Friday, April 22, 2011

What Decisions Have You Made for Your Job Search Strategy?

Most people just launch right in to writing their resume and start looking at the job boards. Then, after some time, they become frustrated and start jumping at all sorts of avenues to pursue. Often this leads to discouragement and uncontrolled frenzy. Sound like you? Well let me help you get organized and get out of the whirlpool.

Start by making some key decisions. Then prioritize your time after the decisions are made. Set up a schedule of prioritized activities, assign times for each and stick to the plan long enough to evaluate if it needs modification.

First Decision: Will you Broadcast for jobs or Target specific opportunities.


Advantages – least amount of in-depth research required; a single resume and cover letter may cover all or most situations; can work well for lower level positions and for skilled trades-people.

Disadvantages – could lead to conflicts if you do your own broadcasting and also use a recruiter; definitely not helpful to professionals; may cause you to ‘spin your wheels’.


Advantages – is responsive to specific openings; is the most effective way for professionals to market themselves.

Disadvantages – it’s more work; to do it effectively it requires tuning your resume and cover letter to specific opportunities described in job ads; requires careful preparation of documents; requires extensive searching for specifics needed to properly tune your documents; requires excellent record-keeping and tracking; requires a great deal of networking.

Second Decision: Will you use a recruiter or not?

Recruiters can help, but if they are not competent, they can hurt.

If you are an “MPC”, Most Placeable Candidate, a good recruiter can make your life easier – and they can also destroy your chances if they are not capable of handling your situation correctly.

Success with recruiters depends upon a lot of factors. You need to know what types of recruiters there are, how they are paid, how they work. 

You need to get to know and become comfortable with the specific recruiter who will represent you and the recruiting company s/he works for. 

You need to establish an understanding of how well are they connected in your industry, how well they understand what you do and how you do it. 

You should establish how well they communicate, how often they will update you  and what they will do with your resume (e.g., you don’t want them to broadcast it).

If all the stars align you could decide to leave the search entirely up to your recruiter, that is, IF you’re really comfortable with doing that.

If you decide to do your own searching in parallel with your recruiter, you need to cross-communicate everything you and they are doing. There are serious pitfalls for not cross-communicating.

After making the second decision, things get easier because most of what follows doesn’t require making a decision. You need to do everything that will work.

Start by getting your marketing documents, your resume or CV and your cover letter in order.

You don’t want to find a great opening you fit like a glove and not be prepared to properly apply without delay. 

Consider paying for professional help in order to present yourself in the best manner possible, particularly if writing, spelling and grammar is not your forte. Also, good professional resume-writers will know how ATS software works and prepare your documents to let it work for you, not against you.

After that’s done, explore the resources that will help you find out what opportunities are available that meet your needs:

Network to find the known openings and the hidden job opportunities.

Apprise everyone in your network of your situation and objective. People love to help – ask them for help, but do not ask them for a job.

Ask them who they know that you should contact.

And don’t let them “represent” you; they may suggest it because they really want to help, but you are the only one who can represent yourself best. Also you do not want to lose control of your campaign. 

Your connections may know about  jobs that are open. They may know managers in the company. They may even know the hiring manager. Just get names or hiring departments and telephone numbers if you can.

Expand your network and keep it going – even after you find the job you want. If you help others, they will remember you when you need help again.

Pursue company “Job Openings” web-pages.

If you come across a company opening on your own, find out the name of the hiring manager. Contact that person and present yourself before ever sending in your resume. There are ways to do this and things to say to make it work. There are also gatekeepers’ along the way that are there to stop you. You have to figure out how to get around them, to schmooze them and use them. A good job search consultant can help train you to do this as well.

Use Job Boards (e.g., Career Builder, Monster, Dice, The Ladders)

There are real jobs despite things people say when they’re frustrated. Read my blog on “Are on-line job postings real?”.

