Resume

Hiring Managers: LinkedIn Profiles are Not Resumes!

By: Elias Cobb, National Recruiting Manager

I want to briefly address an issue I have seen from a variety of companies; this comes from direct observation and from feedback from candidates.

Here’s the issue: A candidate submits a resume to an employer.  Employer sees resumes, looks at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, and for some reason decides the information on LinkedIn is more accurate or relevant than the information on the resume.  Employer rejects candidate based on assumptions gleaned from LinkedIn profile (not enough experience in X, etc), or because the LinkedIn profile doesn’t match the resume.

So, to any hiring manager who might do this, please keep in mind:  LinkedIn profiles are not resumes!!  People cannot put EVERYTHING they have ever done on their profile.  What people do is put out a general idea of what they have done, and the projects they have covered.  Many people do a terrible job of updating their profile when they switch jobs.  They might not have end dates.  They might not have their most recent title change.  But that doesn’t mean they’re being dishonest.  They put their most recent info in their resume, where it belongs.  They probably tailored the resume to fit the job for which they were applying, which might not be exactly the same as LinkedIn.  That doesn’t mean they’re lying; it actually shows more attention to detail and interest in your job and company!  They took the time to highlight specific skills and duties in the resume they sent to you!  Wouldn’t you think that’s a good thing, instead of something to punish?

In fact, even if there are employers missing on LinkedIn that are present on the resume, or the dates don’t match, I wouldn’t use that to reject the candidate.  Why not bring it up in the interview?  See what the candidate says, and then determine how you feel.  Again, a resume is designed to tell you about the candidate and their skills, and LinkedIn is for networking.

Never, Ever Pay Someone To Write Your Resume

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

In my opinion as an IT recruiter with almost 15 years of experience, you should never pay anyone to write your resume (Laszlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google agrees, in a recent blog). I suppose there could be some reason where it would make sense….but the vast majority of the time, don’t do it! You’d probably be better off buying lottery tickets. The Powerball jackpot is pretty high right now, I believe.

There are a few reasons why. Most people (in my experience) who pay someone to write their resume are unemployed and have been unemployed long enough to be getting desperate. Generally speaking, those folks probably have less disposable income than others and really shouldn’t spend it on a service they can easily get for free.

I’ve helped probably thousands of people with resumes in my career, and almost without fail, the ones that are the worst came from resume writing services. It’s not necessarily that the resume itself was THAT bad. It’s that the resumes from services are generally far out of touch with what hiring managers want to see.

What’s so wrong with these resumes, you may ask?

First, virtually all resumes from resume services tend to be in “functional” format. This is the format where all the candidate’s experiences are grouped under sub-headings at the top of the resume and their job history is listed out in one line entries below, with no mention of actual job duties at each position. IT hiring managers (at least the ones I’ve worked with) hate those kinds of resumes and I suspect many others in other industries do as well. Inevitably if we submit a functional resume, the manager asks us for a chronological version, one in which the candidate’s duties and experiences are listed (bullet points are best) under each job where they were performed. Managers want to see what you did at each job so they know when you last used a skill. A functional resume leads managers to believe that you may be trying to mask that you haven’t recently worked with the relevant skills for their position.

Image Credit: MyOptimalCareer

Image Credit: MyOptimalCareer

Second, and slightly related to the first point, the functional resumes often leave out the technical skills, accomplishments and quantifiable information that managers like to see. Hiring managers like numbers. They want to see the size of environment you worked in, how many people you managed, how large of a budget you managed, etc.

Third, I still see resumes from services where someone with 10+ years of experience has everything crammed onto one page. The days of one page resumes are dead and gone. They were dead and gone when Y2K came and went. Stop trying to get 15 years of experience onto one page. You’ll leave way too much out.

Fourth, and finally, as we’re all aware, many companies use online application systems where you have to manually enter your skills and jobs into the system (see my blog lamenting the loss of the human touch in hiring). I’ve yet to see one that is set up “functionally.” That is, one that would allow you to free-form enter all your skills at the top and then enter a bunch of one line entries for your employment history. More often, at least in the ones I’ve seen, they ask for your employer, title, date of employment and then have a text section when you enter what you did for that employer. If your resume is in functional format, you will have to basically reinvent your chronological resume when filling out that sort of application system.

So, for all of you who need help with your resume; what do you do? You need a good, solid chronological resume that can be easily manipulated for each job for which you apply. You want your core skills, main experiences and greatest accomplishments on there. Then, you want to be able to quickly add in relevant skills (no one can put everything they’ve ever done in a resume) each time you apply for a different job. Customize your skills summaries and emphasize the things that are most prominently mentioned in the job. Still struggling with it, or want some feedback? Find a few recruiters who specialize in your specific area (IT, finance & accounting, legal, etc.), form a relationship with some you trust and ask them for help. A good recruiter will help you craft a solid resume. If they blow you off, they’re not a good recruiter. They may not reply instantly that day, but good recruiters understand the value of making connections, and even if they can’t place you, recruiters with the long view will have no problem helping you out.

