Search Tactics

Are you ready to call the hiring manager BEFORE you apply for the job?

If you have thoroughly researched the company, you will know a lot about them, their products or services, their financial state, their competitive position, their culture, etc. Then, once you have carefully reviewed the job description and have a good idea of what is important to the hiring manager, you will have a good idea of how your strengths will play into the advertised position and whether you might fit into the company.

Your  next step is to call the hiring manager and speak directly with him or her. By doing so you will have the opportunity to confirm his/her needs, differentiate yourself from your competition and establish a competitive advantage. You will also be able to tune your resume to the specific needs of the position and you will have demonstrated your motivation and willingness to take the initiative, attributes valued by hiring managers.

Is this search tactic easy? It is if you are willing to learn from those who can teach you. Everyone can learn how to identify who the hiring manager is and how to get past the gatekeepers to make direct voice contact. Obviously it requires practice. You can be sure your competition is learning how to perfect this job search tactic right now.

Networking isn’t about me, me, me!

Have you ever been in a job search networking situation, met someone new, said “And what do you do?” only to find that the person won’t stop talking about themselves? Does that solicit a positive reaction from you, or do you look for a way to get away from them?

People who respond to you in this manner fail to understand the appropriate way to conduct themselves in a job search networking environment. Often they will leave the meeting without getting any information that may help them with their search.

Networking is a two-way conversation that is intended to be beneficial to both parties to the conversation. At the very least it is important to establish rapport by talking about things that interest both parties that may have nothing to do with job searching. After rapport is established there is the opportunity for finding out “Who do you know? What is it like working for that company?” etc.

When asked about yourself it helps to respond with brief answers that, by not “telling it all,” leaving room for follow-on questions from the other person. Pausing and looking for reactions and responses always trumps monopolizing the conversation. The bottom line: If you like to talk a lot, be aware of it and guard against doing it in networking situations.

Do you differentiate yourself from your competition? Differentiation is fundamental Marketing 101.

Rather than focusing only on what you have done in your career, why not aim your focus on how you will stand out.

When writing your resume, write about the results of your work. Write about the outcome of each thing you did. Most people only write about their responsibilities, not what they have accomplished.

When you network look for opportunities to discuss the results of some things you have done. Engage someone in a conversation about themselves. Then you are likely to find an opportunity to talk about your achievements.

Find and speak to the hiring manager BEFORE you apply or send any materials to the company. You can bet your competition won’t do this.

Be in front of your search, leading the way, doing things that get action. You may think you are making progress by camping on the job boards, posting your resume and applying to every job you think you might have a remote chance of winning, but did you know that less than 2 percent of jobs are found this way?

Contribute to discussions in LinkedIn. Become known.

Do these things and you will differentiate yourself from the herd of applicants.

Sometimes we are simply products of our environment, but we are always the products of our decisions!

New job seekers may be the result of their job environment, but the decisions they make regarding how to become employed again are absolutely critical!

Losing a job, regardless of the reason, creates a situation having the potential to bring great harm to real life situations depending upon the decisions made by those losing their job.

What are you going to do if it happens to you? Job searching is more complex than it was years ago, but there are also more search tools available as well. The answer is to do everything legal and ethical you can do to win a job offer.

Getting professional help, immediately, is the most important action to take when one has just become unemployed. While outplacement services are not always available to the newly unemployed, professional job search services are always there. Professional services are more affordable immediately and becomes less affordable as time passes, therefore time is of the essence. Procrastination is the enemy. So is the assumption that “I can do it on my own”.

Job searching is blessed by the electronic age. It is extremely different than in years past. Typewriters are replaced by computers; Newspaper ads by the internet. New search techniques that many job seekers have never used are available, indeed have become required skills in order to compete. Some search techniques are incredible hurdles for the uninitiated. Therefore overcoming procrastination and getting professional help immediately is of paramount importance to the new job seeker.

For those who are fortunate to be currently employed, preparing for the future, be it self-planned or a surprise, would be good ‘insurance’ to purchase.

Have you differentiated yourself from the rest of the job candidates?
Most job seekers will first think of applying through HR because “that is the way it has always been”. But unless you are seeking an HR position you should be directing your efforts directly toward the actual hiring manager, not HR, regardless of what the application instructions say.

Take the requirements stated in a job description with a big grain of salt. Many ads are canned repeats of older jobs and don’t adequately reflect what a particular hiring manager needs. Some will instruct you not to call. However the most successful way to get a job is to speak directly to the hiring manager before you send your resume in so that you can edit it specifically for what that hiring manager’s key problems are. The job description may not say what is critical to landing the job.

Eventually you will have to follow the proper job application protocols, but unless you speak to the hiring manager before you apply and have the opportunity to edit your resume you have no better chance of landing the job than the rest of the herd of applicants! Differentiation is the name of the game, and you don’t differentiate yourself by being just another one of the herd of applicants. Be different. Call and speak directly to the hiring manager before you apply.

Cold calling: Breaking the barrier between you and reaching the hiring manager.

Sometimes there is no other way to find the name of the hiring manager than to make cold-calls into a company. Many people are timid about doing this. Many are in full panic mode when actually to trying to speak directly to the manager. To overcome the fear, the best remedy is to prepare and practice some brief scripts for soliciting the name, for getting past the gatekeepers and for speaking to the manager.

Practicing out loud with another person is critical because it affords the opportunity to make mistakes and modify the script when there is no negative outcome. Practice also enables one to internalize the script rather than memorize it. A memorized script usually comes across very “canned” and obvious.

