Tag Archives: resume

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:


  • 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!


5 Networking Sites to See!

siteseeMost of you know the major social networking sites (Facebook®, LinkedIN®.) Well, there are a few out there you may not know about that are starting to emerge as viable networking places (membership, hits, growth, etc.) even though they may not be what you would think as a social network. If you aren’t on or visiting these, you should check them out and get on at least a couple. By the way, I am not compensated in any way by listing these sites, these are unbiased opinions I am rendering. I have put a short description and rated them on certain criteria important to me on a scale of 1-5 (1 being the worst, 5 being the best.) These are in no particular order.

  1. Plaxo. Has been around a while. Started out as a web based contact management site but has morphed into more of a true networking one.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 4
    Ease of setting up a an account: 4
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches: 4
    Depth of contacts: 4
    Value Groups feature on site: 3
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 5
    Overall Job Seeker value:
  2. Spoke. They market more to the B2B crowd, but for the job seeker truly using networking, it is a powerful resource to get directly to your potential boss.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 3
    Ease of setting up a an account: 4
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches:4
    Depth of contacts: 4
    Value Groups feature on site: 3
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 5
    Overall Job Seeker value:3
  3. Jigsaw OK, so Jigsaw doesn’t fit in the classical definition of social networking site (if there is such a thing), but it meets my criteria in that you put your info up there and find info on others. It is a definite business lead generation site more than a job seeker one, but like Spoke, it has its value to savvy job seeking networkers. It’s like an old fashioned business card swap. You actually earn points (and thus access) to other peoples’ direct contact info (phone number email, etc.) if you contribute to the site’s database of contacts. The bad news is that the “free” component is pretty limiting, which isn’t great for people out of work.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 1
    Ease of setting up a an account: 4
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches:4
    Depth of contacts: 5
    Value Groups feature on site: 1
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 3
    Overall Job Seeker value:3
  4. GoBig Network I personally love GoBig. Again, not a classic social networking site. They were built with the start-up entrepreneur in mind and that’s what the site is geared to (start-ups seeking funding and funders seeking investments), but they list jobs with these companies that pay in money and promises (equity). If you like the start-up environment and are not risk averse, this could be a treasure trove.
    Value of “free feature” vs. having to pay for account upgrades: 5
    Ease of setting up a an account: 5
    Ease of Navigation/accuracy of searches:5
    Depth of contacts: 4
    Value Groups feature on site: 3
    Spam factor (do you get a lot of spam from company to upgrade, etc.): 5
    Overall Job Seeker value: 4
  5. You tell me! Is there one that you feel is great from a job seeking, networking perspective that you want to share?I know there are ones I don’t know about, maybe they are for a certain industry and that’s OK. Send me the website and I will review. I will post the ones I like in the near future.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing, and salary negotiation.

Two-Face book

networkFBObviously I am not the first to weigh in on the pros and cons of using social networking sites like Facebook ®, etc. I was actually late to the party getting on FB because I thought it was more for the much younger crowd, but it has become quite a useful tool for me to re-connect with people and also to get the word out about my business and blog and has yielded rewards.

I am much less an “open networker” on FB than on LinkedIN®, since LI is strictly business focused. I don’t accept friend requests from I people I don’t really know. I keep my info fairly private.  Even though I try to be as private as possible on personal info, I still need to be cautious as to the content that I have up on FB. I still treat it like a business site, but with more of the “after work at the bar with co-workers” flavor. I proudly post about family and the stuff going on personally.

I don’t need to go into too much detail on why you need to be careful as to what you post about yourself and what your friends post about you. Just know that even if you keep your profile exclusive to just friends, prospective employers who are good at finding info on FB will be able to find an avenue to get to that information.

My best advice is not to post any photos that could call your character into  question. The picture of you doing keg stands from a party back in college is an example. Although most employers understand that everyone had their indiscretions during college, unless it is clearly obvious there is some time between now and when the incriminating picture was taken, err on the side of caution. This is not going to solve the problem completely. Most of you know that friends who have pictures on their site that you are in can “tag” you within the pictures. Simply meaning they can indicate within the picture caption and by mousing over your face in the picture your complicity in bad behavior. In your settings you can control this to ensure that you are if you are tagged in someone else’s FB site, you can remove it.

