Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to Read Ads for CIO Jobs

Phil Rosenberg interviewed by Meridith Levinson of CIO, on interpreting job ads:

By Meridith Levinson, June 30, 2008 — CIO —

By paying attention to the language hiring managers use in job ads and the emphasis they place on certain skills and requirements, you can determine more quickly and easily what the job is really about, and thus, what to highlight on your resume to get noticed.

If you've ever devoted hours to polishing your résumé and to crafting a compelling cover letter only to realize during a job interview that the position wasn't so perfect after all, you've probably wished that you'd had some way to tell from the job description that the job wasn't right for you.

Well, you can get a good sense of what a job is really about from the description in an advertisement. You just have to learn—partly through experience and partly by being attuned to the language hiring managers use in job ads and the emphasis they place on certain skills and requirements—to become a critical reader of job ads.

By carefully reading job descriptions and looking for certain red flags, such as information about budget and management responsibilities that may be left out, you can better determine the work environment you may be getting yourself into, whether the job is worth applying for, and what skills and experiences are most important to highlight on your résumé and cover letter to be considered for the job.

To help you read between the lines of ads for CIO jobs, enlisted Sam Gordon and Phil Rosenberg for their expertise. Gordon, who has worked as an executive recruiter for 11 years, directs Harvey Nash Executive Search's CIO practice. In this position, Gordon is constantly reading, writing and evaluating descriptions for CIO positions—as well as candidates' résumés. Rosenberg worked as a recruiter for 25 years before starting his own firm, reCareered, which provides coaching and résumé writing services to job seekers. (Gordon and Rosenberg offer their advice on the questions to ask hiring managers during initial phone screenings in this story, Questions to Ask to Learn More about IT Leadership Positions.)

Gordon and Rosenberg analyzed an advertisement for a vice president of IT/CIO position that picked at random from CIO Wanted earlier this year. ( replaced the company's name with a generic one, Household Products Manufacturer, to protect the company's identity.) We copied the ad below, and Gordon and Rosenberg share what they think is unusual or notable about the job to give you a sense of what to look for and how to read job descriptions for IT leadership positions. They reveal that the requirements that aren't stated in an ad often say as much about the role as the requirements that are included.


VP of Information Technology/CIO
Household Products Manufacturer
Midwestern United States


Household Products Manufacturer is a leading manufacturer and distributor of household products and has been ranked by local and national media as one of the best places to work. Household Products Manufacturer is looking for a vice president of information technology/CIO to be located at our corporate headquarters.

This person must direct and manage computing and information technology, strategic planning, policies, programs and schedules for business and finance data processing. Responsible for computer servers, network communications, and management information services to accomplish corporate goals and objectives. Must have PeopleSoft implementation experience—9.0 preferred.
This isn't a very compelling job description, says Gordon, especially in a competitive market for talent. It makes the role appear perfunctory and doesn't give the applicant a compelling reason to apply for the job, he adds.
Experience & Knowledge:

Lead PeopleSoft 9.0 upgrade to ensure project's deliverables are achieved on time, on budget and ROI is achieved.
The fact that experience with a specific release of a specific software package is the first requirement indicates to Gordon that this company may not be looking for a true CIO but rather someone to manage the PeopleSoft implementation.
Rosenberg thinks the PeopleSoft implementation already may be in flames or that the company's management is concerned about the project getting off track due to the emphasis the ad puts on on-time, on-budget delivery. Rosenberg says companies often decide to upgrade from an IT manager who just runs the networks to a true CIO or VP of technology when a major project is off track.
Integrate and maintain multiple software environments including WMS, Oracle, e-commerce and portal development.
"This role sounds like it is more involved in tactical projects than it is a true information officer leadership position," says Gordon.
Develop and implement technology initiatives to support company initiatives and profitability goals.

Develop business process improvements designed to achieve business and customer demands.

Partner with executive team on strategic planning on products as it pertains to technology and enhance performance metrics and revenue targets.

Assess company infrastructure (SWOT) and recommend and deliver solutions within budget and in a timely manner. Plan, design and direct information systems, including all aspects of application development and integration, infrastructure, networks, installation, maintenance and operations.
"SWOT is a provocative word to use in a job ad," says Gordon. He says the term suggests that the management may be concerned about the infrastructure's ability to support the current business or scale with future business needs.
Integrate multiple applications across a broad infrastructure, including content management systems, content distribution networks and e-commerce systems.
"The [tactical] requirements look inconsistent with the title," says Rosenberg.
Partner with functional management teams to develop and deliver IT solutions and operate as a support function to them.

With existing personnel, maintain e-mail, telephony, desktop support, internet and other operations and communication tools, ensuring maximum performance in 24/7 environment. Support three U.S. locations and China office.
This requirement makes the CIO job look like an upgraded IT manager, says Rosenberg. "They're looking for a CIO, but the terms they use describe a hands-on manager," he says. Rosenberg thinks the company's IT manager may have left or isn't capable of leading the PeopleSoft project, so the company has created a CIO position.
Define technical standard and establish and administer best practices, tools, documentation and security.

Other requests as specified from time to time by your manager to support company objectives.
Rosenberg says this ad is atypical of most ads for CIO jobs because it doesn't mention anything about the CIO's budget responsibility. Consequently, he thinks IT may fall under finance at this company and that the CFO might have ultimate budget responsibility for IT. "Mentioning P&L or budget responsibility would help indicate that this is a true CIO position," he adds.
Education & Competencies:

Masters degree in information technology or computer science and ten years of experience in a senior-level information technology position is required.

Strong experience in both PeopleSoft and Oracle environments, system interfaces, digital data warehousing and distribution.

10+ years of experience working in a management role in software implementation and development, operations and technology infrastructure.

Proven success in designing, implementing and delivering products.

Willingness to work a flexible schedule and travel as needed.

Proven success in cost control and delivering ROI.

Experience managing multiple projects

Proficient in MS Office suite software, ERP systems, database operations, project management software and tools.

Thorough understanding of internet marketing, technology and philosophical concepts including e-commerce, advertising/sponsorship, promotion, online community, content delivery, user interaction, database storage/security/operations, and project management.

Ability to communicate highly technical information in a comprehensive manner to all levels of the company.

Must have professional written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills.

Ability to motivate teams to produce quality materials within tight timeframes and simultaneously manage several projects.
Gordon notes that the ad doesn't say much about the leadership style the company is looking for in its CIO. The fact that the job ad doesn't emphasize leadership skills and style may indicate that this CIO role isn't really seen as a true executive leadership position in the company.
Ability to participate in and facilitate group meetings.

Knowledge of contracting, negotiating and change management.

Knowledge of information technology computer systems and software and the ability to manage the entire spectrum of information technology operations.

Experience with implementation of information technology integrations in a large division/company.

Strong knowledge and experience in Oracle and PeopleSoft environments. Version 8.4 or higher.
What You Should Highlight on Your Resume If You're Interested in Applying for a Position Like the One at Household Products Manufacturer

1. Successful PeopleSoft implementation experience, with details on the scope and duration of the implementation as well as ROI.
2. Experience assessing infrastructure capabilities.
3. Ability to get buy-in for infrastructure investments.
4. Systems integration experience.
5. Strategic planning abilities.
6. Describe your leadership style.

--M. Levinson

Household Products Manufacturer offers competitive salary, bonus and benefit program (medical, dental, vision, 401K, vacation, flexible spending accounts, life insurance and short and long term disability).

