Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do What You Love....LOVE What You Do!!!

Here’s a quote I came across while reading an article.  I absolutely love it, since I’ve been saying it for years and it’s the antithesis of what you’ll read and find people believing these days:

Of course, no one job is best for everyone, and everyone has their own ideas about what makes a job great. “You have to like what you’re doing or you’re not going to be successful at it,” says Emily Bennington, who helps college graduates transition into careers through her company, Professional Studio 365. At the same time, “if you’re not getting paid to do it, you’re not going to love it for very long.”  

I have an exercise I put clients through that asks them to rank certain points.  The sheer number of people who place money as the first point (most important) is indicative of the pervasiveness of people still desperate, still willing to take any job, even though the market is loosening up.

Truth is: Picking a job for money = your unhappiness in the long run.  If you don’t like your boss, or what you’re doing or anything else, what you’re getting paid will isn’t enough to compensate for the loss of your happiness! You with me so far?

The 13th century poet, Rumi, said “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”  So...say it with me....when your work is what you love, then you’ll love your work!

“Fine Judi, I get it already! But I can’t afford to be picky can I?” you say.  That’s exactly what I’m saying!  Let me ask you something.  Did desperation look good to you back in 5th grade when someone was begging to be your friend? Or the person in college who said they’d do anything just to go out on a date with you?  Well, it doesn’t look good to employers either.

Beyond that, doing a job you hate creates tension and the duality of tension (tension is at odds with the body’s natural state of being – but that’s another story for another day!)  inevitably leads to illness and problems in other areas of your life.

In the process of working with me on their search, some of my clients get an offer for something they aren’t too crazy about but would take, and when we go through a few simple Q&As, the answer is clear that it would be a mistake to take that job.  So they turn it down.  Guess what?  About a week or two later exactly what they’re looking for comes through.

It takes a lot of guts to quit a job you hate and to be picky when you’re looking for a new job.  But ironically, that’s exactly what will get you where you want to go.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Being Pursued by Ruthless Collection Agencies? Stressed Out and Afraid to Pick Up the Phone?


Last week I did a credit and collections teleseminar with Gerri Detweiler,

Credit.com's expert.  It was a huge hit! Here are a few of the feedback

comments that came in:

  • It was a load of valuable information!

  • A very informative discussion with a leading expert on credit who gives excellent

    advise [sic] and tips on credit problems and offers solutions.

  • This is a mere hour of your day, sit back and listen to insightful information

  • Wow!  Such a big help!  I got the books and told a friend about them too.

Gerri has 20 years of knowledge, has done over 3,000 interviews and testified

before Congress, and now will be doing a regular spot on the same show out of

New Mexico that I'm on every Thursday morning.


So I decided to make both of her offers available to everyone! 


OFFER #1:  Available only to 4 people -- What are you waiting for?


1 hour counseling call to review credit report or similar issues and 30 days of email question support - $125.  Are you kidding?  I charge $100 for a consult and $150 for a month of emails.  

Check out a couple of other coaches - average 1 hour consult price is $150.  These days you can't go to a psychotherapist for $125.  There are a few spots left - if you were on the call, you have credit problems. 

Grab one of these last spots.  The value of the offer - the offer period - stuns me.  This is easily worth $200 - $300.  Email Gerri:  gerri@ultimatecredit.com




*NOTE:  Do not take advantage of this if you're in serious shape such as bankruptcy - get the books instead.  This for someone who merely is having some credit with their report or collection agencies. Severe problems such as bankruptcy can't be sufficiently addressed within the scope of this offer




OFFER #2: Buy 1 get the 2nd book free! 

#1 book:  Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights


Designed to help you put an end to your bill collection problems. Record numbers of people

are falling behind on their bills. If you’re one of them, you know that juggling your bills and

expenses can be stressful enough. But when collectors are harassing and threatening you,

your stress level can become more than you can handle.  Stop hiding from debt collectors

and handle them head on with new knowledge of your rights!   Includes:

  • free debt collection worksheet to keep track of every conversation you have with a debt collector.

    This information can prove invaluable if the collector breaks debt collection laws.

  • resources such as the Collection Complaint Hotline for help dealing with a debt collector.


#2 book:  Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress: Real life solutions for solving your credit crisis:

Starting with a simple effective "Debt Triage" chart, you'll learn which options for

conquering debt can work for you, including debt consolidation, credit counseling,

debt settlement, and more.


You'll then find ways to get healthier financially. The book is filled with real-life stories

that are also designed to help bring the concepts in the book to life and encourage you

along the way.  Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress give you clear, step-by-step advice for

navigating tough times, helping you sleep at night by giving you the knowledge

to manage your debt.

