How Our (Online) Universal Class Can Help You with Your Job Search

September 27, 2012

The Newton Free Library has recently subscribed to Universal Class. This is an online database with an offering of over 500 courses.  These are not the equivalent of college coursework.   However, have you ever heard of CEUs?  This stands for Continuing Education Units.  Some professions require a certain number of CEUs each year to show that a person is keeping up with developments in their field. Universal Classes are accepted for CEUs.  Whether you are showing your interest in something new or catching up with jobs or careers you’ve had in the past, listing a course you have completed with its CEUs on a resume could add just the leverage you need to get noticed.

Each course consists  of a number of online classes an hour or less in length.  You cannot skip around.  You must go class by class, answering questions or writing essays until you get to the end.  Don’t let this sound intimidating. It isn’t.  The questions I have seen are not difficult.  As in the best of our schooling, each class builds on the next, until you find that you’ve completed a course.  You  have nothing to lose by trying them out and everything to gain, especially if you feel your resume needs a little more substance or currency.  The classes are listed under broader subject headings, making it easier for you to find what you specifically need. Just a few of the subjects listed are Career Training, Business, Computers and Technology, Writing Help, Office Skills, Accounting and Bookkeeping.  There are even a number of  fun classes when you need a break:  Crafts and Hobbies, Cooking, Art and Photography. Curious?  For a complete list of courses click here.

Most classes have a video component and a printout (pdf format so everyone can print it out.)  Personally, I’m at a loss when just confronted with a video.  My brain just doesn’t absorb material that fast.  But give me a handout and a video and I’m good to go. It’s the best of both worlds.  Since I set up my own classes with handouts for everything I cover, I like the way these people think.

If you live in Newton, you can sign in from home.  All you need is a Newton Free  Library card that begins with 21323 connected to a Newton, MA address.  You also need to go in through our website into Universal Class.   If you don’t live in Newton, you can come into the library and sign up.  If you live farther afield, check to see if any of you local libraries offer the service.  Take a look and give it a trial run.

vea/27 September 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
Applying for Job LibGuide


Newton Free Library Now Subscribes to Optimal Resume

September 7, 2012

The Newton Free Library has recently invested in a new database to help our patrons who are looking for work.  Optimal Resume can help you build both your resume and and your career.  Curious?  Join us next Thursday, September 13th at 7:00 PM in Drucker Auditorium.  You will be introduced to our new database and be able to ask questions.

What can Optimal Resume do for you?

Optimal Resume provides a number of ways to create  a resume.  Once you sign in, you can build it by using subject blocks provided by Optimal Resume.  You can rearrange them at will.  Or you can start with actual resume samples that cover a number of careers,  jobs, and levels of experience. You can take a resume you like and edit it for your own use.  If you prefer starting from scratch, they also provide you with a blank piece of [online] paper.  They do the same for cover letters.  Once you have created your resume or cover letter, you will also be able to further edit it to match specific job openings.  You can then store your various resumes and cover letters under your account at Optimal Resume .

As you do more reading and look for additional help with your job search, you will find that Optimal Resume is one step ahead of you.  They offer help with assessing your skills and with practicing for interviews.  If a job application actually  requires a video resume, Optimal Resume will help you create one.

Did you know you could embed links to your work into your online resume?  Of course you can only do this if you have a web page or blog you can link to. Although Optimal Resume does not help you create a blog, it  does provide help in creating a simple online website as well as a location to keep it.  The link you add to your resume provides an interested employer with a place to quickly check samples of your work without adding length to your resume.

According to an article that appeared in the New York Post on July 4th, 2010 “Today’s workers will run through at least 10 jobs, three careers, and two layoffs between college and retirement.”  To have maximum impact in your job searches, your need to  keep track of prime examples of your work product and experience, as well as your job descriptions and a list of your various responsibilities.  It is a good idea to keep at least one portfolio (or more) of your work where you can find it and easily add to it. Optimal Resume gives you a place to create and keep one (or more) portfolios for yourself.

