Tag Archives: resume

How to Find a Job in This Job Market

How to Find a Job

Today’s job market is super-competitive

Want to find a job?

I want to preface this by stating that I have been a practicing career coach for over eight years, during which time I have helped almost 600 job seekers. Every case is unique because no two circumstances are alike, but ultimately there is a lot of commonality between job seekers. Finding a job, especially in today’s job market, is supercompetitive, so let’s not forget that. In principle, there are two significant steps every job seeker has to master. Without that mastery, chances are slim for getting a job. The first step involves the résumé, and the second, interviewing skills.

Résumé

The résumé is the most important document a job seeker needs. At the résumé submission stage, the competition is fierce. An advertised position could draw literally hundreds and hundreds of résumés. The quality of such résumés of course varies from blatantly poor to stunningly excellent. In the middle are several that are very good. Sorry, though, but those will not be in the running. Why should a human resources rep, a recruiter, or even a hiring manager consider those when plenty of excellent résumés have been submitted to select from? My point is that only excellent résumés will be considered.

So, how does one produce an excellent résumé? After years and years and seeing hundreds of résumés myself, I am completely convinced that it takes a professional résumé writer to do that. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of job seekers initiate their own résumés. Next, they ask others whose opinions they respect to comment and possibly edit. And by accepting others’ recommendations, they’re thus covering a patch with a patch.

At times, a résumé morphs into something very different from what it started out to be. With all due respect to those who are willing to help others in need, the fact is that most of those people are simply not professionals at writing résumés. They want to help and are doing their best, but the final product will not be at the excellent level. Opposite this are professional résumé writers, some of whom are certified, have years of successful experience, and strive to be good at this service because their livelihood depends on it. They keep taking courses to learn what’s new, and they clearly know what sells. They not only craft a good-looking résumé, but they know how to weave in the right keywords and in sufficient numbers. Without the right keywords, résumés go into a black hole and may stay there for a very long time, if not indefinitely. Many people declare themselves professional résumé writers to attract clients. Best is to use one who comes highly recommended by several people. Their fees vary, but I’ve learned that you get what you pay for.

Interview Preparation

This is the area I specialize in. Again, from my experience I conclude that only a tiny fraction of the population is innately good at interviewing. Job interviewing essentially calls for being an actor onstage. Many people phone me, say, two days before they’re scheduled for a critical interview. This is not enough time to prepare. It takes practice to review common interview questions and be ready to answer them proficiently.

The interview process involves not only going through the motions but also understanding interviewers’ thinking. When interviewers ask about your weaknesses, do you know what they mean? Do you know what you’re being tested on?

Interviewing well can be learned. It is certainly not as complex as brain surgery. It just takes practice till you feel confident. And if you exude confidence, the interviewer senses that. Congratulations! An offer is coming your way.

Résumé Keywords Are the Keys to Be Found

Photo credit to Stuart Miles

Photo credit to Stuart Miles

Most of the résumés employers receive either as hard copies or that are uploaded electronically reside in databases. If those databases were in graphic form, each résumé would resemble a lonely tombstone in a cemetery. In the majority of cases, submitting résumés is futile because they get resurrected only if they include keywords—specifically, those keywords used via computer queries made by employers, recruiters, or hiring managers.

Typically, keywords are phrases and nouns that have to do with technical and professional areas of expertise; projects; industry-related jargons; tasks; achievements; job titles; and so on. That contradicts what we suggested years ago by saying that it’s verbs that make a résumé desirable. We now find that an effective combination of nouns, phrases, and verbs is necessary because the human eye is attracted to verbs, whereas applicant tracking systems—the kinds of software used by employers and recruiters—are searching for keywords.

Applicant tracking systems are searching for keywords that appear primarily near the top of the résumé. Therefore, it is advisable to include keywords in the résumé’s first paragraph—immediately after the contact information. Additional keywords should appear in lists as bulleted items in the section that follows and that could be titled Skills.

Appropriate keywords should be harvested from job descriptions or ads for job openings. Commonly, a job description is rich in listing a job’s requirements in terms of skills and accomplishments. For instance, if the position is technical, the ad often lists computer languages, proprietary software, and the like.

Pam Dixon lists such examples in her book Job Searching Online for Dummies, as follows.

Keyword summary, example 1 PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY: Award-winning corporate controller with more than 10 years’ experience in two $500-million corporations. Impressive record in implementing financial record database architecture that saved over $2 million annually. Proficient in Oracle, Prism, Red Brick, and SAP systems, as well as MS Project, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and FrontPage.
Keyword summary, example 2 SKILLS
Languages: C, SQL, C++, Assembler, Pascal
Software: Oracle Developer 2000, Informix NewEra, FoxPro
OS: UNIX, Windows NT/95/3.11, MS-DOS
RDBMS: Oracle7, Informix 7

 

It is the resume that is holding you back

success failureCould this be?  After all it worked in past and others who helped you with it made significant improvements.  Despite that, vis a vis other outstanding resumes it pales and is ineffective.  In order for your resume to propel you to the point that somebody considers you as a potential candidate is has to have at least the following elements.  Above all the gist of the resume has to be written in a way that conveys the reader that you have what it takes to solve his problems and chances are that you will excel.

  • A strong career summary following the contact information. This is the first thing read. It sets the tone for the entire résumé. And it should be designed to attract, intrigue as well as compel the reader to keep reading more.
  • An attractive visual presentation. This means the résumé has to look good on paper. The ideal résumé design has lots of white space, looks clean, and invites the reader to want to learn more about the candidate. A résumé is merely a marketing tool—the first impression a potential employer has of you.
  • Passing the 10-second test. Résumés are being reviewed by recruiters and others who read many résumés and have to weed out worthwhile ones from those that are wastes of time. A professional reviewer does this for each résumé in 10 to 30 seconds. If it’s not attractive, your résumé will be discarded.
  • Evidence that you will be able to deliver. This is the reason you have to list your accomplishments. Don’t confuse accomplishments with tasks that someone in your position typically performs; the interviewer already knows the tasks just from your title. From the way many résumés are worded, they come across as doers, not strongly as achievers. The distinction between the two is decisive. This is a common mistake made by nonprofessional résumé writers. To be effective and create excitement, a great résumé helps the decision maker envision your delivering similar achievements at the decision maker’s company.
  • The right keywords. In addition to the human eye’s scan, most résumés nowadays get scanned into an applicant-tracking system and retrieved exclusively if they contain the right keywords based on a computer query. Keywords are critical because even the best applicant will miss the opportunity to compete if the résumé lacks the right keywords.

So, now the question becomes, What should be your next step? In principle, you have several options.

  • Based on the issues covered here, you can continue having people help you with your résumé or you can buy books, read articles, and work toward making your résumé more desirable.
  • You can engage a professional editor once you’ve finished your work on the résumé. That will assure you that it is perfect in terms of format, grammar, usage, spacing, punctuation, and more.
  • You can engage a professional résumé writer. Most of the professional résumé writers are accredited, certified, and experienced. Some are pretty good; others are outstanding. You’ll want to interview them first for your résumé and cover letter.