JEAN'S BLOG. Best & Next Practices in: Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

When to NOT Answer a Call from Recruiter

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jul 22, 2015 6:24:14 PM

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The other day I was in the zone! I was laser focused on writing a high-impact, succinct, and ATS-friendly resume for a client with a very high-powered career in a fast-changing, highly complex industry. My mind was bearing down to understand deeply and then put into a very few words the value and power of what he brings to the table.

Then, cut to next scene! My iPhone rings. Usually I have the sense to not answer my work phone when I'm writing. Not this time, alas. 🌞

I picked up to hear the voice of an esteemed client whose project I had just completed. He asked did I have a few minutes. I heard myself pause, and in a voice I now recognize as cool, distant, preoccupied, and distracted, I replied "just a few, I'm under deadline" in a voice that conveyed, I'm too busy to talk to you. My great client understood the tone and said OK, later then.

By that time I had caught on to how I must have sounded, and I so regretted it! This is a client who has only known me as warm, 100% present and there for him, his career needs, brand, interests, and concerns. And who did he get when he called me that morning? Jean, the RMV agent! What a shock for him!

So, in an attempt to retrieve the situation, I hauled my attention away from my writing and began to focus on my client and was able to provide some valuable job search coaching for 5 or 10 minutes. My client was generous enough to cut me some slack on my falling short this time.

Still, this experience gave me pause, and this is what I decided: No more answering the phone when I am writing. Period. I know the kind of concentration it takes to write complex executive technology resumes and from now on will honor the need to protect my writing time. But I highly value being available to my clients. So, the answer is: Schedule times to talk only when I am not in my writing mode. No client needs a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde resume writer!

What does all this have to do with you? I'll bet I'm not the only one who has trouble shifting gears suddenly.  So, if you're even a little like me, when a call comes in from a recruiter you make a quick assessment: Can I shift from what I'm doing to 100% quality attention on the phone RIGHT NOW?

At that moment, you may be putting your child to bed, cleaning up after the puppy, laughing at a comedy on the TV, programming an app, fighting with your teenager, or doing your financial planning. In any of those scenarios you could be forgiven for having your mind in an entirely different place than the world of your job search!

So, if you feel you can't make a fast switch, can't put on your professional hat, can't become present to the caller, and can't have your tone of voice express interest, warmth, and enthusiasm, you have two choices. Either answer the call and say could you talk in 15 minutes or don't answer and call the recruiter when you are composed, focused, centered, and ready for an important call. That way, you can bring your best stuff to the phone interview!

"Know Thyself" is at the heart of this. Know what you can do and when you can do it and plan accordingly. And pay attention to how your tone of voice might be interpreted wrongly and how your emotional temperature will surely be picked up on by the caller. Then you will know when the right time is to talk. Aim for excellence. Be fully present! Get the offer!

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Topics: job interview, phone etiquette

The LinkedIn Summary Dilemma: Use "I" or Not?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 16, 2015 10:34:23 AM

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LinkedIn profile writing is a challenge. And there are ways in which the LinkedIn profile summary section is still the Wild West. The LI summary is a blank page only restricted by the 2000 character limit. There are no requirements for anything in particular, such as listing your jobs and dates. So why is it important to worry about this? And what should you do?

People know that LI is the premier business networking site. It also happens to be an almost-mandatory place for recruiters to check before exploring possible job candidates further. In addition, it provides a fairly comprehensive database of potential candidates that recruiters can search by specifying desired keywords.

Because, for professionals and executives, LI is now so critical to getting their next job, they are naturally very sensitive to how they present themselves in the summary section. And when they do a Google search on how to write the summary they may find advice and examples that run counter to how they want to present themselves.

This link will show you the typical recommendations and examples career-minded individuals will see when they look to the Web for advice on writing the summary:

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-to-say-in-your-linkedin-summary-statement-2014-12

LinkedIn best practice for writing the summary is to use the first person singular, that is, use "I" throughout as opposed to "Ms Jones" or using the hidden 3rd person voice such as we use in resumes ("Worked for 20+ years...") So what's the problem?

Some people are just plain uncomfortable with the more personal tone of the first person voice. They may also feel that use of the first person "I" places too much focus on the self and is not modest enough in tone. Does the fact that best practice is to use "I mean that they should bite the bullet and go out there in public with an expression that feels unnatural, uncomfortable, or even inappropriate to them? No, of course not.

That being said, there are good reasons for using the personal "I" voice. It can invite the reader in to get to know you. It can convey personality, character, and other elements of your personal brand much more easily and naturally than the more impersonal, distancing voice of the 3rd person "he/she" or the more formal resume voice.

