Avoid résumé obsession by following these 5 rules

obsessed-with-your-resumeI’ve been helping a client with his résumé. Originally it was a sound résumé but weak in certain areas. He lacked a branding headline, so I suggested he use a headline similar to what he uses on his LinkedIn profile.

He also needed to tighten up his writing, pay attention to typos, and keep from being verbose. I also suggested he quantify his results. Mission accomplished.

Shortly after our meeting, he told me he would send me his “next” revision in a few days. In addition to the changes I suggested, he said he prettied it up a bit. They were aesthetic changes that probably wouldn’t play a big role in garnering him an interview. He is suffering from résumé obsession.

While aesthetics are nice, your résumé needs to be much more impactful than pretty font, interesting layout, unique bullet points, etc. Here are five general rules about putting your résumé to best use.

1. Yes, a powerful résumé is necessary. A résumé should lead with a strong branding headline to capture the employers’ attention, tell them who you are and what you’re capable of doing for them. This is where you first introduce the job-related keywords.

Follow your title with a concise, yet grabbing professional profile. All too often I see profiles with lofty adjectives that have no meaning. Your profile is the roadmap to your work history; whatever you assert in it, you have to prove in the experience section.

The work experience must demonstrate accomplishments that are quantified. Employers are looking for numbers, percentages, and dollar signs. Having accomplished this, along with an education section, your résumé is ready to go.

2. It’s only one part of your written communications. Let’s not forget a well-written cover letter that grabs the employers’ attention with the first sentence. Forget the tired, “I was excited to read on Monster.com of the project manager position at (company). Please find below my accomplishments and history that make me a great fit for this job.”

You have to show the employer you’re the right person for the job. This includes highlighting job-related skills and mentioning a couple of accomplishments. Like your résumé, the cover letter is tailored to each job.

3. Send your résumé to the hiring manager. Some of my customers are shocked when I tell them that they need to send their information to human resources and the hiring manager. The reason for doing this is because the hiring manager may see something in you that HR doesn’t.

Another reason for sending your résumé to the hiring manager is because she may overlook the fact that you don’t have a certain requirement, such as education, whereas HR must reject you for this deficiency. One of my job seekers, a former hiring manager, confirmed this assertion.

4. How you distribute it. It doesn’t end with hitting “Submit.” You can’t sit back and wait for recruiters and HR to call you for a telephone interview. Some believe that sending out five résumés a day is a personal accomplishment; yet they fail to follow up in a timely manner.

Worse yet, they don’t send their résumé and cover letter to targeted companies. This involves networking face-to-face or via LinkedIn to determine who the right contact is at the company. Distribute your résumé to the people who count, not individuals who are plucking your résumé out from an Applicant Tracking System.

5. LinkedIn is part of it. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to get onboard with LinkedIn. Countless success stories of job seekers getting jobs are proof that employers are leaning more toward LinkedIn than the job boards. They’re enabling the Hidden Job Market (HJM), and it’s time for you to participate.

Your LinkedIn profile should mirror your résumé (branding headline, summary, work history, education) to a point. Each section on it will differ, plus there are applications and recommendations you can display on your profile that you couldn’t on your résumé. There must be a harmonious marriage between the two.


Fruitless pursuit. Trying to perfect your résumé and neglecting the aforementioned steps needed to make it work is similar to cleaning every snowflake from your steps and neglecting your entire walkway. A great résumé is what you aspire to create; a perfect résumé is not possible. To aspire to perfection will most likey prevent you to send out your résumé all together, just like my former client.

Photo: Flickr, Jordan

LinkedIn status update etiquette. How often should you update?

man-walking-with-phone

I posted a status update asking LinkedIn members how often they update. Asking a question, after all, is one of the many updates you should post. The response wasn’t as great as I would have like, much like when I ask my 14 year-old son how his day went.

I did, however, receive answers like “once a day,” “four times a week,” etc. But I didn’t get the answer I wanted to hear: “four times a day.” Do I hear a pin drop? I can hear some of you thinking, “That’s crazy, dude.” And, “Get a life.” Perhaps, “I’d hide* that guy.” And I’m sure I have been hidden.

