Interpreting the Feedback

Interpreting the feedback helps!

Interpreting the feedback helps!

I finished writing the latest manuscript before Christmas. After several more times of re-editing, I came to THE END for the 49th time. Now it’s time to find readers to provide feedback for the next steps in the process.

Several months ago I wrote an article titled Writing a Resume is Like Writing a Novel. A few weeks after Christmas I carefully chose six readers to provide feedback before sending it to the editor. The results are “in” and I thought you might find the comments interesting, as you may want to write a resume or an article or a book one of these days.

Reader Comments

Reader 1-the engineer/recruiter; he provided short, pithy comments, including “too much description. Just get to the bottom line.”

Reader 2-a Presbyterian minister; he gave it thumbs up, encouragement and positive comments, but not much constructive feedback.

Reader 3-a female software engineer; her feedback helped immensely, especially by suggesting jazzier titles for the chapters. I agreed with her ideas, as my titles were boooorrrrrinnnng.

Reader 4-a retired CFO; he provided in-depth feedback, taking great care to be diplomatic. Little did I realize, he’s written many papers and articles about his ancestors. His thorough comments focused on wanting more data and better transitions.

Reader 5-a lawyer who is preparing to write novels; “not enough description. I didn’t read the whole book as you need to embed far more description.”

Reader 6-an HR consultant; never responded.

If you read the former article I wrote about resumes and writing a book, I should not have been surprised by the variety of comments. All the comments provided insight. I began the re-writing,  just as you would, but I freaked out, thinking I should trash the document. Then I came to my senses with a little self-talk saying, “Ruth, no one told you to throw it away. Keep moving forward.”

Take notice the lawyer’s comments are quite relevant to anyone seeking a job or writing for publication. You must grab attention from the start, or the reader stops quickly, even if the total document would knock someone’s socks off.

Over the past weekend, I wrote the words “THE END” again, after re-writing the manuscript once more. I sent it to the editor, whom I found on LinkedIn. I targeted someone who could help with both the punctuation, grammar, and spelling, as well as give me valid, constructive feedback based on her solid background in writing and publishing before submitting it to a publishing company. I’m excited, nervous and eager to see what she says.

This new book I want to publish is not about careers, my regular platform, but a creative non-fiction story, telling how my travels impacted my career and life journey. Yes, writing a book is a little like looking for a new job. Scary but full of learning and growing, often feeling like living in a dark cloud, searching for a door where maybe, just maybe, the light will shine.

First Interview in 12 Years

Got the job on her first interview!

Got the job on her first interview!

We finished re-writing her resume into a hybrid format the first of October. I assured her that recruiters hate hybrid resumes and that she would need to network like crazy to find work. Why? This would be her first interview in 12 years, as she’d been taking care of kids. I must add; she is smart, articulate, and well-educated. And scared. I asked her how soon she wanted to go to work, as I need to know if the individual is serious, when I coach him or her. “How about Thanksgiving?” she asked. Let’s call her Pearl.

In my experience as a recruiter and outplacement consultant, finding work usually takes six weeks minimally. Pearl may accomplish the goal if she treats the job search like a job, working at least six hours a day.

Credentials

No work experience in the last 12 years. Very little volunteer work. Joined APICs ( the leading professional association for purchasing and inventory control) a few years ago to learn the latest industry jargon, but attended only a few times. No certifications with a little knowledge of Six Sigma.

Pearl flailed a little. “How about I apply where my husband works?” she asked. Although her husband has a lengthy history with a Fortune 500 job, his company regularly suffers layoffs, no matter the longevity of employment. After a short discussion, she decided to target corporate headquarters with hefty distribution in consumer products near her home. The second week she slowed down, while sending resumes and arranging coffee dates with her target list of contacts.

Career Fair Confidence

Her chosen target company would have a career fair early the next week, mostly for warehouse workers. She searched to find an appropriate opening and submitted her resume online, but took hard copies of her resume to the fair. The night before the career fair was restless, as fear crept to the forefront. In the morning she dumped the fear, put on a happy face and her new, interview duds, fully intending to get the job. She didn’t think it was practice.

