Attention HR and Interviewees: Great Behavioural Interview Questions

I have some wonderful clients. Once client, let's call her Monique, stays in touch and sends me random info or updates. She is a true networker. Her name stays in my mind even though it's been about two years since I revamped her job search documents.

Last week she sent a LinkedIin message to share an interesting new group. You'll find it at www.disrupthr.co. I've long said that the recruitment process is broken and this group is setting out to improve recruitment. I'll see if I can join one of the sessions in the future, out of curiousity.

And then Monique shared with me a site she found with great samples of interview questions. Meant for the recruiter, they are excellent behavioural questions. And, I can actually see how someone being interviewed could use this info to his or her benefit, which I will be sharing with interview coaching clients.

You'll find the list at this URL: http://www.va.gov/pbi/questions.asp

Empowering All Through Career Management

The photo is one of me, conquering my fear of heights while scaling Mount Benson in Nanaimo, B.C. Although that time I didn't make it to the top, I did make it a third of the way up and one day I WILL make it to the top, and back down again. It's the return that is scariest as that's when you see how high you are and how far you can fall. But I am determined.

Today a LinkedIn connection, Sunitha Narayanan, a Career Coach based in Cinncinati, challenged me to reply to a question posed on LinkedIn. She wrote:

"So, I am borrowing the ice bucket challenge concept and calling out to Linda Tefend, CMF, Morgan O'Donnell. Katherine (Kit) Prendergast and Stephanie Clark BA, MCRS, MRW to respond to the What If Wednesday post by PROMARK Company. Ladies, I am counting on you! Thanks."

And I replied:

"I love TED talks - what an honour that would be and how lovely to daydream about this "What if" scenario! Thank you Sunitha Narayanan!

I would talk about career management - resume, tracking accomplishments, specific tactics to take at work, interviewing - the whole kit and caboodle of proactively, honestly, authentically, whole-heartedly managing one's career.

No tricks, no pretense, no putting anyone else down, as I don't like that, but easy-to-use ideas that empower the average working person and contribute to his/her sense of worth, and also while respecting others.

Thank you again, Sunitha Narayanan for challenging me to this - it was rewarding to put my thoughts into words!"

That is what I am about; that is what I strive for when serving my clients. It feels good to see it in print! If you have a career challenge that you want to conquer, I'd love to be of service.

Leading Marketer's Tips for Finding a Job

The list of questions below come to you courtesy of Seth Godin's blog. Mr. Godin is a recognized leader in the marketing field and I am often inspired by his posts. After all, the recruitment process, from the job hunter's perspective, is an exercise in SELF-marketing.

When providing potential clients a resume assessment of their existing document, I mostly see historical job descriptions - dry, boring, clone-like lists of duties. These are by no means resumes; they do not market value, which is one of the tips provided in Godin's blog.

Consider these questions:

Can you show me a history of generous, talented, extraordinary [side] projects? (My brackets - I would rephrase this to "side or job-related" projects.)

Have you ever been so passionate about your work that you've gone in through the side door?

Are you an expert at something that actually generates value?

Have you connected with leaders in the field in moments when you weren't actually looking for a job?

Does your reputation speak for itself?

Where online can I see the trail of magic you regularly create?

Each one of these could create phenomenal resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn additions. This is the type of information that I regularly add to my clients' resumes - if the person can cite an example following my prompts and questioning (I know how to dig deep to unearth resume gold).

For example, here's an idea for the second point - demonstrating passion and going in by the "side door." If you've volunteered to join a committee at work because the project was one that used your talents and integrated your values, that would be a great example of this idea:

  • Volunteered to chair our company's first corporate responsibility committee, leveraging knowledge of the subject from my previous job and tapping into a strong personal value; led team of 10 to deliver company's inaugural corporate responsibility statement, and to plan next steps.

OR:

  • Promoted to Customer Service Manager role, newly created, in recognition of introducing and implementing 3 successful service measures - while in administrative role - that reduced compaints by 30% and increased customer satisfaction survey score by 20 points, unprecedented in company's history.

As for the last point - about an online trail of magic (love that phrase!), at the very least, today's savvy job hunter must have a professional presence in the form of LinkedIn. With its advanced capabilities, you can now add documents and presentations as links to your profile, creating that "trail of magic" that Mr. Godin so eloquently refers to.

