We are very consistently asked to review and comment on resumes - with good reason, we see a ton of them. Quite honestly, we know what hiring managers like to see - for the most part. You will read tons of articles on crafting the perfect resume and format, layout, white space, objective or no objective and how many pages it should be. Trust me, everyone you talk to will have an opinion, and the only opinion that truly matters is that of the hiring manager. But there are some very basic things that I like to share with people, and I hope they are helpful.
- You had better know the information that is shown on your resume inside and out. Oftentimes people enlist the help of their friends, family, colleagues and recruiters to help them write their resume, and when they do they often take it back and never review it. Seriously, I have seen this happen a LOT. You need to not only know everything listed, but you need to be able to speak to all of it as well.
- Know that your resume is never "complete". Your resume is being worked on until you find a job. Otherwise, you are relying on it to get you to a place that it has yet to get you to. The mission is not accomplished until you land the role that you are looking for, so don't be afraid to change wording around and add skills you possess as you look at new job descriptions.
- You are looking for new job; therefore, use the descriptions of the job to help you understand what people are looking for in their next hire. In other words, read job descriptions, lots of them, and use those words to craft your resume. If you are using stale or outdated verbiage or relying on the internal nomenclature that is relevant only to your last company, you are likely missing the target role and the target audience.
- Be open to criticism. Good or bad, it is better than no response at all. Get all the advice you can get and make sure you are prepared for honest critics. If you are able to get people to give you a reply on your resume, it carries a lot more weight than those who say nothing - take it for what it is worth and see if their advice can be used to your advantage. The offense comes when you get no response, not when people are trying to offer helpful insight or suggestions.
- You should worry about white space, formatting, layout and all the other things you have been told are important. Though these things are all important, nothing is more important than content. Don't use too many cliches, don't use too many adjectives and don't use words that you are not comfortable using in your normal conversations with people. Don't go back more than 10 years unless there is relevance to going back further. For example, there is relevance when you went from working on the help desk to being CIO, and now you are looking to be a COO. There is no relevance when you were on the help desk 10 years ago and you still are today. Nothing is right or wrong with either of those scenarios, but if you show career progression and need to advertise that in order to get the role you are looking for, then show it - if what you are looking to do next is either the next natural step or falls in line with what you have recently been doing, then leave anything past 10 years off the resume.
Here are some other articles I found to be good on the topic. By the way, always open to criticism - share your thoughts!
As I meet with people and talk to them about what they want to do in their next role, I often hear the answer - "I can take on any challenge and manage to the employer's expectations of what they need." Granted, this may well be the case that you have done so much and seen so many situations that you are able to step in and take on a great deal of responsibility, but there is a problem with this answer - it isn't really an answer, it only begs for another question or simply a repeat of the original question, "what do you want to do in the next role that you take?"
Several challenges can come out of the lack of being specific when interviewing and being ready for this question. One challenge is that most interviewers will not ask again when you give your "I can take on any challenge you toss at me" reply. This is a big problem, because, for your sake, they should ask for more detail. Instead, they will often continue to the end of the interview and then get back to you with the "you are overqualified for the job" response. We can discuss a ton of other questions and answers that may come up during an interview, but this one seems to be very prevelant today and one that intrigues most people, especially candidates, who I speak with.
When I ask a candidate the question about what they want to do I fully expect that they will reply with something along the lines of:
- I want to come in and take a team to the next level
- I want to help implement process where process doesn't exist
- I have been successful at the tactical delivery of projects and want to help my CIO in that regard
When you reply with, "yes, I can do all of that" you are unfortunately, at the very same time saying, "if I don't get to do all of that, I will be bored". Thus, you have just made yourself overqualified.
Granted, you may well be able to do all of those things simultaneously and very well. But, recognize for one minute that the person you are interviewing with only needs you, today, to accomplish one of those things - they need you to deliver projects and follow the strategy that has been set while doing so. YOUR job as a candidate is to find out what this hot-button area is and then reply directly as to how and why you can accomplish the goals in that area - and ONLY that area. It is when you start talking about other areas where you can "also" help out or have expertise that you are, for all intents and purposes, giving the interviewer a reason to be cautious about hiring you due to your overqualified or potentially getting 'bored in the role' status.
Answer a direct question with a direct answer is my advice. When asked why you fit the role that they have posted or described they need filled, you should focus point by point on that job description rather than on your own resume - be concise, be deliberate and be brief - until they ask you to expand. When you are asked to expand, you can reply with "where would you like more detail?" rather than making an assumption that they will automatically want to know that you are also a mentor, a trainer and have managed far more people in your past than what they have here.
Great news regarding the Austin market and the continued improvement that is going to refelect in other markets as well.
You may have heard that it’s best to look for a job while you have one. Although this may seem odd advice, it’s actually a very true statement. When you begin job searching while employed, you are in a place of security. You don’t have to worry about finances and, although you may be eager to leave your current position, you aren’t pressured to find a new job immediately. You can browse for new opportunities at your own pace. When you are unemployed, however, the search can feel much different. The big question is – does being unemployed making you any less desirable to potential employers?
There is no easy answer because it truly depends on the situation. Oftentimes it can feel as though recruiters have an easier time placing employed people in new jobs. This is due to several reasons. First, we’re currently experiencing a time of relatively high unemployment and lengthy unemployment tends to make people desperate. Though you may feel like you’re hiding this desperation, employers may sense it immediately. Another reason is that hiring managers have become much more selective. With what would seem to be so many people on the hunt for a job, it’s easier to be a little picky. Thirdly, even if an employer is hiring, they may not necessarily be looking to fill the position immediately – or even within the same month.
So, does this mean unemployed people should simply accept their fate and take any open position they can find? The answer is a resounding “NO!” Unemployment is not a scarlet letter – and it doesn’t have to ruin your chance of finding your dream job. It does mean, however, that recruiters are more important during times of unemployment than ever before.
In addition to helping you in job searching, they can assist you in grooming yourself for interviews, building up your confidence and being fully prepared for each interaction with a potential employer. In other words, although you may feel slightly less “wanted” because you are unemployed, this does not make you any more or less qualified for positions than employed counterparts.
If you are unemployed, do your best to network, share your perspective on things with others, but don't attend events or meetings where the attitude is toxic. There are plenty of chance to interact with people who have a positive outlook and who have gotten traction and good advice - seek out those people. Read blogs and tweets about where people are finding success and try different things. Don't write a "final" resume - there is no such thing!
Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson has been accused of lying on his resume. There is little room, from what I can tell for plausible deniability in this case. He didn't notice that there were claims upon being hired that he had a degree in Computer Science, really? Based on what I have seen on the subject, it appears that he has been noted to have the degree a few times and clearly knew he didn't. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and go with the fact that the tenured career he has would “trump” the degree and make it less important today than his hands-on experience is. Even with that concession, the challenge lies in the fact that we live in a day and age when we can no longer slough it off as an error and move on to the day's tasks - we live in a day and age when there are people looking for reasons to take Wall Street to task. We live in a day and age when a baseball player lies about taking HGH and is held accountable before Congress.
This is a period of time when I speak to my kids about the difference between right and wrong and yet everyone they see in the spotlight has continued to blur that line.
Had I been the recruiter tasked with finding him, I would take the blame for not vetting him fully. The fact that he was hired and vetted by the Board, that he was likely asked about his educational background and has seen it posted elsewhere knowing it is listed incorrectly makes this, in my mind’s eye, a pretty easy one to call.
Resign Mr. Thompson. Clean up the mistakes made in your background and move on to the next role. I have to believe that leaving now rather than dragging it out or having them make the decision for you would be a better move for your career.