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Social Media: The New Job Search Frontier

Recently I did some presentations and a webinar on social media for my clients and a couple of community organizations, including the Kiwanis Club of Brampton.  These presentations offered simple strategies to build a LinkedIn Profile, how job seekers can use social media to market themselves to employers, and how professionals and entrepreneurs can benefit from having an online presence.

Many people are nervous at the mere mention of social media. They are afraid people might misuse their information; they want to guard their privacy, or they are just plain overwhelmed with so many of these tools from which to choose. One webinar participant wrote me to say, “I am scared of a free service that takes my data to make money and promises not to share my information.” She then asked if I thought she was paranoid. Privacy is a legitimate concern, of course, especially since we know, or have heard of many online horror stories, but one does not have to become paranoid.

At one point, I was hesitant to use Facebook, for example. Although I have had an account since 2008, I did not start actively using it until 2010, when I began to see additional benefits other than getting updates from my nieces and nephews. So, social media is scary, and it might look like a time-waster sometimes, but is that enough not to test the waters? From a job seeker’s perspective, is it worth missing out on potential job opportunities, or connecting with a couple of influential decision makers? Wouldn’t it be nice to address someone by name at one of your target companies instead of “Dear Sir/Madam”?

There are many advantages to using social media. During a LinkedIn conference in Toronto last week, the keynoter said, “If you have hired more than 10 people through LinkedIn, stand.” Over 600 HR professionals and recruiters stood up. In other sessions, presenters spoke about how companies can build their employer brands on LinkedIn by reaching out and engaging potential employees through Career Hub Pages and Groups. The overall message from my perspective as a career coach is that job seekers need a LinkedIn presence, for starters.

I also learned that Canada is the 5th largest country on LinkedIn, and that IBM is one of the most active companies on LinkedIn, with over 280,000 employees and 650,000 followers. Want to join IBM? There are lots of people with whom you could connect!

Here’s a summary of some major social media tools:

  • LinkedIn – known as the number one social media tool for business, it has over 150 million members. Not only can profiles be created, but resumes can be uploaded, and by following Company Pages, one is able to keep track of new hires, promotions and the overall health of specific companies.
  • Twitter – a free micro-blogging platform that sends short messages using 140 characters. Recruiters, employers and HR professionals are quite active on Twitter and quite often use it to announce  job vacancies.
  • Facebook – permits businesses to establish a presence and allows people to “Like” and follow those businesses.
  • Pinterest – a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to pinboards. At first glance, one may wonder how effective this is as a job search tool, and the jury is still out on this. However, if you are the creative/artistic type, you can certainly market yourself or your business with it, so, join Pinterest and ‘get ‘Pinspired’!
  •  Google+ – another content sharing service, with an added feature called ‘Hangouts’. It’s a new video service where one can hold meetings, arrange study sessions, family meetings, or social gatherings with up to 10 people. Some companies have already started to conduct interviews with Hangouts.
  • About.me – serves like a parking garage for your online presence. It is a personal page that points people to everything you do around the web. It can be useful as a link in an email instead of uploading your resume and your other documents.

I believe the new job search or business frontier is through social media, and job seekers and entrepreneurs need to leverage its use. None of us can afford to be left out, especially as online interactions are becoming as meaningful as in real life. Does this mean social media is the ‘be all’ of your job search or business? No! What it does is help you build relationships, engage in conversations, and demonstrate your expertise. This will (over time), lead to opportunities, value and profitability.

Still scared? It’s time to jump on the social media bandwagon. Experiment and see which ones resonate with you, because these tools have become major players in how we conduct a job search, how and where we do business, what we purchase, and who we connect with.

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

10 Resume Tips to Beat Online Applicant Tracking Systems

Career Coach Daisy Wright

Are you a job seeker who is frustrated with online applicant tracking systems (ATS)? Do you often wonder if your resume has disappeared into a blackhole because the only response you have had from the company is a generic, computer-generated acknowledgement? Well, you have a legitimate reason to be frustrated. After all, only 1% of total applicants get an interview. It’s also likely that your resume may have fallen into the 75% (approximately) of resumes that are discarded for using the wrong words. [Source: Preptel].

