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Category Archives: Hiring Techniques

If They Only Look at My Resume for 6 Seconds; How Do I Improve What They are Looking At?

There was a great piece that just came out by Vivian Giang on a study done using heat mapping about what a recruiter focuses on in the 6 seconds they have your resume in front of them. **Please note, as was pointed out to me by a colleague, this artlicle was produced by the Ladders, they have motivation to make money off of their resume writing service, however their was still good reminders in there.

First of all let’s really think about what you can do in 6 seconds, I am not even sure I can get my coffee pot set in 6 seconds, but I do believe that is the average time I look at most resumes.

Here is what she says we are looking at:

In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education.

She goes on to point out that one resume seems to have been reviewed more thoroughly than the other because of its clear format.

What are we looking for:

  • Name: are you someone we know or someone in our network, referral, etc…
  • Current Title: Is this going to be a lateral move, a huge jump, a step back – basically are you over or under qualified
  • Company: Is this a company with similar work ethic, training programs, type of work as the company we are hiring for? Is this company a target of our client or is it one we have been told to steer away from?
  • Start/end dates: are you employable for a long period of time? Were you let go during a certain season or year that is common during the “downturn”
  • Education: do you have any? Does it match the position you are applying? Is it better than those who are also applying for the position? Does it meet the requirements set by the company? Does it meet the requirements set by the recruiter/hiring manager?


How to improve:

  • Name: be sure to have your contact info correct street address is not relevant, city/state, phone, email, LinkedIn profile, blog/website ARE
  • Current Title: not much you can do other than make sure it matches what you were hired as and don’t deviate because it could mean falsification of documentation later on
  • Company: can’t change it just be aware of the culture of your company and what the “community” opinions might be on the employees that work there. Examples: hard working, nose to the grind stone, mandatory OT, difficult supervisors OR over paid, only know how to do one job, not team players. Example of culture: Creative, fun, employee centric OR dictatorship, most direction comes from upper management, not a lot of input from employees. Please note: one is not better than the other and even if a company is “known” for certain attributes it does not mean that you have or carry those attributes no matter what they are, but you need to address who you are in your cover letter, phone interview and in all of your face to face interviews.
  • Start and End Dates: There are different schools of thought on adding a reason for position end dates. I am for it. For instance: 1/10-3/12 relocation to NYC OR contract position. What this won’t help you with – things like excessive terminations, if it is one instance on your resume possibly, but if that is the reason you have ended every job you need to work with a career coach/life coach and start with a temp job or job in retail and regain your credibility (IF you are ready for it).
  • Education: Don’t ever mislead us in to thinking you have a degree if you have only taken a few classes most of which you never finished. If you are a more recent grad you want to emphasis your education and academic works if you have been established in the workforce or academics are not as relevant in the position you are applying simply include the school you attended, degree received OR coursework pursued.

Additional Tips:

Recruiters are analytical, use experience, history and deductive reasoning to make decisions quickly. HELP US HELP YOU! Keep your information easy to read, less is more in most cases but I will caution that using only a few words to describe your position is not enough. Use quantitative and qualitative data to support the work that you have done and list out your major accomplishments or successes.


Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Chris Brogan wrote a great article on Social Media, “After the Kumbaya” questioning business owners, markets, tweeters, etc… on what their real plan is and how they are measuring results as it relates to SM. I couldn’t agree more but the problem is, most companies have a difficult enough time defining target market segments let alone defining, designing and most important MEASURING their marketing plan. It is kind of like joining an association or business group but not being active, just because you are a member doesn’t mean people know you exist.

Many “experienced” SME’s believe that this is OLD news and that there are bigger things to take on, which may be the case with large companies but I still see Facebook company pages with no interaction with their fans or minimal activity at all and blogs that post once or twice a month, the list goes on and on. What are you trying to accomplish through SM?

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Define your brand
  • Introduce new changes
  • Reach a niche market
  • Launch a new product
  • Find and recruit talent
  • Have a presence just because your competitors do???? Ok this one doesn’t work

Some companies do an incredible job, Anvil Knitwear for instance has a great Facebook page and it is apparent that they are trying to showcase their sustainability/green efforts and work with US farmers. They also have a lot of posts targeting communities and college/university age students. Pictures galore and activity on a regular basis.

What are they measuring? I am not sure? How are the measuring? I didn’t ask… yes that is step 2, we have to measure how well things are working!

Just like the days of newspaper ads, coupons/coupon codes and referrals we need to know where our customers heard about us. Having someone dedicated to SM is costing you money, even if it is you so you have to be consistent and track the dollars spent, even if it is payroll dollars. There are companies you can hire or software you can use that will track these things for you. I have not researched enough in this area to make recommendations, but I am sure they are available.

