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The Job Search Expert

 

The Job Search Expert is a monthly career column written for Park alumni by fellow alumnus Rick Gillis, '86. Rick is an expert on employment and job search. Read more about Rick at the bottom of the page.

 

 September

An excerpt from "Job!: Learn How to Find Your Next Job in 1 Day"

The Accomplishments Worksheet

“It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.”

Benjamin Franklin 

Job search is tough. But it becomes much more straightforward once you know how to successfully navigate the resume filtering and candidate management systems so prolific today. That knowledge in combination with the ability to convince a potential employer of your value will move your candidacy to the top of the list every time.  You will find that you are not just being offered another job but receiving real opportunities.

By the time you finish reading this book, you will know how to make this happen.

Keep in mind that you are seeking only one position. You do not, and should not, put too much mental energy into daily news reports about the unemployment rate and the ups and downs of the economy.  What you do need to be conscious of is that job search is more highly competitive than it ever has been and job seekers, in my experience, do not know how to compete. I’m going to change that for you.

I will teach you how to compete with “why-hasn’t-anyone-told-me-this-before” strategies as well as one fresh new tool and some other innovative techniques that have proved successful with thousands of people who have attended my live presentations, heard me on radio or seen me on TV.

Where NOT to Start

If you are reading this, you are either not working or you are thinking that things are looking tenuous at work. So you whip out your old resume (what I call the “obituary”—but more on that later), or fire up the computer to begin drafting your new resume, right? WRONG! 

This is not where you begin your job search, yet it is the place where 99.9 percent of all job seekers start. Instead, here are the 3 steps to your next job. Note that your traditional resume is last.

          Create an Accomplishments Worksheet

          Write a Short-Form (Accomplishments-Based) Resume

          Write a Traditional (Long-Form) Resume

Download the rest of the chapter.

 July/August

 

“PhD Discrimination”

I admit it.  I’m guilty of counseling job seekers to ‘dumb down’ their resumes if they are getting zero response from their efforts.

I recently received an email from a job seeker (a scientist with 38 patents or so and a dozen or more pending approval this year!) who was complaining to me about “PhD Discrimination.”

Wow! What a sound bite: “PhD Discrimination!” Said job seeker who, by the way, goes by Doug, and I were soon on the phone where he was telling me about his frustration at the lack of responses he had been receiving as a result of his having been working a very smart & well thought out job search plan. (Would you expect any less from a world-class scientist?) I let Dr. Doug talk and after a while I told him that I knew exactly what was going on, that I had run into this situation several times before (having recently been doing a little work with some of the PhD’s being laid off from the Shuttle Program at The Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake, TX, near my home), I have had to counsel some highly intelligent but new-to-the-game job seekers that their top notch degrees might actually work against them in their job search.

This type of employment prejudice impacts our place in the world community--our keeping up with global competition. Nevertheless it goes on every single day in every single hiring office in the land. Think I’m outta line here. I’m not.
 

Change out “PhD” for “Senior VP” or “Executive VP”

I was first exposed to this type of bias when working with a SVP/HR professional many years ago. She had one of the best resumes I had ever laid eyes on. But she could not get a phone call in response. I recommended we might try changing out her most recent position’s Senior Vice President title with ‘Director Human Resources’ to see what might happen. Almost immediately she began receiving calls to interview. The ‘new’ title was less threatening to those viewing her resume.

[Please note that one of my big caveats regarding interviewing and resume writing is NOT to lie or misrepresent. Not even a little bit. HR professionals will tell you that 50% (some say more) of all resumes contain a misrepresentation if not an outright lie.  Once a lie is detected everything you have said or will say is suspect. You may as well look for the nearest exit when this happens—you will not be receiving an offer.]

My advice to Ms. SVP/HR was to take the interview and when she felt the time was right--when chemistry had been established--to admit that in reality she had held the position of SVP but had stated Director HR on her resume in order to get the interview. She was that interested in working with this particular company.

Long story short? (Promise this is the truth!) She was hired on as a Vice President HR. She remains with the same global organization today. But to get to this place she had been required to ‘dumb down’ her resume based on this premise of “PhD Discrimination.”
 

