Resume Formatting – I hate Word Docs

13 Apr

This is a quickie to let everyone know why I hate getting resumes in Word.doc format.

Because it’s messy.  It looks unfinished, and the fact that with one slight of my hand to key board I can reformat it, is annoying.  Recruiters now aren’t printing your resumes when they get them, they are reading them on their computers, so do us a favor and PDF your resume prior to sending it in response to a posting!  I know it may be a pain because the savvy job seeker knows to update and tweak their resume to tailor to each job posting they reply to, but the extra 5 minutes is well worth it in presentation on the other end.

Think of what I see when I open a Word Doc resume.  Red and green squiggly lines pointing out  every single sentence fragment, run-on, punctuation, grammar and spelling error.  Especially if you have multiple technologies listed on your resume that may not be recognized by spell-check.  It’s distracting and difficult to read.

If you don’t know how to convert your Word Doc to a PDF, Google it.  I’m sure you can download something that will enable you to do so.  Also, don’t mail me a copy of your resume or fax it in either.  It doesn’t really get you more attention or set you apart from the pack at all.  It just clutters my desk and annoys me that you didn’t follow procedure.  It makes me think you are afraid of technology or don’t know how to work your email.

If you work with staffing agencies/recruiting firms – they will ask you to send a Word version of your resume specifically because they are most likely taking your contact information (sometimes including your name) off of the resume and replacing it with theirs.  Yep – you become property of staffing agencies when you work with them.  They may even change formatting, or even insert key words without asking your permission.   They can help you get a job, or they can hinder your ability to be an attractive candidate in the market so be protective of your resume and your references.  Make sure you check people out before you enlist their help in representing you out there.

In conclusion, please spell check, proof-read, have someone else proof-read and then PDF your resume prior to sending it in direct response to job postings.  It appears more professional, clean, and just plain easier to read.  We will appreciate your effort.

Job Boards: Who are they built for, How they make money, and What job-seekers should know…

28 Mar

Job Boards have evolved since the early days of Monster and Career Builder.  Increased use of social media like Linked In, Twitter and FB have enabled companies to find great talent without having to pay large fees for job postings on those sites.

When you post your resume on a job board, do you get much action?  I mean, quality action.  Or, do you get spammed with junk emails, called relentlessly by staffing agencies who want to “get your resume into their database,” and waste countless hours sifting through  crappy job postings for AFLAC, work-from-home business opportunities, and pyramid schemes?

With corporate recruiting budgets slashed over the last couple of years, the savvy job seeker must realize that those outdated models are being used far less nowadays to find talent and advertise job postings.  Just to give you some insight – an HR department can be asked to pay hundreds of dollars ($500-$600) per job posting, and then additional money to view the resume database of one of those old school “big name” job boards.

Recent popularity of job search ENGINES have made the online job search easier for both job seeker and corporate recruiters.  Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com don’t make you create an account, or upload your resume.  They scour the internet for job postings from corporate websites as well as every job board indexed (most likely more job boards that you ever thought existed).  What that means for the corporate recruiter is that, without paying a dime my job openings will be featured on those sites; For you, that means there is a larger inventory of open positions on this type of site.  If I (the corporate recruiter) wanted to pay a nominal fee (usually a pay per click sum), I could elevate my job postings to the top of search lists or make it a “featured listing.”  This is far more cost-effective in terms of my HR budget and just as effective in terms of candidate volume given that most quality job seekers have become wise to these newer search engine tools and response rate/visibility is excellent.

These more recent models certainly save the job seeker time, and spam.  With a quick key word search and zip code, all jobs posted online appear in real time and one can click on the link to apply.

What these more recent models don’t eliminate, is the staffing agency postings, which can prove confusing for the job seeker.  Staffing agencies (often called recruiting firms, search firms, or contingent labor firms) are outsourced recruiters for companies.  They may post a job for a company they are not even contracted to recruit for – in hopes of creating relationships with quality candidates who they will use as bait to the hiring manager to get their contract and make THEIR commission.  Some staffing agencies truly do legitimately represent companies for their recruiting needs, but they may not even disclose what company they represent, so you the job seeker, have no control over where your resume is being submitted.   There are some great staffing companies out there (I used to work for one of the largest), but there are way more shady ones.  The savvy job seeker needs to be careful of who represents them in their job search.  Did you know that if a staffing company submits your resume to a client of theirs (client being the company who actually has the job opening) and for whatever reason, you don’t get an interview, that company (if they have a contract with the staffing agency) may not be able to hire you for one whole year without paying the staffing agency a hefty fee?  That doesn’t sound like it makes YOU a very attractive candidate.

