On a new Friday feature, I'll review resume submissions from readers who agree to submit their resume (or video resume) for public review and comment by top career coaches, recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates. Some of these reviews may be positive, others may not be - so if you submit, be prepared to be brave enough for positive and negative comments.
Hey, better to have us tear it apart than the hiring managers of your target companies - right?
Hopefully the result will educate other candidates, while you get useful criticism and advice on your resume, from this pack of wild wolves - ready to tear your resume to shreds. In addition, the chosen candidate's background will get some wide exposure where reCareered is republished.
Read more ...
This feature was included at the request of so many candidates who wanted to see my job search work in action, and to visualize how my recommendations could work on their own resume.
Let's meet this week's contestant, Bryan Webb ... Bryan, Come on down! I chose to review Bryan's background because he has some good examples of how to use Social Media in his job search efforts and showed some good results. While Bryan's resume is strong, yet there is still room for improvements to make it even stronger. Note: Bryan is not a client of mine, we haven't spoken before, and I haven't advised him concerning his resume. He's not a member of my Linkedin Group (Career Change Central), and as far as I can tell he isn't a subscriber to my blog.
Bryan is looking for a Senior Sales or Marketing Role with a small tech company in the Toronto/Mississauga ON, Canada or Buffalo NY area - He lives close to the midpoint between the two metropolitan areas. Bryan has sent his resume hundreds of times, has made over 700 "touches" with companies and he's used a spreadsheet to track them. This has resulted in 15 direct face to face interviews with hiring managers. In addition, he's had numerous phone screens, recruiter interviews, and informational interviews as preliminary steps to actual job interviews. Bryan has been a finalist 4 times and has turned down 2 offers that he felt were not a fit.
Bryan describes his roadblocks as lack of company communication (who hasn't experienced this?) and "some wanted what clearly could not exist -the perfect candidate - and did not consider passion and experience that can overcome direct experience (or a Rolodex that can bring an immediate $10M bump)." While he appears (based on his resume) to be in his mid 50's, it's interesting that Bryan doesn't include ageism as a frustration - He doesn't attempt to hide his age on his resume or video resume. Good for you Bryan!
- Resume: Bryan's resume has a lot of strengths, as well as some areas that of further improvement.
- Personal Branding Statement - Bryan uses a personal branding statement at the top of his resume to give the reader a clear succinct view of what he wants and what problem he solves for a company (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-personal-branding-statement-can.html).
- Doesn't play Trick or Treat - Bryan is who he is. He's not only brave enough to have his resume publicly reviewed, he's brave enough to list his 1974 graduation date, even though I'm certain he's had many people tell him to drop the dates. Good for you Bryan - you realize that there are companies who want a seasoned sales executive, and not all companies look for a 30 year old gel head (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/10/job-search-trick-or-treat.html). Bryan doesn't waste his time with companies who are looking for a someone younger by hiding age on his resume. Instead of wasting his time with companies who want a junior-level sales person, he's concentrating on companies that are looking for grey hair and experience.
- Social Media Links - Bryan makes good use of Social Media, especially Linkedin and Twitter, listing the links in the contact information on his resume. This demonstrates that in a technical sales role, he's up to date on current tools which he can use to build trust and relevancy for his next employers' products. Bryan has built mid-sized networks on both Linkedin and Twitter, so he's reached critical mass beyond his close connections.
- Doesn't use paragraphs - Bryan structures his resume with bullet points, making it easy for readers who will skim his resume to pick up relevant points quickly. Using paragraphs would have made picking up details difficult during the average 15 second skim of your resume.
- Tracking - Bryan tracks his contacts, resume sends, and results on a spreadsheet so he can see what's working, and what isn't (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-effective-is-your-resume-heres-how.html).
Areas of Improvement:
- .pdf format - Companies typically save resumes in a common database or applicant tracking system. In order to search these resumes, they will typically save resumes in a common format - Smaller companies may just save resumes files in a common directory. .pdf files aren't as easy to search this way and impossible in some databases - one explanation why a recent poll I conducted among hiring managers, HR Reps, and recruiters showed a preference of word .doc files over .pdf at greater than 5:1 (in favor of .doc files). Make sure to use the 97-2003 compatibility mode. Using the .docx mode of Word 2007, or .dot mode of Word for Mac may make your resume unreadable by a company that doesn't use that platform.
- Summary - Right after Bryan brands himself as a subject matter expert in a defined field (making " ... it easy to buy complex technical solutions"), then he immediately brands himself as a jack-of-all-trades. Instead, he could increase the effectiveness of his personal branding statement, but avoid watering down each of the skills that he lists by avoiding a summary. Especially in technical fields, hiring managers seek concentrated subject matter expertise over general and broad skills. Even if the position will use general and broad skills daily, the position will likely be offered to the person who has concentrated expertise in solving specific problems (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/who-needs-generalists-anymore-best-of.html). See Skills Inventory discussion to see what I'd suggest as an alternative.
- Employer Value Statements - In his video resume, Bryan does a wonderful job listing employer value statements (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/employer-value-statements-make-your.html), describing how he " ... increased sales from $500K to $4.5M in 4 years" - Where is this statement on his resume? Bryan can increase the impact of his bulletpoints, by describing and accentuating his accomplishments, rather than the responsibilities he lists. His next employer will likely hire him because of accomplishments as a proxy for future performance, rather than by what he managed. Responsibilities are what's important to the candidate, while accomplishments are important to employers (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/job-seekers-tell-your-readers-wift.html).
