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Catholic References :  The old adage “it ain’t what you know it’s who you know” still has a lot of truth to it.  Sometimes this old phrase was stated in a derogatory light by people upset that they did not get a job or an advancement because someone else had “a connection”, and the disappointment is understandable.  However, my answer to that is get you own dang connections, and many times these are synonymous with your References.   As a recruiter, I can’t stress enough how important good references are.  They can make or break you in the final stages of the job offer process.  I have had candidates who “closed the deal” with a great reference check (this is where either the client or myself actually picks up the phone and talks to the reference about you….can be very enlightening!) and a few who have been rejected because something came out in the reference check that gave me and/or the client reason to pause and rethink.   As a Catholic candidate looking for a Catholic job you absolutely should use your Catholic contacts as good references.  A priest you have known for a long time or a favorite professor from college are great references.  In the secular corporate world, you might have to give this some thought and consideration.  The companies are few and far between who overtly welcome people to bring their faith into the work place and even those would have their limits (Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby come to mind).   Here are some practical tips you should use on your references: You should have at least 4 references, I prefer 5 or 6. I am almost never interested in “personal” references except for maybe the priest or professor mentioned. Ideally references should be people you have worked for, worked with (like a peer or colleague) or someone who has worked for you (these have been some of the most powerful, as a company loves to know what someone who worked for you thought of you). When you are in Job Search mode and actively interviewing, you absolutely must reach out to your references and let them know they may be getting a call. You never want them to be “blind-sided” or sound confused when they pick up the phone. I like to see references at the end of a resume, to me it says “Hey, I am comfortable and confident in these references, you don’t have to ask, here they are!”. However, if you prefer to have a separate document, that is fine, just always have if available to immediately email or hand across the table in an interview situation.  You never want to say something like “oh, yeah I can get those together and send them over”.   References are a very powerful tool and often don’t get the attention they deserve.  When I have a candidate who offers solid references from the 3 companies they have worked for in their career, I intuitively know that they have had a good track record and those References should confirm it!
Resume Writing 101, Class #3  Have you created your “Career Management” file yet??  If not in about 12 years you will think back and say “man, I should have listened to the recruiter dude!”.  Other things to consider on your resume: Each job in your career should have from 4 to 10 great bullet points that describe your responsibilities and accomplishments with the position(s) you had with the company you worked for. If you are going to put the effort in to make a great resume, really take some time and make the most of each bullet point.  For example, you could say (and I see this all the time) something related to your responsibility as a Sales Rep that goes like this: Responsible for sales growth in my assigned territory. (pardon me while I yawn!) OR (Drum roll please!!) Consistently prospected and closed strategic accounts facilitating a 31% increase in new petroleum sales revenue and expanded the companies geographical service area by 25% from 2006-2008. Who would you want to interview?? Education: Whether you have a lot or very little education, build out this section as much as you can.  If you have a high GPA’s, list them.  If you graduated with honors, say so.  If you have a degree from a school that people outside of the geographical area might not be familiar with, use a little space with 2 to 3 sentences telling a little about the school and maybe even why you were attracted to go to that school.  In the education section I also like to see any industry certifications you might have especially if they pertain to the position you are hoping to interview for. Computer Skills: Especially in todays job market, you must highlight any and all computer skills you have and especially any Programs you are familiar with.  Use terms like “basic proficiency”, “proficient” or “expert” to describe your abilities on any programs you see the hiring company is interested or even think they might be interested in. Affiliations: If you are not currently a member of the local or national Associations that are in direct relations to the industry you want to work in I would suggest you make that happen.  Usually it is a minor annual fee and it shows a perspective employer that you are engaged and care about the field you work in.  I might just set you apart from a similar candidate and give you and edge. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER list on your resume that you have your real Estate License, that you are the owner or part owner of another small business or that you are a “consultant” (unless you have been consulting full time for more that 18 months. There is a whole other blog that needs to be written on this!!).  You might as well just add a note to the resume that says in bold print that “all you really want is a paycheck and even though I will do my best to show up every day and put my time in, I’m really going to be worried about what I need to do to meet my other work-related responsibilities”.  When I see stuff like this on a potential candidate’s resume, I don’t give it a second look and just move on. Personal: I really like a personal sections where you say stuff like: Avid reader, Outdoor enthusiast, Pee Wee Football coach for my kids, Active church member with a focus on supporting the local food bank or whatever it is that you are into and gives some interesting aspects of who you are.  Some people are reluctant to add a Personal section and the tell me that “well…that’s kind of personal”, and I’m thinking “well duh!!”.  I can only tell you that unless you put something really weird or controversial in this section it can only give the person reading the resume some insight to who you and may even identify something you have in common which usually gets an interview off to a more comfortable start. **Bonus tip** usually with font size, adjustment of margin width and height or other little format tricks you can get your resume to be a perfect 1,2 or 3 pages.  If you find that you just can’t make it look right without having 2-3 inches left on the last page, I would not hesitate to put your references in that space.  I need to write a whole blog or two on references and reference checks, so look for these down the line!
