Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview Tips

Another article brought to you by the Recruiting Blogswap!

Article Title: Lights, Camera.....Interview: Tips for an Award Winning Performance
Author Byline: Christina Archer is a Career Agent, author, expert resume writer and presenter.
Author Website:

You’ve been applying for various positions in your field for a number of months, and finally have received the call to schedule an interview. Are you ready for an Academy Award winning performance?

Top candidates understand the importance of preparation. They realize it can take hours of practice to answer an interview question with the level of confidence and professionalism an employer expects of their next hire. Keep in mind, your interviewer is not looking for “canned” responses, but they do want answers that illustrate your value as a potential employee.

Let’s take a look at the top five tips every job seeker should consider, to ensure they’re ready for ACTION!

1. Review a list of most commonly asked interview questions by clicking here –

Print out the list, and write down your answers. Know in advance how you will answer each question on the list. After you’ve finished, review your answers, and tweak as necessary. Practice, practice, practice!

2. Visit the employer’s website and read, read, read.

Take notes while on the site, and create a list of ten questions you can direct to the interviewer – specifically about the company. For instance, let’s say the organization just donated one-million dollars towards the Haiti relief effort. What a fantastic opportunity for you to weave this in to your conversation during the meeting! If you’re not utilizing this resource to prepare for your appointments – you’re really missing the boat.

3. Know who you’ll be speaking with, and always address them by name when you first meet.

Remember the old saying – “first impressions are lasting.” When you look a hiring manager in the eye, have a firm handshake, and refer to them by their name, you’re off to a good start.

4. Dress to impress.

We’ve all heard it before, and it seems very common sense. The problem is, we all have a very different sense of style and fashion. In the world of job search, business suits are king. Whether you’re applying for an entry level job or as CEO, you won’t be dressed inappropriately if you’re in a suit.

5. Look the interviewer in the eye.

Many people avoid eye contact, because they have personal insecurities. They may feel intimidated, outside their comfort zone, or simply lack confidence for the interview. When you look the hiring manager in the eye, you appear professional, confident, and focused. What you actually feel on the inside at that very moment – they’ll never know.

The secret to having an award winning interview is being prepared for the unknown. Research the company, practice all possible questions, and dress like you’re the boss! Follow these simple tips, and it won’t be long before you hear…..”and the next job goes to, YOU!”

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Job Board Resources

This article comes courtesy of the Recruiting Blog Swap.

Article Title: The New World of Job Search Vol 2
Author Byline: CareerAlley
Author Website:


Yes, the world of job search has changed. The most dramatic change has been to job search boards (the fathers of which were and But this change was on the horizon long before the current recession. New innovations and new approaches in an already crowded field (and getting more crowded every day). Some of the mainstays have adjusted their models, look and feel to match (or try to match) some of the "new kids on the block" with limited success. If I had to pick any one characteristic that sets apart the new world sites it would be their simplicity. Rather than trying to be "all things to all job hunters", many of these sites have decided to focus on one aspect and to be outstanding at that one aspect.

Which leads us to the second in a series of reviewing job search boards. No one site does the trick as they all have some aspect that is better or different than the others. Not to say you should be reviewing or registered on the hundreds of job search boards, but you should be picking the 5-10 that best meet your needs.

