4 Simple Tips for Any Job Seeker Anywhere:
#1 What goes on a resume must be truthful and accurate – but not everything has to go on a resume. Remember, only purpose to get you an interview – no need to explain everything you did. Focus mainly on accomplishments/outcomes.
#2 Write your resume at a 9th grade level. Keep it simple. Not because you, a hiring manager or any recruiter has a 9th grade education. No, because whoever reviews your resume simply does not have time to read long sentences or figure out a vague or confusing sentence.
#3 Struggling with where to start/what to say on a resume? Write out the five W's and one H. WHO am I?/WHAT skills have my family, friends, bosses, co-workers, clients, or vendors told me I do well? VERSUS WHAT “do I think” I do best? WHY do I do what I do/WHAT brings me joy/satisfaction? HOW do I achieve success/HOW can I help my next employer? WHEN and WHERE do I perform my work tasks? If you are struggling with answering any of these questions and/or writing a persuasive resume, I provide a free consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-531-7128. Telling a story is one my five principles for a successful job search. Learn more here.
#4 When reading a job description, think of it like a "wish list,” equivalent to your “Christmas list” as a child for Santa Claus – however, assume you asked for the moon, sun, and stars! If you asked Santa for EVERYTHING and you got EVERYTHING, consider yourself lucky! Many job descriptions are written this way – they are really just "wish lists." Do some employers take everything they write in a job description literally? Yes. But most do not.
Here’s an example of what I mean by this: when you read “Bachelors’ Degree required” and you do not have a Bachelors’ Degree, apply. Masters’ Degree required and you lack a Bachelors’ degree? Not so much. For most job descriptions, you want at least 60% of the core qualifications – ideally more than this. However, most applicants do not have 100%! Still have questions? Need help with your job search? Contact me: 858-531-7128 or email@example.com. Until then, Happy Job Hunting!
Client yesterday said to me when reviewing her first draft: “wow, you really took a lot out of what I had in my resume.” And she was questioning me – and her questions were fair, so I’m sharing my feedback to her with you here. In the end, she agreed with me. Three simple reasons why more is NOT merrier – on your resume:
#1 The optics/visual presentation itself
First impressions are everything. If your resume looks crowded, the reader will not be impressed and will think: “Why is it have to be so crowded? Why can’t this person simply tell me what they do best and how they can help me? I don’t think I’m going to keep reading.”
Many job seekers don’t think about the big picture first impression of the optics – they only think about the actual text itself. So even though the employer is not hiring you to be a resume writer – your resume IS a first impression visual of how you communicate. And if it’s crowded and not succinct, that’s a huge optics/first impression negative. Remember, recruiters are not a fishing expedition and their time is money…
#2 …And what is the purpose of a resume anyway?
To make the reader feel too guilty not to call you for an interview – that is its only purpose, period! That means keep-it-simple-stupid (KISS) as my late father used to say (playfully!). What goes on a resume must be truthful and accurate, but not everything has to go on a resume. Focus on quality, not quantity. Have a laser light focus on what you can do for the employer – and validate it with accomplishments. Quickly.
#3 You have less than 10 seconds to control your narrative
Think of your resume like a TV commercial – you do not press mute! – where you PAY ATTENTION…to the entire commercial! That is what you want your resume to do. Within first 10 seconds, you capture the readers attention through a controlled narrative – e.g., you answer these questions: “What’s your story, John/Jane Doe – why are you the best/different/better?” By the 30 to 60 second mark: “Why should I feel too guilty not to call you for an interview?” should be answered, too.
A lot of resume writers have excellent writing ability – but most do not know how to tell a story in 10 seconds or less. And that is a HUGE difference. A well-written resume MIGHT get you an interview. A well-written resume that tells a story WILL get you an interview – this is what I do best (ask my clients!).
