Posts Tagged ‘job seeker’

How to Know if You’re Under-Qualified or Unqualified for a Job

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

At some point in your life, you’ve probably passed up the opportunity to apply for a job because you didn’t think you were an exact match. You’ve also, at one time or another, probably thrown your hat in the ring for a role that you thought you’d be able to learn on the clock, even though the qualifications were way above where you were in your career.

These are somewhat extreme examples, but both illustrate the challenge of knowing when you’re just a little under-qualified and when you should say, “This is great, but probably for someone else” because you are not at all qualified.

Here are a few signs to look for when you’re unsure if you should apply, to help clear things up:

You’re Probably Not Qualified at all if…

You Only Have One Qualification

Most of us have made this mistake plenty of times early on in our careers. You identify the one requirement on a job listing that you have and say to yourself, “Hey, this is perfect for me. I’m smart and can learn the rest as I go.” However, as much as employers understand that candidates won’t know everything there is to know about a role, there is an expectation that they’ll know a majority of the things they need to do it well. If you’re on the other side of the equation and don’t have experience in most of the bullet points of a description, roll up your sleeves and get the experience you need before getting your hopes up too high.

The Company Wants Someone to Hit the Ground Running

The truth is that sometimes, companies just need someone who is (mostly) qualified to do a job and hit the ground running. It’s not illegal to source this way, and when the need is intense enough, it’s perfectly understandable for a company not to be as willing to take on someone more junior. When I was recruiting, we’d make it clear when we just could not support someone who didn’t have the experience we needed. If you notice a job posting that’s very clear about this, don’t spend too much time debating whether or not to apply.

The Gig is a Senior Level Role in a New Field

I’m all for pursuing a career change. I’ve done in a handful of times, and it took a couple of tries to get it just right. However, let’s say you want to switch from a finance role to a marketing role. That’s great, especially if you’ve done your research and understand what that’ll take. However, if you’re in a manager-level finance position and are looking exclusively at manager-level marketing jobs, you’ll quickly discover that being a more senior person in one industry doesn’t automatically qualify you for the same level in another.


You Might Only be a Little Under-Qualified if…

There Are Only One or Two Qualifications You Don’t Have

I’d argue that you’d be hard-pressed to find a recruiter who only interviews candidates who check off every single bullet point on a job listing. If you find your dream job and notice that you don’t have experience in an obscure technology (that you’re sure you can learn), this is not something that should keep you from applying. In fact, a candidate who has just one missing qualification makes many recruiters say, “Oh thank goodness. This person’s learning curve will be incredibly small.” So, go ahead and submit an application.

The Company Prefers Lifelong Learners

All of the things that you should consider before applying for a job that you’re slightly under-qualified for still apply, but many companies make it a point to explicitly state that they support people who seek out learning opportunities. If you find a job that you aren’t an exact match for at a company that encourages perpetual learning, don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring. And when you do, make it clear in your cover letter that you’re up to the task of learning as much as necessary—plus some—starting on day one.

The Only Thing Holding You Back is You

At the end of the day, it’s impossible not to look at a job that sounds amazing and think, “No matter how many qualifications I have, I’m nothing but an impostor.” And sure, there will be jobs at every point in your career that you’re just not qualified for yet. But in a lot of cases, the only thing holding you back is you—and mostly because you’re just convinced that you’re not qualified to do any job. If you’ve looked at a handful of gigs that sound incredible, only to pass out of a fear of being rejected, take the leap and throw your hat in the ring.

Of course, no matter how explicit the job description is, or how much you know about the company and your own capabilities, it’s not possible to know for sure, in advance, where you stand with a stretch role. Sometimes you find what looks like your dream job, and when you do, it’s hard not to send your resume and cover letter immediately. However, it can also be deflating to get your hopes up, only to get no response from the company.

So be bold, but also be smart when you’re applying for jobs when you don’t check all the boxes. And as difficult as some of these points might be to hear now, you’ll eventually get the idea when you should go ahead and submit an application.

Good luck!

How to Know if You’re Under-Qualified or Unqualified for a Job (There’s a Difference) | Richard Moy via The Muse.

