The 5 steps recruiters use to select the best résumés

18921009695_a3d7685229_zThis year my son wanted a Christmas tree, despite the fact he’s allergic to them. I was game. Besides, we know this great tree farm that isn’t well known by other Christmas tree buyers.

(You may skip this story and go right to the 5 steps recruiters use to select the best resume to present to hiring managers, if you’d like.)

My family and I arrived at the tree farm and were surprised by the sparse group of people eager to find their Christmas tree.

Looking up the hill I saw nothing but rows and rows of Christmas trees and a few people, some with dogs, walking through rows of those trees. No one was in a hurry. Why should they be in a hurry?

You might think I was excited to see such an abundance of trees, which at a glance all looked the same. You are correct; I was thrilled to find the perfect tree to take home to our living room.

However, as I got closer to the trees up on the hill, I noticed that they weren’t all perfect. In fact, some of them were pretty bleak with their pine needles turning brown, their branches missing here and there, they were scrawny. In other words, this was going to take work.

What I began to think about was how this mass selection of Christmas trees resembled the mass selection of résumés recruiters get for one job. How they have sift through all those résumés in order to select the ones to submit to hiring managers (HM). Here are the five steps they must take.

First, reduce the number of résumés to be read

By now you’ve heard about the applicant tracking system (ATS) and understand its purpose, to eliminate as many résumés to read as possible. Simply stated, it screens résumés for keywords and phrases. Those without the proper keywords don’t make the cut.

To give you an idea of the sheer number of applicant for each job: according to Jobvite.com, nearly 100 résumés are submitted for professional positions and 150 for other entry level.

The ATS effectively eliminates 75% of résumés submitted for a position, but even reading 25 résumés can be a burden. (Read 10 reasons recruiters and hiring managers dread reading résumés.)

Second, read the 25 out of 100 résumés chosen by the ATS

Even after the résumés have made it through the ATS, recruiters will take approximately six to ten seconds to read each one to determine if it’s worth a second view.

Recruiters’ job is to look for résumés to disqualify from consideration, rather than qualify them for consideration. It’s a process of elimination. Résumés that make the cut are placed in the “must read” pile.

Third, read the résumés in the “must read” pile

A closer look tells recruiters if the résumés have what it takes based on:

  • Readability: the résumés contain short paragraphs, with no more than three or four lines. Important points are bulleted. Important text is highlighted in bold to stand out from the rest of the text.
  • Accomplishments stand out: they are measurable with numbers, dollars, and percentages. Executive résumés, according to Laura Smith-Proulx are quantified.
  • Shorter is better—two pages—but I’ve spoken with recruiters who will read three- even four-page résumés. The more pages, the easier the ATS to see you, my dear.
  • Demographics: Determine if the applicants’ demographics fit the role. Does he live close enough to the company? Does his work history show too much or enough years of experience? What size companies has the applicant worked at?

Fourth, determine which two, three, or four résumés to submit to the hiring manager

The recruiter’s reputation is riding on the best candidates to submit to the HM, so the résumés must impress him. He must be sold on the candidates’ accomplishments, which must be relevant.

For example, although a candidate has outstanding accomplishments as an individual contributor—increased revenue 80% by generating business in uncharted territory—but the job calls for a person with management experience, he probably isn’t a good fit.

Personality fit is also key in the recruiter’s decision. But how does the recruiter see candidates’ personality in a résumé? It’s not an easy task for the job seeker to accomplish, but a résumé that demonstrates a human voice without use of fluff and cliches is preferred.

The use of personal pronouns is typically frowned upon, but when used sparingly can emphasize the job seeker’s skills and accomplishments. By sparingly I mean used only in the Performance Profile section.

Fifth, defend the recruiter’s choice to the hiring manager

A well written résumé should not be difficult to defend. After all, it has passed the ATS, the six-second glance, a more extensive review, has presented relevant accomplishments, and has given the recruiter a sense of the job seeker’s personality…as best it can.

