Monday, January 28, 2008

Job Search Story of the month - Hitmen need jobs too ...

Craigslist is definitely a growing job site, especially for technical and design talent. It’s also a growing source for contractor work.

Here’s a great example of a Craigslist advertisement for a Subject Matter Expert. The hiring decision maker was looking for very specific experience, to quickly solve a problem for her. She obviously didn’t care about generalist skills on the candidate’s resume.

I wonder how many responses she had to choose from? Did she search by keyword to separate the wannabes from the killer resumes? What keywords did she search?

This news hit the internet yesterday about a different kind of “contractor” advertized on Craigslist. Kids, don’t try this at home.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Great Post on LinkedIN for Job Search 2.0

This is an excellent post on using LinkedIN to start your job search, for the uninitiated.

It's general, but fear not. I'll provide lots of step-by-step detail about how to use LinkedIN to create an Unfair Advantage in future posts.

Check out this great post in
Conversation Agent, called (what else?) Job Search 2.0, by Valeria Maltoni.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Sweet Spot for Resumes

This is a great blog post by Lynne Murray, who describes effective use of use of “Resume Real Estate”. Lynne gets that effective resumes put the sizzle at the top, and heavily customize resumes to fit the specific opportunity the applicant is applying for.

The Sweet Spot for Resumes
In sports and a variety of other activities from bridge building to nose piercing,
the sweet spot is the point in the middle where impact will have optimal effectiveness. In resumes the sweet spot is the place to put your strongest information. This magic spot is at the top of your resume right under your name and contact information.

Some resume formats label this area Goals or Objectives, while others may focus on Skills, Accomplishments or Experience. In some academic Curriculum Vita, Education will be featured first. No matter what the heading, if the right words are there, your resume has a better chance of getting a more careful reading.

The cold, hard truth behind this is that the person scanning your resume will begin looking at that top section, and may not go further. How to get them to read the rest and schedule an interview is the next question to consider.

What information should go in that top section? The current estimate is that each resume may be scanned for six seconds or less by human resources, even less time if the company involved is having resumes scanned by a software program. Computers are only speeding up the same process that employers and their personnel screeners have been doing for decades—searching for a few specialized phrases.

These are the words you want to put in the sweet spot at the top of your resume. In order to customize your resume for each job application, consider two factors:

  1. What the employer wants--the ad you are answering should answer this question and provide useful words and phrases.
  2. What you are offering in terms of experience, skills or accomplishments that demonstrate how you can do the job being offered, and how your goals and objectives will add value to the employer.

Using the sweet spot can simplify the task of tailoring a resume to a variety of different sorts of jobs, because only that small segment of the resume may need to be changed in order to focus more closely on the job/employer you are targeting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Resume Tips for a Paperless World

An excellent post by Dean W. Johnson, a technical recruiter and website developer. This is a real world example from a recruiter’s point of view about why old-school resume techniques no longer work in today’s job searches. The common myths Dean describes are practices I saw the vast majority of candidates doing – because it’s how they had been taught, how they got their last job (15 years ago), and what they are comfortable with.

Dean describes how the market has changed in the past 7 years since job boards have become the #1 source of new jobs, and employers expect emailed resumes.

Resume Tips For a Paperless World

Common myths

Most of the commonly said myths about
resumes come from people who still live in a world of paper. The fact is that resumes are now seldom on paper. The means by which to deal with documents without paper has been on the desks of managers for more than 15 years. If a manager is still using paper, he is probably looking for a job like you're. If the resume is not on paper then many of the commonly held myths are no longer valid, and I explain some below.

I understand that for many this transition away from paper might be painful, but it is a necessary step toward a superior and more productive life. Paper is a habit, best broken and many of the reasons for this should be obvious. Paper can only be in one place at a time. Paper must be read. You cannot do an accurate keyword search on paper. The list goes on and on and goes to the very health of the planet.

Below are some things that you should do to combat the many common myths about resumes.

Ignore the 2 page limit

There are no page limits to a resume. There might have been at one time limits to the length of resume. This was because the resume was on paper and had to be read by the
hiring manager. If the resume is in a soft document, like a word-processed document the hiring manager is more apt to use the features of the word processor to scan the document to make a decision. That decision will be based upon the keywords and the descriptions surrounding the keywords in the resumes. Keywords are the key!

Don't Be brief

If you envision the
hiring manager at a desk with a stack of resumes on the corner of the desk and the hiring manager has to read all of them, you would conclude that shortening the hiring manager's pain would be in your favor. But remember that there's no stack of resumes on his desk. There's a list of documents in a directory on his hard disk.

If you wish
your resume to be compatible with the majority of word processors use a easy format like Text, (TXT, not attractive) or Rich Text, (RTF, very attractive). These should be available on all systems both, Windows and UNIX.

