During the last 21 months since we started TheJobSearchCoach, some of our coaches, (me included) have talked to over 300 job hunters about their job hunting or careers. Many of these job hunters express their worries – for reasons we all understand – as they are stressing out about finding new or better employment. Read more
If you type ‘resume’ into Google you will receive approximately 180,000,000 hits. If you then type “IT Professional”, it nets only approximately 5,500,000 hits. Thus the documentation of work experience is 33 and 1/3 more popular than one of the most sought after group of professionals. What does this really tell us? Actually, not much, but neither does the average résumé that comes across our desks. Here are some excerpts:
Here are some excerpts of ambiguous resume items:
- “Administered coordination of issues and implementation of ideas surfaced by individuals.”
- “Partaking in meetings designed to enhance collaboration, identify and develop strategies to ensure success regarding the accomplishment of goals.”
- “Experienced IT leader with superior interpersonal skills and business acumen, talented at building interpersonal relationships across a global organization.”
Huh? – Are you serious?
If you haven’t heard of it yet, the first hurdle you have to take, in order to get noticed with your resume, is ATS and the second hurdle is a Hiring Professional. We all know that there are more jobs being lost than created, and that an opening will get dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants. But in your fear to avoid saying anything that might get your résumé tossed out of the pile, and you might end up saying nothing at all if you say weird stuff like the samples mentioned above, you are better off if you KEEP IT SIMPLE.
The result of bizarre sentences is, the hiring professionals feel like they’re reading tea leaves, not resumes and cover letters. The other common result from hiring managers is, that they feel forced to come up with arbitrary rules to narrow the field. Nobody with an objective statement, no résumés longer than 3 pages, no serif fonts.
Our job search coaches at TJSC are not immune. Personally, I look at a lot of elements including the formatting to ensure that the documents have flow and make sense. Many people don’t know this, and they don’t notice that their layout is hard to read. Does this mean they are more or less qualified to be a project planner? I don’t know, but it’s easy for me to say, “If you don’t know that your own résumé is inconsistent, how can you be expected to supervise a multi-million dollar project?”
Other people have their own “minor resume offences”. The best you can do is try to achieve the maximum content with a minimum of strange or unusual features. I have 10 tips to make your résumé stand a better chance of survival:
# 1 Keep it simple.
Nobody buys a complicated story. Keep your resume simple by reducing it to the max and focusing on what matters while using Powerwords.
# 2 Get the formatting right.
Line up bullet points, dates, headings. Wacky spacing will get you questioned about skills that have nothing to do with what you can do on the job. And please learn to put dates flush against the right margin.
# 3 Insert dates for everything.
If you’ve got a gap, explain it in your cover letter. But don’t leave the dates off a job or a degree. Maybe you’re worried they’ll think you’re too old or too young — but at best you’ll look sloppy. At worst, sneaky.
# 4 Fill up on the Powerwords.
Yes, buzzwords are typically “bad” for clarity, but you have to get past the HR department first, and they’re screening for matches with the words in the job description. Words such as ‘consumer goods industry’, certified project manager, SPL, BMN, FLB…whatever it is that matches the requirements, put it in. Use Powerwords.
# 5 Choose verbs that mean something.
“Assisted,” “Worked on,” “Contributed to” and so on don’t convey much to a prospective employer. Instead, say what you did: “Wrote,” “Designed,” or “Managed.” The more specific, the better.
# 6 Rewrite the introduction of your resume for each job application.
If you really want a job, your prospective employer isn’t going to be impressed by your inability to adjust one 3-page document to meet their needs.
# 7 State career objectives or outside interests
— but be very careful. Do you know that they’re looking for a “motivated team player who wants to excel in international fashion and likes skiing and hot tubbing?” Great, put that in. Otherwise, save the non-job stuff for the cover letter. Or better yet, the interview.
# 8 The further into your past, the less detail you should have.
Don’t have 13 bullets on a job from 10 years ago. See point 1.
# 9 Keep it short.
A four-page résumé may be justified, but you’ve got to make it clear through headings and organization why you need so much space. If you’ve got a list of publications or industry conferences you’ve spoken at, great, but put it at the end as a separate section. Consider the résumé of a CIO. He doesn’t need to say that he “attended meetings, assigned work” and whatever other tasks. He ran the IT for a whole company. One line.