It is always easier to get information if you establish rapport with the person on the other end first. Before giving your name, ask for the name of the person you are speaking to before asking for the name of the person you are trying to reach. Once you have the exact name of the right contact, either continue to try to make voice contact with the hiring manager or call back later and ask to speak directly with that person by name.

Quite often you will be asked what the purpose of your call is. Whatever response you offer, do not tell them you are looking for a job. That answer will get you transferred quickly to HR. Unless you are looking for an HR position, that’s not where you want to be.

It’s not always easy to make contact with the hiring manager over the phone. Keep calling, politely but persistently, until you reach the person you need to speak to. If you are asked to leave a message, don’t do it. Messages often don’t get returned. Instead, find out when the boss will be available and offer to call back at that time, and be sure to do it.

It’s not always easy to make contacts over the phone. Keep calling, politely but persistently, until you reach the person you need to speak to. The more you do it the better you will get at it. Don’t leave messages. Instead, find out when the boss will be available and offer to call back at that time, and be sure to do it.

Just don’t give up.

Do you want to avoid the black hole? Then don’t risk falling into it in the first place!

The use of ATS software at the front end of hiring processes is becoming more and more prolific. It is also being used extensively by recruiting firms under contract to hiring companies to do candidate searching for them. Is your resume ATS-ready? If not, ATS parsing software just might toss your resume into the ‘bottomless pit’.

Applying to jobs online is like standing on the edge of a bottomless pit. One false move and you and your resume are gone. At worst it can result in no one knowing you were there, no one able to contact you or help you. At best you might be one of the less than 2% of people who actually get called for an interview. At worst you are an unknown MIA.

There are two solutions that go hand in hand. A more effective way of spending your valuable job search time is to make your resume ATS-ready and talk directly to the hiring manager before you apply for the job.

Consider the fact that all hiring companies are concerned with the costs of doing business, including recruiting and hiring costs. Hiring costs have gone through the roof because of the ease with which people can apply for jobs whether they are qualified or not. Companies are willing to purchase an ATS software license because they can offset the cost by eliminating people and the associated salary and benefits they would have to have on board to handle the volume.

For years companies have used referrals from employees as one source of candidates. Companies have created Employee Referral Bonus plans (ERPs) wherein bonuses of a few hundred to a thousand dollars are awarded to employees if the person they refer is hired. ERP bonuses cost a lot less than the cost of a recruiting firm or the costs of advertising on job boards, therefore many companies prefer using ERP bonuses whenever they can. Recruiting firms can be effective, but they are the most costly to the hiring company. Recruiting typically costs between 25 to 35 percent of the candidate’s first year salary and sometimes more!

Being referred to the hiring manager and talking directly to that person before you submit your resume is the most effective job search tactic you can use! If you make sure your resume is ATS-ready, it gets you past the ATS issue and it costs the company far less than the alternatives. Trust me, if you don’t do it, your competition will and you will remain just ‘one of the herd’.

And take it from an HR professional who writes about internal company recruiters: “Nothing personal: Why recruiters don’t get back to you” by Suzanne Lucas, March 25, 2013:

Why should you try to speak directly to the hiring manager before you apply for the job?

Last week I posted a discussion topic addressing non-response to job applications which asked what techniques people can use to overcome non-response. One reader asked why you should try to speak directly to the hiring manager before applying for a job. This week I will elaborate on the reasons.

        DIFFERENTIATION: The most important reason is to differentiate yourself from your competition!  Few people take the trouble to learn how to find out who the hiring manager is and speak to him or her. Differentiation is the foundation of marketing. Isn’t marketing yourself the key to a robust job search?

        NEEDS DISCOVERY: One really cannot be all things to all people. It seems logical that to get an interview you need to sell to the hiring manager’s needs. But quite often a job description does not reflect the hiring manger’s highest priority needs. You can find out what they are by speaking to the hiring manager. And at the same time you have the opportunity to explain why you are the solution to the problems.

        COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: Another factor to win an interview is to cause the hiring manager to like you. Consider the value of establishing rapport with the hiring manager while the competition is idly waiting for a call from HR. By having a conversation you can build rapport and learn about what is most important to the hiring manager. Meanwhile your competition becomes more and more disadvantaged.

        RESUME EDITING: By learning the hiring manager’s hot buttons you can edit your resume to focus on your specific achievements that are responsive to the critical needs before you submit. If you submit before you have the conversation you forfeit that opportunity.

        COVER LETTER EDITING: When you have a hiring manager’s name, title, and have discussed how you are the solution to his or her problems, you have a reason for writing and the ability to reiterate the points you made during your conversation. Effective cover letter writing becomes a much simpler task.  

        OMBUDSMAN: Speaking directly to the hiring manager offers you the chance to send your edited resume directly to the most important person in the hiring process, the decision maker, without going through the company protocols first. Of course eventually you will have to submit your application through the company hiring process, but you will have the hiring manager looking out for you.

        MOTIVATION / INITIATIVE: Making the call demonstrates that you are self-motivated, that you take the initiative. It shows that you don’t just sit back waiting and hoping someone will call you. You take the initiative in managing your search. You are action-oriented.

        HIDDEN JOBS: Sometimes a hiring manager may not have a position that fits you but after speaking to you likes what you have to say and decides to make adjustments in the organization and create a new position just for you. It does happen!