Don't have them printed at the printer

In a paper-based world, in the past, this might have been appropriate, but in a computer-based world, the paper is redundant. It isn't even a good transmission medium. It has weaknesses inherent in the physical world. It can only be in one place at a time, it takes up space, it must be read, word by word, etc.

A word-processed document can look just as attractive, can be shared by many and can be transmitted instantly, much faster than mail or even a fax. It takes up much less physical space. It can be scanned for keywords and evaluated based upon keyword frequency and/or density. And besides it can also be read if you care to.

Don't use one resume, many
cover letters

In the recruiting business the only means by which a recruiter can communicate with the hiring authority is by the resume. There are no cover letters involved with
recruiters as a rule. Cover letters might have been appropriate if you went to a printer with your resume along with several reams of fancy paper and had them offset printed at great expense. Then a cover letter would have been appropriate. It would have enhanced or gave “corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.” (My apologies to William S. Gilbert.)

A word-processed resume is flexible, can be easily changed and adapted to the requirements of the position applied for. You need not make the expenditures of fancy paper, printing or postage. And as it is flexible, the important details for each and each
job can be changed. The cover letter becomes redundant.

As a recruiter myself I have the ability to say, “None of the hiring managers with whom we deal will read or accept a cover letter”.

Don't Fax resumes to
employers and recruiters

Faxed resumes have all the disadvantages of paper resumes and the added disadvantage that they often fade. Faxes are labor intensive. To put them in a modern office setting they require either re-typing or OCR and word by word inspection and changing.

You see, a soft document, which a fax is not, can be scanned by search engines and can be found later in an instant based upon the frequency of certain search words contained within. A fax will have to be adapted to this search engine by a rather labor intensive process. It does not make a good impression.

Comprehend that you have (1) prepared the resume with a word processor and then (2) printed it. Then you've (3) faxed it, and then (4) it needs to be OCRed and (5) inspected and corrected before it can go into the search engine. If you just sent the word-processed file, it could go directly into the document search engine. That would be a two step process and the second step is a fast one. Which would give the ideal impression to a prospective employer?

Don't use faxes if you can get away with it. But consider that companies that still use faxes are not apt to be competitive in the years to come.

Proactive Approach - Resume is a sales tool

What you are doing with a resume is trying to convince someone to act in your favor. It doesn't help you a bit if you put unattractive statements in the resume. That should be obvious. The hiring authority reading your resume is looking for very predicable things. Those things are in the
job posting. For the resume to be effective it must have complete contact information. Leaving contact information off the resume gives the impression that the applicant is hiding.
If you have any overseas experience, you should put your current visa status in a prominent place. If it isn't in a prominent place, the worst is likely to be assumed. Even if you’re a citizen, make that clear to the reader/decision maker.

Keywords are important

Just like a college professor, the hiring authority likes to see their own words, and so put the same keywords (buzzwords) from the job posting in the Experience section of the resume.
As said before, the resume isn't read. It is often scanned by a search engine and selected upon the number and selection of keywords. Once a resume is retrieved by a search engine, it will be viewed by the hiring manger.

He’ll open each with his word processor. At this point he might read the document but most hiring managers are busy, so the document will be searched for keywords using the “Find” function. When the keyword is found, the surrounding text will be read.

If he doesn't see all of the keywords he's looking for, that resume will be put on a back burner so to speak or rejected all together. We’ve a few hiring agencies that have clerical staff examine the resumes for the key skills and experience, and if they don't see everything asked in the job requisition the whole resume is rejected.

Skills summaries are not important

Here's a tip: The skill summary is ignored. The skills listed in a summary don't indicate the level of experience or understanding of those skills. All of the hiring managers with whom I have spoken, pass the skills summary off as hype. They don't think about it.

We stress this over and over. You can put anything into a skill summary, but it doesn't indicate the quality of the skill and that is important. The hiring manager is aware of that, and have often told us that they consider it hype. Yes, you can have a skill summary, but don't rely on it. All of the hiring managers that we speak to ignore them.

Write the resume to fit the job

You know from the job order what the hiring manager is looking for. You know that the current market is very bad with many people applying to a few jobs. Hiring managers write the job order in such a way to get the most bang for the buck and so they'll load the requisition with as many skills and tools as they’ve the ability to.

However, this is good because it gives you, the applicant, the means to write your resume to fit that hiring manager's needs. All you've to do is see that the requisite skills and tools necessary are in the Experience section of the resume.

The Work Experience Section is Very Important

Where the hiring manager is going to look is the Experience section of the resume. Most of your time should be spent there. It is there that the hiring manager will be able to associate the skills, tools and activities with the company, the location, the beginning date and the ending date. This gives the hiring manager the best view to evaluate the skills, tools and activities of the candidate.

