Category Archives: resume writing

Get your job search tools sharpened!

So, you have your workspace and basic job setup well in place. Now you have to start sharpening the tools at your disposal and create some structure:

Resume:

  • If you have not updated your resume and have done a good once over to make sure it is relevant, articulate and compelling… do so now!
  • Have someone you feel would be an impartial judge critique
  • Proofread it again… and again!!
  • If you are looking for positions that have distinctly different “flavors” (e.g. Manager vs. Individual Contributor) make sure you have a resume that is laser-focused on each area instead of one that shows you as more of a generalist unless it makes sense to do so (you may be targeting smaller, start-ups where a jack or jill-of-all-trades may be more desirable)
  • Same as above for cover letters, have one for each instance ready. Your process will become much more streamlined and efficient  if you can keep the “customization” of covers to a minimum

Job Boards:

  • Make sure your new resume and covers are synced up to your job board profiles
  • Create job agents. These are automated searches the job boards will do for you based on your desired jobs and keywords and email you on a daily or weekly basis
  • Dead horse beating time: LinkedIN is a JOB BOARD too! Get an account if you haven’t yet. If you do, get your profile updated and start connecting. I should be on their payroll!

Goal Setting:

  • Figure a reasonable amount of jobs you want to apply for per day. Don’t fire off resumes willy nilly to every job that remotely looks like a fit. Then again, make sure you are applying enough to make it a numbers game – odds go up the more places that see your resume. If you are doing 6-8 hours a day, I would set a reasonable goal of 5-6 applications a day. This will give you the proper time to research the company and role to see if it is something you truly would like to do. It also lets you craft a well thought out, brief cover letter since you already have the templates
  • Network, Network, Network! Sort of like the equivalent of Location, Location, Location in real estate. Folks, this is your quickest path to your next job. Job boards serve a purpose but they are a supplement to networking. One of the most effective tools in your “swiss army knife” is the people you know. They will know someone or someone who knows someone who needs you!
  • Follow the 50-25-1 rule. What does this cryptic sequence of digits mean? This is a good networking rule of thumb for job seekers (active or passive.) On a weekly basis, you need to do:
    • 50 Networking emails
    • 25 Network phone calls
    • 1 Face to face networking meeting (one-on-one or group), this can be an office meeting, a lunch, a dinner or quick cup of coffee at your place of choice…they all count!

I know these sound like rigorous goals. However, the more process-oriented, organized and disciplined in your job search you are, the quicker you can quit.

There is one other side benefit of all this work. Can you guess?

OK, I won’t keep you waiting. Don’t think of yourself as unemployed, think more like you are an athlete who is doing off-season training. The job seeker who maintains a work-like schedule and mindset will interview better and have a much easier transition back into the workforce. Make sense? Good!

NOW GET TO WORK!

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Setting up “Job Search Central”

searchcentralYes folks, job searching is serious business and needs to be treated as a job itself. Today, I am going to talk about the basics to start setting up your “job search office.”

First you need to start with some administrative tasks and then move to the more specific searching tactics. When you first find out you have this new “job”, some of the actions you need to take:

  • Make sure you have agreed on severance and your pay/severance has been properly settled (commissions and some bonuses may be not be settled at time of separation)
  • Make sure you have the proper paperwork to go on COBRA if you choose to do so (it is cheaper than it used to be)
  • Analyze your 401(k) if you have one. Make sure you have the proper information to log on to access your account. See how it is performing and understand how long you can leave it in the employer’s account if it is performing well. If you want to remove it from you ex-company’s plan, Fidelity offers rollover IRA’s for 401(k)s so that you are not penalized for withdrawal
  • Notify any personal contacts who used your company email that you have left and not to send email to you there  because it will dump into a catch-all account and you don’t know who will view it
  • Contact your network (LinkedIN, etc.) to let them know you are no longer working there and to please keep their eyes open for positions that may suit you. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, you are a little behind the game but you can catch up and obviously didn’t listen to my earlier post of social networking!
  • Review your resume and get it updated, spend some quality time on it so it reflects what you really want in your next job, I have many tips on this blog
  • Upload your updated resume to job boards. I recommend you should be on at least Monster and CareerBuilder. Technical folks need to be on Dice. Make sure all your contact information is current and your “years of experience” in your key areas of expertise are updated.

I know these things seem obvious but sometimes the stress and shock of being out of a job  can hinder your path to moving on to the job search.

Congratulations, you have got a lot done on your first day and that much closer to leaving this job! 🙂

OK, next post we will start to talk about the “game plan”.

Please Quit Your Day Job!

SLOUCHOne of the classic lines from Caddy Shack sums up the way I feel. This annoying thing called “work” has been consuming a lot of my time. The funny thing is while I have been lagging in my postings, my blog traffic stats have been consistent. Go figure. Sort of the story of my life, people are just as happy when I shut up as when I impart my pearls of wisdom ;-).

First, some housekeeping. My last post had all of you hanging on the edge because I mentioned my next post was going to address weighing the options of taking a job under the duress of impending parenthood. My apologies. I did respond to some people privately on this but I will give broad strokes on my feelings on the subject.

Everyone’s financial situation is different so I would never counsel anyone NOT to take a job just because they need the income immediately. However, if you are considering accepting an offer for a far less than desirable role, think about a few things first:

  • Can I wait it out a little longer (maybe after baby comes and be there 100% for my spouse) and then find the job I really want?
  • Will taking this job mean that I will have to be tied down to an office for 45/55/60 hours a week and can I commit to that with all that’s going on in my life?
  • Will taking this job take me far afield of my career path and may be hard to get back on because I will not be able to build the skills I need?
  • If I take this as a stop-gap measure and keep looking is this going to be an issue on my resume and how do I explain it? (Hint: Recruiters and Hiring Managers don’t look favorably on people who take jobs for the sake of having one and keep looking, it questions future loyalty and commitment although in this current employment climate you may get some leeway.)

