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Brilliant but Plagued By Insecurities (Is That You?)

“Success in your career transition or job search requires work, practice, commitment, and the ability to get back up, brush yourself off, and move forward having learned from your setbacks.” ~Career Coach Daisy Wright

As I reviewed her resume, I thought of how brilliant she sounded on paper, and when we spoke, it was confirmed. She is indeed a brilliant woman, ready to take her career to the next level, but something was holding her back; she was plagued by insecurities.

Mara reached out to me from British Columbia several weeks ago asking for help to “ace her next interview for a position with the government.” She wanted to transition from a manager to a project management role in Health IT. She said she didn’t have a problem getting interviews, but was not getting offers. “I am plagued with insecurities”, she said.

Mara’s story is not unique. Insecurity sometimes hits when we are facing a career change, speaking up in meetings, or even broaching the subject of a promotion. Many people, like Mara, struggle with interviews. They get pre-interview jitters, sweaty palms and ice cream headaches, better known as brain freezes. Some worry that they might not measure up to their competitors. Others are unable to tell authentic and convincing stories to sway the interviewer.

I explained to Mara that our interactions would involve more than reviewing interview questions. We would begin by first acknowledging that none of us knew exactly what questions were going to be asked, and we won’t attempt to read the interviewer’s mind. When I threw out a couple of test questions to her, I realized she was barely skimming the surface; giving hollow answers instead of diving deep to uncover the value she was creating (and had created) for her employers.

For homework she was asked to conduct a thorough review of the job posting – Job Overview, Accountabalities, Job Requirements and KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills & Abilities). She was to review the competencies associated with the role, as well as go over some sample questions. In reflecting on her experiences, she was to recall success and failure stories. After all, interviewers want to know about some of those projects that didn’t turn out as planned, and what lessons were learned.

After some gruelling conversations and exercises, Mara went for the interview. She was excited when she called. We did a debrief, and I advised her to follow up immediately with a Thank-you note. It was not going to be the standard “Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon”, but one that would include something significant she learned during the interview. She was to reiterate how she could solve the problem, or what contributions she could make. Her next contact from the interviewer was to ask “When can you start?”

When I work with clients – whether it’s through a career transition, developing job search marketing documents, or interviewing with confidence – I employ a ‘strategy tree’ approach (made popular by Anthony Tjan, CEO of Cue Ball), which addresses: Why (Purpose), What (Value Proposition), Who (Target Company) and How (How to win). A client once remarked that the process felt like a SWOT Analysis: identifying internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, and it is, because we want to cover as many bases as possible.

A colleague and I were speaking this week and we talked about the coaching that’s involved in the work that we do. Some people believe they are hiring us on a transactional basis, to develop a resume, cover letter, LinkedIn Profile, but it goes way beyond that.

Below is a un-edited letter from Mara detailing what it was like working with me:

“I came to the Wright Career Solution as someone who would get an interview, but not get a job offer. I wondered what was it that I was doing to get so close yet still so far? Why weren’t employers committing to my vision of the role? So, I contacted Daisy through her website, and she got back to me very quickly.

We had a few weeks to get prepared for my interview and true to her word she asked me the questions I had thought I had asked myself enough times. Somehow, she got me to dive deep into the reasons why I was not getting the job offer. I realized through working with Daisy that I have never been well prepared for an interview and I was just finding this out now!!

She coached my language use, how to market myself, how to look at a job description and dissect it to its tiniest parts and build it back together to a riveting story that captivates the audience of my hiring committee.

Thank you Daisy! The Wright Career Solution got my career in the right direction! Everyone should invest in a career coach.

Mara!”

She and I will be working together during her onboarding process to ensure her new move goes smoothly.

While not every client is a ‘Mara’, the reality is that it is not easy to deal with rejections, especially after a number of interviews and not one job offer. It is not easy to focus when the promotion you had in mind did not materialize. And, sometimes it is even more difficult to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when you are in the doldrums, and conversations become littered with self-limiting declarations such as, “What’s wrong with me…?… It’s probably because of my age… I will never… I should have…”.

In moments like these you need a coach, or someone you trust who can help you through a mindset change, where possibilities exist; where you can jump over barriers and bounce back even when things didn’t go as planned.

If you are ready, willing and able to persevere even when the going gets rough, connect with me for an initial conversation.

