Monday, July 9, 2018

The realities of job searching today: Rough road ahead.

Job search effectiveness is strongly affected by a few basic facts:
·        Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software may reject you regardless of your qualifications:
How your resume is prepared is often the cause of rejection by ATS before a human ever sees it.
Even those companies who do not use ATS may reject or fail to respond if a human reader is unable to quickly find points of interest in a resume. All potential ATS issues should be eliminated. When your resume is re-written the writer should guarantee you will not be rejected because of document creation attributes built into your resume. You should also be provided with written guidelines for preventing over 40 attributes that can cause ATS issues when you edit the resume in the future.
·        People will often reject you and move on to the next resume if your resume is difficult to read quickly:
On the first pass most people really do not actually read resumes!
At best they scan very quickly looking for keywords and data they are interested in. The first 5 seconds are critical. In that brief time they look at your name, contact information, location, personal brand, skills, and the results of your work on the first page. If they find nothing that interests them they are likely to reject you without further review. It is a final, binary decision because there are simply too many other resumes to read. Further scanning, perhaps 25 more seconds, occurs only for the few people who pass the initial review.  A more detailed review occurs for the top candidates.
·        One resume usually does not fit all jobs:
If you don't edit your resume to be responsive to the hiring manager's critical needs of each job, I can assure you your competition will.
Be prepared to edit your resume for each position you apply to so that it is responsive to the specific needs of each hiring manager.
·        Differentiation is the key to getting hired:
Focus on differentiating you from your competition. Differentiate by quickly demonstrating how well you performed on the job. Show the results of your work, what you accomplished that supported or improved the business. This is the key to getting interviews and ultimately the job.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Would you want to work for this company?

Every job seeker has their own wants, needs and desires for their next job.

Job searching normally starts with getting your resume in shape before searching, but it could start with who's hiring. Soon enough one must find out who is hiring and whether they would want to work for them. 

Each situation is different. Are you employed or unemployed? Do you fit in better in a large company or a small one, a public or private company, for profit or non-profit situation, start-up or mature, same industry or different one? How important each consideration is becomes an individual decision.

Getting interviews with a great resume is one thing. Having enough information to make an informed decision about a company is quite another. Before pursuing an opportunity, two things one might consider are: If I had the choice, would I be willing to invest my money in them? And what do their employees have to say about them?

The key questions are:
     Is the company financially stable?
     Is the industry and company growing or declining?
     Is the company competitive? Is it a leader or follower?        
     Do people like working there? Do they like the company culture and management? What would they change if they could?
     What do ex-employees think about the company? (If negative, dig deep to find out why. They may simply be disgruntled.)

To help assess how strong a company is, visit financial investing resources: (go to the "Filings" tab)   This is a Pay site. You can get some private company information here.

And ask a financial advisor if you can:
     It's their business to know about investing opportunities.

To find out what employees think, ask what they like/dislike about the company:
     To find current and past employees, search LinkedIn for people who work at the company. Invite them to connect. Write a note introducing you in the invitation, don't use the impersonal default invitation.

Don't forget to ask people in your network
     It's been said you never know what you don't know? Well you won't ever know if you don't ask questions. And you will often be surprised by the answers you get.

The takeaway is this:
     Getting your resume into shape is critical for certain, but so is researching companies before you get too involved with them. A bad decision may put you back into the job market.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tips for scoring high with Hiring Managers

Seeking a new job is a sales task. Your resume is an advertisement that describes the benefits of buying your services to the buyer, AKA the Hiring Manager. The purpose of the resume and cover letter are to entice this decision-maker to want to interview you.

So it's important to find out what the hiring manager's problems are. Why are they hiring? What needs to be done? The more you know about what the problem is, the better able you are to describe yourself in terms of being the solution to the problem.

The actual problems are rarely described adequately in job descriptions. The greatest success in winning interviews is achieved by those who talk directly to the decision-maker in an informal way before submitting their resume. This is how to pinpoint the real needs and show how you can fix them. And that is what sales is all about, discovering a need and selling to it!

When creating your advertisements, think like the hiring manager.  Put yourself in his or her shoes and ask yourself "If I were the hiring manager what would I want to see on my resume that would make me want to interview this person?"

Your accomplishments and the results of your work are the answers to the question. Your responsibilities and the companies you may have worked for are important but may not get you an interview by themselves. It's very important to provide evidence of how well you performed your job.

