Monday, December 19, 2016

Who are the hiring managers you need to know?

"It's who you know that gets you the job". How many times have you heard that? That's great if you already know them. But how can you get to meet them?

Networking is the starting point. It's a process of making friends ... and sometimes enemies. If you do it right people will like you. If you don't people will avoid you. For as long as people have sought new jobs networking has been a key search technique. But why do many people hate face-to-face networking events, even avoid them? Do they have difficulty meeting new people? Do they just get nervous? Do they do it poorly, thinking they are doing great?

Successful networkers make connections by using small talk to establish rapport. They ask questions and take a real interest in the people they are talking with. They don't introduce themselves by giving a "I'm glad you met me" signal. Their style is "I'm glad that I met you"! They ask questions about the other persons commute, how their day is going, where they're from, what their favorite vacation spot is, etc., rather than opening by asking for help.

For example, one time when I was on a particularly tiring two-week business trip I arrived at my hotel in Boston. I was exhausted and just wanted to relax for a while so I went down to the bar. There was a weathered-looking man sitting by himself nearby. Very soon a couple walked in and sat down next to him. The husband said to the man, "Hi, I'm Joe. Tell me, is this your favorite bar?" And his wife immediately said, "Oh boy, here we go." That got my attention.

Joe started asking questions. In the next hour, I learned the weathered man was the first mate on a cargo ship, was due on board the ship at 11 PM to set sail a bit later. He had been sea-faring for 30 years, told several harrowing stories about having been escorted by the Coast Guard in several trans-Atlantic crossings during WWII in which many ships in the convoy had been sunk by German U-boats, described several hurricanes onboard ships he was sailing on, and told many humorous stories about his sea-faring life. Joe's questions kept coming and time passed quickly. After more than an hour the first mate realized he was late for his 11 PM report for duty. I don't know if he got on board ok, but I sure witnessed a lot about how to network effectively.

Joe is an example of someone with excellent networking skills. The questions he asked a complete stranger established rapport and opened up a long conversation. Had he been a job searcher at a networking event I'll bet his questions would have resulted in the other person asking Joe about himself. It almost always happens.

Some people avoid networking meetings. They think it's about bragging and they don't like to do that. That's fine, don't brag about yourself. It's a turn off. But when asked, it's not bragging to tell people what you like to do vs. how great you are doing it.

If you are shy or have difficulty starting a conversation the answer is to relax and ask questions about the other person. It's an easy way to remove the pressure to perform. Of course sometimes you come upon someone who loves to brag obnoxiously at networking events. What a turnoff. That's the time to have a separation attack. Saying "Hey, I'd like to hear more but I really need a humanity break" usually works.

Making friends and getting help is more successful by talking face-to-face rather than doing it remotely such  as making LinkedIn requests to connect or simply emailing people. That's easier to do but is much less effective because it is so impersonal. There's no face to see, smile to see, no body language, no live human interaction. It's too easy for the recipient to simply hit the 'Delete' button.

When face-to-face, ask questions to establish rapport. Discover needs and offer help. People will be more receptive to returning the favor later. You never know when the person you are meeting is just the connection you really need to know. 

An out-take: If you want to witness how good networking is done, go shopping with my wife. You will wonder if you are ever going to get out of a store. By the way, that's a good way to practice networking. Do it when you go shopping. And who knows, that stranger you are talking to may be a person you need to know.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

3 questions a hiring manager needs answers to ... and how to prepare for them.

When managers are searching for people there is a problem they need help with or they would resolve it an easier way. While there are many questions to ask each candidate, three core questions are fundamental in making a hiring decision.

Do I like you? If I don't we will probably not get along very well.
Do I think you can do the job? If you can't I haven't solved my problem.
Do I think you will fit in with the people you will need to work with? If you don't I will be spending time trying to fix that instead of working on business problems.

