Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ramp Up Your Job Hunting Over the Holidays to Get Your Resume in Front of People Easier

By Thorin Klosowski
The business world tends to slow down a bit as the holidays come around, and The Wall Street Journal points out that it's an excellent time to start getting your resume into places because it will get seen by the right people. 

If companies are gearing up to hire people for the first quarter, they're looking for people right now. The office itself is typically a bit slower, but the Wall Street Journal suggests that's why it's an excellent time to reach out to hiring managers:

Workplaces that are open will typically be quieter, which is an ideal time to make that connection by phone, email or even setting up a lunch meeting, says Laurie Ruettimann, a human-resources consultant from Raleigh, N.C. "You're not competing with the regular rush of business. Just remember that many people work half days during the holidays or may work from home."

If you're on the job hunt, it's easy to relax into the holidays and wait for the new year. Instead of waiting, get your resume in now and it might make in front of the right person a little easier.

How to Generate More Interviews with Your Resume

By Anish Majumdar

It's a situation pretty much everyone finds themselves in at some point during their careers: sending your resume out to scores of recruiters and/or hiring agents...and not hearing anything back. Before you consider giving up on your ideal job, here are three powerful tweaks you can execute that will immediately increase the amount of attention your resume receives.


Develop a Clear Job Target

Specificity is one of the keys to a successful search in today's job market. Instead of going the "one size fits all" route with regards to your resume, research open jobs using sites like Monster and Indeed and start developing a database of positions that interest you. While you should ideally end up with a single job target, it's perfectly fine to conduct a job search across multiple targets. Just be sure to develop a separate resume version for each.

Insert the EXACT TITLE of the position you're applying for right at the start of the resume. 
This will minimize the chances of your document being mis-categorized or lost in digital limbo during the submission process.

Develop an opening paragraph that highlights why you'd be a great fit. 
Key experience at a previous job, a recently acquired degree or training certification, even soft skills such as team building/leadership or managing multiple client priorities are all examples of what might work within this section. Keep it brief, no more than 3-4 lines, and make sure it comes across as genuine.

Create a "Core Competencies" section. 
Look through the job postings you've gathered and make a list of skills that are frequently requested (that you actually possess). Now create a section beneath the opening paragraph that lists these skills. For example, a Marketing specialist could have terms like Marketing Plans, Corporate Branding/Rebranding, and Trend Tracking & Analysis within this section. Utilize bullets to differentiate between terms and keep things tidy.


Structure Your Work History to Support Career Goals

At its core, a resume is a personal marketing document. While most jobseekers know to leave off negative information such as why they were let go at a particular job or other workplace conflicts, it's the savvy ones that understand the importance of emphasizing and de-emphasizing positions within the "Professional Experience" section to support their career goals. Ask yourself the following questions to determine the optimal layout of this section:

Is the position directly relevant to the job I'm after? If so, begin the position with a few lines describing unique responsibilities, followed by a "Key Accomplishments" or similar section offering bulleted accomplishments. This approach provides the necessary context and really makes an impact visually.

Can I use the position to highlight soft skills or a unique aspect of my background? Many jobs that aren't directly related to what you're presently after can still hold value in these 2 areas. Use the same approach as above but make sure these positions take up less space within the document.

Is the position a liability? If you took on a role that was a significant step down in terms of responsibilities, salary, etc. or simply didn't work out, then it's worth considering leaving off entirely. As long as it doesn't create a major time gap within the resume, then simply skip to the next position. If it does, then briefly encapsulate the position within 1-2 lines and move on.


Eliminate Red Flags

One of the most frequent reasons resumes get rejected is due to "red flags" that pop up during the evaluation process. Here's the thing: being upfront about a potential vulnerability gives you the opportunity to control it, whereas ignoring it basically guarantees that it's going to be perceived as a negative. Here are the major causes of red flags and how you can keep them from becoming a barrier to your candidacy:

Lack of a clear link between stated career goal and work history. It's important to use the opening paragraph you developed in step #1 as a kind of running theme within your resume. Make sure that the skills and attributes mentioned here are expanded upon throughout your work history, particularly with regards to recent jobs you've held. Don't be afraid to be a little redundant if necessary. A clear link is crucial to establishing credibility during the hiring process.

Significant time gaps in your work history. While a gap of a few months between jobs won't raise any eyebrows, anything over 6 months needs to be addressed. Create a "Career Note" of a few lines and place it directly within your work history, between the 2 positions in question. Examples of information to include here can range from managing family responsibilities and fulfilling a personal life goal to taking an advanced training course or exploring new career avenues. Just make it clear that you weren't sitting around doing nothing.

Lack of necessary education and/or training. If you're currently obtaining a degree or advanced training in a particular area, don't wait until graduation to leverage it within your resume! Simply add the words "In Progress" as well as the anticipated graduation/completion date when listing it within the "Education" section and you should be good to go.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Think Outside the Box to Get Your Resume Noticed

If you want to get hired in today's job market, you have to stand out from the crowd. Sean Weinberg of resume analyzing website RezScore offers tips for getting your resume noticed in a sea of competitive job-seekers.