Pulled from or Linked to Company Career Sites:
  • – This is a different type of job search site from what I’ve reviewed in previous posts. Rather than listing jobs from recruiters or from other search sites, pulls jobs directly from employer career pages (their tag line "Search Jobs Direct from Employer Career Pages"). However, this is not free. charges a fee (based on the length of time you subscribe). Due to the fee, I’ve not fully reviewed the site, but there is a free video you can watch on the main page of the site.
  • Job-Hunt – Job-Hunt is a free online search site which offers advice, job search news, and a comprehensive (and quite amazing) list of job search sites (categorized by location, networking, industry/profession, etc.). You could easily spend a few days leveraging the links from this site alone (and maybe you should). Unlike other search sites, it does not appear as if jobs are posted directly to Job-Hunt. Rather, it provides links to other sites which have posted jobs.
Matchmaker Search Boards:
  • – This is a free site that claims to link employers and candidates. The set-up is a 3 step process: upload your resume/cv, create your profile (I don’t recommend entering your date of birth) and create email alerts. The password is assigned to you (you will receive it in an email). You can set-up a job alert, but I’ve not been able to find out how to run it. If you try to edit the alert, you get an error. After creating an “advanced” search, specifically indicating the US and NY, it only produced jobs in York (the UK) and other UK locations. Clearly, this is a UK based search site which either needs additional work or should not show locations it can not support.
  • – Trovix, which is in beta (and is free), matches your “dream job” and your resume versus open jobs. It also looks like they are creating a social network (like LinkedIn) at the same time (but you can skip this step). When joining, the site analyzes your resume and some basic information (location and title). After analyzing your resume, the site asks you to confirm some basic information from your resume, then you complete the sign-up process. The site also lists several employers on the main page that are currently hiring. The matching seems to work well and is easy to use.
Job Search Boards by Industry:
  • Casino Careers Online – Yes, there is a job board dedicated to Casino careers and this particular one is celebrating its 10th year! The main page has job search by department (such as food and beverage) or by keyword. You can also select advanced search and add additional criteria. The right side of the page allows login for those who have registered before (or registration for first time visitors). Resume posting is permitted, and the site provides news and additional links.
  • – This job search board is focused on the Biotech and Pharmaceutical industries. The main page is jam packed with information and tabs and is somewhat confusing. The first set of choices (along the top tabs) are Biotech/Pharma, Medical Device/Diagnostics and Clincial Research, each of which takes you to dedicated pages (which have the same look and feel). A wealth of news, career info and additional resources is listed down the left-hand side of the page. Additional choices include Job Fairs and Career Network. Job search is also available from the main page. I could not find a link to post your resume or register, but applying for a position does take you to additional information request screens (I did not follow them all the way through).
  • – The BankingBoard focuses on Banking and Finance. Homepage has job seeker information on the left-hand side and allows login, career resources and resume posting. Featured jobs are shown down the left-hand side of the page and specific industries (such as Escrow and Real Estate) are listed in the middle of the page. The generic job search link is at the top of the page and this takes you to a traditional search page. The site is well organized and easy to follow.
  • – This site is dedicated to law enforcement. The main page lists logos for featured cities/towns recruiting for various law enforcement positions. Left-hand side of the page is divided into Police Jobs, Fire Service Jobs and Civilian Jobs. Career resource links are listed at the top of the page and specific search functions are listed on different parts of the page (such as “by State or Title” on the left-hand side and “Find a Job” on the top). Seems well organized, lots of resources, job leads and information.
Good luck in your search.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

IT Resume Advice

Another recruiting blog swap article. This is pretty sound resume advice and a good addition to the mix of resume information here on the Chelsea Recruiter Blog (see here, here, and here).

Article Title: Resume do's and don'ts for the IT Job Seeker
Author Byline: Laura Vezer is an IT recruiter and creator of the blog, IT Matters Canada! The blog contains resources and advice for IT Professionals looking for work in Canada.
Author Website:

Today I would like to offer you a few valuable tips on your resume. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen some resumes that have had really effective formatting, and some resumes that... well, could use some work.

In this post I will share with you some top tips that I like to see in a resume.

(Please remember that all resume readers have their own preferences, and I am no exception. I will try to remain as objective as possible. Please add your own favourites in the comment section below!)

Remember your target audience.

Your resume may travel through several sets of hands before reaching a technical hiring manger. Often a HR intern with little to no technical experience may be screening potential applicants. Can you imagine how confusing a generic technical resume could be to a fresh HR intern? If you feel that your resume could use clear keywords to help it get to a hiring manger, consult your recruiter. Recruiters are familiar with their clients internal hiring processes and can offer a wealth of information on how to effectively market your resume.

The easier your resume is to read, the more effective it will be.

