Are you prepared for a career disaster? 5 things you need to do to be prepared.

Throughout my time in recruitment I have learned that there are many conversations you would prefer not have that you will need to have over and over again. It is just the nature of the work. Telling someone who really wanted a job that the company has decided to pass on them is never a conversation that you look forward to but if you have spent any time in recruitment you understand it is a conversation you are going to have to have many times. Another conversation I have had many times is the conversation with a person who has just been downsized. Someone, who through no fault of their own, now finds themselves without a job. You can hear the gravity of the situation the surprise and uncertainty in their voices.

As unpleasant of a reality as it may be, it is just that, a reality. Everyday companies make decisions that are entirely business motivated that adversely impact their workers. I have spoken with candidates who have worked with one company the last 20 years and now, without much warning at all, find themselves in a situation they wanted no part of. For most of those people it is quite the daunting journey to start on. Many don’t have an updated resume and besides the fact that they hate interviewing, they haven’t don’t any interviewing in years and are out of the practice.

So let me ask you this one question, are you prepared for a career disaster? Think about it, if your boss called you into her office today and let you know that your team was being eliminated from the company for whatever reason, what would you do? Do you have a plan in place? What is the first action you would take? Text a loved one? Reached out to an old colleague on LinkedIn? Find the sturdiest box to pack your things into and jet it to your car? It’s not a pleasant hypothetical. The fact of the matter is most people are not prepared. Really that’s pretty understandable, most people don’t expect it to happen. After all they work for a good company, they do good work and they have a great relationship with their boss. However, I would caution you not to kid yourself, these things can happen and regardless if those things are all true and it makes sense to be prepared just in case they do.

So let’s talk about what you can do. Regardless of the stage in your career there are steps you can take so that if the unthinkable happens you have a head start. That head start can be important too because although nobody wants to mention it, if you are part of an eliminated group, your former colleagues have just become your competition for the jobs available. So with this dreary picture painted let’s talk about the steps you should be taking now so that if push comes to shove you are ready to sprint.

  1. Have an updated resume

I have talked to many people after they get the bad news and a common theme is they don’t have an updated resume. I understand how that happens. You have a job, you aren’t looking, why have your resume updated. This scenario is the why. Periodically open up that word document and make the necessary changes so that your resume reflects your current responsibilities. That’s it. Just make sure it’s ready to go should you need it. If you want professional help getting a resume up and going check out my Resource Page for helpful links to award winning resume writers.

  1. Set up an Indeed Alert

Go to Indeed and do a search for jobs that interest you within a 20-mile radius of your home. Once you do that it will give you the option to save this search and receive emails when a job matches your criteria. You are doing this for a few reasons. The first reason is you should want to know when jobs open up that fit what you are looking for. The second takes us to our next point.

  1. Take an interview every now and then

I want to be clear, I am not advocating you waste anyone’s time but you can’t argue that it wouldn’t benefit you to see what’s out there. If you find a job that interests, you and you apply to it and end up getting an interview the outcomes are almost entirely positive. Let’s examine these outcomes. The first is you interview and end up really liking the job enough that you make a move. You wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a better role, so that’s a positive. Now let’s say you interview and you decide the role isn’t for you. You politely thank everyone involved and remove yourself from the process as soon as you make that decision. You know what that was? It was a dress rehearsal. Now if you find yourself unemployed your next interview won’t be the first one you have done in fourteen years. Also, if you want to be good at interviewing do yourself a favor and download my FREE Interview Prep Guide. It is 100% free with no email opt-in requirements and has tons of useful knowledge, what are you waiting for? Download it!!!

  1. If a recruiter reaches out to you, have the conversation

I reach out to professionals every day to connect with them and discuss their careers and possible opportunities with them. And every single day people complete blow off my attempt and go about their lives. Don’t worry, no need for a waterproof pillow, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. I am like Kobe Bryant when he misses a shot, I completely forget about that missed shot and I take the next one. However, upon reflection I feel like it’s foolish to completely ignore or decline my attempt. For example, if that person declines my inmail or hangs up on me and a week from our interaction gets let go…wouldn’t they probably wish they had invested 5 minutes and had a courteous conversation with me? Shoot, I know I would. Take the call, you can always say no to the opportunity. Use that call to describe the roles you would have interest in hearing about and network. Build a connection as opposed to burning a bridge.

