is your resume hitting it out of the park

Is your resume striking out or knocking it out of the park?

The job seeker steps up to the plate. You can feel the determination coming off of him like waves spreading across the field. The HR manager pitches the job, a hard fast ball that flies past the job seeker, who just misses it. Setting up for the second pitch now, a deceiving curve ball.  The job seeker swings hard and fans it, catching nothing but air.  It’s all riding on this final pitch.  Another fast ball, but all he does is watch it sail across the plate to have the umpire call the last strike.

Ever feel like that when sending your resume out to employers? When looking for a new job or opportunity, it can feel like the bottom of the 9th and the entire game is riding on your shoulders.

Follow these simple tips to knock your job search out of the park!

Batter on deck

Having a solid resume is very much like having a quality bat. You never see professional ball players at the plate with a whiffle Ball bat; it wouldn’t be able to compete. Nor do you see them trying to swing something they can’t lift.

Your resume is very similar. If your resume is lacking critical information and key words, it acts like a light piece of plastic that shatters on contact with a professional pitcher on the mound. If your resume is overloaded superfluous fluff or excessively old work history, it becomes slow and unwieldy in the hands of anything less than a superhuman.

When writing your resumes and cover letters, be sure to include things like contact information, key skills specific to the target job, and relevant duties. Don’t forget to highlight past achievements, such as sales metrics, customer volume, call volume, awards, and any other quantifiable metric appropriate for your target job.

One of the latest trends in modern resumes is to “get to the point.” Recruiters and hiring managers alike need to understand your strengths and abilities within 30 seconds.  If your resume is filled with too much padding just to be fancy, you can easily strike out.

Gotta swing to be a hitter

In baseball, the Strike Zone is based on the batter’s height and the width of the plate. Every batter’s ideal pitch is different, much like every job seeker’s ideal job is different. When considering different positions, think of each one as their own pitch. Something outside of your strike zone – for example, way out of your skill set, experience, or education – is not something you should swing at. Typically, HR uses those differentiators to determine their top candidates.

HOWEVER, you can’t tell what the top qualifications are just by reading the job description.  In every job posting, there are factors that the employers value more than others. For these reasons, you should apply to any job that catches your interest, especially if you hold most of the skills and experience desired.  You gotta swing to be a hitter!

Transitioning to a new role or industry?  Remember, HR tends to be pretty literal in screening candidates based on key words and qualifications, just like the umpire calling each pitch.  HOWEVER, you can still land a new job by reaching out to the hiring managers directly.  Many successful major league players are known for chasing a pitch outside of their normal strike zone and turning it into a single, double, triple, or even a home run.  The trick is knowing that they can make it work – and then proving it to the world.

Step into the box

Even before seeing a pitch, a baseball player performs a unique ritual as he steps into the batter’s box to get fully focused.  When the pitch comes screaming at him at 90 miles an hour, he is so focused that he can see the stiches on the ball.  As it gets into range, he raises his front foot, twists up from the feet and drives that sucker into the ball. He uses his whole body to drive power into the bat and launch that ball into the stratosphere.

Technique matters for job seekers too. Just doing the minimal effort when applying to a job is like swinging a bat with noodle arms.  If you really want to get an employer’s attention, track down the HR manager or even connect with higher-ups in your target companies using things like LinkedIn. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is very much alive in this day and age. Exercise the muscles of your network to fully engage all of your strengths to hit it out of the park.

 

 

 

 

Spring has sprung (almost)

Spring may not “officially” be in season quite yet, but that all changes this upcoming weekend. Soon there will be fluffy bunnies, robins, flowers in bloom and leaves on the trees that spent their winter dormant waiting for this moment.

We humans have a tendency to “hibernate” in the winter seasons, preferring to stay indoors where it is nice and toasty, binge watching Netflix and feasting during the holiday seasons. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but our homes tend to get kind of gross in that period of time. Thusly did spring cleaning become a thing.

Every spring, you can find spring cleaning messages in advertisements online and on television, even the radio if you can tolerate the commercials.

“Woah, hold on there a minute, James,” you may be saying, “What does that have to do with careers?”

Well, random person whom I have never met, yet seem to be able to voice in a static writing…everything!

