Friday, January 15, 2016

Your Job Search could be like sailing on uncharted waters. Don’t get hung up on a reef.

Get your resume into good order. Decide on the best search strategy for you. Become knowledgeable about all the search tactics that can support your strategy and learn how to execute them properly.

Every day I hear from people who have been out of work for a while, sometimes years. What went wrong with their search? Is it really just them? Or could it be what they did to prepare or how they conducted their search? Or could it be their resume and/or cover letter that are holding them back.

I also hear from people who are currently employed but want to make a change. Sometimes the last time they searched was 20 years ago. And they feel they can do what they used to do to find a new job without any professional help.

And I hear from new college grads with great aspirations and little or no work experience struggling to find non-sales jobs.

The world of job searching is constantly evolving. There are contemporary ways to write a resume, much different from the past. If you get advice from people who don’t understand that you will probably wind up with an ‘old’ style resume and rejection!

The electronic age has changed everything and it has been exasperated by the economy and unemployment: there is new search technology, hiring process technology, contemporary resume formats, greater competition for fewer jobs, and how people review your documents is much different than in the past. Differentiation is more important today than ever before.

Professional help is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The cost of not getting help early pales by comparison to the time and money you lose by not doing it right the first time. If you are not in tune with the present regarding job search strategy, tactics, marketing, and collateral document preparation, how can you expect to compete? The message is clear: you cannot. The conclusion is also clear: get professional help.


Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. Get his help! Email him today at kl@hoochresumes.com

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Resume Writing is like learning to ride a bike.

You start out Unconsciously Incompetent, trying to figure out how to do it.

After generating numerous iterations you become Consciously Incompetent, wondering why you are not getting interviews.

As time passes without results you become frustrated and begin to reach out for help. If you get professional help you begin to learn how to write a resume that will get response. You are becoming Consciously Competent. This is the minimum level all job seekers should strive for.

As you write and re-write you resume so that it is responsive to each position you apply for, you become more competent, finally reaching the Unconsciously Competent stage. All professional resume writers should be at this level.

Resume writers can be expensive so why get professional help? An extended job search is usually much more costly.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. Get his help! Email him today at kl@hoochresumes.com

Monday, January 11, 2016

Avoiding an extended job search is no simple trick.

I think Ulrich Schild said it best: “It’s not who you know, but who wants to know you.”

That is a fundamental truth when it comes to job searching. What you write in your resume, how you network, how you deal with recruiters, how you interview, how you decide on a search strategy is, are all instruments of marketing yourself to those who need you. 

Each often requires skills and knowledge the average job seeker simply doesn't have full command of.  Lacking the right skills and knowledge job searching can often go well beyond the point of reasonable return. Time out of work exasperates the ability to find a good job. 

It follows that getting expert help as soon as possible is the best way to avoid an extended search.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Is getting an interview hard to do? Think Differentiation.


Competition for jobs is always tough. Differentiation is the key to success.

Differentiate yourself from the herd by knowing how to write your resume, what search tactics you should be using and how to execute them, by understanding the best way to apply for the job, and by mastering interview skills. 

Here are some suggestions for differentiating yourself from your competition: 

1.    Make sure your resume needs to reflect your achievements and the results of your work, not just what your responsibilities have been. And make sure it is ATS-compatible.

2.    Understand which search tactics have the greatest chance of getting you interviews.

3.    Understand why focusing your search on job boards is the least effective way to get a job.

4.    Identify and make direct contact with the hiring manager BEFORE you apply. Establish rapport and learn what the hiring manager’s pain is.

5.    Learn about the different kinds of recruiting firms, how they work, how to work with them, and what to expect from them.

6.    Find out how to avoid common networking mistakes. Learn how to utilize employee referral bonus programs.

7.    Make sure you are well practiced for the kinds of interview questions you are likely to get. Know how to close every interview so you know when to follow-up.

8.    Understand how to negotiate job offers. 

Don’t procrastinate. Learn how to differentiate yourself today!


Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why you should speak to the hiring manager before you apply for a job.

