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:

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

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

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

How does your picture influence a reader’s mindset when they view your LinkedIn profile?

If the reader gets a positive image of you in their mind, they begin liking you before they read anything about you. That is the equivalent of a nice smile and good eye contact when you go in for that face-to-face interview.

What can go wrong with your picture? What are the turn-offs?
#1 - No picture.
#2 - Picture that is so dark your expression cannot be seen.
#3 - A picture of your dog, cat, motorcycle, boat, a flower, a scene, etc., instead of you.
#4 - A picture of you in a group of people or you and your favorite pet, vehicle, etc.
#5 - No smile, No expression, A poker face.

What makes you look most likable?
#1 - A big, happy, contagious smile or laugh.
#2 - A head shot from the shoulders up.
#3 - A light background with enough lightness in your face to clearly see your expression.

How do you accomplish that?
Take lots of pictures and either buy a picture editor or have someone edit it for you.

Crop your headshot out of a larger picture, edit the fill light, highlights, shadows and color temperature as necessary.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

What would you say is the difference between Selling and Interviewing?

I would suggest they are totally alike.

Selling is the logical explanation of why a particular decision makes sense.
Selling is overcoming objections, logically responding to roadblocks.
Selling is knowing how to negotiate.
Selling is knowing how to deal with rejection when it happens and how to maintain both self-confidence and self-esteem.
And most important, Selling is knowing how to communicate with people and build relationships.

So what is the difference between Selling and Interviewing?

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

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Why should anyone believe a resume that is full of self-assessing adjectives?

Job seekers, the best way to market yourself is by stating the results of your work, not by describing yourself as being ‘innovative’, ‘effective’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘creative’, ‘dynamic’, ‘results oriented’, etc. Why should anyone believe unsubstantiated, self-assessing descriptions of you? That’s just resume “fluff”.

Please! Prove it to us. Tell us what you have accomplished, what the results of your work have been. Let us conclude how great you are. Your accomplishments are all the proof we 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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Script Writing for Making Job Search Calls

If you wish to be successful making calls to the hiring manager it is wise to prepare and internalize scripts that will navigate you through the gate keepers and engage the Hiring Manager. These are the key things to do:

The call objective: The overt objective is to get an interview, overt because blurting out that you are a job seeker will put the hiring manager in a defensive mode, so don’t do it. The right approach is to establish rapport, gain knowledge of what the hiring managers pain is, speak to how you can help, and get his/her email information so that you can send a resume and cover letter that have been edited to be responsive to his/her pain directly to him/her.

Ask the hiring manager if he/she has time for the call. Don’t give up with a negative answer. Set expectations; establish a better time to call; then do it.

When you get a yes answer, begin establishing rapport. Use words that will cause the recipient of the call to be receptive to it. Do some research. Do you have anything in common with him or her? Google his/her name. Look at his/her LinkedIn profile.

Be crisp and concise. Get to the point quickly. Once you have established that it is ok to talk, don’t abuse the privilege. Resist building background. Time is important to the recipient. Lengthy dialogue is likely to motivate the hiring manager to get you off the phone, politely or otherwise.

Try to maneuver the conversation toward setting up an interview (your objective).

Always be looking out for objections and how to overcome them in real time. Learn to be ‘fast on your feet’.

Practice out loud, preferably role play with someone who can be challenging. Practice until you have internalized your scripts.

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

If your LinkedIn profile is incomplete you may never be discovered!

For job seekers: Your profile is a place to conduct free inbound marketing. Take advantage of it.

A complete, well prepared LinkedIn profile is often the path that leads to getting hired. Many companies use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to identify potential candidates for open positions. There is considerable cost for companies to conduct searches on job boards, but using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature is free to them. Thus LinkedIn is the preferred approach.

Here are some guidelines for preparing a good profile:

As a preface for all profile sections, whenever you see a drop down button, click on it. You will often find some interesting information topics you can add.

#1 – Your picture: It really IS worth a thousand words! It is the first thing people look at when they open your page, even your closest friends. Often people searching for candidates won’t bother reading your profile if a picture of you is missing.

The optimum picture is a close-up headshot of your smiling or laughing face. Your smiling or laughing face is inviting; it causes the readers mood to immediately be set to liking you.

#2 – Your Tag Line: This is the section directly under your name. Linked in gives you 120 characters including spaces, so make it effective. For example: “Senior Project Manager – Agile, System Analysis, Financial Analysis, Procurement, Data Systems, Risk Exposure, Six Sigma.” In a nutshell this tells the reader what you do and what your expertise is.