But the résumé is a document that can’t reveal as much as the interviews conducted by the recruiter, HR, and the hiring manager. This is a the first step in the process, albeit a very important step. The recruiter must sound convincing when she presents her decision to the HM, perhaps second guessing the choices she’s made. Let the interviews begin.

Back to the story: The Christmas tree our family chose was one of the best in our family’s history. It was the ideal height and width. It only shed a few pine needles. But my wife wondered aloud if the short needles would be as good as the longer needles.

To me, it was a Christmas tree that we selected together. Was it perfect? No, but what is?

Posted in Career Search, Résumé Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

5 ways dwelling on your age will hurt your job search

angry man

I’ve added one more reason why dwelling on your age will hurt your job search. As with anything you try to achieve, attitude is key.

One of my connections sent me part of an email he received in response to a job lead he shared with a networking group. The damning part of her email to him was when she wrote, “Most of their workers are under 30. So…that puts me out of the running.”

Some of you might be thinking this person is absolutely correct in writing this. You may have experienced some age discrimination and it pissed  you off. I get this. But the point is that this woman already hurt her chances before even getting to any interview. She let her age hurt her job search.

Yes, it can be difficult landing a job the older you get, but your age can also be a selling point. Before you get to the interview to sell yourself on your job experience, maturity, dependability, and life experience, there are four distinct aspects of your job search that need attention.

Your attitude shouts angry

A successful job search will take a positive attitude and a projection of friendliness, or at least civility. One thing I’m acutely aware of in job seekers, as well as people currently working, is their anger.

Job seekers need to contain their anger, if not in public, certainly online. You must realize that the majority of people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are currently employed, and don’t share your anger.

Even most job seekers do their best to contain their anger, and are careful of what they write. How do I know? I’m constantly trolling LinkedIn and checking out my connections.

When I see comments about how it’s the employer’s fault that a person didn’t get hired, two thoughts come to mind: maybe it’s true. Maybe said employer practiced ageism. The second thought is “Ooh, people are watching; they’re looking. And they’re not liking what they see.

As I said, most people on social media are employed and may be in a position of hiring employees. If you don’t think employers keep track of you on social media, think again.

Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey found that 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, states an article on Namely.

One instance of releasing your anger can be all it takes. So all I’m asking is that you think twice before hitting “Send.” No, give it a night.

Your résumé is NOT your life story

He who retires with the longest work history doesn’t win. I’ve said this to my Résumé Writing workshop attendees after looking at their résumés, some of which show 30 plus years of work history.

Years ago a job seeker showed me his résumé, which went back to the time he graduated college…30 years or so. I told him, “Paul (that was his name), your résumé goes back too far in your work history. And it’s four pages long.”

“I know,” he told me. “I want people to know about my life.”

Paul’s résumé is not uncommon. I’ve had job seekers who hold the same belief, the more experience they show the better. Stop the record. First remember that what interests employers most are the most recent five to seven years of your experience.

Second, they want to see job-related accomplishments. I’ll repeat what many professional résumé writers spout, fewer duties and more accomplishments are what will impress employers.

Third, your résumé has to be easy to read and must be conventional in appearance. White space and shorter paragraphs (no more than four lines) improves readability. Today’s résumé is written in sans serif font, such as Arial. Stay up with the times.

Fourth, limit your work history to 10 or 15 years at most. Don’t show your age immediately and give an employer the opportunity to think you’re too old.

Marc Miller of Career Pivot offers other suggestions in a great article5 Things on Your Resume That Make You Sound Too Old.

Your LinkedIn profile lacks vitality

Does your LinkedIn profile present a poor first impression and turn people away? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen job seekers with photos that look like mug shots from the eighties. This alone is inviting age discrimination.

I know this sounds weird, but if you guys are concerned about being judged based on your photo, color your hair. I’ve seen plenty of fine color jobs. But if coloring your hair is not your style, at least smile.

Other ways to show vitality include using positive language in all sections of your profile. One line I show my workshop attendees is one from a LinkedIn member’s Summary, “I love what I do and I’ve been doing it successfully for 10+ years.”

