Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Contacting the hiring manager BEFORE submitting your application should be a high priority tactic of any job search.

I regularly advise my clients to use this job search tactic. There are ten reasons to do so. It has the highest probability of landing the job.

1-    NEEDS DISCOVERY: A job description does not necessarily reflect the hiring manger’s highest priority needs. These can only be found out by speaking to the hiring manager and having the chance respond with examples about how you can resolve the needs.
2-    DIFFERENTIATION: Perhaps the most important reason is by using this tactic you will 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/her. Differentiation is the foundation of a marketing yourself and creating a robust search!
3-    COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: By having direct knowledge of the hiring manager’s hot buttons and responding to them, you have the advantage over your competition.
4-    RESUME AND COVER LETTER: By learning the hot buttons you can tune your resume and cover letter to be responsive to the critical need before you submit.
5-    COVER LETTERS: It makes the writing a cover letter simple. You have a name, a position, a reason for writing, and the ability to reiterate the points you made during your conversation.  
6-    OMBUDSMAN: It offers you the chance to get your resume into the hiring manager's hand without going through the company hiring process and protocols, giving you the opportunity to have the most important person in the process to be your ombudsman.
7-     MOTIVATION / INITIATIVE: It demonstrates that you are motivated, that you take the initiative. You take matters into your own hands demonstrating that you are independent, action-oriented, creative, motivated and you take the initiative in managing your search.
8-    HIDDEN JOBS: Sometimes the hiring manager may not have a position that fits you but but after speaking to you, likes what you say and decides to make adjustments in the organization and create a new position just for you. It happens!
9-    FUTURE JOBS: Sometimes it opens up other opportunities at a later date. Sure, you may have found these out later in your search, or never found out about them at all!
10-  CONTROL: It gives you the greatest control over your destiny, making it the most  effective approach to job searching.
This tactic requires considerable practice. It involves learning how to identify who the hiring manager is and how to get past the gate keepers to make direct voice contact. I offer coaching on this and many other tactics.

If you are fearful. here is a very worthwhile link with some “how-to-overcome-fear” guidelines:

Here is another link to some good advice on cold-calling, one of the many approaches. I only disagree with the point about leaving messages. Messages are too easy to delete.

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 And visit his website,

Monday, January 26, 2015

Another perspective on why you do not get a response when you spend your time applying online.

Although it is impolite, it is really not a personal thing when. There may be several reasons:

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) parsing software used primarily by large and medium size companies may not have been able to read your name and contact information. Often this is because of how you created the resume. (You need help from someone who understands the technical side of ATS parsing software to deal with this.)

ATS parsing software may have concluded you are not as qualified as your competition.

The ATS itself may not be programmed to send automated responses. Unbelievable, but it happens.

The job may have been put on hold.

Your resume may not have been reviewed by ATS but by someone in the company, often a recruiter, who determined you do not meet the minimum requirements. If that person was an internal recruiter many things come into play. Internal recruiters employed by companies tend to be extremely overworked. They could provide an excellent service to you but they don’t. Here are some of the reasons why:
  • The recruiter may not be adequately trained.
  • The recruiter does not understand the requirements of the job.
  • The recruiter has a large workload which he/she cannot handle. Recruiters are often required to perform background checks, arrange drug tests, and arrange interviews, etc., for candidates in process which diminishes the time to respond to new applicants. I’m not making excuses for them, simply explaining what goes on in their workday.
  • The hiring process is realistically a disqualification process in which the recruiter’s mindset is to focus on why you should not be a candidate to move forward with and is not incented to pass that information on to you.
  • Recruiter’s performance is usually measured by “days to fill”. When the metric reaches a preset point the recruiter gets “dinged”. So recruiters invent ways to stop the measurement clock by un-posting it for any day they did not have time to spend on it or reset the clock if the hiring manager wanted to tweak the posting. 

The above is the reason I believe there are far more productive ways of conducting a job search. The most effective way is to network your way to speaking directly to the hiring manager. The rationale for doing this is outlined here:

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 And visit his website,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Marketing, advertising, and sales skills are needed for conducting an effective job search.

Many companies have entire staffs to perform each of these functions. When you think of it, job seekers need to perform all of these functions and are a staff of only one.

If we explore the skills needed to perform each function is there any wonder job seekers need competent search coaches?

Fortunately some of the required skills for each function overlap. The common skills required by all are Organization and Focus, Presentation, Questioning and Listening skills.

