Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Differentiate Your Way to the Interview

Cans of bubbly, brown sugar water. Big stores where they sell hammers, plywood and toilet seats. Men’s black dress socks.

What is the difference? Coke or Pepsi? Home Depot or Lowes? Gold Toe or, uh…

The difference is all about the message the marketing teams of these companies create and blast out to the world. They tell us, through their marketing channels, ads, promotions and sponsorships, what they want us to know so we can make a distinction and a purchase decision. This is exactly what everyone searching for a new job must accomplish, too.

As I write this, we are in the final week of June. All those fresh, young college graduates have hit the market, ready to share their stories of internships, advanced PowerPoint skills, and, you can bet, excellent written and verbal communication skills. They all present themselves so similarly that a random selection from the electronic resume pile is probably as effective a way to select candidates as any other. The dart throw might beat the stock (uh, employee) picking.

So how do you differentiate yourself so you don’t seem like everyone else? Use current, marketable, valued skills and examples of times you have used them. This has not changed, but many people do not understand this vital, core deliverable of the effective resume.

Let me put it simply. You must tell recruiters what makes you special and different, not the same as everyone else. Answer this question: Why you? If you can make the case, you have successfully differentiated your way in the recruiter’s (read: buyer’s) mind. That can lead to the interview, a series of successful conversation, and a job offer.

If you want to be the human equivalent of a black-and-white generic can of “Cola,” just list your responsibilities and call it a day. If you want to stand out with a distinctive message and value proposition, if you want to be something an employer wants to buy, sell yourself with accomplishments and results. If you can do it, the interviews will come.

= = =

Bill Florin is president of Resu-mazing Services Company. He has written more than 500 resume packages for clients since 2009.

Advertisements

Your Resume Does 2 Things Well & 1 Not At All

There are limits on what your resume does in a job search. A resume can do at least two things very well, but one of them is not get you a job. This is an important distinction that should help job seekers decide where and how to invest their time and energy in the job search process.

Before we move any further, understand what a resume is. It is a marketing document. No different than advertising in other areas of life – the slick brochures at the car dealer, the glossy mutual fund promotional materials your broker gives you, and the constant bombardment of digital marketing – it is created with the purpose of getting a potential employer interested in a job seeker.

Here are the two things a well-written resume does very well:

First, it gets a potential employer to contact you. The employer has a need, an open position with a sets of skills, experience, and qualifications defining potentially successful candidates. Your resume, if it is targeted and fine-tuned to match the employer’s need, can get a recruiter to call you. That is exactly what you want it to do. From that point forward, your resume becomes much less important as you sell yourself based on your interviews, interactions, and follow up.

This brings us to the second benefit of your resume: a terrific interview. If written well, if it presents a compelling blend of stories to support the skills you claim to have, it will help influence the interviews you will face before getting an offer. This requires thought about the content of your resume, of course, in that you should share stories that will stimulate interest and conversation.

Don’t say, “I can build Excel spreadsheets.” Rather, say, “Built a macro-enabled Excel spreadsheet to automate routine auditing processes, saving approximately two hours of work daily.”

In the former example, you haven’t said much. In the latter, you explained how you used a skill to make a tangible difference that made work more efficient, people more productive, and maybe saved some money. If the potential employer wants someone with Excel skills, you might be asked to explain the project in more detail. This is where you get to shine!

The second benefit of a great resume is arguably more valuable than the first. While many people get calls, many fail to land an offer because they do not interview well. A strong interview filled with engaged conversation by both parties, rather than something resembling interrogation, is more likely to lead to a happy outcome.

So, what is it that a resume does not do? It will not get you the job. It will get you the chance to discuss the job, but it will not get you to the offer. Nobody ever or anywhere has said, “Wow! This is such a great resume. Let’s just make an offer without interviewing the candidate.”

Knowing this, it stands to reason that networking, interviewing, follow-up, and salary negotiating skills are as important in the successful search. Do not discount the value of a strong resume, but don’t be over-reliant on what it does for you, either. Preparation and persistence in all areas of the job hunt are well worth the effort.

= = =

Bill Florin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Employment Interview Professional, and founder of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut. Contact Bill at contact@resu-mazing.com for a free job search strategy consultation.

10 Social LinkedIn Things to Do Now

Your LinkedIn profile is more than an electronic résumé. LinkedIn is a social media site, and if you want to get the most out of it, you should be spending some time each day, or at least every few days, on the site. Activity creates visibility and connections. Punch through this list and figure out how you can be more effective while being LinkedIn.

1. Seasonal Greetings. As I am writing this, Christmas is just two days away. New Year’s Day is a week later. Scan your contacts list and send a note to say hello and share good wishes. Tip: Rather than typing the same statements over and over again, open your word processing program, type out a few greetings, and copy/paste from there. Easy!

2. Share News. Chances are that you work in an industry where something new is happening. If you see news stories that would be of interest to other people in your company and industry – any community with shared interests – post a link. IMPORTANT: Add a comment (a sentence or two) to your post to tell your network why you found the article valuable. Help them understand why you shared it and why one would want to spend time reading it.

