A few people have asked me for advice in regards to helping them get hired, get noticed, and provide direction to improve their professional growth. These people were looking for advice to write their resume, get tips to make a career jump, and develop strategies to move up in their organization. If any of these describe your current situation, here are some of my recommendations to help you break through that barrier.
Write a Compelling Resume
Be Cautious of Layouts
When I was just starting my job search I was a little lost. I thought that the best way to find a new job was to just apply to as many jobs as I could. Overall, I thought I had done a decent job of polishing my resume. I had shown my resume to my friends and family and done my due diligence in revising it based on lots of feedback.
One day a recruiter called me back after receiving my resume. I had sent my resume to many recruiters, but I didn’t realize what I was doing wrong until this particular recruiter told me that the format of my resume was not formatted correctly. The recruiter graciously sent me a template that better reflected to what was accepted in my industry. I learned that resume templates should be taken with a grain of salt. When you can, find out the preferred resume layout for your industry. Get feedback from recruiters or hiring managers about your resume. You will be rejected before being accepted. When they turn you down, ask for advice on how you can improve your resume for the next company you apply at. Some may not be willing to help out, but when they do, they are usually full of insights.
I have experience hiring people in the past for my startup as well as spoken with experienced hiring managers at numerous companies. The one thing that bugged both them and myself are long resumes. When a company is accepting applications they often receive hundreds if not thousands of inquiries. Hiring managers have day to day responsibilities in addition to searching for people to fulfill open positions.
What this means is, they don’t have time to read a novel about your life. Keep your resume concise and leave out the fluff. To be more specific, if you see that your resume overflows slightly to the second page, condense it to one. Similarly, if your resume is more than three pages it will probably go directly to the trash. You should only be including items that you think make you unique from the competition. Hiring managers want to read things that you have specifically accomplished for companies and not so much what tools you are using. This is not to say they are not interested in what tools you are familiar with, it is just that the tools and/or skill set should be listed as second priority in your resume. Cover bands don’t change the world, impress me.
Maximize Exposure – Promote Yourself
Make it easy for companies to find you
Just as hard as it is for you to find the right job, companies are equally finding it difficult to find the person that is right for the position. Odds are that you possess a certain set of skills that is valuable for a company and these companies spend a lot of resources trying to find you. With this in mind, do yourself a favor and make sure you can be found.
If the only way companies know that you exist is by you sending them a resume, you are severely limiting your exposure to be found. Below are some of the ways I made myself more visible to the public.
- Purchase a domain – One of the first things I did for myself in regards to building my personal brand is purchase a domain. If the domain name for your first and last name is available, I highly recommend purchasing it. If the domain name for your name is taken, do the next best thing and at least try to include your first or last name in the domain name. I was unfortunate that I was not able to claim my full name as a domain name so I decided to do the next best thing and try to play with some words to make my domain name memorable. The whole point of this is to eventually set up a site so you are able to be found when a hiring manager or recruiter searches for you.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the hottest social media network for professionals right now and it is not going away anytime soon. Recruiters call and reach out to me on this network almost every week and I’m certainly not active there as some other social networks. Make sure you have a fully filled bio. Your professional profile is indexed on this social network and I know many recruiters who practically recruit strictly from that site.
- Indeed – Indeed is the largest (if not one of the largest) directories for job openings on the internet. You can create or upload your resume to their site which allows recruiters to find you. I have landed a few business opportunities from this site. You can also take a look at my resume at indeed.
Nail the Interview
Let us say that you have got your resume in order, a LinkedIn profile, your resume posted on indeed, and have a website about yourself. Recruiters are emailing you and calling you out of the blue everyday and you’re now going to interviews. Here are some ideas to nail the interview and blow the hiring manager out of the water.
Speak to the questions
The best way to save yourself from having a bad interview is to answer directly to the questions that are being asked. A few years back when I was a bit less experienced than I am today, I would try to answer questions with fluff. Fluff is good, but answer questions that are being asked directly and then add complimentary details. If you avoid the question and speak around the answer it can sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Just like your resume, your answers must be concise and compelling.
Know your resume
Remember when I suggested that you should leave out the fluff and make your resume as concise as possible? Just as important, you should be extremely familiar with what exactly you put on your resume because most likely you will be questioned about your experience.
I know that resumes are not the most frequently updated document for a lot of people. You may update your resume once every 6-12 months, but before you go to your next interview make sure you read through your resume one more time. You are expected to speak to your experience and prove that you know what you say you know.
An interview is meant for both the company and you to get to know each other. It is expected that you come prepared with questions to ask about the company. This is why at the end of almost every interview they always ask you if there are any questions. If you don’t ask questions it could be viewed that you are not interested in the position.
Here are some of my questions that I almost always ask during an interview.
- What is the culture like?
- What are the day to day responsibilities of this role?
- What would be one reason I would not get this job?
- What is expected of me during the first 60-90 days?
- How would you define your company’s strategies?
- What are some of your business tasks and challenges?
Maximize Your Potential – Never Stop Learning
Most of us want to hone our skills and move up with our careers. We want to always be pushing ourselves for greatness. Don’t let your employer dictate your professional growth. There are plenty of blogs, public groups, literature, and online classes to keep your skill set up to date. You are always in control of your education.
If you are considering making a jump, whether it be for another company or position, make sure you are doing it all for the right reasons. Jumping merely for compensation should not be a factor in your decision. Everyone should love what they do and do what they love. The moment when you realize that too many days have passed since you were looking forward to working is the moment you should start considering other options.
I hope some of you find these tips useful. Now it is your turn. What kind of tips do you have to share to help people find a job or move forward with their career? Share it in the comments, I would love to hear them.