Applying online without finding out what the hiring manager's hot buttons are is the least effective way of getting a job. The most productive way is to talk to the hiring manager first.

Last week I posted a discussion topic addressing non-response to job applications which asked what techniques people can use to overcome non-response. One reader asked why you should try to speak directly to the hiring manager before applying for a job. Here are the reasons:

        DIFFERENTIATION: The most important reason is to differentiate yourself from your competition!  Few people take the trouble to learn how to find out who the hiring manager is and speak to him or her. Differentiation is the foundation of marketing. It is the key to a robust job search.

        NEEDS DISCOVERY: One really cannot be all things to all people. It follows that to get an interview you need to sell to the hiring manager’s needs. But quite often a job description does not reflect the hiring manager’s true pain. You can only find out what it is by speaking directly to the hiring manager. And that gives you the opportunity to explain why you are the solution to the problem.

        COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: One factor to winning an interview is to cause the hiring manager to like you. Consider the value of establishing rapport with the hiring manager while the competition is idly hoping for a call from HR. By having a conversation you can build rapport and learn about what is most important to the hiring manager. Meanwhile your competition becomes more and more disadvantaged.

        RESUME EDITING: By learning the hiring manager’s hot buttons you can edit your resume to focus on your specific achievements that are responsive to the critical needs before you submit your resume. If you submit before you have the conversation you forfeit that opportunity.

        COVER LETTER EDITING: When you have a hiring manager’s name, title, and have discussed how you are the solution to his or her problems, you have a reason for writing and the ability to reiterate the points you made during your conversation. Effective cover letter writing becomes a much simpler task.  

        OMBUDSMAN: Speaking directly to the hiring manager offers you the chance to send your edited resume directly to the most important person in the hiring process, the decision maker, without going through the company protocols first. Of course eventually you will have to submit your application through the company hiring process, but you will have the hiring manager looking out for you.

        MOTIVATION / INITIATIVE: Making the call demonstrates that you are self-motivated, that you take the initiative. It shows that you don’t just sit back waiting and hoping someone will call you. You take the initiative in managing your search. You are action-oriented.

        HIDDEN JOBS: Sometimes a hiring manager may not have a position that fits you but after speaking to you likes what you have to say and decides to make adjustments in the organization and create a new position just for you. It happens!

        NETWORKING FOR FUTURE JOBS: A decision maker is a valuable member of your personal network. Sometimes the conversation opens up other opportunities either now or at a later date. Even if you do not get a job with the hiring manager, that person becomes a valuable connection in your network. Decision makers usually know other decision makers in their network.

        CONTROL, THE BOTTOM LINE: Speaking with the hiring manager gives you the greatest control over your destiny, making it the most effective job search tactic.

Without question for many people, this tactic requires learning new skills. It involves learning how to identify who the decision maker is (as in sales prospecting) and how to get past the gatekeepers to make direct voice contact.

Those are skills practiced by good salespeople. With proper coaching and practice you do not need to be a salesperson to learn them well enough to help you find the job you want.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Are you ready to call the hiring manager BEFORE you apply for the job?

If you have thoroughly researched the company, you will know a lot about them, their products or services, their financial state, their competitive position, their culture, etc. Then, once you have carefully reviewed the job description and have a good idea of what is important to the hiring manager, you will have a good idea of how your strengths will play into the advertised position and whether you might fit into the company.


Your  next step is to call the hiring manager and speak directly with him or her. By doing so you will have the opportunity to confirm his/her needs, differentiate yourself from your competition and establish a competitive advantage. You will also be able to tune your resume to the specific needs of the position and you will have demonstrated your motivation and willingness to take the initiative, attributes valued by hiring managers.


Is this search tactic easy? It is if you are willing to learn from those who can teach you. Everyone can learn how to identify who the hiring manager is and how to get past the gatekeepers to make direct voice contact. Obviously it requires practice. You can be sure your competition is learning how to perfect this job search tactic right now.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, December 13, 2015

At the last interview, ask for the job!

