Category Archives: Resumes

Are you buying a hirer’s attention?

Google is one of the most outrageously priced stocks in the market today. They give away services that competitors charge an arm and a leg for, and they make a profit. Google is the best company in the world that is in the attention business. If you are looking for a job or a promotion, you are in the attention business too.

Google started out as a search engine. It was a simple catalog. Then the owners started selling simple ads, but in a different way. That difference changed the internet. Macbook, Laptop, Google, Display, Screen

Go out and Google “jobs”. Everything you see on that first page is a response to your attention. There are a few ads at the top and to the right of your results. The results you see on the first page were also paid for by savvy marketers. Your interest and attention to “jobs” is a valuable commodity. Google is in the business of finding out what you will pay attention to, and serving it up with the least fuss and the most profitability. Google finds out what interests you and then shows you ads you really want to see. Their ads solve your problems. 

Now the scary part. Can anyone find you? My query about “jobs” produced 5,320,000,000 hits this morning. Even Google is selective about the information they present to me. They sell more by presenting less information. That’s why there is a first page of Google.

Let’s cut down the competition. Google “biomechanical engineer” in quotes and you get 69,600 hits, and a lot of the ads disappear. Google your name inside quote marks. I got 18,800 hits on “Bryan Dilts” because I am a blogger and businessman. Can anyone find you? Google is expert at finding what interests me and presenting the most important information in the first page. People can find me, can they find you?.

This is why you are in the attention business. To get a job, you have to get a hiring manager’s attention. You have to be at the top of his employee search. There is a huge amount of competition for his attention. He has to stop and look at you as a person. He has to call you, bring you in for an interview, and introduce you to the team. Then he has to decide to stake his career on hiring you. He has to pay a lot of attention to you. Are you doing what is necessary to be at the top of his search?

The next few days are about getting the attention of people who will hire you. Google is going to play a big part in the discussion, so go out and have some fun with it.

Something to do today

Cut a paragraph or phrase out of your resume and Google it. Do the same with a job ad. Have some fun.

Every candidate could use a bit of polish

Every few years a hiker in the United States finds a large raw diamond. Usually it was carried down by glaciers from Canada when sheet ice covered the north.  A raw diamond is interesting, but not exciting.  To reach its true value that stone must be turned over to an expert.  It will have scores of facets polished into it until it catches the light and sparkles with fire.  It is the expert polishing that makes people cherish diamonds.  Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way for long after they are discovered.

My old partner got a Thank You note from a candidate she first placed 20 years ago.  She convinced a bank to take a chance on him.  He has worked his way up the corporate ladder and gotten promotion after promotion.  He was a diamond in the rough.

At the bank he first decided to stand out less while working more.  He watched closely how others dressed and acted.  How did they succeed with sales and politics?  Banks are calm on the outside, but full of opportunity and excitement behind the façade. Mentors appeared as he looked for them.  Some were his managers, some were higher up or lateral to him.  They gave him advice and helped him acquire polish.  Over the years he kept on polishing new shining facets into his skills and character. He learned management and leadership.  He figured out ways to fix problems instead of just enduring them.  Instead of being noticed for his rough exterior, he now stands out for his ability to make things happen and his polish.

If you get a job based on being a diamond in the rough you will only progress a little if you don’t acquire some polish.  You may have to get rid of the nose stud or the blue jeans you always wear.  It may be your technical skills that need work.  Effective management and leadership abilities need training and practice.  Look for mentors, people above you who can lift you up.  Move away from the group that is stuck in a rut.  Find the stars that are rising and do what they do.  Learn constantly.  

You can tell a human diamond in the rough from an average person.  If you truly are a diamond in the rough, you will embrace change.  You will actively seek polish and improvement.

 Something to do Today

Where can you polish up your skills? Write ideas down and think of ways to polish up on those skills.

Everyone judges a book by it’s cover

A woman teaching my daughters held up a copy of a magazine with scantily dressed women on the cover. She asked, “What do you expect to find inside?” The answer was, “Pictures and articles about sexy dressing and attracting men.” 

She handed the magazine to a girl and said, “Open it and read from any page.” Inside those covers was a religious magazine. The teacher made the comment, “If you dress on the outside like the women on the cover of this magazine, no one will bother to find out that inside you are a woman of character. They won’t even consider it a possibility.”

In the last article I wrote that perception really is everything. How you are perceived is always critical, especially to yourself. Over time your character is altered by all the little things you do. At first you act to give an impression, but eventually you act from the bone deep character you have developed while impressing others. 

