Tag Archives: resume

Leave your mark to impress your boss. 

I have been around a lot of big bears in Pennsylvania. It is exciting. Still, I have only seen one bear in Pennsylvania. Bears leave behind footprints, scratched trees and scat (the polite way of referring to bear excrement). As a matter of fact, some bears try to impress other bears by showing how high on a tree they can scratch the bark away. They may never see each other, but bears know who is the “big bear”.

Bear, Brown Bear, Mammal, Animal, Nature, Wildlife

In job hunting you need to let people know you are the “big bear”. Don’t tell them everything you did at your last job. Show them signs of your size and impact. In your resume do not give every detail of your jobs. Show the things that prove you are the “big bear” now. 

Are you a Controller or CFO? How much money did you save your company? How much new revenue did you personally drive to the bottom line?

If your title is manager, assume that people know you hire, make budgets, and write reports. Increased revenue, how much money you saved, and faster execution are things that show how high you reached. 

As a programmer you need to have a list of languages you know somewhere on the resume. That’s necessary but it doesn’t make you stand out. The fact that your last five projects came in on time and under budget will show you are a big bear. 

Don’t hide what you accomplished in a forest of petty details. Make the things that prove you are a big bear unmissable. If you have ten bullet points about one job, get rid of half of them. A five line paragraph will hide a lot of accomplishments. Make three short bullets instead or put a couple of keywords in bold font.

Show you are the big bear. Stretch up high and scratch that tree where the other bears can’t miss it.

Something to do today

Hand your resume to some friends. Give them 45 seconds to read it, then ask them what your biggest accomplishments are. 45 seconds is a very thorough read for resumes, most only get 10 seconds. If you can’t get your point across in 45 seconds, getting hired will be pure luck.

An email to remember

As the Steelers were marching on their way to the Super Bowl a while ago, I had a candidate from Pittsburgh with the email address of “steelman”. The manager in charge chuckled after the final interview and asked me, “Did you see his email address? I’m pretty sure who he wants to win the game.” That email address made the candidate memorable in a good way.

Hands Writting, Invitation, Typography, Calligraphy

If your email address is anything but your name, make sure it is memorable in a good way. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. The success of the person you hire will be directly linked to you and your career as a manager. There are three strong candidates and you can’t decide which one to hire. Your eyes stray to the email addresses. One is “ironwillsmith”, next is “bryandilts” and the third is “womanhaterjones”. I guarantee “womanhaterjones” will be eliminated. The other two will have a positive or neutral effect.

Be careful how your email address looks. It is hard to believe, but people actually try to find a job with obscene and hateful email addresses. If you have any doubt about the appropriateness of your address, sign up at gmail or yahoo for an address to use only for the job search. 

Vanilla is fine. Positively memorable is fine. An Offensive email name may keep you from getting hired. 

Something to do today

It is probably not your problem, just check your email address anyway.

12 tricks to stand out in your next interview

A moth trap can teach you how to stand out, be remembered, and be hired. The principles can be used in interviews, resumes, and networking.

The moth trap in our pantry is supposed to be much better than the average one. It has the same sticky glue and pheromones, but instead of just a white sheet of cardboard, it has black stripes on it. I don’t know if it really is better, but I paid a few dollars extra for it. If it is better, great. I made a great decision. If it is only as good as the cheaper trap, I still made a good decision. Either way the trap will catch the bugs before they lay eggs in our flour, cornmeal and popcorn. I get protection either way, and maybe I get a little better protection with the more expensive traps.

In every interview you have to have something that sets you apart. It is nice if it is a huge difference, but that is not absolutely necessary. One of the reasons a college degree or certification in your field is valuable is because it sets you apart. People can remember how you are different and hopefully better. Other things that can set you apart are:

  • Putting yourself through college
  • Courses you have taken
  • Projects you have lead
  • Having lots of kids… or having no kids
  • Your volunteer work
  • Your passions and hobbies
  • Dressing sharper than is required
  • Shoes that shine like the sun… or suede tennis shoes
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Someone you know who already works there
  • Long hair… or a marine haircut
  • Something amazing and relevant you did in high school

Remember why I bought the expensive moth trap. It MIGHT be better. Anything you can do to show you just might be better than Mr. Bland will help. 

For the moth traps, it was just a black stripe on cardboard. What is it that you can do, say, be, or show that makes you worth a few extra dollars?

