Archive for category Job Seekers

Just Go and Today’s Workplace

A recent Gallup survey found 70% of American workers are disconnected and are not working to their full potential. The article by Gallup on the survey stated this resulted in $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year and gave a number of suggestions for companies and managers to tackle the problem. But what about the employee? How much in lost bonuses, promotions, and success leading to new opportunities did they lose?

The majority of white collar employees are, in reality, in business for themselves. Increased output not only results in monetary gains through raises, promotions, or bonuses but also through new opportunity. The reward may not be as great as the entrepreneur but neither is the risk. Companies want to hire top performers and opportunity finds top performers. So although it is in part the responsibility of the company and management to motivate employees, from a career and monetary perspective, the truly successful are able to motivate themselves. Simple right? The problem is the gap in most US education has and will continue to be…Positive Thinking. Unless you played a sport and maybe were probably exposed to some locker room halftime speeches. To salespeople it is a necessity but to most other professions Positive Thinking education comes off as hokey and trendy. If you have not embraced it and are falling into the 70% of disconnected workers it is time to dig in…for your, your career’s/resume’s,your family’s, and your bank account.

Here is a quick Positive thought for the workday and it comes from a painter. We were having a house staged for sale and needed to freshen up the place. A friend recommended Jody but he had a regular 9-5 job and just painted on the side so he could only paint in the evenings. It was a big job and I was concerned he couldn’t get it done in the few hours he had every evening. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about…this guy was fast and did awesome work. I was amazed at how he could get done in a few hours what would have taken me days. After he finished and I was paying him I asked “this work is amazing, how did you get this done so fast?” His answer ” I just go, I don’t pause look back and survey my accomplishments and I don’t get aggravated by setbacks and spills…I just go” I know I’m amazed at how much I get done before I go on vacation or when I have a deadline. But it is not difficult to carry on that same attitude and dedication in the workday and “Just go” or in Nike’s famous ad “Just do it”.

Here’s a quick list my favorite authors and works:

Life & Work: Anthony Robbins, Larry Winget, Jim Rohn, Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, & Brian Tracy
Christian: John Acuff, John Maxwell, Norman Vincent Peale, & Joel Osteen
Classic: Earl Nightingale, James Allen, Napoleon Hill, and Dale Carnegie
Finance: Dave Ramsey or the books “Millionaire Next Door”, “The Wealthy Barber” or “The Richest Man in Babylon”
Sales: Zig Ziglar, Harvey McKay, and Jeffery Gitomer

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Your Career & Icarus

Old fables are still applicable to today’s hectic lifestyle. The Flight of Icarus has three great lessons to consider. Icarus had to leave the island of Crete knowing there was not a future for him there.

To grow sometimes you have to go. As we all reach those times with our job, it is time to go if we are going to grow. But it is difficult, you stand on the precipice wanting to fly but old habits and comforts of a place we have called home hold you back. Fly, it is a great feeling. I can recall walking out of one my old companies after turning in my resignation literally feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders…floating. Don’t be afraid to fly. One lesson.

Have great mentors. Icarus had his Father, Daedalus. Daedalus was a remarkable craftsman and wise man. He was a great Father also, he wanted something better for his son and knew that Crete could not provide that future. He helped him prepare for his journey and gave him great advice including “don’t fly to close to the sun”. But he didn’t listen and ended up in the sea which now carries his name, the Icarian Sea. Keep a core group of mentors, positive people who want you to be the best you can be so you know your path is the correct one. As a Recruiter I try to be that mentor, lifting people up to a new future. Lesson two.

Don’t fly to close to the sun. We all want to strive to be the best at what we do but don’t lose focus of what is important in life. If you are pushing to hard and it is costing you your health or your family it is time to level off. Don’t worry you are still flying, moving forward, but know your limits and take the time to catch your breath and enjoy to view. Don’t push to hard and enjoy the view. Lesson Three.

Let’s make today count!

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How to Slam Dunk a Difficult Interview Question

What is your biggest weakness? Oh snap…didn’t think that one through! Countless improvements you want to make to yourself pop in your head “I like to sleep in” “I haven’t been to the gym in weeks” or “I’m a danger to others on the golf course”. Of course, the answer has to be relevant to the job. Here are a few different ways to answer that question that you may have never considered.