  1. Connect with old colleagues who have moved on

If you find yourself laid off its probably unlikely you return to an old employer. Sure, sometimes it happens but most of the time you left for a reason. However, some of the people you used to work with could be of great assistance if you find yourself needing a new role. If someone you used to work with gets a new job, reach out to them. LinkedIn makes it easy to stay in touch. Don’t be lazy and just click the like button though, that is generic and worthless. Send them a message, ask a few questions, strike up a dialogue. Nobody ever expresses regret to me about maintaining past relationships or being too well networked. Meet them out for a lunch or coffee. Trust me, if you ever find yourself needing to find a new role you won’t regret that you maintained good relationships.

Well there you have it. If you do the above things you can definitely say yes to the question, are you prepared for a career disaster. A few parting words, if you find yourself in this situation, stay calm and stay positive. It will be ok If you liked this post please “like” and share it with your social media friends. It’s much appreciated. Show up early, be positive, work hard and have an awesome day!

3 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things in Your Control

Last week I wrote a post about the some of the reasons you might not be getting called to do interviews. After all, you are totally qualified, presentable and generally speaking, pleasant to be around, you should be beating recruiters off with a stick. So when you aren’t, I know that it can be pretty frustrating. Last week’s post was about things that are out of your control. (If you haven’t read it yet, give it a read here, 3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Interviews – Things that are out of your control) However, this week I want to focus on things that are well within your control. It’s one thing to be adversely impacted by things you can’t change, that’s an unfortunate reality in certain situations. But in those situations where its within your power to alter your circumstances, you owe it to yourself to do it. The below situations are all things you can change now that will immediately impact your job search.  Also, make sure you read the entirety of the 3rd tip, most people don’t know the impact it has on the way they are viewed.

 

Your resume looks terrible

Let’s start with the low hanging fruit. There is no excuse for having a bad looking resume. There are literally hundreds of sites where you can go and find templates. In fact, check out my Resource Page, there are a few links there to resume services. Now, if you want someone to help you there, then there is a charge. However they also have resume templates you can copy….for free. Literally, they are free, there is no reason not to have an awesome looking resume. However, even with the wealth of free resources out there at the fingertips of job seekers everywhere, time and time again I see resumes that just look bad.  Let me explain to you why this is such a big deal by explaining to you at a high level what life is like for a corporate recruiter. Most corporate recruiters I know (and myself when I was one) have like 20 to 40 positions they are responsible for recruiting on. A lot of that is just opening the req, looking at applicants and sending the best ones to the hiring manager for their review. So, knowing that, if you are one of let’s say 45 applicants who all happen to be similarly qualified and your resume is terrible to look at, how likely do you think your chances of being moved forward are? Exactly, next!

 

You have an objective that you don’t change

I have always been of the opinion that the best objective on the resume is one that doesn’t exist. I have pretty much always been an outspoken advocate of dropping the objective from your resume. In fact, I reference it in both my My eBook and my FREE Interview Prep Guide. I think they are a waste of space and occasionally harmful and here’s why. As a recruiter, if you applied to my job, I know you are interested in it. You literally demonstrated that you want the job by going through what is frequently an unpleasant process and applying. You created an account, a fancy password, answered a bunch of questions and finally hit submit. If you didn’t want the job you wouldn’t do that. So when I see “my objective is to get a mechanical engineering role at ABC Company” it is redundant. I don’t ever look at that and say to myself “oh, thank god, she wants the job….I thought she was just applying to kill time”. The bottom line is you do not benefit from having an objective. If google wouldn’t punish me for the redundancy I would type that sentence out again. So we have established that they can’t help you, let’s talk about how they can hurt you. It’s simple, people don’t always change them. I have had people say they were looking for a job that’s different from the one they applied to and at a different company. So if I send your resume to my hiring manager and they see that, what do you think they are going to think? Worst case scenario, they don’t actually want my job, delete! Best case scenario they think you are lazy or have low attention to detail. There is no positive outcome here. So in summary, doesn’t help you can potentially hurt you. I rest my case.

