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

WHY IS MY RESUME NOT WORKING? 2 WORDS!

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 1, 2016 11:19:35 AM

dreamstime_s_13367415-1.jpg

 

It's been a long time since anything's been simple about executive resumes. People ask questions such as: should my resume be two pages or one, can you have three or more pages, how should it look, can I have a functional resume? And people ask: why I am not getting called back, why aren't recruiters contacting me, why have I been looking for months with no luck?

Well, the simple answer to all these questions is, drum roll here, you have to make sure that your executive resume provides a...

FAST MATCH

to the job ad. That's it! That's the one important thing your executive resume has to do: provide a fast match to the employer's job ad. If you do this, you will have a resume that has a good chance of getting retrieved electronically when the hiring manager (HM) does a keyword search using the company's ATS - Applicant Tracking System.**

Also, by implementing this FAST MATCH technique, the HM is more likely to respond positively to your content. S/he will not be worrrying about the length or the look or the style of your resume, and you will have a good chance of being contacted.

Also, by providing the HM with the content s/he is seeking in a way that is familiar to them (through their own words in the job ad they wrote), you are respecting their time as well as acknowledging the reality that the HM spends on average 6 seconds scanning each retrieved resume!  

So, how exactly do you do a fast match?* We need to assume that you have selected a job to apply to that is, in fact, a good match with your skills and experience. Then you begin with the job ad. And if you're thinking there's no way you're going to write a different resume for each job ad then you'll be back to asking the questions in paragraph one :)

The first step is to highlight the keywords and key phrases in the job requisition (ad). Then weave them into your executive resume, paying particular to the following points:

  • The title of the job you are seeking should be at the top of your summary section, like this: "Targeting: Job Title" if the title isn't the same as the one you hold currently.
  • You make sure the the core skills being sought are included in the summary you write. It is best here and elsewhere not to rely on a simple lists of keywords alone. Try to include them naturally in the points you are making. If there are too many to substitute in organically, go ahead and include a list at the end of your summary.
  • When you start describing your professional experience, use a 5-line job description to list your primarily activities and responsibilities. This is prime keyword territory! You can substitute in the keywords and key phrases from the job ad in place of the ones you already wrote. (This does not mean that your words are wrong, just that ATS won't recognize them.)
  • When you write your bulleted list of accomplishments, be sure to weave in the keywords and phrases. You don't want to have keyword overload, but it is OK to use a given keyword more than once in a resume.
  • With the keywords and key phrases that are less important, or that you were unable to include, or that were worded oddly, you may choose to have a subtitle "Additional Relevant Skills and Knowledge" and list those phrases at the end of the resume. Use the exact wording you find in the job ad. Don't try to be tricky and copy/paste the whole ad in.

If you have done this skillfully, you will satisfy both ATS compliance requirements and attract the HM's interest. You will have demonstrated that your background and skills are a good fit with the target job.

* A very important caveat: your resume must be an electronic resume - that is, it must be able to be processed correctly in terms of format and design by the ATS. To find out how to do this please refer to one of my earlier posts.

** Don't forget to do your personal branding and infuse the content with what makes you spectacular!

GOOD LUCK!

 

Topics: executive resume writingexecutive resumeATSapplicant tracking systems

 
 
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Topics: executive resume, Get a Job, executive search, ATS

Test Your Job Search IQ with This One Quick Question

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 1, 2015 8:41:52 AM

image-aptitude_test1

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

Why's My Executive Resume Not Working? 2 Words

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 22, 2014 11:07:19 AM

Image-Simple

Image attribution: creative arts workshop

It's been a long time since anything's been simple about executive resumes. People ask questions such as: should my resume be two pages or one, can you have three or more pages, how should it look, can I have a functional resume? And, about the response to their resumes people ask: why I am not getting called back, why aren't recruiters contacting me, why have I been looking for months with no luck?

Well, the simple answer to all these questions is, drum roll here, you have to make sure to provide, in your executive resume, a

FAST MATCH

to the job ad. That's it! That's the one important thing your executive resume has to do: provide a fast match to the employer's job ad. If you do this, you will have a resume that has a good chance of getting retrieved electronically when the hiring manager (HM) does a keyword search using the company's ATS - Applicant Tracking System.