Some of my workshop attendees tell me that posting even once a week is too difficult. They also say that they don’t know what to post. (I refer them to Hannah Morgan’s great infographic of what you can update. Yes, one of them was posting a question.)

I’ve read from some LinkedIn pundits that once a day is the limit. How did they come up with that arbitrary number? Why not two updates a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon for a total of 14 updates a week? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

I posted an article awhile back called 11 reasons why I share LinkedIn updates so often in response to an article called 6 Bad LinkedIn Habits That Must Be Broken, in which the author writes with conviction that one must update only once a day. He states:

“People don’t check LinkedIn nearly as often as Facebook or most other Social Networks for that matter. So I recommend that statuses are updated no more than once or twice a day. This is more for your benefit than for your network. Oversimplify here and focus on sharing much less frequently, while trying to find highly interesting content that will benefit your connections.”

In my counter article I explain that I update for nine reasons, two of which are to make LinkedIn a better place. I know that sounds conceited but I figure I manage to accomplish this 20% of the time. And the other times because I really enjoy it.

In my opinion, you should update as much as you like as long as you’re adding value for you connections. What defines value? Quite literally it means, according to Webster’s II dictionary, “A standard or principle regarded as desirable or worthwhile.”

Educational articles you share add value and can earn you the illustrious title of “curator.” In a long post on LinkedIn, I list 14 of my connections who do a great job of educating their networks, as well as write great articles themselves. Great industry advice adds value. And asking illuminating questions or even making intelligent statements also add value.

Another reason why you should update as much as you like is if you’re not annoying your connections. One barometer I use to determine if I’m annoying my connections is when they see me in public. If they say, “I see you a lot on LinkedIn. Good stuff,” that’s a good sign. But if they say nothing after telling me they see me a lot on LinkedIn, I figure that’s a bad sign.

Recently I hid one of my connections because her face appeared at least ten times in a row on my timeline; she was really annoying me. Worse of all was that the information she was sharing was inconsistent with her industry; it was all over the map. I imagined her clicking on every post or inspirational quote/photo that popped up. In this case, more is definitely not better.

Finally, if you are treating LinkedIn like Twitter, where there are little or no reasons why you’re updating, it’s time to take stock of why. If there’s no strategy, it would probably be best to develop some strategy behind your updating activity, or chill for awhile.

Do you remember when you LinkedIn’s status updates and Twitter’s tweets were synced to each platform? LinkedIn did away with Tweets migrating to its platform; people were tired of reading about what Twitterers were doing on the beach or eating for breakfast. We still get tweet-like updates on LinkedIn.

I can’t say for sure how often I update a day, but I haven’t been told to my face that I over due it. In fact, I receive compliments for what I share. When I’m told more than once that people are sick of seeing my face on LinkedIn, I will curve my action. By how much I can’t say. I’m just having too much fun.

*To hide someone, just hover to the far right of his/her name and a dropdown will appear with the Hide option.

Please share if you enjoyed this post!

Photo: Flickr, Tom Waterhouse

A little advice for my angry LinkedIn connection

angry man

When I was a youth, I had a friend who was angry all the time. Johnny was his name. He had a younger brother, Billy, who was a better athlete than him and more affable. Johnny was jealous of his younger brother.

When we played pick up football, Johnny was the slower and less nimble of the group. Billy and I were the better football players. This, I suppose, made Johnny even more angry.

At times Johnny would lash out at me for no apparent reason. I would disagree with him and BAM he would hit me. One time I ducked his punch and smacked him in the face. And then I ran like hell. I was a lover, not a fighter.

The other kids in the neighborhood couldn’t understand why Johnny was so angry; why he lashed out at me.

At the time I didn’t understand his anger. And then one day my father told me that some people are just plain angry, and there’s only one thing you can do about it; distance yourself from them.

So that’s what I did.

My angry LinkedIn connection, I see some of your posts on LinkedIn, and I think that you are angry. Angry all the time, like Johnny. And I think there’s no reason for you to show your anger, especially when others are watching you.

I recently read a post on LinkedIn that made a helluva lot of sense to me. It is called, “An open letter to Obama haters on LinkedIn.” The author of this post is Sherry Nouraini, PhD.

I took away from the article that employers/possible business partners are looking at what you write and think to themselves that angry verbiage is a sign of a problem maker, not a problem solver. Johnny was a problem maker.

