Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do I Still Even NEED an Executive Resume? Doesn't my LinkedIn Profile Now Serve That Purpose?

Prognosticators have been predicting the demise of the resume for literally decades. According to a recent post on the Glassdoor blog, some career experts think that LinkedIn's value is quickly surpassing that of the resume, and on its way to replacing it completely.

I agree with the article's author that this is not a likely scenario. Some reasons are that LinkedIn is far too public... Is everyone going to want to publish the level of detail contained in their executive resume for all the world to see? No matter what your privacy settings, if you publish your resume to LinkedIn, you are essentially broadcasting it.

Also, the content and language used in your resume is quite likely going to be unsuitable for general public consumption. For example, while you might talk about operational or financial issues addressed for your current or previous employers in your executive resume, you could offend or even be deemed to have breached confidentiality or trust if you mentioned those things in a public forum such as LinkedIn.

There are practical considerations as well. LinkedIn's format and template place extreme limitations on volume of content, design, fonts, etc. Your resume suffers from no such restrictions.

My opinion is that you will likely need a resume for some time to come. Virtually every employer or recruiter will still ask for your resume early in the hiring process. Your LinkedIn profile will of course be an extremely valuable and virtually indispensable part of your career portfolio--as either a venue to be found initially, and as corroborating and expanded material for consideration in the hiring decision. But the executive resume is not down for the count just yet!


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Friday, October 10, 2014

Gender Bias and Your Executive Resume

The Australia unit of global recruitment firm Hays recently put to the test the common suspicion that there are gender biases in the recruitment process. They surveyed more than a thousand hiring managers, asking them to evaluate a resume and assess a potential candidate's likelihood to be interviewed. Half of the otherwise identical resumes submitted featured the name 'Simon' and the other half 'Susan'.

For the larger company employer (with more than 500 employees), there was a 6% difference in likelihood of interview based on the resume: 62% said it was likely Simon would get an interview, while just 56% wanted to interview Susan. For hiring managers with more extensive hiring experience, the stats were somewhat worse: 62% would interview Simon and 51% would interview Susan.

Other interesting findings were that while females seemed to favor female candidates, and males favored male candidates, they were still both more likely to interview and hire someone named Simon!

It is difficult to see a practical application or strategy based on this information for someone submitting their executive resume for consideration, since you obviously do need to provide your name on your resume. One might possibly go with initials, but that could potentially present other problems--among them being that some people tend to be uncomfortable about calling someone whose gender they do not know. I guess the conclusion to be reached is that society still has a way to go in reaching gender equality in hiring, as it does regarding age, ethnicity, religious background, etc.

For the full article, see:


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Monday, October 06, 2014

Some Surprising Things that Affect Employers' Hiring Decisions

We all know plenty of do's and don't's in the hiring process. Do create a powerful executive resume that communicates your brand and unique value proposition, and do carry that image over into your LinkedIn profile. Don't make your executive resume a boring account of employers, lists of responsibilities, etc..... yawn, yawn.

And once you have actually landed an interview, we all know that you do not want to air any grievances you may have had with your last employer as you interview with a prospective employer. You want to be on time (better, a little bit but not too much early), dress appropriately, etc. These are interview guidelines familiar to most of us.

However, a recent article in Business Insider listed a number of things that could affect the outcome of your interview (and the ultimate hiring decision), many of which you may not be aware. For example:

1. Glassdoor says that 10:30 AM on a Tuesday is the optimum time for an interview.

2. Try to interview on a sunny day... statistics show that interviewees perform better than they would on a rainy day. (
Hey, you can't really control the weather, but you could try to schedule for a day the weather prognosticators think will be sunny.)

3. Here's one you probably can't control, unless someone happens to reveal to you when your most qualified rival will be interviewing. You are better off NOT interviewing on the same day as that person. You will be compared and ranked in reference to people that interview on the same day as you do, which could hurt your rating.

4. DON'T accept anything to drink except for water. You are cutting into your interviewer's day if he or she has to see to getting you a cup of coffee, a potential annoyance even if it WAS their idea.

5. When you take a seat... HINT: NOT until after you are offered one, or they have settled into a chair.

6. What you do with your hands... There are seven sub-points to this one, of which all are worth making note. One that stood out to me: Do not shake hands with your palms down as this is a sign of dominance.