These are things one must consider in the cloudy landscape that has become our job market.

So, what do you want out of a job board?  What do you like about them?  What do you hate about them?  Which are your favorite and why?  Let’s collaborate to create the most ideal tool for the job seeker in THIS day and age.  And then, we’ll see if we can change the world.

Wait…Recruiters are looking at my Facebook page?

11 Mar

Getting a job is different now than it used to be.  In this age of social media, the way that people are being screened by companies for jobs is changing.  Prior to 2005, the only thing that a company had to judge you from was your resume.  A carefully, and hopefully deliberate portrayal of your credentials and skills in a neat, clean package that you would proactively submit to an organization in response to a need they advertised.

So today, you submitted your resume to 3 different jobs and over the next few days you are hoping that some recruiter, somewhere feels the magic that you felt writing that Objective and is compelled to call you in for an interview.  You may be agonizing over whether you should have used that Bold Italic for your job titles; or thinking that you should have never included your two month volunteer stint for the Obama campaign.

What you may be failing to consider, is that there’s a hidden layer of screening available to companies, that has nothing to do with your resume.

After you submit your carefully crafted, pristine autobiography to us – we don’t stop at your “Interests/Hobbies” or “References Available Upon Request.”

We dig deeper.

Why?

Because we are good at our jobs.

Folks…I’m Googling you.

Stop reading this now.  Open up a new tab on your browser and Google yourself.  First and Last name in quotes (ex. “Angela Miller”).  Take it all in.  Click on a few links to see what recruiters see when they are evaluating whether or not you are mature, responsible, sharp, professional and hire-able.

I realize that social media like Twitter and Facebook are portals that the youth (and the not-so-youthful) use to support their personal lives.  It doesn’t matter.  The reality is – you’re choosing to put it all out there.  Regardless of what YOU use it for – you have to respect what WE use it for.  And that is, another layer of screening potential employees for our companies.

What am I looking for on these various pages, profiles, blogs, etc…?  Scandalous photos of you in a skimpy bikini on the back of boat in Lake Havasu holding a Coors Light obviously under age; the pic your BFF snapped of you passed out with Sharpie all over your face at last night’s party; perhaps it’s the rant on Twitter where you use the F word so much I can’t even tell what you are talking about.

You might be saying to yourself, “That’s not fair – just because I’m beer bonging in my Face Book picture doesn’t mean I would beer bong at work!”

This is very true.  But think big picture.

Who I hire reinforces the brand that I represent as a hiring manager.  High risk behavior outside of work hours puts my company’s reputation on the line – possibly even my bonus if you end up turning over in under a year.  It makes me think maybe you will call in sick every other Monday because you can’t pull it together from the weekend.  Or maybe I will have harassment issues because of your filthy mouth.  Maybe I’m just plain annoyed by your lack of class and I don’t want to work with someone like that.

My point is – don’t give us reasons to judge anything else other than your credentials – and what you’ve worked hard for.  Present yourself online the way you would want the CEO of Google to see you – because he might be looking.  Keep your tweets private (yes, you can do that – and we would all appreciate it), and your Facebook profile picture G-rated.

If you are particularly savvy and career minded you would proactively manage your personal brand by starting a Twitter account to regularly tweet about the industry or profession you are in.  That’s impressive stuff.  When I Google you and find you to be a thought leader in your space, whether it’s Marketing, PR, Law, IT or Nursing – it makes me think you are an “A” player who is invested in being successful in your career and therefore, may bring my company success.

#10: Unprepared Interviewers…

2 Mar

We have finally gotten down to my tenth pet peeve of 2010 – and I hope to God that this trend decreases as job seekers get more sophisticated in their approach to landing a new job.

One can never be 100% prepared for an interview – and over-preparedness makes you seem fake.  Your answers to questions seem canned and nobody wants to work with someone who isn’t a real person.  My suggestion is to control what you can control.