        NETWORKING FOR FUTURE JOBS: A decision maker is a valuable member of your personal network. Sometimes the conversation opens up other opportunities either now or at a later date. Decision makers usually have other decision makers in their network.

        CONTROL, THE BOTTOM LINE: Speaking with the hiring manager gives you the greatest control over your destiny, making it the most effective job search tactic.

Without question this tactic requires learning new skills for many people. It involves learning how to identify who the decision maker is (as in sales prospecting) and how to get past the gate keepers to make direct voice contact.

These are skills practiced by good salespeople. With proper coaching and practice you do not need to be a salesperson to learn them well enough to help you find the job you want.

When you are a “perfect” fit for a job, why don’t you get a response to your application?

Has it happened to you? Does it happen often? Have you written and rewritten your resume many times and still received few or no responses? 

There are many reasons why job seekers don’t get responses: 

·         I am not going to defend companies who do not respond except in cases where it is actually your fault, such as when it is not clear how to reach you or you have made a typographical error in your contact information.

·         Or they may be using Applicant Tracking System software to process the volume and you may have made some mistakes in the creation of your resume that make it impossible for ATS software to understand who you are.

·         Or you are not as qualified as you believe you are.


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. Sometimes companies seem not to care. And some employees are overworked or apathetic regarding their responsibility for contacting you. 

Fortunately there are some things you can do to improve your situation:

·         #1, don’t start out by pounding the job boards and immediately applying online. Yes it is the easiest way to job search. It is also the least effective way. There are better ways of spending your valuable search time.

·         Have you hired professional resume help from people who understand what causes ATS parsing software to fail?

·         Do you target companies you are interested in rather than broadcasting to everyone?

·         Do you find out what the hiring managers’ critical needs are and edit your resume and cover letter to be responsive to those needs before you apply?

·         Do you know how to identify who the hiring managers are? Do you reach out to them; talk to them before you send your resume so you can identify their critical needs and edit your resume. Job postings don’t always reflect the real needs.

·         Have you ever found out who works for the company and tried to get a referral to the hiring manager?

·         Have you learned how to create scripts you need to make calls, get past the gatekeepers and speak directly to hiring managers? It is important to learn the communication skills you need.

How does your picture influence a reader’s mindset when they view your LinkedIn profile?

If the reader gets a positive image of you in their mind, they begin liking you before they read anything about you. That is the equivalent of a nice smile and good eye contact when you go in for that face-to-face interview.

What can go wrong with your picture? What are the turn-offs?
#1 - No picture.
#2 - Picture that is so dark your expression cannot be seen.
#3 - A picture of your dog, cat, motorcycle, boat, a flower, a scene, etc., instead of you.
#4 - A picture of you in a group of people or you and your favorite pet, vehicle, etc.
#5 - No smile, No expression, A poker face.

What makes you look most likable?
#1 - A big, happy, contagious smile or laugh.
#2 - A head shot from the shoulders up.
#3 - A light background with enough lightness in your face to clearly see your expression.

How do you accomplish that?
Take lots of pictures and either buy a picture editor or have someone edit it for you.

Crop your headshot out of a larger picture, edit the fill light, highlights, shadows and color temperature as necessary.

Script Writing for Making Job Search Calls

If you wish to be successful making calls to the hiring manager it is wise to prepare and internalize scripts that will navigate you through the gate keepers and engage the Hiring Manager. These are the key things to do:

The call objective: The overt objective is to get an interview, overt because blurting out that you are a job seeker will put the hiring manager in a defensive mode, so don’t do it. The right approach is to establish rapport, gain knowledge of what the hiring managers pain is, speak to how you can help, and get his/her email information so that you can send a resume and cover letter that have been edited to be responsive to his/her pain directly to him/her.

Ask the hiring manager if he/she has time for the call. Don’t give up with a negative answer. Set expectations; establish a better time to call; then do it.

When you get a yes answer, begin establishing rapport. Use words that will cause the recipient of the call to be receptive to it. Do some research. Do you have anything in common with him or her? Google his/her name. Look at his/her LinkedIn profile.

Be crisp and concise. Get to the point quickly. Once you have established that it is ok to talk, don’t abuse the privilege. Resist building background. Time is important to the recipient. Lengthy dialogue is likely to motivate the hiring manager to get you off the phone, politely or otherwise.

Try to maneuver the conversation toward setting up an interview (your objective).

Always be looking out for objections and how to overcome them in real time. Learn to be ‘fast on your feet’.

Practice out loud, preferably role play with someone who can be challenging. Practice until you have internalized your scripts.

If your LinkedIn profile is incomplete you may never be discovered!

For job seekers: Your profile is a place to conduct free inbound marketing. Take advantage of it.

A complete, well prepared LinkedIn profile is often the path that leads to getting hired. Many companies use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature to identify potential candidates for open positions. There is considerable cost for companies to conduct searches on job boards, but using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature is free to them. Thus LinkedIn is the preferred approach.

Here are some guidelines for preparing a good profile:

As a preface for all profile sections, whenever you see a drop down button, click on it. You will often find some interesting information topics you can add.

#1 – Your picture: It really IS worth a thousand words! It is the first thing people look at when they open your page, even your closest friends. Often people searching for candidates won’t bother reading your profile if a picture of you is missing.

The optimum picture is a close-up headshot of your smiling or laughing face. Your smiling or laughing face is inviting; it causes the readers mood to immediately be set to liking you.

