What you need to know about resume-reading software

The following is an excerpt from my new book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which is currently available on Amazon Kindle and will be available in hard copy from the 15th September 2015 on Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia and Fishpond among others.  If you want an easy-to-read, no-nonsense and practical guide to job search, written by someone who understands job loss and search, this book is for you. Enjoy!

 

Dr Smith‘Unhand me, you mechanical moron.’
—Dr Zachary Smith, Lost in Space

It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to use what is known as applicant tracking software (also known as talent recruitment systems) to receive, analyse and sort resumes submitted for roles advertised online, which, according to latest statistics, is about ninety percent of advertised roles. Some of the more common ATS providers include Bullhorn, Zoho Recruit and Taleo.

Understandably, when an organisation receives hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for roles, it can be tedious to screen, let alone read, all their resumes. ATS automates the process and replaces the human screen with a software program. In many respects this is not a bad thing as it increases the objectivity of the screening process. Plus, the software can work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

ATS looks for keywords in the submitted resume in order to match the candidate to the relevant role, generally eliminating about seventy-five percent of candidates during the first cull. Keywords can even include the names of schools or universities attended, previous employers that are deemed attractive, and of course the skills and experience required by the hiring organisation.

The use of ATS is largely limited to large recruiters and businesses; however, cloud-based systems are becoming more affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. In Australia, companies using ATS include IGA, Oracle (which produces the Taleo system), Chandler McLeod, Miele, Sydney Water, Kelly Services and Mitsubishi.

If you apply for a role on a company website and are required to fill in your details as well as uploading, and copying and pasting your resume, there’s a good chance you’re going into an ATS. Often this process can be frustratingly long and tedious; however, if you really want the job that should give you enough incentive to get through it.

So, how can you create a resume that can be read by a robot? The best way to get an ATS to notice your resume is to anticipate the keywords or phrases the system will be trying to find for the role. This further reinforces your need to ensure that your resume is adapted to, or relevant for, the role you’re interested in. If you don’t tailor your resume in this way, there’s a very good chance it won’t be attractive to the ATS and will be among the many resumes culled as not being a good match for the role.

Brevity is best; ensure that only information relevant to the role is included. Put keywords in the summary at the top of your resume, use plain fonts, and avoid graphics and tables, both of which ATS systems can’t read.

If you want to see how your resume aligns to a stated job description or advertisement, there’s a great site called Jobscan (www.jobscan.co). All you need to do is copy and paste your resume in one field, the job description in the other, hit the analyse button and see the results. It will give you a percentage match rate with a skills comparison. You can use this information to further modify and update your resume so it’s a better match for the advertised job.

Thanks for reading about resume-reading software!  If you liked this information, you can receive many more tips and hints on effective job search for mature job seekers by purchasing the eBook on Amazon by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

www.thecareermedic.com

The importance of first impressions in job search

First impressions

You will never get a second chance to make a first impression. (Will Rogers)

First impressions are the longest lasting. (Proverb)

 

 

These sayings are very true, particularly when it comes to job search. In such a competitive environment, the impact you make when people first meet you or come into contact with your job search collateral, is critical. Let’s have a look at some areas where you can make a strong first impression in job search and give yourself every chance of progressing through the selection cycle:

Online

LinkedIn is the most obvious online social media.  If you are not on it, the inference may be that you are not ‘up with the technology’ and therefore not a good first impression, especially if someone is wanting to find you or discern more information about you ahead of a meeting or interview.  If you do have a profile, what does it look like? Does it convey relevant details, your strengths, expertise and other facts about you that would intrigue the reader? Or is it incomplete, out of date and stagnant? A complete and detailed LinkedIn profile with a good picture (head and shoulders, professionally attired, looking at the camera, sharp with no distracting backgrounds), a strong headline, a brief outline of your experience, recommendations from others, following companies and participating in groups will all create a good first impression of you professionally.

