Are long job applications worth the effort?

questions about long job applicationsYou know the drill: you find a job that really interests you, but when you follow the link to apply, the application goes on forever…

The question inevitably comes up in your mind: is this even worth my time?

The answer could be yes – depending on your goals, motives and strategy.

Why they do this to you

Often times, a company will use the application process to help weed out candidates.  The thought process behind this is to see how well you can follow instructions.  If you mess up on any of the steps, they consider this a weakness.  However, that is not the only reason why they do this.

If the employer deals with a high volume of applicants, they are actually making you enter all the details into their database, rather than making the recruiters do it.  This is the set-up for the computerized screening.  The computers look for specific key words and then passes on the candidates that match the search to the recruiters.

In cases of placement agencies, they may not have a job that matches you right now, but they are always gathering qualified applicants.  In that case, their applications are even longer, often times including excruciating skills sections that must be filled in line-by-line.  This allows them to the ability to search through the database later, looking for a match with specific skills sets.

Other industries require detailed personal information.  For example, nursing and nanny industries often ask for Social Security numbers, dates-of-birth, license information and even past names or addresses.  This creates the data they need to run background checks quickly.  This way, when the right job becomes available, there is less delay in pulling the necessary paperwork.


Is it worth it?

Your goals are the biggest consideration when deciding if you want to devote up to an hour completing an online application.  Do you want a job in:

  • a large company
  • through an employment agency
  • in a background-driven industry
  • in private service

then the long application is going to be a given.

Motives are another consideration.  If you are just filling out an application because you have a slight interest in the company, then it probably isn’t worth your time.  In those cases, people have a tendency to make a half-hearted effort with the application.  That won’t catch the attention of a recruiter or survive the screening tools.

Strategy plays an important part too.  Applications are important, but they are not the be-all, end-all route to getting a job.  In fact, you will get better results from reaching out to hiring managers directly, instead of betting on the long odds in the HR department.


So the application is done – now what?

If you care about the employer, take the time to really do a thorough job application.  Then add that employer to your weekly contact list.  Visit their website, scan for newly opened jobs and use that application over and over.  When you divide the initial time investment over three or four jobs, it is a more favorable use of your time.

Thinking about Holiday Cards

Hand written holiday cards help job seekersToday I started compiling my list of Holiday Card recipients – seems really early, doesn’t it?  But not from a business perspective.  Just a preliminary look identified a list of 100+ business contacts, clients, and professional friends.

Businesses have known for a long time that Holiday Cards are a form of marketing – a way of saying “thanks” to all of their contacts in addition to being a festive tradition. It is a way to stay on the customers’ minds during the holidays, keeping the business name familiar in anticipation of January business.

For job seekers, the Holiday Card can serve the same purpose.

So who among your contacts should be getting a Holiday Card?

  • Friends and Family (of course!)
  • Your staffing / placement agencies – both the owners and the recruiters
  • Your contacts at your top target employers
  • Mentors, helpers and cheerleaders
  • Fellow job seekers in your industry
  • Key members at your professional associations
  • Teachers or fellow students from current or recent education (including workshops)

In addition to sending the card, include a little piece that you are still available.  Don’t turn it into one of the pages-long annual summary that some families send – just make a quick note, along with highlights of your top attributes.

Worried about cost?  There is nothing wrong with getting the bargain cards at Walgreens or other retail shops.  Besides, the hand-written signature looks more personal than the printed corporate Holiday Cards.

A moment for gratitude

balance in all things

Take a moment to balance your spirit with gratitude

Often times when we’re in a job search, it is easy to forget to be grateful.  After all, being stuck in your house, staring at that accusing computer screen is not a pleasant place to be.

Just for today, take one moment to be grateful for something.  It can be large – like a supportive family – or something small – like enjoying a favorite dinner at home.  Whatever it is, hold it in your mind for a moment.  Let your feelings enjoy every bit of it.  Explore why this is special to you.  Savor the experience while you breathe deep, eyes closed, and just live it for a moment.

Now open your eyes.  Don’t you feel better?  Try starting everyday with a moment of gratitude.  You’ll be amazed how this one positive act can breed positive energy for the rest of your day.

Some people just don’t get it…

nanny and child

One thing’s for sure: many corporate job search consultants don’t understand private service.

