The One Thing Missing from Today’s Resumes

Whenever I receive an invitation from someone who has included “Looking for new opportunities” on their profile I not only accept but invite them to utilize the Library page on my website and invite them to send me their resume.

Usually the latter offer, if not the former, is accepted. But lately I have had to reject many resumes and ask that they be edited. Why? For some reason job seekers now think that their city and state of residence are not important. They are wrong.

No prospective employer, let alone a recruiter, needs to know your address. But, we do need to know where you live. Some searches are national; maybe even international. But most are local. And if the person is not in commuting distance it is a waste of everyone’s time to contact them.

True, the job seeker may be willing to move. But that is irrelevant. If the employer wants someone local, they have to be local.

There was a time when an area code would tell an employer a candidate’s location. No longer. Most people, rightly, supply their cell phone number. The area code is an indication of where they got the phone, not where they are living. So the only way to know is if you tell us.

I am now working on a number of searches in New York City. Especially for the ones in Queens, I have received hundreds of resumes. They have come from as far away as Dubai. It takes time to review resumes. And there is no time to waste on people who do not understand the needs of the employer/recruiter. So those who apply without providing their current location, I don’t contact. (Why then, you ask, do I give new LinkedIn connections a second chance? Good question.)

I admit, I may be making a tactical error, but I don’t think so. You see, I offer my clients a six-month guarantee that if for any reason a placement does not work out I will find a replacement for free. I don’t like to honor that guarantee. One way I avoid that is by sticking to my standards.

If a candidate does not think about the needs of the employer, odds are, if they get the job, they won’t think about the needs of the customer or client and that means they won’t last six months.

So think about what makes life easier for the employer/recruiter and don’t try to hide things that you can’t hide. What’s going to happen? If I do call you, even though you did not include your city and state of residence on the resume, are you going to refuse to tell me where you live? Of course not. And if you live in Peoria and want to move to Queens, NY, do you think that will matter to my client? It won’t and we will have a very short conversation.

Think Twice Before You Hire a LinkedIn Profile (or Resume) Writer

Yes, I am a career counselor. And, yes, I offer a Resume and LinkedIn Profile package. But, no, I am not a resume writer or a LinkedIn profile writer. I edit; I don’t write. Why? Because if I write the resume or profile they will reflect my personality and not my client’s. So the client writes and I edit. And therefore, given what I am about to write, I am not a hypocrite and, more importantly, I am not wrong!

I have no explanation for this, but I just received a half dozen invitations from people in Salt Lake City, Utah to join their LinkedIn networks. I have always believed that “One, means nothing. Two, is a coincidence. Three, is a conspiracy!”

When I clicked on their profiles to see where they live, I saw the beginning of the “Summary” section of their profiles. I was surprised when I opened the second and saw it was identical to the first. Then the third, then the fourth…

Each Profile has the same identical Summary:

I will persist until I succeed. I value efficiency and assure productivity. I do not believe in mediocre scenarios; I work for excellence. I have always believed in the Filipino people’s ingenuity, commitment to excellence and industry. My desire is to continue to make a difference in the virtual workforce – dependable, trusted and skilled.

I execute every task indiscriminately in a high-level performance. I fosters prospective customers in a much more collaborative approach that supports the execution of quality results for your business marketing campaign.

I am an extrovert person seeking to obtain a mid-career level, permanent position in an organization in which I can contribute my skills and experience and which offers opportunities for growth and unlimited income potential.

The strange thing is that none of the individuals have family names that are Filipino, nor do any of them appear to be Filipino from their photos. Not that I have anything against Filipinos and do not for one minute question their “ingenuity, commitment to excellence and industry.” But what are a bunch of Caucasians named Spicer, Townsend, Thomas, Sweat, Durkee, and Mastropaolo doing praising them on their LinkedIn profiles? (I asked and will update this post if I get an answer!)

It appears to me to be a case of individuals paying someone to write a Profile for them and not bothering to read what they bought. What is definite, as an executive recruiter, I don’t know that I would consider any of them for positions with my clients because of their profiles. I might, but I’m not certain.

And the same thing is true when I receive resumes that are formatted exactly like others I have received. By now, in fact, I can sometimes identify the resume writer. It does not send a positive message when it is clear that a candidate can’t market themselves. So think twice before you pay someone for a Profile or resume.

When Should You NOT Apply for a Job?

Last year I was quoted in an interview about the best day of the week to apply for a job. Basically I said that the day did not matter. It was a question of timing. You need to apply as soon as you see the ad because 100 other people will be doing so. Once the employer has enough resumes, they’ll stop reading and start calling. “He who waits, loses.”