Jake was interviewing with Wild Indigenous Nut Company (WINC) for the position of Chief Nut Roaster, a position he had been wanting for a long time. He was up against two other finalists. His interviews were going well and this, the last interview, was his chance to make a final impression. 

Jake wasn’t certain he would get the offer, so in the closing minutes with Jane, the hiring manager, he leaned forward in his chair, looked Jane squarely in the eye and said, “Jane, I like what I have heard about you, the job, and WINC. I am convinced this is the place where I want to continue my career. In short, I want this job. When can I start?”

Dissecting James closing comments, a couple of important points can be made.

Jake was uncertain. He knew there were two other candidates and he wasn’t sure if he was the preferred candidate.

He suspected Jane would have to get approval from her manager, who had also interviewed the final candidates.

So Jake used the Presumptive Close, a technique he learned during interview training. And he personalized it by stating her name first. In the presumptive close one makes a statement and follows it up with a presumptive question without allowing any time for a response between the statement and the question. Jake made sure Jane knew where he stood and immediately asked her when he could start, a presumption that he was her first choice and that she would make an offer.

This is a powerful close candidates can use to solicit a positive response from a hiring manager. The beauty of closing properly is that regardless of the response, positive or negative, a decision is made which allows both parties to move on without wondering what the next steps are. If the response is positive Jake gets the job. If the response is negative, Jake has the opportunity to find out why and overcome the objection. If Jane is non-committal, Jake needs to set Jane’s expectations by stating he will call her back in a week or whatever appropriate timeframe. After the time passes, candidates who do not set expectations are left wondering what to do if they do not hear back. That is not where you want to be!


So at the last interview, ask for the job! And be prepared to negotiate terms, overcome objections, or establish next steps.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Monday, November 30, 2015

How many people actually ask for the job at interviews?

If you interview and decide you want the job it is critically important to make sure the hiring manager knows it. It is equally important to say you do not want the job if you don’t so that no one wastes further time.

A hiring manager often needs to obtain concurrence on a proposed offer and if so, may have to justify the hiring rationale to someone else who must approve it. If there are two fairly equal candidates, one who clearly indicates desire and one who does not, it may be likely the offer will go to the candidate who has asked for the job.

Asking for the job is simply a normal sales process one should follow. I suggest using a “presumptive close” such as “Based on everything we have reviewed and discussed, I want you to understand that I want this job”. When can I start?” Or alternatively, “Given the conversations I’ve had with you and the others I am convinced this is the place where I want to continue my career. In short I want this job. When can I start?” This is an excellent close because “When can I start” presumes a positive response to stating you want the job.

By presuming the outcome the hiring manager knows where you stand. He or she will then know it is worthwhile to seek concurrence if approval is necessary. If the hiring manager responds that there are more candidates to consider, one then needs to establish when he or she should expect to hear back. This avoids later questions about “should I or should I not contact them” and when should I do it.

As the interview progresses there are a number of trial closes one can use that ultimately lead up to the final interview and an offer. As each interview comes to a close one should ask “Based on what we have discussed, is there anything that concerns you about my fit for this position?” This type of question enables you to determine if there are any objections and affords you the opportunity to discuss and overcome them.

At the end of all conversations with all interviewers it is wise to assess each interviewer’s feelings about your fit. “Based on our discussion do you feel positive about my fit for this job? Do you have any concerns?”

Before leaving an interview one should always set expectations for the next steps in the process.  Ask “What are the next steps?” Try to get the last interviewer to state who will do what and when so that if a week or so passes and you haven’t heard, you will feel comfortable following up. When expectations are not set, you don’t know whether following up would be perceived as annoying or not. If the interviewer does not respond with clear expectations, (who, what, when) then it is appropriate for you to state that you will follow up in a week.

After speaking with each interviewer make sure to thank the interviewer and ask for the person’s business cards. This enables you to follow up with the name, title and contact information for each, complete with correct spelling.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Networking isn’t about me, me, me!

Have you ever been in a job search networking situation, met someone new, said “And what do you do?” only to find that the person won’t stop talking about themselves? Does that solicit a positive reaction from you, or do you look for a way to get away from them?