How to Overcome a Job-Hopping History

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Maybe you’ve had to move around a lot for your spouse’s career. Maybe you just can’t seem to find a company or a job title or a career that suits you. Or maybe your career so far has been one long “series of unfortunate events”, enduring economic downturns, companies going bankrupt, and massive layoffs.

However you explain it, if your resume seems to show you moving around quite a bit, that is usually seen as a red flag by hiring managers and HR. If a company is trying to invest in the long-term, bringing on someone who seems to leave their job every few months is certainly not going to meet those hiring KPIs instituted by management.

So how do you overcome the stigma attached to you and your resume, with a career you cannot simply undo or pretend didn’t happen? There are several tactics you can use, depending on the reasons for your moves, your industry, and your discipline.

quickjob

You have an unstable work history, having held several jobs in a relatively short period. How can you try to prevent potential employers from holding your job-hopping past against you?

You can minimize the appearance of job-hopping by focusing your resume on your career history rather than your job history.

The biggest hurdle is getting noticed because recruiters usually screen out people with a choppy employment past.

It is easier to overcome a choppy history if you are young and just starting out. It’s more acceptable for those under 30 to move around, so I don’t think they need to address it, unless there are big gaps in their resume.

And, of course, you will have an easier time if your recent departures resulted from mass layoffs at previous employers. You can emphasize this point in your cover letter or add a few parenthetical words about it on your resume, such as “(one of 700 employees downsized 11/01)” or “(company acquired by ACME in 1/09)” after the job title or company name.

How should a resume deal with short periods of employment?

The dates of those jobs don’t have to jump off the page. They can go in parentheses after the job title, the company name or at the very end of the job description. You can also use years only, rather than months and years.

It’s also fine to eliminate one or two jobs from your resume. For example, if you took a position and two months later decided that it wasn’t for you, it’s probably best not to include it. It’s not that you’re ashamed of it, but it’s not the most relevant information you need to share in your resume.

If you do keep a job off your resume, be prepared in the interview to explain why. As long as you’re being truthful, you can answer that the job didn’t add a lot of value and you wanted to include more meaningful experiences and accomplishments.

Use a cover letter to explain your reasons for switching jobs — something that is difficult to do in a resume. But first, tell the employer why you are an exceptional candidate, summarizing your background — including the number of years you have been in the industry — and the results of your work.

After that, acknowledge that you have held several jobs in a short period and address each with a line of explanation. Keep the explanations short. Remember, you are selling yourself, not defending your candidacy.

Aren’t there some industries where moving around often is expected?

If you work with start-up companies, frequent job changes are almost de rigueur, because start-ups often fail or are acquired by other companies. Especially in the biotech and technology industries where there are many start-ups, it’s O.K. to move around. If you do consulting work on a project basis, it is expected that you would be switching jobs fairly often.

For certain technology positions, like computer programmer and software developer, the length of time at each job is almost irrelevant. The breadth of experience is far more important.

dilbert-hopper

How should you handle questions about your job history during an interview?

Focus on your accomplishments and stress your years of experience. Managers value accomplishments that have been repeated. If a person can demonstrate they have had repeated success in their jobs, they may be more attractive than a person with years of experience at only one organization.

If you were fired from a job, discuss it in a way that shows you have come to terms with it. Don’t be defensive about it. If you were at fault, acknowledge it, and discuss what you could have done differently.

If you cannot persuade hiring managers to look past your job history, are there other potential ways to get an interview?

This is especially hard at the executive and senior levels of employment. A pattern of short jobs is a show-stopper. No amount of resume editing will help — there is simply no way to dress it up.

Instead of answering ads, focus on networking because a personal connection is more likely to persuade an employer to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your network includes friends, family, current and former co-workers and former supervisors.

You need someone who will give you a break. That’s usually someone who knows you and your work and has a reason to take a leap of faith.

So you’re not doomed if you’ve moved around a lot, though it will definitely be a struggle to get past the stigma associated with being labeled a job-hopper. By being honest, addressing the reasons directly in interviews and on your resume, and understanding the nature of your chosen industry and discipline, you can overcome it and perhaps even portray it as an asset rather than a liability.

Good luck!

How to Overcome a Job-Hopping History | Eilene Zimmerman via the New York Times

Beware the Risks of Resume Humor

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

resume-funny

Another frequent way that job candidates attempt to set themselves apart from the competition (besides the bizarre options mentioned before) is via humor.

