Monday, June 19, 2017

3 Resume Tips That Win More Interviews

You can write your own resume..... if you know how. Whether you are a professional resume writer or a DIYer there are some essential things to understand before writing.

A resume is an advertisement all about the job seeker, but it must also respond to the hiring managers' key reasons for hiring, his or her pain. Resumes that can be read easily and very quickly, that have an interesting marketing 'hook' presented early, and have compelling work results statements that are easily found, will generate far more interviews than resumes that lack interest.

Generate interest within 5 seconds. Most people who read resumes, including hiring managers, really don't read them. At best they will spend 5 seconds or so quickly scanning the top third of the first page to see if anything of interest jumps out of them. If not, most often people won't pursue reading further. They are done with the resume. It's a very permanent binary decision; There are no second chances. Therefore writing a resume that quickly generates a lot of interest in an easy to read manner, is one key to resume writing. People who read beyond the first 5 seconds rarely spend more than a half a minute total scanning a resume and only if further information of interest 'pops' out at them quickly.

Densely packaged resumes are forbidding to read. Cramming information into a multi-page resume, using the wrong choice of font and font size and setting narrow margins is likely to cause people to toss a resume without attempting to read it.

White space makes scanning easy: Reduce word count to those relevant few words that respond to the hiring managers' pain. Save the rest for interviews. Culling words enables using an ideal font size such as Arial 12pt with 1 inch side margins making it easy to read. And it focuses the resume on the critical few things that win interviews.

Create work results bullets that generate interviews. The bullets should demonstrate achievements that relate to the hiring managers' key needs to hire. These needs are rarely adequately described  in a job description. It is usually necessary to find out who the hiring manager is and make direct voice contact. There are resources for learning the necessary skills and techniques to do so. For instance among others.

Most people write extensively about their responsibilities and activities. It is true that responsibilities are important, but not nearly as much as the results of one's work. Properly written results statements is another key resume writing skill.

ATS may reject qualified job candidates. Compounding resume writing is Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software used by over 60% of U.S. companies and many other countries. One of the many functions of ATS is extracting resume information it has been told to search for and scoring candidates on a scale of 1 to 10. In most hiring processes ATS 'reads' resumes before a human ever sees them. It forwards only the top scoring candidates to HR where a human will then decide which candidates should be sent to the hiring manager.

There are over 40 attributes that can be unwittingly built into a resume that will cause ATS issues that result in either non-response or outright rejection, regardless of the actual qualifications of the candidate. Since it happens without human intervention, understanding what the 40 attributes are and how to work around them is a necessary skill for anyone who writes a resume.

The takeaway is this: To generate more interviews, write a resume that creates initial interest quickly, write work results bullets that are responsive to hiring managers' real needs, and learn how to avoid ATS rejection.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Cover Letter Writing Tips

Why don't people read cover letters?

The answer is simple. Most cover letters are a waste of time to read. They are boring, mundane, self-focused, and don't deliver the right message.

Many people seem unable to write a letter that attracts attention. But that doesn't mean a cover letter that differentiates you from your competition can't be written. Try these guidelines:

Start by making it a business letter.
Give it a header. Using the header of your resume is a great way to tie the two together.
Date it.
Focus it on the hiring manager's pain, not your wants.
Keep it short. Make your message brief, crisp and concise. Capture attention by showing you can get to the point succinctly and concisely.
Be respectful.
Say thank you.

Direct it to the hiring manager by name and title.
There are many ways to get that information. Never address it to "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Sir/Madam" or some other equally impersonal way or you might as well say "Dear Trashcan". As a last resort address it to the manager of HR, not some other HR person, and only after trying hard to find the hiring manager's name.

Focus the letter on the hiring manager's most pressing needs.
Job descriptions do not always prioritize or accurately describe the hiring manager's pain. Make direct voice contact with the hiring manager to learn what the hot buttons are so you can address them in the letter (and resume). Only after trying hard to make voice contact should you try making direct voice contact with the ranking HR manager.

As a last resort use email, but don't be surprised if you don't get a response. Everyone has a delete button. It's far better to spend time prospecting for names, learning how to prepare scripts for making voice contact, and practicing them.

Create an attention-getting opening sentence.
This is where most cover letters fall flat. People tend to write about what they want, their objective, in the first sentence. Simply put, the objective is the job they are applying for, so why be redundant. The hiring manager needs to know why he or she should respond to the letter, and that's not because you want a job. It's because you have described what you can do to help solve his or her key problems (the ones you learned about by talking to him or her).