Salary is $160,000.
"That's not C-level compensation," says Gordon. "That's light for a VP as well."

Reposted from:

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Live from the HR Tech Show in Chicago

HR Tech is a trade show where HR managers go to learn what's new. All they are talking about is Web 2.0, how to find candidates on LinkedIN, Facebook, even Twitter.

I attended one of the sessions where the presenter asked the audience how many used LinkedIN - about 75% raised their hands. Then he asked how many used Facebook - about 25% raised ther hands. MySpace - 10%. Twitter - just me.

Then the presenter demonstrated how to use Facebook for recruiting, to find friends of friends, people with common interests, using interest groups to find recruits. Not a surprise to readers of my blog, but what was surprising was how many weren't using Facebook yet to recruit...though it seemed that most of the crowd had heard how powerful it could be.

Interesting side note....when asked, almost all of the audience of HR Managers read blogs, but almost none wrote blogs.

I'm off to a presentation on cool new HR Technologies, and will share comments and thoughts later today.

Back to the world of what's new in HR.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Announcing reCareered Teleseminars - and special offer for readers

Announcing reCareered's Second Teleseminar Series.

Special offer for reCareered Teleseminars - Purchase by Wednesday 10/15/08, and take 33% off – only $199

You're a reCareered reader, so I know you need help in your job search. Maybe the higher cost of individualized assistance was out of your budget? I wanted to do something to help, so I’m launching the first reCareered Teleseminars for career changers who want to learn how to get an unfair advantage in today’s job market, but at a lower price point.

I’m offering a 33% discount for a very limited time – only $199 - and only to this special group of job seekers that I’ve communicated with before.

• How would it affect your job search and starting salary, if you could increase your resume response rate to 25-50%?
• Have you sent dozens, or even hundreds of resumes only to get just 1 or two interviews?
• Do you feel like your resume isn’t even being read?
• If you’re like most job seekers, you use a resume strategy that gets you less than a 5% response rate. No wonder you’re frustrated, that’s a lot of work to get an interview, and a LOT of unnecessary rejection.

The fact is, job search is broken, leaving candidates frustrated with poor results, lots of work, and little to show for it. Because of this dysfunction, the job market is frustrating and seems to take longer to land a good job than ever before. Throw in a looming recession, and it makes your job search just that much harder.

But there’s something you can do about it. There are unfair advantages in today’s hiring system, to the few who know the inside track.

If you’ve read my blog (, the new reCareered newsletter, or articles I’ve published in Business Week, CIO or Fast Company, you’ll realize I take a different approach than most coaches or resume writers. Most give the same tired advice that may have worked 10 years ago when resumes were written on paper, and dinosaurs roamed the earth. It’s no surprise that these tactics don’t work in today’s digital job market.

The Teleseminars:

In order to help more people, reCareered is launching a series of 4 Teleseminars, covering topics including:
1) Resume Strategies – 4 Audiences
2) Best Places to Search for jobs & Fishing vs Response resumes
3) Inside tips to use LinkedIN to accelerate your search
4) Gaming the interview
Exercises: Exercises will be included to make the Teleseminars more valuable and hands-on

Thursday 10/16/08, 8:00pm CST
Thursday 10/23/08, 8:00pm CST
Thursday 10/30/08, 8:00pm CST
Thursday 11/06/08, 8:00pm CST

Each class is 45 minutes long.

Can’t make a class? Recordings will be available to registered participants.

I’m offering a 33% discount to just blog & newsletter readers and people who I’ve talked to or emailed about job search. But this 33% discount is only available through Wednesday 10/15.

Purchase your seat in this innovative Teleseminar today for $199.00 through Wednesday 10/15/08. Purchases after Monday will be at full retail.

Hope to have you join this great Teleseminar series!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Would You Rather Do Your Taxes Than Write Your Resume?

I find that most people hate searching for a job, and especially hate writing their own resume. Even writers, marketers, and journalists who write for a living…hate writing a resume.

I think it’s because the process is so foreign. All the rules have changed, so resume writing is a different skill with different strategies than just a few years ago. Add to that all of the conflicting advice a job seeker gets – no wonder it’s more painful than a root canal without Novocain.

So job seekers have a task that they rarely do, feel they’re not very good at, the rules have dramatically changed in the past few years, everyone has a different opinion (usually conflicting), and it’s a task you feel guilty about not being comfortable with – because it’s writing about yourself!

So what do you do? Of course you could hire someone to write it for you, but you’ll still need something to start with. Here’s some help:

1) Schedule a day to write. Plan nothing else that day, so you’ll have time to procrastinate, and still get the job done. Choose someplace quiet – get a babysitter if you have to and go someplace else. Exercise first, to get the blood flowing, and the endorphins humming. And have a fresh pot of coffee. If you don’t have a laptop, arrange out of house activities for the kids, so you’ll have the house to yourself.

2) Use a template to start. There are resume templates everywhere, from the major job boards to alumni sites, or just Google resume template. Don’t sweat it which template to use. This will be a draft, and you’ll change it many times.

3) Don’t try to write a final copy when you are starting. Your resume is an iterative process. Even for a draft, you’ll want to have a process of writing then reviewing….a few times. You’re bound to find things to change for at least 3 review, minimum.

4) Take a break. After you’ve done a first draft, take a break. Go for a walk, or a run, or just get away from your resume. Take an hour, clear your head, and come back fresh to do a critical read and edit.

5) Have others review. It’s next to impossible to write a good resume without a third party reviewer. The reviewer will read it from a readers’ perspective, a difficult viewpoint for the subject of the resume…you.

6) Don’t worry about conflicting information. Plan on it, you’ll get conflicting advice – it’s going to happen. When you get conflicting information on your resume, I suggest you thank the person for their input, and make your choice of who’s advice makes sense for you. After all, it’s your resume at the end of the day.

7) Spelling, grammar, format, tabs, margins, fonts all matter. You only get two chances to be perfect in your life – when you’re born, and on your resume. You’ll be competing with hundreds, or thousands of other applicants for a single opening. Why would a HR reviewer or hiring manager choose an imperfect resume, when they see almost limitless numbers of perfect ones?

8) Don’t settle. Don’t settle for ok, good, or good enough for your resume. With the amount of competition you’ll face, your resume has to be stellar, exemplary….because your competition is. Hiring managers see only the top 2-3 % of resumes. So good enough just isn’t good enough anymore.

9) Stop procrastinating. I know you dread this…everyone does. I feel your pain. Now gut up and start.

So…what are you waiting for? Get typing!

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What I Learned at SHRM

This week, I was the SHRMinator, running all around McCormick Place in Chicago getting great interviews, which I’ll publish over the coming weeks.

I learned SHRM is a big deal and big money. 15K attendees were there, over 700 vendors, and some massive parties. Vendors were throwing a lot of money around, with prizes giveaways, stuffed animals, food, and of course lots of writing instruments.

While I didn’t win an iPod, I did learn a lot of details about job boards, from interviewing CEOs, VPs, and Directors from 9 of the top 10 job boards. I interviewed CareerBuilder, Monster, HotJobs, Dice, Beyond, SimplyHired, TheLadders, Indeed, Jobing, and Jobfox. The only top job board not in attendance was Jobster.

The most important thing I learned, was something I already knew, but was surprised to hear from the job boards. Nearly every top job board admitted that cover letters are not searchable by the job board databases. So to all you who still try to tailor your experience through the cover letter….you strategy doesn’t work well.

Every job board said the best thing you can do to get your resume seen is to customize it to fit the job description.

