workers said they would make career decisions based on commute time. When evaluating a job offer or attempting to gain some work-life balance, it is important to consider location of a job and not just salary. Not only does commute distance affect the amount of time spent with family or personal time, but it has an impact on the pocketbook. With gas prices skyrocketing, fuel expenses now factor into family budgets as much as rent and utilities. A shorter commute translates directly to money in the pocket.

Executives at the higher pay scales tend to have a longer commute, according to an article in the Journal of Accountancy. Highly compensated executives average a commute distance of nearly twice that of the average worker, spending 42.3 minutes in getting to work one way. The article speculates that perhaps this can be contributed to the fact that those at higher salary ranges can afford to live wherever they wish, rather than having to consider the commute distance. I wonder if it could also be a matter of being willing to sacrifice for the income.

Thus, my original question – is it worth it? Many workers don’t think so. Making a decision between career and family is a no-brainer for some, with the choice definitely swinging toward the family side of the spectrum. Home offices, flex schedules, job sharing, and self employment have provided alternatives to long commutes and rigid work schedules. Employers are learning that productivity for telecommuters is much higher than for in-office workers while also reducing costs. Not only are workers making adjustments in their career lives to accommodate families, employers are too.

It’s important when looking for a job to consider more than the salary. Would taking a higher salaried position with a longer commute be worth it in terms of cost in time, fuel, stress, and vehicle wear? Many a job seeker has accepted a position because of the salary only to discover rapidly that the commute is a tremendous burden. Other factors to consider when job searching or considering an offer include health benefits, schedule, work environment, comp time, days off, sick time allotment, etc. These components of the benefit package have high impact on work satisfaction and work-life balance, much more so than salary. Salary may be able to fund vacations, but if you get no time off to go on the vacations, it is useless.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 /


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