Last week I answered some of your questions (emailed to me Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com). I got a great response, thank you! I am happy that my answers helped. I did receive a few more questions, via Facebook, and thought I would answer them this week. Here we go:
Q: I work in a professional industry, and in one of my last jobs, my direct supervisor sabotaged my work and used “poor work quality” to terminate me 6 months later. What should I have done and can I prevent this from happening again?
A: This is a tricky situation. In certain instances, you can confront him her/him in non-threatening way by simply having a conversation with her/him about the quality of your work, or ask for a mini-review. If s/he is hostile to this, make a note of it, and write a “memo” to the HR director explaining the situation and how it is making you feel. Be prepare to have a meeting with Human Resources afterwards.
If your boss is directly abusive or threatening you, put the problem in writing and then report it directly to your HR manager. It may be that this supervisor has a history of this type of behaviour. The one thing to keep in mind is that you do have rights, and you need to keep a careful record of any and all instances that you feel are treated with hostility.
Finally, if it is so egregious, you may have a case for wrongful termination. If you think you do, contact an employment lawyer.
To prevent this from happening again, do research about the company and managers before you accept the offer. Two ways to get inside info is through Linked In; try to connect with current or former employees and ask about the culture and managers/management styles. The other great site to get insider info is glassdoor.com. They have candid reviews and ratings from current and ex-employees for hundreds of companies worldwide.
Q. I was fired from my last two jobs, one was 6 months and the other was 3 months of employment. Neither jobs were a good fit, so should I leave them off my résumé? If I do, I’ll have a 9 month gap. Please help!
A. It is so easy for potential employers to investigate you, you should not lie via omission. However, it the jobs are not relevant to the job you are applying to, you can leave it off and use a line such as: “Mar-Dec 2010 – Employed in a different indstry”. If you are seeking work in the same industry, include the jobs on the résumé, and even list one or two accomplishments. Even though your tenure was brief at both places, you did learn and contribute. Be prepared to address the short stints in a cover letter or interview. As a former HR Manager, I was fine with an explaination like “those jobs were not good fits for either party, and it was better to separate sooner than later. However short the time was, I did contribute to the firm (give an example), and continue honing my expertise. I am excited to interview with you, as I feel I am a good fit for this firm.”
Q. Since the Great Recession really affected my profession, I went back to school and got a Master’s in another field. How do I present this on my résumé?
A. You must highlight your “transferable skill sets”. Those are the skills and experiences that can be an asset in your new career field. Often, those skills are management, communication, leadership, mentoring, supervising, training, etc. Those are “soft” or “people” skills and competencies, and they are transferable because they involve core or intrinsic skills related to working with people. Use a “Key Areas of Expertise” section to list those skills that transfer to your new career.
Also, you might include a brief description in your cover letter to explain your career change. Try something like: “during the past few years, I have taken the time to return to school to gain a new career in XYZ. I felt this was a natural extension of my existing experiences and background, and a far more productive use of my time than waiting for my old career to bounce back”.
I hope that helps. Do you have a career question? Email me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com.
Things change. And, in the world of Career Management, they have changed A LOT. In the past three years, everything that you thought you knew about managing your career and job searching is out the window, and the new changes are vague and complicated. You used to have a résumé. Now, you need a “Brand”. You used to apply for jobs. Now, you have to use Social Media and engage to be considered. You used to answer job ads. Now, you must navigate the online process and Applicant Tracking System. For many people, especially folks that have worked at a job for years and years, the new rules are, uh, confusing. OK…they may be confusing for everyone. Here then, are a few tips to help you figure this out!
1. Résumés are Marketing Documents
In the old days, a résumé typically listed your entire work history and responsibilities. Not so today. Now, your résumé must be a document that markets your accomplishments to a specific job and company, and you need to update it each time you send it out. Keep the formatting simple, no matter what résumé samples you see on the Internet. HR likes them concise and plain.
2. Use a Career Brand
Back in the day, your qualifications were enough. Not anymore. You must have a “brand” to stand out in a crowded field. And, boy, is it crowded! Your brand is essentially your key strength or unique ability. Use branding statements and headlines such as: “Global Career Coach” or “AutoCAD Expert” on your résumé and social media profiles. Make sure to support your claim with quantified statements.
3. Social Media Rules
Yes, I hear you, you hate it. But, you need it! At the very least, spend some time over at Linked In and put up a professional profile, including a pro headshot. Most Hiring Managers and HR personnel find you and/or check you out on the Internet. That means, specifically, they type your name into Google and have a look-see. What pops up is your Online Brand. Make sure it’s consistent, and it represents you accurately. Also, be careful about commenting on blogs, and
check the Facebook vacation photos. Things never die on the Internet. Ever.
There is a lot more to career management these days, so I’ll do some more blogs on this topic down the road. If you need more info on wrangling your career, send me an email.
After 20 years of reading resumes, I have concluded that most job seekers cannot compose a compelling resume. Whoa…that’s harsh, you say? Well, yes, but it’s true. I am recruiting now, and the resumes I am receiving are for the most part, not very good. In fact, some are so bad that I could not submit them “as is” to my clients. And I don’t have time to re-do every résumé presented to me. When I re-write a résumé for a client, I charge them a fee. And my clients get interviews, and jobs!
