My Resume is a Worthless Piece of e-Paper

I’ll get personal today because a lot of career issues are common. Many people are unemployed, and stuck that way.

I hate my resume. I mean it is pretty, thanks to fabulous layout. I’ve done tons of interesting things. I’m on top of all new technologies, innovations, social media, and business news; and I’ve started two successful consultancies.  But that doesn’t necessarily get a person an interview request when you’re only submitting to the best places to work along with hundreds-thousands of other people.

I’m  always telling everyone – here’s what your resume should say, how it should say it, and what the overall feeling you get from it should be. But when you don’t like your resume?

You can’t always write a career summary that would explain your situation positively or in a way that would put you ahead of the person who majored in the right areas in school or who obtained and advance degree in an area you want to enter, who then went on to have only progressively responsible positions in your field, and has been in it for 10 years – not too many more or less.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do the job better that above said person – but on paper it’s obvious who gets chosen for the interview.  You haven’t managed large budgets? You haven’t managed large teams? Don’t have ‘accomplishments’ to brag about that don’t sound like, well, bragging?

What’s a candidate to do when they want to work at google or apple? Or some other fabulously innovating company that values and develops their talent – when you don’t have it on paper?

Different people handle this situation in different ways – but here are a few I’ve seen:

1. Have a simple resume, get a job in a company at the bottom of the ladder (i.e. unpaid internship, administrative assistant, etc.), and work your way up. This if fine for the young, patient, and ambitious. Especially the males, they statistically do better with this method. Women who attempt this generally stay towards the bottom of the career ladder.

2. Volunteer either in or outside of work for large-scale projects, so you have those accomplishments to put on your resume. This is great if you’re unemployed or don’t have a lot of obligations, as that it’s time consuming – but for someone trying to manage a career, long commutes, and family or other obligations it’s not always practical.

3. Lying. People figure into the recruiters-are-ditzes stereotype and hope their exaggerating what and where they’ve done it won’t be seen through. Ethics aside – people figure ‘everybody’s doing it’, which is unfortunately accurate for a lot of people. Ewwwwwwww.

4. Humor. I’ve seen a woman returning from being a stay at home mom have on her resume, “CEO of Smith Household.” Or, “Executive Director of Childcare.”  You can throw in a few things that might help your personality come across to recruiters. I know that whomever is reading my resume is probably sick of looking at resumes, especially ones that all sound the same – so a little fun with it, tastefully, might help get attention.

Unfortunately, as you can guess, lying generally gets people the furthest into the interview process. Depending on the employer, often the liar may even get the job. Some jobs you only have to ‘talk the talk’, and it doesn’t matter if you ever did or ever will ‘walk the walk’. But for other positions, actual skills and experience are necessary to do a job appropriately. Once you’re figured out you’ll be back on the job hunt again, bringing you back to the beginning of the cycle where said evil people belong.

So what do you do first?

You be patient. You network. You continue to improve your resume. You follow the places you want to work, be on top of their openings that you’re qualified for. You attend events to meet people who work for these companies. If you have time, offer to volunteer or intern for them. You do everything in your power to set yourself apart from the herd appropriately in all of your social media profiles. You follow people and companies on linkedin. You join industry groups on linkedin. You ask others who were in your boat who’ve succeeded how they did it. You You You…it’s all about YOU, and what efforts you are willing to put in.

And then hope that one day it’ll all pay off, as you sit enjoying the view from your corner office of the company of your dreams. Sigh. Dare to dream.

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What’s in it for YOU: 5 Gains of Helping Others Find Jobs

Filtering to Gain Social Network Value

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

Even though most of the time people don’t even say thank you for sending them a job (unless they get it), and even more often they won’t actually apply – take a few minutes a day when you see opportunities for others and forward them on or share them with your social network.

Although this has always been an obvious one to me, there are a lot of benefits of helping others in any capacity – but for today let’s focus on helping someone find a job or better job than they currently have. I’m sure every person reading this knows at least one person, if not many who are out of work or who are underemployed currently.

Also, especially those out of work: while you’re surfing job boards, when you see interesting jobs that aren’t for you, why not take 30 seconds to send it to a friend or to tweet them to bring them to other people’s attention? I’ve helped countless people find jobs this way.

Let’s review a few of these perks so maybe you’ll feel encouraged (or guilty enough) to help someone else.

1. Financial benefit. Many companies offer referral bonuses, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Generally this comes a few months after the person is hired & passes a ‘probation period’, but usually you’ll see a check at some point for helping that friend of a friend get a job in a different department at your place of work.

*Always check your company’s policy – some require that you submit a resume before a person does on their own in order for you to be credited, so don’t tell them to apply online until you know how you can gain from their potential hire.