"Yes" answers will determine the top few candidates. "Maybe" answers move a candidate down the list. A "no" answer to any will simply create a new problem. No manager wants that!
Taking them one at a time,

Do I like you? Liking a candidate is critical to interpersonal interactions required on the job and is dependent upon the managers' various senses. First impressions begin when a candidate walks in the front door or is first greeted by each interviewer. This question continues throughout all interviews. Preparedness is key. Timeliness, attitude, what is said, how it is said, body language, how one appears, even how one smells are among the important factors. So is demeanor. Successful people surround themselves with positive people and avoid people who tend to be negative.

Do I think you can do the job? Obviously this question is dependent upon the candidate's answers to the interviewers' questions. Listening skills are critical; misinterpreting a question leads to answering it incorrectly. Answering questions clearly, crisply and succinctly creates a sense of competence. Building a long background to the answer of a question or monopolizing the conversation is likely to cause the interviewer to find a way to end the interview.

Do I think you will fit in with the people you will need to work with? Most managers will have coworkers and people from other parts of the company that the job interacts with involved in the interview process and will spend time probing the detail of their feedback, including that of receptionists. Poor interpersonal skills show up quickly in interviews. Everyone who meets a candidate will spot them immediately.


If there is one thing that will help a candidate prepare for the interview process it is to understand the hiring managers' pain beforehand. In fact understanding pain is the key to winning the interview in the first place. Resumes that respond to pain result in interviews, knowing the pain enables editing a resume to be responsive. Job descriptions rarely adequately describe specific pain. The best way to be sure one is on point is to speak directly with the hiring manager before applying for a job.

How do you find out who the manager is?

There are many ways:

Get an introduction from someone who works at the company. In fact this is the most successful way to get a job. Many companies have an Employee Referral Program (ERP) that pays a bonus to an employee who refers a candidate that gets hired. Managers respect the opinions of people who already work there. Plus even a $1000 ERP bonus is far less than a recruiters' fee.

Search LinkedIn and Google for Company Name and Manager Title. Use variations of the title to cover the possibilities until one works.

Search financial sites as if you are investing in the company. Senior officer's names often appear. Often they are more helpful in directing you to the right person than lower level people are. They are the enablers of the company, not the doers. Generally it is their nature to be helpful. Besides, this will provide you with valuable information about the company.

Visit the company website. Look at the 'About Us' page or PR articles for names to connect with who could refer you.

Read trade journals and other publications for articles written by people who can link you up with the hiring manager.

Look at industry conference announcements. Often they will list the names of key players or attendees. Attend them and set up informal conversations during breaks.

Once the hiring manager is identified, make the necessary calls. Write and internalize scripts that will get you past gatekeepers and properly introduce you to the hiring managers.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Speaking of PDF resumes ...

PDF is the acronym for Portable Document Format. PDF files are graphical images of documents. They are not a pure text file. When Applicant Tracking System software (ATS) performs operations like searching or extracting, it often runs into problems with PDF files. Not all PDFs are alike. Different types of PDFs require different computer operations.

ATS extraction software reads and extracts resume information that is in text form. Graphics, including text information located within graphics, for example Headers, Tables, and other tools, are the source of extractions issues. This is important because tools provided in word processing software makes it easy to use by letting the writer place text inside graphics. In the majority of job application processes today, a resume will be processed by ATS before a human ever sees it. Thus if information cannot be extracted properly from a resume it may never reach a human who can read it.

Microsoft Word or plain text files are universally acceptable file formats for ATS because words are recorded in compliance with the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) standard. However, people writing resumes need to be aware of the issues with word processing tools.

Avoiding the use of word processing tools can be difficult because any graphic associated with the tools can only be seen when the tool is open. When a tool is opened, a graphic box appears in which information is entered. The box disappears as soon as the tool is closed and only the text is appears on the viewing screen. There are always alternatives to using the tools. The alternatives are more time consuming, but far safer for files that are used to apply for jobs electronically.

