What Makes a Great Resume Writer?

Is it a certification? Do they need to be in your industry? Should they have a background in HR?

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With so many questions, options and opinions how do you sort through it all and find a great Resume Writer?

As an Executive Resume Writer who has worked for multiple resume firms and clients ranging from college graduates to Fortune 500 CEOs, I have seen the awesome, the appalling and the antiquated. Here are 5 attributes that I have found are consistently present among great Resume Writers (RWs). They are:

 

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1. Collaborative

Great RWs view your resume project as a team effort. They bring knowledge about hiring practices, a big picture perspective, interview skills that draw out key details and expertly compose each line to deliver maximum impact. You bring industry expertise, ensure accurate descriptions, separate company jargon from industry terminology and explain emerging competencies within your field. Together, you build an incredible document that captures your unique value proposition in a captivating manner. Its full of targeted keywords, demonstrates your character and beautifully balances your role descriptions with powerful graphics and accomplishment statements.

 

2. Strategic

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The foundation of great resume writing is strategy. Quality RWs focus heavily on understanding your career aspirations, targeted companies and ideal roles. Just like a CEO must develop a clear vision for company success, RWs must develop clear objectives to achieve resume success. By possessing strong interpersonal insight, ensuring realistic goals and executing effectively, superior RWs deliver significantly more interview invitations. You can separate strategic RWs from the pack because they focus on client education, challenge changes that don't align with stated aspirations and continue the relationship beyond the project. They are passionate about changing your application success and developing a long-term connection.

 

3. Continuously Improving

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Top RWs aren't content to rest on their laurels. It's not just about a certification, award or title for these individuals. They are dedicated to repeatedly mastering their craft. Great RWs are consistently reading articles, attending webinars, participating in conferences, learning about new technology and APPLYING everything they learn. They frequently change their interview questions, designs and marketing techniques to maintain value within continuously changing candidate sourcing and screening processes. Exemplary RWs are very pragmatic in their practices, following-up with past clients to review resume efficacy, conducting surveys to improve the client experience and networking with colleagues to learn best practices.

 

4. Adaptable & Progressive

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Skilled RWs are typically early adopters of new industry technology, practices and resources. Rather than venting about the negative impacts of electronic screening, they focus their energy on understanding applicant tracking systems (ATS) and optimizing their clients' resumes to succeed in any environment. Expert RWs tend to embrace change and expand their services to align. As networking becomes a key route to interview selection, these RW champions offer courses and tools to improve networking success. When Facebook joins the job posting game, strong RWs develop services to transition personal profiles into sourcing bait. No matter what transformation employers throw their way, these RWs are ready to adapt and align their business model.

 

5. Multi-Talented

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While industry-specific RWs can provide deep industry insights, I find the most effective RWs are multi-talented and perform regular field research as part of their writing process, whether or not they have previously worked in a client's profession. Industries are constantly changing and what was relevant 5 years ago, may not be today. Finding an RW who has robust skills in researching, interviewing, strategic planning and business writing will deliver a more compelling end product than working with an industry expert who lacks these skills. Again, you (the client) can be the greatest resource for critical field knowledge.

 


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Finding a RW with all these skills may seem like a daunting task, however, these leaders typically offer a free consultation and are very willing to answer your questions prior to payment. Remember, their focus is on results over profit, so they are equally concerned with ensuring a good fit between before starting the process.

Are there any other RW competencies you feel are essential? If so, please tell me about them in the comments!

How to Demonstrate 10 TOP SKILLS Employers are Searching for Right Now

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That's it...the one! The ad for your dream job has just been posted and panic starts to set in. You know hundreds of people are going to see the same posting and start competing for this highly desired role at a top company. How can you stand out from the crowd and put your best foot forward? 

