The Internet is Endless and Full of Errors
//”Career Advice” Advice
Okay, I admit: I’m missing Game of Thrones and October is still a ways off. I am HUGE fan of the HBO show based on the books of George R.R. Martin, and I need a marathon soon. The title of this post is a riff on “The night is long and full of terrors” spoken by Melisandre of Asshai (Carice van Houten), close adviser to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). And, boy, is she right. Bad things are on the way for so many characters, and if you watched it last season (spoiler alert), you’ll know that some major characters were, um, relieved of their lives. At least Melisande’s advice is accurate!
Beware of career advice on the Internet, as it’s not as reliable. I spend A LOT of time reviewing career blogs and hanging out on G+ Career Communities, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and many more sites, scouring columns, articles and websites for the latest info on all things career and job searching. Rest assured, there are some career advisors out there that are truly subject matter experts. But, there are way too many sites that are dispensing absolute crap advice. Here’s few sites to avoid:
Resume Advice from Non-Native English Speakers
If you’re seeking advice on crafting a new, professional English language resume, please avoid advice sites where it’s obvious that the writer/advice giver is not an English speaker. Since you want your resume to be flawless and grammatically correct, do not take advice from career experts who can’t conjugate or construct correct sentences. I speak a little German, but there is no way I would ever write a resume advice blog IN German, for a German speaking audience. (Some of you may be picking apart my English language blogging abilities right now!)
Advice from Non-Experts
Copy writers, technical writers, coders, and logistics experts are not typically career experts. Yet, I find blogs from them offering career advice all the time! Seek out advice from: Recruiters, HR Managers, and career experts with backgrounds in interviewing and hiring people.
Stay away from any career website that wants something from you before they give you any advice. Don’t subscribe, or input a credit card number or your Social Security Number. If it’s a site that offers you 1,000’s of job postings, but you have to endlessly click through a bunch of pages, it’s a Pay Per Click site, devoid of actual job postings. I find these all the time in LinkedIn’s Groups, unfortunately. Also avoid the “squeeze” page career advice site, which is a website with a really, really long intro/sales letter with little to no info whatsoever, usually ending with a “purchase this first and you’ll get the advice later” offer.
I remember following a “career marketing” expert on Twitter, and her offer of a free ebook took me to a site that was a tedious, never ending sales page that wanted you to “upgrade” to the pro package level for a couple of hundred dollars, without offering one tiny piece of free advice. Another site offered a bunch of freebies, and as soon as I signed up, I received an email with the subject line: FINAL NOTICE. Geeze, really? They were offering me a final chance to purchase their guide for, you guessed it, a couple of hundred dollars. Unsubscribed 2 seconds later.
Let me just write what I think: there’s an endless supply of bullshi$ sites out there that give truly awful career advice. I read a blog post on interviewing the other day that said “recruiters don’t like over ambitious persons.” What?
Like I said, the Internet is Endless and Full of Errors!” Proceed with caution. Hopefully, you’ll find the light. At least you’re not going to lose your head!
A few sites I recommend wholeheartedly are: Career Rocketeer, The Career Sherpa, and The Undercover Recruiter, and The Savvy Intern.
If you want helpful, practical and easy to implement career advice from someone that’s hired over 400 people in her career, you can drop me an email at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com or send me your career question below:
Everyday I hear from job seekers asking what they’re doing wrong and why they’re not getting interviews and job offers. There are any number of reasons why, of course, but I can tell you that in many cases the job seeker is off track. Finding a job – a good job with benefits – is damn hard work these days. Unemployment remains high even though the official numbers are getting better. Companies are slow to hire, and the hiring they are doing can stretch the interviewing/hiring process over months! I know of candidates having to endure 3 months of interviews.
What can you do to take a proactive approach to career management? The first, and most important thing to do is think differently about your job search. For many years, job seekers have turned to job postings (back in the day they were found in newspapers; today, it’s job boards on the Internet). A much more effective way of finding a good job is targeting companies first. Consider the way companies hire. These are 4 basic criteria:
1. The candidate can do the job
2. The candidate is perceived as a “good fit”
3. A job salary can be agreed upon
4. Will the candidate will stay on the job
There are other factors involved in hiring, but these are the primary focal points for the hiring manager. The way you can fulfill these 4 items to spend time researching companies and organizations that you believe there will be synchronicity.