Reverse write your resume

This one is no fun, but can be really effective. Forget everything you already have on your resume. Go open a new blank document. On your second screen (if you're a LifeHacker reader, you have two screens, right?) pop open the job description of the job you're seeking.
Now reverse chronologically write your resume, by focusing exclusively on "what have I done that the people who wrote this description will like?" If you can, match it bullet by bullet (try not to be too obvious about this). The process of building a resume from scratch that is targeted towards a particular job forces you to let go of the unnecessary material you have in your generic resume. Be a salesperson, not a fact-reciter.


Subtly nod to the employer using color

I just tried this fun little experiment with one of our RezScore resume writing clients and it went over really well. The client was applying to work at Coca-Cola and wanted to differentiate herself somehow, since it is so difficult to break in to Coke. We wanted to do something subtle that let Coke know this was a targeted application, while not being cheesy or overly aggressive. The trick ended up being super simple. We used Coke Red to color the client's professional headline. That's it; the rest of the resume was done in the usual fashion.
Because we used Coke's very well-known red color for the headline, the HR person knew my client was targeting her resume, and was impressed with the subtlety of the pitch. The next time you apply to a company with a recognizable logo—try using a bit of the coloring somewhere in your resume. (Note: we DO NOT recommend copying and pasting the logo itself into your resume!)
By Sean Weinberg

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Stand Out in an Interview

You've just landed a job interview for a position you really want. Congratulations! Now, you know you only get one chance to impress, but how exactly do you do that? Given all of the conflicting advice out there and the changing rules of getting a job, it's no wonder that job seekers are confused about how to best prepare for and perform in an interview.


What the Experts Say


One common piece of advice is to "take charge" of the interview. John Lees, a career strategist and author of The Interview Expert: How to Get the Job You Want and Job Interviews: Top Answers to Tough Questions, says this advice is misleading: "The reality is that the interviewer is in control. Your job is to be as helpful as you can." Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder International and the author of Great People Decisions, agrees: "You need to help interviewers do the right thing since most of them don't follow best practices." According to Fernández-Aráoz, who has interviewed more than 20,000 candidates in his 26 years as a search consultant, most interviewers fall prey to unconscious biases and focus too heavily on experience rather than competence. It's your responsibility to make sure this doesn't happen. Here's how.


Prepare, prepare, prepare


Most people know they need to show up to the interview having done their homework, but both Fernández-Aráoz and Lees agree that people rarely prepare enough. "You can never invest enough in terms of preparation. You should find out as much as possible about the company, how it's organized, its culture, the relevant industry trends, and some information about the interviewer," says Fernández-Aráoz. He also advises researching the specific job challenges. This will allow you to demonstrate you have what it takes to fill the role.


Formulate a strategy


Before you enter the room, decide what three or four messages you want to convey to the interviewer. These should "show the connection between what you have achieved and what is really needed to succeed in the specific job and context," says Fernández-Aráoz. Lees says the best way to do this is to draft narratives ahead of time. "People buy into stories far more than they do evidence or data," he says. Your stories should be concise and interesting. Make sure they have a good opening line, such as, "I'm going to tell you about a time that I rescued the organization." Then, learn them like the back of your hand. Know how they begin and end so you can relay them without stumbling or sounding like a robot. Whenever possible, use one of your stories to answer an interview question.


Emphasize your potential


"No candidate will ever be perfect, and you will be no exception," says Fernández-Aráoz. Instead of harping on where your resume might fall short—or letting the interviewer do the same—focus on your potential. This is often a far better indicator of future job performance. "If your past achievements are not directly related to the job, but you've demonstrated a great ability to learn and adapt to new situations, you should very clearly articulate that," says Fernández-Aráoz. For example, if you're interviewing for an international role but have no global experience, you might explain how your ability to influence others in a cross-functional role, such as between production and sales, proves your ability to collaborate with different types of people from different cultures.


Ace the first 30 seconds


First impressions matter. Lees points to psychological research that shows that people form opinions about your personality and intelligence in the first 30 seconds of the interview. "How you speak, how you enter the room, and how comfortable you look are really important," he says. People who perform best in interviews start off by speaking clearly but slowly, walk with confidence, and think through what "props" they will carry so they don't appear over-cluttered. Lees suggests rehearsing your entrance several times. You can even record yourself on video and play it back without the sound so you can see precisely how you are presenting yourself and make adjustments. The same applies to phone interviews. You need to use the first 30 seconds of the conversation to establish yourself as a confident, calm voice on the line.


Don't be yourself


Lees calls the "be yourself" advice "demonstrably untrue." He says, "It's a trained improvised performance where you're trying to present the best version of you." Bring as much energy and enthusiasm to the interview as you can. But don't oversell yourself. Because there's an oversupply in the talent market, employers are wary that people are exaggerating their experience and skills. "If you're going to make a statement about what you can achieve, you need to back it up with hard evidence," Lees says.


Be ready for the tough questions


Many people worry about how to answer questions about a pause in their work history, a short stay at a recent job, or other blemishes on their CV. Again, the best approach is to prepare in advance. Don't just have one answer for these difficult questions. Lee suggests three lines of defense. First, have a simple, straightforward answer that doesn't go into too much detail. Then have two additional answers ready so that if the interviewer follows up, you have something further to say. For example, if you didn't finish a degree that would've been helpful to the job, be ready to answer an initial question with something like, "I felt it was better to go straight into the work world." If the interviewer pushes further, be ready with another level of detail, such as, "I thought about it carefully. I knew it would carry negative connotations but I thought I would learn a lot more by working." Lees says, "The key is to never be pushed so far that you are left high and dry without a smart answer."