The books are only $14.95 for both of them together.  But this page is

going to go down soon. Get them today, because when the page is gone - and that might be t

his weekend - it's gone!.  

     Learn what to do and ease your problems before they get worse!

                Go here now:           http://bit.ly/GDJPTP

   Handle those creditors and do happy dances instead of worrying!!!!

 Happy dances all around!  


Judi Perkins



No Finding the Right Answers? Are You Asking the Right Question?

A  job  seeker sought me out for a consultation last week.  She was feeling lost (not uncommon) about what direction she should go in.  She’d not had any luck turning anything up; her resume hadn’t gotten her any response and she was wondering if she should get another degree or a certification in something and if that would help.  She wanted feedback on her resume.

No response to the resume is a common problem  But the solution isn’t always the same -  aside from probably needing their resume fixed.  Fortunately for her she sought some answers to her questions instead of just running pell mell off into some solution that seemed sensible. to her

The first problem was her resume (which she’d had done professionally.) And after all my questions, part of my solution to her was to refer her to the two people I consider very good at what they do (and I endorse very few professional resume writers).  Despite having seen over half a million of them and the results people have achieved with ones I’ve done, I’ve chosen to no longer do them.

Her resume was functional rather than chronological – a good choice for her though it was poorly done.  It was hard to read.  The bullet points had no bullets.  They were job description statements instead of ones that really highlighted what she could do and had achieved.  Her jobs were concurrent but only the years were listed, not the months.

She had a hodge podgy of job titles, although a steady employment record, and an advanced degree and the result was that you couldn’t tell what she’d done, you couldn’t tell what she wanted, and the degree said “expensive” so the result was that after about 3 seconds, her resume went in the “no” pile.

It was clear to me that her strengths were leading things behind the scenes; making sense out of chaos; pulling a hodgepodge of details together into one organized, cohesive grouping and establishing a prioritized timeline; talking to the different parties and making sure that all groups were represented in a manner that was equitable, agreeable, and satisfying to those involved, etc.

The resume conveyed none of that.  Nada. Zip. Zilch.  So my first piece of advice was to tell her to make sure the new resume writer knew that’s what needed to be conveyed on her resume.  So that handled the resume problem for now.

But an extra degree or certification, such as a PMP, wasn’t necessary – at least not now.  She was more a project manager in theory rather than in an industry requiring that certification and using that title, and not every industry does.  Sometimes project manager is a functional part of another title rather than a formal title and formal job description.   People with this skill (and I’m not one of them) are always in demand – but you have to know that it’s your “thing” and be able to convey that.

So rather than running off to school, I counseled her on how to use Indeed.com for research to pull things up to research titles, industries, requirements etc in searching for opportunities that had those skills as the essence, but in which the industry or company or context varied.  That’s considered looking horizontally rather than vertically.

The purpose of this exercise was to see what the varied titles were – and as I was doing this on Indeed while talking with her, the titles varied greatly – and if there were any trends.

Project Management positions that require PMP certifications are usually vertical – IT; setting up a complex, company-wide safety program (usually manufacturing, nuclear technology, oil & gas, etc); things like that vs a more horizontal focus, that is, companies looking for someone with project manager skills – event planning, marketing communications liason, student development coordinator – all of which pulled up and necessitated a closer look.

I showed her what steps to take, how to asses each result, etc.  Based on her results, then she’d know if she needed to go back to school and  she could decide if she wanted to do that.

As for the advanced degree and the random assortment of companies and titles – that was easy to pull into one coherent sentence for her to utilize by means of an explanation, but it put a great deal of emphasis on the cover letter, which is where it needs to be handled, and not through a generic one.

I see this problem with so many job seekers and I’m always thankful that the ones who seek me out for a consultation do so.  I applaud them for it too because it means they’re thinking things through clearly enough to not just run knee jerk into the night in some random – but seemingly plausible – way to solve whatever they perceive to be the problem.

But if all she’d done was had her resume redone, her strengths still might not have been uncovered and highlighted.  Or if she’d gone and gotten a degree or certification in something, it could have been unnecessary – especially as she didn’t even know what she wanted to do in the first place.

If she’d done that and started all over again, she still wouldn’t have had the primary questions resolved and furthermore, the hiring authorities would still be rejecting her resume, not the least because of the advanced degree and how it was interfering with their perception of her because she wasn’t shaping the perception she wanted them to have.