What’s interesting is that each approaches the job seeker in a different way. From Careerbuilder that uses its massive size, Beyond produces 15K niche sites, SimplyHired that has great analytics and search filters, Jobing that specializes in local search in 18 markets, Monster has great content and user experience, and Jobfox has a matching survey that’s like the eHarmony of job boards.

Over the next few weeks I’ll give the details when I publish the actual interviews I had with the Execs and managers of these top job boards. I’ll also try to get a meaningful comparison between each, but most aren’t true head to head competitors. For instance Jobing is the best for local search, but they can’t list all jobs within a local marketplace. SimplyHired covers 5K job boards and websites, but they might not have many jobs dealing with your profession or industry. If you’re looking for job content, there are sites that have a great many articles on career search.

There’s no one size fits all in the job board biz.

I’ll also review a great salary tool, will publish an interview with USIS about the prevalence of lying on resumes (and how easily you’ll be caught), a cool way to use printed materials to stand out, and the .jobs domain name and why you may not have heard much about it.

Finally, I learned that the worst job on the planet is owned by the hairy guy who dressed in the pink fairy suit to be a booth babe for PeopleClick. They can’t pay this poor guy enough….

As for an update on my dog Tuanis, she’s still gainfully unemployed, snoozing away. While I learned how I could get her a job, I didn’t learn anything about writing a great doggie resume.

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How SHRM Helped Me Get My Dog a Job

My dog Tuanis (Costa Rican for “The Good Life”) is the sweetest, smartest dog I’ve ever owned. She lives to have her belly or ears scratched, is a wonderful doorbell, and protects my home against unwanted junk mail. But mostly, she sleeps.

All that’s about to change, because it’s time for Tuanis to pull her weight around here, and start bringing home some bacon. So, sweet Tuanis, it’s time for you to get a job.

Fortunately, I met with SimplyHired’s team at SHRM today, because they have just the tools to help me get my dog a job. If I was looking, they have some great tools for me also, reviewed at The Secret to Getting SimplyHired. But this is about Tuanis, not me.

SimplyHired has a special search for dog friendly companies. For instance, if I wanted to get Tuanis a job as (let’s say) a recruiter within walking distance (she doesn’t drive), I’d search under recruit, enter my zip code, and check the box for “Choose only dog friendly companies”.

There were two listed in my zip code. Tuanis could recruit for an animal hospital chain, or be an inside sales manager for a national recruiting firm.

Now if she gave me lots of kisses, and brought me my slippers to convince me to drive her and not be so controlling about her career choice, there are 89 new jobs in the Chicago area at dog friendly companies. Of course, many of those career choices would require me to transport her, and help her with the day to day duties, since I’m the one with opposable thumbs.

SimplyHired has other special search tools also:

Mom-friendly jobs (Don’t worry Mom, just because I’m putting the dog to work, doesn’t mean you have to ditch retirement)
Age 50+ friendly jobs
Eco-Friendly jobs (Wear your green tie!)
GLBT jobs

I got so much detail about SimplyHired’s site and search tools, that I’ll have to cover in later articles, but you can check them out yourself at SimplyHired Special Searches.

Mom, that nursing home is getting expensive….there’s 6 Mom friendly jobs, and 556 age 50+ jobs in your little home town.

Maybe you can commute with Tuanis!

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Live from Chicago, It's SHRM!!

The SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Conference in Chicago, Illinois is the country's largest HR conference, with over 700 exhibitors, 15,000 attendees, and hundreds of classes for HR professionals.

So why should job seekers care about a room full of headhunters?

I’m attending Sunday – Tuesday to get the inside scoop on candidate job boards strategies and new tools for candidates.

I'm finding some incredible information that I'll be passing to you over the coming days that will give great inside tips on your career search. I've got some overall demographic information, new tools for job seekers, and interviews with representatives from all the major job boards about how to use their boards more effectively.

Yesterday was the kickoff, led by a talk by SHRM's management. SHRM has some great research for job seekers, and is doing some interesting things in the HR marketplace.

Sue Meisinger, outgoing CEO of SHRM talked about SHRM's lobbying efforts to make discrimination against sexual orientation illegal, researching the state of diversity, and the best small companies to work for in America.

Steve Williams, Director of Research of SHRM, discussed that people are leaving jobs due to long commutes and gas prices. SHRM finds that companies are reacting by offering 4 day work weeks (40%), flexible schedules (25%), and telecommuting options (20%). 1/3 of the companies surveyed offered part time telecommuting options. Steve also shared that relocation fees & benefits were among the most popular job benefits offered today, as the mortgage crisis has made relocating more difficult for families.

Stay tuned for live updates as I interview USIS about prevalence of lying on resumes, about their new tools to compare salaries to the marketplace, Careerbuilder about how cover letters are not included in search databases, Monster & Yahoo Hotjobs about inside tips on getting your resume noticed, Dice about their new format and new ways to use their service, all the cool new tools from SimplyHired, and many other vendors from SHRM this week.

Stay tuned!

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Now You Can Have a Great Facebook Profile and Have Fun Too!

So you want a professional Facebook profile, but you don’t want it to be boring. After all, this IS Facebook, not LinkedIN, and Facebook is supposed to be fun.

Great! While LinkedIN is all business, your Facebook profile is a great way to show your personality.

Just remember that employers look at your Facebook profile to get a glimpse of who you are, while they find what you can do from LinkedIN. So it’s ok to keep it a little light, just avoid making yourself look bad in the process.

Here’s some tips to bring out your personality in Facebook:

1. Use a funny picture….but not too goofy. Some people use creative cropping or photo editing, to make a professional looking photo look more interesting. Some will only display half their face (consider displaying the left half if you’re a left brainer, right half if you are creative) while some like Seth Godin just display his head from the eyes up. I’ve seen great uses of pics that are sideways or upside down. I saw a great one with a globe morphed into a woman’s face – if you’re in global business, what a great visual.

Don’t put a picture of your kids or your pets on your profile. Make it about you. If you want to include family members or pets, great! Just make sure you’re the main part of the picture.

2. Include a summary of your resume. Keep it less detailed than LinkedIN.

3. Your ResuBlog – If you’re ResuBlogging, or have a blog, include it. Facebook has apps (My Blogs) that will automatically post your blog entries to your profile.

4. Include pictures of your family, or of your vacation. Show who you are in your non-work hours. Include hobbies, musical tastes, books you like, things you like to do. You never know what kind of common interests your hiring manager might share with you.

5. Use Facebook for networking. There are plenty of Facebook apps to help you network. Make sure to add them to your profile.

6. Recommendations Facebook App – include it so people can recommend you. Why not start by recommending others?

7. Video – Include your favorite (clean) YouTube videos, especially if they have something to do with your work. I include Monty Python interviewing sketch videos.

8. Twitter – Include the twitter application, that shows your tweets. It shows you’re a thought leader because you’re a twit, and it shows your Facebook visitors what you’re saying.

9. Your Online Profile – Facebook can be your online portfolio, showing not just photos, video and audio, but you can also post reports, PowerPoints, spreadsheets, and documents using the share button.

10. FriendFeed – Sign up for FriendFeed, and share what your other social networking activity with your visitors. Show what you’re tagging on, Diggin’ on Digg, and Stumbling. Again, you never know what common interests might trigger a bong with a hiring manager.

11. Join groups around your hobbies as well as your business interests. Let your audience see what you like to do in your free time. Just keep them clean hobbies, ok?