Plain text documents are excellent for ATS because all formatting, including those lines and boxes that disappear, are removed from plain text files. Lacking formatting, the resulting file is not attractive to the eye, but ATS is blind and loves them because only text remains.

PDF files are excellent to use in situations where one can be sure the document will go directly to a human, not ATS. The advantage they have over Word and text files is that a PDF displays the exact same content and layout that was created no matter which operating system, device or software application it is viewed on. Time taken to make the document very attractive to humans is preserved faithfully by PDF. This makes PDFs ideal when one wants to impress a human reader.

Summarizing, a PDF file is a graphical image of a document. It is a combination of vector graphics, text, and bitmap graphics. The basic types of content in a PDF are text stored as 'content streams' (specifically not ASCII text), vector graphics for illustrations and designs that consist of shapes and lines, raster graphics for photographs and other types of image, multimedia objects in the document.

·        PDF files are a problem for ATS because they are a graphical image of a document, not a pure text document. ATS has difficulty extracting information located inside a graphic.

·        Microsoft Word or Plain Text files are universally compatible with all ATS software and are the preferred file types to use for applying online.

·        A PDF file displays the exact same content and layout no matter which operating system, device or software application it is viewed on, an advantage when viewed by a human without ATS intervention.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Don't ask (beg) for an informational interview!

Making voice contact with the hiring manager before applying for a job is a recommendation I make to all job seekers because it is the most effective way to get an interview and job.

But think before you call to request an informational interview. Imagine you are the hiring manager and you get an unsolicited call from someone who tells you he is looking for a job and would like to set up an informational interview. What would your immediate reaction be? Most managers will keep the caller at arm's length and say something to disengage from the call. Introducing yourself by asking for an "informational interview" or saying "I'm job searching" is a big turn-off. It puts the recipient into a negative posture. Only directly asking for a job is worse.

If you have been referred to the hiring manager, making a call is quite easy: "Hello Ms. X, my name is Y and I was referred to you by Z." Then ask your questions about the position you have been referred to and the problems to be resolved. Knowing these enables you to relate some of your accomplishments that would help.

But if you have not been referred, a far better approach is to establish rapport and finesse the discussion without mentioning turn-off words like interview, job searching or job. I suggest starting by asking a question about something of interest to the hiring manager. That takes some research and preparation. You could Google the manager as well as the company for information and check the manager's profile on LinkedIn. You will almost always find something the manager is interested in or something new about the company to ask questions about.  Do this before there is any discussion about an open position or your search.

With rapport established, keep the focus on the manager by mentioning something about the company and his position in it. You want to learn about problems he or she faces so you can mention that you have resolved those kinds of problems, again without indicating you are job searching. You want to get the hiring manager to start asking questions about you. Ultimately you'd like him or her to suggest an interview because that gives you the opportunity to casually indicate you'd be happy to do so. If the manager does not suggest an interview, then it is time for you to indicate you would be interested in talking to him or her about opportunities (even though you may already know there are some). So the only time you should suggest an interview is if the manager doesn't initiate it.

The takeaway is this: Making voice contact with hiring managers is a very effective job search tactic. Being referred to the hiring manager is hands-down the best situation. Avoid mentioning anything about job searching. Finesse the conversation; get the hiring manager interested in you without mentioning your situation. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your ability to help resolve the hiring manager's problems. Strive to get the manager to suggest an interview. And remember that people are busy. Your call is probably interrupting the manager, so be well prepared, brief and to the point.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

How to make Job Searching and ATS a Modern Day Love Affair

Many people tell me about aggressively submitting resumes and getting little or no response or interviews. In one example, Ralph (not his real name) came to me saying he had lost his job many months before and was totally frustrated with his job search. He was sending out many resumes and either being rejected or hearing nothing back. And he had revised his resume numerous times trying to fix the problem. Sounds familiar, right?

Unemployment was causing financial problems and strife within Ralph's family. His savings was dwindling, he was worried he might lose his home and he had children who were approaching college age.