Start by identify 20-40 firms that you think you’ll fit well. Look for them on LinkedIn, Glassdoor.com, or Google Search. Need ideas to find companies? Run a search for “top firms in (your career field)” to get started. Then do the research.
Next, look for connections to those firms. Use LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Branchout on Facebook. Once you find them, use INMAIL on LinkedIn to reach out them. Keep your message short and professional, and let them know that you’re interested in learning more about the culture of their firm. That’s a better approach than asking for a job or if you can email them your resume.
And, finally, don’t be afraid to use your smart phone for…phone calls! Try to make “warm” calls, to people you’ve been referred to, but, do not fear the “cold” call. They are not that scary, especially after the first 10!
The key to a successful job search these days is to be proactive! Do not upload, post, apply and then wait. It won’t work!
Have a job search question? Email it to me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com.
// Vacation Edition
I’m back..sort of. I am taking time off this week, but, it is also the first time in a while I have the time to write a new blog post. And…I have had so many questions in the past month….so I’ll jump right in. Here is the number one question I receive:
Q. I have sent out hundreds of resumes to online jobs that I feel are really good fit for me. It’s been months, and I’ve had no replies (other than confirmation emails) and no interviews. What am I doing wrong?
A. Many people are in the same boat. There was a time that the online job boards worked, and a recent survey of top US companies confirmed that many of them do use the job boards to hire employees. It is not the number one way, however. That remains “referrals” as it always has, and always will.
Here’s the problem: the sheer numbers of competitors makes it unlikely that you’ll get a job that way. There are millions of unemployed, and employed, people – worldwide – that can, and do, apply to any and every job online, whether they are qualified or not.
Companies have responded with software called Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that severely limited the number of resumes that are approved for further review. (Less than 3% in some cases!)
If your resume is not perfect – according to an ATS software – it will live forever in the black hole of cyberspace. You need a flawless, customized for each position, keyword loaded, accomplishment based resume that can survive approximately four different gatekeepers!
This is the hardest way to get a job. If this makes up the majority of your job searching strategy…perpare for a long stretch of unemployment.
Remedy: The number one way companies hire is through referrals. You need to be on the right side of a referral, so spend time on that instead! (read: networking)
Q. I don’t have a lot of money or time, and I really need a job (income) ASAP. Is a career coach or a professional resume worth it?
A. Yes! Okay, I may be a little biased..but let’s look at this logically. In the big scheme of things, a job is a critical part of your life. You may have gone to college – a substantial investment for sure – but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a job or career. Here is a great article from USA Today, from 2011.
Today’s labor market has an excess of qualified talent, and the competition for limited jobs is fierce. The one thing you need to know is that you are in competition – The Job Games – and you need to be in fighting shape. You need sharp career tools – including your resume and online social media brand; and your networking and interviewing skills must be top-notch. If any of these career tools are not well-done, you chance being screened out – fast!
Ask yourself: is it worth the money and time to invest in career coaching services to get into great career shape? Look at the reality of your situation: if you have been job hunting for more than 3 months, and the results are not where you need them to be, can you afford not to seek professional career help? It is definitely worth your time and money to increase your chances of getting hired – sooner than later!
The questions keep coming, so I think I will have a Q and A once a week. This week I’ll tackle age discrimination and college graduation dates.
Q. Should I put college graduation dates on my résumé if I know that I’ll be discriminated against because of my age?
A. I get this question A LOT. I think it depends. It is easy for potential employers, recruiters, and hiring managers to find that type of information on you, so there is no use in lying. Leaving it off your résumé is different however. If you graduated in the 1960’s, I would leave it off. The fact is that age discrimination does exist, and there is really no way around it.
Instead of worrying about that, spend some time searching for companies and firms that hire employees over 40, and have a culture open to bringing in employees with experience. There is a very helpful blog called Internsover40, and also recruiters that specialize in older candidates. Run a Google search to find companies in your area.
