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Going Beyond the Resume (P3): Launch a Social Media Campaign

Social Media Computer Key Showing Online CommunityThis is the final of our three-part series on Going Beyond the Resume. It is going to take you out of your comfort zone and on a limb that will scare the daylights out of you, but you cannot conduct a successful job search without it.

I know you are wondering why you should launch such a campaign. Well, the traditional way of conducting a job search is not working. For too long you have been engaged in ‘push marketing’ where you are sending resumes to every possible company and contact. But, your resume is being held up in the resume black hole and not getting to the decision maker. It’s time to engage in ‘pull marketing’ where you become a target for potential employers. Here are some reasons to embrace this concept. A personal social media job search campaign will:

(1)    differentiate you from your competition – all those vying for the same position you are after.

(2)    give you opportunities to engage with your target employers, connect with colleagues working in your industry, and expand your network.

(3)    allow you to leverage your brand using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms where recruiters will discover you and learn about you.

If you have a LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ account, you already have the tools to begin. Participate in discussions on these forums where your target employers are. It is pointless to join social media groups without becoming an active participant. That’s like attending a meeting but not contributing to the discussion. Ask and answer questions, Give or request opinions on your areas of interest, create your own discussion topics or write articles that will generate conversations.

Don’t hesitate to comment on a company’s blog. Remember the story of the young man from Oregon who tried for two years to get a job at Microsoft. It wasn’t until he started to contribute to conversations on the company’s blog that they took notice and hired him 10 days after he was discovered.  A well-defined social media job search strategy will help boost your reputation and have employers seeking you out than the other way around. It also helps you stand out from your competition who, in all likelihood, is spending all their time on push marketing.

Here is a simple way to start your campaign:

  1. Find a blog post, a tweet or an article from one of the employers you would like to work for.
  2. Read it thoroughly. Decide if you would like to ask a question or give your opinion about it. If someone has already made comments, engage in the dialogue to showcase your expertise.
  3. Don’t let it end there. Take the conversation to your preferred social media platform. Offer it as an update on LinkedIn where people in your network could ‘Like’ it, or offer their own comments. Take the discussion to one of your LinkedIn groups to garner additional exposure.

In a Fast Company Article, the writer of this 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 resume, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. (This kid launched his own social media campaign!). This initiative earned him an invitation to be a guest on the show. Read the kid’s story in the second paragraph of this link: Social Media Campaign

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

 

And the Most Overused Resume Buzzword for 2013 Is…

 

Responsible2

Over the past several years, LinkedIn has been coming out with its top ten list of buzzwords found in members’ profiles and resumes. This year, ‘responsible’ heads the list, but it won’t be considered ‘news’ to some recruiters.  In a 2010 survey of Canadian HR professionals and recruiters, they unanimously agreed that employers hire based on results, not on what job candidates were “responsible for…”.

To arrive at the top ten buzzwords, LinkedIn analyzes the English-language profiles of millions of its worldwide members. Since 2010, some words have been eliminated or moved further down the list but ‘innovative’ has been a constant. It is interesting that creative, organizational and effective occupy the top three positions in 2011 and 2012.

LI_Buzzwords

What tends to get lost in these analyses is the fact that job descriptions and job postings are full of these buzzwords. The dichotomy then is, how original can a job seeker get? To ensure their resumes are selected by the applicant tracking system programmed with these same buzzwords, job seekers have little choice but to stack their resumes or profiles with them.

All is not lost. There is a way to circumvent this overuse of buzzwords. It is called networking, an activity that many job seekers detest. Networking does not rely on buzzwords. It is a planned approach to building professional relationships through social media and in-person contacts, and a chance to be seen by recruiters and decision makers. Job seekers have an opportunity to add value to conversations, showcase their expertise and gain visibility from the people who really matter.

So while you might be a responsible and strategic thinker, who is creative, effective and patient; an expert in organizational development, driven to deliver innovative ideas and be extremely analytical, you still have a long way to go to create a resume and LinkedIn profile that will totally be devoid of these buzzwords.

Are you ready to shun those buzzwords? You can start by sharing concrete examples of your accomplishments and how you have added value to your employer.