Resume Writing 101, Class #2 From my first post on this subject, I hope you noticed I used the term MANAGE in describing what you should do with your resume.  What did I mean by that you might ask, well it is just this:  Don’t just keep your resume on your computer or tablet only to need it again in five years and realize it was on the hard drive of a device two devices ago.  Keep a “Career Management” file in both hard copy and a dedicated external drive (thumb drive is perfect).  You should set a calendar reminder for every 6 months to block off an hour and really update your resume.  Every six months you should have something new to add to what you have accomplished with your current job, or what new training you have gone through or possibly a promotion that gets highlighted.  If you treat your resume like a living breathing document and update it on a regular basis you will find that when you need it again i.e. someone is knocking on your door with a good career opportunity or you feel like you have moved past your current job and want to see what else is out there, it will be up to date and ready to go in a jiffy.  I can’t tell you how many potential candidates I have reached out to with a good opportunity who  tell me they have to update their resume or even have no idea where their old resume is and have to start from scratch.  What I usually get is a half-assed cobbled together mess, and to me it tells me a lot about the quality of that candidate.  As stated in Class #1 that resume can be worth a million bucks, treat it that way! Additional things to consider on your resume: No stupid email addresses! Make sure the email address on your resume is easy and professional.  I would even encourage you to create an email address that you dedicate only to your career management file and make sure it is tied to your cell phone.  That way you know any time you get an email to that account you know it is career related.  The last thing you want is a recruiter or company trying to reach out to you only for the email to get lost in the hundreds you get on your everyday address or one you don’t check much anymore. Think with Google brain! In my favorite resume template I highly encourage the use of “Key Strength” terms listed with bullet points to easily highlight the key strengths that you think you bring to the table and also match up to the Job Description for the position you are seeking (explained in detail in my seminar).  They definitely make the resume “pop” and should catch the eye of the hiring manger but maybe even more important, they make your resume very “searchable”.  So, when you write your resume really think about the words (some would say “power words”) that you think both describe you, your talents and your experiences and use them through out your resume so that when someone like me is searching for someone like you, you come up at the very top of the search!  Capicse?  Dates! When I see a resume with career history that only uses the year I am immediately suspicious that the person is trying to hide gaps in their work history.  People who often have gaps can (rightly or wrongly) often be perceived as someone who can’t keep a job and it can hurt you.  As an example, if you put that you worked for Coca Cola from 2002 to 2006 and then for Pepsi Cola from 2007 to Present, I will immediately wonder if you had a gap.  It is possible that you quit Coke at the end of December 2006 and started with Pepsi on January 2 nd of 2007 and had a seamless transition, which is great.  However, it is also possible you got fired from Coke in March of 2006 and started with Pepsi in July of 2007 a full 16 months later which makes employers curious to say the least.  It is always better to put the Month and year and make sure that the perspective employer knows up front that you have gone from one position to the next with a logical and upward career progression.  If you do have a gap, it’s better to be upfront about it and just explain the reason behind it. OK, good for now, Class #3 coming soon!
