Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Make Sure Your Resume Gets Past Resume Robots and into a Human’s Hand

It's true: Employers and hiring managers are turning more than ever to resume screening software, thanks to the overwhelming number of job applications they get. It pays to know how these systems (called Applicant Tracking Systems or Automated Resume Screeners) work so you can make your resume more relevant to the job you're applying for. Here's a brief overview of how the software analyzes your resume and what you can do about it.


Automated Resume Screeners Score Resumes on Relevancy to Keywords and Experience

The following process from resume webapp Resunate illustrates the basic process (see graphic after the jump below):

·   Your resume is run through a parser, which removes the styling from the resume and breaks the text down into recognized words or phrases.
·   The parser then sorts that content into different categories: Education, contact info, skills, and work experience.
·   The employer's desired skills or keywords are matched against the results from above.
·   Your resume is scored on relevancy—using semantic matching against the employer's search terms and your years of experience.

So, clearly, it's vital to include relevant text in your resume—but rather than just dump all the keywords from the job description in, for best results you'll need to employ a strategy. (Most savvy job applicants are likely using the same keywords in their resumes.)

How to "Hack" the Automated Resume Screeners


First, don't just focus on the keywords that are in the job description. Sophisticated resume screeners have gone beyond just keywords to look for semantic matches—related terms (e.g., not just CPA, but also accounting, audits, SEC, financial statements, etc.). Resunate co-founder Mona Abdel-Halim told me that this is how sites like and others use technology to help employers find the best candidates.

Prioritize the words in your resume.
The Resume Help blog recommends auditing the job description to build a list of priority and secondary words to include:

·   Priority resume keywords: words used in the company's listed job title, used in the description headlines, used more than twice, called out as success criteria
·   Secondary resume keywords: mention of competitor companies or brand name experience, keyword phrases (phrases surrounding priority keywords), notable industry qualifications (training, associations)

Consult an insider for help finding relevant words.
It never hurts to get friendly with an HR manager or employer in your field—you can go straight to the source and ask them if they could either look over your resume or suggest what kinds of experience/skills they look for in a candidate. Another possible contact to make is a person in a position similar to the one you'd like to have. LinkedIn, which is can be a great resource for job hunters, might be the best place to make these connections, especially in the industry groups forums.

Pepper all the job-related words across your resume.
Since the screeners also factor in the depth of your skills (i.e., analyzing your length of experience), it's also important to place those important words, where appropriate, throughout your resume, in all job positions if possible. Order your bullets in descending order of relevancy to the job description, Abdel-Halim advised.

Create a relevant category expertise section.
Make sure your resume matches the special categories for the job you're applying for. Resume Help gives these examples:

·   Companies are looking for specialists, not industry generalists, so identifying a category match is a critical first step. One way to do this is by creating a separate section in the top 1/3 of your online resume that captures the relevant category expertise.
·   Examples of generic category expertise: Management, Operations, Communications, Marketing
·   Examples of specific, relevant category expertise: Client Relationship Management, Revenue Growth, Risk Management, Negotiation, CRM Program Development

Don't use photos on your resume.
Background images and photos might trip up the system, making your resume unreadable.

Use bulleted lists, not paragraphs, to describe your work.
Resume screeners may have a harder time separating long paragraphs. (Bulleted lists are also easier on human eyes.)

Use social networks to enhance your resume.
Some resume screeners add other features to check up on you. Reppify, for example, checks your social network posts and how you use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. So make sure what you post on those networks vibes with what you say on your resume.

Finally, don't forget the basics: Make sure your resume includes all the job requirements.
Your resume should address all the listed job requirements, such as years of experience and education.
Don't forget, of course, that the ultimate goal will be to get your resume in the hands of a real human. Luckily these tips should also help your resume's chance of getting past human screeners and hopefully land you an interview.
So while there are a lot of ways to get a job, if you're concerned that your resume may never actually end up in anyone's hands, these suggestions are a good starting point. Good luck!