 

Related links:

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2013 [Infographic]

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2012

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2011

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2010

 

 

 

Beyond the Resume (Part 1): Unconventional Ways to Get Noticed By Your Next Employer

Beyond_the_Resume_Red2Are you tired of your resume being rejected by inanimate applicant tracking systems? Have you been spending hours of your precious time submitting your resume on websites without success? Is it beginning to feel like you are going fishing but keeps returning with an empty net? If you answered “Yes” to those questions, it’s time to apply some outrageous strategies to get the attention of your next employer.

In this three-part “Beyond the Resume” series, you will be introduced to some unconventional, and sometimes outrageous strategies that people have used to get the attention of employers.

There is a popular quote that says “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.”  If that’s what you have been doing without much success, it’s time to suspend all that you know about the job search, stop doing what everyone is doing, and try something different, scary, and unconventional. After all, what do you have to lose?

Below I have highlighted some unconventional ways that people have been able to get the attention of employers. Some have landed their dream jobs; others are in the initial stages:

Foot in the Door Strategy: The first is a story I heard of a woman who wanted to work for the biggest advertising agency in town. She sent the owner a box with a shoe (a new one) along with a note that said, “Now that I have my foot in your door, I’d like to talk to you about a job.” “Outrageous”, you say. “That would never work for me or anyone I know”. It might or might not, but this lady had done her homework and knew this gentleman was likely to be impressed with her strategy. (She got the interview, and the job.) Bear in mind that companies hire when they see someone with the skillset they need…that’s why you should aim to get your foot in the door.

Failed Fax Machine: Last week my Office Coordinator client tried to fax her resume and cover letter as requested in the company’s job posting. She tried for hours and couldn’t get through. She decided to Google the name of the company to get the phone number. She found the information and made a call. Here is her account of what transpired:

“I called [Company] on Wednesday because after faxing for about an hour and getting a continuous busy signal… I had to make the call. I had a long and informative conversation with a gentleman. He explained that they have had, and are still having problems with their faxes and emails.  He invited me to submit my resume by snail mail. After hanging up the phone I googled his name and found out he is the owner of the company. I amended my cover letter to read:

Dear Mr. _____,

Thank you for giving so freely of your time to explain the problems with the fax machine at your office. I was hesitant to call as the ad stated .. no phone calls, but I was quite concerned that my cover letter and resume for the Office Coordinator position was not going to end up on your desk if the fax wasn’t working. I can only hope that the problem is corrected quickly so that orders are received and processed in a timely manner and you can continue the business of running [Company].  

I finished with the rest of my cover letter.”

This client did not allow a non-working fax machine to stop her from getting through. She took the initiative to call, and who who did she get? The owner of the company. Her resume and cover letter have probably reached the owner’s desk by this. Let’s see what happens.

Focusing on Microsoft: I have often talked about this young man in Oregon who tried for two years to get into Microsoft through the normal ‘apply online’ channel. Realizing that it wasn’t working for him, he decided to start adding his comments on Microsoft’s blogs on any topic that was within his realm of expertise. Someone took notice and began to monitor him and his comments. Very soon he was contacted by a Microsoft recruiter and within 10 days of the contact he had landed his dream job.

This story was shared by a senior recruiter at Microsoft some time ago during a recruiters’ teleconference.

This Business Insider link – Best Techie Resumes – also provides additional creative ways that some people have landed opportunities. And, before you begin to think it worked for them because they are technical wizards, put on your thinking caps and see how it could work for you.

The above examples are some bold and probably outrageous ways to stand out, get connected, get interviewed, and get hired. You might not want to be that in-your-face, but consider this, how else will you be found?

The point of this post is: whether you are entry-level job seeker, an aspiring manager, manager, or emerging executive, you too, can do something outrageous and unconventional to pull employers towards to you. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of nerves.

Are you ready to do some out-of-the-box thinking to land your dream job? Share your strategies here.

6 Reasons to Send a Cover Letter With Your Resume

Cover letter conceptThe importance of cover letters sometimes engenders lively debates among hiring managers, job seekers, and career professionals, and all sides have compelling arguments. Some say recruiters do not have the time to read cover letters, especially when they are under pressure to find the right candidate. Others say that fifty percent of recruiters do not read them. If that’s the case, what happens to the other fifty percent who do spend the time to read these them?