#2 – Your Tag Line: This is the section directly under your name. Linked in gives you 120 characters including spaces, so make it effective. For example: “Senior Project Manager – Agile, System Analysis, Financial Analysis, Procurement, Data Systems, Risk Exposure, Six Sigma.” In a nutshell this tells the reader what you do and what your expertise is.

#3 – The Summary section: Here you have 2000 characters and spaces to tell people what your personal brand is plus other information. Use important key words in context here. Summarize your most significant accomplishments, the results of your work, your passions, etc., in this space. And unlike your resume, you can be more personal here. And you can use the word “I”.

Add your contact information here too. LinkedIn has a place for contact information but it buries it way down in your profile. Do your readers a favor and add your contact information to the summary so people can reach you quickly and easily.

#4 – Experience: This is perhaps the most important section for job seekers. In it you have the opportunity to say why you should be hired by writing specifically about your accomplishments and the results of your work. Accomplishments and results are the chief reasons you will get called for an interview. Keep them simple and easily read. Bullet statements are desirable.  So are numerical results.

#5 – Skills and Endorsements Section: You should list all your skills (core competencies) here using your industry’s key words as well as others that are important to you. People looking for candidates with your skills will conduct searches on key words. Feed their needs.

#6 – Education: Fill this out. It is perfectly acceptable to list a school you attended even if you do not have a degree from it.

#7 – Additional Information: This section enables you to talk about your personal interests and other details and provide your contact information.

Make sure your contact information is listed here as well as in the Summary if you are job hunting. If you make it difficult for people to contact you for a job interview, they will probably not try.

#8 – Recommendations: In this section you can request a recommendation from people and prioritize the recommendations. Very useful.

#9 - Certifications: Sometimes certifications are critically important job requirements. Don’t forget to list them.

#10 – Groups: It is highly advisable to join groups you are interested in and very beneficial to add or join in on discussions in those groups. That will help get you noticed.

Are you job searching and ready to make calls to the hiring manager?

When you are trying to make voice contact with a hiring manager, plenty of corporate offices, and their human resource departments in particular, behave guardedly against unknown callers.

When making calls, your attitude is important and your telephone personality must be engaging, upbeat and respectful of busy people’s time. Many job seekers get cut off because they sound underwhelming at best and unprofessional at worst on the phone.

When people answer, it is often best to ask them their name and make a nice comment before letting them know who you are. Showing them you are listening and interested in them will usually get you started correctly.

When you are a job seeker it is usually not wise to blurt that fact out. Doing so puts the recipient in a defensive mode almost immediately, and you need their help. It is far better to simply ask for their help: “I need your help about something”. Most people love to give help if they don’t feel pressured.

At this point it is important to have well-rehearsed scripts prepared. The scripts will be different for gate keepers than for the hiring manager. For gate keepers the object is to get forwarded to the hiring manager. For the hiring manager the ultimate object is to discover what problem needs to be solved so you can describe how you can help. That is the sales part of the conversation. The initial objective is to keep the hiring manager interested in talking to you long enough to get to the sales part.

A key throughout all conversations is to demonstrate good listening skills, display confidence, be upbeat, and sound nice to listen to. You will need to speak clearly, at an easy to hear pace, be crisp and to the point, and vary inflection in your voice rather than be monotone.

A hiring manager will know in the first few seconds whether you are a person of interest or not. They will recognize if you are listening, confident, and someone they might like on their team in the first few moments of speaking with you.

If you can’t get through to the boss, be sure to politely thank his/her administrative assistant for his/her time. This person will likely become one of your biggest allies in the company.

It is not easy to make contacts over the phone. Keep calling, politely but persistently, until you reach the person you need to speak to. It is not advisable to leave messages with people or voice recorders. They often do not get through or are deleted. And busy people often make promises and are often too busy to keep. So make sure to set expectations that you will call back in a particular timeframe if you don’t hear back from them. That will make the next call easier because they are expecting your call.

If you don’t achieve your objective after speaking to the hiring manager, you are not done! At the very least establish that person as part of your network. Find out who he/she knows that you should try to contact. Expand your network.

Calling the hiring manager is an effective search tactic. But do these things before you call.
I have repeatedly said: Do not send your resume to a company until AFTER you have spoken to the hiring manager.

Picture yourself making that important call as you are attempting to make actual voice contact. You have run into gate keepers, successfully navigated past them and have reached the manager’s office. An administrative assistant answers. What should you say to get through to the decision maker?

The answer is script writing and practice, preferably with role playing.

Script Writing is a tool you need to master in order to break the barrier to winning an interview. You will need scripts for the receptionist or whoever first answers the phone, the gate keepers that follow after, the hiring manager’s administrative assistant and the hiring manager. As in physical fitness training, it’s the reps that make you better at it.

Scripts have to be written in your words and practiced until they have been internalized and flow off your lips without sounding ‘canned’. Practice your scripts out loud with someone who can play the recipients role. Role playing is the way to hone your skills and improve the messages and delivery. In role playing there is no negative outcome, nothing to lose, everything to gain. As in physical fitness, reps achieve goals.

I cannot emphasize the value of role playing enough!

A helpful aid in making improvements to your scripts is a voice recorder. You can use a smart phone with a recording feature or a video recorder or even a tape recorder. Recording video is better than just audio because it helps you prepare for interviews as well by highlighting mannerisms you may wish to change.