A weakness that is actually a strength. Great candidates don’t take the easy route but a layup could still get you the job but if you are competing with a few others for the role you don’t want to make layups…you want to nail the 3 pointer with a great answer. What is the layup/easy route? Answers like “I care too much!” “I’m a perfectionist!” or the classic “I’m a workaholic!” Don’t get me wrong…answers like this may get you the job…as a cashier or barista. You have to know your audience which I will get into in more detail later in the article. Examples of interviews you can take the layup weakness answer are interviews with managers that are not hiring for a challenging/entry level role or are not the direct report for the role. As always, candidates that take the time and do their homework in the process will know their audience.

Now for the great answers…you must, as mentioned above, study up on the role, the company, and the hiring manager. You can shoot from the hip on these questions but luck favors the prepared. And don’t just state a weakness and leave it hanging out there…close on it with your ability to adapt, learn, or grow.

Your weakness is actually one of the reasons you are successful at your job. A couple great examples are “I don’t like being in the office” while interviewing for a Sales Role that takes a lot of travel OR “I don’t like work travel” for an Analyst role that is in the office 100% of the time. Just think of 180 degrees from your strengths. Most likely your guidance counselor did the same review when you were both meeting on your career…someone with SAT scores with high math (strength) & low verbal (weakness) in Engineering or high verbal & low math in Communications. Always close on the answer though… on why it is not going to be a problem and NEVER make a big deal about it “I CAN’T STAND doing paperwork” or say “I hate” instead…”I don’t like” or “I don’t enjoy”. Every Sales person has to spend some time in the office and every analyst has to travel for training a hiring manager will immediately screen someone who is a going to be a pain.

A weakness that is trainable. This is also a great opportunity for the “Compliment Close”. Examples are “I have heard great things about you and your ability to train & lead” or “I have great respect for your company’s expertise in this field”. Review the job description and your resume to look for clues. If there is a huge curve on the training you may want to avoid this route. This needs to be something you can quickly learn or learn in the natural progression of your career. An example is “Managing People” if you are interviewing for a role with no direct reports.

Call out the elephant in the room. This falls under trainable but it is a big issue or a long training curve. Under the requirements on the job description it lists “Must have experience with XYZ Account” for a Sales role or “Must have experience with XYZ software” for an Analyst role. You don’t have it but here you sit in the interview. If you applied through a posting it is probably for one or both of these reasons… either the candidate supply (either the market or candidates that applied for the job) is low or candidates that have the experience are too expensive (outside the salary parameters…ie you’re a bargain) so that company has to be flexible. If you are going to call out the elephant you have to able to tackle it and close on it. Examples of closes are; you supported the team/group that did, worked closely with someone who did, or worked on something similar. “I supported the team that called on the XYZ account when I was in my Sales Communications role”, “I was aligned with team that handled that account and gathered lot of information about the account from my peers” or “I have dealt with ABC software which has a lot of similarities to XYZ software and could quickly learn”

Overall the key to great interview answers is knowledge of your audience. This is attained by studying up in the role, the company, and the interviewers. Strengths and weaknesses are basic interview questions and you better be able to list both and why. Do the work and you can get the job!

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Candidate Limbo

Either you have interviewed or sent in your resume to an opportunity you a very excited about and now nothing is happening. No feedback, no contact for the company, nothing and it leaves you desperate for the least…closure. You have entered candidate limbo…so what can you do?
First off, let me pull the Band-Aid off quickly…no news is bad news. BUT there are a number of factors that could be at play and you still may be in consideration for the role. So all hope is not lost. Let us take a look at some of the possible situations and how to react. Most importantly, stay positive and focused. Although it is difficult not to be emotional your situation is not the hiring company’s concern. Their primary concern is getting the best person for the team.

You have just submitted a resume.