Also, by implementing this FAST MATCH technique, the HM is likely to respond positively to your content. S/he will not be worrrying about the length or the look or the style of your resume and you will have a good chance of being contacted.

Also, by providing the HM with the content s/he is seeking in a way that is familiar to them (through their own words), you are respecting their time as well as acknowledging the reality that the HM spends on average 6 seconds scanning each retrieved resume!  

So, how exactly do you do a fast match?* We need to assume that you have selected a job to apply to that is, in fact, a good match for your skills and experience. Then you begin with the job ad. And if you're thinking there's no way you're going to write a different resume for each job ad then you'll be back to asking the questions in paragraph one:)

The first step is to highlight the keywords and key phrases in the job requisition (ad). Then you weave them into your executive resume, paying particular to the following points:

  • The title of the job you are seeking should be at the top of your summary section, like this: "Targeting: Job Title"
  • You make sure the the primary skills being sought are included in the summary you write. It is best here and elsewhere not to rely on a simple lists of keywords alone. Try to include them naturally in the points you are making. If there are too many to substitute in organically, go ahead and include a list at the end of your summary.
  • When you start listing your professional experience, use a 5-line job description to list your primarily activities and responsibilities. This is prime keyword territory! You can substitute in the keywords and key phrases in this section. By doing so, you will be showing the ATS software and the HM that you use these relevant key skills in your job.
  • When you write your bulleted list of accomplishments, be sure to weave in the keywords and phrases. You don't want to have keyword overload, but it is OK to use a given keyword more than once in a resume.
  • With the keywords and key phrases that are less important, or that you were unable to include, or that were worded oddly, you may have a subtitle "Additional Relevant Skills and Knowledge" and list those phrases at the end of the resume. Use the exact wording you find in the job ad. Don't try to be tricky and copy/paste the whole ad in.

If you have done this skillfully, you will satisfy both ATS compliance requirements and attract the HM's interest. You will have demonstrated that your background and skills are a good fit with the target job.

* A very important caveat: your resume must be able to be processed correctly in terms of format and design by the ATS. To find out how to do this please refer to one of my earlier posts.

 

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Topics: executive resume writing, executive resume, ATS, applicant tracking systems

Is Your Executive Resume Ready for Prime Time? 2 Simple Tests

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 1, 2012 1:51:00 PM

Is your resume good enough?

Most people approach the matter of submitting their resume with some trepidation - certainly with the sense that there is some mystery surrounding whether a recruiter or hiring authority will, in the first place, see it at all and, in the second place, act positively on it. And so much rides on whether they do! Success or failure can make the difference between getting an interview or not.

So, what should a resume be these days? Everyone knows times have radically changed in terms of job search and recruiting. Old-fashioned networking is still a good way to get a job. But companies and job seekers alike are finding new opportunities for networking and search on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other online networks. And the increasing use and sophistication of applicant tracking software (ATS) has put a premium on knowing the keyword rules.

But there are a couple of tests you can run your executive resume through that will give you an idea of whether yours is ready for prime time. The first has to do with whether a human being viewing your resume will be inclined to put it in the Yes pile. The second has to do with whether your resume has a good chance of being retrieved electronically so the recruiter will actually see it.

Test #1 HUMAN EYES

Can the reader figure out your unique selling points in 4 seconds? Since you have ONLY 4 SECONDS to make an impression, is your resume set up to be visually accessible and with critical key content that will motivate the recruiter to contact you?

Test #2 ELECTRONIC RETRIEVAL

Does your resume have the keywords and formatting that will enable it to be retrieved in an electronic search by a hiring authority or recruiter for a specific job?

If you've answered "Yes" to both #1 and #2, read no further. But if you've answered "No" to either, keep reading for 6 quick pointers on effective ways to get your resume to pass both these tests.

HUMAN EYES - 3 POINTERS

1.Customize your resume for each opportunity. State your career brand - your unique promise of value for that specific opportunity - right at the top under your contact information. If you don't know what yours is, look through my earlier posts or contact a Certified Personal Branding Strategist like myself for help.

2. Use the target title (as listed in the ad) somewhere in your profile, and use the core competencies required for the particular job somewhere in your profile, preferably in text or in columns/lists if you have too many. This is important, because when a human being scans your resume, s/he will be looking for a match with their open job.