2. Moral benefit. You just did something good for someone else. You’re not a terrible person at this second for a tangible reason. Now pat yourself on the back and do it again. Do unto others….as they say.

3. Reciprocal benefit. A recruiter once told me something along the lines of that recruiters never have trouble finding a job & always know about new opportunities before others. Why? Because people remember that you helped them, and oft will return the favor one day. While yes it’s a ‘pay it forward’ kind of act to do, you never know when you’ll end up on the beneficial end.

4. Social benefit. It’s a great way to make friends. Networked with someone new? Help them find a new role and you just may end up friends (at least on linkedin) for life.

Your child’s best friend’s father was just laid off & will have to relocate the family if they don’t find a job. You help them find a local career, and voila, you just saved your child’s social life and a whole lot of family drama.

Don’t have kids? Perhaps if you find a job for someone within your community or within a cause you both support they’ll be able to contribute more to the cause which will benefit you (because hey, what cause or community doesn’t need money nowadays?)

5. Brownie points. While not a tangible thing necessarily, HR will remember you as that person who helped them find someone for that really hard to  fill role. Referred someone to work for a nonprofit you saw was hiring online? You never know when they’ll look you up to thank you or offer you to join them as well.

So these are just a few of the benefits, and I’m lucky enough to have gained them all from helping various people over the years. It’s even how I found my current job. Try it to today, and share what you gain by it. You have nothing to lose.

The War for Talent Has Lazy Soldiers

Cover of "The War for Talent"

Cover of The War for Talent

Well for those unfamiliar with the ‘War for Talent’ – start with this wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_war_for_talent.

Next – how and why I disagree with the overall idea that ‘Talent’ is really limited to so few people.

I’m not going to say that everyone is competent at their jobs, willing to always give 100%, go beyond what is asked of them, and lead others well – but I also don’t believe that everyone with this potential has been discovered already and only those at the management level of top of companies have it.

Lots of smart talented people are always looking for work. The issue seems to be that companies feel there are only ‘so many’ talented people, and they are the coveted platinum of hires that everyone wants.

But that’s known talent. Those are the stars with perfect resumes who have already been discovered. It’s easier to poach another company’s rising star than it is to find someone with executive potential that hasn’t had senior level roles yet, one who went to an average college or who took time off of work for a few years to raise her children. If someone has a lackluster resume when applying to a position, they get deleted. Hiring managers and recruiters aren’t losing sleep at night thinking, “Did I delete potential talent from the candidate pool today?”

If talent is defined by brains, flexibility, dedication to company mission, and willingness & ability to exceed expectations – who says that you don’t have it, just because you haven’t used it for a company yet?

No one, I suppose. Do you think you have that undiscovered talent the business world is looking for? I think I do, for one. And those that I meet networking often feel the same way when they ask me to consider working for their company. But as soon as they ask me to send over a resume, I know I’m pretty much finished if they’re not desperate to hire.

So how does one become recognizable talent from their resume? Stay tuned for a later post, I’ll try to chart out office superstar resumes as a whole – what they have that you (and I) are lacking.

What Not to Wear to Work

Bill Gates in business-casual attire.

Via Wikipedia - Gates in (Nerdy) Business Casual

I recently remarked to my husband that I wish I could wear PJ’s to work or something equally as comfortable. He said the only socially acceptable way to do this is if we move to Staten Island or New Jersey. But what about all the other people in the office who are wearing things I wouldn’t paint my house in?

I’m not saying my office per se, but in general lines have blurred when it comes to what’s appropriate to wear to an office. I think the suits-only companies left are few and far between – primarily high-end law & accounting firms. I’m sure there may be others, but generally most offices have taken the ‘business casual’ or plain old ‘causal’ workforce attire.

Casual

Anything goes, and if you wear a suit people will assume you’re going for an interview somewhere else after work – unless the head honcho is in town. That doesn’t even apply if you work for a start-up or trendy DUMBO place – the CEO’s there probably are wearing their hipster faded jeans too.

Business Casual   

The ultimate of gray areas. When people ask me what that means at interviews, I generally say, “No jeans, sweats, sneakers, t-shirts, large logo’s, or workout wear – and anything else goes.” What does it really mean in an office environment? It means 3 people in the same exact position & salary – one will be in a collared shirt, tie and slacks. The next guy will be in flip flops, shorts, and a t-shirt. The third person will be in a head-to-toe ed hardy or similar design/logo-covered sweat suit with expensive sneakers. Depending on where you work is how much will fly causally.

Business Attire

AKA suits. Or at least a shirt and tie with a jacket perpetually on the back of your chair. The ladies get to mix it up with either pencil skirts or pants. It is expected that your clothing is tailored to fit you. You should look and act like a professional.

Dress-down Fridays?