People who respond to you in this manner fail to understand the appropriate way to conduct themselves in a job search networking environment. Often they will leave the meeting without getting any information that may help them with their search.

Networking is a two-way conversation that is intended to be beneficial to both parties to the conversation. At the very least it is important to establish rapport by talking about things that interest both parties that may have nothing to do with job searching. After rapport is established there is the opportunity for finding out “Who do you know? What is it like working for that company?” etc.


When asked about yourself it helps to respond with brief answers that, by not “telling it all,” leaving room for follow-on questions from the other person. Pausing and looking for reactions and responses always trumps monopolizing the conversation. The bottom line: If you like to talk a lot, be aware of it and guard against doing it in networking situations.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Do you differentiate yourself from your competition? Differentiation is fundamental Marketing 101.

Rather than focusing only on what you have done in your career, why not aim your focus on how you will stand out.

When writing your resume, write about the results of your work. Write about the outcome of each thing you did. Most people only write about their responsibilities, not what they have accomplished.

When you network look for opportunities to discuss the results of some things you have done. Engage someone in a conversation about themselves. Then you are likely to find an opportunity to talk about your achievements.

Find and speak to the hiring manager BEFORE you apply or send any materials to the company. You can bet your competition won’t do this.

Be in front of your search, leading the way, doing things that get action. You may think you are making progress by camping on the job boards, posting your resume and applying to every job you think you might have a remote chance of winning, but did you know that less than 2 percent of jobs are found this way?

Contribute to discussions in LinkedIn. Become known.


Do these things and you will differentiate yourself from the herd of applicants.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Show me a consistently successful leader that was a pessimist.

Pessimism paralyzes. It kills interviews. It infects the workplace. It stymies finding solutions to problems. It moves business backwards. Nobody wants to be near a chronic pessimist. 


Optimism is the elixir that keeps things moving forward. Optimists are resourceful. They have positive attitudes. People like to be near them. They are more likable, more fun to be with. They generate optimism in others. They motivate.

Optimistic job seekers are much more likely to compete successfully and win the new job. Interviewers are sensitive to a candidate’s personality; they will be looking for optimists. Given two equally qualified candidates, the pessimist will be the loser! It follows that given two equal employees, the pessimist will be the first to be laid off when business requires reduction in force.


Job seekers, in particular, need to take note. Unfortunately, pessimists do not always view themselves as being pessimistic. There are signs we all can look for. Do people tend to gravitate away from us or toward us. Do they listen intently or dismissively. Do we usually smile or frown. If the signs of pessimism are there, work on changing. Everyone can consciously work on maintaining an optimistic attitude.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Some things that can get you rejected in a face-to-face interview.

You might be surprised how many people don’t do what should be obvious preparation for face-to-face interviews. You can mess up an interview by doing any of these things:

Be late: there are valid and invalid reasons.  Call ahead and explain. Prepare in advance by getting contact names and telephone numbers. Know exactly how to get there; do a dry run if possible.

Be odorific: Avoid this by practicing good hygiene. Avoid things that create bad breath. Alcohol, smoke and food seasonings like garlic on your breath will make you unattractive.

Dress inappropriately: Only lost luggage can explain away this one.

Be totally unprepared for the questions: There are standard types of questions. Prepare with practiced answers. Practice out loud with video if possible. Listen to what you say, how you say it and watch your body language. Learn from it.


Make politically incorrect comments, swear, be negative, berate your employer, don’t smile, and talk too much (monopolize the conversation) during the interview: These things will end your chances quickly and it should be obvious to avoid making them, but given things I have heard in interviews, I wonder how obvious.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sometimes we are simply products of our environment, but we are always the products of our decisions!

New job seekers may be the result of their job environment, but the decisions they make regarding how to become employed again are absolutely critical!

Losing a job, regardless of the reason, creates a situation having the potential to bring great harm to real life situations depending upon the decisions made by those losing their job.

What are you going to do if it happens to you? Job searching is more complex than it was years ago, but there are also more search tools available as well. The answer is to do everything legal and ethical you can do to win a job offer.