Finding a new job is a skill – and it’s really not a skill many job seekers have, which is why so many of them are operating at about 25%.  Issues they think are one problem are actually an entirely different problem.  If you haven’t properly defined the issue, whatever action you take isn’t going to provide a satisfying resolution or put you any closer to your goal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Couple Success Stories


Judi gave me a whole new perspective on my job search.  I was preparing for a phone interview and felt unsure of how to prepare.  Judi gave me some solid advice and also gave me a homework assignment. I can’t tell you how surprised I was when the interviewer covered all the points Judi had discussed with me! Judi gave me a new outlook on my job search by boosting my attitude and giving me the confidence I needed. I was inspired by her wisdom, experience, and her can-do attitude. She is definitely the go-to gal to help in your job search and to land the job!

---Dee M., MT



Judi provides a unique perspective on job seeking.  Her advice incorporates the possible viewpoints of employers/HR departments as well as the job seeker’s personal and professional goals.   Most career coaches have a canned approach and try to fit any client into that formula without actually listening to determine each person’s unique situation.  Also, Judi’s fees are very reasonable in this difficult economy and one can purchase different services as needed. 

---Pauline S., MA


Friday, October 14, 2011

Will Protection Help.......Or Not?


It was about two years ago when I began learning from  emailers and clients and job seekers in general that unemployed job seekers were being discriminated against.  It’s great to see an issue getting national exposure that we in the career niche have known about for awhile.

Obama’s proposed bill prevents companies with 15 people or more from not hiring someone who is unemployed.  Cheers, right?  Advocates of job seekers have applauded the proposed measure.  But others say it fosters discrimination in favor of the unemployed and may well result in unnecessary litigation. 

According to Wikipedia:  “Unemployment (or joblessness), as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively looked for work within the past four weeks.”  Not hiring the unemployed goes back further than you might expect.

Wikipedia also says that in the 1576 Act each town was required to provide work for the unemployed. The Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601, one of the world’s first government-sponsored welfare programs, made a clear distinction between those who were unable to work and those able-bodied people who refused employment.

I googled various phrases to see what’s happened in the past, but didn’t find much.  In 2006, Gary Aguirre was hired by the SEC, but sued them for not hiring him when he earlier applied for the job.  In 2010, a job applicant asked on a Colorado website if he could sue a company for not hiring him when they required a degree, hired someone who didn’t have one, and he didn’t have one either.  In 2004 a male wanted to sue Hooters for not hiring him as a waiter.

In a 2007 blogpost, one executive advises HR people on how to “delicately” handle the subject of why someone wasn’t hired by issuing any number of vague phrases – none of which are new to so many of todays job seekers.   I can’t count the number of times job seekers have asked me what to do when they have the qualifications, are ignored, and see the job ad remain or even be reposted on a job board.

Personally, I can argue both sides of this.  In deference to the job seekers, I’ve written several articles about the stupidity of companies not hiring the unemployed. 

In deference to employers, I know from having been a recruiter and now from working with my clients there are an awful lot of job seekers who think they are qualified….and aren’t. 

Companies who don’t hire the unemployed are discounting a valuable resource.  After all, it’s not as if it’s a candidates’ market and thus those who are unemployed are, generally, not the cream of the crop.  These days, there are a lot of very good people who were  let go individually or as a group for reasons having nothing to do with their performance. 

On the flip side, there are going to be job seekers who have a history of not accepting responsibility for their actions and aren’t going to change that if this law goes into effect.  In a world where people sue for spilling hot coffee on their lap, for getting cancer from cigarettes and equally absurd reasons that spend taxpayer dollars and tie up the courts, this attempt at fairness will most definitely have its boundaries tested.

It may well be that a few cases have to be litigated in order to set some sort of a precedent, with or without EEOC guidelines.  This issue isn’t really anything new – it just has a different shape to it. So, whether it’s enacted or not is a moot point, really.  Only in an ideal world will companies consider candidates based solely on their capabilities and credentials, and will job seekers take responsibility for their decisions and actions and not look for the easy way out.

I’m just wondering………so you sue a company for not being hired and then…..you get lots of money for not being hired which underlines your lack of interest in conducting  a  productive job search in the first place (and shows what type of person you really are) or you get to work there after all.  You lose either way , no?  

Or you can look at it this way – if they don’t want to hire you because you’re unemployed, it’s not likely to be a place you want to work anyway.  Then you’re at a meet up group and run into the hiring manager who put you in the “no” stack because you were unemployed, you can quietly hope he’s learned something from his earlier decision.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

6 Annoying Habits


Some of my own personal pet peeves.