What broke the proverbial camel’s back was the relentlessness smear campaign against LinkedIn. You made it your goal to bring LI to its knees by using long posts to do this. But what you wrote before was also full of anger.

I must profess that I have written out of anger, but not with as much vehemence as you do. I have, at times, criticized LinkedIn (I still can’t let go of losing unlimited searches). But how I criticize LinkedIn is nothing like the smear campaign you’ve started.

It’s not only your attack on LinkedIn that rubs me wrong, it’s also expressing your opinions on politics and religion that are inappropriate. First of all, I don’t care who you support in the upcoming primaries. Second, there’s no room for politics on LinkedIn.

Simply liking an article or photo that is politically minded is further evidence of your anger and negative attitude. To like something politically or religiously minded implies that you agree with its message, that you might also write it.

Have you not read that people don’t think LinkedIn is the forum for politics and religion? (Hint: Facebook is a better forum for expressing one’s political and religious views. I’m quite enjoying my new foray on Facebook.)

If you read the aforementioned article, the author talks about how bashing politicians or any other public figures is noticed by potential employers who are looking for people to solve their problems, not to create problems.

Your confrontational attitude will cause employers to think the latter of you; that you will cause problems.

You are currently unemployed, yet you continue to criticize how employers fail in the hiring process. I get it; employers don’t always make the best decisions–68% of them admit to making a bad hire at least once–but what good does it do you to criticize their practices.

Again, I admit to throwing mud at some recruiters, but not every single time I get the opportunity. If I did this, many of my connections would disown me.

Have you thought that it may be you who is at fault for not getting hired? Keep in mind that employers troll LinkedIn to find talent and if they see the way you bash them, you’re seen as an excuse maker and a complainer; both of which employers try to avoid.

It’s not only what you write that makes you come across as angry; it’s your photo. Your photo looks like a mug shot. You look angry enough to kill someone.

Johnny always looked angry, too. Your photo is your first impression. Do you want to turn away employers before they even read your profile?

What I find ironic is that you have the word “Professional” in your headline. You don’t come across as professional, not by my standards.

And in your Summary you talk about demonstrating a willingness to help others achieve their goals. I don’t buy any of it when I read your updates or spiteful long posts.

I’m sorry, connection, your anger is obvious, and I fear it is hurting your chances of getting a job. When you land your next job, I’m afraid that what you wrote on LinkedIn prior will come back to bite you in the ass.

I can only assume that 1) you don’t care if people are turned off by your angry verbiage, or 2) you don’t know you come across as angry. If it’s the former, I hope you read this and right the ship. If it’s the latter, I fear, like Johnny, there’s no hope for you.

Photo: Flickr, Oliver Nispel

8 LinkedIn types that are hurting their brand

angry-woman

Some people just don’t get how to use LinkedIn. As a result, they’re hurting their brand and it comes back to bite them in the ass in their community and their job search.

Your behavior is being observed by potentional hiring managers, recruiters, HR, and other people who can help you with your job search, namely network partners.

Therefore, it’s vital that you don’t come across as a certain LinkedIn type. Here are eight LinkedIn types you don’t want to become.

1. The Party Crashers. These LinkedIn members are everywhere and, in some cases, showing up 10 times in a row on your home page. They’re like people who are at every party. They’re also out to grab the glory, which is evident in their obnoxious activity.

Their goal is to appear as much as possible on their connections’ homepage, which annoys their connections to no end. They break the general rule of not sharing more than four updates a day.

2. The Hiders. I’m referring to people who don’t want to reveal their identity, so they post an image in place of their photo. These members do this for two reasons. First, it allows them to reach All Star status and increases their chances of being found.

Second, they don’t want their identity known, perhaps because of age, or they’re paranoid. This last reason only serves to make them appear untrustworthy.

It also defies the purpose of networking, which is to be recognizable and memorable. One’s brand is about them, not their company or hobby.

Read: 10 reasons why your LinkedIn photo is important to me.

3. The Ambiguous. Their comments or status updates don’t make sense. They think they write like Shakespeare or Ice Tea, but really what they write makes me wonder if they are on hallucinogens.