To help you understand the ATS process, and to find out how you can boost the chances that your resume will get through this ubiquitous system, I contacted two experts: Chip Cohan, VP of Business Development at PrepTel, and Sylvia Dahlby, of Advanced Personnel Systems, Inc., the company that develops the SmartSearch® applicant tracking system.

SmartSearch® helps companies find resumes fast in a searchable database, and because employers can store thousands of resumes in databases, the system helps them identify qualified candidates among previous as well as new applicants.

PrepTel, on the other hand, is a job seeker’s ally. They are the developers of ResumeterTM, a tool that uses the same technology hiring companies use to help identify deficiencies and show where a résumé may be improved, so it rises to the top of the applicant pool during the screening process. According to Chip, the tool “…enables individuals to quickly and easily customize a résumé for each job opening increasing the success the résumé will be reviewed and considered for an interview”.  This Candidate Optimization service is purported to “…improve a candidate’s chances of getting an interview, securing an offer, and maximizing their compensation package.”

Below are some tips that you should consider when using applicant tracking systems:

  1. Don’t limit the length of your resume. Job seekers are often told to limit their resumes to two pages. That’s still OK if you are sending it as an attachment or delivering it in person, but if you are using the ATS, you can send in a longer version.
  2. Use a generic heading like ‘Work Experience’. Fancy headings like Career Summary, Career Progression, and Notable Accomplishments, are passed over by the system because it is not designed to recognize such headings.
  3. Begin the work experience section with the name of your employer. It is customary to start this section with the employment dates, but the system looks for the name(s) of employers first. Therefore, start with employer’s name, your title, and the dates you held these titles, and place them on separate lines.
  4. Keep formatting simple and omit tables and graphics. The system cannot read graphics, and misreads PDF files and tables.
  5. Include a blend of keywords and phrases. Keywords are important, but the system is programmed to conduct semantic searches where it looks for strings of words identified in the job posting.
  6. Do not ‘sand-bag’ the system. Mirror the job posting as much as possible, but do not manipulate the system with needless repetitions of words and phrases. Recruiters frown on candidates who try to game the system.
  7. Research the company’s corporate culture. Before you submit your resume, visit the company’s website to get a sense of its corporate culture. Look at the words they use to describe their value, then incorporate those words in your resume and/or cover letter.
  8. Make the Resume Easy and Fast to Read. Even though the machinery is searching for keywords, candidates are well advised to have a nice, clean looking document with plenty of white space that’s easy to read on a computer screen and in print.
  9. Use Bullet Points. To avoid long sentences and huge blocks as paragraphs, it is advisable to use bullets, preferably asterisks.
  10. Add a Cover Letter. The cover letter is the perfect place to show interest and fit for the company culture.

Dahlby also offered some additional suggestions:  Job seekers should rewrite their resumes for each position to make sure they mirror the job description. She also advised against ‘sandbagging’ the process. Sandbagging is when candidates include needless repetitions of words and phrases, or when they try to ‘game’ the system by using a lot of keywords and hiding them with white fonts.

With the above information, you should now be equipped to optimize your resume to make sure it ranks high enough where a human will, at the very least, read it, and your frustration level should be reduced a notch.

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“Read an E-Book Week” is March 4-10, 2012!

Don’t be surprised if from March 4-10, 2012, you see ebook authors offering their books at steep discounts, or for free. You see, March 4, is Read an E-Book Week, a practice that’s been going on for several years. The Canadian Parliament took it a step further by declaring during its 41st sitting in November 2011, that March is Read an E-Book Month. We have Canadian author, Rita Toews, to thank for that. Toews is an award-winning author and founder of E-Book Week.

If you are an author of an ebook, or you have converted your Pbook (printed version) to an ebook, you might want to participate in Read an E-book Week. Additional information can be found on E-Book Week and Smashwords. As a participating author, I am pleased to announce that No Canadian Experience, Eh?  is being offered for $10.97 from March 4-10, 2012. That’s almost a 50% savings!