Back to Dr. Doug

The bottom line is that a research scientist with a Master’s Degree will be (naturally, don’t you think?) intimidated by Dr. Doug’s PhD. There is a certain level of self-preservation that goes on when peer hires peer. Far too few in this position will take Henry Ford’s famous position that his great successes came as a result of having hired those he recognized to be much more talented and smarter than himself. The difference there was that Henry Ford’s name was on the product!

Similarly an HR Director or VP interviewing a like candidate will feel threatened and is not going to allow anyone to come between them and their paycheck. (Would you hire someone who might take your position or become your boss?!) So SVP—on paper at least—never had a chance. “HR Director” got her in the door.

*******

We are all people trying to do our best, trying to get along and succeed in our chosen fields. But it is exactly because we are people that we determine to be protective of our “kingdoms.”

This leads to bad management decisions and hurts companies but, particularly in the economic times we find ourselves ““PhD Discrimination”” is more a reality that you might think.  Recognizing this might impact the way you think your job search.

[The solution to ever having to deal with a problem of this sort is to not deal with the person at the level that you have applied to but rather networking directly to the ownership, executive leadership or the Board of Directors. I have successfully navigated these waters for some very senior job seekers but that is a topic for another day.]

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May/June

Social Media & Job Search

I have a ‘pretty good’ feel for social media…as I’m betting you do. I have my Facebook page(s) and I’m very active on LinkedIn but lately, and especially since I’m writing the new job search book and back on the speaking circuit, it’s really important that I be as up to date on possible when it comes to social media and job search.

My take? It’s a moving target. And I REALLY mean ‘moving target!’ The reality is that I can write this column today and it could potentially be out of date tomorrow.

Nevertheless, I’m prepared to “take the bullet” for you. I have an account on BranchOut.com—a reasonably new app working very closely with Facebook. And then there is Jibe.com—yes, I have an account there too—which is also associated with Facebook but then they add the value of being further associated with LinkedIn as well. These associations with Facebook mean they quickly increase your social/job search foot print by bringing all your Facebook and LinkeIn contacts to your job search. Pretty darn smart.

I’m not sure how much I like the “voting” that you are first introduced to on BranchOut.  In case you don’t know you are provided the option of determining who you would rather work with, Friend “A” or Friend “B”. Sorry but personally I’m not saying. That’s why they are Friends and not employees!

To move on—the idea behind these two sites are to provide you with an opportunity to leverage those you already know and the companies they work for (or with). Not bad. Good stuff, really, IF you are OK with leveraging friends in your job search—which is, after all, what rich networking is all about, isn’t it? Personally I’m good with it. A lot of people might not be.

So far my vote is leaning toward Jibe since they are plugged into the 500 million folks who are on Facebook today (literally) plus the additional 100 million or so on LinkedIn.

But my real take away researching jobs & social media is APPS. Apps are the future—assuming you use an iPhone, Android, Palm or Blackberry. There are some amazing apps available to you. CareerBuilder & LinkedIn are already out there and at no cost. But free or very inexpensively available to you are Job Compass, iJobs, Now Hiring and Job Finder. They all kind of pretty much do the same thing as the next guy but most—and this is cool—will locate employment opportunities within 5 to 100 miles of your location! Craigster (an aggregator—meaning they acquire jobs from all over the web much like SimplyHired and Indeed do) is Craigslist’s entry into apps.

And then there is Twitter. The bottom line to a Twitter job search is that you have to make yourself known, interesting to a recruiter (can you say ‘keywords?’) and include a shortened link (such as a bit.ly link: http://bit.ly/) and then get someone to find or “follow” you. This requires a fair amount of thought and effort since you have to have something for them to look at WHEN they find you. Can you say Personal Blog or Personal Website?

I think there are three primary take-aways to this article: 1) apps are the future of job search, 2) social media is the job search tool of the future (which could be here as early as, oh, a half-hour from now) and 3) you really need to plan on registering your name as a domain so that you can get started building either your blog or personal website.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this.

Success to You!
Rick Gillis

PS Of all the job boards still surviving the social media onslaught one of my favorites remains LinkUp.com. They have the neatest algorithm that signs into major corporate job postings daily (meaning they have figured out how to Username and Password all those accounts!) and post REALLY new postings every day.
 

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April

 Express Your Value

Do you have any idea how much work it takes to create a title for a book? A job-search book no less!