The takeaway is this: Find out why the job is open. Describe why you are the solution to a problem. Sell the benefits of hiring you. Make the resume easy to read quickly. Cull out words and statements that don’t really address the requirements of the job. Leave out fluff, things that are not relevant to the job. Once people begin to read fluff they tend to lose interest quickly which makes your sale much more difficult. By the way, fluff includes those self-assessing adjectives that say how great you are. Instead of making those statements, describe your accomplishments and work results to demonstrate how good you are without saying so.

Karl Liechty a resume writer who was a hiring manager at Xerox, Shugart, Maxtor, and Sablestone for many years.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

What To Do When You Do Not Hear Back After a Job Interview

When people wonder what to do when they don't hear back, it's usually their fault. Candidates are salespeople by default. Salespeople set expectations at the end of  conversations, interviews in your case,to avoid wondering what to do if they don't hear back. Don't leave without establishing who will do what, and when. The "who" is you; let them know if you don't hear back within some agreed upon time, you will call them; identify who "them" is and get business cards, telephone and email addresses. It's crazy to wonder what to do when you don't hear back.

OK, so let's say you flubbed the opportunity to establish next steps. If you haven't heard back in a week or so, make a call to the hiring manager or one of the interviewers. You did get business cards didn't you? Heck, you messed that up too? That's ok. At least you wrote down names. 

Make a call now and ask for the name you have. When you reach the person, apologize and ask your questions. Don't shy away from making the call. And don't bother calling HR unless you're seeking an HR position. HR is the junk yard dog of  gatekeepers. You're likely to get lip service or no information. And you better call. Don't hide behind an email or text message. Everyone has a delete button and uses it, don't you?

If you have no idea who to call, shame on you, you're stuck and hopefully have learned your lesson for the next interview.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Resume writing tips that win Interviews.

The key to writing a resume that wins interviews is to respond to the problems the hiring manager needs to resolve. While the resume is about you, it also needs to be exactly responsive to the hiring managers' needs.

Nail your keywords:
  • Use the exact keywords found in job descriptions.
  • Better yet, talk to the hiring manager before you apply to find out what specific problems need to be solved so you can edit your resume!
  • Keywords are used in searches by people looking for your talent.
  • When you apply, the ATS will look for keywords exactly as the company describes them.
  • Use the keywords in context throughout the resume too.
  • To find keywords commonly used in your industry, search many job descriptions of interest to you regardless of location.  
  • Try inserting job descriptions into Wordle, TagCrowd, or similar apps to identify the most frequently used words.

Make it easy to read your resume quickly.
  • Resumes are glanced at, not read thoroughly, when they are first looked at.
  • There are only 5 seconds or so to create interest.
  • Focus your resume on the results of your work that are relevant to the hiring managers' needs.
  • Prioritize information the way ATS and readers want to see it: name, contact information, personal brand, skills, experience, education, certifications, awards, etc.
  • Provide plenty of space, 1 inch side margins, and use an easy to read font like Arial 12pt
  • Avoid using "old school" items, e.g., references or objectives. References will be asked for when wanted. Your objective is the job you are applying for; it's considered "old school" to write an objective.

Value the space in the top one-third of the first page:
  • Put your name on the top line by itself. Don't add degrees or professional certifications with your name; place them elsewhere.
  • Include your city, state, and ZIP code, not a street address, and never a PO Box number.
  • Write a brief, concise personal brand statement and include a 'marketing hook' to keep human readers reading.
  • Include a neatly organized list of your skills.
  • Describe the results of your work, the outcomes of things you did. Results win interviews. Responsibilities, not so much.
  • State your results briefly, crisply and succinctly.
  • Use short sentences, not paragraphs, to describe your work.
  • Prominently place critical results and outcomes of your work, preferably quantified.
  • Be careful to use the fewest possible words to deliver your message. Cull out embellishment and save it for interviews. Focus on getting to the interview table first.
  • Talk to the hiring manager before you apply! Find out his or her critical needs, and why he or she is hiring. Then can edit your resume and cover letter to respond before you apply formally.