Don't beg for an interview.
Send a logical reason why the two of you should talk. Don't ask for an interview. Say so in a polite but commanding way like "We need to talk". Don't send a "Please call me, I'm desperate" message.

Be confident.
Don't say things like "I believe I meet the requirements of this job". Saying you "believe" sounds like you are uncertain, not confident in what you say. Show that you "know" you fit by describing how.

Write generalized statements that support your resume. Don't just copy and paste them from your resume. If you waste the reader's time by repeating things verbatim you are likely to annoy them.

Establish rapport.
Align yourself with the company. Show them you've researched them, you understand them and have something in common with them. Show them you and they are alike.

Finish by using a sales 'close'.
Sales may not be your profession, but as a job seeker you are now a salesperson. Set their expectations that you will follow up within a specific time, and then do it.

Say thank you.

Whatever you do don't forget to be polite and respectful of their time.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Your resume is not just about you!

Before you fix in your mind that your resume is just about you, think about it again. You may not fit the job you are applying for.

The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. It advertises the benefits of hiring you. A hiring manager is likely to interview you if he or she thinks you might fit a specific need. But if you don't understand the need, your advertisement might be an exercise in futility.

Job descriptions usually don't sufficiently describe the real pain of the hiring manager. That's too bad because unless you can write your resume so it shows how you can fix the specific problem, why would he or she want to interview you?

As you review job possibilities that interest you, think about each job as if you were the hiring manager. To be certain you have identified the specific need, speak to the hiring manager before you apply in order. Then edit your base resume to respond.

Your resume has to resonate with the hiring manager to generate interest, therefore it's not just about you, is it.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rule #1 for Resume Writing

Actually there is only one rule. All others are guidelines to be interpreted by the writer.

Rule #1: A winning resume is about the hiring managers needs, not the candidates' wants. A winning resume describes a candidate in terms of what the hiring manager needs.

That's how to create a winning resume, one that generates interviews.

Some facts and generalities about resume writing:

Fact: Resumes are not biographies, they are advertisements. Buyers want to get the message quickly, succinctly, and concisely. They are easily bored and prone to trashing massive, densely packaged ads.
Fact: Keywords that are relevant to the hiring managers' needs will get candidates discovered. Fluff will not.
In General: Hiring managers and the recruiters who support them don't read resumes, they glance at them; their eyes quickly scan them. Well-written resumes generate interest quickly. If people are not excited about what they see within 5 seconds or so, the resume is toast.
Fact: A strongly stated personal brand statement with a great marketing 'hook' will excite people to read further.
In General: Quantified results statements generate the most interviews. Responsibility statements without results, not so much.
Fact: Neat organization, with like things neatly aligned and decent borders, font and font size, result in a professional appearance. Fanciness does not, particularly when excessive.
Fact: Poor spelling or grammar is an indicator of carelessness at best and ignorance at worst; and they stand out like a sore thumb.
Fact: ATS may gag on over 40 resume attribute mistakes. ATS is not kind to candidates or writers. Writers must know how to appease the beast.
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to Navigate the New Look of LinkedIn Simplified

Simplified may be an overstatement but don't get frustrated. Anything new requires use to master; there's a learning curve. This document will help you find your way around the new profile look. The intent is to help you learn "how to" use it. It's not intended as an opinion of whether the new version is better than the old.

The following are the basics of navigation as viewed on a computer. Navigating LinkedIn on a mobile device is not covered.

To view your profile, first open LinkedIn and locate your picture on the upper right hand part of the task bar. Click on your picture or the drop down arrow and select "View profile".

The page you open is divided into two side-by-side areas. The left hand area is the Profile. The right hand side contains the Tools (that's my term for it) which are used to create new sections and perform other useful functions. 

When you first join LinkedIn, you are asked a series of questions that begin to fill out sections of your profile. Any questions you skip don't fill sections, so incompletely filled sections appear in Tools so that you can edit them later if you wish. Whatever you enter in Tools will populate your profile. Once a section is listed in the profile, further editing can be accomplished by clicking with the pencil icon on that section of your Profile.

About The Tools area:
Information that can be accessed in Tools appears differently depending upon whether the page is being viewed by you or by a visitor. It is also different if the visitor is a 1st degree connection or a 2nd or 3rd degree connection. When viewing your own LinkedIn home page you have the option to edit your profile using the Tools side of the page.

