Tuesday, October 27, 2009

5 reasons why you're not getting interviews and HR is one of the reasons.

Here are 5 reasons you may not be getting noticed.

1) Your resume isn't very good. I see a lot of resumes and perhaps 5% stand out. First impressions matter and if your resume does not attract the reader's attention in the first 10-20 seconds then your chances of obtaining an interview fall to almost zero. What an employer really wants to know is why they should invite you for an interview. The only compelling reason is that you appear to be a good fit for the position they are trying to fill. EVERY resume that you submit must be tailored specifically to the opportunity you are applying for. Also, the most pertinent information needs to be in the top 1/3 of the resume which, is about 10-20 seconds worth of reading. If you ask 10 people to give you an opinion on resume formats, you'll get 15 different answers. So at the risk of offering contradictory advice, I'll give you what I believe works best based on my experience. A resume should begin with a professional summary listing your capabilities followed by a list of your core skills or, when appropriate, your major achievements. The combination of these should match as closely as possible the job description you're responding to. If a company is looking for a marketing manager who can work with new product development teams to identify and satisfy customer demands; doesn't it make sense to tell the employer up-front that you are an experienced marketing manager with a successful track record of working with product development teams? Doesn't it also make sense to list some of your achievements in identifying customer needs and how you satisfied them? If you were the hiring manager, wouldn't you want to read more? Next, avoid the BS, fluff and over generalizations that accompany most resumes. After every sentence ask yourself, will someone pay me for this?

2) You're not really qualified for the positions you are applying for. This occurs when you hit the send button without much regard to the qualifications the employer is looking for. If the position requires a CPA with 10+ years of experience and you once worked next to an accountant, you're not qualified. Don't waste your time applying for positions you're not at least 95% qualified for. Sending out resumes for positions you're not qualified for is simply not going to get you anywhere.

3) The job description for the opportunity you're applying for is poorly written. If job candidates can be criticized for writing poor resumes, than HR professionals and hiring managers can be criticized for writing poor job descriptions. This is one area that you, as the job seeker, can do nothing about. In many cases, the job description does not adequately detail everything that the hiring manager is looking for. Like resumes, many job descriptions are too often too vague, lack critical information, and are filled with fluff and boilerplate.

4) You lack any real job search strategy. Searching for a job is a process. It requires thought, planning and execution. Basically you need to focus you energy in two areas:
1) Breaking through the noise (the 500 other applicants) and
2) Looking for opportunity that is not posted all over the internet or given to 100 recruiters. You can accomplish the first by crafting a resume that meets the needs of the hiring manager 100% as outlined above. You can accomplish the second by targeting specific companies and reaching out to people within those organizations and presenting them with a reason to talk to you.

5) Not learning from your mistakes As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. If you're current approach is not working, ask yourself why. If you think you can improve your odds by doing something different, do it.

Let me know your thoughts!

Monday, October 26, 2009

How To Find a Good Boss

By Marilyn Haight

Whether you get hired for a new job, promoted, or reassigned to a new position, you will most likely have a new boss. Each time that happens, you must develop a new professional relationship with the person you rely on for direction, development, and future advancement. You need to quickly determine if this new boss is a good match for you and your career goals. But how can you tell? Try these five questions.

1. Does your boss showcase your work? If you're not sure, you could ask him, "What leadership opportunities will I have in my job?" If he says something like, "There's only one leader here -- me," you may have what I call a "Suppressor Boss." A boss who replies, "We're all leaders here; you'll be in charge of projects that need your expertise," will have no problem appreciating your role and contribution.

2. Does your boss solve problems? Try asking, "How should I escalate problems to you when I think you need to get involved?" If she insists you must solve your issue alone, then she could be a "Confounder Boss" who ignores problems, which makes them worse. A good boss might say, "Give me detailed examples; I'll determine the cause and work with managers at my level to correct the issues."

3. Does your boss let you complete your work? When in doubt, try asking him or her when you can start handling tasks from start to finish. If the answer is, "I'm a hands-on manager; we do everything as a team," you've got trouble. This is a "Player Boss" who does parts of your job he likes and leaves problems for you. If you hear, "Tell me when you think you're ready; I'll give you guidelines and be available only when you need me," you'll know your boss trusts your skills.

4. Does your boss listen to your suggestions? If not, tell her that when she cuts you off you wonder if she values your opinion. A reply like, "I have the final word," could mean she's a "Manipulator Boss." A good boss will say something like, "I'm sorry, I wasn't aware I was doing that. Please bring it to my attention next time it happens." A good boss always listens attentively.

5. Does your boss treat you and your co-workers equally? If you notice preferential treatment among your co-workers, try asking your boss, "What measurements will you use to evaluate my job performance?" If he says, "Every case is different; I use my judgment," he could be a "Dumbfounder Boss" who uses the wrong measures to evaluate job performance. A better answer, like, "Your work will be evaluated according to the documented standards we've already agreed upon," will signal your boss's fairness.

Listening skills, problem-solving, a sense of fairness, and an ability to trust are just some of the hallmarks of a good boss. A good employee will learn to spot and appreciate those attributes, and then move toward building a mutually successful relationship.