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 hundreds of resumes to dig 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.
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 a difference between bragging and stating how good you are at something. 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.
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.
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.
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?
You have to know when your resume is being thrown away to fix its problems. There is a timing pattern you must understand. You have to break through your resume’s stumbling block in the following pattern to get hired:
Your resume arrives along with 100 others. The secretary trashes 80 after a 10 second review apiece.
The secretary trashes 10 more after giving them 45 seconds apiece.
Her boss gets the 10 remaining resumes and trashes 2 after a 10 second review.
The boss throws away 3 more viable resumes. He just doesn’t have the time to deal with more than 5. For the 3 trashed, something is not quite right.
He calls the 5 remaining candidates, starting with the best one.
Can you see why knowing when your resume is thrown out is critical?
Every time you send out a resume and fail to get an interview you should ask, “Who threw away my resume?” Ask the question of yourself. Also ask your recruiter and the HR person at the company. Beg, if you have to.
You need to find out when and why your resume is not being considered. Also be sensitive to the recruiter and HR. They may lie to you. They don’t want to argue. They want to be powerful and all-knowing. Play on that and ask for advice as you try to find out when your resume was trashed.
Next time we’ll talk about how to get past the screenings and into an interview. For now, try to figure out when your resume is being thrown away.
Something To Do Today
Make some calls. Find out where your resume is being trashed.
Ask some friends, they may be able to give you some ideas too.
Certifications can definitely get you a job interview. They can also get you laughed at. BS, MBA and PhD are all certifications. So are CPA, CISSP, MCSE, MCAD, MCST, CNE and CPC.
The most amazing certification chameleon has been MCSE-Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. At first it was a sure key to a quick job and pay raises. Then schools popped up all over and it became a joke. People with no aptitude nor experience in computers applied for a job as an MCSE. Now, MCSE is regaining its luster if you have a good solid background.
You should find out which certifications will help you get a raise, a new job, or a promotion. The best way is to ask.
WAIT! Don’t just ask, network. This is a great excuse to network. Ask to talk with your boss and his boss about it. If there is a company you would like to work for, find managers there and ask them to lunch. Make appointments to talk with experts for 10 minutes of career help. Find out what certifications and education they prize. Call up recruiters and ask them.
So, those 2 ways are….
Put the certification on your resume so the recruiters find you.
Network by asking which certifications would help you the most.
Even if you think you know the answer, call one person a day to ask which certifications would be most useful for you. It is a GREAT question that hiring managers will want to answer for you.
Once you find the certifications that will do you the most good, get one. Then call everyone back you asked about certifications and let them know what you have done.
The right certification will turn those networking leads into gold.
An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. (Bohr)
Something To Do Today
Networking time. Call some managers, recruiters and people you respect. Ask them what certifications would be best in your field. Ask them which certifications will get you the NEXT job you want. Track every single person you talk to so you can get back to them later. Now go find out how you can get those certifications.
I had two people axed for falsifying their resumes in a year. The saddest part is that in both cases the lie that cost them their job was not significant to getting the job. In other words, if they told the truth they still would have gotten the job, they would still have it. One was a lie about education. The other was a lie about a previous job.
So how do you let people know about a problem in an interview and still get the job? By being accurate and brief. If you merely attended a school without graduating, say it. They can ask you about your degrees if they care. Don’t make up any jobs. If they care about a gap in your resume, they’ll ask. They understand taking 6 months to find a job. It happens.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you what to say about a job that was horrible with a boss from… never mind. That’s tomorrow.
The way you get people to trust you is to be honest. Gasp! If you have to talk about something you want to avoid, say only one sentence. Be accurate and very brief. Get on to the next question and anwer, the one they will remember.
Something to do today
Write down one sentence replies to questions you don’t want to delve into during an interview. Go over the list an hour or two before the interview. Right before the interview read the list of things you want to emphasize. You need to be thinking positively when you go into your 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.
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. (Mark Twain)
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.
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.
Wasting your time online is the biggest internet job site scam. Many sites sell hope, and not results, ever.
Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams. (Mary Ellen Kelly)
You need to talk to people. Your resume only has one job, 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.
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 jobsites $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. You can’t do that on the internet yet.
Something to do today
Call a potential employer or recruiter today. Talk to someone.
Job hunting triumphs come often. Getting a job is always the cumulative result of a hundred victories. Those victories should be celebrated over and over in your mind. Yes, you need to notice that you failed to finish the next step, but you shouldn’t focus on a defeat and exclude the victories leading up to that step.
If you send out 100 resumes and get 3 phone calls, you succeeded 103 times! You sent out 100 resumes, a feat many job seekers never equal. You also got 3 calls from your resume. It worked.
You called 10 recruiting shops and 1 invited you in for an interview. 10 calls is a great adventure, and one success in 10 calls is wonderful. Stock salesmen often make 200 calls in a day with absolutely no success. Getting one interview is great. Making 10 calls is a victory.
I had an executive make it to the final list of 3 candidates for a high level job. Another candidate was chosen. All he could see was that for the 7th time in 3 months he had failed to get the job. He could not focus on some delightful facts:
1. He was referred to me by his network.
2. His resume was very good.
3. I thought highly enough of him to recommend him.
4. He got the first phone interview.
5. An executive flew across the country to interview him.
6. He came to the facility he would lead and passed 6 more interviews.
7. He made it to the short list of final candidates.
What a monumental chain of victories! This was a phenomenal set of accomplishments. Yet, he couldn’t see his successes when the process was done. All he looked at was that he missed the final cut. He got depressed and self critical. It got so bad that I couldn’t recommend him to another company. He took a job he dislikes with a company he doesn’t respect. That job lets him stop the pain of focusing on his occasional failures. He was not desperate financially. He was desperate to win because he stopped seeing his successes.
Take the time to relive your successes every hour of your job search. You will find your attitude soars. You don’t make the cut? Relive every successful step getting there. Include finding out about the job, applying, getting a call, arriving on time, etc. All those are feats showing your prowess. Go ahead relive them in your mind. You deserve it.
Something To Do Today
Get your job journal out. List the 3 jobs you have gotten closest to winning. Even if it was just making a phone call or sending a resume. List all the steps you executed successfully to get to that point. Include all the little ones. Relive those successes. “You done good, little fella.”