PS: In the midst of writing this article, another client – a Professional Engineer – sent this email:

 

9 Reasons You Are Failing Your Interviews

September is one of the most popular months for hiring, according to Monster. That means some job seekers are sharpening their resumes to meet the hiring onslaught, but how prepared are they for interviews? Over the past several weeks I have fielded calls or received emails that suggest some are treating this very important aspect of the job search as a casual event. They are leaving it for the last minute, then panicking when they are invited for the interview. Consider one such email:

As I read it, my mind was screaming, “Are you serious?” I wouldn’t fault him or her for reaching out, but when? This is one of the main reasons some job seekers fail their interviews. Here are some others:

#1: Inadequate Preparation

Don’t take your interview lightly. Preparation should begin the moment you submit your resume because you don’t know when an invitation will be extended. You put a lot of effort into preparing your resume and cover letter; do the same (or more) for the interview.

#2: Limited Company Research

Employers often state that most job candidates arrive at the interview without having researched the company. Some end up talking about Company Y when it should be Company X. Don’t limit your research to the company’s website. Search for any mentions in social media, industry publications, or on regular news channels.

#3: Believing You Can “Wing It”

Interviews are too important for you to think you can “wing it”. Far too many times I have encountered job candidates who, after trying on their own to “wing it” end up being very disappointed. Seek help from a family member, a friend or a career coach, and don’t leave it for last minute. You want to be well-prepared. Panicky emails or urgent messages within 2-4 days of your interview will unnerve rather than help you.

#4: Unable to Articulate Accomplishment Stories

Most job seekers fail at interviews because they have not learned the to tell their success stories. When the interviewer says, “Tell me a time when….”, it’s time for you to tell a story. This is your best chance to convince the interviewer(s) that you are the best person for the job. This method of interviewing, known as Behavioural Interviewing, offers the opportunity to relate your past successes, and the best way to do so is to tell stories. Therefore, in articulating your stories, be focused and engaged. You want to give clear, concise and confident answers, ensuring that you incorporate the results or outcomes of your actions.

#5: Engaging in Negative Mind-scripting

Don’t get caught up in a cycle of second-guessing yourself and your abilities. Start with a positive mind script that says you are going to get the job. This frees you up to think clearly. Some people become bogged down, before or during the interview, with the notion that the company has already designated someone for the position and are just going through the ropes. This belief is not always true, and even if it is, the fact you were invited to the interview suggests you have something the employer wants. It’s your opportunity to shine.

#6: Not Having Questions for the Interviewer

The interview is a two-way street. You are just as invested in the process as the employer. Go prepared with a few questions of your own:

  • Is there anything else I should know?
  • If I am the successful candidate, what would you like to see me accomplished within first 30 days?
  • From a performance standpoint, what aspects of this position would you most like to see improved?

#7: Omitting a Thank You Note

Contrary to what some people think, sending a “thank you” note is not a waste of your time. People in the career sphere believe you should send one. Wharton Professor, Adam Grant said, A Thank You note is so rare, it instantly separates you from the rest.” CareerBuilder tweeted, “Please” and “Thank you” never go out of style, and Right Management Manpower Group states, “Sending a proper thoughtful thank you note can make all the difference.”

However, a mere “Thank you for meeting with me, I really want the job”, is not good enough. Your thank you letter must have substance. You want to thank the people you interviewed with, but equally important, you want to use the letter to expand on a couple of points that were emphasized during the interview, and reiterate why you would be the ideal candidate to take on the role.

#8: Neglecting to Follow Up

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t get the job. You might hear that you were a close second, or the job was offered to someone with a better fit. It is disappointing, and you feel like giving up, but this is not the time to recoil. Take some time to clear your head, and then do what most job candidates would not do (especially if you are still keen to work for that particular company). Follow up! If you want to be remembered; if you want to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer(s), then follow up.

Following up will take courage and perseverance, but a few months after your interview, touch base to ask how things are going with the new hire. Most times, things would be fine, but in some rare instances, the person didn’t or isn’t working out. You could be following up at just the time they are considering looking for a replacement. This suggestion might be a stretch, but why not reach out to the successful candidate, at some point, and ask them how they were able to nail the interview?