# 10 No serious typos.
Your résumé is like the restroom in a restaurant – Sorry guys… It’s the best I could come up with. And if you can’t keep that clean, what’s it like in the kitchen?
If you are serious about your application, pay attention, keep it smart, simple and reduce it to the max. Don’t waste other people’s time and when you search and apply for jobs always remember to hunt wisely!
The holiday season has been hard for most job hunters as they reflected on the last 12 months while they were seeking a new solution to an old problem. I received a number of emails and even a few calls from clients who worried about 2015. I went away for a few days to re-charge my batteries but I couldn’t help but reflect on some of these messages and decided to make some blog notes.
Early in my career, when I worked at Optus, my favourite mentor was my Managing Director, Allen Lew. He once told me a great story to help me through a personal problem.
The Story of Blind Men and an Elephant
Three blind men meet and are asked to describe an elephant. One says that an elephant is long and skinny like a snake. The other says that the first doesn’t know what he is talking about, and says an elephant is like the trunk of a tree, round and thick. The third says they are both wrong, that an elephant is wide and circular like a giant disc. In some versions, they stop talking, start listening, and collaborate to “see” the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the elephant, they also realize they are all blind.
It doesn’t take you very long to figure out that each of the men is talking about a different part of the elephant .The men are blind, so they fail to take in the whole elephant. Because their experience was limited to a certain part of the elephant, they assumed that the elephant was the part they could see. Why – am I telling you the Elephant Story? Because I want you to get creative in 2015.
Being creative is often like being a blind person. You are dealing with a problem that you cannot see. You talk about it, you look at it, and then you try to solve it by understanding only the parts that you can see. The problem is that you can easily get in a rut, and start seeing the same problem and offering the same solution. What happens, though, when, either by choice or by circumstance, you need to come up with new solutions to find a job?
Opening New Doors
To come up with a new approach to an old problem, and to open new doors, you often need to look at the problem differently. If you do the same things, you will get the same results. In my experience, when a new solution was required, the best thing I could do (whether I was stuck or not) was to change my perspective on the problem. The only way to achieve that was by talking to other people and seeking expert insight, help, and advice. Most of the advice I received would use the “Start with Stop Doing this…” method.
So here is what you should do to improve your job hunting results in 2015?
It All Start’s Starts with STOP
If you are like most job hunters out there, then you are probably your own greatest enemy. You have searched and applied for a while, you start to doubt yourself, you start to complicate your life with more application ideas, you cloud your mind with unimportant thoughts and negativity, you eventually even punish yourself with procrastination, hate yourself, and then feel sorry for yourself, because “outside forces” are making your job search experience a living hell.
Surely your situation sucks because those are the cards that you’re dealt, but most job hunters — especially those who are better off financially and don’t live on the streets — tend to make their very own lives more difficult. But there are things you can do to stop the miserable cycle that you have found yourself in — a cycle that I know all too well, because I deal with job hunters’ stories every day. Here are 10 things that I suggest you stop in 2015.
1. Stop Procrastinating.
Problems don’t go away on their own. You can either make them go away or live with them. If you know you can’t live with them, then don’t procrastinate because the weight of them on your mind only increases over time. Get help!
2. Stop Lying to Yourself.
People will lie to you left and right throughout your life; don’t add to the pile of lies. It is one thing for others to be lying to you, and an entirely different issue if you’re lying to yourself. You have to be able to rely on yourself and on what you believe. If you lost faith or belief in yourself, get help!
3. Stop Relying on Others.
People have their own lives filled with their own headaches, problems, mishaps and successes. Friendship is great, but often doesn’t weather the storm. Be self-reliant. Be independent. We all find ourselves alone at several points throughout our lives, and most friends don’t like to deal with us when we are unemployed. If you find yourself on your lonesome, and don’t know how to deal with it because you are used to having constant support, then you will drown. Get help!
4. Stop Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Expecting Different Results.
At the same time, don’t keep making the same mistakes and expecting different results. If you tried something one way and it didn’t work, then guess what will happen when you try again exactly in the same manner? Failure is only good if you learn from it. Otherwise it really is just failure.
5. Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself.
Life is tough for everyone. The richest of the rich have problems. The poorest of the poor have problems. We make problems for ourselves — they don’t exist outside of us. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and start interacting with the world around you. Go out – get away from your online gadgets, meet real people, start to network, join Meetup Groups – do something new.