No Canadian Experience, Eh?, was a ‘first-of-its-kind’ career guide (when the first edition was published in 2007), that addressed the challenges that new Canadians face during their job search. It covers not only job search basics such as resume and cover letter development; preparing for and mastering the interview; building professional networks, and accessing the hidden job market, but includes advice and strategies from top career experts on social media, personal branding, onboarding, green careers, leadership, stress management, career assessments, self-employment, consulting and time management. It also contains advice and tips from recruiters and human resources professionals who understand what employers look for in potential employees.

Make sure to click on the image below to grab your copy, at almost 50% off, before midnight on March 10, 2012.

If you would like to have access to these proven job search and career strategies contributed by 16 career experts, and condensed into this guide, then don’t miss this opportunity! Grab your copy here: Read an eBook Week!

Happy reading, and spread the word about Read an E-Book Week. Hundreds of authors are participating in a variety of ways. See Smashwords

 

*This offer will not be combined with any other offers.

 

Own Your Name. Build Your Personal Brand. Up Your Job Search Game

Do you own your name? “Of course, I do”, you say! Last week I hosted a free teleconference for job seekers and professionals to gauge their career plans for 2012, and see if I could help them achieve their goals. I offered some options on how they could up their job search game in the new year, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. A few days later, I had coffee with someone who had missed the call, but who wanted to bring me up-to-date on her next career move. She told me about her plans for the year and about her new website. While discussing the website, I suggested that she claimed her name on the web by registering it as a domain. Her eyes opened widely as in “What do you mean?”

These days whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, one of the first steps to building your personal brand is to claim your name – register your name as a website. I learned this early. You see, actor Jude Law’s former nanny has my name, and I wasn’t aware of it until I heard of the scandal surrounding their alleged affair. Soon after that, I claimed and registered www.daisywright.com and www.daisywright.ca, as domain names through Hostmonster (Affiliate Link). I have since given up the .CA domain.

Why is it important to own your name? The hiring process has changed for job seekers, and personal branding has become very important.  Recruiters and employers don’t rely solely on traditional methods to learn about or evaluate potential employees. They are swamped with résumés, phone calls and emails. It is, therefore, your responsibility to change the way you market your stories and your skills to employers, and raise your visibility because your résumé and cover letter are no longer enough. The same is true for entrepreneurs.

To begin your brand-building process, your first step is to register your name as a domain, if it’s still available.  Use it as a one-stop haven for your social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube (if you’re venturing into videos). When employers and recruiters begin searching for you, or when you need to connect with someone of influence, it’s easy to send them a link to your own website which houses your other profiles.

In a recent Fast Company article, the writer tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a résumé, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. This is a 16-year old! He has already learned how to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive personal brand before he even reaches his adult years. Twelve months into his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech TV expert and blogger–and he’s not even out of high school yet.

What about you? Are you ready to step forward and do something as daring as ‘Mr. 16-year old’? Do you own your name on the web? Are your profiles up-to-date and housed in one place? Have you scoured your Facebook profile to make sure that everything is professional? Do you have blog? If not, are you contributing your expertise to industry blogs? If a recruiter or employer begins searching for someone with your stories and skills, will you stand out from the herd, or will you stay hidden in the crowd?

CEOs, HR Executives and recruiters encourage job seekers to use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to improve their chances of getting a job. One CEO stated in a Boston Globe article that, “We often find hires because of their activity in social media and, especially, the blogosphere.”

A recruiter said, “We like to see candidates who have filled in their LinkedIn profile completely. Upload your resume, and if you are a blogger (and it is relevant to your career), post the link to your blog. With respect toTwitter, she said,”We use Twitter directory tools to find candidates whose bios match our hiring needs.”

The field is too competitive these days for you to continue doing what you have always done and expecting different results. You’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile in bringing visibility to your story. It’s time to up your game, begin building your personal brand and let the job vacancies find you.