Q. I have some major gaps in my résumé due to the recession. What should I put on my résumé?
A. Hiring Managers and recruiters are much more forgiving of employment gaps because of the recession. In a recent study, they report that it is no longer the red flag is used to be. So, don’t freak out if you have some gaps. Millions of people do!
If you have taken any college classes, or volunteered, be sure to list those. It shows that you are staying sharp and using your time wisely. The important thing is to show potential employers that you are not sitting around rusting.
Need resume help? Email me at Kristi.Enigl@gmail.com. My resume reviews are gratis for one more month!
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.
I was thinking the other day just HOW MANY things todays’ job seekers have to do to conduct a 21st century job search. The to-do list is extensive. There are the resumes of course, and every employer expects you to customize your résumé for them. Then the cover letter. Don’t forget business cards and thank-you notes, you will need them later.
But first, you need a career brand. You know, what you do better than the other millions of job seekers. People, just do it already. The clock is ticking.
Then there’s the online aspect: job boards, online applications, and Social Media. You must have a super profile on Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter. And be active, like updating at regular intervals, joining groups, etc. Just searching/following recruiters on Twellow.com or Listorious can take hours! Oh, maybe you need a website too. Or an online portfolio. Or online resume. Or YouTube resume. Maybe start a blog.
While you’re at it, why not become an expert in your career field as well?
Then there’s networking..online and in person. We all know that networking is the new/old way to get a job. You need to hit at least 4 networking events per month to get anything going. And then follow-up with your contacts online. And don’t forget coffee networking a few times per month. Or informational interviews.
Oh, research. Yes, you must research and target companies that you are a good fit for, or you can solve their problems, even if they are not hiring. Don’t forget to look for the hidden job market. It’s there, somewhere. Really.
If you’re on unemployment, you have to fill out forms and let them know exactly where you’ve sent your customized resumes. Only problem, companies mostly recruit anonymously. Great. So, it takes some time and creativity to make shit up.
Gawd, I’m exhausted just writing about it. Take a break. My favorite job hunting activity is hanging out with the drunks down the street at the Wagon Wheel at 2pm throwing back Jacks and coke, anyway. Maybe they need a new bartender. One that’s breathing!
Get busy people. You have hoops to jump through! Oh, and Technorati, here’s your code: 26TC5Q274YHU.
ps. I forgot to mention spending time getting recruiters to call you back. What a time suck that is!!
I have read about a half a million blogs, articles, and websites about how to get a job. Many, including my own, focus on the job seeker, and what they need to do better, or what they are doing wrong. And many times there are things that job hunters could be doing better, like improving their résumé. But, let’s be honest, this recession is in its third year, and the US government declared it over in 2009. Bullshit.
(I’m a bit more explicit in my new blog). I am REALLY sick and tired of hearing that we are having a “jobless recovery“. What does that mean exactly? That corporations and stock holders will make money because they have fewer employees? Yes, I think that’s what it means.
I know, some of you are rolling your eyes about now, thinking “we make our own destiny” or some other baloney. But I have witnessed how many truly awesome people are out of work, and trust me, it’s not because they can’t control their own destiny. I am talking about top-notch, experienced professionals at the height of their careers. People who were “poached” in the past are looking for work — for a few years now. They have great resumes, and online brands, and they network, etc. Many of them are experts in their fields, they blog, they give speeches, they mentor, they are doing everything right. Finding jobs for the millions of unemployed who fit this category will be tough, if not impossible.
It seems to me that our elected officials have done little to nothing about this; I don’t hear them giving speeches about their plans, certainly Obama’s ideas have been too little too late. The simple fact is that there AREN’T many or any jobs for professionals, because the companies that could hire them are doing better without them. Maybe the era of JOBS is over. Maybe there is nothing that our elected leaders can do. Maybe we are all entrepreneurs now.
Call and email your greedy, lazy Senators or Reps, state and federal. No doubt they can’t do much to fix this economy, but they should feel some heat. It just seems like business as usual for them, what with the debt ceiling drama, they are busy cutting social services and giving themselves tax breaks.
// END OF RANT (for now!)