Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How many resumes does it take to get noticed?

A recent LinkedIn discussion was started by asking this question.

The answer is it only takes one resume to get noticed, one that is ATS-ready.

If your resume is a thing of beauty, very attractive, has lots of graphics, etc., it's not ATS-ready and you better make certain it only gets handed directly to readers. You are  not likely to be successful using it for applications into ATS systems. 

If you broadcast it widely paying little attention to where you're sending it, you probably won't get noticed ... ever ... ATS-ready or not.

If you target your resume to a specific position you have researched thoroughly and have found and spoken to the hiring manager before sending it in, you've already been noticed by the hiring manager. The best of all worlds is when the hiring manager asks you to send it! Use a resume that is ATS-ready.

If you can't find out who the hiring manager is, you have to tune your resume to the position you've researched and your chances are improved over broadcasting, but not as great as when you've spoken to the hiring manager first. And the competition will be heavy. Use a resume that is ATS-ready.

If you find out about a position through networking, remember that you're best off representing yourself to the hiring manager, not giving a resume to someone who will 'represent' you. After all, you may not be giving a properly tuned resume to your representative. Use a resume that is ATS-ready.

If you're using a competent recruiter who knows his/her industry and networks with hiring managers regularly, you'll need to tune your resume to the specific opening he/she is representing. The recruiter will get you noticed. Use a resume that is ATS-ready.

So the answer depends upon how you conduct your search, but in the end it only takes one ... the one that is ATS-ready.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The private life you make public

The world changes at lightning speed.

You’ve joined about every social media dot com there’s ever been. You blog, you friend, you link, you comment on yours and others walls, boards, blogs, etc. You add pictures, likes and dislikes, and more. And now you are going to apply for a new job.

That’s cool.

You don’t even give your social media networking a second thought as you become engrossed in your search. But should you?

Here’s what some HR people say:

 “You’re right to be paranoid. Your present employer is always watching you, and there’s a record of everything you do: every phone call, every text, every tweet and instant message. At most companies, they save that data forever.” –HR Consultant and speaker

“I know a lot more about you when you walk in the door to interview than you realize. I’ll search for you on the web and often use my own personal network to do a pre-interview reference check.” –Senior HR Executive

So unless you set up all your social media sites as private, everything is public. Your comments, pictures, friends, status, everything you would not like your employer or prospective employer to know. And some companies will search for you!

Is it legal? So far it seems to be. But that’s not the point, it happens, legal or not, ethical or not. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Seven Musts (and a Should) for Writing your Cover Letter

Some say many hiring managers don't read cover letters so don't bother writing one. That's true, some don't like to read cover letters, but some do. In fact some will discard a resume if it does not have a cover letter. Since you never know who doesn't, why arbitrarily cut off some of your market. So I disagree with the nay-sayers. I like to help my clients differentiate themselves from their competition. Having a well-written cover letter is one way to differentiate.

I believe it is important to have a cover letter that has been ‘tuned’ to the position you’re applying for, just as the resume should be ‘tuned”. These two documents should be tied closely to each other, albeit without copy/pasting.

These are the attributes of a well-written cover letter:

It should be directed to the hiring manager.
People like to be addressed by their name, not by "Dear Sir" or worse "To whom it may concern". Many sales people know the techniques for identifying and reaching the right people in a company. Finding and talking to the hiring manager is easier for them than most people.  The techniques successful people use is subject for a whole other discussion. If you’re not comfortable with cold calling or don’t understand how to get past the ‘gatekeepers’, it would be worth your while to get some professional help. It can be hard work to discover the name of the hiring manager. But do it. Call the manager before you submit your documents. What could be better than to have the manager ask for your resume! You might be able to make that happen.

It must grab attention with reference to the position you are applying for.

It must command a reaction.
Commanding attention is done by creating an introductory sentence that is unique, one that commands a reaction; telling rather than asking for an action. Grabbing attention and commanding a reaction can be handled in one statement. That’s a good thing because it makes the cover letter crisp and direct without a lot of words.

It must define your brand. 
It must describe what you do in a crisp and concise manner so that the reader understands why you are applying to a specific position.

It must project compliance with the requirements of the job description.
A brief paragraph that describes you and what you’re good at is what defines your brand. This is the paragraph in which you should insert the job requirements you meet (the key words of the job description).  Do not insert requirements you don’t meet unless you like getting embarrassed in interviews. And whatever you do, don’t be apologetic about the things you don’t meet, in the cover letter or the interview.

It must clearly align you with the company by showing you and they are alike.
 This is accomplished by showing you know something about the company and align yourself with them. You have done research on the company on line. Say something about an interesting thing you have learned to show you have done research on them.

It must indicate a follow-up call will be made.
Before closing, set expectations. Repeat the need for an interview and tell the manager you’ll make a follow-up call in a week. And then do it!

It must thank the hiring manager for attention. 
Thank you should be second nature to you. Make sure you don’t forget it in your cover letter.

One final thought: If you email your cover letter and resume you could consider pasting your cover letter into the body of the email and attaching your resume. This would avoid the necessity for the recipient to open two attachments.

Your comments about this post are welcome.

Find out more about Job Search tactics by visiting
 http://www.hoochresumes.com or by emailing me at kl@hoochresumes.com