I was meeting with a client the other day, and I couldn’t believe the nasty resume review she got from someone else.  You see, she is a professional nanny with 16 years of experience in this demanding industry.  She just started looking for a job and decided to try one of the employment networking groups in the area.  However, like many of these groups, it was comprised mainly of corporate job seekers.

The leader of the group agreed to look at her resume.  With a strong HR background, this gentleman has been doing resume reviews for quite some time.  Unfortunately, he has zero experience with the private service industry.

Rather than giving constructive criticism, he attacked her career choice – “A nanny?  That can’t be a real job.  I’ve always thought that nannies are less-than-intelligent and only do this job because they can’t get a real job.”

Shocked, my nanny friend replied: “well, you just tore down everything your wife did for your family.”

Since he didn’t have a response for that, he attacked her resume – in his opinion, putting details about her personality, outlook on life and passion for child care didn’t belong on a professional resume.  He thought that no one would care about that, and it was unprofessional to include such details.

Fortunately, rather than following the advice from someone who had no idea of the private service industry, she came to me for a second opinion.

It is very true that the domestic staffing world is very different from the corporate environment.  It is crucial to let employers know what you love about your job.  All of your skills are relevant, not just what a corporate environment would consider important.  Above all, families and private employers want to get a sense for who you are as a person before they even call for the interview.

If you are considering using a resume service, be sure to get one that understands your passion for supporting others, especially in private service.

5 Steps to make the most of November’s hiring scene

glass chess set

It’s no secret – after Thanksgiving, the hiring world gets pretty quiet.  But until then, you still need to work your job search hard.  Here’s some keys to keep your job search moving.


1. Check out jobs on LinkedIn

Have you done any searching through the LinkedIn Jobs yet?  If so, are you only looking at the jobs posted on the paid portion of the website?

Most Groups have a Jobs section, and within that, recruiters can post their jobs for free – under the “Jobs Discussion” heading.  Even if you don’t find a job you like there, you can see the profile of who posted the job.  There’s nothing stopping you from connecting with those recruiters to get on their list of potential candidates for the next job they post.


2. Review your resume

You should look at your resume every 4 to 6 months just to make sure that it is conveying the right message.  Perhaps the language can use some sprucing up, or the format could be more polished.  At the very least, reading it again will remind you of what is on it – very helpful for when you are writing your next cover letter.


3. Review your Social Media settings and profiles

While we’re at it, when was the last time you gave your profile a good look?  If your Summary reads something like “Results-oriented professional with 10 years experience of increasing efficiency in team environments,” it is time for something new.

Your profile – and especially your summary – need to be personable and written in a friendly tone.  We connect with humans in social media, not resumes.  Keep yours focused on that fact, while still showing off your best talents and attributes.

While you’re at it, make sure that any social media profile that is just for personal use has the right privacy settings on it.  Sure, beer pong on Halloween while dressed as a Playboy bunny might have been fun, but you don’t want a recruiter to find that profile by accident.  Especially if you’re a guy…


4. Review your voice mail greeting

When was the last time you listened to what you say on your voice mail?  Recruiters have been known to bail on leaving messages that are less-than-professional.


5. Pick and research target companies

Picking a target employer is crucial at any time, but right now is when you want to pull out all the stops and create a comprehensive list.  Who would you like to work for?  Don’t worry if they are hiring right now or not, this list will turn into possible employers for a “hidden job market” employment search.  Create a long list – just brainstorm freely.  Even include the silly ones that come to mind.

Next, rank them in order of importance.  Which ones top the list?  The ones that you desire the most should be the ones to research first.  Set a goal to research at least 5 potential employers every week.  Learn as much as you can, not just where the “careers” page is, or what agencies they use.  Think about current news, product lines, key executives or names for private employers.

As time progresses, keep working on the companies on your list.  Every week you should be learning something new, exploring a new potential employer and eliminating the undesirables off the list.  Getting rid of the bad choice is just as important as finding the lead.

If you’ve done a good job of creating a comprehensive list, this will keep your job search rolling through the long weeks of December when job postings are scarce – and give you a jump when things do appear.