Some thoughts to consider for the scripts and the actual calls are:

Keep your scripts very brief and very pointed. The listener is busy, does not know you, realistically does not care about you, and will find a way to get rid of you if you ramble, build background to your message, etc. Delivery should be crisp, concise, and to the point.

Ask the recipient for their name and address them by it. People generally like that personal touch.

Speak clearly, confidently and at an easy rate of speech so you can be clearly understood.

Do not leave messages on a recorder. Messages will likely be ignored and deleted if they don’t know you. (Emails are likely to be deleted for the same reason.) If you don’t make voice contact with the hiring manager, try again at another time.

Listen to responses. Listening for objections is the only way to figure out how to overcome them. Listening for positive responses enables you to reinforce the call and ask more questions.

Ask for help. Most people like to help and are more likely willing to give help when asked.

Avoid blurting out that you are job searching. There are some exceptions to this advice, but most often it will put the recipient in a defensive mode, driving them to end the call.

Remember, other than the hiring manager, his/her administrative assistant is the most important connection you can have. Develop a positive rapport with this person.

You do not want to get transferred to HR unless you are seeking an HR position. HR is the junk yard dog of gate keeping, and generally proud of it.

If the connection is bad, stop and call back.

It is easy to recognize scripts that are being read, and even easier to get rid of the person reading them.

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.

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.

There is an important link between Resumes, Cover Letters and job search Tactics.
Do you ever wonder why I keep emphasizing the importance of the search tactic of speaking to hiring managers BEFORE applying online or submitting your resume and cover letter by any other means?

The most important reason for speaking to the hiring manager is to find out what the key issue to be solved is and to be able to tell how you can fix it. The key problem is not always evident or emphasized in a job description. The astute job seeker will learn what the hiring managers’ pain is and describe how he/she can help resolve it with an example of his or her work before he/she ever has a formal interview.

Once this important conversation happened it is then possible to edit a resume and cover letter to be responsive to the pain BEFORE applying for the position. Not only that, the cover letter can be addressed directly to the hiring manager instead of to a mundane “dear sir”, “madam” or “to whom it may concern”, or for that matter to someone in HR who is not the hiring decision maker. People prefer being addressed by name. It is much more personal and meaningful than the sterile alternative.

By reaching out to the hiring manager you are also showing that you have done some research rather than just applying blindly online like everyone else. And it avoids falling into the “bottomless pit”.

Equally important, speaking to the hiring manager enables differentiation from the competition. You are not just “one of the herd”, another “me-too” candidate. Differentiation is one of the keys elements of good marketing.

Obviously there is work to be done to accomplish this tactic. First you need to find out who the hiring manager is. There are many ways to do this. For people searching for an HR position it is rather simple to find out who the HR manager is.

Then one needs to create and practice scripts for the gatekeepers that will be encountered on the way to the hiring manager. And a strong script is necessary when one finally reaches the hiring manager. Scripts need to be internalized, not memorized. This is the hardest part of preparation. You can’t just blurt out that you are looking for a job to gatekeepers or the hiring manager or you will be diverted to HR and be told to apply online like everyone else, the dead-end approach unless you are looking for an HR position.

Contacting the hiring manager, either by referral, warm- or cold-calling or even using email requires careful planning and practice. Aside from salespeople, people looking for an HR position and certain marketers, many people might find approaching the hiring manager difficult to do. But it is an art that can be learned and is well worth the effort. Job seekers owe it to themselves to find out how.

A recipe for failure to land a new job may be caused from the lack of only one ingredient.

Do you fall short in any of these things?

Failure to get professional help early. Delay only extends the time to find a new job which creates a larger than necessary current gap in the resume.

Failure to network properly or at all. It really isn’t just who you know but who needs to know you.

Failure to have an ATS-ready resume. This is the largest cause of landing in the bottomless “black hole”.

Failure to find out who the hiring manager is and speak directly with him or her. If you are not seeking an HR position you do not want to apply to HR before speaking to the hiring manager. Many job ads are poorly written. Too often HR does not understand the hiring managers’ real needs, and that is what you need to know first and foremost. After all, if you don’t know what the key problem is, how can you demonstrate you are the best candidate to fix it?

Failure to edit your resume to be responsive to the hiring managers’ needs. Specifically, failure to demonstrate the results of your work. The resume is about you, but it needs to be edited for each and every job you apply to in order to show how you can help resolve the hiring managers’ pain.

Failure to learn good interview technique. Do you answer questions crisply and concisely? Do you listen carefully? Have you prepared for the interview? Do you talk too much?

Failure to learn and understand the art of selling. Your background may not be in sales, but you must learn how to sell the benefits of hiring you.

Wasting time pursuing a flawed job search strategy and tactics. Measure your search results. Make sure your plan is effective and be willing to modify it if it is not.

Make sure you are preparing yourself to conduct a search that does not fall short in any of the above.

I think Ulrich Schild said it best: “It’s not who you know, but who wants to know you.”

So you are searching for a new position. Who might want to know you? I suggest certain people in your network may.

Your personal network is critical to a job search, that is, if it contains people who can help you.

If it is just a lot of people you don’t know who you have connected with on LinkedIn, you may be wasting your time connecting unless they are employed by a company you are interested in pursuing or they know someone in the company or they are recruiting people for a position.

Employers often have ERP’s, Employee Referral Programs, in which current employees may receive a bonus if the company hires someone they refer (like you for instance). Connecting and establishing rapport with a current employee is an excellent way to get hired. In fact it is one of the best. So check out company websites. Sometimes they will say they have an ERP. And certainly ask a new connection the same question.