We are creatures of habits and patterns. Every spring, we clean up our living spaces. Plants and animals go through changes, so we strive for a change ourselves. Many job seekers start looking for a career shift around this time of year, riding the optimism carried by the bright flowers and birdsongs. However, many job seekers do not apply the aforementioned spring cleaning bug to their resumes and other career documents.

Your resume, cover letter and even your LinkedIn profile can grow just as stagnant in the winter seasons as your living space. You grow comfortable with it. You may no longer see where it may need to be cleaned up and changed. Well, time to dust those suckers off and get to work!

1.    Resume

Even if you have recently updated your resume, you want to make sure it is as current as possible. Did you take on additional responsibilities at your current position? Did you recently leave a position? Did you move? Change your phone number? These are just the basics in terms of editing your resume, but if you don’t address the basics first, you are basically shooting yourself in the foot.

Your current resume should focus on the last 10-15 years of career experience and development or in your current industry. Take a look at some of the job descriptions for the job title you are looking at getting in your next career move. How much experience do they require? What skills are all of the job descriptions looking for? Use this as a road map for updating your resume that you send out to employers.

2.    Master Resume / Application

This is a little different than your resume. A summary of your employment history is modeled after your resume, but includes a few extra details, such as the employer’s address, your supervisor, contact information, starting/ending salary and reason for leaving.

This kind of document is a fantastic tool for interviewing, but also useful for filling out online applications. When it comes time for interviews, have this document with you and ready, and a lot of that pre-interview stress will be mitigated.

Use this template:

Company         Dates Worked

Job Title

Address

Supervisor Name, Title, Contact information

Starting Salary:

Ending Salary:

Reason for Leaving:

 

Example:

 

Private Company, LLC 9/2011 to 4/2014

Private Chef to Mr. and Mrs. John Successful

Confidential Work Location, Any town, USA

Jane Smith, HR Coordinator, 123 Main Street, Any town, USA, (123) 456-7890, jsmith@email.com

Starting Salary: 87,500/year

Ending Salary: 98,000/year plus discretionary bonus

Reason for Leaving: Spouse relocated to San Francisco, CA

3.    Cover Letters

Like a great suit, everyone should have more than one cover letter.  Ideally, you would write a fresh cover letter for each job, or at least have three or four letters that you can easily adapt to job postings.  Have a few that are ready for a quick tweak, especially for an email message.  Do not forget to put in extra effort to customize the letter for your dream job. Including research specific to that employer or situation will help you stand out from the other applicants. This applies to follow-up letters and thank you letters as well.

4.    Reference List

Rather than stating “references available on request” on your resume, have a prepared reference list.  This is a single document that includes three or four professional references and up to three character references. Ideally, you want to select people who would be willing to speak with a potential employer, discussing you, your achievements and the attributes that make you the best candidate for the job at hand.  If a written recommendation letter exists from an individual and you plan to add it to your application package, make a note of it on this list.

 

In fact, when was the last time you communicated with the people on your list?  Now is a good time to reconnect.  Find out what they are up to and fill them in on all the happenings in your life.  If a colleague mentioned writing you a recommendation letter the last time you spoke, then follow-up on their offer.  Make it easy for them by directing them to your LinkedIn profile.

5.    LinkedIn

Speaking of LinkedIn, once you have finished up your polishing of your other documents, your profile is a great next step, especially if you plan to use it you reconnect with your references. With LinkedIn, you can update any of the information you changed on your resume, naturally, but you will also want to talk to people in your network and strengthening those professional relationships. Get recommended, ask your references and others to endorse your skills and do the same for them. Trust me, it goes a long way.

Need more help with LinkedIn? Check out our free and paid webinars on Eventbrite, HERE

 

Just clean up your career documents a little this spring. Follow this guide, and you will be sure to get more out of your resume, cover letter and profile than you have been.

 

 

 

A most triumphant job search

“Bill: Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant, the truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.

Ted: Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.

Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.

Ted: Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don’t really even know how to play?

Bill: That is why we NEED Eddie Van Halen!

Ted: And THAT is why we need a triumphant video.

Bill, Ted: EXCELLENT!”

-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Orion Pictures

Do you ever feel that way in a job search? I know I have, especially when looking for a dream job. Sometimes, the task feels so daunting that it seems you will never make it into the position unless you have a veritable rock-god on your side to help you along.

The problem with that line of logic is that it is entirely unrealistic. While great for laughs as two underachievers with a dream stumble through time to finish a history report, it is not all that helpful to you and your job search. The fact is, you are likely already skilled at your chosen profession (unlike Bill and Ted, who at this point didn’t even know how to play their instruments).

