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9 essential components of your job-search marketing campaign: Part 1

Every successful business requires a marketing campaign to promote its products or services. Businesses utilize a variety of delivery methods—social media, websites, television, radio, and other methods—to deliver their message to their consumers. Their campaign must be convincing, impactful, and informational, or it will fail.

social media phone

Like any company, a successful job search requires a marketing campaign to deliver a strong message. Obvious methods to deliver your message are the résumé and interview. But your job-search marketing campaign must consist of more than these two elements.

Part 1 of this article focuses on your written communications, as well as what comes before. Part 2 addresses engaging with your LinkedIn network and your oral communications. I’ve asked nine career-development pundits to contribute to this article. Read both parts of this series to learn about your job-search marketing campaign.

Labor market research

Before you write your résumé, it might make sense to know which skills, qualifications, and experience employers seek, wouldn’t it? This general information can be ascertained by researching the labor market. This should be your first task in you job-search marketing campaign.

Ask yourself these questions: What kind of work do I want to perform? What is my ideal salary? Is my occupation growing or declining? Take it further and ask yourself which types of companies I want to work for? Do I have a list of 15 companies for which I’d like to work?

Sarah Johnston, is an Executive Coach and Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer who understands the importance of researching the labor market. She writes:

“There is a famous French quote that says, ‘a goal without a plan is just a wish.’ I’d like to go down in history for saying, ‘a job search without research and a strategy is like a trip with no destination.’ After getting crystal clear on your own personal strengths and career needs, one of the best places to start a job search is identifying a target list of companies that you’d be interested in working for or learning more information about.”

Any strong company will conduct consumer market research to determine if its products or services will be successful in a given geographic location. If they fail in this component of their market research, they will go under.


Résumé

One thing most job-search pundits and hiring authorities will tell you is that your résumé is a key component of your job-search marketing campaign. It is your ticket to interviews. However, few job seekers understand what employers are looking for in a résumé. Adrienne Tom, Executive Résumé Writer, knows what employers are looking for.

To make your résumé stand out, Adrienne recommends two important strategies: making your résumé relevant and including powerful accomplishment statements. In terms of relevance, she advises:

“Focus on creating good quality content. Align every point with the reader’s needs. For every point you write down in your résumé ask, ‘So what?’ and ‘Will this matter to this reader?'”

And when it comes to creating impactful accomplishment statements, she recommends listing the most important information at the beginning, which she calls “frontloading.”

“Lead bullet points with results. Make it easy for hiring personnel to spot important details, fast; don’t make them hunt for it. Walk the reader through your career story, start to finish, by sharing relevant, measurable details that matter.”

Ashley Watkins, Executive Résumé Writer, spent 15 years as a corporate recruiter, so she understands what employers are looking for in a résumé. She echos what Adrienne says about accomplishment statements:

“Hiring managers want to know what you can do to positively impact the company’s bottom line. Use every opportunity to include numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages to validate your results. It’s crucial that job seekers bring their achievements to life and convince employers that hiring them will solve their immediate problem.”

Ashley warns against writing generic, one-fits-all résumés.

“Although having a clearly defined career target is the most effective way to land a job, many job seekers use a very generic résumé strategy when applying for positions online and when networking with their referral contacts. When you do not have a keyword-rich, targeted résumé focus, you are leaving it up to the reader of your résumé to figure out what you do. Therefore, increasing your chances of winding up in the ‘no pile.'”

Both résumé writers stress the importance of crafting a résumé that will pass the applicant tracking system. You will only accomplish this if, like Ashley advises, your résumé is key-word rich.

Successful businesses deliver a strong message that encourages consumers to buy. Your goal is to encourage employers to invite you to interviews.


LinkedIn profile

Does your LinkedIn profile resemble your résumé? If it does, you’re hurting your chances of impressing people who read your profile.

Ana Lokotkova is a Personal Branding & Career Search Advisor, who specializing in writing résumés and LinkedIn profiles, as well as coaching interviewing. She sees the LinkedIn profile as a digital handshake.

“The days of using your LinkedIn profile as a copy-pasted version of your résumé are long gone. Today, you can drop the résumé lingo and humanize every section of your profile. Your headline is the first thing people see when they come across your profile. Forget your most recent job title, and turn your headline into a slogan-like value proposition.

“Include relevant keywords that will help others find you on LinkedIn more easily. Write your summary section in 1st person. Help others learn about your WHY and what sets you apart from other professionals in your industry.”

