Sunday, November 18, 2018

To win a new job, do things differently.

Horses don't win by being like all the other horses. Something sets them apart. The same thing is true about job candidates.

Differentiation is the key to rising above others. When it comes to job searching, the winner is the one who is clearly different from the competition.

Differentiate your resume from the others.
Focus on the results of your work, how you made things better. You'll get interviewed because of your results, not just your responsibilities.
Tell the hiring manager how you can help fix his/her problems, not what you want. 
Make your resume easy to read. Use bullets, not paragraphs.
Cite keywords about the job and use them in context.
Don't waste space talking about your objectives. The job you are applying for is your objective.
Avoid the 40+ ATS parsing killers.
Be crisp and concise. No one will read a biography of your experience.
Don't appear careless. Watch your spelling and grammar.
Make your resume look professional. Appearances count. 

 Differentiate your search tactics from your competition.
Do what others won't do. Don't rely on others to do for you what you should do yourself.
Talk directly to the hiring manager before you apply. It is the most effective way to get a job. Applying on job boards is the least effective.
Get referred by an employee.
Network effectively. It's not just about me, me, me.
Find out how recruiters work and are motivated. Don't rely upon them.
Create a complete LinkedIn Profile. It's a valuable, free inbound marketing tool. Make it possible for people to find you by making it complete.
Readers are likely to pass over profiles that don't include a picture. A Picture sets the readers mood to liking you. Upload a smiling head shot of you, just you, in your profile. They are not interested in your child, motorcycle, friends, etc.

 Differentiate your search skills.
Want to really be different? Learn how to identify hiring managers, how to make informal voice contact with them and how to get past their gatekeepers.
Learn good interviewing technique., for instance, don't monopolize conversations.
Master salary negotiation.
Because you are seeking a job you need to sell the reasons for being hired. Learn closing skills. 

 Differentiate your cover letter.
Always write an individualized cover letter that addresses the hiring manager's needs.
Direct it to the hiring manager by name, never "To whom it may concern" or something else equally impersonal.
Don't ask for an interview, say why it is important.
Establish rapport with the company and manager by aligning yourself  with them.

 Differentiate how you job search:
Procrastination is a killer. Don't let jobs go stale.
Plan your day each day. Do different things and set aside time for each. 
Stay healthy and invigorated; spend some time on yourself.
Focus on not being part of the herd.
Strengthen your weaknesses through practice; role play, live; videotape; make mistakes when it doesn't matter.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Show me a consistently successful leader who is a pessimist.

Pessimism paralyzes. It paralyzes business. It impacts human interactions. It infects the workplace. It stymies finding solutions to problems. It kills interviews!

Nobody wants to be near a chronic pessimist. They're not fun to be with.

Optimism is the elixir that keeps things moving forward. Optimists are resourceful. They have positive attitudes. They are more likable, more fun to be with. People like to be near them. Optimists generate optimism in others. They motivate. Optimism fuels positive interviews!

Optimistic job seekers are much more likely to compete successfully and win the new job. Interviewers are sensitive to a candidate’s personality; they will be looking for optimists. Given two equally qualified candidates, the pessimist will be the loser! It follows that when business requires reduction in force, given two equal employees, the pessimist will be the first to be laid off.

Unfortunately, pessimistic job seekers do not always view themselves as being pessimistic. There are signs one can see in themselves. Do people tend to gravitate away from or toward me. Do they listen intently or dismissively. Do I usually smile or frown. If the signs of pessimism are there, it would be smart to consciously work on building an optimistic attitude.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Two resumes to use, the beauty and the beast.

It's a good idea to have two files of your resume. Actually it's really wise to have 3 files.

When you apply for a position you are likely to need either a Word document or a Plain Text document. These two, the beauty and the beast, are essential job searching documents. A third file enhanced specifically for handing out to people is valuable for interviewing and networking, but not good for applying for a job.

The vast majority of companies today use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to screen the resumes of job candidates and only sends those that score highest to a human for further review. It is most likely ATS will review your resume almost instantly when you apply, before a human ever sees it. It will establish a score for your candidacy and pass only the highest scored resumes on to HR for further action.