Getting professional help, immediately, is the most important action to take when one has just become unemployed. While outplacement services are not always available to the newly unemployed, professional job search services are always there. Professional services are more affordable immediately and becomes less affordable as time passes, therefore time is of the essence. Procrastination is the enemy. So is the assumption that “I can do it on my own”.

Job searching is blessed by the electronic age. It is extremely different than in years past. Typewriters are replaced by computers; Newspaper ads by the internet. New search techniques that many job seekers have never used are available, indeed have become required skills in order to compete. Some search techniques are incredible hurdles for the uninitiated. Therefore overcoming procrastination and getting professional help immediately is of paramount importance to the new job seeker.


For those who are fortunate to be currently employed, preparing for the future, be it self-planned or a surprise, would be good ‘insurance’ to purchase.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Have you differentiated yourself from the rest of the job candidates?

Most job seekers will first think of applying through HR because “that is the way it has always been”. But unless you are seeking an HR position you should be directing your efforts directly toward the actual hiring manager, not HR, regardless of what the application instructions say.

Take the requirements stated in a job description with a big grain of salt. Many ads are canned repeats of older jobs and don’t adequately reflect what a particular hiring manager needs. Some will instruct you not to call. However the most successful way to get a job is to speak directly to the hiring manager before you send your resume in so that you can edit it specifically for what that hiring manager’s key problems are. The job description may not say what is critical to landing the job.

Eventually you will have to follow the proper job application protocols, but unless you speak to the hiring manager before you apply and have the opportunity to edit your resume you have no better chance of landing the job than the rest of the herd of applicants! Differentiation is the name of the game, and you don’t differentiate yourself by being just another one of the herd of applicants. Be different. Call and speak directly to the hiring manager before you apply.


Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Can you prove you are what you claim to be?

Does your resume say you are innovative, world-class, results-oriented, motivated, creative, dynamic, passionate, unique, strategic, collaborative, etc.?

Do you think people will believe what you say simply because it is written? Maybe some will be gullible and accept anything you tell them, but good hiring managers will not!

Imagine you are the hiring manager. You have been charged with the responsibility of achieving many goals. Your personal performance depends upon delivering results. Your pay and promotability depend upon your results. And now you have a hiring need.

You know that hiring people who claim to be one thing and turn out to be another can be worse than not hiring anyone. Making self-assessing claims can raise doubts thereby having the opposite effect then their intent. A good hiring manager will question your claims unless you can demonstrate them. And if you simply describe your results and accomplishments there is no need to make self-assessing claims.

For the hiring manager, not only is making a wrong hire a waste of time and money, it can make results worse and consume much time to correct. So a good hiring manager will not take self-assessing claims at face value.

For a job seeker, the conclusion should be obvious. Demonstrate what you claim to be by providing examples. Clearly indicate the results of your work. Talk about what you have achieved and why it was important. By doing so you will attract the hiring manager’s attention and enable him or her to vet you. You will not need to make self-assessing claims that come across as having questionable merit, thereby raising doubts about you.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, October 4, 2015

When you are told to “Tell me about yourself”. What are you going to say?

The interviewer just turned control of the interview over to you. This is your chance to take the interview into the direction you want it to go. The interviewer surely will take over soon enough but this is your opportunity to tell about the most important thing you want the interviewer to know about you.

While you can respond many ways, it is not the time to talk about your life history. Don’t ask “What would you like to hear about?” That answer turns control back to the interviewer and points out that you are not prepared, not creative, not “street smart” or maybe all of the above. Be prepared with a topic that starts out with “I’d like to tell you about ……….” or something similar. If you have already spoken with the hiring manager by phone (a recommended search tactic) you can expand on something that was important to him or her.


The interviewer is most likely interested in something that applies to the job, but the question might also be a probe for something non-work related that talks to your outside interests to see how “well-rounded” you are. While this may be the case, be prepared to at least direct the flow of information to those work-related strengths you think the interviewer should be interested in.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, September 27, 2015

How many file formats do you save your resume in? Is one enough?