  1. UNWILLINGNESS TO LEARN: Why?  With so many resources out there, why do some people not invest in themselves? Or seek out new information to expand their horizon?  Whatever it is you do for a living, did you know how to do that right out of the box? Of course not.  What about stuff around the house? Wiring? Cooking? Gardening? Playing guitar?  You read. You learned. You paid for lessons.  Why are you not doing that with your job search?

  2. RUDE HIRING AUTHORITIES:  If you were referred to someone in a company, especially if that person actively and verbally referred you, and then you follow up, they should get back with you.  Even if it’s to say thank you, we’re not hiring.  Or thank you, please submit your resume on line.  Even if they have their admin get back with you.  To stay silent is rude and unprofessional.

  3. IRRESPONSIBLE RECRUITERS:  Who lie.  Who send your resume out without your permission.  And by the way, not doing that should go without saying, but it’s good to say it anyways: “Please make sure you contact me prior to submitting my resume.” Recruiters who submit you with your knowledge, then never return your call.  Probably because the company dumped them.

  4. PROCRASTINATION: I don’t care if it’s fear of change, you hate to do your resume, you’re afraid of the unknown.  You’re the only one who has the power to change your life.  It’s a choice.  Your choice.  You can: A) go forward into the unknown, learn, fall on your face, learn, get better, continue to learn, grow, and change your circumstances.  B) complain while things get worse (because they never stay the same – you’re either moving forward or moving backward). C) choose to not do anything now and know why you’re choosing that (rather than complain) or  D) drive your car off a bridge.  Pick one.

  5. WHEN I FORGET TO ATTACH THINGS:  It’s an extra few minutes, more clicks, and extra email in your box.  Everyone does it occasionally.  I do it a lot.  Although knowing I do it, I like to think I’m getting better at not doing it.  I hope anyway.  When I have too much going on, I tend to move too fast and drop details

  6. CAPITALIZING THINGS THAT SHOULDN’T BE:  I see it in resumes.  I see it in ads.  What is with this trend?  It drives me nuts.  This was the norm in the 1700s, but it’s 300 years later.  So why are people still capitalizing things that aren’t proper nouns? (Real examples). Responsible for Project Management, Business Operations, and Organizational Change  (if those are actual departments, they get capped, but my guess is they are activities, and thus they do not get capped).

    1. Institute a Common Framework (The Common Framework as a title, but a common framework as a general description)

    2. Responsible for the Automotive, Transportation, and Hospitality industries (again, general descriptions do not get capped)

    3. Driven by the On boarding Process (I can’t begin to even understand this one)

    4. Building relationships with Transformation Team Leadership, Business and Operations leads and counterparts, and Vendors (how do you build a relationship with leadership?  Leaders, yes, but leadership? and by what stretch of the imagination does vendors get a capital V?)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bad Credit? Employer Credit Check? No Worries!

In addition to drug testing and often fingerprinting, companies both national and international have also required credit checks.  But it’s become more the norm than the exception, because with the extreme number of people applying, companies have implemented it as a means of indicating a candidate’s character.

Unfortunately for the many who have been out of work so long they’ve destroyed their credit, a credit check strikes fear in their hearts.  What if the company rescinds the job offer?  It becomes a catch-22.  You can’t repair your credit without a job, and you can’t get a job without good credit.

The solution for some candidates is to confess immediately.  This results in eliminating them from consideration, which perpetuates their fear.  To make the credit check issue virtually non-existent and remove the fear from the entire equation, let’s factor in some basic psychology.

As humans, we have the inclination to rationalize what we want.  The more something is of value to us, the more we exclude from the picture anything that might impede our ability to obtain it.  When you apply this to the hiring situation, it means that a job seeker, about to receive an offer, has value to the company.  Consequently, the candidate’s bad credit becomes relatively unimportant to them. 

By contrast, when you confess in your cover letter, you’re guaranteed not to hear from the company.  When you admit to it during your first interview, you’ve just screened yourself out.  Early in the process the company is still looking for reasons eliminate candidates.  When you confess to having bad credit you’re not getting points for honesty; you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Factoring in additional psychology, most people don’t like surprises, certainly companies about to extend an offer.  When you combine the relative degree of value with the effect of being surprised, the solution becomes much easier: tell them about your credit, but not until they’re about to extend and offer and consequently do the credit check.  You have value to them, and you’ve removed the surprise.  The result? The whole matter is brushed aside.

When an offer is imminent, there are phrases that will clue you in.   To begin with, you’re generally aware of when you’re in the final stages of the process, if not when you’re the final candidate.  The interviewers tend to smile a lot and say positive statements that join you both together.  Or they request references.  Failing that, they’ll make you an offer and expect you to take a few days to consider it.  Now’s the time to bring it up. 

