Knowing the Line between Standing Apart and Standing Alone

In today’s job market, employers are flooded with resumes from interested candidates. People are unemployed or underemployed and are fighting for the limited jobs that are available. Candidates are doing their best to make their resumes impeccable so recruiters can find the keywords and see that they are the best candidate for the role. But even a nicely formatted, customized, and keyworded resume might not be enough to catch the recruiter’s attention. Savvy candidates are recognizing this and started constructing creative resumes to really set them apart. But are these creative resumes helping or hurting them?

Being in talent acquisition myself, I stare at resumes all day long. So, naturally, a resume that is different from the common, mind-numbing format and font is always a welcomed surprise. It can be something as subtle as a colorfully displayed PDF version, an infograph, a chart, or an additional portfolio of their work. These simple things can really add value to a resume and catch a recruiter’s eye.

Some candidates have even gone bolder. For example:

Although these “alternative” resumes have received quite a reaction to them, it’s important to consider what you’re promoting in your resume. Is your resume going to help you stand apart from other candidates, like these examples did, or is your resume going to backfire?

Remember the important aspects of a resume: experience, education, skills, and so on. Those are the bare necessities to help recruiters determine if you have some or all of the skills that are needed to be considered for this job. Then, you can get a little more creative: find ways to show recruiters that you have more to offer than just your experience; help them see that you fit the culture; show them your passions and values; and make them clearly see why hiring you would be their best choice.

Many candidates have done this successfully but some have lost sight on the important aspects of a resume, traditional or not. Make sure you double check what you’re presenting to your recruiters to ensure that the information you’re sharing isn’t: potentially misconstrued; irrelevant; potentially make them question your abilities or professionalism; full of useless facts that wastes their time; or so over-the-top or out there that they lose the message and can’t see how you would be a good candidate.

There’s nothing wrong with being creative to try and stand out against the overwhelming candidate pool. However, it’s important for you to research the companies that you are targeting to ensure that you know your audience well enough. Knowing a company’s culture, values, missions, and so on can help ensure that your alternative resume is appropriate. And remember: there is a fine line between standing apart from other candidates and creating a resume that might make you seem unhireable.

Humanizing Your Resume on Social Media

In the battle to find a decent job, I’ve heard many candidates say that they wish there was a way for them to stand out against other applicants. These candidates are working to grab recruiters’ attentions, communicate, and build relationships. They’re hoping to show that there is so much more that they can offer an employer beyond what their resume presents. And many of these candidates still have trouble finding the opportunities to do this. As I have learned, a great way for candidates to do this would be through social media.

Many recruiters are utilizing social media as a way to market their current needs, to search for prospective candidates, and to make it easier for candidates to find them. Social media can help candidates discover what companies are hiring and which recruiters are handling specific openings. Most importantly, social media makes it very easy to start two-way communication between recruiters and candidates.

Do you want to show that you’re up to date and knowledgeable about industry trends? Post something, start a discussion, participate, and be responsive. Try to find ways to connect with recruiters on this level and you can really add something extra to your resume.

Another popular trend that is occurring is scheduled virtual discussion groups. Recruiters and candidates can come together, discuss relevant topics, and network. Sometimes these groups will have previews of the topic. If so, make sure you prepare so you can add value to the discussion and really leave an impression.

Social media really adds transparency that can help candidates ensure that a company or position would be a right fit for what they’re looking for and vice-versa. I’ve personally had some great experiences using this, ranging from: landing a job; networking with amazing people that have helped me progress professionally; and also as a way to locate a great candidate pool for job openings that I’m working on. It’s made my life easier both as a candidate and as a recruiter. So, don’t rule it out.

If you have any questions on how you should utilize social media to your benefit, please feel free to contact me on Linkedin or Twitter.

Linkedin

Twitter: @AshLaurenPerez

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Hate Your Résumé? Learn From My Mistakes

Hating your résumé is a terrible feeling. Believe me, I’ve been there. My first post-college résumé was a document that was almost personified by how much I loathed it. It was free of typos and used proper grammar. It met all of the standard requirements of what a résumé is supposed to be. So what was the problem?

Simply put, it wasn’t me. It was devoid of all of the qualities that made me special, all of the details that made me a great hire. I had a résumé that did not yet reflect professional experience in my field and looked like a template. There was nothing on that piece of paper that said “you need to hire this person.”

As a recent graduate, my lack of experience was common. However, just because I was new to the professional landscape didn’t mean that I didn’t have other experience. My mistake was that while trying to make the résumé look neat and professional I stripped away all of the important things.