Like so many other situations I have seen it was obvious he would have been much better off had he reached out to me right after he was first laid off, or even better, when he first began to see the handwriting on the wall, rather than trying to "go it alone". And it made me think about how job searching is similar in a way to dating. It often leads nowhere.

In courtship we are focused on compatibility and impressing each other. The same is true with seeking a job. As job seekers we try to create a resume that will impress the hiring manager by demonstrating how compatible we are with the job requirements. Then after submitting the resume, if ATS intercedes, usually nothing positive happens. The problem is ATS is either love at first sight or it's not going to happen! You get one chance, that's it. So we talked about his resume, how he was conducting his job search and how we could turn things around for him together.

40 Plus Pitfalls

First we talked about word processing pitfalls that cause ATS parsing issues. ATS text parsers extract information from resumes and provide a compatibility score. Only the top scorers are forwarded to HR for review. So if, for instance, there are 200 applications and only the top 10 are forwarded there is only a 5% chance HR will review your resume and 0.5% chance you will be hired. There has to be a better way to improve the odds. We'll discuss this later but let's get the resume right first.

The over 40 pitfalls to be concerned about include word processing shortcuts that can build parsing issues into your resume. You might not even realize it is happening. Among the most critical shortcuts are those that allow you to write text inside graphic boxes such as borders, tables, headers, text boxes, and borders. Unfortunately parsers cannot read information located inside graphics. So for example, if you put your name and contact information inside a header, the parser can't read it and will not know who you are or how to reach you. Therefore ATS can't respond to your application. This is a certain way to become anonymous. 

In the many changes he made to his resume over time, sometimes Ralph used headers, usually he used tables and occasionally he spiffed it up with an outside border. All were sure to cause ATS issues.


Ralph asked me about using columns because he had seen many resumes that were attractively laid out using them. I explained that this is another pitfall. Parsers scan information in raster fashion, across the entire page, one line at a time. So if columns are used to format information, the text in one column will be intermixed with text in the next column, one line at a time. The result reads as gibberish. So we agreed not to do that.


Ralph is a CPA and listed the certification after his name for emphasis. That's another pitfall. ATS wants to see your name, by itself, on the top line of your resume. So by putting his certification after his name ATS may have thought CPA was his last name. We moved his certification to a personal profile located right under his contact information where it would be immediately visible. People often place a certification, a degree, or a title after their name. They become Joe CPA, Sally PHD or Ruth CEO to ATS.


Ralph had been promoted twice in one company so his resume showed 3 jobs under the name of the company, a fourth pitfall. Listing multiple positions under one company is called 'nesting'. ATS wants you to repeat the company name before each position held even if they are successive jobs in the same company. I can only assume the reason for this is that ATS may not understand what company you were working for after the first one listed. That sounds pretty dumb but it is what it is so I don't nest jobs in any resume that will be used to apply electronically. The good news is parsers do not view a repeated company name as job-hopping. We fixed Ralph's resume by showing the same company name before each of the three positions.


Second we talked about keywords. It is important to make sure the right skill keywords are used in a resume exactly as they are found in the job description requirements. It is equally important to use them in context. ATS will determine if you understand the keywords by how you use the them in context, particularly as you describe the results of your work in the experience section. This helps to achieve a high ATS score and win interviews.


Another reason to get the key words right is to get discovered. Specific key words are used by recruiters when they search for candidates in LinkedIn or on job boards. They simply type in the right key words and see who pops up. Making your LinkedIn profile complete and using the right key words will get you discovered. We worked on Ralph's LinkedIn profile to take full advantage of this free inbound marketing tool LinkedIn provides.

Talk to the Hiring Manager Before Applying

The third thing we discussed was search tactics. The way to increase the odds of getting hired is to talk to the hiring manager before applying for a job. Doing this has a profound effect upon winning interviews and jobs. Ralph had never tried the approach and had no idea how to do it. He felt intimidated by the thought of reaching out directly to the hiring manager. After all, doesn't everyone just go through HR? The answer is no, not everyone. The most successful job seekers differentiate themselves from their competition by calling and speaking directly to hiring managers before applying. This is the most effective way to get hired. 