 

You aren’t customizing your resume for the job you want

If you aren’t customizing your resume to mirror some of the responsibilities of the role (in a truthful manner, don’t say you have done something if you can’t) then you don’t realize its benefits or you are just lazy. And since I am about to tell you the benefits, if you don’t do it moving forward then the only option left is that you are being lazy and you are better than that. So modifying your resume helps you in two critical ways, one obvious and one not so obvious. The obvious one is that anyone looking at your resume will see that you have the experience that makes you a fit based on what they have said they are looking for. That is obviously a very good thing. The second way is not so obvious but almost just as important. When you apply to a role, in most cases your resume is store in an applicant tracking system. You are put into a folder with others who apply to the role. Now this is why it’s so important to try and mirror the job description if you happen to have the qualifications they look for. Most applicant tracking systems use some sort of algorithm to match the resumes of the applicants to the job description. Think about that for a minute. Now imagine you are a recruiter with a finite amount of time and a lot of work. You open up a folder looking for a few good candidates to send to your manager. Your fancy ATS shows you that you have forty applicants you haven’t looked at yet. It gives you a percentage of how well each candidates resume matches the job description. Would you rather be the candidate who looks to be an 88% match or the one who is shown as a 43% match?

 

So there you have it. If you change these things you will immediately increase he likelihood of you getting interviews. Thank you for reading, I hope you found it helpful. As always, if you liked his post please share it! I love getting notifications on LinkedIn that my post has been shared (as a recruiter I am literally on there all day). Thanks again and have an awesome day!

Telling the Right Story with Your Resume

Recently I was talking with a candidate who was concerned about how taking his next job might impact the way his resume is perceived by potential future employers. I thought to myself, what a great thought to have. Fortunately for this candidate, I don’t think the move does anything to adversely impact his resume. However it does beg the questions, is taking this job allowing me to tell the right story of my career on my resume? It’s a question I don’t think people ask themselves enough and it’s a question I believe you need to ask yourself before you ever accept a new role.

Whether you like it or not, when you accept a new role it becomes part of what future employers will look at for the rest of your life. It becomes an indelible mark on your life’s work and in virtually every interview moving forward you are going to have to answer questions about it. Why did you leave ABC company to go to XYZ company? I see you used to be a (insert role) but then you took a job as a (insert newer role), why did you do that. Questions like these and more are standard components to early phone screens with the people who decide whether or not you get further in the process and therefor you have to be able to answer these questions.

Whenever I consider a role I think to myself, how can I paint this move in a positive light to future employers? If the answer doesn’t sound right, you really have to consider the ripples it will have moving forward. For example if you are in a senior role or a people manager role  currently and you take a role that is neither senior nor managing people, you better believe every recruiter in the world who sees your resume is going to wonder why you did that. Were you laid off? Could you not handle the responsibility and therefor decided to take a step back? These are all logical questions really, if you think about it. What is unfortunate is that not only can it be hard to explain and answer these questions, but for certain roles it will also keep you from getting that first interview. Recruiters and hiring managers alike will look at your resume and make their own assumptions and perhaps pass on you as a candidate.

The takeaway here is to think about the story you tell with your resume. Too often people consider the company, the salary or the benefits but don’t realize the other impacts their decisions may have. There are indeed times when this makes sense, perhaps it’s a great company or it’s working for a manager you are dying to work with. In those cases maybe you make the move anyway but make sure you consider the consequences. Another thing to consider is that perhaps the company would be willing to offer you the title that makes more sense for you. Maybe you apply for a Mechanical Engineer role but the title you really want is Senior Mechanical Engineer because you already hold the title Mechanical Engineer at your current company. This is something you might be able to negotiate. Perhaps you let them know that while you are very interested and feel like you would be able to make a measurable impact right away, you have decided that in order to move you would need for the role to be in a Senior or Lead capacity.  Have any of you ever been in this position or took a role that you later regretted because it was hard to explain your rational?

