Friday, January 25, 2013

Let’s talk about ‘Fluff’ and why it hurts a resume.

Why is it that so many resumes have extraneous information, you know that stuff that is thrown in as filler! Should one strive to have sheer volume on a resume? Isn’t content more important? I posted a discussion about resume length that attracted a lot of opinions about length. Regardless of their position I believe virtually everyone agreed they don’t like to see ‘fluff’.

Every day I receive resumes with all kinds of overused, self-assessing adjectives. Am I supposed to believe you just because you tell me you are ‘effective’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘innovative’, ‘creative’, ‘dynamic’, ‘results oriented’, etc.

Prove it! I’ll believe it after I interview you and test you a little. 

If you would simply tell me what you have accomplished, what the results of your work have been, crisply and succinctly, you would not need to include all kinds of fluff that I won’t just accept on the surface. Your descriptive adjectives would be self-evident if you would just prove them; you would not need to say them and you would be a more believable person to me. I can also confirm what I learn from an interview by speaking to people who know your work. You can bet I’ll pin them down.

So when you write your resume, tell me about yourself. It is important to me. Certainly I am interested in what your responsibilities were/are crisply and concisely, but not in a long-winded fashion.

If you describe yourself as a salesman, I hope you don’t think I don’t know what a salesman does. Likewise a manager, librarian, pharmacist or most other positions, particularly if you are directing your resume to the industry I work in. Why elaborate at great length?

You need to get the reader to call you to set up an interview. That will not happen by telling him how great you are. It will only happen if you show him why you are great, without saying so. The interviewer will judge you by what you say in the interview and by vetting you through his/her network, but you will not get to the table without saying why you are great!

And leave a comment with your point of view. Or email me at or visit 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let’s talk about search tactics that will help you get a job.

Do you wonder why you are not getting interviews or response to your job search? 

Differentiate yourself. Whatever you do, don't make yourself look like you are just 'one of the herd'.

Understanding search tactics and properly executing them is just one way to differentiate you from the 'herd' and beating your competition

And having a resume and cover letter written to contemporary standards and focused on being responsive to a hiring manager’s needs is key to building interest and is critically important to getting response and interviews. 

In order to differentiate yourself from your competition you need to know:
  • How to pick a search strategy and the tactics that will support it best,
  • How to network, the right way,
  • How to utilize job boards and company websites to without jumping into the 'black hole',
  • How to decide what recruiter to connect with, and why,
  • How to find and call hiring managers BEFORE applying,
  • How to deal with the gatekeepers trying to block your way to the hiring manager,
  • How to make sure your resume is strong and ATS-ready before you apply, and
  • How to write a cover letter that captures attention and is supportive of your resume.

One cannot expect to do well in a job search without finding out everything there is to know about each search tactic available and without having a competitive resume and cover letter. 

If you need help, there are job search consultants that are competent in all of the topics above. I am one of them; check me out at  or email me at

And leave a comment if you like this post.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let’s talk about ‘stretching the truth’ on your resume and cover letter.

A reader of one of my other discussion topics regarding the length of resumes opined that many people have jobs they don’t deserve because they lied on their resumes. The reader was clearly frustrated. So I replied to him and thought this is worthy of open discussion. Here was my reply:

“I agree with you, lying about your capabilities will likely backfire eventually. And there are many people who aren't qualified for the positions they hold in all industries and disciplines. And we agree regarding the length of documents required for government positions. We also agree on the copy/paste point you make. I advise job seekers to be truthful and factual about the things they claim on their resume and cover letters.

However, whether you like it or not, ATS software is used by most companies today. The software is written to help companies reduce the costs of hiring by replacing people with software. Unfortunately ATS is not written to make your search easier.

It is critical to include key words in your documents exactly as written in a job description, best if done so in context, because ATS parsing software is doing a text search on the key words it is told to search for by the hiring company. If you fail to have the exact key words being searched for, the software will give you a low score compared to your competition. But it is not acceptable to include (lie) about job requirements you do not fit!

