Hiring Tips from a CEO

(make that a fabulously-talented-yet-humble CEO)

Today I have my first guest blogger who’d like to anonymously share their opinion about hiring.

What’s yours? Send it over to me posts@sharon.cc and I’ll post it if I feel our faithful readers have something to gain from it.

Ever wonder what a hiring manager think when you apply for a position you’re not qualified for?

Do they think, well hey, you love kids, and want to help them, so maybe they’ll hire you to be a pediatrician even though you didn’t go to medical school? Apparently not. Here’s the real reaction: don’t over-reach if you need a job. If you’re secure and looking for a small advancement appropriate to your experience, well then good luck!

“Perhaps it is not your resume itself – rather it’s the content: do your job skills match what you are applying for?

You should realize that sometimes hundreds of people apply for the same job (although sometimes it is only a handful which may not be qualified, so don’t be discouraged completely).

If you aren’t getting interviews or responses to applications it may be that other applicants would be able to hit the ground running immediately, with little training; whereas you might seem to be a smart on paper if your resume is strong enough, but would need to be trained. 

If you know what you want to do, get an internship in the field.  Think outside of the box.  Ask people who work in the field to let you work for free.  Contact a non-profit that will let you work on your own schedule.  Call your college and speak to alumni in the field.  Ask friends and family who they know.  There are a number of non-profit organizations that can help with resumes. Start at the bottom up, with an entry level role in the field you want if necessary.

Sending a million resumes on Monster.com and other similar sites is a waste of time and energy.  Make sure your cover letter/resume matches what you are looking for. 

For instance, when I was hiring for a 10 hour a week job, I received almost 100 resumes.  People who were graduating applied and stated that they were interested in the job.  I knew they would quit the moment that a full time role was available elsewhere.  I only interviewed people who stated they were looking for a part time job and reasons why (for instance, a sophomore in college who would like to get experience to supplement education or someone looking to get back into the workforce slowly).

If you are getting interviews but not getting the job, you may need to look at your interview skills, how you come across (how do you look, how do you speak, do you have any weird mannerisms?) and how prepared you appear. Perhaps you could do mock interviews. Again, there are agencies that can help if you cannot afford to hire a professional.”

So there you have it ladies & gentlemen – a CEO is not thrilled that you’re under-qualified or not an appropriate fit but decided to waste time: both yours and theirs.

Put your energy into strong applications for positions you have a strong chance of obtaining!

Shortlink: http://wp.me/pWfpN-7g


Shameless vs. Fabulous: Resume, Social Media & Life Etiquette

154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Icons

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“Self-promotion is an art, not a science, because it takes a bit of instinct and talent to tiptoe across the tightrope between tooting your own horn and sprinting down the street at 6 a.m. with an air horn blaring whilst your soon-to-be-former friends roll their eyes and plug their ears and discuss behind your back how desperately they wish you’d just shut the eff up.”  – Brenna Ehrlich, author of blog Stuff Hipsters Hate – see #5 for full article

  1. Don’t be a school snob. You might have gone to Harvard, but if you don’t have an impressive resume or cover letter & think your school will open all doors for you, it won’t…well, it might open some, there are Ivy Snob hiring managers – but mine aren’t generally. And if you do, you’ll end up working for ‘the man’ you profess to hate.
  2. Don’t be a workplace snob. You worked for google? Well obviously you left or were let go, or are on your way out for a reason. Don’t think that will get you your next job.
  3. Make your online profiles & resumes easy to navigate. Viewers should be able to easily, immediately tell what and why you have done what you’ve done, when and where you’ve done it.
  4. FAIL: Shameless Promoting. We’ve all probably done it at some point, but you have to offer value in return for asking for something. Goes back to the ME, ME, ME complex (see http://wp.me/pWfpN-2M for more about me, myself, and I).
  5. Want tips on how to use social media for self-promotion that doesn’t make people gag? Try http://mashable.com/2010/09/22/promote-online/