What I am saying is that in general, job hunters really have very little idea of how to put together a résumé that gets responses or interviews. I almost wish that there was a “universal resume template” that everyone used. That way, talented candidates that cannot write a résumé will have a chance for consideration. You may be an expert in sales, or auditing, or organizational development, but that doesn’t mean that you’re an expert resume writer.
There’s a ton of free career advice available online and I read as much of it as possible. A lot of it is good, some of it is marginal, and much if it is out-of-date. One of the results of the Great Depression is that there are suddenly a million “career experts” available to dispense advice and part you from your money. Just be sure to ask your résumé writer or career coach if they have ever HIRED anyone, or reviewed resumes.
It’s not hard to get a Certified Resume Writers credential, or career coaching certificate; it costs money, and there are classes, tests etc., but getting certified is not that difficult. But, here’s the difference, if your résumé writer or coach hasn’t been involved in hiring someone, it’s like having someone cut your hair who has only watched it be done, and not actually cut anyone’s hair.
So, here a are few tips to help you create a better resume:
1. Ask the Recruiter
If you are working with a recruiter, ask them what style of résumé their client prefers. Ask them early in the process, and customize your résumé based on their recommendations. DO NOT ask your friends or your Mom, or your professor, (unless they hire people!). Always go to an expert in your career field, such as an ex-boss or HR Manager, and get their opinion if you really need some feedback.
2. Skip the Design
Please. They suck big time. Don’t over design, use a photo, colored boxes, or a crazy font. Make your résumé powerful by not overcrowding it, or using a 9 sized font, two pages are fine if you have the experience. Make sure it looks good on an iPhone screen. If you’re submitting your résumé online through an Applicant Tracking System, use plain text with no formatting. Also, be sure you integrate keywords in a natural and relevant way.
3. Focus on your achievements
Responsibilities are a given, and in most cases, the résumé reviewer knows the positions’ responsibilities. Accomplishments are personal, and unique to you. Highlight what you have achieved, and what you bring to the table. Resume reviewers are looking for your “story” or career brand, and how it differentiates you from all the other candidates available.
Implementing these simple tactics will elevate your résumé, and help hiring managers and HR put you in the “call” stack. I could write endlessly on resumes, but my last word is to think like a hiring manager. Read your résumé as if you were looking for candidates. Does it make the cut?
Need a résumé review? I offer them gratis.
A few things job seekers need more info about is how companies recruit and hire. I used to recruit and hire employees for a variety of firms nationwide and internationally. There are several factors that regulate the way companies hire – and I am considering companies of over 50 professional employees for the sake of this blog post. Most companies have a Human Resource office or Personnel Department. While many employees are familiar with the some of the functions of the HR office — recruiting, payroll, benefits and terminations — HR also plays a critical role in the overall business strategy of the company. There are two major functions that the HR office does that job seekers would benefit from knowing.
1. Talent Acquisition
HR is responsible for budgeting, recruiting and filling all the positions in the company. They create budgets based on labor and burden costs, recruiting, training, taxes, etc. They analyze work flow, anticipate work, and contribute to strategic planning to meet company growth goals (or plan targeted reductions). Talent Acquisition goals are to fill high-level positions with top candidates; often they are “poached” from other companies, and have associated costs of signing bonuses and premium benefit packages. Poaching is labor intensive. Cheap? No. Necessary? Mostly. Typically, companies do not hire their top talent from job boards.
So, what does this mean to the job seeker? Unless you are in the fortunate “poached” category, you are trying to get a job by traditional methods, including applying online. Companies save substantial amounts of money in the recruiting process by using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to filter out 95% of the resumes they receive. Otherwise, they would have to pay an employee to MANUALLY sort through 1,000’s of resumes per year. Once the software filter identifies 20 good matches, the search is almost over. So, you can see the odds are against you for obtaining employment via the ATS. Spending an hour filling out your life-story on an automated applicant system is a BIG WASTE OF TIME!
2. Legal Compliance
One of the major functions of HR is to provide legal advice and enforcement in employment law for the company. There are many, many Federal and State employment laws, and International employment laws protecting “foreign skilled workers”. Lawmakers write the laws, and HR monitors and enforces the law! In hiring, companies are not allowed to discriminate based on race, religion, age, gender, ability, etc. Read more on the Title VII, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is an amazing piece of legislation, and trust me, most countries have no such thing. In the US, there are also sexual and hostile workplace harassment laws, and laws for hiring minorities, vets and women if the company receives Federal or State funding.
LAWS dictate hiring. Companies need to comply, so they implement screening methods as a way to eliminate any possible discrimination in hiring lawsuits. If you have a picture of yourself on your résumé (for the US), most likely, it goes straight into the “no” pile because could be a possible source of discrimination by the company.
If you’re spending your job search time endlessly uploading your photo résumé into Applicant Tracking Systems, the longer it will take to find a job. Try Linked In, or the phone instead.