For what NOT to put on your Facebook profile, see my earlier article, Online Reputation Management.

Wow….Looks like I should lighten up my Facebook profile!

How will you manage yours to look both professional and fun?

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How Online Portfolios Put You At the Top of The Candidate Pile

How many of you have a digital portfolio?

Online Portfolios are a great way to bring your background to life. You can build a portfolio no matter what job you have, whether you’re an Accountant or Artist, a Programmer or Pie Maker, a mathematician or a musician.

When you send a resume, you‘re one of thousands who send the same resume in….same style, same words. To the reviewer and even the hiring manager they all look the same. Yawn!!!!!

Resumes are flat, one dimensional pieces that at their best, are shameless self promotion. Resume readers know that they are full of self aggrandizing language , and even lies. Resume readers know they’ll have to guess what the candidates work product will be like, but it’s at best a wild guess.

What if you could show a hiring manager what great work you do? Would that help you get your next job?

Pictures are worth 1,000 words. That must make audio worth at least 10,000 words, and video worth 100,000.

I’m an Accountant – I don’t make videos, or record audio. I’m not an artist. What kind of portfolio could I build?

Here’s a great story from back in my recruiting days. I was in an interview with a Financial Analyst candidate who was bombing. The candidate was an older gentleman who spoke slowly and softly, and the interviewer was a young hard charging in-your-face kind of guy. It was late in the day, and the candidate was literally putting the interviewer to sleep. Then magic happened.

The candidate pulled out a manila folder and opened his portfolio. The interviewer leaned forward to look. The candidate had these amazing charts! His written reports described monthly variations brilliantly and clearly! The interviewer was asking “How did you do that?” All of a sudden, the candidate started speaking a little faster, and some emotion crept into his voice and he leaned forward. Magic was happening – the portfolio saved the interview, and the company offered a second interview to learn more about the dashboard reports the candidate created.

This candidate was clearly wrong for the environment and for the hiring manager’s personality. But the hiring manager didn’t want to hire the candidate, he wanted to hire the portfolio - if this slower older guy had to come along with the portfolio, then so be it. These reports obviously solved a problem that was bothering the hiring manager.

Want to stand out from the thousands of other applicants? An online portfolio shows why you’re special, and clearly demonstrates that you’ve gone the extra mile. So few people prepare digital portfolios, and if done professionally, they're insanely impressive to hiring managers – it blows them away.

This strategy works for C-Level Managers, Middle management, Accountants, Financial Managers, Sales professionals, Marketers, Lawyers, Engineers, Scientists, Programmers, Inventory Managers, Procurement professionals, Office Managers, HR Professionals, just as well as portfolios work for the creative professions.

Artists, Musicians, Writers, Photographers, Advertising creative directors, Video producers, models, Actors/Actresses, Cameramen all have portfolios….why not you?

I’ve listed 7 ways you can easily create your own online portfolio:

Personal Website: Today’s technology makes building a portfolio easy. In the past, your only choice was to build your own website. Today, you can still build your own site, with web design tools that are given by your hosting company (recommendation: GoDaddy has design tools that make this easy). But you have many other choices.

MySpace: MySpace is made for hosting portfolios of content. You can attach video introductions, audio introductions, files like your resume, sample reports, power point presentations, Photos, videos of projects you’ve worked on, writing samples, and blog posts on MySpace.

Facebook: Facebook allows you to share content, by posting it on your main page, and allowing you to manipulate it.

Blogs: Blogs allow you to attach files, links, embed photos, video, audio into blog posts. You can host a blog for free at or Ning combines a personal webpage, places to attach content, blogs and social networks. You may need to know some rudimentary HTML, so it’s a little more technical than other options.

Interview on Demand: I reviewed this online service in April. Interview on Demand allows you present your resume, a video introduction, plus an online portfolio…all for free. Netvibes has an easy way to create your own free webpage and attach content. I’m sort of surprised that I haven’t seen this capability with Google, Yahoo, or MSN yet.

With all these options, when are you going to create a portfolio to show how you make spreadsheets sing? And then attach a audio file, so employers can hear YOU sing “Stairway to Heaven”?

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where the Coolest Jobs Hide

Where do you look for jobs?

Are the coolest jobs on the largest job boards with their masses of jobs? On niche job boards, segmented by geography, function, industry, or level? How about on one of the job board aggregators?

Are the coolest jobs even online at all? Are the coolest jobs controlled by headhunters? Are they not even released yet? Are they only reachable through networking?


Yes to each and every one of those possibilities of where cool jobs are. Sure, some jobs are hidden (esp at small companies), but most are out there. Cool jobs are everywhere, and take different strategies to find them, depending on where they are found.

The first question to consider is what’s a cool job? Is it cutting edge, flexible, telecommuting, career enhancing, educational opportunities, feel good, close to home, great benefits, great pay, great boss, socially conscious, environmentally conscious, stable, executive?

Everyone has a different definition on what a cool job is, because different employees have different needs. So before you can find a cool job, you have to define what your personal cool job looks like.

After you define it, recognize that your cool job could be found most anywhere. A balanced approach to find your cool job works best.

1. Job Boards: Consider using up to 5 job boards. SimplyHired is a terrific aggregator of job boards, scraping information from 5K boards, company websites, and submissions. SimplyHired will include jobs found on Careerbuilder, Monster, Dice, and Craigslist among many others. Regional job boards are a good place to focus in on only local jobs. Job boards from your industry association are more likely to have needs that your specific subject matter expertise can solve. Job boards covering your job function are other places that seek your expertise, and a good way to change industries.

2. Social Networks: Network, Network, Network. Update your network that you’re in active networking mode, and offer to help connect others. Don’t blast spam just to ask everyone for a job. Instead, pay it forward and offer to help. You’ll be amazed how many offer to help in return.

3. In person networking: Work these, and not just the industry events. Most large cities have general networking events. Again, use the approach to find ways to help others to build Emotional Equity. You’ll get many times the results over the way most people selfishly just ask “You know anyone who’s hiring?”.

4. Alumni networks: Call or email your alumni office. Get lists, get listed on job boards. Call and invite everyone for coffee. You/ll have a caffeine buzz for weeks. Don’t ask for a job, ask to learn more about what made someone a success at their company – people love to brag about themselves. Talk about how you are in networking mode, and ask how you can help…paying it forward works with alumni also.

5. Recruiters: Work with the right recruiters. Work with a recruiter that is honest, who’s company has lots of listings in your field. Work with senior recruiters who know their stuff. Offer help to the recruiter, with the best recruiter currency you have. Knowledge, leads, jobs, networking, other candidates….these are all recruiter currency.

Cool jobs lie everywhere….where will you look for yours?

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ten Things to Do After You’ve Told All Your Friends

You’re between jobs, you’ve told all your friends, and you sent them all resumes – now what?

1. Email your LinkedIN & Facebook network, but do it the right way. Give before you ask….what can you give? Tell your network that you have great news! You are actively networking - Ask your network how you can help each of them….what opportunities you can be on the lookout for them in your networking journeys?

2. Don’t ask for a job, instead ask how you can help. But definitely attach your resume – people are pretty intelligent and will figure out if you attach your resume, you might just be looking for a job. Make it personal. Make your email an update like a Holiday Letter, including family details, even pictures.

3. Build your LinkedIN and Facebook networks. These articles can show you how to build broad networks FAST!
Now That I’m LinkedIN, Who Do I Link TO?
Who Else Wants to Add More Facebook Friends?