5 Steps to Succeeding in Phone Interviews

This post is about the five things you have to do before every phone interview. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more than five things that you should do. But this post is about the five things you absolutely have to do in order to succeed (in my opinion). So lets take a look!

  1. Research the Company

It is vitally important that you know a lot about the company. I have worked with recruiters who start the interview by saying “So, tell me what you know about ABC Company?” Now if you can’t answer that question reasonably well, how do you think the rest of the interview is going to go? If that happens and you can’t speak to what a company does intelligently you might as well hang up the phone and save you both some time. In addition to that it will save you the embarrassment of asking things like “so what does your company do?” You would be surprised how many times I have been asked that question and every single time I am absolutely shocked. So spend some time on the website, browsing products and recent news articles. Maybe go to YouTube, most companies have an account there and they have a lot of neat videos. Sometimes those videos even tour the facilities you might end up interviewing at in the future. At a bare minimum you should be prepared to answer that question. If they ask you what you know about the company and you don’t feel confident saying a few lines about their business then it is back to the drawing board.

  1. Chronicle your accomplishments

I trick I like to employ is I like to look at each of my last three jobs and write down one or two examples of things I did there that went above and beyond. What you will find is that when you do this you will easily be able to answer the questions where they ask for different examples and scenarios because these examples will be applicable. During most interviews they will ask you to walk them through your experience and it’s great to be able to give an example or two of how you made an impact.

  1. Prepare questions

At some point most recruiters will ask you if you have any questions.  This might be at the beginning or it might be at the end of the interview. Either way, you want to make sure that you have a few to ask. This should be easy because frankly, you should have questions. Accepting a job is a big decision, you would be crazy not to wonder about why the job is open or what you will be doing. But let’s say, for the arguments sake you didn’t have any questions. You still need to prepare questions to ask because it’s not all about you. Having questions prepared shows the person interviewing you that not only did you prepare but you are a thoughtful person who is calculated in their approach to big decisions. A few examples are; Why is the role open? What characteristics or traits have made people in this role successful in the past? What is the biggest challenge you foresee the person who comes into this role will have? Etc.

  1. Research Interviewer

If nothing else it is important to do this just so you don’t say something stupid. For example let’s say this person worked at a ABC Company. Knowing that will keep you from saying something like I wanted to interview at ABC Company but I heard that the people who work there aren’t very motivated (really you should avoid saying anything negative in your interview). Or perhaps they graduated from a university and you say you opted to attend the university you attended because the other local universities programs weren’t strong enough. In addition maybe they have something in common with you that you can bring up in the interview, perhaps you both have a similar background. The fact of the matter is the more information you have the better. So do a little bit of research here.

  1. Review your resume

This is kind of a small point but I do think its overlooked. You want to be able to speak to what you have done in your career. You also want to be prepared to walk them through your resume, in most interviews you will have to do something like that. You don’t want to have a whole bunch of ums and pauses as you do this. So take a few minutes and read through your resume aloud and reflect on these roles. You also should be prepared to discuss any gaps in employment and why you left certain roles. It helps to print out your resume and write notes. That way when they ask for that information you have it available to you.

So that’s it. There is my list of the five things you have to do. Did I leave any out? Perhaps you disagree with a point. I welcome any discussion. Thanks!

Interview with Epic CV

Recently I did a Q&A session with Epiccv.com , a website that focuses on resumes. The questions were asked by Epic CV and the answers were my responses. Please feel free to review and let me know your thoughts on my answers. If you have any questions or follow ups please feel free to let me know as well!

Q: What are the three most common mistakes applicants make in their resumes? 

A: For me some of the things I see frequently are poor formatting, having an objective (often different from the job they applied to) and spelling errors. For me all three of these can potentially be deal breakers. Poorly formatted resumes and resumes that contain grammatical errors show a lack of attention to detail, which is never a good thing when you are looking to make a hire. The objective to me is a big error I see frequently and I always advise people to get rid of it. The reason I say get rid of it is that you stand to gain nothing from having it but it can derail your chances to land the job. If I have a posting for a Mechanical Engineer for example and your objective says mechanical engineer as well, it really does nothing for your chances of getting an interview. However if it says design engineer and isn’t a match I might be inclined to pass.