Credit: Melanie Pinola @ Lifehacker

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

3 Simple Steps to Making Money From Any Passion

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ~Confucius
Editor’s note: This is a reposting of an article by Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend.
Is it possible to have your passion also be your core source of income?
We seem to hear more and more stories of people reaching the promised land, but is it really possible for the everyday person? Or are those ‘lucky few’ just that— lucky?
After years of research I have good news for you…
I bet you there’s something you love doing that someone else would be happy to pay you for right this second. I might go as far as saying I’m sure of it.
But let’s start with a question.
Why is it that the people who succeed once, seem to have similar successes on future endeavors? Whether it’s fitness, entrepreneurship, career, relationships, you name it.

Success begets success.

What are the things that consistently allow certain people to build a business and living around the things they love most, but allow the other 80% of the world to continue to drag themselves, day in and day out, to a job they can’t stand?
Why can some people charge seamlessly from one creative endeavor and passion project to the next, experiencing all sorts of success along the way, while many others can’t take the first step to finding their passion, let alone building a career around it?
The steps aren’t foreign; they aren’t cryptic, or hidden behind some secret handshake. They aren’t complicated and in many cases not even that difficult. But yet they are still massively underused.
Why is that?
These questions have kept me up at night for years.
As it turns out, the answer is pretty simple…
The passionate people simply know what’s actually possible. They are crystal clear about the steps that work, so they don’t think twice in applying them to whatever the excitement of the day is.
The rest of the world doesn’t know the first move to distinguish up from down.
It doesn’t have to be that way.


Living Off Your Passion Is a Right – For Everyone

For the past eight years, and more specifically the past three, I’ve lived and breathed passion. I’ve done case studies with hundreds of passionate workers around the world, conducted countless experiments and profiled 14 of the top experts on and off the web.
Not only have I been obsessed with how people find their passion, but also how the seemingly ‘lucky few’ (hint: it’s not about the luck) are able to push through to the next level and turn their passion into a career – as entrepreneurs and employees alike.
My goal was to combine the art of discovering your passion with the science of making money from it. I recently published the results and process into a self-study course called Live Off Your Passion.
The results were invigorating. But as it turned out, they were not as complicated and unique as one would think.
Living off your passion is more possible than most realize. We just have to condition it.
I wanted to share some of the most profound lessons with you all. If you follow the steps below, I’m sure you can monetize your passion in record time if you want it badly enough.


The 3 Sacred Steps to Converting Passion to Income

1. Separate passion from reality.
We must start with brainstorming your passion projects in a way that encourages success. Unfortunately most people do the opposite.
As humans, our immediate reaction to someone’s new idea (or our own) often is to figure out why it won’t work. I know, sad but true. The problem is that when you get critical of something the moment the idea comes up, it gets stomped out immediately. It might not even make it more than a sentence or two before someone else yells out the reasons it ‘obviously’ won’t work. Then you feel stupid and move on.
But if that idea were given say five or ten minutes of brainstorming whiteboard action, along with a solid dose of open, creative and non-critical discussion, it’s very possible that the idea would turn out to have some merit.
Imagine how many brilliant ideas get killed too soon due to premature criticism.
This happens with passion every day—even if we’re just doing it in our own head (which is the most likely and most dangerous case). A lot of times when we task ourselves to think of our passions we only allow ourselves to play in part of the sandbox. Since the end goal is to find something we can make a living from, we subconsciously discard the ideas that are totally off the wall. We stifle our creativity without even knowing it.
In order to have a fighting chance at developing world-changing business ideas or personal passion pursuits, you absolutely must separate the creative and the critical stages.
Brainstorm your most far-out dreams of passion careers you can think of. Then wait for at least a few days if not a week or more before you start to get practical and critical. Mark my words, for every wild idea you come up with, I’m sure there’s already someone out there making a great living off it (and that’s a good thing). More on finding them below.