4. Send your active networking, family introduction letter to all new contacts, and people you meet at networking events, with resume attached. Let your new contacts meet you and your family. People help others that they like…be likable.

5. Revise your LinkedIN profile to reflect highlights of your resume. Include keywords and industry jargon to be searchable. Your LinkedIN profile should reflect your primary Subject Matter Expertise. See Build a LinkedIN Profile You Can Be Proud Of!

6. Revise your Facebook profile to reflect highlights of your resume. Use a similar strategy to LinkedIN, but consider these also:
- Hide or erase all potentially embarrassing Facebook apps
- Review your pictures and videos for potentially embarrassing content
- Change your privacy controls to require approval of any picture or video that tags you to be included on your profile

7. If you’re on MySpace, you’ll probably have LOTS of work to do to clean up your profile and main page. Assume an employer will look up your MySpace page. Make sure there’s nothing that would prevent you from being hired. You’ll likely have to be more careful if you’re going or a job in banking, and less careful if you’re looking for a bartender gig.

8. Google yourself. Search until you find yourself. Write the page number where you’re first displayed. Do the same with a Yahoo search. Make sure you identify if there are any results that you don’t want employers to see that are revealed in your search.

9. Investigate Networking events and groups. Many job seekers just look at one or two industry groups and thing they’re hard-core networkers. There are general networking breakfasts, lunches, and events in most cities. In large urban markets there are networking events most every weeknight, that can give you the opportunity to meet the person who can will connect you to your next job.

10. Contact your Alumni organization. List your resume with them. Find out about networking events your Alumni office or Alumni club sponsors. Get a list of Alumni in your town (Inviting them to LinkedIN and Facebook would be nice!). Inquire about job postings your Alumni office has, and get a login to their job board.

What will you do next, after you’ve told all your friends?

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Inside the Head of the Headhunter – Scott Green

Today we go inside the head of Scott Green, Recruiting Manager for SNI Financial, focusing on mid to senior level full time accounting and finance positions. Scott has many years experience in search and staffing in accounting, finance, and specialty consulting.

Scott was kind enough to share his thoughts and experiences in the finance and accounting job market,

reCareered: Scott thanks for taking the time to share your views with our audience. With all the talk of a soft economy, how busy are you these days?
Scott Green: We’re still seeing strength in the mid level accounting and finance areas. There’s a shortage of candidates with 2-8 years of large company and public accounting experience for junior and senior staff positions, due to short supply and increased reporting needs.

reCareered: Any areas you see as especially hot?
Scott Green: The biggest needs today are in Tax and Cost Accounting. New government regulations have caused corporations to expand their work in these areas. We see Tax and Cost accounting being hot for a while. With the weaker dollar, pockets of manufacturing are expanding. Reduced supply of accountants entering the marketplace combined with companies need to reduce costs by replacing higher level accountants with less costly staffers, equates to a huge demand for Staff Accountants. I see these areas being hot for a while.

reCareered: What areas do you see as slow?
Scott Green: The generalist controller market and Senior accounting/finance manager is slowing. As companies further automate and streamline their financial systems, some work previously done by a controller may now be handled by managers or seniors with less experience (and less cost). In general, greater automation allows companies to push more work downstream, creating increased demand for managers, and high demands for senior staff.

reCareered: With the baby boom retiring, do you see companies increasing their willingness to train new employees, especially in specific software user skills?
Scott Green: Companies are getting stingy on training new employees on basic skills and software skills, because turnover has gotten so high. In addition, software becomes outdated so quickly, that employers are getting a lower ROI on training investments (except as a part of new systems roll out). So employers are looking to hire people with existing specific software skills, that can hit the ground running.

reCareered: What other things do today’s employers look for in candidates?
Scott Green: As a rule, hiring managers look for subject matter experts – people with comparable industry experience, who have already solved similar challenges that their company faces today.

reCareered: Do you see an age bias in hiring managers, even with the large numbers of Baby Boomers retiring?
Scott Green: Especially for Senior Managers and Controllers, there’s a challenge in securing a job where they are considered “overqualified”. It’s not fair, and it may not even make sense, but it’s a reality with many hiring managers, regardless of their company’s EEOC policies. I’d guess the fear of over qualification is driven by maybe 75% political concerns of a more experienced direct report, and 25% cost concern.

reCareered: So how do you recommend Controllers and Senior Managers react to the softness in their segment of the market?
Scott Green: Get started now, because it may take you longer to change jobs or find re-employment than you anticipate. Consider that you can provide a great deal of value for smaller companies (than your past employer) in similar industries.

reCareered: When evaluating a potential job offer, what do you recommend?
Scott Green: If you have a good boss, you’ll have a good job. If you have a bad boss, you’ll have a bad job. The best path to career success is finding a good mentor and leader. But people don’t do a great job researching a boss’ personality, willingness/ability to mentor, or talk to the boss’ current direct reports.

reCareered: Any suggestions for people currently in the midst of a job search?
Scott Green: A “door opening” or “distinctive” resume is typically overlooked in the search process, but can make a huge difference in a candidates’ success. I highly recommend that all candidates take a sales course (especially if not in sales) - Nearly all unemployed (and employed) workers in today’s economy must learn selling/marketing fundamentals in order to promote themselves effectively which to increase their career options. Accounting managers are seeking candidates who can market the value of the accounting function within the corporation.

reCareered: Other than taking a sales course, what would you suggest to someone who’s not looking for a job, due to uncertainty in todays’ economy?
Scott Green: The economy’s soft, and business is constantly changing. Both bring uncertainty to your current job. Carve out 1-3 hours each week for your own personal career development. This can include networking, investigating careers and companies, investing in yourself, training and reeducation in new skills.

Scott, thanks for your insight today. If mid level Accounting and Financial professionals are looking for a solid recruiter for Chicago area employers, email your resume to Scott Green at

About SNI Financial: SNI Financial™ is a professional search division of Staffing Now, Inc., focusing on mid to senior level full time accounting and finance positions for our clients. They work closely with candidates in order to best represent them to client companies. They actively search for positions to meet the career goals of candidates. SNI represents candidates throughout the course of the interviewing and hiring process until an offer is made, accepted, and all parties are completely satisfied.

About reCareered: If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You Never Get a Third Chance to Make a Second Impression

“You Never Get a Third Chance to Make a Second Impression.” I love this quote from Seth Godin (Free Prize Inside, pg. 217), as a humorous take on how important first impressions are.

First impressions are especially critical in an interview. Why do so few people do anything to manage the first impression they give, when research shows that most hiring decisions are made based on first impressions in the first 2-30 seconds (see Interview in a Snap for details). Most people treat the most important part of an interview as a random event, when it can be planned and managed to give the candidate a high chance of success.

Most candidates just make sure they are completely undistinguishable - their clothes are clean, hair is brushed, and their shoes are shined. If you want the job, wouldn’t you want to stand out?

A few people can pull this off naturally, and are great in interviews. Often, these naturals are very attractive, great at putting other people at ease immediately, instantly likable, or really naturally funny.

What about the rest of us?

You don’t have to be America’s Top Model or a standup comedian. First impressions can be managed. Managing and carefully creating a first impression takes research, planning and practice.

Act & communicate like you already work at the company. Use their style, speak their language, and look like employees at your target company look. If hiring managers make their decisions in the first 2 – 30 seconds of the interview, the decision is made just before or just after the initial handshake. There’s no way you can communicate detail in that timeframe, only impressions to influence “gut feel”.