And it’ll be free.

Yes, you can email me, and I will help you with your resume. It’s what I do. 🙂

How To Overcome Computer Screening And Get The Job!

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services

Computer screening of candidates is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Convincing large corporations do away with the perceived efficiencies and cost savings is as daunting as trying to “put toothpaste back in the tube,” as mentioned by my colleague. Or to use yet another analogy, it’s like trying to swallow an elephant whole. I, however, am here to tell you there is hope!

You can put the toothpaste back in that tube – all it takes is time and creativity. You can eat a whole elephant – it takes time and you’ll need to cut it into bite sized pieces – but you can do it! Likewise, it may take extra time and creativity, but there are things you can do in your job search to help you overcome the disadvantages inadvertently created by the overuse of computer screening.

Image Credit: Sylva Acupuncture & Wellness

Image Credit: Sylva Acupuncture & Wellness

  • Don’t rely on job boards. Relying on the job boards almost guarantees you’ll go into the black hole of computer screening. Job boards are a great place to do research on what types of positions are available at a particular company, but are a terrible place to actually get a job. Identify companies you’re interested in, research them on the job boards and then network.
  • Network. If you don’t have a network, now would be a great time to start creating one. Networking is the best way to get a job. LinkedIn is a great networking tool for both staying in contact with people and for finding connections into that company you identified. Ask them out for coffee and pick their brain about your target companies. They may know someone. 
  • Pick up the phone. Email is overused and easy to ignore or delete. When reaching out to people in your network or hiring managers, don’t over-rely on email. Pick up the phone and call the person. You’ll likely get voicemail, but that gives you the opportunity to both leave a message and then send an email. Be persistent – if they don’t respond after three days, try them again. Persistence is required and usually rewarded.
  • Treat your resume like a proposal. When submitting your resume, tailor it to the position for which you are applying. Use their terminology and highlight those skills and experiences that apply to the job. This means taking some extra time and rewriting portions of your resume each time you apply for a position. It will go a long way to helping you stand out from the crowd and may help you successfully navigate the computer screening problem.
  • Go old school – send handwritten thank you cards. After meeting or interviewing with someone, send them an old fashioned handwritten thank you card. Again, email is overused and easy to ignore or delete. A handwritten thank you card will get you noticed.
  • Celebrate small victories. Finding a job can be exhausting and frustrating. Whether you like it or not, you have become a sales person and you are selling yourself. Successful sales people celebrate the small victories to help keep motivated. Break down the job hunting process into small steps and celebrate along the way.

The impersonal nature of computer screening is annoying, but think of it as an opportunity to set yourself apart. While all those other candidates are unwittingly wasting their time submitting resumes through job boards, you’re meeting people and making progress towards finding that perfect job. It may feel like you’re trying to put toothpaste back in the tube, or swallow an elephant whole, but you can do it!

 

What You’re Doing Wrong In Your Job Search – Part I

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

This will be the first installment in addressing some of the glaring deficiencies in so many job searches I see candidates conducting. This part will address finding the open jobs and sending in resumes.

So you’ve been looking for a new job. Maybe it’s because you’re out of work, or maybe it’s because you don’t like your current job. And you’ve had some interviews, but not as many as you’d like. What’s wrong? Well, employers ARE being very selective these days; as selective as I’ve ever seen. It’s understandable; the costs of a bad hire are very, very high, and no manager needs that on their record. Here are some tips – and yes, all of these come from actual experience (resumes and job search strategies) I have seen in my 14-year recruiting career.

1) You’re only utilizing one method to find open jobs. 

Yes, I know…everyone says networking with your peers and friends is the best way to find a job. I do agree. However, I wouldn’t have had a job for the last 14 years and the IT staffing industry wouldn’t exist if you couldn’t get a job using a recruiter or on a job board. Just don’t ONLY use job boards or recruiters. You have to do all three things, and more, to find that great job. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I also recommend joining pertinent networking groups (both online and in-person) and calling in to companies for whom you’d like to work. There are forward-thinking companies that will make hires if they find the right person, even if a job isn’t “officially” open. One way of finding good in-person networking groups is Meetup.com. It’s not just for meeting singles or joining a book club. There are a lot of excellent job-related and skill-related meet-ups.

2) You’re sending the same old, tired resume for every job.