All ATS can read Word or Plain Text resumes. After creating and saving your Word document, it should also be saved as a plain text file so that all formatting is removed. This butt-ugly document is the safest to use for ATS scrutiny and is actually preferred by ATS. The Word file is also quite acceptable as long as issues that can cause problems for ATS are removed.

If application instructions ask specifically for a plain text file, don't assume a Rich Text Format file will work. It is simply not the same. Alternatively, instructions may say it's ok to apply with a PDF file. Then a PDF file is safe to apply with, otherwise don't assume it is.

It's important to realize ATS may cause you to be rejected even if you are well qualified. Ridiculous as that may seem there are over 40 reasons why it may happen.

One key reason is graphics. We can see graphics; ATS can only read the binary code that represents what we see in a resume. Since it cannot perceive beauty there is no reason to get fancy. ATS may become confused by graphics and completely ignore associated text information.

Since PDF files are nothing more than graphical representations of a document, is it any wonder some ATS software cannot handle PDF files properly? Is it also any wonder that sometimes ATS cannot handle the typical templates offered for writing resumes? Templates provide graphic boxes to enter information into.

Word processing tools are another problem for ATS. We all use word processing software to create documents. The tools make document creation easy by providing simple ways to create the features we want. Boxes are used that become invisible to the human eye, and make information located inside them potentially lost to ATS.

If these issues were not enough, some ATS parsing software is also particular about other matters that seem trivial to us, such as what section titles information is located in, the order of information it is looking for, nesting of sequential jobs under one company, and more.

The takeaway is this: The safest way to avoid rejection or non-response to a job application is to assure the resume is compatible with all ATS software.

Resumes that are enhanced with graphics, including PDF files, are a good idea to have available. However, they should only be used as handouts for interviews and networking, not for application purposes.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Is your job like stale bread?

Have you planned your escape?
One fact of life is this: Change is inevitable.
If you don’t like the way things are going, relax, it will change.
If you do like the way things are going, don't relax, it will change.
The Boy Scout's creed is savvy guidance for everyone. Be prepared.
Whether you are happily employed, passively searching or actively searching, resume preparation is like having catastrophe insurance. You don’t really want to pay for it but you can’t ignore the possibility you may need it.
Think about poor Joe. He'd been working for his company for 7 years, had good reviews, a good relationship with his boss, and suddenly one day was told the company had been sold and his job was eliminated. Many people who are about to lose their job have no idea it's coming.
For others there may be warning signs. Jasmine was a product manager with a good reputation. When her product reached end of life she was assigned to a new product where a product manager was already in place. She thought maybe she was to take over his role. But the relationship between she and her boss seemed to have changed. She was no longer included in certain meetings or discussions. And there were other signs of impending problems. Finally she got word she was being let go with no really rational explanation. Hey, it happens.
For years neither Joe nor Jasmine felt the need to have their resumes brought up to date. Neither was aware of ATS. Neither was aware of how contemporary resumes are written. Both of their resumes had been written in "old-school" fashion.
Joe worked hard on his resume. He felt it would be only weeks, maybe a couple of months, before he had a new job. Seven months later he came to me for help. Four months after that he got a new job but he had to take a small step down to land it. By then his severance had long since run out and he was in financial trouble. This forced him to accept the lower position.
Jasmine on the other hand got help immediately. We updated her resume, made sure it was compatible with ATS, and in seven weeks she was in a new job with strong potential for advancement.
Situations similar to these happen every day. Procrastination about becoming prepared extends job searches. Some situations are better, many are worse. The obvious message is "Be Prepared" regardless of your current situation.
Things will change. 
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Monday, August 20, 2018

3 Resume Writing Tips

Understand what makes a good advertisement cause a reader to take action.

A resume is the starting point of job searching. All too often the resume causes rejection or non-response, making it the ending point of the search as well. Writing skill is certainly critical but it's not the only consideration for creating a resume that postures the candidate in a professional way. Three gross mistakes can jeopardize an otherwise excellent job candidate.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software may reject you regardless of your qualifications:
How your resume is prepared is often the cause of rejection by ATS before a human ever sees it.