Another authority on LinkedIn is Virginia Franco, Executive Career Storyteller. According to her, the headline and new About section are critical to your LinkedIn profile’s success:

“Storytelling as a concept is prevalent across our media today from newspapers to magazines. This is important to recognize because, in reality, readers skim LinkedIn profiles in THE EXACT SAME WAY they digest the news.

“At first glance or when in a rush, readers skim the headline and the first section of the article tell them 1) what the story is going to be about and 2) help determine if the story is worth a deeper read when there is more time. Applying this methodology to LinkedIn, it is essential that a profile contains a headline and About section tells the reader what your story is about, and intrigues them to want to read more when they have time!”

Successful businesses recognize that their audiences vary. Whereas a document as factual as a résumé is appropriate for one audience, a document like the LinkedIn profile might be more appealing to another audience.


Approach letter

A little known tool for your written communications is a networking document referred to as the approach letter. In the days of digital communications, this is usually sent as an email or even a LinkedIn message.

The idea is to send this to companies for which you’d like to work but haven’t yet advertised a position. You want to penetrate the Hidden Job Market by being known by companies before they advertise a position.

In your approach letter you can ask for a networking meeting where you will ask questions about the company, a position you’re interested in, and the individual who has granted you the informational meeting.

Your questions must be illuminating, not a waste of time for the individual. Ask about potential problems the company might be facing. What are the major requirements for the position. How the individual came to working in their role and at the company. What they see the role or industry evolving in the future.

If your timing is right, the company might be trying to fill a position it hasn’t yet advertised. You could impress the person granting the meeting so much that they might suggest you to the hiring manager. At the very least ask if you can speak to two other sources.


In this article I’ve covered the written communications of your job-search marketing campaign. In part 2 we’ll look at the verbal side, which will include personal branding, networking, the interview, and following up.

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3 reasons why a résumé alone will not land you a job

One of my close LinkedIn connections told me that a client of hers would only pay her for writing his résumé if she would guarantee he’d land a job. Needless to say, she didn’t take him on as a client. I think most rational individuals would agree that she made the correct decision. I do.

Job Seekers sitting

 

I found this client’s request ridiculous on at least three fronts.

  1. Writing a résumé takes commitment and expertise on the writer’s part.
  2. A job search is out of the résumé writer’s hand after it is written and delivered.
  3. It makes for bad business.

If you are going to employ a résumé writer, consider the role this document plays in your job search. It is an extremely important part of your success, but will not land you a job on its own merit.

What’s involved in writing an impactful résumé?

Good résumé writers go beyond taking your original document and simply editing it. They’ll add value to it, resulting in a better chance of getting interviews. At the very least, they’ll deliver the following services.

The interview

It all begins with asking questions. Some résumé writers will have you fill out a questionnaire, others will interview you over the phone, and others will do both. My preference is to have a client fill out a form and then talk over the phone for as many times it takes.

The résumé writer first needs to know your story. Are you pursuing similar work? What do you enjoy about you work? Adversely, what do you dislike about your work? Importantly, what value do you feel you brings to a company?

Questions like these are necessary to get to know you. But the résumé writer will ask specific questions that flush out your past accomplishments and potential for future greatness. A sound interview is essential in writing the document.

Writing the document

Good résumé writers won’t rely on a résumé template, as each client is different. But generally there are five major sections they’ll address in order: Headline, Summary, Core Competencies, Experience, and Education. In some cases, Volunteer Experience, Hobbies and Military History are included.

1. The Headline is a section that can tell résumé reviewers your value by your title and areas of expertise. This might be enough for the reviewer to put your résumé in the “must-read pile.”

2. The Summary should be concise, yet deliver an immediate impact. The résumé writer will suss out, in three or four lines, the value you’ll deliver to an employer. Take the following example:

Information Systems Department Director specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives. Budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources. Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.

3. In the Experience area, the résumé writer will take painstaking efforts to turn your duties into accomplishments. Here’s one example:

Used Lean methodology to increase productivity in a supply chain operation.

The résumé writer will push you to provide an accurate quantified result to make the accomplishment statement more impressive. Executive Résumé Writer, Adrienne Tom, and other executive résumé writers suggest front loading the statement with the quantified result. For example:

Increased productivity 80%—over a 3-month period—by employing Lean methodology in supply-chain operations. Acknowledged by CEO for this achievement.