While it’s certainly fine to inject a touch of wit and personality into your application materials, don’t go overboard with the playfulness. Prospective employers seek insights into your skills – not your wacky sense of humor. Hiring managers won’t take you seriously if your top priority seems to be cracking one-liners.

Check out some of the over-the-top comments job candidates have inserted into their resumes (from a recruiting company that has likely seen them all):

“JOB HISTORY: As a consultant, I was responsible for public service announcements, identity packages, brochures, client meetings and approximately 73 chewed-up pen caps.”

We’ll be sure to lock the supply closet.

“LANGUAGE ABILITIES: I can bark like a dog and make the best monkey sounds ever.”

Not the bilingual skills we had in mind.

COVER LETTER: “I’m entertaining, but be warned that I’ve got a potty mouth. Ha-ha.”

We’re going to have to swear off this candidate.

joke

“JUST FOR FUN: A self-proclaimed ‘Lord of the Geeks,” I am a true champion of useless knowledge.”

You said it, not us.

“TRAININGS: Currently training to become humorous.”

That gives new meaning to the phrase, “Flex your funny bone.”

“TALENTS: I do not slurp my coffee loudly during Skype meetings.”

We’ll drink to that.

“OTHER POSITIONS I WOULD CONSIDER: Hot tub tester.”

Nice work if you can get it.

So keep in mind the main purpose of your resume: to sell your skills and your background to a particular company, for a particular role, and not to entertain. A bit of levity is certainly warranted in some situations but don’t derail your job search by appearing to be less than serious about the application process; after all, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other applicants waiting in line behind you should you come across as more wit than substance.

Good Luck!

Resumania: Beware the Risks of Resume Humor via Robert Half

How To Land Job Offers In A New City (Without Having To Move First)

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

As graduation was looming, my client Jane was increasingly stressed out. She hired me to help her land job offers in Germany, without having to move there first. She just didn’t feel that she could move overseas without having any job prospects – a challenge she found intimidating.

According to a recent study, 59% of millennials would be willing to move to a foreign country for a job. This may be due to the challenges this demographic has faced in trying to find post-college employment, but it may also relate to the fact that this generation is very culturally and politically engaged. Regardless of whether you are hoping to find employment abroad or in a city a few states away, there are more people than ever searching for jobs from a distance.

If you count yourself in that statistic, you’re probably wondering: How do I land job offers in a new city without moving there first?

Here are some tips to help you in your long-distance job search.

1. List a local address if you have family there. You can’t lie on your resume, but if you have family or close friends in the area, why not use it to your advantage? It helps for recruiters to see on your resume that you’re accessible, as they often weed resumes out when the job seeker shows a non-local address. And considering the average job relocation costs businesses $71,786 per move, you don’t want to give employers any extra reasons to think twice before hiring you. That said, never lie. Don’t provide an address if it’s not somewhere you would legitimately stay for an extended period if you got the job.

2. Identify the companies you want to work for. Know where you want to work — don’t let the job search sites tell you. While many big cities lead with different industries (i.e. politics in Washington, D.C., banking in London, tech in San Francisco), focus more on the function you want to perform and use that to help identify the best companies for you. For example, do you want to do marketing, communications, or perhaps financial analysis? Use tools such as Linkedin’s advanced search function to enter keywords that help you see who is using those skills in jobs that exist in your city of choice. Take note of the profiles that interest you, and use them as a platform to come up with a list of companies that you’re inspired by.

3. Find two points of contact in each company. After you’re clear on which companies inspire you, it’s key to find out who handles HR and who your potential boss would be in the company. While HR doesn’t have as much power as the hiring manager (your potential boss), it’s good to be on HR’s radar. This is another great opportunity to use Linkedin— figure out who is in charge, and get comfortable with the advanced search function. Considering 89% of recruiters have hired employees through this tool, it’s also critical that you establish your Linkedin presence and use it to your advantage.

4. Cold email your points of contact for a phone conversation. Once you’ve identified who you want to meet, don’t wait around for an introduction. Send emails to your potential boss, requesting a quick call due to how inspired you are by them and their work. Buy a phone number on Skype that has the same country code so that you don’t overwhelm people when providing your number. Always list times for the phone call in their local time. In short, email them because you’re inspired—not because you want a favor—and always make it easy for them.