Make sure you appease the preferences of ATS.
  • For each job you held, state the company name, your job title, and dates of the job.
  • Write your resume using text the ATS can and will read. Not all fonts work well. Choose your font wisely. Use a common Sans Serif font in 12 pt size, 11 pt minimum. Arial 12 pt is the ideal.
  • Don’t use any graphics in your resume, just text.
  • Word processing shortcut tools usually include hidden graphics for entering text. Don't use word processing shortcuts to create your resume.
  • Don't nest multiple jobs under one company. Repeat the company name for each sequential job you held at the company.
  • Submit resumes in plain text format (*.txt, not *.rtf) or Word (*.doc), but never PDFs. Some ATS providers claim they can read PDF's, but not all can. There are over 200 ATS software products. The company you apply to may not be using one that can read PDF's.
  • Don’t attempt to game the system by hiding lots of keywords by making them colorless. ATS can reads all text, colorless or not, and may be set up to reject you if you game the system.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

How to Sell Yourself for a New Job (Plus some Closes you can use)

Now that you are searching for a new position, how are your selling skills? Armed with the best resume ever written, you still have to sell the benefits of hiring you to a hiring manager. Selling skills are a ‘must have’ or ‘must develop’ part of landing a new job. And you do not have to use heavy-handed pressure to accomplish the task.

Good salespeople know how to prospect, make contact, establish rapport, discover need, present, listen, overcome objections, negotiate, and close. That's a lot to ask of job seekers that are not trained salespeople.  But these sales skills are incredibly important in job searching. Most people can do a reasonable job of discovering opportunities, but then fail to get the interview and be hired. Frequently, the problem they have is developing the skills and confidence necessary to close the deal.

These are the tips:

1 - Get sales training from a competent job search coach if you need help. Effective salespeople will tell you that unless you are dealing with the decision-maker, you are wasting your time. The hiring manager is the decision-maker so prospect for hiring managers. Make informal, direct voice contact with the hiring manager to generate interest. Voice contact requires practicing scripts for navigating through gatekeepers and for making a good introduction. Tip: Avoid saying anything about job searching.

2 - Learn how to prospect. Learn how and where to identify hiring managers. One great way is to network with current employees and get referred. And there are many more ways.

3 - Establish rapport by focusing on the other person. Whether you are networking or interviewing, practice good listening skills. Avoid monopolizing conversations. Watch out for your body language, even on the phone (habits carry over to interviews).

4 - Overcome objections. Objections are opportunities to sell. If an objection is not responded to it becomes the final disqualifier. Don’t lose  opportunities to respond. Be quick on your feet and ask a clarifying question to get at the heart of the matter.

5 - Learn closing skills that lead to an offer. If you wait for the hiring manager to close you, it may not happen.

The most useful closes for job seekers to master are these:

Set Expectations!  At the end of any conversation get into the habit of establishing 'who is going to do what and when', including the fact that you will follow up at a certain time so that your follow up is expected. This avoids leaving you wondering what to do after some period of time passes. And when you make the follow up call and the gatekeeper asks if your call is expected, the answer is simply one word, "Yes".

The conditional close: The Conditional Close builds on social agreement. It states "If I do this will you do that?" It pushes the dialogue towards the final close and is very effective in salary negotiations. For instance, “If I accept that offer will you add more vacation time".

The conditional close should always be phrased in the form of "If I, will you'', not 'Will you, if I". It works because our brains work very quickly. Starting with 'If I' causes psychological closure on what you are offering. It draws the other person closer to the final close. But starting with 'will you' causes the other person to begin thinking immediately about objections which drives the conversation away from closure.

The Rational Close: This close uses logic and reason to persuade. For example, we've gone through all your needs and the benefits I bring to help you resolve your needs, correct? [pause] Is there anything else that would stop you from wanting to offer me the position? [Pause]  No? Good! When should I expect to receive the offer?

The Assumptive Close: The Assumptive Close works on the assumption principle where acting confidently as if something is true makes it difficult for the other person to deny it. In this close one acts as if the hiring manager has already made the decision to make an offer. For instance, if at the end of the last interview you decide you want the job, the most important thing to say is “I like what I’ve heard and I want the job. When do I start?” This does two things, it lets the decision-maker know you want an offer and the question assumes the result, causing a response.

The Yes-Set close: This close gets the buyer saying 'yes' to a series of questions. It gives you a sense of how well you are interviewing and it draws out further objections if there are any. A series of questions are asked that are easily answered with "Yes" leading toward the Final Close (don't overdo it though):
Does that answer your question adequately?
Do you feel positive about my answer?
Does that address the problem for you?
Can you see how well I fit in your organization?
Are you feeling positive about hiring me?

The Take-Away close: This powerful close is very effective in salary negotiations or when you are very certain the hiring manager is strongly interested but is undecided. You could say, "It appears that you don't want to hire me. Perhaps we should stop discussing the position." It is a bluff, so stop talking and listen. Taking away the opportunity to hire you usually causes the hiring manager to worry and react positively.