1. Are you being realistic? Are you truly qualified for the role? Do you have the majority of the requirements listed on the job description? If the answer is a resounding YES! Then work on getting your resume to a person that works for the hiring company. ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) and 3rd party job listings are notorious for over screening a resumes. If the answer is NO.. but I can learn! Companies today are much leaner that the major training companies of yesteryear. Most don’t have the capacity to train. If it is your dream job…get the training yourself. A candidate I know was screened for a role because he had no sales experience. He said “I’ll be back”…he quit his job took a 100% commission role selling insurance and listened to positive thinking & sales courses between sales calls. He came back a year later and he got the job. It can be done but training & certification is your responsibility…not the company’s.
2. Your resume needs work. A simple chronological resume listing your companies, dates, responsibilities, accomplishments (very important), relevant industry terms, experience, and college degrees & dates is best. There are some cases a non-traditional resume will work. Know your industry. If you are a video game developer something over the top creative might get you the job.
3. The job posting is outdated or not real. In the majority of postings are just left to expire even though they have been filled. Another situation may the company posted the job description even though an internal candidate was in the process or as a procedural “check the box” when the job opened up…with little need to source the candidate externally.

You have interviewed.

Follow up on the interview…always…it is your responsibility. For the company it is a courtesy, not an obligation, to inform you of your interview results and courtesy is hard to find out there today. Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball…there are numerous factors that could be at play. Here are a few.

1. You are further down the list. Interviewing is a skill and most have had little opportunity to practice. Be patient, things may fall in your favor over time. A lot could happen. The number one could take another role or receive a counter and turn down the job. They could have poor references, not pass the drug test, or criminal background check. Keep up contact but no more than once a week. Keep an upbeat tone and stay positive in your communication.
2. The job is on hold. Budgets, poor quarterly results, or restructures could be affecting the status of the role. Frequently hiring managers won’t inform you of the problems because it may affect your interest in the company. Not much you can do here but be patient and keep up contact. Send notes that are not only pertaining to the job but also to the company. If you see good news on the company or the industry copy the article to the hiring manager with a simple note “I hope all is well with you! I say this great news on the company!”. If you do this is it is VERY important to read the whole article before sending. Just because the title seems positive doesn’t mean there isn’t bad news in the text. Weekly for a month and then biweekly at most.
3. They hired someone else but didn’t tell you. Again not much you can do here. Time to move on or if you love the company keep an eye out for similar openings. If you are not getting communication from the company keep up on updates on the company on Linkedin and network with other employees to find out the result.

Overall, don’t take it personally, learn from your mistakes, be honest with yourself, and when the time comes…move on. Every failure is a learning experience. Did you just halfheartedly send in your resume to a posting or go into an interview unprepared? Try to be a better candidate…interested, enthusiastic, knowledgeable yet humble, affordable, informed, and most of all qualified. If the job description says “MBA required” and you don’t have one it might be time to commit to success and start working towards your goal of that dream job. There are “Rudy” stories out there so don’t give up…but do the work and don’t expect opportunity to fall in your lap. You can do it!

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10 Quick Career Tips to Start the Week

10 Career tips to Start the Week.

  1. Keep an updated copy of your resume handy.  You never know when there will be a restructure, merger, management change, or you get a call about the job of a lifetime.
  2.  Name your resume “Last_First” and not “Resume 2013” when saving.  The hiring manager won’t have to rename it when saving.   You won’t get mixed up in the files with other candidates that have gone with the “Resume 2013” title.
  3. Always put your name, email address, and phone number in the body of an email.  Don’t make it hard for a hiring manager to get in touch with you.
  4. If you are sending a resume to a job board posting be sure to use a simple copy of your resume.   No fluff…pictures, long objectives, or unorthodox resume structures.   There is a good chance your resume will be “inhaled” in to an ATS system (Applicant Tracking System).   A simple chronological structure is best. Clearly listing Companies, Titles, Dates, Experience, Responsibilities, & Accomplishments of each role and College, major, degree, and graduation dates.
  5. Follow up! Follow up on resume submittals, interviews, and conversations.   There is a fine line between good follow up and pestering a hiring manager.  A good rule is once a week and be confident, complimentary, and direct.
  6. Network.  Both virtually and in person especially with employees of companies you are very interested in joining.
  7. Be positive…always!  Never complain.   Don’t just smile just say you are totally “Happy, Happy, Happy” or they might not view you as a window shopper and not a viable candidate.  The new company and new role are better alternatives than your current role & company.  Compliment and close.  “You work for a great company & I would enjoy being a part of your team.”
  8. Build your resume.  Don’t stagnate.  Learn, grow, achieve.  If you can’t do it within your current company do it externally.
  9. Get a mentor or role model.  And don’t be critical, focus on their positives…you may end up needing a few.
  10.  Ask smart questions before and during interviews.  How? By studying the company, role, and interviewer.