#9: Discontinuing the Courtship

If #8 above didn’t work, it doesn’t mean you cannot continue the courtship. There could be other future openings. You can keep yourself on the company’s radar by sharing with them articles relevant to the industry or profession. You can also monitor their online forums, ask questions, and share your expertise.

What about alerting them to something their competitor is doing that they are not, then offering to help them compete? Your efforts could sway them to create a position for you, or they could refer you to some other person or company who would need your expertise.

It’s never over until it’s over, so don’t despair. Have courage and persevere. There is a job out there with your name on it.

If all else fails, why not connect with me so we can have a one-on-one discussion about how to ace your next interview?

How to Get the Job You Want

“Only those who can see the invisible can accomplish the impossible!” – Patrick Snow

Lisa was the subject of my earlier post. What I didn’t mention is the depth of our conversation. She had dropped by to give me an update on her year of personal development. In late 2015, she took a sabbatical from ‘being in the dumps’ and decided that 2016 was going to be her ‘Personal Development’ year.

She had taken time off years ago for child-minding reasons, and was ready to get back into the workforce, but finding opportunities commensurate with her background and experience was proving difficult.

At the beginning of 2016, she harnessed all the resources she could get: DVDs, books, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, webinars, and, of course, joined my Let’s GROW Project. We also continued our coaching check-ins, which started three years ago.

A day before stopping by, she had sent a Whatsapp message that said, “I got the job!” The job is with a well-known organization with offices around the globe, and she was thrilled. What intrigued me most about her approach were the unusual steps she took to get the job.

Nearing the end of her first interview, she was asked if she had any questions. She said, “I asked one of the questions you usually recommend: If I were the successful candidate, what would you like to see me accomplish within my first 30 days?” This time she chose 90 days.

By the look on their faces, the panel was probably not expecting that question, but after a few awkward moments, they responded. She made some notes, went home, and developed a 3-page list of her 90-day goals, which she sent to the panellists. She was invited for a second interview where the majority of the time was spent discussing her goal list. She felt very confident after leaving the office that day.

On her return home, she sent a thank-you note, but took the process one step further. She took out a family photograph, gathered her ‘sensory images’ (I call them ‘inspirational stones’), that were labeled Faith, Hope, Believe, and Success. She then bought a small Lucky Bamboo plant and arranged all the items as if they were on her desk at the company’s office.

 

 

Each day she would visualize herself at the desk, working, speaking with her new boss and coworkers, smiling and answering the phone. She said she didn’t have time to think about her competitors – the other people who had been interviewed for the job. She just focused on seeing herself in the role. Two weeks later she received the call that the job was hers.

If you are a skeptic you may scoff at all this. You are probably wondering what role, if any, the ‘lucky bamboo’ and the inspirational stones played in Lisa’s success. That’s not the point. Whether one is a student of Law of Attraction (whatever you focus on you attract), or one sees the value of prayer, or setting intentions, it is true that one’s focus determines one’s reality. Or, as I reminded some ladies in a recent Career Workshop, “Ideas or thoughts become things.”

Not only did Lisa visualize and surround herself with the sensory images, but she did the work that was required! She prepared for the interviews, maintained a positive ‘can-do’ mindset, took the time to research the needs of the company and set goals to support the company. Action was key! Her year of personal development paid off, and on January 9, this highly-qualified professional will start a new phase of her life.

As she said, “My Personal Development immersion over the year has not only helped me professionally, but helped me improve personal and professional relationships, improved my mental health, and my overall feeling of well-being and, most importantly, given me a strong belief that I have control over my future.”

There goes a client who did not leave her professional development to chance. She decided what her reality should look like, applied laser-beam focus to it, and with sustained action, she achieved one of her goals.

With only a few hours into the New Year, are you ready to visualize your own reality? The late Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t like where you are, change it. You are not a tree!”

Want to share your thoughts?

Being the Most Qualified Does Not Guarantee You the Job!

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Have you ever left an interview feeling you nailed it quite well that you would be offered the job? You wait for days (or weeks) only to hear you didn’t. I am sure you have, and it’s not a nice feeling.

The US elections are over. One candidate got hired; the other got fired, and for those of us who follow politics, we are wondering what happened. That conversation was what dominated the group coaching class with the women in my Let’s GROW Project today. One woman commented that the most qualified person did not get the job. I chimed in that 46.9% of eligible voters did not vote. Another spoke of places where people do not have the opportunity to vote. The discussion provided a segue into why being the most qualified candidate does not necessarily guarantee you the job.