Read about the company – especially their vision and mission statement so if you are asked “Why us?” – you are able to give a relevant answer pin pointing how your personal vision and values align with that company’s.

Do research on those you will be meeting with. Executive Bios are typically on corporate websites if you know where to look, and if the information isn’t transparent from the website, do a little digging on Linked In with a Company and Name search (there is a search box on the top right corner of your Linked In home page – click on the magnifying glass to the right of that to open an advanced search field where you can type in names of people and company names – you may even locate the Corporate Linked In page which should have links to all employees that you can search through).  Who knows – you may uncover that the COO was a Boy Scout too…then you’re a shoe in (wink, wink).

“But, how will I know who I am meeting with?”  You may ask.  To which I would promptly reply, “Did you ask?”

When setting up an interview, it is entirely acceptable to ask the names, even titles of all those you are expecting to meet.  Find out who they are, know their role within the company, and try to be as relevant to THEM (based on that information) as possible during the interview.

You can also prepare for an interview by re-reading the job description.  Extrapolate any hints that may lie within a cleverly crafted JD that may provide you with insight into the reason for the need (is it a special project, and is the goal of that project listed – if not, great question to ask…), the accountabilities for the person, or even who this role will report to.

KNOW the business model of the company you are interviewing with.  Know the product they make or sell.  Know who they sell it to.  Know the markets they operate in, and be familiar with the challenges they may be facing in the economy right now.

Too often, people sit before me in an interview, and rather than using the time to convince me to hire them, they make me talk about who we are, and what we do.  They ask me questions like, “How many employees do you have?” or “How long have you guys been in business?”  or even better, “What is your role within the company?”  Ummm…well, I have a Facebook page, a pretty obvious Linked Profile WITH a photo, and I blog regularly – shouldn’t you have done some homework?  I at least had to read your resume!  This is not some attempt to be narcissistic and expect everyone to know who I am – believe me. You have a block of time in an interview.  Do you want to use it to get yourself a job, or to find out about me what you could have found yourself in about 5 minutes of time prior to this meeting.  That’s my point.  Give yourself the benefit of spending as much time with hiring personnel as possible, talking about how and why you are right for the job.

A prepared interviewer should also ask some key questions at the close of the first meeting.

1)      “After having the opportunity to meet me, and to learn more about my skills and experience, are there any reasons you feel I wouldn’t be the best fit for the job?”

Puts me on the spot…but it’s OK.  I will answer truthfully.  I will tell you what I like, and what concerns me.  Whatever the answer is, it shows confidence and the ability to be realistic, self-aware and accountable.  It also affords you the luxury of having a window into your chances of getting called back for another round.

 

2)      “What is the interview process?  What can I expect in terms of next steps or follow up?”

There will always be anxiety that comes along with the waiting after an interview.  I’ve often described it as the same anxiety a woman faces waiting for a guy to call after a first date.  Wouldn’t it be nice if at the end of that first date, we could ask “So, should I expect a call within a day, a week?  What is your time-line for a second date?” without sounding like a complete psycho?  At least this question is appropriate in this circumstance, and it allows you to gain some information so your expectations are realistic.

Finally, remember names on the way out. Shake everyone’s hand, and make eye contact as you say your good- byes.  Send a Thank You Email for the time and opportunity, and then jump right back onto your go-to job board and fill your funnel.  What you can control is the impression that you make – so make it deliberate, confident, grounded, accountable and friendly.

#9: Candidates who apply to every job posting I have…

27 Feb

This topic/pet peeve of 2010 for me is pretty straight forward.  This is NOT an effective, or strategic method for getting your resume viewed by a company.  It actually works against you.  Applying to 15 different jobs posted on our company website makes you look clueless…period.

I suppose I can understand why some people do this.  Maybe they assume that the more times I see your name, the more I will want to call them for an interview?  Maybe they feel that I am a better judge of what position they would be best for within my company so apply for all, and let me do the work?  If either of those reasons has prompted you to behave this way, then you need to cease applying for jobs online immediately, and seek the expertise of a career counselor to get you pointed in the right direction.

