Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two-page limit? Why your resume should be as long as it needs to be.

Your resume needs to be as long as it needs to be to get you noticed.

I've had it with forcing a candidate to one page and making them feel silly for having a (gasp!) two-page resume.

I had a conversation today with a new candidate whose resume wasn't equal to his skills. He has a difficult-to-find programming language in his tool belt, but his resume focused solely on accomplishments and neglected technology. It was also one page long.

He said he had done some research on the internet and all the best sources told him to keep his resume limited in length. You've heard the old message: no more than 2 pages.

But if you're a job candidate in the 21st century, you've also heard about keywords and if you've really done your research you've also heard about applicant tracking systems.

All those keywords can make a resume long!

The two messages clash, but if you aren't in the industry you may not realize that. In fact, I wonder if people in the industry realize they're sending a crazy, mixed-up message. A recruiter in my office just this morning spoke to someone whose sister-in-law, a recruiter in the healthcare industry, told her to keep the resume to no more than two pages.

Here's why I am always saying longer resumes are not evil. If an applicant tracking system is comparing your resume to a job description and the job description is looking for a receptionist who can answer phones, then your resume had best mention answering phones. If the job description is for a business analyst, then your resume needs to mention gathering requirements.

You simply can't expect anyone anymore to read between the lines or assume that most receptionists answer the phone and most business analysts gather requirements.

Don't laugh! I've seen programmer resumes that have no mention whatsoever of their programming language. I've seen help desk and PC technician resumes that have no technologies listed. When asked why, a candidate I spoke to this winter said he had to keep his resume to one page, so something had to go. He chose to eliminate all technologies.

I can't make this stuff up.

Your resume must include all pertinent technology, old and new, including tools that are used with your skill set. It also needs basic job skills that leave no room for interpretation or assumptions on the part of the hiring manager or the applicant tracking system.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You ought to be in pictures: videotape an interview

Today's suggestion comes from an instructor and isn't about video interviewing via Skype. It's about seeing yourself as others see you. 

I was talking to a friend of mine about mannerisms in interviews and how distracting they can be. He said they often videotape instructors so the instructors can see their own mannerisms and speech patterns. A recent candidate had wild gestures and a few nervous habits that went beyond hand wringing, finger weaving, or fidgeting. 

This candidate would raise his arms, lace his fingers and bring his hands down to his knee as he leaned forward. Sometimes both feet were on the ground, sometimes one leg would be crossed over with that foot resting on the other knee. After getting into this pose, he would lean forward while he spoke. He did this repeatedly and I began to be distracted by his actions rather than listening fully to what he was saying. 

These days most people have access to video. It's on your phone, your Flip or your tablet. So set that to "record" and have a friend or family member interview you. Treat the interview seriously, then watch the video. You may be surprised to find that you are doing things you didn't realize you were doing. You may also discover that you are projecting an image you didn't intend to project. 

Let friends and family watch the video as well. Take their criticism in a positive manner, make adjustments and then do the exercise again until you look like the person you want to be during every job interview. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How can you know if you fit on the manager's current team?

In an interview, the interviewer may try to determine whether the job candidate is a fit for the team that's currently in place. According to Dr. John Sullivan on ERE.net, there is "little evidence that untrained managers can accurately assess "fit" in 60 minutes."

Depending on how the interview is going, you might consider asking the manager to describe the current team. What makes them work well together? What characteristics do team members have in common? What would the manager do to get the team through a tough project?

The answers may provide information about how the manager interacts with the team. You might learn a lot about the manager who talks about the team but uses the word "I" instead of "we" or even "they" when referring to the team.

This question also may provide for you an opportunity to address characteristics you possess that may make you a good "fit" for the team. But don't press it too hard. Listen and learn and if the opportunity presents itself, show yourself to advantage through the course of the conversation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Should you participate in an exit interview?

I believe the exit interview is not in the best interests of the exiting employee, so my answer to this question is always no. Bear in mind that I'm not a lawyer and I don't pretend to give legal advice. Having said that, I also caution against signing anything.

Human Resources may invite you to participate or may issue something that sounds more like a command, but you do not have to participate in the exit interview. The most basic theory is that HR wants to you to reveal issues they may not know about. Further, the hope is that HR will do something about the problems inherent in (let's face it) any organization.

But an exiting employee has announced their disinterest in working further with an organization and no longer has a personal interest in seeing the company change. So HR may discount any "bad news" delivered during an exit interview as sour grapes on the part of the departing employee. If they want to improve the organization,  they might be better served to ask employees who are still committed to the organization.

Also, everything you say or any survey answers you reveal during an exit interview will be noted and kept in a file. If there is any desire on the part of either party to litigate, everything you say can and will be used against you if it will strengthen their case. Again, I'm not a lawyer.

You may think that not attending an exit interview will reflect poorly on you and that may be the case. You can burn bridges by attending and by not attending. The decision is up to you. But as I see in interviews in my office, it is difficult to hide anger, resentment and bitterness, especially when those feelings are fresh.

If you do attend an exit interview, keep your comments short, sweet and simple. Above all, keep everything positive. Don't give in to the desire to tell them just how poorly they treat people, how bad management is, what awful policies they have in place or any other issue that is burning on the tip of your tongue.

The success of the organization doesn't actually rest in your hands.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Do you, like, know what I mean?

We all have little sayings we fall in love with and sprinkle liberally throughout our conversations. We get into the, like, you know, groove of our train of thought and we, um, forget that the listener is keeping, oh...what's the word? Track. Right. They're keeping track.

I was talking to a candidate who said the same two phrases so many times that I could now kick myself for not counting them for the duration of our time together. In answering questions, he said, "If you know what I mean" and after making an explanation, he said, "If that makes sense."

Before you can break this habit, you need to know what it is you say too frequently. While I think most of us have an idea of what sort of habits we have in this area, just to be certain you're on the path, you should ask someone who will tell you honestly what you're saying that no longer needs to be said. Ask your best friend or your parents. Be careful not to put the wrong person on the spot. You may want to ask a couple people, but you need for them to be honest. You'll want to choose people who want to help you succeed.

There are tactics you can use to help you break the habit. You can go cold turkey, you can put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you say the offending words, you can start charging yourself a quarter every time you catch yourself saying it or you can pay someone a quarter every time they catch you...whatever works for you.

During an interview, you have only a short period of time to make a good impression, so while these little phrases and words might be okay with friends and family, you want to put your best foot forward from the very beginning of each interview.

If you know what I mean.

That is probably the best interview advice I have have ever received!!! ~Neal C.

I wanted to talk to you again before this interview because you really geek interview tips. ~Chad T.

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