But it is difficult to get a referral from a connection who doesn’t know you if they have nothing to gain from it. If you are a strong candidate the referring employee is likely to want to know you. The hiring manager will too.

And if you get an interview from a referring employee, make sure HR knows who referred you so that person gets the credit …. And the bonus!

It’s no wonder that many candidates drop out of the online application process before completing it.

Listen up employers: 

By asking candidates to fill out an online questionnaire that requires repeating information already on their resume and by asking them for their salary requirements before they have even had an opportunity to talk to you, you are driving away many of your best candidates in an attempt at being efficient.

If you ever find yourself wondering why your job advertising is not delivering results, or why you don’t seem to get enough good people to interview, consider this: It is often because you made a bad first impression online.

Do you plan to use a recruiter in your job search? Here are some rules of engagement:

Rule #1 – Never pay a recruiter for help! Recruiters are paid handsomely by their client companies. And be careful. There are scam artists who may promise you employment within a short time period for a fee.

Rule #2 – Never assume a recruiter works for you! Again, recruiters are paid by their client companies. You are a meal ticket, not a client. And if you are not a “purple squirrel”, a clearly unique, superior candidate in the eyes of the recruiter, you may get lots of promises but little or no real help.

Rule #3 – Figure out if your recruiter is capable of helping you before you align yourself with him or her! This may be an obvious thing to do, but it is easier said than done. Ask probing questions. The industry has some great recruiters, lots of turnover, lots of rookies, its’ share of  “hard-sell salesmen”, some sharks and a few crooks.

Rule #4 – Make sure the recruiter does not change anything in your resume unless you review and approve it before it is submitted to their client! Find out why the recruiter wants to make changes. Make sure any changes represent you accurately, honestly, are grammatically correct and have no spelling errors. Many recruiters are not good resume writers.

Rule #5 - If the recruiter appears annoyed by your questions or unable to answer them thoroughly and confidently, do not walk away, RUN AWAY! 

When interviewing, be conscious of how you are speaking.

Many interviews start off with a phone conversation, often on a mobile device. We all know cell phone conversations lack the clarity of a land line. And what could be more important than being understood during an interview?

Many things can enhance or degrade the conversation. Some factors to consider are local accents, acronyms, speed – too fast or slow, enunciation, slang, volume, pitch, interruptions, talking too much or too little, um’s, uh’s and like’s.

In face-to-face interviews consider other factors as well: posture, body language, eye contact, environment, and again um’s, uh’s and like’s.

Politicians are usually excellent orators. Watch them and emulate their speaking style.

Practice, learn about your speaking habits and make changes when talking with your friends and family, when it doesn’t matter: If you have audio/video capability on your mobile device have someone record you while role playing an interview.

Beware of claims about “Secret Sentences” you can use that will land you a job!

We see this kind of hoax posted frequently on LinkedIn, posted by people who make all kinds of claims about sharing with you a certain sentence you can use that will win you a job – in exchange for your money! The hype usually includes “comments from satisfied customers” who have been hired by using this “secret sentence”. You can guess who wrote the comments.

“Secret Sentences” are pure marketing hype worded to entice you to spend your money. After all, who wouldn’t want to know what secret sentence would get you hired. If it really were true everyone would use it and there would be no secrecy about it; and every hiring manager would recognize it in a heartbeat. There are very few hiring managers in this world who can be swayed by some “secret sentence” to hire you.

Hiring managers want to know who you are, how to reach you, what you have done, what you have achieved (the results of your work), and what your credentials are. From this information they will decide to interview you or not.

Based on interviews hiring managers will decide if they like you, if they think you can do the job and if they believe you will fit into their team. No “secret sentences” will ever come into play, so don’t be duped into believing that. Hoaxes are just that, hoaxes.

Are you undermining your job search by doing these things?

You will stunt the progress of your job search if you do any of the following:
  • Don’t bother to write a cover letter.
  • Create a single resume that you believe will fit all jobs.
  • Write your resume or cover letter with spelling or grammar errors.
  • Avoid networking.
  • Avoid participating in LinkedIn groups and discussions.
  • Create an incomplete LinkedIn profile, forget about having a good, smiling headshot of yourself (only you) and make it difficult for people to contact you.

It is the first thing people look at when they open your LinkedIn profile. They don’t even look at your name first. Even your closest friends look at your picture first.

It has been said repeatedly that if it is missing, a recruiter won’t bother reading your profile. If that happens, you lose.

The optimum picture is a headshot of a smiling face of only you. Not an object, a group, your dog, cat, child, spouse, motorcycle, boat, or the biggest fish you caught,  just you.

People like people that are fun to be around. Your smiling or laughing face is inviting; it sets the readers mood immediately. People tend to like you before they read a single word.

Pick a good background that doesn’t detract from you.

Use an editor like Google Picassa (free) or some other software to crop, brighten, color warmth, etc.

Whatever you do with your profile, make sure you include a picture that is inviting; don’t be a ‘nobody’.

What can go wrong with your search? Could you be doing things that lead to a long period of unemployment?

If you pound the job boards and apply, apply, apply, do you feel you are doing all you can do?

If you avoid networking do you think anyone will be able to help you?

If your resume and/or LinkedIn profile is a detailed biography of your work, do you think anyone will want to read it?

If you blast your resume far and wide or hire a company to do this for you, do you think spewing volume forth will help?