Another tip:  what you say and how you say it influences how the information is received.  In other words, the bigger the deal you make of it, the more attention they’ll give it.  When you share the information with a smile, and in an informative, but off-handed way, you’re communicating that it’s no big deal. 

Wording would be something like, “By the way, I want to let you know that during the long period I was unemployed and juggling my bills, I ruined my credit.  Since you’ll be doing a credit check, will my temporary bad credit be a problem?” 

Yet more psychology: notice the inclusion of the word temporary, as well as the explanation for the bad credit.  You’re satisfying their unspoken question of “why?’ which is likely to put them on edge about the subject, and at the same time, you’re telling them that it’s not the normal state of affairs. All they really want to know is that you’re responsible and not a constant excuse maker. 

Bad credit and bankruptcy are usually accompanied by mitigating circumstances such as lengthy unemployment or an irresponsible spouse and divorce proceedings.  We’re human.  Companies understand this because they’re composed of humans.  So instead of losing sleep, remember that by the time the credit check happens, they’re more concerned about getting you on board.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You’re Selling a Product……YOU!

I coined this phrase for one of my columns a while back, because I wanted to make the relationship clear.  We all know interviewing is selling, but crazy as it sounds, it’s still a little foggy to some.
Professional sales people receive training consistently to better understand the dynamics of what makes a top salesperson – not only adept at closing sales, but adept at knowing which ones to walk away from.  It’s done through knowing your product, asking questions, and building relationships. 
What qualifies me to talk about sales when I’m a career coach?  I’ve been on straight commission for 25 years.  As a recruiter, I built relationships, had repeat clients, and my placements stuck.   And along with another unrelated phone sales position, I’ve consistently been a top producer, breaking a few records along the way. 
How does this relate to job hunting?  That’s exactly what this blog post is about today.
  1. knowing your product – you – and your resume is your brochure, yet 99.9% of all resumes have bullets that are job description statements and fail to differentiate that person from the hundreds of others who do the same thing.
  2. consequently, you can’t sell yourself.  You can’t even remember what you did, or else you haven’t taken the time to go back and dredge it out.  Knowing – and communicating –  these “kudos” in response to the answers from your questions,  is essential to interviewing
  3. asking questions, creating a dialogue – people don’t know how to do that either, because they’re so busy “selling” themselves for the job.  Then, when they finally get something, they wonder how they ended up in a place that was nothing like they thought it was.
Two words: Art Sobczakwww.businessbyphone.com  I recommend this guy all the time.  I know his work and I’ve not only lived by it, I’ve succeeded with it.  (And I get no remuneration etc from this recommendation, BTW). 
You need to sign up for his newsletter.  Sure, some of it won’t make sense, but there are principles in there you need to know.  Let’s look at the last issue, where he made up a reality TV show.  In the interest of space, I’m making Art’s newsletter quotes blue, rather than indenting, and I haven’t listed all the questions that Art had in the article.
In this reality series, 50 salespeople are herded into a 55-story magnificent office building with gold fixtures in every bathroom, to wait their turn to win the business of Joe BigCustomare, a head honcho decision maker who will award a million dollar purchase order to one lucky and skillful sales pro.  (Lots of people are interviewing for the same job)
Little do the unsuspecting sales reps know, but Joe BigCustomare is really a schlub who runs a near-bankrupt snow plowing service in Phoenix, and is behind on his truck payments. Our focus is on one sales rep, Pat Savvy. Pat was the eighth sales rep to have a shot at pitching to Joe.  (in our parallel situation, maybe it’s a dysfunctional company, maybe it’s not – that’s part of it, but not really my main point here)
In the first episode, the first seven all pretty much took the same approach. Each paraded in to see Joe, pulling out their laptop computer and Powerpoint presentations.  They had charts, graphs, videos, reams of technical data, samples, interactive computer programs, and slickly-crafted pitches, extolling in detail each of the fine “benefits” of doing business with them.  (All the job seekers tripped over themselves talking endlessly about why they were right for the job, having forgotten the job ad and not knowing much about the company or the position or how they fit)
Then, it was Pat Savvy’s turn.  Pat had nothing but a yellow legal pad and a pen.  And lots of questions.
Pat started out with some general questions. “So, Joe, tell me why you’re looking at this product.” (….looking to hire this position.”)
“How long have you been looking?” (umm…ditto)
Then Pat go into need- and problem-related questions:
“What problems will it solve for you?”
  (”What are the top priorities that need to be addressed in this position?”)

“Who else is affected by them?” (the effect of the problems/ solution/ interaction with other departments in the company)
What is the return on investment that you’re looking for?” (what are the goals you’re looking to achieve in this position and in what time frame?)
“Is this product going to replace another one?” (how long was the previous person here?)