Intrigued?  I encourage you to read the full article containing all 18 items that affect whether you'll get hired for that fantastic new executive opportunity here:

Remember, no matter how great your executive resume is, it can only get you in the door. What you do once you enter that door is critical.



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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

LinkedIn: What to Enter for "Current Position" When You're Unemployed

LinkedIn encourages users to always include a current position on the profile. This presents a bit of a dilemma when you have left your position and are currently on the job market. Without a "current" entry, ranking in LinkedIn search results is penalized, and you can appear multiple pages lower in search results than you would have otherwise. 

Since job titles are so important to your LinkedIn SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it is not advisable to fill the "current" job entry with unrelated activity.

A better option is to make a current entry that describes the position you are looking for, with a job title along the lines of your target role. This can be approached in a similar way to what I advise my clients to do on their headline: Create a tag line that describes you and your goal, for example:

"Global Supply Chain Executive Open to Logistics & Distribution Opportunities"

The body of the current work experience can be used to tell the reader what skills and capabilities you bring to the table. Make sure it is rich in the keywords and phrases that a recruiter looking for someone with your talents will be searching on.

Your Headline does NOT have to be the same as what you just entered in the Job Title field for the current position (which is what will happen if you let LinkedIn fill in that field with its default information). Be sure to put some thought into customizing the Headline to succinctly convey your brand or value proposition, since the Headline is all that the recruiter will see initially in most search results.

And by the way, neither the Headline nor the Current Position field are the place to tell the reader your sad story about being laid off or currently unemployed for some other reason. Only positive information goes here!


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Omitting Dates on Your LinkedIn Employment History

My executive clients often ask me how far back they should take their LinkedIn employment histories, and then if it is possible to omit dates of employment from some or all of the entries. The concern expressed is generally potential age discrimination.

Most recruiters browsing LinkedIn are only going to be interested in the last 10-15 years of your career. (Incidentally, this goes for both your LinkedIn profile and your executive resume). So whether you include experiences beyond the last 15 years is entirely up to you. 

Regarding omitting employment dates from the profile, unfortunately as of the last time I checked, the date fields on LinkedIn experience entries are still mandatory.

A semi-decent workaround for mandatory date entry is to enter only the experiences for which you don’t care about revealing the dates as you normally would. For instance, you could opt to list only your last 3 to 5 positions spanning up to the last 15-20 years that are applicable to what you do today. 

If there is more experience you would like to cover in the profile but for which you do not want to reveal the dates, you can enter all of it in a single final entry in resume-like format. The experiences would appear one after the other in the body of the entry, with just the dates for the one at the top (or a random set of recent dates immediately prior to your last detailed entry) showing in the mandatory date fields.

This is not ideal, but really about the only way to do it within the data entry constraints LinkedIn currently imposes.  It has been said that some recruiters may not look at a profile from which some dates are omitted. However, if you have detailed dates for the last 15 years of your experience, these folks should be few and far between.

Probably the best alternative is to just stop your work history entries on LinkedIn at the point in time you deem appropriate. There is certainly no requirement for your LinkedIn profile to be exhaustive in listing your work history. Your resume does not have to do that, and neither does your LinkedIn profile.

Be aware that you can go too far with omitting dates or truncating your experience, however. Some resume screening (ATS) systems (and it can be assumed, LinkedIn’s search algorithm) will calculate the number of years' experience a person has and eliminate resumes or profiles when they are not sufficient for a job requirement or recruiter’s search parameter. For instance, many specify at least 10 or 15 years of experience, so if you list fewer than 15 years of employment with dates, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Currently this means taking your career history back to the year 2000.

Until LinkedIn decides to wake up to the fact that there are mid- to late career executives who do not wish to use a forced chronological format and broadcast their age, users will have to work around their system. Whether subconscious or deliberate, there IS age discrimination out there, and it would be nice if LinkedIn would quit enabling it.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Which Are More Important: Verbs or Nouns in Your Executive Resume?

With the increasing prevalence of ATS systems, some are now saying that nouns (as to be found in job announcements/job descriptions) are more important than verbs for your online resume. 

Of course you want to make sure your resume contains plenty of the nouns associated with your profession, those that would occur regularly in a job posting or that you find in the announcements that interest you. The nouns are basic qualifiers... words that show you know something about your field and have qualities to be desired in a leader.