I recently spoke to the Talent Acquisition Director at Blizzard Entertainment (an extremely popular place to work if you are a gamer that lives in the Southern California area) who told me that there was a candidate who actually applied to 41 positions on their website!  That was a record.  Imagine how much time that person wasted that company.

So, on behalf of all of my colleagues in the business of Talent Acquisition, along with all of those intelligent job seekers that read my blog, and other blogs for advice on how to approach a job search strategy that gives you the best shot at getting an interview – PLEASE DON’T APPLY TO JOBS THAT YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED FOR.

Here is the secret to a successful job search strategy, and it is far from a holy grail of information, and closer to a cocktail of common sense mixed with some business acumen.

Get your resume reviewed or even re-written by a professional that has references that you can check prior to paying them.  Identify companies that you would like to work for, and prepare to articulate in a cover letter, then an interview, why you feel that their company is a good fit for you.

Spend A LOT of time online looking for new job openings at these, and similar companies, and apply online to those which are a good match with your skill set.

Keep doing that.

Don’t hunt down recruiters by calling HR departments to follow up on a resume you submitted online two days ago.  Don’t apply to 10 jobs on the website just because you would take a janitor position to get your foot in the door at Google.  If we are looking for a janitor, we are going to hire a janitor.  Not a Linux Systems Administrator; not a Customer Service Rep, and not an ex-Loan Officer.

Brand your resumes for the company and the specific position you are going after, and that is how you will stand out from the crowd.  Job Searching is like sales – you can never give up prospecting.  You need to build your funnel, and keep adding options.  Don’t rely on one opportunity that you spent hours cultivating the perfect cover letter for – it likely will fall through and then you’ve lost a week of searching for other viable options.  You need to commit to searching for a job, and be methodical about your approach.  Don’t expect recruiters to do the work for you – and don’t make the mistake of branding yourself as a moron before you even get to shake someone’s hand.

That is eventually how your online job search will become less of a black hole and more of a gold mine.

#8: Cover Letters…why only 1% are worth reading

24 Feb

 

Most cover letters are more self-serving to the person presenting themselves than beneficial to the recruiter/hiring manager reading them.  Does your cover letter talk more about what you expect a company to do for you?  How about telling me why you chose my job to apply to?  What about my corporate value proposition do you identify with?  How you are qualified for my open job?  And finally, how you feel you can immediately add value to my team.

Cover letters need to be new and different for each job you apply to.  They need to speak specifically to the company and to the posting.  There are a lot of job seekers that apply to multiple, varying positions at the same company.  That is dangerous for many reasons.  Recruiters are good at names.  That is part of the job.  I can remember the name of the first guy I ever interviewed.  Seeing your name flash across our desk 12 times in one week because you keep applying to our database – isn’t a good strategy.  It solidifies that you don’t know what you are looking for, and you are just blasting me with your information to try and get a bite.

Job-seeking is NOT a numbers game.  It may have been years go – but not anymore.  There are too many players.  It’s not about calling into the HR person everyday and sending a letter a week to the same company to try and get your foot in the door.  It’s about standing out as the best person for the job.

Companies look for the higher level, professional, strategic thinker nowadays rather than get flattered by someone who REALLY wants to work with them.  The economy has forced companies to run lean and mean, meaning they need A-players, strategic, big-picture thinkers in every role. You are not presenting yourself that way by applying to a Systems Analyst, a Project Manager, an Executive Assistant and Sales Role in the same day – and with the same self-serving, vague, canned cover letter.

My point, relating back to the cover letter is – if you do feel qualified for multiple positions at a company – that are similar in nature then of course it will be appropriate for you to submit your resume to all.  But be careful how you package yourself.  Don’t waste my time by applying to jobs you are clearly unqualified for because you feel that my job is to draw names out of a hat each day and by increasing the amount of names you submit, you are increasing your chance of scoring an interview.

FACT: Don’t assume your info is being sent to the same recruiter either.  Often, in either high growth companies or larger organizations, if you apply to 3 different jobs, your applications will go to 3 different recruiters.  This is why your cover letter needs to be legitimate, and relevant to the specific position.