I hated the title of my first book (Really Useful Job Search Tactics); I’m not fond of the title of my current book (The Real Secret to Finding a Job? Make Me Money or Save Me Money!) so I thought I had really come up with a beauty of a name for my new book when just about everyone I know informed me how bad it was. Arrrrgh!

So I’m going to give you the title my next book would have been but won’t: “The Second Shoe Interview.” Well, I liked it but as I have already mentioned I got shot down simply because the title would require extensive branding and nobody knows who I am as it is! So why “Second Shoe Interview” and what has that got to do with job search and this column?

I sometimes tell a story in my presentation about the sales guy who persisted over several years to get an appointment with a corporate buyer. Regardless of how hard he tried he could not get this woman to make the time to see him. Based in New York City she was a genuine “Master of the Universe” in the cosmetics industry and had enough clout to make or break a company.

Sales Guy (yes, it was a man and his gender is important to the story) managed to get through to the gatekeeper who, after all his years of trying came to appreciate his persistence and obtain our Master’s shoe size. Yes, shoe size!

Knowing this information Sales Guy then went out and purchased a pair of $1000 Jimmy Choo shoes in Master’s size.  (For those of you who don’t know Jimmy Choo know that a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes runs $500 to $1500—per pair! And yes, I had to look that one up myself.)

Sales Guy then had ONE shoe delivered to Master of the Universe with a note attached stating that he would bring the SECOND shoe to their introductory appointment. (“Second Shoe Interview”…now do you get it?)

You can see how the story ends: he got the appointment, landed the account and went on to live happily ever after.

*******

What has all this got to do with job search? Everything! It’s a brutal competitive world out there and regardless of the position you are seeking (or thinking about seeking) you must be 1) creative in your outreach and 2) able to express your value to an organization.

Sales guy creatively landed the appointment which, by the way, is the only purpose your resume serves. He then landed the account NOT because of his creativity but because he was able to express the value he would bring to the cosmetic company and to the buyer specifically.

 

What value are you prepared to discuss with your potential next employer?

Can you unequivocally state how you will make money or save money for the company? Assuming you do not generate revenue in your position can you clearly state how you will add value or save time?

I have a non-negotiable rule when working with individuals: my clients are required to create an Accomplishments Worksheet prior to even thinking about drafting a resume. This exercise is, admittedly, the “heavy lifting” part of the process. I require a minimum of 10 items (with no maximum) on this list. I ask for an accounting from personal memory of all the times they might have had a positive impact on an organization. Next I ask them to contact family, friends, professors, clergy, co-workers, former supervisors, etc. to ask them what comes to mind when those people think of the impact my client had on their organization or team. Accomplishments are not restricted to work only but include athletic, military, volunteer, charity, religious and academic organizations—anywhere that an impact was felt.

Your accomplishments MUST have a beginning, a middle, and an end. For example: “I created a filing system that resulted in 300 man-hours saved per month.”

Beginning:          I created a filing system

Middle:              that resulted in

End:                  300 man-hours per month.

THIS is the filing clerk I want to hire!

Note that you can probably take every item listed, every bullet point in your current resume, remove the period at the end of the sentence, add “resulting in” and complete the sentence. Taking this single action, I promise, will professionally enhance your resume.

Take away?

First—it’s OK to be creative to get the attention of the powers-that-be in the company you might want to work with. By not trying you already have a “No.” What have you got to lose?

Second—following the success of your creative approach be prepared to address how you will be adding value to the organization. Really spend time and focus on this. Personally I’m sick of resumes that state “I am seeking a rewarding and challenging career.” It’s not about you. It’s about them. Express your value and get the offer!

 

BTW, I have (once again) settled on the title of my next book. Stick around I’ll bring it to the discussion when the new manuscript is completed in the next several weeks.

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March

 

Wanted: A Title for This Job Search/Careers Column

 

I am Rick Gillis, Park (College) University, ’86. I am a job search/employment expert and proud to have been asked to host a monthly column for the Park newsletter.

You might be wondering why me. It probably has something to do with my having written a few books on the topic as well as having hosted a couple of employment talk radio shows; I’ve been mentioned in The Wall Street Journal and heard on NPR. I “do” radio interviews across the country and speak to job search groups, associations and colleges. I have studied job search for the last decade (plus) and have created a highly successful short-form/1-page, PreResume™ concept.

Enough about me. If you would like to know more please visit www.RickGillis.com

Back to the point: I need a title for this column.