#3 – The Summary section: Here you have 2000 characters and spaces to tell people what your personal brand is plus other information. Use important key words in context here. Summarize your most significant accomplishments, the results of your work, your passions, etc., in this space. And unlike your resume, you can be more personal here. And you can use the word “I”.

Add your contact information here too. LinkedIn has a place for contact information but it buries it way down in your profile. Do your readers a favor and add your contact information to the summary so people can reach you quickly and easily.

#4 – Experience: This is perhaps the most important section for job seekers. In it you have the opportunity to say why you should be hired by writing specifically about your accomplishments and the results of your work. Accomplishments and results are the chief reasons you will get called for an interview. Keep them simple and easily read. Bullet statements are desirable.  So are numerical results.

#5 – Skills and Endorsements Section: You should list all your skills (core competencies) here using your industry’s key words as well as others that are important to you. People looking for candidates with your skills will conduct searches on key words. Feed their needs.

#6 – Education: Fill this out. It is perfectly acceptable to list a school you attended even if you do not have a degree from it.

#7 – Additional Information: This section enables you to talk about your personal interests and other details and provide your contact information.

Make sure your contact information is listed here as well as in the Summary if you are job hunting. If you make it difficult for people to contact you for a job interview, they will probably not try.

#8 – Recommendations: In this section you can request a recommendation from people and prioritize the recommendations. Very useful.

#9 - Certifications: Sometimes certifications are critically important job requirements. Don’t forget to list them.

#10 – Groups: It is highly advisable to join groups you are interested in and very beneficial to add or join in on discussions in those groups. That will help get you noticed.

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

Are you job searching and ready to make calls to the hiring manager?

When you are trying to make voice contact with a hiring manager, plenty of corporate offices, and their human resource departments in particular, behave guardedly against unknown callers.

When making calls, your attitude is important and your telephone personality must be engaging, upbeat and respectful of busy people’s time. Many job seekers get cut off because they sound underwhelming at best and unprofessional at worst on the phone.

When people answer, it is often best to ask them their name and make a nice comment before letting them know who you are. Showing them you are listening and interested in them will usually get you started correctly.

When you are a job seeker it is usually not wise to blurt that fact out. Doing so puts the recipient in a defensive mode almost immediately, and you need their help. It is far better to simply ask for their help: “I need your help about something”. Most people love to give help if they don’t feel pressured.

At this point it is important to have well-rehearsed scripts prepared. The scripts will be different for gate keepers than for the hiring manager. For gate keepers the object is to get forwarded to the hiring manager. For the hiring manager the ultimate object is to discover what problem needs to be solved so you can describe how you can help. That is the sales part of the conversation. The initial objective is to keep the hiring manager interested in talking to you long enough to get to the sales part.

A key throughout all conversations is to demonstrate good listening skills, display confidence, be upbeat, and sound nice to listen to. You will need to speak clearly, at an easy to hear pace, be crisp and to the point, and vary inflection in your voice rather than be monotone.

A hiring manager will know in the first few seconds whether you are a person of interest or not. They will recognize if you are listening, confident, and someone they might like on their team in the first few moments of speaking with you.

If you can’t get through to the boss, be sure to politely thank his/her administrative assistant for his/her time. This person will likely become one of your biggest allies in the company.

It is not easy to make contacts over the phone. Keep calling, politely but persistently, until you reach the person you need to speak to. It is not advisable to leave messages with people or voice recorders. They often do not get through or are deleted. And busy people often make promises and are often too busy to keep. So make sure to set expectations that you will call back in a particular timeframe if you don’t hear back from them. That will make the next call easier because they are expecting your call.

If you don’t achieve your objective after speaking to the hiring manager, you are not done! At the very least establish that person as part of your network. Find out who he/she knows that you should try to contact. Expand your network.

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

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Calling the hiring manager is an effective search tactic. But do these things before you call.

I have repeatedly said: Do not send your resume to a company until AFTER you have spoken to the hiring manager.

Picture yourself making that important call as you are attempting to make actual voice contact. You have run into gate keepers, successfully navigated past them and have reached the manager’s office. An administrative assistant answers. What should you say to get through to the decision maker?

The answer is script writing and practice, preferably with role playing.

Script Writing is a tool you need to master in order to break the barrier to winning an interview. You will need scripts for the receptionist or whoever first answers the phone, the gate keepers that follow after, the hiring manager’s administrative assistant and the hiring manager. As in physical fitness training, it’s the reps that make you better at it.

Scripts have to be written in your words and practiced until they have been internalized and flow off your lips without sounding ‘canned’. Practice your scripts out loud with someone who can play the recipients role. Role playing is the way to hone your skills and improve the messages and delivery. In role playing there is no negative outcome, nothing to lose, everything to gain. As in physical fitness, reps achieve goals.

