employment, job hunting, job interviews, job search, resumes

Old School: Please and Thank You

Thank_you_note

It used to be common courtesy to politely ask for something, and then to give thanks when receiving it. Over time, this courtesy has become less common.

Despite the advanced technology, lack of parenting, or erosion of social skills, humans have not yet evolved from wanting to be appreciated.

Your resume is to get you an interview, and your cover letter should conclude by nicely asking to meet.

The most overlooked tool is the Thank You note. When you’ve gotten far enough into the process to actually have an interview, congrats, but don’t stop there!

There’s an often quoted 2012 survey by The Ladders, whereby, 75% of interviewers said that receiving a thank you note from a candidate affected their decision. However, only 21% send them sometimes, and 10% never do!

I’ve hired a lot of people, and receiving a thank you email or handwritten note has always made a difference. Not only did that person now get another opportunity to be top-of-mind, but also they got a follow-up chance to impress me.

There are thousands of free thank you notes online to sample, but show your personality and your genuine interest in THEM.

1) Keep it short. This is not for you to re-hash your cover letter or attach your resume. Three paragraphs (Nice meeting you…reminder of you with what got their attention…and then showing your passion for the job) are all you need.

2) No mistakes. Don’t implode after getting this far. Have others read it before sending. Check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and that your name and contact email/phone is legible. Be sure to have the correct spelling of their name.

3) Send it soon. Email it within 24 hours, but not as soon as you get home since it may look desperate. If mailing it, do it right away since it will take 2-4 days to be delivered. Send one to each person with whom you met. Trust me, they compare notes about YOU.

Learn how to be more marketable at BestOfYouResumes.com.

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employment, job hunting, job search, resumes

What’s Your Headline?

Newspapers have them. So do magazines, ads, even stories on the nightly news.

A headline highlights and introduces what is to follow. Based on the headline, the viewer may read it or bail out (turn the page, change the channel, etc.).

The headline in your resume is the opening paragraph, just under your name and contact information.

Here’s what you should be asking yourself:

Do I need one? Should it be an “Objective”? Should it be a “Summary”?

And, here are the answers:

Yes, No, Yes.

You can’t assume that the reader or Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) has seen the cover letter. Many cover letters are overlooked, lost or discarded, so the resume has to stand on its own—and it’s too abrupt of an opening to have your name & address, and then go right into Education or Experience.

An “Objective” is old school and a waste of space. The “objective” is to get an interview for the job [for which you’re applying]. The company knows that.

Instead, give the reader a “tease” about what’s important without having to dig into the resume. Use the opportunity to promote yourself with one paragraph, summarizing a few key skills, a quantifiable accomplishment, and your passion to be part of that company/industry. What degree do you have? Bi-lingual? Traveled or worked in other countries? An award winner? Maybe namedrop a well-known company or competitor for whom you’ve worked.

That’s it, two sentences, no more. You want to get and keep their attention so that they keep reading.

Then, and here’s the key…make sure that you’ve demonstrated those highlights down below. There’s nothing worse than a headline that promises something and then never delivers.

Give yourself a strong, credible headline to hook the reader and not let them bail out.

Learn how to be more marketable at BestOfYouResumes.com.

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employment, job hunting, job search, resumes

Size Doesn’t Matter. Or, Does It?

“How long?”

That’s the question that I’m asked most often.

Human resource managers, school career counselors, and even professional resume writers can’t agree on what’s an appropriate length for a resume today.

The Internet, Linkedin, and websites have changed how we now look at resumes. Instead of hard-copy pages, we now can seamlessly scroll through a resume, not knowing its length. Linkedin breaks our profile into different sections, so it’s not stitched together. Video resumes that showcase the person and their portfolio have only running times.

An article by Kim Isaacs for Monster.com, suggests that you should have a ONE-pager if you have less than 10 years of experience or are pursuing a career change or only had one employer; a TWO-pager if you have more than 10 years of experience relevant to your new goal or need space to list engineering/technical skills; a THREE-pager if you’re a senior-level executive or in an academic/scientific field with extensive credentials.

I totally agree with these suggestions as guidelines. My answer as to the proper length is always, “What will it take to convince the reader?” If you don’t start strong and keep their attention, they will bail out, regardless of length.

I’ve seen good two-pagers and bad one-pagers. I’ve seen strong, concise one-pagers, and cluttered or boring two-pagers. Size doesn’t matter unless you abuse the space. Tell your story, quantify your accomplishments, and sell yourself as the best candidate for an interview.

Learn how to be more marketable at BestOfYouResumes.com.

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employment, job hunting, job search

What Did You Eat For Dinner Last Thursday?

That’s what I thought…I don’t remember either!

If we don’t remember something so recent, how can we accurately recall details of an event from months or years ago?

The more I consult with students and working professionals on their resumes, the more I realize that they have forgotten crucial information—information, that they all once had at hand, but have now forgotten.

A resume is NOT a list of your jobs’ descriptions. We know what a bank teller does; what a bar manager does; what a retail salesperson does. Don’t waste valuable space telling your reader (the HR person or hiring manager) what they already know.

You NEED to quantify what YOU accomplished while at each job. How many people did you hire, train, and supervise? How much money did you save the company, generate for the company? What did YOU do to make things better?

Answers to these and many other questions are demonstrated with citing achievements in $, %, #s, volumes, sizes, etc.