Other things to keep in mind if you choose to be more public about your FB profile and are job searching:

  • Try to be as apolitical as possible – if you have causes that are near and dear to your heart, that is fine but if there are things that would paint a picture of you being particularly hardcore in any political direction you may want to think twice about being so open. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but that also includes the people who may be hiring you for a job so remember that while they can’t explicitly say they don’t want you because of your political views, it still may happen
  • Try to optimistically flavor your FB postings. If you are currently employed, don’t use it as a profane soapbox about your current boss or company. Focus on the good things in life and your ambitious, upstanding character who has an incredible work ethic
  • Don’t be afraid to put it out there that you are looking for a new career (unless you are currently working and this could jeopardize things in your current job of course.) Be specific on what you are looking to do. Try to briefly underscore the skills you have. Often times, friends and friends of friends may see this and think of you for an opportunity in a particular job or industry you never thought of, but you may be very qualified for and could be a job you end up loving
  • If you have a blog about something in which you are a subject matter expert, make sure you push the posts to your FB page
  • Have a handy link in your profile to your resume
  • Network, Network, Network. See who your friend’s friends are and if you see someone who you know works at a company you are interested in, ask them for an introduction
  • See if there are any groups out there that would benefit your search (people who do the same job or worked for the same company as you) You can find members there to network with

There is so much more information out there. Here is a link to an article from Slate that I found pretty comprehensive.

Next post we will talk about the top 5 “social business networks” you should be on that you probably never heard of.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing, and salary negotiation.

Networking using LinkedIn®, part 2 of 2

pic_logo_119x32 2

OK, so last time we spoke about setting up your LI account and basics you need to get going. Today, we will talk about some basic hints on using it to find a job.

We will assume you have gotten some recommendations and have made connections to whomever you can. One thing I didn’t get into last post was “open networking”, because I didn’t want to confuse the basic process to making connections. I am an open networker. This means I choose to allow people to contact me or connect without having to have a prior relationship.  As a recruiter and businessperson, this makes a lot of sense for me to do. This is something you may want to do, but it will definitely increase the amount of time you need to spend on LI and will also get the word out much quicker that you are on the job march. The other thing is, depending on how many connections you amass, you may get lots of introduction requests.

An introduction is this: a connection of yours sees on your connection list someone they would like to get in touch with. If they have a business account, they can request a formal introduction through LI, and you can choose whether to forward or not (you don’t need to have a paying account to forward). This all assumes you choose to make your connections visible. I have no opinion either way, it is all a matter of personal choice but this is a networking site, so the whole purpose of networking is sharing who you know so that’s why I choose to show mine. My rule for forwarding is if you ask me to do this, don’t just send a request without some context as to why you would like to speak with them. Massive intro requests without reason should not be forwarded.

OK, back to your reason for being on LinkedIn. Make sure when setting up your account you also indicate in your profile you ARE looking for career opportunities. It doesn’t stop me from contacting people as a recruiter because it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t looking, but some people set up their searches to find people who explicitly say this. You may not be looking but someone you know with similar skills may be and you may be a referral.

Like your resume, when things change in your career life, make sure you reflect that in your profile: new training, a contract position while looking for a permanent role, etc. LinkedIN is excellent at getting to the top of search rankings, so it is a great way to be found, which is why you need to keep it current.

Lastly, don’t wait for potential employers to come to you. Go to them. LI has 2 types of job postings and the distinction is important:

  1. They have paid job listings posted on LI’s site that usually tell you who is leading up the hiring
  2. They also pull jobs from other boards and company job sites on the web through SimplyHired®, these are not directly correlated to a LI member

You can do a hybrid of traditional job search and networking here. If you see a posting on LI (#1 from above), see who is posting it and find out how you are connected to them and do the necessary networking to get yourself to the front of the line. Again, people like to see well-recommended candidates, so make sure you have at least a couple of recommendations up there too.

If you see a posting that interests you from category #2 above, search the company on LI to find out people from that company on LI that you could be connected to through your network. LI published a nice page on how to do this.

Some colleges teach courses on LI so there is no way I can detail all the benefits here. A lot you will learn by just familiarizing yourself with the site. If you have a specific question, please contact me. I am also available for phone consultations (sorry, not free 😦 ), but special consideration given for those not working.

Next post we will talk about Facebook® and the ups and downs about using it for job searches.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing,  and salary negotiation.

