Author Archives: Things Career Related

About Things Career Related

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 17 job search workshops at an urban career center, as well as critiques LinkedIn profiles and conducts mock interviews. Job seekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. He started the first LinkedIn program at the Career Center of Lowell and created workshops to support the program. People from across the state attend his LinkedIn workshops. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related and Recruiter.com. Connect with Bob on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

4 keys to a successful mock interview

One of my clients told me recently that the mock interview I conducted with her was the best experience she’s had preparing for interviews to date. This was after a session where I reviewed her performance with constructive criticism, at times brutal honesty.

mock interview2

I understood my client’s sentiment, because I also think a mock interview is extremely effective, if done correctly. I’ve conducted hundreds of mock interviews over the course my tenure at the urban career center for which I work.

You don’t have to be a career advisor in order to conduct a mock interview. You can be a friend or relative. But to successfully conduct a mock interview, you must cover the following four components.

Keep the interview itself short

The length of the mock interview should be no longer than 45 minutes; you’ll want to give yourself time for playing back the mock interview. The playback gives the client and you the opportunity to address the strengths and weaknesses of her performance.

The goal of a mock interview is not to make it the length of a real interview. Where the real interview might be a marathon, the mock interview is akin to a sprint. It is intense and just long enough for the client to get the idea of how she performed. Additionally, the interview part itself can be exhausting if it is 90 minutes long.

The mock interview should be filmed and played back

If possible, you should should film the mock interview with a digital camera. The old saying the camera never lies is true. Not only is it important for your client to hear the content of her answers and the tone and inflection of her voice; she also needs to see her body language and other nuances.

Your your client, and you, may forget the answers she gives. Filming the interview allows both of you to hear her answers again. You can comment on her answers intelligently and accurately. For example, “Your answer to this question asking why you left your most recent position is a bit too long,” you may comment. “And refrain from blaming your supervisor if possible.”

Seeing her body language can be even more important to your client than hearing her answers, particularly if her body language is extremely poor. One of my clients came across so stiff that he didn’t move his hands the whole time. His eye contact was extremely poor, as well. He recognized this because of seeing the recording and vowed to correct his body language and eye contact.

Usually I don’t have the time to get through the entire playback, but this is fine. I ask participants to bring a thumb drive with them so they can review their mock interview at a later date.

Clients must take the mock interview seriously

Be sure to make this clear before a few days of the mock interview. Tell your client that it will be treated as a legitimate interview. Setting this expectation will ensure that the atmosphere will be professional.

This begins with something as simple as dressing the part. I can tell when a client is serious about his mock interview by the way he dresses. If he comes dressed to the nines, this is a good sign. On the other hand, if he comes dressed in a tee-shirt and shorts, this is a turnoff.

The participant must also have done his research. For example, if you ask, “What can you tell me about this company, and why do you want to work here?” it is unacceptable for him to tell you he will know the answers in the “real interview.” No, he must see the mock interview as a “real interview.”

Your client must be an active participant. I will ask for my client’s input during the playback of the mock interview. This is his opportunity to comment on the content of his answers, as well as his body language. As the interviewer, you don’t want to give all the feedback. It’s important that the participant does some self-critique.

You must also take the mock interview seriously

This means being prepared. If I show up for a mock interview unprepared, it doesn’t go as well; and I sense tell that my client knows this. I might ask canned questions.

When conducting a mock interview, ask your client to provide two documents, her résumé and a recent job description. From these you’ll write the questions for the interview. You don’t necessary have to stay on script; you might fall into a more conversational mode if the spirit drives you.

The questions must be challenging, without embarrassing your client. It’s also important to come across as friendly in order to put her at ease. On the other hand, if you know your client will encounter stress interviews, make the mock interview stressful. Generally speaking, the mock interview must build confidence, not demean your client.

At times you might experience resistance from your client. Hold your ground. She doesn’t need to agree with everything you say; and you might want to preface this at the beginning of the critique. Keep in mind that she will know more about her occupation, but you know more about the interview process. However, if you are unprepared, your authority goes out the window.