Job Descriptions Matter! [can you drink a few beers and not make an ass out of yourself??!!] I had a new client call about three years ago and after a couple conversations he determined we were a good fit for his company and we signed a recruiting contract.  I liked the guy from the very first conversation, strait shooter very passionate about his business and seemed like he genuinely cared about his employees and customers (this proved to be absolutely true as I still do a lot of work for him to this day!!).  Why he called: He called because a key person in his organization was leaving after a long tenure (for health reasons) and it came as a shock and was very upsetting and unexpected.  Then the conversation went something like this.  “it will be hard to fill this person’s shoes……this role is vitally important to our organization…”  I asked him several open-ended questions about the role and got out of the way, he talked for 45 minutes and I had great notes and a great idea of what he needed.  Last thing I said was do you have a Job Description put together and he said they had never had one before because this person had always been in the role, so they were “working on one”.  I said “great, start with a blank sheet of paper and really focus on describing your company and the essential responsibilities of this job…etc.”.  What I got:  The job description I received was so disappointing to say the least (and unfortunately very typical)!  It read as if he went out and purposefully found the 10 most boring people he could find, sat them in a room and said just hit the main requirements, the main job responsibilities and definitely don’t be too specific on the compensation we can’t afford to over pay on this position…blah..blah..blah..boring..boring..etc..etc..  The job description did not remind me of this owner or his company at all. I did mention this was a new client, right?  Well, I also mentioned he was a straight shooter and so am I, so even at the risk of offending him, I told him “this Job Description Stinks” (I used a different word,  dear old Mom might read this ya know!) and after a pregnant pause, he retorted “really?”, then he laughed a little and said something like “yeah…writing these things isn’t as easy as I thought..” and then something like “OK, mister smartypants recruiter dude….you write the damn thing... you’re the expert!”. And so I did! I won’t bore you with this much longer, but here are some excerpts from the Job Description: I couldn’t delete the boring Company Description resembling an obituary fast enough, and went with a paragraph including this: In the last 30 years we have put Blood, Sweat and Tears into a company that everyone from a Summer Intern to the CFO can be proud of…..we have grown from $0.0 to $30M in revenue and earned every dime by working hard and putting our customers and employees first.” Instead of the boring: “Perform daily task as assigned”, I wrote this: “we expect you to be a “servant leader”, every morning you should review the tasks at hand and then communicate to your staff in a manner that says “good morning, we are going to have a great day!....I’m here to help you…what can I do to help YOU meet OUR objectives today?  And by the way, the president will be saying the exact same thing to you every morning and he means it!!  If you are a sit at your desk and dictate orders kind of manager please don’t waste your time or ours, only sleeve roller-uppers welcome!! Instead of “Some travel required” I went with “We expect all employees to represent our company well.  In this role, you in particular will from time to time need to attend industry trade shows, attend off-site meetings with industry associations and entertain clients.  Can you engage in pleasant conversation in a social setting and [can you drink a few beers and not make an ass out of yourself??!!” OK, hopefully you get the picture and this was for a trucking company, so the language was actually quite appropriate and the whole job description thou similar to what I have shared with you was very professional and well written. I can only tell you that the response to this particular Job Posting on our website and a couple other trade specific posting sites was off the charts!  I had never had such a good and well-qualified response rate.  I even had people I was actively pursuing respond saying, “I’m not currently looking, but if I was I would love to work for a company like this!” My recommendations:  If you spend less than an hour writing a Job Description, it is probably just OK.  If you just copied and pasted from a couple other Job Descriptions to get the task off your desk it probably will not be as effective as it could be.  I you want mediocre candidates and a mediocre response to your job posting just stick with the same old thing.  I know from experience a well written and sincere Job description gets the attention of the best qualified candidates.  Even those who might not be currently looking.  You may be thinking that candidates should be beating down your door for the opportunity to work for your company.  The best candidates are not!  You have to SELL your job opportunity and the best way to start is with a great and compelling Job Description!
Resume Writing 101, Class #1 Resumes are Important and a document you should MANAGE for your entire career! Nothing surprises me anymore!  I have seen stellar resumes from people with little experience and a high school diploma and the worst resumes imaginable from candidates with 20 years’ experience holding a PHD.  What do you think a resume is worth?  About a million buck!  Think I’m kidding, in a seminar I give to College students on Career Management I can effectively lay out a scenario where if you “manage your career well” and follow thru with your career objective that over time you get better jobs, get promoted more often and on average earn $25,000 more per year over your career.  Most people work for 45 years of their life.  The math is pretty simple, that’s over a million schmackers (as my grand pappy used to say), and it all has to start with a resume!  1 to 2 pages of text that most people spend less that a couple hours on.  I know with certainty that the better the resume the better the chance of an effective Job Search, like most things the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.  Start here:   Decide upfront that you are not just going to write a good resume, you are going to write a great resume! Block off 10 hours, 2 hours at a time over a week or two to constantly look at it with fresh eyes and tackle it in segments.  It really will make a difference, invest the time! Find a good template. Must be well laid out and conservative.  Don’t fall for anything trendy or flashy and avoid colored text, artistic margins and fancy fonts.  Unless you are an artist or graphic designer the format should be simple and clean.  There are many templates online. If you have less than 5-7 years of experience you should be able to keep it to 1 page. Over that generally 2 pages. Never write paragraphs except a brief paragraph summarizing who you are, what your expertise is and what you have accomplished, and this should be at the top of the 1 st page under contact information. Always give a brief 1 to 2 sentence description of the companies you have worked for. You can never assume the reader will know about the company and what they do.  Remember the reader mostly wants to know how your experience matches up to what they are looking for and company information can certainly help. For each job experience, list your duties and accomplishments in bullet points. Clear and concise but with good explanation.  1 sentence for each bullet point, 2 if you really must. OK, this is a good start.  If you are not finding a template that you like, send me an email at and I will send you one that has proven to be very effective for many of my candidates and clients.  If you are interested in the Career Management seminar I offer, you can shoot me an email on that as well.  *Bonus tip* Especially for you Ladies, in today’s online world, you never know who is forwarding your resume to who or what system is getting hacked etc.  There is no reason to put your street address on your resume.  Nobody need to know exactly where you live, most hiring managers just want to know that you are within a commutable distance of their office.  So, the city or suburb name and a zip code easily tells them if you are in the right geography for the job. Class #2 coming soon!