Research: In 4 Killer Ways to Use Research, I describe great places to look for company research, and how to use it on your resume. Of course it’s great to use research to understand challenges, goals, and to develop questions. But you can use research to understand culture also.

Understanding culture is a crucial piece of creating a winning first impression. Hiring managers hire others like themselves…it’s described as being a “good team member”, or “someone who fits in”. First, you’ve got to understand what that means, specifically. Research company websites, annual reports, and articles paying attention to jargon, word choices, and tone. Look at the list of research resources in the 4 killer ways article for more content.

Look for the following to understand culture:

- Pictures – What do employees look like? What do they wear? Does the company have a formal or informal atmosphere?
- Tone – How do employees communicate? Formally or informally?
- Jargon, Keywords, and Mottos – These will be sprinkled all over marketing literature, websites, and company blogs. Find words you can use in your own conversation

Go stealth – Part of your research is talking to employees first hand. Hang out where they eat lunch or go to happy hour and listen in. Better yet, introduce yourself and ask questions about the company. Use your Face-to-face, LinkedIN, or Facebook networks to find others at your target company. Talk to company contacts on the phone, or if you have time meet them for coffee. It doesn’t matter what you ask about the company, because you’ll want to listen to HOW they answer, the tone and speed of their speech, and the words they choose. In person, look at how they stand and sit – are they straight or relaxed, formal or informal, expressive or flat, do they gesture or keep their hands unused? Finally, ask about the hiring manager, to see if they are like everyone else, or a rebel.

Plan your attack: Most people “wing it” to prepare for an interview, and end up randomizing their chances of success. Plan your first 2-30 seconds. Determine how you will stand and walk when you first meet the interviewer, how you will shake hands, how close you will be to them, the gestures you will use, and the first words you will say, and the tone and speed you’ll use when you say them.

It’s dangerous to just assume a suit interview these days. If you wear a suit to an informal company, you’ll look like you’re from the FBI, and find it difficult to establish trust and rapport. Ask HR or your phone interviewer what is the normal dress at the office.

If you learn the hiring manager is a rebel, someone who’s really changing things, or someone described as “different”, you’ll want to ask a little detail. Try to get a contact who knows them, and discover how the hiring manager dresses, how they communicate, etc. If you can’t get details, then change something in your dress – if everyone else is wearing white shirts, wear a blue one. If everyone else wears maroon striped ties, wear a wild tie.

Practice: Have you heard that it makes perfect? Practice in front of a mirror, in front of a video camera, in front of friends. If you can video, and then email the first 30 seconds of the video to close online networking contacts (who have never met you in person, but who you’ve communicated with extensively), ask them for their gut reactions. Ask them what they think of the person in the video. Is the person trustworthy, hardworking, intelligent, personable, dedicated, savvy, insightful, or empathetic? Look for the key words that the company uses to describe successful employees, and see if your networking contract interprets that from your 30 second video.

How will you manage your first impression, so you’ll get a second or even a third chance?

If you’d like a free 30 minute resume consultation or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Make Your Network Links Strong Like Bull

If you use a tight networking strategy in LinkedIN or Facebook, you want strong links. But even in a broad networking strategy you’ll want a subset of your links to be strong….someone who will do you a favor if you ask, give you their time and help.

So how can you make your networking links "Strong Like Bull?" That doesn’t come easily, nor does it come cheaply. By not cheaply, I mean it takes time and effort.

So often, when we meet someone at a networking event, we collect a business card, and maybe follow up with a WWD email – What We Do. We email back, in an attempt to strengthen a connection, but end up just talking about ourselves. Compare that to dating…ever been on a first date when the other person spends the whole night talking about themselves? Did you enjoy yourself?

Most do the same online…just take a look at my Facebook wall and you’ll see lots people who send WWD.

How often do you follow up from a networking event, or a Social Networking connection by asking someone what you can do … FOR THEM? How often do you offer to give first, without asking for anything in return? We’re not used to it, because it feels like giving money to a sales clerk, without taking our merchandise…and who does THAT?

Is there a different analogy when you pay money, but get no hard goods in return? Could you think of networking as making a deposit in a bank - only it’s not money that’s building up in your account, it’s goodwill, or Business Karma.

The more Business Karma you build with someone, the more of a fan they become. If you’ve offered to give help to your in person network, as well as your online social network, just think of how big of a fan base you’ve built!

Personally, I try to build Business Karma daily, to a large extent through this blog, by letting “people crawl around inside my brain for awhile” as one very nice email response described. Before I wrote this blog, many of my readers who met me in person or through social networking heard me ask “How can I help you?”, or describing my job as “helping people, but my hobby is helping people find jobs”. But this blog isn’t about me…it’s about helping you.

I can tell you from personal experience that this kind of follow up isn’t easy. It takes time and effort to keep track of what others in your network need and can offer others, so that you can easily offer to help people. It takes patience not to talk about yourself and what you do, but to ask how you can help others. It takes a very broad view to be willing to give without expectation of return. I’ve found, however that this networking method provides returns many times greater than asking for business.

How can you strengthen your network in your job search? It goes against the common advice (seems like lots of things I say goes against common advice, doesn’t it? :) ) of telling everyone you’re looking for a job. Instead of telling the world about yourself, why not try asking about what’s important to the person you’re talking to?

It might just make you a more interesting and memorable conversation, and should serve to build Business Karma. Then after you’ve found a way to help someone and have offered help – then answer the other person’s question. Offer help first before you divulge that you’re looking for a job.

Do you think you’re more likely or less likely to find help and build a network that’s “Strong Like Bull”?

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".


Related Articles:
Achieve Enlightenment Through Networking Karma
Other articles about personal networking

For access to more information:
Become a fan of reCareered on Facebook:
Join Career Change Central on Linkedin:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Who Says You Have to Give 2 Weeks Notice?

Industry standards used to be that departing employees and companies terminating employees each gave 2 weeks’ notice. That standard held for years, until many employers stopped upholding their end of the unwritten deal, and claiming employment at will, did away with notice selectively.

That opened a big can of worms, as it made employees think of what used to be unthinkable – immediate resignation, without giving the usual two weeks’ notice.

So immediate resignation may now be a more popular option, but is it right for you?

There are many considerations, including legal concerns, when deciding to leave with less than a 2 weeks’ notice. Since I’m not an employment lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, I asked Dan Felix of The Executive’s Attorney to offer his views. Dan is an expert in helping employees determine their termination options and risks.

Dan suggested that if you’re thinking about giving less than two weeks’ notice, the first thing to ask is “Why?” If an employee leaves with less than two weeks notice, it’s most often due to one of these typical reasons:

1) An offer from a new employer who needs the employee now
2) The present employment situation is uncomfortable for the employee
3) The employee doesn’t want the awkwardness of being a ‘lame duck’

If your new employer wants you now, you’ll have to balance the benefit of moving to your new employer immediately vs the potential badwill or even loss of earnings by leaving your old employer early. Perhaps you can negotiate with the new employer to make you whole on any income losses from leaving your old employer early.

If the present employment situation is uncomfortable for you, you’ve got to ask yourself why, and be honest with yourself. If you are being asked to do something illegal or immoral, leave. If you’re uncomfortable because you don’t like your boss or coworkers, consider gutting it out – the risks or lost income might not be worth it. If you are uncomfortable due to harassment, consider talking to a lawyer.