I have a connection like this, and so many times have I been tempted to ask him what the hell he’s talking about. I know he’s smart; that’s not the question. The question is if he is from our planet.

4. The Fly On the Wall. This LinkedIn member is one I wrote about in The importance of contributing to LinkedIn, which talks about how some people join LinkedIn and then disappears. In this post I talk about how a neighborhood friend started on LinkedIn with a great profile, and suddenly disappeared.

When I asked him where he’s been, he said he’s still on LinkedIn everyday but doesn’t care to contribute his thoughts or ideas. He reads a lot of articles and updates. That’s about it. To build a powerful brand, one has to be heard.

5. The Aloof. They don’t connect with anyone. They may have the best LinkedIn profile on earth, yet they only have 80 connections. They feel they must personally know every person with whom they’re connected.

Meeting unknown, yet valuable, connections is beyond their comprehension. When visitors, such as recruiters, see their dismal number of connections; they see these LinkedIn members as untrusting—a definitely blow to one’s brand.

6. The Negative Nelly. Little do these people know their words, which come across as angry and insulting, hurt their brand. Visitors’ antennae are alerted when they see the Negative Nellies complain about how unfair employers or disinterested potential business partners are.

Their words harm their image, but they don’t care. LinkedIn is their sounding board. They believe, based on their status, they have the right to offend other LinkedIn members. Of all the offenders, they fail n the emotional intelligence department.

7. The LinkedIn Hater. Look, I’ve been guilty of this myself. I’ve complained about certain inane changes LinkedIn has made—like take away our unlimited searches. I wonder if this hurts my brand. But these people bash LinkedIn like no one’s business.

They threaten to leave LinkedIn, stay away for awhile, only to return to continue to bash LinkedIn. I am far from a champion of LinkedIn, but I realize it for its remarkable power to provide job seekers the ability to network their way to a job.

8. The Bait and Switch. Perhaps the worst of them all is the LinkedIn member who connects with you and immediately hits you up for a sale. No foreplay, small talk, niceties, no nothing.

I recall a woman who set up a Skype session with the pretense of collaborating on career coaching, only to try to have me join her Tupperware business. To me her brand took a huge hit, as she appeared to me a liar. As well, she wasted my valuable time.


If you are guilty of some of the above behaviors, it’s time to stop. We are a community, and as such we need to be cognizant of those in our network. To violate any of these faux pas will certainly hurt your online brand.

Do you want to come across as a Party Crasher, or maybe worse  yet a Hider. To Bait and Switch can drive someone away for good, maybe make them disconnect from you. The Negative Nelly can ruin the mood. The Onlooker is insecure in their ability to contribute to discussions.

30,000 LinkedIn connections. Really?!

30,000

I’ve read a number of posts from people who are complaining that some of their 30,000 connections are being reduced to followers. They apologize to their “valued” connections for the injustice LinkedIn has committed.

(LinkedIn has made some bonehead moves in the past, such as stripping us of unlimited searches, but this is not one of them.)

I know I’m going to anger a lot of my connections, but the way I see it, people with 30,000 connections are collectors who don’t understand the purpose of networking. They’re collecting connections like Imelda Marco collected shoes, but by tenfold.

But these connections represent opportunity, you argue. Bullsh#t, I say. Besides the thousands of fake profiles you have accumulated, 90% of your connections will never follow up in a meaningful way.

Some of you say you communicate with them on a daily basis. This is true but only because you share updates, which potentially all 30,000 connections can see. Not likely.

Be honest with yourself, how many of the 30,000 connections have you even communicated with after receiving their default invites? Eight percent if you’re lucky. Or 2,400 if you’re counting. You L.I.O.N.S out there, I’m speaking to you.

Lion

My number of connections is more than 2,500, and I have to honestly say I don’t recognize many of them. Which makes me wonder if I have done the right thing by connecting with them. Probably not.

According to Robin Dunbar, a anthropologist and physiologist, we can truly know know 150 people; I’m a living testament of this assertion. (Read The New Yorker article, The Limit of Friendship.)

So when people tell me they know all of their first degree connections, even if it’s 2,400, again I say bullsh#t. This is not to say you need to confine your network to people you can name; at least they should be meaningful.