Here is how the group drew an analogy with the results of the US elections and a job interview. Two candidates were shortlisted for the position and were going to be interviewed by a panel of the American public. One had a very impressive resume. She had 30+ years of experience in politics as First Lady of a state; First Lady of the United States, Senator and Secretary of State. She also had testimonials and references from high profile colleagues and celebrities. All that would easily make her a shoe-in for the job.

The other candidate didn’t have any of that. He touted himself as a businessman, and an outsider to the Washington establishment. Despite publicly passing incendiary remarks, and refusing to follow protocol, it did not stop him from getting the job. How did that happen? Answers to that question will vary, depending on which side of the political fence one is on. However, from a job search perspective we could examine the role that personal branding, messaging and the halo effect might have played:

Personal Branding and Messaging

One candidate branded herself as the one with the experience, a steady hand and an even keel temperament. She cited her many success stories and had proof that backed them up. Many on the interview panel (the electorate) believed her. In fact, she won the popular vote, but because of how the Electoral College works, she did not get the job. What went wrong? Was it her brand? Did people buy into the narrative that she was untrustworthy? What about her messaging? Was it clear to her audience that she understood their pain?

The other candidate branded himself as the outsider; the businessman who could turn around Washington. He pointed to his business successes and his ability to ‘swing deals’. Although that is debatable, it was enough to convince a good part of the electorate that he was the best person for the job. He showed himself as an astute marketer, ripping right into the heart of their core beliefs – that the status quo needed a shake up; that the other candidate was a part of the establishment and was going to offer more of the same. His messaging was effective enough where his negatives didn’t matter to his constituents.

The Halo Effect

The halo effect, as described in Wikipedia, “is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties.” This means, many on the interview panel could have been influenced positively or negatively by their perception of each candidate. If that were the case, their minds were already made up. Regardless of what the candidates said from thereon, they latched on to their first impression of each candidate.

  1. Not too many of us aspire to be a head of state, but we are very often invited to interviews. In preparing for an interview, what could we learn from the results of the US elections?
  2. A resume might not be enough. An impressive resume, LinkedIn Profile (with its many testimonials), and high profile celebrity references might not be enough to get hired. Go beyond those, and think of what additional value you have to offer. Determine if your 30+ years of experience is an asset or a liability, and will it help or hurt your chances?
  3. Branding is not just for companies. It is common these days to speak about one’s ‘personal brand’. This is a blend of people’s perception of you and how you see yourself. Are they congruent, or, do people characterize you as someone different from who you really are? One way to find out is to complete a 360 assessment. These are easily available from a variety of sources, including the 360 Reach Branding Assessment.
  4. Authenticity is a key part of your branding. Be yourself. Highlight the skills, knowledge and strengths that make you unique. Showcase yourself in a way that feels natural to you, yet capture the attention of the hiring manager. You need to ensure that your brand is received positively by the people thinking of hiring you.
  5. First impression matters. You should strive to make a good first impression. Extend your research beyond that of the company and to the people who will be a part of the interview panel. Don’t know who they are? Find out, then conduct a Google search. What you discover could serve as a conversation opener and rapport builder instead of having to discuss the weather.
  6. Messaging is important. Your message should be tailored to the needs of the employer. You need to articulate your success stories in a way that convinces the employer you understand their needs, know where their pain points are, and that you “can fix it”(according to one of the election candidates).
  7. Monitor your social media footprints. Most employers conduct a search on candidates before inviting them to an interview. Make sure you do the same. Do a Google search on yourself to see if there are any negative or unsavoury mentions about you, and clear them up as quickly as you can.

It hurts when you were not hired for the job you were sure you would get. You know in your heart that you have the right qualifications, skills and experience. You did all that you could do, but the decision making was not under your control. Don’t beat upon yourself too much and never stop believing in you and your capabilities. “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”, said Frank Sinatra. This might not be easy. It could take days for you to come to terms with what happened, but life goes on and so should you.

What other tips would you offer to someone who is feeling dejected because of a lost job opportunity?