Resumes are more often scanned rather than read. On average a client may take seven to twelve seconds before deciding to move onto the next resume. Having a resume that is detailed, easily readable, and truly sells your capabilities is the key to capturing their attention during that critical twelve seconds. Here are a few effective techniques to really give your resume an edge:

  • Keeping your resume to one font,
  • Formatting a 1.5 spacing between bullet points
  • Keeping your bullet points succinct, yet detailed enough to really highlight your abilities
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile to supplement your resume – the reader is likely to search for you anyway, why not make it easier for them
  • Creating a skills matrix in a table that highlights all your technical capabilities, from Networking through to coding languages, and rating your own ability. (example below)

Software Development
Java6 YearsExpert
.NET4 Years Intermediate
C#4 YearsIntermediate
Agile1 YearBeginner

Include a one to two sentence synopsis at the top of every job you have worked. This is a great introduction to the reader of who the company was that you worked for, and what you did there.

If anyone tells you that you must restrict your resume to two pages, don’t listen to them! Putting a two page limit on YOUR career will hinder you from selling your true abilities to the reader, and will put undue pressure on telling your story. I’m not saying to make a 20 page resume, but don’t be afraid if it goes to five or six pages. If it still reads simply and easily, go for it!

Don't be an job seeker wall flower! By submitting generic resumes, you will become invisible!

A generic resume to a specific job description will not maximize your chances of being picked out from the crowd of applicants a company might receive. By spending an extra ten minutes on tailoring your resume to the job description, you will be received by the reader as a great breath of fresh air amongst the stale boring generic resumes that were clicked over without a second thought.

To Whom it may concern? No thanks.

Don’t EVER send a cover letter addressed to “HR Director,” or “Dear Manager,” If there is not a name on the job ad, pick up your phone, call the company, and ask the receptionist who you should address your cover letter to. It will take 30 seconds, and will give you a leading edge by personalizing your application.

Location, Location, Location!

Don’t leave your location a mystery. If you don’t want to include your address, fine: but include your city of residence, and appropriate contact details so the reader can connect with you straight away.

What's your word count?

Don’t write an ‘essay resume.’ If your paragraphs are turning your resume into a memoir, I invite you to give your draft to a parent, relative or friend who is NOT in your field of expertise, and ask them to read and judge your resume in 10 seconds. If they struggle getting through the first page, you know you have written the beginning of your life story, and not your resume.

Finally, my last recommendation would be to ask for help. You will be amazed at the amount of knowledge your recruitment consultant has. Recruiters look at resumes every day, and see what works and what really doesn’t.

I hope this is helpful to you. If you would like me to read through your resume, and offer some tips to help make your resume more effective, please email me at

Thanks and enjoy your week!


Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Career Sites Revisited

Another article from the recruiting blogswap...

Article Title: Job Search Sites Revisited Vol I
Author Byline: CareerAlley
Author Website:

Search“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. - Albert Einstein

Searching for a job (especially if you are out of work) can sometimes feel as if you are running through a maze. Submitting your resume when there have been countless resumes and too many qualified applicants is frustrating as well. So, not only is the secret to creativity knowing how to hide your sources (as Albert Einstein says above), but it also applies to your job search.

The beauty of the information provided on this website is that most of it is timeless. Advice, links to job search boards, recruiters and company career sites is fairly static (but not always). The sheer volume of data on the web regarding job search is overwhelming to say the least. So now that we've established that you can't look at everything, I can explain the purpose of today's post. This series (and the topic will alternate) is meant to provide a recap of the numerous sites related to job search without the need to do additional research.

What to look for on a Job Search Site:

  • Resume Posting: Many sites allow 1 or more resumes to be posted. Sometimes there are options to build your resume online, upload a Word doc or cut and paste your resume into their form (depending on the site).

  • Privacy: A Privacy option (which allows you to block companies) can be very useful. Blocked companies either be companies that you don’t want to work for or your current employer (the last thing you want is for your name to come up in a search by your current employer!).