Mock interviews can be the most valuable job-search tool for a candidate. I encourage my clients to participate in them as much as possible. Many express discomfort at the idea of being asked questions, let alone being filmed. When you have the opportunity to conduct a mock interview with a client, don’t hesitate. You’ll be doing your client a great favor.

 

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6 LinkedIn profile rules to ignore in 2018

There are numerous articles on how to properly write your LinkedIn profile. With all the advice that is floating out there, it’s no wonder that LinkedIn members might be confused.

Dennis Background

I am guilty of writing some of these articles, so I would like to provide relief for the confused people trying to write their LinkedIn profile for the first time, or revise the one they already have. What follows are some rules you can ignore for six important areas of your profile.

1. Your background image must reflect what you do

I’m sure some people are freaking out because they don’t have a background image that illustrates what they do, such as a medical lab for a tech, a row of million dollar houses for a realtor, etc. I get it. You want your background image to reflect what you do.

Don’t worry. People who visit your profile also want to know what motivates you, describes your personality, shows what you love. Take the image below that shows one of my clients enjoying the view of a mountain range she was hiking. And the image above which is…just colorful.

laura-background-image

2. Dress to the Nines for Your LinkedIn Photo

I’ve said it myself and regret it. “Your photo should be professional.” So what is the definition of professional? Over the years the idea of a professional photo has changed, and so has my opinion.

Anton

Maybe you men were told that you had to dress in a three-piece suit, and you women were told you had to wear a dress suit with a white blouse. In addition, you were told you had to have a blank, boring background.

I used to advise my clients to do exactly this.

Now your photo can be more casual. Or you might prefer a theme-based photo that describes what you do, such as the one on the right. Can you guess what he does?

3. Your Headline Must Only List Your Professional Title and Employer

Whether you decide to go with a keyword-rich or branding statement Headline is your choice. Please don’t leave it as “Project Manager at IBM.” This doesn’t say anything about your value; it simply tells viewers what you do and where you work.

Instead, be creative and add areas of expertise that show your value, as well as contain keywords employers are looking for in, say, a project manager. For example:

Project Manager, ABC Company ~ Business Development | Lean Six Sigma | Projects On-Time, Under Budget

4. Make Your Summary Short

There are those who believe your LinkedIn profile Summary should be short because it will make it easier for recruiters to read. While I agree this applies to your resume, it doesn’t apply to your profile. Here’s why:

1) Don’t expect your visitors to read your whole Summary. They will be attracted to certain areas of expertise (written in all CAPs) and read that content.

2) With a short Summary you rob yourself of including keywords that help hiring authorities find you.

3) This is where you tell your story, so don’t leave out important details.

Here is an excerpt of what I consider to be a strong Summary, which uses all but 44 characters out of the 2,000 allotted. Visitors might read some of it, or they might read all of it.


Advanced materials and processes can form the basis for a product portfolio that will generate repeat revenues for years to come – if a company is able to leverage those innovations. I have been fortunate to participate in several technology firms where I’ve led teams that did exactly that. Here are a few keys to our success:

► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS – of professionals who are leaders in their respective areas. Then, encouraging and rewarding them for their collective success.

► ENGINEERING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – that solve the customer’s problem, but also create manufacturing differentiators that will lead to follow-on production.

Here’s what I offer:

► PROVEN TRACK RECORD – At growing engineering R&D firms into repeat manufacturing businesses with broad portfolios of products (including MSI, which was recently acquired for its manufacturing operations and product pipeline).

5. Only List Your Company and Job Title

Who says you have to stick to the “official title” of where you work or worked? I haven’t been told I need to list my official title of Workshop Facilitator first. (Not yet, at least.) My current title is:

Career Strategist ~ LinkedIn Trainer | Workshop Facilitator | LinkedIn Profile & Resume Consultant.

Another consideration is that your title might not make sense to people reading your profile. One of my client’s title was “Director of Innovation.” When I asked him what his title meant, he told me he was a Project Manager.