It's not just what is written, but how it is created. There are over 40 resume attributes that are potential ATS issues. One example: Don't use tables; ATS may not read information contained in tables.

People will often reject you and move on to the next resume if your resume is difficult to read quickly:
On the first pass most people really do not actually read resumes!

At best people scan very quickly looking for keywords and data they are interested in. The first 5 seconds are critical. In that brief time they look at your name, contact information, personal brand, skills, and the results of your work. Sometimes who you have worked for is important to them, but not always.

Resumes are merely advertisements. If they find nothing that interests them they are likely to reject you without further review. It's usually a final, binary decision because there are simply too many other resumes to read. 

Further scanning, perhaps 25 more seconds, occurs only for the few people who pass the initial review. A more detailed review by a human occurs only for the top candidates. Even those companies who do not use ATS may reject or fail to respond if a human reader is unable to quickly find points of interest.

To be effective resumes must address the specific needs of the hiring manager:
Edit your resume to be responsive to the critical needs of each job. If you don't it is certain some of your competition will.

One resume usually does not fit all jobs. Tailoring resumes to be responsive to each hiring manager is challenging and intensive work, but necessary for success. 

These are just a few considerations for writing an effective resume. If you use a resume writer make certain he or she is a good writer, understands what causes all possible problems for ATS (not just the need for keywords), and understands advertising.  

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Monday, July 9, 2018

The realities of job searching today: Rough road ahead.

Job search effectiveness is strongly affected by a few basic facts:
·        Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software may reject you regardless of your qualifications:
How your resume is prepared is often the cause of rejection by ATS before a human ever sees it.
Even those companies who do not use ATS may reject or fail to respond if a human reader is unable to quickly find points of interest in a resume. All potential ATS issues should be eliminated. When your resume is re-written the writer should guarantee you will not be rejected because of document creation attributes built into your resume. You should also be provided with written guidelines for preventing over 40 attributes that can cause ATS issues when you edit the resume in the future.
·        People will often reject you and move on to the next resume if your resume is difficult to read quickly:
On the first pass most people really do not actually read resumes!
At best they scan very quickly looking for keywords and data they are interested in. The first 5 seconds are critical. In that brief time they look at your name, contact information, location, personal brand, skills, and the results of your work on the first page. If they find nothing that interests them they are likely to reject you without further review. It is a final, binary decision because there are simply too many other resumes to read. Further scanning, perhaps 25 more seconds, occurs only for the few people who pass the initial review.  A more detailed review occurs for the top candidates.
·        One resume usually does not fit all jobs:
If you don't edit your resume to be responsive to the hiring manager's critical needs of each job, I can assure you your competition will.
Be prepared to edit your resume for each position you apply to so that it is responsive to the specific needs of each hiring manager.
·        Differentiation is the key to getting hired:
Focus on differentiating you from your competition. Differentiate by quickly demonstrating how well you performed on the job. Show the results of your work, what you accomplished that supported or improved the business. This is the key to getting interviews and ultimately the job.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Would you want to work for this company?

Every job seeker has their own wants, needs and desires for their next job.

Job searching normally starts with getting your resume in shape before searching, but it could start with who's hiring. Soon enough one must find out who is hiring and whether they would want to work for them. 

Each situation is different. Are you employed or unemployed? Do you fit in better in a large company or a small one, a public or private company, for profit or non-profit situation, start-up or mature, same industry or different one? How important each consideration is becomes an individual decision.

Getting interviews with a great resume is one thing. Having enough information to make an informed decision about a company is quite another. Before pursuing an opportunity, two things one might consider are: If I had the choice, would I be willing to invest my money in them? And what do their employees have to say about them?

The key questions are:
     Is the company financially stable?
     Is the industry and company growing or declining?
     Is the company competitive? Is it a leader or follower?        
     Do people like working there? Do they like the company culture and management? What would they change if they could?
     What do ex-employees think about the company? (If negative, dig deep to find out why. They may simply be disgruntled.)