5. Just say yes if a big interview happens. As Sheryl Sandberg would say: “if you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don’t ask what seat.” Make this your motto. When an opportunity comes, don’t sabotage it by agonizing over logistics or getting caught up in details that don’t matter yet. Just say “yes,” and pony up for the cost of airfare if the company doesn’t offer to cover the cost… Especially if your resume has that local city address you borrowed from family or friends. Even when the interview doesn’t lead to an offer, you’re positioning yourself for more opportunities throughout your career simply by creating this habit of saying “yes” to the opportunities you’re dreaming about. This sort of commitment is not for the faint-hearted.

If you go into the job hunt believing you have to “take what you can get,” you’ll get the bottom of the barrel.

I remember how certain Jane was that she would never be able to make the move actually happen. In fact, she was concerned about landing any job, anywhere – let alone landing a job she actually wanted in a city she actually wanted to be in.

But inner shifts create outer results, which is why it is so important that you believe in the possibility of landing the job you want, where you want it. Helping Jane change her mindset was the first step in creating that shift in her own life, and it sent ripples of possibility in every direction: Jane got multiple job offers in Frankfurt, which is exactly where she wanted to move.

Touch base with your heart. Do you know it’s possible? I do…and so do countless others like Jane who have turned their most ambitious dreams into fulfilling realities.

Original from Forbes, by Ashley Stahl.

The Most Memorable Stunts Job Seekers Have Pulled To Get Noticed

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Advice to job applicants always emphasizes the importance of standing out from the crowd. But some job seekers, it seem, take this suggestion to the extreme.

A survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll of more than 2,000 full-time U.S. hiring and human resource managers revealed some of the most outlandish stunts job seekers have pulled make a lasting impression on hiring managers. And though these tricks definitely got applicants noticed, they didn’t always get them the job.

One show off tried to wow the hiring manager with their knowledge of the company’s history. The catch? Their facts were less than historically sound. Another candidate learned where the hiring manager would be having dinner that evening and arranged to pay the check. Still another had a cake delivered, frosted with the words, “Congratulations! [Candidate’s name] got the job!”

Creative–and totally inappropriate.

Other highlights include the candidate that lit their resume on fire during an interview to demonstrate they had a “burning desire” for the job. (Unwise. Also, dangerous.) One candidate behaved like a game show host (“I’ll take ‘Jobs’ for $1,000, please!”), still another brought props to the interview, using them when they felt an answer required further illustration.

Perhaps the most desperate–if not diabolical–move involved a candidate who had his daughter call the hiring manager before the job interview to express how grateful she was that her dad got the job.

Beyond the antics, CareerBuilder chief HR officer Rosemary Haefner cautions job seekers that any sort of attention-seeking should be focused on showcasing one’s skills and suitability for the role.

“Job seekers know they’re competing with a lot of other candidates, so they’re trying more unusual tactics to stand out from the crowd,” said Haefner. “For example, one candidate made a ‘Top Ten’ list of reasons to hire him. But while these tactics may succeed in impressing hiring managers, what ultimately determines if they get the job is having the necessary skills and experience hiring managers are looking for.”

Haefner suggests that while creative thinking is fine, job seekers need to remember the objective: Demonstrating that they’re the person with the relevant skills and experience for the job, not just the person most capable of grabbing attention.

Original from Forbes

Fixing the Five Worst Job-Search Mistakes

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

When you’re frustrated on a job search it’s tempting to punch the sofa cushions and get mad at recruiters and employers. You will find plenty of job-seekers doing those things, because the traditional corporate and institutional recruiting process is as broken as it can be.

Still, you have to get a job, so after you get finished beating up on the sofa cushions and using your most colorful curses to describe recruiters and hiring managers, it’s time to spring into action! Yes, the recruiting process is broken, but even if it were perfectly designed and executed, the Five Worst Job-Search Mistakes listed here could still get in your way.

Most job-seekers find that their job search suffers from at least one of these issues. Does yours?

The Five Worst Job Search Mistakes

No Direction

Your job search won’t go the way you want it to until you know your career direction very clearly. You have to know what you want in order to get it! Many people hedge their career-direction bets. They say “I do Marketing, PR and Sales.” Very seldom if ever does a hiring manager need someone to do those three very different things.