In job search, people must push themselves into their discomfort zone. With resumes and a big smile, she took a deep breath and asked the person at the registration desk, “Which line is for the professionals?” No professional recruiter was available, but they let her talk with one of the recruiters for hourly workers. When she explained she was targeting a particular job, he asked her to wait while he ventured behind the scenes to see if he could find the right person. No luck, but he took her resume, telling her, “I’ll make sure the right person sees your resume.”

Interview

I called her for a mock phone interview. I could tell that her positive attitude and action could mean quick success. The call came the next day. After a few quick questions, she heard, “Pearl, could you visit with Mr. Rover tomorrow?” Music to her ears!

We scurried to assure she knew the difference between behavioral and traditional questions. Since neither of us had time for a face-to-face interview, she studied www.quintcareers.com.  I gave her a document about competency based questions. With limited time for preparation, she’d need to “wing it.”

Mr. Rover turned out to be the hiring manager. He showed her the warehouse and asked her if she wanted to move forward with the interview (she said yes). Her interview lasted more than two hours. Later that day, he called to offer her the job.

Got the Job!

“Wow! Whew! Great job, Pearl!” I did the happy dance with my cell phone.

Why was she successful? Attitude, likability, friendliness, articulation, overcoming fear with confidence and credentials meeting their needs. She applied for a lower level job to re-enter the business world. Both company and candidate know a learning curve exists. Her resume didn’t get the job. The interview sealed the deal, as they saw her eagerness and confidence. She didn’t apologize or beg. She showed them she would be perfect for the opening. Asking good questions, listening carefully, while connecting, contributed to her success.

Role Model

You, too, can shorten your job search. You must focus and target what you want, plus believe in yourself.  Her attitude demonstrated she would learn quickly. Pearl got the job on her first interview in 12 years. Use her for your role model!

All the preparation cannot take the place of confidence and attitude! These are Pearl’s words of wisdom for your first interview after a gap…or any interview for that matter!

Writing a Resume Is Like Writing a Best Seller

thumbs up

Thumbs up for a winning resume.

Lighting struck me last week when I attended a fabulous writing conference in Portland, Oregon. I had the good fortune to hear Luke Ryan*, who was Executive Producer for “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.”  His impressive career in the film industry is relevant to writers.  He knows how to choose a great story.

Writing your resume is like writing a best seller, which could eventually be a blockbuster movie. Writing an extraordinary resume could eventually find you the best job of your life. Here are points for you to ponder to make your resume a “winner.”

Summary:  “Your log line needs to say it all concisely and quickly.”
Use action words: “Make it real.”
Duties/ responsibilities: “What is your story? What genre is your book?”
Accomplishments: “Correct the flaws, solve the conflict.”
Limit words to 1000: “Would someone want to read it?”
Focus, focus, focus: “Bake the theme into your work.”
Grab attention: “Show the right way to live through with your character (YOU).”
Downplay what is not important: “Subplots shouldn’t be an additional story.”
Customize it for your reader: “Make it all come together.”

Mr. Ryan shared funny, relevant stories to help the audience. He didn’t try to sell himself, but gave excellent content that demonstrated he knows what he’s saying. He awakened our emotions to the fact that it’s not just a story, but the emotional impact on the audience, which is critical.

win the award

Will your resume win the job?

What emotional impact will your resume have when the possible new employer reads your resume? Will he or she say when opening your resume, “Crap! I don’t need another detailed, over-qualified engineer.” Or will the response be, “Wow, this guy has the credentials and experience we need for the job!”

Read your resume. Would you want to work with the person on that resume? Is he or she outstanding or not? Employers want exceptional employees. Your resume content must garner attention for winning an academy award… or a remarkable, well-suited job!

Now go revise that resume! Make it resonate!

*Also involved in Valentines Day, Halloween, The King’s Ransom and other film endeavors.

Resumes: 3 Ways to Manage Your Can of Worms

“I’m not getting any responses to my resume,” the caller says.  “Can you help me?”

Your can of worms

Resumes need not be a can of worms.

My response,  “Resumes are a can of worms and I need to see the resume.”  The truth is, resumes do not need to be your downfall.  Determining the “right” way to do a resume can be daunting.  The top third of the resume and your efforts are critical for your success.  The following tips assist with grabbing the readers’ attention.