The skills required can be learned through coaching and lots of practice. It is very effective because it enables one to learn what is most important to the hiring manager, to provide examples of how one can help meet the hiring manager's critical needs and it provides critical information for 'tuning' a resume before applying.

Ralph and I spent considerable time discussing the many ways of finding the hiring manager's name. We discussed how to write, practice and internalize scripts for getting past the company gatekeepers and how to approach the hiring manger when he finally gets through. Ralph practiced the new skills by role playing with me. Then he tried it live. It took a lot of guts and it worked. Ralph got a great job using this approach.


Ralph has been in his new job for six months and feels like his whole world has changed. I wish all outcomes were the same. I am convinced getting competent help early and being willing to learn and practice new skills prevents an extended job search.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

5 Reasons ATS will reject your resume

Do you ever ask yourself why your job application got rejected? Are you frustrated by not even receiving a response? You may have thought you were the "perfect" candidate.

There is a lot of information about the causes of ATS rejection and non-response. Some of it is correct and some of it is conjecture passed on to you with good intentions but without a real understanding how ATS extracts information from your resume. The following are the key reasons for either rejection or non-response to your application.

Qualification. Many times applicants are simply not qualified. And sometimes qualified candidates get rejected for the wrong reasons. The written content may be right-on, but the document may contain attributes that ATS cannot handle.

Key words. Sometimes people ignore using key words "exactly as written" in job descriptions. Or they fail to use them in context in other parts of their resume. ATS checks to see if you have have the right keywords and that you demonstrate you understand them by using them in context.

ATS parsers. ATS parsers extract information from your resume. If you pass scrutiny it presents the information to HR for review in one common format for all candidates.  But ATS cannot extract text located inside graphics. This is important because we all use shortcut tools provided by word processing software to make document creation easier to do.

However, shortcut tools typically introduce graphic boxes into the document for us to type information into. And we don't even realize what's happening. All we know is it looks good and is easy to do.  Borders, headers, footers, tables, charts and text boxes are typical examples. 

For instance, if you put your name and contact information in a header, ATS cannot read it and will not know who you are or how to contact you. If skills or other information is listed in a table, ATS will not know it is there. If you put an outside border around your resume, nothing will be read. These are common things that cause rejection or non-response.

Columns. Some people use text columns or tables to format a resume. ATS parsing software reads data across the full page, one line at a time. This jumbles columnar information into sentences that make no sense.

For instance if I were to write this:
Some people use text columns or tables to format a resume.
ATS parsing software reads data across the full page, one line at a time.

ATS would read this:
Some people use text ATS parsing software reads columns or tables to format a data a across the full page, resume. one line at a time.

PDF files. Although some providers claim they can read ATS files, most cannot. What they fail to say is "converted PDF file" variants. There are two basic types of PDF files, Native and Scanned. And there are many variants. How are you to know if your file is a converted PDF file? And how are you to know if your resume will be scrutinized by an ATS that is capable of reading "converted" PDF files? The only safe thing to do is not to submit your resume as a PDF file. Submit only Word *.doc or plain text *.txt files.

The takeaway is this. Maximize your job application success by making sure you are qualified before you apply. Use keywords exactly as written in job descriptions. Do not use word processing creation tools. And use txt or doc files to apply online.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

6 things you can do to avoid being rejected when you apply for a job

Do you fit the job like a cat in a box? Are a lot of your job applications being rejected? Maybe there are some things you can do to fix the problem.

People tell me it happens a lot even though they rewrite their resume many times. Very often they don't even get a response. Many times they have paid a professional resume writer and still get rejected. There are many reasons applicants get rejected or don't get any feedback.

Sometimes the job has been filled or cancelled and the posting has not been updated.

