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Swap a Stale Objective for a Fresh Branding Statement on Your Resume

16 Jan

These days resume evaluators assume that their job is your objective.  They are tired of looking at “Objective Statements” at the top of a resume, because at this stage the process is all about the employer’s objective to find great talent rather than the job hunter’s objective of finding a great job. A successful resume today replaces the “this is what I want” statement with a “this is the value that I offer” branding statement.

“Personal Branding” is today’s operative buzzword. Some job hunters are befuddled by what that is all about. In my USNews & World Report article I get to the heart of the statement that gets to the heart of who you are: your attributes, your value, and your uniqueness. Moreover, I provide examples of three different “knock your socks off” branding statements and how you can go about the task of projecting your value through your personal brand.  Here’s the link to the full article:



3 Tips To Power-Up Your Resume

2 Jan

The New Year is at hand. With holiday parties over, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and execute your resolution to move your career to the next level.

As you sit down to compose or edit your resume, remember that its singular purpose is to address an employer’s first question: “Can this person do the work that is associated with this job, and do they have the right background to make a potentially strong fit?” Only if you pass this test can you begin to move along the other stages of the hiring process.

In my latest article published by USNews & World Report I show how you can use your intelligence, perspective and especially the power “How” to juice up your resume and jumpstart your job search for 2013. Here’s the link:

Happy hunting!

4 Tips For Older Job Seekers Facing Discrimination

31 Jul
“I’m 58 years old, out of work… and I’m not ready or financially able to retire. My age is really making it difficult to find a job,” laments a job hunter. In my latest article I offer 4 ways older workers can confront age discrimination and level the playing field with their younger competition. It is now leading the Career Blog on USNews and World Report. Here’s the link to the full article:
Check it out, and be sure to comment. I’d love to know your thoughts, and any other strategies you think are/can be helpful.
Happy hunting!


25 Jul

Amid huge competition, your best chance of standing out from every other job hunter is to do something no one else but you can do: tell your own professional story. You do this through your resume, and by elaborating on your resume in the course of your interviews.

Often, job hunters know their own stories so well that they assume incorrectly that others do also. Or, they feel that by simply conveying the nature of the jobs they have had, others will understand what they have done and what successes they have achieved. Just the opposite is true: You need to spoon-feed your story to those who will evaluate you at every step along the way.

To learn the key to getting your resume to shine like a star, check out the rest of my article which, on the web at USNEWS & World Report.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

10 Jul

5 Ways You Can Use Facts in Your Job Hunt

“Just the facts, ma’am…” is the famous line attributed to Joe Friday on the old TV show Dragnet. But an Internet search reveals that what the character really said in an early episode was, “All we want are the facts.” Recruiters, human resources staffing personnel, and hiring managers are like Joe Fridays: They just want the facts when reviewing your resume and conducting interviews.

In my article which today appears in the USNews Money/Career page, I give five easy ways sticking to “just the facts” can help your job search.  Here’s the link:

Happy hunting!



I’m blogging for U.S. News!

5 Jul

I’m honored that U.S. News & World Report has selected me to be among a small group of career experts to write a weekly blog on their site!  My blog will appear every Tuesday on the Money/Careers part of their site:  My blog starts this coming Tuesday, and my first topic will be: 3 Facts About Facts for Your Job Hunt.  Please look for it, and let me know what you think!


