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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Monday, December 23, 2013

Is a Great New Job on Your Christmas List?

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, focused work on your executive resume or job search often goes on hold. There are many very good reasons NOT to suspend these activities as the year draws to close, but that is a topic for another post. 

When you resume your job search efforts in the New Year, you may wish to consider the annual list that Glass Door has compiled of the Best Places to Work for 2014 and set your sights on your favorite(s). The list starts with Bain & Company, followed in the top 5 by Twitter, LinkedIn, Eastman Chemical, and Facebook. There are companies of all sizes and types, and you are sure to find some to put on your Christmas list.

Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards 2014

Glassdoor has announced our sixth annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the 50 Best Places to Work, and new for 2014, the 50 Best Medium-Sized Companies to Work For. Winners were determined by the people who know these companies best — their employees.


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just in Time for Halloween: A Scary New LinkedIn Feature

My husband, an IT guru since the days when a personal computer was one that you ordered parts for and assembled yourself, alerted me to a very scary new feature on LinkedIn.

With the prevalence of identity theft and fraud these days, you cannot be too careful with your personal information. That is the reason why I advise my clients to limit the personal contact info they include on their executive resumes and to be careful what they post online or send out in emails.

Enter LinkedIn with a feature that may sound great on the surface: Intro. It allows you to have fancy business-centric HTML content injected right in your emails. The security risk potential for something like this is very high, and I would strongly advise my executive clients NOT to jump on the bandwagon for this one.

For more details, see:


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Do Hiring Executives ACTUALLY Make Hiring Decisions?

I've been following a fascinating thread on the LinkedIn channel that looks at Influencers and how they hire, which I think LinkedIn members will find informative.

You'll find some great insights into the thinking of hiring executives.

You'll also see some of what I would consider rather "off the wall" approaches, including a very small minority of hiring executives who don''t even ask for or look at a person's resume. (While I think a powerful LinkedIn profile may even eclipse the executive resume in some cases, the last thing you want to do is be caught flat-footed when someone asks for your resume!)

I highly encourage you to browse through some of the posts yourself, but here are a few excerpts:

> Deepak Chopra, MD (Founder, Chopra Foundation): "Look in to an applicant's soul"

> A.J.  Jacobs (Editor at Large, Esquire Magazine): "Desperately seeking chutzpa"

> Angie Hicks (Angie's List): She looks for a number of traits, among them: "smart, adroit, confident, passionate, committed"

> Arne Sorenson (CEO Marriott International) says: "Just be yourself"

> Gary Shapiro (President & CEO Consumer Electronics Association): "We want innovators... Moxie over degree"

> Walt Bettinger (President & CEO, Charles Schwab): "Hiring is more art than science... Let's do lunch"

> Jeff Miller (EVP & COO, Haliburton): "Always ask: Where can this person go from here?"

> Mark Tercek (President & CEO, The Nature Conservancy): "You need brains, but also a big heart"

> Padmassree Warrior (CTSO, Cisco Systems): "the X Factor, an intangible combination of exceptional talent and fit for the role"

> Spencer Rascoff (CEO, Zillow): "Nothing matters more than culture fit"

To view all the posts:
How Executives Hire


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Monday, September 16, 2013

Please Don't Even THINK About Lying on Your Executive Resume!

"Remember, it takes years to build up a reputation and a moment to destroy it.”

I've written on this topic at least once, I think twice before. But it bears repeating. Make sure your executive resume, LinkedIn profile, and any other career-related materials you have are completely truthful and accurate.

This article I ran across today on Fox Business says it well. Aside from the obvious morality issues, lying, fabricating, or exaggerating can have devastating consequences for your career and even for the company that employs you.

Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/09/13/why-should-never-lie-on-your-resume/#ixzz2f6GUE7Vd

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ready to Relocate? Ten Tips for Finding a Job in Another State or City

With the dramatic increase in the average time it takes to land a new job in the "post-recession" economy, it is not surprising that many job seekers have taken their searches beyond the local level, even to a national or international scope. In a slow executive job market, more and more of my clients are broadening their horizons to look at employment opportunities far from their current location--some with enthusiasm and others with great reluctance.

A relocation strategy presents some difficulties that are not present in a local search. There are a number of practical steps you can follow, some of which have the primary goal of establishing yourself as a local, even though you do not yet reside in your target city. Some of these tips will of course apply only if you have narrowed down your targets to a single city, but many will apply even if you have multiple possible relocation targets.

1. Research and select one or several potential relocation targets.

2. Identify and research companies located in your target cities for which you would like to work.

3. Establish a local address for use when you apply for positions. Use it on all of your application materials (executive resumes, cover letters, bios, etc.).

4. Find and sign up for job alerts on geography-specific job sites. Submit your executive resume and cover letter with the localized contact info on them.

5. Subscribe to and read local publications, both online and print, including newspapers, business journals, entertainment and arts publications, etc.

6. Leverage LinkedIn's capabilities to launch your search into high gear:

      a. Follow companies in your target city or cities

      b. Establish relationships with locally based recruiters

      c. Join locally based LinkedIn groups and participate in discussions

      d. Identify and contact connections or connections of connections on LinkedIn who live in your target city, especially any who work for one of your targeted companies.

7. Make sure you can readily articulate your "story" regarding why you wish to or are in the process of relocating. Examples might be that you have friends and/or family in the area or perhaps that you want to live in an area with (insert here whatever it is that you like about the area--outdoor activities, climate, arts and culture, vibrant economy, etc.).

8. Consider investing in travel costs for out-of-town interviews. Many of the better companies who are looking to hire an executive will arrange and pay for transportation and overnight hotel for an interview, but don't expect it. Now that you've had first contact, presumably they know that you are not currently based in town. However, you have worked hard to present yourself as easily accessible and hopefully gotten past the first hurdle of being viewed as an (expensive to hire) out of town candidate by establishing a local address and contacts. So don't erase all of that by pressing for a trip on their dime.

Paying for your own interview trip is expensive financially and time-wise, but it can pay off. Do note one big caveat: Do not give the impression that you are coming to town just to see them, unless you want to be perceived as desperate. Rather, set up some other employer or recruiter interviews or at least a list of companies you might drop in on during your visit, so you can honestly say you are going to be in town anyway.

9. Begin to make self-relocation plans (if you can afford it)... either to be executed upon landing a job or perhaps if your situation permits to relocate while your job search is still underway.If you do this and can honestly tell a potential employer that your relocation is imminent, it will reduce your chance of being eliminated from consideration due to the fear of high costs in relocating you. Of course, if your new employer offers to pay for your move, all the better.

10. Lastly, and possibly most important: If you are seriously considering a move to your target city or cities, invest the time and money to go there, and bring along your spouse or significant other who would be relocating with you. (You can kill two birds with one stone by scheduling some informational, recruiter, or job interviews for during this visit.) The last thing you want to happen is to get to the job offer stage or worse yet, have arrived with your moving van, pets and children in tow only to find that the target city's environment, amenities, and lifestyle are not suitable for you and your family's long-term happiness.

Years ago my husband and I followed these strategies for one of our state-to-state moves (all except for one of the most powerful, LinkedIn, which did not exist then). We self-financed a week of exploration in our target city during which he'd prearranged about a half dozen interviews. He fielded multiple job offers from that effort, and accepted one of them.


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