Don’t just say that you’re “responsible,” or a “team player,” or a “hard worker.” PROVE IT! Demonstrate those traits through your accomplishments.

And that brings me back to…update your resume EVERY TIME that you have achievements, get kudos at work, or win awards.

Updating this living document will keep you from leaving out or having to reconstruct events, achievements, $, %, #s, volumes, and sizes, years later. And, if you don’t believe me, what did you have for dinner last Thursday?

Learn how to be more marketable at BestOfYouResumes.com.

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employment, job hunting, job search

Live Long and Prosper…as a Job Hunter in your 50s, 60s & 70s

People are living longer, which means that they have to work longer to support themselves…which means being a job candidate instead of a retiree.

We often think of job hunters as being young, maybe right out of college. But, let’s not forget that job hunters are also in their 50s, 60s & 70s. You may know of one, be one, or will be one.

There’s an interesting article by Kerry Hannon in AARP Magazine, Feb/Mar 2015 about 8 common mistakes that older job seekers make, and how to fix them.

Here are Hannon’s “Mistakes” and my comments about them:

Mistake #1

“I’ll job hunt but otherwise just kick back and enjoy the break.”

Don’t waste any time. Offer your services to local companies since they may not be able to hire an employee, but they might afford a consultant. If can’t find a paid position, volunteer your skills to an organization that you support. The goal is to keep working, so you can make contacts and network for your next gig.

Mistake #2

“I’ve had my AOL account since 1993!”

I disagree somewhat with Hannon on this one. Having an AOL email address doesn’t mean you’re old, it shows that you’ve had a digital presence for a long time, and that you’re loyal (by sticking with a good-service company). If you want a Gmail account, get one. Use it just for your job search, and keep AOL for personal stuff.

Mistake #3

“I’m proud no one can find me online.”

Be realistic…nothing online is private. You can and will be found IF someone wants to find you. Don’t make them jump through hoops when it’s YOU who wants a job. Show your digital presence. Show you’re tech-savvy by being on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram; create a website; write a blog.

Mistake #4

“I refuse to take a job for less pay than I was making before.”

You can have a bottom line of what you’ll accept, but make sure that it’s based on financial needs and not ego. Better to take less than have nothing. Better to have a job when/if seeking another job. Get the experience, put it on your resume, and try to negotiate additional benefits in lieu of more money.

Mistake #5

“I don’t like bothering people.”

You must market yourself. Let everyone know of your search. They may know someone who knows someone who can help you. You can’t do all the leg work yourself so let your support network assist you.

Mistake #6

“The longer my resume, the more impressed employers will be.”

Size matters. One or two pages is all you need but either should be packed with quantified accomplishments and not job descriptions. Job history only needs to go back 10-15 years. Consider leaving years of graduation off of resume.

Mistake #7

“I’m not going to apply since I don’t meet all the job requirements.”

A want ad is a wish list. There may not be a candidate with all the qualifications but you may come the closest, so apply. Don’t rule yourself out…let them decide if you meet their requirements.

Mistake #8

“If I’m patient, a job perfectly suited to my experiences will come along.”

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re too good or too experienced for a job. There is no “perfect” job, so be willing to take a new challenge that may be different from what you’ve had previously. Use your achievements to demonstrate your potential.

Learn how to be more marketable at BestOfYouResumes.com.

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Approach A Job Search With A Laser, Not a Flashlight

I frequently hear from students, friends, and clients, that they are starting or are in process of looking for a new job.

When I ask the obvious question, “What are you looking for?” the response is almost always ambiguous, not identifying the industry, company or even city of what they seek.

There’s a good article in Marketing News, January 25, 2015, by Debra Wheatman. In her “Seven Tips for Conducting a Targeted Career Campaign,” Wheatman offers these tasks and I’ll add my own comments.

1) Conduct a personal assessment

Know what, who, and where you want to be. Know why you’ve made these choices. Things change and life happens but you need to start with a road map for your journey.

2) Do your research

With the Internet, you have access to investigate industries, companies, locations, executives, corporate mission statements, salaries, reviews by employees, and a lot more. No excuses for not knowing!

3) Define your goal

Keep narrowing your search. Like a funnel, all the possibilities go in the top, so that the “answers” come out the bottom. Just like you can have more than one resume, you can have more than one funnel/search. Keep them on separate tracks.

4) Identify avenues for professional development

Never stop learning about your field and how you can innovate to be successful in it. Take classes, watch webcasts, listen to podcasts, view TED Talks, and join industry organizations.

5) Improve your personal brand

YOU are the product that you’re marketing so find ways to stand out from the competition. Hone your resume, complete your profile on Linked-In, perfect your elevator pitch; and get business cards to pass out.

6) Network with industry leaders

Take those business cards to associations’ meetings. Go to conferences, listen to speeches, follow-up with “nice to have met you” emails. You’re not asking for a job…you’re introducing yourself…then see how things play out.

7) Branch out

Use professional associations, Linked-In, Twitter, create your own website, and let family & friends know of your targeted campaign. They may not be able to help but they’ll likely know someone who knows someone who can.

A flashlight approach is broad, scattered, and a waste of your time. By knowing what you want [and what you don’t want], a laser approach is precise and more likely to hit the target.

Learn how to be more marketable at BestOfYouResumes.com .

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