There were no keywords to help HR software find my résumé. Not getting the résumé into someone’s hands is a crucial error. Even if a résumé is stellar, it will do no good if no one sees it. My résumé also failed the six-second test. If a recruiter or HR manager looked at it for just six seconds, it would almost certainly go into the reject pile.

My terrible first professional résumé ended up being a huge lesson in what not to do. Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned from the experience:

  • Optimize for keywords: the first step in the job-search process is getting your resume into someone’s hands. Most companies use some sort of applicant tracking system to sort through potential candidates before deciding who to call for an interview. If you tailor your resume to feature keywords mentioned in the job posting, you are more likely to have your résumé picked up.
  • Highlight your skills: don’t rely solely on keywords to make your résumé shine. Take time to showcase your specific achievements and abilities. The skills that the job posting doesn’t mention could still help get you hired. Think of it this way, the applicant tracking system pulls résumés based on keywords and similar factors. This means all of the potential interviewees probably used the same keywords as you did. Highlighting other noteworthy skills or accomplishments can help you stand out from the stack of applicants.
  • One size does not fit all: every résumé should be tailored to a specific job with a specific company. No exceptions! It may be tempting to send the same résumé to 15 companies rather than taking the time to tailor it for 5 specific companies, but this is not the most effective strategy. The time that you spend personalizing the résumé will help make it easier for you to get results.
  • Include a personalized cover letter: this may be a polarizing topic, as some recruiters dismiss the importance of cover letters. For me, however, a strong cover letter is a must-have. In fact, it was my cover letter that got me in the door for my first post-college job despite my sub-par résumé. A cover letter gives you more freedom to be yourself and really connect to the hiring manager.

Your résumé should be as strong on paper as you are in real life. Whether you are fresh out of college or have over a decade of experience, your résumé should be tailored to suit the specific job and highlight your experience and skill-sets.

I didn’t know better when I wrote that first résumé, but I do now. An over-formatted piece of paper that lacks any real sense of your abilities will not improve your chance of getting a job. If you can’t seem to fix the problems on your own, there are professional services that can create your ideal résumé for you.

Don’t hurt your chances of being hired by sending out a résumé you hate. Creating something that you are proud of can help you land an interview and even increase your chances of being hired. When making your résumé, be yourself and be smart. You have what it takes to get hired, all you have to do is show them why.

 

erin_palmerThis guest post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin is a writer and editor who covers topics found in the Masters Degree in HR online programs for the University Alliance. Learn about human resources careers such as HR manager and other career information at villanovau.com. Feel free to connect with Erin on Twitter: @Erin_E_Palmer

 

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Are You Searchable: The Boolean Search

Throughout my employment with my current employer, WilsonHCG, I am constantly introduced to new and interesting ways to source and recruit for quality candidates. In my past recruiting roles, I would do simple searches on job boards like Careerbuilder or Monster. But recently, I learned that there are even better ways to find candidates that possess all the qualities the job opening requires. Recruiters are now utilizing Boolean search strings to identify top candidate matches. If you are a candidate, it’s important to understand how this works so you can customize your resume for the best results.

As I have mentioned in the past, it is important for candidates to use keywords in their resumes. It is even more important for them to customize their verbiage to have the words that are either used in a particular job posting or for a specific industry. These Boolean strings can use 2 or more words or phrases to really screen out and/or hone in on candidates that have the most experience relevant to a specific job’s needs. As a candidate, here are some ideas on how to research hot keywords to place in your resume:

  • Make a list of the top companies you want to work for. Thoroughly look through several job openings relevant to your experience or interests to get an idea of how they lay out the posting and what they’re specifically looking for.
  • Research a specific industry and job postings in that industry to get a better idea of what terminology and industry-related language are used.
  • Look at job postings for a particular role you are targeting. Look through a large range of postings that different companies and/or industries use. Compile a list of the common words, phrases, and verbiage that all of these different companies and industries seem to commonly use.

Once you get a better understanding of what recruiters and companies are looking for, take a look at your resume and see how it compares. Make necessary edits and customize some of the words or phrases that seem to be predominate for a company, role, or industry you are targeting. Feel free to even make several resumes with different keywords, post it, and see what resume gets more views/hits.  Making these changes can seriously help your resume get noticed by the recruiters. For more information on how Boolean search strings are used during the recruiting process, feel free to read the following:

Why Boolean Search is such a Big Deal in Recruiting.

Boolean Search Strings are Not as Scary as you Might Think.

Photo Source and more Boolean examples.