Summaries using "I" are more apt to be interesting and engaging. That is good! As in every other type of communication including ads, articles, movies, and TV shows, the personal and the emotional "sells." Even if you inject just a little more engaging direct and self-revelatory content into your LinkedIn profile, the recruiter who finds you on LI may become more interested in you and more motivated to read on.

Done sloppily, the first person LI summary can of course turn off the recruiter who may view the tone too informal or too personal.

Tricky, huh?

So, on the horns of the dilemma, this is what I recommend. Use the first person "I" in your LI summary if:

a) You can do it skillfully, professionally, and engagingly. If not, revert to one of the other options.

b) You feel comfortable doing it. If not, revert to one of the other options.

If you choose the more formal approach for writing a LinkedIn profile, you may be giving up some competitive advantage. But probably not so much that it’s worth being ill at ease with how you present yourself. Good luck with this!

If you have trouble, contact me at jc@get-job-offers.com or another professional LinkedIn profile writer for help.

 

 

 

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Topics: LinkedIn Profiles, LinkedIn Profile Writing

What Story Does YOUR Resume Tell and Will It Work?

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 18, 2015 4:09:00 PM

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Read through your current resume with an objective eye - what story does it tell? Here are some of the stories I've seen in people's resumes:

- I had a lot of authority in my jobs before 2005 but since then not so much

- I stuck with one job for 10 years back in the '90s but have had really short 1-2 year stints since 2005

- I have a ton of technical skills and am a real hands-on techie (Problem is that resume is meant to apply to Project Manager, Program Manager, Director/Sr. Director of IT, VP of IT, even CIO jobs)

- I've got titles all over the map and am not clear on which one I'm seeking next

- I've got a ton of numbers showing 20 quantitative achievements in my jobs

- I've got odd titles that are not industry standard and I'm not sure how they translate to other companies

These are just a few of the stories I see constantly in people's resumes. And there is a problem with every single one of them. The problem is that the recruiter isn't interested in these stories and may well be put off by them.

If one of these is the story your resume tells, don't despair! These stories and others can all be rewritten to construct a story that will appeal to a recruiter for your target job.

What kind of stories will a recruiter be looking for? It depends on the target job, but may go something like this:

- I've got the title(s) and skills you (the recruiter) lists in the job ad and am supremely qualified for the job

- In every job, I've had one overriding achievement showing what I contributed to the company at the macro level

- I'm a consistent high achiever and you can count on that continuing in my next job

- I am differentiated from the competition by [this will vary by person and is part of their brand]. Here are a few sample differentiators: Ability to turn around under-performing groups/companies; Ability to drive organizational, technological, and/or culture change; High level specialized certifications; MBA or coursework at leading business and computer science schools; A specialty in entrepreneurial situations; The list could go on and on and the differentiator is as unique as you are

- I have a  passion for [name your passion] and, by exercising it in my job, I was able to produce [fill in] results in every role

-  I thrive in high pressure, deadline-driven environment and love the hard challenges

- I uniquely cross boundaries between technology and business strategy to make IT a strategic business partner and profit center

This is just a sampling of possible stories that would appeal to a recruiter depending on the job. And you will need to be sensitive to the specific kinds of stories desired for the specific job.

This process of developing your story may seem foreign to you and your stories difficult to figure out. If so, don't hesitate to call on a professional resume writer who understands strategy in resume writing and can help you identify your story, the one that will appeal to a recruiter for your target job.

Good luck and let me know how it goes in converting your resume story to a recruiter-attracting one!

 

 

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resume

How to Get an Employee Referral

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 6, 2015 9:13:37 AM

 

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OK, in my previous blog post I noted that employee referrals are the #1 source of hire in corporate America. This statistic comes out of CareerXroads Source of Hire Study for 2014. That means leveraging employee referrals is better than depending on recruiters to find your a job, applying to jobs on big job boards, or using specialty services like Execunet or Netshare.

Everyone knows that “networking” has always been the best way to get hired. “Employee referrals” is just a subcategory of “networking.” The BEST subcategory. It involves very deliberately networking with select employees who work for the company posting the job you are targeting.

If you know the contact, you can naturally get in touch with them and open up a conversation. But what if you don’t know them? Does that mean you have to give up on getting an employee referral? Not necessarily. If they are a connection on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter you may well be able to tap into them as a resource.

Why would a networking contact on LinkedIn (LI) or social media be interested in referring you if they don't know you? Many companies offer monetary rewards to employees who refer a candidate who ultimately gets hired. The reason employers are willing to pay for referrals is that hiring this way results in high-quality hires who are more likely to do well in the company culture. Using company employees as sources also is more cost-effective.