6 Scary facts about the modern job search

Mean pumpkinHalloween is a great time for scares, but for many, the job search is the real horror.  Here’s some ghouls to keep in mind while you look for a new job…

1.  Those dang HR witches

In almost every company, the lowest level HR people do the majority of the screening – or worse, they rely on computer screening programs to eliminate up to 50% of the candidates. Because of this, if you aren’t using the right key words, your resume will not make it far enough in the process to reach a decision-maker.

2. Every HR department uses simple tricks – not treats –  to cut candidates

Ever wonder why a company would use a complex set of instructions to just apply to the job?  They are using those instructions to screen people out.  If you can’t follow the written instructions, they deem that you are not worthy of an interview.  Unfortunately, this tactic often cuts qualified candidates – pay attention to the rules in any job posting to survive this cut.

3. Competition is vicious – just like a zombie hoard

It’s no secret that unemployment is high.  To give you perspective, your competition for any job out there is around 300-500 for any posted job.  Yipes!  Trying to break away from the hoard can be tough… and all the more reason why you want to get your resume to the hiring manager, not just the HR department.  They are getting overrun from people trying to pick their braaaiiinnnssss…

4. Ghosts of your past can haunt future chances

If you have been laid off or fired in the past, be prepared to answer these questions in the interview. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible to get another job – it means that you must reconcile your own personal feelings about the event in order to talk about it in a constructive manner.  Let those emotions of bitterness, resentment, sorrow and shock “walk into the light.”

5. Employment websites are a “Monster”

While CareerBuilder does have more jobs posted in general, any of the major employment websites are not the be-all, end-all for job leads.  In fact, this is where the competition is fiercest.  Consider looking in creative places for job postings.  For example, in most LinkedIn Groups, there is a tab for “Jobs.”  Look for the “Job Discussions” not just the posted jobs – this is where recruiters are posting their jobs for free!  Not only that, but because you are reaching them through a new media, they are more likely to take a closer look at your resume – after all, they are trying to judge the effectiveness of posting jobs this way.

6. Don’t suck your network dry

Like a vampire latching on to the neck of its victim, you can ask too much from your network.  Networking is important, but you must build a relationship before asking for favors.  One common scenario is making a connection with someone on LinkedIn, just to ask them to forward your resume to a hiring manager.  No new acquaintance is going to do this!  Instead, ask them about their job and their opinions about the company.

Another draining activity is spamming your network with too many messages.  It’s ok to send a reminder every month that you are still looking; it is not acceptable to send a message every 3-5 days.  I recently dropped a connection and marked all of her messages as “spam” for exactly this reason.  Don’t be spam – build genuine relationships, be helpful to others, share meaningful information and be a friend before asking favors.

Remove the fear!  Schedule a free resume consultation here:

Personal Touch accepted into DEMA

DEMAThe Personal Touch Career Services has been accepted as an Affiliate Member for the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA).  Acceptance in the organization requires passing a strenuous application process, including reviews of professional references, scope of work and overall reputation in the private service industry.

Currently, The Personal Touch is the only career coaching service for private service professionals listed in among the DEMA service providers.

More about DEMA:

The Domestic Estate Managers Association is a worldwide educational association for the Private Service Community. DEMA was founded in 2007 and is based out of Southeast Michigan in the United States. The Domestic Estate Managers Association was created to provide a forum for Private Service Professionals and certified service vendors interested in better serving and protecting the best interests of their clients. The fundamental purpose of the association is to raise industry standards.

Since it’s founding, DEMA membership has grown to nearly 1,000 members and has expanded into over 41 states and 18 countries.  In addition, the Service Provider Network is host to companies in 10 states and Canada.

For more information on DEMA, visit


Interested in scheduling a free resume consultation? 

How to stop those so-called “job offers” that nobody wants

warning against spam job offersAre you sick of getting spammed with “job offers” from insurance companies, sales opportunities and other crummy jobs?  Wondering just how do these companies get your information anyway?  There is an easy way to stop the flood… and protect your identity at the same time.

Almost everyone who has a resume posted on a major employment website such as Monster or CareerBuilder has received emails about jobs they don’t want.  These opportunities range from commission-only sales jobs to management training programs, usually in fields unrelated to the job seekers desired positions.

Stopping these solicitations is quite easy.  No matter what employment website a candidate uses, there is the option to post a resume one of three ways: Public, Confidential or Private.  The difference is how recruiters can find and use the posted information.