  • Job Search: The job search function allows you to narrow your job search to certain criteria (varies from site to site). Some also allow you to save 1 or more searches (with a number of options). This allows you to quickly run searches for specifics (as decided by you).

  • Job Match Notification: Some sites will send an email to you with the results of your searches.

  • Other Stuff: Some sites offer career advise, resume building techniques, samples of resumes, samples of cover letters, etc. Some free, some not.

  • -Monster is one of the more popular job search sites. As with most sites today, there is a free version and a premium service. A brief overview.Resume Posting: The free service allows up to 5 resumes to be posted. You can build your resume online, upload a Word doc or cut and paste your resume into their form. Privacy: There is a Privacy option which allows you to block companies. Job Search: The job search function in Monster is very good. You can save up to 5 searches. Email notification is available.

  • - Hotjobs is another popular job search site. This one is owned by Yahoo!, so you can use your Yahoo! username/password (if you have one). A brief overview: Resume Posting: This site also allows up resumes to be posted. You can build your resume online, upload a Word doc or cut and paste your resume into their form. Privacy: There is a Privacy option which allows you to block companies. Job Search: The job search (”My Searches”) function in Hotjobs is also very good. You can save searches (can’t easily see if there is a limit). Hotjobs also allows “job alerts” which will send an email based on your criteria.

  • - Careerbuilder is one of the largest online job sites. It has in excess of 30% of jobs posted on the web. Similar to some of the other popular sites, Careerbuilder allows you to create an account, post your resume, search for jobs and receive job alerts. Additionally, there are numerous tools and advice. This is a site that should be on your list. If you haven’t visited this site yet, it should be the next on your list.

  • Jobfox - This site is different than most of the other sites I’ve reviewed. The site tries to match job seekers with potential employers. It includes a number of tools including resume tracking as well as suitability. The site presents the user with jobs that match the user’s profile (rather than the user having to do a search). This site has a unique process and should also be on your short list.

  • - is a job search engine. it aggregates jobs from websites, newspapers, company sites and other sources. As with other sites, you can create a free account which allows you to create specific searches as well as alerts. Another great resource in your job search.

  • – is a really different site. This site is about finding a seasonal job (”in some of the greatest places on Earth”). Ski resorts, National Parks, etc. This is great for summer work (college students, etc.) or working in great places for parts of the year. I’m not sure this is the right site for those looking for traditional “9-5″ jobs, but is certainly a great resource for individuals with the flexibility (or sense of adventure) to work when and where they want.

  • – Who would have thought – certainly not me. Craigslist, which is categorized by city has an impressive list of jobs. If, as an example, you look at Craigslist for NY, it lists jobs by category. Click on a category, and you are presented a list of jobs. Very well done, very easy to use and a great source for job hunting.

  • – Three easy steps to finding a listing of jobs that match your criteria. Easy interface that quickly allows you to narrow down the list of jobs. You then submit your resume and you are done. You can also add a profile with username and password.

  • – “Job search made simple” – Allows key word search or searching by category by location. Very easy to use and a very quick interface. You can search with or without joining, although there are advantages to joining (for free) as there are with most sites (saved jobs and searches).

  • – This is the official job search site for the US Government. If you are looking for a government job (numerous industry backgrounds are available), this is the site for you.

Good luck in your search.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Networking Tools

**Editor's Note**
This is an article from CareerAlley published here courtesy of the Recruiting Blog Swap. I'll be periodically posting external content like this that seems interesting or useful.

Article Title: Job Search Marketing Toolkit - Networking
Author Byline: CareerAlley
Author Website:

Networking for job search is under-rated. For some of us (like me) there is nothing I like less than "bothering" a former co-worker, friend, relative or business associate to let them know that I am out of work and/or looking for a job. There are, of course, many people who don't have a problem with this.