All in all, Optimal Resume can prove a very useful product throughout your career — both in finding and documenting your jobs.  The Newton Free Library would like to offer you the opportunity to use these resources to both aid in your job hunt and to build your career.   Take a look and join us next Thursday to learn more.

vea/7 September 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
Applying for Job LibGuide

Come to the Library for Help with Your Resumes and Cover Letters

February 24, 2012

Newton Free Library, Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

How do I start putting together my resume? I have a resume, but I don’t think it’s effective? How can I make it better?  What am I doing wrong?  How can I tell if it even got through once I’ve sent it?  Do I really need a cover letter?  Should I use a cover letter for my email and then attach the resume?  I need help!  What do I do?

How about trying a career counselor — for free!  On Tuesday,  February 28th, you will have your chance.  Tammy Gooler Loeb is a professional career counselor with 25 years experience.  She will be speaking at the Newton Free Library on how to build effective resumes and cover letters.  Mark you calendars for 7:00 with a reminder to allow some extra time for parking.  After you park, walk from the parking lot over the bridge and into the library.  The talk will be in the Druker Auditorium.  Just take your first left into the front part of the gallery area and the doors to Druker are on your left.

Do you have any tips for others that have worked for you? Questions?  Bring them along.

Included below is a list of books, blogs and websites you may also find useful. Click on the link to find more information.

Doing your resume?   Need more information?  Check out these books at the library.

E-resumes – Criscito, Pat, 1953-
Call Number: 331.115 CRISCITO
ISBN: 0764128965

Resumes that POP – Criscito, Pat.
Call Number: 331.115 C86R
ISBN: 0764143506

Expert Resumes for Career Changers – Enelow, Wendy S.
Call Number: 331.115 E56E
ISBN: 9781593577810

Expert Resumes for Computer and Web Jobs – Enelow, Wendy S.
Call Number: 331.115 E56E
ISBN: 9781593578114

Expert Resumes for People Returning to Work
Call Number: 331.115 E57E
ISBN: 9781563709111

The Quick Resume and Cover Letter Book – Farr, Michael
Call Number: 331.115 F24Q
ISBN: 9781593578565

101 Great Resumes – Fry, Ronald W.
Call Number: 331.115 F94O
ISBN: 9781598638554

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume – Ireland, Susan.
Call Number: 331.115 I66C
ISBN: 9781592579570

Résumé Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Résumé Writer
Call Number: 331.115 W58R
ISBN: 1593577338

The Everything Resume Book: Create a Winning Resume that Stands Out from the Crowd – Schuman, Nancy.
Call Number: 331.115 S39E
ISBN: 9781598696370

Fearless Résumés – Stein, Marky.
Call Number: 331.115 S81F
ISBN: 9780071482356

Federal Resume Guidebook: Strategies for Writing a Winning Federal Resume – Troutman, Kathryn Kraemer
Call Number:  331.115 T75F  2011 5ed
ISBN: 9781593578503

Need more help with cover letters?

The Encyclopedia of Business Letters, Faxes, and E-mail: Features Hundreds of Model Letters, Faxes, and E-mail to Give Your Business Writing the Attention It Deserves – Bly, Robert W.
Call Number: 808.066 B62E
ISBN: 9781601630292
See Chapter Three: Job-Hunting and Employment Related Correspondence, pp. 39 -66.

Cover Letter Magic
Call Number: 331.115 E56C
ISBN: 1593577354

15 Minute Cover Letter – Farr, J. Michael.
Call Number: 331.115 F24F
ISBN: 9781593576615

4 Cover Letter Secrets
Call Number: 331.7 J71F
ISBN: 192164401X

Cover Letters for Dummies – Kennedy, Joyce Lain.
Call Number: 331.115 K38C
ISBN: 9780470402214

Gallery of Best Cover Letters – Noble, David F. (David Franklin), 1935-
Call Number: 331.115 N66G
ISBN: 9781593574253

Having trouble embedding a resume in an e-mail or online job application?

To learn about converting your formatted resume to plain text go to
Click on Handout 8 to learn more about plain text.
If your resume is in Microsoft Word, check Handout 9.
If your resume is in GoogleDocs, check Handout 10.