Then Pat asked about the decision-making process:  “What three criteria will you weigh most heavily in choosing your vendor?”  (what’s the decision making process? eg, how many interviews?)

“Who else will be involved in the decision making process?” (yipper skipper, same question)

“Tell me about them and what they might be looking for.” (what are the most important factors in the person you hire? then ask it of every person with whom you interview)

“Are you already leaning toward one salesperson over another?” (where are you in your decision making process?  and where am I within that plan?)

“When, specifically will the decision be made?” (as in, when are you planning on extending an offer and having someone on board?)

Long story short, Pat didn’t want the job.  All his questions revealed Joe was a phony.    He saved himself a lot of misery, didn’t he?  And if Joe hadn’t been a phone, Pat would have known exactly how to take his services and address Joe’s needs rather than just talking blah blah blah, which is like shooting arrows into a dark closet.  You can’t see the target.
So follow this link to go to www.businessbyphone.com, and sign up for Art’s newsletter  now. It will help you understand the sales process, enhance your interview skills and educate you on how to follow up.  Like I said, if professional sales people need help, what about you – who is also selling, and that’s not even your career?
Art Sobczak provides how-to tips for prospecting and sales using the phone techniques that are applicable to job seekers that might not be advertised and set themselves apart from everyone else who is just sending out resumes.  Learn how to follow up, ask questions, find out the buyer’s needs and sell to those.  Get free tips, script examples, watch videos and more.  www.BusinessByPhone.com and www.TelesalesBlog.com

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interviewing: Speak Up and Find Out!

If you haven’t looked for a job in a while, skydiving might be preferable to interviewing.  But there are a few simple steps that will remove the fear and give you the confidence you’d otherwise wish you had. 
Common sense says you need to research the company via their website, brochures or the library, although you’d be surprised at how many skip the obvious.  Basics also include bringing a few extra copies of your resume to hand out if necessary, arriving early, dressing professionally, and knowing what you have to offer the company. 
But those are no-brainers, or they should be.  What even experienced interviewers often fail to do is ask, in detail, about the position.  So get away from the job description and dig into the actuality of that job in that company, as it stands right now.  Find out why the position is open and how long it’s been vacant.  Ask also how long the previous person was there.  If that person was there less than two years, find out how long the previous person was there.  If both are short, chances are you won’t be there long either. 
You want to know what the first priority to be addressed is, if there’s a time frame for accomplishing it, and if so, what it is. Is it a realistic one?  And overall, in what condition is the job you’ll be picking up?  Is it maintenance?  Troubleshooting and clean up?  Smooth, accelerated growth?  And how do the answers sit with you? 
The toughest thing about interviewing is that you need to find out about the position and sell yourself as the one for the job – concurrently.  That means you’re going after it before you even know if you want it.  Process it later.  It’s easier to close the door than open it when it’s too late.  In the meantime, to stay in control of your career, if what you’re hearing is agreeable to you, then show enthusiasm and throw the stiff formality out the window. 
Interviews should be dialogues, not question and answer sessions.   You can’t change the subject, but you can ask a question about the topic that’s on the table.  This gives you additional insight into the position and what they’re looking for.  It also helps what part of your background you want to talk about, leaving you less likely to ramble on, hoping something will be impressive.    
You can also ask for clarification if something sounds a little…….off.  But pay attention to your tone of voice and your body language.  A furrowed brow, a puzzled tone, and a curled lip are much more off putting than an interested tone, a smile, and a relaxed open manner.  The latter shows genuine interest in the details.  The former can sometimes be construed as the mark of a difficult person.
Pretend you’re interviewing with a friend’s company, and it’s just a formality.  How would you be sitting?  Sounding?  What would your word choices be?  Because self confidence has a completely different look and feel to it, and companies don’t want to hire desperate people.  They want to be specifically chosen for who they are and what they offer.  Just like you do.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Resume Bullets: Informative or Boring?