Make Sure Your Candidates Have a Great Experience

 

A few months ago when I was job hunting, I was applying to companies that had a well-known brand, were large, and seemed to have the culture and stability I was looking for. Naturally, I assumed that my applications would go unanswered or that a few months later I would receive a generic e-mail letting me know that they’ve gone with someone more qualified. Unfortunately, this has become the new norm for job seekers and to be quite honest, it is not a great experience. Recruiters are flooded with e-mails and alerts in their ATS systems that it can sometimes be hard to respond to candidates even with the generic e-mail. Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I had a great candidate experience even for a position I was never interviewed for.

One of the areas I was targeting was the west coast and many of my dream companies were located out in Silicon Valley. These were top companies and majority of the time my applications and LinkedIn e-mails went unanswered. Then one night, I received a phone call from a company I applied to—Netflix. Many people are well aware of Netflix and may have even used it before. Other individuals know a ton about their company culture (I learned about it in a few classes during my college days). I seriously wasn’t expecting to hear from them, let alone receive a phone call from their recruiting department. The recruiter simply called me to let me know that they received my resume and was impressed with my experience, but didn’t have a position open matching that at the time. She also told me her e-mail address and insisted that I connect with her on LinkedIn so we can stay in-touch for any future opportunities. And that was that. A simple phone call made quite an impression.

Experiences like this can benefit a company:

  • It can increase customer referrals: Needless to say, I told many people about my enjoyable experience with them. It really meant a lot to me to have someone reach out to me even if they didn’t have anything at the time, especially a company that would have a large volume of resumes coming through. It also meant a lot that the recruiter made it easy for me to have her information and stay in touch with her. By telling others about this experience, it gave Netflix good PR. Word of mouth is amazing for marketing and advertising.
  • It can increase talent referrals:  Because this recruiter gave me her contact information, I was able to connect talented workers with her. A couple even landed interviews and offers. Also, I told these individuals my experience which made more of them eager and excited to apply to Netflix. Engaged candidates can lead to engaged employees if hired.
  • Rapport: This recruiter and company impressed me so much by this simple act that they gained my respect. This has made me want to build a rapport and relationship with the company and even help them find other talented individuals if they contact me for help. Building this rapport helps the recruiting department have mini-strategic partnerships with people they’ve spoken to.

These little things really go a long way with candidates. Finding jobs are hard and dealing with no-answers or generic answers can really wear on a candidate’s confidence. Taking that extra time to personally reach out to them can go a long way to a point where they would be extremely grateful. In turn, their gratitude could make them want to return the favor in any way they can. Positive candidate experiences are more important than businesses realize, so be sure to make the effort if you can.

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Netflix Website

 

Early Careerists: Don’t Burn Yourself Out

Post written by: Vera Swain

Did I format my résumé correctly? Should I have included a cover letter? When I follow-up on the application who do I follow up with?! Such are the questions I and thousands of other job-seekers have asked ourselves during our job search, and for some of us, myself included, at times, we’re still not sure of the answers. Such are the trials of the dreaded job search. But these are trials we must all go through at one point, so how do we cope? How do we stay positive when it looks like no one wants us; why do we continue to apply when we believe no one’s reading the multitude of applications we’ve already put forth?

I’ve been applying for jobs since I was 15 years old. I guess you could say I was an über-early careerist. At that age, though, landing a job was a lot simpler. I went down to the local Taco Bell because it was within walking distance, I filled out an application, and I was hired on the spot. Then I went through hell for six months until I was 16 and could apply for a more lucrative position in the bakery of Atlanta Bread Company. Today, the job search could still be done this way. Taco Bell is still open and doing better than ever. But now that I’ve been out of college for a few years and am officially an adult, this isn’t the kind of job search I’m embarking on lately. It seems that once you walk across the stage, diploma in hand, you’re no longer allowed to fill out paper applications for jobs. The job you want involves an online application to which you must attach a résumé and a cover letter and maybe even references. No longer do you complete your application, walk up to the cash register and say, “Is your manager here?” And just like much of your adult life, this new job search is a lot more stressful than it was as a teen.

So, how do we make the process less stressful? How do we see the light when it seems like the end of the tunnel is barricaded by a brick wall, ten feet high? Follow these simple steps and you may be able to survive the job search with your sanity intact:

1. Slow down. I know your instincts might be telling you that you need to apply to as many jobs as possible because with more worms, you’re bound to catch at least one fish. I think, at the height of my job search madness, I once applied for at least 50 jobs in one day. This was when I moved to Las Vegas after graduating college and I was determined to find a job in hospitality. I don’t know about you, but filling out one application is stressful enough; imagine 50! Slow down. Take a break. Do two to three applications a day. You can’t devote the proper attention and time needed for an application if you’re doing this many at a time. Write cover letters. Customize your resume. Breathe.

