The first paragraph of most resumes states: I am hard working, a team player, a great contributor, an original thinker and will make you money.
In an interview every candidate makes the same assertion.
Why do so few people prove it?
I used to work with a salesperson in a national company. She was in the top 5 salespeople of her company. She never told me. She didn’t put it on her resume. Her friend finally told me. She had absolute proof of how good she was compared to others, but she never used it. To her credit, she did talk about the dollar volume of sales she made. She just never said how much better than average she was.
I work with engineers who know exactly how much money they saved their company, and they don’t write it down. They don’t mention it in interviews.
CEO’s and CFO’s fail to mention how much money they made stockholders.
Why? They have been taught not to brag.
If you don’t prove how good you are, you look like every other candidate.
Who is going to hire you? There are ten candidates. One proves how much money he can make you. The other nine say they are team players who want an exciting job.
Which candidate were you?
Something to do today
Keep a special folder at home or work where you prove how much money you saved, how many customers you helped, the money you made and how much faster things work now. Write a summary in your job journal every week.
When Bill Gates was trying to sell a PC operating system to IBM, his mother was on a charity board. The president of IBM was on the same board. Was there a possible connection? Maybe. I doubt Bill Gates’ mother got the deal for him, but I’m sure it helped.
An unemployed salesman asked me, “Can you help me find a job? You know I’ve been looking for months. What can I do?”
I didn’t have a job for him, so I asked him about his job search. We talked about networking. It turns out he already was in touch with some very influential people. They even offered to introduce him to other leaders, but he was afraid to take their help.
This salesman had convinced himself that, despite what these leaders thought, he just wasn’t worth their time. He didn’t feel comfortable networking at that level. He couldn’t see a reason why they would help him. Here is why they would help him: That is what President’s do. They help people succeed. They are focused on it. They spend all day thinking about helping others succeed. I put that salesman in a verbal headlock and got him to promise he would use the help he had already been offered.
Remember Bill Gates? He sold a PC operating system to IBM that he did not create or own. Bill Gates had gotten the right to sell it from the creator. He outsold a guy who owned a demonstrably better operating system. Bill Gates did it by using every string, every avenue and every potential aid he could find. Lots of people wanted him to succeed, not just his mother. He got everyone’s help he could.
Don’t be afraid to use every bit of help you can find to get your new job. Others wouldn’t help you if they didn’t believe in you. Now, believe in yourself.
Something to do today
Make a list of the most powerful and influential people you know. Ask for help. If they are in your current company, ask for help growing where you are. If they are out of your company, ask for help finding a new job. Go to the most powerful and influential first.
My grandfather was a modern farmer in 1930. The local farm bureau agent came by and said, “The government will pay you to rotate your crops.” Grandpa replied, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard. I already rotate my crops because I can grow more that way. My land doesn’t get worn out. It gets renewed.”
Grandpa was stubborn and wouldn’t take the government’s money to do something he knew he should already be doing. The guys from the conservation bureau had problems with him. He always implemented the latest ideas without waiting for them to come up with a program to get him to do it. Crazy old coot? Really, he was a visionary farmer.
Do you have to be paid to prepare yourself to earn more money?
Reading about your field, reading books, or even listening to audiobooks on your way to work is the best way to keep current in your field. College courses in the evening are a great way to build the basics you need for a foundation for growth. Enthusiasm will get you into seminars and conventions. Pay for it yourself if you have to. It is worth it.
Don’t wait for someone to come and tell you what you need to do and learn. Go out and learn it yourself before that happens.
Something to do today
Find new articles, books, or audiobooks in your field and write down a few things that stand out or are new to you. How can you apply that to your work?
To stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth, one of the heroes in Men In Black steps on some earth sized bugs. They are relatives of the big one. The giant one comes back down and “engages” the hero. “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.”
If you can get a relative, friend or recruiter to help you, you multiply your chances of getting a job instead of a rejection from that hiring manager.
Let’s start the way we did in the last article. First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. You can only use friends and relatives two or three times. They are the big guns to use when you really are well qualified and motivated. If you are not qualified for the job, just send a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will delete it for them. Relatives and friends are too important to overuse. A recruiter won’t let you overuse them, so use recruiters as heavily as you can.
Once you identify the job you would be excellent for, you need to figure out a plan of attack.
First: who really respects you that can help? A recruiter who respects you is a much better reference than a brother who thinks you would bomb. The person who you know directly will hand your resume to someone you don’t know. The enthusiasm that is passed on with your resume is the big advantage you get from a friend, relative, or recruiter handing over your resume.
Second: figure out the final target who will be given your resume. Particularly if your friend works there or is a recruiter, they will have several options. If possible, have them give it directly to the hiring manager or their boss. If you cannot get it directly to someone making the decision, figure out who else it will be given to. Just handing your resume to the HR department may do nothing for you in a huge company.
Third: follow up. If you know the hiring manager or their boss got your resume, give them a quick call to verify they got it and see if they have any questions. You may only get their secretary, but you can still ask them if they have any questions. This is where you can reinforce your advantage. If a recruiter handed in your resume, ask the recruiter to follow up, and then you can follow up with the recruiter to ask what the manager thought.
Using a friend, relative or recruiter can get your resume put on the top of the pile of applicants. It will not guarantee you a job, but it will sure help you get an interview.
Use friends, relatives, and recruiters when you are prepared and the stakes are high. That is the best way to get a hiring manager’s attention.