Something to do today

Every time someone is hired at your current job, go find out what was different about that person. When you are told, “They were more qualified,” ask, “Were there any small details that seemed to confirm that they were better?” You may be surprised what little details separate first place from no place at all.

Job search scams to watch out for

A banking jobs website salesman called my partner one day. They have the best, the greatest, the most useful banking jobs website ever. They want us to have all of our candidates put their resumes up on their website. Then any employer can pay a fee, find the resumes, and hire the candidates. There are a whopping 175 resumes in the database. It is useless for anyone to go there. Don’t waste your time putting your resume on that website.

  1. Wasting your time online is the biggest internet job site scam. Many sites sell hope, and not results, ever.

You need to talk to people. Your resume only has one purpose, to get you an interview. If you can call up a company and talk to a real person who might tell you to come in for an interview, that’s the best use of your time.

  1. One other job site scam is the high fee “We’ll help you find a job” website. I have nothing against legitimate resume preparation companies. Someone who helps you prepare for interviews for a fee is fine. Resume rabbit will post your resume on 75 websites for a small fee. Companies that send your resume to 10,000 companies do a service, even if it is mostly useless. The problem is with companies that will charge you $5,000 or $20,000 for those services. Sorry, that’s where I draw the line. So, let me give you some guidelines on top fees you should pay. Paying a fraction of these fees for great service is common. This is the MOST you should pay, ever.
  • Resume preparation: $800
  • Resume posting to job sites $150
  • Interview coaching: $150 per hour
  • Mass resume blasts to employers: a few hundred dollars

Consider the internet a helper in your job search. Your goal is to talk to people who can hire you.

Something to do today

Call a potential employer or recruiter today. Talk to someone. 

Don’t let your resume fade away into the background

Some people are remembered because they are sharp, creative, and interesting. Many people are gray and easily forgotten

Call up our office after 6 pm EST. Usually no one is there. Listen to my voicemail message. (800) 239-7037. Bryan Dilts. I change the message fairly often.

You won’t be the first person to call just to hear it. Some of them are great. Some are merely okay. I, personally, think each is funny, motivational or thought provoking. Some other people think my messages are an abomination. Each message is the real me. 

My voicemail is unique. Each person who leaves a message remembers me.

No committee would ever let me have those messages. They would strangle the creativity. I actually had a manager tell me not to be happy when I answer the phone at an old job. That is the kind of thinking that turns you into a gray person that no one will remember.

Little children are great examples for their creativity, and their ability to stay upbeat and happy in many situations. Kids trip over or fall face first into the floor all the time and they get right back up and go back to being happy as ever. They’re wonderful examples of how everyone should act. Having that upbeat and unstoppable attitude is a great way to stand out, not some gloomy gray person that fades away. 

Unlike children where they can be all over the place, in your job search you need to strike a balance. You need to build confidence in the hiring managers. You also need to stand out. If you come up with a great idea, run it past some friends who can help you refine it. Then test it. The key is to refine and improve, not kill the idea. In the end, take responsibility and do something a little different. Your friends are not a committee with a life or death responsibility. They are helpers.

Figure out what will make your resume better and unique. Decide a few things you can answer to the standard questions that make you stand out in 10 seconds of an interview. Find the way to network that will set you apart and make you uniquely worthy of help. Always go for a little better.

Use help to do something better and more unique. Don’t let a committee kill your genius. Be sharp and creative, not just a gray person everyone immediately forgets.

Something to do today

So, what is unique about you? Is it your personality? Your brainpower? Your 10 kids? (I have that many.) Education? Sense of humor? Hard work? Soberness? Reliability?

Figure out a way to emphasize your strengths. Be different.

Clean up messes in your career growth

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 did 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.

Turn a bad career into a good one

Tim tells me why he has to leave his current company every couple of months. Then he says he has to stay. Leadership is lacking. The work ethic stinks. His office only stays alive because it is propped up by corporate headquarters. He and his boss both know what is wrong. Tim can’t fix it and the boss won’t fix it. 

Tim does have a good reason to stay. He had five jobs in four years before he took this job. He wants to make it to the two or even three year mark here to clear up his resume. If the office lasts that long without being closed, he will stay.