However, you can still find yourself in a similar trap while working the job hunt. How do you present yourself in a job search most triumphantly? Who is this Eddie Van Halen, and why do you need him? How do you turn a bogus job search into a non-heinous and most excellent adventure?

1.    Which comes first, the video or the Halen?

Before starting your job search, you need to ensure that your career documents are in order. Updating your work history, education, and contact information is one of the first and easiest things you can do with your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. These are all the core components of your “Triumphant Video.”

But in order to make it truly triumphant, there are a few extra steps you can take that will go a long way towards helping you land your dream job. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter are “Key-word optimized.” By using the same key-words employers are searching, your resume is more likely to pass through their screening software be read by an actual person.  Here at Personal Touch, we use our Key Element Detector™ to identify these industry-specific key-words and work them into our resumes.

Once you have triumphant career documents, you are ready to get your own Eddie Van Halen.

2.    Eddie Van Halen?

Eddie Van Halen, arguably one of the best guitarists on the planet, is unfortunately not likely to get you a job. Being a rock god demands a lot of time.

Your Eddie Van Halen will instead be someone who has a certain amount of influence in your target job. By searching websites like LinkedIn, you can connect with company owners, C level executives, hiring managers, or other employees who are affiliated with your industry and/or target companies.

Connecting with these people over social media sites can help you to learn more about the company to which you are looking to apply. The old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” applies here. We live in a day and age of amazing technology that allows us to connect with people around the world in seconds. Take the time and make those connections, and you won’t regret it.

Who knows? You might actually get Eddie Van Halen!

3.    Party on, Dudes

Armed with a most excellent resume and a collection of righteous dudes from around the world to vouch for you, your job search will be easier and smoother than you could have possibly hoped. In the words of the great President Abraham Lincoln:

“Fourscore and… seven minutes ago… we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill… and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it’s true today. Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!”

-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989,) Orion Pictures

There is profound wisdom in that. “Be excellent to each other,” as a philosophy, is a similar statement to “Do onto others…” or the Golden Rule. To strive for excellence and to treat others with excellence and respect is a noble pursuit. Applying that same philosophy to a job search allows you to cultivate positive attitudes with the people whom you associate with, in turn increasing the likelihood that they do the same for you. While looking for a job, having persons wishing excellence for you and actively trying to help you achieve it is a rare commodity these days.

Party on, dudes.

The Career Awakens

 

It’s that time of year again. Jobs will soon be flooding the market like a sudden invasion by the First Order. Now that the holidays are over, employers are looking to revitalize their staff with new people. Some even go as far as to hire recruiters for their skills as bounty hunters. During a job search, employers often feel like faceless entities or insurmountable empires.

So, how does the average job seeker face these kinds of odds (approx. 3720 to 1) and compete with other job seekers in a busy, fast paced market? How does one person outwit the cunning hiring manager and their advanced computer screening systems? How do you awaken your career and get the job you really want?

Answers, you shall find, young Padiwan.

1.    Preparation and Tools of the Jedi Job Seeker

Before tearing off into the frontier of job postings, work on your job searching tools, including your resume, social media profiles and employment website settings. Your resume is your lightsaber, one of the most crucial tools of the Jedi. Your social media profiles, including LinkedIn, are your Millennium Falcon, able to get you in contact with actual hiring managers of the companies you are applying to in less than 12 Parsecs. If any of these are in a poor state, you will be cut down by the insidious HR department long before you ever speak to a single person at the target company.

The January hiring surge is short – learn everything you can about the hiring process itself to become a competitive candidate.  Remember, you are literally fighting hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants for every job. Make the most of every opportunity.

2.    Know the Mission. Know the Enemy

The rebels never would have blown up both Death Stars if they had not known the weaknesses of the Empire and their engineering. The key for you and the job search is to actually research your target employers. The more you know about the company, the better off you will be when it comes time to interview with them. Not to mention that research is the best way to discover and contact the key managers involved in the hiring decision.  Plus, research give you clarity about the company’s culture and work environment.

Start off by selecting and researching at least 10 potential employers each week, even if they don’t have any posted jobs yet.  Research includes finding out about their business, the size, where they post jobs and key managers and employees. Of course, add companies that have posted positions that peak your interest as well.