Riley Guide: Resumes and Cover Letters

Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development: Creating Resumes (2/10/12)

Quintessential Careers (TMG)
I am providing a direct link to QC’s section on resumes and cover letters. It gives a list of websites.  What helps is that each is annotated.  It’s a site that is well worth exploring.


ReCareered (TMG)
To find the postings specifically relating to Resumes or Cover Letters, scroll down a bit until you find the area marked “Tags” on the right.  Just click on the topic you wish to see.

Newton’s Quick Job Search Blog: Resumes and Cover Letters

vea/24 February 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
Applying for Job LibGuide

Resume Help

January 12, 2012

I have just become aware of an excellent site where you can learn basic, and not so basic, information for creating or improving your resume.  If you are just beginning, I highly recommend this site.  It is not a “plug in the blanks” site. It’s what I call a “read and learn” site.  The time you put in will save you costly mistakes in the long run.  Here is the link.  Just click on Creating Resumes.”

Although it is provided by Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, it is not limited in any way to Massachusetts.  Anyone anywhere can use it.  Take a look and see what you think. Let me know your opinion.  And if you know of another site that is just as good or better, please leave me a comment.  Resume writers need all the help they can get, especially these days.

Once you get through all of this, you will probably start sending out your resume.  If you find you are having trouble cutting and pasting it into an email or online job application, check out my blog post on “What Exactly is Plain Text/ASCII?”  It should help explain the problem and give you a solution.

vea/12 January 2012
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
Applying for Job LibGuide

What Exactly is Plain Text/ASCII

August 31, 2011

Formatted and Plain Text Versions


Let’s begin with the problem.  Most resumes and cover letters are first produced using a program (like Microsoft Word) that make them look striking.  You will see different sized text, bold facing, indentation, and other fancy work that make it stand out.  To accomplish this, there is a lot of underlying computer formatting that you don’t see. This is not a problem if you send the resume as an attachment.  However,  if you try to copy and paste a formatted document into the body of an email, the computer software will translate your work into gibberish when it is received on the other end.  Email programs recognize very little formatting.  You have the same problem when you try to copy and paste your cover letter, resume, or other information into a company’s online website application. The company’s website application software, called by the general name Automatic Applicant Tracking Systems, may not recognize some of the formatting used for your material.  The end result is that your application never gets through the system to the person who might want to hire you.

What do you do to get around this?  You must strip your resume of most of its formatting. You need to get it into a very specific format known as plain text or ASCII.  ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.  It is pronounced asskey, but is also referred to as ASC2, since the final II looks like the Roman numeral II. ASCII is the platform upon which the more intricate formatting used in popular computer programs is built. It is therefore more universally recognized and can be read by a broad range of software.

The steps for changing a document with formatted text into plain text are very specific and too long to go through in a blog.  I am providing a link here to the home page of the Applying for a Job Online LibGuide mentioned in an earlier posting. In the right column click on Handout 9 – Plain Text in Microsoft Word. It should come up if you have Microsoft Word 2003 or later on your computer.  This will explain, step-by-step and screenshot by screenshot, how to change a Microsoft Word 2003 formatted resume into plain text. Feel free to print it out.

Note on Google Docs:  Since I did this post, I have created another set of instructions for Google Docs.  Just check out the same link I provided above, but look at Handout 10 – Plain Text in Google Docs. (vea/12 January 2012)

Good luck.  Let me know how you make out.

vea/31 August 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.
Applying for Job LibGuide

Newton’s Job Search Class Now Open to Anyone, Anywhere (Plus a Few Extras)

June 9, 2011

The Process:  Over the winter I have been updating, refining, and adding to everything related to the library’s “Applying for a Jobs Online” class. Just as this was completed, Newton purchased a new software package called LibGuides.  Since it takes time to learn to use it, our Assistant Head of Reference, John Walsh, took the material that had been created for the class and created a design for it. Once everything had been put together, I went through the Guide again, updating and tweeking it, learning how to use the program at the same time.