There are a number of ways you can leverage your network without calling people as the first step (although this is not a bad way to start). Business social networks have been covered in a number of previous posts (quick links are listed below), so I won't cover that topic again in this post. I will, however, provide some basic Networking concepts and methods. But first some quick links to business social networks:The first myth of Networking is that you must have a Network of hundred's of people to have any hope of finding a job (take a look at LinkedIn these days). While the larger your Network the better your chances, it is really the quality of your Network that will improve your job search prospects.
  • Seven Networking Myths: Fact or Fiction? - This article, by Robert Half International and posted on covers some of the misconceptions regarding Networking. This is a very helpful article for those of you (like me) who are terrified about Networking. Just read the comment regarding the myth "You need to be an extrovert" and you will see what I mean. There are only 7 and they are relatively short so you should take the time to read it.
You've got Networking on your list (everyone tells you that this is a "must do") and you really do mean to get to it (because you feel like you are missing a trick and you feel guilty), but you just can't seem to get around to it - read on.
  • Top Ten Excuses Why People Don't Network - This article, on Certified Career Coaches, sounds like the read my mind for the article. This is just about every excuse I can think of (and have thought of). If this sounds familiar, read the article because it turns the excuses into actions for the right way to leverage your Network.
Okay, so now I've covered the myths and the excuses, but what about the best practice for Networking? There are plenty of ideas out there, and most of them are good (and some of them are a bit wacky). So now let's cover the "how to".
  • Successful Job Search Networking - How to Use Job Search Networking to Find a Job - Another article from, gives some helpful advice (as well as the elusive statistic on the percentage of jobs found by networking). Of course the days are gone where the only ways to network were by phone or in person. Email (according to the article) is a perfectly acceptable way to network (excellent, I don't actually have to speak with anyone). Certainly a worthwhile article to read and it includes additional links to relevant information.

  • What is Networking? - One of my personal favorites for advice and resources on job search, the Riley Guide provides this article. It tells you what networking is (and isn't) as well as how to use the Internet, Netiquette, where to network, making contact and additional links to relevant information (such as Enetworking).
Good luck in your search.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Cover Letters

I've been thinking about cover letters this week, and decided that it is an are of job searching about which I have very mixed feelings. There are numerous places to find tips on cover letters, but the question that I always come back to is: Are traditional cover letters necessary? I think that in many circumstances, they are not at all necessary. I'm going to address this in a Q&A format, just for a change of pace.

Do you read cover letters?
Personally, I only very rarely even read cover letters. This is a mistake in some cases, since there can be very interesting information in cover letters, but with common wisdom being that most resume reviewers only spend 15-45 seconds on a resume, how much time do they spend on a cover letter? In my case, it's none.

Now, as a contingency recruiter, I tend to review more resumes than a typical hiring manager (the target audience for your resume), and I tend to have specific things I'm looking for in a resume. My caveat, is that I generally read the introduction e-mails that people include with their resumes (as long as they are brief). However, if I receive a resume via mail, or if there is a Word document attachment of a cover letter, I will not read it.

What if the job posting asks for it?
Many job postings still ask for a cover letter, and I think that the general tips about a cover letter are appropriate when it is requested. However, as long as you are doing the due diligence and calling and speaking to the hiring manager before sending a resume, I think that a cover letter is still an unnecessary distraction. Whoever is looking at your resume should be expecting it, and the content that would normally be in a cover letter would have already been discussed over the phone.

What if I never reached anybody on the phone?
A brief introductory e-mail (2-3 sentences) is all that is necessary. Example:

I have attached my resume for your review for the Sr. Recruiter position. I have 10 years of contingency and corporate recruiting experience and have billed an average of $1,000,000 per year for the last 5 years. Please call me at 202-555-1212 and we can arrange a time to get together to discuss further.

Your resume should do all of the talking about your background, and you shouldn't be applying to positions for which you aren't qualified, so that should just about cover it.

In what circumstances would a cover letter be appropriate?
1. If you are applying to a position for which you are not qualified, you need a cover letter or introductory e-mail that explains that you understand you aren't qualified.

2. If you are sending a job inquiry without a resume (advocated in this book that is worth looking at), a well-crafted introduction letter will look similar to a cover letter.