What about you job seekers who feel compelled to explain your unemployment status? Don’t make this the gist of your Summary. Instead sound more upbeat with something akin to: “Currently I am enthusiastically searching for a career as a registered nurse. I am increasing my skills by taking courses at a accredited university.”

Use the media feature in the Summary, Experience, and Education sections. Show your vitality like my former customer who landed a job as a landscape architect. She shows off momentous work, both residential and commercial, that she produced. Think about producing a YouTube video the wind turbine you engineered just recently, including rocking music.

Take a look at a video produced by Al Jazeera America about one of my connections photographing models and homeless people. This is a great example of bringing a LinkedIn profile to life.

think positiveUpdate often with positive messages. Read articles and write supportive words about said articles. When you write about how employers are essentially the devil in disguise, employers take note of what you write.

Don’t turn people off at networking events

Most older workers I know can carry on an intelligent conversation because they’ve had years of practice. At our career center networking events, they carry on conversations far beyond the two hours allotted for the event. Much of what I over hear is positive talk about the progress of their job search, about their personal commercial, about their daily lives.

On the other hand, I will occasionally hear negativity seep through like black bile. This is when I hear one networker tell another that he can’t get an offer because of his age. “Not necessarily true,” I pipe in.

What I didn’t tell you about the email I mentioned at the beginning of this post is that my customer said this woman’s attitude seems rampant throughout the networking group.

If this attitude is rampant throughout the group, it may not be a healthy group to belong to. Networking groups should not provide a forum for commiserating with fellow networkers; they should offer positive support.

It is essential that you talk positively about your job search. Leave out of the conversation the fact that you experienced ageism at one of your interviews. Instead focus on the value you’ll deliver to potential employers.

Do this through a natural elevator pitch that doesn’t sound too rehearsed. Be a listener, as well as a talker, and be genuine. Most importantly, sound positive, even if you’re hurting emotionally. I always remind my workshop attendees that those who appear positive are more likely to receive help.

One of my connections, George Armes advises older workers to “Get out of the house. If there’s a certain industry you’re interested in, join an association connected with it and seek out volunteer openings. Attend industry and professional meetings and conferences. You never know who will know someone who is hiring….Read the full article.

Your attitude sets the wrong tone at the interview

It begins when you enter the room. According to a study of 2,000 interviewers, a third of them will make a decision of whether to hire you based on your first impressions, which include your eye contact, smile, handshake, and how you enter the room.

Let that sink in.

If you walk into the room slowly, with your shoulders slumped, a frown on your face, eyes diverted, and offer a weak handshake; your chances of success are nil to none. You need to enter with a skip in your step. Stand erect. Smile to show your enthusiasm. First impressions matter.

Expect the obligatory question, “So why did you leave your last position?”

Do not answer with, “There was a conflict in personality. My new supervisor was a 30-year-old woman. She knew less than I did about managing an assembly process. We didn’t see things the same way.”

The interviewer who’s asking the questions is 40 and will be your direct supervisor. He’s thinking chances are you won’t do all that well when working together. So leave reference to age and gender out of your answer.

You’ll probably get the directive, “Tell me about yourself.”

Do not begin by telling the interviewer that you have 35-years of experience in project management in the telecommunications field. This comes across as your main selling point.

Instead focus on the fact that for the past four years you’ve consistently cut costs by applying agile techniques.

You may be asked why you’re willing to accept a position that offers less responsibilities and lower pay. Many of my older job seekers are fine with this, as they’re tired of managing others and the bills are paid.

One of my former customers accepted a job that will require him to be a mentor to younger technical writers. This is a valuable skill older workers can perform at their jobs, and a viable reason for accepting a position that offers less responsibility.

Practice makes perfect

So what’s the solution? I’m brought back to the statement the woman made in response to my customer reaching out to help the networking group: “Most of their workers are under 30. So…that puts me out of the running.”

This attitude has to be dropped. You may feel that you’ll experience ageism around every corner, but don’t give into these fears, or at least try to veil them when you’re conducting your job search. I don’t buy that people will instantly right themselves at the interview. I believe it’s a prevailing attitude that travels like a speeding train that can’t be stopped.