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Shake Those Interview Day Jitters

Whether you are nervous about an interview or you just want to be sure you are on top of you game here are few tips to help you through.  First off, just about everyone gets a little nervous before a big interview so you are not alone.   Secondly, pat yourself on the back!   Your resume was picked out of many and important people are going to take precious time out of their day to talk to you. Find confidence in your performance in the process so far.  So now let’s get started on some steps to get you prepped for the big day.

  1. This is always the most important step of an interview.  Study, study, study!  Study up on the company by reviewing press releases, industry news, and their finances.  Study up on the role by comparing the job description to your resume and researching on Linkedin the backgrounds of people who are in or have been the same role.  Next study up on the people you will be talking with on the interview.  Linkedin again is a great resource but you can also Google them.
  2. Assume rapport.  Think back to every cocktail party or other social event you have attended.  Remember a time when you ran into someone in your field?  Remember how easy it was to talk with them?  We spend the majority of our day at work so it is a big part of the lives of everyone in the workforce.  The Interviewers are in your field and probably have started out at similar training companies and/or had a similar college major.   You will have more in common with the people you will be talking to that day than 90% of the people you run into on the street or at a non-business social event.
  3. Pump yourself up.  If you have positive thinking material or music that gets your spirits up listen to it beforehand.   If you are a religious person pray for strength and know that God built you to succeed.  Self-talk is another great tool.  You can fall back on your knowledge of the company, role, and people (you did step 1 right).  A quick example would be “I have done this and I can be a great asset to this company and the Hiring Manager’s team”.  If you are self-conscious, don’t be, look at Olympic athletes lips moving before a big competition…self-talk is a proven tool.
  4. Breath.  Take a few deep breaths before you walk in the door.  Focus on breathing with your diaphragm (your belly expanding instead of your chest).  If you are able to close your eyes and clear your mind.
  5. Joke about it.  If you are still feeling nervous, smile and joke about it and compliment them about their company in the process.  Example “I apologize I’m a little nervous I have heard great things about your company and I am excited about the prospect of working here”  Again everyone has been there…yes there are a few rock stars out there that haven’t but the majority of us have been through similar trials. You can also try this with the person at the front desk.  Sometimes they are one of the decision makers.  After you are through that day and the hiring manager walks you do the door they will turn around and ask “what do you think about him/her?”

These tips should help you through your big interview day.  Overall stay positive throughout the conversations…don’t ever talk negatively about a role, company, or boss, every set back was a learning experience, and every obstacle was a challenge you overcame.   Now do your homework!  Luck favors the prepared.

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Job Search Reboot

If you have been in the market for a while or just thinking of starting a job search here is quick plan for you.  I call it the 100-10-1 plan.  I should probably trademark it or include it in an ad slogan like Herman Kane. But hey, I’m just looking to spread the knowledge and help someone out.  Here you go… the 100-10-1 plan, let’s get started.

In this plan your targets are going to fall into three different buckets..Networking, Recruiters, & finally Job Postings.  You should have three separate resumes for these target groups.  When you network, you should be talking to the contact before sending the resume so you can send a more detailed copy (and you should ask..Do you want the one pager or detailed copy?).  If the Recruiter you are dealing with is an industry specialist you should send one with more detail than the one pager but not quite as much detail as the Network copy and again you can ask.  For Job Postings, you should have a one pager.  Here is the logic…when Networking you are usually one of one, through a Recruiter you are one of a few, and for a Job Posting you are one of many.

The 100-10-1 plan.  The basis of the plan is to send out a 100 are tracking send outs..there doesn’t have to be an opening…examples, a Network contact might be checking in their company for a potential role for you or you are getting on the radar of an industry Recruiter.