3. If you are applying for a position that is not in the city in which you live, you must include a cover letter or e-mail that explains your relocation status immediately. Are you willing to relocate at your own expense? Do you have connections to the area? Are you already planning your move? Unless the company was explicitly considering out-of-town candidates, you should explain this.

Does it hurt to send one?
In most cases, no. But if it isn't helping you or the hiring manager, why bother?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Behavioral Interview Preparation - Addendum

I was just preparing some interview questions for a round of interviewing I am conducting for a retained search, and got to thinking that the previous preparation update I gave didn't really go into any depth on how to prepare for behavioral interview questions. There is a pretty good guide here that covers most of what I would recommend.

I would say that there are very few companies that engage in full-on behavioral interviewing, most will use some combination of behavioral-based questions (tell me about a time...) and traditional questions (what are your strengths...). I generally tell candidates that preparing for a behavioral interview will make them more prepared for any non-behavioral questions as well. Therefore, it is important to prepare for both!

The idea behind behavioral interviewing is that if somebody cannot walk the interviewer through a specific situation, they probably have not done it. I had a candidate tell me in an interview that in 9 years as a supervisor, she had not ever had to discipline one of her employees. I found that hard to believe, but she seemed like a good candidate so I went along in the process. When I checked one of her references, I learned that she had not been a supervisor at all! This reinforced the premise of behavioral interviewing. That she couldn't describe an instance where she had disciplined somebody meant that she didn't know how to do it.

The most important part of preparing is to do a thorough reading of the job description to identify the key competencies for the position at hand. Sometimes, the description will just include them in a section simply titled "competencies." Other times, they will not. If they don't, look for competency-based language "must work well under pressure," "must have excellent problem-solving skills" etc.

Write each competency down, and think of a specific situation from your work history that demonstrates your competency in that area. The article linked above advocates a STAR approach:
Situation: Use specific details about a situation or task.
Task: Tell what led to the situation or task?
Action: What action was taken; discuss what you did and who was involved.
Result: Communicate the outcome.

This seems about right. I always tell people that few details are too mundane. Your interviewer will tell you if they've gotten the point to their satisfaction. The key is to have your situations ready to go for whatever competency is mentioned or seems appropriate, and to have a plan to address what seem to be the keys to the position.

Each answer should start with a description of the situation, so if the question is "Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker." The answer should start out: "Last August, another mechanical engineer and I disagreed about a design component for the new XJ-152."

Then backtrack and give the background: "She and I had been tasked with re-designing the actuation mechanism to the XJ-152 because the previous design failed in live testing 20% of the time, which is far more than the 5% that is deemed acceptable."

Then go back and describe the situation in more detail: "I was convinced that pneumatic actuation would be a more stable mechanism than the existing hydraulic system, but she was convinced that we only need to redesign the hydraulic actuation."

Then discuss how it was resolved: "I proposed that we step back and make a matrix of the customer requirements and go through the designs point-by-point to determine the best result."

Then discuss the result: "In the end, we determined that my design really was more stable, but that given the pricing requirements of the customer, it was clear that the hydraulic design was the only one that would be feasible. I was able to identify two key places where stability was compromised in her proposed design, and we worked together to resolve those and come up with a design that we were comfortable with."

I am not an engineer, so hopefully a scenario like this would include more technical details, but you are demonstrating your ability to resolve disagreements in a process-oriented fashion and give your interviewer a really good idea of how you would handle similar situations that arose. You can demonstrate this similarly even if the question is asked in a non-behavioral way, like "How do you deal with conflict?" or even "How would you describe your ability to work in teams." Describing this kind of situation in that level of detail will tell your interviewer more about you than an answer that you would typically hear to those two questions "Well, I try to work out conflicts in a way that best achieves customer goals." Or something like that.

Going into an interview with 5-10 specific situations that highlight your strengths and successes will make you a more effective interviewee, regardless of the techniques used by the interviewer.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unlisted Jobs

There's a pretty good post up at the Career Rocketeer about finding and acquiring jobs that are never listed on job boards. I think that the advice is generally good, but I sometimes wonder if we are reaching a point where there are fewer unlisted jobs than before.