Not sure how to realize this form of resume? Not proud of your shabby LinkedIn? I'd love to help.

A LinkedIn Resource

Following up to the post that precedes this one, here is a link to a service that grades your LinkedIn profile:

profilegrade.com

This grader will not tell you how well your profile scores for the kind of positions you wish to attract; this grade simply tells you if you've taken all the steps possible to optimize your profile.

Mine scored 95%.

When you work with New Leaf Resumes, you receive a LinkedIn  resource workbook that walks you through this process, with screen shots and clear steps.

I have long thought that LinkedIn can become the new resume, that is, where job hunters will send recruiters in the near future. No more customizing resumes and cover letters, just a LinkedIn invitation or emailing your customized LinkedIn URL.

This may soon be here as a recent client, an engineer, shared that his networking efforts were all resulting in the same ask: to send a LinkedIn invitation. He couldn't bring himself to do this, though, as his LinkedIn was not yet optimized or even well developed.

First things first! The job search trio - resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn - ready to go and then the networking.

 

Changes Coming to LinkedIn

According to a quick "google," 2015's most popular online dating sites were Match and Zoosk. Apparently there's a method to attracting "suitors." How your photo is taken, the kinds of words you use to describe yourself - these and more play a role in attracting the right sort of attention.

Moving from dating to recruitment, LinkedIn continues to gain ground as the place to be to attract recruiters' attention. LinkedIn now has 396 million members, lists almost 3 million jobs (2014 stats), and it's a total recruiter hangout. According to Jobvite's 2015 survey, 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn.

Can you resist its lure? Most of us shouldn't resist. It's free, it works, and it's expected by those who matter - employers and recruiters (not all professionals require a LinkedIn presence, but most do).

Like most technology, which continually evolves, change is coming to LinkedIn once again. You may not see the change this time as it will affect only recruiters.  You should be aware, though, as this change will impact how recruiters - those 87% - find suitable candidates for job openings.

Rather than conducting searches using keywords, skills, degree, and location, as they have been, they will select one profile - their version of the ideal candidate, maybe even the role's incumbent - on which to base their search. I'm not sure that I agree that this will produce the desired effect, but we have to work with it.

What can you do to prepare? You could conduct your own search for an awesome profile of someone who holds the kind of position you're looking for. Now there are more lousy profiles than excellent, so do use a critical and discerning eye! You might get a few ideas on what to add to your own profile.

That might be helpful, but it could also steer you wrong, because as I said, the quality of LinkedIn profiles is inconsistent.

Your best bet for being found by a recruiter, for attracting the right kind of attention, is still to work with a professional who knows how to showcase your value, highlight your skills, and generate interest.

Along with using appropriate-to-the-platform language, another thing that LinkedIn has in common with online dating is using the right photo - not the same photo of course! Where your dating snapshot can show you having fun and dressed in casual or party clothes, the LinkedIn must be professional. No relaxed "at the cottage" funshots please. I see too many ultra casual photos on many profiles.

To be fair, non-professional photos can work, depending on where you live (BC employers "get" the outdoorsy shots), and on your profession (extreme sports athletes don't need shirt and tie). But most of us benefit from a good headshot. Again, your best bet is to hire a professional photographer.

Invest in your career by "using" LinkedIn's functionality to lead to your next great job. At the very least you must accept that it is now a vital third party in the recruitment process.

As for this new recruiter search? We'll see if it generates the right results!

The Power of Story in the Resume and Job Interview

 

Last week I took a class at Waterloo Wellington Community Futures. I take a lot of business development / professional development courses at this fabulous small business help centre. And located in Elora, Ontario. a delightfully charming town, it's doubly the pleasure as I can sneak in some shopping.

Last week's class was on how to speak about one's business not in a dry, technical (and oh-so-boring) way, but in a way that will engage a listener. I learned a great deal. And I could see the benefits of the approach to the job hunter.

Here's the kernel of what I learned: identify a story that epitomizes what you do, and use this story to create intrigue and interest.

For me, it's not about outlining to you what a strategic resume is and isn't, with technical details like grammar, content and context, and so on. It's about sharing an example of how it has worked. Here's one of the stories I crafted as an in-class assignment.