Your job is to figure out what you want to do in your life and career first, then apply that “Aha!” to answering the question “What kind of Business Pain do I solve better than most people?”

When you can do work you enjoy and are good at and also solve someone else’s pain, you can earn what you’re worth and grow your flame in your job. That’s why the first step in your job search is to figure out what kind of job you want next, and then to brand yourself for those positions — not every single position you could conceivably fill.

No Brand

Most job-seekers don’t brand themselves in their resume or their profile. They merely list the jobs they’ve held already. You have a story that no one else has. Why not tell your story? Your story is your brand. Tell us where you came from and how you grew as a person and a professional over time. The more clearly you know where you’ve come from and where you’re headed, the more powerful your job search will be.

No Stories

Once you have a bead on the specific kinds of Business Pain you specialize in solving, begin collecting Dragon-Slaying Stories. What’s a Dragon-Slaying Story? It’s a story about a time you saved the day or made a positive difference at work. Your stories give punch and power to your resume and your LinkedIn profile, and when you share your best stories on a job interview it’s often your stories that get you the job.

Bad Process

Like I said, the traditional corporate and institutional recruiting process is horrible. It’s designed to weed people out of the pipeline, not to keep them in it! job-seekers don’t pitch resumes and applications into Black Hole recruiting portals any more, because that doesn’t work. They figure out who their direct hiring manager is in each of their target organizations, and they reach out to that person directly. Try it!

Stuck in the Full-time Employment Box

Full-time jobs are fewer and fewer, while contract and consulting opportunities are everywhere. You can’t stay stuck in the full-time employment box if you want to keep working! You’ve got to get a consulting business card and start giving it out to people you know and new people you meet. Nothing is permanent, anyway, so why not explore your consulting persona and see where it can take you?

Original from Forbes

What To Do If Your Network Isn’t Helping You Get A Job

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

When you’re an active job seeker, well-wishing people will be ever so quick to tell you, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Or, “It all boils down to networking.”

And they’re right. It’s so critical to leverage your professional network when looking for a new position. But what do you do if you’re finding your current network marginally helpful at best?

Surely, you could consider branching out to new people (and you should always—throughout your entire career—look for ways to continue building strong ties with people who may be influential to your professional life), but what about now? What can you do now—with your existing network—if you feel like you’re getting nowhere fast?

Here are four quick ideas that may help you better leverage the people you already know:

1. Send Out a Networking Letter

It’s astounding to me how many people just assume that their people understand with any clarity what it is they do, and how (specifically) they may be able to help out. When you call or email your contacts and ask them to “keep an ear out” for opportunities, they may be more than willing to do just that—but confused about what, exactly, you do for a living.

A networking letter is a simple note that you send to your closest people, outlining that you’re actively searching and sharing what specific types of roles would be great for you and what skills you’d like to put to use. If you paint a picture of the company or job at which you’d be the best fit, your people will have a much easier time considering how they might be of specific assistance.

2. Have Your People Introduce You to Their People

If you zip on over to LinkedIn and see that you don’t have a single first-degree connection at a company of interest, don’t fret. You may well have a second-degree connection. How do you use this to your advantage? Here’s how: Take a look at the person with whom you share the connection. Do you know that person pretty well? If so, get ahold of her and say, “Hey, Sarah. I noticed that you’re connected to Jerry Johnson at XYZ Company. How well do you know him, and would you be willing to introduce me?”

Assuming Sarah knows Jerry pretty well, you could be chatting with someone on the inside of a company of interest within less than a day. Not bad for someone who thought you had no “in,” right?

3. Offer to Help Them

Something that bugs people about networking is that it feels very ambush-y. “Give me this!” “Help me with that!” “Could you walk my resume over to your manager, stat?!” If this is how you’re going about networking, it’s no wonder that your people aren’t being helpful.

Consider instead a strategy that asks your contact for something small (say, “May I ask you two quick questions about your experience at XYZ Company?”) before you ask for a larger favor. Build rapport. Be genuine and interested. And most definitely, when you say thank you, ask if there is anything that you may do to help that person out. Reciprocity is a magnificent thing. Look into it.