By the way, my customer Paul I told you about took his four-page resume and came back to me with a resume that was three and four quarters long. I guess he took some of what I said to heart.

Photo: Flickr, Oliver Nispel

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10 reasons why recruiters and hiring managers dread reading a résumé

bored womanHere’s a fact: Very few people like reading résumés, especially those who read hundreds of them a week. Ask any recruiter or hiring manager (HM).

I critique and write résumés as part of my job. I’ve read hundreds of them and have conducted numerous critique sessions, but I’ve got nothing over recruiters and HMs.

The only bright spot in this whole process is reading a résumé that doesn’t give me a sharp pain between my eyes, one that is relatively sound. A résumé that is outstanding—now, that’s a WOW moment.

Once you understand that recruiters and HMs are not dying to read your résumé, you can focus your attention on writing one that pleasantly surprises them, one that prompts them to recommend you for an interview.

To entice them into inviting you in for an interview, you must avoid making the following mistakes:

1. An apathetic approach to writing your résumé. Don’t let your apathy show in the quality of your product, which shouts, “I’m not into writing a résumé because I’ve got better things to do.” This results in typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes.

This sentiment comes across loud and clear from people who feel this way. They resent having to write a résumé and would prefer others to do it for them. Do not rely on others to write your résumé; it’s your responsibility.

Note: if you simply can’t write your own résumé, be sure that you hire someone who will take adequate time to interview you and get to know what you’ve accomplished in your career. Read this post on having a professional write your resume.

2. Your résumé is a tome. It’s a five-page document consisting of every duty you performed within the past 25-years; and it’s so dense that the person reading it puts it in the “don’t read” pile simply because it’s nearly impossible to read.

I recently glanced at a résumé that resembled what I’ve just described. I made no false pretense and simply put it down after two seconds saying, “I can’t read this.” My customer nodded with understanding.

3. And it’s hard to read. Make your résumé easy to read by writing short paragraphs, no more than three or four lines. Shorter paragraphs allow the reader to grasp important information easier. I’m also a fan of using bold text to make words for phrases stand out.

Remember that recruiters take approximately 6-10 seconds to glance at your résumé to determine if they will read the rest of it. Thus your résumé must grab their attention quickly. Make sure they see the accomplishments within those six seconds.

4. It lacks accomplishments. I know, you’ve heard this a thousand times. But it’s worth repeating because you want to stand out from the rest. Recruiters and employers relate to quantified results with dollars, numbers, and percentages. Many people mistakenly think accomplishments should only be highlighted in the Experience section or under Career Highlights.

One or two of your accomplishments should be stated in the Performance Profile. Develop processes that improve operations and result in double-digit revenue growth.  A statement like this is meant to grab the reader’s attention. This assertion must then be backed up in the Experience section with explicit examples and dollar amounts.

5. It includes clichés or unsubstantiated adaptive skills. The rule is to show rather than tell. Yes, you may be innovative; but what makes you innovative? Did you develop a program for inner-city youth that promoted a cooperative environment, reducing violent crime by 50%? If so, state it in your profile as such.

Recruiters and hiring managers can see fluff a mile away. They’re turned off by words like “dynamic,” “results-oriented,” “Outstanding,” “driven,” and other clichés.

6. Failing to show recruiters and employers what you’ll do for them. Recruiters and employers don’t want to know what you did; they want to know what you can do. You’re probably thinking, “If my work history is in the past. That’s what I did. How do I show employers what I can do?”

It’s what we in the field call prioritizing your statements, or targeting your résumé to each company to which you apply. In other words, illustrate how your qualifications and accomplishments match the employers’ requirements in order of importance.

7. You don’t know what recruiters and employers want. Many people don’t take the time to dissect the job ad to discover the most important skills and experience the employer wants to see on your résumé. If the ad is skimpy, go to the company’s career section on its website.

Better yet, if you know someone at the company or know someone who knows someone at the company, call him/her and ask more about the position. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding influential people at companies. The bottom line is that you can’t write a targeted résumé if you don’t understand the requirements of the job.