Not today!

If all you have is one you might want to reconsider what you are doing in view of ATS software used in company hiring processes today and document processing software used in the creation of your resume. You can inadvertently make your resume incompatible with ATS!

Front end hiring process technology has changed over years and it is not kind to job seekers. Most firms use ATS in the front end of their hiring process and rely on a parser to sort out candidates before a human will ever know about them, much less see their resume. You will get scored and compared with your competition before a human ever knows about you. The best candidate on paper can get weeded out of the competition by the parser.

Fortunately for you document preparation software makes it very easy to create and edit a resume today compared to the technology your father and grandfather had. It’s easy to edit the resume to be responsive to what is required for a particular job. However, without even realizing it you might incorporate problems for the parser that have nothing to do with your qualifications but everything to do with the software features you used to create the document. This can result in failure to respond to your application, or worse, outright rejection regardless of your qualifications.

Most people need help to create an ATS-ready resume. But even after you create a resume that is compatible with ATS parsing, you will need your resume saved in different file formats to serve different purposes. Thanks to computers that is easy to do as well. A pure text file is the optimum format for ATS parsing purposes, but for humans who can see and appreciate professional appearance in a resume, you certainly want a more attractive file saved in a more attractive file format.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cold calling: Breaking the barrier between you and reaching the hiring manager.


Sometimes there is no other way to find the name of the hiring manager than to make cold-calls into a company. Many people are timid about doing this. Many are in full panic mode when actually to trying to speak directly to the manager. To overcome the fear, the best remedy is to prepare and practice some brief scripts for soliciting the name, for getting past the gatekeepers and for speaking to the manager.

Practicing out loud with another person is critical because it affords the opportunity to make mistakes and modify the script when there is no negative outcome. Practice also enables one to internalize the script rather than memorize it. A memorized script usually comes across very “canned” and obvious.

It is always easier to get information if you establish rapport with the person on the other end first. Before giving your name, ask for the name of the person you are speaking to before asking for the name of the person you are trying to reach. Once you have the exact name of the right contact, either continue to try to make voice contact with the hiring manager or call back later and ask to speak directly with that person by name.

Quite often you will be asked what the purpose of your call is. Whatever response you offer, do not tell them you are looking for a job. That answer will get you transferred quickly to HR. Unless you are looking for an HR position, that’s not where you want to be.

It’s not always easy to make contact with the hiring manager over the phone. Keep calling, politely but persistently, until you reach the person you need to speak to. If you are asked to leave a message, don’t do it. Messages often don’t get returned. Instead, find out when the boss will be available and offer to call back at that time, and be sure to do it.

It’s not always easy to make contacts over the phone. Keep calling, politely but persistently, until you reach the person you need to speak to. The more you do it the better you will get at it. Don’t leave messages. Instead, find out when the boss will be available and offer to call back at that time, and be sure to do it.


Just don’t give up.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Monday, September 14, 2015

Resume Writing 101 vis-à-vis ATS parsing, a conservative approach.

When creating resumes for the job market today one must consider who, or in most cases, what is going to review the resume first. With the proliferation of ATS software being applied at the front end of the hiring process it is very possible a human will never see the resume, at least in the form it was prepared. Because ATS does not have eyes, beauty or attractiveness is totally unimportant to it and in fact, can cause the resume to become “unreadable”. Appearance is important to the human eye but not to a computer. So it is important that the resume be professional in appearance when humans read it. This means resumes need to be saved in at least two file formats.

Many people have opinions about how to write a resume so that it will pass ATS scrutiny. And much of their advice is correct, but often only true for certain ATS products. Most often the advice given does not cover all ATS products, and there are over 220 of them. So how can you deal with their advice when it is wrong for the software used by a company you are applying to? The answer is to take a conservative approach and write your resume to satisfy virtually every ATS parser.

Some will argue that many of the issues that used to cause parsing failures have been fixed and no longer apply. The fact is that is not true for all 220 products. The company one applies for a job at may not have ATS software that can overcome the issues. Therefore one must prepare for the entire universe of parsers. That is the conservative approach.