2. Be the expert you already are.

One of the most common barriers keeping people from making money from their passion is the belief that you don’t know something well enough to get paid to teach it to someone else.
That’s just flat wrong – You know more than you think. Being an expert is purely relative and based largely on perception.
The crazy thing is once you find something you’re passionate about, you’ll likely realize it’s something you’ve been learning and improving upon for years and maybe even decades. You have more experience with your passion than likely 99% of those around you, simply because you love doing it.
If you’ve been on this earth for at least a couple decades, I guarantee you’re an expert at something. Give yourself some credit. Find what it is and find the people who desperately need your help. Combine the two and living off your passion starts to become a reality.

3. Do the impossible.

For decades, breaking the four-minute mile was believed to be scientifically impossible. Right up until Roger Banister did it in 1954. Then you know what happened? 16 more people ran sub four-minutes in the three years to follow.
We’ve been largely conditioned that it’s not possible to build a career around passion. So many people hate their jobs and many of us have decided to accept that as a fact of life. I did too, right up until I started meeting people who showed me another way.
Listen carefully. The most crucial ingredient to loving your work and living off passion is to surround yourself with people already doing it. You must reverse the brainwashing. Spend time around enough people living squarely in their dreams, and living off passion not only becomes possible, it becomes probable. That shift in psychology will change your world.
My recent course, Live Off Your Passion, as well as my site, Live Your Legend, would not exist today if it wasn’t for the ‘crazy’ people I spend time with every day. Leo is at the top of that list. He and others changed my thinking from “making a living online, helping people while doing something I love, isn’t possible” to “I can’t imagine any other way to build a career”. Thanks to Leo and the rest of you.
Once someone knows the process and is convinced not only that it works, but that it is indeed possible, their creative and business potential becomes limitless. It’s just a matter of time before they turn the passion of their choosing into a full-blown career.
Start surrounding yourself with people doing the impossible. Don’t look back.


Who can you help right now?

Often the first step to living off passion, and the most realistic for those scared of the threatening income gap is to start working with people one-on-one.
Remember, there are things you are better at (and enjoy more) than the great majority of those around you. There are also people actively looking for the expertise you have.
Find the right connection and you could begin making money from a passion tomorrow if you wanted to. It’s that powerful. And it’s that fast.
Need reassurance? Go do some research on some of the people charging folks and making a living from the skill and passion you enjoy. Are they all the next Steve Jobs? I doubt it. They just decided to focus their energy where they could help the most.
The great majority of people who have not been able to monetize a passion does not come down to lack of skill. It does not come down to lack of credentials. It does not come from lack of experience.
It comes from lack of creativity and courage.
Combine those two with something that makes you come alive, and the world will be beating your door down to give you their money.


Crossing the Chasm—From 80% to 20%

A recent study reported that as many as 80% of the people in the workforce don’t enjoy their job. And nearly 75% don’t know their true passion.
This is not a coincidence.
You don’t have to be one of them.
What would happen if we could reverse that statistic? Think about it for a second.
If we can begin building an income around the things that excite us, our work will no longer be something we loathe. It will be something we can’t get enough of. Which quickly becomes something the world can’t get enough of. If we can do that, we can literally change the world.


The all-important first dollar

The first hurdle in living off your passion is realizing it’s possible to get paid to do what you enjoy—to show yourself that you’re capable of helping people and they are willing to pay you for it. Whether it’s $1, $15, $100 or $1,000, the point is to make the massively huge leap from earning exactly ZERO from what you enjoy doing, to earning something. Anything.
People will find value in what you have to offer, but you’ll never know unless you start offering it.
In my years of passion research around the world, one belief has become a part of my core more than any other: If you can find something you’re passionate about, you can find a way to turn that passion into profit. I’ve seen too many examples of people living their dreams to believe anything else.
You just have to be willing to get a little creative.
So when are you going to join the 20% club?
You have the tools. The rest is on you.

Scott Dinsmore is the founder of Live Your Legend, and the author of Live Off Your Passion: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Passion and Getting Paid to Do Work You Love.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Job & Career Networking

The ultimate goal of networking is learning how to develop contacts with the right people who can advance your career, or refer you to the hiring manager who has the job you really want.