8. You lack keywords and phrases. As CareerBuilder.com points out, keywords are the skills applicant tracking systems (ATS) search for to determine if your résumé will be the first of many to be read by recruiters and employers.

Your branding headline, much like the headline on your LinkedIn profile, is the first place on your résumé where you’ll utilize keywords. Then you will make sure they’re peppered throughout the rest of your résumé.

9. Your resume isn’t smart phone friendly. For you Millennials this should be no problem, as you go nowhere without your iPhone or Android. (I’m the same way, even as a Boomer.)

The job search is increasingly used more on the go, rather than at a computer, so your résumé (stored in Dropbox) must be legible to recruiters and hiring managers. Recruiters and HMs want your résumé fast, so don’t disappoint them.

10. You apply for a job for which you’re not qualified. I know the urge to find a job, any job, is great; but don’t waste the time of a recruiter, employer, and you by applying for a job for which you’re not qualified.

You may think there’s an inkling of hope that you’ll get an interview. But if you have only five of the 10 requirements necessary to do the job, there really is no hope. And this can be determined within the first 10 seconds of reading the résumé.

A woman in HR recently related this story to me, “I received a résumé in a USPS photo envelope (heavy duty mailer) certified mail.  The résumé is on lovely cream-colored card stock, beautifully formatted. The problem, she is applying for the Assistant Town Accountant position and for the last 10 years she has been a dog groomer.”


These are but 10 faux pas you must avoid if you want to write a powerful résumé that is enjoyable to read and gets you a spot in the hot seat. Once you’re at the interview, you’re one step closer to a job offer.

Photo: Flickr, ssunnymorgann

Posted in Career Search, Résumé Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dear recruiters and hiring managers, the truth is better than…nothing

Waiting for a call

A customer came to me exasperated because he hadn’t heard from the recruiter who was trying to place him at company for an engineering position. My customer told me the process had been going really well.

He and the company were in the final stages, the hiring manager told him it looked promising, it was just a matter of getting him to meet with the VP of engineering.

My customer waited with anticipation for the call from the hiring manager, but after a week of waiting…nothing.

At first he was reluctant to reach out to the recruiter or call the hiring manager to inquire about the status of his candidacy.  I told him to contact his recruiter, who he described as a positive person that nearly guaranteed him a job, so my customer sent his recruiter an e-mail.

Another week went by and…nothing.

At this point I told him it was time to phone the recruiter to ask him if he’d heard from the hiring manager. His recruiter would be able to give him some insight as to how the process was going, and he was the point man–not right to go above his head.

My customer left two voice-mails and heard…nothing.

He asked me if it was time to contact the hiring manager, as he wasn’t getting any love from his recruiter. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it would be a waste of time, but the career counselor in me told him to make the call and, of course, be diplomatic.

My customer left a couple of scripted voice-mails with the hiring manager and after another grueling week…nothing.

It was finally time to call it quits. The recruiter had disappeared and apparently went on to other job seekers, and the hiring manager had given my customer a non-verbal rejection, a practice that has become commonplace.

Shortly after this whole affair, my customer told me that it was a hellacious process; nothing that he’d like to go through again. He recovered from the ordeal, though, and was not about to give up on the job search.

In the future he wasn’t going to waste energy on worrying about the deadening silence he’d experienced, the feeling of desperation and hopelessness.  He only wished the recruiter and hiring manager would have told him the truth because the truth is always better than nothing.

An excellent article that appeared on RecruitingBlogs.com titled 8 Tips for the New Recruiter touches on the importance of following up. While the author Becky Northrup admits to making this mistake, she advises:

“…Make it a point to call the candidate and tell them as soon as you have any updates. Even if you haven’t heard anything and especially if the position was cancelled or they were disqualified. It can just be a call at the end of the week to tell them that you haven’t heard. They will appreciate the follow-up regardless of if it’s good, bad or no news…” (Tip #6)

As for the hiring managers out there, keep in mind that your candidates are counting on your decision, yay or nay, so a quick call or e-mail saying you’ve gone with another candidate or that the position has been put on hold or lost its funding might hurt the expectant candidate’s feelings; but the truth is better than…nothing.

