Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Skip the job ad, what does the hiring manager REALLY need done?

Recently I was asked how to increase the odds that a resume will result in a formal interview with the hiring manager. The answer is easy. Find out what the hiring manager's pain is and sell your solution. Making it happen takes some work.

The important thing to remember is that while a resume is about the candidate, it is also about responding to the hiring manager's needs. Good resumes demonstrate how the candidate can help resolve specific things the hiring manager needs done by clearly stating the candidates relevant achievements. It really comes down to taking the initiative to find out what the needs are and respond to them.

Unfortunately job descriptions rarely portray the needs accurately or completely. Very often they are boiler plate descriptions that lack a truly accurate description of a hiring managers' pain, the real problem to be solved. Normally the hiring manager is the only one who really understands his or her pain, not an outside recruiter, the company recruiter, or whoever writes the job description. The best these people can do is to find candidates, screen them, and recommend them to the hiring manager to review. Why not turn the hiring process around? Speak directly to the hiring manager before submitting your resume. Impossible you say? Not if you learn how.

There is no question that having an informal conversation with the hiring manager before formally applying is the most direct approach to landing the job. It enables the resume to be edited to be sure it addresses why the candidate is best suited to help fix the hiring managers key needs. Does reaching out to the hiring manager always work? No! But it beats applying first and hoping to get a call. There are several reasons why it works.
·        It establishes a rapport with the hiring manager.
·        It demonstrates taking initiative and action rather than passively waiting and wondering.
·        It eliminates doubt about how to respond to need.
·        It enables one to edit the resume and prioritize keywords and accomplishments that are relevant to the need.
·        It gives those who do it a significant competitive advantage over those who don't by differentiating you from the 'herd'.
·        It also makes writing a cover letter a much easier task by allowing one to reiterate key points the hiring manager liked from the conversation.
There is not a better way to achieve competitive advantage and win the interview.

If you're not getting the results you expected from your search approach, consider the following:

·        Find out what the hiring manager needs directly from the source. Make direct voice contact.
·        Don't think only about your own needs when you write your resume. Think about accomplishments you have achieved that will help the manager solve his or her problems.
·        Focus on your achievements and the results of your work. How did the things you have done keep business going smoothly or improve something?
·        Keep in mind a resume is an advertisement, not a biography. Avoid excessive description of your responsibilities and history. Responsibilities, positions and even job titles may not be as important as you think if you have not described the results of your work.
·        Format for skimming, not reading. People glance at resumes. They don't read them. They skim, quickly glancing for key words, numbers, and phrases that interest them. Make it easy for them to find the reasons to interview you. Position the things they are looking for where they will jump out at the reader.
·        Keep your resume relevant to the hiring managers needs. Avoid writing paragraphs. Remove words and sentences that are not relevant to the needs.
·        Spelling and grammar are important. So is neat, orderly formatting. Avoid appearing ignorant or careless.
·        Make sure your resume is compatible with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) screening software.

The takeaway is this: The best way to increase the odds of getting an interview is to speak directly to the hiring manager, informally, to understand his or her needs before applying for the job. Then, by following good resume and cover letter writing skills and by responding to key needs, you will be a prime candidate and win an interview. 

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

How many hats does a job seeker have to wear?

Kate Middleton loves hats and wears some fascinating ones. Job seekers don't necessarily want to wear many hats but are forced to in order to find the right new job.

My view is this: People whose career depends upon finding a new position need to master many skills. They have to market, advertise, and sell their services to hiring managers who use recruiters, themselves, and software to scrutinize and disqualify candidates. For those who survive the scrutiny, great, they've done a good job of exercising many job search skills. For those who don't survive, it's time to get help.

It's one thing to understand yourself, the skills you have to offer, what you do and how you do it. But it's quite another to know how to package them in a manner that gets interviews and job offers. Many questions need to be answered.

How do you plan to approach the job market? Will you use a shotgun or rifle approach?

Are you able to apply sound advertising principles in preparing your collateral materials, the resumes and cover letters you will need to sell? Do you understand how to avoid rejection by Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software?

How can you find out what problems the hiring manager of a specific opening has to solve? How do you find out who the hiring manager is? How do you get past gatekeepers and make direct voice contact to be able to tell how you can help?

Are you able to interview effectively? Do you know how to respond to objections? Do you understand how to close interviews?

Do you know how to turn interviews into job offers? Do you know how to negotiate your compensation when offered a job?

It's a lot to ask of you when such things are not part of your everyday job. Many job seekers understand at least basic principles of marketing, advertising, and sales, intuitively if not from formal education. But even professionals in each of these specialties find it a lot harder to market and sell themselves than it is to sell the products or services of companies they've worked for.

Prospecting to identify potential hiring managers, getting past their gatekeepers, making initial direct voice contact with them to identify needs, presenting ones ability to mitigate the needs, managing objections, and closing are all skills to be learned and mastered, not to mention creating collateral materials.

Getting professional help is often required to learn the necessary skills.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Want a new job? Just throw your resume over the wall.

Maybe you'll get the job in the next century.
Having difficulty getting interviews? Getting interviews but always coming in second?  Still doing the same old things? Applying to everything that looks remotely possible? If it isn't working, try this:

Differentiate you from your competition!
Sounds logical but incredibly many people don't realize how to do it. Here are some thoughts:
Target current openings that you fit. Read job descriptions carefully. Assess your core competencies honestly. Make sure you meet the key job requirements. Applying will be a waste of your time (and theirs) if you don't meet the majority of the key mandatory requirements.
Job descriptions rarely identify exactly why a hiring manager needs to hire. Why is the position open? What is the problem that needs to be done? Find out by talking directly to hiring managers informally before you apply. 

Establish rapport with the decision-maker, find out what key business problems must be resolved, and take the opportunity to talk about how you can help. After the call edit your resume and cover letter to respond properly to the needs. That's a lot better than just replying to whatever was written in the job description. 

Finding Hiring Managers names and learning the correct ways to reach out to them before applying is not rocket science. Sometimes good training and coaching is required and it is available. And truthfully sometimes it just doesn't work. But it's a given that failing to try is guaranteed not to work.
Pay attention to how you market yourself. Make sure your resume is written in contemporary form. Make sure it grabs the readers' attention in the first five seconds someone looks at it. Make people want to read more by including a marketing 'hook' in the opening paragraph. Make it easy to read quickly by providing the results of your work in brief bullets. Make sure it has a professional appearance. Check and recheck it for spelling or grammar errors that make you look careless. And make sure it will pass through the scrutiny of ATS software smoothly.
Address your cover letter to the hiring manager by name and title. Provide summary reasons why it is important for the hiring manager to interview you. Avoid repeating the mundane things your competition says in cover letters so you don't become just one of the 'herd'. Align yourself with the company's missions and achievements. Show them how you fit.
Competition is enormous. There are internal, known candidates. There are hundreds of outside unknown candidates. Differentiating "you" from the 'herd' is the key to competition for jobs.  
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