In addition to LinkedIn, it’s always wise to do a Google search of yourself to see what comes up.  If there’s anything untoward or negative that you would not want a prospective employer to see, delete it if possible and review your privacy settings on social media like Facebook and others.

Resume

Many resumes are too long and devoid of achievements.  A good resume has your name, mobile number, email and LinkedIn URL at the top followed by a brief summary which outlines 4 key areas:

  1. Your profession (e.g. ‘An experienced mechanical engineer…’),
  2. Where you have worked (‘Worked in diverse industries including power and engineering for companies such as BHP and Rio Tinto…’)
  3. Your expertise or skills relevant to your profession (e.g. Computer-aided design using Autocad, knowledge of steel) and
  4. General strengths of the soft or leadership variety (e.g. The ability to work as a member of a team; led both remote and local teams).

A good summary will draw in the reader to want to find out more by reading further into your resume where the detail of jobs held, achievements and development reside.  This summary – like the entire resume – should be tailored to the role you are applying for and encourage the reader to eventually find out more about you at interview!

The interview

There are several opportunities to create a good first impression at the interview…

If you are given the opportunity to choose an interview time-slot, always take the first one (e.g. 9.00 am). Why?  You’d be amazed to discover how often the first person interviewed is the most impressive.  This is borne of good preparation (plus fresh and eager interviewers!) which means the first interviewee becomes the benchmark against which all other candidates are compared.

When the interviewer comes to greet  you, he or she will see you dressed and groomed appropriately for the role, along with a warm smile and greeting and firm handshake (not a ‘wet fish’ handshake as my mother once described the limp, clammy variety illustrated above!).

As you accompany the interviewer to the interview room, the interviewer will no doubt ask some questions of the ‘small talk’ variety, such as ‘How was your trip in today?’, or ‘What did you do on the weekend?’  While only small talk, the interviewer is gauging how you respond both in terms of your social skills and also if there’s ‘chemistry’ and rapport.  Most people like to work with people they like and feel comfortable with.  Don’t be contrived, but engage appropriately during the walk to the interview room.

Once in the interview room and when any further small talk and an outline of the structure of the interview is dispensed with, the interviewer then generally asks, ‘Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.’  This is the classic ‘opening gambit’ and being the first question is your chance to create a good impression.  In this case, you should use a verbal version of the summary you’d included on  your resume, which is matched up to the job you are applying for (e.g. ‘Thanks for asking.  As you can see from my resume, I am an experienced mechanical engineer who has worked both in the power and engineering industries for companies such as…’).  This is great for first impressions compared to most candidates who generally give a potted history of their work experience (or what I call ‘death by a thousand cuts’) and/or personal or family information (which is interesting, but off the mark).  Your positive first impression has been created!

Recruiters

Whenever you see a job advertisement placed by a recruiter and they have provided their contact details, call them!  Many people who call recruiters (and it’s only around 5-10% of applicants) ask droll questions like ‘What are you paying for the role?’ or ‘Tell me about the role.’, both of which are guaranteed to leave a less than favourable impression.  Instead, call with a purpose by saying something like, ‘Hi Paul, my name is John and I’m calling about the mechanical engineer vacancy you posted on SEEK.  I realise you are probably taking lots of inquiries and applications for the role, so I hope you don’t mind if I take a few minutes of your time to quickly introduce myself and to ask a few questions.’  A very different first impression as I’m sure you’ll agree!  As recruiters work in real-time, if they like what they hear, they are far more likely to arrange a chat with you fairly quickly.

Networking

If you are not networking as part of your job search, you should be.  Not only is it great for information gathering, but it also leads to introductions or referrals…From people who were impressed enough with you to provide them!  Is there a better first impression for the person you are going to meet than a strong recommendation from someone else they know and trust? Probably not. You get the idea.

Of course all of the above approaches require thought and preparation. You want to be able to stand out for all the right reasons and knowing that first impressions are critical, ensure you focus on these areas to support job search success.

