Posts Tagged job

Reason #1 for resume rejection

When interacting with people looking for jobs over the years, frustration with the entire process always comes up in the conversation. Usually, those getting zero to minimal response rate on their job applications are understandably the most irritated. Some seem mystified and oblivious to potential causes and others automatically assume they know exactly why they aren’t getting called.

While there are always multiple factors in play, one of the most obvious culprits of lack of positive attention is a flawed resume. Despite numerous reports suggesting resumes are dead, they still tend to be almost universally required as a first step in applying for a job across the majority of the business world.

Rejected Image Credit

I’ve often stated that approximately 95% of the resumes I’ve seen could benefit from some form of improvement. Perhaps that figure sounds extreme, but the reason it is so high is that I truly believe (as do many others) that a resume is intended to serve as the best possible first impression a person can make to a prospective employer.

Some people have told me that my standards are too harsh and that it is unfair to judge someone’s entire career from a single document. That opinion may seem reasonable on the surface, but delve into what it represents from a business standpoint to see if it holds true. Let’s consider that a person applying for a professional level job is expected to demonstrate the following in order to be eligible for an interview:

  • Ability to communicate professionally both verbally and in writing with one’s target audience
  • Attention to detail and concern for quality in work-related physical documents or electronic content
  • Comprehension of proper word usage, verb tense, grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting when producing business-oriented correspondence

The above is an extremely limited list and doesn’t even get into actual hard skills, technical abilities and specific job related experience, training and education. Unfortunately, if lacking, the components listed are precisely the items that will undermine otherwise qualified candidates’ ability to convey their competence in their field.

The reality is, even if not explicitly expressed in the above manner, most occupations require a person to have a reasonable grasp of basic communication skills. If there is any doubt created in a person’s best first impression introduction message such as their resume, cover letter or even online profile, they will miss more opportunities than they will ever know.

Stubborn job seekers prefer to make assumptions about all sorts of possible reasons they aren’t getting any calls. Of course, in some rare cases, there could be some room for blame beyond a badly constructed resume.

But many people just prefer making excuses and speculating about how evil applicant tracking systems, discriminatory HR representatives and biased recruiters are at fault and show no willingness to hold themselves accountable for presenting a positive image. Instead of taking an objective view at how it is perceived when they fail to submit something worthy of being considered for their target job, these job seekers are the primary source of their own aggravation.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net 

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20 questions for your job search

The following are some of the most common “tips” or topics seen in the job search advice arena. Which do you believe are true or false and why?

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True or False Statements:

1)      No one will hire you if any of your Facebook photos contain alcohol

2)      Since it’s practically required to have your photo on LinkedIn, you should also include one on your resume

3)      Hiring companies always prefer candidates that have a blog

4)      You will differentiate yourself by submitting a video resume

5)      Cover letters are never read and won’t do you any good

6)      Handwritten post-interview thank-you notes help you become a top candidate

7)      Being active on social media proves you have advanced technology skills

8)      Your “digital footprint” (ultra stupid term) is more valuable than your resume

9)      If you have inconsistent work history, you must use a functional resume

10)   Hiring managers will be impressed with your infographic resume

11)   You need to build and maintain a consistent brand across all of your social media profiles

12)   You should share industry articles with hiring managers after your interviews

13)   If you don’t get a response after applying online you should call the company to speak with the hiring manager

14)   Candidate with highest Klout score should always be top choice

15)   If you get laid off, you should put “looking for new XYZ position” on your LinkedIn headline

16)   Job seekers 40+ years old never get interviewed because hiring companies discriminate

17)   You should do a lot of research before your interview so you can tell the company how you will fix their problems

18)   Contacting a lot of recruiters will help you get hired faster

19)   It makes sense to apply for jobs when you meet 50% of listed criteria

20)   Always circumvent HR because they never want anyone qualified to get hired

Answers:

1)      False – though there’s no need to leave your privacy settings wide-open if you fear your happy hour happenings might be mis-judged

2)      False – keep your resume focused on your career qualifications unless your appearance is pertinent to the type of work you do (modeling, acting)

3)      False – most people involved in hiring aren’t spending their spare time scouring the Internet to find new blogs – caveat: unless blogging is what you are employed to do