For the most part, expert opinions on parsing software are well-intentioned. However, many who profess to have detailed knowledge of ATS base their opinions on limited knowledge, some of which is incorrect. Many do not understand that the optimum file format for ATS parsing is ASCII text. Many also do not understand that most parsers are designed to look for certain information in a certain order for best results. For example some will tell you that it doesn’t matter in what order date information is given. That may be true for some parsers, but not all; therefore it is best to take the conservative approach and list dates fist. And there are many more examples.

All parsers can ‘read’ ASCII text. Therefore the conservative approach is to have a file saved in ASCII text for applying electronically and and a copy that is saved in a standard word processing format that is attractive to the human eye!

The fact is that when any of over 40 common non-ASCII attributes are incorporated by word processors into a resume, most ATS parsers will fail to parse correctly and are most likely to outright reject a resume. One simple rule to follow is this: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and parsers do not have eyes, so when applying electronically, use the text file (*.txt).


Having said that doesn’t mean that you should not care about the appearance of a resume. On the contrary!  You also need to save your resume as a Word or other word processing file you hand it to people or send it to them. When you wish to hand give resume to another human, make sure it has a professional appearance, is written intelligently and displays excellent language skills. Then save it also as a txt file for electronically applying to a job.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Do you want to avoid the black hole? Then don’t risk falling into it in the first place!

The use of ATS software at the front end of hiring processes is becoming more and more prolific. It is also being used extensively by recruiting firms under contract to hiring companies to do candidate searching for them. Is your resume ATS-ready? If not, ATS parsing software just might toss your resume into the ‘bottomless pit’.


Applying to jobs online is like standing on the edge of a bottomless pit. One false move and you and your resume are gone. At worst it can result in no one knowing you were there, no one able to contact you or help you. At best you might be one of the less than 2% of people who actually get called for an interview. At worst you are an unknown MIA.

There are two solutions that go hand in hand. A more effective way of spending your valuable job search time is to make your resume ATS-ready and talk directly to the hiring manager before you apply for the job.

Consider the fact that all hiring companies are concerned with the costs of doing business, including recruiting and hiring costs. Hiring costs have gone through the roof because of the ease with which people can apply for jobs whether they are qualified or not. Companies are willing to purchase an ATS software license because they can offset the cost by eliminating people and the associated salary and benefits they would have to have on board to handle the volume.

For years companies have used referrals from employees as one source of candidates. Companies have created Employee Referral Bonus plans (ERPs) wherein bonuses of a few hundred to a thousand dollars are awarded to employees if the person they refer is hired. ERP bonuses cost a lot less than the cost of a recruiting firm or the costs of advertising on job boards, therefore many companies prefer using ERP bonuses whenever they can. Recruiting firms can be effective, but they are the most costly to the hiring company. Recruiting typically costs between 25 to 35 percent of the candidate’s first year salary and sometimes more!

Being referred to the hiring manager and talking directly to that person before you submit your resume is the most effective job search tactic you can use! If you make sure your resume is ATS-ready, it gets you past the ATS issue and it costs the company far less than the alternatives. Trust me, if you don’t do it, your competition will and you will remain just ‘one of the herd’.

And take it from an HR professional who writes about internal company recruiters: “Nothing personal: Why recruiters don’t get back to you” by Suzanne Lucas, March 25, 2013: http://ow.ly/juSR9

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why should you try to speak directly to the hiring manager before you apply for the job?

Last week I posted a discussion topic addressing non-response to job applications which asked what techniques people can use to overcome non-response. One reader asked why you should try to speak directly to the hiring manager before applying for a job. This week I will elaborate on the reasons.

        DIFFERENTIATION: The most important reason is to differentiate yourself from your competition!  Few people take the trouble to learn how to find out who the hiring manager is and speak to him or her. Differentiation is the foundation of marketing. Isn’t marketing yourself the key to a robust job search?