In review…be the noise the reader can’t ignore by focusing on what you best and how you can help the employer (with validation). Do not over-crowd or information dump your resume, especially with soft skill “fluff” meaningless drivel and baloney. Remember, you want a call to action (the reader to call you for an interview!), not a distraction (an unfocused, crowded, or confusing resume that doesn’t stand out, especially when you’ve only got 10 seconds to control the narrative).
Job seekers: four reasons why you should almost never negotiate compensation and other benefits over the phone and how to handle!
#1 Assume other side are experienced negotiators – and chances are you’re not!
#2 A verbal negotiation is live. Did I mention the other side is experienced negotiating and you are not? Would you perform live music or comedy before a live studio audience? Not unless you’re a comedian, actress or up for drunk karaoke! Would you fight someone must stronger than you? I think not!
#3 Too many elements/complexity to negotiate over the phone anyway. Translation: Not the right forum! A) takes too much time and B) chance of misinterpretation/misunderstanding.
Compensation alone can be complex, as not everything is base. There’s also (potentially, depending on your situation) commission, a bonus structure, stock, equity etc. And many, many other elements are negotiable – start date, vacation days, health benefits, job title, and if applicable, relocation expenses, company car, and working from home post-Covid/telecommuting, etc). Would you pay a contractor without an invoice and knowing the terms in writing of the warranty on parts and labors? No.
#4 They have to put all details in writing any way – so why even engage verbally?
By the time you get to this stage, who’s fault is it if the employer doesn’t know what you’re looking for $ wise? Answer: their fault! So why should you engage with them now? They could have asked for your salary requirements earlier in the interview process. That’s their problem to figure out now, not yours!
In short, have the discipline to set boundaries – do not to engage on specifics!
So how to handle it? Key themes:
#1 “You’re excited to be getting an offer.”
#2 Politely say you’d like to “see the offer in writing so can review it in its totality with your family. When might you be able to email that over?”
#3 If asked, “yes, I am still interviewing but I really want to work for you. Look forward to receiving the offer soon!”
Rare exceptions to negotiate verbally: Another company has made you an offer, yet you’re letting this employer know “I’d really like to work for you though.” Even then, I wouldn’t get into any specifics, just share the other employer made you a “very generous offer with a deadline to respond of…” If they really want you they’ll make an offer and then go from there.
Questions? Need help? I provide a free consultation and can be reached at 858-531-7128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job seekers, if you are having difficulty articulating your value either on your resume, cover letter, and/or during an interview, go back to basics. Imagine, your high school has invited you to speak at “Career Day.” Before the freshman class. How would you simply describe to them what you do? Why what you do is important? Who benefits? Once you have got that squared away, then think about what evidence you have to validate why you are better than your competition (competing job seekers)? What would you say? Why are those distinguishing characteristics important? No fluffy words; be substantive.
Job seekers, focus on your job target. Visualize you are the recruiter and/or hiring manager. You’ve got 30 #resumes to pilfer through, a limited amount of time to do so, and are looking to pick the top five to initially call for an #interview. What would you be the 1-2 main things you would be looking for in the first 10 seconds to pick the top five?
Job seekers, stuck selling your value on a #resume, #coverletter or during an #interview? Complete these sentences:
How I solve problems is…
What I do best is…
My coworkers would describe my best skills as…
In the past, I got a raise or a promotion because…
Better? If your job search is not progressing or you need help getting started, contact me for a free consultation, 858-531-7128 or email@example.com.
10 Commandments for a Successful Job Search
Job Seekers: place this list somewhere prominent, so you see and adhere to it until you’ve crossed the finish line!
#1 Thou Shall Have a Realistic Strategy and Expectations
One of the mistakes I see a lot of job seekers make is they dive right into applying for jobs without really thinking strategically about their search (like whether their resume, cover letter, and/or LinkedIn is A-quality; whether they’re over or underqualified for roles; and what strengths they have over their competitors versus what competitors have over them, among other things). And since we can’t get our time back in life, before even starting the job hunt process, this step is essential! Because for many job seekers, the search may feel more like a marathon than a sprint. So why make it longer when it’s going to feel long already? Don’t make the mistake of diving in without a plan to safely get back to shore!