6. Don’t Personalize Your Experience Content

This is a tough one to comprehend. I see many profiles that are meager at best when it comes to their Experience section. People have been told, “Don’t regurgitate your resume.” Yes, don’t regurgitate your resume, but do include the meat of what you do/did where you work/ed.

I suggest beginning with a job summary that acts as a mission statement. For example:

When the power’s out and you can’t see two feet in front of you, your television isn’t working, the Internet is down; I’m the one who gets your power up and running. I love the feeling of fixing a generator that powers hundreds of houses. This is what makes being a Power Line Tech so rewarding.

From there you personalize your accomplish statements, as well.

► I’m often called upon to climb the highest towers during inclement weather, when others won’t. I thrive on this.

► On average, I repair damage generators faster than most Power Line Techs. My Supervisor has named me “The Magician.”


These are six important areas on you LinkedIn profile where the rules you’ve learned can be ignored. Don’t treat your profile like your resume; they are special in their own ways. Have fun constructing your profile.

 

3 proper ways for job seekers to send invites on LinkedIn

I recently led a webinar in which I talked about the ways LinkedIn members can build their networks by connecting with others properly. I stressed the importance of sending a personalized invite as opposed to sending the default message LinkedIn provides.

Businesswoman working on laptop computer

Before we dive into writing personalized invites, it’s important to know the fundamentals of finding LinkedIn members. Here’s how I search for Career Advisors:

  1. Type “Career Advisor” in the search field,
  2. choose “People in Career Advisor” in the dropdown,
  3. select “All filters” and am brought to “Filter people by,”
  4. check the “2nd” box for second-degrende connections, and
  5. finally check the box for the “Greater Boston Area.”

All people filter Recruiterdotcom

Once you’ve landed on a profile that speaks to you, you can choose “Connect” and write one of three personalized invitations:

1. Connecting Directly: The Cold Invite

Of the three options, this is the least successful way to connect on LinkedIn. It is better than indiscriminately clicking the “Send Now” button on a potential connection’s profile, but it is still a cold invite.

In your invitation, you can mention where you and your desired connection met, similar to the message below:

Hello Susan,

We met at the Westford networking event. You delivered an excellent presentation. The way you talked about interviewing resonated with me. As promised, I’m inviting you to my LinkedIn network.

Bob

Note: you only have 300 characters with which to work, so your invite needs to be brief.

2. Using a Reference to Connect

If you’re going to connect directly, you’re more likely to see success by mentioning a reference in your invite. This would be a shared connection, someone who is connected with you and the LinkedIn member with whom you’d like to connect.

I did a search for second-degree connections who reside in the Greater Boston Area and work for Philips. Below is an image of four results for this search. You will notice the faces of the shared connections. Click on “(number) of shared connections” to see who is connected directly with your desired LinkedIn member.

Philips shared connections for Recruiterdotcom

Once you have chosen a person who could be a reference for you, email the person asking if you could use their name in an invite. Don’t assume your shared connection will allow you to use their name.

Once you have your reference’s permission, your message to a new connection might look like this:

Hi Dave,

You and I are both connected with Sharon Beane. She and I work for the Career Center of Lowell as workshop facilitators. She strongly encouraged me to connect with you and would be willing to talk with you about me. I believe we can be of mutual assistance.

Sincerely,

Bob

3. Asking for an Introduction

This is the most proper way to connect with new people, albeit slower. This method requires asking a trusted connection to send a message to the person with whom you’d like to connect.

Note: It’s best to ask for an introduction through email, because people are more likely to reply to email than to LinkedIn messages.

Here is a sample introduction sent via email:

Hi Karen,

I see that you’re connected with Mark L. Brown, the director of finance at ABC Company. I’m currently in transition and am very interested in a senior financial analyst role.

Although there is no advertised position at ABC, I’d like to speak with Mark about the responsibilities of a senior financial analyst role in ABC’s finance department. It is early on in the process, so I’m also scoping out the companies on my bucket list.

I’ve attached my resume for you to distribute to Mark and anyone you know who is looking for a senior financial analyst.

Sincerely,

Bob

PS – It was great seeing our girls duke it out in last weekend’s soccer match. I hope the two teams meet in the finals.