 

 

Why Are You Afraid to Tell Your Unique, Authentic Story?

tell them your story - advice in isolated vintage wood letterpress printing blocks

We tell stories every day – to family, friends and colleagues – yet we hardly think of telling stories when we meet recruiters, hiring managers, potential employers, and even potential business partners. Why? We are afraid; we don’t want anyone to label us as ‘braggarts’. A LinkedIn article titled “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable – Why Now is the Time to Tell Your Work Story”, indicates that approximately only 29% of Canadians and 40% of Americans feel comfortable talking about themselves. In fact, 53% of workers admitted they feel like they are bragging if they talk about themselves. “We’re so uncomfortable touting our work successes that we’d rather share our political views on social media than let our followers know we received a promotion or got a new job.”

In his book, Tell to Win, Peter Gruber states: “Today everyone – whether they know it or not – is in the emotional transportation business. More and more, success is won by creating [and telling] compelling stories that have the power to move partners, shareholders, customers and employees to action. Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it.” This means, if you can’t engage, persuade, motivate and convince others of your accomplishments, your story will remain inside you, and someone else will snag that coveted job or business opportunity.

Storytelling has not only become a central theme to the job search process, but is also a powerful way to get your message across in any setting. It doesn’t matter if you are in an interview, at a networking event, delivering an elevator speech in 30 seconds, participating in meetings, or communicating one-on-one. What matters is your ability to confidently tell stories that will communicate your value and build credibility.

Bear in mind that you are also telling your story in verbal and nonverbal ways. For example, did you know that your resume and your other career marketing efforts are all telling your story? When your resume is set aside by a hiring manager for follow up, it is because something compelling grabbed the his or her attention. When it comes to interviews, you are often asked to “tell me about yourself” or “describe a time when…”. Those questions present an opportunity for you to recount stories that will convince the hiring manager you are the ideal person for the role.

Whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, it’s important that you become a masterful storyteller. Someone who is able to strategically craft and deliver stories that will engage and capture an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or many. You need signature stories that you are proud to share, without feeling bashful. Stories that reveal your authenticity and set you apart from your competitors. How do you do that? Think of it as a movie where you were the main actor. Recall and write out compelling scenes that demonstrated the challenges you were up against, the actions you took and the results or outcomes. Look for patterns. What skills were you using most; where did you feel more energized. This exercise should give your confidence a boost and have you well-prepared to articulate your unique and authentic stories.

Before telling your story, consider the following:

  • Know yourself: Candidly assess your strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes, and be ready to address them if asked.
  • Learn to promote yourself. This might take you out of your comfort zone, but you need to learn to talk about yourself. This is not bragging. This is articulating what’s true about you; who you are, what you have accomplished, and what value you will bring to the new role. If you don’t tell your story, then people won’t know the broad range of talents you have. There is merit in the cliché of tooting your own horn, because if you don’t, no one will know you are coming.
  • Be authentic: Don’t borrow someone else’s story and try to be somebody you are not. Tell your own unique story honestly and with confidence and ensuring that you stay authentic. Author and poet May Sarton said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
  • Review interview questions ahead of time. While you may not know all the questions you will be asked, research, review and practice certain interview questions that are commonly asked. Then prepare to condense your accomplishments into a few short points that will be memorable.
  • Strengthen your online presence. Nothing speaks louder than a well-written, consistent, authentic online profile that tells your story even when you are asleep. This could be a personal website or blog, or your LinkedIn profile, complete with accomplishments and work samples (if appropriate).

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to tell your story? Need to learn storytelling strategies? Grab a copy of Tell Stories, Get Hired.

The Best Day For Your Job Search

Monday Rx - Best Day to Job Search Job seeker, this is another sporadic dose of the Monday Rx, a picker-upper to help you get through Mondays. I say ‘sporadic’ because, honestly, it’s not every Monday that I write such a blog post!

Are you having a case of the Monday Morning Blues? Grab your favourite cup of coffee, perk yourself up, and get ready for some great news! Today, Monday, is the best day to submit your resume to the employer (or employers) you have been targeting.

A survey conducted by Bright.com (prior to its acquisition by LinkedIn in February 2014), indicated that the best day to apply for a job is on a Monday (at least in the US).

They analyzed more than half a million job applications revealing that 30 percent of people who applied for a job on Mondays went on to get interviews. On the contrary, Saturdays were the least successful day, when the success rate was only 14 percent.