A recruiter's job is to attract and present top talent. Corporate recruiters use a variety of screening techniques and tools to filter out less qualified candidates and they also pay attention to your behavior at every step in the process, looking for specific traits or skills that their hiring manager is seeking for this role. Every point of contact from cover letter to offer negotiation is an opportunity to demonstrate key skills to this employer.

What behaviors and skills will this company be seeking for this role? The job posting is a great place to start. Most job ads list the desired qualifications, characteristics and knowledge needed to succeed in the position.

Additionally, there are many skills and behaviors that are consistently sought by a majority of employers, regardless of the position or industry. They are:

  • Critical Thinking
  • A Growth Mindset
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Attention and Focus
  • Real World Experience
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Humility
  • Collaboration
  • Time Management and Organization
  • Professional Maturity

  

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Critical Thinking

When 400 HR Professionals at numerous companies across the U.S. were asked what the top skill needed in the workplace was, they answered "critical thinking." Employers need employees who can solve problems and make decisions using analysis and logic. Critical thinking provides a significant competitive advantage in business. This is also one of the easiest skills to demonstrate to employers when considering a new role.

Strong critical thinkers break down and analyze situations from every angle. You can apply and demonstrate this skill, as a candidate, by (before you apply for a position) considering the following:

 

1. Yourself.

What motivates you, what challenges you, what stands out about you, what do you need from a job, what will make you leave a job? If you can't answer these questions, you aren't ready for an interview.

 

2. Your potential employer.

What do they do, why do they do it, who do they tend to hire and why? Are individuals, who are motivated and challenged in the same ways as you are, happy there? 

 

3. The role.

Learn the team and role dynamics (Glassdoor.com can be a great place to start.) How does this position contribute to the Company's mission? Why is this role available at this time? Why have previous employees left the role? How would your skills and experience benefit this role? How does this role fit into your career progression and goals?

 

Photo by Giulio_Fornasar/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Giulio_Fornasar/iStock / Getty Images

Growth Mindset

According to Carol Dweck, Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, "individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies and input from others) have a growth mindset." Companies are seeking employees with a growth mindset because these individuals tend to achieve more, be more innovative and are typically more committed to their work.

A few ways that you can demonstrate a growth mindset are:

  • Sharing how you elicit and utilize feedback from others
  • Giving examples of when you responded to criticism with curiosity and a desire to learn from the mistake
  • Reading and critically thinking about information provided by the potential employer (job ad, company website, flyers)
  • Motivating subordinates through rewards for learning and progress (instead of effort) and providing development and advancement opportunities

 

Photo by MilanMarkovic/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by MilanMarkovic/iStock / Getty Images

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, discern and label emotions followed by the ability to adapt behavior to achieve your goals. Studies have shown that people with high EI tend to have better mental health, job performance and leadership outcomes. They also tend to remain calm under pressure more often and are more successful at resolving conflict. A 2011 CareerBuilder survey found that 71% of employers value EI over intelligence quotient (IQ) and 59% of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EI. Many employers are currently using EI assessments in their screening process. (Don't be discouraged if you currently have low EI. This can be improved through coaching and practice.)

A few ways you can demonstrate emotional intelligence are:

  • Know what motivates you
  • Share how you reflect on your emotions and ask others for perspective
  • When asked, provide examples of times you remained calm in tense situations
  • Discuss your focus on relationships and how you empathize with others
  • Demonstrate self-awareness and self-regulation throughout the hiring process

 

Attention and Focus

According to a recent Forbes article titled "Top Employers Say Millennials Need These 4 Skills in 2017", the top 100 HR Managers, Recruiters and CEOs said they find plenty of new talent with strong leadership, communication and collaboration skills.  However, the 4 essential soft skills they need to see more frequently, include: Attention and Focus, Real World Experience, Agility and Adaptability and Humility.

