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