For any assistance with career coaching covering resumes, interview skills, LinkedIn profiles or networking, contact Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.

Are you making this critical mistake on your resume?

Resume

Let’s talk about the resume, whose fundamental purpose is to get you to an interview…Of course, once you get to an interview you are one step closer to a job. Unfortunately, most of us in job search struggle to get to interviews and often wonder why.

 

The resume is your professional calling card which outlines companies you have worked for, in what roles, for what duration as well as your education and professional development among other things. While it is important to adapt your resume for each job you apply for (apparently only around half of job applicants do this), that’s really only half the story.

The single most important thing to include on your resume are achievements.

Achievements should be related to the work you have done in each role and ideally matched up against the requirements of the job you are applying for (e.g. If the advertiser is looking for someone with great stakeholder management, you should include several achievements pertaining to this in your resume).

Many clients I see as a career coach fail to include achievements in their resumes and only include responsibilities or tasks they ‘did’ in each role. This is a critical mistake. There are many financial analysts, marketing managers and other roles out there, all of whom fundamentally do the same tasks. However, what most resumes miss is how well you did the job, or what value you added and what problems you solved. Achievements can relate to things like:

  • Cost savings
  • Productivity improvements
  • Systems or procedures you developed that helped the business
  • Innovative solutions to existing problems (e.g. a new procedure)
  • Major sales closed
  • A promotion (and the reasons for it, such as excellent performance)
  • Significant achievements (e.g. Employee of the Year; President’s Club)

“Achievements on your resume make you stand out because they raise interest for the reader.  They indicate the value you have added and the problems you have solved in your last organisation and which makes you an attractive candidate.  So attractive, employers will want to ask you in for an interview!”

For each role on your resume going back 8-12 years (current roles most interviewers are interested in), in addition to adding your responsibilities or the essence of what you did in the job (5-7 bullet points), make sure you add 3-5 achievements pertaining to that role.

When developing your achievements, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure they are brief – No more than 2 to 2.5 lines.  Too long and they become wordy and difficult to read during a first, cursory review of your resume
  • Try and incorporate situation, solution and outcome or benefit of each achievement
  • Quantify if you can.  Use percentages, numbers, or currency ($) figures.  This not only gives your achievement some scale, but also makes the achievement stand out.  If there’s a number on a page of text, our eyes will find it very quickly, so including numbers in your achievement, will draw the reader to your achievement.

What are some examples of strong achievements?

  • Designed, implemented and managed an inventory management system that saved $100K in the first year of operation
  • Automated an existing employee induction process which contributed to reducing early tenure turnover by 25%
  • Received the IT Manager of the Year award in 2014 for leading the X system upgrade which was delivered on time and under budget by 10%
  • Developed a customer focused culture in the call centre team which saw customer satisfaction (CSAT) rise from 2.8 to 4.2 on a 5 point scale in 12 months

Make your resume stand out for all the right reasons by adding achievements and you’ll see the immediate difference this will make in getting you to interviews.

For any assistance with career coaching covering resumes, interview skills, LinkedIn profiles or networking, contact Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.

How to survive during job search

Surviving job searchJob loss can be traumatic and unsettling.  We are thrown from the familiar and relatively safe environment of busy employment with meetings, reports, travel, presentations and other tasks to a less structured and often lonely time of concern, uncertainty and unfamiliarity.  Not only that, we may harbour feelings of anger and disappointment at losing our jobs and questioning why the decision was made and if we could have done anything to prevent it from happening…

It’s critically important to be able to positively manage your emotions during a period of transition following job loss.  This keeps you upbeat emotionally and also in better shape when meeting with others either in networking or interviewing scenarios.  People like enthusiastic, positive and energised people, but if we don’t make the effort to feel this way, there’s a chance it may count against us during the job search process.