Organization and Focus – priorities, time allocation, avoiding diversion from the immediate task.
Presentation – The ability to write and speak confidently, correctly, knowledgeably and intelligently in any situation plus the ability to “think on your feet”.
Questioning and Listening – The ability to seek information, ferret out objections, focus on listening carefully to responses so that good responses can be made.

In addition to the overlapping skills, Marketing and Advertising skills needed by job seekers are Market Research, Advertising and Collateral Materials preparation. These skills develop a search strategy and supporting tactics.

Market Research/Prospecting – What sector, industry and companies play in your market, what are their relative strengths and weaknesses, who should be targeted? Who is the possible hiring manager? What are the most effective ways of identifying the name? How can that person be accessed? 

Advertising – What are the best venues to advertise in, which venues have the greatest potential return, what information is most important to present, how should it be presented?

Collateral Materials preparation – how should the resume be written, what format should be used, how should it be organized, what are the hiring managers’ needs, how should the needs be responded to, how should it be written so that it passes ATS parsing scrutiny, are the necessary spelling and grammar skills available to prepare professional documents, how should the cover letter be written so that it does not look like everyone else’s cover letter?

In addition to the overlapping skills, the selling skills required by a good salesperson are: Prospecting, Contacting hiring managers, Getting past gatekeepers, Rapport building, Overcoming Objections, Closing, Negotiating, and Persistence.

Prospecting – Who is the possible hiring manager, what are the most effective resources for identifying the name, how can that person be accessed? 

Contacting hiring managers– Networking, cold calling, asking for referrals, writing articles, joining and actively participating in LinkedIn, meeting people at industry meetings, arranging casual face-to-face meetings over coffee, breakfast, or lunch, establishing rapport, preparing and practicing scripts.

Getting past gatekeepers – Establishing rapport, handle filter questions, avoid HR, prepare and practicing scripts.

Rapport building - Speak your prospect’s language, demonstrate that you understand the business problem they face

Presenting – When making contact with hiring managers, keep in mind you are imposing upon their time, be crisp and concise. Too many people talk far too much and focus on themselves rather than the hiring managers needs. This is also true in telephone and face-to-face interviews. Resist the urge to start out by building background information. Discuss only the aspects of yourself that are critical for your prospect to know. Verbally rehearse that presentation before you make it. Watch your body language, gestures, and facial expressions. If possible practice in a live video; use the voice recorder feature of your smart phone. You might be surprised, or appalled, by how you come across.

Questioning – Many people ask low-value questions that do little to engage their prospects in the conversation, such as “What are your needs?” Instead ask high-value questions that differentiate yourself from your competition.  “What internal challenges do you need to deal with to achieve the goals you are signed up for? What is preventing you from achieving that goal?” Look for responses that fit your expertise. Then respond with an example of one of your accomplishments that is similar to the need.

Listening - Listen carefully to what the other person tells you. Ask clarifying questions when the other person says something vague or that requires elaboration. Recap what the person said to confirm your understanding. Seek clarification if your understanding needs it.

Overcoming Objections – Gate keeping is a natural part of the recruiting process. You can make considerable headway toward reaching the hiring manager be preparing and practicing rebuttals to the most common objections by empathizing with the objection, clarifying the objection and seeking permission to continue.  

Closing – There are books on the many various ways of closing a sale. It’s not necessary for a job seeker to learn them all. Becoming proficient in a few important ones are setting expectations, asking for the job, the conditional close (if I, will you) and the trial close (get them saying 'yes' and they'll keep saying 'yes').

Negotiating – This skill is particularly useful when it comes time to discuss salary, benefits and perks. Most important is starting from a realistic place. That requires research into salaries paid in specific industries, locations, etc., and establishing a bottom line one is willing to live with.

Persistence - Persistence means finding creative ways to keep your name in your prospect’s mind, not allowing the first few no’s to prevent you from continuing pursuit and asking for job.

These are a daunting number of skills job seekers need to attend to. Professional coaching is usually the only way to executing an efficient search. 

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 And visit his website,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

So you are ready to start a job search. Is your personality and attitude ready?

People like to be around people who generally have a positive attitude. It’s contagious. People do not like to be around people who generally have a negative attitude. Most often we try to stay away from them.

General attitude is a personality trait which is difficult to change. And it is difficult for us to see ourselves as others see us.

So listen carefully to what other people say and watch their body language as you interact with them. For job seekers this is very important. Hiring managers have 3 fundamental criteria they measure candidates by, in addition to many other criteria. The fundamentals are: Do I like you, Do I believe you can do the job, Do I believe you will fit in well with my group.

