Myths and Attitudes Print E-mail

We are well into a deep recession with unemployment at a record high, approaching double digits. Because of the employment situation, we have worked more in the past six months with clients who are out of work in contrast to clients who are seeking to make a change or move up in their careers. Some of the clients come to us after a fairly extended period of unemployment. What makes it more difficult for some people to gain a new job while for other job seekers, reemployment is not such a huge hurdle? From our experience, it has very little to do with actual qualifications but rather with the attitude the client has about job search.

We generally start all our engagements with a free critique of the client’s current resume. In our communication with clients at this stage, we often get the “myths” list from job seekers. These myths are their perceptions on why they are unsuccessful in their job search. A myth list will often sound something like this:

“I’ve been looking for a job for six months and there just isn’t anything out there (Myth 1). I don’t have a degree (Myth 2) and I think that is one of the reasons no one is calling me. Add to it that I’ve 59 years old (Myth 3) and I have three strikes against me from the beginning. It’s a hopeless situation.”

Such a negative attitude is self-defeating. The job seeker with this attitude spends more time and energy taking a negative approach to the job search and less time actually taking positive action to get interviews! Notice the job seeker does not mention the resume even though the resume is the primary career marketing tool for generating interviews. A great resume will deal strategically with any conceived hurdles such as education deficits or age. Much of our approach and strategies revolve around nullifying or de-emphasizing issues that may stand in the way of an interview! If you are not receiving interviews, the first potential culprit that should be examined is the resume. It must do its job – sell your value, overcome potential problems, and generate the interview.

In the client’s comments above, he grasps some common myths concerning hiring. The first myth is that there are no jobs available. That’s untrue! There ARE jobs out there but there is more competition for each one. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a figure last week stating for every open position, there are five applicants. New businesses are starting up as those laid off decide to take the opportunity to pursue The American Dream of owning their own company. Smaller companies are stepping in with cost-saving solutions where larger companies cannot compete due to huge overhead. There are some terrific opportunities in the market right now!

The second myth concerns the degree or lack of one. Many people feel the lack of a degree is a comment upon their character. That could not be further from the truth! In fact, here is a comment from a recruiter concerning education:

“I can tell you that too much education can be a bad thing when it comes to applying for jobs. Not only does it give the impression that you don't know what you want to be when you grow up, it can also suggest that you don't want to grow up. People who have dedicated so much time to their education often perceive its value to be much higher than it is to employers, and it can be difficult to convince them to downplay it. And it's not just an issue of being "over-qualified" - in some cases it may be indicative that a person is "not qualified" because they spent more time in school than in the real world.”

Most people do not think of the education issue from that perspective, but rather think of lack of education as a huge strike against them. You cannot learn experience in a classroom! Employers know that, too! Sure, a formal degree is helpful but savvy employers know that it is not the only success indicator in hiring. You may notice that many, many employers will accept experience in lieu of a degree.

The third myth – the age issue – actually has some basis of truth. Is age discrimination a factor in job search? Yes, it can be. People hire people. Those who are the hiring decision-makers bring their own personal attitudes and biases to the process. While age discrimination in hiring is illegal, it still happens. In the comment above, the client believes his age is a reason for not generating interviews. If his resume was written well, his age would not “show” on the resume and the issue would be a moot point until he actually arrived for the interview.

Job seekers who successfully find their next job quickly have some common traits. They have positive, can-do attitudes. They do not listen to the negative messages coming from the media about the job market. They look for solutions to problems they face rather than caving to the problems. They focus on the positive attributes they have to offer employers rather than dwelling on the negatives in their past. They are constantly making efforts toward that next job – they do not stand still and wait for things to happen. And finally, they make sure they are using the most aggressive career marketing tools available – a fantastic resume and a sound job search plan.

The Keys to the Interview Print E-mail

I was surfing around some of the career pages of major companies that have recently had well-publicized lay-offs or hiring freezes such as IBM and General Motors. I was curious to see where their open positions are and for what positions they are hiring. While doing my surfing, I came across a link that led me to a link that took me to another link (you know how it is). I ended up at a good article on keywords and resume databases - The article quotes Al Campa of Taleo software. Taleo is a brand of HRIS (Human Resource Information Systems) software that helps HR departments hire and manage talent. The article quotes Campa as stating. The whole automated system just makes it easier to go through resumes pretty painlessly. In the market today, even if the country was running at 3% unemployment rather than near 10% in places, HR departments of large companies simply cannot operate without HRIS systems. The volume of resumes is far too high to manage by hand. The resume database is a fact of life.