More important than collecting years of service, he is collecting accomplishments. Tim can prove he produces 2/3 of the output at his office of 6 people. He has proof that his occasional training of coworkers has had a deep impact. Tim has numbers. Tim has projects and accomplishments. Those numbers look even better because of his unproductive coworkers.

This is not a race away from his old job. Tim is slowly rowing away from the rocks in his career. He may need a new job tomorrow or in two years. There is no telling how long corporate will suffer losses cheerfully. So he is preparing to leave. 

If you are in a dead end job, use it as a lifeboat to your next job. Be the most important person in your office. Keep track of exactly how good you are. Slowly row away from the rocks in your lifeboat job.

Something to do today

Whether you plan on it or not, your current job is the boat you are in until your next job. Collect accomplishments, projects and cheerful statistics.

Write those accomplishments in your job journal. Give a list of them to your manager. That is the only way to be sure he notices what you do.

Find the real qualifications for a job ad

In a murder mystery on TV show the culprit is never the obvious answer. It’s not the neighbor who hated them and their dog, and their kids and who had their blood on their clothes. it’s always an unassuming character from left field.

Man in Gray Long Sleeve Suit Holding a Pen

Job ads are like a murder mystery TV show. Job ads often have long lists of qualifications and most are going to be red herrings. Only a few of those are really going to be important. Remember, these ads are written by HR, not the hiring manager. 

Job ads all seem to be long lists of skills you absolutely have to have in order to get a job.  My experience is that job ads are more red herring than meat. When a company sends me a job ad and asks me to find a person for the job, I always have to talk with the person who wrote the ad.  I ask, 

  • “What are the absolute minimal qualifications for the job?” 
  • “Which of these skills in the ad are the hardest to find?”
  • “What has kept you from hiring the people you have already talked to?”
  • “Is there a hidden qualifier that was left out of the ad?”

As you look at a job ad, ask these questions.  You may even want to call up the HR (Human Resources) department and ask them the four questions.  

If you know any of the answers, you can change your resume.  Put your most important qualifications first in a group of bullet points. Mention them in the very first sentence of your cover letter.  Make sure they come out in a phone call.

Most job ads are huge.  The minimal qualifications and the most important skills are usually hidden in the middle of a school of red herring.  Figure out what the most important need is, and point out in an unavoidable way that you qualify.

Something to do today

Have you ever called an HR department to find out the real qualifications for a job?  Try it today.  Use the 4 questions above.

Use raising technology and new techniques to get a great job

Fingerprint locks are used by tons of people on a daily basis, whether on computers or phones. People use them more often than the number or word locks because of convenience. They even have fingerprint locks for doors, and eventually I can see new locks like these being used more often than the everyday lock and key. The world changes a lot around us, and with that there are new ideas and new ways of life. 

Your job search should be like the world, always changing, always improving.

Every year thousands of people get great new jobs with massive pay raises because they have learned something new and exciting. I know average programmers who are earning $120,000 per year. They learned the latest technology and tools and have been riding the gravy train for 3 or 4 years. Accountants that can implement brand new systems are still worth their weight in gold. 

Adding a fingerprint lock helps sell thousands of new electronics to geeks like me. New technology, techniques, and skills can sell CEO’s and managers on your value.

What can you learn today? 

Something to do today

The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Try it today.

How to be persistent with your job hunt

Kids can be a practically irresistible force. I have 10 children. Usually I can resist them. Not always. Sometimes they have to admit defeat, but with kids they don’t admit defeat till they have exhausted every avenue towards success. Here’s how they win.

  1. Be totally, irresistibly, and eternally committed to a world changing idea
  2. Jump up and down with enthusiasm
  3. “No” means not now
  4. “Not now” means try again in 5 minutes
  5. Laugh, smile and tickle your dad
  6. Run around and get all the other kids excited out of their minds
  7. Ask dad for help to figure out how to do it
  8. Cry if dad is not listening
  9. See if you can turn it into a school project
  10. Ask mom to talk to dad about it
  11. Bring a partially completed task to dad to be fixed
  12. Change your plans and try again in an hour
  13. A small explosion in the yard will get dad’s attention
  14. Make it a game

Kids win because they are too excited to accept defeat. They are willing to try every possible way around an obstacle. When I am the obstacle and they are really really determined, they know they can win.

Is there a job you really really want? Why not job hunt like a kid?

Something to do today

Take a pen and paper and translate each of those 14 things into something you can use for job hunting or working for a promotion in real life.