I cannot emphasize the value of role playing enough!

A helpful aid in making improvements to your scripts is a voice recorder. You can use a smart phone with a recording feature or a video recorder or even a tape recorder. Recording video is better than just audio because it helps you prepare for interviews as well by highlighting mannerisms you may wish to change.

Some thoughts to consider for the scripts and the actual calls are:

Keep your scripts very brief and very pointed. The listener is busy, does not know you, realistically does not care about you, and will find a way to get rid of you if you ramble, build background to your message, etc. Delivery should be crisp, concise, and to the point.

Ask the recipient for their name and address them by it. People generally like that personal touch.

Speak clearly, confidently and at an easy rate of speech so you can be clearly understood.

Do not leave messages on a recorder. Messages will likely be ignored and deleted if they don’t know you. (Emails are likely to be deleted for the same reason.) If you don’t make voice contact with the hiring manager, try again at another time.

Listen to responses. Listening for objections is the only way to figure out how to overcome them. Listening for positive responses enables you to reinforce the call and ask more questions.

Ask for help. Most people like to help and are more likely willing to give help when asked.

Avoid blurting out that you are job searching. There are some exceptions to this advice, but most often it will put the recipient in a defensive mode, driving them to end the call.

Remember, other than the hiring manager, his/her administrative assistant is the most important connection you can have. Develop a positive rapport with this person.

You do not want to get transferred to HR unless you are seeking an HR position. HR is the junk yard dog of gate keeping, and generally proud of it.

If the connection is bad, stop and call back.

It is easy to recognize scripts that are being read, and even easier to get rid of the person reading them.

Karl has been coaching job seekers since 1999. He can be reached at

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to make cold-calls is one of the fast tracks to getting hired.

Savvy job seekers are aware they don’t know everything about job search tactics, particularly about calling hiring managers directly to learn why they are hiring and what their biggest need is.

Good salespeople who regularly make cold calls know they need to speak to decision makers, not supporting staff. They understand the initial objective of the call is to keep the other person on the phone. They know this is critical to success so they spend a considerable amount of time practicing their attitude, delivery, and listening skills. By asking questions and listening well they learn what the objections to the sale are and how to overcome them. They know they won’t win every sale so they don’t take rejection personally, but as motivation to pick up the phone and make another call.

Selling why you should be hired is no different than selling a product or service. This is why job seekers are salespeople by default, if not by choice.

Making voice contact with the decision maker, the actual hiring manager, before submitting a resume is acknowledged as the most effective way to get hired, above all other search tactics. The easiest call to make is the one where someone has personally referred you to the hiring manager. While getting a referral should be the prime objective of your networking efforts, it doesn’t always happen. That is when you should go into cold-calling mode.

To make effective cold-calls to hiring managers:

Remember this: If you are not looking for an HR position, the hiring manager is not HR. You want to talk to the decision maker, the person you will be working for.

Create scripts for gate keepers and the hiring manager. Keep them short and to the point. Internalize your scripts rather than memorize them. Practice, practice, practice. Role play them. Video tape them. Continually refine and improve them.

Do your homework before you make the call. Research the company. Learn as much as you can about their mission, their products or services, what new things they have published in their PR releases. Know as much as you can, write down all of the information and have it in front you when calling. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Make sure you know the name and pronunciation of the person you are calling and the company. Find out what their title is.

Make sure you understand the position they are trying to fill.

Listen to the hiring managers’ mood. “Am I catching you at a good time?” will win major points.

In making cold calls the recipient doesn’t know you so it is likely they are going to be in a defensive mode. Don’t exaggerate that by blurting out that you are looking for a job. Instead, ask them for their counsel on a matter. If they ask if you are job searching, tell them you are considering making a change and would like their perspective.

Never interrupt the call by answering an incoming call or by answering the door, etc.

Do Not monopolize the conversation or the recipient will find a way to get rid of you.

Speak at an easy to listen pace. Speak clearly and concisely. Enunciate well. Avoid using slang and acronyms. Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum while you’re on this call.

Avoid acknowledging lack of experience in something when asked. Rather than saying “no, but …” talk positively about something you are competent doing.

Turn failure into success. Seeking an interview is the objective of the call, but if you fail to accomplish that end, continue the conversation. Seek advice, identify other possible opportunities, and get the names of other potential hiring managers. Build your network. Many people are happy to answer a few more questions from a genuine, polite person.

At the end of the call, set expectations. Make sure you establish what the next step will be; establish who will do what and when.

Remember politeness. Say “please” and “thank you”, especially at the end of the call.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999. Visit

Monday, June 22, 2015

Using the right job search tactics will shorten your job search.