If you just don’t like being a ‘lame duck’ (and who does?), just deal with it. It’s not worth possible income losses and potential badwill from jumping ship early, just so you can hang out in the backyard and tan.

When considering giving less than two weeks’ notice, Dan suggested that you should first look at your employment contract, if you signed one. Check out the file you kept of all the papers you signed when you joined the company, subsequent non-compete/non-disclosure agreements, or employment agreements you may have signed. Dan mentioned that in most states “There’s nothing in the law to say ‘Thou shalt give notice.’ Expecting an employee to give a 2 week notice is legal to the extent they signed an agreement or obligated themselves to give that notice.”

Dan added “Most companies just have cultural expectations of ‘that’s how it’s done around here.’” Some companies will make the day you give notice your last day. Be aware, so if that’s the norm with your employer, you can prepare before giving notice.

Employment-at-will says that either party can walk away without hindrance or penalty. All States enforce Employment-at- will to some degree, according to, but each state is different. Dan Felix suggests you consult an employment attorney with expertise in the specific employment laws of your state.

Two week notices policies in Employee handbooks usually aren’t legal contracts in most situations. Dan mentioned that “Most companies go out of their way to affirm that employee manuals are not a contract.”

But if you’ve signed an employment contract, here’s what is at risk:
- Unpaid Bonuses
- Severance benefits
- Accrued Vacation pay
- Unpaid Commissions
- Unreimbursed expenses
- Other issues

Even if you haven’t signed a contract, if cultural expectations are to give two weeks notice, you may risk a poor reference from your old boss if they felt slighted.

So before you decide to ditch your employer early, make a transition plan, determine if you need a Lawyer’s help, anticipate issues, risks, and opportunities for negotiation. Specifically consider the following:

1) What are your goals? Why do you want to leave early?
2) Did you sign an explicit employment contract, and what does it say?
3) Consider the culture, and company norms – what happened when others left with less than two weeks' notice?
4) Is there any opportunity for leverage or negotiation? Consider Legal, business, moral, and personal leverage opportunities.

Dan stressed “Don’t just take your friend’s or a recruiter’s advice, and definitely don’t just depend on your career coach’s advice. Even with the best of intentions, they don’t know the law. Each situation is different and each employer is different. Most employees look at the issues myopically, but legal expertise helps you see the whole picture. Talk to someone who’s evaluated hundreds of these situations, who can help you make a calm, informed, rational decision.”

Kids, don’t try this at home. Call in the cavalry and get an expert to help you make the right decision, not an emotional decision that could be expensive.

As The Executive’s Attorney, Dan Felix has assisted scores of employees, independent contractors, professionals and free agents understand, negotiate and litigate the legal aspects of employment, including both hiring issues such as employment contracts, and separation issues such as severance agreements. For legal help regarding two week’s notice and separation issues contact Dan at, or check out Dan’s website at

If you’d like a free 30 minute resume consultation or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at
, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Secret of Search Efficiency

Way way back in the year 2000, things changed.

They changed for the better for employers, but worse for most job seekers. Only the fortunate few who learned how to make these changes were able to make these changes work for them – and it gave them an Unfair Advantage. Sad thing is, this is still the state of today’s job markets.

What happened in 2000? 2000 was the first year that the majority of resumes were delivered digitally. And the whole game changed, but it was silent. Most job seekers still don’t understand the profound changes that occurred when hiring markets reacted to digital resumes, that affect today’s candidates.

Ever have a recruiter ask you to add something to your resume in order to better qualify for a job? Recruiters knew what was happening, because they saw it from the inside. But it didn’t benefit recruiters to train candidates to be successful in this new paradigm, as the recruiter would lose their knowledge advantage and have diminished value. Besides, recruiters work for the hiring manager, not as a career coach.

When resumes went digital, they had a major effect on employers – employers were flooded. In a growing wave in the late 1990’s and into 2000, employers started getting crushed as 3-10 times the number of resumes had to be processed for each job advertised. Worse yet, most of these additional resumes were from under or mis-qualified applicants who found it easy to just press send.

So how did employers react? They became incredibly efficient in finding applicants who met the minimum requirements.

One positive aspect of digital resumes is that they are searchable. Another positive is they can be digitally filed in a database. As employers experimented with resume databases, they found they could micro-target skill sets by doing keyword searches…just like a Google search. Employers now had thousands of applicants to choose from and could search for 10, 15, maybe 20 criteria and find 20-30 applicants with those words on their resume…just by dumb luck and sheer volume.

And what happened to the job seekers who didn’t include those words on their resume? Their resumes stayed in the black hole, never to be seen by human eyes. Ever feel like you were perfect for a job, but didn’t get the call?

So when I talk to job seekers who tell me they’ve sent 150 resumes over 6 months, and only generated 3 interviews, I ask if it feels like no one is even looking at their resume - Because with those odds, no one is looking at their resume the majority of the time.

While choosing to interview only based on meeting minimum qualifications is dysfunctional, it’s also efficient. Hiring managers figure that if they can have HR pull 20-30 resumes, and visually screen out ½ of them, the remaining 10-15 resumes should produce a good employee.

While this is an efficient process for employers, is it also efficient for applicants? Usually not – because most candidates haven’t changed their methods to react to changed employer methods.

However, for those applicants who figured out how to game this system, it’s INCREDIBLY efficient, and can get savvy job seekers interviews from 15-25% of the resumes they send.

How can you be efficient as a candidate? Here’s 6 ways:

1) Be specific in your resume, not a generalist. HR databases punish generalists, because they search for specific terms. Even managers need to stay away from describing general and leadership skills to be successful in the new paradigm.

2) Throw out cover letters. If the employer demands it, use a standard cover letter. They aren’t included in the search…employers strip them and don’t include cover letters in their database. It’s easy to customize your resume, so employers expect it, and HR databases reward it. So why would you spend any time on a cover letter when you could be customizing your resume?

3) Heavily customize your resume. Employers reward resume customization. I don’t mean just add a word or two. Write your resume specifically to show how your subject matter expertise solves the target company’s or hiring manager’s problems, and helps the target company/manager meet goals.

4) Use the target company’s own language. Don’t think that just because you’ve described your experience that it’s a match. The ACTUAL WORDS need to match to count in your favor. Cut and paste the actual words from the job description to use in your resume.

5) Make it perfect. Reviewers have a zero tolerance policy for resumes, because there are thousands of other applicants. Spelling and grammar count. Formatting, fonts, and lined up tabs and columns count.

6) There are only two times in your life when you are perfect….when you are born, and on your resume. The hiring manager expects and rewards a perfect resume, and throws out imperfection. Have 2-3 friends proofread. Have it read on screen, and have it read on paper.

Sounds like a lot of work? Sure, but you won’t have to waste your time sending so many resumes.

You won’t have time….you’ll be too busy interviewing.

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

Friday, May 30, 2008

6 Ways To Become the Top Dog Before Your Interview

Did you realize that nearly all hiring managers pre-rank candidates before they’ve interviewed even one? If you’re the top candidate before interviews, then it’s basically your job to lose.

So how can you position yourself as the top candidate?

It takes a lot of planning, and takes into account all 4 audiences of your resume. Check out the post on 4 audiences to see how to write for all your audiences. Why? If you don’t write for the database or HR, then your resume won’t get seen by the hiring manager. That makes it pretty tough to be the top candidate.

But let’s imagine you’ve successfully written for the Database and for HR, and your resume is in the pile for review on the Hiring Manager’s desk. How do you get to the #1 spot on that pile, before they’ve talked to you?

