Your “Me Too” Résumé Isn’t Working

Anyone who has ever me_tooworked on the receiving end of a job announcement – they get to swim in the résumé tsunami – says the same thing. “I’m busy, and I only have a few seconds to look at your résumé. If it isn’t obvious that you’re a fit, you won’t hear from me.”

Knowing that, why do people still fill their résumés with clichés?

Proactive, results oriented professional…

Strong attention to detail…

Team player with a strong work ethic…

Stop! Everyone says that! If you want to be like everyone else, and not get the call, use the same words, phrases, and sentences. Copy your résumé from a template or a book. At least you will have saved some time.

If, on the other hand, you want success, describe what you have done using key words and phrases that recruiters will search on LinkedIn and in other résumé posting sites. Explain how you used a specific technology, tool, or business practice to achieve a result. Describe it plainly. Eliminate adverbs (e.g., successfully, proactively, anything ending in “ly”) as much as possible. Use the space for real information. Here’s an example:

Implemented lean methodologies to reduce production time by 2.5 hours per unit, increasing productivity by 17% and gross profit by 22%.

Reduced geriatric patient hospitalizations by average of 1.5 days in first six months on new case management and follow up initiative.

“Me too” doesn’t work when you need to differentiate yourself and get attention. Eliminate the filler and replace it with hard-hitting detail. It will make a difference.

Help Veteran Hiring

US Armed Services EmblemsAs the US winds down its involvement in global hotspots, more veterans are transitioning into the civilian workforce. Some are doing it better than others. Some employers are making it easier, too, by building strategies to proactively identify and recruit candidates. Starbucks was in the news recently by setting a goal to hire 10,000 vets. Home Depot and others have a history of being vet friendly. Here are a few ideas that everyone can use to more quickly assimilate veterans into civilian gigs.

EMPLOYERS

If your organization doesn’t have the core competency and culture needed to understand, recruit and retain talented veterans, look inside for expertise. Some companies (e.g., GE, Boehringer Ingelheim) have created internal employee groups to help. They can help “translate” military jargon and accomplishments into your company’s unique language.

Understand that the military is, in many ways, a business. Look for similarities rather than differences. Logistics, inventory management, asset protection, security, public relations and many other civilian career disciplines have similar or exact parallel military assignments.

Ask questions. If a vet has awards, commendations and promotions, ask why and how they were earned. You will likely hear stories of accomplishments that will help you decide that you really want to hire this candidate.

TRANSITIONING VETERANS

You are the “bilingual” person in this relationship and conversation. Translate military-speak into language that a 22 year-old civilian college grad HR employee can understand. Did you help move the gear from the rear to the hot spots? Talk about using your planning, organizing and communication skills to run a successful logistics operation to supply 1,000 soldiers in dispersed locations.

Learn the language of your targeted company. Get to know people inside, study their website and press releases, read the news, and learn as much as you can about the company. When you interview, you will sound like you belong and will already have an idea of how to tell your stories in a way that will resonate and make sense to the recruiter or hiring manager.

Find military-friendly companies. They will have people who will understand you. Check MilitaryFriendly.com as a starting point.

SUMMARY

If you are a veteran, you know that you worked hard and have much to offer. Employers, you owe it to your company, your stockholders, and these veterans to learn more about them. Many have skills, training and experience gained during their service that will make them very attractive if you take time to understand.

Veterans, thank you!

See last year’s Veterans Day story. It’s still worth a minute!

Bill Florin is President of Resu-mazing Services Company and served as a member of the Military Police in the US Army Reserve.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Job!

Dripping Faucet“They say it’s their dream job, but I never hear from them again.” I heard this comment from another career search professional a few weeks ago on a radio broadcast. He was talking about the need to stay in touch with potential employers and the need to overcome the fear of being annoying (You can listen Steve Greenberg’s piece here). The advice was good and was also something that I experienced.

In one protracted employment courtship, I was in touch with the organization for 18 months before a job offer came. You could think of the process as drip marketing. Keep working as long as you haven’t been told, “No! Go away!” Here are some valid reasons to ping the potential boss:

You’ve been promoted or assigned to something new at your current gig.