Bright-Com_SurveyImage: Courtesy of qz.com

The report does not explain why Monday job seekers do best, simply confirming that they do. However, the assumption is that applications that come in on a Monday stand a better chance of being seen than ones that come in later in the week, as resumes pile up on hiring managers’ desks. Then, too, it’s possible that Monday applicants might be more eager, go-getters.

Take some time today to review your resume, make sure it addresses the employer’s needs and articulates the value you will bring, then put your ears, telephone, iPad and email services on alert. You might just be called for an interview.

By the way, there are other positives about Mondays. It is said that Monday is the best day to quit smoking, start a new diet or buy a new car. What are your thoughts about Mondays?

Related links:

Good Morning America Blog

Manjari Shukla (Indian Republic)

 

 

Turn Your Obstacles Into Opportunities

If it’s Monday morning, it’s time for the Monday Rx, a daily dose or picker-upper for those who hate Mondays!

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@CareerTips2Go

“When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested in failure.” ~Mary Kay Ash

What obstacles are you facing right now? Can’t find a job? Not getting interviews? Afraid to change careers? Whatever it is, take a few minutes to reflect on the words of Mary Kay Ash, then get ready to turn your obstacles into opportunities.

Have a productive week!

 

 

6 Tell-tale Signs Your Interview Went Terribly Wrong

Job seekers, there is a huge difference between arrogance and confidence; watch your body language, and beware of your cell phone etiquette. After all, you are in an interview!

It might be astonishing for some job seekers to find out that the interview in which they thought they did so well, actually went terribly wrong. And, many of the mistakes they made would’ve prevented them from moving to the next step. In late 2013, CareerBuilder surveyed 406 hiring managers and human resource professionals across Canada. Their major findings are shown below:

Infographic_Interview_Final_DW

While this infographic may add a touch of humour to a serious topic, it is a fact that many job seekers turn up at interviews unprepared and unprofessional. Many do not research the company before they get to the interview. Some do not understand cell phone etiquette; others do not provide specific examples that would convince the hiring manager they would be a good fit for the position, and many fail to make proper eye contact with the interviewer.

To say most job candidates get the jitters when they have an interview, is an understatement. But, there are no excuses for inadequate preparation for this important part of the job search process. When unpreparedness meets opportunity, it results in many of the interview mistakes outlined above.

Just in case you were one of the candidates who committed these interview faux pas, here is an armchair’s critique of your performance:

  1. You were arrogant. There is a thin line between being confident and acting arrogant. Learn the difference.
  2. You were not interested in the position. Your body language gave the wrong message. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
  3. You were uninformed about the company. It showed that you were clueless about the company and the role for which you were being interviewed. In-depth research of the company, as well as a request for a detailed job description, would have set you apart.
  4. You were texting or taking calls on your cell phone. Unfortunately, you couldn’t take your hands off your cell phone. Neither did you turn it off before the start of the interview. Well, there are no excuses for this one because you should’ve known better.
  5. You were inappropriately dressed. If there ever was an opportunity to ‘dress up’, it was this one, and in a professional manner. You could’ve called to ask about the company’s dress code, or visited the location prior to the interview to observe what employees were wearing.
  6. You were burning bridges. While it may have boosted your confidence to badmouth your employers, it was not a good idea. Negative portrayals of employers and coworkers are never acceptable.

The survey addresses other mistakes that employers found. The survey details can be found at CareerBuilder. Pay close attention to the most common blunders, as well as the role that body language or non-verbal communication plays in interviews.

What additional advice would you have for a job candidate who committed such blunders? Add your comments below.

 

Beyond the Resume (Part 2): 7 Things Every Job Seeker Should Know About ATS

ATS_NavigateAs competition in the job market heats up, the frustration level rises for job candidates trying to get their resumes in front of recruiters. Many are bemoaning the fact that applicant tracking systems (ATS) have taken the human out of human resources. They perceive that they are being treated as commodities, and to them this perception is real. HR professionals, on the other hand, would counter this by saying they are swamped with too many resumes, and need a cost-effective tool to manage their recruiting process.