Having participated in and researched the various arguments, here are six reasons a job seeker might want to include a cover letter with his or her resume:

Fifty percent of recruiters read cover letters: While it is commonly argued that fifty percent of recruiters do not read cover letters, the other fifty percent does. Therefore, if there is a fifty-fifty chance that a cover letter is going to be read by a recruiter, why not include one with your resume?

Most employers expect a cover letter with the resume. A 2012 survey conducted by Officeteam revealed that 91% of executives said cover letters were valuable when evaluating job candidates.

The resume is only half-dressed without the cover letter. Sometimes the resume is not enough to convey the job seeker’s qualifications and interest in the role, and gives the impression that something is missing. Adding a cover letter completes the picture. It also is an opportunity to answer potential questions before they are asked. For example, “Why are their gaps in your employment?”

The cover letter demonstrates your contribution. Adam Bryant aka @NYTCorneroffice, contributor at the New York Times, was asked on LinkedIn’s How to Hire series, if a cover letter really helps in the decision to hire. He said,  “The magic word for a cover letter is contribution. You want to show that you are ready to make a contribution, rather than just hoping for a pay cheque; that you have done your homework, you are excited about the vision, and that you understand what the company does.

The cover letter is your elevator pitch for your resume. In an interview with Careerbuilder, Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith, a Massachusetts-based etiquette consulting firm, said, “The cover letter is the elevator pitch for your resume. It’s your best bet for grabbing the recruiter’s interest so that the recruiter wants to review your resume.” Learn how to polish up your cover letter much like you do with your elevator pitch.

The cover letter is an opportunity to tell your unique story and make a good first impression.  A cover letter should create a strong first impression and tells the employer why you are the best person for the role. “Submitting a resume without a cover letter is like not shaking hands when meeting someone for the first time,” says Dave Willmer, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Those who aren’t including cover letters with their resumes are missing an opportunity to make a good first impression and set themselves apart from other job applicants.”

How about you? Which side of the cover letter debate are you on?  Should you or should you not send a cover letter with your resume? Share your comments below.

The cover letter demonstrates your contribution. Adam Bryant aka @NYTCorneroffice, contributor at the New York Times, was asked on LinkedIn’s How to Hire series,

Life is Like a Camera, and So is Your Job Search

Monday_Morning_Rx_Life_is_Like_a_Camera

Happy Monday!

For readers who do not know about my Monday Morning Rx, it differs from a regular blog post. It is a small dose of encouragement to brighten your Mondays as you begin your work week, or as you continue your job search. It is supposed to be short and uplifting. So here we go:

Let FOCUS be your keyword today.

  • Focus on what’s important
  • Focus on your job search
  • Focus on your interview prep
  • Focus on revamping your resume
  • Focus on that difficult project
  • Focus on building your network
  • Focus on self-development
  • Focus on that awkward conversation you need to have with the boss
  • Focus on _______________. (Fill in the blank)

Focus, focus focus!

To your success,

daisyname

Why You Should Network to Get Work

People networkingNetworking guru, Donna Messer, is known for saying that one has to ‘network to get work’. It doesn’t matter how often you hear this; it doesn’t matter how often you discount it, networking to get work is a fact.

Too often people say “Networking doesn’t work for me…I am too shy to network…people might think I am forcing myself on them.”  Some of these comments may be true, but let’s GOI – Get Over It. Don’t allow such crippling thoughts to prevent you from getting the job or promotion you really want, or deserve.

You may be telling yourself that you have a great resume and cover letter, but not much is happening. Well, by themselves, they won’t get you the opportunity you are looking for. You need to find creative ways to use these documents to reach your target company. It takes hard work, and lots of it! Thomas Edison once said, Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.” Do not miss your opportunity because you are thinking networking is hard work. I can guarantee you, if done properly, your networking efforts will pay off. Just don’t expect overnight success!

Some years ago, I was listening to a group of recruiters on a teleseminar. One was a senior executive recruiter from Microsoft. He told the story of a young man who had been trying to get a job with the company for two years. His resume was just not getting to the right people. You bet it was probably drowning in the sea of thousands of other resumes.