To help assess how strong a company is, visit financial investing resources: 

And ask a financial advisor if you can:
     It's their business to know about investing opportunities.

To find out what employees think, ask what they like/dislike about the company:
     To find current and past employees, search LinkedIn for people who work at the company. Invite them to connect. Write a note introducing you in the invitation, don't use the impersonal default invitation.

Don't forget to ask people in your network
     It's been said you never know what you don't know? Well you won't ever know if you don't ask questions. And you will often be surprised by the answers you get.

The takeaway is this:
     Getting your resume into shape is critical for certain, but so is researching companies before you get too involved with them. A bad decision may put you back into the job market.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tips for scoring high with Hiring Managers

Seeking a new job is a sales task. Your resume is an advertisement that describes the benefits of buying your services to the buyer, AKA the Hiring Manager. The purpose of the resume and cover letter are to entice this decision-maker to want to interview you.

So it's important to find out what the hiring manager's problems are. Why are they hiring? What needs to be done? The more you know about what the problem is, the better able you are to describe yourself in terms of being the solution to the problem.

The actual problems are rarely described adequately in job descriptions. The greatest success in winning interviews is achieved by those who talk directly to the decision-maker in an informal way before submitting their resume. This is how to pinpoint the real needs and show how you can fix them. And that is what sales is all about, discovering a need and selling to it!

When creating your advertisements, think like the hiring manager.  Put yourself in his or her shoes and ask yourself "If I were the hiring manager what would I want to see on my resume that would make me want to interview this person?"

Your accomplishments and the results of your work are the answers to the question. Your responsibilities and the companies you may have worked for are important but may not get you an interview by themselves. It's very important to provide evidence of how well you performed your job.

The takeaway is this: Find out why the job is open. Describe why you are the solution to a problem. Sell the benefits of hiring you. Make the resume easy to read quickly. Cull out words and statements that don’t really address the requirements of the job. Leave out fluff, things that are not relevant to the job. Once people begin to read fluff they tend to lose interest quickly which makes your sale much more difficult. By the way, fluff includes those self-assessing adjectives that say how great you are. Instead of making those statements, describe your accomplishments and work results to demonstrate how good you are without saying so.

Karl Liechty a resume writer who was a hiring manager at Xerox, Shugart, Maxtor, and Sablestone for many years.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

What To Do When You Do Not Hear Back After a Job Interview

When people wonder what to do when they don't hear back, it's usually their fault. Candidates are salespeople by default. Salespeople set expectations at the end of  conversations, interviews in your case,to avoid wondering what to do if they don't hear back. Don't leave without establishing who will do what, and when. The "who" is you; let them know if you don't hear back within some agreed upon time, you will call them; identify who "them" is and get business cards, telephone and email addresses. It's crazy to wonder what to do when you don't hear back.

OK, so let's say you flubbed the opportunity to establish next steps. If you haven't heard back in a week or so, make a call to the hiring manager or one of the interviewers. You did get business cards didn't you? Heck, you messed that up too? That's ok. At least you wrote down names. 

Make a call now and ask for the name you have. When you reach the person, apologize and ask your questions. Don't shy away from making the call. And don't bother calling HR unless you're seeking an HR position. HR is the junk yard dog of  gatekeepers. You're likely to get lip service or no information. And you better call. Don't hide behind an email or text message. Everyone has a delete button and uses it, don't you?

If you have no idea who to call, shame on you, you're stuck and hopefully have learned your lesson for the next interview.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Resume writing tips that win Interviews.

The key to writing a resume that wins interviews is to respond to the problems the hiring manager needs to resolve. While the resume is about you, it also needs to be exactly responsive to the hiring managers' needs.

Nail your keywords:
  • Use the exact keywords found in job descriptions.
  • Better yet, talk to the hiring manager before you apply to find out what specific problems need to be solved so you can edit your resume!
  • Keywords are used in searches by people looking for your talent.
  • When you apply, the ATS will look for keywords exactly as the company describes them.
  • Use the keywords in context throughout the resume too.
  • To find keywords commonly used in your industry, search many job descriptions of interest to you regardless of location.  
  • Try inserting job descriptions into Wordle, TagCrowd, or similar apps to identify the most frequently used words.