We all know how important it is to have a great resume, but how many of us think about what tactics we should be using in our search after we have identified an opportunity we are interested in and have edited our resume to be responsive to the specific needs described in the job description?

It is very important to get tactics right in order to avoid a long search. A search without a good tactics plan may languish. Getting it right may be different for different people. However, the following approaches have the greatest effect for most people. From best to worst, they are:

 #1 – Speak to the hiring (make actual voice contact) manager BEFORE you apply. I have written extensively about the reasons for doing this. Making voice contact with the hiring manager requires finding out who the hiring manager is (It is not HR or the HR manager unless you are seeking an HR position).

The best approach to do determine who the hiring manager is, above all others, is to be referred by a company employee. There are several ways to get a referral including finding the name through active networking.

The next best way to find the name is to make cold calls into the company and data mine for the name. This is a very effective approach used by good salespeople.

A third approach is to use data mining techniques used by investors. This is very effective when you want to start at a senior level and work your way down to the actual hiring manager.

Associated with these three approaches is the need to prepare for both gatekeepers and the hiring manager when you encounter them. Scripts must be created and practiced extensively until they are internalized, not memorized. Scripting and practicing scripts for gate keepers and the hiring manager are skills most salespeople have but must be learned by many others. The skills are not always easy to learn, but also not impossible, and very effective.

In making the calls, if you are put through to voice mail when you get to the manager it is best to simply hang up and try again at another time. Leaving voice mail is not a good idea because many, if not most, managers will delete any voice mail from someone they do not know. Also, repetitive voice mail is considered obnoxious.

#2 - Emailing the hiring manager before making live contact may work as well, but beware of the almighty “delete” button. Emails are often deleted by recipients when the sender is unknown. Sometimes the recipient will block all future emails from the sender. You don’t want to become a member of the blocked sender list when you are trying to get a job with the hiring manager.

The challenge of determining who the hiring manager is applies equally to emailing as it does to making calls. Networking is the primary approach to finding names for emailing. Techniques for establishing the email address of the hiring manager are available, covered in another topic.

#3 – Utilizing external (3rd party) recruiters can be helpful IF one gets connected with a good, truly professional recruiter. A recruiter who knows your industry and your discipline, knows the hiring manager of the position he/she is trying to fill, knows the company and has thoroughly interviewed you to be certain you are a good match, is the recruiter you should be working with. You are just a meal ticket to the rest and the results are usually not good.

#4 – Broadcasting your resume to companies is a valid tactic for certain individuals, but can have negative results when one is also using external recruiters. A 3rd party recruiter will not get paid if your resume is already at the company he/she represents, therefore you will not get helped.

#5 – Pounding the job boards and company websites and immediately applying is the fastest way to the “bottomless pit”. It is the worst approach. Use the job boards for doing research and follow up using the first two approaches above instead of immediately applying.

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Scanner/OCR systems and your resume.

There are some companies that use utilize scanners and OCR software to ‘read’ your resume. Not only is the file format important for OCR but also font, font size and a number of other things that can result in a ‘nice resume in / garbage out’ phenomena. Companies that accept resumes by email attachment, postal mail or FAX are most likely to use scanner/OCR processing. The electronic output of OCR processing is typically loaded automatically into a file server for further processing by ATS and parsing software.

ATS parsing software looks for text, not graphics. When a document is not just text but contains any graphics, ATS parsers may simply reject it as unreadable. Also, OCR software may convert it completely into a bit mapped picture file such as a jpeg. If a canner feeds a graphic file to ATS for processing, it is very likely the parsing process will abort processing altogether. If that happens your resume is then doomed to the ‘bottomless pit’. The scanner/OCR process is one key reason you need to have a properly edited *.txt document so that it is compatible with common parsing processes. If application instructions require you to submit a text file you can be quite certain the company is using ATS in their hiring process.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Age discrimination is alive and well.

In general it is not necessary or desirable to extend your resume further than 15 years back, 20 at most. Work performed many years ago may not be particularly relevant today, particularly if you have been working in an industry where technology advances rapidly. But more important is age discrimination. Although it is illegal to practice discriminate against older people in hiring practices in the USA and other countries, discrimination exists. It is simply carefully covered up. Other reasons are given for not hiring.

The primary purpose of a resume is to get interviews. There is no reason to give a hiring company the opportunity to ‘disqualify’ you by providing information that even hints of your age on your resume. Most often a telephone interview occurs before a face-face interview. That is your first opportunity to establish rapport and sell yourself. Your age will usually be readily apparent when a face to face interview occurs, so it is advisable to avoid losing interview opportunities because of age information that appears in your resume.

