Monday, January 25, 2016

Job References: Think Your Former Employer Can't Bad Mouth You? Think Again

In an article published by Allison Taylor recently, this reference-checking firm debunked some mistaken ideas that many have these days about what employers will and will not do when contacted about a job reference for a potential hire.

All of that persuasive information you included on your executive resume got you the call, and you used your practiced communication skills to ace a series of interviews. There is an offer on the table and they've asked for your references. You are confident that your former employers will say glowing things about you, or at least be noncommittal, so you consent to them contacting those employers.

Apparently this is not so. Allison Taylor has been in the business of checking references for corporations and individuals for over 30 years. While you clearly need to consent to the contact simply because if you do not that raises an immediate red flag, it is not safe to assume that your former employer cannot and will not supply unflattering comments about you.

It is not illegal for a former employer to provide a negative reference, and the prospective employer will rarely let you know if that has occurred. Some employers do hesitate to provide negative responses, simply to avoid the potential of a lawsuit--some, but definitely not all.

This is where engaging the assistance of a professional reference checking firm can pay off. Have a firm like Allison Taylor find out what your references are really saying about you, and if it is negative and unfair, you then have options such as sending a Cease-and-Desist letter or even pursuing legal action. In the case of job references, what you don't know definitely can hurt you.

I have known and recommended the services of Allison Taylor for many years. To see the full article, see Do You Know What Your Former Boss Will Say About You? You can check out their services at (I do receive small compensation for business generated through my referrals, but truly do think from executive feedback that they are one of the best.)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How to Get a Recruiter to Open Your Email (and Your Executive Resume)

You've put together a dynamite executive resume and are ready to dispatch it to a recruiter. Of course you've also included an attention-grabbing message in the body of your email. The third step which is extremely critical is to make sure you have an email subject line that will increase chances a recruiter will actually open and read your email and its attached resume.

I've received many resumes from prospective clients attached to emails that either have no subject line or say something generic like "resume." Now for purposes of engaging an executive resume writer, this may not be so bad. But if those same people are sending out their resumes to companies and recruiters in this fashion, they are definitely doing themselves a disservice.

A site called "JobMob" recently did a survey of recruiters asking which of the emails they've received from job candidates had the best subject line. Here are a few of the subject lines recruiters most liked:

"Your Next Hire"

"I've done my research... You need me!"

"From the World's Greatest Salesperson"

"You've won the lottery... I'm available immediately."

"Award-winning HR pro seeking opportunities"

"9 reasons why you should move forward with me as your new talent manager"

"Hiring me will change your company because..."

"Confidentially, I work for your competitor."

Some also stated that they appreciate clear and concise, a subject line that tells them what you do without having to click through the email. Here are some I have seen:

"IT Executive: Solving business problems through technology"

"John Doe: Turnaround CEO"

"Sales Pro: Results Guaranteed"

Do make sure that your subject line is 'other' rather than self oriented. That should put the kibosh on things like:

"Hire Me"

"Seeking Employment"

"Looking for opportunities"

The long and short of it is that you want your subject line to be descriptive, informative, and memorable. It can even have a bit of humor. The object is to pique the reader's interest so that they will first OPEN your email and then keep reading.

For more examples that could help spark ideas, see the full article at:

Top Email Subject Lines


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Monday, November 30, 2015

Avoiding Discrimination Based on Your Executive Resume

From the PeopleFlo blog, written by an executive recruiter, there are numerous ways in which you can be discriminated against, or as she cites the definition, have an "unjust or prejudical distinction in the treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, sex, or age."

She clearly states that there is really no fool-proof plan to eliminate discrimination altogether, but there are some things you can do:

Firstly, keep in mind the perspectives of the people who are likely to be reading your resume. If they are young, for instance, putting something like "More than 25 years of experience..." may instantly make them perceive you as old and ready to put out to pasture.

Don't allow your executive resume to claim more than it can defend, and don't provide information about yourself that "identifies" you in a way open to discrimination (for example, using the terms Mrs. or Ms., since marital status can be a discriminator).

Don't date your education or degrees, especially if it was many years ago. Dates will be necessary at some point, but that is when you actually complete an application.

Do date your employment history, but not beyond 10-15 years. (I'd say 20 years for senior executives.)

Obviously do not include a photograph of yourself, which create immediate liability for a recruiter or hiring executive.

Do not include your membership in race-specific, religion-specific, or controversial cause-specific groups.

For more good tips on how to "discrimination-proof" your executive resume, see the article at:

How to Discrimination Proof Your Resume


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What NOT to Include on Your Executive Resume

Alison Doyle writes some very insightful and savvy articles about different aspects of job search, and one she penned last month about The Top 15 Things Not to Include in a Resume was excellent.

She is correct that what you DON'T include can be just as important as what you DO include. You want to avoid providing any content that might lead the potential employer to doubt your qualifications or commitment to the job.

Among the top items that can mean trouble for you are:

1) Long, dense patches of text that do not invite the reader to delve in and can also bury key qualifications.