Your resume needs to speak to each job individually. Managers are combing through resumes, not only for grammar and spelling errors, but to make sure the skills they need are reflected on the resume. You probably can’t get every skill you have

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

on your “standard” resume, so make sure you look over the job description very closely, and make sure ALL OF YOUR RESUME aligns with it. That means your objective, your skills summary and your work experience section. Just adding a couple of keywords to your skills summary isn’t good enough. I also recommend a “Selected Achievements” section where you can point out some of the ways in which you have gone above and beyond or spearheaded (or participated on) a project that was high-profile or saved/earned your employer money.

3) Your resume doesn’t show the hiring manager how you will make the company more profitable and his/her job easier.

Just showing that you have all the skills the job description lists isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate why you’re the best choice within all the candidates who also have those skills. This means highlighting projects with which you saved an employer money, projects where you took initiative, ways in which you are constantly striving to better your skills, etc. This can be by taking additional classes, going for certifications, showing career growth at an employer, volunteering in a relevant field and more.  For software developers, for example, there are open source projects online that you can participate in. This shows your employer that you have a passion and drive for your job and that you take the time outside of work to hone your craft. 

4) You aren’t doing your homework.

I’ll address this as it pertains to interviews in a future post, but it also applies to finding the job openings and applying. First of all, you need to keep a close eye on the business news. There will be mentions of companies expanding, opening new offices, getting new rounds of funding, etc., and those are the companies you want to target. Don’t wait for a job posting. Look them up on the Internet and on LinkedIn and find some hiring managers and call them directly! This shows drive and initiative right from the start. Secondly, many open jobs never see the “light of day,” meaning there’s never an actual job posting on the Internet. Managers have a need, they mention it to their team, they get a referral and make a hire. If you’re looking for a job, make sure you talk with everyone you know and make sure they understand what you do and why they would want to recommend you to their boss. Additionally, many jobs go to recruiting agencies and might be on a corporate website, but are never out there for easy access. That means also cultivating a relationship with a few recruiters whom you trust. Make sure they always share the client name with you and take the time to get to know you and your skills and what kinds of jobs and companies you are targeting. And finally, so many people do all the upfront work, but then never adjust their resume to reflect the company’s business, industry or culture. This should be reflected in your resume’s objective, but also in your employment history – talk about any relevant experience you have to that particular company’s line of business or industry.

I guess the bottom line with all of these points is that too many people are simply lazy in their job search. They don’t want to do the legwork up front with networking, doing research and making calls, and they don’t want to take 30 minutes to tailor a resume to a job. So if you really want to make an impression and maximize your opportunities, don’t be lazy!

Two Things You Need To Do On LinkedIn

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager 

This will be a quick posting. It came about as I heard about a company doing some downsizing and I was thinking about all those people frantically updating their resumes and (hopefully) their LinkedIn profiles.

  1. Connect with your peers and managers VERY shortly after starting any new position. I’d say within the first week. One issue I’ve seen is when people switch jobs, either by their own volition or as a result of a downsizing, restructuring, or the like, is they lose track of their managers. The problem is, when you are suddenly let go, with little or no warning, it can be too late to connect with all the managers to whom you’ve reported. Now, when your next potential employer is asking for references, you may not have your last manager’s current contact information. If you’re connected, as they move companies (and you do as well) you can access their current contact information through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to make sure you can contact former managers and peers to ask for references, if you need them. I don’t know too many people who go in and actively remove connections – it definitely happens, but if you had a good working relationship with someone, they’re likely to keep you as a connection.

    Image Credit: Myrland Marketing

    Image Credit: Myrland Marketing

  2. As you pick up new skills, and more importantly, finish big projects or receive accolades, add them to your LinkedIn profile. If you’re with a company more than a year or so, you’re likely to learn some new skills. Don’t wait until you’re on the way out to try and remember what they are and when you learned them. Get them on your profile. The same thing goes for big projects. If you’re laid off three years down the road, you may not remember the details of that big project you finished in your first year on the job. Those kinds of accomplishments are exactly the types of things managers love to see on a resume or LinkedIn profile.

In short, my recommendation is to treat your LinkedIn profile as a sort of “working resume,” something you update consistently and constantly as your managers, peers and job responsibilities change. It’s one less thing you will have to worry about if you are ever forced to look for a new job unexpectedly.

Resume Writing Tips For IT Executives

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services

Crafting a quality resume is not an easy task, especially if you have hung up your technical skills and moved into the management ranks. As an IT executive, how do you effectively communicate your expertise and skills to a hiring manager, search firm or recruiter? Now that you’re no longer ‘technical,’ what do you include in your resume? You have 20 plus years of experience – if you include everything, your resume will turn into a Russian novel – what do you exclude? Here are a few tips regarding resume best practices for IT executives:

1) Overall Format. Resumes for IT executives should follow the typical format – objective, summary, job history and education. The difference is in the type of information you include in each of these sections. For example, in the summary you shouldn’t focus on your past technical skills. Instead, mention your areas of expertise from a higher level. For a software development manager, it might be implementing the Agile methodology or moving all software development from J2EE to .NET. For infrastructure support managers, it might be implementing ITIL or managing a major systems upgrade. Either way, focus on the big picture and emphasize your leadership skills.