4. Consider Facebook

We’ve all pretty much bum-rushed LinkedIn for career networking, and that’s not at all a bad thing. LinkedIn is, far and away, our best online resource for job search and professional networking. However, Facebook can also be supremely helpful to your cause. Think about it: Your Facebook network probably consists of your closest friends. In theory, these are the people most likely to “have your back” when you need something, like a new job. But if you never alert them that you’re looking, how can they possibly be of service? They cannot be.

Use your Facebook status update—selectively—to alert your people of what you’re doing and what you need. On your way to an interview? Let ’em know. Looking for a contact at a company of interest? Ask. You definitely want to avoid being a big, giant downer (“Stilllll no job, people”), but using Facebook strategically for networking can be a very good thing.

Certainly, if your network isn’t being particularly helpful, you may want to also think about ways to expand your professional connections, stat. But more often than not, there are so many ways you can better utilize your existing people. Try these first.

Original from the Daily Muse

Stop Screwing Up Your Job Search In These Ten Ways

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

From submitting illegible résumés to blurting salary numbers in the first interview to wasting precious hours applying to the black hole of online job listings, job seekers make a series of common and egregious errors. If you’re looking to ride the economic recovery and stronger job market in 2015, then avoid these ten common errors to make sure you’re not sabotaging your chances to land a great new job:

1. Giving out references that don’t sing your praises

You don’t want a reference to damn you with faint praise. Ask if the person is willing to say you walked on water. If not, find another reference.

2. Laying out your résumé in a microscopic font

Too many candidates think they need to fit all of their qualifications onto a single, illegible page. Either cut down the word count or let the copy flow onto a second page.

3. Failing to say glowing things about your former employer

Even if you were laid off from your last job, find a way to say positive things about your last employer. Hiring managers identify with your former boss, not with you.

4. Saying negative things about your own track record

Even if you are looking for work because your most recent venture has had problems, find a way to put a positive spin on your experience.

5. Talking too much at the start of an interview

It’s fine to give a 30-second summary of your accomplishments, but then you should go into questioning and listening mode, and respond to the interviewer’s cues.

6. Lamenting your difficult job search

Even if you’ve been on a long job-search slog, find a way to make it sound positive, as though you took a sabbatical by choice and you’ve enjoyed your time meeting with many different contacts.

7. Being honest about your weaknesses

The rhetoric of job interviews should be sunshine and light. You can talk about a challenge you overcame, but emphasize your accomplishment rather than the problem that preceded it.

8. Saying how much money you want to make

Lots of people get anxious about money and bring it up in the first interview. This is a mistake. If you are asked about your salary requirement, you can say, “money is important to me but at this point in my career, fit is the primary issue.” Avoid being the first to name a number.

9. Getting impatient with the process

Know that hiring decisions can drag on for months. Pestering your contacts repeatedly by phone and email will not speed up the process.

10. Spending all your time answering ads and sending out blind résumés

For many job coaches, this is “the number one, catastrophic job search mistake.” People don’t get jobs through blind applications, but rather through networking and people they know.

Original from Forbes.

Ten Job Search Rules To Break

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

We’re not advised to tell the truth when we’re job-hunting — just the opposite. We’re coached to contort ourselves into pretzel shapes, to be whoever we think the employer wants us to be. We’re encouraged to play a role on a job search, to fawn and grovel and hope the hiring manager falls in love with us. What horrible advice! If you wanted to go into the theatre, you’d be in Hollywood by now.

We say that if people don’t get you, they don’t deserve you. Better to let them see who you really are at the earliest opportunity, right? Job-seekers are often surprised that more honesty doesn’t hurt them on a job search. If the people they’re interviewing with have any self-esteem and confidence at all, your human honesty helps you.

And if managers are so fearful that they can’t handle a dose of honesty, do you really want to work for them?

Here are ten traditional job search rules to start breaking on your job search.

Ten Job Search Rules to Break

1. Follow the defined process.

The defined recruiting process is broken. Black Holes are great in space, and horrible on a job search. Many job-seekers have trouble stepping out of the Good Little Rule-Following Job Seeker persona. If they can do that, they’ll be unstoppable!