Work on building your LinkedIn network to create some connections within these target employers.  Your social network is essentially your rebel alliance. This is your support, your connections, and sometimes direct lines to your target companies.

3.    The Jedi Job Seeker Code

“There is no emotion, there is peace…”

First of all, don’t let your emotions rule your job search.  This can be a challenge, as finding a great position can be invigorating.  Similarly, receiving the rejection email can be a devastating blow.  Try to keep an even keel during your job search so you don’t lose your perspective.

“There is no ignorance, there is knowledge…”

Just blinding applying to jobs without research is to barrel forward in ignorance.  Take the time to learn about your targets to make the most of every single job application and submitted resume.  Similarly, educate yourself about the hiring process to empower your own job search.  Knowing the tricks and traps is the best way to avoid HR’s sarlacc pit that consumes most resumes.

“There is no passion, there is serenity…”

Sorry, Jedi, but here I have to disagree.  Passion is paramount in the job search.  Smart managers hire people who are passionate about what they do.  Traditionally speaking, the passionate employee with produce better work, stay longer, be more committed, call in less, and is in general a better hire.  Don’t be afraid to express your passion in your cover letter, your resume, and the interview.

“There is no chaos, there is harmony…”

A job search conduct in chaos is not effective.  This means that frantically applying to jobs over your lunch hour is not going to work.  Set aside time every day to work on your search, including creating a space within your home dedicated to this purpose.  Still the mind and let go of your anxieties and stresses of the day before tackling something like writing your resume or starting a complex online application.  Just a few calming breaths to reset the mind can make a world of difference.

“There is no death, there is the Force.”

Death is but a transformation, including job changes, career transitions, and new opportunities.  To be effective, we have to let go of the former life to experience the new one.  In many ways, this is aligning ourselves with our higher selves – if we work towards it and allow it to happen.

 

 

 

Don’t be a Scrooge in your job search

Dickens Scrooge Man with Candlestick Walking in Winter Forest at Moonlight.

The holidays are nearly upon us. It is a time of goodwill, new beginnings and kindness. For the modern job seeker, many just put off their resumes and job searching till the first of the year. People are natural procrastinators in that respect. After all, there are not a lot of job postings or hiring going on this time of year. Everyone seems to have other things on their mind compared to a boring old resume or keeping up with their networks.

This only makes things worse for you later on.  After all, we can all learn from Scrooge that if “nothing changes, then nothing changes.”  With that in mind, what to the three Holiday Spirits – Past, Present, and Future – have to teach us about the job search?

The past: foundation to a good outcome

I like to think of the resume a representation of the past. It is quite literally a timeline of your past achievements, where you came from, and the skills you have acquired in your professional history. If your past is jumbled and unclear, your resume can feel like a looming spirit of past transgressions and culminate into a vicious cycle of infrequent interviews and even fewer job offers.

Take the time this season to explore your past and bring it to light in a positive way. Demonstrate yourself to be a viable candidate for the job you are going after with a history that shows the skills and talents employers are seeking.

The present: networking and meaningful connections

A healthy network is key in the modern era of job searching. Are you on LinkedIn? If not, we always recommend getting with it. HR departments will be looking you up on LinkedIn, making your professional social media presence more important than ever before. More importantly, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people in your industry or with companies you would like to work for. A strong network will get you more attention from companies and the hiring managers within them.

If your network is not as established yet, you deal with another malignant ghost haunting your holidays. It often feels as if you don’t know the right people, or you can’t get the recommendations, or you are simply out of the loop.

While building the network, don’t forget to take some time with your network over the holidays, even if it is sending out a simple season’s greetings and wishing them well. One of Scrooge’s biggest mistakes was to not value his current employee, skipping over the personal connection that actually creates a positive work culture.  It took a ghost to show him Tiny Tim’s plight, even though he employed his father for years.  Be sure to reach out to your connections to show that you care.  A little kindness for your network will get you far once the holidays are over.

The future: building an effective strategy

The future looms over us all in this life and is often a source of anxiety and stress, especially for those of us out there looking for a new job. As far as most are concerned, the future and planning for it stops at decided what job their target job is. However, it takes real work to set up action steps to achieve that new position.  Without a clear strategy, life actually continues on the same path – and for Scrooge, that was foretold as a lonely and grim future.