4)      False – don’t expect people to click the link, wait for the video to load/play and then watch your show – caveat: unless visual presentation/public speaking matters in your occupation

5)      False – not everyone cares about cover letters, but unless you know your recipient’s preference best of take advantage of the opportunity to communicate additional information

6)      False – while not entirely unheard of, whether typed or handwritten thank-you notes rarely influence opinions enough to make a difference in being added to the short list

7)      False – considering you are amidst billions of other people on the planet also active on social media, don’t expect special attention

8)      False – it might be concerning if there is no sign of you whatsoever online, but the vast majority of employers still rely heavily on traditional resumes to evaluate prospective hires

9)      False – if your employment history is in such a state that a functional resume seems necessary, you most likely need to apply for jobs where a resume isn’t required at all

10)   False – unless you are pursuing work where your graphic creativity is pertinent, at best a hiring manager might think your document is cute

11)   False – whether personal or professional, all you really need to keep in mind is: what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet

12)   False – aside from sending something that was requested, don’t add any uninvited extra mail (spam) to anyone’s inbox

13)   False – be patient and keep in mind most companies have a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” screening process and your extra eager attitude might get you noticed for the wrong reasons

14)   False – with limited exceptions, your Klout, Kred, EA, follower count or any other measurement score might be interesting, but rarely connected to hiring decisions

15)   False – your LinkedIn headline space should be maximized to express what others – your target audience – need to know about you professionally

16)   False – some claims of discrimination are valid, yet practically all employers desire the most qualified person for the position to be hired regardless of demographic attributes

17)   False – you should research available information in order to be prepared and informed, though it might be presumptuous to suggest you know how to fix internal problems

18)   False – companies hire based on qualifications, recruiters may facilitate portions of the process, but their loyalty is to the company/client not candidates

19)   False – at a minimum, you should strive to meet at least 90% of the required experience and background criteria being sought

20)   False – it is in HR’s interest to serve the company’s interest in attracting and selecting the best qualified person for each open position

Many of these topics or statements may produce an “it depends” reaction and the example answers are not intended to be a full explanation of every possible situation where certain actions may or may not make sense.

What do you agree or disagree with on the above list?  

Article by Kelly Blokdijk – As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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Follow this advice to knock yourself out of consideration for a job

While a best-selling author with a history of 35 years in career management is clearly not an easy target for critique, I feel I must call out the obvious negative reaction this blog’s advice could bring if followed. From what I gather, the intent of this information is to aid experienced job applicants  in addressing presumed ageist perceptions or alleged age-bias in interviews.

However, it appears to be coming from a very misguided and perhaps out-of-touch with a real life recruiting and selection mentality of our modern, global, diversity-centered world of work. Have a look: http://blog.knockemdead.com/2013/01/age-discriminationhow-to-fight-age-bias.html

Of course any and all of us will readily acknowledge the unfortunate existence of biased and exclusionary hiring practices that still persist despite the dominance of a more evolved population in the workforce. Aside from isolated anecdotal incidents, most of can only speculate and guess about the extent to which discriminatory decision making is taking place on any scale.

I personally find focus on assumptive accusations of this happening to be overblown and exaggerated. The reason I say that is I believe (and have plenty of objective external evidence to support) that most companies strive to attract and retain top talent regardless of any demographic factors related to discrimination that get publicized by the media and perpetuated by the general public.

As I read through these recommendations, I recoiled in horror at how obnoxious a candidate would sound if they actually expressed the sentiments suggested here. The first thing that stands out is the setting for these recommendations is at the end of a face-to-face interview. Or, if you read to the end of the article, the author recommends interspersing these golden gems throughout the interview conversation.

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An initial problem I see with this is approach is: why after passing through a resume review, initial phone screen or other preliminary candidate evaluation and eventually making it to the in-person interview phase with a hiring manager, would the candidate assume the company or its representatives has any intention of discriminating against said candidate? Talk about having a chip on your shoulder!

The next problem that stands out is the unfortunate choice of vocabulary the candidate is advised to use to point out their age, seasoning, years of experience and other non job-related characteristics. If the goal is to emphasize one’s exceptional qualifications, relevant achievements and drive for successful job performance, why in the world is the author suggesting the candidate call attention to anything distracting or detracting from that message?

