Category Archives: Resume

Hiring Handbook: When to Read Resumes

Every hiring manager has to read a stack of resumes at some point.  But it’s so easy to put off making time to read through them.  You put out a few fires, go to lunch and some meetings and boom, the day is done.

When the stack is still staring at you three days later, you finally relent and take it home.  After dinner, you settle in, find something good on Netflix and read resumes.

This is how important things get missed.  It’s not just that you are distracted.  At the end of a long day you are also tired.  It’s likely that you feeling pretty uninspired.  The sense that you could successfully onboard a new team member is not very high. Your ability to see candidates with potential or out of box skills is greatly diminished.

You go to bed feeling like there will never be any good candidates, have a crappy sleep and then bark at your colleagues the next day.

See how that works?

The best time to read resumes is at the beginning of the day.  You are fresh and open to possibilities.  When you see patterns or themes that work (or don’t work), you can take action.  Perhaps the job posting needs to be changed or the pre-screening questions need to be more comprehensive.

You have a much better chance of improving the process if you tackle the stack in the morning.  Block time in your calendar, grab a hot cup of coffee and get reading.  It won’t take a long as you think and you might be surprised with the results.

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Hiring Handbook: What to bring to an Interview

It does not matter what side of the table you sit on for your next interview, there are certain things you need to bring to look credible and interesting.

Hiring teams and candidates alike need to be prepared and ready to have a great conversation.  We know that candidates put a lot of energy into doing their research and preparing their stories.  It is important for hiring managers to do some pre-work as well.

Bring the job description and the candidate’s resume.  You may not need to refer to either during the conversation but you will have them handy.  Also, it means that you can give both at least a passing glance on your way to the interview room.  

Bring your coffee cup or water bottle only if you are prepared to offer the same to the candidate.  It will be awkward for your candidate to watch you chug away on your hazelnut flavoured latte with extra whip when they have nothing.

Bring some tissues in your pocket.  Nothing is worse than sniffing through an interview.  Also, if you have a tissue to hand to the other person, you look like a hero.

Bring a pen and something to write on.  Even if you don’t end up writing down, it is a sign of respect that you are prepared to jot down notes or questions.

Bring your phone to the meeting but only if it is on silent.  No fooling around on this one.  Having your phone chirp away during a conversation is distracting even if you manage to avoid looking at it (and that’s pretty hard to avoid).

One last thing:  leave your gum in your office.  Gum has a way of moving around while you are talking and frankly, it’s gross.  

These things may seem small, but they go a long way to setting the stage for a great conversation and that’s the goal right?

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Job Journey: How to Apply for a Job

There are lots of places to find jobs posted: LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed are just a few.  You can even look at company websites if you are specific companies in your sites.

Regardless of where you find the posting, the number one thing to do is to follow the instructions.

  • If you are asked to send your resume with a cover letter including your salary expectations, do that.
  • If you are asked to apply into their company site that is full of mandatory fields, do that.
  • If you are asked to use a particular reference number, do that too.

The posting is providing the gateway to the recruitment person or people.  They are not all robots even though sometimes it feels like they must be.  I know it seems like you are putting your information into a big, black hole but that is the most direct way of getting your resume into the pile for consideration.

You can help it get to the top part of the pile by making sure you have at least half of the requirements in the posting on your resume, preferably on the first page.

Feel free to be creative (but truthful).  When a posting asks for a designation, you can say P.Eng (in process) or CHRL (will be complete in April).  That allows you to rank high in the results even though you don’t exactly meet the requirement.

Similarly if you are asked for salary information in your cover letter, you can provide a wide range with some commentary.  For example, you could say “I am looking for 70-120k depending on the base, bonus, benefits and opportunities for growth”.  You have answered the question without hemming yourself in.

People do actually get jobs by applying to a posting. It is an important part of the job seeking process.

There are many alternate ways to show your interest in a company/role/opportunity and those will be covered in the coming weeks.

 

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Job Journey: Where to Park Your Resume

Now that your resume is refreshed and polished and you have it stored in a safe and accessible spot, you have a few more decisions to make.

You can choose to make your information available to hiring managers and recruiters or you can hold on to it until someone asks.

This really depends on how you are feeling about the next step in your career.  Are you actively seeking a change, open to considering a change or not wanting to change at all?  

If you are completely blissed out in your role, then hold on to your resume.  Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date so people (former colleagues, fellow alumni) can find you but other than that, keep on keeping on.

If you are open to hearing about new possibilities, you should definitely update your LinkedIn profile but you might also want to look at registering with Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster or other niche resume holding sites.

This allows people in the recruiting community to find your information and get in touch with you.  It’s up to you to decide which inquiries you want to act on and where you want to invest your time.