When applying to on-line jobs, comply with their submission requirements exactly. Look at the ad for the keywords contained in it and tune your resume and cover letter to include them. In this way you will have prepared your documents for scanning by ATS software. Failure to do this will probably get you rejected within seconds of submitting. At can happen that fast.

Use social media, but do so carefully.

LinkedIn is an excellent site for job seekers. It’s really a must join. And most employers understand that you’re very likely a member. Your boss is likely to be on it as well. After all, it’s a social media aimed at helping others, and each other.

On facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, etc., you need to be very careful because hiring companies are likely to search for your name on them to see what you post, who and what you associate with, and anything that can be damaging to you. Just like the “Santa Claus is Coming Tonight” song says, you better not cry, you better not pout …. and you better not post anything or link to anything that could ruin your chances of being interviewed or hired, or even get you into trouble after being hired!

Using Paper vs. Electronic resumes and Cover Letters

Certain industries, and certain positions within those industries, require hard copy CV’s and Cover Letters.  Most industries do not want anything but electronic resumes and cover letters. Some companies do not care.

Find out more about Job Searching by visiting or by emailing me at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Attitude! It will make you or break you!

Attitude is critical when you lose your job, become ill, lose a loved one or face any other adversity. Fortunately, what attitude you choose to take, positive or negative, is entirely your choice. 

In the case of job loss, understand  the importance of your choice: if you choose to take a negative attitude, statistics say you’re probably in for a long, difficult recovery.

What are four things you can do to develop a positive attitude, if that is not your natural demeanor?

1 – First and most important, avoid contact with people who have a negative attitude.

2 - Befriend people who have a positive attitude. One common trait of successful people is that most of them surround themselves with people who have positive attitudes.

3 - You’re out of work. But really you’re not. You have a new job entitled “Find a New Job” and it may be the toughest job you ever held. It might include a variant called “Find a New Career”. But whichever it is, work hard at it and play hard as a healthy diversion. You need to be focused on the things that will get you employed again. And you need to release some of the tensions by allocating some time to doing the things you love to do.

4 – Work at forcing your emotions out of the recovery. Start by organizing your search campaign. Developing a good search campaign does not have to consume much time. And the tactics you use to implement it can be prioritized and re-prioritized to suit changing conditions. One thing that will not change, however, is being ready to submit your job search documents (resume, cover letter) quickly to positions you find that you want to apply to.

So start your new job by getting your resumes and cover letters in order. I put this in the plural because one version of each will not do it. Each must be tuned to what the hiring manager wants, so be ready to tune both documents to be responsive to a specific situation.

Very Important: Don’t start writing your resume by writing your resume! I've written another blog post dedicated solely to this topic.

If you’re going to tune your resume for specific jobs you’re going to want to know every project you ever worked on at every job you’ve held (ok you’ll probably never be able to do that – but try). You’ll have to recall what you did for the project and what the result was. It’s your results that are the benefits of hiring you. You want to align your results with the hiring managers' needs.

Create a 3-column table of Projects – Your Accomplishments – The Results.  Once you have done so you’ll be ready to create the most important part of the resume, your accomplishments, selected and prioritized (tuned). You’ll also be in position to select and prioritize a few results that address the specific job in your cover letter.

And there are other critical parts to work on: your brand, your objective and your education and other credentials.

Once the resume is in order and a draft cover letter that commands attention is prepared (both will need tuning) you can start thinking about the campaign strategy and tactics and consider the pros and cons of each:

Will you broadcast or target your submissions?

Will you post on job boards such as Monster, Career Builder, Dice, The Ladders and others?

Will you apply to jobs posted on company websites? On other on-line services? On LinkedIn for instance.

Do you understand ATS? Can you tune your documents for ATS scanning?

Will you network (of course!) and how and where will you network?

Will you allow someone who works for a company to “present” you or will you present yourself after you find out who to contact?

Will you use recruiters? How will you select them? Do you understand the varieties of recruiters and how they work?