In the field of recruiting and employment branding, you cannot use your twitter or FB page just to talk about the jobs you are recruiting for… BORING! You will only be reaching a small group (those connected with you). You have to be engaging, exciting, interesting, add value and be inviting. WOW, yes, you have to be all of those things and consistently.

In B2C environments the demand is the same as above or you just another mouth shouting out, buy from me because I am no twitter… It doesn’t work! Start my mimicking your advertising plan, even if it is one you used a year ago. This way you aren’t trying to do too much at once, and you will also see vast improvement on your new tactics which will motivate you for future marketing efforts.

B2B is still similar and in each environment let me add something more, you need to be the expert and you need to add VALUE… yes big boring overused word that is never really defined. What is value as an expert? Well it varies from market to market, but you need to provide something to your followers, customers, prospects that they would have to research to find on their own. It should be something of relevance to your audience and you should be solving a problem or at least acting as a resource.

In summary, SM is no quick fix! Chris Brogan said it best, “You Can’t Eat A Hug”

Recruiters & Managers Working Together: It is Possible, You Have the Same Goal… well, you should

Recruiters & Managers Working Together: It is Possible, You Have the Same Goal… well, you should

Whether corporate or agency there are times during the recruitment process where a recruiter and a manager are not always communicating clearly. These should only be mere blips on the communication radar screen rather than long gaps of silence and disconnect. Unfortunately, these 2 professionals can sometimes appear as if they are standing on opposite sides of a very tall fence with barbed wire on the top. This is something I never understood as neither should be looked at as necessary evils to an end result (making an offer to a new hire).

Let’s talk about the frustrations of each side and through this confrontation maybe you can draw some conclusions. Each organization is different in the way the approach their solution, I happen to have some of my own.

Managers issues with Recruiters:

  1. they ask too many questions (read not the right type of questions or in the right format)
  2. they don’t react quickly enough (read no clear expectations were defined)
  3. they try to sell me on candidates (read push back or scrambling – there is a difference)
  4. they waste my time (read complete communication breakdown need to start with and continue to tweak and share the recruitment plan)
  5.  they don’t understand the intricacies of my department (read lack of trust)
Recruiters issues with Managers
  1. they are too tight-lipped; I can’t get any more information (read you are asking the wrong questions or you have no trust)
  2. the description keeps changing every time I give them a resume (read you didn’t qualify the job description)
  3. they won’t make time to interview (read no set boundaries & expectations of the process)
  4. I can’t get any detailed feedback (read ask better questions & set up a system)
  5. they have no idea how much time this takes (read- it is your job and they don’t need to… BUT they do need to see the value)
I know you are scratching your head right now and had more ah ha moments than you thought you might. This happens in most relationships between a recruiter and a manager and it typically has less to do with the skills on either side than the systems and set up of the relationship. Email me d e powers at g mail . c om if I can help shed some light and share some of my systems with you and your team. I created them because, as usual, I was tired of stating the obvious but seeing the same result: frustrated recruiters and managers. It is painful for me to watch and I knew that if I could put things down in black and white and work with people on how to communicate throughout the process the frustration would dissipate.

You Are the Laziest Job Seeker EVER!

You Are the Laziest Job Seeker EVER!

I have to say, I have been a bit bogged down and late at returning calls, being pulled into too many directions lately, which is why my writing has slowed. Even though I have not been following up the way I would like with my candidates who are in process with me, I am still making an effort to be personal and detailed and if necessary apologetic. Yet, from job seekers, those passive and active alike, I am unimpressed by many.

Just in the last 2 weeks I have seen some atrocious responses both on the phone and via email regarding job postings. People, how many times do we have to tell you, write down the jobs you are responding to so that when I call you THE NEXT DAY or after the weekend, you know who the heck I am or can at least pretend!

Here are the email responses that I have seen from sales professionals in the 65-100k range responding to a direct email that has an extremely detailed job description with salary, benefits, industry and expectations in the 350+ word job posting. I point this out only because I know that there are a lot of scam and BS job postings and emails that get sent out, which is why I TOOK MY TIME to be as detailed as possible. So in return here is what I got (and these were people with good resumes):