2. Network, network, network. I’ve found that networking has helped me alleviate some of the strain of the job search because it makes me feel like I’ve got a team on my side. Through networking, I’ve been able to gain access to recruiters and hiring managers I never would’ve found if I didn’t know who I know. Talk to your friends; if they’ve got a job you admire or work for a company you’d like to work for, see if they can connect you to a recruiter at their workplace. Use LinkedIn. I’ve been introduced to several recruiters and hiring managers by a friend who is a very avid LinkedIn user. When your friends and previous coworkers can help you in your job search, it takes a large weight off your shoulders.

3. Read. Do your research on performing an effective job search. There are countless books on the market on how to go about finding a job. These books can help you find new methods when it seems like you’re not doing anything right. In addition to these books, read articles on the Internet. I’ve learned so much about constructing a cover letter, strengthening my resume, and contacting recruiters through articles I’ve read on the Web and books I’ve borrowed from the library.

4. Have a drink and RELAX. Sometimes the easiest way to de-stress is the most obvious. Take a break when your eyes start to blur. Ride your bike. Watch a movie. Go out with friends. Clearing your head will better prepare you to tackle your next round of applications and will give you a new lease on the process.

I know the job search can be stressful. I’m actively searching. But it doesn’t have to be maddening. Use your resources, relax, and breathe. You’ll find the job you’re looking for because you’re experienced and suited to it, not because you drove yourself crazy looking. And when you do, let me know; I’ll treat you to the drink I mentioned above.

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About the writer:

 Vera Swain is a young professional who is active in the job market. Currently, she is seeking a position in Marketing in the Los Angeles area as she is in the midst of relocating from one coast to the other. When not writing and job searching, Vera can be found with her nose in a book on her feet on the dance floor. Always seeking adventure, she is an avid traveler who loves to see and experience new things, especially food. To hear more from Vera, follow her on Twitter at @swverausc214 or check out her LinkedIn profile here.

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Death of the Traditional Resume

A couple months ago I had written a post regarding a new twist on resumes. The post went over a couple ideas on how to add a little something extra to your traditional resume. Today, I would like to revisit this topic and also add some more suggestions and details on how to make your resume outshine the others. A recent Twitter chat on Friday called #HRTechchat revealed that many other recruiters and HR professionals believe that the traditional resume is dead and had strongly suggested that job seekers find other means to display their abilities and eligibility for a job. Therefore, a few suggestions below might help make a positive impact in job seekers’ searches.

Here are some tips that can help you through your job search:

  • Spruce up your traditional resume: Although HR professionals and recruiters claim that this is “dead”, it is still used when applying for jobs. Consider your resume as just one piece of the puzzle and a way to get a foot in the door. Make sure your resume is updated to have relevant information. Add industry specific keywords to make it more searchable. Reformat your employment details to use verbiage that matches the job postings you’re applying to. Include specifics of size and scope to help employers see how you’d fit in with their specific company needs.
  • Determine what you would like your personal and professional brand to be: Even if you aren’t a marketing guru, it is important to learn how to sell yourself. Make sure your resume reflects the brand, job, and industry you are targeting. Network with relevant people to show your knowledge on this subject. Help others, volunteer, and try to become the “go-to” person in your networking circle. Put yourself out there and make it known that you are the epitome of this brand.
  • Build your online presence: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.  Join other professional websites relevant to the industry you’re branding yourself in. Join in discussion posts on career websites and social media sites. Create your own blog to show that your industry knowledge is tangible. Offer to write for other websites’ blogs as a guest. After you take part in all of these things, do a quick online audit of yourself. Recruiters most likely will be Googling you, so be sure to check and ensure that you’ll be appearing in the search results in a favorable way
  • Show results: Many recruiters and employers rely heavily on results. You can say that you’re capable of “x, y, and z” duties but unless you find a way to put tangible results as supporting documentation, it won’t be seriously considered. Build a portfolio if you can or even get creative and make an infograph of your experience and results. This can help add a quick, visual document that can show recruiters that not only can you perform the duties, but you are also successful at them.

Job seekers- you need to do your due diligence in your job search. Recruiters are bombarded with resumes and eventually they all look the same. In this day and age, you can no longer simply submit a resume and assume that it will get noticed. You need to set yourself apart from the mundane masses and find other ways to capture employers’ attention. Set yourself apart, brand yourself, and make yourself searchable. Doing these simple things will help you land a job faster.

Links:

Death of the Resume.

Visual Resume.

Yes, the Traditional Resume is Dead.

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