Be flexible in the room


Even with all of the right preparation, you can never predict exactly how the interview will go. "You need the radar working in the room. A good candidate knows how to tweak the performance to play to different situations," says Lees. Ask yourself: Do I need to supply better answers? Do I need to work on my tone? Do I need to just shut up? "A lot of interviewers like to hear themselves talk and you should be willing to let them," says Lees. Adapt to the circumstances.


When it's going poorly


There are times when it's clear the interview is not going well. Perhaps the interviewer is not engaged or you stumbled over answers to some important questions. Resist the temptation to agonize over what's already happened. "That's a surefire way to get lost," Lees says. Instead, focus on the moment. "Concentrate on answering the current question as if it's the first," he says. You can also redirect the conversation by acknowledging the situation. You might say something like, "I'm not sure if I'm giving you what you need" and see how the interviewer reacts. "You just have to be sure you aren't digging a deeper hole," says Lees.


Principles to Remember


  • Find out as much as you can about the job qualifications ahead of time
  • Prepare concise stories that demonstrate your ability to do the job
  • Rehearse the first 30 seconds of the interview—they matter most

  • Panic if the interview is going poorly—focus on giving the best possible answer to the current question
  • Try to anticipate exactly how the interview will go—be prepared to adapt to what's happening in the room 
  • Answer a tough question all at once—reserve detail for follow-up questions

 By Amy Gallo

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Nail Your Follow-up Interview

BY Thorin Klosowski

You nailed your first job interview and they've asked you to come for another. It's a great feeling, but at the same time, it also means you have to go through that whole process again. Here's how to nail that second interview and bring something new to the table.

The second job interview is typically all about getting to know you on both a personal and professional level. When you're interviewed, your prospective employer wants to know if you can handle the details of the job, and if you're going to fit in with the company in general. That's really it. The second interview might be more relaxed and conversational or more hectic with a full panel of people talking to you. Either way, your preparation and composure are the same.

Review Your Performance on the First Interview

You did well on your first job interview. Otherwise they wouldn't be asking you back for a second. This likely means you have the behavioral aspect nailed, but the second interview is all about getting to know you better. Before you head into the job interview, think back to the first interview and the key points your potential employer made. Take another look at the job description and start coming up with responses to the same sorts of questions you already had. Basically, you already had an inside look at the job, the people, and the workplace. Use it to your advantage.

You also had a chance to scope out the overall "feel" of the office on your first trip. Use that to decide what to wear for the second. You still want to look nice, but use your new inside knowledge to decide what "nice" really means.

Prepare Yourself for Deeper Questions

The second interview is all about digging into real details about a job. This means you'll likely meet with your immediate supervisor if you haven't already. It also means you're asked deeper questions about your work history, personality, and how you'll handle the job. Your potential employer might quiz you on your technical skills, go in-depth into your work history, or even want you to dig into the reasons why you think you'd fit in at the company. The only way you can really prepare for this is research. As Forbes points out, it's all about preparation:

Have as clear a sense as possible of the department's purpose and challenges. Your main goal in this meeting will be to show how you, with your particular skills and background, will help the department succeed. You can only do that if you know what the department's needs are. Of course visit the company's Web site, but that's just a start. Read company press releases, related news stories and other general industry news to find out about the whole sector. Learn about any competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.

You can get away with a little ignorance about the job in the first interview, but it's not going to fly in the second. Since you reviewed your performance on the first interview, you can also look back at the more detailed job description and start coming up with specific examples where you can apply your work history to this job. Don't be surprised if you get some of the same common job interview questions, but prepare for them with more specific answers.
When you're applying for a technical or creative position you're also often asked to showcase your skills on the spot. This is in addition to any portfolio or samples you might have already brought in. It probably won't be anything too complicated, but make sure you're prepared for the demands of the job.

Get Ready to Meet Some Future Coworkers

It's not uncommon for the second interview to include a few other people in your potential department or to end with a short tour. The main reason for this is to make sure you're going to fit in. You can't really prepare for this, but be ready for it. As Southeastern Louisiana University point out, it's both for the employer's benefit and yours:

A major reason for the second interview is so the employer can see how well you fit in with the company culture. Realize that the interviewers at your second interview want to learn how well you will get along with other team members with whom you'll be interacting every day. Deploy your very best interpersonal communication skills. But - remember that it's OK not to fit. If you aren't a good fit with the employer, you probably wouldn't be happy working there anyway. And remember, that this interview is also your opportunity to determine whether the company is a good fit for you.

The second interview is partially about making sure both parties will be happy. When you're getting that tour or meeting coworkers make note of their behavior, dress, and even their workspaces. You should have an idea whether you'll fit in by the time you shake hands and walk out the door.