The Result:  If you have Microsoft PowerPoint and Word on your computer, you now have direct access to the library’s class materials no matter where you are located.  If you don’t have these programs, you can still access a wealth of information  in the LibGuide by clicking on the tabs at the top of the Guide.  Under the first tab on the left (Home) you will find contact information for the library, for me, and for John.  There is a brief explanation of the guide in the center.  The material in the right frame gives you you  complete access to all the PowerPoints, handouts, and supplementary materials I present  in my class.  If you are interested in using any of this,  I have two requests.  First, read the syllabus at the top of the list. You may not need everything that you find here.  Second, give credit where credit is due. Tell people where you got the material so they can use it too, if they like.  That’s it.

Tips on Content:  Make sure you check out the tabs.  Besides presenting information on the Library’s Online Career Center and this blog, you will also find RSS feeds, book and website recommendations, as well as  information on several databases that can be used for job and company research.  Especially important is Handout 8 on Plain Text, located  in the right frame of the Home page, and the tab above on “Applying Online”.  The handout gives you step-by-step instructions (screen shot by screen shot) for changing formatted text into ASCII/plain text as well as explaining why you need to do this.  Clicking on the tab will give you information on using online job applications as well as plain text.

Interested?  Just click on LibGuide: Applying for a Job Online.

Let me know what you think. Whether you are looking for a job or helping others become reemployed, good luck. I hope you are able to put this material to good use.


vea/ 9 June 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.

Before and After: Great Cover Letters and Thank You Notes

March 1, 2011

"The Reader" in the Snow by the Newton Free LibraryTammy Gooler Loeb, one of our two intrepid career coach speakers, has a deceptively simple talk this month, how to write a good cover letter (before) and thank you notes  (after) you’ve been interviewed.  If you are a job hunter, I would strongly suggest you come in and see what Tammy’s session has to offer.

In this “Brave New World” of the job hunt, you first have to figure out if you even need to write up a cover letter or whether it is sufficient just to send along a resume.  (See my class below regarding that “sending along” process.)  Whatever you decide,  you still need a basic cover letter.  Writing it is daunting. Tammy will show you how to make your cover letters effective and save you time (and perhaps embarrassment) by avoiding common mistakes.

I was very glad to see that thank you notes are also being covered. People underestimate the importance of writing these troublesome little creatures. I always mention them in my class as an example of a guerrilla tactic for the job hunter.  How can something so civilized be a “guerrilla” tactic?  Because so few people take the time to do it.  And it pays great dividends when done right. It may make the difference between which of two good candidates for a position actually gets hired.  It not only helps the interviewers remember precisely who you are, but to remember you positively.

All you have to do to hear Tammy is to come to Newton Free Library’s  Druker Auditorium on Tuesday, March 22nd at 7:00. (Take your first left after you come into the building from the parking lot. Then it’s the first door on your left.) A small expenditure of time and a few steps may help you get hired.


This month’s class on “Applying for a Job Online” will be held the day after Tammy’s talk, on Wednesday, the 23rd of March from 2:30 to 3:30. The class is located in the library’s computer training room on the second floor near the top of the front staircase. There are only ten computer stations so we ask you to call us and register to save your place.  The phone number is 1-617-796-1380

The class covers the use of several online databases, gives tips on dealing with applying for a job online, and shows in detail how to change your formatted resume into plain text. Having a plain text copy of your resume (or cover letter) is critical when you want to send it in the body of your email or when you need to cut and paste it into an online job application. There is a large amount of material to go over, so classes can sometimes run overtime. You will be given handouts of everything covered in class. You should be able to follow the handouts and  do at home most of what we do in class.


Women in Career Transitionwill meet on Tuesday, the 15th of March at 7:30 p.m. in Room A. The meeting room is in the group of rooms directly across from Druker Auditorium.  The purpose of the club is to provide information, share concerns, and give support.  It is led by Joyce Picard, a Career Counselor.  If you are interested or have questions, you may call her at 1-617-969-5673.

vea/1 March 2011
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass.