Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Did you know the lack of an online presence makes an interview less likely?

I've been stressing the ever-growing importance of a solid, favorable online presence in executive career management and job search for some years now. A May 14 article on CareerBuilder.com confirms just how important it is.

What do you think is the likely next step after a recruiter or hiring executive has taken a look at your well branded, high-impact executive resume? More often than not, he or she is going to Google your name and try to find you on social media.


There can be absolutely no doubt that social media recruitment and candidate research are on the rise, and there are no signs of a slowdown in the trajectory. According to CareerBuilder's research, the majority of employers (52%) now use social networks to screen candidates. The national survey conducted by Harris Poll included more than 2,000 full-time U.S. hiring and HR managers in diverse industries and company sizes.

Fifty-six percent of recruiters want to see if a candidate has an online persona, while 37% look for what others are saying about a candidate. A disturbing 21% admit that they specifically look for reasons NOT to interview or hire.

The following industries were the heaviest users of online research to screen candidates: IT, Financial Services, Sales, Professional & Business Services, Manufacturing, Health Care, and Retail.

A full 48% of hiring managers and recruiters screening on social media confirm that they have discovered information that caused them to reject a candidate, with these being major killers:

  •  inappropriate photographs
  •  indications of drinking and drug use
  •  speaking ill of a previous employer
  •  demonstrated lack of communication skills
  •  discriminatory comments

However, and I found this to be a key finding: About a third of respondents said they had found information that caused a favorable hiring decision, based on:

  1. background information supporting qualifications
  2. favorable indications of personality/culture fit
  3. a candidate's site conveying a professional image
  4. demonstration of great communication skills
  5. evidence of creativity

Note number three: "A candidate's site conveying a professional image."

Not only does this mean that having a powerfully branded LinkedIn profile is a key component of your online strategy. It also confirms that a candidate's online resume site is viewed favorably by recruiters who, when polled recently, indicated that a personal website was "the most impressive tool an applicant could have." Yes, your executive resume is still an important and necessary career document. But it is becoming but one leg of a three-legged stool: Executive Resume - LinkedIn profile - Personal, Branded Resume Website/Portfolio.

Since 90% of first impressions are now made online (whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, articles about you, or your personal website), representing yourself effectively on LinkedIn and ideally through an online resume/portfolio sets you apart from the competition
while giving you added control of your online image.

If you would like to learn more about optimizing your appeal in today's executive job market, you can browse my posts here or contact me through my website at www.creativekeystrokes.com. Mention this post, and I will email you a complimentary copy of one of my executive career management e-reports on interviewing: Executive Guide to Getting the Job Offer.


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Afraid you are "overqualified" for a job? Thinking of "dumbing down" your resume?

There are wildly varying opinions on this topic, but in my opinion in some circumstances it may be warranted to "dumb down" your resume just a bit. If you need to keep food on the table by accepting a position somewhat (not drastically) below the level for which you are qualified, it is legitimate to tailor your resume for that position.

However, take care that you are not actually dishonest. You can leave out advanced credentials if you wish. You can use position descriptors/titles that aren't quite so high-level as long as they are still reasonably descriptive of your role. However, be aware that even this tactic can be perceived as dishonest by potential employers if you are not careful, and can unfortunately be a dealbreaker.

One strategy is to include a targeted job title at the beginning of your resume, and then craft your profile and work history to demonstrate your qualifications for that title, while downplaying or omitting responsibilities/accomplishments which are not relevant.

It is also important to think ahead about the objections a potential employer might have and prepare answers to them, such as why you will NOT be likely to jump ship as soon an opportunity for a higher level job for which you are qualified comes along. It is critical to convince them that you are not a flight risk, and that you will not become bored. No company wants to invest in onboarding and training if they afraid you will not stick around.

If age is a perceived issue, be sure to effectively emphasize how your wealth of experience will present great value to the company.

Since your resume is a marketing document and not under any legal requirement to give full details about anything, you are relatively safe from issues regarding not coming fully clean about your background. However, for this very reason, some companies ALSO require a completed employment application before they will interview you, and you ARE legally required to be complete in all your answers on that application.

Some basic techniques for dumbing down or disguising age on a resume include:

1) Omit dates of graduation/degrees

2) Don't list advanced degrees or credentials that are not required for the position you seek. However, the benefit of doing this in looking "less qualified" may be offset by the lost opportunity to show your investment in your personal development and ongoing drive to acquire knowledge.

3) Limit your career history to the last 15 years (this is good practice in many cases anyway).

4) Rather than actual job titles, list your department and/or function. For example, rather than EVP of Finance, you could say: Finance Department Management. Make sure you can communicate a good rationale for the title you chose, and DO NOT apologize for dumbing down your resume.

One strategy is to create two versions of your resume, the "dumbed down" version and a full-fledged higher level resume. This, of course, creates the dilemma of which resume to post online.

There are a number of inherent "gotchas" in the strategy of dumbing down a resume.

1) One of the bigger ones these days is that the web and social media will likely contradict the picture you are painting--your LinkedIn profile, articles which you have authored or been mentioned in, etc.

2) A big stumbling block is that your application will not match the resume, and you do NOT want to be less than truthful on that application.

3) You'll have to carefully plan your interview responses to make them mesh with the career history you have put forth. Facts or stories that reveal you really oversaw an organization of more than 100 will not be congruent with a job entry that is headed "Office Support Professional."

Better than dumbing down the resume, how about ratcheting it up? Position yourself for the next level on the career ladder, rather than stepping down a rung or two. Network harder. Make connections with hiring decision makers.

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Pitfalls of Copying Content from Online Executive Resume Samples

The Internet is replete with sample executive resumes and format examples. All you have to do is perform a Google search for "executive resumes" or "executive resume sample" and you'll see what I mean. 

There are a number of organizations whose business it is to provide plug-and-play templates for resumes, many of which provide boilerplate text designed for different industries and occupations. Many executive resume services also provide example resumes on their websites, in an effort to provide reassurance to their prospective clients of the quality of their work. (My executive resume service, Creative Keystrokes, does this as well.)

So, the next question might be: Why not just copy and paste content from executive resume samples found on the Web to create your own resume? 

The answer is that anyone who does this deceives him or herself if they think they have successfully "cheated the system" by using someone else's work. Rather the executive has inevitably shortchanged him or herself.

Why is this so? The important fact to bear in mind is that no two executives' backgrounds are the same, and no two executives possess the identical set of experiences, business/interpersonal skills, industry-specific knowledge, or functional area subject matter expertise. Each person's UVP (Unique Value Proposition) and brand are different from all others, and thus treatment for each person's career needs to be unique as well. The format and content of sample executive resumes and other career documents--no matter how impressive--will without exception NOT represent a blueprint for your resume, even if your job title and general background are similar.

So, whether you decide to research how to write an executive resume and attempt to develop it yourself, or opt to engage the assistance of a qualified executive resume writer, the last thing you want to do is copy and paste from another individual's resume. You will be doing yourself a great disservice, as that resume content was written for a specific individual and cannot possibly do you justice.

Lastly, would you really want to be faced at an interview with embarrassing questions about why the content of your resume duplicates that found in another candidate's resume? I think not.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is Your Ultimate Goal CEO? Pathways to Get There

MBA Central (www.mbacentral.org) has recently developed a fascinating infographic about how to become a CEO.

Many of my clients who are not yet in that category do aspire to get there. Thus, they are building the requisite skill set and exposure to the many functional areas involved in a successful business: Operations, marketing, strategy, finance, creating company culture, human resources, recruitment/talent development, regulatory compliance, sales, PR, and so on. According to the infographic, each of these comes under the umbrella of responsibility for a CEO.

How important is education level? Well many of the CEO's of top companies do have Ivy League degrees, including Meg Whitman (HP), Jeffery Immelt (GE), Jamie Dimon (JPMorganChase), Roberto Goizueta (Coca-Cola)--65% of them hail from Harvard. And indeed, 97% of CEOs have attained their Bachelor Degree, 29% their MBA. Only 2.4% have no degree at all.

It can be done without that degree, though. For example, these dropouts seem to have done all right: Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and Richard Branson (Virgin).

What about age? The average starting age for a CEO in Fortune 500 companies is 52.

Executives and entry level employees alike can take heart in that most CEO's started from humble beginnings like you, for example: Anne Mulcahy of Xerox (sales rep), Eric Schmidt of Google (Bell Labs Researcher), and Jack Welch of GE (engineer).

And what can one expect once they've grabbed the brass ring? That varies wildly, but in a big company the compensation is big also--well into 8 figures. Oracle's CEO compensation (cash, stock, options included) tops out at $78.4 Million.

What are characteristics of successful CEO's? These include Honor, Patience, Financial Savvy, Perseverance, Leadership, Realism, Perspective, Courage, Expertise, and Ability to Pitch and Close. Selection of future CEO's will increasingly focus on qualities like Flexibility, Transparency, Collaboration, and Empowerment.

If you are looking to position yourself for a CEO role, you'll need to make sure that your executive resume and LinkedIn profile emphasize the broad range of functional skills listed in this infographic. In addition, your executive resume and LinkedIn profile need to convey that you possess the soft skills mentioned above--not just by listing them, but by demonstrating them through your performance in roles to date.

To view these and additional insights on How to Become a CEO, you can access the infographic at:

How to Become a CEO

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Infographic Vividly Shows Stats and Consequences of Lying on Resumes

A site called backgroundchecks.org has created an infographic that vividly shows the numerous ways that everyone from entry level workers to senior executives lie, exaggerate, or embellish their resumes--potentially endangering their current job or even their careers. It's well worth a look. 

For an unknown reason, the graphic displays either too large or too small when included below, so I have provided a link that will take you to the original.

The Lies We Tell on Resumes


The consequences can be dire: 51% of employers indicated that they would dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on their executive resume. I have written on this topic before, but think it is well worth revisiting. Remember always that it is legitimate to effectively communicate your capabilities and achievements on your executive resume, but is is definitely not OK to lie!

******

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Be Found on LinkedIn: Are You Eliminating Yourself from Consideration without Realizing It?

In completing another LinkedIn strategies seminar last week, I garnered numerous insights and takeaways. Following are a few standouts.


There are five primary reasons that a candidate's profile is either never viewed by a recruiter using LinkedIn's "Recruiter Corporate" app, or if it is viewed, it doesn't make the initial cut: 
  • Your profile was not found (not complete and optimized for keywords, so it did not appear in the search results).
  • Your "snapshot" mini-profile that shows on the search results page didn't attract the recruiter enough to make them click through to your full profile. (You didn't make sure that what they see in that little slice is relevant and compelling.)
  • Your full profile wasn't viewable (because you were not in their network).
  • Your profile didn't demonstrate the applicability of your qualifications and capabilities for the position at hand.
  • You weren't easily reachable (contact information readily accessible).
So, what can you do to avoid these five eliminators?
  1. Make sure LinkedIn deems your profile "100% Complete" and that it is rich in the appropriate keywords for your profession.
  1. Optimize these items which appear in the Recruiter Corporate app search results "Snapshot":
  • Photo (professional and appealing)
  • FirstName LastName and Credentials (shows your name and any variations by which you might be known)
  • Relationship (You want to be a 1st or 2nd level connection, so this means expanding your network.)
  • # of Direct Connections You Have (the more, the better)
  • Headline (a keyword rich and compelling tag line)
  • Geographic Location (hopefully within 25-50 miles of position)
  • Industry (Look at others' profiles to make sure you pick the most relevant.)
  • Current Company and Title (These are more flexible and can provide more information than you might think, but that's a topic for another post.)
  • Past Roles
  • Education
  • KEYWORDS (A snippet from your summary shows, and the first 100 characters are critical.)
  1. Continually work on expanding your network so that it is more likely you will be in the recruiter's network at first or second level.
  1. Hone the entire content of your profile to "make the sale" once the recruiter does click through--demonstrate how your qualifications and capabilities make you a match for your desired role.
  1. Include contact information to make it as easy and quick as possible to reach you. Recruiters do NOT want to have to use InMail to make contact, as they have a small number of in-mails they can send to out-of-network contacts as part of their Corporate account. Make sure your Public Profile is set to be available to "everyone" so that a recruiter out of network can see it. Most recruiters prefer initial contact by phone, so provide your number (preferably not a work or home phone)!
External and corporate recruiters were spending upwards of $1.2B on LinkedIn's Talent Solutions (including Recruiter Corporate) as early as 2013 and well over 97% of recruiters were using LinkedIn as a primary sourcing tool (estimates run as has as 99%+ now). So coming up in their search results, and then surviving and advancing through each step of the process as they winnow out those of little interest and select those candidates they wish to pursue further is a must to be competitive in your executive job search.

And by the way, the executive resume you uploaded as a document attachment to your profile will not be seen by the recruiter using the Recruiter Corporate app, nor will it be scanned for keywords in his search. This makes it all the more important for your LinkedIn content to be compelling on its own.

There are of course a number of reasons why you may not wish to have your executive resume so widely available, which is why many executives opt not to include it with the LinkedIn profile. 

If you do wish for recruiters to be able to view your executive resume when using their Recruiter Corporate account, it is suggested to insert a link to a Slideshare version of it as one of your "websites" in the Contact Info section of your profile. 

*****

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Executive Job Search Etiquette

A recent entry on U.S. News & World Report's Careers Blog provides some excellent tips on how to enhance your reputation and professional image while conducting a job search, through some basic etiquette rules.

No matter how powerful your executive resume and no matter how eminently qualified you may be for a potential executive opportunity, putting forth a less-than-totally professional or rude impression will reduce or even possibly eliminate your chances of winning the job offer.

As a successful executive, you wouldn't likely have risen to this level in your career without a professional and courteous demeanor, but some of these strategies are well worth a reminder:

* Being courteous to everyone, everywhere, ALL the time: We all witnessed the news stories in just the last month about the interviewee who insulted the interviewer in the subway on the way to his job interview!

* Avoiding becoming a pest: Following up is OK; following up to excess is not.

* Listen CAREFULLY to what your interviewer tells you about the position or the company, to avoid looking like a rude fool when you ask a question that reveals you were not paying attention.

* Send a note of appreciation following all interviews. My advice is a dual approach on this: Send an email thank-you the same or following day, and SNAIL MAIL a short, handwritten note as well. The anecdotes about hiring managers and executives for whom the handwritten thank-you note tipped the scales in a candidate's favor are numerous.

For the complete list of job search etiquette tips, see:

7 Key Etiquette Tips for Your Job Search

*****
 

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