Jon Ciampi, former CEO of Preptel, now VP of Marketing at CRC Health Group, knows quite a bit about ATSs. “Applicant tracking systems contain different database fields for information on a resume, such as the candidate’s name, contact details, work experience, job titles, education, employer names and periods of employment. These systems try to identify this information on a job seeker’s resume, but if a resume isn’t formatted according to the applicant tracking system, it won’t pull this information into the proper fields.”

One of my clients wanted to know how she could make sure her resume was selected by an applicant tracking system on a government website. She had all the qualifications for the job. We discussed the pros and cons of the ATS, and I told her she should ensure that her resume mirrors the job posting as much as possible. I encouraged her to do a practice run of the application process right up to the ‘Submit’ button then cancel it. This allowed her to get a behind-the-scenes look at the system. After that exercise she completed the formal application.

A few days later she logged into her account and was shocked to see that over 4,000 people had applied for the position. She was equally shocked last week when she was called for an interview. We concluded that her resume was selected by the system because she had used the right keywords, and aligned her experience with the requirements of the position.

Having written about applicant tracking systems and listened to experts discuss them, I believe that every job seeker should know the following seven things to better navigate the ATS:

  1. Approximately 80% of large and small employers use some form of an ATS. Since employers are flooded with hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for very few positions, they turn to ATSs to help them deal with the onslaught, and save time and money.
  2. Applicant tracking systems operate on a level playing field. Many job seekers view these systems as just another unnecessary barrier to their job search. On the contrary, they actually level the playing field. Each resume is treated fairly because ATSs are programmed to recognize and select keywords that are specific to the job description. They also gather information based on specific headings and titles. If a resume does not conform to these specific requirements, it will not be read by the ATS.
  3. The length of a resume is not an issue. No need to worry if a two- or three-page resume will be accepted. A longer resume created in plain text and crammed with relevant keywords is preferable to one that is beautifully designed.
  4. Tables, graphics and special characters are difficult to read. Most applicant tracking systems cannot read tables, special characters or images. That’s the reason for the plain text version. The nicely formatted, graphic-rich resume is more suitable for networking purposes, in-person interviews or as an email attachment. They are also useful if the system offers an option to upload a Word or PDF document.
  5. About 75% of qualified candidates are eliminated by the system. This may appear to be in contrast to the point mentioned earlier, but one of the main reasons qualified candidates are rejected is that they do not understand how to configure their resumes to fit the ATS.
  6. Sandbagging the system is a test of your integrity. Do not manipulate the system by using needless repetitions of words and phrases or by using white fonts to hide keywords. This is known as ‘sandbagging’, and recruiters view any attempt to game the system as dishonest.
  7. All applicant tracking systems are not created equal. ATSs are becoming more sophisticated as developers put new versions on the market at rapid speed. These different versions do different things. The onus is on you, the job seeker, to do the research to find out what system your prospective employer uses and adapt your resume accordingly.

While there are no guarantees with the ATS, your resume will stand a better chance of being selected by the system if you take the time to understand how it works. In the meantime, keep networking. It is the best way to land that job.

Related links:

10 Resume Tips to Beat the ATS

Robots Are Reading Your Resume

How to Leverage Applicant Tracking Systems to Land a Job

 

Canada Career Week – November 4 – 8, 2013

Canada Career WeekToday’s issue of the Monday Morning Rx is a salute to Canada Career Week.

The week, November 4 – 8, 2013, has been designed “to promote, showcase and celebrate career development nation-wide”, by the Canadian Career Development Foundation and its partners.

Canadians are, indeed, at a crossroads in their careers, and even though there are a plethora of services and resources available, many are still not sure how to access these resources and make them work to their advantage.

public perceptions about career development and the workplace

At The Wright Career Solution, we will be hosting a FREE Q & A on Thursday November 7, at 8:00 pm EST, to provide answers to questions about career, resumes, interview strategies, or the job search. Details are below.

Can’t attend? No worries…send your questions to: careercoach[at]thewrightcareer.com, and we will answer them live.

To join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Go to Canada Career Week at The Wright Career Solution. If you would prefer to join by telephone, the phone line is: 1(424)203-8450 (US/Canada only). Meeting ID: 474 467 653.

If you are a career professional, then I invite you to participate as well.

Related information on Canada Career Week and Career Development:

Sharon Graham’s Blog

Facebook

CERIC’s Online Survey of Public Perceptions About Career Development and the Workplace