Some companies simply are rude. While it is a fact that companies are overwhelmed by the volume of applicants, that should not be a reason for failing to respond to you. Some companies seem not to care. Some recruiters are overworked or apathetic regarding responding to you. It makes you wonder if you'd want to work there.

Or your resume may not be compatible with the Applicant Tracking System software the company uses. You may not even realize you are introducing problems for the ATS extraction process as you create your resume.

And you may not be qualified despite feeling you are great fit. Most people don't fit every one of the "requirements" stated in a job description. It could be that the one thing you don't fit is key. It's also possible there is a requirement that has not been documented in the job posting or the requirements have changed but the job description has not.

Here are some suggestions of things you can do to improve your chances of getting an interview.

  • Above all else, don’t camp on job boards and don't apply to everything that looks remotely warm. Yes, it is the easiest way to job search. It is also the least effective way. It leads to frustration and extends your search. There are far more productive ways of spending your valuable time.
  • Target companies and jobs you know you are qualified for. If it's a stretch you are probably wasting your time. There are probably others for which it is not a stretch.  
  • Tune your resume to each job you apply for. One resume does not fit all. Don't broadcast yours to everyone hoping it will "stick to the wall".
  • When you identify an opportunity, make voice contact directly with the hiring manager in an informal manner. Establish rapport and learn what problems need to be solved. The real needs may not be described in the job posting. Once you understand the key problems and have had a chance to talk about how you can fix them, then it's time to edit your resume and cover letter to be responsive to those needs. Do this before you apply.
  • Spend some time learning how to identify who the hiring managers are. There are many ways of doing this. One good one is to get introduced by current employees of your target company. Learn how to find them. Alternatively, cold call if necessary. And there are more ways. Get help if you need it. Learn how to use the many resources available to you.
  • Learn how to write scripts for your calls if you don't already know how. You need one for getting past the gatekeepers and one for engaging the hiring manager. Get help with what to say and not to say. Spend plenty of role playing time practicing your scripts. Make your mistakes during role playing when it doesn't count and learn from your mistakes before you start calling.
  • Make sure your resume is compatible with ATS. If you need to, get competent professional resume writing help from people who understand what causes ATS parsing software to abort some resumes. A simple test to see if a resume writer can help you is to ask for examples of what specific things they will do to make your resume ATS-compatible. Having the right keywords is critical, but only part of the solution. Ask for specific examples that go beyond just  keywords. The real test is to ask if they will guarantee your resume will not be rejected by ATS because of documentation incompatibility issues. If they hesitate on any answers or don't understand what you are asking, pass. 

Do you have any comments or questions?  

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Monday, October 17, 2016

How to get past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Most people tell me applying for a job online is beyond frustrating.

First you get asked to fill out a long list of questions. Many of the answers are already on your resume so why are you being asked?

Then there may be confusing directions about how to submit your resume. They may ask you to cut and paste your resume into a particular place. They may say they want an ASCII resume. What's that? (ASCII is a character coding standard all computers use to translate text and other characters into binary data that computers can read.)

They may simply ask you to upload your resume or attach it to an email. What about your cover letter? What do you do with that? And after you've run through this gauntlet you may not get a response.

A company's decision to use ATS software on the front end of the hiring process is the reason for most of these problems. That long list of questions is the tell-tale sign the company is using ATS software to pre-screen applicants. Companies that use ATS give you the 'privilege' of performing that task for them. It's called replacing the cost of people with automation. And if you don't answer all the questions your application might not be considered.

No amount of trickery will get you past this cumbersome process. But there are things you can do to be one of the lucky ones who gets a call from HR. Just follow these guidelines:

1. Don't submit a fancy resume. Keep it simple, no graphics, no fancy fonts, no fancy formatting. ATS systems do not have eyes. They cannot see what humans see. You can create a fancy version of your resume to hand out to humans at interviews or when networking but don't apply for a job with it.