We’ve been trained since childhood to do what we’re told to do. The Black Hole will eat your resume and shred its atoms, but people keep pitching resumes into gaping recruiting portals anyway. Don’t do it! Reach your hiring manager directly.

2. If you know someone in the company, give that person your resume and tell them to give it to the hiring manager.

A job search, like any marketing campaign, makes use of channels. Your friend inside the company might be a tremendous channel for your job search, or a horrible one. The question is “How well does your friend know the hiring manager?” If your friend does know him or her, you’re in great shape. Otherwise, your friend carrying your resume in the door is just a side entrance to the same Black Hole you were trying to avoid.

Choose the strongest channel for your job search: an intermediary friend, the direct approach, or a third-party recruiter. Don’t assume that your in-house friend is your best job-search conduit.

3. Use a traditional zombie-style resume and cover letter.

You’re not a zombie. You’re a human, switched-on and ready for action, so don’t brand yourself using zombie language like “Results-oriented professional with a bottom line orientation!” (Ropwablo for short.)

You can write a resume that sounds like you, and you’ll make a stronger impression if you do. Forget the old-fashioned cover letter and write a compelling letter instead.

4. In your overture to employers, emphasize the way your background matches the job spec.

You know that a written job spec has as much in common with the actual job as I have in common with Genghis Khan. Forget the tedious and delusional job-spec bullets and focus on the pain behind the job ad.

5. Spend most of your energy applying for posted jobs, and do so online.

If you want to destroy your mojo in the first two weeks of your job search, spend all your time online hunting for positions to apply to. Then, toss resumes into Black Holes and pretend that someone is going to get back to you. You’d be better off putting a stack of paper resumes on the passenger seat in your car and driving down the freeway with the window open. In that case, one of your resumes might land on a hiring manager’s desk by chance.

If you want a job rather than a boring daytime activity, step away from the Black Hole and take a more active role in your job search.

Split your job-search time three ways into three equal parts: one-third of your available time and energy will go to responding to posted job ads, one-third of it will be spent reaching out to target employers whether or not they have jobs posted, and the final one-third of your time and energy will go to networking.

6. Use your networking time and energy letting people know about your job search, your specific skills and how each friend can help you.

Your job-search networking is not a hunt for jobs to apply to. It’s a mojo-building, introduction-generating exercise instead. Use your networking to coach your friends on the issues they’re dealing with (nothing grows mojo better than coaching someone else) and to get their moral support in return.

When people get unadvertised jobs through networking – and people do that every day – it’s because they focused on the relationship, not the transaction.

7. If you’re asked to report your salary history, share every detail going back as far as the employer asks you to.

Are you ready to go work for people who don’t trust you? If the employer asks you to verify every salary you’ve ever earned, the relationship is not off to an auspicious start. Keep your salary history to yourself.

8. When the employer asks you to jump, do it.

No employer is ever going to love you more than they do just before they make you a job offer. Don’t be a doormat on your job search. A new job is essentially an extended consulting gig, so manage the process the same way you would if you were proposing a consulting assignment to a new client. Don’t climb over every pile of broken glass they put in front of you. If you show up as the most compliant, docile candidate in the bunch, don’t expect to be able to argue for your strategic value later in the process.

9. Don’t bring up the topic of salary – let the employer bring it up.

It is suspicious to me that the awful, conventional wisdom “Don’t mention salary – let the employer bring it up first. Whoever speaks first, loses” fits so nicely with many job-seekers’ natural aversion to broaching sticky topics like money.

That advice is repeated everywhere, and it couldn’t be more mistaken. In a job search, you have to price yourself like a house. You have to let employers know what it will take you get you on board. If you wait for the job offer to finally learn what an organization is planning to pay you, you’re in the world’s worst negotiating position.

After all, it was your obligation to show (not tell) these folks what you’re worth, during the interview process. If you’ve been through two or three interviews with a gang of people and they subsequently decide collectively — maybe delusionally as well, but that’s a different topic — that you are worth $X, then in their eyes you are worth $X, and you’ve already missed your prime opportunity to show them differently.

10. Do whatever you need to do and say whatever you need to say to get the job.

When you agree to play a part to get a job, you’ve made a deal with the devil. As tempted as you may be to bite your lip when you’re frustrated with a hiring process, don’t do it. If you have to take a survival job to pay the bills, take it! Don’t swap your integrity for a paycheck from people who don’t even see, much less value, the real you.