Before the internet, companies relied on the newspaper classifieds if they needed to advertise a job, and many jobs went unlisted because of the expense in advertising. Headhunters were fat and happy. As the internet developed, things didn't change much because it still cost hundreds of dollars to advertise a job on a major job board.

Now, it is still expensive to advertise a job on Monster ($395 or so), but almost every company has a careers section on their website (which is free), and many if not most of those jobs get picked up by Indeed and/or SimplyHired. Additionally, most OFCCP programs require posting to certain state employment and/or diversity sites to remain compliant.

So the question is: How many jobs are filled with an external candidate without ever being posted to a readily available internet source. I'd venture that the answer 4-5 years ago was well over 50%, but that today, the answer is probably closer to 25-30%. I can't find any sources that have actually studied this, but I'm fairly confident that the trend is correct.

Networking will always be important, and even 25-30% is a lot of jobs, and these are generally jobs at small, growing companies that offer a lot of opportunity. But the takeaway is that you need a strategy to address posted jobs in a similar way to rise above the heap.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Over/Under Qualified Candidates has a good post about what to do with overqualified candidates who apply for positions. This is a fairly unique phenomenon to recessionary periods. The article is written from the perspective of the corporate recruiter and hiring manager, but it got me thinking about it from the candidate's perspectives for both over and under-qualified candidates.

When you are unemployed and actively looking for a job, there is a strong inclination to apply to any job that is close to being a fit, no matter what a stretch it is (in either direction). The thinking goes, "I have nothing to lose!" That is absolutely true in one sense, but needs to be considered in the appropriate context.

Generally, if you are over or under-qualified for a job in this economic climate, you are not going to get it. I hate to say it, but with so many people available, companies can choose to be picky. Blasting your resume to everything hoping that something will stick is not going to do you any favors. Obviously, this is pretty common advice, but if you read through the archives, my advice holds true especially in this circumstance.

If you are on either end of the qualification spectrum rather than being a perfect fit, prefacing your resume with a call is vitally important. The old adage that HR spends no more than 30-60 seconds on a resume will doom you if you aren't a perfect fit.* What you are hoping for in applying for positions that are not a perfect fit is either 1) Somebody will see my resume and think of me for another, unadvertised position, or 2) Somebody will see my resume and think "You know, this person isn't quite what we were looking for, but they might be better for the position anyway."

*I'm stealing a "Pozterisk" here from Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite baseball bloggers. Remember that for HR and sometimes hiring manager, a perfect fit means that you are currently or most recently in the same role as the one to which you are applying as well as meeting the education and experience requirements. If you are applying to a Cost Accountant position, but your last job was "G/L Accountant," you may very well be able to do a cost accountant position, but you are not a perfect fit. You MUST explain this.

First, you need to make it entirely clear to the prospective employer that you understand that you are either over or under-qualified for the position at hand. You have to decide whether you are taking tack 1 or 2 from above. Finally, call the hiring manager and introduce yourself with something along the lines of:
"Hello, my name is Jane Smith. I saw you were looking to hire a Jr. Software Engineer. I have 10 years of Embedded C development in aerospace which probably doesn't make me the right fit for that opening, but I wanted to introduce myself to you anyway to see if you had any current or upcoming needs for somebody at my experience level."
If you are taking tack 2, your script might be something like:
"Hello, my name is Jane Smith. I saw you were looking to hire a Jr. Software Engineer. I have 10 years of Embedded C development in aerospace. I realize that this is more experience than you call for in your job description, so I wanted to introduce myself to you and get a better idea of your needs and we can see if my experience might still be a good fit."
As in the previous post about not sending a resume, your goal is first and foremost to give your resume the highest chance of being reviewed at all. Since you know that you are either over or under-qualified for the position (for the sake of this discussion), taking this approach will also give your resume a better chance of being reviewed in the right context. So the resume reviewer won't say "why did this person send a resume, they are clearly over-qualified," but rather "Oh, this person said they were over-qualified, let's just have a look because they left such a nice voicemail." Obviously we prefer to get people on the phone, but a voicemail followed by an e-mail often has the same effect as far as your resume is concerned.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Resume Tips - Beware!

