Tag Archives: Finding jobs

Don’t lose a job over one email 

Dan had the perfect first interview. I debriefed the hiring manager. Dan was a sharp leader with experience and corporate savvy. The pay would be $175,000 per year. Dan drafted a thank you email and sent it off to the hiring manager. 

The next afternoon I called the hiring manager to set up an interview. It was not going to happen. Instead of the short “thank you” I recommended, Dan sent a two page email. Not a problem, usually. Then the email was forwarded to me. Dan had sent a lethal email. 

There were two problems:

1. Dan wrote about the wrong things

2. The grammar, spelling and layout were terrible

The wrong things

A thank you email is not a good place to bring up problems with your last boss, the other reasons you quit that job, or that you are tired of working long hours. You don’t set salary, vacation and relocation demands in a thank you email either. You just say, “Thank you.”

Grammar, spelling and layout

Dan was in the running for a job as leader, manager, communicator and chief computer dude for a multi-national company. He would be giving direction and building coalitions. His technical expertise was essential. But, Dan didn’t use the computer to check his spelling or grammar. It was bad. Just plain bad. He also wandered from subject to subject in the middle of paragraphs and sentences.  The email did not hang together. 

Make it very short, or get it proofread

A short thank you is best.

If you are writing more than 3 sentences, wait an hour and re-read it before you send it. The idea of informal and off-the-cuff email is sweet, but wrong. You will be judged by what you send. If your email is over 3 lines, at least proofread it yourself. Better yet, have someone else who is a good writer look it over and make suggestions. And please learn how to use a spelling and grammar checker.

Make sure your thank you gets you closer to the job, not shut out.

Something to do today

Go to your email outbox. How many of those should have been more formal?

“Lone Eagles” join flocks, too

I used to believe that eagles don’t flock. I’d seen flocks of geese, starlings, and turkeys. Never a flock of eagles. For some reason, I believed the best people didn’t flock either. After all, my employer used it as a recruiting slogan. You have to find the great people one-by-one.

8 years into EDS, I worked with a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist. On her wall she had the Sierra club calendar. There was a picture of a dozen eagles all sitting in the bare branches of an Alaskan tree. I commented on the incongruity of all those eagles flocking together. She said, “My husband and I were in Alaska when we took that picture. It really isn’t that uncommon of a sight where there are a lot of eagles.” 

Close Photography of Bald Eagle

Looking for flocks of eagles became a hobby of mine, particularly since my employer’s recruiting slogan denied that eagles flock. I found that there really are a lot of lone eagles. They are islands of expertise and productivity in an ocean of mediocrity. My current profession is to find those eagles and move them into flocks. 

There are a few flocks of eagles in every industry and city. Places where eagles are naturally attracted. Once you know where those places are, it is pretty easy to get an eagle to move to that flock. Some choose to remain the lone eagle among sparrows. I can’t blame them. Besides, they can move to a flock anytime they want.

Just being around eagles makes you grow. You can’t help but want to be like them even if you are just a sparrow. Somehow, you absorb their attitude and habits. Even if you don’t really want to become an eagle, being around them is exhilarating.

So keep your eyes open for flocks of eagles and individual eagles. Find a way to work closely with them. You’ll learn and grow. You’ll find your career is enhanced and your outlook improves whether or not you ever want to become an eagle yourself. 

Something to do today

Ask around. Where is the flock of eagles you would like to work with? Where are the lone eagles?

Executives are jumping ship but slowly

Half the executives I talk with every day are keeping their eyes open for a new job. That includes CFO’s, CIO’s, COO’s, Directors, and VP’s at every level. They may not be actively looking, but they want to talk to me. Even CEO’s and Presidents who are not founders are talking to me more.

Senior professionals are more stable

Professional level employees like Senior accountants, engineers, and programmers are less likely to be looking than their bosses. They have their eyes on their projects…on what needs to be done today.

Do you know what gets them to call me? They like working from home and don’t really believe any other employer would let them continue working from home. When their managers say, “You have to start coming into the office 4 days a week now,” they want to talk about a new job.

Regular staff have a foot out the door already

Staff and Junior level professionals are looking. They don’t just have their eyes open, they are checking out the job boards and checking company sites for jobs. These are people working for their company for less than 3 years. There has been a boom of accountants, admins, clerks, and engineers talking to me.

When I call these people about jobs, they want to talk to me in-depth even if they just got a new job.