2) A "Me" oriented objective or summary, that's all about what you want to get out of the relationship, not what's in it for the employer.

3) Boring general or overly detailed lists of your duties, with no indication of how well you performed those duties. (And rife with phrases like "Responsibilities included...")

4) Irrelevant, long-ago experiences that can also expose you to age discrimination.

5) Photos of yourself... Definitely a no-no in a discrimination conscious environment in which your resume may be rejected BECAUSE it has a photo.

6) Reasons for leaving employers... This is not a job application.

7) TYPOS!! - No need to explain this one.

To view the other 8 items NOT to include on your executive resume, see the full article at:

15 Things Not to Include on a Resume


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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Cities with the Worst Job Prospects if You're Over 55

The Atlantic online magazine recently published a list of the ten cities with the highest unemployment rates for Americans 55 and older. There has been an unfortunate trend nationwide for higher unemployment among older workers, which is particularly notable in these cities. Although the overall rate of unemployment was 5.1% in September, the rate in this age category actually increased, with about 1.3 million Americans over 55 actively looking but unable to find a job. The real number is probably higher, due to the phenomenon of "closet unemployed" retirees.

Strangely, the unemployment rate for older workers seems to be higher in the most vital and vibrant cities. The ten cities with highest unemployment rates for older workers as of 2014 (the latest data available) range from San Jose (8.4%) and El Paso, Texas (7.3%) to Reno, Nevada (6.9%) and Raleigh, North Carolina (5.3%).

These facts make it all the more important for an older worker to have an effective executive resume in hand, show digital-age savvy by creating a strong presence and network on LinkedIn, and use the latest proactive networking and search strategies in his or her job search.

For the full list and an analysis of possible reasons why this is so, see the article at:
Worst Jobless Cities for Older Workers.


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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Increase Your Career Visibility Through LinkedIn Status Updates

There are various ways you can increase your visibility to the industry and recruiters on LinkedIn, and in so doing increase the likelihood of requests for your executive resume as well as direct contacts from recruiters and hiring managers. A tried-and-true method is to join relevant industry groups and either start or participate in existing discussions. Your participation in these discussions can also be featured in your status updates and show up in your connections' news feeds (assuming you have your privacy settings set to allow this).

Another, less frequently leveraged strategy is to make a point of regularly updating your status on LinkedIn. While I routinely recommend this to my executive clients, I do understand why some may be hesitant to do so: Coming up with interesting comments and content on a regular basis can be challenging. To make this a little easier, here are some suggestions about things you can share to keep yourself constantly in view:

  • Blog posts you have written
  • YouTube videos you have posted
  • Slideshows you have prepared
  • News you have found about your company or target companies
  • Tips and strategies related to your area of expertise
  • Your thoughts on issues in your industry
  • Questions that you would like to pose to industry experts
  • Interesting infographics
  • Quotes from people that you admire
  • Amusing pictures or cartoons (professionally appropriate, of course)
  • Info about upcoming events of interest to your connections
  • Info about events you have attended (conferences, etc.)
  • Status updates from others in your network - Help them brag!
So to get started... Click on "Share an Update" near the top of your Home screen, or if you have a lot to say, consider clicking on "Publish a Post" and wax eloquent!


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Friday, September 11, 2015

The Stealth Executive Job Hunt

You've decided it's time to move on. You've polished your executive resume and LinkedIn profile. Now the last thing you want is for your current employer and colleagues to find out that you are on the hunt. So, lacking Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, how can you search on the sly, but still conduct an effective search?

The first and most important rule is: Do NOT use your work email address for sending out your executive resumes, applying for positions, or corresponding with employers and recruiters. Your personal email is the only way to go for electronic job search communications.

The same goes for phone calls. It is best to use your cell phone versus your work line, and when doing so to either be in a closed door office situation or perhaps go out to your car or the nearby McDonald's to have your phone interview.

Posting your resume on executive-level job sites is risky, unless there is an option for confidential posting. Even in this instance, it may not be too difficult for your current employer to figure out who you are if they stumble upon your resume. A better option is submitting your resume directly to recruiters at the companies that interest you, or going through their corporate website to apply, versus an aggregator job board.

As far as interviews are concerned, if you are out of the office frequently during the day on outside business, your boss will of course become suspicious. As much as possible, schedule interviews for early morning, just after close of business, or at lunchtime.

Discretion is key. Avoid telling co-workers, no matter how sympathetic, that you are looking. Don't discuss it on Facebook or Tweet about it.

And needless to say, don't indicate that you are looking for a job on your LinkedIn profile. Include material that promotes the company. Be prepared with a good answer if your boss or colleagues happen to notice that you've updated the profile recently.
For example:

"I routinely update my profile to effectively portray my position as a representative of the company and expert in my field."

"... for business development purposes, to build up our sales prospect pipeline/generate leads."

" part of my ongoing efforts to expand my network (and thus our company's visibility).

"to enhance the company's competitive position and public image,"

...or a combination of the above.


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