Remember that only the people who get you deserve you. The faster you say “No thanks” to the wrong opportunities, the faster the right ones will roll in.

The Bulletproof Resume

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Bullet Proof

(And no, we’re not talking about bullet points)

Quick object lesson: you’re digging through a box filled with blue-colored blocks. All of them are blue and all of them are the same shape and size. Except for one. As you sift through them, there is a single red block at the bottom (which can itself be avoided, as we’ve explained elsewhere). It stands out from the other blocks; it’s different, unique, especially when seen side-by-side with all of the other blocks. It’s actually using the uniformity of the others to distinguish itself.

Second object lesson: you’re an HR clerk, underpaid, overworked, digging through a stack of resumes that your boss forced you to print (he’s not a very eco-friendly individual, unfortunately). It’s nearly midnight and your company’s Senior Accountant role has secured over a thousand responses within the first three weeks, from all over the world, including a rather shocking number of bartenders, stay-at-home moms, and even a few Pakistani electrical engineers… and they are all starting to look a little bit… blue. Except for one.

OK, maybe it’s not the color in this case (since most of our resumes are monochrome, unless you go the videography route and let the whole world mock your video resume gone viral on YouTube). Maybe it’s the shape or the format or the way it’s organized or, dare I say it, the neatly arranged bullet points.

Or maybe it’s what the resume says: reading like the job description written back to you with examples. No need to squint; it reads loud and clear.

Let’s get a few obvious items out of the way first, quickly: correct grammar and spelling are absolutely essential, length is important (short and concise is best), and that cute font you always use to pretend you’re English nobility when proclaiming your undying devotion to your significant other (since your handwriting is more like chicken scratches) is best left to love poetry and as far from your resume as possible. Kids stuff, yes.

So what makes your resume the red pill in a box full of blue?

Here are a few simple tips to start the process of armor plating and bullet deflecting your resume (if you want to go advanced, then contact us today!):

1. Dressing: You don’t leave your dirty laundry all over the floor when you have guests coming. Similarly, why leave your resume a mess, with bits and pieces of half-formed ideas strewn about? Organize, prioritize, accessorize, and incentivize.

2. Analysis: Just as HR clerks and company hiring managers are investigating your background, turn the tables and perform some analysis of your own. Do in-depth company research and glean the most important points from the job ads themselves.

3. Identification: In tandem with #2, determine what elements of your profile should be emphasized that show how well you match both the company and the role. Whatever problems the company needs addressing, that’s what your resume should be telling the employer. Their eyes should glance back and forth from the job description and your resume, with them getting confused as to which is which (metaphorically, of course).

4. Numerology: Nothing says accomplishment like a $ sign and a bunch of zeros. If all of your achievements are vaguely worded like “I increased sales” or “I helped save the company money”, you’re leaving it up to the HR clerk to imagine you sold the product to your extended family and bought cheaper coffee for the break room. Emphasize the details: if you dramatically increased sales in your division, say that you increased them by $200,000, by 95%, or similar. Bold it, italicize it, blare it on the cover letter.

5. Strategery: Resumes that read like a laundry list of responsibilities and repeat over and over again between different employers are boring, redundant, and inefficient selling tools. Don’t bring a wooden spoon to a knife fight. Instead of just listing your duties, bring your professional achievements to bear.

6. Branding: Stories sell. Your resume is YOUR story. If branding sounds like you’re going to put some pretty watermark in the background of your resume with your signature and astrological sign, then you’ve missed the five thousand Yahoo! articles that have beaten this to death. Your brand sums up everything about you professionally that you want your “customers” (in this case, companies) to think, remember, and internalize when they think of you. So your resume should portray this in as many ways as possible.

This all many seem like play-play still and it is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. If you can turn a pair of glasses into a computer and a Delorean into a time machine, then pretty soon we’ll all be mocking each other’s video resumes and doing tweet interviews with Gallup polls responding via chat forums on their iPhones from a coffee shop in Zurich. And that will be… progress, somehow.

But until that fateful day, don’t send your resume out there defenseless and unprotected. Start with the basics and then give us a call to ensure your resume isn’t just fortified but bulletproof.