1. First put together a spreadsheet to track your progress…company, contact, date sent, follow up sent..etc.

2. Take your time and be honest with yourself…”Am I really qualified for this job or company?.

3. Don’t just sit down and send out a 100 through postings…they should be spread out evenly through the three buckets…Networking, Recruiters, & Postings

4. Every 10 resumes, circle back and follow up on the job or resume sendout..via email or phone.

5.  And lastly, interview for one job that you wouldn’t normally consider.  Interviewing is valuable experience and a lot of candidates will turn down an interview…If you are in the market think.. “turn down offers not interviews”.  Two reasons…  One, you may find out a lot more about the job and go for it!  And secondly, interviewing is a valuable skill and the only way to get good at it guessed it…Interview!

If you have questions feel free to contact me and check back for more tips!

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Running the Gauntlet, Surviving the Round Robin Interview

You just received the itinerary for your upcoming interview and as you gaze over the list…one, two, three, four people.  If you are lucky, it could be more.  I have scheduled candidates with as many as six and on top of that you always have to be prepared for substitutes or an add-in.   The first thing is…don’t panic, you can do this, one step at a time.   Secondly, pat yourself on the back; a company has taken this much time out of this many employees’ schedules to talk to you!   So now it is time to throw down your gauntlet and run their gauntlet.   Almost doesn’t make sense (the latter is actually gantlet) such is the complexity of the English language and the importance of context…context is key.   But first you have to prepare, so let’s get started.

  1. Clean up your web presence.  If you have a Social Networking page be sure it has a professional picture (no Keg stands or beach pics).  You may want to consider going deeper untagging/deleting questionable pics or dialing up the privacy settings.  Another way is to simply drop your last name from your profile and use your first & middle as identifiers.  If you have a Linkedin profile, update with your current experience, professional picture, and profile that 100% matches your resume.  Also check the Linkedin company links so they match the correct company and division in which you worked (example a company search for Johnson & Johnson turned up 2846 results).  This is all very important.  Chances are HR did a quick search when they received your resume but now the odds of your Social Network investigation are multiplied by the number of people interviewing you.
  2. Study, study, and study!  First study the company.  Hit the company website and read their mission statement, about us, leadership (this might help your last step) and also press releases.  For extra credit research their financial performance (easier if they are public), external stories (i.e. not company press releases), and employee opinions on websites like Glassdoor. Next research the job description, how it relates to your resume and your experience.  Highlight pertinent experience on your resume and make note of requirements on Job Description that you have met.  Now look over your itinerary, which hopefully includes the names and titles of the interviewers and not just times.   Study up on the interviewers on Linkedin, Facebook, or Google.  But be careful! You don’t want to come off like a stalker…keep your interview conversation to what you see on Linkedin…college, job history, etc..just their professional experience.
  3. Prepare your questions and your conversation with individual interviewers.  Do you know the names and titles of your interviewers?  If so use this knowledge to prepare questions and set the context for your conversation with them.  If you don’t know, you are going to have to adjust on the fly.
    • A superior? If you are talking to a potential superior show your desire to succeed and excitement about the role and company.  Ask questions around responsibility, what it takes to succeed, and challenges for the role.
    • Same level as the role you are interviewing? Show you are a team player, adaptable, and responsible.  People also like co-workers they can relate to so try to find some common ground.  Ask questions about the day to day of the role.
    • Different department? If you are interviewing for a sales role and you are talking to someone in Finance speak the language they want to hear.  Review your successes if you have relevant material to discuss be sure to mention your attention to the numbers.  Such as saving x amount of $$ with a new strategy or achieved your sales quota without additional promotional spending.   Overall you want to show some cross functionality or understanding of how their department influences this role.
  4. Comfortable and confident.  It may be time to do some shopping for an interview outfit.   You want to feel comfortable and choose an outfit that makes you feel confident.   You want clothes that are not too tight, over accessorized, or flashy.  Also, you are going to be there for a few hours and you don’t want to look uncomfortable.  The time you are with each interviewer is limited so you might not have the time for your personality to show through.  You want to ensure you make a great first impression when you walk through their office door and not squirm in the chair while the interviewing because your pants are digging into your side.
  5. What to bring.  How many people are interviewing you?  This is, at least, how many clean copies of your resume you should have printed.   It is a laptop world and they might not have it up on their screen when you walk in the door.  Also have the same number of cards available.   If you are not comfortable giving out your business card have personal cards printed with your name, contact info, Linkedin Profile address, and most recent title.  The easiest way to get their card to present yours…most of the time business people reciprocate.  Walking away with their card is important.  Now you have the correct address to send a follow up (very important) and get in touch with them if needed.  Also bring a notepad and a few pens for notes during the conversations.
  6. The day arrives.   You are ready!  You have done your homework and mentally prepared for the conversations.   Map out your route and pad arrival time but don’t walk in too early.    You may be spending some time in the break room in between interviews.  Stay away from coffee or too much water.  You don’t want to be jittery, risk a coffee stain, or have the urge to go to the bathroom in the middle of your third conversation.   Look for opportunities to compliment everyone you meet on their successes, contribution, and company.