I am now working on quite a few searches in Queens, New York. While I pride myself on always acknowledging each resume I receive, I am being inundated and it is just not practical to respond as I would like. So I file and save them, including those from people who are totally unqualified for the positions.

But I have noticed something: The worse resumes that I receive, the ones that are poorly formatted and written, and from people who are as far removed from the positions as I am from neurosurgery, all send their resumes between midnight and 5:00 AM. There are too many for it to be a coincidence so I have drawn a conclusion:

Only apply for jobs after you have had a good night’s sleep!

Seven Signs You Are Not Going to Get the Job

As I wrote in a previous post, I am working on a large number of searches. The result has been the receipt of hundreds of resumes. The funny thing is, in some cases I can know, even without opening them, if the applicant is a viable candidate. And, yes, I do open them and that is why I know I am correct. (And for the statisticians reading this, hundreds of resumes make for a representative sample on which conclusions can be based.)

First, as noted in the above referenced post, if you apply for a job in the wee hours of the night, your resume is second-rate and you won’t get the job.

Second, if you send your resume as a .txt file, meaning you wrote it on Notepad, you are not a good candidate and you won’t get the job. Notepad is used by candidates who are not tech savvy. This is not to say you have to be an IT maven, but everyone has to be able to use Word, at a minimum.

Third, when I asked a candidate, over the phone, why she had been at her past jobs for only short periods of time, she said, “It’s age discrimination.” She then told me her age. If you reveal privileged information about yourself, you are not a good candidate because you do not know HR law and you won’t get the job. Moreover, if you default to the discrimination excuse (which, I admit, is true in some cases), you may not be a good candidate and you won’t get the job because an employer will be worried that you are a law suit waiting to happen.

Fourth, in this case I invited her for an interview. When I told her we would have to meet in mid-town Manhattan (she lives in the Bronx), she said, “I don’t go to Manhattan. I’m not interested in the job!” and hung up. So the problem, I am willing to guess, that she has been having has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. It you have a bad attitude, you are a bad candidate and you won’t get the job.

Fifth, if you have prepared your resume in a font smaller than 11- points (it should be 12), you are a bad candidate. Why? Well I have received numerous resumes in 8- and 9-point fonts. I can’t read them. If they are so small that they can’t be read, the candidate is clearly trying to hide something. Or, just as bad, someone told them that a resume should only be one-page in length, so they prepared their resume and then shrunk it to fit a page not thinking about the recipient. That tells me everything I need to know about their judgement and what they would do on the job. These are bad candidates and will not get the job.

Sixth, if you mix your volunteer activities with your actual work experience, it is a clear sign that you are trying to hide something. That something is almost always a gap in the resume. There are way to fill the gap with volunteer and other employment-related activities, but mixing is not the way. That sends the message that you try to deceive. Deception is not a positive trait for a candidate. You won’t get the job.

Finally, if you apply for a job that is well below your present salary, you will not be considered. No employer is going to believe you will stay on the job if you have to cut your quality of life. You won’t get the job.

How to Get Your Next Job When You Were Fired from Your Last

I recently filled a mid-management position with one of my executive recruiting clients. When I met with the individual who got the job, I liked him. That’s not always the case. That’s irrelevant. I’m not paid to find people who I like; I’m paid to find people who meet the minimum requirements for the job. Then it’s up to the client to decide if they want them.

This individual, I liked. I thought they (I am using “they” because I have recently filled a number of positions and don’t want anyone wrongly guessing about whom I am writing) were a consummate professional and had a very good feeling about them. Then I asked, as I always do, “Why did you leave your last job?”

The candidate looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I was fired.” Then, in no more than 30 seconds, told me exactly what happened. They took responsibility. They made no excuses. They said they were wrong. And they told me what they had learned from the experience.

When I submitted them to the client I began my report with the story of their dismissal and how I liked the person’s honesty and candor. They got the interview with the client, and even though they did not change their story (which usually happens!) in the slightest, there was still some doubt. So I suggested contacting the candidate’s previous supervisor. The client agreed and the candidate gave me permission. (As a recruiter, I can only contact references with the candidate’s prior approval.)

The supervisor sang the candidate’s praises and confirmed everything they had told me about the incident. The candidate was honest, had made a mistake and knew it.

Being honest means a candidate is trustworthy. Making mistakes means the candidate is human. Employers only hire trustworthy humans.

So what’s the lesson? Tell the truth. Don’t talk a lot. Keep the explanation short and simple. Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility. And, perhaps most importantly, explain what you learned from the experience. Do that and you may also get the job.

The Three “Know”s of Networking

During a talk I gave for job seekers on creating a personal brand, one of the attendees raised her hand and said she was disappointed in that she thought I was going to talk about revitalizing brands. That should have been my first sign that trouble was ahead!