So how exactly do you go about introducing yourself to someone who is unknown to you or who is a relative stranger on one of your social media sites? You probably don’t want to just email them with a request like, “Hi! I’m a VP of Sales for the Americas at one of your competitors, can you refer me for the job of Global VP of Sales your company just posted?” It’s a little too abrupt and doesn’t give the employee much information to help build her confidence in you as a candidate.

Try an engaging, respectful approach like this: “Hi, I see that we are third-degree connections on LinkedIn. In fact we both know [Bill Jones]. He’s a great guy – we worked together back at [Raytheon]. I wanted to introduce myself to you because I’m interested in applying for the open job [Lockheed Martin] just posted. And I wonder if you could take a look at my resume and tell me if you think my background looks interesting for the job. I’d welcome any advice you may have, either by email or in a brief 5-minute phone call.”

If you get a positive response from this employee, thank them. If you feel the general reaction was positive, you might then ask, “ Do you feel that you have a good enough sense of my background to refer me to the CEO (or whoever would be the hiring manager for the job)? If the answer is in the affirmative, then express your appreciation and email your resume, having incorporated any valuable suggestions. Remember, as always, to tailor the resume to the job and industry, including keywords.

Once the resume hand-off is achieved, make sure to write a thank-you email and extend an offer to help the employee in any future situation where they might want a referral. These last steps are very important! They align with the basic rule of all good networking: Givers Gain.

Why use this time-intensive, relationship-building route when just firing off a resume to a posted job ad is so quick and easy?

Because candidates who come in via employee referrals have a one in 10 chance of ultimately getting hired. With job boards it can be more like one in 100 or one in 1000. Which odds do you prefer?

If, when you approach a new contact with this method you don’t get a response, try again with another employee. Be persistent and take advantage of the #1 Source of HIre in corporate America. Get a touchdown! 🏈

Jean Cummings

 

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Topics: job search, executive search, branded executive resume, career marketing, job interview, employment trends

Test Your Job Search IQ with This One Quick Question

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 1, 2015 8:41:52 AM

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If you answer this one question correctly and act on its implications, you are well on your way to a great job! Here it is:

1. What is the #1 source of hire for coporate America?

a) Job boards

b) Employee Referrals

c) Executive Recruiters

d) Career Site

 The right answer is b! This has profound implications for your job search. It means that if you are spending most of your time on job boards, you are not searching efficiently. It also means that if you ignore this channel, you are giving up on your biggest advantage.

Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Track your time to see if the largest percentage of time you spend on job search is spent on tapping into employee referral networks at the companies you are interested in targeting. If it is not, do an in-course correction.
  • If you see a job posted on a job board you want to apply to, go ahead through the specified channels and submit your ATS-friendly (Applicant Tracking System-friendly) resume and cover letter. BUT, at the same time, tap into your networks to find someone within the company to connect with - the ultimate goal being an employee referral.
  • Ask the employee if they feel they know enough about you to refer you - and make sure they have your excellent branded executive resume. If they say they do, then request that they hand deliver your resume with their referral to the manager who would be directing you in the job. (HR will already have your resume from their system.)
  • If you don't know of a job opening but are interested in working for a specific company, go through the process above anyway. This is a fabulous way to job search! If the senior manager is even thinking about hiring, you have a huge advantage. Getting in before a job hits the job boards gives you tremendously better odds.

I will be writing more on where to find employee referrals and what to say in my next blog post. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, ATS

What the #dressgate Furor Means for Your Executive Resume

Posted by Jean Cummings

Mar 5, 2015 8:57:28 AM

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Do you sometimes just scratch your head because you know you'd be great for the job and you think your resume communicated your qualifications but nobody on the other end "gets" it?

If the impassioned even embittered debate on Twitter and Facebook about whether the above dress is gold and white or blue and black tells us anything, it's that we don't all see the same reality.

I'm afraid this is a rather profound truth and is at the basis of many human misunderstandings. For instance, ISIS sees the world differently from your average Westerner. This ability to look at conditions in the world and perceive radically different things is surely tragic for humanity.

What about the typical spousal debate about money? It's obvious that legal tender is "seen" in different ways by different people. That's why studies show that having very different views of money is a very common cause of divorce.

It's worth pointing out here, though, that without this very human, built-in variety of perceptions we would have no great art, music, drama, or even cosmology to excite, awaken, inform, and inspire people. How often we "see" a new reality when confronted by great art!