To become a master of your own destiny, start forming a real job search plan and proactive, effective strategy. Ask yourself the following:

  • What is my target job?
  • Who are my potential employers?
  • Where are they advertising their positions?
  • What is their own presences on LinkedIn or other social media sites?
  • Do I have connections at these companies already?
  • Who should I be contacting and how do I track down their contact information?
  • When will I schedule time for my job search?
  • How will I track the results of my applications and interviews?
  • Who are my best advocates within my network?

Once you answer these questions for yourself, you will have a clearer idea of how to start your job search. If you aren’t clear about how to implement every aspect of your search, consider checking out additional resources, such as books, thought leaders, or even coaches to get you moving forward.

Taking charge of your fate

Like Scrooge, we can’t avoid the ultimate fate that waits at the end of our lives.  However, we can choose how we shall live, and that includes the opportunity to work at a job that we truly enjoy.  The important thing is to establish some realistic goals, fine tune your resume, and build a network that will help you reach it. From there, you become a better architect for your future and take it from the hands of fate.

Don’t put things off till after the holidays. Take the time now to build a great resume that highlights your glowing reputation, establish a strong and meaningful connection with the people in your network, and work out an effective set of goals to put yourself ahead of the other job seekers this winter. Happy holidays!

Perfect resume recipe

Hungry for a new job this holiday season? Follow this simple recipe for a tasty new resume and enjoy a main course of great interviews that lead to your next sweet job.

Ingredients

1 Microsoft Word document

3 – 4 relevant job postings

800 – 2000 words

3 cups experience

1 cup relevant skills

1 cup previous achievements

1 bottle Key Word marinade

3 tbls contact information

2 tbls education

Season to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat brain to 350 degrees. Lay out ingredients on Word Document in the following order: 3 tbls contact information, 50-70 words introductory paragraph, 1 cup relevant skills, 3 cups experience, 1 cup previous achievements, 1 tbls education. Combine ingredients in document.
  2. Place resume in warm brain for 20 minutes.
  3. Lay out relevant job postings on cutting board. Find key elements by cutting away fat, keeping only desired skills and experience. Combine to create the key word marinade.
  4. Remove resume from brain and add key word marinade. Return resume to brain and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with personal flavor to capture your unique personality.
  6. Garnish with cover letter and serve to potential employer.

All metaphor aside, a good resume starts with a basic understanding of what goes into making one. When writing a resume, most people ignore some essential elements.  Just like a failed soufflé, missing the essential ingredients will make the resume fall flat.  Without the right key words, it can’t pass the screening process.  Not enough spice and it will bore the hiring managers.

Don’t forget to do a taste test before sending your resume out to potential employers.  Show it to colleagues, friends, and family to get their opinion.  Remember to put more credence on the opinions of people within your industry, but multiple reviews can also spot the simple grammar or spelling error that can ruin a resume.  If you are working with a recruiter you trust, they can provide some guidance as well.

Remember, your resume should be a representation of you on paper.  You want the employers to savor it, not just screen it.  While key words can get you through the door, you still have to impress the hiring manager with your relevant knowledge, skills, and experience to land the interview.

The horrors of interviewing

© Omino di Carta - Fotolia.com

© Omino di Carta – Fotolia.com

You are sitting in a waiting room, surrounded by others wearing the exact same clothes as you, their faces blurred and featureless. The receptionist sits behind her desk, typing away at her computer, her lips curved in an unsettling smile.

Every few minutes, the door behind her opens and you hear a muffled call. One of the featureless-faced individuals stands and goes back into the doorway. None of them ever come out.

Finally, you hear a muffled call, but know it’s your name. You stand and walk through the doorway. Before you is a well-furnished office and a man with a cruel grimace, his hands folded neatly on the desk. He welcomes you and offers you a seat.

“Tell me about yourself.” He commands, “Impress me, and you just might have a future.”

Okay, so maybe going to an interview like the one above is something more out of a horror movie or a scary story. However, the same kinds of feelings of anxiety and stress going into an interview exist in real life and often has qualified applicants wracked with terror. I have personally had dreams like the story above just before going into an interview the next day.

That said, here are some tips for your next interview:

1.      What they really want to know

When we get right down to it, the big scary HR manager wants to know a few things when it comes to the interview:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you fit in with the company?
  • Do you have any issues?
  • Can I get you at the right price?