From what I have seen of actual screening protocols in some of the ATS systems, however, the nouns they select on often make little to no sense. Nevertheless, if your resume does not contain them, it could be passed over by the system.

While nouns are important, don't emphasize nouns to the exclusion of verbs - words that paint a picture of you... your drive, ability to deliver results, proactive approach to things. A resume that is not rich in relevant verbs as well as nouns may get past an ATS system, but it will bore a recruiter reading it to tears. Your resume will have become just a career obituary containing job descriptions written in HR-ese.

The last time I checked my grammar manual, every sentence is comprised of several major elements including a noun or nouns, one or more verbs, and adjectives. Use them all effectively in your executive resume and you'll fare well with both the machine and the human. 

And may I say again that if you are an executive and your primary source of leads is online job listings, you are greatly decreasing your chances of finding a great position. Your best approach is networking - online and in person - an approach in which a human will be the first to read your resume and WHAT your resumes claims you can do pales in importance to HOW WELL it shows you can do it. Inclusion of the resume in an ATS system, if done at all, will be an afterthought and formality.


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Friday, January 31, 2014

Do you REALLY want your career fate depending a ROBOT's read of your resume?

I found a recent a discussion on the Career Thought Leaders Consortium to be quite thought provoking. It concerned the robots reading the resumes we write, and how preparing your resume for scanning by an ATS system is very important for most job seekers.

As I commented in that discussion, hopefully all of my fellow resume writers have long been making sure that our resumes are keyword rich and well matched to the job target. It is sad that ATS systems seem to be reducing all resumes to the least common denominator regarding formatting and presentation, since in my view these are important components contributing to the overall impression.

I do in my practice routinely provide Word (fairly simply but attractively formatted), PDF, and text versions to my executive clients. However, sometimes I wonder what people are thinking when they say that you need to submit both plain text and Word formatted versions when applying for a position so as to meet the needs of both the robot and the human. In most cases when applying for a position via websites, the opportunity is afforded to submit only one version. So a choice has to be made--whether to appeal to the human or the robot.

The infographic to be found in this article is revealing:!

Recruiters' perspectives on this are interesting. In a recent LinkedIn discussion within the Corporate Recruiters group, it was discussed what the emerging dominance of ATS in recruitment means for recruiters. Are they becoming processors instead of talent agents? Many find ATS to have its pros and cons. An HR Manager observed that "An ATS searching for key words in a resume could very well bypass key talent, leaving a position unfilled for quite some time," an extremely valid point. Others complain about the loss of the "personal touch" or the need for relationship building. Still others observe that as a database system, ATS is no better than the programming that created it and the consistency and accuracy of data handling. Many feel that ATS systems (along with most resume databases) encourage laziness versus the creative, hard work of tracking down and evaluating talent.

When you get down to it, recruiting is an art, not a science or a mathematical equation to be worked out by an impersonal computer. I believe that ATS has a very long way to go before it can be depended upon to result in good hiring decisions and avoid arbitrarily discarding some of the best potential candidates for a position. At least in the meantime, at whatever level you are in your career, I encourage you to become a sleuth and figure out who are the decision makers and how can you directly contact them. Where this absolutely cannot be done, you'll face no other choice than to submit a very simply formatted Word version or a not too appealing text-formatted document.

The first line in the article mentioned above stated: "These days, the first set of eyes on your resume may not actually be eyes." I'm speaking here to my executive clients: For those in the upper echelons of management and the executive suite, you are doing yourself a disservice if you are doing much of your search via submission of your resume through online job boards or employer portals where odds are your resume will first be screened by an ATS.

You do not want to be applying via websites where you can avoid it. Your go-to strategy should be building and leveraging a strong network and making at least initial contact directly with the party or parties involved in the hiring decision. Job #1 is to make sure that wherever possible the first eyes on your resume ARE actually those of a human.

Once you have piqued the interest of a real, live person, the resume will likely be uploaded to the recruiting firm or company's resume database, and at this point you will also want to provide a simply formatted text version for that purpose. This is probably unavoidable, but you can rest assured that your resume has already bypassed the black hole of a resume database and landed on the desk of a decision maker.


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