#2 Thou Shall Keep an Even Emotional Keel
This one is hard because almost no one “wants” to look for a job. Getting laid off or fired is an emotional punch in the gut. So, what do I mean by “keep an even emotional keel?” I mean, once you start the search, don’t get too high and don’t get too low emotionally. This is about business.
At mile 21 of a 26-mile race you might be ready to get all excited – I’m going to do it, only five miles to go! But keep an even keel. Because you haven’t crossed the finish line yet.
If you’re like most job seekers, your search may feel like – as Jimmy Buffett sings in one of his songs – “good days, bad days and goin’ half-mad days.” So be excited when you land or (think you’ve) aced an interview. But don’t get too excited – yet. However, when you cross the finish line, then it’s party time!
#3 Thou Shall Not Take Anything for Granted in Thy Job Search
Every so often when speaking with a new client I’ll get “it was just an interview with a recruiter.” And my response is always politely, “just?” The point is, of course, as a job seeker you should never taking anything for granted, period. Any job seeker that doesn’t take an interview with a recruiter as seriously as any other interview is treading a slippery slope.
From the moment, a job seeker applies to a job online or communicates with any person with any company, the “interview” has started! This includes the moment a job seeker logs onto a Zoom call before its formally begun to the moment they drive onto the lot of a corporate campus. Yes, even before stepping out of the car! Ditto for your Linkedin profile, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Assume those that may decide your fate are watching. Take nothing for granted – ever!
#4 Thou Shall Always Be Prepared
As I posted last week, preparation is one of three things that can be controlled in a job search. Amazingly, not a week goes by where a new client unburdens themselves to me and admits they didn’t prepare for that interview as well as they should (like how to answer “what are you salary expectations?)”, or they didn’t proofread their resume or their cover letter or their email to a recruiter or hiring manager as best as they should. Assume you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression – so always be prepared.
#5 Thou Shall Measure, Measure, Measure!
At least once a week, every job seeker should measure and evaluate the progress of their search and make changes if needed. Is my resume resulting interviews? What about my networking efforts – are they helping land interviews, too? Am I interviewing well enough that I’m getting offers? And if the answer to any of these questions is no, don’t “blame the economy,” or worse, be in denial nothing is wrong and that it “will somehow get better.” Instead, figure out what’s wrong and fix it.
#6 Thou Shall Not Worry About Things Thy Cannot Control!
Looking for a job can be a full-time job. Add on regular life stress, plus COVID and all the others crazy things go on in our world – sometimes it’s only human to worry about things we cannot control. Don’t do it – especially with your job search! Doing so can suck energy and momentum right out of your search. Example: you’re frustrated the employer said they would be making you an offer by Friday (last Friday!) and you still haven’t heard a word. Did you send a thank you email after your last interview with this employer? You did, great! Now, don’t worry about things you can’t control. Keep networking, applying, and interviewing elsewhere. The employer will get back to you when the employer gets back to you.
#7 Thou Shall Be Patient!
Patience is essential in a job search – which can be hard to regulate because the bills are piling up. Many years ago, I was laid off. It sucks. So believe me, I get it. But patience is important here. Employers may not go at the same pace as you – and often they will set unrealistic expectations. Example: “We hope to make a decision by Friday” – and it takes them a few weeks or up to a month from that day to present an offer!
#8 Thou Shall Not Put All Eggs in Thy One Basket
Until any job seeker is presented with a written offer they are willing to accept or negotiate, they should NEVER stop looking for work. NEVER! Nothing is official until it’s official! The point is don’t pull all your eggs in one basket! EVER!
#9 Thou Shall Maintain Job-Search and Life Balance Why Thy Searching
You wanted to get hired tomorrow. Yet your overall physical, mental, and emotional health is far more important. I know when I am stressed out and need to “step away” or “step back” from what I’m doing or contemplating a tough decision, I find going for a long walk helps me clear my head. Everyone is wired differently and has different ways to reduce stress – walking is mine. Whatever yours is – do it consistently and make time to “escape from the job search” by spending time or calling family or friends, watching a funny movie or TV show, listening to music, etc. – anything that provides a distraction as well as positive emotional reinforcement. One of the best ways to keep a positive attitude and a high-level of effort with your job search – two things you can control – is by maintaining a healthy job search and life balance.