A few months ago, it was the beginning of the summer as I recall, I worked with a fellow, a Senior Vice President who had spent most of his career in the brewery sector. His original resume still held a "Career Objective," which is pretty much passe these days, and his "Professional Experience" was composed in long, dense paragraph form. And I mean long - one position was almost an entire page.

To put this issue in perspective, I recently had a CFO client engage me to condense his resume after a recruiter had one look at long, dense text and declined to review him as a candidate. Absolutly true!

Back to the beer guy. I recreated his resume, modernizing the appearance, categorizing the information, introducing snappy bullets, and just making it far more readable. And off he went to conduct his job hunt.

Last week he sent me a message on LinkedIn. "Oh, by the way," he wrote, "I landed my dream job. I am now leading the largest brewery in the Carribbean."

I live vicariously through my clients!

(I need to share that he gave me permission to use that much detail, as I usually don't.)

And that story, so much more interesting than a technical explanation of "what" I do, demonstrates what belongs in every job hunters' toolbox: stories. Stories about every one of the skills you use in your work and how it has impacted colleagues, clients, decision-making, productivity, performance, and profits.

I challenge each of you to use this approach. And if you need help, New Leaf Resumes is at your service.

Tips for Composing Your LinkedIn

Many job search "must haves" have come and quietly gone over the years: video resumes and personal website portfolios come to mind, as well as a smattering of LinkedIn-esque sites (Naymz and Plaxo are two I recall of many more).

But the only one that stuck is LinkedIn (LI). (And it looks as if it may become the top recruitment site in time as it not only serves as a professional database but it's also a favourite hang-out for recruiters.)

N.B. Before you update your LI profile, which may signal your job search to all in your network, if you are in a confidential job search or simply proactively managing your career, I'd advise that you turn off the option to broadcast your updates.

Here are a few tips for composing a strong, recruiter-attracting LinkedIn:

  • Write in the 1st person. Yes, go ahead and own your talents, attributes, skills, and accomplishments by writing "I" statements, but please don't begin each sentence with "I." Balance reference to yourself with reference to your team's collaborations and to your employer's goals.
    Although writing in 1st person isn't a rule, it's expected today. The reason may have something to do with today's hires increasingly considering a good fit - with the team and with the corporate culture - and injecting your personality into this piece provides insight into how you'll fit in.
  • Get a good photo taken. A snapshot of you at the cottage, beer in hand, or at a party with non-professional clothing are not wise choices. You want to project professionalism, not fun times. A picture paints a thousand words - make sure your photo doesn't thwart your hire-ability.
  • Use key words. Although your LI is not a resume, and shouldn't read like your resume, still, it MUST contain key words. If it does not, your profile/name is unlikely to land in a recruiter's search. Therein lies LI's magic: you can be found by a recruiter who is searching its immense database for suitable candidates for an opening that you may not even be aware of.
  • Use all 2000 characters. You're allowed to write quite a bit, so make good use of the space. Along with key words (those hard skills associated with your field), demonstrate your value with results and accomplishments.
  •  Write a compelling headline. That's the space below your name. Rather than your current employer and title (that's the default that LI will plunk in if you don't change it), create a mini-salespitch. In 120 characters, you can actually share a lot of info - if you're creative and keep your target audience in mind. Check out my LI headline for proof.

LinkedIn is now a definite must for most professionals, but here's a short list of those who don't yet need this job search tool: teachers, social workers, Canadian government staff, and because I've had two of these clients: spies! But everyone else? If you don't have it, you risk losing out to the candidate who has matched you step-by-recruitment-step, but who outshines you with a knock-out LI profile.

I love composing these for my clients; if you need help, get in touch.

Toxic Workplace

I am working with a client, let's call her Clare, who needs out, like yesterday. Her company isn't the problem, but her new manager is. Well, her manager isn't that new - she's been the manager for a couple of years - but Clare believed she could make it work.

It's hard to change jobs, I get that. Finding a new job can be a full time job in itself - finding suitable job postings, filling in sometimes long application processes, getting booted out of the system because you timed out and having to start again, finding time to network - this is all time-consuming stuff. And there's still the household chores to do!

What is it about us human beings that we choose to wait, try, hope, maybe even cast spells of conciliation? It seems we'll try everything other than the one thing that could help: talking. And not that talking will necessarily fix the issue, not at all. Dismal results to our attempt to discuss the issues will tell us earlier that it's time to skeedaddle! But it will tell us one way or the other, to stay or to go, saving months or years of frustration and possibly tears ... maybe even falling into poor health as chronic stress has a way of letting us know, through serious or debillitating symptoms, that something has to change.