How they got your information

Recruiters can pay the website to search through the candidate data base to find possible employees.  This practice is commonly known as data mining.  The more money they spend, the larger the pool of candidates they can pull.  The problem is that searching the data base is more expensive than simply posting a job ad.  As such, most companies will not use the data mining to find their candidates; it is more cost effective for them to run a single ad and then evaluate the candidates who do apply.

Most of the companies that rely on data mining to find candidates tend to be high turnover positions, such as commission-only sales.  This is not to say that all active recruiters are trying to fill undesirable positions.  Industries with a large need, such as nursing, often use this technique as well.

So how does one avoid being swept up in a data mining effort?

Stopping the flood

Change the setting on the posted resume to Private.  A private resume cannot be searched by outside recruiters.  The only way for an employer to see a private resume is when the candidate actively applies to their job.

Don’t confuse a Private posting with a Confidential setting.  If posted Confidential, the resume is still available to data mining.  Only the applicant’s name, contact information and current employer are hidden. Recruiters can still contact the applicant by email through the job search website.

If the resume is posted Public, all of the candidate’s information is visible, including the contact information, profile, skills and work history.  But again, only recruiters who pay to search the data base will find this information.

When posting a resume, candidates should always look for the option to post Private, Confidential or Private.  The option is not always easy to find, but well worth it.  Plus, the setting can easily be changed.  Look for the “Resumes” section within a personal account, and the privacy settings can be changed with a few quick mouse clicks.

Does premium listing work?

Don’t bother paying for “front of the line” option either – this works only for recruiters who are conducting data mining searches.  If you choose this option, you just paid money to be the top of the spam list.

Video: Cover letters that crack the hidden job market

How to crack the hidden job market

The much-rumored hidden job market actually does exist – it is any job that is not explicitly advertised.  To get traction for this kind of job lead, you need a lot of research and a strong cover letter.

Video recorded on Sept. 14, 2011 at the Brown Bag Job Search Group.  For more information on this free networking group in the Denver area, please visit
Interested in more cover letter tips?  Check out our book, “Get a Job Without Going Crazy.”

Don’t be spam: how to get the hiring manager to actually read your email

Don't be spam with your resumeIn the immortal words of Monty Python, “Spam! Wonderful spam! Spam! Wonderful spam! Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many job seekers emails to key decision makers looks like. The world is flooded with spam, to the point that legitimate emails – like yours – are getting caught in trash folders or screened out entirely.

So how does one make sure that his important resume doesn’t end up in the spam pile?

Use an Engaging Subject Line

No manager is going to open an email with a subject line of “My Resume.” This is a huge flag, and it is more likely to get forwarded to HR or just deleted without being opened. Instead, use an engaging subject line, customized to your specific target.

A couple of things that managers care about are themselves and their company.  If you’re paying attention to current news through such local sources as the Denver Business Journal, ask them something about the recent events. Another source is their LinkedIn profile.  Ask them something about their career or their company.

Correct: Your recent merger; Question about your LinkedIn profile;

Avoid like the plague: My resume; Letter of Introduction; Job opening at XYZ Company


It’s all About the Name

When sending an email to a manager of one of your target companies, make sure you use their correct name.  This is in addition to the correct email address.  If you start off the body of the email personally addressed to them, it is more likely that they will open the attached resume:

Correct: Dear Mr. Smith: or Dear Bob:

Avoid like the plague: Dear Sir, To Whom It May Concern, no greeting at all


Send to Only One Person at a Time

Spam filters look for mass emails, even the ones where the other email addresses are in the “BCC” (blind carbon copy) fields.  If you go out and get a list of 100 CEO’s email addresses and blast a generic email out to all of them, all you are doing is creating spam.

To be effective, send your email to only one specific person at a time. For each of your target companies, it is likely that you will send your resume to all of the top managers.  However, each and every one of those emails needs to be personalized in order to gain any attention.


Follow up on the Phone

I know it sounds scary, but job searching rewards the bold.  Wait a few hours after sending your email, and then call the manager to see if she got it.  You may not actually get to speak to your target, but leaving a professional voice mail can encourage them to check their inbox – and trash – for your email.

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