Q:  How much time do you spend on one resume at first glance after you receive it? 

A: The first glance is about ten seconds. In that time I determine if they are someone I am passing on or if they are worth further consideration. If in that ten seconds I see things that lead me to believe they could be a potential fit then I invest more time looking at their resume.

Q: What is the first thing you look for in a resume?

A: The first thing I usually look for is that if it is well put together. Is this resume aesthetically pleasing and does it demonstrates a professional put time into making this look presentable.  The next thing I look at is their most recent job title, that is usually a good indicator of whether or not I should be reader further.

Q : What are the three main eliminating factors of a resumes you review?

A: Spelling errors, long gaps in employment without explanation and lack of detail from previous jobs.

Q: What are the three main attributes in a resume of a candidate that will be called for an interview?

A: I look for experience that matches the role I am currently recruiting for, solid work history  and the technical expertise that match requirements.

Q: What do you think of graphic and video resumes?

A: I think while it could be a way to stand out, most of the time you are better suited to have a well put together standard resume that highlights you as a professional and is submittal to the average ATS.

Q: What do you think of a functional resume format?

A: I prefer candidates to have a functional section as opposed to doing the formatting as entirely functional. When that is the case I find myself looking for employment history and not giving full attention the functional portion.

Q:  Can you share up to five quick tips for applicants in order to pass ATS screening?

A: Make sure you match keywords from the job description in your resume, use standard colors and fonts, make sure you spell check, explain gaps in employment and if you are going to have an objective on your resume make sure it matches the job you are applying for.

Q:  What is your position on photos on resumes?

A: perhaps I am boring but I am against it. I have seen many resumes with pictures on them and never once have I thought to myself, “oh good, this person put their picture on their resume”. Frankly if it doesn’t help  you get an interview then it doesn’t belong on your resume.

Q:  Why is professional resume writing service worth a couple of hundreds of dollars? 

A: To answer that question I think all you have to do is ask yourself a question back, “what is the value you place on getting the job you want?” For me that is certainly worth an investment of a few hundred dollars. The market is so competitive these days that if you don’t put yourself in the best possible situation to be successful, you won’t be.

Q:  What is your opinion regarding resume length?

A: 1 to 2 pages. I wouldn’t advocate it be any longer than that. I have been recruiting for 6 years and my resume is one page in length.

Q: What are the three main points, undergraduates or fresh graduates, need to present in their resume?

A: They need to do a really good job of highlighting the skills they have built up from school and perhaps from internships. Coming into the workforce you wont have years and years to draw upon but you can most likely find value in the courses you took. For example if you are trying to get a job as a software engineer and you got a computer engineering degree, you want to make sure you find a way to incorporate the projects you worked on during your schooling as well as the languages you have built up experience with.

Q:  What do you advice to your clients regarding references?

A: Your career is just as much about building relationships as it is about accumulating skills, make sure you don’t burn bridges so that you have contacts down the road. As far as your resume is concern, leave any mention of references. I think outing references available upon request is pointless. If the company requires references they are going to ask for them regardless of what you put on your resume.

Q:  And what about cover letters?

A: I may be in the minority here but unless a job specifically asks for a cover letter I skip it. As a recruiter I hardly ever look at them. Besides if the employer asks for them the one other exception I would say is that if you have a long period of unemployment, or something else that merits explanation it might be a good idea to include a cover letter. You can use the cover letter to explain the gap, why it happened, why it isn’t a concern for your future employer and why you are a good fit for the role etc.

Q: What is your advice on making employment gaps less prominent on a resume?

A: The one thing I look for is an explanation as to what you did with your time. I always tell people if they are laid off, take courses or volunteer, do something with that time along with looking for a new role. Then when it’s time to explain that gap you have something that adds value.

Q:  What would you like to see in resumes more often?

A: I would say I would like to see more keywords. I work on a lot of technical roles and I love it when a programmer lists all of the languages they have used. It really makes my job easier on the front end.

Q: What are the most irrelevant parts of a resume for you?

A: This would be a tie between the objective portion and any resume that has “references available upon request” on it.