On the other hand, when a visitor views your page the editing tools are replaced by very limited details about you. For instance, when viewed by a 1st degree connection visitor, your contact information is visible. But if the visitor is not a 1st degree connection, the contact information is hidden. 

Editing information in Tools is accomplished by clicking on down arrows or small question marks. There are many primary and secondary options for editing sections of the profile so you should click on all of them.
The Tools are organized as follows: "Change your picture" is first
"Add a new profile" follows. Clicking the down arrow exposes 3 sub-options: "Background", "Skills", and "Experience".
*       Clicking the Background or Skills down arrows exposes further sub-options: "Work experience", "Education", and "Volunteer experience".  Clicking the plus signs exposes forms to fill out for each.
*       Under Skills you have the ability to add skills you would like to be recommended for.
*       Clicking on Experience exposes:  "Publications", "Certifications", "Courses", "Projects", "Honors and Awards", "Patents", "Test Scores", "Languages", and "Organizations". Visit each section.

Below the "Add a new profile" section you will find two useful options "Edit your public profile" and "Add profile in another language". It is advisable to click on "Edit your public profile" to view your profile as visitors see it. If you wish to enable reading your profile in another language you can do so in "Add profile in another language".

Next, those proverbial advertisements. That's not different from the old version. But don't stop navigating at the advertisement. After it you will find "See connections" and "Contact and Personal Info". Be sure to visit the latter and make certain it is correct. If you want to be found and receive calls or email, this information is essential.

About the Profile side of the page:
Your profile begins with your picture as before although now it is circular and centered at the top. To the right of your picture are a pencil icon and 3 dots. 

When you click on the pencil icon of any section you can make changes. Depending upon how you set up your privacy settings your changes will be broadcast to your connections or not. Privacy and other settings are accessible from the dropdown icon under your picture on the home page.

The three dots:
On your own profile clicking the three dots gives you options to "Share profile" or "Save to PDF". It's wise to save to PDF whenever you update your profile. If anything goes awry you will have a copy to make recovery easier.

The following table indicates what options are available when you view your own profile or the profiles of others:
Your Profile
1st Degree Connection
2nd or 3rd
Share Profile
Save to PDF
Remove Connection

Request  a recommendation

The populated sections of your profile will appear in the following order:
  • Header with your picture, tag line and summary
  • Who's viewed your profile
  • Strengthen your profile
  • Your articles and activity
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Featured Skills and Endorsements
  • Recommendations
  • Following (Influencers, Companies, Groups, Schools)

How to work around old LinkedIn features that no longer available:

Professional Interests: There is no section to enter Professional Interests into. The work around is to go to "Add volunteer experience" in the tools area. You do not actually have to be a volunteer to fill out the form.

Advanced Search: The Advanced search button is gone. However, you can still conduct searches and filtering is extensive. Simply type in key words into the "Search" space at the top left area of your Profile. Boolean algebra can be used as well. You can search for People, Jobs, Companies, Groups, and Posts. Once you enter some keywords a screen will open with further filtering options: Top, People, Jobs, Posts, Companies, Groups, and Schools.

For example, enter [plant manager] without the brackets. You are brought to a page listing plant managers. If you select  People, Jobs, or Posts, you will be presented with a large list of filters on the right hand side of the page which can be applied to refine the search. At the bottom you can create a search alert.

How to join a LinkedIn group: Just to the right of your small picture on the main screen Groups is a 3x3 dot icon with the word "Work" under it.  Clicking on the down arrow opens a "view more" list of options. Click on "Groups", then click on "Discover". Alternatively you can use the search space at the top left area of your Profile.

Posting on Group Discussions:
To post an article to a group:
Sign in to LinkedIn if you are not already signed in.
Click on the "Me" down arrow under your picture.
Click on "View profile".
Scroll down your profile until you reach the "Following" section (the last section of your profile).
Click on any group.
Click on the Gear located in the reddish-brown area next to "Search" and select the group you wish to post to.

There are probably many more 'tricks' that can be used to navigate. If you know of any please post them here.

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Looking for a job? Don't apply online!

If you enjoy being frustrated, you should spend all your job search time online, applying to every job you are remotely qualified for.

If on the other hand you want to get hired, do what successful job seekers do.

Successful job seekers realize that getting a new job today is different than years ago. The web makes it simple to apply online, so everyone's doing it, often without considering the requirements for the positions they are applying to. That floods the job market causing the supply of applicants to exceed the demand for them. If you fit this behavior model perhaps it's time to try a new approach.