A few ways you can demonstrate effective attention and focus are:

  • Follow instructions throughout the hiring process.  Read the entire job posting.  Frequently, employers will list questions or application instructions that differ from clicking the "apply" button to see how well an applicant pays attention to details.  
  • Make sure every email or document you send has been thoroughly reviewed for errors.  Paying attention to details like spelling and grammar demonstrates this attribute.
  • When asked, share an example of your ability to start and achieve a goal. Even if you only have a personal example, the employer will appreciate knowing you have the focus to complete objectives.
  • Check your LinkedIn messages, email and voicemail daily.  Employers expect you to respond to their invitations for an interview or requests for additional information in a timely fashion.  Not doing so can lead them to believe that you aren't focused on your job search.  
  • Eliminate distractions.  Don't send rushed emails while at work. Schedule phone interviews for a time when your children or other distractions won't be present. Focused individuals know how to set themselves up for success by eliminating distractions.

 

Photo by JackF/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by JackF/iStock / Getty Images

Real-World Experience

A college education is no longer enough. While employers value education, they recognize that experience, curiosity and relational skills have proven to be far more beneficial to job performance.  For this reason, it is critical to build real-world experience while attending school. Whether a fast food job that demonstrates dedication and stress-tolerance, a side-gig that conveys innovation or an internship that shows adaptability and humility, real-world experience is a requirement for many top employers.

A few ways that you can demonstrate your real-world experience are:

  • List a real-world example of how you used your skills in a cover letter.
  • Be prepared to discuss real-world experiences in a phone or in-person interview. Employers love success stories that led to new skills and confidence.  Talk about the mistakes you've made and how you grew from them.  Discuss objectives you achieved, tough deadlines you met and team dynamics you encountered.  Connect these experiences to the role you are seeking and your career path.

 

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Agility and Adaptability

"The only thing that is constant is change." - Heraclitus

Employers understand that their business will change and likely in ways they can't even imagine today. Having employees who can adapt to and capitalize on change it critical to long-term business success. This is part of why a growth mindset is so important to employers (see above.)

A few ways that you can demonstrate agility and adaptability:

  • List an example of your adaptability in a cover letter. 
  • Provide an example during an interview where you faced a challenge, remained calm and thought through solutions.  Being able to act on solutions quickly also demonstrates agility.
  • Provide an example during an interview of a time when your role or workplace changed significantly.  Again, share how you handled the situation by not folding under pressure.
  • Provide an example during an interview of a time when your idea was not selected. Sharing how you got on-board with someone else's idea demonstrates adaptability.

Humility

A 2014 study of CEOs and the concept of humility found that humility was positively associated with empowering leadership behaviors, which creates more work engagement, commitment and better job performance. Humble employees are also more collaborative and empathetic. It's no wonder companies seek this trait.

A few ways that you can demonstrate humility:

  • Show interest in input and ideas shared during interviews.
  • Respect the schedule and time of the people you meet with (be on-time, acknowledge that you appreciate the time they are giving you, be flexible about when you can interview.)
  • Admit mistakes. We all make them and if you convey that you don't make them, you will not only appear arrogant, but also dishonest. Employers want to learn how you have overcome and learned from mistakes; they don't expect you to be perfect.
  • Managers should demonstrate how they allow their subordinates to do their jobs with limited interference. Micro-managers tend to have big egos that get stroked by perfection, an impossible goal to maintain. A great manager hires great employees and then allows them to shine.

 

Collaboration

Collaborative teams and companies tend to be more creative, innovative and successful. Employers don't want to waste time resolving personality conflicts, so they seek out collaborative employees. 

A few ways that you can demonstrate collaboration:

  • Share with a prospective employer if you have maintained relationships with previous co-workers. LinkedIn is a great way to convey this through recommendations and connections. Collaborative individuals take time to get to know their team members.
  • When asked, provide examples of times you reached a team goal. While employers need to hear about your individual accomplishments, they also want to know that you have met objectives as a team contributor.
  • View interviews as a mutually-beneficial opportunity to share information and work toward a common goal (determining if there is a good fit for you and for the employer.) Talk about the value you could bring to the organization and how the company could also meet your employment needs.
 