“I don’t find good people jobs, I find my clients good people”.  How to work with a recruiter. I have been recruiting for 13 years and I’m sure I am mostly like other recruiters accept I never wanted a big firm with lots of employees.  I have just focused on a small niche and developed great clients that I like to work with and I thoroughly enjoy the interaction with candidates in the search and hiring process.  One thing that I have had to deal with constantly, is what I would call a misconception on the part of active candidates looking for a job, and that is that they have this idea that I probably can hardly wait to talk to them.  They falsely assume that their need for a job is exactly in line with my desire to find them a job.  Unfortunately, that is rarely how it works.   The truth is I would love to help them find a job, but I just don’t have time!  Let me be blunt and tell you exactly what I communicate to these people in my 2-3 minutes spiel over the phone and it is this simple:  “I don’t find good people jobs, I find my clients good people”.  My clients pay me a fee to help them find candidates that they are struggling to find on their own.  So, unless you happen to be in the right geography and happen to be an exact fit to the current job description I am working, chances are I can’t help you at that time.  It sincerely breaks my heart when I hear the desperation in some people’s voice as I can tell they are really struggling in their job search.  So, let me give you some simple tips about recruiters and how to work with them: You should absolutely call on as many recruiters as you can, especially ones that specialize in your field of interest. In the above commentary I am serious that I can not typically help the person at that particular time, but that does not in any way mean that I don’t want to make a connection, get your resume in my database and take notes on things like income target, possible cities of relocation and other pertinent information for future opportunities.  I would follow up with a recruiter from time to time and indicate that you are keeping an eye on the job listings on their website and that you just want to stay in touch so they don’t forget you.  They will appreciate that immensely. Don’t expect a recruiter to call you back every week to “check in”. Over the last 13 years I have a home grown database of over 30,000 professionals.  My database is very searchable and when I have a “job order” that you are a fit for, you typically will pop right up when I search, and I will definitely be in touch to check your interest.  There is just no way I can keep track of this many people. One thing I often tell active job seekers that I don’t have anything for at the time is “hey, if you see a job that looks like a great fit, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note to see if I can help make a connection. A hot hand off is way better than a cold online application”.  I am more than happy to help make a connection thru my network if I can, and I don’t need a fee out of it.  I have certainly had my fair share of placed candidates who became clients down the road and all because I still try hard to abide by my old Boy Scout Motto “Do a Good Turn Daily”.  I think any good recruiter worth their salt would want to help if they can as well. I am a professional independent recruiter, i.e. I work for myself and offer my services to companies struggling to fill key roles. There are a ton of what I call “direct recruiters” and these are people who work directly for the company and are almost always part of the Human Resources department and often do mostly what I do as well.  There is a lot more to it than this, but I just mention this as it will be helpful to know if you are dealing with a “middle-man” like me who may have many jobs across many companies across the whole country or a direct employee of the company trying to fill the position.  You peeps that have been around a while can stop rolling your eyes now, there are always newbies to every industry you know! LinkedIn: I love’em and I hate’em (could write 10 blogs on this), but the fact is they are a recruiter’s playground, and you should understand this.  If you are early in your career, do a good job and very professionally connect with as many people as you can on LinkedIn.  If you are in Job search mode, I highly recommend that you put your contact information front and center on your profile, and this is why.  Every recruiter knows that a good LinkedIn profile is worth it’s weight in gold, and if your contact information is very visible, you are probably at least subtlety telling recruiters that you are open to be communicated with and open to opportunities.  Being able to reach out to you directly saves them the expense of an “InMail” and hoping you check your account once in a while.  Depending on the services a recruiter pays for, there are other more direct ways to know you are open to opportunities, but this is a great way to receive good job opportunities in my opinion. That’s it for now, if you read this, fire me a connect request on LinkedIn:
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