If your workplace is toxic or your manager is out to get you fired, please don't wait until you truly cannot stand one more day. Even a strong job search, with outstanding self-marketing documents, takes time.

Unfortunately that scent of desperation is not attractive in the job hunt. It signals a lack of initiative, perhaps poor judgement, the ability to ignore what should be addressed, and poor communication skills as well - none of which promote you as a viable, strong candidate. Like in dating, desperation is not "sexy."

There are steps to take to ensure your job search is confidential: turn off your activity alerts on LinkedIn and don't participate in its job search groups! If you need more suggestions for launching a confidential job search, consider hiring New Leaf for a job coaching session. Don't wait, like Clare, until you're on the verge of either quitting or taking a leave of absence, neither of which are good job search strategies.

Social Media and Recruitment

I offer many services, but resumes and cover letters remain the backbone. I don't see this changing any time soon, even though now and again there is yet another article that predicts the resume's demise. (It's not going anywhere for now.)

However, I do see that this basic self-marketing twosome will have to make room for an effective threesome as LinkedIn is absolutely exploding as a must-have addition for most professional positions. Here are a few statisitcs that explain:

* 69% of recruiters expect competition to increase in 2015 and they plan to invest more in social recruiting, with social media topping their list of recuiting methods at the rate of 73%

* 83% of job seekers rely on Facebook, which accounted for 26% of hires, lagging far behind LinkedIn as recruiters' top social recruiting network, which came in at 79% of hires!

Job seekers are not "hanging out" where the recruiters are! That's a problem that's easy to fix. Like Facebook, LinkedIn is also free and very user friendly. However, LinkedIn does require strategy: a job target, a headline that helps recruiters find you, a summary that contains key words and phrases appropriate to the job you're aiming for, and content that defines your workplace value (results, accomplishments, achievements, brand, expertise).

Competition is expected to increase because the demand for skilled labour is high, but the supply is low and hiring is on the rise across industries. (The statistics are taken from Jobvite's 7th annual survey, Social Recruting Survey Results 2014.) Competition is also high because job seekers are always ready for their next great opportunity and will switch for better pay, growth, and perks, for example.

94% of the almost 2000 recruiters and human resources surveyed used LinkedIn as an "essential recruitment tool across industries." Facebook trailed behind at 66% and Twitter at 52%. However, Facebook accounted for a measly 26% of hires and LinkedIn accounted for an astounding 79% of social media hires.

They used LinkedIn to search for candidates, contact the candidates, keep tabs on potential candidates, vet candidates prior to extending interview invitations, and to post jobs.

All this by way of saying that if you are not on LinkedIn, whether because you think you don't have the time, or you want to stay more private, if you're in job hunt mode, you're really thwarting your success if you don't create a professional LinkedIn presence. And if you want to attract recruiters' attention, you'll want to ensure that our LinkedIn is optimized to the max. As one of four Canadians schooled in MaxOutLI, I'd love to be of service!

p.s. Some people don't need a LinkedIn presence at this time. Educators come to mind. I also had a CSIS "spy" who certainly wouldn't need to be on LinkedIn!

 

"LinkedIn is the defacto way to find a job in today's market"

So stated an article in the weekend's Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers. Author Gillian Livingston, under the heading of Networking, built a  case for job hunters to consider joining other Canadians, now 10 million strong on LinkedIn.  Ten million Canadians!

It appears that we are "early and enthusiastic adopter[s] of Internet technology and social media" as she was told by Brian Church, the head of sales solutions for North America at LInkedIn Corp. Considering that there are professions that don't really require an online presence - doctors, teachers, CSIS staff, and most blue collar jobs come to mind - that number is doubly impressive.

I was telling a recent client that I truly believe LI has the ability to transform itself into the premiere job search board, one that holds all resumes and that puts the onus on recruiters to conduct a job search that requires no job posting, no resume submissions. Wouldn't that turn recruitment on its head!?

If this happens, the "resume" will be housed in the LI profile. (The content will still need to be well composed, and thus my job, thankfully, won't become obsolete!) With up-to-date info, options that tell recruiters (but not your employer) that you are actively seeking a new opportunity, details such as location, credentials, knowledge base, working style, testimonials, samples of projects, video clips - wow, it could be a bonanza of information pertinent to employment!