As with all facts of life, we need to stop fighting it and start working with it to achieve our goals. Resume databases are here to stay and the smart job seeker will accept that and go with the flow. We all lament the lack of personal touches in hiring but the days of having 25 applicants for a job opening are long gone. Today, a job opening will likely have 250 applicants instead and it is simply impossible to personally review that many resumes. We have to automate to survive. For the job seeker, survival means adaptation.

The article linked above has some excellent points. One is the use of a keyword or core competencies section. At Getinterviews, the core competencies section is an integral part of our resume strategy for almost all our clients. Having keywords that tag the skills of the targeted positions is very important. We make our core competencies section one of the main sections in the top half of the resume. As part of our intake process, we ask our clients for job advertisements that are representative of the career goals they are targeting so we can hone in on specific keywords. We want to bring those keywords into play and also provide details in the content that back up those skills. As the article describes, employers are looking for candidates with near-100% matches on qualifications. Everything we can do to make sure our clients resumes come up high in those searches will help make our clients more successful.

Another important factor is the use of an e-resume. Have you ever viewed your uploaded Word-format resume only to discover it is full of strange character sets? Word documents do not always upload cleanly to a database. Formatting and design elements will often cause strange or unusual changes to the content of the document, usually resulting in a document that looks messy, unprofessional and difficult to read. Other formats such as HTML or PDF files cause even greater problems in uploading. The only solution is to use a database-compatible e-resume. The e-resume is designed to be readable by computers but also easy on the human eye. It follows certain layout rules and is in a text format. The layout rules help the human reader and the text format helps the machine reader. The goal is to get the machine to grab it in a search and then have the human reviewer contact the job seeker after skim-reading it.

An e-resume is also used as a source document for the copy/paste procedure that some job sites and career pages require for inputting a resume. The e-resume content will copy and paste cleanly without worry about losing formatting or causing problems. It makes getting the resume into many of the job boards much less of a hassle.

The article notes there are no magical words that must appear on every resume and I totally agree. Content of a resume should be well-considered because a resume has a limited amount of space. Choose words that are powerful and representative of the skills targeted. The resume is a persuasive document with a goal of spurring an interview contact. It needs to be engaging and full of useful, keyword-rich information and description. Unimaginative sentence construction, word choice, or syntax only makes for a boring resume. Boring resumes don't generate interviews.

Is your resume keyword-rich? Is it passing the database test? Are you consistently using an e-resume as an essential tool in your job search? If you answer no to any of these questions, you are not maximizing your job search efforts.

Get Active! Print E-mail

We are fortunate here at GetInterviews. We get the privilege of working with a lot of really interesting people while at the same time helping them through some tough times. The economy is pretty bumpy right now. I'm sure you know someone who has lost a job or is facing foreclosure. We all do, too. That's why we feel fortunate to be in a position to help people get back on their feet with a strong resume and cover letter.

In addition to having a great resume, there are lots of things you can do to make your job search more effective. It's very easy to send out the resume and then sit and wait but don't fall into that trap. That path leads to discouragement. I realize it just seems easier to float the resume on the Internet and see what bites but "easy" isn't going to get you back to work.

Tenaciousness is a virtue in a job search. Those who win out are the ones who stick with it, work at it, and try to help others along the way. Here are some ways you can make some noise in your job search and gain attention:

  • Send follow up emails or letters to show hiring managers you are still interested in a position for which you've applied.

  • Expand your networking web join an organization, join an online networking site, or simply talk to people you normally would just smile at (like other parents at your kid's ball game).

  • Find a job search group or partner and start sharing opportunities. This will not only help others but will multiply the opportunities that come your way, too.

  • Go on every interview possible, even if it's for a job you already know is not suitable. It will give you a chance to practice your interviewing skills. You also never know what other positions are in the "wings" the interviewer may realize that there is a different position coming open for which you would be more suitable!

  • Refresh your resume online and make sure you Google yourself to see what is out there about you (you may be surprised).

  • Volunteer somewhere. Charitable organizations are really hurting in these economic times. Even if you can't donate money, you have time and that is quite valuable. Go help someone. It will get you out of the doldrums, expand your network, and give you the opportunity to give back. Remember, you generally receive back with interest all that you give, even your time.

In this economy, those who are proactive, positive and have a "can do" attitude will be the ones who win the jobs.

Left Behind Print E-mail

I was recently reading through some posts on a management forum where resumes and job search were being discussed. One of the posts astounded me. The writer was questioning the necessity of an e-resume in today’s job search. Maybe he was just out of touch or maybe he doesn’t understand how technology has developed but his basic premise was that electronic resumes are obsolete.