Now's the Time to Really Ask Questions

You probably asked a few questions in your first interview, but asking questions is just as important in the second interview. If you didn't ask them in the first interview, Fortune's common questions you should ask is a good place to start. Talking with Forbes, career coach Debra Wheatman offers up one set of questions you should always ask on the second interview:

It's a marriage. Always ask hiring managers what they like about the company, what they think are the firm's short-, medium- and long-term goals and how it has delivered on them. That will give you a sense of how organized they are.

Basically, make sure you really want to work where you're interviewing at, and ask any questions that will help make you feel confident in your choice.

Yes, You Should Send Another Thank You Email

Chances are you interviewed with different people in your second round. This means you should send out another round of thank you notes when the interview is over. Before you leave the interview, grab a business card for the person (or people) that interviewed and follow up the same way you did in the first interview.

Of course, you also want to prepare yourself in the same way you would for the first interview. Get a good night's sleep and eat well ahead of time. Be nice, keep your answers concise, and don't shy away from small talk. If you need some help remembering everything, fill out a one sheet to get all your points in one place.

Friday, July 6, 2012

How You Can Beat Computerized Applicant Screenings

Computerized applicant screenings are a catch-22—tell the truth and the system may disqualify you; lie and it will catch up to you in the interview process. So what's the solution? Dylan Alford explains how a little creativity and a lot of perseverance can get you past the computer and into the interview.

I stared at the screen for what seemed like an hour. "Do you have experience marketing software in a business-to-business environment?" the computer asked me.

I knew if I answered "No" to this question, which was the truth, I would probably be automatically excluded as a candidate for this job. No chance of anyone at this company that I desperately wanted to work for even looking at my resume. Forget about getting an interview. And it was a shame, because I knew I could not only do the job they were advertising, but I could excel at it.

But I wasn't willing to lie. That would be a deal-breaker if I ended up being considered for the position. So, I clicked "No" and completed the rest of the online application.

Five minutes later I opened my email to find an automatically generated rejection message. I was not being considered for the position. And nobody - no human being - had even looked at my application or resume. The software the company used to manage the online application process automatically eliminated me because I answered "No" to that one screening question. Game over.


When Software Replaces Recruiters

I understand why companies use this kind of software to screen out "unqualified" applicants. About 13 million people in the U.S. are officially looking for work. And a lot of people apply for jobs willy-nilly, regardless of their experience or skill set. The HR department simply can't sort through all of the applications.

But software simply can't do the job as well as a human. It can't apply judgment and pass along an application from someone who meets nearly all the requirements. Or maybe the problem is whoever creates the screening requirements for these positions sets the bar unreasonably high, with the hopes of narrowing the pool.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal says hiring managers now pile up so many requirements for jobs that it's almost impossible to find someone who meets them all. The owner of a temporary staffing company quoted in the article calls it "looking for a unicorn." He tells of a business he worked with that received 25,000 applicants for an open engineering position only to hear from HR that none were qualified. None! Nobody, out of 25,000?


Connections Are Key

But here's the thing. If you really want a particular position, getting weeded out by the screening software should never stop you from going after it. I don't advocate lying. I don't advocate spending a lot of time trying to game the system.

What I do advocate is building personal connections inside a limited number of target employers. Organizations that are a good fit for you. You need to meet people - either in person, on the phone or online - who work at those companies so if you run into a situation where your application gets weeded out, you know someone who will help you go around the software and reach the hiring manager.


How I Beat the Software

So what do you do if a job you know you would love and be great at and that you're qualified for comes along and you don't have any connections at that employer? That's the situation I was in when I got this automated rejection email for no reason other than answering one question on the application "incorrectly."

This was a company that hadn't been on my radar. I hadn't made any connections there. I was behind in this game. But this was a great job, and I wasn't willing to give up so easily.

Here's what I did:
1. I'd found the job posted on LinkedIn. I looked back at the posting there and saw it had been posted by a recruiter who works in HR at the company. I wasn't connected to the recruiter on LinkedIn, but I saw in her profile that she was a member of a marketing-related LinkedIn group I'm in. That meant I could send her a direct message through LinkedIn. I sent a message explaining the situation, why I felt my skill set was a good match despite my lack of software marketing experience, and provided a link to my profile and attached a copy of my resume.

2. Then, by doing a little digging on the company website, I figured out which of the company's locations she was most likely to work at. I sent her a package in the mail with a unique, direct marketing-style cover letter, my resume, samples of my work and a card that simply said, "Call Me" and included my mobile phone number.
I did all of this on a Wednesday. The following Monday, she called. She agreed I was well-qualified for the position and said she was impressed by my persistency and the mail package I sent her. She asked a few specific questions about how my experience and skills might be transferable to the software industry, and since I'd prepared to answer those questions, I responded with no problem.

Then she said she would recommend that the hiring manager interview me. A week and a half later I interviewed with the hiring manager. It went great, and I went through two more rounds of interviews with various members of the team. In the end, I didn't get the job. The hiring manager ended up going with an internal candidate (who obviously had software marketing experience and had worked with the hiring manager in the past).

Yet the recruiter emailed about a month later to ask if I was interested in applying for another marketing position they had open. Unfortunately, this other job would have meant relocating my family, so it wasn't a good fit.

But that doesn't mean I didn't win in some way. The point is, I did beat the evil software. I didn't let something stupid and arbitrary stop me from going after a position I knew I wanted.
And you can do the same. You might have to get creative. You might have to be a little pushy.