You have completed new training, education or received a new certification.

There is something online about you and an accomplishment, appearance or something else positive.

You read something about the potential employer and have some valuable insight or suggestion.

You learned about the potential employer’s competition and want to share an idea for strategy.

Think about it and you can probably think of many other reasons to reach out and remind them that you are still alive and interested. Keep dripping the marketing and the job can happen. It worked for me.

Bill Florin is the president of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT. Bill has helped hundreds of job seekers market themselves successfully for great career changes.

Deadlines are Powerful

checkmarkDeadlines work. They drive us to prioritize and complete tasks, getting them behind us, moving us forward, and preparing us for whatever is next. Have you heard this one? “A goal without a deadline is a wish.” It’s true!

Here’s a simple example from my experience over the last few weeks. I had committed to writing a letter for use in a mailing by a non-profit. There was no firm deadline, just “late August, early September, whenever…” It would have been better is the deadline was “5:00 PM on Friday, August 30.”

So what happened? The letter writing project kept slipping until I sat at a meeting on a recent Tuesday night. I was asked, “When will the letter be done?” I said, “You will have it by 9:00 AM Thursday morning.”

I delivered it Wednesday evening. Why? I set a deadline (publicly) and met it. By the way, the work took all of about 45 minutes. I should have done it in early August so I wouldn’t have had to think about it further.

Here is something that you can try this week, or today. By 10 AM. Let me know if it works.

For everything on your to-do list, set a deadline. If you can’t get it done this week, think about how you can break down a big task into smaller chunks, with some of it achievable in the short term. Then, stick to the deadline.

If you are like me, you will get to the end of the day with many check marks on your list, along with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. This can work in your job search, too. Here are some things to do with deadlines attached:

  • Make phone calls to three people who can help you in your career search. Do it by 3 PM.
  • Contact one person before noon who can help you with a letter of recommendation.
  • Apply to two targeted positions by 1 PM.
  • Find one person in your LinkedIn contacts for whom you can write a recommendation. Do it by 10 AM.

Write it down, set your deadline, and check it off when done. By 5 you will have a list of accomplishments rather than a list of wishes.

For more on goal setting and personal accountability, see “Maybe it is You“.

Bill Florin helps clients with the career searches by preparing them with great resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles as president of Resu-mazing Services Company.

Three Reasons to be Bold

Understatement will hurt you in your job search. The essence of the work is marketing. Seekers create (either themselves or they pay a professional to do it) a batch of documents, both physical and electronic, to tell the world about themselves. Here are three reasons to be bold with your résumé, cover letter, follow up communications, LinkedIn profile and other activities.

Marketing Emphasizes Strengths. Hyundai doesn’t say, “The Elantra: Not a bad small car for the money.” PepsiCo doesn’t entice you with, “Mountain Dew: We’re not sure why people like this stuff.” Instead, marketers use all of their communication tools to sell the sizzle. What’s great? What’s exciting? What makes the product or service special? Do the same for yourself.

You Are Competing. Even though the job market has improved, many employers are still very cautious about their hiring decisions. They are still looking at their options, evaluating many candidates for each open slot. Every job seeker is in a battle with all the rest to get the interview and offer. You must outshine your competition if you are going to be successful.

Boldness Builds Confidence. Sometimes people say, “I don’t want to come across as over-confident, arrogant or boastful.” This is a good thought, and you won’t. But, by cataloging and presenting your accomplishments concisely and professionally, you will be in a better position to interview well because you will know your best stories and will have the opportunity to discuss them.

Your marketing activities and tools will not get you the job. They will get you the interview, and that’s what it’s all about. Review your résumé, LinkedIn profile and other documents. Ask yourself, “Are these doing everything possible to help me market myself? Am I bold enough?” If not, fix them.