The Trial Close – This is a close that should be used frequently. It tests the hiring managers' readiness to make a decision to hire. Use it after you have made a strong selling point or when you have answered an objection.

The Trial Close may use other closing techniques such as the Assumptive and the Yes-Set closes. When you have asked the Trial Close question, as with most other closes, be quiet, watch body language, and listen carefully to the response:
"Can you see how my ability to achieve [some result or accomplishment] can benefit your need for [some need that was discussed]?"
"Can you see how my background in [  ] would benefit your need for [  ]?

The Future Close - Close on a future date. Sometimes a hiring decision is simply not going to happen today. If this is the situation, ask how much time is needed. Ask if they intend to make you an offer then. After thinking about this, they may be ready to close now. The Future Close works by getting them to think in the present about the future, hence bringing the future to now so they can 'compress time' and possibly close now.

The final close: Ask for the job!  At the last interview with the hiring decision maker and if you have decided you want the job, lean forward, look the hiring manager directly in the eye and ask for the job. This is the final close. Often the assumptive close is used: ( I like what I’ve heard about this position and the company. I want the job. When do I start?”).  

Closing does not always result in the desired outcome. Sometimes closing results in rejection. That is still a positive outcome because it gives you closure. You are able to refocus immediately on other opportunities. You can also come back and try again at a later date. The bottom line is this: Never leave a final interview with the hiring manager wondering if you are sincerely interested in taking the job!

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

10 reasons to make informal voice contact with the hiring manager before applying for a job.

Without question this job search tactic requires learning new skills for many people including how to identify who the decision maker is, how to get past the gate keepers to make direct voice contact, and what to say when you get through. Because of this it is one of the Chattahoochee Resumes coaching topics.

·        DIFFERENTIATION: Most important! By speaking directly with the decision maker before sending your resume you differentiate yourself from your competition! 

·        NEEDS DISCOVERY: You learn what the hiring manager's most important need is and can show how you are the answer to the problem.

·        COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: You place yourself way ahead of the 'herd' by establishing rapport with the decision maker.

·        RESUME EDITING: Knowing the hiring manager’s hot buttons enables editing your resume to focus on specific achievements that are responsive to the critical needs before you submit.

·        COVER LETTER EDITING: Showing the hiring manager how you are the solution to his or her problems greatly simplifies cover letter writing.  

·        OMBUDSMAN: By speaking directly to the hiring manager you have the most important person in the hiring process looking out for you.

·        MOTIVATION / INITIATIVE: Making the call demonstrates that you take the initiative in managing your search. You are action-oriented.

·        HIDDEN JOBS: Very often a hiring manager reveals unadvertised jobs. 

·        NETWORKING FOR FUTURE JOBS: A decision maker is a valuable member of your personal network.

·        CONTROL, THE BOTTOM LINE: Speaking with the hiring manager gives you the greatest control over your destiny. You don't have to rely on HR.

The skills required are common salesmanship skills practiced by effective 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. It doesn't always work, but those who practice the skills have the greatest success getting formal interviews.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The 1st Rule of Resume Writing