But you can do it. It really depends on how badly you want it.

 By Dylan Alford

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting Over Resume Hate

I hate writing resumes.

It’s a pain. There is nothing fun about it. It takes a large amount of time, mental and psychological commitment, and frankly, it’s hard to produce a quality product. And if you’re anything like me, or 99% of the rest of the world, you hate writing resumes too. Even the hiring manager receiving your resume hates writing resumes.

It’s hard to write a resume. Not just because it’s difficult to write clearly and persuasively.  Or concisely. Or because you’ve done so much you don’t want to leave anything out. Or because you feel you’ve done so little that you have nothing worthwhile to say. Those are all true and relevant, but none are the real reason for why writing a resume is so difficult.

It’s because it matters.

A resume is your introduction. Your first hello. It is the one and only time where you have complete control over how another person views you. Up until you get an interview, you’re not a person, just a resume.

And that’s a heckuva scary thought.

Especially when you are in an active job search and it’s a bad economy. And it’s because it matters so much that so many of us have such difficulty sitting down and writing a resume. The pressure to do great work is heavy and cumbersome.

So how do you get over your resume hate?

1. Your resume is not who you are.
Your resume is not your life story. The contents of your resume are not your identity. Your self-worth is not tied to your previous or current jobs.

We are trained from birth to see the people as job titles. It’s the second question we ask when we meet someone new – “what do you do?” This Pavlovian training is part of what makes it so hard to be out of work; being jobless makes us feel valueless. And it’s wrong.

The first trick is to completely forget that nonsense. A job is just a job. It’s what you do to pay the bills. Your self-worth is better determined by how you treat your family than what job you do. Easier said than done. Still, you have to always try to remember that your job is not your life and a resume is just a piece of paper.

2. The readers don’t care that much. 
That person reading your resume is not reading it carefully. They’re glancing at it – giving it a quick read before making a decision. Those sentences you’ve spent hours perfectly crafting; they’re barely being looked at. So don’t sweat it so much. It’s much more important to facilitate a quick decision via a professional headline than it is to make sure your 4th bullet on your 3rd most recent job is a grammatical gem.

Someone in the comments below is going to tell you I’m wrong. A professional resume writer is going to take exception to this. Unfortunately, there are mountains of empirical and anecdotal evidence that demonstrate that this I’m right. In studies run by TheLadders, recruiters were spending a total of 6 seconds looking at your resume.

3. Write like a reader.
The main trick to getting over your resume writing hate is to forget about your personal needs, and write a reader focused resume. By thinking about what the reader needs to see versus what you need to say, you’re taking the pressure off yourself. You’re not selling yourself on the resume; you’re selling a productized candidate. Externalizing yourself and your experience makes it exponentially easier to write a resume. You’re not losing a bit of yourself by deleting that experience; you are only refining the sales pitch. Just like point 1 above, your resume writing is not going to be successful until you can take your self-worth out of the mix.

Will incorporating all these tips really get your over the ‘resume hate’ bump? Probably not.
I’ve written literally hundreds of resumes and it’s still not something I always love doing (I often do love it, but I’m a weirdo). However, I hope that if you can incorporate a small bit of the advice in these tips, it will reduce your job search hate just a little. And just a little is totally worth it.

By Sean Weinberg

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Employers Look for in Entry-Level Job Candidates

The marketing world is known for its love of hiring interns but with unemployment rates on the rise, are internships really going to lead to new jobs for graduates? And what are employers looking for?

A new study by Millennial Branding and Experience reveal an employment gap between employers and students. Even though 91% of employers think students should have between one and two internships before graduation, 50% haven’t hired any interns in the last six months. In fact, over three quarters of employers have hired 30% fewer interns into full time positions of late.

As for social media, currently only 16% of employers look to social media to recruit and 35% use those networks for background checks. The majority of them looking to LinkedIn and Facebook in the hiring process. Thankfully, for those twitter addicts out there, only 2% check Twitter…for now.
What exactly are these employers looking for in entry-level talent? Jennifer Floren, Founder and CEO, Experience found the results rely less on education.

Of all the things employers look for when hiring entry-level talent, it’s the so-called ‘soft skills’ that are valued most: communication, teamwork, flexibility and positive attitude are by far the most sought-after skills. Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with.

If you're looking for an entry-level job, be sure to brush up on your communication skills and prepare to demonstrate your positive attitude, adaptability, and teamwork skills.

This study is interesting for those looking at how we are hiring in this digital age. Keeping these results in mind, employers need to look at evolving their hiring processes and graduates may need to be more targeted at how they approach the opportunities they take before joining the workforce. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Avoid a "Me" Resume and Decrease Your Odds of Being Ignored by Yet Another Employer

It's hard to write a resume and avoid discussing your situation, but it can hurt your chances. Gerrit Hall, co-founder of the great resume-analyzing webapp RezScore, has found that many applicants spend too much time focusing on their current circumstances rather than selling themselves:

Consistently, the biggest mistake we see is that people write a ‘me' focused resume. A primary example of this is the outdated objective statement – if you have the word ‘seeking' on your resume, you're writing a ‘me' resume. Employers don't hire you for your satisfaction; they hire you to fill their own critical need. Think of it this way. If you were in sales, would you ever say to a customer "Buy this item because I need the commission"? And if you were the customer, would you buy? A ‘me' centered resume says essentially the same thing.