Photo: Flickr, Antoine K

 

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Three ways to help introverts with their job search

Looking for a job

Career advisors, when advising certain job seekers, have you ever noticed that small talk—breadth of knowledge—is not their forte? Rather they’d prefer to talk about more substantive topics—depth of knowledge—and appreciate the time to formulate their thoughts before speaking. What you get from them is rich, deep discussion that’s very purposeful.

Have you also noticed they don’t seem excited when you encourage them to network? It’s not their thing, entering a room full of strangers with whom they have nothing in common. It drains their energy even thinking about it. They may tell you they’d rather walk over burning coals than attend an organized networking event.

And when you mention social media as a way to connect with others, your job seekers perk up. To them it’s far easier than networking. They are on LinkedIn and engage with their connections.

If they exhibit these behaviors, it’s likely they’re introverts (read this post from the Huffington Post) and may not realize this, unless they’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I didn’t know my preference for introversion until I took the MBTI when I was 45-years-old. And when I got my results I was shocked because I considered myself to be outgoing.

The first way to help an introvert with her job search is to determine if she is an introvert. This will answer many questions she has about herself in terms of communications, networking, and social media use. Are you an introvert

Communicating

As you’re meeting with your job seekers, be mindful of how they communicate with you. Introverts are innate listeners not as comfortable with small talk as their counterpart, the extraverts, who are quick to start the conversation and would like you to listen. Your conversation with introverts will be deep and thought provoking, but you’ll most likely have to jump-start it.

The best approach to take with an introvert is to start the discussion by stating some observations and then following up with questions. Now stand back and wait for your introverted job seeker to deliver some insightful statements. Try not to interrupt.

For example, “After looking at your résumé/LinkedIn profile, I am impressed with the detail in which you describe your past jobs. You list a great number of duties. But what I’d like to see are some more accomplishments. What do you think?”

This question gives them the open door to express their thoughts. “I see your point, and I think I could explain how I was close to 100% accurate in my accounting responsibilities. In fact, I was often acknowledged for this and won ‘Employee of the Month’ many times.” You give your job seeker the opportunity to express her thoughts, and then you do what any good counselor does, sit back and listen.

Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D, offers this sage advice: “Offer [introverts] the opportunity to follow-up with you the next day with any additional questions or thoughts. It usually takes time for an introvert to think of all the things that they want to communicate if they haven’t been able to anticipate your question in advance.”

Networking

It’s no secret that structured networking makes many people uncomfortable, especially introverts. One quote I share with my workshop attendees is from Liz Lynch, Smart Networking: “At the first networking event I ever attended by myself, I lasted five minutes—including the four minutes it took me to check my coat.” This quote clearly illustrates how networking for the first time can be like trying to speak another language.

Networking2

Now imagine how an introvert feels presented with the prospect of entering a roomful of strangers, expected to make small talk, and (most difficult) promoting himself. He will feel tired just thinking about having to talk to people he doesn’t know, particularly after a day full of looking for work. He may also experience bouts of reluctance prior to a morning networking event.

But here’s the thing; networking is a vital tool in the job search and it’s your job to encourage your introverted job seeker to attend networking events. Suggest 5 points of attack:

  1. Tell him to have a goal of how many people he’ll talk to at the event. If three is what he decides, that’s fine. Remember that introverts prefer to talk to fewer people and engage in deep conversations.
  2. Suggest that he takes a friend or two. There’s more comfort in having someone by his side to talk with if things are not going as planned. Advise him, however, not to spend all his time at the event with his networking buddy.
  3. Provide encouragement by reminding him that he should focus on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what others say. People like to be listened to, and introverts are great listeners.
  4. Enforce upon him that he doesn’t have to be fake; rather he should be natural when speaking with other networkers. He doesn’t have to launch into his 30-second commercial as soon as he meets each person, which will likely serve to push people away.
  5. Lastly, he doesn’t have to be the last one to leave; although, he might be the one to close the joint if he’s having a grand time. This is in the realm of possibility.