In my experience the financial side of job loss sorts itself out one way or another.  You’ve received a severance, your partner may work, your parents may allow you live with them (probably a last resort for most of us!!), you cut back your spending, cancel the Europe trip or there’s something else that allows you to manage things financially.

“The toughest challenge in job search is to manage what goes on between our ears…The emotional roller-coaster that follows job loss and continues until we find our next role.”

Transition should be a time to catch up, re-energise and indulge ourselves a little.  This provides balance and ultimately helps you to cope and better present yourselves to prospective employers.

There are 4 things you can do to help you cope more effectively during transition:

  1. Job search – I don’t believe job search is a ‘full time job’. 3-6 good quality hours in a day, with the option to take a day off occasionally is far more productive. It’s easy to waste 8-10 hours in job search if it’s not structured and focused (How easy is it to click on a few other websites when scanning job boards?). Keeping busy by sending off applications, conducting networking meetings, going to interviews, meeting your career coach and recruiters all represent positive and productive job search activity.  When we are busy we don’t have time to wallow in self-pity.
  1. Time with partner, spouse, friends and family – We invest a lot of time at work and work-related activity, therefore, being ‘between jobs’ is also a good time to reconnect with those we love and those closest to us. Have lunch with your wife, catch up with old colleagues, pick up the kids from school or travel a few hours to visit that uncle you’ve not seen for several years….All these activities allow you to have fun, be positive and enjoy someone else’s company which in the grand scheme of things is often of far more real value.
  1. Time for yourself – Do you like to paint? Do photography? Ride on steam engines?  Jump out of planes?  Visit museums or art galleries?  Something else you really enjoy which allows you to switch off and to savour the moment?  Great!  Then schedule time during the week to indulge yourself!  It’s important that you not feel guilty when doing these activities!  You deserve the time off and it provides great balance.
  1. Exercise – If this is not included in point 3, add it to your schedule! It has been clinically proven that moderate exercise a couple of times a week releases the so-called happy endorphins which reduce feelings of sadness, melancholy or depression. Don’t believe it?  Give it a go and see for yourself!  Make exercise a part of your ‘between jobs’ schedule!

As you jump back aboard the corporate hamster wheel, the opportunity to enjoy many of these activities is missed.  You’ll start to work long hours again, travel, bring work home etc. etc.  Weekends again become ‘too short’ and the opportunity would have passed you by.

Life is full of regrets, so don’t let this happen to you!  Instead, let your head hit the pillow every evening, knowing you’ve had a productive and enjoyable day – with another to follow.  This helps during your journey to your next role.

If you require assistance in career coaching covering topics such as resume preparation, interview skills, fear-free networking or the development of a LinkedIn profile, Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) can assist.  You can contact Paul by clicking here for an obligation free chat to see how he can help you in job search.

5 ingredients for a great resume

What makes a great resume?  What ingredients differentiate a strong resume from a weak resume, or one that gets you an interview versus one that doesn’t?

For many it is about cramming as much ‘stuff’ as possible about ourselves into the document in the mistaken belief that the more information provided, the better the outcome….Wrong!

Others think that simply outlining what they did in each job by way of responsibilities or tasks will help them get to interview…Wrong!

Most people who review resumes would rather do anything else and see it as a necessary evil.  I regularly recall as both a hiring manager and HR professional having to begrudgingly look through piles of resumes at my dining room table late at night or if I was travelling, in some nondescript hotel room over a cold club sandwich and a diet coke following a 12 hour work day.  I would normally only spend 15 – 30 seconds deciding whether a resume went on the ‘yes, I may be interested to interview you’ pile or not.  My mindset, tiredness and general disdain at looking at resumes resulted in a fast and cursory review.

Bottom-line:  People are generally not in the best frame of mind when reviewing resumes and nor do they spend extended time reading them, so please make it easy for them to discern if you are worthy of an interview! Remember, the only purpose of the resume is to get you to an interview…Nothing more and nothing less!