Your job is to think of the potential employer as a customer. You've know they're a hot lead because they've taken the time to post the job – so someone is going to close the deal with them. How do you make sure they go with you? By selling to them like you would sell to anyone else. Figure out their pain points. Why are they hiring? Who have they hired in the past? What's their most critical need? And then go in there with your sales guns blazing; be the solution to their problem.

Like we discussed this weekend, it's so important to put yourself in a company's shoes when you're applying for a job. Do your research on them and how they operate and remember to sell yourself rather than explain your situation.

Why You Should Still Apply to a Job Even If You Don’t Meet the Exact Job Requirements

Don't let a job listing's list of criteria intimidate you. The list of requirements are more a wish list for the ideal candidate and may not need to be taken so literally, advises the Daily Muse. Read between the lines and your application might still be successful.

For example, you might not have the specific accomplishments or industry experience listed for the job, but you might have the right skills:

Often, it's not an exact match they're looking for-it's the right skill set. They want an event planner with a couple of hospital foundation benefits under their belt? Your experience running non-profit fundraisers in the arts world will actually probably fit the bill quite well.

The trick is proving that the experiences you've had have given you what it takes to do the job you're applying to. Do this by using specific examples throughout your resume and cover letter. Focus on the transferable skills-in this case, managing vendors, building relationships with donors, and raising money-and how they translate to the responsibilities in the job description.

Or, if you do have the experience they're looking for, just not quite enough, you can point to a positive track record that proves you're ready to take on more. If you've never managed a team of six, but you have directed multiple three-person projects and received great feedback, make sure you've included that in your application.

Similarly for specific hard skills (like knowing Salesforce), your experience with related software (other CRM software) might suffice, so list them on your resume.
Not enough years of experience? If you have close to that number of years, the quality of your work experience and achievements may make up for the difference.
The worse thing that can happen if you apply and aren't a good fit is not getting an interview or the job. If you don't apply? You definitely won't. Check out the full article for more in-depth examples.

Have you gotten a job without being an exact match to the job criteria? Share your success story with us in the comments.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is privacy?

As job-seekers are judged by their tweets and Facebook posts, uncertainty abounds. When Dave Clarke wants to fill a position at AuthenticMatters in Old City, he sifts through the stack of resumes and looks up candidates on Google.He expects a presence online, he says, especially considering the company’s work — digital strategy and communications consultancy. “That’s your online resume,” AuthenticMatters’ founder says of tweets, blogs, and status updates. “It’s not what you attach to an e-mail. “We’re not digging for dirt or hunting for drunken photos or anything,” he continues. “But hey, if those pop up, it tells me that the candidate doesn’t understand data, or frankly, the Web in general.”

Sometimes, what an employer finds can send a candidate straight to the reject pile. Job offers — and jobs — have been lost over Facebook photos that show misbehavior, or remarks better left untweeted. There’s even a new term for it: Facebook fired.As employers increasingly use social media searches — Google, LinkedIn, Twitter — to screen potential hires, privacy experts, as well as civil liberties proponents and politicians, are questioning the practice. At the same time, some employers consider a search a necessary double check of information — basic due diligence.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and changes happening very rapidly,” says Eric Patton, an assistant professor of management at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “There’s a lot of debate around this entire topic about what’s appropriate to look up and what’s appropriate to use. This is something that’s not going to go away. It’s going to get more and more complicated as time goes by.”

In recent months, politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed concern over reports that employers are demanding Facebook passwords to look at private profiles of prospective job candidates. Proposed legislation that would ban the practice is under consideration.

“As we begin to live parallel lives on the Web, our privacy rights are slipping away,” argues social media and privacy expert Lori Andrews in her recent book I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy.

In the infamous “Cisco Fatty” case that Andrews cites, a college student who landed a summer job with multinational Cisco Systems tweeted about her good fortune, saying in part, “Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” Unfortunately for her, a Cisco associate saw those 140 or fewer characters and asked for her hiring manager’s name. The exchange went viral and reportedly the woman’s offer was rescinded.

According to a new ExecuNet survey of 313 recruiters, about half of the respondents eliminated candidates based on information gleaned from Internet search engines. Information uncovered included DWI convictions, unethical work practices, and blog posts that showed poor judgment, says Robyn Greenspan, editor in chief of the executive business network, based in Norwalk, Conn.

Marc Bourne is vice president and cofounder of Know It All Intelligence Group, a Bensalem company that performs employment background screenings for employers. Most of his clients stick with the traditional review of public records. But a growing number want a social media hunt. He says the best protection against a poor online image is the privacy setting. “You’ll have nothing to worry about,” he says.What about prospective employers who request passwords? Bourne and others say that such stories are rare occurrences that grab the headlines. Employers interviewed for this story said they would never make such a demand.

“I think that’s a little overboard,” says David Neff, president of Neff Associates, a PR business in Philadelphia. “I respect the privacy of other people. As an employer, there’s a certain amount of goodwill.”