So I thought it would be interesting to do a Google Blog search on Resume Tips to see what kind of advice is floating out there. Kids are told nowadays to be careful of the information you find on the internet, that it is not always reliable, and so forth. I've never thought about it too much...until now.

The first result was an article from posted earlier today on "How to Make a Resume." The advice contained herein seemed to come straight out of a resume book from 1990, even down to using fancy paper. This article generally contains bad are some highlights:

"You will start with what your objective is and how it is you plan on benefiting this company."

While many resumes nowadays contain objectives, I generally find them useless. Everbody who is looking at a resume knows that your objective is to get a job with XYZ Company. If it is not, then you shouldn't be sending a resume. Furthermore, recruiters and hiring managers don't generally care what it is that you want to do, they want to find out whether your skills and experience are something that they need, not the other way around. An objective says "meet my needs." The article continues:

"After that, you move on to your employment history. You always want to ensure that you include all of your job duties here because even the smallest of duties may be relevant to this potential position. Do dont leave anything out."

Two things about this. First, your work history is not a list of job duties and should not read like a job description. I have honestly seen resumes that say "Other duties as assigned." Your work history should highlight your experience and accomplishments as they relate to your targeted company. This ties into the second point...your resume should be targeted to a specific company and position. A resume needs to include enough information to say "I can help solve your problem, invite me in for an interview and I'll tell you how."

"The next section of your resume is where you outline any relevant experience that you have, such as in volunteering. You will want to include any certifications or licensing that you may have. You never know when one of these items could be important. You never know what might impress a potential employer, so be sure to leave out nothing."

Okay, if you have volunteer work that is relevant to a position, fine, include it. But again, your potential employer really could care less that you walked dogs at the Humane Society. They want to know if you can solve their problems. I think you do know what might impress a potential employer: somebody who can solve the problem that they have that has led them to open a position.

"The reference section is the last part. You may decide to include your references on your resume. Some individuals do not like to include references, so they will provide them upon request."

Don't include references. Everybody assumes that you have references, so don't say "References available upon request" or anything like that. Your employer will ask for references when they are ready and assume that you have them. Although as a recruiter, I like references because they are potential candidates.

* * * * * * * * * *

Okay, this is exhausting. I was going to look at a few of these posts, but when the very first result is this bad, I have to break it down a little bit. The author runs a website that seems to be focused on selling a software package. When looking for resume advice, always consider the source, get as much advice as possible, and solicit advice from real people (recruiters, HR people) that will help you. Heck, I'll help you if you're in a bind...I do it every day for my candidates.

I'll try to write more about resumes in upcoming posts.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

RSS Job Feeds

Most job seekers are familiar by now with the job sites that aggregate postings from other sources (Indeed, SimplyHired, et. al). The benefits of these sites are clear, they provide job listings from hundreds of sites (paid like Monster and Careerbuilder, but also corporate websites and free websites). They don't get all the jobs, but they find enough of them to be a useful tool.

Where the tool becomes most interesting, however, is if you use their RSS feeds. This can be an incredibly useful tool for the job seeker, and a powerful tool for the agency recruiter. If you are already an RSS addict like me, it can fit job hunting or prospecting into your existing daily routine without having to do any extra work. Here is what you do:

1. Set up a Google Reader (or other RSS reader) account.

2. Go to Indeed and figure out a search string that effectively finds the type of positions in which you are most interested. It's important to play around with it, because you don't want a search that is too broad (you will waste time with irrelevant jobs) or too narrow.

3. At the top of the search results you will see a message "Save this search as an email job alert or RSS feed." Click the RSS link, choose Google Reader, and then watch as the jobs come in.

The main advantage of this is that the jobs will automatically come into your reader so you don't need to run the same searches over and over. This will leave you in a better position to pursue the opportunities (again, as a recruiter or a job-seeker).

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