All of these are important factors with the job you are going for. Granted, some of those questions can be answered in the cover letter and the resume, but this is where they go into the gritty details. They will ask detailed questions about your work history on your resume, so be prepared with some examples. Meeting you in person is a great way for them to assess whether or not they feel you are going to be a good fit for the company. They also want to know why you left your last jobs. Do you blame the boss? Do you get easily frustrated? There are other things they look for in terms of issues, but those are probably the biggest ones.

2.      Be yourself

This is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to the interview. Honesty is the best policy here. If you are pretending to be outgoing when you really aren’t, it will come across as fake and dishonest in the interview.

They want to know the real you when you get into the interview. Pretending to be someone you are not will almost always end badly.

3.      Different interview styles

Different interviewers have different ways of interviewing candidates. Some are super nice, others might even seem skeptical about everything you are saying. Each one has their reasons for doing this, whether consciously or subconsciously.  Your survival tactic? Remember to be on your guard. Don’t be suckered in by a pleasant smile or feel defeated because the interviewer is seeming to not pay attention. Check out this post for ways to keep yourself on the right track when it comes to the most common styles of interviewing: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/handling-different-interviewer-styles

4.      Prepare

This is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself. Prepare some questions for the interviewer about the company, the challenges of the job or even how long the position has been open. Having these kinds of questions at the ready when they ask “Do you have any questions for me?” sets you apart from other candidates because it shows you know about the company itself.

Also preparing answers to the more common interview questions out there is extremely helpful. For more advice on that, check out this article: https://personaltouchcareerservices.com/how-to-prepare-for-a-job-interview

 

Job hunting: is it a wasteland?

I just saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” (George Miller / Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015) for the first time yesterday. (I know, it hit theaters forever ago, but I never took the chance to go see it in the theater.) It reminded me of some people’s job search when they call our office.

 

Often times, these job seekers have been looking for a job for months with little success, leaving many to wonder if, in fact, there are any jobs at all.  The job market for them feels like the apocalyptic wasteland, where they race with the competition for the best prospects.  It seems like only the strongest, smartest, or most ruthless survive the furious chase.

 

Granted, they aren’t wearing distressed leather jackets, driving supped up V8 engines, and spearing each other’s vehicles with bombs, but the mentality has some striking similarities:

 

1.      The market crash and the Great Recession is still fresh in people’s minds, giving them a survivor’s mentality

Many job seekers are still scared from the brutal unemployment rates and overall hiring landscape after the market crashed. Many people were forced to learn new professions just to keep their heads above water, all while dreading the possibility of getting laid off. A survivor’s mentality permeated the population. Some, such as myself, worked for temp agencies or had to take odd jobs in order to pay for simple things like food or a roof over their head.

 

Like huddled groups of War Boys, many Millennials took up residence with multiple roommates just because they couldn’t afford their own place, or worse, had to move back in with their parents. Meanwhile, older generations of the American workforce were under constant threat of a layoff just because of changing market conditions.

By my words and deeds, I totally qualify for this job 

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

 

As the lone job hunter, I felt like the job boards such as CareerBuilder.com and Indeed.com transformed into a vast wasteland where no jobs existed, with an occasional oasis of opportunity springing up just to be closed within a matter of days.   Even though the market has greatly recovered these days, people still remember being in that position. These are the hardened survivors of the wasteland. Plus, we still see the proverbial roving gangs of revheads swooping in to take the best jobs, hoarding and distributing them to their network like a coveted resource.

 

2.      Self-Sufficiency is paramount

If you can’t take care of yourself out in the wasteland, you will quickly be trampled over by someone that can. The same is true in job hunting. Granted, you are not ever truly alone in real life and can use services such as ours to help you, but you can’t take those resources for granted.

 

Ultimately, you are responsible for getting the job you want, no one else. If you are not motivated and self-starting when it comes to looking for a job, you will find yourself in a very similar situation that faces a wasteland wanderer every day. If they are not doing everything in their power to survive, they quickly fall by the wayside and are consumed by the harsh sands.

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

If you don’t keep yourself moving with a proactive job search strategy, you will likely miss out on the best opportunities.  This goes beyond just looking at the employment websites.  Even today, it is necessary to research companies, reach out to key managers, network within your industry, and contact recruiters to find the best jobs.