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Time Management and Organization

Employees who manage their time well and stay organized are more productive, efficient and tend to meet deadlines more often. Knowing your priorities and being able to analyze and plan your work according to these priorities, is key to long-term success in business.

A few ways that you can demonstrate time management and organization skills:

  • Study and utilize systems and tools (OneNote, Wunderlist, time allocation) that help you stay on-task. Figure out what works best for you so you are prepared to discuss your methods in an interview.
  • Learn about efficiency methods and tools (eliminating distractions, digitization, meeting agendas, action item assignment, Six Sigma, Lean Management, BPM).
  • When appropriate, share an example of a time when you had to establish priorities and accomplish work tasks according to those priorities.
  • When appropriate, share an example of a time when you broke a large goal down into smaller tasks.
  • Be ready for phone interviews at the scheduled time. 
  • Arrive a few minutes early to an in-person interview.
  • Bring copies of your resume and supplemental documents (in a professional binder or briefcase) to the interview.
  • Follow-up and be sure to complete any requested tasks (upload references, email diploma).

 

Professional Maturity

Professional maturity is the ability to respect yourself and others in the workplace and to apply data and logic in decision-making, rather than emotions or instincts. Employers seek professional maturity because research shows this attribute leads to higher life/job satisfaction, greater self-esteem and more successful decision-making in the workplace.

A few ways that you can demonstrate professional maturity:

  • Speak well of previous employers and co-workers.
  • When appropriate, share examples of handling conflict well in the past.
  • Answer the phone professionally (i.e. "this is __________").
  • Understand how your skills and experience could fit into the department and the company.  Acknowledge the value that you could add.
  • Educate yourself about typical career progression in your field so you convey realistic expectations and goals.
  • Treat everyone you meet (the receptionist, the janitor, the CEO) with respect and as an important contributor to the company.
  • Handle employment departures professionally (2-weeks' notice, transition tasks well, thank those who have helped you grow and learn.)

 

It is a rare candidate who conveys all of these highly desired characteristics but when someone does, employers jump at the opportunity to hire them. Take the time to self-assess in these areas, increase your knowledge and apply what you learn. Doing so can not only win you the job, it can make you a much more confident, effective and satisfied person.

Do you have additional ideas for demonstrating these skills? Please share them in the comments!

Finding Your Fit

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This time of year, most folks are thinking about body fitness, however, as a Job Seeker or Employer there may be another type of fit to consider in 2017. How do you decide which candidate to hire? As a Job Seeker, which companies should you pursue? There are many factors to consider when making an employment decision. Many employers focus on only one or two areas of fit and later regret their selection decision. Candidates who forget to consider all aspects of fit may accept a role they are excited about within a dreadful company. The ultimate goal of employment relationships is to find mutual fit in all areas: position fit, cultural fit, group fit, motivation fit, management fit and integrity fit.

Why does fit matter? For employers, a bad hire can cost the business more than $25,000 (2012 CareerBuilder Survey) and have long-lasting impacts on company morale and productivity. For candidates, accepting the wrong role can delay your career progression, impact your credibility, result in termination (which can block future options) or impact your health (stress, depression, weight gain, and more.)
 

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Position Fit

Nearly all applicants and employers consider position fit. This type of fit involves the qualifications, skills and experience necessary to perform the job. Position fit is typically determined early-on through the screening process. Candidates need to list out all applicable skills and experience to convey their position fit and employers need to compare candidates against their job description to determine if position fit exists.
Job seekers and employers should re-evaluate position fit through all phases of the recruiting process. Job ads can sell a position well, sometimes too well, and the reality doesn’t match up. Candidates can oversell themselves on paper. Both parties need to review the final sum of their interactions, before determining position fit.

 

Job Seeker Position Fit:

  • Does the level of this position make sense in my career trajectory?