Personality and attitude are very important to each of these questions. A negative to any of the fundamental questions may mean a problem for the manager to solve later if he hires the job seeker.

Watch what you say to people, how you say it and what your body language and facial expressions say.

I invite your comments. My focus is on making a positive impact on job search results for employed and unemployed job seekers worldwide.

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 And visit his website,

Monday, January 12, 2015

To get an interview and avoid being passed over, create a resume that sells what you have accomplished!

Pretty basic isn’t it? Hiring companies need to know who you are, how to reach you, what you do, and what your competencies are. But critically important is this: The way to get interviewed is to tell people what the results of your work have been. If you don’t tell them and sell them you will probably get passed over. Writing about what your responsibilities were is interesting, but not enough.

Readers will know if they want to read beyond the first third or so of your resume in 5 seconds or less. The key to the first 5 seconds is the statement of your brand and core competencies. It needs to excite them to read further. If they read further they are not likely to spend more than 30 seconds to decide to call you or drop you. It’s really a binary decision, yes or no. If no, they are done with you.

So to get an interview, generate a brand statement that has marketing ‘zing’ by summarizing the results of your work and create a table of core competencies.

For the purposes of a resume, your brand is a crisp, concise statement of what you do that includes one or two well-written, eye-catching comments that summarize what you have accomplished.

For sure hiring managers want to know what your responsibilities have been, but more important, they want to know what the results of your work have been. 

They will interview you if they think your results show you can help them solve their problems. They have goals to achieve and need to accomplish results. Feed their needs!

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 And visit his website,

Sunday, January 11, 2015

When you are being interviewed, do you talk too much?

Are you a talker? People who tend to talk endlessly often annoy or lose their audience. One of the fastest ways to end an interview and lose an opportunity is to talk too much. By monopolizing a conversation you are denying the interviewer the chance to get answers to their questions. Without answers the interviewer cannot judge your ability to do the job.

So if you talk too much interviewers are likely to find ways to get rid of you!

Of course the corollary is also true. Have you ever met an interviewer who talked endlessly? Did you get a chance to ask your questions? If the interviewer talks too much you will not learn enough about the job and the interviewer will have no idea whether you are the right person for the job.

There are many ways in your daily life to practice self-control if you are a talker:
-     Consciously listen more than talk when you are having conversations with people. Get used to listening.
-     Get to the point quickly when you answer questions, e.g., stop adding background information for your answer.
-     Stop talking and take a breath frequently. Listen. Find out what reaction you are getting from what you have said. What are they saying?
-     Read body language. Is the other person yawning, trying to interrupt, fidgeting, etc.? If so, stop talking.
-     Show interest in the other person. Ask them questions. Get them to talk. You will be amazed at what interesting things you can learn about them. Enjoy them.
-     Resist the urge to fill voids in conversations. Use silence to get the other person to open up.

People like people who are easy to talk with. The important word is “with”. Don’t shut others out of the conversation.

If you are an endless talker, be aware of it and practice self-control or you could jeopardize your chances for that job you want. Overcoming the problem takes a lot of practice.

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 And visit his website,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Advice on How to Begin a Job Search.

If you are a job search coach you won’t need to read this. You should already know it. But if you are not familiar with contemporary job searching, pay attention.

The single biggest mistake new job seekers make is not getting good professional help before starting a search.

The five basic ingredients of a successful search are Strategy, Tactics, Resume, Cover Letter and LinkedIn Profile. Any of these that are not properly prepared may cause an extended search and loss of income.

The fundamental strategy involves making decisions on how the search will be conducted. Strategy is deeply entwined with the tactics that will be used to execute the strategy. Therefore a good understanding of each tactic is crucial. Strategy decisions are also affected by position level, industry, objective and other factors.

Writing resumes and cover letters requires a totally different skill today than in the past.

Here are some thought starters:

Strategy Considerations:

What job level are you, e.g., Senior manager, Middle manager, Professional employee, Support level, Tradesperson?

What is your objective? Are you looking for work at the Same level? Next step up? Change specialty? Change  industry?

What industry do you work in?