Make it easy to read your resume quickly.
  • Resumes are glanced at, not read thoroughly, when they are first looked at.
  • There are only 5 seconds or so to create interest.
  • Focus your resume on the results of your work that are relevant to the hiring managers' needs.
  • Prioritize information the way ATS and readers want to see it: name, contact information, personal brand, skills, experience, education, certifications, awards, etc.
  • Provide plenty of space, 1 inch side margins, and use an easy to read font like Arial 12pt
  • Avoid using "old school" items, e.g., references or objectives. References will be asked for when wanted. Your objective is the job you are applying for; it's considered "old school" to write an objective.

Value the space in the top one-third of the first page:
  • Put your name on the top line by itself. Don't add degrees or professional certifications with your name; place them elsewhere.
  • Include your city, state, and ZIP code, not a street address, and never a PO Box number.
  • Write a brief, concise personal brand statement and include a 'marketing hook' to keep human readers reading.
  • Include a neatly organized list of your skills.
  • Describe the results of your work, the outcomes of things you did. Results win interviews. Responsibilities, not so much.
  • State your results briefly, crisply and succinctly.
  • Use short sentences, not paragraphs, to describe your work.
  • Prominently place critical results and outcomes of your work, preferably quantified.
  • Be careful to use the fewest possible words to deliver your message. Cull out embellishment and save it for interviews. Focus on getting to the interview table first.
  • Talk to the hiring manager before you apply! Find out his or her critical needs, and why he or she is hiring. Then can edit your resume and cover letter to respond before you apply formally.

Make sure you appease the preferences of ATS.
  • For each job you held, state the company name, your job title, and dates of the job.
  • Write your resume using text the ATS can and will read. Not all fonts work well. Choose your font wisely. Use a common Sans Serif font in 12 pt size, 11 pt minimum. Arial 12 pt is the ideal.
  • Don’t use any graphics in your resume, just text.
  • Word processing shortcut tools usually include hidden graphics for entering text. Don't use word processing shortcuts to create your resume.
  • Don't nest multiple jobs under one company. Repeat the company name for each sequential job you held at the company.
  • Submit resumes in plain text format (*.txt, not *.rtf) or Word (*.doc), but never PDFs. Some ATS providers claim they can read PDF's, but not all can. There are over 200 ATS software products. The company you apply to may not be using one that can read PDF's.
  • Don’t attempt to game the system by hiding lots of keywords by making them colorless. ATS can reads all text, colorless or not, and may be set up to reject you if you game the system.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

How to Sell Yourself for a New Job (Plus some Closes you can use)

Now that you are searching for a new position, how are your selling skills? Armed with the best resume ever written, you still have to sell the benefits of hiring you to a hiring manager. Selling skills are a ‘must have’ or ‘must develop’ part of landing a new job. And you do not have to use heavy-handed pressure to accomplish the task.

Good salespeople know how to prospect, make contact, establish rapport, discover need, present, listen, overcome objections, negotiate, and close. That's a lot to ask of job seekers that are not trained salespeople.  But these sales skills are incredibly important in job searching. Most people can do a reasonable job of discovering opportunities, but then fail to get the interview and be hired. Frequently, the problem they have is developing the skills and confidence necessary to close the deal.

These are the tips:

1 - Get sales training from a competent job search coach if you need help. Effective salespeople will tell you that unless you are dealing with the decision-maker, you are wasting your time. The hiring manager is the decision-maker so prospect for hiring managers. Make informal, direct voice contact with the hiring manager to generate interest. Voice contact requires practicing scripts for navigating through gatekeepers and for making a good introduction. Tip: Avoid saying anything about job searching.

2 - Learn how to prospect. Learn how and where to identify hiring managers. One great way is to network with current employees and get referred. And there are many more ways.

3 - Establish rapport by focusing on the other person. Whether you are networking or interviewing, practice good listening skills. Avoid monopolizing conversations. Watch out for your body language, even on the phone (habits carry over to interviews).