3. Congratulate. This one should be obvious. You will see updates informing you that someone got promoted or landed a new job. Beginners: congratulate the person using that link. Pros: Send a private note, offering encouragement based on what you know about the person. Example: “You did such great work when we worked together at XYZ Company. I know that you will be amazing in this new job. Congratulations!”

4. Watch for Jobs for Others. Is there someone in your network who is looking for a new job? You might run across opportunities on LinkedIn and in other ways. Pass along these leads.

5. Participate in Groups. Participating is more than sharing a link to a story or promoting yourself. Read what others are sharing, get involved in discussions, and offer positive feedback. Part of the fun of social media is recognizing and being recognized for adding value. Give some love to others and they will do the same for you. Relationships start that way.

For 21 great tips on building a better LinkedIn profile, see 21-Point LinkedIn Check-Up. It’s the most viewed and shared article on this site.

6. Be Free with Knowledge. What are you good at? What are your areas of expertise? Monitor group discussions to offer ideas and advice when others ask for it. Your reputation can only get stronger for being so generous.

7. Ask Questions. If you are working through an issue, need advice, or just want to bounce ideas off of others, post a question to your network. You can do this as an update, to groups, or both. You might be surprised by the amount of help and engagement you get. Don’t forget to thank others who help you.

8. Be Gracious. Say thanks! When people endorse you, recommend you, recognize you, or help you in any way, say thank you. You can do this publicly. Better, send a private note thanking the person. Do both! Why not? You can never make a mistake by offering appreciation and thanks.

9. Recommend Businesses. This is especially true for smaller businesses that will care about your recommendation. Think about the businesses with which you have experience. Look for their LinkedIn company pages. Write recommendations that are specific about a product or service provided. This can lead to connections with the company and a more diverse network.

10. Recommendations & Endorsements. You should be doing these already, but if not, get going! When you write recommendations, be brief and specific about an accomplishment or quality about the person. Save your endorsements for people whose work you have seen.

What else are you doing with the service? How are you being social? Please share your ideas.

===

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 is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Coach and President of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, CT.

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.

9/11 Reflection

Those 3,000 people who went to work that day 10 years ago did not know that they would not be coming home. They climbed out of bed, grabbed their coffee and made the slog to the office, maybe taking a moment to notice the spectacular blue sky that would soon be filled with toxic smoke and dust.

Their lives ended. Ours changed. Let us honor their memories by doing things that count and that demonstrate our resilience, our determination to make a difference. Do something great. Never forget.

Sorry! Too Bad!

I’ve got the kids today while my wife works. Laundry, feeding, reprimanding and the very necessary trip to the supermarket are all on the to-do list. We can’t make it through the hurricane with a few almonds and some old breakfast cereal that nobody likes, can we? Of course not, so make the list and check it twice knowing full well that some critical item (milk?) will be forgotten anyway.

Shoes on. Seatbelts fastened. Numerous in-transit requests concerning candy and other junk denied. Park. Grab a wet cart in the rain. Run across the lot. Put on the bargain hunter hat and get busy. That’s where the real story begins. This could have been a training video on how to discourage customers.

Endcap displays are normally where you find the deals. All of the important things you need, all on sale. Not today. Today (in the early afternoon), every endcap was set for tomorrow’s ad with today’s full prices. The guy in the tie said, “Yes sir, our sales start tomorrow.” Obviously this is for their convenience and not the customers’. Those ends all looked wonderful, and gave me lots of reasons not to buy. Maybe I will get that stuff tomorrow – at the warehouse club. Sorry! Too bad!

$12.50 for a can of Folgers? Uh, is this Starbucks and you didn’t change the sign? The same stuff was $8.00 at Target last week. No coffee for me. Sorry! Too bad! By the way, what is that logo that Stop & Shop (and Giant, another Ahold USA brand) uses? It reminds me of customers fainting and falling over backwards from their prices.

If a company is going to have the cast iron determination to shake every last nickel from you with their prices, you could hope for a great checkout, right? Maybe, but not today. As everyone is shopping hard to prepare for the big storm, there was one express line, two regular lines staffed by humans, and a row of self-serve stations. Ugh.

The guy watching the self-serve was busy writing some secret notes on a tiny piece of paper while customers juggled through the maddening interface of these checklanes that were likely designed by the same fellas who came up with the Yugo. The systems look like the Frankenstein of the IT world: a scanner here, a screen there, another screen for your credit card and yet another screen where you sign your name. Don’t forget the light-up slot for your coupons (that doesn’t light up) and the hockey goal-esque red and green flashing lights bolted atop this monstrosity. Does red mean goal? Do I get a discount?

Secret-note man came to help for a moment and bagged a few items. Until he had to go back to his secret note. All the while my kids are banging on the Redbox machine like retirees at the nickel slots while I force sweaty frozen foods into plastic bags and hope to finish my task before the next customer’s OJ squashes my bread. Sorry.

What are my points in sharing my “what I did on my day off” story? Don’t show your clients and customers what you can’t or won’t do for them. Justify your prices with the quality and service you deliver. Exceed your customers’ expectations. And let your spouse do the shopping.