Most people read in 2 1/2 inch chunks. That is why drudgereport.com and newspapers use narrow columns.
Do you have a 3 ½ inch reading span?
Or is yours 2 ½ inches long?
To get your accomplishments and victories noticed, you have to learn the art of placement. You need to put power words and numbers in the first 2 ½ or 3 ½ inches of each paragraph and bullet. If you don’t, that bullet and that paragraph will not be read.
More than 80% of resumes are tossed in the trash after a 10 second review. More than half of the rest are tossed out after a second review of 45 seconds. The reason is that 100 resumes may come in for a particular job. Reviewing each resume for one minute would take over 1 ½ hours. Instead a screener takes 15 minutes to reduce that pile to 10 or 20 resumes by trying to quickly reject the obviously unfit ones. Since the boss doesn’t want to read even that many resumes, a 45 second review of the remaining resumes will reduce the pile to at most 5 resumes. Then the boss takes those 5 resumes AND DOES THE SAME THING!!!! He shuffles through the pile doing first a ten second review and then a 45 second review, hoping he only has to read one or maybe two in depth.
Can you survive that process?
What gets your resume past all the reviews is having boss stopping information where it gets read. That means you have to have your greatest accomplishments in bullets. Your finest deeds must be at the top of the list of bullets. It also means you put your list of duties, if you really really feel you need to have them, in a single paragraph so they are easy to ignore until the boss decides he will slog through the whole resume.
At the bottom of www.agicc.com/resumeideas.htm are links to some very good resumes. They are actual resumes we got permission to put on our site. They are resumes that got people jobs fast.
Your job review needs to go through the same editing process. Let’s face it, your boss finds your job review even more boring than you do. His boss will barely glance at it. You have to learn to put critical information in the first 2 ½ inches of bullets. It will earn you a lot of money.
Something To Do Today
Rewrite your list of accomplishments. Make it into bullets. Put the boss stopping words and numbers in the first 2 ½ inches. Write two or three bullets for each accomplishment. Word them different ways. If you have the time, create a new resume or job review. Don’t throw away your practice bullets yet. They will come in handy tomorrow.
Great women are not considered so because of personal achievements, but for the effect their efforts have had on the lives of countless others. From daring feats of bravery to the understated ways of a compassionate heart, great women possess a common strength of character. Through their passion and persistence, they have advanced womanhood and the world. (Peggy Anderson)
Want to get hired? Prove you are great.
Employers look at resumes for three things to do the initial screening for greatness:
- Basic job skills
- What you have accomplished
- What you caused others to accomplish
Basic job skills have to be easy to find on your resume. Prove you can type, program in VB.Net, sell, do accounting or design widgets. Make it so those skills will not be missed by a receptionist who has 100 resumes to plow through.
What you have accomplished is often harder to come up with.
What you caused others to accomplish is even harder to remember and very hard to prove.
My opening quote gives a great suggestion, figure out the effect you had on others. Keep track of people you have trained, processes you speeded up and money you saved. It will set you apart. Most people won’t track those things because they are taught to be “humble”. There is nothing wrong with reporting how well you do your job. Correctly convincing an employer to hire you because you will make him more money is a great idea. Don’t shy away from proving what you are worth.
The people, teams and companies you have helped are a great indicator of just how great you are. Accept it and take advantage of it.
Something to do today
If you have not started a job journal, today is a good day to do it. Start tracking all the people you help. Keep a tally sheet with the number of people who drop by and ask for help each day. Figure out how you make the workplace better. Track it and report it.
Later: Oil drums on the horizon
Jason has had 3 promotions in 2 years. His pay has gone up 50%. His attitude is a delight. If there is a tough job, he’ll rally the team and get the job done. Jason not only gets the chance to fix disasters, he fixes the problems behind the disasters. No one has ever done that before. He is having a huge impact. He seems to whistle a magic tune that improves attitudes and gets unbelievable results.
Jason also just quit. He took a new job that pays a little less than he earns now.