Just some things to think about if this issue comes up.

Now, in my writing hiatus I have thought about many themes to speak about. One thing that’s has risen to the top is a result of the tough job market and that many people are in a long-term job searching process. So I am going to put together a series that allows you to structure your job search like a job, hence my clever posting title “Please Quit Your Day Job”. Get it, you would want to find a job so you can quit your job of looking for a job.

OK, I guess if I have to explain, it isn’t as clever as I thought.

 

Smile, you’re on Applicant Camera!

videoI happened to take part in a discussion with others in the recruiter/HR/career services world and the topic was about video resumes becoming the standard.

There was a definite strong opinion in one direction on this. Before I offer up my opinion and the general feeling of the discussions, I would like to get some feedback from you about it from both a job seeker and a recruiter/HR perspective. In addition to the poll, please also feel free to comment too. Please use the poll that most relates to you today. (If you are in the recruiting business but looking for a job, you may want to take both polls)

Thanks!

Nail your Interview!

greeninterviewI usually don’t plug other people’s services on this blog, but in these difficult times you need to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack when you interview. I have worked with Greg Chenevert for a few years now and have found him to be the most effective coach on all things related to communication.  He has worked to help all types of people improve their communications in the areas of sales, interviewing, networking, writing. Even political candidates who needed a better way of connecting with voters or senior executives who were having difficulty maintaining employees’ interest at company meetings.

Unlike other sales or business coaching techniques that prescibe one “true” method to achieving success, Greg’s method is totally customized to the person, group or company. He does this not only with teaching written and verbal communication techniques, but more importantly the non-verbal part that most people overlook or take for granted – and that is usually what trips them up. Greg also does all this in a light and easy manner so that you can really maximize retention of the information.

Understanding the economic times, he will offer some of his services gratis, and some for a fee. If you want to know more, please contact Greg directly at greg@randorimind.com. Or call 603 577 8817.

I have a couple of PDF’s about Greg’s services too:

career-genesis-details1

careergenesis_dist

Are you dating yourself out of a job?

interviewI guess this question could mean a couple things. I think the obvious one is about showing too many years of experience and thus potentially disqualifying yourself from consideration because the company is going for youth (not that they would ever say that because it is ILLEGAL) but we all know it happens.  That’s a discussion for another day – I actually have an interesting story about that from a personal experience as a candidate, but let’s table it for now.

What I am talking about is something less obvious and seemingly innocuous to most people who write their resumes. It is a HUGE RED FLAG for potential employers.

Dave from Washington State wrote me and asked: “I had a period of time where I changed jobs quite a bit, is it better for me to include in the start and end dates of my employment month and year, or just put the year as to not arise any suspicions of job-hopping?”

This is an interesting dilemma, Dave. The answer is easy. While you think that omitting the months will not arise suspicion, we in the resume scrutinizing business actually pick right up on this and assume you are hiding the truth. For those of you not sure what I am talking about, someone who worked at a job from December of 2007 until January 2009 might put they started in 2007 and left in 2009. This looks like a solid 2 year stint when in truth, it’s just a hair over a year.

Without reservation, I advise people not to do this. Most hiring people will see it and say: “this person in trying to hide something, what else are they trying to hide?” Most job hunters think: “well, let me get in the door and I can clarify things.” Nope, sorry. Yes, some people will overlook it if you are a dead on match to the job, but don’t roll the dice. Recruiters and hiring managers look at work history and other “non-technical” aspects of resumes as much as the skill match.

So, what’s the solution? If you feel like there is job-hopping concern, address it head on. One way is one or two sentences at the end of each job mentioned with a short and sweet explanation. [Company decided to outsource development to Khazikstan] or [Lost funding] or [was recruited for a better opportunity]. Don’t ever badmouth the company or your supervisor.

If you left under less than amicable circumstances, it obviously gets trickier. If it was performance related, and you felt it was unjust you can put something like [company and my career goals were going in different directions]. If it was because of criminal or “against company policy” actions that you are guilty of, I don’t have a good answer for that except coming clean with a separate document explaining how you have taken drastic measures to change your ways. We all make mistakes, some are forgivable to employers and some are not.

So, be up front about the exact dates you worked at a job. Most companies do background checks now and it will come out anyway. Employers are much more comfortable working with people who are up front with them and are usually more forgiving.

Thanks for your questions, if you have a question please email me.

Where you been?

Yes friends, it has been a while. I apologize, but some personal commitments had kept me away from blogging. I am now back in full swing and what is going on?

  • Went to Florida for 3 weeks with the family
  • Working to find great people for my clients at my search firm
  • Fielding many questions sent in by readers (I did respond personally so they weren’t waiting for this public forum with anxiety to answer their question 🙂

Starting tomorrow, I will begin to publish these Q&A’s . If you have anything you want to ask, please add it as a comment or email me and I will definitely respond offline and possibly in this blog (I won’t reveal anyone’s name in the blog unless you want it revealed).

Lastly, I need to mention that part of the gap in blogging was due to the sudden onset of cancer in my beloved greyhound Joey. Sadly, he passed away 2/23.  Anyone who knows me knows how big a part of my family Joey was, and the joy he gave us and others was truly a blessing.

If you are looking for a dog, I strongly urge you to consider adopting a greyhound, they make fantastic companions. You can check out Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA to find out more.