Top 10 Ways To Slow Down Your Job Hunt

22 Feb
  1. Play The “Happy Game”. Don’t deal with depression, frustration or other emotions.  Don’t cultivate a support network to which you actually can go to for support.  And if you already happen to have a support network, don’t let them know how they can help you… make ’em guess.
  2. Channel the St. Louis Rams with their .125 Win percentage this past season. Have as few goals as possible.
  3. Believe Your Resume Is “Where It’s At”. Embrace Resume Paralysis.  Don’t bother to tailor it to every job you apply for.
  4. Become One With Your Laptop. Spend the majority of your time at home, behind the screen.
  5. Nurture Your Inner Child. Be helpless. Focus on yourself and your own needs – don’t worry about what any perspective employer would want from you.Do the bare minimum to get by.
  6. Become An “Island”.  Avoid meeting people.  Don’t even think about going to a networking meeting where you don’t already know someone.
  7. Discount Your Contacts – Even Better, Annoy Them!  Don’t bother to follow-up every lead that someone gives you.  Don’t bother to write thank you notes to people who help you.  After all, you are entitled to all the help someone can give to you, right?!
  8. Avoid Non-Traditional Paths. Pass up contract and temp work, and don’t even think about just taking on a project to keep you skills up to date.
  9. Talk Until They Drop. Don’t bother to listen to what people are asking you – just hammer away at your own canned message.  Be as vague and ambiguous as possible – that way no one can pin you down to anything specific.
  10. Believe In Your Heart That Your Next Job Is Forever. Stop networking as soon as you land.

I’ve seen various forms of this list floating around on the internet, but I don’t know the original authorship.  I have added some of my own comments throughout.

If any of these suggestions are ways that you are actually conducting your jobhunt, you need a jobhunter coach!  If you mention this article when you sign up for three hours of my coaching service between today and March 31, 2012 I’ll throw in a 4th hour absolutely free!  This offer is valid for new clients only.

Happy Hunting!




9 Feb

Not long ago, I was at Disneyland on vacation.   While waiting to get into the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor in the Magic Kingdom, I spotted a sign on a door that read:  “Inhuman Resources”.  Good humor, of course, is best based in reality, and the reality here is simple: most Job Hunters think of HR as inhuman.  Like the late great Rodney Dangerfield, HR staffing specialists often get “no respect”.

Take a minute, however, to look at the hiring process from the other side of the desk.  A typical HR staffing person might be assigned to deal with 20 to 40 job requisitions at a time.  Each one of them will likely attract 100 – 500 candidates in today’s job market.  Assuming each applicant has a 2 page resume, that amounts to 200 – 1,000 pages of repetitive, boring, and all too often, irrelevant resumes to be considered for EACH job requisition.  Overburdened staffing specialists can’t possibly afford the spare seconds to ask: “The candidate said XXX.  I wonder if that means he/she has done/can do YYY.”  They simply don’t have the time to contemplate what the resume writer is “really getting at”.

The reality is that the HR person’s role is screen OUT more than screen IN, to look for any excuse to reject rather than to accept a candidate.  The human impulse to help people is replaced by the unfortunately necessary “inhuman”, unforgiving response to any typographical error or small doubt about any given candidate.  It isn’t about whether any given candidate might be able do the job if given a chance.  Rather, it is about winnowing the field to find 5 or 10 exceptional candidates out of hundreds to pass on to the hiring manager.

I know this to be true, because I used to be one of those people, sorting through the resumes, dealing with Applicant Tracking Systems, deciding who merits an initial interview, and conducting those phone screening interviews.  The wise job hunter will look at the phone screening interview as a prized opportunity to gain an initial advocate.  Here are tips how to do so:

  1.  SPOON FEED INFORMATION IN A WAY THAT THE INTERVIEWER WANTS IT.  The screening interview is about doing Due Diligence on the part of the company, dealing with “red” and “yellow” flags on otherwise stellar resumes, discerning a candidate’s true interest level in the job, knowledge about the company, and general fit for the position.  It is ALL about the EMPLOYER’S NEEDS, and NOT AT ALL about the candidate’s concerns.  If you are asked about a potential “red flag”, be grateful for the opportunity to deal with it and put it out of the way—and be ready to do so.  By the way you deal with these and other issues you can build rapport and give the ammunition needed to help the HR staffer make your case, or you can shoot yourself in the foot.
  2. BE COOPERATIVE, AND UNDERSTAND THAT EACH QUESTION HAS A PURPOSE THAT ISN’T ALWAYS OBVIOUS.  Often hiring managers provide HR with questions that every candidate must answer, even if the answer is as plain as day on their resume.  Responding by saying, “If you read my resume you would see what you are talking about,” will be regarded as hostile.  The process, especially at this stage, is all determined by the employer.  You may not like it, but you have to conform to its contours.  From your answers your interviewer will derive insights about your intelligence, ability to communicate effectively, emotional disposition, eagerness to learn from failure or mistakes, and more.
  3. DON’T BE DEFENSIVE OR COY.  For example, if you respond to the question, “What will be your salary requirement?” with an answer like, “I’m negotiable”, or “Make me an offer and I’ll consider it”, you are more likely to generate antagonism than a next interview.  It’s much more reasonable to say something like:  “In my last/current position, I was/am earning XXX, but I can’t at this stage know how that would equate to this position in your company.”
  4. DON’T WASTE TIME WITH PROCESS QUESTIONS such as:  “When will I hear back from you?”, “Where are you in the hiring process?”, “How did I do?”, or “When do you want the person you hire to start work?”  It’s obvious that every job seeker wants the answers to these questions, but this isn’t the proper time for them.