Two things happened. First, Jason realized his boss would always be a loose cannon and Jason would always get to clean up. Second, with a boss like that it was obvious the company would never go out of business, but it would never get much bigger either.
The best part is that all the things he got done looked great when he applied for a job. He applied at their strongest competitor. Jason is going to a company that is really growing. It is a company with a plan and a history of doing things right the first time.
Wherever you are, whistle a happy tune. Put an accomplishment list together that will carry you into a better job, and if necessary, get that job in a better company.
Something to do today
Just for the record, all the stories I tell are true, but the names are changed.
Document your accomplishments for each week. Give a copy to your boss in a format he can use for his reports. That way you can be sure he knows why you are the best employee he has.
Later: Hustle while you wait
The $5 call girl
Where to fish
It isn’t the incompetent who destroy an organization. It is those who have achieved something and want to rest upon their achievements who are forever clogging things up. (Charles Sorenson)
You have to kill your boss, or the senior technician to get a promotion. They have the job you want and are not leaving. They don’t want a promotion. They are fat and happy. They are like a big wad of hair and grease in the sink trap. They clog up the career track for everyone else. So, where is the Drano? How do you get them out of your way?
First be sure they are the biggest problem. It is embarrassing when you have complained for 5 years about your boss being in your way, only to have him leave and a coworker is promoted in his place.
You need to have a list of standout accomplishments that prove you are perfect for the job you want. That way you can get the job in your current company OR the next one.
Become the obvious candidate. Ask your boss to help you get promoted. Also ask HR (Human Resources) and your boss’s boss. Find someone who will champion your cause and be your mentor. A mentor helps you prepare to advance and gives you visibility outside your team. Your mentor will help you to find high visibility assignments where you can prove your worth.
In a job journal write a weekly list of your accomplishments and projects. Use that list in your annual reviews. Also submit a weekly, monthly and quarterly list of accomplishments to your boss. Make sure he knows how much you contribute.
You can also look for a new job. If you have a list of undeniable accomplishments you will be a good hire for another company.
The same things that prepare you for a promotion in your company will make you a better job candidate.
Something to do today
Write down your career goals. It doesn’t matter if they change tomorrow. Know where you want to go today.
Later: Clogging things up yourself
In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it. (Robert Heinlein)
Making a goal a constant irritant is critical. Anyone can set a goal and then forget it. An effective tool for making goals a constant irritant is Post-it notes. Write a single achievable goal on each note, then:
- Post your achievable goals on the bathroom or bedroom mirror
- Carefully read them when you get up and when you go to bed
- When you accomplish a goal, paste it in a permanent record
All three steps are critical. You have to use them as an irritant and as a reminder that you can meet the goals you set. You’ll find that you want to put up goals you are going to meet.
Remember the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: the mere act of measuring changes the thing being measured. Putting those goals on your mirror, measuring yourself against them, then cataloging your successes can change your life.
Something To Do Today
Take a pad of Post-it notes home. Write achievable goals on 3 of them. Make at least two of them very short term. Create an archive where you can keep all the Post-it note goals you achieve.
Tomorrow: How they determine your pay rate
Later: Certainly I can
But I’m a really fast learner
Re-entering the workforce
I don’t want to spend money on training
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. (Mark Twain)
Facts would be nice
Stephen King, author of more than 30 best selling horror books, wrote a book on writing. He says, “Get rid of adjectives.” This top author refuse to write, “She stealthily crept down the spooky staircase which creaked ominously.” Instead of using adjectives, he just tells what his character does, “She crept down the stairs.” He says the toughest thing hehas to do in his writing is to remove all the adjectives. Just give the facts.
I’m still waiting to see a resume that states: “I hate to work hard. I disrupt every team. I am a pig. I never take initiative. I lie constantly. I never hit my deadlines.”
The resumes I actually get have 2 to 4 paragraphs covering half a page that state: “I work hard. I am a team player. I am neat. I take initiative. I am honest. I do assignments on time.” Those paragraphs never give me any facts, so I don’t read them.
What I really want to know is: What is different because you were there?