Social media

LinkedIn has provided introverts the ideal way to reach out and connect with other people, whether they’re potential network contacts or employers. While this makes connecting seamless, it doesn’t complete the process.

I tell my workshop attendees that once they’ve made the initial contact, they have to reach out and touch them in a personal way, e.g., talk with them on the telephone and/or meet them in person. As career advisors, we need to make them aware of completing the process.

Using social mediaLinkedIn allows for easy communications through writing—an introvert’s preferred method of communication—however it is not as quick and efficient as speaking with someone. As an introvert, I don’t feel like I’ve closed the loop unless I’ve made verbal contact.

Encourage your job seekers to set aside time to talk on the phone for half an hour with two or three of their LinkedIn connections. If they feel so inclined, have them Skype with their connections or, one of my favorites, use Google Hangout. They’re very similar. This helps put a face to a name.

Your introverted job seeker will ultimate close the loop by meeting with an online connection in person for coffee or lunch. Encourage this if the connection is local. Keep in mind that one meeting might not be enough, as introverts network best by developing relationships over a period of time.

Photos: Flickr, Ploymint HQ

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A rejection letter to a college grad

The story of a college grad who was rejected for a position because he didn’t do what college students should do. 

rejection

Hello John.

Regretfully I have to inform you that the hiring committee went with another candidate for the accounting position. Although we felt you were strong in many areas, it was your lack of job-related experience that prevented us from hiring you.

A number of attributes, which I’ll describe in detail, made you a strong candidate. I’m not in the habit of doing this for job candidates, but I want to give you some feedback from the search committee. I feel that you have a great deal of promise and hope to see your job search come to fruition.

To begin with, we were particularly impressed with your leadership skills. You were a lifeguard supervisor for two summers. During this time you were responsible for six staff members. The recommendation from your manager described you as a “natural leader.”

Another attribute you possess is strong communication skills. You demonstrated this as president of your class at the State University of New York. There you proved your verbal communication skills as a member of the debate team. As well, you wrote weekly articles for the university newspaper.

Your grade point average of 3.9/4.0 is remarkable by any standards, especially because you majored in Business Administration and minored in International  Studies. You should be extremely proud of yourself. This fact did not go unnoticed by the hiring committee; let me assure you of this.

You also came across as someone who would work well in a team environment, which is essential in our organization. By leading organizations on campus, most notably the Self-Awareness committee, you proved that you can work well with a diverse group of individuals. I was impressed when you told us that you empowered your teammates by delegating responsibilities you knew you could handle on your own.

Having played lacrosse for my college, I was impressed with the fact that you were the captain of the team your junior and senior year. I know how difficult it is to be the goalie in a game like lacrosse. You have be a quarterback and be able to bounce back from injuries due to blistering shots from the opposition. This experience shows that you have leadership skills.

Lastly I want to applaud you for taking control of the problem that aroused from your dormitory. You realized a problem existed with certain factions in the dormitory, so you organized a forum where people could discuss their complaints. You moderated these weekly meetings and eventually came to a resolution. This showed your problem-solving skills, which is important in any job.

Despite all this, John, we couldn’t ignore the fact that you don’t have the job-related experience required to hit the ground running. As you know, we need someone who can: prepare, examine, or analyze accounting records, financial statements, or other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards.

The hiring committee didn’t get the sense you were strong in all these areas. They also wondered if you could adapt to a very fast-paced environment with very strict deadlines. I admire your experience of supervising the lifeguards, but the responsibilities you would have assumed here are dissimilar.

I want to end with a little bit of advice, John. You don’t have any internship experience throughout your university years, and this hurt you. However, it’s not too late. You can seek out internships, or volunteer experience, near your home town. If you’re fortunate, you may secure a paid internship.

I wish we had a spot for you on our team, but we need someone who—as I’ve stressed—has the job-related experience.

Sincerely,

 

Susan Jackson, Hiring Committee

This post originally appeared on http://www.youtern.com.