  • I’m very interested in the attached information. Please let me know the next step.
  • I’ll talk to you!!
  • Hello–  I am interested in this position.
  • when is a good time
Please let me clarify that all 4 of the above were in response to very long, detailed emails that included my name and not ONE of these candidates addressed me with my name. They read what they wanted to and most likely responded from their phones. THEY did not sign their names or include their phone numbers which means that I had to go back to CareerBuilder to look them up… well guess what YOU MOVE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST THAT WAY! Oh yeah and this is to assume that your email address comes over with your name or that I am going to search you by your email address.
Let me also say that the one fragmented sentence response is RIDICULOUS! Get a standard cover letter and copy and paste it and put my name in it at least! We know you are using it to send to all of your employers, that is ok, it makes us feel better.
We are looking for you to appear a bit interested, share some brief, but specific statements of why YOU would be good in X POSITION IN X TYPE OF INDUSTRY, or what ever it is you are responding to. If this is the type of follow up you have, seriously you are raising concerns as potential employees and I haven’t even spoken with you yet.
So I am not going to dig back through Careerbuilder to find you again, yes I most likely saved you in a folder or put you on my work list, but still, your lack of investment in the process makes me think you are flighty. A recruiter can be working on anywhere from 10-50 different jobs in all types of areas and requirements, move yourself to the top by selling yourself on the fact that you want the job. A recruiter doesn’t want to sell you on a job, they want to talk to you about your experience first, understand your expectations and experiences and then talk about the opportunity if it fits.
Do you know why they do this? So that you can’t tailor your answer to what you think they want to hear. It isn’t because they hold the key to some secret box with all of the jobs in the world, they just don’t have the time to dig through the fluff to get to what you are really after.
Even if you have 3 interviews this week and the job they are presenting is #3 on the list, if it is a job  you would like to hear more about then put your best foot forward if not, you don’t have a shot.

Find a Way to Hire or Help a Veteran

Find a Way to Hire or Help a Veteran

I worked a great deal with the Veteran’s Outreach Center while I was a recruiting manager in Rochester as a volunteer. I have had some incredible experiences through volunteering with the VOC, much of my work was in job coaching and resume review but I also helped with a silent auction that the NHRA in Rochester put on that raised money for different local programs. We had a young gentleman who got up and speak and give thanks for the money we were raising and it turned out that young man didn’t even have a bed to sleep on. He went from fighting in a war to sleeping on the floor in his own country, someone had an extra bed that they were able to donate, but I can tell you that no one left the room that evening without thinking about that young man and all of his fellow service men and women.

This is something I need to get back involved with here in my new home, so I thought I would share some of the resources I found. If you are looking for facts and figures of displaced, homeless or unemployed vets, they are out there and they will shock you. I just wanted to share what YOU can do about it.

First of all, for business owners, their are tax incentives for hiring vets both short term and long term that you should look in to and additional dollars for hiring disabled veterans. If you are looking for leadership skills, time management, professionalism and the soft skills that can not be taught, such as diligence, you should look to hire a vet. I was in a meeting the other day and there was a representative from ESGR (Employer Support of Guard & Reserve) who was giving some astounding numbers of reservists that are no longer the weekend warriors of years, they are deployed too.

As a civilian citizen it is our duty to serve and protect those that are serving and protecting us abroad. To do everything in our means to assist them in re-establishing their lives here at HOME. How?

  • Volunteer with ESGR in your community, helping with Mock Interviews or Job Searches (even if you are in a job search yourself) We ALWAYS learn through teaching
  • Check out the Veteran’s Administration to see about Welcome Home Events or other ways to volunteer in your area
  • Run some errands! That’s right, disabled vets need rides to medical appointments, interviews, or even to the store; are you going to the grocery store?
  • Save a life, yes you can even volunteer after extensive training, with suicide prevention hotlines.
I hope this got you thinking about new and creative ways to volunteer or why if you can, hire a vet. I am always pushing to get out and act rather than just sit back and react, this is a great way to keep moving all of us forward.

How to Handle the New Kid (being one and working with one)

No one, let me repeat, no one, likes to be the new kid at the office no matter how old they are and on the other hand the existing regime is hesitate to the new person too. This has gone on since our days of junior high, walking down the halls nervous and awkward hoping that we will fit in somewhere and make a new friend. More importantly that we will stand out for the right reasons or just fade in to the background (depending on our personality).

Interestingly enough both the new hire and the exisiting employees are reluctant for similar reasons:

  1. Training: learning new things is tough, you want to be fast and efficient and show what you know already. Training new people takes away from your daily work and we already have acknowledged that we are all working harder and with less on most days so this can feel like a burden, especially without a strong plan in place.
  2.  Where do you fit: Knowing your place and the reality of your place. Hopefully this was clearly defined during the interview AND orientation process then reiterated in your team meeting both for the new person as well as the team. What a relief it is when there isn’t the tension of wondering if you will step on someones toes or understanding why you are no longer working on a particular project by yourself.
  3. Remove your prejudgments for the first month. This goes for both sides. Don’t worry about what someone looks like. Dress to impress but don’t over do it. Be sure to be a strong listener and don’t make assumptions. Give others and yourself the opportunity to learn about one another, don’t be too closed off and don’t share too much (have balance).