The most problematic part of a resume for people seems to be crafting their accomplishments. The confusion between an accomplishment and a responsibility is the difference between generating excitement by selling what you can do, and making a bland statement that elicits the question “So what?”   It’s the difference between being invited in for an interview….and getting no response at all.           
A responsibility reads as if it was taken from your job description.  It fails to distinguish you from any other person that held that title before you, or holds that title at any other company.  It says your function, but it doesn’t speak to your ability to perform that function.           
By contrast, an accomplishment is what differentiates you from any other person that does, or has done, that job.  It not only indicates how well you perform your job, but what type of person you are.           
How does a factual accomplishment reveal something as subtle and subjective as a personality trait?  Measured with the length of time you were at a company, your number of accomplishments indicates the degree to which you are a go-getter.  It says if you’re motivated to go beyond the average job, and how much pride you take in your work.           
It tells the hiring authority if you look for problems and find ways to solve them, or if you are content with saying, “That’s good enough.”  And it also tells him how well you know your job by how well you solved those problems.  Let’s look at an example.  If you’re a teacher, a responsibility might read:
  1. Developed innovative, education-based curriculum
Which leaves the following questions: 
  1. For what classes did you develop a curriculum? 
  2. Why did it need to be developed? 
  3. What was going on before it was developed?
  4. What was the result of the development? 
Interviewers want answers, not questions. Since the responsibility statement doesn’t indicate how well you performed your job, it’s easier not to invite you in for an interview. Interviewers don’t know if you have accomplishments hiding behind your responsibilities. They assume you don’t have anything to say, because you didn’t say it.  They don’t care that perhaps you didn’t know how to say it.  If your resume doesn’t sell you, it’s not their problem.  It’s yours.            
By contrast, the accomplishment version of the same statement might read:
  1. Created and implemented innovative, education-based curriculum that engaged students more actively, resulting in 75% of student body raising grades by average of a full point  
This says you’re worth talking to.  Then at the interview, it opens the field for the interviewer to ask you for more information about what types of programs you implemented and how you implemented them           
An accomplishment is a results-oriented statement.  It shows the benefit of hiring you by telling what you can do.   What you’re saying is, “I know what you want done, and I’ve done that.  I’ve done it successfully for my previous company; therefore, I can do it successfully for you.  When you hire me, you aren’t risking an unknown.  You’re hiring someone who has a proven ability to do the job successfully.”           
That’s what interviewers want to know.  That’s what they want to hear.  They don’t want to wonder, and they don’t want to figure it out.  If your resume doesn’t indicate what you’re capable of, the chance of an interview in which to sell yourself is slim.           
If you’ve been sending out resumes and getting nothing in response, take a look at your bullets under each company name.  Do they just say what you did, or do they say how well you did it?
You’re selling a product, and the product is you.  The interviewer is the buyer, and your resume is, in effect, your marketing brochure.  But if the buyer isn’t interested, you can’t close the sale.  And that’s your problem, not theirs.

Poor Grammar = Poor Impression!

I don’t care about casual communication between friends, but resumes, cover letters, websites……That there’s a plethora of applicants for almost every job is no secret.  But A company needs only one reason to jettison you from consideration, and this one can be prevented easily.
I’ve become increasingly concerned about the ignorance of Americans – not those who have learned English as a second language, but native English speakers – regardless of race, income level, schooling or other determining factors.              
The number of people who read seems to be decreasing in direct proportion to the number of kids growing up with portable DVDs, and iPods. Television has become the preferred babysitter for children and the most effective way for adults to anesthetize themselves after a day’s work. Teachers, overworked and underpaid, seem to be fighting a losing battle – or are some perpetuating it?          
These days I see egregious (horrible, outrageous, astoundingly bad) grammatical errors on resumes and cover letters, web sites, signs, emails to me…..regardless of management or income level. Job hunters write asking me for “advise” (it should be “advice.”  “Advice” is the noun; “to advise” is a verb).  
Some of these are written by people who are in the job market hoping to be invited in for an interview, and their paperwork is full of punctuation and grammatical mistakes. Were they careless? Or do they not know? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the hiring authority doesn’t know the difference either.           
The other day I saw the back of a company shirt that said: providing quality service since 10 years. A company shirt? How many were printed and are worn by employees who walk around advertising that that particular company has someone in an upper-level management position who didn’t catch the error or didn’t know the difference?           
Here’s a sign I saw in a store a few weeks ago: We do not except credit cards. (It should be “accept”.)           
Last week a senior level manager emailed me. He confused “its” and “it’s” in three different places. (”Its” is possessive. “It’s” is the contraction of “it is”.)   
Here’s another example:  I do product testing for a research panel.  The product came with a slip of paper that said: “This commitment covers not discussing this product or it’s usage with others outside your home.”  (It should have been “its”)           
Here’s what really bugs me: the new rule that seems to have come into effect in the last year – if in doubt, add an apostrophe. So what’s happened is that people all over America have lost the understanding of the difference between plural and possessive (possessive gets an apostrophe, plural does not).           
Your resume and your cover letter are not just a synopsis of your background. They are not just an introduction of you when you hope to be considered for an interview. First and foremost they are a brochure, and they are selling a product, and the product is you. If you wouldn’t go to an interview in blue jeans, don’t send your cover letter and resume with mistakes to a prospective employer.            
If you were shopping for a new car, what would you think if all the Honda or Lexus or Toyota brochures had apostrophes in the wrong place? Or misspelled words? Or glaring grammatical errors? Would you know?           
What about a flyer from your local grocery store? Or a promotional piece from your state representative?           
On some level it’s going to make a difference as to what you think of that company or person. If they aren’t careful enough about their literature or sales material, what else don’t they pay attention to?    Don’t rely on Microsoft Word’s ABC/Grammar checker. It isn’t able to discern if a word is spelled correctly but used out of context. The grammar checker won’t help you unless you have a fundamental understanding of grammar to begin with. In fact, if you defer to the grammar checker’s advice, you’ll probably increase your number of mistakes.          
An excellent reference book – and a funny one – to keep on hand is The Deluxe Transitive Vampire:  The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.  It’s easy to digest, has clever illustrations full of personality, and the examples make learning fun.             
Don’t tell yourself good grammar doesn’t matter. Don’t tell yourself that your skills are more important. Above all, don’t tell yourself that everyone speaks poorly these days and the hiring authority won’t know or care. The ability to communicate, written and spoken, is of paramount importance – certainly in business. And it only becomes more valuable as fewer people are able to demonstrate it.