  • Will I enjoy performing the daily duties of this role?

  • Will my skills be utilized in this job?

  • Will this position stretch me, hold me back or maintain my current abilities?

  • How long will I be satisfied with this role?

Employer Position Fit:

  • Does this candidate have all the critical skills and experience to thrive in this role?

  • Does this candidate have the level of skills and experience necessary?

  • If not, am I willing to help this candidate acquire these additional skills or experience?

 

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Cultural Fit

Organizational Psychologist Adrian Furnham describes cultural fit as “…congruence between the norms and values of the organization and those of the person” in his book The Psychology of Behaviour at Work. While cultural diversity and diversity of thought are beneficial to business, there needs to be a certain level of cultural fit to maintain productivity and harmony.

As an extreme example, if you hired a very quiet, introverted accountant who values details and accuracy into a company filled with sales personalities who embellish with bravado, the accountant will likely struggle to connect and feel valued. Likewise, her co-workers will struggle to appreciate her demeanor because it is so contrary to their own. Hire that same accountant into a business filled with other reserved personalities and her nature will be appreciated and she will feel accepted. An outgoing accountant in the sales environment will likely lead to better job satisfaction, performance and personal interactions.

While recruiters can often determine cultural fit based on criteria provided by the employer, the experts are typically your current employees. They understand the norms and values of the organization better than anyone else because they operate within them daily. Inviting a few members of the team to participate in the interview process can help you select candidates who are a good cultural fit. Be careful, however, not to hire the popular candidate over the candidate who is the best overall fit. Cultural fit is only one aspect to consider and your employees may not be aware of other critical needs for the role.

 

Job Seeker Cultural Fit:

  • What is most important to me in an employer? Does this company demonstrate these attributes?

  • Do my values and outlook align with the values and outlook of this company? Of the employees I’ve met?

  • Could opposing or different values, beliefs and outlooks benefit me (i.e. personal growth, challenge)?

Employer Cultural Fit:

  • Does this candidate demonstrate values that are like those of our company and our current employees?

  • Does this candidate’s outlook (e.g. optimistic, growth-minded, entrepreneurial) align with the outlook of our company and current employees?

  • Are we seeking to maintain our current company culture or do we wish to change it

  • Could our company benefit from more diversity of thought or cultural diversity?

 

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Department/Group Fit

Within a company there can also be sub-cultures that need to be considered. Just as there needs to be a good fit between the company culture and individual values, there also needs to be a good cultural fit between the candidate and the department or work group that they would join. 

Many employees list social connection as a major factor in their employment decisions. Employees will sometimes stay in a role or company they dislike because they are strongly connected to their co-workers. Research shows that people need social connection to be productive, and not the kind of surface-level connection you get through social media. We all need real, human connection to thrive.

Social connection in work groups can depend on fit. Your best resource for determining group fit is, again, the current employees within the group. Incorporating their perspectives into the selection process is a valuable way to measure group fit.

 

Job Seeker Group Fit:

  • What is most important to me in a work group? Does this department or work group demonstrate these attributes?

  • Do my values and outlook align with the values and outlook of this department? Of the employees I’ve met, who are part of this work group?

  • Could I build social connections with the members of this work group or department

  • Could opposing or different values, beliefs and outlooks benefit me (i.e. personal growth, challenge)?

Employer Group Fit:

  • Does this candidate have values that are similar to the employees within the department or work group?

  • Does this candidate’s outlook (e.g. optimistic, growth-minded, entrepreneurial) align with the outlook of our department or work group?

  • Are we seeking to maintain our current department or work group culture or do we wish to change it?

  • Could our department or work group benefit from more diversity of thought or cultural diversity?

 

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Motivation Fit

It's important to understand what makes you tick and for employers to evaluate their business’s motivation style. As an individual, what inspires you, what causes you to disengage, what motivates you to perform better? As a company, how do you reward top performers, what incentive programs do you utilize

Once you know your own motivation style, you can seek out companies who engage their employees in a manner that works for you. Understanding how your company motivates employees provides the criteria to evaluate fit in this area.