Motivation is Internal

Whatever you choose to do in your life requires an internal spark, the interest and drive to take action to accomplish something. In the literature on coaching and human performance, this is a common theme. In the short-term, we can all be encouraged or scared into some course of action. Over the course of a life, though, it comes down to identifying and pursuing our goals, those things that we are hardwired to explore and accomplish.

I once worked for an individual who said (repeatedly), “There are only two things that motivate people: fear and money.” Wrong. Those were the two tools that he chose to use to manage (I would not is the word “lead” for what he did), but he couldn’t be more wrong.

While working with hundreds of people over the last four years in the career development business, and with thousands through a career, I am convinced that motivation lies much deeper than the Skinner-like approach of cash and intimidation, pellet or shock. The most effective and inspiring people have always been those who have a vision for themselves, some drive – call it pride, a need to achieve – that gave them a sparkle in their eyes and almost limitless energy to make something happen.

Each of us has something that inspires us. Running a faster mile, caring better for a patient, creating a new web site; there is something. What motivates you? What step can you take now – right now – to move closer to your goal? Find it and do it.

21-Point LinkedIn Check-Up (2013)

You know that LinkedIn is the place to be for online professional networking. It can be one of the most productive tools available, but it can also hurt you if you are not careful. Use this check-up to be sure that you are using the platform to its potential. Here is an updated check-up for 2013.

  1. Your Headline: Get creative here, using the few words that you have to build your brand. Rather than limiting yourself to a simple job title, think about how you could use this space more effectively. Before: Accountant. After: CPA and Client Magnet. Have some fun!
  2. Your Picture: This is not Facebook. Make it professional. Use a picture that shows you in your grown-up clothes. Smile.  Make sure that you have a picture. Studies have shown that people view profiles without pictures as “suspicious.”
  3. Your Profile Address: Did you know that you can customize this so that you don’t have all of the random letters, numbers and slashes tacked on to the URL? Do it. It will separate you from the LI rookies.
  4. Don’t Stalk: Everyone hates the notifications that an anonymous LinkedIn user viewed her/his profile. Be public. LinkedIn is for professionals seeking to network. Going stealth does not help you do that. If you view a profile for someone you don’t know, you just might make a new connection.
  5. Spelling/Grammar: LinkedIn is your professional face to the 225 million-member universe. Also, remember that your public profile can be viewed by non-members too as it is searchable on Google and other engines. Spelling and grammar errors are the equivalent of showing up at a business function wearing different color shoes. Spell check and proofread before posting. Use a word processor with spell check to write your copy and copy/paste into the profile.
  6. Formatting: You can’t use special characters and graphics, but you can use spacing and ASCII characters to make material >>> POP! <<< You can do something ##> SPECIAL with a few basic characters and an extra line or two.
  7. Summary: Remember that LinkedIn is a social media platform. Write a summary that lets your personality come through. Use the first person as you write. Remember that this is not a résumé. You can even give your readers information on why they should contact you. If you are looking for a job, mention that. If you aren’t, you can say something like this: “I welcome conversations with others in the industry so that we can share ideas and explore business opportunities.”
  8. TMI: Be careful about sharing too much information about your current gig. You should not be sharing confidential material unless you are seeking an involuntary departure. Loose lips…you know the rest.
  9. Results: Here’s a reality check. Does your profile read like a job description? If so, nobody is going to read it. Bor-ring! Give us one or two accomplishments from each job. Share some details. Pay attention to #8 above. Don’t forget your volunteer work.
  10. Files & Links: You can add samples of your work and links to other sites to your profile. If you did incredible work of a project for which there is a credible link, share it. Did you create a killer PowerPoint deck (good killer, not bore-to-death killer)? Do you have a writing sample? Are there pictures somewhere? Share it all here. Get creative.
  11. Recommendations: One of the best features of LinkedIn is the recommendation feature. Your connections can write in-depth recommendations for you that you can approve for posting to your profile. Be proactive and ask for recommendations. Be specific when you ask, reminding your connection about the work that you did together and what you would like to recommendation to include.
  12. Personal Invitations: As you think about and search for people with whom to connect, send invitations that are personal and will help the other person remember you. Bad: LinkedIn form-letter invitation. Good: “I enjoyed working with you at the NSA and I look forward to re-establishing our professional relationship.” Better: “You did incredible work of the XYZ project when we worked together at IBM. I am looking forward to reconnecting and sharing ideas.”
  13. Introductions: You know and are connected to Jane (1st level). You want to be introduced to John (2nd level). Ask Jane to make the introduction, explaining why it would benefit all involved.
  14. Groups: Explore your interests and connect to like-minded professionals. Search for groups that are related to your profession and interests. Check out the groups that LI recommends. Once a member, get involved in the conversation. The invitations to connect will flow when you engage professionally, intelligently and constructively.
  15. Follow Companies: Even if you are not looking for a job, there might still be companies that you admire or think about. If you didn’t work where you are anymore, where might you want to work? Follow them.
  16. Jobs: That’s one of the reasons why you are spending time here, right? Check the jobs link and set up monitoring alerts for jobs that you might consider. Check out companies that are actively recruiting through the site and see if you know anybody there. You might find that you have multiple 2nd level connections that are just an introduction away (see #13).
  17. Posting Quantity: Once or twice a day is plenty. A few times a week is OK, too. More than that and the value of your posts will be dubious and connections will start to tune you out. This is not Facebook. Nobody wants to hear about your tough commute, your lunch choice, or how hard you worked out today. Quality professional updates are the rule.
  18. Speaking of Quality: Remember that you are logged into a professional networking platform. You should conduct yourself here, with constructive, well-considered comments just as if you were at work. You can make a great impression or a bad one. It’s your choice.
  19. Give Recommendations: Make someone’s day special. Write an unsolicited recommendation for someone you’ve worked with or have done business with. Make it sincere and specific. OK: “Bob is a great guy.” Much better: “Jane completed the Flux Capacitor project two weeks early and $15,000 under budget. Her work allowed us to launch early and beat competitors to market.”
  20. Follow Thought-Leaders: Some of the biggest names in business write for LinkedIn. Richard Branson, Jack Welch and others are there. Follow them and read what they are writing. If you have an intelligent comment to add to the conversation, go for it. Your network will see it and might learn something about your interests and professional thoughts. Don’t forget about your connections; give them some love for their posts, too.
  21. Endorsements: Don’t spend a lot of time here. You might find that people who don’t know you well (or at all!) are endorsing you for things that they can’t possibly know. Take the endorsement pledge: I will never endorse anyone for anything that I don’t have first-hand knowledge about. My guess is that endorsements will be removed, though I have no reason for knowing that. That opinion is an awful lot like some of the worthless endorsements floating around.