Collecting LinkedIn connections is like going to a networking event and collecting 100 personal business cards; just grabbing them out of people’s hands. Will you follow up with 100 people? You might as well find the nearest waste basket immediately after the event and dump those cards into it.

If you are saying, “LinkedIn’s purge is arbitrary. Like, they’re taking away valuable connections and turning them into followers instead.” My response to that is if you miss them (as in you know them) then simply reconnect…after you’ve eliminated some of the chaff among your 30,000 connections.

Throw out your connection trash. None of my connections are trash, you argue. Have you, as a true networker, hand-selected these connections? I didn’t think so.

That teenager from Huston, TX, who you blindly accepted, won’t be of any assistance. But all’s good, right.? She got you closer to 30,000 connections.

Once, my son told me he had 500 Facebook friends. I asked him if he knew them. Sure, he told me. Bullsh#t, I told him.

It is time that you open networkers focus on the purpose of networking (this is actually what we’re supposed to be doing) which is to connect with people of like interests who can be of mutual assistance.

Photo: Flickr, d00133519x

 

11 job-search blunders I find hard to believe

o-SCALE-facebook

Some things I find hard to believe; like I stepped on my scale this morning expecting to be two pounds heavier due to weekend of overeating, but I was actually two pounds lighter.

Or I deliver the best workshop of my life and receive less than stellar evaluations. What about my wife still talking to me after I haven’t installed a new screen door on our house three weeks after she’d asked me to?

Other things I find hard to believe are things that job seekers do in their job search. For example:

  1. After getting laid off, they think it’s a great time for a three-month summer vacation. Take a week off and then start your job search is my advice. Some downtime is healthy, but the longer you’re out, the harder it will be to get a job.
  2. They tell me they have no accomplishments to list on their résumé, so they have a résumé that looks like a grocery list of duty statements. One job seeker told me that in five years of working at a company he hadn’t achieved anything great. Come on, try, guy.
  3. They send the same résumé to employers thinking targeted cover letters will address how they meet the requirements of a job. One customer admitted he sends out the same résumé but makes sure to tailor the cover letter to meet the employers’ needs. Half way there.
  4. Related to #3: They don’t send cover letters with their résumés. Come on, it only takes an hour at most to write a cover letter that elaborates more on your qualifications and accomplishments. Unless specifically told not to send a cover letter, send one.
  5. They think it’s acceptable to dress like they’re going to the gym while they’re in public. You’re always in the hunt and you never know when someone who has the authority to hire you—or knows someone who has the authority to hire you—will bump into you in the grocery store.
  6. Speaking of networking…they think going to networking events are the only places networking is allowed. Newsflash, networking is ongoing and happens wherever, whenever someone is willing to listen. Next time you’re getting your hair styled or cut, put a bug in the ear of your hairstylist.
  7. They start a LinkedIn profile and just leave it there like a wilting plant. Do you think doing this will create a positive impression on recruiters and employers? No, it will do more harm than good. Having a profile is one part of the equation; being active is another part. Be active on LinkedIn.
  8. They spend the majority of their time on the computer, posting résumés to Monster, SimplyHired, the Ladders, etc. Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute, says your chance of success is between 5%-10% when using this method alone. To me this is not a great use of job seeking time.
  9. They spend mere minutes researching companies and the jobs for which they apply before an interview. Really now, don’t you owe employers the respect of being able to articulate why you want to work at their company and do the job they’re advertising? Do your research.
  10. They expect recruiters to work for them. Who pays the recruiters’ bills? Recruiters work for employers, and any optimism you hear in their voice is to give you confidence when vying for the position, not to indicate you have the job. They’re busy people who don’t always have time to answer your phone calls or e-mails, so don’t feel slighted.
  11. They don’t send a thank you note to employers after an interview. I know, people say it’s a waste of time; but don’t go about your job search in a half-ass way. Thank you notes are an extension of the interview and could make you or…break you.

If you’re committing all of these blunders, or even some of them, consider correcting these aspects of your job search. I’m curious to know of any blunders that come to your mind. Let’s add them to the list.

5 successful ways to be proactive in your job search

looking

Some job seekers tell me they turn on their computer every day to log on to Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and other job boards. They spend many hours a day applying for posted jobs, sending as many as 20 cookie-cutter résumés out a week, anticipating a call from a recruiter or Human Resources.