 

Q: Do you check online presence of a candidate exclusively through links provided on a resume or you dig deeper?

A: I always go to LinkedIn but that is as far as I go.

Q:  In the end, please add a couple of sentences about resumes for our readers.

A: One of the things that can get you noticed is quantifiable results. A bullet that says “saved my company 100k by reducing downtime 15% over a 1 year period by implementing a new lean procedure during a Kiazan event” lets the prospective employer see that you have accomplished things and it gives them an idea about what you can do for them.

About this site

I would like to thank you for visiting my website and I would like to strongly encourage you to ask questions and comment on any post you take the time to read. The purpose of this site is to provide useful information for anyone looking for a new job or is considering making a career change. I am hoping to provide content that will empower my readers and help them be successful in their careers. With six years of hands on experience in interviewing and hiring for a multitude of organizations I have been able to learn the hiring process from the inside. I hope to not only answer the questions or my readers but also provide the answers to the questions they don’t know that they should be asking.

As a head hunter I gained valuable experience with many different clients in many different industries and as a corporate recruiter I learned what it is a company is looking for and what the process consist of from the inside. This experience has given me a very unique perspective to understand the hiring process from multiple perspectives. My hope is to pass some of that knowledge to those who can benefit from it most. I welcome all questions, inquiries and feedback.

Video Interviews (Why Companies Use them & How You Beat Them)

As a recruiter the type of interview I get the most push back on is video interviewing. People hate doing them. Some people don’t like the way they look on their computer and some people don’t like the feeling of talking to a computer screen. The advice I would give to those people is that you better get used to it. More and more companies are utilizing video interviews because of the cost saving ramifications and the convenience they afford the hiring team.

Types of Video Interview

So when most people think about video interviews they think about your standard video interview in which you are speaking with someone live, usually via Skype of some other video service. And while yes, currently this is the most used, some companies are using another format of video interviewing where you are answering prerecorded questions. At my last company we had implemented this for most of the technical roles we were recruiting for. These interviews would usually have about 5-10 questions, a mix of standard interview questions and technical questions, usually determined by the hiring manager and the recruiter.

So why do companies use these?

The main reason companies use interviews like these is that they expedite the process. For example a typical hiring process is a recruiter interview followed by a hiring manager (these first two done over the phone) followed by a final onsite interview where you might end up meeting with several people. The problem with that is that process can take a really long time. So if a company was to substitute the 2nd round with a prerecorded interview you can have all the hiring managers questions answered and save a lot of time.

Instead of worrying about scheduling another phone interview, the recruiter simply sends you a link that can be completed at your discretion. Often that means completing it that very same day which can remove one to two weeks from the process. In addition to that, most people can get a better sense of if the person is going to be a fit when they watch them as opposed to just listen to them.

How to Beat them

While video interviews can be intimidating I have a few simple guidelines I recommend so that you can make sure that you come out on top.

  1. Make sure you prepare as you would for any other interview. The video specific tips aren’g going to help at all if you aren’t ready to answer the questions asked of you.
  2. Make sure that you practice using the software or platform beforehand. If you need an account make sure to register well in advance. If its as simple as logging, try to log on early so that the beginning of your interview isn’t fixing technical issues.
  3. Make sure that the area is well lit and you are visible. Don’t be too far away or too close. Make sure that you it is easy for the hiring manager to see you.
  4. Have a clear wall behind you for the interview. Perhaps you are the worlds greatest Backstreet Boys fan, that’s great, but nobody wants to see their poster on your wall behind you while u=you explain how you are capable of contributing to an organization. WIndows are bad as well, they can be an unnecessary distraction.
  5. Dress as if it was an onsite interview. Just because you are in your home doesn’t mean you get to wear your pajamas. Dress to impress, they can see you after all.
  6. Be confident. People sometimes get nervous seeing themselves or even just because its something they haven’t done before. Don’t let it throw you off your game. Know that it is weird for some of the managers doing it as well and put your best foot forward. Speak loudly, clearly and be sure of yourself and your accomplishments.

So there you have it. You know why companies use them and you now know how to beat them! Good luck!