4. Education section. You earned Magna Cum Laude in university. As a résumé writer, I would strongly suggest you include it in this section.

Follow up

Some résumé writers ensure their clients’ résumés contain the proper keywords to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). The résumé writer might invest in a program like Jobscan.co, which offers a premium account for Career Coaches and résumé writers.

For a nominal fee, the résumé writer would scan your résumé against job descriptions, ensuring the tailored document would have a chance of being seen by human eyes.

The résumé writer might include a certain number of emails as follow up, either free or for a small fee. I encourage my clients to reach out to me with any questions they have after their résumé is complete. The same applies to their LinkedIn profile.

The résumé is one piece of the job search

Any résumé writer will not guarantee that their clients land a job based on the résumé alone. There are many facets of the job search to consider. Here are a few.

Let’s talk about networking

To some job seekers, “networking” is a dirty word. Either they’ll begrudgingly do it or won’t do it at all. This is a shame, because networking has proven to be the number one way find a job. Some sources put the success of networking, if done alone, between 60-80%.

Networking is a great way to get your résumé in the hands of the decision maker. After applying for a position online, you should have someone within the company hand-deliver your résumé to the hiring manager, VP, or anyone of influence.

This was the case with one of my clients who gave his résumé to a neighbor that worked at his desired company. The neighbor delivered his document to the hiring manager of the department in which my client wanted to work. He was asked in for a number of conversations, until he was hired.

We hear of too many people who shotgun hundreds of their résumés online and then wait for the call for an interview. They wait and wait and wait some more.

Those who network are the ones who take their job search into their own hands. They approach companies of interest, get known by said companies, and find themselves in legitimate interviews.

Interviews get people jobs

A great résumé will get the attention of HR, recruiters, and hiring managers. But it will not secure a job offer on its own merit. Performing well in multiple interviews and what follows lands the offer.

Further, a strong résumé increases your negotiating power. Full of relevant accomplishments, your résumé tells employers a portion of your worth.

Of course a résumé alone won’t aptly express your worth. You must be able to sell herself to employers by reiterating your 1) ability to do the job, 2) wanting to do the job, and 3) being a fit in the company.

After the interview you must follow up with a thank you note for every person who interviewed you. Each note must be unique and delivered on time. A simple expression of gratitude isn’t enough; you must show you listened actively during the interview by mentioning an interesting discussion that occurred during the interview.

Going the extra yard

Astute job candidates will make the extra effort of bringing a portfolio of their work to the interview. Or they might bring a business plan of what they would accomplish within 30, 60, 90 days. Madeline Mann, creator of Self-Made Millennial, adds:

Instead of describing how you work, show it. Bring in a portfolio, build a project for the company, ask to share a presentation. In my career, I’ve only seen one or two people EVER go above and beyond like this in an interview.

This makes great sense. Wouldn’t you agree?

Convinced yet?

With all that the résumé writer must do to send the job seeker out into the wild, there still is much work for the job seeker ahead. The document the writer produces is of great value, but the rest of the job search can be of equal or more value. It all depends on how you look at it.

Executive Career Coaches, Austin Belcak and Sarah Johnston help people land jobs through the art of networking and power interviewing. Both of them would say the résumé is merely a piece of the puzzle.

So, given all the résumé writer does and what the job seeker must do upon receiving the polished document, why would a résumé writer only receive payment after a client lands a job. It just doesn’t make good business sense.

20 steps to take during your job search

How should the job search be conducted? Everyone has their own idea. In this article, I present my idea of the steps job seekers should take to secure a rewarding job. Hint, I don’t feel that writing/updating your résumé is the first step. I think there are variables to consider. 

job seeker balck and white

One thing for sure is that no two job seekers are alike; thus, no two job searches are alike. How you conduct your search is going to be different than the next person, so you might skip some of these steps or embrace all of them.

1. Forgive yourself

If you haven’t already forgiven yourself for being laid off, let go, or forced to quit, it’s not too late. You may be experiencing guilt, self-doubt, anger, and despondency to name a few. When I was laid off from marketing, I remember going through all of the aforementioned feelings. Now I think it was all wasted energy.

If you are having a difficult time forgiving yourself, considering seeing a therapist, especially if these destructive feelings are hindering your job search. Most health insurance policies cover mental health. Look into the health insurance you or your spouse is purchasing.