And they wait.

To these job seekers I point out the futility of a job search like this, explaining that if they want faster results, they have to be more proactive. I tell them this in my Career Networking workshop.

First I talk about the Hidden Job Market (HJM) which is a concept they understand, but I’m not sure they accept. When I tell them connecting with others is the best approach to penetrating the HJM, I can hear them thinking how difficult it will be to get outside their comfort zone, to get away from their computer.

The message I deliver is that they have to be proactive, not reactive. They have to take control of their job search, not let it control them. Here are five ways you can be proactive in your job search:

Approach letters. These documents are sent to companies of interest. Here’s the kicker: no job has been advertised. (Advertised jobs represent only 20%-30% of the labor market.) You’re not reacting to an advertisement; rather you’re sending them unannounced.

Approach Letters are ideal if you prefer writing more than using the phone. Introverts may favor this way of contacting an employer. Whereas, extraverts may prefer simply picking up the phone.

The goal is to get networking meeting or better yet, chance upon a possible opening that hasn’t been advertised. You must describe your job-related skills and experience and show the employer that you’ve done research on the company to boost the employer’s ego.

Good ole’ fashion networking. Normally we think of networking as strictly attending organized meetings where other job seekers go, doing their best not to seem desperate. (I’ll admit that this type of networking is unsettling, although necessary.)

The kind of networking I’m referring to is the kind that involves reaching out to anyone who knows a hiring manager.

Most of the people who contact me after they’ve secured a job tell me that their success was due to knowing someone at the company or organization. You must network wherever you go.

Network at your kid’s or grandchildren’s basketball games, at the salon, while taking workshops, at family gatherings (see Any Time is Time to Network)—basically everywhere.

Volunteering as a way to find work. This method of being proactive works. Granted it is tough to work for free, volunteering offers great benefits. The first of which is it’s a great way to network. Think about it; you’re in a great environment to discover opportunities from the people with whom you’re volunteering.

Let’s say you’re volunteering with an organization that deals with vendors, partners, and customers. They’re all great people to gather advice and information. You are ALWAYS keeping your eyes open for opportunities.

Another benefit of volunteering is enhancing the skills you have, or learning new ones, to be more marketable. If you lack certain software, such as PeopleSoft, seek organizations that use this software or would like to implement it. Who knows; you may prove to be so valuable that you develop a role in their finance department.

Finally, volunteering is a great source of fodder for you résumé. I tell my clients that if their volunteer experience is extensive, they should include it on this document. Just write “Volunteer Experiend” in parenthesis. 

LinkedIn and other social media outlets. I recently received an In-mail from someone who is currently working but is not enjoying her experience. I’ll keep my ears open for the type of position she’s looking for because she asked me to.

LinkedIn members who know the potential of this  professional online networking tool  reach out to other LI members for information and contact leads. Practice proper etiquette when reaching out to your connections. In other words, don’t request an introduction to someone the very first time you communicate with a new connection.

Another one of my job seekers is doing everything possible to conduct a proper proactive job search. He updates me on his job search and sends me job leads for me to post on our career center’s LinkedIn group. I’ve got a good feeling about this guy. He’s being very proactive by using LinkedIn and his vast personal network of professionals.

Follow Up. Allow me to suggest a must-read book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I think this guy gets more publicity from me than any author I’ve read. The reason I recommend this book is because none of these three proactive approaches are useful unless you follow up on your efforts.

Never Eat Alone teaches you how to network in every situation and then how to keep your network alive by following up with everyone. I mean everyone. Send an approach letter, then follow up with the people to whom you’ve sent it. Network face-to-face, then follow up. Connect with someone on LinkedIn…you guessed it, then follow up.

Of course you need to follow up after an interview. Many employers complain that candidates don’t send a follow-up note, and some candidates are eliminated because of this. So take the time to write a brief follow-up note. It’s well worth the time.


Being proactive sure beats the hell out of only reacting to jobs that have been advertised and visible to hundreds, if not thousands of other job seekers. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and yields more results than exclusively participating in the visible job market. Being proactive makes you believe that the job search will finally come to a halt, that the job search is in your hands.

Photo: Flickr, EasyBranches