Benjamin Franklin was brought up short one day when he realized he had developed a less than brilliant character. He was a smart, hard working man, and becoming successful. He had noticed that some people would cross the street to the other side when they saw him coming. He realized he had a poor reputation in many things. In his autobiography he describes his plan to improve his character. The simple device he used thrust him forward to prominence in the fields of writing, science, diplomacy and politics. 

As Benjamin Franklin started working on his character he wrote, “I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.” He found that if he pretended to have a virtue long enough, he developed it as a part of his character.

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading Benjamin Franklin’s short autobiography.

Become the person you would admire.

Something to do today

What’s on your cover?

You have to prove you are worth more than you are being paid

“I am earning $115,000 per year. But I don’t want to be a food scientist anymore. I want to be a Java programmer. I’d like to earn about the same salary, but I’d consider less. Maybe $80,000 per year. I also want to move to Pennsylvania. I don’t like Texas. I almost got a PhD degree so I am sure someone will want me. Can you find me a job?”

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At that time Java programmers with 2 years experience were earning $60,000 per year. They had no Java experience. They were studying it. Their goal was to get certified and then move to their new career. Their degree was unrelated to programming. Dropping from $115,000 per year to $80,000 per year seemed to them to be a sure way to interest an employer. I had to let them know that they weren’t worth anywhere near that as a programmer. 

Their problem was that they wanted to be hired at top dollar before they had a track record. And, yes, he did get hired. Just not at those terms. They realized the reality of the situation.

No employer can stay in business when they overpaid their employees. If their expenses are high, they have to charge more. Then their competitors take all their customers away. No customers, no business, no jobs. 

In order to be hired you have to be the best bargain of all the people who apply. You need to have proof that you will do more excellent work for less money than anyone else. That doesn’t mean you have to be the lowest paid. You have to be the best bargain.

A great salesperson will be paid three times what a mediocre one is. Yet, everyone wants a great salesperson and will pay for them. You may pay them three times as much, but they bring in 10 times the profit. That’s because high volume cuts your overhead costs. Great salesmen are worth a lot more. Did you notice the ugly fact that great salesmen are worth 10 times more, but are only paid 3 times more?

What about network technicians? If you can improve computer response time by ½ second per entry by 1000 clerks, you can save $100,000 per year for your company. If you can keep the computers of 1000 clerks from going down for 10 minutes each week, you are saving the company 166 man hours per week. That will allow them to save the wages of 4 clerks. A great network technician is worth much more than the one who allows network problems to continue. The ugly fact is that a great network technician is only paid 2 or 3 times what a barely acceptable one is paid, yet his contribution is 10 times greater.

You need to document what makes you great. Present it to your boss when you do it. When you are looking for a job, put dollars produced and saved in your resume. If you prove you are worth more than you are being paid, there will be less resistance to paying you more. Prove you are worth ten times more, then accept wages two or three times higher. It’s ugly, but that’s the way it works. 

Something To Do Today

Think about what work you have done over the last week or two. What are a few things that can make you worth 10 times more?

Exploit your “excuses” for your advantage

You are not trying to get the job of “minion” or “muscle”. Don’t pretend that exploiting your life experience is wrong. It is not the same as mugging someone in a back alley. The real reason most people don’t want to exploit their advantages is that they “want to stand on their own two feet”. It is a lovely macho phrase that means very little. Our society, families and personal lives all rest on the shoulders of those who came before us. Admit that no matter what you do, others have helped you. Get on with using the advantages that parents, teachers, friends, clergy and God have given you. 

Here are some excuses people use and reasons to exploit them for your advantage.

  • I will not exploit my family connections to get a job.

Acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Employers need reliable hires. Getting someone from a good family is a much better bet than hiring a complete stranger. If they can’t hire you, but they suggest someone else hire you, they get brownie points from that other person. They win as much as you do.

  • My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.

If your friends object to helping you get a job, they don’t trust you with THEIR reputation. If you are going to let them down, you are not a friend. If they trust you and you will follow through, helping is what builds friendships.

  • I refuse to manipulate their emotions.

People always hire based on emotion. Always. Even if no one talks to you and they only give you a paper test, they hire on emotion. Paper tests are put together based on what people FEEL will give them the best employee. Your pay will be based on emotion – how well they FEEL you will do. Promotions are based on emotion – how do they FEEL you will do in the new job. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be an actor. Tell the truth simply. The emotions behind the truth will help you Use them.

  • Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.

Actually it is called networking. In many companies senior partners and executives can be fired for not having lunch with enough different people. They are evaluated on lunch. Literally.

  • I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy.

You are fine now and it is relevant to understand your resume. If it will substantially help you get the job, tell them. Talk to a couple of job experts and get their opinion. If it will help, exploit it. 