- Use of resume Real Estate - Bryan also shares in the video that he " ... implemented strategies that boosted sales by 50% in 3 years." In the video that's great, but he downplays it in his resume, burying it all way at the bottom of the first page - below the fold where few readers will see it in a 15 second scan (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-manage-your-resume-real.html). In addition, what Bryan did prior to 10 years ago is not likely to be relevant, especially to a technology firm who's industry reinvents itself every 3-5 years. Bryan would be better served to minimize the footprint of anything prior to 10 years ago, unless it's especially relevant to the position - I suggest list the earlier positions with no bullets or detail.
- Skills Inventory - Bryan lists some great skills in the summary section (see above), but it's not helpful to him to brand as a jack of all trades. Instead, I recommend adding a skills inventory section to the end of his resume. I use a 3 column format of 30-50+ three word "sound bytes" in these categories: Tech skills, functional skills, industry skills, management/leadership skills, and soft skills. Make sure to keep each at three words or less - brevity pays here. I describe how to build a skills inventory more fully in http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/resume-ideas-add-skills-inventory-to.html.
- Tell me about that Rolodex! - Bryan mentioned above that he was frustrated that companies couldn't recognize his "Rolodex that can bring an immediate $10M bump." Where is this on the resume, or video resume? If it's not on your resume, to an employer, it doesn't exist.
- Video Resume: Bryan presented a well done video resume, which can set him apart from others, especially in the tech world. Bryan wisely wasn't afraid that his age would show on video - because it would show in person. Rather, video can help candidate overcome ageism, by demonstrating how a candidate has kept skills up to date by using today's tools.
- Professional - First of all, congrats to Bryan for even doing a video resume - most candidates don't. Better yet, his video resume is professionally produced and edited, showing that Bryan presents well, he's well spoken, and gives a trustworthy impression.
- Presentation - Bryan speaks clearly, uses pauses well, paces the presentation in a conversational tone, and doesn't try to cram too much information in. I feel like Bryan is sitting across the desk giving a presentation, and he does it naturally.
- Length - At 71 seconds, it's not too long, so he doesn't lose the audience
Areas of Improvement:
- Unintentionally looks tired - Bryan gives an unintentional impression of lacking energy. I think it's Bryan's glasses - I'm blind as a bat and I face similar challenges personally. Positioning himself at an angle to the camera can help avoid distortion and glare caused by stronger prescriptions. When I look directly into a camera, my prescription is so strong that my eyes look like tiny specks. That can give an especially rough impression for an older candidate. Finally, Bryan lights up when he says "I'm your guy!" - He will create a more successful impression by he carrying that same energy throughout the entire video.
- Where's the Rolodex? Where's the personal branding statement? - Both would be great in the video - personal branding statement at the beginning, and the Rolodex as a closing statement.
- Link & Embed everywhere - Bryan seemed to include links in his email, but he's not using additional opportunities for social media exposure. He could also link or imbed the video on his resume, Linkedin Profile, Facebook, on his blog, and Tweet the video to his followers. It's simple if it's uploaded to YouTube.
- His own YouTube Channel - Bryan's video is only on the vendor's YouTube channel passing up an easy opportunity for additional personal branding and Google rankings.
- Social Media: Bryan has put some significant work into Social Media, broadening his contacts, and giving him a platform to promote himself, his resume, his video resume, his social media content, and his job search. Links to Bryan's social media inventory includes:
Linkedin profile: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/bryanwebb
Twitter Profile: http://twitter.com/BryanCWebb
- Active user - Bryan is active on both Linkedin and Twitter, with over 500 connections on each.
- Profile - Bryan's profile has much detail, including presentations, excerpts from his blog, Twitter links, and strong recommendations
- Blog - Bryan blogs, has regular updates, and has his tweets post automatically to his blog - outstanding!
- Google rankings - 2 first page listings on Google for Linkedin & Twitter profiles, even though he's up against a Canadian Rock Singer with the same name, and his name isn't all that uncommon.
Areas of Improvement
- Incomplete linking to social media - Bryan links some of his social media, but not others, limiting his exposure. Additions can include attaching his resume to his blog, to make it a true resublog (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/you-dont-have-to-be-shakespeare-to.html). Other additions to Bryan's blog: presentations, YouTube video, urls of his Linkedin and Facebook profiles.
- More complete Social Media integration with resume - Attach (or imbed) you tube video in resume, give links to blog
- Stronger use of Facebook - Bryan currently uses Facebok just for friends, but misses out on the business uses of the platform. By opening security settings on his profile, and just by inviting his Linkedin and twitter audiences to friend him on Facebook, he could use Facebook as a megaphone for his blog posts and Tweets - gaining larger audiences for his publishing efforts.
All in all, Bryan presents a pretty good resume, video resume, and uses social media well in his search. The areas of improvement I point out will strengthen his resume, help clarify his value to employers, broaden his reach, and help him get past potential ageism - taking his search from good to great.
Thank you Bryan for your willingness to share your background and resume, and open yourself up for constructive criticism. I hope you've found some value in this exercise personally, as well as knowing that you've helped other candidates to learn. Best of luck in your search!
Readers - It's your turn. Do you have any suggestions for Bryan, his resume, his video resume, or his social media strategy? Please comment and share your thoughts.
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