Shop floor and warehouse workers

Turnover is unbelievable. Leaders at every level say they are being killed by the turnover levels. Staying ahead of the market requires constant diligence.

Something to do today

What are top companies actually doing? What is working from the management and employee sides?

Will your resume last more than 5.7 seconds

I heard the Wall Street Journal did a study and found that the average resume is reviewed in 5.7 seconds. Years ago it was 10 to 12 seconds. People must be reading faster.

The reason for the increase in speed is probably that so many unqualified people send in resumes these days. At one point at AGI we stopped all advertising and stopped putting our jobs out on the major internet job boards because of the unqualified responses. It took too long to slog through them.

That glut of useless resumes makes it easy for your resume to stand out. Here’s how you make it happen. 

Take the job lead you are submitting your resume for. Make sure that anyone glancing at your resume can see that you have the major skills. For programmers that means putting the languages and skills you used where they can’t be missed in 5.7 seconds. For accountants, your expertise that applies to this particular job must jump out. Salespeople need to show how good they are at a glance. Whatever makes you the best bet for the job you are applying for must stand out.

This means you may need 2 or 3 slightly different resumes. Maybe you just need to rearrange the bullet points. Try bolding the words that describe skills asked for in the ad. Put white space around the critical skill sets. Change which keywords are emphasized. Do something to get your resume past that initial 5.7 to 15 second review.

In a sea of useless resumes, you can make yours stand out and get read if you are willing to put in the effort.

Something to do today

For the next 5 times you send off your resume, give it an examination first. Take the job order and see if YOU can find the most important skills and qualifications on your resume in 5.7 seconds. If you can’t, no one can.

When you’re replacing the interviewer

Jill had to interview with the person she was going to replace. That person was being fired. It was an uncomfortable situation. Let’s make it worse. That person thought he was irreplaceable. No one could possibly know accounting like he did. No one would work as hard. Jill couldn’t possibly win.

Jill didn’t pass the interview. She won anyway.

It was a chance to spy, do business intelligence and find out about the other leaders. A month later the managers who allowed this curmudgeon to reject her came back to Jill. They came on bended knees. It was a terrible mistake they admitted. But that terrible interview gave her insight to ask difficult questions of those managers. Jill quickly found out that she didn’t want to work for them. We found her a different job that was a much better fit.

If you are thrown into the lion’s den, take advantage of it. You can turn the interview around and find out about the company, the leadership and the rest of the team. You may be able to find out where the company is really going. Find out who the biggest competitors are. One of those competitors may want to hire you. The possibilities are only limited by the questions you ask. 

Take a hostile interview and turn it into a learning opportunity. You don’t have to let anyone beat you down. 

Later, if you are in a friendly interview, the same questions can show your interest in the company, job, and industry.

Something to do today

In your journal write down questions you can ask in an interview. What would help you in your job search? Showing interest in the company, competitors and industry will actually make you look better in the interview.

How to save your resume from getting deleted

Some people wisely ask, how can I hide my flaws? Others seem to ask, how can I hide my greatest strengths? 

Every resume I read is a mystery novel. For instance, an accountant dismissed in March is a lot different than one dismissed in May. March is the busy part of tax season, so, why would a competent accountant be sacked? May is a time that accountants cut back on staff. Is the firing a red flag or a red herring?

Is an 8 or 10 line “objective” on a resume a red herring? Do any of those 200 words really mean anything? A 300 word paragraph describing the last job is incredible camouflage for good and bad. 

A bullet cuts through all the fluff, just like in a murder mystery. Find the bullet, find the gun, find the murderer. I always read the first 3 bullets under a job in a resume. 

If those first 3 bullets are three red flags, then I will absolutely skip the rest. 

If those first 3 bullets are three red herrings, I may skip the rest. By skipping the rest, I may miss the one important bullet that would convince me to keep your resume.

My problem is that I am human. I am easily distracted. I have hours of work to plow through before I leave. If I see too many red herrings in your resume, I’ll push the delete key. I don’t have the time to carefully consider each bullet to see if it’s a herring or a flag.

How many pounds of red herring are in your resume?

Something to do today

Hand your resume and the job ad you are applying for to a friend. Ask them if they match. If it takes more than 15 seconds to say, “Yes!”, then you lose.

Using friends and relatives to help get a job

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.

Using the right words to catch the hiring manager’s attention

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.

How to connect your job search

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.

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.