#10 Thou Shall Seek Professional Assistance when the Data Shows Thy Need Help
Not getting interviews from your resume? Not getting interview leads from your networking efforts? Not getting offers? If you’ve measured and identified where you’re struggling and need help fixing it, get help. If you’re not sure why you’re struggling, get help. Hire a Career Coach and Resume Writer like me to help you.
I provide a free consultation and can be reached at 858-531-7128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job seekers - Three simple New Year's tips to help with your search:
No. 1. Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Had call with client yesterday who been helping improve his interviewing skills. During mock role play, he’s getting better yet stressing needlessly over A) what to do what he gets offer (wait to see if I get others?) and B) whether he’s really interviewing that well in first place. Reminded him A is moot now and B stop overanalyzing! No employer is hiring any candidate to be a professional interviewer! Interviewing is a nice, friendly conversation. Since it’s live, never going to be “perfect.”
No. 2 Focus on what YOU CAN CONTROL. Best comment during Sunday night football broadcast-“attitude, preparation, effort,” a phrase Washington coach uses to keep players focused. True and applies to job seekers: CAN CONTROL attitude, preparation, effort.
No. 3: Preparation. Separate, first call with new client yesterday: admitted was unprepared for behavioral questions following technical interview. Lesson? Always be prepared – for any question during any interview! Conversation/questions can go anywhere. Always be prepared. And practice!
As a Career Coach and Resume Writer that speaks with job seekers every day, I have a deep understanding of what’s going on “in their head.” Looking for a job is stressful enough – add the pandemic, holidays – more stress. And so, sometimes, I often find this leads job seekers to “overthink” the process/es of landing their next job. Therefore, today’s FAQ tips are tailored around the theme, “Keep it Simple Stupid!”
#1 Is there a visual analogy you can give for how a typical interview should flow?
Yes. Like a nice, friendly conversation during a short road trip! The driver (the interviewer) is leading the conversation.
As the passenger (the person being interviewed), you are engaging with the driver as you muddle through traffic to your destination. Yet the traffic does not bother the driver or you, the passenger. Why? The conversation has “distracted” you from the traffic. Because you’re discussing topics of mutual interest (in this case, a job!). And because you’re answering the drivers’ questions and there’s been opportunity for you, the passenger, to ask questions. You’re simply having a nice, friendly conversation!
The next thing you know “the drive” is coming to a close, so you summarize your interest in the position. That’s it, in a nutshell.
“But Joe that sounds ‘so simple.’”
Recap here: sometimes job seekers really do “overthink” an interview. You, the job seeker, are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you! Remember, this is about “a match.” I provide this analogy because I had a client this week ask for a simple visual analogy. Remember, the employer has chosen to call or email you for an interview – which means they want to talk to you! And that’s all it is – a nice friendly conversation. Don’t overthink it! Just like you wouldn’t overthink a short road trip with your family member, friend or co-worker to a friend’s house, etc.
#2 Give me the straight dope: what are the three keys for landing a job?
These three are essential, but there not the end-all, be-all by any means (so yes, keep reading!).
A) Knowledgeable – unless an entry-level role, no one is landing a job without establishing knowledge/expertise. That’s the main purpose of the resume – make the reader feel too guilty not to call you for an interview because you knock their “knowledge socks off!” If your resume is not doing this now, call me for a free consultation. During the interview, the employer will “confirm” the candidates’ knowledge but really an interview is about:
B) Likeability – no employer will likely hire a candidate they don’t like or “perceive” they don’t like. Smile. Build rapport. Be friendly and polite. Ask questions. Engage. Be yourself. In short, be likeable;
C) Passion/Authenticity – not every candidate has an outgoing personality or demeanor and that’s totally fine. We are all wired differently. But even a soft-spoken candidate should display some measure of passion in their tone or body language – some level of authenticity that they genuinely enjoy what they do for a living and why they’re excited about the role they’re interviewing for! Talk about what you love about your job – and why you got into this line of work. Be relatable. Use examples the interviewer can relate to.