Set yourself apart from the other 40 people applying for a job. Use every inch of your resume to state things you have actually done.
State facts like:
I carried a beeper and was on-call for 3 years.
I worked late for two months to help a different team finish the Simpson Project.
I received an award for having the neatest desk.
I kept our biggest customer from losing $500,000 by shipping their widgets overnight, without being authorized to, because my boss was on vacation.
I estimated my last project at 715 hours and completed it in 690 hours at $4,000 under budget.
Would you rather hire someone who says, “I work hard” or someone who says, “I carried a beeper and was on-call for 3 years”?
If you write your resume like Stephen King writes his novels, you’ll get more interviews. Give the facts about what you’ve done. Let the hiring manager use a red pen to add comments to your resume like: hard worker, takes initiative and hits deadlines.
Something To Do Today
Grab your resume and a ruler. How many inches of text describe you without giving facts? Many resumes have more hot air than facts. Literally.
As fast as you can, cut your resume down to nothing but facts. Add facts in bullet points. Don’t worry about the relevance of the facts. Act quickly. See if you can create a long “facts only” resume in less than half an hour.
Now take a break until tomorrow. Then fix that resume so that it can be used.
When your friend puts your resume on the desk of her boss and says, “Jill is the best salesperson I’ve ever met,” that’s not a reference. She never worked with you. It is only a fantastic introduction. So get your friend to do that, and also find real references.
The people you choose as references need to know how well you work. If you provide your pastor, a bowling buddy and your son’s Scoutmaster as references, it will work against you. People who check references want to know how well you work, not how well you sit in church, drink beer or drop off hikers.
When you give people you have not worked with as all of your references, you wave a big red flag in front of your candidacy. The hiring manager will wonder why you have no coworkers you can trust. Isn’t there someone you worked with in the past who can say something nice about you?
Don’t limit yourself to coworkers and bosses. Try these references:
- A secretary or administrative assistant who you constantly worked with
- Suppliers you dealt with extensively, more than just order takers
- Contractors you worked with, supervised, or reported to
- People you sold to
- Salespeople you negotiated with
- The person who always came to you with questions
- A business rival you constantly competed with and sometimes beat
- Someone from where you do a lot of real work as a volunteer
- A teacher (only if you are fresh out of school)
Your current job and previous jobs are your biggest assets in a job search. Use your jobs to prove how well you will work for your new company. The bad news is if you screwed up on two jobs in a row, you are going to have a hard time getting hired. The good news is if you impressed three people at your old jobs, those are the only three you have to give as references.
Something To Do Today
In your job journal list the people you impressed in the last 5 years. Use the suggestions above to add people beyond your coworkers, bosses and subordinates.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. (Seneca)
Daryl comes out of another tense project meeting at work. He’s late leaving for his job interview. He guiltily leaves his jacket hanging in his cubicle so no one will suspect he is gone and sneaks out to his car. He turns on talk radio where politicians are being called the biggest thieves and liars on earth. That gets him thinking about his hate for his current job. He’s two minutes late. No one will notice, but Daryl is still stressed. The interview seems to go well, but it only lasts half an hour. The next day a secretary calls and informs him that “He is not a fit.” He doesn’t understand why.
This is how Daryl blew it
You have to prepare for your interview emotionally and mentally. Daryl did neither. He really did everything he could to assure he interviewed poorly.
Here are 10 things to do on your way to an interview:
- Get mentally out of your office an hour early. Shut your office door or leave the building. At the very least, prepare the evening before.
- Reread the descriptions you have of the job you are applying for.
- Jot down a quick list of how you have triumphed in the kinds of projects that you would see on that job. Writing the list cements it in your mind.
- Describe those triumphs out loud while you watch a clock. Keep each description under 2 minutes.
- Answer aloud a few test questions like, “Tell me about yourself,” or “Why do you want this job?” Time your answers. Keep them under 2 minutes.
- Leave early enough to arrive 10 or 15 minutes before the interview starts.
- Listen to soothing music or a motivational tape as you drive.