2. Take a short break

I advise a few days off after you’ve lost your job. You need time to get your head straight. Your emotions will be frazzled. There’s also taking care of your finances, e.g., applying for unemployment. You may want to catch up on medical appointments that you’ve put off because your were too busy while working.

However, if you’re newly unemployed, now is not the time to take a three-month vacation with severance your company gave you or vacation time you’ve accumulated. This will put you behind the eight-ball in terms of getting into the job search and showing a gap on your résumé.

3. Dive into your job search with gusto

Now that your break is over, it’s time to put a concerted effort into your job search. Determine how you’re going to conduct your job search. Make a plan or have someone help you create a sound plan for your search. Many job seekers make the mistake of searching for work online as their only means.

I advise my clients that the methods of searching for work that are most successful from best to worst are: face-to-face networking, attending professional affiliations, utilizing a recruiter or staffing agency, combining LinkedIn with face-to-face networking, and using job boards. You don’t have to use all of these methods, as you don’t want to spread yourself thin.

4. Let others know you’re out of work

As simple as this sounds, plenty of job seekers are reluctant to tell their friends, neighbors, relative, former colleagues, etc., that they’re out of work. Not only should you not feel embarrassed, you are missing opportunities to network.

Most people understand that people sometimes lose their job. It’s likely they have also lost their job. It’s a known fact that people want to help you, so let them. Give them the opportunity to feel good about themselves for helping you. Look at it this way.

5. Be good to yourself

You’ve heard of work/life balance. I believe there’s also job-search/life balance. In other words, don’t burn out during your job search. In a recent job club meeting, I asked the members what they did during the Christmas holiday. Many of them talked about making connections with valuable recruiters.

But the ones who also impressed me were the ones who said they took some time off to decompress, sprinkled in with some job searching activities. You must remember that there are other important aspects of your life, such as family, friends, and events that you otherwise would have put off.

6. Don’t play the numbers game

At times I have to remind job seekers of this destructive practice, where they will say, “In a month I’ll have been out of work for more than a year.” Obsessing over the time you’ve been out of work will hurt your morale and, therefore, your job search.

Everyone’s situation is different. Your friend who is searching for an entry-level position will most likely land a job faster than you, if you’re looking for executive-level roles. In general, the average time it takes to find a job is 26 days, but again this depends on level of position and demand for your position.

7Know thyself

It’s important to possess self-awareness, if you want to conduct your job search effectively. This means thinking about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What does this spell? SWOT. That’s right, do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

I have my attendees do a partial SWOT analysis in some of my workshops. I tell them to do a complete one on their own. You should write down 10 or more strengths, five weaknesses, three opportunities, and three threats. This will give you a better sense of what you can capitalize on and areas you need to overcome.

8. Take time to think about what you really want to do

All too often job seekers will settle for the next job that comes along. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. This stage in your life is a great time to reflect on what will make you happy.

If it’s a career change, think about how your transferable skills can make the transition easier, despite not having all the job-related skills. One woman I worked with had previously worked for Hewlett Packard in marketing. She joined our career center as a grant writer. Eventually she became the director of our Workforce Investment Board.

This article points out various self-assessments you can take to determine your interest.

9. Conduct some labor market research (LMR)

Now, you need to gather LMI on job availability, determining which skills are in high demand, and what salaries employers are offering.  One site that gives you a broad sense of your value in the labor market is Salary.com.

But the best way to gather LMI is by speaking with people in the know, who might include other job seekers or people who will grant you networking meetings, better known as informational interviews.

10. Create a list of companies for which you’d like to work

This is difficult for many people. The sharp job seekers understand the value of keeping a going list of 10 to 15 companies they research. This is also part of your LMR. Your research can tell you which companies are in growth or decline.

You also should identify important players in the companies, hiring managers, directors, VP, CEOs, etc. LinkedIn is ideal for identifying key players in your target companies. Networking is even better, providing you have the right connections.

11. Write your résumé and LinkedIn profile

Now it’s time to write your résumé. When others jump immediately to their résumé and LinkedIn profile, they’re flying blindly. They haven’t self-reflected, thought about what they want to do, and conducted their LMR.

To write your résumé right, you’ll write a tailored résumé for each job you can. A one-fits-all résumé won’t do it; it certainly won’t pass the applicant tracking system (ATS). Employers don’t want to see a grocery list of duties; they want to see relevant, quantified accomplishments.

Read this article to learn more about how to write your LinkedIn profile.