Bonus: See 10 Social LinkedIn Things to Do Now for a quick list of activities you can be doing right away to build your reputation and grow your network.

There it is! Work through this check-up and you can earn the coveted “All-Star” rating for your LinkedIn profile.

Do you have other tips to share that aren’t included here? Please comment and share!

If you found this article helpful, please take a moment to share it. Also, be sure to follow this blog to get notifications of new stories. Thanks!

Bill Florin spends a lot of time coaching Resu-mazing Services Company clients on getting the most from LinkedIn.

Video Interview? 7 Best Tips

Web-Cam-CAM-876-webcamMore employers are conducting first and second interviews via Skype or some other service. It’s fast, cheap and easy. Only the finalists, in some cases, get an invitation into the office. If you are in the hunt for a new gig, you should be ready for this experience. I got a call last week from a friend who was going to have a Skype interview and I shared these tips. He thanked me after.

Camera Angle: Get your camera up to eye level. This is especially important if you are using a laptop camera. If the camera is below you, you will be looking down on it. The person interviewing you will see nothing but fat chin and deep, dark eyes (remember the scene in the Blair Witch Project?). Put some books or some other support under the laptop to get the angle right.

Good Lighting: Set up some lighting that illuminates your face well. Low wattage lighting that chases away the shadows from your face will work. Avoid too-bright lights that will live you squinting.