Last week I took a course in how to truly optimize LI profiles (as this is one of the services I offer) so that when recruiters run their analytics to find potential candidates for job openings - some of which are likely in that "hidden job market" category you've read about - they can actually find the clients for whom I optimize LI profiles.

Some of the "fixes" are required simply to overcome glitches in the reporting software, that don't reliably pick up some fields of info, or that completely ignore fields of info. Some information, I learned, should be included in three different fields so that it does land on recruiter reports. It's from that report - sometimes holding 1000 names - that recruiters scan and select potential candidates to review and contact for an interview.

The recruitment process, for now, continues to grow in complexity. Perhaps one day it will settle down to a model reminiscent of old fashioned recruiting techniques; that is, fairly static and dependably unchanging. But increasingly a LI profile is without question a must for the serious professional job hunter.

"Resurgent BlackBerry hiring 350 engineers"

So declares an article in Saturday's Waterloo Region Record! A BlackBerry user, I just knew that the company would recreate itself and rise from the ashes. It's good news for those of us who use the BB, and great news for Waterloo Region as well.

Along with the soon-to-be filled engineering positions, CEO John Chen said "We have a lot of openings right now."

The engineering positions seem to be focused on co-op and new grads, but I would venture to say that other engineers who fit the BB model will be considered. Prove your value and you've got a chance.

And the other positions are in "a lot of places," says Chen, "enterprise sales, software people." I bet there are a few admin positions and other supportive roles.

So, how's your resume looking? Is it top notch to compete with the other top applicants? BB is focused on growth and innovation; it isn't looking for slackers and run-of-the-mill applicants. Does your resume convey energy, quality, productivity?

If you're feeling like your resume murmurs "mediocre" rather than passionately proclaims "top-notch candidate," consider hiring a professional to kick that document up a few notches. New Leaf is available to support your bid, and knows how to take a resume from mediocrity to excellence.

Canada Career Week

In November, Career Professionals of Canada (CPC) will be celebrating Canada Career Week, joining activities across Canada. This year also happens to be CPC's 10th Anniversary and to mark this auspicious milestone, our Executive Director, Sharon Graham, has led a series of recordings of career related topics for Canadian job hunters' benefit, which will be posted during Canada's Career Week.

What a wonderful way to support Canadians in career transition: sharing our collective expertise! I am grateful to be a part of this effort, and today completed the third recording session (and learned how nerve wracking it can be to participate in a formal recording!).

Watch my blog as November nears for information on accessing the recordings. My topics include: How to Showcase Transferable Skills, Dealing with Barriers in the Resume, and How New Grads Can Stand Out. And there are many more, presented by esteemed colleagues, for example:

How to Navigate the Hidden Job Market

How to Find Balance in Social Networking

The Impact of Labour Market Trends

Trends in Resume Writing

Handling Disclosure in the Job Search

Generations Working Together

There are 20 in all! So stay tuned!

The Infographic Resume Part II

Now reading Chapter 5, I have some catching up to do! Chapter 1 did a fine job of establishing "how we got to where we are today," and it's clear that job search changes have been fueled by the internet, of course.

Chapter 2, Your Online Portfolio, makes a case for how you should harness some of that internet power in your favour! Creating your online portfolio will "get you on someone's radar." Celebrities prove this all the time: they stay on our radar with antics and theatrics typical of celebrities. A job hunter's goal is also to get noticed, if for different reasons!

The book has excellent ideas for creating "work examples that clearly call out and QUANTIFY your experience and accomplishments that relate to the job you're applying for." (page 14) And that's the key to attraction-generating info - quantifying - and I'll add "or qualifying" - the accomplishments and experience you have. The info must be relevant as well, a fact that many self-written resumes tend to either forget or not consider (perhaps most people don't know how to make it relevant?).

The list of possible portfolio content includes a bio or summary, text and infographic resumes, testimonials, awards, special recognition, and samples of work. The samples could be flowcharts, phtos, metrics, presentations, Gantt chart, spreadsheets, reports or training that you created - relevant examples of what you have done and will do. And there are more ideas suggested; do check these out!