12. Networking is still your best method of looking for work

Approach connections who work for your target companies or people who know people who work for your target companies. Many job seekers have great success using LinkedIn to make connections at desired companies.

I strongly encourage my clients to attend professional association events, where they can network with people who are currently working. Those who are working might know of opportunities for you, or at the very least provide you with some sage advice. To find an association, Google your industry/occupation and your location. Here’s one I found for marketing.

15. Research, research, research

This part of your job search can’t be emphasized enough. One complaint I hear from hiring authorities is the lack of research candidates do. One hiring manager told me a person came to an interview and told the group that he was happy to be invited to (Company X), but he mistakenly called their company by the wrong name. Oops.

Be sure to research the position, company, industry, and even the people conducting the interview. Going to the company’s website is fine, but dig a little deeper. Read press releases and talk with people who work for the company at hand. One figure said 40% of candidates do one to five minutes of research before the interview.

14. Be prepared for tools employers are using, such as Applicant tracking systems (ATS)

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. However, for job seekers, it’s an impediment.

To be among the 25 percent that pass the ATS, you’ll have to write a résumé that is keyword rich. Unfortunately many candidates don’t know about the ATS and don’t optimize their résumés. Your best bet is to write keyword-rich résumés that are tailored to each job.

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

15. 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.

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

16. Telephone Interviews

Hardly new, the telephone interview is typically the first type of interview you will encounter to get to the face-to-face interview. The interviewer has two main objectives: getting your salary requirement and determining if you have the job-related skills to do the job.

However, you need to expect not only the aforementioned questions, but more difficult questions, such as situational and behavioral-based. Telephone interviews have also become more numerous. It’s not uncommon for someone to participate in three or more telephone interviews before getting to an in-person interview.

17. 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 in-person 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.

18. Video interviews

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.

19. Finally you make it to the big ball, the interview

Chances are you will have to interview in person with companies multiple times. Employers are being very selective because hiring the wrong person can lead to loss in money, time, and possibly customers. For this reason, you need to present your best self. First impressions do matter.

More to the point, the content of your answers need to answer one question, “What value can you bring to the employer?” Your experience and accomplishments have been stated in your written communications and during pre-interviews, but all needs to be reiterated while talking with interviewers.

Read this seven-part series on Nailing the interview process.

20. It’s not over until you follow up

All your good work goes to waste if you don’t follow up after a networking event; informational meeting; being invited to join someone’s LinkedIn network; and, of course an interview.

A thank you note is required after an interview. Not just a form note, but a unique note for each person with whom you interviewed. You had a group interview with four people, you send four separate notes. Try to make each special by mentioning a point of interest discussed during the interview. Yes, email is preferred.


One more: it’s never too late to volunteer

Look, I’m not trying to sell you out. It’s a proven fact that volunteering is an effective way to land a job. Consider these four reasons:

  1. You improve your skills or gain new ones. For example, you’re a webmaster and volunteer to revamp an organization’s website to learn ColdFusion.
  2. It is a great way to network. If you volunteer in the proper organization, you can make connections with vendors, partners, customers, and others in your industry.
  3. You’ll feel more productive. It’s far better than sitting at your computer for six hours a day applying online. As I tell my clients, get out of your house!
  4. It’s a great way to pad your résumé. Volunteerism is work, so why not include it in your Experience section.

Photo: Flickr, worldentertainments center

The plight of the long-term unemployed; how to overcome it: part 2

In part one of this article, we looked at the plight of the long-term unemployed (LTU). Part two will look at five solutions for the LTU for finding work.

unemployed

Find a support system

Isolation is a symptom of long-term unemployment which is hard to overcome. One of the people who contributed to this article, Doug, described the support he received from family and friends, some friends he developed during his job search:

I am fortunate in that way. I also have a strong base of family and friends that kept me motivated. Many of these friends I never knew until I got laid off. I met them through job clubs and networking groups and consider myself lucky to have found them. They truly understood what I was going through.”

Ofer Sharone, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, created a program at MIT, which matches volunteer coaches with the LTU to provide them support and advice. One of the many benefits the members of the group receive is being with other LTU who are in the same situation.

Bob, interviewed by Sharone, stated, “When you’re let go, you get discouraged, frustrated, disappointed, feel like a failure,” but Bob explained that the support he received helped him recognize “the positive things that I’ve done in my career and has helped me see that focus, keeping me aligned with what I can offer an organization, rather than what it was that I wasn’t able to offer.”