Actually there is only one rule. All others are guidelines to be interpreted by the writer.
Rule #1: A winning resume describes a candidate in terms of what the hiring manager needs. A winning resume is focused on the hiring managers needs, as opposed to the candidates' wants. When a resume is first read by a hiring manager, he or she is looking for words that suggest the candidate might be able to help resolve the hiring mangers' key problem. The candidates wishes and wants are unimportant at this point.
Resumes that generate interviews exhibit these best characteristics:
They show how the candidate can help resolve the hiring manager's needs.
They create interest quickly. Hiring managers and the recruiters who support them don't read resumes, they glance at them; their eyes quickly scan the resume. Well-written resumes generate interest quickly. If readers are not excited about what they see within 5 seconds or so, the resume is toast.
They are written in a crisp and concise style. Brief statements help make resumes easy to read quickly. Resumes are advertisements, not biographies. Readers want to get the message quickly and easily. They are likely to trash massive, densely packaged resumes.
They contain keywords that are relevant to the hiring managers' needs. People and ATS software search resumes for keywords that describe the hiring managers' needs. Extraneous information, like fluff is a turnoff. Fluff is space filling information that does not add to critical needs content. Fluff makes reading more difficult. It includes self-assessing adjectives and common clich├ęs used by many people.
They contain a brief, clearly stated personal brand statement with a marketing 'hook' that excites people to read further. The candidates' objective is the job being responded to; therefore it is redundant to have an objective statement. The hiring manager wants to know what the candidate does, so create a personal brand statement instead of an objective.
They describe the candidates experience in terms of the results of the candidates work. Responsibilities are important but it is the results of one's work that generates interviews. The most effective results are quantified whenever possible. Numbers or percentages grab the reader's attention. 
They have a professional appearance. They are neatly organized, with like things neatly aligned and have decent borders, font and font size. Fanciness does not help, particularly when excessive.
They are written using proper spelling and grammar. Poor spelling or grammar is an indicator of carelessness at best and ignorance at worst. It stands out like a sore thumb.
They are compatible with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software used by companies on the front end of their hiring process. ATS may gag on over 40 possible resume attributes. Writers must understand what generates each of the attributes that cause data extraction issues for the ATS so as to avoid building ATS problems into the resume. ATS may reject qualified candidates because it cannot properly extract their information from the resume.
The takeaway is this:
Writing good resumes is not a trivial matter. A compromised resume can extend a job search by many months. A good resume writer will save a candidate many months of lost income by paying attention to differentiating the candidate from his or her competition with a superior resume.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Skip the job ad, what does the hiring manager REALLY need done?

Recently I was asked how to increase the odds that a resume will result in a formal interview with the hiring manager. The answer is easy. Find out what the hiring manager's pain is and sell your solution. Making it happen takes some work.

The important thing to remember is that while a resume is about the candidate, it is also about responding to the hiring manager's needs. Good resumes demonstrate how the candidate can help resolve specific things the hiring manager needs done by clearly stating the candidates relevant achievements. It really comes down to taking the initiative to find out what the needs are and respond to them.

Unfortunately job descriptions rarely portray the needs accurately or completely. Very often they are boiler plate descriptions that lack a truly accurate description of a hiring managers' pain, the real problem to be solved. Normally the hiring manager is the only one who really understands his or her pain, not an outside recruiter, the company recruiter, or whoever writes the job description. The best these people can do is to find candidates, screen them, and recommend them to the hiring manager to review. Why not turn the hiring process around? Speak directly to the hiring manager before submitting your resume. Impossible you say? Not if you learn how.

There is no question that having an informal conversation with the hiring manager before formally applying is the most direct approach to landing the job. It enables the resume to be edited to be sure it addresses why the candidate is best suited to help fix the hiring managers key needs. Does reaching out to the hiring manager always work? No! But it beats applying first and hoping to get a call. There are several reasons why it works.
·        It establishes a rapport with the hiring manager.
·        It demonstrates taking initiative and action rather than passively waiting and wondering.
·        It eliminates doubt about how to respond to need.
·        It enables one to edit the resume and prioritize keywords and accomplishments that are relevant to the need.
·        It gives those who do it a significant competitive advantage over those who don't by differentiating you from the 'herd'.
·        It also makes writing a cover letter a much easier task by allowing one to reiterate key points the hiring manager liked from the conversation.
There is not a better way to achieve competitive advantage and win the interview.

If you're not getting the results you expected from your search approach, consider the following:

·        Find out what the hiring manager needs directly from the source. Make direct voice contact.
·        Don't think only about your own needs when you write your resume. Think about accomplishments you have achieved that will help the manager solve his or her problems.
·        Focus on your achievements and the results of your work. How did the things you have done keep business going smoothly or improve something?
·        Keep in mind a resume is an advertisement, not a biography. Avoid excessive description of your responsibilities and history. Responsibilities, positions and even job titles may not be as important as you think if you have not described the results of your work.
·        Format for skimming, not reading. People glance at resumes. They don't read them. They skim, quickly glancing for key words, numbers, and phrases that interest them. Make it easy for them to find the reasons to interview you. Position the things they are looking for where they will jump out at the reader.
·        Keep your resume relevant to the hiring managers needs. Avoid writing paragraphs. Remove words and sentences that are not relevant to the needs.
·        Spelling and grammar are important. So is neat, orderly formatting. Avoid appearing ignorant or careless.
·        Make sure your resume is compatible with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) screening software.

The takeaway is this: The best way to increase the odds of getting an interview is to speak directly to the hiring manager, informally, to understand his or her needs before applying for the job. Then, by following good resume and cover letter writing skills and by responding to key needs, you will be a prime candidate and win an interview. 

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