So what does all this have to do with your resume? Well, if your resume evokes in the recruiter an entirely different picture of who you are professionally than you thought you were projecting, your candidacy in not apt to go any further.

Many people "perceive" that they are telling the hiring authority that they have the a,b, and c skills and experiences required for the job. But is the recruiter seeing that also? Usually not.

This dilemma is the reason why you as a job seeker need to throw away many of your personal preferences in writing your resume. Instead, follow these simple rules:

  • Weave the exact keywords or key phrases you find in the job ad into your resume's profile and the descriptions of your job responsibilities
  • Take the key skills the job ad specifies and, in addition to weaving them in, provide examples of using them in your jobs
  • Put information the recruiter wants to see in the expected places on the resume: Summary, Experience, Education

Yes, this means customizing every resume you send out to the exact key words and key phrases in the particular job ad.

If you folllow these rules and construct an ATS-friendly resume (see recent blog posts + free example), you will be in a good position to have your resume retrieved by the recruiter in a search.

So, if you don't want your "blue and black" dress to appear "gold and white" when the recruiter wants to see "blue and black," observe the above conventions!

 

 

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Topics: executive resumes, executive resume writing, executive resume, applicant tracking systems, ATS systems, Executive Resume Writer Massachusetts

Use This Simple Brain Technique to Get Your Next Job

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 10, 2015 8:58:20 AM

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This may seem like a blog post title that seriously overreaches. But, there is a sense in which there is one simple, essential ingredient to job search success. This is it:

Visualize your goal.

It's not enough just to have a goal, although that appears to be critical for success in job search as in just about everything else. It's also important to paint a picture in your mind of what your goal would look like, feel like, sound like, etc. Brain science suggests that the brain is stimulated in the same regions whether we are only visualizing or actually experiencing a state of affairs.

Srinivasan S. Pillay, M.D. is a master executive coach to Fortune 500 leaders who examines new findings in brain science and makes suggestions for business behavior in his book: Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders.

If you want to explore his ideas in depth, Dr. Pillay discusses a range of compelling ideas to emerge out of brain research that have the potential to enhance leadership success.

But for those of us who aren't F500 executives, goal visualization holds great promise as well. The US Olympic Committee has increased the number of psychologists on staff 600% over the past 20 years in recognition of the importance of training athletes mentally to achieve their goal. Read more at Business Insider.

For years I've been coaching clients on how to interview to get the job. One key ingredient in my coaching is to encourage clients to visualize before the interview starts that they are already in the job and functioning with authority as part of a productive team. In visualizing these states of affairs, they are feeling confident, "in their element," collegial, knowledgeable, valued and have a sense of belonging and of liking their colleagues. The impact of this kind of visualization on a client's body language, energy, attitude towards the interviewers, and general affect can be profound.

People promoting visualization as a success tool suggest that by visualizing the goal the person is actually preparing the brain to understand and proceed on the steps that need to be taken to reach the goal.

In job search, the individual can visualize the ultimate goal - being an employee at their company of choice - and also visualize performing the steps required to meet that goal: connecting with people from the company or recruiters on LinkedIn, leaving a message for a hiring authority, meeting with key networking contacts, writing two letters a day to specific hiring authorities at specfic companies, etc.

The time required to do this kind of visualization daily is not more than a minute. See if it works for you in helping you get the job you want!

Jean Cummings

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, interviewing, career management, career planning

The Biggest 2015 Job Search Trend in One Word

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jan 30, 2015 9:42:36 AM

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Here's where I see resumes and job search going:

ONLINE

O: Over 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates | Over 80% use social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to rule applicants OUT

N: Neglect building your online footprint at your peril | Unless you have a robust online footprint, you will be disadvantaged in the job search over candidates who do

L: Love your job and want to keep it? Stay abreast of the trends in your industry, keep learning to keep up, and watch the career moves and ongoing training of your peers online

I: Innovate on the job so you can write about it in your LIP (LinkedIn profile), on your website, in tweets, on Facebook, or display it on Youtube and Pinterest | Bring something distinctive to the table

N: Never give up the job search - there is always something you haven't tried in the world of online job search | There's also a world of potential contacts and ways to connect with hiring managers and employees online

E: Engage with people in your function or industry space online by responding to their online activity and getting the word about on your professional interestss

Want to get started? Go beyond your executive resume and build your LIP to 100% complete and go to about.me and build your profile there. After that, you can be endlessly creative in building your brand through words, pictures, slides, videos, and infographics.

Want to also try something new? Explore SwitchApp.com by Apple - very cool. And keep an eye on LinkedIn's new acquisition: Bright. Wisewords. RaiseYourFlag. CareerSushi. Good luck!

