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 If you are using stale or outdated verbiage or relying on the internal nomenclature that is relevant only to your last company, you are likely missing the target role and the target audience.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.
One of the best litmus tests in the recruiting and staffing world as to whether or not we are in "recovery" is the number of referrals people send our way. This number has been on a very steady increase for the past 5 weeks, at least. Granted, there are a number of indicators of a job market recovery, but this one is certainly near the very top of the list.
Primarily because when people start to send you their friends names and numbers and not only their own, it shows a degree of confidence that you will be able to find them AND their friend a job - this doesn't happen when the market is "lean". During the lean times people are more apt to send you their resume only as they fend for themselves.
Secondly, hiring is heating up and many companies are hiring in quantity. People are looking for work and letting their friends know that they are looking. In other words, people are less scared to publicize that they are interested in looking around.
Finally, I contend that people are ready for more of a challenge and more opportunity and many companies have yet to make the move find themselves in the unfortunate predicament of backfilling spots that have been occupied for years. In these cases, when one tenured employee leaves, they are bombarded on their way out the door with requests from others who want them to "take me with you!"
This market is getting better and we are grateful for the amount of referrals. We all want those to keep coming as it can only mean a positive recovery is in the works!
Great news regarding the Austin market and the continued improvement that is going to refelect in other markets as well.
As we all know, the job market in the technology industry was seriously hurt by the economic collapse. When the economy sank into recession, many undercapitalized technology companies went bankrupt, and many businesses that did survive the downturn stopped hiring. For a short time, technology companies regained bargaining power over potential employees, who were desperate to find (or keep) any available work.
Times change quickly in the technology world. Although many industries are still struggling to recover from the effects of the weak economy, technology companies are growing rapidly again. With many companies flush with cash, highly valued employees are beginning to receive considerable attention from businesses that are seeking to hire top talent. Oftentimes, this involves making generous offers to people who are already employed elsewhere.
As the economy continues to improve, more companies are being put in the awkward position of making a counteroffer to employees who have received an offer from a competitor. Even technology giants are not immune from this trend; in recent years, Google has been forced to defend its turf against primary “talent competitors” like Facebook and LinkedIn, both of whom actively recruit each other’s employees. In one shocking instance, Google gave one of its engineers $3.5 million in stock to keep him from accepting a job offer from Facebook.
If a $200 billion company like Google must go to such lengths to retain its talent, it would seem as if smaller technology companies would have little hope of keeping their top employees from jumping ship. Even worse, the demand for technology workers is only expected to increase as the decade progresses: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, technology companies will increase their hiring of information technology workers by more than 30 percent over the next five years. If this prediction comes to fruition, counteroffers may become even more common in the future.
However, it is important for technology companies to understand that counteroffers are generally not a good way to retain prized employees. Although companies like Google have the resources to retain 80 percent of their employees who receive another offer, smaller companies are not so lucky. In fact, some studies show that upwards of 80 percent of employees who accepted a counteroffer still left the company within a year.
Therefore, counteroffers are often a counterproductive strategy for employers. Not only do counteroffers fail to keep a company's best employees from leaving, but they will also encourage other employees to seek out job opportunities in order to extort more benefits from their current employer. As a general rule, employers should avoid making counteroffers to their employees and employees should avoid accepting them. Everybody ultimately loses.
Phoenix Staff Selects Tech-Savvy Austin, Texas, for Third Location
Professional staffing and recruitment firm Phoenix Staff Inc. has announced plans to open a third regional office in Austin, Texas on June 2. Along with offices currently in Phoenix and Las Vegas, Phoenix Staff’s move into Austin positions the company to offer candidates and customers increased exposure and relocation potential within three opportunity-rich markets. Phoenix Staff specializes in professional recruitment and hiring within the information technology industry.
According to Phoenix Staff President Allen Plunkett, Regional Director Keith Bailly has been named to head up the Austin location. Bailly comes to the position from the company’s Las Vegas regional office, where he was instrumental in establishing its strong presence in that market.
Regarding Phoenix Staff’s new location in Austin, Keith commented, “Austin affords us an opportunity to expand our reach into a market that has stellar tech talent, robust economic growth and an educational system that fosters a sense of community involvement and engagement with the businesses in the area. Expanding to Austin is a logical thing for us and definitely brings us a higher level of exposure to the people we serve.”
The announcement comes as Phoenix Staff Inc. is making plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary in December of this year. Launched by Plunkett in the Phoenix area in 2002, the company expanded to Las Vegas in 2005.
When asked about plans for other office locations in the future, Plunkett replied, “We will see great things from Austin and will look forward to other regional offices in the very near future. Our goal is to have even more options available regionally as the candidate market continues to get more competitive”
Phoenix Staff was founded to fill what Plunkett believes is a need for a deeply hands-on approach to professional placement. Company personnel work closely with clients and customers over long periods of time to refine goals and develop an understanding of where each candidate would best fit from a holistic perspective.
With its emphasis on placement as a process, Phoenix Staff’s approach hopes to go beyond information found in typical resumes and job postings to hone a vision of career development, harmonious corporate culture and mutually beneficial, relationship-focused outcomes.
Further company information and regional office addresses can be found at the company’s website, http://www.phoenixstaff.com/.
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.
I was struck by a conversation I had with a gentleman yesterday about his job search. He mentioned that it had been some time since he really had to look - every other job was found by way of referral or through former partners and vendors. He was certainly fortunate that way, but not atypical. He continued to say that he is far more comfortable calling people than he is updating his online "profile" or trying to connect with people on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook for his job search.