I’ve seen the flip flops with shorts in one department of a company on a Friday, where a different department a supervisor remarked, “I couldn’t help but notice you were wearing jeans on Friday…” When in Rome…even if there is a dress-down policy in some departments, it may not apply to all. Take a hint from what your supervisor wears. Also if you have an important meeting on a Friday, that’s a good reason to dress well anyway.

Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have

This is old advice that many have lived by, and I’ve seen it work successfully. It may come across as awkward if you have a large divide in what the next level of administration up from you wears, i.e. if you’re level dresses casually as call takers, but the supervisors wear suits, it might seem weird if you walk in suddenly one day and going forward in suits. I suggest taking it up one step, but never over-dress. If the boss doesn’t wear a tie or suit, you shouldn’t either. It doesn’t mean that you have to go casual. Wear sleek, classic styles that would make you stand out from the jeans crowd, but not peg you as someone trying too hard.

Dress = Atmosphere

Business clothing brings with it the ‘business’ atmosphere. You wouldn’t yell out, “Who wants to come for pizza with me for lunch?” in a business environment. But if everyone’s dressed casually, why not? I saw an article featuring a start-up that had clothing for the start-up CEO. Yes, I’m serious. It was basically very overpriced durable hipster suit jackets to be worn with jeans and collared shirts. The craziest part? All the comments left on the article were either commending the company – that it’s so hard to figure out what to wear when you don’t want to overdress – but also don’t want to be the brunt of ‘Zuckerberg’ jokes because he’s still wearing sweats with flip flops a few billion later.

Then women got in on it in the comments section – like how men don’t need $400 suit jackets to wear with jeans – women do! That the men are all wearing collared shirts & jeans – but what do the women wear to look put together but casual, and still get taken seriously?

The women were jealous and were hoping this company would do a women’s line. Wow. All I could think was that uniforms are great. That high-paid executives, even business owners, have trouble presenting themselves with clothing – and wouldn’t it be easier to take out all the guessing?

Even if the uniform is black suit, light colored shirt, at least you won’t have to spend hours guessing what’s appropriate for work that day!

So in conclusion  –  know that whatever you wear will be judged in your place of employment. It may never be expressed to you, but the overall impression your coworkers and superiors have of you will be largely based on your appearance. Yep we’re that superficial, now you know – don’t pretend you don’t.

Wearing beach clothes to work is fine if you’re in a dead-ended job and plan to burn your bridges with them on your way out – but if you even think you might want to use them as a reference for your next ‘real job’ – dress up a bit more.

You have nothing to lose except a little comfort. Go get into your t-shirt as soon as you get home, pop open a cold beer, and return to being the unprofessional sloth you really are deep down inside. At least this way no one at work will ever be on to it, and you’ll have a professional reputation!

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

“80% of Jobs Are Not Advertised” – by Lavie Margolin

Lavie Margolin

Today I have a contribution from a guest blogger who also has a successful career coaching blog & book to assist job seekers. His practical advice helps many find great positions – even in this economy. He also happens to have been the inspiration for my blog, so I have to give major props and encourage you to buy his book.

Lavie Margolin is a New York-based Job Search Advisor, Public Speaker and the Author of Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers. To read more of Lavie’s advice, check out his blog at www.lioncubjobsearch.blogspot.com

“80% of jobs are not advertised” is just not true.

It has been said over and over again that 80% of jobs are not advertised. It has been written about so many times that it is taken as fact.

Having the experience of helping professionals in their job search for nearly eight years, I think this 80% number is inflated and false.

How many midsized to large companies do you know of that do not list their jobs publicly? To prove that fact, think of any company with more than 200 employees. Search for the company on Indeed.com and and you will notice that many of their job vacancies are listed. After all, why would they not list job openings and keep them a secret?

By repeating this 80% myth over and over, it is dissuading job seekers from looking for work. The thinking goes: “why should I apply for work when most jobs are not advertised?”

It is true that some smaller companies do not advertise their jobs as it will be cost prohibitive but this is a tiny fraction. 

Perhaps this 80% number comes from a strict definition of the word “advertise”. An advertisement is defined as a PAID announcement or promotion. There are many jobs publicly available for viewing that are not PAID for:

1. The official company website
2. Job Boards that do not require a fee from the employer
3. Industry news publications
4. Industry blogs
5. Yahoo/Google Groups
6. Linkedin Groups
7. Social Network postings
8. Bulletin boards

The truth of the matter is that most jobs ARE advertised (or at least publicly available for viewing). A key to receiving a successful response is to apply for those jobs in a dynamic way:

Are you sending the same resume and cover letter for every job or taking the time to make sure it is an appealing advertisement for that job specifically? 

Are you then finding a contact in the company through your network on Linkedin and asking them to advocate on your behalf? 

Most jobs are out there for you to see. Be dynamic to have the best chance at receiving a response.