In conclusion – cover letters aren’t a one-size fits-all canned introduction letter that just talks about you.  It is an application to a job.  You are not only submitting it to make yourself look attractive in general, you are submitting it to look attractive to a specific company to do a specific job.  It is in the cover letter that you should itemize how you are a good fit for the company and the position.  Why you like the company.  What you’ve done recently that is completely relevant to what I’m looking for in the job description that you replied to.  Don’t tell me where you were born, or what GPA you had in High School.  Respect my time, and make this letter short, sweet and relevant to ME.  If you choose not to submit a cover letter – fine.  You are putting everything in your resume, so it better be good.

#7: Irrelevant and Poorly Written Objectives…

14 Feb

Objectives come in many packages nowadays.  Personal Statements, Introductions, Professional Summary, and the tried and true “Objective.”

However you choose to market this initial statement on a resume, you need to be sure you cover 3 bases – and without all three, please know, it is just wasted space.

1)      Who you are

2)      What kind of job you seek

3)      How you intend on contributing to my company

You should also be tailoring this section to EACH job that you apply for.  It needs to be so in line with what I’m looking for that it entices me to keep reading.  Despite what ya’ll may think about recruiters, we don’t live to reject people and not call people back.  We actually like to fill jobs.  We get bonuses when we fill a lot of them, and we live for making a great match.  What I am saying is that we WANT you to succeed.   So meet us half way and show that you have put effort into making a good first impression.  Putting your best foot forward begins long before the interview phase.

Examples of Objectives that cover the 3 important points:

1)      I am a 13-year veteran of the manufacturing industry looking to utilize my proven product management skills to decrease costs, increase efficiencies and drive quality thereby increasing revenue for your company.

2)      Experienced, driven, and tested business development pro who can’t wait to make it rain by hurdling over quotas, mentoring your sales team to new heights and increasing profit margins with innovative sales strategies.

3)      Recent MBA graduate who brings 8 years of interactive marketing experience, executive leadership and client relationship building to the table with goals of joining a marketing agency who can benefit from increased client spend, development of effective campaigns and thought leadership in the digital media space.

I’m not quite sure why people insist on filling the space at the top of a resume with an objective if they have no intention of accomplishing anything by doing so.  Just so that everyone is clear – Objectives/Intros/Personal Statements are not a requirement on a resume.  In fact, I’ve seen many excellent resumes lacking such an introduction.  Letting your experience speak for itself is a great option – as long as you are able to pinpoint what you can bring to the table specifically to the job you seek in an email intro with resume attached or in a cover letter.

Here are some examples of horrible objectives that have taken moments of my life that I can never get back :

“With my recent successes in enhancing my education and professional work experience, I am looking to expand my knowledge base and skill set by venturing into a new industry and position.”

This tells me nothing.  Not what you do, not what you have done, and not what you want with my job.

“I have always been a loyal and dedicated employee who is determined to work my way up through an organization. I know I can make an immediate and positive impact on your organization by applying the skills, talents, knowledge and experience I have acquired over the years, which will allow me to adapt into your industry while bringing creative and innovative ideas from various backgrounds.”

This one talks about advancement which is great if you can tell me briefly why  I would want to advance you – what industry you are talking about, or even what backgrounds you are referring to.

“Seeking a career where I can utilize the experiences I’ve gained over my education and past job experience to contribute to a growing company.”

I think you get the picture.

Oh…and just as an aside, when you begin your objective with “Experienced Loan Officer,” or “20 year veteran of the banking industry,” or “Medical Device Sales Rep looking for…” – PLEASE make sure the job you applied for is the job or industry you so clearly specify in the first line of your resume.

I recruit for the interactive media industry currently, and when I have to take the time to open a resume that begins by telling me how unqualified someone is – not only do I close the file immediately but I resent that person for wasting my time, being unprofessional, and downright careless about their job search strategy.  It’s not just my time you wasted – it’s yours too.

In conclusion, I would like to point out the glowing pet peeve amongst all of the objective fluff.  Believe it or not, this continues to cross my desk, I would say as frequently as once per quarter.  Do not tell me that you are detail-oriented, only to follow it up with spelling, grammar, punctuation and/or formatting errors.  As recently as December 2010, I had someone submit a resume which read, and I quote (ahem…): “Detail-Orneted professional…” STOP.  Really?  Yep.

If anyone would like to  send me their objective and have me critique it – I am up for it this week – so post yours in the comments section and stay tuned for my response.