To optimize the way you connect with people on LinkedIn in 2018, it’s important to develop a network of valuable connections. The core of your network should be people who work in your industry and share the same occupation. You should also connect with people who work in other industries but in the same occupation.

Regardless of who you connect with, always use the proper approaches to invite them to your network.

Photo: Flickr, Thought Catalog

This post originally appeared in recruiter.com.

 

5 ways the new LinkedIn profile has changed for the good and bad

LinkedIn is at it again.

I guess when it comes down to it, I can be adverse to change. (I wrote a post claiming that LinkedIn made changes to its people filter feature just for the sake of making changes. ) But now that I think of it, the changes that LinkedIn made to All Filters aren’t that bad. In fact, some of them are quite nice.

So I’m going to go at the new changes LinkedIn made with an open mind and not be too judgmental. LinkedIn didn’t overhaul its members’ whole profile; just the top of it, which I call the Snapshot area. Nonetheless, this is important real estate.

For the purpose of this post, I’m displaying my new profile followed by my previous one.

The New

New Snapshot2

The Old

New Snapshot Area

Full disclosure: I’m not the first one to write on this topic; I just recently received these changes. So, without further adieu….

Background image

You’ll notice that the new version of my LinkedIn profile’s background image is smaller than the previous one. This is not a drastic change; however, I liked how the background image used to covered the whole screen.

What’s taking up the rest of the background image? Ads that are specific to you and only you can see. With every profile you visit there will be a different ad. On my profile today there’s an ad telling me, “Picture yourself  at General Motors.” It’s a position for which I’m not at all qualified.

Photo

The photo (purported to be 20% larger), along with the information below it, has shifted to the left. Again, nothing drastic about this. Because our eyes read from left to right, I’m assuming this is LinkedIn’s purpose for moving the photo to the left.

One problem with the new placement of the photo is it might block something important in your background image, such as a logo or a piece of your background image you value. Some LinkedIn members will be struggling to re-position their image or replace it with a new one.

Name and Headline

Nothing new here, other than moving these two areas to the left. This was done to make room for the information mentioned below. Some say it’s easier to read text that is left-justified. I concur. However, center-justified text is more appealing to the eye.

This change is not enough to cause an uproar. I hope eventually LinkedIn will extend the number of characters (currently 120) for its members Headline. Some have benefited from it by using the mobile app to utilize the extra characters. I was not given that privilege, though.

Summary

This is the best change LinkedIn has made. The previous profile only displayed two lines, or approximately 40 words, on the desktop version. The new one displays a whopping three lines of text, approximately 50 words, which means that you have more space to write an impactful opening for your Summary.

Missing from the new profile is the Summary header. I hope LinkedIn will come back with it, as some visitors don’t know it’s the Summary they’re looking at in the Snapshot area.

Along with expanding the opening text from two lines to three is the display of your Rich Media area, where you can show off videos, audio, documents, and PowerPoint presentations. Previously visitors had to open the entire Summary to see your media. This is a pleasant change. Kudo’s LinkedIn.

Note: you can display your rich media in your Experience and Educations sections. My valued connection, Donna Serdula, works her rich media areas.

One additional improvement to the Summary section is darker font. Comparing the font to that in the Experience section you’ll note that it isn’t larger, it’s just darker. I’ve publicly complained in the past about the too-light font. Perhaps LinkedIn will return to darker font throughout the profile.

“Place of employment, education, See contact info, See connections” area

I love this change, as it not only highlights this information; but each icon is a live link to your current or previous place of employment, alma mater, contact information, and connections (if you allow your connections to see them).

The older version showed us this information, but it wasn’t placed it in one central location. Notice on my previous profile that the contact information is situated to the right. Many of my workshop attendees aren’t aware of this important area, until I point it out. Well done, LinkedIn!


Final analysis

Overall, I think LinkedIn has made nice changes. Are they earth shattering? No. Do they improve functionality? No. But they are an improvement to the top part of your profile. I look forward to what LinkedIn does to the Experience area, even if it doesn’t need enhancement.