Here are some tips to help the beleaguered resume reviewer (and you):

  1. Keep your resume to 3-4 pages maximum   I won’t read your 8 page tome, so don’t even try it!
  2. Use a font and font size I can actually read without an electron microscope – Typical fonts like Calibri and Arial are best and can be read relatively easily at font size 10 or 11.  If you are unsure, see if you can easily read  your resume in a dimly-lit room. Don’t use tiny fonts!
  3. Use white space Don’t give me blocks of text outlining everything you’ve done in your career!  Give me the highlights and how you match what I am looking for.
  4. Demonstrate your value by using achievements, with quantifiable outcomes if you can (Critical) – I may not believe you if you state you are ‘good at inventory management’, however I will be interested when you tell me about initiating, developing and implementing an inventory management system that saved your last company $100K.  Good achievements align with the problems I face at my company and I want someone who can solve these for me.  Let me know what you’ve done and pique my interest enough to call you in for an interview.
  5. Relevance and matching – Anything on your resume should be supportive of your ability to do the advertised job.  If it isn’t remove it!  So, you’ve traveled to 27 countries?  Impressive, but it counts for nought in applying for my job. That pottery course you completed must have been interesting, but it won’t help you solve my sales issues.  Match your experience and results with my needs and I am interested to find out more!

Resumes are probably the most subjective documents on the planet and it seems like everyone has an opinion on what they should contain and how they look.  However, following the above points will be of great assistance to get through the initial screening process and to an interview.

If you require assistance in career coaching covering topics such as resume preparation, interview skills, fear-free networking or the development of a LinkedIn profile, Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) can assist.  You can contact Paul by clicking here for an obligation free chat to see how he can help you in job search.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s.

How long will I be unemployed?

How long will I be unemployed?When we lose our job, our first concern is usually:  ‘How long will I be unemployed?’ closely followed by How will I pay the bills if I’m out of work for an extended period of time?’.

You hear all the terrible statistics, how bad things are in the economy and how difficult it is to find a job, but what is the reality?  

What variables will impact my ability to get my next job?

Those most conspicuous to job seekers:

  1. Profession – Some professions are changing and others are simply disappearing.  Many managers used to have a dedicated Personal Assistant…Today, such resources are either shared among several managers or are done without.  Other professions disappearing include printers, production workers and roles in call centres and first-level IT support which are increasingly being off-shored to more economical locations.  If you are in or have come from a declining profession, you may want to look at undertaking some self-development and moving to a new profession based on newly-learnt and/or transferable skills.
  2. Industry – Think retail and the impact of on-line shopping. Automotive, mining, aviation, IT and manufacturing industries are also seeing headcount reductions.  You may need to look at other related industries as options during job search and again looking at the transferable skills you have.
  3. Age – If you are very young or of a more ‘mature’ age, you may find yourself in job search longer.  Those over 55 can expect to be out of work around 72 weeks on average.  You can’t change your age and the fact is, people within organisations may discriminate against you based on your age, albeit indirectly.  If that’s the case, you don’t want to work for those companies! Fortunately there are many others who would welcome your skills, professional experience and wherewithal.
  4. Location – If you live outside a major city you are likely to find it more difficult to get your next role.  There are more jobs in major locations (and of course, more competition) and very often, smaller towns rely on one or a few large employers to provide jobs.  If they go, the jobs go too…In that case, you may want to consider (5) below.
  5. Mobility – If you are prepared to move to find work, then understandably you cast your net further and the chances of finding a job are logically increased.  The trade off may be disruption to family and disconnection from established social networks so this does not work for everyone.
  6. Gender – Generally the unemployment rate for women is higher than that for men.  Similar as age, if a company discriminates based on gender, then they are reducing their available pool of candidates by 50%…Not a smart business and one you probably would not want to work for anyway!
  7. State of the economy – If there is ‘confidence’ in the economy, spending increases and businesses are more buoyant and look to grow and hire more staff. Even in down times there are still jobs available, and those who go the extra yard will get the job ahead of the passive job-seeker.
  8. State of mind – If you stay upbeat, positive and enthusiastic, despite the setbacks faced in job search you will move to your next job sooner.  You will be able to confidently convey your skills, experiences and knowledge and do so with the right frame of mind.  Needless to say, negative people are their own worst enemy in job search.  No one wants to hire Eeyore the pessimistic, negative character from Winnie the Pooh!  Unfortunately, I regularly see mature job-seekers create their own barriers in job search by verbalising things like, ‘No one would want to hire someone my age.’  Think it and it will be!
  9. Personality – If you are shy and introverted (or at an extreme ‘socially phobic’) then generally you may find it takes longer to find your next role. This is simply on the premise that you find it harder to ‘get out there’ and to perform well in interviews as well as tapping into the ‘hidden job market’ via networking.  Don’t miss the opportunity to use networking as a key part of your job search.  It does not have to be uncomfortable or awkward, but rather treated as a business meeting which most of us are familiar with.  Also remember that most people you meet WANT TO HELP YOU, so this should further allay any concerns.
  10. Time of year – Generally you won’t find a lot of jobs during the summer holiday season.  Frustratingly, there always seems to be excuses ‘not to hire’ at certain times of the year (e.g. Easter, before/after the end of the financial year and so on).  While there are fewer jobs, there are jobs available and it’s also a great time to network as recently returned or yet-to-leave hiring managers will have more time and inclination to speak with you.
  11. Full or part time – We’ll potentially see more part time and casual jobs in the future as companies become less inclined to hire (commit to) permanent full-time employees. However, at present, most jobs on the market are full time and suitable part time jobs are challenging – but not impossible – to come by…It’s all about creating the need in the eyes of the employer and getting into the market via networking!
  12. Educational level attained – While it’s tough to get any job, generally the less well-qualified you are, the more difficult it is to find another role.  In saying that, most employers are interested in the experience and skills (value) you bring to the table rather than educational qualifications alone.
  13. Currency of skills – You may have skills, but if they are no longer in demand then you will find less demand for them.  You may be great at manning the toll booth on the motorway, unfortunately these skills and also the role have been superseded by technology.  However, as a toll collector you also have great skills with customers, cash handling and reconciliation, and technology among others…Where else can these skills be put to good use?  Get out there and find out!
  14. Self-development – If you are willing to ‘go back to school’ or to undertake other development (to up-skill or pursue another vocation), you logically give yourself more chance of landing a role that you want.  It’s a case of one step back to take two forward…
  15. Luck – Yes, that’s right, luck, L-U-C-K!  Very often job search is about being in the right place, meeting the right person at the right time.  You can create your own luck in job search by getting out from behind your computer and meeting people!  The more people you meet, the more information you discover which may potentially lead to a new role.  Very often, companies don’t have time to advertise jobs or place them with recruiters, with the result that they ‘get by’ being under-staffed (with concomitant impacts).  Put yourself out there in order to be found!

Unemployment is a fact of life and affects many people. The way you address  and respond to your period of unemployment is critical in determining how long you will be out of work!

In my experience you will give yourself a significantly greater chance to land your next job in a shorter space of time simply by being ACTIVE in job search.

Don’t be passive, slouched over your computer sending off applications to already over-subscribed jobs or harried recruiters. Meet up with a few good recruiters, but predominantly get out and meet people (networking) and structure your days and weeks to incorporate high quality job search (along with some balance to spend time with family and friends and to plan time for yourself).  If you do these things, you can effectively counter a lot of the variables mentioned earlier and be able to move into your next role sooner.

Click here to contact Paul Di Michiel (The Career Medic) who can help you in your job search and offer guidance on how to get your next role sooner including resumes, LinkedIn profiles and interviewing.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s