Make sure your personal (not work) email and phone number are clearly visible on your information.  There is no point in having it out there if there is no way to contact you.

If you are actively seeking a new gig, decide which sites make the most sense for your career and objectives.  Monster and LinkedIn have become the universal, everyone-is-there spots but many professional associations host their own career sites and there are also sites for people who are just starting their career (Talentegg) or well established executives (Higherbracket).

Be sensible about where you put your material.  You don’t want to wallpaper the world.  You want to be in the place that will generate the most opportunities.

 

 

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Job Journey: Resume Ready and Available

Now that your resume is ready to go and represents you in the best possible way, what will you do with it?

You could print a bunch of copies and carry them around with you. We carry coffee and water, why not resumes? Most people want you to send your resume. They don’t want to carry it around any more than you do.

There was a time when people carried little USB sticks with their resume saved on them. That still works but not great in practical terms. I have seen the tupperware that gets left in our canteen and using that as a baseline, I don’t think many people can or will keep track of a tiny little memory chip.

How about your phone? That works until you lose it or it falls in the toilet or dies just when you need it.

The simplest thing is to email the various versions of your resume to your own personal (not work!) email address. Then when you need it, you can sift through your inbox and forward the attachment with a nice note.

If you want a more robust (but still free) solution, set up a cloud folder. Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud all offer free places to store your stuff in the cloud. You can access if from any laptop or desktop or from your phone if you install the app.

This lets you save the various versions or the modifications you make along the way. You could even start a log of your resume sending activities for follow up later.

But that’s for another day. For now, just work on getting your resume ready and having it handy.

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Job Journey:  Resume Fonts, Formats and File Types

Your resume represents you and your years of hard work.   Make sure it looks great and is easy to read.

We all have hundreds of fonts and colours at our disposal.  Pick something crisp and clean.  Only a small percentage of people will print your resume.  Most will view it on a screen.  It might be a huge desktop monitor or it might be their phone.  You want to minimize any kind of curlicues or super- decorative stuff that won’t translate well to a small screen.

Pay attention special characters as well.  Straight forward bullets are fine but arrows and other fancy indentation markers can get mangled when they are opened in different formats.

Laying your education or career highlights out in boxes can be problematic as well.  If you resume is parsed (translated) by an applicant tracking system, it will frequently make a total mess of non-text elements.

Arranging your content vertically as opposed to horizontally can change how a search engine will find you.  Once your resume has been sucked into a company applicant system, recruiters use keywords to help sift through the database.  Where those keywords are on the page will help determine where your resume falls in comparison to others.

For example, if I use “MBA” as a keyword, the first resumes that I see when I search will have MBA at the top of the page.  If an unsuspecting candidate decided to put their hard-earned MBA in a cool box down the side of the page, the search engine might put that resume way further down the list.

There are many roles and organizations where having a cool or graphic or more creative resume makes sense.  In that case, save it as a pdf.  Most MS Word versions offer this as an option when you save a file.

A pdf is great because it will always look the way it did on your screen no matter who opens it.

There are couple of other file types to keep in mind.  If you are dumping your resume into a company website, you will likely be asked for a “text” version.  This is where all your special characters (like bullets) will get ugly. It makes sense to make a special text version and save it so you have it ready.

And there is nothing wrong with having a good old MS Word version.  It is easy to change on the fly when someone asks for it and you need a quick update.

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Job Journey – Making your Resume Stand Out

Now that your resume has the basic elements (background, education and experience), you can have some freedom to decide what else you want to include.

Hobbies

If you participate in a sport or extracurricular activity, you can definitely include it on the second or final page of your resume.  These help to demonstrate the type of person you are and the things you care about.  For example, you might finished marathons or triathlons or coached a little league baseball team.  Each of them illustrates your character and your ability to set aside time to invest in these pursuits.

I wanted to include French cooking and ironing but, just because I spend time doing the task does not warrant valuable space on my resume.

Community and Volunteering

These activities are also good demonstrations of your values – especially if they happen to align with a hiring manager.  The only caveat is to make sure that the information is real, recent and referable.

Running the stairs of the CN Tower is one thing. Helping to organize your company team to sign up, train, raise money and then participate, that’s the real value.  That’s what will get recognized.

The experience should be recent.  If you sat on the PTA when your child was in elementary school and that same child just graduated with a PhD , that does not count.  If you don’t have something recent, leave it out.

You will be hard pressed to use a volunteer colleague as a reference but you never know who they know. It’s a small world.  If you are going to put a role, paid or otherwise, on your resume, you better be prepared for someone to ask direct questions about it.

That covers most of the content. Next week, we will look at fonts, formats and graphics.

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