 

8 areas on your LinkedIn profile where you can make your voice heard

One of the things I like about the LinkedIn profile is the ability to express your written voice. This is particularly important for job seekers, as it gives hiring authorities an idea of their personality. The résumé, on the other hand doesn’t do this as well as the profile.

Voice

As a job seeker, the goal of your résumé is to make you stand out among hundreds of others submitted for a job with value statements throughout. Your LinkedIn profile also needs to show the value you will bring to employers, only in a more personal way. This is why I tell my clients that their profile is a “personal résumé.”

Background image

The background image is the first area that gives your LinkedIn profile voice. The back ground picture of one my clients shows her standing in front of a snowy mountain side. She told me it accurately reflects her love for hiking. Her image also is relevant; at the moment she was working for Appalachian Mountain Club.

On the flip side, if you don’t sport a background image, it expresses a lack of voice. To some people who visit your profile, it may indicate that you don’t care about your LinkedIn profile. This seems unfair, right? After all, LinkedIn no longer offers stock photos from its site.

If you’re profile doesn’t have a background image and you’re looking for a quick fix, go to https://linkedinbackground.com/ to download a background image.

Photo

Your voice definitely comes through loud and clear with your head shot. The most important rules for your photo are it 1) includes only you, 2) is of high quality, 3) matches your occupation, and finally 4) expresses your personality.

When I talk to my workshop attendees about their profile photo, I stress they should project a professional image. This doesn’t mean they have to wear a suit and tie or a suit and blouse. However, it should reflect their personality in a positive light.

Headline

Your headline is what people see on their timeline, along with your photo. So it has to entice LinkedIn members to open it. A headline like, “Project Manager at IBM” Doesn’t do a great job of selling your value, and it certainly doesn’t express your voice.

This is where you can opt for a key-word based Headline, such as:

Project Manager ~ Business Development | Operations | Team Building | Lean Six Sigma

Or you might want to use a branding headline that gives your Headline more voice:

“Ask me how I can meet aggressive deadlines in delivering quality products on time and under budget”

The branding statement is meant to pique interest and is more conversational; however, if you’re goal is to optimize your profile, the key-word based Headline is the way to go.

Summary

This is a section that differs greatly from your résumé in voice. The idea with your résumé is to make it brief, while still demonstrating value. Brief is not the word to describe your LinkedIn profile Summary.

LinkedIn pundits will suggest different ways to write your Summary. What’s most important is that your unique voice comes through. I suggest to my clients a variation of structures, such as:

  1. What you do—perhaps what problems you address;
  2. why and for whom you do what you do—you do work for company growth or to help people;
  3. how well you do it—include accomplishments to back it up; and
  4. where you can be reached.

Of course there are other ways to structure your profile’s Summary, but what’s important is using words and phrases that express your voice, giving readers a sense of your personality. This is as simple as using first, or third, person point of view. A Summary that lacks a point of view resembles that of a résumé; bland.

Articles and Activities

This section of your profile is often overlooked. Not by me. I always check to see if people have published posts on LinkedIn. Speaking of a way to make your voice heard, publishing on LinkedIn is a great way to do this.

You don’t have to be a author in order to create an article and publish it on LinkedIn. However, you should share information that is relevant and of value to your audience.

I also don’t overlook a LinkedIn member’s activity on LinkedIn. You can learn a great deal about a person’s voice by reading their shared updates. Your voice should be professional but, at the same time, professional. There will always be people who share updates better suited for Facebook. Don’t be that person.

Experience Section

Believe it or not, your Experience section can have a voice. Many people will simply copy what they have on their résumé and paste it to their profile. This is a good start. But it’s simply a start. From there you’ll want to personalize it with a point of view.

The most obvious area of a job description is the job summary. This is where you describe your overall responsibilities for that position. Here’s how I personalized my job summary to give it a voice:

I’m more than a workshop facilitator & designer; I’m a career and LinkedIn strategist who constantly thinks of ways to better market my customers in their job search. Through disseminating trending job-search strategies, I increase our customers’ chances of finding jobs.