Sources:

Five Steps to a Better Brand

Social Media Advice for Job Seekers

 

10 Resume Pet Peeves Cited by Hiring Managers & Recruiters

Job seeker, sometimes it’s just a small blunder or gaffe that stands between your resume being selected for further consideration, or being tossed. Since recruiters and hiring managers play a significant role in your job search success, the onus is on you to know how to avoid these resume faux pas that irk them. Based on a survey conducted in late 2010 about Resume and Job Search Trends, the following were identified as the top resume pet peeves for recruiters and hiring managers:

  • “Generic  Objectives” that scream ‘me-me-me’. “It rarely helps, often hurts, and always takes up valuable real estate that could be better used to showcase your accomplishments”, said one respondent.
  • Massive email blasts where the resume is not tailored to the position for which they are applying.
  • Beginning each point, regardless of experience, with the standard “responsible for” with few, if any, real accomplishments.
  • A resume that contains “references available upon request”.
  • Lack of professionalism in the layout and composition.
  • Lack of detail on duties and accomplishments.
  • Dull job descriptive statements.
  • Content that is unrelated to the role.
  • Chronological history of events dating back to high school (especially when the applicant has been out of high school for 3 or more years).
  • Resumes with more than three pages, poor formatting, and spelling and grammar errors.

Some recruiters indicated that they prefer a longer resume as it enables them to see the breadth of the person’s experience and are better able to identify the skills relevant to the position they are trying to fill. However, these same recruiters say that clients/employers prefer a 2- or 3-page resume, and they would modify them to suit the client’s needs.

“As we are placing the candidates to our clients we prefer the longer version for details but we don’t like to send that to the client, unless specifically requested.”

While you might not agree with all of the above, some are glaringly obvious and should be avoided. Have your say.

Client Lands Job Posted on Twitter

Her recent email read “Remember that job posting you sent me about a Bilingual Marketing Manager where they asked me to translate my résumé to French? I want to let you know that I got an offer and I accepted it. I am very excited since there will be a lot of interesting challenges and I am getting everything I want – salary, vacation and benefits. Thank you for all your help and I will keep in touch.”

This message was from a client with whom I had been working for several months. She was having a tough time finding a marketing manager’s position and thought that nine months was unbelievably too long to be looking for work. At times in our conversations I could sense her frustration, but I reminded her gently that job searching could be a slow and tedious process, but if she kept her head up and continued doing the right things she would eventually land the job she wanted. I also told her that giving up was not an option. She hung in there and got the job.

How did this happen? As part of the job search strategy, I encourage my clients to invest time in social media. I do, and it’s not not for social reasons, although that happens. On Twitter, for example, I follow hiring managers, recruiters and job boards, and participate in Twitter Chats with HR professionals, recruiters and leadership coaches to keep abreast of industry trends. Through these channels, I sometimes become aware of job opportunities and if I find that someone in my network seem to be a match for some of these opportunities (whether they are clients or not), I forward the information to them.

This Bilingual Marketing Manager’s job is a great example. It was posted on Twitter by Monster Canada (@Monsterca). When I read the requirements, it sounded perfect for my client so I forwarded it to her. She translated her résumé to French as the company requested, and after a couple of interviews and several weeks of waiting (because of the summer holidays), she landed the job with “everything she wanted…” as noted above.

Looking for a job is a full-time job, as it’s often said, but it requires various strategies to achieve success. The other point is that you may have a great résumé, but if you continue to use ineffective job search methods or rely on one particular strategy, it will not help you land the job of your dreams. Therefore, plan to incorporate social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ into your job search toolkit because that’s where employers and recruiters hang out these days. Job boards are still around, but the companies behind these boards are extending their reach via social media. If you are an early adopter ready to jump on the social media band wagon, you will be way ahead of your competitors and achieve your job search goal.

And, don’t buy in to the concept that there are no jobs! Jobs are out there, but you need to assess your skills, employ a variety of tools, be deliberate with your search and visualize yourself sitting at the desk as an employee at one of your target companies!  Remember, “Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve.”