If you connect with a recruiter do you think they are going to work hard for you?

If you fail to use LinkedIn as the excellent inbound marketing tool it is, do you think anyone will find you?

Most job hunters are anxious to land their next opportunities. But in case you happen to be one of those who fit any of the above situations you are probably looking straight into the face of an extended search.

Things I Love About Cold-Calling Hiring Managers

Cold-calling is a good way of making voice contact with a hiring manager. It’s not the only way, but it is a good way.
Some people have greater ability to engage in cold-calling than others. But many people who are not trained the skills have learned and have been gained employment because of it.
The things I like about it are:
It Works – It generates interest in you. It requires skill, the right mental attitude, and the commitment to try.
It Enables You to Revise Your Resume and Cover Letter – When you learn what the hiring manager’s critical needs you are able to edit your resume to be responsive to the hot buttons. When you tell the hiring manager how you can resolve his/her needs you generate interest. It also makes writing your cover letter a walk in the park.
It Differentiates You – You demonstrate you are willing to do what others won’t. Differentiation is what creates competitive advantage.
It Trains You for Interviewing – Skills learned in cold-calling have huge benefits for interviewing. You will learn to be quick on your feet, maintain composure, and always be professional. Nothing sharpens communication skills like cold calling!
It Keeps You Humble – Rejection is not uncommon and should not be taken personally. What you learn from rejection is how to become better at cold-calling … and interviewing!
Hidden Prospects – There are jobs out there that people don’t know about. Generating a hiring manager’s interest in you exposes them.
Follow-Up Opportunities – Cold calling creates follow-up opportunities. Sometimes now is not the time, but sometime in the future will be.
It Builds Your Network – As a job seeker this is critically important. You’ve heard the cliché “It’s who you know”. That is often so true.
It is Fast – Once you line up your call list you can make many calls in a short timeframe.

It is Efficient – Cold calls are a quick filter. You can quickly learn who your best prospects are going to be.

What I dislike the most about applying for jobs online.

It Isn’t Effective – It lulls you into a false sense that you are making progress and using your time wisely.

It Doesn’t Differentiate You from the Stampeding Herd– You demonstrate you only do what others do. Differentiation is what creates competitive advantage.

It Doesn’t Help You Hone Other Search Skills like Other Tactics Do – For instance, skills learned in making direct voice contact with hiring managers have huge benefits for interviewing. You will learn to be quick on your feet, maintain composure, and always be professional. Nothing sharpens communication skills like making the tough calls! It also makes writing your cover letter a walk in the park.

It Doesn’t Enable You to Revise Your Resume and Cover Letter for the Real Needs of the Hiring Manager – When you learn what the hiring manager’s critical needs you are able to edit your resume to be responsive to the real hot buttons. When you tell the hiring manager how you can resolve his/her needs you generate interest.

It Doesn’t Help to Identify Hidden Jobs – There are jobs out there that people don’t know about. Generating a hiring manager’s interest in you can expose them. You will never learn about them if you don’t talk to the right people.

It Doesn’t Build Your Network – Calling hiring managers generates valuable additions to your network. And it creates follow-up opportunities. Sometimes now is not the time, but sometime in the future will be.

It doesn’t work … most of the time!

Applying on job boards doesn’t work … usually!

Sure applying to jobs on job boards works occasionally. Assuring that the resume is responsive to the real needs of the hiring manager is what will generate interviews.

Then the important knowledge one must have to make it work are:
What the hiring managers’ critical needs are,
And a realistic attitude towards about how well one meets the requirements stated in the job description.
These are necessary requirements regardless of what search tactic is employed. Why not choose a better search tactic that will achieve these requirements.

The best job search Strategy is to use job boards to identify target companies where jobs exist, but not to apply for jobs. There are far better search tactics to use than to follow the stampeding herd that applies on job boards.

The best search tactic is to speak directly to the hiring manager BEFORE submitting a resume. This is the only way to determine precisely what the highest priority problem to be solved is. And it enables one to communicate to the hiring manager how one has solved that kind of problem in the past. It is this candidate-manager dialogue that generates the greatest interest in inviting one in for an interview.

Speaking directly to the hiring manager accomplishes two important goals. It establishes rapport and it results in obtaining information necessary for optimizing the resume to the job before sending it directly to the hiring manager. What better way is there to differentiate one’s self from the herd? It simply cannot happen on a job board!

You might ask how to find out who the hiring manager is and make contact. The answer is simple.
Data mine!
Identify the hiring manager through family, friends, acquaintances, current company employees, LinkedIn, etc. And use information readily available on the web, like LinkedIn, SEC reports, Google searches, etc., to identify names. Then prepare and practice scripts that will get you past the gate keepers to make Voice Contact with the hiring manager (by the way, never leave messages).

Using recruiting firms is another effective tactic given two conditions:
First, the individual recruiter one is working with should have direct access to the hiring manager, not just HR.
Second, the candidate needs to be a strong candidate, not just a ‘possible meal ticket’ in the eyes of the recruiter. Otherwise the recruiter may put greater effort into better candidates who are more likely to result in a placement.
One problem with using recruiters is, like applying on line, the resume supplied to the recruiter is usually not optimized for the specific opening the recruiter may be representing.

Applying on job boards is a last resort tactic after other tactics cannot be used or have failed.