Shortlink directly to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-6


Footer Fetish: Top 5 Resume Tips

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  1. Do not list references, unless you like to offer freeloaders access to the info of the most successful people in your life. Recruiters often love this as that it gives them contacts of people who they can send their positions to. If a company wants your references, they’ll ask for them. Don’t even waste space saying they’re available upon request. Of course they are! Use that space for something useful. If anything, write snippets of recommendations from those important people (see below for my example).
  2. Do not include clubs and activities you participated in while in school if you graduated more than 5 years ago. If you did something significant that’s relevant (i.e. fundraised a large sum of money, organized a large event, gathered a lot of people for a good cause) definitely include that, but present it as an accomplishment, not as “Served as treasurer of the Boston University Chess Team and raised money for t-shirts”.
  3. Do not repeat your contact information if it’s at the top of the page, unless your resume is more than one page, which most likely it shouldn’t be. If it is, add it faded as a footer.
  4. Do not put key words randomly at the bottom of your resume. Do not do this in white font for ATS’s to pick up, it will also likely show up then. If you feel it’s important to stress a word use it in the body of the resume, not as a laundry list trailer. I know some people recommend this, but it can also land you in the spam/trash pile where those buzz words belong.
  5. Do use the very bottom of your resume for skills, hobbies, talents, languages, etc. that may be relevant for the position you’re applying to, or might help you stand out of the crowd. Worst case it doesn’t get read, just make sure you don’t come across as an activist or religious zealot if you are not applying to that cause (more on that at http://wp.me/pWfpN-b).


Bonus Goodie of the day: Here’s what the bottom of my resume looks like. Yes, it’s a bit much for the average person, but as someone who looks at resumes all day, every day, I make myself laugh with my resume. I probably should make this more formal, but I’d personally like to work for an employer with a sense of humor (oh and one with telecommuting option which allows for a healthy work/life balance, while I’m creating my dream employer).

 Expertise in Word, Advanced Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, SMART Technologies, OpenHire, Recruiting ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems).
 Social Media 2.0 & 3.0 Networking: twitter, linkedin, facebook, myspace, blogger, blogspot, stumbledupon, wordpress, mashable, etc.
 Experience with SEO, NYCAPS (PeopleSoft), SharePoint, HTML, Photoshop, HRIS, Siebel, Visio, Avaya Technology, SPSS, Types 75WPM.
 Published Photographer featured in art shows in NYC. Published poetry author.
 Independently raised & nationally awarded for development of over $25,000 for non-profit organization by editing/publishing journal.

WHAT’S BEEN SAID ABOUT…“Sharon demonstrated an astute judge of talent which was critical in supporting recruiting needs…I would rank her in the top 5% of employees that I have managed in the past five years in respect of her writing ability, research skills, and ability to attract talented staff.” — L.E.S., Asst. Commissioner for External Partnerships and Research, New York State Education Department

“A hard-working individual, Sharon does an amazing job at anything to which she sets her mind…she is very bright, creative and organized. She pays attention to the small details and excels at writing, editing and marketing people, ideas and products. She has the uncanny ability to turn something mediocre into something exceptionally fascinating and vivid. She is also excellent at networking and is familiar with a wide variety of industries. She is never afraid to tackle new projects or ideas.” – E.O., CEO, NYMFCU

I Beg to Differ

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As they say with opinions, everybody has one…

I just came across this recommended cover letter, and this reminded me that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If I were this candidate, I’d say include nothing but paragraph 2 – unless you have a connection or introduction to the company. If they’ve already heard about you, I think it’s safe to say a bit more about your story. If you’re a stranger and submit a 500+ word cover letter, it’ll look generic (what’s generic professionally you ask? http://wp.me/pWfpN-q) and will probably not get read. It’d be skipped entirely likely, and then defeats its purpose of being your great marketing tool & first impression.

So if you have an intro to the company, then maybe throw in 3 bullets max about your value/accomplishments, and then sign off with your thanks & contact info (even if it’s in the resume, you want to make it ridiculously easy for them to get in touch with you).

Do also include in your cover letter other relevant info, i.e. if you’re applying to a position that requires relocation, outline your enthusiasm for moving to their location & that you’d be available to do so within one month of receiving an offer (or sooner!). Or if the position requests a salary history, I recommend putting your most recent salary in the cover (unless you’re in a step down position due to economic need, then you might want to skirt the issue). I hate seeing dollar amounts in resumes, I think it looks greedy (see tip #2 http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P).

I believe a cover letter should be a short introduction to who you are, what you can do that will benefit the company you’re applying to, and not much else. It is not a speech – you should not be ‘saying what you’re going to say, saying it, and then saying what you said’.

Just say it, and then prove it with your resume. Oh, and then use all your swagger and hustle to impress them at the interview. Then write the most sincere, politely thank you note you can muster with ZERO sense of pathetic desperation and minimal sucking up.  Then graciously thank them for their generous offer, but ask gently, is this open to negotiation? (More on negotiating an offer here & more to come another time: http://wp.me/pWfpN-x).

And don’t forget, have fun. Recruiters, HR people, and hiring managers are reading a LOT of resumes and cover letters. Don’t be afraid to use a drop of subtle humor to keep yourself and whoever may be reading your resume entertained. Yes stay professional, but that’s not the same as dull. Unless you’re an accountant. In that case rock on with your dull self.