Got any ideas? I’ll send a copy of my current book to the person who comes up with the title that sings to me and Alumni Services!

My goal here is to stand a little taller on my soapbox and yell at the world that people continue to unknowingly undermine their job searches, their transitions within the company and their personal career planning. Anything employment related is fair game. Try me.

I intend to assemble a ‘staff’ of volunteer Park alumni who might want to participate in group-think for this column. Makes no difference where in the world you might be. You just need to be able to talk employment. Interested? Drop me a line and tell me in a paragraph or two why you should be a part of the team. I’ll introduce members of the (I NEED A TITLE!) group in the column next month (along with the column title.)

Submit your job search/career concerns, thoughts, ideas, schemes (I love schemes!) and problems and allow me (and us) to offer up our assistance.

SO—LET’S GET TO WORK!

I thought I would begin with some thoughts on why you are getting no response when submitting your resume.

First, my mantra: “Job Search is no longer about selection. It is about elimination!

With the overwhelming number of applications and resumes received daily recruiters MUST do all they can to manage the flow—thus resume filtering software. What follows here varies by company and position but for now let’s work from this premise: In the larger (and not so large) companies your resume/application is not initially viewed by a “real, human person” but is scanned and graded by a piece of software and then archived until those results are called up. What this means is that only those resumes that ‘made the grade’ (literally) will rise to the top of the pile to be reviewed. To help you successfully negotiate this software here are some first-glance “do’s” and “don’ts.”

·        DO NOT include your physical address on your resume.

Professional recruiters don’t want me to tell you this. It is often their very first point of elimination. You might be able to cure cancer but…you live too far away from the job site! As a result your resume might not receive any consideration whatever. You are willing to relocate or carpool but you never got the chance to express that you understand that as a consideration.

·        YOU MIGHT not even want to include your city or town on your resume.

I live in a small town outside of Houston. My resume would state “Houston, TX.” When the recruiter calls to ask me what part of town I live in I’m going to respond with “Where’s the job located?” Get my drift? She had to call me creating a dialog.

·         YOUR RESUME must be conservative to negotiate filtering software.

  • No script. The software might reject your document.

  • No tables. Ditto.

  • No logos or graphics. Almost guaranteed to get your resume rejected.

  • No continuous lines across the page. Filtering software may read a continuous line as a page break and go on to the next file meaning you just got passed over without a complete read.

  • No giant fonts. A common mistake of the recent graduate trying to fill space on the page—their name in 36PT bold. The software in most cases will not be set to read PT sizes in excess of 16 or even 14PT.

·        DO INCLUDE a Seeking Statement (my term) telling your reader the position you are applying for. Just below your contact information add a single centered and bold line stating:

I am seeking a position as _________(use the exact job title) with ________(insert company name), reference # _______________ (if there is a reference number).

I am seeking the Director of Mechanical Engineering position with Dow Chemical Company, reference # 12345.

  • Know that the software is looking for an exact match of the job title. Make it easy for this to occur. Make it easy for the reader to “like you.”

  • It might seem redundant to mention the name of the company that you have just sent your resume to but my best information tells me that you might get points in the scoring by using the company’s name.

  • If a position contains a reference number, by all means use it. Make it easy for the recruiter to route your resume to the right person.

This is only a fraction of the information I intend to share with you in the coming months. Let me know what I can do for you!

Visit www.RickGillis.com  and click on the PreResume™ tab to learn more about my original and very successful resume format.

Success to You!

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Rick Gillis graduated from Park University in 1986 with a bachelor of science degree in management. He has been involved in the business of employment since 1997 when he was instrumental in introducing the first local employment website to the greater Houston market.

Over the past several years, Rick has aggressively studied the practice of job seeking from the perspective of both the employer and employee. It is based on these observations that he has written his latest book, "The Real Secret to Finding a Job? Make Me Money or Save Me Money!"
(Trafford Publishing/July 2009)

Rick has been involved in or has intimate knowledge of many aspects of the employment business to include resume creation--specifically, his Pre-Resume(tm) concept, employment advertising, recruiting, pre-employment assessments, networking and social networking sites, age-discrimination issues, the human resources function, best practices as they apply to management, diversity, legal issues, staffing companies, web based applicant-tracking systems and, of course, Internet employment protocols.

For more information visit www.RickGillis.com

 


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