This young man discovered that the company had several blogs, and began to offer comments and contribute his opinions on topics that fell within his area of expertise. One of the company’s recruiters began paying attention to his comments and posts, and realized he knew his stuff. Not very long after he was contacted, and within 10 days of that contact he was offered his dream job with Microsoft. This may have been several years ago, but the process still works. You have to ditch the idea that networking doesn’t work, and devise strategies on how you are going to make it work for you.

Two weeks ago, one of my clients saw a position with one of his target companies and remembered I knew one of the senior HR executives, so he sent me an email to ask if I was still in touch with her. I hadn’t been for a long time, so I googled her name and realized she had moved out of that role. However, while doing the search, I found an article with the name of another recruiter in the company. I passed it to the client and suggested that he do a little bit of footwork and find out how email addresses at the company are structured. Soon after, he responded:

“Thanks for the article. I had a friend who previously worked at [Company] so I was able to copy that format (firstname.lastname@company.ca) and send a message through to the lady from the article. She said she had switched positions but would forward my message to a finance recruiter. Hopefully that will help speed things along.”

That’s networking and research all wrapped in one. Somewhere out there, there is an employer who needs what  you have to offer. But you need to know how to get on their radar. You can do this by tapping into your network or the network of others. Networking is Not a Dirty Word. It’s called Relationship Building.

Does the thought of networking send shivers down your spine? Don’t try doing it alone. Ask for help.

Why Your References’ Rave Reviews May Be a Waste of Time

Reference_1
 
Your impressive resume got you the interview. You built a good rapport with the panel and you are feeling confident that you might get the job. Just as you are getting ready to pull out your reference list in case you are asked for it, someone asks you to explain your relationship with your bosses and colleagues at each of your past workplaces.”  Wow! That’s a curve ball you were not expecting. Suddenly it seems that all that effort of prepping your references was a waste of time.

Some employers believe that this common practice of relying on “candidate-supplied super fans” is not objective and could be a waste of time. Deborah Aarts, senior editor at Profit Magazine wrote recently that “Candidate-supplied references are usually nothing more than glowing reviews”, and she has found other people who agree with her. The chairman of an executive search firm, as well as a small business owner, agree that the practice is flawed because “Candidates are only going to give you people who’ll say good things about them.  Well, one would imagine that that’s the point of having references!

While some may see reference checking as a waste of time, it is not going away. Employers still need performance verification from people with whom a candidate has worked. They want to make sure that the candidate can do the job, will do the job and will fit in with the company’s culture. Reference checking is a combination of asking the right questions of the candidate and the references, and administering appropriate assessments. This should help to determine if the candidate will be a good fit. The majority of times the process works, so it wouldn’t amount to being a waste of time.

The candidate also has a job to do. He or she should be ready to explain the highs and lows in each position, if and when asked. This is not the time to badmouth the boss (or ex-boss) or anyone else. If the relationship was not all that great, say so, but frame it in a way that’s open and honest. Something like:

I am not sure what George at Widget Inc. would say about me at this point since he wasn’t too happy when I resigned.  After three years in the department, I was bypassed for a promotion and asked to train the new hire. I decided it was time to explore other opportunities, and so I left for the position with ABC Company. That position represented not only a hike in salary, but the title and responsibilities were exactly what I was looking for. As you can see, I excelled in that role and was promoted within 12 months of joining the company.”

Most employers know that people are not perfect and that work relationships sour.  However, if a candidate is willing to be transparent and authentic and discuss the situation candidly, while focusing on lessons learned, they could end up being a better reference for themselves than anyone else could.

What are your thoughts? Is referencing checking really a waste of time?

 

Is Your Resume Telling Your Story?

This is your Monday Morning Rx…a weekly does of career inspiration (or humour)!

Is your resume telling your story

Once upon a time there was a resume that thought it was the best resume in town. It had an Objective that focused on what it wanted from the employer; followed by a series of job description statements and ended with References Available on Request. The resume looked at itself in the mirror and was quite pleased with its appearance.

Off to the job boards it went – Workopolis, Monster, Indeed, Eluta – where it applied for all the jobs that were available, whether it met the qualifications or not. It was so busy applying that it forgot to customize itself for each position. This resume then to sat and waited…and waited… for calls! It started thinking, “I have sent out so many resumes, why am I not being called for interviews?”