        NEEDS DISCOVERY: One really cannot be all things to all people. It seems logical that to get an interview you need to sell to the hiring manager’s needs. But quite often a job description does not reflect the hiring manger’s highest priority needs. You can find out what they are by speaking to the hiring manager. And at the same time you have the opportunity to explain why you are the solution to the problems.

        COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: Another factor to win an interview is to cause the hiring manager to like you. Consider the value of establishing rapport with the hiring manager while the competition is idly waiting for a call from HR. By having a conversation you can build rapport and learn about what is most important to the hiring manager. Meanwhile your competition becomes more and more disadvantaged.

        RESUME EDITING: By learning the hiring manager’s hot buttons you can edit your resume to focus on your specific achievements that are responsive to the critical needs before you submit. If you submit before you have the conversation you forfeit that opportunity.

        COVER LETTER EDITING: When you have a hiring manager’s name, title, and have discussed how you are the solution to his or her problems, you have a reason for writing and the ability to reiterate the points you made during your conversation. Effective cover letter writing becomes a much simpler task.  

        OMBUDSMAN: Speaking directly to the hiring manager offers you the chance to send your edited resume directly to the most important person in the hiring process, the decision maker, without going through the company protocols first. Of course eventually you will have to submit your application through the company hiring process, but you will have the hiring manager looking out for you.

        MOTIVATION / INITIATIVE: Making the call demonstrates that you are self-motivated, that you take the initiative. It shows that you don’t just sit back waiting and hoping someone will call you. You take the initiative in managing your search. You are action-oriented.

        HIDDEN JOBS: Sometimes a hiring manager may not have a position that fits you but after speaking to you likes what you have to say and decides to make adjustments in the organization and create a new position just for you. It does happen!

        NETWORKING FOR FUTURE JOBS: A decision maker is a valuable member of your personal network. Sometimes the conversation opens up other opportunities either now or at a later date. Decision makers usually have other decision makers in their network.

        CONTROL, THE BOTTOM LINE: Speaking with the hiring manager gives you the greatest control over your destiny, making it the most effective job search tactic.

Without question this tactic requires learning new skills for many people. It involves learning how to identify who the decision maker is (as in sales prospecting) and how to get past the gate keepers to make direct voice contact.

These are skills practiced by good salespeople. With proper coaching and practice you do not need to be a salesperson to learn them well enough to help you find the job you want.


Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com

Monday, August 17, 2015

When you are a “perfect” fit for a job, why don’t you get a response to your application?

Has it happened to you? Does it happen often? Have you written and rewritten your resume many times and still received few or no responses? 

There are many reasons why job seekers don’t get responses: 

·         I am not going to defend companies who do not respond except in cases where it is actually your fault, such as when it is not clear how to reach you or you have made a typographical error in your contact information.

·         Or they may be using Applicant Tracking System software to process the volume and you may have made some mistakes in the creation of your resume that make it impossible for ATS software to understand who you are.

·         Or you are not as qualified as you believe you are.

 

While it is a fact that companies are overwhelmed by the volume of applicants that should not be a reason for failing to respond to you. Sometimes companies seem not to care. And some employees are overworked or apathetic regarding their responsibility for contacting you. 


Fortunately there are some things you can do to improve your situation:

·         #1, don’t start out by pounding the job boards and immediately applying online. Yes it is the easiest way to job search. It is also the least effective way. There are better ways of spending your valuable search time.

·         Have you hired professional resume help from people who understand what causes ATS parsing software to fail?

·         Do you target companies you are interested in rather than broadcasting to everyone?

·         Do you find out what the hiring managers’ critical needs are and edit your resume and cover letter to be responsive to those needs before you apply?

·         Do you know how to identify who the hiring managers are? Do you reach out to them; talk to them before you send your resume so you can identify their critical needs and edit your resume. Job postings don’t always reflect the real needs.

·         Have you ever found out who works for the company and tried to get a referral to the hiring manager?

·         Have you learned how to create scripts you need to make calls, get past the gatekeepers and speak directly to hiring managers? It is important to learn the communication skills you need.


Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. He has been counseling job seekers since that time as well. If you would like his help, email him at kl@hoochresumes.com