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

Why You Can’t Get A Job … Recruiting Explained By the Numbers - Take 2

Susan P. Joyce has written a very informative article on Employee Referral Programs (ERP) that has motivated me to revisit my advice on making direct live contact with hiring managers BEFORE applying for a job. The link to her article is at the end. 

As I have often said I believe speaking to the hiring manager and learning about what the hiring managers’ needs are BEFORE submitting a resume is the most effective way of achieving competitive advantage and getting hired. I have also said getting referred by a current employee is highly effective. 

Susan points out the value of being referred by a company employee and the need to carefully follow ERP procedures. This may mean submitting a resume to the hiring manager via the referring employee before actually making voice contact. If that is the case, one loses the advantage of speaking to the hiring manager and editing the resume and cover letter to address the hiring managers’ hot buttons first. 

Therefore determining whether a company uses ERP becomes very important. As Susan states, timing is also very important. One should find out if an ERP program is in place and how it works at the company BEFORE applying. So here are my revised recommendations for finding out who the hiring manager is and making direct voice contact: 

1.  Your personal network should always be the first priority. Network with people you know, family, friends and any others who may know the hiring manager so you can make direct voice contact.

2.  If a company you are interested in does not use ERP, get the hiring manager’s name from a current employee and make direct voice contact to discover what the critical needs of the position are discuss how you can resolve those needs.

3.  If a company you are interested in does use ERP, find out the details of their program and follow the ERP protocols as Susan recommends. Follow up with a call to make direct voice contact with the hiring manager once you know the referring employee will get credit for introducing you to the company. You still need the opportunity to discuss key problems and how you can resolve them with the hiring manager to achieve competitive advantage.

4.  If you are unable to get a current employee referral, find the name of the hiring manager by any means (I have suggested many ways in the past) and make direct contact.

5.  The last resort is to find the name of the ranking HR manager on site and make direct voice contact with that person. While HR is there to help, most likely they will act as a gate-keeper between you and the hiring manager and will not let you contact that person. They are well-known as the junk yard dogs of gate-keeping (sorry HR folks). 

Notice I have said “make direct voice contact” throughout these suggested priorities. Do not leave voice messages or emails. They are often (usually) deleted if the person doesn’t know you. 

This is the link to Susan Joyce’s article:

Why You Can’t Get A Job … Recruiting Explained By the Numbers

The title of this post is taken from an excellent article, full of important statistics, which was written in 2013 by Dr. John Sullivan. The link is at the end.

The world of job searching changes constantly but my guess is that although many of the statistics cited by Dr. Sullivan may have changed somewhat, the points made are still valid in 2015.

The author focuses on recruiting statistics and closes with a very valid point: He says, “My final bit of advice is something that only insiders know. And that is to become an employee referral (the highest volume way to get hired).”

I agree. Network your way to a current employee and get referred to the hiring manager.

Then make direct voice contact with that person BEFORE you even think about submitting your resume.

The rationale for doing this includes discovery of the hiring managers critical needs which may not be obvious in the job description, differentiation of you from others, you achieve competitive advantage, resume and cover letter writing becomes much easier, you may gain an ombudsman who will look out for you, it demonstrates your motivation and initiative, you may discover hidden jobs, you may identify future possibilities and you exercise control over your search.

Besides networking with current employees, there are also other ways to identify and speak to the hiring manager. The most effective job search tactic is to speak directly to the hiring manager before applying for the job, no matter how you manage to do it. In my experience, job seekers who do this usually fare much better than if they went to HR first.

How do YOU introduce yourself when someone asks you what you do?

Whenever you network, be prepared for “What do you do?” If you cannot answer the introductory question quickly and casually you may lose your audience. Brief answers that beg the next questions are far better than long detailed dialogues about your life history with stories about your great aunt interspersed throughout. Get the picture? Just answer the question and let the conversation develop from there.
When someone says to me ”What do you do?”
I tell them I’m a job search consultant and wait for a reaction. ”Really? What’s that?”
I help job seekers conduct a robust search. ”So, what does that mean?”
Well I help them prepare their resumes and cover letters and I coach them on tactics they can use in their search. ”Oh, now I get it.”
See? I may be a nerd engineer by training but I speak people too.

After you introduce yourself ask them what they do. Try it. You’ll get all kinds of answers, good and bad. See if they force you try to listen to a long spiel or capture your attention quickly and generate follow on questions. If they can’t stop talking, you will see why I make the point above. Don’t emulate them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things your resume writer may not know.

Are you one of the many people who have paid for resume service that has not improved your job search results? Are you still applying to companies and not getting responses?

I learned a long time ago that just because a person claims to be a financial adviser does not necessarily mean that person is qualified to counsel you on your finances. That can also be true for resume writers.

If you need resume writing services make sure your writer understands how parsing software does its job. You will probably be told how important key words are. You might also be told it’s important to use them in context. Both of those statements are true because parsing software has been instructed to search on specific key words. But there is a lot more to it. Please understand, parsing software is searching for text only. It can be confused by graphics; any graphics.

So the next time you speak to a resume writer, ask them a few pointed questions:

Ask them to describe how ATS parsing software works, what it can do and cannot do.

Ask them to tell you how word processor programs can cause you to create problems for ATS parsing software.

Ask them if they will provide you with directions for keeping your resume ATS-ready when you want to edit it in the future.

Ask them how your resume is stored on a company server and how it is ‘read’ by parsing software.

If the resume writer cannot tell you how word processing software can cause parsing software to fail to ‘read’ your resume properly, move on to another writer. 

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