Here is part of a valued connection of mine, Adrienne Tom’s, Experience section, which not only shows accomplishments, but voice as well:

▶️ If you want to move FORWARD in your career, generate increased recognition, and escalate your earning power with value-driven career tools = let’s talk.

▶️ My RESUMES differentiate executive candidates from the competition. For 14+ years, I’ve supported the careers of global C-Suite executives, VP’s, Directors, Managers, and top professionals through captivating executive resume writing.

Education

You’re sadly mistaken if you think you can’t show your voice in the Education section. Your experience in university or high school wasn’t all about studying, was it? For your résumé it’s the basic information, such as educational institution and location, degree, area of study, maybe GPA or designation.

On the other hand, LinkedIn encourages you to describe what was going on during the time you were in school. One great example is someone who was earning their Bachelor’s while working full-time. Perhaps you were a scholar athlete. This is another opportunity to express your voice by describing the experience.

Volunteer Experience

We often don’t consider including volunteer experience on our résumé, particularly if there is a space issue. There is no space issue with your LinkedIn profile, so don’t miss the opportunity to express your voice in this area.

You volunteer at a homeless shelter. Describe your experience, in first-person point of view, and how it has had an effect on your life. Or you utilize your coding skills to develop a website for a nonprofit organization. Use your voice to describe the experience. In my case I describe how I help my alma mater with its Career Expo Night.


You have the opportunity to express your voice with your LinkedIn profile. Don’t squander this opportunity. Yes, you must show the value you’ll present to the employer, but hiring authorities want to know the whole person. What better way to do this than by using your voice?

 

3 more reasons why job seekers should blog

Part two of a two-part series.

I wrote, in an earlier blog, three reason why job seekers should blog. They are: it demonstrates their ability to write, it helps brand them, and it’s a great way to network.

blogging3

My idea for writing part one of this series came from my recollection of my two daughters’ penchant for writing; the older one preferred academic essays and the youngest preferred fiction.

Here are three more reasons why you as a job seeker should blog.

1. You’ll feel more productive and learn from writing

Writing about what you know requires processing your knowledge to put it to paper—or in most cases your computer screen. When I write about the job search, it makes me think about what is important to my audience, as well as how to express it.

You will learn more about your industry by blogging, as you’ll have to conduct research in order for your posts to be accurate. One benefit of blogging for me is that I often use what I write as fodder for my career-search workshops. Essentially, I leverage my writing.

It’s believed that one must blog on a consistent basis. You may want to start by blogging once a month, then twice a month, and maybe weekly. Hitting these goals will further give you a sense of productivity. I generally try to blog once a week.

2. More people will witness your expertise

Whether you’re blogging about your industry or job search, you can publish it on your own blog or a third-party blog. LinkedIn is a common third-party platform for blogging. The expertise you share with your audience will be there for as long as the blog sites exist. Personally, I use WordPress, Recruiter.Com, and LinkedIn. I don’t foresee either of them disappearing soon.

There are many platforms on which you can publish your posts. The top three are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Others include Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, and many more. Your audience can then share what you’ve written with their connections, followers, friends, etc. The information you share can go viral, as they say.

Hopefully you’ll continue to blog after you land your next job. I know people who begin writing great content but then suddenly stop. Documenting your expertise is great, but doing it on a regular basis keeps it topical.

3. It educates your readers

Related to number one, you can help other job seekers learn more about your and their industry. I educate my readers on the job search and LinkedIn. I’ve been contacted by people who are in the job search, as well as job-search educators, who tell me that they’ve learned a great deal from me. This is a good feeling.

One of the goals of networking is sharing what you know with other job seekers. Your shared knowledge can be a gift; it might be the reason why job seekers land their next gig.

One reason I gave for blogging in the previous post is branding yourself. If you blog consistently and for a long period of time, you could become known as an authority on your industry, whether it’s High Tech, Social Media, Finance, Medical, etc.


This post, along with the first one I wrote, marks six reasons why job seekers should blog while searching for a job. It’s not only important to keep the momentum going while you’re hunting for work; it’s also important to continue sharing your knowledge while you’re working.