- Use your drive time to think about what you have accomplished in previous jobs. Talk out loud about each accomplishment while you watch the clock. Keep each description under 2 minutes.
- After you stop in the parking lot, read the job descriptions one more time. You need to keep in mind what the company says it is looking for.
- Time to shine. Remember to smile as you walk in the door and greet each person. Have fun. Remember, they invited you in. They want to see you.
If you have a bad interview, you won’t get the job. If you have a great interview, you not only get the job, you may get more money.
Interview preparation is not difficult. It requires time and concentration. Give it the time and the effort it deserves. You’ll see the difference.
One thing I mentioned that people forget
Collect job descriptions of every job you are going to interview for. That’s often the key missing link in preparation. If you rely only on your memory, you may forget a few essential points that you should emphasize in your interview.
A coupla months in the laboratory can save a coupla hours in the library. (Westheimer’s Discovery)
A friend sold me a chainsaw cheap. She was doing me a favor. She admitted that it ran, but it did not cut well at all. I took the chainsaw home and reversed the chain. It works great now. A little while ago my son decided to cut some monstrous tree roots with the chainsaw. Suddenly it wouldn’t cut anymore. The dirt on the roots had horribly dulled the chain. I took it into my basement and spent half an hour sharpening it. Now it cuts again.
The career trash heap is littered with the bodies of people who thought 20 MORE hours a week at work would get them promoted. While they were slaving away, someone else reversed the chain or sharpened the saw. The thinker and planner got promoted.
You need to do your basic job well. Other than your basic job, what will set you apart? What will make you the best? What will make you the natural leader?
Your boss wants to look good and get a raise and promotion. What can you do to help him? Is your working more hours the only thing that will make him look better?
Your company wants to make more money, spend less, and keep the customers happier. Can you do something a little better while you are doing your basic job? Can you get involved in highly visible projects? How can you set yourself apart?
In addition to being better, you have to get noticed, respected, and appreciated. Give your boss a weekly, monthly and quarterly report of exactly what you did better. Then in your next annual review, you have ammunition. And if you go job hunting, you have proof.
Take a careful look at your job. Can you reverse the chainsaw chain somewhere? Can you just sharpen the saw? What do you need to do that will move you forward the fastest? Is just putting in more hours really the most important thing you can do?
Ask your boss how HE is evaluated. Now ask yourself how can you help HIM get a better evaluation? Sharpen your chainsaw, don’t just work more hours.
Do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few. (Pythagoras)
When is your resume being thrown away? Yesterday I gave the 4 major trashing points in your resume’s life.
You have two ways to break through the cycle:
- Have someone give your resume directly to the boss with their recommendation.
- Have a resume that passes all 4 trash points.
Networking will get your resume directly to the boss with a recommendation. Outstanding networking will get you an interview without a resume.
For the rest:
Do you pass the idiot test and the expert test? Assume an idiot and an expert will each try to find a reason to throw away your resume. Assume they have too many resumes and want to throw away as many as possible. They are proactive trashers.
The secretary has to see an obvious, undeniable fit with the job description. She won’t understand all the acronyms, but she knows they have to be there. She knows how much experience is required. She knows it has to be a manager or a worker. She trashes resumes that don’t shout that they fit the job.
The boss has a lot to do. He wants a great person to work for him, but doesn’t have enough time to talk to everyone. Like the secretary he throws out the obvious problems. The difference is that he understands the resume. He throws out the resumes that just don’t feel right. Time is critical to him. The first person he calls has the accomplishments he needs in his company.
Run a test. Take your resume and the job ad you are responding to. Hand both to someone who doesn’t know the field. Do they think you pass? Do the same with an expert. Do you pass?
Stop wishing and hoping. Either network your way in or find your own screeners. You need other people to help you get your resume out of the trash can.
Something To Do Today
Who do you know that is up front and brutally blunt? Take your resume and the job ad you are responding to. Ask them read the job ad thoroughly. Then give them your resume. Ask them to decide in 10 seconds if it looks like the resume passes. Then ask them to take 45 seconds and look closer.
Do you pass the test?