Remember, “perception” is often “reality” and non-verbal communication (body language and tone) can often override what a candidate actually says. Always be self-aware of your communication – and your messaging. I say this because I’m helping a client now in sales – sales! – who wasn’t “self-aware” that his tone during mock interviews was flat (e.g., he sounded monotone, boring and uninterested). Why would I hire someone to sell my product if they don’t sound interesting? Answer: I wouldn’t! And, yes, you are “selling” yourself in an interview. So be self-aware and if you need help with interviewing, I can help and provide a free consultation.
#3 Why are you better than your competing job seekers?
Demonstrating knowledge, likeability and passion/authenticity are essential, but may not put you over the top. Why? Your competition is likely doing the same thing. So why are you better than your competing job seekers?
Because you are a “solution provider.” Think of every job description you read like the employer is in “pain” or has “pains” (plural). Why are you the solution provider to heal their “pain” or “pains”?
Often, the candidate that lands the job has come across as the best solution provider.
#4 Is there a visual analogy for an elevator pitch (short one, two sentence statement), aka being a solution provider statement?
Yes. A 30-second type direct response television commercial – one that convinces you not to click the mute button! Because something caught your eye, perhaps an image, joke, laughter – yet the message also probably got your attention, too. But why? Chances are because the message was a solution, likely one that would be of benefit to you or someone you care about! A good example is something like “buy this super glue, it solves every household problem in minutes!” Because the solution is also “relatable” – household – and “solves problems” you are watching and perhaps even buying!
Let’s use that analogy for a job search. Every job is based on performance.
Example: I write resumes (what I do) that result in interviews (positive outcome) – which is true, by the way!
So what do you do best? What problem/s do you solve? Your elevator pitch (short one, two sentence statement) must showcase you are a solution provider to differentiate yourself from your competitors. It can be the difference between the landing the job – or not.
#5 I need help narrowing or simplifying how I am a solution provider. Suggestions?
I am helping a client right now with this very issue – because the role he is interviewing for, there are many ways he can be a solution provider (not just one). And he is very analytical. So how do you narrow it down?
I like to use the problem-solution concept – based on priority. Visualize: the left side are the company’s primary problems or challenges. The right side are the solutions to those problems or challenges. Prioritize them, like 1, 2, 3. Use that as your basis for your elevator pitch.
Remember, during the interviewing process, you are like an investigative reporter of your own job search. Why is this job available? What are the company’s current challenges? How can I help outsmart their competitors? A smart job candidate ask questions to get at the root cause of problems and how to solve them.
I’ll use myself again for this example.
A job seeker calls me the other day and tells me she is not getting interviews. I review her resume, find it unpersuasive and come to learn her networking efforts (reaching out to co-workers, etc) has not yielded interviews either. When I ask her what she does best or what compensation she is looking for, her answers do not radiate with confidence or certainty. I conclude she needs a lot of help. So my “commercial” to her is as follows (parentheses below is mine):
“I will write a resume (what I will do) that results in interviews (how you will benefit – solution 1) or your money back (no risk). I will also work with you on improving your elevator pitch (solution 2), determining your salary worth (solution 3) and boosting your confidence during the interviewing process (solution 4). I have helped clients like you. If you’d like to speak with any of them, please let me know (validation of claims in solutions, 1, 2, 3, 4).”
Try this approach. If you still need help, I provide a free consultation.
FAQ Friday Quote of the Week: “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” – Bear Bryant
FAQ Friday Client Testimonial (it is my column after all!): “I feel I now have a resume that quickly outlines my talents and skill set. Joe is very easy to work with and asks pointed questions." – Matt