By taking the time to research, think out your conversations, and compliment your interviewers you will have set yourself above the rest and leave a memorable impression   The next step is follow up with everyone who interviewed you!  Do the work and the next conversation could be an offer.

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Nail Your Next Phone Interview

Phone interviews are extremely common in today’s hiring processes.  It is a way for an HR manager or Hiring manager to get a quick gauge of skill set and presence to ensure that bringing you in for the face to face will not be a waste of time.   The first thing to remember is the goal of the phone interview is to move to the next step, the personal interview, and you need to be a closer and ask for the order.   But first you have to build value in yourself and also show interest in the company.   If you get the call for a phone interview here are a few tips to get you to the point you can close for the next step.

  1. Schedule a time.  You answer the phone and it is a representative from the company you applied for a job opening with weeks ago.  You are in traffic, dropping your kids off at school, or at work.  Hopefully they are just scheduling a time to talk but it they want to talk now be careful…this is an interview.   Danger zone…don’t try to wing it on a first round interview…schedule time in which you know you will have a good hour of uninterrupted talk time.   If the hiring manager asks “Can we talk now?” respond “Now is not a good time is there a time tomorrow?”  Work through it, you will never know unless you ask.  Set up your rules of engagement.  Will you call them or vice versa?  If they are calling you be sure to get the number in case you miss each other (it should come up on your caller id…you may not have to ask be sure to make note of it!)
  2. Study, study, study.  Luck favors the prepared.  Now that you have scheduled a time, do your homework.  Study the company…news releases, company website, other job openings on job boards, and Linkedin company page.  Study the job…print out your resume and the job description set them side by side and look for the match.   Get ready to sell yourself for the job.  Now study the managers…Linkedin again is a great resource but you also have the hiring managers name (from the phone call).  Again look for press releases, awards, or trade show attendance.  Have quick questions prepared about responsibilities beyond the job description, the career path, or the company.
  3. Now is the time.  If they don’t call on time don’t panic.  Wait 10-20 minutes (depending on your window of availability) and reach out to them if they were supposed to call you.  If you were supposed to call them (you better not be late!) and you don’t connect leave a message.  In both situations stay upbeat, brief, and leave how long you will be available.  If by some circumstance you are late, call as soon as possible, apologize, give your reason, and move into the phone interview.
  4. Stay positive!  Every bump in the road was a learning experience; every downsizing was a chance to move on to new things.  Don’t talk in a negative tone about your current or past companies.  If they ask why you are looking…respond “I have heard great things about your company & the role looks very interesting” (you studied right?).  Smile, stand up, and pause after every answer to give them a chance to talk.   Flow is very important in a phone interview; let them talk…if there is a pause go ahead and ask your questions about the company, role, or responsibilities.  Wrap up your answers; don’t just talk to fill space.  If they ask about something you have not experienced, try not to pass, fall back on a hypothetical.  “I have not experienced that but worked closely with someone who did, here is how I would handle it. “
  5. Ask for the order!  Show gratitude, compliment, and close for the next step. “It has been great talking.  Thank you for taking the time. You work for a great organization. I look forward to meeting you face to face to discuss the role and my qualifications in more detail.  Is there a time we can schedule now?” If you get delayed with the “we will call you when we are ready”.  Don’t worry, get the hiring managers email address (you may have this if you Googled them) and send a follow up thanking them for their time and confirming your interest.  Always send a follow up unless the recruiter you are working through has stated otherwise.  Keep it brief but show gratitude and confirm interest.