How to Follow Up on a Job Interview

You just interviewed for a job and you haven't heard anything. Sometimes this is a sign of bad news, and sometimes it isn't. You want to follow up and find out what's going on, but you don't want to be annoying. Here's how to handle this situation effectively.
A friend of mine is currently in this position, and asked me how I'd word a follow-up email. When I tried to come up with something, I realized I hadn't written one in many years and my skills were a bit rusty. So, I asked the internet for some help and got some good advice. Most agreed on a very simple process.


Send a Thank-you Note Immediately After the Interview

Most people suggest sending a thank you note right away, via snail mail, as it takes a few days to arrive and serves as a positive reminder to get back to you. My sister, Ali, had a few good suggestions for its content:
I almost always will send snail mail to thank them for their time and let them know how nice it was to meet them. I say (if I believe it to be to true) what a nice environment they created for the interview/audition. And I say simply at the end, "I hope to see you again soon."
It's pretty simple, but very effective. The problem with calling or writing to ask for more information is that you're essentially reminding them that they forgot to do something. Although it is legitimate to send this reminder, there's a decent chance they'll be annoyed that they have to deal with you (if they didn't like you) or at least feel bad for ignoring you (if they did). A thank you note is simply a polite and positive reminder that you exist. It will help your interviewer(s) want to get back to you.
Still need some help writing that thank you note? Here's one quick and effective method.


Send a Short, Polite Email to Check In

When you've finished your interview, you'll often be told when you can expect to hear back. If not, that's a question you should ask before the conversation is over. If that amount of time passes and you haven't heard anything, it's reasonable to call or write to check in. An email is less-intrusive and won't put your interviewer on the spot, so it is generally a better way to ask the question. David Hill suggests that email contain two things:
I usually confine it to email and make it a quick note - thank them again for the interview and ask if there's been an update/any movement on the position. If they respond, you can usually get a feel for whether you're annoying the shit out of them.
Deanna Parkton suggests asking the interviewer if they need any additional qualifications or information so your message has an additional, helpful purposes as well.
Regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to keep it short. Here's an example (based on a suggestion from Lifehacker intern alumni Aaron Martin):
I just wanted to follow up in regards to my interview on [date — or "last week"]. Do you have an update, or do you need any further information from me? Please let me know when you have a free moment.
Thank you,
[Your Name]

Of course, this might be a bit formal. You'll want to make the note sound like you and be as formal or casual as is appropriate for the situation. Either way, the content is pretty straightforward and only takes a few seconds to put together.
It can be a little nerve-wracking to ask for an update when you were supposed to hear back, as it feels like you're asking for bad news, but that isn't always the case. If you get bad news, there will be other job opportunities, but sometimes you'll find out that the company needed an extra day because another interview was postponed or they simply haven't had time to get back to everyone. You never know, and that's why you ask.

11 Things Hiring Managers Won’t Tell You

The next time you walk into an interview, consider the following:

Your wedding or engagement ring? Can and may be used against you.

Those photos of kids on a hiring manager's desk? They may not actually be the manager's children—but the photo is designed to get you talking about your kids, or whether you plan to have some eventually.

And then there's the trick that can land some applicants $20,000 more when they start negotiating their salary.

In fact, LearnVest got the inside scoop from hiring managers across the country. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity because their methods were so controversial—and not what you'd find in any company manual.

(Plus, we have a special giveaway for you! Find out what it is at the bottom of this post.)
Why do you need to know these secrets? Two reasons. The first is: What you don't know can hurt your chances of landing a job and commanding a higher salary. Second: Today, April 17th, is Equal Pay Day.

And new research out of the United States Census Bureau shows that women still earn less than their male counterparts at every education level. Although women are out-earning men in terms of college degrees and doctorates, our wages aren't keeping up. In fact, the gap only worsens at higher levels of education.

But armed with this insider knowledge—straight from the mouths of those who hire you—you can help improve both these statistics and your bottom line.

I leave pictures of kids on my desk. They’re not even my kids.
Legally, hiring managers aren’t allowed to ask if you have kids, just as they’re not supposed to discriminate against you on the hunch that your child might occasionally have a soccer game. But we spoke to one hiring manager who leaves pictures of her niece and nephew to find out (legally) who has kids. “I’m not allowed to ask about family situations, but if they bring it up, it’s fair game. Kids are a distraction to this job, which requires long hours and weekends. I won’t hire someone who has other priorities.”
How to handle this: It’s very easy to get nervous and resort to small talk. (“Oh, are those your kids? How old? Mine are 6 and 10 ... ”) Commenting on kids’ photos is easy bait, especially if you’re a parent yourself, but avoid it if you can. Talk about the weather or find something to compliment your interviewer on instead.

I check for wedding bands.
One hiring manager told us: This is an entry-level job, and the people we hire are usually fresh out of college. If I see a wedding band, there’s a good probability that candidate is going to start a family soon. If I hire her and she goes on maternity leave, I can’t legally fire her, but I still have to find someone else to replace her while she’s gone. When she comes back I can’t fire her either, so now I’m stuck with two employees when all I needed was one. No thanks.”
This one is an easy fix: Leave your wedding ring at home. You're not obligated to share any information about your relationship status, so try to avoid doing so.