(I would add a reading list of favourite books, and of those books that perhaps shaped the work you do today.)

The author, Hannah Morgan of Career Sherpa.net, suggests that you create your own website, and provides links to a few of these online portfolio-style websites. They are eye-catching and ultra professional.

Herein lies the challenge of today's job search, according to Ms. Morgan: you must think like you are a business and wear PR, marketing, graphic designer, and copywriter hats. "Your challenge is to think like the marketing department at a big corporation like Coke, Ford, or the New York Times." (page 15)

Yikes! That's a major statement and audacious undertaking.

Having served job hunters for several years now, I'll say with confidence that no, you don't need to go to this degree to land a job today. Superb foundational documents - resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn presence - are doing the trick for my clients. But I'll keep reading and reviewing the contents of this book ... perhaps I'll be persuaded?

What the Experts Say: New Graduate Job Search Strategies

This blog is unusual for me as rather than share my thoughts in my words, I am posting comments made on a recent LinkedIn discussion. I agree with their points of view and know that every time I read or see a news story about new grads who cannot find a job in their field of studies, I think to myself "I wonder what this student's resume is like."

The question posed:

"My supervisor asked that I pose a question to professionals in the field who are university career counselors. That question is: How are you managing the overwhelming increase in student traffic and request for services (internship search, ATS assistance, resume & cover letter review, interview training, and career counseling) in light of tight (or cut) budgets and restricted hiring (unable to hire additional FTEs). What are you doing that has been helpful, successful?"

The overall takeaway:

Many colleges/universities are outsourcing some of the work (I edited some 150 cover letters and resumes for a major Canadian university), calling in experts to conduct workshops, and even referring students to private career practitioners.

The conversation turned to the value of well composed, well developed self-marketing documents, the resume and cover letter.

A few answers:

"As someone with 22 years' experience in higher education career services who now owns her own career consulting business, here's my (no doubt controversial) statement: In general, private practitioners can do the work better than those in college career services. We know the marketplace, understand the nuances of hiring, and have credentials and areas of expertise not usually held by those in higher education."

"These career documents are the most important career documents in 'their' life. They need to take their career more serious as there is a lot riding on the quality and how these documents are executed.

What is a bit dumbfounding to me in some cases is, the students have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of time in their education then leave their resume to chance by using a "template" or "cheap" services to communicate their value to an employer and wonder why they are not employed. (I am not saying that career centers are cheap. I am just stating a fact that they turn to 'cheap' and do not do any due diligence, waste tons of money, and when they are really in a pickle, they start getting serious.)

Investing in some of the 'top writer services' at $$,$$$ is still pennies on the dollar to not only what they have invested in for their education, but what they COULD BE MAKING if they were employed...and truly conveyed their value to the employer.

There ARE jobs available. Employers need talent. I believe experienced, credentialed writers, coaches, and strategists bridge that gap nicely."

I agree, there are jobs available and those with a professionally prepared self-marketing package reliably land interviews. I know my new grad clients do.

The New Resume

Today's blog is courtesy of someone who used "the new resume" as a search term, and ended up on my website. If there is one person using that term, there may be others thinking about it, and hence this blog!

Over the years that I have been in business, I have heard that the resume is dying or dead, that the resume will be replaced with a video format, an infographic, or sound bite ... and none of these has proven to be remotely true.

The current buzz is that LinkedIn is the next resume and this is the only one that has sounded rational to me. Populate your LinkedIn profile with details taken from your resume and add a great summary section and effective title - both are critical components of getting "found" by recruiters. Considering that LinkedIn is the new job board of choice, I'd say your LinkedIn presence is even more effective than just a resume!

However - and this is a big one - a simplistic resume repurposed in LinkedIn doesn't magically improve your attractiveness as an employee. A resume that is poorly written, that focuses only on Accountability and doesn't venture into Achievements, won't generate any more interest just because it's on LinkedIn.

Your value, dear job hunter, is not in the skills you possess; it's in how you use these skills. Let me use myself as an example to explain.

If I tell you that I write resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, professional bios and so on, does that differentiate me from the other resume writers you may be considering? Not so much. But if I tell you that my resumes are award-winners, that my cover letters have made it into Job Search Letters for Dummies and Best Canadian Cover Letters - well, now I'm telling you how effective my skills are. If I go on to tell you that my clients have landed jobs with all levels of government, with major insurance companies, banks and other prominent employers, landed jobs abroad or dream jobs, etc., again, you'll know that I not only have the basic skills, but I have developed these to an exceptional level of effectiveness. That provides you with a lot of value for your investment.