First of all, we started developing “scannable” resumes years and years ago when technology evolved and recruiters and hiring managers were starting to use flat-bed scanning technology to convert paper-based resumes into electronic format. It’s been years now since we’ve provided paper resumes to clients since they are simply not needed but we were one of the first firms that recognized the need for a resume that was OCR-compatible. We also were one of the first firms to provide laser prints of resumes rather than dot-matrix. Remember those? Technology and job search evolved and we evolved with it.

Today, we provide an e-resume option for all our clients. An e-resume is a more modern version of a scannable resume but it is still built around the core principal of having a resume that is computer-friendly. These days, however, an e-resume has to be database friendly and human friendly, too. We always keep the reader in mind here at GI. We develop resumes for the readers’; the recruiters and hiring managers. We poll them twice yearly to find out what they want and need in a resume and then we strive to provide that. They want resumes that upload smoothly to databases but can also be downloaded, emailed, and actually read by a human eye. That’s an e-resume.

About the time I read this forum post, I received a brochure for Kennedy Information’s annual Recruiting Conference and Expo (held in Vegas this year). This is one of the biggest industry conferences for recruiting and HR. The theme this year is “Real-World Recruiting for Today’s Workforce. The sessions are led by recruiting and HR experts from some of the most recognizable companies in the world such as Siemens, Bank of America, Nike, and Citigroup just to name a few. Sponsors of the event include Qualigence, LinkedIn, ExecuNet, Simply Hired and TalentHook, all Internet-based service companies.

Entry into the conference is quite expensive with recruiters paying up to $3380.00 per person to attend the entire schedule, not including accommodations at the Las Vegas Hilton, the venue for the event. So what are recruiters paying so much to learn about? Here are some of the session titles with a bit of description: “The New Game in Town … “Recruiting by Video Game” … “Replacing retiring “boomers’ with talented Gen X and Y engineers and scientists..”

“OFCCP Compliance for External Resume Database Sourcing” … “Learn how to prove that your sourcing activities are consistent and fair in order to avoid unnecessary litigation”

“Talent 3.0 … Latest Innovations to “Recognize and Grow Talent’” … “Learn how you can leverage new discoveries in neuroscience and expert performance and the latest web 2.0 technologies to recognize and grow your company’s talent base.”

“Marrying Physical and Online Networking” … “Explore the implications of regional recruiting markets on the use of online social networks.”

“The Best Kept Secret of Inexpensive, Effective, Local Online Recruiting” … “Recruiters and employers today have a dazzling array of options for publishing their job opportunities, from Craigslist and the local newspaper to Monster and CareerBuilder.”

“Online Video’s Impact on Employment” … “The hot button topic of video resumes is sure to rear its ugly head as well.”

“How to Use Search Engines & Social Networking Sites to Screen Candidates … Including Landmines and Pitfalls” … “You’ll assess the pros and cons of utilizing Internet sites and see how privacy and discrimination laws apply.”

“Is Social Networking & SEM the Next Frontier in Recruiting?” “Social networking sites have appeared quickly on the Internet landscape and continue to flourish. We need to capitalize on this phenomenon.”

“Real-world Recruiting and the Electronic Future” … “a panel of experts will help you keep pace with the trends and technologies that matter to recruiters now … and in the months ahead.”

Anyone out there in the job market still doubt that technology is impacting job search? Anyone think an e-resume is a silly, unnecessary expense? Anyone think we will ever go backwards in terms of the impact of technology on job search? If so, maybe you should be planning a trip to Vegas in May. You need to get up to speed on what the person across the desk in the job search process … the recruiter or the hiring manager - is doing because you are going to be left behind if you don’t get with the program.

Don't Be Caught Dead Print E-mail

Most of us have had to deal with the passing away of a loved one. If you've dealt with this situation, you know how good it is when the person who died left a last will and testament explaining how he/she wished for things to be handled following his death. For the most part, it makes things run so much smoother and helps details fall into place during a very stressful time.

Not to sound morbid, but a resume is very much like a will. You don't want to be caught unprepared. The economy is on shaky knees and the layoffs are already starting to occur with Yahoo releasing the most employees since the dot-com bust of 2001. Starbucks has halted progress toward opening 300+ new stores across the nation. Companies who are watching profit margins and stock values fall are doing what they always do - cutting labor forces. We are just beginning to see the start of this and it is predicted to get worse before it gets better.

NOW is the time to get your resume and cover letter prepared. You do not want to be caught flat-footed in a layoff situation without a resume prepared and ready to go. In fact, it would be a good idea to get your network warmed up again. Job search is not something that is easily started from a stand-still. You want to be constantly testing the waters and be open to opportunities, not to mention ready for any eventualities.

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