 

Thanks Lavie! Again, to read more check out Lavie’s blog or to buy his book go to:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1453668357?ie=UTF8&tag=louboorev-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1453668357

…and for my opinion on getting jobs advertised online: http://wp.me/pWfpN-4K

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

Networking vs. Applying to Advertised Jobs

Trumpasaurus Sculpture + Sign for monster.com ...

I have never, ever gotten a job through an online job ad.

I once had an interview for job I applied to online, but the eventual offer I received was half the salary that was advertised. Next.

I always see so many jobs advertised. I advertise the jobs I recruit for myself. I’m guilty of applying to jobs I see online.

When my friends & clients need jobs, I look to online ads.

But what’s it worth?

I think this really hit me when I got my first full time consulting job. I heard about the position from someone I met with who suggested I might enjoy recruiting instead of career & life coaching. Once I got the job, I was given access to the pool of candidates where I saw around 350 others had applied for the job I was given. I was so astounded that so many people took the time and put in effort to apply – yet I was chosen, and even dared to ask the hiring manager who selected me why they picked me (because hey, I’m blunt and do things like that. Do not try this at home *ahem* work kids).

So, why Sharon? Networking. I had been highly recommended from a key talented employee for the role. My résumé had experience related to the position, but not an exact match – but I matched my qualifications to those required for the position.

Blindly sending out resumes all over to interesting positions, especially if you’re looking to change careers or industry, generally will not get you far. You’ll more likely get burnt out than get a job (but I applied to 20 jobs this week! You say) and you’ll start to look and feel desperate.

So when do online job applications work?

Scenario 1: Let’s say you’re a business analyst. You’ve been one for 10 years in a few different settings, and have a degree (or 2) from a top school. You apply for a job as a business analyst. You have a pretty good chance of getting an interview call.

Scenario 2: Let’s say you’re a business analyst. You’ve been one for 10 years in a few different settings, and have a degree (or 2) from a top school. You apply for a job as a director of business analytics. You probably will not get a call.

Most hiring managers nowadays want someone who already has had the title or a very similar one for a different company. No companies are looking for people they have to train or teach management skills to. They’d probably promote someone internal to the job if they were open to training.

So what’s a candidate to do? Network & apply to online jobs.

Limiting your search only to online applications is just that – a limited search. Networking is great, but at some point in the job process your resume will be requested – the employer will want to see that you’ve walked the walk – the one you claimed you walked when you met them.

Networking alone can work for some people – but it generally takes 2 essential elements: people skills – and people.

Certain personalities connect well with strangers better than others – as well, it’s just as important how strong of a network that you meet who are interested in helping others.

Even winners won’t get far networking with a network full of losers 😉

So Happy 2011 Y’all – Now stop reading blogs and get yourself the career you deserve!

Shortlink to this post: http://wp.me/pWfpN-d2

Cover Letter Tales From the Dark Side *ahem* Inside of Recruitment

Connecticut welcome sign, updated with new gov...

Image via Wikipedia *Notice: It doesn't say "Some State Welcomes Someone"

Anyone have any job leads for a talented writer/editor in the Northern Connecticut area (Lakeville, CT ideally)?

Let me give props to my hiring manager who I’m quoting below for sharing some advice directly with you all. Next let me repay them by giving a shoutout to anyone reading this in Northern Connecticut. My hiring manager’s brother is a super accomplished writer/editor/Yale grad who needs a full-time job in the area (yes you should never school-name drop for yourself, it’s tacky, but no reason I can’t brag for a complete stranger). He’s also happy to make a  career change to internal and external communication/PR work.

Please feel free to post any leads/ideas in comments or email them to hookabrotherup@sharon.cc of even better, hook him up directly & see his writing style (while giving his blog a nice stat traffic spike) at http://www.explanationizer.com/

Now for the juicy stuff to help you…

“Thoughts from a hiring manager:
If there’s anything you can do to encourage people to include a cover letter–a REAL cover letter–you know, one that makes the connection between their resume/experience AND THE JOB THEY’RE APPLYING FOR, you’d be doing people on both sides of the interview process a HUGE service!”

In other words, ditch the, “I believe my skills and experience would be an asset to your organization for your open position.” That only makes you look bad.

Instead try, “I would kiss your feet everyday on my way into the office and bring you coffee from a street cart if you hire me to work at google. My 15+ years of experience buying street coffee combined with my foot fetish and unwavering, slightly obsessive desire to work at google would make me an ideal Recruiting Manager for your New York offices. I want to make an amazing place to work even better, and would make sure to get google back in the #1 spot on the best places to work list by bringing in the top talent of our city. I’ve done this for 12 different companies in less than three months at each blah blah blah.”

Hope you get the point kids…just don’t creep out the hiring manager either, so keep the fetishes mum, ok?

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