Search Tactics that should be thoroughly understood:

How to use Job boards
Understanding how managers think and what they look for
How to find out who the Hiring Manager is and reach out directly to him or her
How to get past the Hiring Manager’s gate keepers
How to network effectively
Interviewing; preparation, types of interviews, things to understand, thing to do/not do
How to negotiate Salary
Recruiters, the industry, the types, how they work and how they can help you, or not
How to market and sell yourself

Resume and Cover Letter writing proficiency that should be understood:

Contemporary hiring processes
How Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) impact resume writing
How to create a resume that will generate interviews
How to make resume content provide a competitive advantage
Resume mistakes that cause rejection
Why and how to create cover letters that support the resume, command a response and are not mundane

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 And visit his website,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Some advice on getting interviews and landing jobs.

Don’t wait to be found, reach out directly to the hiring manager.

You are sadly mistaken if you believe applying to every job you find on the web will get you hired. Doing that is like watching grass grow. Meanwhile your competition is out there finding better ways.

Successful job seekers create hiring situations by being proactive, not following the competing herd.

I can think of eight ways to find out who the hiring manager is and reaching out to him or her. The process builds an incredible network. It differentiates the job seeker from the competing herd. It builds skills that will benefit you forever. It builds confidence. It builds an outgoing personality. It creates your opportunity to get hired.

You can’t do that? Strike the word “can’t” from your vocabulary. Don’t make excuses. Just do it! You can learn how just as many have. Do you doubt hiring managers will talk to you? Stop doubting! Learn how to approach them. Stop throwing up road blocks.

Reaching out directly to hiring managers works. It is efficient as well as effective. It discovers hidden opportunities. It creates future opportunities. It opens you up to other people. And it sets you apart from your competition because you take the initiative and do things other people are unwilling to do.


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 And visit his website,

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Advice on what file format to use when applying for a job.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software is frequently used in the hiring process, more frequently by large and medium size companies, but increasingly by smaller companies as well. This poses a unique challenge to job seekers who are applying online because ATS parsing software can be quite fickle. ATS may reject your resume, not necessarily because of the words you have written, but because of attributes you may have unknowingly inserted into the resume. This is the reason for getting professional help from someone who understands the technical side of ATS parsing.

When applying for a job, the general rule is to follow guidelines outlined in the job description. But what if there are none?

You have probably saved your resume in a Word or Adobe file format. For ATS parsing, a Word format such as *.doc or *.docx will always work, as will a *.txt file, but not all parsing software can handle Adobe *.pdf files without a hitch.

Every job seeker should have a Word *.doc and a Plain Text *.txt as a bare minimum to be safe. It is also important to make sure the *.doc file has been created as an ATS-ready file. It is worthwhile to get professional help if you are uncertain how to do this.

In general, when you create a Plain Text ( *.txt) file, it will be ATS-ready because all formatting, pictures and objects that would cause ATS parsing issues has been stripped out. Having said, it is possible to further edit text files for ATS.

Obviously text file are not pretty, but that is because you are a human, you have eyes. A computer does not. It cannot read what you see on your screen. It can only read the electronic equivalent of which you see, which is binary code, a string of zeroes and ones. So ignore the fact that text files don’t look pretty to you. Computers love them.

So If the job description includes an instruction asking you to attach your resume, an ATS-ready *.doc is recommended. A text file will always work, but you have no idea whether a human will see the resume in addition to ATS.

If you are asked to paste your resume into a on-line form, always use your *.txt file. The instructions may ask you to submit an ASCII file, an ASCII text file, a text file, a txt file, or a UTF8 file. These are all the same stated different ways. They want your *.txt file.

If you are asked to attach your resume to an on-line application and are given the choice between submitting a Word document or a text document, always choose the *.txt document. You can follow it up with the more attractive ATS-ready *.doc file.

If there are no instructions or you are asked to email your resume to a specific person or department, use your ATS-ready Word *.doc resume because it is likely a person will view it. Be careful not to use a Word *.docx file in case the company has not upgraded their word processing software to the latest version yet. ATS software may ‘view’ it as well, but don’t worry, ATS can handle an ATS-ready Word *.doc or *.docx file.

Whenever you are submitting a Word document be careful to use a Word 97-2003 (*.doc) file, not a later version of Word which saves files as *.docx or some other suffix. Recent versions of Word application software can read *.doc files but older versions of Word cannot read the newer *.docx files.

If you want an attractive version to physically hand out to people I recommend that you create a “For Handout Only” file. This document can have many features thatmake it more attractive than an ATS-ready version which is why it should only be used to hand out to a person. It is one you should carry with you to interviews, networking events, etc., where you can physically hand it to a person.

However, if someone is offering to send or hand your resume to another person for you, make sure you give that individual your ATS-ready Word *.doc file to use. It might just get put into the company server for ATS scrutiny.

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 And visit his website,