1.  Basics

  1. Check the spelling.
  2. Read the finished resume aloud.
  3. Read the resume from right to left to check again for spelling errors.
  4. Have a strong Summary which includes the job title under your contact information.
  5. Recruiters want to know your location and whether you can relocate, if the job isn’t local.
  6. Education can be near the top, if recent or after Experience, if over three years ago or irrelevant.
  7. No fluff allowed, like “Desire a meaningful job where I can make an impact.”
  8. Show your best, related skills for the job.

2. Summary vs. Objective

A number of years ago we used an objective at the top of a resume, such as.  “Objective: Accounts Payable Manager.”  Today we still need a title but by using the title from the ad or job description, the likelihood of response is better.  Job titles are sometimes cryptic.  For example, “Business Development Manager” means asking for money for a non-profit, but in sales organizations, it can mean selling products by developing business partnerships who sell to the end users.

Some career counselors are advocating adding the job title you want on a line under the contact information.   Others suggest embedding the job title in the Summary statement such as  “Detail oriented Business Manager with vast experience in channel sales for software security products.”  The Summary allows a bit of bragging with the details of your accomplishments in the Experience section.

A standard way to present sections of your background show:

Contact information

Summary

Experience-duties run together in paragraph form with no personal pronouns or articles (if possible). Bullet your accomplishments (what makes you exceptional beyond the average employee) under the duties. Focus on skills.

Technical – if you have special skills in this area

Education – include relevant courses, if a new college graduate, certifications, relevant workshops or training

You don’t need personal information on the resume.  If you have space, you may want to include professional associations, leadership roles in activities and interests.  Companies should not care if you have five daughters, a lovely wife and dog.

Each section can be moved to present you in the best way to the potential employer.  A resume is never, ever complete or perfect.

The recruiter and the hiring manager want to know what you can do for the company to increase profits or save time and money.  They don’t want someone who simply needs a job.  They want someone who can hit the ground running.  Your resume is that proof.

3.  Networking

When you ask someone to look at your resume, the door opens.  But do your research first.  Do you see openings which may fit you? Find someone in the company (through others or LinkedIn) where you want to work and ask about the culture, the future of the company or how he or she likes the team effort.  This person may be able to plop your resume in front of the hiring manager, once you gain trust.  Spend more time face to face and on the phone, once that top third is perfected.   It’s called networking!

Your Efforts

Attitude and effort equal success.  Yes, resumes may be a can of worms, although standard formats with customizing your resume with each submission can assure better opportunity for attention.  Throwing the same, tired resume online does not work.  By using these three tips, you can be assured that your attitude and effort will reap rewards!

Ruth Glover,  writes about change, especially career change.  She assists people with career issues. If you’d like a free resume template for a traditional resume, please send a note through the website.  If you have gaps and rocks in the road, a hybrid resume may be the answer.  She will write more about hybrid resumes in a later article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Is the Magic Number for Your Career

One is not the “magic number” as the song says.  Listen toThree Dog Night as they sing the song One.  Three is the magic number.  When you think about your career, start with three questions:

What is your passion?  What are your skills?  How are your finances?

Not ONE but Three

3 Dog Night at Work

Action Plan

After you determine your focus and check your finances to determine how much you must make vs. want to make, it’s time to create your action plan.

Your  Action Plan contains three distinct parts that you capture on a spreadsheet.

Page 1-Friends, relatives, co-workers who would be willing to help your search

Page 2-Target companies which hire people with your skills

Page 3-“Shotgun” page to track submissions and activity for random companies (when you see something that appeals to you and say, “I could do that).

By managing your  spreadsheet for your marketing plan, you can find the company quickly when the recruiter calls you six weeks later.  Create columns for when and where you send documentation with at least three more columns for LinkedIn, web addresses, follow up and comments.  Color coding allowed!

Resume Review

Don’t confuse duties with accomplishments. Duties are expected, daily tasks and responsibilities.  An accomplishment demonstrates how you went the extra mile to exceed expectations.  Each job should have duties with a minimum of three bulleted accomplishments.  If the job was short term or a disaster, you can shorten the text and omit accomplishments.

Duty

Supervise six Accounts Payable clerks and two Payroll Administrators. Oversee the operations and activities of a centralized accounts payable system.

Accomplishment

  • Created new database to track project tools at all times with reduction in tool expense of $4500.