Getting a job by doing what everyone else is doing is rarely effective. In fact there is about 1 chance in a thousand of getting a job by applying to jobs online . The most successful job seekers I know practice a more productive search method.

They speak to hiring managers 
before they apply.

They reach out and speak directly to hiring managers, informally. They establish rapport, ask questions about what problems need solving, and they generate interest by describing how they have resolved similar problems. They probe for the hiring manager's requirements. They finesse conversations toward setting up a formal interview. It's a form of networking; they haven't had a formal interview yet.

After their conversation  they are able to edit their resume and cover letter to focus on their discussion and needs that may not be adequately described in the job description. And because they have established rapport and gained the hiring manager's interest they are able to applying  on the company website, and they have the advantage of having the decision maker asking HR to set up a formal interview.

Really successful job seekers reach out and expand their network by seeking every opportunity to schmooze with anyone who may know hiring managers. For instance, they often find that connecting with employees in their target companies is a very effective way of getting referred to the hiring manager. Companies often have an employee referral program that pay a cash bonus to the referring employee if the candidate is hired.

But in case you're not convinced, there are other reasons why applying online is not effective. In the first place it doesn't differentiate a person from their competition. In any competition, differentiation is the key to winning! Differentiation is achieved by doing things others are not doing. Those who feel like they are making progress by camping on job boards are simply becoming just another "one of the herd".

The takeaway is this: Use the web and job boards to study and target companies. Use your time to identify hiring managers. Use it to learn how to write and internalize scripts that will get you past the hiring managers' gatekeepers. Use it to practice how to approach hiring managers when you first speak to them. You may not be a well-versed salesperson, but your job right now is selling. Learn techniques that win jobs.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why I Love Cold-Calling Hiring Managers

Many successful job hunters talk to hiring managers informally to find out what problems need fixing before they apply for a job. They establish rapport sell their experience and skills at solving those problems. Cold-calling is a good way of making direct voice contact to have the discussion. It isn't the only way, but it is a proven, effective way.

Certainly some people have greater knowledge of how to engage in cold-calling than others. But many people who were never trained in the skills, like me, have learned through good coaching and lots of practice. Cold-calling requires script preparation, skills development, the right mental attitude, and the commitment to practice and try. It is one of the most effective ways of getting hired.

What I like about cold-calling is this:

It Works – It establishes rapport with the hiring manager. It enables identification of the hiring manager's specific needs and provides an opportunity to showcase how you can help. It generates interest.

It Enables You to Edit Your Resume and Cover Letter – Armed with the reasons why the job is open enables editing your resume to be responsive to the hiring managers' hot buttons. It also makes writing your cover letter a 'walk in the park'.

It Gives You the Competitive Advantage – Cold-calling demonstrates you are willing to do what others won’t. You are different from the others. Differentiation creates competitive advantage.

It Trains You for Interviewing – Skills learned in cold-calling have huge benefits for interviewing. You learn to be quick on your feet and maintain composure under stress. Nothing sharpens communication skills like cold calling.

It Builds Confidence – Rejection to cold-calling is not uncommon and should not be taken personally. What you learn from rejection is how to become better at cold-calling and interviewing.

It Builds Your Network – Networking is critically important. I believe 'Who you Know' may not be as important as 'Who needs to know You'. Everyone you speak to is an addition to your network. They may know of other positions you might fit.

It Identifies Hidden Jobs – Cold-calling is useful for identifying unadvertised opportunities. Some people identify a company they would like to work for without knowing if a job exists. They use cold-calling to identify needs and generate a hiring manager’s interest. Sometimes that exposes hidden jobs.

It Enables Follow-Up Opportunities – Cold calling creates follow-up opportunities. Sometimes now is not the right time, but sometime in the future may be.

It Trains You for Warm-Calling - Warm-calling to hiring managers you were referred to uses the same skills as cold-calling. 

The takeaway is this: If your job search is not making progress and you are looking for alternatives ways of searching, seriously consider cold-calling. Be willing to learn and practice alternatives to camping on job boards. Think of cold-calling as an informal way of speaking with a hiring manager, not as a quasi-interview. Don't think of cold-calling as a hard sell technique. Hard selling is likely to create a negative reaction. Making calls in an informal manner without pressuring the hiring manager leads to success. Handled correctly even the most adamantly opposed managers can be won over. Learning and practicing are key.

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