The best way to connect your cover letter and resume to your dream job is by networking. What's networking? Networking simply means telling people that you are looking for a job and enlisting them into your job search team.

It is a focused way of developing and building a group of contacts; people who can provide career information that can lead to a new or better job. It can include advice, recommendations, or actually being hired. Each person you meet and have contact with brings you one step closer to getting the job you want.

These people can include your family, friends, neighbors, people you knew at school, former co-workers and professional people like doctors and lawyers. Even if you don't know people very well, most are willing to help if you ask.

Ask the people in your network if they know about any openings. Also ask them to ask their friends, family and co-workers about any possibilities. Research shows that this "third level" can yield results. You will often find a job not through who you know, but through someone that your friend or contact knows.

The Benefits of Networking

If you are serious about finding the best position for your next career move in a timely manner, you must network.

At least 60 percent of job openings in the U.S. are not filled through advertising, recruiters or other traditional methods. They are filled through networking and informal contacts. The goal is to move into the hidden, un-advertised job market, using every available resource that contact with other people will provide you.

Current employees are among the best sources of referrals. Many firms report that 40 to 50 percent of their openings are filled by candidates referred to by staff members. Moreover, companies view such candidates more favorably than those brought in through other methods, because they already know something about the organization and have a personal connection with it.

Brief Statements, BIG Results

Prepare 5 to 10-second statements about yourself and what you have to offer.

It's not enough to have great talents and qualifications to get a job. You have to sound great too! Your opening statement sets the tone for your entire job search strategy. Take Networking for example. Knowing how to ask for, and receive, the valuable information you require is the key to finding the right job.

Delivering 5 to 10-second statements that instantly brings into focus the information you desire is critical to your success. Preparing these brief statements is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort summarizing who you are and what you want. However, your efforts will be rewarded as your listener's will recognize your professionalism and be more willing to help. By skipping this essential step, your chances for success will greatly diminish.

Most job hunters have difficulty describing their area of specialty.

Ask a member of the Career Playbook Team what they do and you might hear, "We help people develop action plans and strategies to succeed in their job search and get the results they want fast". If delivered properly, your listener will ask a follow-up question, such as; Tell me more, or, How do you do that?

An accountant might say, "I'm a Certified Public Accountant. My specialty is business and tax planning. I'm currently looking for a CFO position with an organization that wants to improve their bottom line".

A person in sales might say, "I'm a sales manager with proven experience hiring, training and motivating successful sales teams. I'm looking for a management opportunity helping a company grow sales and open new revenue streams".

Brief statements are a consequence of the breakneck speed of today's business world, as time and attention spans are far too short. It's hard to be concise. But the less you say, the more you are understood.

That's why reporters quote experts who are quotable! They only have a small amount of space to write 
their story, so they need to be concise. If you have this skill, you will be more successful in your job search.

On average, statements of about five to ten seconds translate into approximately 15 to 30 words. Therefore, carefully choosing the right words to create effective statements is vital. With practice, and knowledge about what you want from your networking contacts, most people will be only too happy to help you.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

10 Things Smart Job Seekers Do

What separates the smart job seeker from others looking for employment? Oftentimes, it is one of these 10 things:

1. They realize a potential job lead could be anywhere.

Smart job seekers aren't afraid to mention occupational aspirations to their book club, their parents' friends or their dentist. (One never knows whose golf partner might be the ticket to getting a foot in the door.) Many HR specialists recommend putting your LinkedIn public profile hyperlink in your e-mail signature. "This is an elegant way to attach your Resume to every correspondence you send. Even friends who think they know you may click through to your profile, learn more about you and perhaps think of you for a job or lead that they might have overlooked."

2. They surf job boards for more than just open positions.

Most recruiters consider job boards "goldmines" for research. "You might see companies you didn't know before -- add these to your list of targets. You might see the same requirements again and again -- this indicates a standard for the job you want, so incorporate these items into your pitch and cover letters."