Cover Letters

Do not regurgitate your resume in a cover letter.  You cannot omit a cover letter, as you never know whether someone will read it.  With careful research analysis of the job description,  you can easily show three reasons your training and experience makes you the top candidate.  Some Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) prohibit entering it into the database.  Don’t worry about it.

Interviewing

Your resume helps you open the door.  The interview closes the sale.  Underline all the key items the job description requests.  Write questions for each, as if you are the hiring authority.  Practice interviewing in front of a mirror.   Attitude and like-ability are inherent in the process that can readily be visible in the interview.  Take a good-looking leather folder with a pocket for 5-10 resumes and your tablet for notes.

Three things you might forget:

  • Like-ability
  • Listening
  • Asking for the job ( or closing the sale)

When asked a question, look down, and take time to focus your thoughts before you respond to questions.  Then look the interviewer in the eyes, smile and answer concisely.  Watch for the chance to mention how much you want to work for the company.

Near the end of the interview, you will need good questions to show interest for the interviewer or team.  Since your palms and pits may be dripping by the end of the interview, write down at least three potential questions in that nifty notebook beforehand.

Once you start thinking in “threes,” your research and preparation provide more confidence and greater potential for success.  Maybe you’ll have three offers before the end of the week!  Follow up three times and then move on.  Listen to the song again.   Yes, THREE is the magic number, which will make you a “rock star” candidate!

Ruth Glover is a career coach and author, former technical recruiter and outplacement consultant.  You can purchase her book, MORE than a Paycheck, online on this website or through Amazon.

Your Resume Looks Like Your Grandmother’s Quilt

The economy is growing again, according to many sources.  And you recently discovered your company is being acquired.  You like your job, but you heard the new company will be laying off most of the employees.

Your Grandmother's Quilt

Does your resume look like your grandmother’s quilt?

Your Grandmother’s Quilt

Since you were laid off in 2008 from your long term job, you have had three full time jobs.  Your 10 years of experience at XYZ Corporation was exemplary.  You haven’t had such good luck with a couple of start ups and one large company, since then.  And here you go again.  You added a couple of lines on your resume about each job, but failed to give much detail.  Your resume looks like it’s patched together like your grandmother’s quilt!

Your Best Skills

Do not, I repeat, do not start sending your resume willy-nilly to openings.  Take time to determine what your best skills are and what you’d like to do next.  Make this a career move, not a fear move.  You learned new skills in these last three jobs: video, health care devices and a little defense work.  Your long term job was in the semiconductor industry as a component engineer, so you know both hardware and software.  Where did you hear the most praise from management and colleagues?  Your research should demonstrate what is “hot” and what is declining.

You must write a list of accomplishments.  Resume reviewers want to know your duties and what you accomplished for the company.  Bullet the accomplishments.  Make them stand out. How are you unique?  Why would anyone want to hire you?

Your Technical Skills

If you are an engineer, you may have configuration management skills.  You need a special section for your technical knowledge, but don’t put everything but the “kitchen sink” in that section.  It makes you look like you know the terms but have little depth.  Focus your resume on your marketable skills, listing the skills and experience which make you appealing in that area. Now make a list of companies which need your skills.

I can hear you whining!  “But, Ruth, I didn’t have time to accomplish much in each of the last three jobs.”  Wordsmith the resume, as you must engage the reader’s interest, but do not exaggerate.

Your Education

Maybe you are non-degreed.  That is a problem with some companies who don’t value on-the-job experience.  Make sure you have a section for Education, even if you did not finish a degree.  Otherwise, the reader may think you forgot or have no education.  Surely you must have taken a few seminars or classes along the way.  Add them.  Show that you like to learn.  Plug your certifications in this section.

If your degree(s) are over 10 years ago, omit the dates.  I know others may argue this point with me, but your resume should focus on your recent accomplishments, not how old your education is.

Trivia

You will probably need several different versions of your resume.  Definitely customize your resume for each targeted job submission.

You do not need to put your hobbies and interests, nor your birthday, nor your marital status.  Those factors should NOT be factors.     Omit “References available.” Employers assume your  references are available.  Make every word count!

If you don’t take time at the beginning of your search, you may be mired in your current job or unemployed for a long time.  Try these hints.  You won’t be sorry and your resume won’t look like a patchwork quilt.