4 - Overcome objections. Objections are opportunities to sell. If an objection is not responded to it becomes the final disqualifier. Don’t lose  opportunities to respond. Be quick on your feet and ask a clarifying question to get at the heart of the matter.

5 - Learn closing skills that lead to an offer. If you wait for the hiring manager to close you, it may not happen.

The most useful closes for job seekers to master are these:

Set Expectations!  At the end of any conversation get into the habit of establishing 'who is going to do what and when', including the fact that you will follow up at a certain time so that your follow up is expected. This avoids leaving you wondering what to do after some period of time passes. And when you make the follow up call and the gatekeeper asks if your call is expected, the answer is simply one word, "Yes".

The conditional close: The Conditional Close builds on social agreement. It states "If I do this will you do that?" It pushes the dialogue towards the final close and is very effective in salary negotiations. For instance, “If I accept that offer will you add more vacation time".

The conditional close should always be phrased in the form of "If I, will you'', not 'Will you, if I". It works because our brains work very quickly. Starting with 'If I' causes psychological closure on what you are offering. It draws the other person closer to the final close. But starting with 'will you' causes the other person to begin thinking immediately about objections which drives the conversation away from closure.

The Rational Close: This close uses logic and reason to persuade. For example, we've gone through all your needs and the benefits I bring to help you resolve your needs, correct? [pause] Is there anything else that would stop you from wanting to offer me the position? [Pause]  No? Good! When should I expect to receive the offer?

The Assumptive Close: The Assumptive Close works on the assumption principle where acting confidently as if something is true makes it difficult for the other person to deny it. In this close one acts as if the hiring manager has already made the decision to make an offer. For instance, if at the end of the last interview you decide you want the job, the most important thing to say is “I like what I’ve heard and I want the job. When do I start?” This does two things, it lets the decision-maker know you want an offer and the question assumes the result, causing a response.

The Yes-Set close: This close gets the buyer saying 'yes' to a series of questions. It gives you a sense of how well you are interviewing and it draws out further objections if there are any. A series of questions are asked that are easily answered with "Yes" leading toward the Final Close (don't overdo it though):
Does that answer your question adequately?
Do you feel positive about my answer?
Does that address the problem for you?
Can you see how well I fit in your organization?
Are you feeling positive about hiring me?

The Take-Away close: This powerful close is very effective in salary negotiations or when you are very certain the hiring manager is strongly interested but is undecided. You could say, "It appears that you don't want to hire me. Perhaps we should stop discussing the position." It is a bluff, so stop talking and listen. Taking away the opportunity to hire you usually causes the hiring manager to worry and react positively.

The Trial Close – This is a close that should be used frequently. It tests the hiring managers' readiness to make a decision to hire. Use it after you have made a strong selling point or when you have answered an objection.

The Trial Close may use other closing techniques such as the Assumptive and the Yes-Set closes. When you have asked the Trial Close question, as with most other closes, be quiet, watch body language, and listen carefully to the response:
"Can you see how my ability to achieve [some result or accomplishment] can benefit your need for [some need that was discussed]?"
"Can you see how my background in [  ] would benefit your need for [  ]?

The Future Close - Close on a future date. Sometimes a hiring decision is simply not going to happen today. If this is the situation, ask how much time is needed. Ask if they intend to make you an offer then. After thinking about this, they may be ready to close now. The Future Close works by getting them to think in the present about the future, hence bringing the future to now so they can 'compress time' and possibly close now.

The final close: Ask for the job!  At the last interview with the hiring decision maker and if you have decided you want the job, lean forward, look the hiring manager directly in the eye and ask for the job. This is the final close. Often the assumptive close is used: ( I like what I’ve heard about this position and the company. I want the job. When do I start?”).  

Closing does not always result in the desired outcome. Sometimes closing results in rejection. That is still a positive outcome because it gives you closure. You are able to refocus immediately on other opportunities. You can also come back and try again at a later date. The bottom line is this: Never leave a final interview with the hiring manager wondering if you are sincerely interested in taking the job!

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