  • I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me

They want to hire the person with the best attitude. They want the person who will work the hardest. They want someone who they can promote. They want someone who is excited. They want to hire the hungriest person. How can they tell that about you unless you keep asking them, “When will you decide?”, and, “When can I start?”

  • It is greedy asking for more money.

If the offer is very good, take it. Don’t argue. Otherwise, ask for more money. If you really are worth it, get the money. If they pay you more, you will be less likely to leave for another job because of more pay. They win too.

  • Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.

Hiring and training you does cost money. Companies that invest that money have already figured out how to profit from it. They will either give you a raise and promotion, or expect you to leave. They will make money. You won’t cost them a thing.

  • I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.

The leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude veterans develop is uncommon. Bring it up.

Your life experience makes a difference. Whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it.

Something To Do Today

Think of these “excuses”. If there are any that you use, how can you use it to your advantage?

How to test your resume

I Dare You To Use This Resume Test

This test will get you job interviews.

Right now about 5 resumes out of every 100 make it to the hiring manager.  The average resume screener is NOT an expert in what you do.  If you are lucky he will know half of the technical terms on your resume.  The screener will decide in 10 seconds whether or not your resume comes close to being acceptable. 

After this speed test, the screener will give each resume that passed the 10 second test a 45 second read through.  If you pass that test you will finally get in the pile that the hiring manager gets to see.    Your resume has to get past the screener or you will not get interviewed or hired.

How do you test your resume?  

Find a screener of your own.

Ask a friend to look over your resume for 10 seconds.  Time them.   Snatch your resume out of their hands.  Take it away and ask them what they read.  What they tell you determines whether or not you would make the first screen test.  If you pass that test, give it back to them for 45 seconds.  Again, snatch it away and grill them about what they read.

If your resume passes this test with three different people, you have a resume that may work.  If your screener can say what you accomplished, that’s outstanding.  If he says what your duties were, that’s good.  If you are going for a programming job and he says you worked with VB.Net and C#.Net, and by the way, what are they?  You did VERY well.

Every time you submit a resume, look at the ad you are responding to.  Will your screener pick out the key phrases in the ad…..from your resume?  Test it.  Find out. 

That’s how you get more interviews.

Get my book with more resume tips here in pdf format, and a resume planner.

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Something To Do Today

Find 3 friends, acquaintances or enemies and test your resume.  If you are having trouble, go to www.agicc.com/resumeideas.htm again.  See what you can change.  My resume writing book and planner is free here.

Standing out in your resume

Any of these tools can get the job done. Which would you choose?

If a resume gets you an interview, it is a great resume. That is the only measure of success. It cannot get you a job. It can get you an interview.

Applicants want their resume to stand out. It used to be done by using extra nice paper. Sometimes the resume was sent with a single crisp fold or in a flat envelope so that it was just slightly different.

Electronically, it is harder to stand out. Content, readability and accomplishments are critical. Content is king. Anything that distracts from content shouldn’t be there. What gets attention? What  stands out, but not distract?

Photos

You may have heard that you should not be including a photo in your resume at any cost. Over the years, lawsuits have been filed charging race discrimination against companies that kept photos of applicants. The idea was that if you had a photo, you COULD discriminate. This is no longer an issue as most interviewers will check your social media profiles. Having a photo included on your resume may help you stand out to an employer.

LinkedIn profiles

The easiest resume is to go to LinkedIn and copy your profile to a PDF and send it in. I’m not sure there is a more boring way to make a resume! If an interviewer wants your LinkedIn profile, they will find it. Send something new, not what is easily available online. A unique resume that isn’t online will get you farther than a resume spammed to a thousand companies.

Logos

If you have a certification (cert) that is highly sought after, use it. If there is a well known logo associated with the cert, use it at the top of your resume. Don’t go nuts. For example, the gold standard for PC programmers is Microsoft certs or Sun Java certs. Use those logos. If you are a CPA, attach those letters to your name. Don’t add your dog training certification unless you are applying as a dog trainer.

Fancy fonts

Fonts should make your resume easy to read. Don’t mix 3 or 4 fonts on your resume. It distracts, not enhances. Please don’t use brightly colored fonts. Sometimes a resume looks okay with one other color in addition to black. Usually 3 or more font colors look terrible. Don’t distract.

Content is king. Bullets and bolding are usually all you need to attract attention to the most important parts of your resume. First work on content, form will follow.

Something To Do Today

Look at your resume. Is there anything distracting? Hand it to someone else and ask them.

How to get your resume noticed online

get noticed online to get a job

How to get your resume noticed.