I asked her if she was a job seeker. She said she wasn’t. I then explained, or rather reiterated, what I had written in the promo for the talk: It was my purpose to teach participants how to get employers to come to them rather then the other way around. She remained and there were no further interruptions.

At the end of the presentation this woman, let’s call her Mary, came over and asked to speak with me. I asked her what she wanted . She said, “To network.”

The next day Mary called and we made an appointment. I explained to her that, ironically, I had a networking event the following evening but would be happy to meet with her prior to the event. I also made it clear that I could only give her 45 minutes.

She arrived 15 minutes late. She apologized. After the normal pleasantries I asked her to tell me about herself. This is how she began:

“I am a change architect.” I asked her to explain. When she was finished I said, “Oh, so you’re a business coach.”

It was like I had insulted her mother. “No! I’m a change architect,” she reiterated.

I then asked her to explain what she actually does with her clients. She told me that she meets with them for three hours, hears all about their hopes, dreams and problems, and, as an outsider, identifies areas for improvement and works with them to accomplish those improvements.

So I said, “Oh, you’re a life coach.” Again, she was insulted.

I then told her that, as far as I could tell, there was nothing unique about what she was doing. I had heard it all before from countless business and life coaches. She responded with a series of slogans, tag lines, jargon and similar meaningless phrases.

As time was running out, we had been speaking for over half an hour, I told her, “The attention span of a human being is 10 seconds. Tell me what you do in one sentence. If you’re not a business or life coach, I just don’t understand.”

She couldn’t do it. It was all slogans and jargon. I reminded her that I was pressed for time and apologized for still not understanding what it was that she does.

I then asked her why she wanted to meet with me. She again said, “To network.”

I explained to her that there are two reasons for business owners to network, “You either want the person as a client or you want a referral.” I told her that I had no need for her services and that I could not refer her to anyone since I did not know what she does.

She then responded that she wanted neither. So I asked her, “If you don’t want me as a client, and you don’t want me as referral source, what do you want?” She said, “To network.”

I then reminded her that I had told her that I had to leave for an event and I pointed out that since we had gone over the allotted time, if I did not leave immediately, I would be late.

Her response was that it was “my loss” that I did not understand what she does. I responded by helping her on with her coat and wishing her well.

As I hurried to my event I thought, “That’s 45 minutes I’ll never get back!”

What were her mistakes?

First, she could not explain in simple terms what she does. She was more concerned with a title – “Change Architect” – than with substance (something far from unique among people who lack a formal education, although there are exceptions). Whether you are a business owner looking for business or a job seeker looking for employment, if you can’t explain what you do in ten seconds you are in a lot of trouble.

There are three parts to any presentation: the audience, the message and the speaker/presenter. It makes no difference if the audience is present under duress or really wants to be there. You, as the speaker, have the responsibility to deliver the message. If you fail, it’s your fault, not the audience’s. And it does not matter if it is an audience of one or one hundred. It’s your job. If you can’t do it, you can’t blame anyone else.

Second, you have to set a goal for your meeting. It should be simple: to build a relationship; to start to build a relationship; to get a new client; to get a referral; to get a job offer. But if you don’t know what you want, if you can’t articulate it clearly to your audience, you will achieve nothing.

So before you start networking, make certain you know yourself, know your audience and know what you want.

Time Management for Job Seekers (and Everyone Else)

It’s funny, but it seems that issues faced by job seekers come in waves. One week everyone is telling me that their problem is getting interviews, the next it’s interviewing, and then it’s all about the resume or cover letter.

Now it seems to be about time management. “There are just not enough hours in the day. How am I supposed to apply for jobs, network and interview and have time to eat, sleep and see the family?”

So let me tell you:

First, set up specific times for each function: Since it is imperative to apply for jobs early, make certain to apply for advertised jobs first thing in the morning.

Second, spend late mornings and early afternoons setting up networking meetings.

Third, some evenings should be spent at networking events, but most should be with family and friends. You still have to have a life!

Fourth, obviously, interviews take priority over everything else. So you go to interviews whenever they are scheduled.

That leads me to my fifth and final point, prioritization. As long as you prioritize when you have a conflict in your regular schedule, you’ll be fine. But just remember, and maybe this is the sixth point, you have to set reasonable expectations. There are a lot of things that are simply not in the control of the job seeker. You can’t set a goal of an interview a day. It is not going to happen. It would be great, but it is a totally unreasonable expectation. And if that is the case, all you are going to have is frustration. Frustration leads to a lack of productivity. A lack of productivity means no interviews or, worse, bad interviews.

So create a schedule, but set your priorities and expectations.

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