Here are 6 Tactics:

1. Demonstrate achievements not management: Many senior level managers forget that they hire people to solve specific problems, rarely based on the number of people they’ve managed. Use active bulletpoints to demonstrate how you Created Employer Value. State that you increased profits by X% by doing Y, Increased sales by X% by doing Y, Cut costs by X% by doing Y.

If your major bulletpoints have verbs like “Managed”, “Led”, “Coordinated”, “Liased” you are shortchanging yourself, because you’ve probably done much more exciting things in your career. Sure, many people haven’t gotten a position because they hadn’t managed a large enough staff – that’s often a nice way of saying “We found someone we liked better”.

2. Determine Target Company Problems and Goals: If you can demonstrate that you’ve already solved the problems that the company or manager has, you’re an early favorite candidate. Research everything about the company, but don’t focus on what happened in past company financials (unless you’re a CFO candidate). Focus on finding the problems that exist right now, or will occur in the next quarter. Draw inferences to guess how your target department and potential manager will be affected.

3. Network to a problem. Here’s a fantastic way to use your personal network, LinkedIN network, Facebook network, etc. Most people network to find someone to ask for a job, and it’s often a low return activity. You can make much better use of your network by finding out what’s going on inside the company, and insight about the people you’ll interview with.

4. Club your reader over the head: Once you’ve found out what’s important from research and networking, construct bulletpoints to address those issues – and put them at the top of your resume. Bold specific individual words to address job description keywords. Don’t bold phrases – instead make a greater visual impact by just bolding words.

5. Be the unique solution to the problem: Demonstrate how you have already solved the problems the company or manager has. Show how you are a Subject Matter Expert in solving their specific problem. Be the right person at the right time and right place.

6. Communicate in their language: Use keywords from the job description – the EXACT words. Don’t rephrase, because databases don’t understand rephrasing. More importantly, the job description along with research, conversations, and networking can tell you how the company communicates. Pay attention to your research and conversations to pick up more key words, and to note the communications style. Mirror the style in your resume and include liberal servings of keywords, and you’ve got a recipe for being the top candidate before you ever step foot into an interview room.

So look at your resume….does it make you the top candidate?

If you’d like a free 30 minute resume consultation or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Build a LinkedIN Profile That You Can be Proud Of!

If you are looking for a job, you should count on employers looking for your LinkedIN profile. It’s becoming a business standard to check people out online before hiring them, whether doing a Google search or looking them up on LinkedIN or Facebook.

Are you searching for a job with a bland or empty LinkedIN profile? What does that say about you? When employers or people you network with Google you, the first entry they find about you will probably be your LinkedIN or Facebook profile (unless you’ve already been heavily published, or have already built an online reputation).

Most LinkedIN profiles are very generalist in nature, and do little to help the job seeker truly stand out. As a job seeker, do you want a profile that looks like thousands of others, or a profile that is totally unique, yet professional?

Then again, you can make your LinkedIN profile work FOR you, by writing a profile designed to help employers find you in searches. What are the steps needed to write a killer LinkedIN profile?

1. Develop a very defined Subject Matter Expertise. LinkedIN doesn’t help generalists nearly as much as Subject Matter Experts. Throw out the idea of branding yourself as a broad generalist…it doesn’t work anymore. See Who Needs Generalists Anymore?
2. Determine the Specific problems where your Subject Matter Expertise can provide the Unique Solution. See Will You Stop Looking for a Job Already?
3. Develop strong bulletpoints of accomplishments, to demonstrate your experience in solving specific problems, to demonstrate you are the Unique Solution. Demonstrate how you have provided employer value – see Do You Create Employer Value?
4. Develop a skills inventory, and match it against what skills you see in demand in the marketplace. This is a great gut check to make sure you are highlighting the skills that are important to employers, not just the skills that make you feel good about yourself.
5. Develop a template resume around your tightly defined Subject Matter Expertise.
6. Use the top 4 bulletpoints from your last or (present) job, 2-3 bulletpoints for relevant jobs with outstanding achievements that add additional proof to your Subject Matter Expertise. Don’t bother with bulletpoints for jobs over 10 years ago (unless it contains subject matter expert proof that you can’t show elsewhere).
7. For jobs over 10 years, just list without explanation. It was 10 years ago - how much about that job is still relevant to an employer today?
8. Develop a highlight line, absolutely no longer than one typed line on a word document. Make it extremely brief, but extremely targeted.
9. Include your education, including graduate degrees. Include any volunteer activities
10. Link relevant sites – samples of your work, your online portfolios, blogs, any groups you moderate. List other online profiles (Facebook, Plaxo, Twitter, Spock, Ecademy, Xing, Jigsaw, Zoominfo, etc.).
11. Get the right recommendations. See LinkedIN Strategies – Recommendations.

Your LinkedIN profile is your first step to Online Reputation Management, and building your personal digital brand. So take a look at your LinkedIN profile. Does it paint you as the unique answer to a very specific problem? Or does it paint you as yet another generalist?

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

To Fax or Not to Fax – That is the Question

A client asked me if he should fax his resume, in order to get more attention. He was surprised when I said no.

Then I realized that there is still a misconception in the job seeker audience about faxed resumes.

The thought process in faxing resumes is to gain an advantage by delivering in a way that gets noticed. It was a sure fire way to get your resume seen…about 10 years ago. But not so much anymore – here’s why.

There are three roadblocks to getting your resume seen via fax: 1) Location of the fax machine; 2) Majority use of the fax machine; 3) Human Resources; 4) Aversion to paper

Location of the fax machine: Your faxed resume is likely to get lost. In the vast majority of companies, fax machines aren’t located in executive offices any longer. When fax machines used to be located in the executive suite, faxing your resume could be an effective way to get your background seen. Fax machines are now located in operations departments that send or receive faxes. Worse yet, many larger companies have adopted enterprise fax solutions, printing all faxes in a centralized location.

Majority use of the fax machine: Fax machines are typically used today when a written record is required of a signature, legal documentation/proof, or operational/accounting documents. They are typically used to transmit forms, where for accounting, signature or proof purposes, a paper form is necessary.

Fax machines are typically high volume collection points, wither separated by department or centralized in an enterprise printing operation. Unless you are certain that the decision maker you seek will review all faxes, assume that your fax will be lost. And are you certain that fax number is the machine your decision maker uses?

HR: In all but the smallest companies, Human Resources wants your resume in its database. The Human Resources department keeps statistics for the EEOC and Department of Labor. Since 9/11, Department of Labor audits became much more frequent and detailed and HR needs to get your information digitized, so they can quickly respond to government information requests. Faxes aren’t always the easiest to scan - If the print is too light or unclear, you risk having your resume rejected.

Aversion to Paper: Managers don’t manage paper well, and they are used to managing electronic documents. Paper risks getting lost or thrown out.

There are some exceptions, mainly clerical roles, where faxed resume can still work. Here are some examples:

- Applying for a job to sell or service fax machines or related supplies
- Applying for a job as a clerk who regularly processes faxes (order entry, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll)
- Applying for a job where sales orders are transmitted via fax
- Small very low tech companies
- Clerical or Blue collar jobs

Finally, if you are in technology, and you’re not emailing your resume, do you think an employer will take you seriously? Is the IT department typically a big user of faxes?

So…still want to fax your resume? I didn’t think so…..

If you’d like more information, a free 30 minute resume consultation, or some advice about your career transition, just email your resume to reCareered at, and we'll schedule a time to talk.