Toward the end of the interview, you will likely be asked if you have any questions.  This is an opportunity to show, by the questions you ask (and the way you ask them) your understanding of the role, the company, your skills and your enthusiasm.  Don’t forget to close by expressing your appreciation for being considered, and offer to give any follow-up material that would be helpful.

The really good screeners know how to interpret tone of voice, attitude, levels of competence and self-confidence.  Speak clearly, articulate your words, make sure you respond fully and forthrightly to the question that is asked rather than spewing out some canned message that you want to get across.

It all comes down to this:  be the professional that you are to earn the respect you deserve, and the chance to proceed in the hiring process.

Happy Hunting!


2 Key Ways To Focus Your Message

6 Jan

After years of very high unemployment, things appear to be turning around.  The N.Y. Times reported (1/6/2012) that the U.S. added 200,000 jobs in December, 2011.  This was the sixth straight month that the economy has added more than 100,000 jobs. 

Are you telling your story in a compelling way to make you 1 of the next 100,000 people to be hired?

Are you effectively providing your message to snag one of these new jobs? 

Your job as a jobhunter is to make it easy for people to understand how you can add value to the company that hires you.  Everything about your resume, networking, and interviewing should be designed to strategically further this fundamental message. 

Here are two of the most common examples of off-track messaging and how to fix them:

SITUATION #1:  You are between 45-65 years old, and your cover letter begins like this:  “… I’ve got 25 years of experience doing XXX in YYY industry.”  You get rejected, and fear that it is due to age discrimination.  In reality, that might be the case, but by the way you project your own case you give the underlying message that you are an older worker. Remember that you aren’t selling decades of experience.  Rather, you are selling the knowledge, skills, and abilities which you happened to attain during your years of experience.

  • THE FIX: Lead with something like, “In my most recent position as XXX, I provided value for my company by…”  Then give a brief story that conveys a situation, how you took control of it/dealt with it, and the glowing results that you accomplished.  Sell the story of your experience – not the length of it.

SITUATION #2:  Point after point in your resume begins with the words, “Responsible for…” or something else that describes your prior job description.  Such language fails to give any positive message.  It doesn’t say anything about what you actually did, how you think, how you interact with others, or the results you produced.  Worse, you simply position yourself as one of countless others who have had similar roles and responsibilities.

  • THE FIX: Make each point in your resume is about something that you actually did, and briefly tell the story providing three basic elements:  a) The situation or problem; b) your actions; and c) the success/results you achieved.  Wherever possible quantify your results in terms of increased sales, decreased costs, reduced liability, potential savings, or increased productivity. 


Sales people have the greatest quantifiable resultsThe numbers speak for themselves, but they speak even louder when you tell a story about how you achieved your numbers like this:

  • Uncovered and exploited opportunities to increase revenue from new and existing accounts, and rekindled dormant relationships, resulting in year-to-year sales increases of 16-18%.

 Of course, not everyone has a job whose results are measured in dollars.  Still, you can tell a story and give a “soft” result like this:

  • Achieved customer satisfaction for engineers involved with new product development by organizing seminars on emerging technologies.

Remember this:  you can fashion the impression people will have of you.  The words you chose can tell important stories, and convey purposeful messages.  One of my greatest joys as a coach is working with my clients to frame the messaging that builds the case for them to be hired. 

What’s your story?  What’s your message?

Happy hunting!


