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New year, new approach

Oklahoman Modified: January 4, 2013 at 11:44 am •  Published: January 5, 2013

5. Using a cookie-cutter design – Try to create a unique look for your résumé, avoiding templates that hundreds of other candidates have used. Think about a hiring manager reviewing his/her 50th résumé of the day; if your résumé looks like 20 others, it will not stand out from the crowd, regardless of the content. Try to develop a unique and professional design; doing so will go a long way in compelling the reader to spend more than 7-10 seconds on your résumé during the screening process.

Dear Sam: After 12 years, in just a few weeks, I finally will be a college graduate. Aside from finishing what I started, my goal in completing my accounting degree is to advance my career. I am concerned, however, with my personal financial situation and the impact it may have on my job search. Years ago, I became caught up in the real estate boom and invested time, energy, and lots of money in the purchase, rehab, and rental of a number of properties. Unfortunately, the good times did not last long, and I fell flat on my face. Everything that had been invested went down the tubes, including my credit, which now includes a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and six mortgage foreclosures. I should note that prior to investing, my credit score had been in the high 780s. My fear is that all of the work I have invested in completing my degree will be for naught when an employer pulls my credit report. Is there any way to delicately handle this situation? Should I "prepare" potential employers for what they will find, once they inform me my credit report must be pulled? If it helps, none of the debt included in the bankruptcy was consumer debt; it was all debt accumulated while investing. - Steve

Dear Steve: As you are applying for accounting positions, I imagine your credit report will be pulled more often than not. You will definitely want to prepare employers for what they will find by explaining your situation much as you did for me. You may even want to prepare a written account of the situation in the event the interviewer you explain it to isn’t the one making the decision. Would it be possible to get a credit reference from your bank or other institution where you have held a satisfactory record? It may be useful to have “validation” that your personal finances have been handled appropriately since your filing. I think with a professional and honest statement, coupled with third-party validation of your pre- and post-bankruptcy/housing boom financial management skills, you will put yourself in a better position to overcome the impact a negative report may have on your search. I wish you much success, and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!