I see poll after poll (and probably developed one myself at some point) asking - what is the best way to find a job and then there are a series of possible options to include:
- social networking
- use a recruiter (my personal favorite and a highly under rated resource)
- etc, etc, etc
If you are looking for a job, the absolute best way to find one is to check “yes” to each one of these. Don't stop with this list, follow the advice of our sample guy and call some people while you are it. I remember before I went to work at PetSmart in 1996, I would wake up, shower, shave and put on a shirt and loose-fitted tie (no jacket, I live in Phoenix now, for God's sake) and call businesses from the Yellow Pages asking if they needed someone just like me. Seriously. And guess what, it did not land me the job I ultimately found. That job was found when I went into my after “lunch” routine of driving around my new home and knocked on doors--still with my loose-fitted-sans-jacket look--and filled out applications with the receptionist. And guess what, that did not land me the job either. What did? I sat down and said, there are three things I absolutely would open today if I had the money - a hardware store (went to the area Lowe's and Home Depot and collected my applications), a gas station (not sure why that one even entered my mind, but I rarely saw them closing down in 1996!) and a pet store. Not being from Phoenix and in 1996 PetSmart was still small enough to not really be 'known' outside of Phoenix, I decided that the "pet store" called PetSmart at Bell Rd and 19th Avenue looked like another perfect candidate.
I walked in—and who happened to be working there that night, but the former college recruiter for the company. He wasted no time in having me complete the application (still wearing my loose tie at 8 p.m. and, yes, I brought my own pen) and interviewed me in between getting called to the front office while cashiers were counting down their registers.
Lo and behold I found my home for the next three years - placed immediately into their newly created "management training program" which started at $4.25 per hour. I was employed and happy for the paycheck.
How long did this process take? 3 months and 4 days.
1996, people - no internet that was worthy of trying to find a job. No LinkedIn and certainly no Twitter (pretty sure you could get arrested for even saying "I just tweeted" in public in 1996).
In other words, what used to work still would work, but very few people still do it. What works today also works today, but most everybody is doing that and ONLY that.
So what is the absolute BEST way to find a job. Do everything you can to stand out - all kinds of things, talk to people about what is working for them and ask yourself - When the 'crutch' that we all might be too dependent on today wasn't yet there, what did you do? Do that!!
Business owners often agonize over the decision to share news with employees, especially when it may have a negative impact on the company. Believing it is their duty to protect the team, managers may try to act as a buffer against information that can discourage productivity. Yet rampant rumors, whether they are true or false, always do more damage than the candid truth because trust is born out of honesty. As a result, transparency is critical if team members are to feel valued and remain invested in the future of the company.
While managers may not want to jeopardize the future of the business, it is important to realize the livelihood of each employee is in your hands. Employees have a right to know about sensitive situations that may affect their employment status. An impending problem may be just the motivation employees need to work more intensely, purposefully and productively, which can dig a company out of a temporary hole. As a recruiter, I hear employees frequently say that "the company is doing so great, but I am seeing none of those rewards" or the flip side of "I sense that they aren't telling us everything and I need to prepare for the worst".
Although frequent, open and honest communication with employees is essential to success, managers must be careful about oversharing. They can become trapped by expectations that every detail will be shared with each breaking development. Unless specifically seeking feedback on how to move forward, information should only be disclosed once a documented plan of action is devised.
When information is released, it must be tailored to the audience. Top management will necessarily receive a detailed report outlining the problem, while employees may only get a condensed summary. C-level executives will be involved in crafting the strategic plan, while middle managers may lead team brainstorming sessions to identify supporting goals for the new corporate objectives.
Realize that not all employees handle information the same. Age, personality, family status and culture play enormous roles in how news is received. Although most employees appreciate open communication, some can interpret good news to mean they are not receiving their due share. Others may decide bad news means it is time to update their resumes. This may cause the company to lose talent at a crucial time when everyone is needed to save the company.
Strong businesses are created through honest communication, which means telling the truth is the best policy. When details are not shared, the company looks like it is hiding something. Yet negative news has the power to derail productivity. Striking the right balance is critical to keeping a team motivated and empowered. I contend that in 2012, being intentional about the way we communicate will help us lead through what is going to be a strong uptick and retain our best and brightest employees.
As the economy continues to come back with as much gusto as it is, our customer's continue to be challenged by retention. We don't ever solicit our own customer's employees, of course, but when we are recruiting from elsewhere, we certainly know what makes someone easier to pull away from their current employer. As mentioned in an earlier post, we are seeing counter offers (rarely, if ever, successful), multiple offers and employees being referred in to new companies after their former teammates have joined the new firm as well.
Lots of things can lead to managers getting "comfortable" with the thought that their employees won't leave them. Here are just a handful of things to think about when it comes to retaining the best on your team.
- The work has to be challenging, not easy, boring or done in 4 hours of an 8 hour work day. Most of the people you want to keep, but who are the hardest to retain are those who are always asking for more to do. Find more for them to do or they will.
- Don’t start believing that there aren't enough options out there and get comfortable with the thought that even if an employee starts looking, their chances of finding something are slim. Not the case! There are lots of tech jobs for highly qualified people - the ones for the people you don't want to lose.
- The thought process of, “We made it through the worst economy ever, how could they leave now?” is not your best bet. If your current employees experienced any layoffs, pay adjustments or bonus rollbacks during the “worst economy” that have yet to be reinstated or explained, you risk losing people because they have yet to be made whole. Their loyalty to you will be dictated by yours to them (and others).
- Offering a “hands-off” management style isn’t always what employees want. Not every employee is built the same. Many employees want to have a more hands-on approach to feel they are wanted and to know they are delivering on the expectations of their manager.
At the end of the day the best approach that anyone can suggest is to ask your employees what will keep them there. When you can establish the communication with your employees that gives them a say in their current role and the future of not only their role, but that of the company, it should go a long way toward retaining them.