Karl has been reviewing resumes for people at no cost since 1999.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hiring processes affect how resumes need to be written.

Did you ever wonder why you were rejected or did not get a response to a job application in which you felt you were the perfect match? It could be because of how your resume was written.

Hiring processes fall into three general approaches: fully automated, manual, and a combination of manual and automated. There is a subset of the combination process, specifically the Scanner/OCR (Optical Character Reader) process, which requires some unique considerations.

Fully automated hiring procedures typically use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software which is accompanied by parsing software. Unless you score high as a ‘fit’ by the parsing software a human may never see your resume, you may get an automated rejection notice or you may never hear back from the company.

But to score high means your resume must first be readable by the parsing software. Certain resume attributes cannot be ‘read’ by the parsing software. Rejection may not be because of your qualifications or the words that have been written, but how the information was presented to the software.

In addition, many automated systems are fussy about what file format they can read. Sometimes, certain file formats cannot be ‘read’. Most ATS software can only read a limited number of file formats. All can read *.doc (Word 97-2003) and *.txt files. Not all can handle *.wps, *.pdf, and others.

If ATS is used and you don’t receive an automated response, the parser has probably rejected you.

In a manual system, a human will read the resume and not necessarily rely on automation software. In that case usually any file format can be used. But be careful with Word *.docx files. A company that has not updated its word processing software to more recent Word versions may not be able to open a *.docx file. Save your resume in a Word 97-2003 *.doc file to be safe.

A combination process is a mix of manual and automated systems. The process may include a scanner and OCR software to interpret what is scanned. When a resume is emailed as an attachment to a person, typically in HR, the recipient opens the attachment and reads the email and determines what action to take. It may be forwarded to a hiring manager, reviewed further by someone else in HR, printed to make a hard copy or simply saved to a server folder. If saved to a file folder it may be processed automatically by ATS or it may not. If a scanner/OCR is utilized in the process, a hard copy is made and fed into the scanner. OCR converts the information that has been read into a file that is stored for ATS parsing. There are some variations to this process as well.

I will be writing more about scanner/OCR systems in the future. OCR requires certain resume writing guidelines.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers 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

Monday, June 8, 2015

How quickly can your resume be read?

Creating too much to read is the bane of resume writing. The hiring manager will give you about 5 seconds to decide if he/she will read further and about 30 seconds to decide if your resume goes into the ‘possibly interview’ pile or is tossed. Generally the decision to interview you is made very quickly because there are many candidates to choose from and only a limited amount of time to make a yes/no decision. Therefore you must crisply and succinctly convince the reader to interview you. This cannot be achieved by writing paragraphs of detail.

Get to the point! Get your message across by eliminating as many words as possible. If your resume is lengthy or if its appearance is dense, the tendency is to trash it immediately without reading it. It is critical to eliminate words and format the resume for fast reading. Paragraphs are not easily skimmed; simplified bullet statements are. Narrow margins and poor choice of font and/or small type size result in a crammed, forbidding appearance. White space is important. Apply the KISS principle to resume writing.

Karl has been providing resume critiques for job seekers 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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Write your resume as if you were the hiring manager.

Hiring managers are charged with the responsibility of achieving results through leadership. They need people who can achieve results. Feed their needs.

Use the experience section of your resume or CV to focus on the accomplishments and results of your work in brief bullet statements. Try to quantify as many results as possible. Place the result or accomplishment at the very beginning of the statement and tell how it was achieved afterwards. This will focus attention on the result more than on what was done. You will then appear to be results-oriented without saying do.

Minimize the real estate you devote to your responsibilities and the things you have done. This will further focus on results. Responsibilities are important but resumes that speak only to responsibilities are not likely to result in interviews.

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Write a personal brand statement for your resume.

In contemporary resumes, personal brand and core competencies sections follow your name and contact information and precede all other information. A personal brand statement needs to be crisp, concise and include marketing ‘zing’ that excites one to read further. Lack of ‘zing’ often triggers no interest, no further reading and no response.

Tabulated core competencies are crucial to understanding your expertise. The core competencies section of your resume is most effective if it contains one or two word phrases organized neatly in tabular fashion so it can be skimmed quickly. It should contain key words found in the requirements part of a job description. Key words should also be used in context in the experience section. This is an important factor in getting a high score from ATS parsing.
These two sections should fit into the first third of the page so that the most important relevant results and accomplishments that follow in the experience section can be found on the first page.
Contemporary resumes no longer contain objectives. It can be reasonably assumed the job you are responding to is your job objective, which makes objective statements redundant and obsolete.
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