Employee Tips: Know that you have the ability to increase your success by working hard and not acting like a know it all. Even if you have the answer or the best solution in your mind, take time to discover why the company you are working for isn’t doing it that way and ask good questions, beyond “Why?”. Understand that not all companies are as well equipped or prepared to train and orientate you as they should be or your last company was. This may not be a reflection of how they operate as a business, it may just be a reaction to the speed in which they needed you or based on the needs of the business. Try to be patient and acclimate as best as possible.

Employer Tips: At minimum you must be prepared even if you don’t have the entire first 2-3 weeks planned out. Have an orientation packet complete with an agenda, handbook, training tools, org chart, phone/email list and job description. Have their desk ready with any items that they might need. Pair them with a work partner or office mentor beyond their trainer so that they have 2 people to go to besides you. Try not to run any incentive contests within the person first 3 weeks. Meet with them at the end of each day for the first week to 2 weeks and at the end of each week for their first 4-5 weeks giving feedback, asking questions and looking for new training opportunities.

Co-workers: This is a whole other section. Bottom line, don’t show off or push the work you don’t want to do on the new person. Act as a guide and an equal. Inquire about the persons background and learn from them. They were hired for a reason. Remeber all that complaining you were doing about the overload of work, assume they are there to ease some of the work load.

More to come on training and orientation but hopefully this will serve as a guide.

Working with a Recruiter – common complaints from job seekers & how to avoid them

I encourage all of my recruiter colleagues to jump in with their comments along with those with experience working with recruiters.

As the job market remains competitive, the rumblings continue from frustrated job seekers, many of whom have earned the right to rumble, but just remember who your audience is. Try to stick to family and friends rather than professional acquaintances or even new professional networking connections when it comes to the frustrations of your job search.

Successful recruiters are so because they enjoy working with and helping people as part of who they naturally are, so if you feel like your recruiter didn’t care or was out for themselves or just using you, I am going to ask that you revisit the situation (especially if this is how you feel about every recruiter you have met). I am not saying that there aren’t awful recruiters out there who are manipulative and will lie, cheat and steal to seal a deal, but like in all things in life do your research and ask for referrals. A good recruiter will form a connection with you, even if it is a small one, they will be direct and honest and have expectations of you the candidate.

Most common complaints we hear and how to help avoid them:

  1. They called me in for an interview and had me do all of these tests but then I never heard from them again.
  2. I waited for 35 minutes & my interview was only 15
  3. I was hoping that they would give me more advice OR they spent an hour with me and then I never really got more advice from them
The solution: be prepared, ask questions about the company or agency, know what kind of jobs they typically place for and the types of positions AND PLEASE TAKE NOTES. If the company does a lot of temp2hire or contract work and you are against it, you may want to rethink your interview. On the other hand, should you really turn down a good job, in your field, with a target company just because it is a contract? If you limit your options or have unrealistic salary expectations, then there might not be a good match for you with that particular recruiter. Have you asked, “Is there anything that you see that would keep you from presenting opportunities to me or presenting me to your clients?”
Dress to impress: do you need to wear a suit? not always, but jeans… not really. A 3rd party recruiter is paid based on finding that perfect candidate for their clients (the companies that engage them) and a corporate recruiter is paid a salary to do the same. What I am getting at here is that a recruiter is only as good as their performance, last placement and reputation/integrity for those they work with in business, first impressions are lasting ones and we all must put our best foot forward. Help them see the best in you and leave no room for hesitation or doubt in your ability to be a great asset to their clients.
Know what your true skills and experience are and apply for positions that match this best, not what you would love to do in the future if given a chance. This type of chance/opportunity doesn’t come from applying to a posting online or from explaining to the recruiter that you are a quick learner. I am sorry if this stings, but the chance you are seeking, someone with experience has already taken. I promise to write very soon about career change tips but for now, just trust me on this one.
If you are looking for career advice, interview training, resume critique, networking tips or other “tricks of the trade” I ask that you keep your question to, “How can I improve” rather than rattle off every issue or concern you have or someone has told you that you might have. Then I suggest you engage in a career counselor of sorts. Ask your recruiter if they have 2 that they can recommend, you will want to do your own research but suggestions and referrals are very important.
The reason: Employers/Managers/Companies have become increasingly particular in their requirements and expectations from their recruiters because they feel that the market is full of great candidates that meet each and every one of their bullets on the job description and have that perfect “fit” to boot. A recruiter must use their gut, experience and research to make the best decision for the company (ies) they work with in order to continue their role as a business partner rather than a commodity. Trust and strong relationships with all parties are key to success.
Remember that each moving piece of the recruitment and selection process is a person that should be vested in the other and their relationship. People are people, as the saying goes and this is what causes the most excitement and stress for any recruiter.
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