4 tools employers use to make the hiring search easier for them

But harder for you.

You’re probably aware of the order in which employers attempt to fill a position. First, they consider their own employees; second, ask for referrals from their employees; third, seek referrals from trusted people outside the company; fourth, hire recruiters; and lastly, advertising the position. Or they use a combination of all of these.

pre-employment test

There are many reasons why employers prefer not advertising an open position, including the cost to advertise, having to deal with a deluge of résumés, and interviewing people they don’t know.

In many cases advertising their position/s is unavoidable because all other methods of filling them have failed. Thus, they resort to tools to make sure they get the most qualified people entering their doors. You need to be aware of these tools.

Applicant tracking systems (ATS)

This is the beginning of the hiring process from the candidates’ experience. The ATS eliminates approximately 75 percent of the applicants for a single job. It is a godsend for recruiters and HR, who are overburdened with résumés to read.

To be among the 25 percent of the résumés that are read, you’ll have to write ones that are keyword rich. Unfortunately many candidates don’t know about the ATS and don’t optimize their résumés. I’m astounded by the number of people who come through our career center unaware of the ATS.

Your best bet is to write keyword-rich résumés that are tailored to each job. Instead of using the spray-and-pray approach, be more focused on positions that are a fit and dissect job descriptions to identify the most important skills and experience required.

Jon Shields of www.jobscan.co explains the ATS in great detail in this post.

Pre-employment aptitude and personality tests

Employers have come to rely on aptitude and personality tests that can determine the candidates who’ll advance in the hiring process. Some employers will swear by them, believing that the software can do a better job of screening individuals than their own HR and recruiter.

Employers use pre-employment tests because they are objective and fair across the board—each candidate answers the same questions—and they’re a good indicator of job-related skills. These tests also measure character traits like integrity, cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, etc.

Where these tests fail is measuring candidates’ motivation to learn job-related skills. This means if you aren’t completely proficient in a certain CRM software, for example, your ability to learn quickly isn’t factored in.

These tests can also encourage dishonesty. For example, you might get the sense that the test encourages outgoing, extraverted types; but you’re preference is for an individualistic work setting. Ergo, your answers won’t truly reflect your personality.

This article talks about the most common types of pre-employment tests.

Skype interviews

Skype interviews are common these days. Employers use them to save time and, ultimately, money. As well, interviewers get to see your facial expressions and body language. They are akin to face-to-face interviews, save for the fact that candidates aren’t invited to the company. This means candidates must nail the following areas:

  1. Stellar content and demonstrated enthusiasm through your answers and body language.
  2. Professional attire. Dress as though you’re going to a face-to-face interview.
  3. All the mechanics are in check, such as lighting, sound, and background.
  4. Look at the webcam, not at the interviewer/s. Looking at them will make it seem like you’re not making eye contact.

Skype interviews may, in fact, be the final interview, which makes it even more dire for job candidates to be prepared for them. This is particularly true if interviewers are situated all over the world.

Don’t be surprised if an employer wants to conduct a Skype interview with you. One of the areas I didn’t mention is learning how to set up a Skype account. My efforts in setting up mine was frustrating, as I had a hard time figuring out how to access the free version.

Video interviews

Skype interviews can not only be challenging for candidates, they can also be time consuming for the employer, as it requires them to participate. Video interviews, on the other hand, don’t require employer participation, until the interviews are watched and graded.

Job candidates are given a number of questions to answer and are timed during the session. At no point do they see the interviewer/s, unlike a Skype interview. My clients who have participated in video interviews say it’s like talking to a wall.

This might be a bit unnerving, but don’t let it rattle you. Have you ever answered interview questions while looking in the mirror? Think of it this way and you’ll be fine. One more thing, look at your computer’s webcam while answering the questions, just as you would for a Skype interview.

Matthew Kosinski from www.recruiter.com. rates the top five video interview platforms in this post.


There you have it: four tools employers use to determine who to invite for a face-to-face interview. No method of hiring the right person is flawless, but employers feel like they’re making strives to accomplish landing the best candidate. It is up to you to do well in every aspect of the process.