That's what your resume must do: it must demonstrate value, and skills are just the beginning of this process.

Why would a potential employer, who must invest in your salary, training and benefits, hire you just because you possess the skills, when s/he can choose from other candidates whose resumes clearly connect that dotted line between skills and how those skills positively impacted previous employers' bottom lines?

The principles of good writing remain constant: you must address your audience's needs and buying motivators. If you want a better resume, New Leaf is ready to be of service.

- dedicated to recreating resumes for job hunters - Stephanie

 

Sources of Hire

Job Search Research 2013, conducted by CareerXroads, is now out. Sources of Hire is posted on their website and I urge you to look it up.

It seems a bit disheartening at first. If 42% of those hired are current employees, where does that leave the person determined to change employers? And if being referred increases your chances of being hired up to four times (wow!), where does that leave the job hunter who is too shy to network or is new to the field?

Even if these statistics are true (and given the company's recognition as experts quoted by Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and NBC there's no reason to doubt), they are only part of the whole story.

The research also investigated external hires and demonstrated how these came to be - from job fairs, job boards, rehires and even walk-ins!

As for job boards, Indeed outscored them all at this time.

So what can the average job hunter do to boost chances? In my opinion, there are three components:

1. Compose a tight resume, one that unfailingly proves why you are a great hire for that position.

2. Back up the resume with a LinkedIn profile (or other online profile, but LinkedIn scores well in terms of being found) that affirms the resume's content with new language and details.

3. Be prepared to express - verbally - who you are, who you serve, what problems you solve and the value you bring to your next employer.

These steps will ensure that you are not eliminated, and that you stand a chance!

If you need help with these, New Leaf is here to be of service!

- staying current to support your job search, Stephanie

The Job Search and Web Presence

Twice this week I have been asked questions about the job hunter's need for a web presence.

Yes, this is absolutely necessary if only because recruiters reliably conduct an online search of your name to see what comes up. They have some minimum expectations, but they also look for "digital dirt," or not so flattering entries. After all, before they spend time interviewing, they want to ensure they have called the best candidates to the table, and technology assists them in this process.

So what does the savvy career transitioner require?

One of the two questions posed was this: do I need a personal website? In general I would answer this with a "no, not necessary." A personal website, to be effective, would need to be professionally designed and written. Similar to video clips, we are so used to seeing and reading excellent content and smart designs, that poorly written content on a less-than attractive site, like a video that makes one look hokey or amateurish, just won't cut it.

Also, for a personal website to feel energetic, it would need to be updated regularly with new info, like a blog about a course recently completed, a work-related book review, and other professional content. Not too many are willing to go to this length or cost. A personal website would be ideal for someone who is looking for a job related to website development, or a creative type that would share videos, art, writing, graphic designs and so on.

The second question was in the form of a request. A senior professional asked for a Facebook page. I suggested that this is completely unnecessary. And I stick by that; in fact, I wouldn't do a Facebook page. I do own a professional Facebook page, but this client is not self-employed.

(BTW, I would so very much appreciate if you would "like" my New Leaf FB page, recently professionally updated with a lovely design! Click here to link. I'll be posting career related special offers from that site that you won't want to miss!)

But yes, the job hunter / career transitioner must have an online presence and for now, it's LinkedIn all the way! This is free, user-friendly, and it has features that allow you to create a robust presence that will attract recruiters and appease HR's need to pre-approve interview candidates.

Here's a link to a very informative nine minutes that explains the value of LinkedIn use.If you're job hunting, don't skip that video!

To come full circle in this synchronicity of web related job hunt changes, a recent client emailed me that she was contacted on LinkedIn by a recruiter and she has a job interview today. She was grateful for my assistance in composing her LinkedIn headline and summary, as she had not sent a resume at all; in fact, she had no idea this employer was looking for a Bookkeeper! Without a top notch LinkedIn presence, the recruiter would not have found her!

Today the effective job hunt relies even more on the internet to fulfill the need for a web presence. So how's your LinkedIn profile reading?

- serving job hunters with reasoned and seasoned suggestions, Stephanie