Of course you need to know your audience and situation well.   If you are in tech, the next step may be a test.  If you are relocating, you may have a few more phone interviews with more members of the team.  You still need to close for that next step.  If you make the time, do your homework, stay positive, thank them for their time, compliment them on their organization, and close for the next step you could move up to the short list for the next round.

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Quick Tips to be a Resume Rockstar

Everyone should have an updated copy of their resume on hand at all times.  Not only for the “just in case” Merger, Restructure, or great new job opportunity but also for the inevitable salary review, promotion opportunity, etc at your current company.  When/if asked the hard questions on what value you provide to the company you will be able to quickly note past & current responsibilities, accomplishments, and accolades because you have assembled them in a simple structured format ie your resume!  So here are some quick tips to draft or improve your resume.

  1. Do it yourself!  Do not rely on a resume service to draft your resume.   You are the best advocate of your background.  Get excited about it!  If you are having trouble there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet, library, or bookstore on resume writing.  It is a great skill to have not only for you but so that you can be a resource for your peers & family.
  2. Name the document with your name last_first or first_last.  When a hiring manager goes to access your resume they won’t have to sort through dozens of docs named Resume2011 (probably including their own resume).
  3. Include your name, address, phone, email and links to public profiles (ie Linkedin..especially if you have a lot of recommendations).  If you are worried about identity theft, purchase identity theft protection/insurance.  A hiring manager shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get in touch with you.  Also be sure you have a business email (ie no and professional phone message.  Also don’t include your work phone if you work in a cube or home phone if your 3 year old answers the phone.
  4. If you haven’t put together/upgraded a resume in a while and are intimidated by a blank Word Doc make a freehand outline on a legal pad first.   A simple way to start is just company, job title, dates held, responsibilities, accomplishments, and include keywords/acronyms/accounts.   Think back to the places, projects, accounts, and people so you are sure not to miss anything important.
  5. Use a resume template in Word or PDF.  No reason to reinvent the wheel.  Bold the company, job title, and dates held.  Bullet out the responsibilities, accomplishments, and accolades.   Quantify when possible. Quick examples: 50% increase in sales, completed project 20% under budget, or landed 3 new accounts.  Also bold your education, degrees, and dates completed.
  6. Stay positive.  Every restructure was a time to embrace change, every new role had new challenges and provided a chance to grow.  If you don’t have a lot of experience look for the positive in any role.  Cashier=Customer Service, Worked the floor at a store=Sales, Laborer=Strong work ethic.   I had a candidate that worked at a mental institution between BA & MBA school= dealing with difficult people and conflict resolution.  He had story after raising, life & death stories.  After being there a corporate boardroom will be a piece of cake.
  7. Take an arm’s length view or your resume..Does it flow?  Do the companies, roles, accomplishments or results jump out at you?  A hiring manager may only take a minute or two (sometimes even less) to review your resume.   Don’t be afraid to use bold or italics but be prudent.  Try to stay away from big paragraphs and objectives especially if you are submitting through job boards.
  8. Have someone else review it and proofread.  Someone you trust, that has a grasp of the English language, and your work experience.
  9. Be flexible. Have a one page for job boards and a more detailed copy for when you know you will one of a few.  Review every job description before sending out a resume.  Be sure the key words match.   Some companies rely on ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) to screen for key words, your resume may not even get to a person if the words don’t match.  Every company has their own lingo for the same tasks, don’t assume someone else (or software) will understand.
  10. Know it like an actor knows a script.  Be prepared to talk about what you did 10 years ago or why you chose your degree.   Also have your elevator speech prepared; a short speech on your background and why you will be an asset to the company.

Once completed a resume is valuable tool for your career advancement.  So the next time you have a great opportunity presented or if your CEO pops in to discuss your contribution to the company you will be prepared.  And luck favors the prepared!

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