And that's not all. If your resume and cover letter contains attributes a particular ATS cannot 'read', it may either stall and reject you or not respond to you at worst, or incorrectly parse your information. And, unfortunately, some ATS software is directed by HR to abort if your resume contains too many words; length can be interpreted as a dissertation, book, biography or anything else the hiring authorities do not want to read. I wish that were not the case, but it is. I don't make the rules; all I can do is enlighten you.

And finally, all I have said above means it is imperative that you edit your resume to be carefully responsive to each job you apply for without lying! Lots of work, but if you don't do it, your competition will.”

Please add your point of view.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Let’s talk about things that cause lack of response or rejection to job applications.

Your job search could be like sailing on uncharted waters. If your navigation devices are not working it’s no wonder you might get grounded on a reef somewhere.

So why are you not arriving at your destination? Surely ATS parsing technology may be the culprit in some cases but it’s not the only cause. It would be careless navigation to just blame ATS.

Often the reason is the course one chooses for the job search. Choosing the right search strategy and using the right tactics to support the strategy is too often not well understood or not planned well.

Understanding and properly executing search tactics is just one way to differentiate you from the 'herd'. Having a resume and cover letter written to contemporary standards and focused on being responsive to a hiring manger's needs is the key to building interest and is another critically important factor that influences non-response or rejection.

With low job availability in the doldrums and competition at an all-time high it’s difficult to navigate your search on the best course. One cannot expect to do well without finding out everything there is to know about each search tactic available and without having a competitive resume and cover letter.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And please leave a comment if you like this post.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Let’s talk about resume length.

If someone has told you to keep your resume to one page, do you think they are giving you good advice?

Do you think it is more important to provide the benefits of hiring you the best way you can or is it more important to keep your resume to one page? I suggest content is king. The right content, the right attention; the wrong content, ____ you can fill in the blank. 

‘Proper length’ is that length and content that causes someone to pick up the phone and call you … right now!

However, with very few exceptions it is not advisable to go beyond two pages unless you are writing a CV for a position in an industry that requires extensive information such as for a college teaching position or certain research positions (or perhaps for a government position that requires a ‘govy’ resume).

A two-page resume is the most acceptable length for most people. The length of a CV is more dependent upon the type of position being applied for or situations common to various countries. A ‘govy’ resume must conform to a whole set of rules some of which go beyond what is normally required of an ordinary resume.

In the end analysis there is no one answer that fits all situations just as there is no such thing as a resume that fits all situations.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And leave a comment or like this post.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't EVER give your SSN to ANYONE until you are into the on-boarding process.

During the job application process is not a legitimate need. Your SSN is needed for payroll and benefits purposes, but that’s it! It can be obtained when you are in the onboarding process. If people get upset with you because you "failed to follow directions" you have to wonder whether they have an ulterior motive or are just plain ignorant about identity theft.

It has been said that 30% of all people who begin applying online abort the process before completing it -- for a variety of reasons. I don't know if that statistic is accurate but the point is many people abort the process. Applying online is the least productive search tactic to use and is often the first place you will be asked for your SSN.

But you have alternatives. Speak to the hiring manager BEFORE sending any documents and before filling out an application. The hiring manager is not going to ask you for your SSN. Network, warm-call or cold-call to find the hiring manager's name so that you can speak to the only person that matters. Even emailing the hiring manager is more effective than just finding a job online and immediately applying to it. Finding out email addresses is easier than you might think. These are the most productive search tactics to use.

I understand trying to reach hiring managers is difficult, but it's a tactic that can be learned with good coaching.

One has to question whether spending 90% of your time applying online is better than spending 90% of the time trying to reach hiring managers. In my experience the answer is a resounding NO!

And remember: Don't EVER give your SSN to ANYONE until there is a legitimate need for it.

Get more help on this and other tactics by emailing me at or by visiting And please leave a comment if you like this post.