More General Resume Goodies – Today’s Top 5

Since legislation may extend unemployment I’ve heard sighs of relief, *phew* I don’t need to find a job yet. Please kill this attitude! Find a career you’ll love, not just another job you’ll want to lose. Now’s your chance to put yourself ahead of that rush of cut-off applicants whenever it does come! It’s you vs. everyone cut by the census bureau too now, don’t forget.

1. Keep resume on one page.

A resume is your career achievements & highlights, not your life story. I know there are lots of opinions on this, but your second+ pages probably won’t be read, so why not condense down to relevant information? Very few people have done such amazing things at so many places that it can’t be summarized onto one page. Save something for the interview!

2. Have numerous versions of your resume. This is especially important as you get more senior – have a general resume, and then have specific resumes for fields that highlight relevant experience as you apply.

3. Update your resume regularly. Every time you learn a new program relevant to your field, each time your role changes, every new volunteer program you enter.

Keep it current not only for yourself, but also if you have it posted to any job boards or with any recruiters. Updating regularly will keep you fresh in searches & in people’s minds and it will keep you focused on your career path.

4. Be conscious of what you’ve saved your resume named as. I recommend: SharonSiegelResume or SharonSiegelEdResume. Do not use sharondraft1, ssedits, myresume, newresume. It’s unprofessional, and will get lost on the hiring manager’s computer with everyone else who does myresume.doc.

5. Resume Format. Save as word .doc (97-2003). No docx, wpd, pdf, xps, rtf, etc. You don’t want to lose candidacy because your resume didn’t open or transfer format correctly when downloaded or converted into an applicant tracking system.

A good test of this is when you apply to a position that extracts your information from an upload into fields. If it doesn’t work or shows weird characters, note that the person screening the resume will likely see these as well.

Work Your Body – 5 Resume Tips for Content

1. Don’t age yourself. If you graduated college more than 15 years ago, remove year from resume. Do not include any experience more than 20 years back. You don’t want anyone thinking you’re just there for two years until you retire, even if that’s true. You won’t get a job for those years if you don’t present yourself correctly. Omitting years is not lying, changing them is.

2. Back to TMI (Too Much Info): Do not include salaries. It’s a turn-off. If a specific place asks for a salary history, I recommend putting the range you expect to make at your next position in the cover letter. If they ask for current salary, again, in cover. When I see money on a resume it stands out as greedy or desperate.

3. Take off high school once you get a degree. Take off A.A. if you get a B.A., unless it’s relevant to the field you’re applying to (i.e. you’re A.A. was in Accounting, your B.A. was in Psychology. You’re applying to an accounting position? Keep your Associate’s degree there).

4. Take out extra words & unnecessary line breaks – extra a’s, the’s, and and’s (use & if that will make it fit on a line if you need it). Just ensure everything flows smoothly.

Fail: Managed a department effectively.

Established the documentation methods.

Monitored the compliance of all set regulations.


Fix: Managed department effectively while ensuring compliance by establishing documentation regulations and oversight.

5. Make sure you understand everything you have on your resume & have done it. You might have something you’ve cut & paste from your job description in your field’s jargon – but makes sure you know what it means exactly & implies in your field.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-1P

The Resume Header: Sharon’s Top 5 Resume Tips of the Day

I’ll break down my resume tips by targeting parts of the resume, as well as general tips.

Today, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, I’ve heard.

Headers are the top of a document, but I’ll focus on the header of a resume, which is the top area that will come before all of your education and experience. Do this wrong and you’ll get trashed before you can list your third phone number.

 1. Decide what info is relevant for YOUR resume, which will not be the same for everyone else.

Home address is not important to include unless position has residency requirement or says ‘local candidates only’ in posting, but that can always be indicated on cover letter. People will assume you’re local in general if you have a local phone number to where you’re applying.

2. Cell phone, email, and a website are sufficient info for line 2.

You might want to include a link to your linkedin profile or other professional profile, especially if there are others with the same name as you (and especially if they come up in searches in an unfavorable light).

3. Catch the Resume Viewer’s Attention. Use an attractive yet professional font for your name. OK if different from rest of resume, however make sure it’s easy to read and looks clean (no fonts that look like handwriting I beg!).

4. Header Format should be condensed to 2 lines:


Phone number ( do not write ‘cell’, or the words ‘phone number’ ‘email’ or ‘address’ – people can tell from the format what you mean. @TwitterName or http://personalwebsite.com, Spaced with •

Mine for example is:

646-554-6711  •  s@sharon.cc  •  http://sharon.cc

5. Make sure you’re easily reached at your contact places. Phone number should be where you can be reached during the day, not your home if you’re not there; email should be a professional address (no luvkittenz4eva@yahoo.com) and if you have to create one, make sure you check it everyday to not miss contacts.