 

 

 


 

 

 

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Topics: job search, executive resume, online identity, LinkedIn Profile Writing

What If You Don't Meet ALL the Job Requirements? 3 Workarounds

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 30, 2014 2:29:04 PM

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Just about every job seeker I speak with says, "I've found some jobs I'd be a good fit for, but I don't meet all the job requirements, particularly the technical job requirements. Is it worth it to apply?"

Almost all my IT job seeker clients have many areas of technical proficiency and are “quick studies” when it comes to learning new software packages. They often feel that, even if they don’t meet the exact requirements for the position, they could get up to speed quickly and do a great job if they were hired. Is this you?

Here’s one way to look at it. First, it's important to realize that part of what the employer is doing in listing very specific technologies is trying to cut down on the number of resumes they have to review. ATS (applicant tracking systems) will not retrieve resumes that lack the keywords or a given percentage of the keywords specified by the hiring authority (HA). And there are probably enough resumes out there that do have all the key skills and keywords for the HA to review.

But you and I know that keywords are not the sole determinant of who makes a good hire.

If you have experience with technologies that are in the same class as the required ones and are confident you could get up to speed quickly on the new specified in the ad, here are a few ideas.  The task is to get the key skills and keywords on the resume that you lack in direct experience while at the same time being truthful in what you say.

Let’s take an example. What if someone has experience with Oracle ERP but not SAP, and the job calls for SAP experience? You can try one of these 3 techniques so that you can include the “SAP” keyword in your resume:

  1. You can say, but only once: “Operate in an Oracle ERP environment similar to SAP” or “Proficient in Oracle ERP, one of the top 2 enterprise-level ERPs along with SAP."

 

  1. Or, in a keyword list at the end of your resume, you can list the technologies or skills you are really experienced in, saying: “Power User: Oracle ERP, etc.” Then, include text that reads: “Working familiarity with other ERPs such as SAP and Epicore” or “Knowledge base also includes: SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Epicor.” ONLY DO THIS if you have taken the time to become familiar with the similarities and differences of the packages, so that you do indeed have general familiarity with the software, SAP in this instance. You will need to get up to speed on SAP if you get an interview anyway.

 

  1. Or, use a keyword list at the end titled: “Other relevant keywords: SAP, etc.” This isn’t as good a solution, but if you’ve done some SAP research, it’s not false.

You can do something similar in the situation where you have experience with SAP financial applications but not the required SAP HRMS. Or in situations with other technologies.

Although the three techniques above aren’t perfect, they are truthful and will give your resume a chance to make it through the ATS screen so you can be considered for an interview. Not everyone will agree that these methods should be used to incorporate keywords and key skills. But I think it’s fair, given that the potential employer may be really missing out by not hearing about YOU!

 Jean Cummings

 

 

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Topics: IT resumes, resumes, keywords, Job Requirements,, High Tech Resumes,, ATS systems

The NEW Cover Letter: 5 Crucial Ways It is Different

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 9, 2014 9:47:24 AM

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You'd think something would remain the same in the job search world! But one of the last bastions, the cover letter, has fallen. Traditionally, cover letters were one-pagers conveying qualifications. Today, two factors have changed how cover letters must be written to get a recruiter to take a closer look:

- If the resume gets a 6-second look from recruiters, the cover letter (read by 50%) must get just a glance, certainly not careful consideration of lengthy content

- There is much greater competittion in the job market requiring a different approach in terms of message

So, scrap the old cover letter and think about incorporating these elements into your new one:

1. Make it short - 135 words or less - so that the main message can be grasped at a glance

2. Give it a title, like this:  "Re: Penetrating Japanese Markets" and place it right before the salutation. This is the "Secret Ingredient" that will grab your reader's attention.

3. In your first short paragraph provide a match between your position, industry, specialization, and value- added qualifications and the open job you're applying for.

4. In your second short paragraph or list of 3 bullet points hit the benefits you have delivered that match what the recruiter will be looking for from a new hire - use numbers such as dollars and percentages.

5. In your last paragraph state that you would like to meet in person to discuss the value you can bring to the company.

To sum it up, make your new cover letter "Short, sweet, and to the point." And "Make them care" to quote my colleague Deb Dibb. If you follow these pointers your cover letter won't be discarded. It will be kept as quick summary showing why you should be contacted. If you're interested in seeing a sample of today's cover letter CLICK HERE.

More on cover letter writing.

Here's another relevant post.

Good luck!

 

 

 

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Topics: cover letters, cover letter writing, free cover letter sample, cover letter example,, cover letter sample

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