Network

Most people understand the importance of networking, but many people are reluctant, if not terrified of doing it. For the LTU, networking outlets can lose their appeal, as the forums are attended by the same people. I’ve attended networking events as a visitor or presenter, where I’ve seen people who seem to have been there a year ago. This is not due to a lack of effort on their part. They may have been victims of the LTU stigma.

The quickest way to earn a job is by being referred to a position by someone who is known and trusted by the employer. This is easier said than done; and for someone who has been out of work for more than 27 weeks, finding people to refer them can be a tall order. It is, therefore, essential that the LTU are able to promote themselves to people who are in a position to recommend them.

David never gave up on networking the two years he was out of work. “My landing was through networking,” he said. “Someone knew someone looking for my skill set – more importantly, that someone specifically recommended me. That built up, eventually, to a full-time position that, alas, was a finite one.”

Create a powerful résumé and LinkedIn profile

While the aforementioned solutions are important, a well-crafted résumé and LinkedIn profile are paramount to avoiding the “black hole” syndrome. Foremost a résumé needs to be tailored to each position for which one applies.

Secondly, the résumé and LinkedIn profile have to express one’s value through measurable accomplishments. All too many LTU insist on listing duty statements that lack quantified results. They’re very proud of what they’ve done, but neglect to demonstrate how well they’ve performed their duties.

It’s important that the older (50 and over) LTU do not exceed 15 years of work experience on their resume for the mere fact that it ages them. The goal of the resume is to get them to the interview. Once there, they can sell the benefits they offer as older workers.

Lastly, the résumé must get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), which approximately 98% of large-sized companies are using, more than 60% of mid-sized companies employ, and some small companies are outsourcing.

Having a strong LinkedIn campaign is also a key requirement for the LTU. Some sources state that between 87-94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent. Further, Approximately 40% of employers will immediately reject candidates if they don’t have a LinkedIn presence.

Perform well in interviews

As stated earlier, there is a bias against the long-term unemployed. Interviewers might be wondering why one has been out of work for six months. What’s wrong with them? Sharone acknowledges that in an interview this bias exists:

“We have age discrimination laws that reflect our belief that it is not okay for an employer to assume that just because you are 50-years-old, you’re not qualified or skilled anymore. I think the same thinking should drive policies that say we don’t think it’s a good idea for employers to make an assumption that just because you’ve been unemployed for six months, you’re not good or skilled.”

In all likelihood the LTU will be asked why they’ve been out of work for so long—many of my clients are asked this. A successful response to this question will rely on their honesty and conviction in their ability to succeed in the role they’ll be assuming. One of my clients, who had been out of work for more than two years, decided that saying she had retired was the best route to go.

Read this compilation of the stages of a successful interview.

Volunteer

As difficult as it may be to work for free, volunteering can be the best way to land a job. The reasons are simple: LTU are in a better place to network, they develop new skills, and it’s great fodder for their résumé.

What’s important when volunteering is to choose the right situation. Sure, volunteering at an animal shelter is great for the soul, but it isn’t the best place for a software engineer. A software engineer would be better off volunteering at an organization—most likely a nonprofit—where she can use and sharpen the skills she has. The best case scenario is finding a gig where one can learn new skills.

Treat yourself well

The final suggestion I have for the LTU is taking a break. Whereas some might think putting their job search in overdrive is the way to success, taking their foot of the gas pedal every once in awhile will help them maintain their sanity. My contributor, Doug, told me once when I asked how his week had gone that he took it off. My initial thought was, “The whole week?”

But it dawned on me that it was a good move on his part. The LTU can not underestimate the importance of physical and emotional wellness. Perhaps they should look at the job search more like a marathon than sprint. In the end, Doug landed a job. When it comes down to it, that’s the endgame.

This post originally appeared in Jobscan.co.

Is the résumé summary dead?

Once a staple of the job search, the résumé summary statement may be on its way out — or perhaps it’s already dead. There are two camps; one that believes the summary is alive and kicking, another that feels the summary has run its time.

tombsones

I’ve read many résumés that contain summary statements which are full of fluff and, in effect, say nothing at all. I’ve spoken to many recruiters and hiring managers who have told me they don’t even read summary statements when they come across them.

Recently, I posed a question about résumé summary statements to my LinkedIn followers — and I received a lot of responses.

Executive resume writer Adrienne Tom said she often considers leaving the summary statement off the résumés she writes.