A good article on Social Networking to get a job

I will be back to blogging about networking using LinkedIN® on Monday, but I had come across this article in U.S. News & World Report about leveraging networking to get a job. Happy reading!

Networking using LinkedIn®, part 1 of 2

pic_logo_119x32Most people have heard of LinkedIn® (LI) and may even have an account. What I want to discuss today is if you are looking for a job and don’t have a LI account (a basic account that is free is all you need), get one. If you have one, some easy things to make it work better for you.

First, a brief (well, we’ll see about that) history of LI. It started out as a business to business networking platform where people selling products and services could connect to people needing said products and services by leveraging their “connections” (people also on LI that you officially connect to – business acquaintances, former colleagues, friends & family, etc. You send a request to connect and they decide to accept or not or they request to you to connect.) The thinking is that these connections know folks who may be potential customers of yours and can provide anything from a simple intro making an otherwise “cold” call a little warmer all the way to setting the foundation for putting together a bona fide business deal. It probably still does this today to some extent, but I believe the larger part of LI’s activity is around recruiting. Using the same principles of the business deals, it is a way of connecting potential employees to employers/recruiters in a less intrusive way than traditional “headhunting.” This is why you need to be on there and be current in your profile.

After you have created an account, the first thing I suggest you do is have your resume open too. You want to replicate your resume history back about 10 years or however long it is relevant to the jobs you are looking for today. You needn’t be as granular in LI as your resume. A one or two sentence “snapshot” will suffice, more of a teaser than the whole story. If you work with any specific technologies that make you very valuable, do mention those in the LI profile. It will help people find you in keyword searches.

After your profile is set, you can do a few things that will connect you to people hiring:

  1. There is a place in your profile to put website links. Make sure you have a resume online for someone to click to. You don’t need to pay web hosting charges to do this. Get a Google account, upload your word resume to Google applications and hit a button that says “publish to the web” and you have created an online resume. It will have  bizarre URL with a lot of mumbo jumbo characters, but just copy that URL into your websites listings (you can have 3 i think), and simply name it “my resume”. Recruiters will click right to it without needing to know the long URL. Alternatively, LI has a 3rd party application you can add called box.net. You can create file cabinets right in your profile and assign who can see them and who can’t. You can upload your resume in its native state there.
  2. Connect. Connect. Connect. Search all the companies you worked for or did business with, where you went to college, friends and yes even family. As long as you A. Have an email address of these people or B. can show you worked with them in some capacity you can request a connection.
  3. Get “pre-qualified”. One great thing about LI is it allows people to write recommendations for you that outline where you worked with the endorser and in what capacity (co-worker, did business with, superior, subordinate, peer from different group, etc.) Ask your connections to write a recommendation for you. Recruiters love this. They can quickly assess your strengths. The more the better, as long as they are well balanced. Generally 80% of people you ask to recommend you will do it. Not that the other 20% think you are a slouch, but they just don’t have time or forget to do so. That’s why the more you can request, the higher your yield will be. You will have the opportunity to review the recommendation prior to it going on your profile so you can ask for any changes or modifications or even choose to use at all. Also, reciprocate any recommendation! They took the time to endorse you, so return the favor.

OK, there is a lot more ground to cover, but I will stop there for now. Next post will be about proper care and maintenance of your LI profile and utilizing the LI groups feature.

Bill Meirs is the Managing Principal with the Church & Palfrey Group, a search firm specializing in Technology and Sales Searches. Bill has 11+ years experience in corporate and agency environments. He frequently consults companies and individuals in the areas of talent acquisition, recruitment process improvement, recruitment advertising and branding, resume writing,  and salary negotiation.

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)


7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 7 – Job Board resumes

Make sure you renew or refresh your resume every week so it gets to the top of the search results. Usually in Monster, there is a renew function. If you make changes that usually does it too.

If you are actively searching, this is a must. If you are passive, just make sure every month or so it is updated if things change.

Often, people ask me if it is dangerous to have your resume posted on Monster and the like because you will reveal to your current employer that you are looking, even though you may not really be – and that is the reason why you should have it on there.

One of the disadvantages of the employer/employee relationship is that as an employee, you are expected to give a minimum of 2 weeks notice when you are leaving your job. Conversely, the employer can terminate you without any notice. And this is the basis for your response if confronted by your employer about your resume being posted.