You don’t want to miss opportunities because you’re hard to reach. Some places will not leave messages and will move on to the next candidate if they don’t reach you.

Sharon’s Top 5 Resume Tips of the Day

1. Don’t lie. Ever. Don’t embellish the truth. Do present everything in a positive light as well-said as possible.

2. Make it Visually Appealing: Use wide margins to fit as much on one page as possible. Do not use more than 3 fonts (preferably 2 or less). We’re all vain creatures and like to look at pretty things.

More attention = more consideration for an interview.

3. If it bores you to read it (even to edit it), it will bore others and be deleted.

4. Don’t waste any space. Talking about the companies you worked for is space you could have said more about your talents, skills, and accomplishments. If someone is interested in where you worked they’ll google it.

5. Don’t give TMI (Too Much Info): Do not include race, religion, marital status, social security number, picture (unless requested & relevant to your field), sexual orientation, or other overly personal info on resume.

If requested you can always supply it later or on the application where indicated.

Happy Resume Editing Monday! If you like these let me know, maybe I’ll make a series.

Job Market Floods & How to Present a Layoff

I remember my dad telling me what it was like trying to find a job when he got back from the Vietnam war. A depressed economy, with thousands of soldiers returning home to find out their positions were eliminated or that the companies they worked for had closed, all fighting again, but for a few jobs this time.

I can see that happening pretty quickly over here…assuming our troops are actually brought home in the next few years – but there’s a different kind of flood – an ‘end of unemployment’ flood. Details based on what date you started receiving benefits & cut offs can be found here: http://www.labor.state.ny.us/ui/claimantinfo/ExtendedBenefits.shtm

If I know a lot of people who’ve been on unemployment since their layoff in 2008(ish) who have been floating by on those weekly sign-ins for their checks, I’m sure there must be thousands more in the same position. If I had a dime for every time I heard the attitude of, “I’ll find a job when my unemployment stops getting extended,” or “I’m just letting the government pay me back for all the years I’ve contributed to unemployment benefits.”

Well kids, the day has come. No easy check will be deposited into your account this week, and there’s non-stop press about employers who say “Unemployed need not apply.” But let’s be realistic. Target is hiring. If you needed money bad enough, you’d walk in and take the night shift (great benefits, you won’t run into anyone you know, team morale, physical work so you won’t need to go to the gym, and higher pay than the day shift).

And now you’re competing with all the other soldiers who also just got their last check & will be flooding the market.

So is everyone running to apply to Target now? No. It’s beneath your dignity. You used to make 4x the annual salary and can’t bring yourself to do it. It’ll look bad on your resume (who says it needs to be there? Keep up your volunteer work & put that there instead). Pick your excuse of why you‘re not willing to take one of the thousands of jobs posted on monster.com. Yes, you all want the 6 figure career you used to have – and that’s who you’re competing with to get it – everyone.

Someone will get those big ticket jobs, but will it be you if you’ve been laid off? I think every smart recruiter (or hiring manager) should know the difference between a mass layoff and a weakest link layoff. I think a lot of how this comes across is going to be how you present it.

So what’s the ‘correct’ way to swing it that you were the weakest link at an interview? That you were the only person from your division eliminated? I’d say honestly, but with a positive spin, let’s try these.

  1. Fit problem: You were passionate about the mission of X organization, but weren’t placed into the correct role. Then present immediately without taking a breath why you are the correct fit for the job you’re interviewing for.
  2. Cite irreconcilable differences 1: Either between you and your company, or you and your manager, as in divorce court. No-fault of your own, just a different strokes for different folks situation. “Any sort of difference between the two parties that either cannot be changed or the individual does not want to change can be considered irreconcilable differences.”
  3. Fess up: “I made x huge mistake due to y factor which could never possibly happen again thanks to a & b factors. I’ve learned the lesson that z and have grown from it in c & d ways.”
  4. Wrong place at the wrong time: “Budget cuts made my position impossible to fund, and I’m sure the company would have kept me if they could have afforded to. I’d be happy to provide references that can attest to my excellent work ethic and company contributions.” But do NOT include the last part if you don’t have at least 1 coworker or supervisor who liked you enough to back it up.


So in conclusion, I’m all for only taking jobs that will continue to advance you within your chosen career path (more on that another time), but if you need to make the mortgage & look cute in red, Target takes walk in applications! Best of luck to you all, I know it’s a disheartening situation you’re in, but give it your all, lower your expectations & you’ll be back in the swing of things in no time at all.


1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreconcilable_differences.

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-O