3. Make your top accomplishments stand out visually. For instance, in the experience section below your job title, select the one stand-out contribution you made when you held that particular job title. Then bold it, box it and/or graph it. And use numbers! Then there will be just 3-5 such statements over your whole career that the eye will have to process. Take advantage of the 4 seconds you get to whet the recruiter's appetite for reading about the other accomplishments for each position in more detail!

ELECTRONIC "EYES" - 3 Pointers

1. Identify the keywords in the ad. They will be the required and desired titles, skills, degrees, training and technologies listed. Try to include them in the text portions of your resume as well as in lists/columns. Newer, more sophisticated ATS systems can identify keywords in context and may drop or give less value to lists.

2. Save your resume in ASCII/text format. This is because the formatting you use in your Word version may not translate well, therefore making your resume very hard to read. To save a Word doc as a .txt file, choose Save As from your drop down menu under File and select "text only" - then clean it up and save.

3. Keep your section headings simple and obvious in your ASCII/text version: Summary, Work Experience, Education. The ATS is geared to look for these. If it doesn't recognize a heading, it may well drop that whole section, deep-sixing your resume's chances.

Although all of the above may sound daunting, make every attempt to render your executive resume both people- and machine-friendly. Swing the odds in your favor!

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resume, executive job search, ATS, recruiters

Is Your Resume at Risk? ATS Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 1, 2011 11:28:00 AM

Image Keywords

I spent an enlightening hour attending a webinar offered by Jonathan Ciampi, a former executive at an ATS (applicant tracking system) company. He has started a new business, Preptel, to help job seekers increase their odds of success. He talked about how ATS works and implications for your resume.

Putting his input together with other information about ATS, I've compiled the most important things to avoid in order to optimize your resume for search.

1. Format: Do not submit a highly formatted resume electronically. Stick to a simple format or save your highly formatted resume as a .txt (ASCII) file. Most ATS will scramble tables, graphs, and graphics, defeating your purpose in presenting them. Take your beautiful, creative resume to the interview.

2. Keywords: Don't assume that it is enough to include the common keywords for your position, level, function, and industry or the ones in a job posting! Many ATS will identify as keywords the uncommon, unique-to-the-job-posting words or phrases in the job ad. This practice cuts down dramatically on the number of resumes retrieved for consideration by the hiring authority or recruiter.

3. Headings: Most ATS will only recognize the common headings: Work Experience or Professional Experience, Education, and sometimes Professional Summary. Eliminate creative headings such as "Career Highlights." 

4. Sections: Extra sections - that is, those that don't have the common titles listed in #3 - won't be stored. So if you have information essential to your application, such as certifications, community activities, publications etc., I suggest you include it under the Education heading.

5. Contact Information: Leave it out of the Header and Footer sections. Put it at the top of page one. And do include both home and mobile phone numbers if you have them.

6. Process: Don't paste your resume into a field online. Rather, upload it if given the opportunity. Chances are better that the formatting will remain intact with this method.

7. Acronyms & Abbreviations: Don't rely on acronyms alone. Include the full language. For instance, don't use USPs for "unique selling points." ATS should process common acronyms correctly, such as BA, MA, and MBA, but may not process other tech and business acronyms right.

8. Keyword Use: Newer ATS recognizes keywords in proper context within a sentence or word group. Don't rely solely on a keyword list. Let the job ad be your guide about which keywords to use in context. You may still want to provide a keyword list at the end of your resume under "Education" to cover the bases.

9. Source: Don't neglect to indicate where you heard about the job. ATS tracks sources and ranks some more highly than others, such as employee referrals over the big job boards.

10. Job Description: Don't forget that the ATS software will be searching for the descriptions of your jobs. Many people have been leaving that out in favor of just achievements. Time to put them back in!

If you are like a lot of people, you probably wish that the resume you worked so hard on to make visually attractive and easy to grasp would be seen on the first pass. Unfortunately, it isn't even seen on the second pass. The resume you submit to most large companies and many small-to-mid-sized ones gets mined for data that then populates fields on a form that the HR employee or recruiter sees (not your resume). Your resume may in fact only be seen at the time of an interview.

One further thought on length. If you need to go longer to adequately communicate what you've done and integrate keywords into context, go ahead. The software doesn't care!

 

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Topics: executive resumes, ATS, applicant tracking software, resume, resumes, IT executive resume, keywords

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