And of course there’re always more things to consider, but this is a long list of “prep” work to keep you occupied and keep your attitude focused on the positive things you can do.

Find out more about Job Searching by visiting or by emailing me at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are on-line job postings real?

I often hear angry and frustrated candidates say they apply to lots of positions on-line and they don’t seem to get responses. One person even told me that she applied on line for a position she absolutely qualified for and received a "no interest" message back within 5 seconds! So what’s going on? Are the jobs real? Are they already filled? Are they so far into the process that you are too late? Are they phony jobs? Or is it the candidate or the candidates resume, cover letter or search tactics that are the problem?

My experience says the real answer is all of the above!

First of all, real jobs really do get posted, some by companies trying to fill a position, some by recruiting firms, and some by both entities using LinkedIn. But it’s also true that some postings you see are not real.

Almost all medium to large companies have an HR department and hiring protocols that require that all jobs must be posted internally for a period of time, typically two weeks or so, before they can be opened to the outside world. The reason should be  obvious. They want to hire from within to keep employee morale high, but also because there are little to no costs associated with hiring from within. If no qualified candidates are found internally, let’s say within a two week period, the job can get posted externally. 

But it is also possible that an internal candidate shows up after the internal posting has lapsed and the job is posted externally: the door may be shut to external candidates (who obviously don’t know this). The external candidates may be frustrated, but the company typically could care less.

And there is an exception that can occur. Sometimes senior executives will ignore the protocol rules and search, even interview candidates without posting the position. Occasionally they do not even include HR except at the highest level for various reasons. Often this kind of recruiting is conducted privately to protect a candidate who could be harmed by it being known he/she was 'looking' outside his/her present company. This situation is one of the so-called 'hidden' jobs. No one knows about it but the most senior management.

Another situation could be a job is posted on a company’s own website and not on job boards. It could be filled but not yet removed; and it could be a 'generic position' they often hire for but are not ready to fill now. And it is my opinion that some companies put some jobs on their website or job boards for PR reasons; they want to look strong even when they’re not. This is more often the case with recruiting firms.

What about jobs posted by recruiting firms? Well, as above, the truth is they may or may not be real jobs. But the fact is, most jobs posted by recruiters are real. They contract with their clients, the hiring companies, to fill positions for which they are paid a fee. But sometimes recruiting firms post jobs that do not exist in order to build a database; in that case they are ‘fishing’ for MPC’s, Most Placeable Candidates. MPC’s are very strong, qualified candidates that recruiters can use to either fill real positions or use to build their client base. To see what I mean, read on. 

An MPC is a great meal-ticket. Because of their strength they are far easier to place than most candidates which makes turn-around faster as well as easier. Recruiters promote MPC’s to companies not in their portfolios in the hopes of getting new business (new recruiting contracts means new business). In some cases they may never even talk to the MPC before marketing the person. If the recruiter is successful the MPC gets a job and the recruiter gets new and potentially future revenue. Since by definition an MPC is a strong candidate, the recruiters job becomes far easier and the recruiter gets his/her commission much faster.

So if a recruiting firm views you as an MPC you will get helped. If you are not an MPC in their eyes you are just another job seeker.

So yes, the posted jobs could be valid or phony.

But let’s be realistic. If you get 'passed over' it may also be your resume or your cover letter or both that is the cause. It could also be the ATS parsing software many companies use to screen resumes. 

The best remedy for these situations is to hire a good job search coach, one who can help you structure a search campaign that works, teach you the most powerful search tactics, such as how to find out who the hiring manager is and submit directly to that person, and one who can help you create strong collateral documents (resume, cover letter, CV, or supplementary documents) such that they are responsive to a hiring need, they stand out, they differentiate you from your competition and they are ATS-ready.

Lack of response from submissions to on-line postings can mean many things. Don’t assume it’s because on-line jobs are either phony or filled. It could well be other things, including what you have submitted or how you are going about your search.

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