“I think a lot of professionals feel compelled to share a summary which then comes out forced, with generic word choices,” Tom wrote. “Instead, a better strategy is to focus on value points. Share with the reader the ‘hows and whys’ (provide the proof), and word selection won’t matter as much.”

So, is the summary statement just wasted real estate now? Once a vital résumé component, the summary statement is, I fear, gradually losing the foothold it once held. What used to be a poetically written three or four lines of prose is becoming obsolete. It may soon be excluded from résumés altogether, simply because the people who read résumés don’t have the time for summaries.

I hope I’m wrong, because I do think summaries can be quite powerful. Consider this summary statement:

Information Systems Department Director specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives. Budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources. Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.

Does this summary say enough? It illustrates the candidate’s value with quantified results and should generate interest in the reader. It’s brief, and there’s no fluff.

But not all of my esteemed colleagues agree that summaries add value. As mentioned above, I recently asked professional résumé writers and recruiters whether they thought the summary is dead. Here’s what a few of them wrote:

“I have my candidates compose what I like to call a ‘career highlights’ section: just a bullet-pointed section of some actual career accomplishments. It catches the potential employer’s attention immediately. I feel objectives/summaries are just antiquated in a job market that is currently flooded with candidates.” — Adrienne Roberts, Branch Manager, Robert Half

“Are they on their way out? No — they have already left. Most hiring professionals will tell you that the summary, at least in the US, is an ignored piece of fluff, better left off to make room for the information they need/want to know.” — Sarah Douglas, G.C.D.F

“I feel that summary statements are still an essential component of a résumé. However, I am looking for qualifications and hard data, not fluff about perceived skills. If you can quickly read about relevant experience, results achieved, number of direct reports, and so on, then the soft skills can be explored further in the interview.” — Judy Hojel, CEO, People and Performance Training Pty, LTD.

“No, a well-written summary statement is a must on any resume. It brings together the many details of your achievements and education to focus the employer on exactly how you fit the job position. It gives one a big-picture view, with the detail to follow [in the rest of the resume].” —  Jay Barrett, Human Resources Executive

“A poorly written, anemic summary section (especially one that is basically just a string of keywords) does nothing to differentiate the job seeker. Such prime real estate gives a candidate the opportunity to concisely lay out their good-fit qualities, qualifications, and ability to meet specific needs of that specific employer. A well-written, targeted summary will stand on its own on the résumé. As well, it piques interest, and compels the reader to continue reading down the page.” — Meg Guiseppi, Executive Resume Master

As you can see, opinions vary on whether the summary statement is on its way out. I, for one, hope it remains a vital resume component — but I also agree with Adrienne Tom. The summary must provide proof of one’s greatness. Otherwise, there’s no use in having one.

What do you think? I’d love to read your comments.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, aninwardspiral

 

Apply for some jobs already! 5 reasons why you’re not applying.

And what you should do about it!

It’s called paralysis by analysis. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, or even suffered from it. I have. Suffered from it, that is. This is when you’re caught up more in the process than achieving the goal. No, this is different than procrastination. This is the inability to act.

Man from recruiter

I see it in the resource room of the career center for which I work. A person sits down in the morning; opens their résumé on a computer to revise it; and when I walk by at the end of the day they’re still revising the same résumé, their eyes bloodshot. I ask nicely, “Are you applying for jobs?”

“Not yet,” he replies. “I’m waiting until my résumé is perfect.”

“You’ve been here all day working on the same résumé.”

“I want it to be perfect.”

One time I must have been heard throughout the career center as I raised my voice at one person, “Apply for some jobs already.” I was being playful, but I also meant it.

Another person is doing such a great job of networking. He is meeting people for coffee or lunch, going to networking events and buddy groups. This has been going on for weeks. I ask him where he’s applied.

“I want to make sure I apply to the right companies,” he says. “I’m trying to get a sense of their culture.”

“Great,” I reply. “But you need to start applying. Apply on line.” And I hate saying this, because to me applying online is equivalent to throwing chumline in the ocean and waiting for fish to surface.

These are but a few examples. It could be trying to make their LinkedIn profile perfect before sending invites to people, asking for recommendations, or engaging with their network. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

Are you suffering from paralysis by analysis? Here are a few reasons why you might be, as well as some advice on how to move forward:

You’re shell shocked

Losing a job is a terrible blow to your psyche, even if you weren’t to blame. Additionally you’re wondering how you’re going to pay the bills. What will working again be like, you wonder? It might be 15 years since you last engaged in the job search. A lot has changed since then. This is a scary prospect.