Something to do today
Networking time. Identify the 5 companies and jobs you best fit and most want to fill. Start asking people you know, who they know who works there. You can invite that stranger to lunch with a friend. Scary? That’s okay. Invite them out to lunch anyway. With the friend along it will be more comfortable.
In the last article I talked about how hiring managers are NOT God. I even went as far to say, “Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you.”
The hiring manager is not God. They are a giant cockroach.
You cannot assume that a hiring manager will glean 4 key words and 2 key points out of a 3 page resume. You get no points for length and thoroughness. You get no points for briefness. You get points, or an interview, for saying the key words and phrases that the hiring manager wants to hear. If you don’t shout those key words and phrases, the manager’s receptionist will shred your resume. Then the cockroach, the hiring manager, can hide in their office where you can’t get to them.
To find the right words and phrases you need to do some forensic language work. Like a crime scene investigator. Take 3 or 4 job listings on Indeed or ZipRecruiter for different jobs with the same company. Place them all side by side. Highlight all the phrases that are identical. Identify the stuff the human resources department puts around the description the hiring manager wrote. That fluff may possibly be necessary to get you past the HR department, but it won’t get you a job.
Now take your blue highlighter. Mark every misused acronym, word, technical term or technical phrase. Those are the words the HR person didn’t understand. They could very well be critical. You need to have an exact match on those words in your resume.
Continue marking with an orange highlighter. Again look for all the technical terms and acronyms. Mark them all. The orange words are the most likely to be used by a computer or receptionist to screen out resumes.
Finally, go back over the resume with a pink highlighter. Mark the skills that are the most difficult to find. What are the things in the ad that everyone wants and nobody has?
I bet those ads look terrible. That’s good. It means you have taken the time to study the exact words that will get you an interview. You need to include those words and technical phrases in your resume. They will force the screener to pass your resume on to the hiring manager. He will have to call you in order to see if you can do the job. You will prevent him from closing his door and hiding from you.
Something to do today
Get some highlighters and go through ads on the internet. Find the really key words and phrases. Alter your resume before you send it out. Make it so they cannot miss the things that are important to them.
Google puts first things first. They figured out how to rank pages by how they are connected. They put the page that will be the most useful to you at the top of your list. That saved so much time that people abandoned the other search engines.
Connecting web pages is a simple concept. A web page links to my website. Another site links to that first web page. Now, all three are connected.
There are simple and complex strategies to being ranked highly by Google. All of them are forms of networking. The two most common strategies are: 1) you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and 2) become the expert.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
You offer to list their web page on yours if they list your web page on theirs. That way you both get a lot of recognition.
It works in job hunting, too. Although it’s not as simple as with websites, the basic idea is to help as many people as you can, and they will help you.
Getting articles published in trade journals is one example. There are literally thousands of local, state, regional and national associations and publications that need authors. Call up one and tell them you want to write an article. Local newsletters are especially useful. If you do a great job, they’ll publish it. The people who get those newsletters will then consider you an expert. They may just call you to help them with a question. They may offer you a job.
If you have something interesting to say, and already know you are a good speaker, contact your chamber of commerce and get on their speaker list. If you would like to be a great speaker, contact Toastmasters. I know there is a club near you. Go to https://www.toastmasters.org/. They are the best speaker trainers in the country.
Become the expert
When you are the expert, everyone seeks to be connected to you. You can get to be known as an expert by getting certifications or doing consulting work.
Certifications are available for almost every field: sales, HR, accounting, real estate management, security, law, computers, etc. Often hirers search resume databases for the certifications and assume a good person will be attached to them.
Consulting work can really mean just getting a temporary job in the field. If you are unemployed, you have little to lose. Contact all the temporary staffing agencies and ask them if they place people with your skills on temp jobs as well as permanent ones. If they don’t, ask them who does. I was surprised that there is a market for temporary doctors in Antarctica, temporary electrical linemen in Alaska, and temporary environmentalists in Butte, Montana.
Figure out how to get connected to as many people as possible. It is a Google job search method that gets you in front of the competition. It could eliminate all your competition.
Something to do today
Make a list of ways other people have connected to you in your job, even people who you might not have worked with directly. Track down how they got connected to you. Think of ways you can use that to connect with more people.
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.
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 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.
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.
Buzzards circle overhead. Struggling across the desert mile after mile, a hiring manager finally can walk no further. He starts to crawl. A candidate drives up in a jeep with 100 gallons of water. He offers the hiring manager a ride to a hotel and all the water he can drink if he’ll split the cost of gas. The hiring manager says, “I’ll only pay you for the water. You are going that direction anyway.” The candidate shakes his head and drives off.
Everyone wants a bargain. It is just a fact of life that candidates want more money and hiring managers want to pay less. Your lifestyle is affected if you earn less. Thus is the lifestyle of the hiring manager. Managers are evaluated based on overhead. Even if they are rewarded on output, they want to cut overhead. It is their nature.
There is no magic chart that tells what you should be paid as an employee. I know one programmer who got a 40% raise when he finally realized he was worth more. He went to his manager and said, “Everyone else on my team is earning $50,000 per year. I’m better than most. Why am I earning so little?” What bothers me the most is that the manager and the employee felt good about the raise. How about a bonus to make up for the previous years?
Even if you are the only person in the country who can save his company, the owner is going to look for a bargain. They just do. In the same vein, you will want a raise immediately after finishing training the company pays for. For some reason, a man dying of thirst still wants a bargain on a bottle of water. That’s why you have to be worth 10 times as much to be paid 2 or 3 times as much.
Something To Do Today
Where have you been out-bargained in your job search? What can you change about you, to be a better bargain?