6. Stop Making Excuses.
I understand that the time isn’t right, the place isn’t right, and the stars have yet to align perfectly. The setting will never be perfect for anything. Perfect is not the alignment of outside forces; it’s making havoc the perfect opportunity. Stop making excuses, and start making opportunities for yourself, even if you struggle with it – join a group – volunteer – leave your house. Get help!
7. Stop Worrying.
Sh*t happens. Then it happens again. Then sh*t won’t happen for a day or two…and then it returns with a vengeance. The more responsibilities that you have (children, mortgage, and finances), the more you have to potentially worry about. The key is not to procrastinate, and approach all problems logically. The only thing worth worrying about is your own laziness; everything else is out of your control. If you worry about things out of your control, then you are setting yourself up for a mental breakdown.
8. Stop Overloading Your Schedule.
Doing more does not necessarily mean getting more done. It’s all about efficiency. Divvy up your time for all the things that you MUST do, and if you run out of time, spend some of your money to find someone who can help you to solve some of the MUST DO’s, and then divvy up the rest of your time for the things that you WANT to do. Just make sure to be clear on what you need before you start going after what you want.
9. Stop Trying to Impress Others.
It’s not worth it. The only reason you should ever try to get on someone’s good side is if you need them for something — and only in business. When it comes to personal relationships, you can’t do anything more than be yourself. If they don’t like you for who you are, then they will never truly like you. Move on – see point 1.
10. Stop Wishing You Were Someone Else.
Make sure that you know who you are, and do all you can to develop — not just change. People don’t change overnight, they develop and grow. You are an individual because you are a human being. You have the potential to do anything you want, including finding a new job. Figure out what it is that you are really able to offer to an employer and go after it. Stop applying for unrealistic jobs, and stop the copy, paste, send shotgun approach. You are only making things worse for yourself, and all those other job hunters out there, as you are adding to the ever increasing job application spam.
I know, this is eventually not what you wanted to read today. You can choose to continue to go about your job search the same way you did in 2014 but remember, they won’t open any new doors.
Try something new in 2015, get creative, or get help, just don’t go back to doing the same thing over and over again
and certainly remember to hunt wisely!
Welcome and Happy New Year! Are you dreaming of getting a new job in 2015? Someone once said to me in my career that people who have dreams have goals. I agree, but if you dream too much and have your head in the clouds, then you will never get anywhere. I suggest you get real and let go of some or all of these typical job hunter dreams. Get them out of your head if you want to get a job in 2015.
If you want to get a job in 2015, I suggest you get real and let go of some or all of these typical job hunter dreams: get them out of your head now!
Dream # 1 The most qualified candidate gets the job.
Seriously, when did you last apply that practice in your own world? Get real. For realistic people this is simply not how it works. I know, because I hear this at least 20 times each week and it is pretty clear to me that it’s hard for so many job hunters to let go of this dream. If you can manage to think differently about finding work and accept that it really means that you have to get a job and do a job, and that they are two different things, then you will get interviews and jobs.
Dream # 2 They will read all of the data in my resume.
There’s only one definition of a good resume—it’s the one that gets you the interview. The vast majority of submitted resumes have evolved into ‘data dumps’ and in doing so, what’s been lost to the is the time tested value of telling your story. It’s the story, not the data, that engages the reader and communicates your value. Get it wrong and the reader will not consider you. Facts, figures and numbers, only matter when they form part of a larger story.
Dream # 3 Just work harder.
This is probably the most evil and most common of all the job hunter dreams, because it can lead to blaming the victim. Not a single week goes by when I don’t read or discover yet another encouragement from self-professed recruiting experts, who tell job hunters to “just work harder.” This unspoken judgment that hard work is all that separates the employed from the jobless is absolute nonsense. Never mind the irrational system we have in place for connecting people and jobs. Never mind luck, chance, connections, age, sex, race, disability, experience or sometimes even talent. Just work harder. Simplistic solutions like ‘work harder’ can feel good because they create the perception that the problem is solved. But it’s not. The dream remains. What you really need to do is search and apply smarter, not harder. That’s how you get job interviews. Call me if you want to know more; simply follow my blog or contact me during our Pro Bono Friday sessions or attend our seminars.
Dream # 4 Network, Network, Network till it comes out of your ears.