2. Focus on your accomplishments and the results of your work, particularly those things that are relevant to what the hiring manager needs. Quantify your results as often as possible. Numbers attract attention.

3. Save your resume as a Word (doc) file. Also save it as a plain text file (txt). An ASCII file is the same as a txt file. Yes, txt files are butt-ugly, but computers are blind. Submit your resume as either a doc or txt file. All ATS systems can read these two. Computers and ATS actually prefer a text file. Saving your resume as a txt file removes all formatting which ATS likes.

Some people will tell you to submit PDF files, arguing that they can protect the file from editing, by a recruiter for instance. The fact is every PDF file can be edited, protected or not. One just needs to know how. They will tell you ATS can also read PDF files, but don't count on it. Most ATS software cannot read PDF's.

4. Watch out for spelling and grammar errors. Usually ATS will check spelling at the very least. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to resumes. You could get rejected for spelling errors.

5. And there's more to consider, specifically document attributes. A document attribute can be a feature, like a bullet, a header or footer, a table, a text box, a line, color, shading, etc. It could also be a formatting or organizing feature. Many attributes will cause major problems with ATS. Generally speaking, if your word processor provides you with a tool that makes document creation easy, don't use it because it will invariably introduce an attribute that cannot be read by ATS, or will be read incorrectly. Find a work-around for simplification tools, for example use tabs instead of tables. Using tabs and getting everything lined up like a nice table can be difficult, which is why word processors provide you with tools to make it easy.

6. Organize your resume the way ATS wants to see it. As mentioned above, simplicity is best. ATS will be looking for sections from which it can extract information, for instance Summary, Skills, Experience, and Education. It's advisable not to use variations of these. If you held more than one position with a company, restate the company name and dates above each position held.

If you choose to apply online, these suggestions will help you get through the ATS screen. By the way, often ATS will place the information it extracts from your resume in its own formatted document. This document is what will be submitted to HR for human review, not your actual resume. The reason is so that all candidates can be compared in a common format. Of course HR can pull up your resume as you submitted it if they choose to.   

There is an alternative approach to applying online to consider. That is making voice contact with the hiring manager before applying on line. That approach is more effective than simply applying online. I discuss the rationale and coach the 'how to' skills required for this approach in other posts I have written.

Every company has its own hiring process and company protocols. What frustrating things have you run into?

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

3 key questions the hiring manager is thinking

How can a job seeker best prepare a job search? The best answer is to focus on what the hiring manager needs are. Prepare by focusing everything you do on answering the key question on every hiring manager's mind.

Can you solve my problem?

"What can you do for me? How can you help resolve my problem?"

"What have you accomplished that is relevant to the problem I need solved"? 

"What are your key skills and competencies"? 

In reviewing a resumes these are the fundamental questions in the hiring managers mind. In many situations there are other important qualifications as well, like "What are your relevant certifications?" Often having the right current certification is more important than education. And "What is your education background?" 

The question every job applicant should be asking is

Does my resume respond to the hiring managers' specific need?

Things to remember: People do not read resumes, they skim them, they search for things they need. And they spend only a few seconds searching. To avoid rejection, the answers to the hiring managers' key questions should be in the first half of the first page of the resume.

Human nature being what it is we tend to focus on ourselves and lose sight of the purpose of a resume. Often we focus our resume only on our titles, scope of work, responsibilities, etc. And why not? 

While those things are important, they will be ignored if the hiring manger can't find answers to their fundamental questions. Too often we introduce extraneous information, space wasting fluff that has little bearing on the task described in a job description. It's important that we not get distracted from answering the hiring managers' needs by introducing fluff.

By focusing our resume on the accomplishments and results of our work that are relevant to the hiring managers' problem, preferably quantified, we will have prioritized the most important information about ourselves. These are the items that should receive the highest position under each job held. 

The takeaway is this: Focus your resume and your entire search preparation on the hiring manager's needs, not just your own. Find out what the hiring manager's needs are and feed them.

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