What to do

I’m not going to say, “Get over it.” But I am going to say, “Take some time—a week or two—to realize that the more you’re out of work, the longer it will take to find employment. Understand that:

  • this is temporary,
  • it happens to many people,
  • it’s natural to feel despondent,
  • there is help from your One-Stop career center and a therapist, if necessary.

Writing résumés has changed over the past 15 years

The way résumés are written has changed. Recruiters want to see accomplishment statements, with quantified results. The applicant tracking  system might not have been used by organizations, as well.

What to do

Don’t be obsessed with writing your résumé; however, make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • shows value with accomplishments,
  • is tailored to each position,
  • is readable with short paragraphs and plenty of white space,
  • doesn’t exceed 15 years of work history,
  • finds itself in the hands of the hiring manager, as much as possible.

Networking is key

Most companies want you to apply online or go through recruiters and staffing agencies, but you’re more likely to get better results by getting your resume in the hands of the hiring manager directly. Most companies prefer to hire job seekers through referrals from people they know and trust.

What to do

Despite what most people think, networking events aren’t the only activities that constitute networking. Look at networking as connecting with people everywhere. Your neighbors, relatives, friends, store owners, dentists — essentially everyone can be a valuable networking connection. Make sure to reach out to former colleagues and supervisors who can act as references. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Social media plays a large role in the hiring process

In today’s job market, you have to be cognizant of your social media image. According to a 2014 survey, 94 percent recruiters look for and vet talent on LinkedIn. Four years later, the number may be even higher. Employers are also checking you out on Facebook and Twitter to dig up any dirt that may disqualify you from the running.

What to do

First of all, LinkedIn will not land you a job by itself. It is a supplement to your face-to-face networking events. However, it can be very helpful if used properly. Like your résumé, don’t dwell on trying to make it perfect. There are two other components that make your LinkedIn campaign a success—growing your network and engaging with your connections.

The interview process is longer

You might have to endure as many as five telephone interviews before multiple face-to-face interviews. The types of interviews you will participate in could vary, including Skype, Zoom, group, and, of course, one-on-one.

What to do

Go with the flow. It’s a known fact that employers dread hiring the wrong person because it’s costly and embarrassing. It may seem like they’re looking for the purple squirrel, so be patient and persistent. Most importantly, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Some job seeker tell me they’re only applying to a couple of companies, because they’re the ones. Apply to the right companies, but have a list of at least 10 companies for which you’d like to work.


If my clients think I want them to scatter their résumés around the state, they’re wrong. All I’m asking is that they don’t spend more time doing nothing than doing something. Yes, they should recover from their trauma…or fake it til they make it. They need to connect with people in their community. The interview process, and the methods employers are using, is taking longer.

One thing we all an say for certain is paralysis by analysis is real and detrimental to your job search.

Photo: recruiter.com

__________________________________________________________________________

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. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. For enjoyment, he blogs at Things Career Related. Follow Bob on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

Avoid résumé obsession by following these 6 rules

I’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 but stressed it needed to be tailored to each job.

obsessed-with-your-resume

He also needed to tighten up his writing, pay attention to typos, and avoiding 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.

I sent comments back to him, ending it with, “Ready to go.” He sent me two more updates, each containing minor changes; not much had changed. There was not much I could add.

He was 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 six 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 branding headline with a concise, yet grabbing Performance 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 letters that grab 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, adding “experience trumps education any day.”

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 when you can; rather than applying online and taking your chances with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Note: one product I swear by to determine the effectiveness of keywords on your resume is Jobscan.

5. LinkedIn is part of it. Whether you like it or not, it’s time to get on board 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) by not advertising their jobs; rather they reach out to you to have you come in for discussions first..

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 sections and recommendations you can display on your profile that you might not on your résumé. There must be a harmonious marriage between the two.

6. Just get it out. I know this sounds odd coming from a person who writes and reviews résumés. “Are you suggesting I send out an imperfect product?” you’re wondering. Well, yes if it’s holding you back from getting a job that’s available.

All to often I see clients in the career center for which I work spend too much time trying to make their resume perfect. Days, weeks, months go by before they’re “ready to send it out.” Don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say. Because while you’re doing this, opportunities are disappearing.


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