Under no circumstances can I imagine it being well-received for a candidate to announce: “I just turned ___ (years old).”  When I saw this it made me think of a toddler holding up the number of fingers equivalent to their age, not a business person I would want to hire – for ANY job!

A remark along the lines of: “That gives me ___ years experience in the profession and ___ years experience doing exactly what needs to be done in the job”  is more likely to come off as condescending and arrogant than confident and accomplished.

If you tell me you have ___ years experience tying your shoes does that make you more qualified than anyone that has 1, 2, 5, 20 fewer years doing the same? No. It just makes you sound pompous, clueless and set in your ways of doing whatever task for however long – most likely the same exact way for that entire duration of time without any examples of incentive to keep improving.

Moving along after a few additional reinforcements of the above, the candidate is told to say: “hire another thirty-something and you know that she will constantly be haggling for promotions and possibly your job, and will probably be gone in four years… even if I retired at 65 you’d still have me ___ times as long as someone younger.” The extreme wrongness of this entire concept shouldn’t need any further explanation or interpretation.  Holy inappropriate comment, Batman!

It continues full speed downhill from that atrocious abomination with: “Experience has given me the maturity and understanding to know that when I do my job well, I make my boss’s job easier. Most younger candidates don’t know this…” Curious, at what point does one arrive at this mature, experienced conclusive understanding? Sixteen, 23, 38, 57…?

Finally, let’s drag out a few more wisdom filled clichés, shall we?: “I will bring balance to the team, if all your customers/clients are in their twenties, most will be reassured by my maturity, plus I naturally resonate with older customers because of the experience and maturity I offer.” Apparently, maturity is the magic mojo for all customer needs! Who knew?

Whether I was interviewing this person as a recruiter, HR person, hiring manager or innocent bystander, I can assure you I would be anything but reassured or feeling resonated with after hearing any proclamations of this sort. Not only would person fail at impressing me as a candidate, they would succeed at insulting and offending every possible category of coworker or customer they may encounter.

For someone to take the tactic of positioning him/herself as superior to other candidates by reinforcing the age-based depictions they claim to be avoiding is pathetic and frankly could be construed as that person harboring their own discriminatory attitudes. Not a good strategy and not a way to influence a hiring decision in your favor.

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, compelling, customized communication materials to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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May 2013 bring mantis-like mindfulness

It’s been a rough few years for many people in my life. I’m hoping 2013 brings much needed luck to all of us. 

As I was coming back into the house from the backyard today, I spotted this praying mantis at the base of my patio door. I’ve never seen one in person before and wasn’t even sure what it was. There were a few dead leaves and dried twigs in the area, so it almost blended right in.

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Along with the ability to camouflage itself into the surroundings, in some cultures praying mantis are believed to be a sign of good fortune. While I’m not a superstitious person and don’t pay much attention signs or symbolism, I found the following article rather comforting for these troubling times.

http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-mantis.html

Praying Mantis Meanings in the Realms of Animal Symbolism

 

The mantis comes to us when we need peace, quiet and calm in our lives. Usually the mantis makes an appearance when we’ve flooded our lives with so much business, activity, or chaos that we can no longer hear the still small voice within us because of the external din we’ve created.

 

After observing this creature for any length of time you can see why the symbolism of the praying mantis deals with stillness and patience. The mantis takes her time, and lives her life at her own silent pace.

 

A quick-list of praying mantis symbolism:

  • Stillness
  • Awareness
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Mindful
  • Calm
  • Balance
  • Intuition

These traits have lead the mantis to be a symbol of meditation and contemplation. In fact, in China, the mantis has long been honored for her mindful movements.

 

The mantis never makes a move unless she is 100% positive it is the right thing for her to do. This is a message to us to contemplate and be sure our minds and souls all agree together about the choices we are making in our lives.

 

Overwhelmingly in most cultures the mantis is a symbol of stillness. As such, she is an ambassador from the animal kingdom giving testimony to the benefits of meditation, and calming our minds.

 

An appearance from the mantis is a message to be still, go within, meditate, get quite and reach a place of calm. It may also a sign for you to be more mindful of the choices you are making and confirm that these choices are congruent.

 

Wishing you much peace and prosperity in 2013. 

~ Kelly Blokdijk

@TalentTalks 

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