3. They put adequate time and effort into their applications.

"Spend time to make your Resume the best possible written advertisement of you," says Lisa Quast, author of "Your Career, Your Way!" and founder of Career Woman Inc., a Seattle-based career development consulting company. "Analyze the job requirements against your own skills and abilities, and customize your cover letter."

Obviously, all correspondence should be free of errors and typos. And before sending off the application packet, look at the job posting one last time to ensure all desired material is included.

4. They do their homework.

It seems logical to smart applicants to know something about potential employers. From Googling a company to checking out its financial statements, they learn what they can -- and use the info to enhance their correspondence.

5. They know employers do their homework, too.

"According to a 2010 Coremetrics Study, 75 percent of companies require recruiters to research job applicants online, so you'll want to be sure you know what they'll find," states Sherrie Madia, co-author of "The Online Job Search Survival Guide." Besides thinking twice about what you choose to post, she suggests doing a Google search on your name. If you find something undesirable, try to have it removed.

6. They make their value known quickly.

"An employer gives each Resume about a thirty-second window of time before he decides to either 'delete' or read further," says Patrice Rice, author of "How to Interview" and president of the recruiting firm Patrice & Associates in Dunkirk, Md. A smart applicant answers the "What can you do for me?" question right off the bat with a summary of strongest accomplishments at the Resume's top.

7. They look and act like a professional.

Simple but effective: A smart applicant arrives on time, dresses appropriately, both talks and listens, displays confidence and minds his manners.

8. They show that they want this job.

Smart job seekers are not tire kickers. They focus on the needs of the employer and demonstrate how they are perfect for this particular position.

Show enthusiasm during the job interview. Always make certain that the company you're interviewing with feels as if it is your first choice, no matter what other companies are involved in your job search.

9. They don't get ahead of themselves.

As much as she may be dying to know about promotions, raises and vacation time, a smart candidate doesn't jump the gun and tackle these issues during the first interview. She focuses on landing the position, then on whether the package is suitable.

10. They ask for the position, follow up and thank the interviewer.

As strange as it sounds, you need to ask for the job. At the end of the interview, sum up your strengths, tell the interviewer that you are excited about the position and say, 'I would really like to contribute to this company. I am hoping you select me.'

Then, a smart interviewee keeps his name in the game with a follow-up note reiterating interest and offering thanks -- knowing that a great last impression can seal the deal!

Thanks for your time.
Mr. D

credit: Beth Braccio, CareerBuilder

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Dress for an Interview

The first impression you make on a potential employer is the most important one. The first judgment an interviewer makes is going to be based on how you look and what you are wearing. That's why it's always important to dress professionally for a job interview, even if the work environment is casual.
What's the appropriate dress code for an interview? You'll want that first impression to be not just a good one, but, a great one. The candidate dressed in a suit and tie is going to make a much better impression than the candidate dressed in scruffy jeans and a t-shirt.

How to Dress for an Interview:

Men's Interview Attire
  • Suit (solid color - navy or dark grey)
  • Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)
  • Belt
  • Tie
  • Dark socks, conservative leather shoes
  • Little or no jewelry
  • Neat, professional hairstyle
  • Limit the aftershave
  • Neatly trimmed nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase
Women's Interview Attire
  • Suit (navy, black or dark grey)
  • The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
  • Coordinated blouse
  • Conservative shoes
  • Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets)
  • No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry
  • Professional hairstyle
  • Neutral pantyhose
  • Light make-up and perfume
  • Neatly manicured clean nails
  • Portfolio or briefcase
What Not to Bring to the Interview
  • Gum
  • Cell phone
  • Ipod
  • Coffee or soda
  • If you have lots of piercings, leave some of your rings at home (earrings only, is a good rule)
  • Cover tattoos
Interview Attire Tips

  • Before you even think about going on an interview, make sure you have appropriate interview attire and everything fits correctly.
  • Get your clothes ready the night before, so you don't have to spend time getting them ready on the day of the interview.
  • If your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners after an interview, so they are ready for next time.
  • Polish your shoes.
  • Bring a breath mint and use it before you enter the building.
Thanks for your time. 
Mr. D