I regularly hire women for 65-75% what I pay men.
Half a century after the Women's Rights movement, the pay gap still leaves women making 70% of what men make. Yet it was shocking to hear part of the reason why straight from the mouths of hiring managers. The causes are numerous, but if we had to narrow it down to one … women don’t negotiate enough.
One manager offers men and women the same starting salary: “The women simply accept, while the men negotiate. I would have essentially the same candidate, the only difference being gender, and I was paying her $20,000 less.”
Some jobs are truly non-negotiable, like an entry-level role at certain Fortune 100 companies. But far too often, people—especially women—leave money, vacation time or benefits on the table needlessly.

I don’t hire old people.
Ageism is real. While this may be as simple as discrimination against people who don’t seem as “with-it” as their younger counterparts, we pressed harder for the root cause of why people really care about age. It comes down to learning new technologies.
“Older people have a harder time adapting to newer technologies, and I’d rather not spend the time training them,” one hiring manager confesses.
Casually let it slip that you’ve been working on gaining proficiency in the latest technology in your field. Bringing this up lets the interviewer know that you not only enjoy continuing to learn about the field, but also have no problem adapting to new developments.

I prefer to hire someone who’s currently employed.
It’s a Catch-22: Hiring managers often would rather hire someone who currently has a job … but of course it’s the unemployed people who need jobs the most. “If you’ve been unemployed for a long stretch of time, it makes me wonder what’s wrong with you,” one hiring manager says.
How can you combat this bias? Continue your education, volunteer your time at your favorite charity or even work or "consult" for free so you have something to write down that may mask a gap on your résumé.

I’m looking for a reason NOT to hire you.
The issue with so many applicants applying for so few jobs is that hiring managers often look for reasons to exclude you rather than include you as a potentially perfect candidate. A typo, a poorly formatted résumé or a low GPA will often get you placed in the “no thanks” pile.
So, yes, you should perfect your application (then proofread it again), but an even better bet is to circumvent the application process altogether. It's estimated that 80% of jobs are found through personal connections, so tap your network, including old bosses, college networks and everyone you know (and they know) on LinkedIn. That will be the fastest way to rise above a huge pile of competing résumés.

Don’t tell me your previous salary. I’ll use it against you.
In the age of pensions, it was uncommon for people to leave jobs. Now sometimes you have to look outside your own company to progress.
But your previous salary needn't follow you. While many companies will ask what it was, you have every right to deflect the question by saying you don't feel comfortable revealing it, or that your previous company preferred you keep it confidential.
“We were interviewing one candidate for a senior manager position and asked for her previous salary,” our source says. “She said she signed an NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement] to not reveal her previous salary. It was clever because I couldn't press her for more info, and also respected her for maintaining her integrity to her previous employer.”
One caveat: If it's a job you really want, and the company is insisting, you may be smarter to divulge the number. Just explain that you're looking for an increase (and name your percentage) given all of the skills that you bring to the job in question

Don't apply online; you won't get anywhere.
There are too many walls to cross and red flags to trigger when you apply online. “We build our application process to weed out candidates, and extract information like previous salary to use against them,” our source says. “Applying online is a losing game.”
Once you find an open position online, don’t apply. Instead, do some online stalking of the company’s website and LinkedIn to find out who you might know there—or to find another way in. Namely, a human, rather than a blind "submit your application" form. Then, send your résumé to that contact directly and say you heard about this opening—and are interested in any roles that match that particular criteria. 
“I was interviewing candidates and narrowed it down to my top three. Then the Creative Director sends me a résumé she received via email," says one hiring manager we spoke to. "What was I going to do? I had to bring her in for an interview. We ended up hiring that candidate.”

That hot guy you added on Facebook last week? Yeah, that was me.
We’ve heard for years how important protecting your online image can be and that companies may try to search for you before making a hiring decision. What we haven’t heard are some of the ways they’ll get you to open up your social media profile.
“I’ll add several of her friends, so we have several friends in common, and then I’ll add her,” one hiring manager told us. “I now have access to her profile, wall posts, status updates and even those photos from her trip to Cancun she thought were private.”

I go through hundreds of résumés a day and spend less than 30 seconds on each one.
Take an honest look at your résumé. If it isn’t easy to scan for highlights, it’s not going to get you callbacks. One hiring manager at a technology company writes: 
"If I have to spend more than 30 seconds finding out what you have accomplished, forget it … Likely, I will ignore the whole thing, write down in my notes 'poor communicator,' and move on … If you can’t nail it in one sentence, do I really want to look forward to your rambling emails every day? 
"To craft a great résumé, tailor it to my job posting. If I have a skill set in there like 'Windows Administration,' make sure you have at least one bullet point talking about … that skill."
If it’s a job you really care about, you should have multiple people read over your application. It should be clear, concise and tailored specifically to the job you want.

I have no clue what I’m doing.
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that some hiring managers are merely going through the motions. Their job is to get someone who can do the job for the least amount of money. Despite their best efforts, they may not be experienced interviewers, and even they may not know how many ping-pong balls fit in a plane … or if the right answer correlates to doing the best job.
But your best bet is to try to make your interviewer like you, because she'll be more likely to pass on a glowing recommendation (or include you in the résumé stack at all) even if she won't be making the ultimate decision about whether you get the job.