There are a variety of motivation and engagement methods used by companies today. Some examples: individual versus group incentives, salary and bonuses, tangible goods (gift cards, company gear, swanky office supplies), challenge and responsibility, goal setting, purpose and impact (detailing how your efforts impact the bottom line), enthusiasm and energy, promotions and advancement, improved work environment (private office, parking space, compressed work week) work-life balance (increased paid time off, remote work options, on-site daycare), constructive feedback (coaching, mentoring) and recognition (employee of the month, certificates of achievement, top group for the quarter).

For an individual who is motivated by money, joining a company which rarely provides bonuses or salary increases would quickly take the wind out of their sails. In turn, an individual whose primary objective is to “make a positive difference in the world” will not be happy working for an oil company that repeatedly damages the environment, no matter how much money they make in the role.

 

Job Seeker Motivation Fit:

  • When did you give your best performance in your career? What motivated this performance?

  • What needs do you want to have met through your employment? (i.e. financial, social, education).

  • How does the company you are considering motivate their employees?

  • Does this align with what you are seeking from an employer, what draws you in and what pushes you to achieve more?

Employer Motivation Fit:

  • How does your company or department motivate your current employees?

  • What are your candidate’s needs and motivators?

  • Do these needs/motivators match your current company motivation strategy?

  • Does your company plan to change your current motivation strategy?

 

 

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Management Style Fit

Every manager has their own management style. The way a leader encourages performance, how much authority they give their team, how they make decisions, how much or how little they delegate, how present they are with their team, the amount of mentoring or coaching they provide and many other factors make up an individual’s management style.

It’s important to recognize the hiring manager's management style and to compare this style with what drives you (the job seeker) or a particular candidate (for the employer). Understanding how a candidate has responded to previous management styles can provide a solid basis for determining management style fit.

 

Job Seeker Management Style Fit:

  • Which of your previous managers was your favorite? Why?

  • Which of your previous managers was your least favorite? Why?

  • How involved do you like your manager to be?

  • How much authority and responsibility do you wish to assume?

Employer Management Style Fit:

  • How does the manager who supervises this position interact with his/her subordinates?

  • What is the manger’s communication style?

  • How does the manager make decisions (majority rules, team input, autocratic)?

  • How much or how little does the manager delegate to the team?

  • What level of authority or responsibility does the manager place on team members?

  • Does this manager’s style align with the candidate’s preferred management style?

 

 

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Integrity Fit

Large companies spend a lot of money screening out candidates who are not dependable or do not possess a certain level of integrity to avoid turnover, liability and morale costs. A skilled screening professional and a strong pre-employment screening process (assessments, reference checks, background checks, credential verification, drug screens) are the best combination for determining integrity fit.

Job seekers often overlook this area of fit. Aligning yourself with a company that does not uphold the same level of integrity that you possess can damage your credibility, place you in compromising situations and has even resulted in jail time for some employees. Integrity fit can be difficult for applicants to determine since employers are often putting their best foot forward (as are candidates) during the interview process. My suggestion is to research the company. You may also be able to glean information from current employees. Access to current employees can sometimes be found through corporate job boards or social networking. I would also encourage you to talk about integrity in an interview and pay attention to the respondent's body language.
 

Job Seeker Integrity Fit:

  • Ask the interviewer and/or current employees: Have you ever been asked to do something you didn’t feel comfortable doing?

  • Research recent company news events.

  • Research legal cases against the company.

 

Employer Integrity Fit:

  • Does the past behavior of this candidate align with someone who is loyal, dependable and emotionally intelligent?

  • Does this candidate actively engage with the companies they work for and become a brand ambassador? Does your company actively engage employees?

  • How does the candidate speak about previous employers and supervisors?