Most reasonable employers will understand if you say, especially in this economy: “While I am happy here, and not actively looking, I need to be prepared to engage my job search quickly should conditions change here.”

If you still feel that that won’t satisfy your employer, there is another way. When employers scan job boards to find their employees to identify potential flight risks, they almost always search by their company’s name. What you can do to somewhat protect yourself (caveat: this isn’t a 100% guarantee, since sometimes they will search by name if they feel you are disgruntled) if you make your current employer confidential. Making your name confidential will probably not work since they search by company and can usually triangulate to who you are by your title, duties, past jobs, etc.

Remember, it is perfectly fine to have your resume out there whether you are happy or not. You just need to be prepared for the reactions.

OK, so those are my tips. PLEASE comment on if you thought they were useful or NOT. Any other suggestions, and if you would like a 1 page synopsis of these, please let me know and I will send it to you in PDF form.

For the next few posts, I am going to answer specific questions from readers. I have a bunch in queue, but please send more. I will promise to answer on this forum or directly if not.

Now that your resume is the better for my tips, happy job hunting!

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 6 – Brevity

Today, the discussion is on brevity and so I will try to lead by example.

The Basic rules:

  1. In writing your resume, be as brief as possible (if you can keep to 2 pages without going to less than 10 point text that is ultimate) Don’t write one more word than you have to.
  2. Don’t go back more than 15 years of your career unless it is necessary to demonstrate your qualifications or if you worked somewhere 20 years (of course)
  3. If you start going down memory lane in your resume about jobs you held that have nothing to do with what you do now – get off at the nearest exit! You are making your resume too long for no good reason.

Some exceptions:

If you are a career consultant and have had many “projects”, it can get quite long- and that’s OK. My suggestion is to not do a chronological resume, but more of a summary by whatever seems most logical: Industry, role, function, etc., so it is more organized and readers can skip to the relevant parts.

If you have a career that is highly specialized, you probably need to get more in the weeds about duties and accomplishments (remember, these are just as important.)

The way to see if your resume is too long is to do what I call the “glaze” test. Give it to someone (who will be objective) and observe them as they read your resume. When you see their eyes start to look glazed over or all of a sudden start reading incredibly quickly and basically skim the last page or pages, stop them there. Ask where you started to lose their interest or the resume went off topic. It will be a good barometer for gauging the length.

OK, so in summary err on the side of Cliff Notes as opposed to War and Peace and you will be good.

Next Tip: resumes and job boards

7 Easy Tips for writing a good resume – Tip 5 -Spelling, Grammar and Style

It should be a no-brainer, but I can’t stress it enough. I know many recruiters and hiring managers who will throw out a resume at the first typo, regardless of people’s qualifications.

Is this unfair? I have to say unequivocally maybe :-). I practice the “Typo Mulligan” approach. If an otherwise well qualified, well written and clean resume with not a lot of verbosity is what I am seeing, I will give a Mulligan for a minor typo. If you however spelled your name, contact info, company name or occupation wrong, those are show stoppers. NEVER EVER SCREW THOSE UP. Obviously, certain jobs there is no room for errors (prufreeederz, etc.), but there is no excuse really for any resume to be typo-laden. It smacks of lack of attention to detail and a less than serious effort in your quest for a new career.

Write it, run a spell/grammar check, read it again because sometimes you accidently put in the wrong replacement word in spell-check. Print it and read again. Have a friend or family member read it as if they didn’t know you and were interviewing you. Sounds like overkill, but trust me it will benefit you to do this.

As far as style… Reflect the type of job you want in your styling and font usage. Job seeking is serious business – make it known you take it as such. Avoid “cutesy, playful” fonts and lots of over styling (lots of shadows, bolds, outlining of text when not necessary) If you aren’t a graphic designer don’t try to be one in your resume – conservative is the best approach. Surprisingly, you will find that graphic designers have the most elegant and cleanest designed resumes.  Making the layout easy to read gets it noticed and moved up the hiring chain.

Lastly, I will speak a little more about brevity/length in the next post, but if you are a college grad or don’t have much experience, don’t use unusually large fonts and triple spaces and whatnot to fill your page. It’s OK to have a short resume, sometimes that is what the company is looking for. The bulking thing does not work and is the equivalent of using steroids in sports…big risk for small rewards (I know that’s a stretch but I thought the comparison was funny.)

Next Tip: Brevity (I will try to be brief on this post)