So that is where you concentrate those very important keywords. Be sure that you portray yourself with the greatest strength that you can. All of your qualifying skills, tools and activities should be thoroughly explained. Remember there are no page limits. It is the details that's important.

Be Positive

Remember that you're selling yourself. This resume is the tool that you use. You should never place anything negative in your resume. You should never explain why you didn't get along with your former employer or co-workers. You should never complain about the conditions where you worked. One mention of a negative nature will have your resume in the wastebasket before it is read any further.


There are no page limits, you do not use paper, don't fax, you don't send a cover letter, you don't rely upon the skills summary and you put the keywords (skills, tools and activities) asked for in the job requirements in the Experience section of the resume. These are the things we have seen successful job seekers do.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good resumes...good enough?

Daily I get resumes from business contacts, asking me to pass along a friend’s resume to headhunters or hiring managers. As a fan of Karma, I’m happy do this, if this will actually help the candidate.

Last night, I got one of those emails…and it also said “she doesn’t want/need them re-written”. Of course, before passing to recruiter contacts, I want to make sure this is a quality person, with a well presented resume. The resume was OK, no typos or grammatical errors.

But even a good resume isn't good enough anymore. So an OK resume can't be good enough either. Why?

Today, hiring managers and recruiters have sophisticated search tools used to micro-target exacting search criteria. With a few recruiters’ help plus these search tools, a hiring manager can come up with a full day of interviews with people who closely match their needs, from hundreds or thousands of responses to a job ad.

You want a left handed finance manager, who's evaluated mergers, implemented SAP, has Foreign Exchange, Credit, and Financial Analysis experience, is an Excel genius, done international budgets/forecasts in Hyperion, plays bass in a rock band, is a team player with strong communication skills and has an MBA from the University of Mars? Simple, place an ad, get a few good recruiters to help, you'll find dozens within a week or two.

And this can be done without even looking at the majority of resume’s sent. Monster and Careerbuilder both have tools that rank resumes by the number of words that match, so you'd never have to see a resume from VU (Venus University). These tools allow employers to search resumes in much the same way you search for websites on Google.

This makes resume searches so much more efficient for the employer, because they only have to look at 2-3% of the resumes sent to get an interview list.

These search tools also makes it so much more difficult for a candidate to get noticed.

What’s the chance that an OK resume will get interviewed, and end up in the top 2-3%? The chances are slim, unless the employer is looking for candidates who are just OK (maybe to find below market wage employees).

If you’re a professional, a manager, or an executive looking for work, do you want an OK resume? How about a good resume, a well written resume, a resume that's fine, a nice-looking resume?

Or do you want a KILLER resume that’s an exact match?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Job Search 2.0 has been a reality since 2006 - Why aren't candidates using it?

Why do so few use this to their advantage?

For the past few years, there's been a revolution going on in employment markets....let's call it Job Search 2.0.

Starting with vertical search engines like and others, job seekers started having greater advantages than ever before in their careers.But along with advantages, there became new challenges. In fact, the whole job seeking game has been turned upside down in the past few years.

In my experience as a recruiter, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help some brilliant people. But most of these otherwise brilliant people fought me kicking and screaming, when I tried to modernize their job search strategy.

Why? They learned how to job hunt when they graduated college – 20, 30, 40 years ago. And it’s served them well. BUT THINGS CHANGED……

The job changer's challenge now is - How do I stand out? For most jobs posted on the major sites, the employer gets hundreds (if not THOUSANDS) or responses. The employers’ HR department is charged with screening these down to 10-20 that get interviews.

Ugly Truth #1 – YOUR RESUME IS NOT LIKELY TO BE READ BY A HUMAN: Both Monster and CareerBuilder have tools to help employers pre-screen resumes, so that HR departments can choose the top 2-3% for review, and interview maybe ½ of those.

Ugly Truth #2 – YOUR COVER LETTER GETS THROWN AWAY: In the age of heavy bond printed resumes, we were taught to write a customized cover letter for each job. Today, cover letters are stripped, and not used for the pre-screening process.

But in my experience as a recruiter, I RARELY saw candidates use even the most basic of the new tools at their disposal, to make these ugly truths work for them. Instead, most just blindly sent resumes to anything that looked remotely close, and were frustrated that they couldn’t get interviews.

The purpose of this blog is to help people make successful job changes using modern tools at their disposal…RIGHT NOW. For additional help and information, please jump to my website at

Here’s a post from August 2006 to give readers an idea just how long this has been around…..

So how can you change your past patterns to use these new tools? Stay tuned…..