 

3.      Have the right tools and keep them maintained

 

In any apocalyptic film, the protagonist always has some kind of tool, car, weapon or some other advantage in the wasteland. For Mad Max, it was his Interceptor. Furiosa had the War Rig. For countless others, it was simply their intelligence, skills, or even the simple will to live that gave them a distinct advantage.

I mean, just imagine having to repair this monster war rig while on the run from gangs of psychopaths

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

For you, your tools include your resume, LinkedIn Profile, cover letters, and references. You want to be sure to maintain these resources and make sure they are always up to date with your current work history and relevant key words for your field. Without them, your resume is often never seen by a real person and is screened out by computer programs.

 

Most people will invest the time to create a strong resume at the beginning of their job search. However, it must be maintained as well.  If you aren’t getting many interviews or if the interviews don’t reflect your true target jobs, you need to revise your tools.  Generally speaking, give it about 30 – 45 days to evaluate the effectiveness of your resume and LinkedIn profile.  This allows for enough time for the HR hiring cycle to complete.

  1. In Conclusion: Your Redemption

The real message behind “Mad Max: Fury Road” is not the chase, the explosions, or even reaching Valhalla: it is redemption.  By the end of the movie, our heroes turn away from the wasteland to risk going against the odds to open up opportunities not only for themselves, but for the entire population under Immortan Joe’s control.  When you approach your own job search with courage, solid tools, determination, and a strong, supportive network, you too can reap the shiny and chrome rewards of your own job search.

(© Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015)

What a lovely day!

3 ways to make your summer job search suck less

Resume TipsMotivation can be hard to come by, especially when trying to hunt down the job you love in the middle of summer when all you really want to do is go out camping, swimming or to your favorite theme park. There are always more fun things to do than sitting in-front of your computer tap-tap-tapping away while your friends are out enjoying their lives.

I’ve done the math; there are exactly one million things I would rather be doing than following up on emails, making phone calls and generally being an adult. Adulting is hard, man! Alas, the days of youth and a three month break from responsibilities are gone. You are a grown person, with important grown-up things to do. Yes, life is hard. Get a helmet.

However, there are plenty of ways to make things better for yourself in such a trying time, such as:

#1: Accept the fact that some employers are on vacation

You are not the only one that has been looking forward to the summer months. HR has put in their time off requests, CEO’s are in the Bahamas and even the janitor has more thrilling things to do than scrub toilets with a zeal normally reserved for a riveting game of watch-the-paint-dry. People want to be out in the world and enjoying it before the leaves turn and the winter once again befalls the land.

In terms of employers, you usually won’t see as many job postings out there. The market becomes over-saturated with other people just like you looking to snag the job you’ve been looking for.

The key here is to be patient. It may take people longer to get back to you than you are used to, and that is ok. Keep sending out those resumes and emails, but be prepared to wait longer for a response. In the meantime you should:

#2: Go out and enjoy yourself

Just because you are looking for a job does not mean you have to become a shut in or a recluse. Go out and have some fun with the summer everyone else is enjoying. Even if you are a bit strapped for cash when it comes to extravagant vacations, there are plenty of free things to do out in the sun while the weather is nice.

Hang out with friends or go on a hike. Heck, even just finding a nice park to hang out at is a good way to refocus. If you are constantly wrapped up in your job search, it can become really discouraging especially when you feel like everyone else is just out having fun.

James Velociraptor

Personally I have taken up the hobby of wrangling dinosaurs and riding them into battle like a majestic steed.

 

#3: Set aside time to work on sending resumes and other aspects of your job search

Simply setting aside a two hour block of time a day to work on sending out resumes or respond to emails is good, however there are other things you can do to make yourself stand out. Instead of just wasting that time looking at various postings on Indeed.com or Monster.com you can work on things like your resume, LinkedIn Profile, networking and researching of your target companies.

If you are not getting any responses at all, it might be time to reevaluate your career documents. Make sure you have those key-words in your resume to get your potential employer’s attention and that your profile is engaging.

Researching the companies you are applying for is another good way to spend this time. Who are they? What is their reputation? Are there any people working there in your network that can recommend you? Is there anyone you can connect with? What is their mission statement? Would this be a company you are going to tolerate, or do they stand for something you believe in?

These kinds of questions are important to answer. If a company meshes well with what you believe already, it will show through when you get called in for interviews.

Keep your chin up, take some time for yourself, and stay motivated. I know it sounds like a lot to take in, but really, it’s only two hours a day to be at the computer; don’t waste it by hanging out on Facebook.