Resume Distribution Services = Waist of Your Money!

Resume distribution services are the biggest scam going.   But they’re seductive, aren’t they?  Only fifty bucks to reach thousands and thousands of recruiters and employers!  How can you miss? Easily.  What the blaster services have going for them is that potential customers, like you, respond to their marketing from your purely assumptive point of view, rather than applying logic or viewing it from the recipient’s.
To you, the odds sound tough to miss.  Thousands?  If even a few hundred respond, think of all the interviews you’ll have!  You’ve also assumed that the service has done their homework, carefully researching the validity of each address.  And perhaps even that they’ve forged relationships with these recruiters and employers, who are each, in turn, eagerly awaiting the next “blast” of resumes from the service.  Fallacy, fallacy, fallacy.
The email addresses aren’t qualified.  Usually they’ve been harvested, even if it’s from a legitimate source like The Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters. Consequently a large percentage bounce back, and for those addresses that are legitimate, your resume is viewed as spam, and more often than not, simply deleted.
Let’s start with a look at the Kennedy Guide, an extremely valuable tool, and one, by the way, that you can find in the reference section of any library, or purchase on line access to for $60.00.  Got that?  For about the same price, you can have the real thing and not the imitation.  And even so, you need the most recent edition because the info in it goes out of date quickly.
Additionally, I know one retained search firm that put a general catch-all email address in there.  They received so many resumes from it – many from blasting services – that every day or so, they just deleted the entire inbox.  Better you use the guide for the other wealth of information it provides, and call them to qualify their specialties and geographical area of concentration.  You can get the guide here:  www.kennedyinfo.com.  It’s absolutely worth the $60.00 online access price.
Employers who are actively hiring, receive enough unqualified resumes from their ads for specific positions without having to take the time to look at ones that come through a blind service for which they didn’t pay.  These companies already know that those resumes have nothing to do with their business or their hiring needs of the moment, 99% of the time.  For the other 1%, it’s not worth bothering to look.
 Recruiting firms too, receive massive amounts of resumes each week.  And while many firms cover multiple industries and disciplines, their data base is still probably 75% unusable.  I know; I was a recruiter for 20 years and was at several firms, both contingency and retained.  While it’s possible that some firms download the resumes from services, they simply go right into the database.  If you’re thinking the recruiters actually see them and study them when they arrive, you’re wrong.
 As a further example, because of my URL and email address, I’m on the list of many of these services.  So a few times per week, I get these resumes.  I’m not a recruiter.   I don’t collect them, send them, or have any interest in them, unless they’re my client, and my clients are job seekers, not employers.  So if I’m fooled enough to open the email, once I see what it is, I delete it.
 Faxing your resume is no different.  Fax spam is almost as insidious as email spam.  Roofing companies, mortgage refinancing firms, stock tips, local restaurant menus, it goes on and on.  Who looks at the fax spam?  It’s usually tossed right in the trash with nary a glance, unless, perhaps, you’re standing there waiting for a fax.
 This is what you’re paying for.  Your resume is being sent to addresses that aren’t valid and aren’t qualified.  It’s being send to, and received by, people who didn’t ask for it, don’t look at it, and don’t care.  If it still sounds too good to be true, remember what your mom told you when you were a kid:  if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  File resume distribution services under that heading.