  • Does the candidate take responsibility for mistakes they’ve made in the past (or is it always someone else’s fault?)

  • Why and how frequently does the candidate move on to another role or company?

  • Does the candidate learn from mistakes they’ve made?

  • Does the candidate do the right thing when no one is looking?

  • Has the candidate followed your recruiting process and instructions or have they tried to bypass it? (Keep in mind with this one that there is a lot of advice out there to not follow the standard process, so this may not always be an indication of a rebellious or entitled personality.)

 

Considering all these different aspects of “fit” can seem like a lot of work and can take time. However, my clients who spend the time finding the right fit in all these aspects are far more satisfied than those who do not. For job seekers, they avoid job hopping and feel comfortable in their work environment. For employers, they have far less turnover and performance issues when they take the time to find their best overall fit.

Let’s start a conversation. Are there other areas of “fit” that you consider as a Recruiter, hiring manager or Job Seeker? How do you balance fit and diversity as an employer?

Building Your Resume the "Old School" Way

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10/28/2016

With all the buzz about the "Gig Economy," many job seekers have begun to believe that "job hopping" is now an acceptable practice.  

While the economy and employment arrangements are opening up to more freelance, contract and consultation opportunities, an employer's desire for dependable employees has not changed.  Employers want to spend their labor dollars efficiently and effectively.  Even before there were formal metrics for training and attrition costs, employers understood the value of a dependable employee.  

In previous generations, employees started in a low-level position within a company and spent decades working their way up.  Hard work and dedication lead to advancement and success...THEN...Steve Jobs started Apple in his garage and Mark Zuckerberg developed FaceBook in his dorm room.  Well, it's not exactly that simple, but these and other overnight success stories have played a role in building a desire to find one's "big break" rather than a long-term employer.

The reality is that what seems like overnight success, rarely is.  In nearly every case of extreme success there are years of work and failure that we don't see.  The majority of millionaires and billionaires spent decades refining an idea, learning their industry and working long hours before they made it big.  

Another consideration: you have to develop expertise before anyone will want to hire you as a freelancer, contractor or consultant.  Most expertise is developed while working as an employee, learning through experiences, and training programs.  Working for more than one employer can also provide an education about best practices and a high-level view of your industry.

If your goal is to be an entrepreneur, inventor, freelancer, contractor or consultant, you will first need to acquire knowledge and experience.  The most direct and common path for knowledge acquisition is working for an employer.  An employer wants to hire someone who is dependable.  A common mantra in the recruiting world is “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”  For this reason, many recruiters and employers make job hopping their first screen-out criteria.  Eliminating “job hoppers” is an easy and appropriate way to reduce the number of resumes for review, while also reducing the chance of hiring a candidate who will cost the company time and money, with little return on the investment.  

What is "job hopping?"  Job hopping is frequently changing roles and/or companies.  Most recruiters and employers want to see a stretch of 2 years in a role before moving on.  A pattern of leaving roles more frequently than every 2 years can get you flagged as a "job hopper" and eliminate your resume from consideration.

As a resume writer, I can downplay frequent career moves and highlight the benefits of your varied experience...to a point.  My creativity can only mask so much.  At a certain juncture in the hiring process, the employer will likely ask you to list out your roles, dates of employment and reasons for leaving each role for at least the past 5 years (typically on an application).  If you have demonstrated a pattern of job hopping during this time, been fired for cause or shown career regression, a well-designed resume won't save you.

Only YOU can BUILD your resume.  Job changes (even during college) should be intentional and planned. Recruiters understand that internships will typically end after 6 months and that you may only be able to work during the summer.  However, picking back up with the same employer the next summer demonstrates loyalty and quality work (since they rehired you.)  After college, these attributes can be demonstrated by staying with each company for at least 2 years and in each role within that company (unless you are promoted) for at least 1 year.  