After a frustrating few weeks, it found the courage to call one of the employers. It was told that they received the resume but it was tossed into “File 13”. “What is File 13?” the resume asked. “The garbage bin”, the employer answered. “You did not include any achievement stories, neither did you demonstrate how the company would benefit from what you had to offer.”

As you can imagine, that was not a happy-ever-after story for this resume. It had to go back to the writing board to think of strategies to create an effective resume. Luckily it found a blog post on 5 Ways to Get Your Resume Ready for Prime Time.

Moral of the story… A resume that dresses itself up with a ‘me-focussed’ Objective; a laundry list of job descriptive statements instead of success stories, and a meaningless References Available on Request declaration, will never tell a convincing story or open doors.

While I can’t lay claim to the resume acronym below, it clearly illustrates that to capture an employer’s attention, a storytelling resume must contain:

Relevant

Experiences and

Skills, which are

Understood and

Measured by

Employers

What about your resume? Is it telling a compelling story? If not, it’s time to seek help.

Hope you received some resume inspiration from today’s dose of Monday Morning Rx.

How a Newly-Arrived Immigrant Landed a Six-Figure Job

https://www.daisywright.com/2013/07/23/how-a-newly-arrived-immigrant-landed-a-six-figure-job/Matthew had started his job search a few months before he arrived in Canada, but realized he needed coaching and a resume targeted to the Canadian market. He was referred to me by someone with whom we are both connected through LinkedIn.

After our initial discussion we agreed on a resume package that included a rewrite of his LinkedIn Profile. In his resume, we positioned him as a Global Business Development Executive. He was pleased with the resume, but wondered if it could intimidate some people. To calm his fears, I asked him the following questions:

  • Is the resume an accurate reflection of your achievements?
  • Did you oversee million dollar budgets?
  • Were you involved in some key contract negotiations?
  • Did you grow revenue by 65% for 3 consecutive years?
  • Did you reduce staff turnover by 50%?

He answered “Yes” to each question. I told him he had nothing to worry about but should focus his energies on how he could duplicate his successes with a new employer.

One of the first things he did after receiving his documents was to contact the CEO of one of his target companies through LinkedIn. He did this using a networking email I developed for him. Soon after, he was asked to send his resume. While waiting for a response, he began responding to postings on job boards. After he had uploaded 10 resumes over seven days, he contacted me to say he was not receiving any responses. I brought him back to reality by telling him that job boards, while important, were not the most effective tools for an effective job search.

He also had a couple of concerns. As successful as he was, he felt he was at a disadvantage without an MBA. He had also heard a lot about internationally educated professionals who were languishing in survival jobs because they lacked ‘Canadian experience’. I confirmed the truth, but suggested that he not allow such thoughts to take root in his head. He should focus, instead on his value proposition – what he had to offer employers.

Not too long into his search he was contacted by a VP to whom the CEO had forwarded his resume. In less than three weeks after that, he had had two interviews and a job offer. Before signing on the dotted line, he called me to ask questions about the offer. I gave him my non-legal opinion, and soon after he started his new six figure job as a Senior Director, Product Development with the company.

I imagine that several thoughts are going through your mind right now. Who is this guy? Where did he come from? What industry is he in? What did he do that I didn’t or couldn’t do?

Here are some things that contributed to Matthew’s success:

  1. He exuded confidence. Even though he may have been quaking in his boots, he displayed confidence in himself and his abilities – online and in person. During our strategy sessions, he mentioned that he was not averse to taking a survival job if he had to, but felt his resume would help him reach key decision makers. I also encouraged him to aim for his ideal position.
  2. He tapped into his network. Building and nurturing a network is crucial to job search success. Over time he had built a strong online network that included the CEO mentioned above. They were not buddies but he had the courage to send his resume that grabbed his attention. That is what set the process in motion.
  3. He invested in himself. He spent the time, money and effort needed to begin a serious job search and the results speak for themselves. So many people hesitate to invest in themselves and their careers yet worry when they don’t get the job or promotion they had hoped for.

The questions rolling around in your mind are legitimate ones that matter, but sometimes it just takes courage, perseverance and a don’t-ever-give-up-no-matter-what mentality! Begin by valuing your worth and believing that you have something to offer an employer. Determine how you are going to package that value, then find ways to go above, under or through the barriers. Do so as if your life depended on it, because it does! I’ll leave it at that for now and ask that you send me your comments.