I hope you have gained some value from this post. Share your comments below, or connect with me if you need to discuss how you can move your career forward. I will be pleased to have a chat with you!

 

Google+…What is This?

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with 30+ Internationally Trained Engineers at Humber College about marketing themselves to employers. After I had touched briefly on the Big 3 social networking platforms – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – I introduced Google+. “Google what?” they asked. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Google+ is the new kid on the social networking block that arrived on the scene in June. Think of it as a blend of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Now, you may already be suffering from social media fatigue and do not want to hear about another one. However, Google+ is worth exploring. Why? Recruiters and hiring managers are there. Some are already using the Hangout feature to conduct interviews and meetings. Career coaches, resume writers, HR and public relations professionals, and marketing and communication experts are using this same feature to network with each other.

If you are an early adopter, you have a chance to follow these professionals and get to know who the other players in their circles are, who they are connected to and who are connected to them. You will have an opportunity to network with other users who, as they get to know you, may be able to help you in your job search or career transition. Remember, networking is key!

Speaking of early adopters, blogger/author/speaker, Chris Brogan is writing a book on Google+. Imagine that, and the platform is not yet 3 months old. As a job seeker or career changer, you need to be acquainted with all these social networking tools, and they are basically free. Explore and see which one aligns best with your interest and goals, then dive in. As the saying goes, “The early bird catches the worm.” You need to be leading the pack ahead of your competitors.

Years ago when blogs weren’t that fashionable, I suggested to a colleague that she creates a blog to showcase her expertise and distinguish herself as a communications specialist. Of course, it was the intent that someone would notice her extraordinary writing capabilities and contact her. She told me that blogging was a fad that would soon wane! Well, the would-be fad is now main stream.

Don’t get left behind. You already know how difficult it is to find job opportunities through traditional means. The use of social media in your job search is critical. Whether or not you jump on the Google+ bandwagon, you owe it to yourself to find out what it’s all about. Here  is a link that explains the basics of Google+:  Introduction to Google+. Once you have reviewed it, post a comment to tell me your thoughts.

At the moment, you can only join Google+ by invitation, and I have been allotted 150 invitations.  If you would like to test-drive it, send me an email with ‘Google+’ in the subject line and I will send you an invitation. View my profile-in-the-making at http://gplus.to/careertips2go. Remember, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Google+ is F.R.E.E.

Monday Morning Rx: What Can You Do for Your Job Search Today?

What is the one thing that you could do TODAY that would bring you closer to your career or job search goal?

  • Do you want to reach out to someone for help?
  • Should you research companies you would really want to work with instead of spending more time on job boards?
  • Have you completed your LinkedIn Profile to make it more attractive and easier for hiring managers and recruiters to find you?
  • Is your resume ready for your next opportunity, or are you waiting on the next opportunity before getting your resume ready?

Whatever it is, it only takes one small step, and you can start right now. Confucius says, “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”

Now get working on it, and have a great Monday!

Social Media Tools for Job Search is not Popular with Canadians

In a survey conducted by The Wright Career Solution in 2010, 65.6 percent of hiring managers and recruiters use social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) to look for candidates, yet in another survey by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), almost half (46%), of Canadians report that they do not use, nor are they interested in using social media to advance their career goals. What a disconnect!

Get a copy of The Wright Career Solution’s report here: Survey Results of Canadian Hiring Managers and CERIC’s at  Public Perception of Career Development and the Workplace.

Feel free to add your thoughts here

Survey on Canadian Resume & Interview Trends

Whether we are career coaches, professional resume writers or job seekers, we want to know what’s current and what’s out-of-date when it comes to resumes and interviews. Here is an opportunity for recruiters and hiring managers from across Canada to have their say and let us know what they look for in resumes; whether they bother to read cover letters, and what are their pet peeves.

Please complete this short survey at Canadian Resume & Interview Trends, and pass it along to others in your network.

Thanks. I will be sharing the results in the next few weeks.