The Resume: Your Character Sheet

businessman fighting in knight suitWhen writing a resume, many folks just put all the things they have done in the past to paper and never give it a second thought. Those same folks often end up on the wrong side of adventure in the world of other job seekers. Everyone is the hero of their own life story. Problems arise in the realm of business, and only the right person for the job will do. They need a hero; are you ready to answer the call to glory and daring exploits?

 

Your resume is in essence a character sheet for you, like in a game of Dungeon’s and Dragons or character stats in an MMORPG game. It shows your skills, your experience and other important attributes that are integral to getting the right job for you. The Hiring Manager (AKA: Dungeon Master) uses these pages to assess whether someone is the right fit for a job, rolls some dice, and sets adventurous job seekers on their path to riches, fame and honor. If your resume is all over the place with unnecessary information it’s possible, even likely, that it simply gets tossed aside and forgotten. No one deserves to be banished to the dark realms. Follow these steps, and you too can start your own quest as the fine upstanding hero.

Step 1: Choose a Class – Warrior, Wizard, Scribe or Thief?

First thing you should always know before starting your adventure as an intrepid job seeker is to choose a class. Are you a warrior, forged through years of battle that left your homeland to find fortune? A capricious thief and master of stealth? Maybe you are a mighty wizard, wizened by years of study, with a compendium of spells that make even the most impossible of tasks seem like an afterthought as you bend reality to your will? The possibilities are endless.

 

The most important thing to remember when choosing your class is to highlight it throughout the resume. Often times, this is represented in the very headline of your resume. Are you a sales executive? Are you an administrative assistant? An office manager perhaps? Whatever the general title of what it is you do, you must show that throughout the resume with skills that relate to that. There are certain elements each “Class” considers to be necessary skills in the eyes of the Dungeon Master. If that is not present on your character sheet, it’s obvious you won’t get the job. What kind of wizard can’t cast spells? What kind of sales consultant can’t talk to people?

 

These are the type of things you must consider when writing a resume. Pick a focus and run with it for the type of job you really want to get. If you want to be the party thief, you had better show that you know how to pick locks and lurk in the shadows!

 

Step 2: Character Background and Skills

Every hero has a story, and so should you! This is represented on your resume with your cover letter. Here you tell them, in no uncertain terms, why you are the best candidate for the job. It should all tie back to your Class, but more importantly, this is where you explain what you can do for them. Your resume and cover letter, while concerning you, are not about you. Both of these tools are about what you can do for others, and should be treated as such.

 

Your skills are your top attributes. Again, these should relate to your Class. All thieves should know how to sneak, all warriors should know how to swing a sword, and all Administrative Assistants should know how to use Microsoft Office. If you list a bunch of skills that have nothing to do with your actual ability or your Class, you only hurt yourself by bogging down your resume with irrelevant information. Stick with not only what you know, but what is also relevant for the job.

 

Step 3: Experience Points

Lastly, lets discus experience. In games, it is vital for improving your character’s ability in their particular skill set. This is usually represented with a numerical points. In life, you don’t really get that luxury. If you hand a resume over to the HR department and it contains “500,000 XP – Employee Level 13” it is highly unlikely you will get any calls back (unless, of course, it’s a Federal job for a G6 or higher).

That’s not to say experience points don’t belong on your resume. Rather, your experience points take the form of accomplishments you achieved in previous jobs and even the previous jobs themselves. If you have been working at a company for three years and want to move into a new company, don’t take it for granted that the Dungeon Master knows your accomplishments from a different department.

Many folks list their responsibilities at each position, which is good, but you can do one better. When writing your employment history, phrase things so that they show actual achievements in the job. For example, “Responsible for shipping and receiving” is bland and weak, whereas, “Shipped packages all over the globe and received inventory for 5,000 square foot warehouse” demonstrates things in a measurable and unique way that is sure to capture the attention of the hiring manager.

Don’t forget experience points gained through your education, special certifications, awards, organizations and specialized training. All of these things add into your collective “Experience Level” in a way that is measurable to the HR department and managers alike.

 

Step 4: Slay the Dragons

Looking at your resume in this light, you can see the importance of targeting your resume in your chosen field. We all want to be the hero in our own story. With these tools, you can slay the dragon, save the kingdom and get the job you really want.

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