10 Things Employers & Recruiters Want From Candidates

21 Apr

Every job hunter has the same question:  What do employers look for, and how can I best show that I’ve got “it”?

A few days ago, I attended a panel discussion for career coaches led by three of the leading recruiters in Greater Boston.  Each recruiter had the assignment of explaining their view of today’s hiring environment, what employers are looking for, and then to give a few tips for candidates.  The recruiters deal with different specialties, including:  Human Resources, Medical Devices, Information Technologies (IT), and Marketing.  Nonetheless they agreed on one thing:   Five years ago, if an employer listed a job with 8-10 bullet points of “requirements”, a candidate might have been hired if he/she only had 3-4 of them.  But today, virtually every client of theirs wants “12 out of 10 requirements to be evidenced— just to get the initial phone interview.”

It comes as no surprise that they all report that both recruiters and companies are being inundated by resumes, as more people are chasing fewer and fewer jobs.  In this environment, they report that employers have come to view job boards like Monster as counter-effective.  When they advertise a position, they get SO MANY responses it becomes an overwhelming task just to sort through all the extraneous resumes to find the quality people who would be of interest.  Result?  They are utilizing alternative methods of identifying and recruiting top talent.  It is more time efficient and effective for both corporate (in-house) and contingency (3rd party) recruiters to scour LinkedIn and other social media sites to find candidates worth pursuing.  More and more, self-submitted resumes are not responded to because they aren’t even read!

Employers are looking for the following:

  1.  Candidates are expected to clearly articulate their accomplishments as part of their personal brand.  LinkedIn profiles must highlight an individual successes and results! Skills are important – but only insofar as candidates use them to attain results.  Never lead with:  “XX years of experience doing….”!  Each resume bullet point should tell a story: “Accomplished X by doing Y, resulting in Z”.
  2. Clear branding:  know who you are, what you offer, and what you are after.  Be comfortable with your own story, and have that story down pat.  Convey it consistently in your resume, LinkedIn profile, on Facebook, and increasingly on Twitter.  Tip: get all those references to partying, and anything that wouldn’t well represent an employer’s brand off your own Facebook page – NOW!  LinkedIn is seen as a way screen people in, and Facebook is viewed as a means to screen people out – even before an individual knows that he or she might be considered.
  3. Fit, Fit, & Fit! It’s the buzzword of the decade, but it means different things to different companies.  Fit goes beyond the job requirements and speaks to an individual’s experience working in a similar type organization in size, product/service, marketplace or geography.  Questions of “fit” go to the concerns: would a given candidate be happy working as part of this company/team… and would the people here be happy to work side by side with this individual?  If hired, would the person last? Commonly, employers are utilizing behavioral interviewing to determine if a candidate is a “fit”.
  4. One recruiter put it this way:   The length of time [companies are taking] to fill openings is increasing.  Companies are increasingly picky about who they hire.  But they are hiring people who have “bull’s eye” skill sets, have industry experience, and are a fit for their particular corporate culture.  More and more, you have to have all three to be hired, and candidates should adjust their job search accordingly.

 Recruiters are looking for the following:

  1.  People who can show that they volunteer to do more than is required of them in the workplace
  2. People who “know what they don’t know”, make no bones about it, and constantly strive to learn to fill in the gaps of their knowledge and experience.
  3. People who can explain what they did in a past job that makes them valuable to a future employer.
  4. People who can understand that recruiters are professional service providers who deserve respect. (If you are dealing with a recruiter who doesn’t deserve your respect, move on to another one!).  Understand that recruiters work with candidates, but ultimately for companies.
  5. People who make an effort to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, by addressing them personally, offering to help find other candidates for positions if they aren’t the right fit themselves.
  6. People who recognize that it is counterproductive for both themselves and the recruiter to do the “end run” around the recruiter and deal directly with the company that they represent.

All of this goes to show the importance of seeing the search for a new position as a “hunt” which requires a coherent strategy and a consistent message.  Getting a job is a job!  For more information about what recruiters are advising job hunters, don’t hesitate to be in touch with me directly.  I offer an initial free consultation to any job hunter.  Happy hunting!