Watch the Background: What is behind you that your interviewer will see? Be sure to clean up, take down the Kiss poster, and remove other visual distractions. If you can’t do that, move your camera so that you have a plain wall behind you.

Banish Randomness: Do you have a dog? Get someone to take it for you during your session. Do you have a cat? We do, and it gets unreasonably amorous at inappropriate times. If the cat has ignored me for three weeks, it will want to make up during a Skype call. Unplug or turn off phones. Eliminate any noises and distractions.

Dress the Part: Most people don’t sit around their homes in a suit, but professional business casual attire should be the minimum standard. With a video call, everything is the same as in-person but the hand shake.

Cheat with Notes: If you have a few points that you absolutely must make during your interview, write some notes and hang them up near the camera so that you can see them while looking at the camera and so that your interviewer cannot see them at all. Having these notes will make you more confident.

Sit Up: Your posture will affect your tone of voice. Sit up straight, breathe and project. Don’t forget to lock the tilt switch on your desk chair. You don’t want to go rocking back out of the camera’s view.

It will take a little work to do a Skype call well, but it will be worth the effort. Your preparation will translate into confidence and a better outcome. Skype well, all!

Bill Florin is a Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP) and is president of Resu-mazing Services Company.

Setting Interview Traps

gotchaHow can you get the interviewer to ask the right questions? You could try Jedi mind tricks. Wave your hand and say, “Ask about my performance review from 2011.” Or, you can write a résumé that improves the chances of the conversation moving in your favor.

A great résumé requires great strategy. Beyond its obvious function of getting you an invitation to interview, it needs to help influence the interview. It needs to convey results and accomplishments with just enough detail to get your future boss to ask for more detail.

Here is an example:

Your résumé says, “Saved $75K annually by re-engineering warehouse picking routines.”

Your interviewer might ask, “Tell me more about this. What did you change and how did you determine that this was the right thing to do?” When that happens, the trap you set in your résumé has been sprung!

When the question comes, you will have the chance to tell the story. Highlight your critical thinking and analytical skills along with how you influenced others, implemented change and created a more efficient business process.

Focus on results in your résumé and you will get to tell your best professional stories. Set those traps with great strategy and let your interviewer fall into them to your benefit. Leave the mind tricks to Star Wars.

See “8 Things” for résumé essentials.

Need some help with common interview questions? Start with Question 1.

Bill Florin is the President of Resu-mazing Services Company. He is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) and Certified Employment Interview Professional.

Most (Unsuccessful) Candidates Don’t Use These 8 Interview Tips

Here they are, with no fluff. I coach and speak with job seekers daily. The winners do these things; the frustrated don’t.

  1. Confirm the day before. You want to use every opportunity to make a good impression. This can start before you get there. Call, confirm, and say thanks. Your brand just got better as you demonstrated your thoroughness and professionalism.
  2. Arrive just a few minutes early and introduce yourself clearly and confidently. “Hello, I am Bill Florin and I am here for a 10 o’clock appointment with Sue Smith.” Smile when you say that. Thank the receptionist. S/he talks. You want to impress everyone.
  3. Bring and offer hard copies of your résumé. Say, “I brought extra copies of my résumé. Would you like one?” Simple.
  4. Be ready to respond to, “So, please tell me about yourself.” I spoke with a client this week who interviewed with three separate people on the same day in the same firm. They all started that way. She was ready! (Extra-credit tip: See “Question 1” for more help on responding to this.)
  5. Have some company and job-specific questions written down and ready to go. You will be asked, “What questions do you have for me?”
  6. Take notes about your discussion so that you can…
  7. Send a thank you letter or note. Recap a point or two from your interview and how you will be a great addition to the team vis-à-vis that point. (Have you seen “Thank You Letter of Doom“?)
  8. Have your references ready to go at the interview. Offer them at the close of your meeting.

Will these eight pointers get you the job? No, but they will help (and they might!), and most people will not do all of them. Go get that job!

Bill Florin is President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut, USA.