The ability to make strategic, timely career moves suggests high emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ), a capacity that 71% of employers say they value more than intelligence (IQ), according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.  High EQ is also associated with the ability to: stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, show empathy, lead by example, make more thoughtful decisions, learn from mistakes and listen well.  High EQ is what TOP employers are searching for and measuring for in their screening processes.  You can demonstrate this desirable attribute through your resume and the employment choices you have made.

My advice to job seekers is this...put the time in, do the work, glean as much as you can from each employer, role and experience and you will set yourself up for a great career in which you can decide whether to continue on an employment or a contractor path.  Build your resume and your career the "old school" way and you will have more "new school" options!

Including a Photo on your Resume?!?

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"Is it okay, or even beneficial, to include a photo of myself on my resume?"

10/17/2016

This is such a great and timely question!  With the increased use of LinkedIn and other social media sites in business today, it can seem like a dated practice to NOT include your photo on your resume or CV.  But wait...before you insert a selfie into the latest version of your resume, let's consider the risks and benefits.

LinkedIn has changed the candidate landscape for recruiting and job seeking.  Not having a photo on LinkedIn is considered “out of touch” with professional practice.  So, can we conclude that not having a photo on your resume is also "out of touch" with professional practice?

Most companies employ or contract a Human Resources (HR) professional or employment law attorney to develop their hiring process.  Their goal in hiring an HR law expert to design their process is to reduce the company's liability risk. Employer's want to avoid discrimination claims.  The easiest way to circumvent a claim of discrimination is to avoid collecting any information about a candidate that relates to a Title VII protected class (race, national origin, color, sex and religion.)  It is expected that individuals working in the business world are familiar with this legislation and the surrounding legal concerns. Including information that discloses your race, national origin, color, sex or religion on your resume can call your business acumen into question.

"But a recruiter who views my LinkedIn profile has access to my photo and, therefore, protected class information about me.  What's the difference?"

This is very true.  However, most companies will use LinkedIn as a passive candidate recruiting tool.  They often run searches based on keywords in your profile and then direct you to a job posting or website, if they feel you have the qualifications for the role.  From there, you will need to email or submit a resume (or CV) for consideration (not your LinkedIn profile).  The sourcing professional who found you on LinkedIn is typically not the same person who will screen your information in the hiring process.  The screening professional will review your resume and be unaware of any Title VII information included on LinkedIn or other social media sites.  This way, their decision to rule you out or invite you to interview will be made solely based on the information provided in your resume.

With that said, there are progressive companies who accept LinkedIn profiles as a form of application.  If you apply to a company with this practice, you should be safe to include a photo on your resume (if it is later requested).  In certain countries (i.e. Germany or France) it is appropriate to include a photo of yourself on your resume.  Many small businesses do not have a formal hiring process and will not count it against you if you include a photo.  However, for the vast majority of small, mid-sized and large U.S. companies, including a photo on your resume may harm your chances for consideration.  Some U.S. companies even have a practice of discarding any resume received with Title VII information on it.

Let's discuss any potential benefits to including your photo.  A photo can humanize you and it can make your resume stand out from the crowd of black text on white paper.  Are there other ways to accomplish this that don't involve the risk of being screened out?  Yes.  You can include a graphic, a unique font color or formatting that will stand out from other resumes.  You can incorporate a strong summary statement that explains your distinctive characteristics and strengths (thereby humanizing you to the reader.)

A recent study by The Ladders found that recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing a resume before making a determination about whether to pass on a candidate.  When a photo was included on a resume, recruiters spent much of this sparse time looking at the photo rather than reading the content of the resume. 

Ultimately, you need to learn about the organization before you submit a resume.  Are they progressive, are they based in the U.S., who will initially review your resume (a recruiter, a hiring manager or a computer)? With this information, you can make an educated decision about whether or not to include your photo.  Even at the most progressive company, it still may be to your advantage to omit your photo so the recruiter spends their time reading about your accomplishments rather than viewing your latest headshot.