How to get your resume seen online could be a book. That book hasn’t changed in the last 5 years. Here are the basics:

  1. Include every keyword that is in the job listing
  2. Figure out a way to repeat the most important key words
  3. Resubmit your changed resume occasionally

Keywords are critical

Computerized filters are being used more often. CareerBuilder, Ladders, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and all the others have them. If your resume does not have every important keyword or acronym, the computer eats it and spits out a form letter. No human sees your resume.

Put a list of certifications, education, software used, tools mastered and techniques employed at the end of the resume. Include every abbreviation or keyword in the ad. If you are missing a minor keyword, consider saying at the end of your resume, “I understand CDF and JCL but have never used them. It may get you past the computer filter. If you are submitting your resume directly to the hiring manager, you might take the list off.

Repeat important keywords

Your resume will be ranked by keyword usage. When my query brings back 300 hits, I want to see the most likely resumes first. I sort on “relevance” and cherry pick the top resumes. The best way to be ranked highly is to intelligently use the keywords multiple times.

Resubmit your resume

Job boards usually show the most recently submitted resumes first. If your resume has not been submitted for 3 months, it is at the bottom. Worse, recruiters may assume you have a job if your resume is that old. They won’t call you. Refresh your resume every week or two with a minor change.

Just these three things may change your invisible resume to a real interview magnet.

Something To Do Today

Go read the job description of the last job you submitted your resume for. Did your resume have all the keywords? Did it repeat the most important keywords?

Cover letter with impact

Tree hit by lightning

Your cover letter can have incredible energy.

The best cover letter I ever heard of was a clean sheet of paper that literally only said,

“I can do that job.”

The resume beneath it was thoroughly read. The candidate was carefully considered. A cover letter can have no greater success.

I always read the first sentence or two of a cover letter. Unless I am intrigued, I never read more. I don’t have time to read that you work hard, like people, are a team player and deserve a chance. Everyone says that. It just proves you are average.

I thoroughly read cover letters that have useful gems in the first sentence. I keep reading sentence after sentence until it gets boring. A cover letter masterpiece has me convinced to do an interview before I see the resume. It extracts 2 or 3 gems from the person’s background and displays them briefly. I want those gems. I make a decision based on those gems of information.

If you explore beneath shyness or party chit-chat, you can sometimes turn a dull exchange into an intriguing one. I’ve found this particularly to be true in the case of professors or intellectuals, who are full of fascinating information, but need encouragement before they’ll divulge it. (Joyce Oates)

To discover gems in your background, ask yourself:

  1. Why haven’t they filled this job already?
  2. What are the most critical job skills?
  3. Which of those skills is hardest to find in the job market?
  4. What have I done that proves I am way better than average?

Now craft a single short sentence that shows you are exceptional.

Create 3 more on different subjects.

Now write several short cover letters based on those sentences. Make sure each sentence in the letter proves you are extraordinary.

I would be intrigued by your gem filled letter. I would decide to interview you before I even looked at the resume.

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I know 4 people who have gotten jobs without a cover letter, and whose resume only said, “I can do that job.”  The only thing else on the resume was their contact info.  Do you say too much?

Something To Do Today

Hand your cover letter to a friend who is somewhat distracted. See how long it takes them to look like they are slogging through the letter. That’s where the boring stuff starts.

3 most critical words on your resume

job related words in a mass of confusion

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. (Mark Twain)

3 critical words

12 words is the most that people will read on a billboard.

(That was 12 words.)

1 ½ or 2 inches of print is what most people read at a glance.

12 to 15 seconds is all the time a resume normally gets in a screener’s hands before it is trashed or put in the “review” pile.

3 critical words can make or break your resume.

How to get your point across in a resume

Worry about the first 3 words people read in every paragraph and bullet point.  Those are the critical words that have to drag the resume reviewer into the rest of the line.  Think of the hiring manager.  What action, accomplishment or benefit can he see in the first 3 words?

Can’t do it?  Get a thesaurus, or use the one in your word processor.  Find the main word in that paragraph, find a high impact word to replace it with, and put that word in the first 3 words of the paragraph.  In most cases it is better to break any paragraph over 3 lines long into bullet points.  Long paragraphs are intimidating.  Reviewers don’t want to read them.  Make sure you worry about the first 3 words in every bullet point.

3 words can make or break your job search.  Work on them.

Something To Do Today

Take an electronic copy of your resume and delete everything except for the first 3 words of each paragraph or bullet point.  Leave the spacing and formatting the same.  There will be a lot of white space and blank lines.  Print it out. Put it face down on your desk.

Come back tomorrow and look at the skeleton you created.  What is its impact?  Fix it.

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Tomorrow:     email exploitation and cowardice

Later:              Absolute proof it is time to leave your job