Ask any job hunter or hiring manager what networking means and you’ll get a different answer each time. The word ‘networking’ has become so overused, that it has started to lose its real meaning for so many job hunters. To them, it actually means NOTHING because no one has an outright answer. Networking isn’t everything and it certainly is not wrong; it’s just not enough. And when it’s put forth as ‘the answer’ it becomes a dream. What’s worse is that it becomes a focus on the wrong thing. Networking is not the magic key to a new job.
Oh, and while we are on that subject, just knowing someone, or knowing someone who knows someone, will not get you a job either. You need to do much more than just ‘know someone’. This is probably the weirdest and hardest job hunter dream to challenge or even to dispute because sometimes it’s true! But more often than not it’s really just a start, especially if the connection is only online or simply weak. What’s weak? For starters, so many LinkedIn users believe that networking via their mouse clicks is a connection or a lead to a new job. Need I say more?
What’s even more important than knowing someone via a few mouse clicks or Facebook connection tabs, is actually being a part of something.
Being an active, visible and regular contributor to a community—any community— is real networking. Because it’s from these communities that the genuine connections required to find work are found. You have to put something in to get something out. A mere endorsement or a commentary post in a LinkedIn group does not make you a valuable networker.
Dream # 5 Be honest.
We are all for honesty. The problem is the job hunters who confuse including EVERYTHING in their application versus simply including what matters. No small task. And it means something different to every individual. Most job ads are short and simple. So many jobs today are very narrowly focused. That means that the focus in your application has got to be on what matters, NOT on telling your life story. I just looked at another 8 page resume. I am not kidding. 8 pages?!
Telling what matters is what counts. Bottom line? Instead of a focus on being honest and including everything, change the focus to reading and LISTENING and speaking to what’s needed and what matters the most. Less is More!
Dream # 6 Go to LinkedIn and you will get a job. Yeah—dream on!
It is like saying, “Google Translate will solve your language problem.” Get real—LinkedIn is a database. As one of many tools, it might help you find work. But it’s a database, not a magic online kingdom. There are at least 10 alternative sites who do more for you depending on your industry and job search segment.
Dream # 7 Job Boards will do the work for you.
There are lots of published speculations on the percentage of time job board’s lead to jobs and they range from 5-15%. Is that really true? Maybe. Maybe not. What’s consistent is that the numbers are never more than 20%. What is larger than 20%? The dream that online job boards will do the work for you. Approximately 70% of all job hunters focus their job search energy on online job boards hunting for less than 30% of the actual job opportunities.
Dream No. 8 You just need to get past the Gatekeeper.
Yep—the gatekeeper used to be the receptionist or the protective ‘HR guy’; nowadays the first gatekeeper can be resume parsing systems and software. The idea is the same. The dream that if you could just get past something, or someone, is a silly idea. Wake up. Job hunting is about doing things smarter—not harder—and with consistency.
If you want to get a job in 2015, get your head out of the clouds, focus on what really matters and remember to hunt wisely!
One of the first questions I get asked when I deal with individuals who are in job transitions is: How do I know when it’s time to quit? Read more
When someone is about to be laid off, made redundant or simply fired, then there are usually warning signs. However, some people are so caught up in their own concerns or delusions that when the axe falls, they are totally shocked and, more importantly, often financially unprepared. I have 10 tips to prepare your wallet for bad news and how to get through it with smart money management.
Job searching is a full time job and can be easier said than done. There is more to it than updating your resume and cover letter or your LinkedIn profile. There are plenty of things you need to know and think about before you embark on your job search, so I suggest that you prepare yourself to kick-start your engines.
After 18 months with the company Kate was called into a meeting room to have a discussion with the department manager, who she had hardly spoken to since she joined the business as a Marketing Assistant. Strangely there was also a member of the HR team.
I think it’s time for the business world to get new spectacles so they can adjust or correct their view on the fast paced and ever changing world of job seekers. Don’t worry! I’m not talking about teaching an old dog new tricks.
I am talking about the ‘job hopper’ stigma. Read more
Getting the flick in today’s job market is not uncommon and it affects almost every profession and industry. It can be like being evicted from your home in a storm. The horrific head winds facing job seekers today will make finding shelter with a new employer all the harder.
I am a big advocate of loyalty to your employer but sometimes you have to read the signals and work out if you should stick around to fight the battle or get the hell out of there on your own terms. There are many signals that may show you if you are likely ‘on the list’, so learn to read the signs to figure out when it’s time to bail and stabilise your career. Read more