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6 steps to penetrate the Hidden Job Market

snow bank

This post was shared the most of any of my posts, ever. The message in it is simple…it’s the hidden jobs jobseekers must pursue, not the ones everyone is scrambling for. 

When I think about the time my wife and I were shoveling our walkway last winter, I see that time as analogous to the Hidden Job Market (HJM).

The problem I had that day was trying to locate another shovel whose location was only known by my wife. It’s under the snow pile, she told me.

Where exactly? I replied.

Under that huge pile, she pointed to a mountainous heap.

Similar to a jobseeker who needs to know where the jobs are, I needed to know where the shovel was. My wife represented a knowledgeable contact who knew generally where the shovel was.

Fortunately I knew there was a shovel and simply had to ask where it was. In many cases the hunt for a job is not that easy for the typical jobseeker. They’re competing in a stiff job market which favors the employer (a buyer’s market), who prefers to hire people they know and trust.

HJMIt’s estimated that 75%-80% of the good jobs are hidden. This means that 25%-20% are advertised. Unfortunately an estimated 85% of jobseekers concentrate on the advertised jobs, creating intense competition and very little chance for success.

What is the solution to getting known and trusted by the employer? Take the following steps:

1. Develop a list of companies for which you’d like to work. This can be done by Googling your occupation, industry, and desired location. On LinkedIn, go to the Companies page, select a company, and scroll down to the right side of the page where similar companies are listed.

Instead of spending a great deal of time applying for jobs through the job boards, use more time researching your target companies. This is part of your labor market research. You can also talk to people who work at these companies, people who would know more about them.

2. Make contact with the appropriate people at these companies and send them an approach letter or put in a call, asking for an informational meeting. The result of this meeting should impress your new contact so much that he/she is willing to recommend you to a hiring manager.

Another result from informational meetings is developing your network with quality connections. Ask for contact information for other quality connections before leaving your informational meeting.

3. Attend networking events, where people who are currently working can provide valuable information as to where jobs may exist, maybe at their own company. Google for business networking events in your area, as well as industry specific affiliations.

Also attend jobseeker networking events, where you’ll give and receive information and advice from people who are also looking for work. Don’t expect immediate gratification; rather go with the intention of building relationships.

4. Schedule appointments with selected connections. For example, get together for coffee with former colleagues who have been keeping their ear to the pavement for you. Some believe this approach is most effective. In other words, less is better.

It’s important to keep these valuable connections in the loop by sending emails letting them know your progress in the job search. Don’t make it all about the job search, though. Send an occasional email inquiring about your connections’ personal life.

5. Connect with people in the community. Sometimes this can be the most effective way to locate opportunities. Ask your neighbor who works at one of your desired companies if he/she would be willing to deliver your résumé to a hiring manager.

One of my customers approached me about how he landed a job, bragging that he didn’t have to network. He told me he handed his résumé to his neighbor who then delivered it to the hiring manager in the department. My customer got an interview and landed his job. I didn’t want to bust his bubble, but he networked to get the job.

6. A more passive way to penetrate the HJM is to let recruiters do the seeking. Make your LinkedIn campaign as fruitful as possible by developing a kick-ass profile, connecting with people in your industry, and engaging with your connections. The idea here is to prompt employers to contact you after they’ve read your profile.

There are two major benefits derived by the smart employer who is looking for awesome talent via LinkedIn.

  • They save the cost of a traditional hiring process which can run into the thousands, including advertising on the job boards, potentially hiring a search agency to locate and filter candidates, the people power it takes to review résumés and then interviewing candidates.
  • The second benefit is precluding the need to interview complete strangers. Instead an employer can initiate contact via phone or e-mail and engage a discussion with jobseekers. Jobseekers essentially become a known commodity before the employer decides to invite them in for an interview.

My wife, mostly I, finished shoveling the walkway because she knew where the second shovel was. Had she not known, I would have had to shovel the walkway on my own. I suppose I could have found the shovel if I dug through a ton of snow, but I probably would have given up the search.

Flickr: Grant McDonald

Posted in Career Networking, Career Search | Tagged , , | 1 Comment