2) Qualify and Quantify Your Experience. Hiring managers, search firms and recruiters want to know not only what you’ve done, but the size of your experience. Being an executive at a 20-person company is very different than a 10,000-person company. Be specific about the size of your experience. Under each job listed on your resume, qualify and quantify your experience by including the number of direct/indirect reports, the size of your budget and the size of your responsibilities.

Image Credit: Free Resume Builder

Image Credit: Free Resume Builder

3) Describe the Technical Environment. Even though you are no longer a hands-on technical professional, it’s still important to communicate your technical prowess from a management perspective. Do this by including a technical environment subsection under each of your previous jobs. This provides the reader with a better understanding of your technical knowledge, but doesn’t give the impression that you are able or want to return to being a hands-on technical professional.

4) Focus on Accomplishments. In the summary section, briefly mention two or three big accomplishments. In the job history section, go into more detail regarding these accomplishments and add a few smaller accomplishments. Don’t forget to qualify and quantify each one. How big was the team? How many systems were impacted? How important were those systems? How many users were impacted? How much money did you save the company?

5) Size Matters. Some IT executives try to limit themselves to one or two pages. If you have enough experience to be an executive, there is no way you can adequately cover your expertise and skills in a mere two pages. With that said, I don’t want you to go to the other extreme and create a resume requiring a table of contents. As with all things, there is a happy medium and that happy medium is five pages. Remember, however, that you should still limit yourself to only the information that is necessary to get your point across. If you can get your point across in three or four pages, that’s better than five – but don’t leave important information out of your resume either.

6) Think of Your Resume as a Proposal. Stop thinking of your resume as a recitation of your professional life. Instead, think of it as a proposal. Before you submit your resume, take the time to carefully read the job description, research the company and research the company’s leadership. Pay particular attention to the language they use in the job advertisement, the company website and leadership’s LinkedIn profiles. Incorporate this language into your resume. Don’t be dishonest about your expertise and skills, but do your best to decipher what they are interested in and then tweak your resume to focus on some of those areas.

Creating an effective resume is not easy for anyone. It will probably cause you some frustration and angst. Incorporate the tips mentioned above, use spell check, ask a few friends for feedback, then get out there and find that perfect executive-level position! Happy job hunting!

Honesty Is The Best Policy

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

I’m not sure why some people, recruiters and candidates alike, think it’s a good idea to falsify information on a resume. I’m not talking about just inflating your skills a little (I’ll address that later). I’m talking about flatly making things up! It’s not a good idea!

Recently I have seen resumes that range from vaguely misleading to downright dishonest when it comes to college degrees and certifications. Candidates will list things like “BS Computer Science program, XYZ University.” I can only assume they are trying to slip past the first line of screening and get to the interview phase. The problem with this lies in the fact that many employers will verify education. Now, it’s true this person didn’t say they HAD a degree. However, the resume was very misleading, and the HR person or manager may FEEL tricked at some point in the process, and that can only lead to bad consequences for the candidate. I recommend not having the letters BS or BA anywhere in your education section unless you actually possess a degree! If you want to list that you have taken some classes, great! Just list the name of the university or college under education on your resume, but don’t list any sort of program or degree. I recently saw a resume that actually said BS on it when no degree had been completed. Obviously that’s a terrible idea, even if a recruiter tells you to do it!

Image Credit: Brilliant

Image Credit: Brilliant

As far as certifications go, I’ve had candidates run into trouble when they listed certs on their resume that were expired. The client interviewed the candidate, then checked into their cert. When they discovered no record of the candidate being currently certified, they felt they had been lied to. That ended the candidate’s chances at that job, even though they HAD the certification in the past. If you want to list an expired certification, great! Make sure you put “expired” next to it, like this: CCNA (expired). That way you can demonstrate that you have had a certification, but the employer is aware, up front, that it has expired.

As far as inflating skills and duties goes, I know it’s a tricky situation. You definitely need to brag about yourself on your resume. You need to make very clear what you have done, what you are capable and where your strengths are. Some people don’t do this well enough. Some people go a little overboard and take sole credit for group projects, for example. Or they list every technology at the company when they really didn’t utilize them all. This is OK as long as you portray your skills accurately right off the bat in the interview. Otherwise as soon as the technical questions start flying, you will fail spectacularly and in embarrassing fashion.

So please, tell the truth on your resume and save yourself and the company time.