Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Thank you 2009! yeah, right. Well, this is either a half full or half empty choice. On the half empty side, 2009 was very frustrating when it came to job search. The number of incredibly well qualified people out of work is very disheartening. Some companies have become incredibly disrespectful of potential employees. etc. etc.

On the half full side, I started Notes From the Job Search. I've met some amazing people! I have my first paying customer as a career coach, roughly 90 people on my mailing list, many of whom choose to remain on the list after going back to work. This blog is up and running! (Thank you to my 23 stalkers! :)

I've also been given some amazing help. Col Bob Jackson (USAF Ret) has been instrumental. He has a resume building process that is extraordinary and that he has shared with NFJS. Using his system as a key component, we now know how to help people create custom resumes very quickly and directly connected to opportunities. Kevin McClintic has been the unofficial sales manager for NFJS and been tireless in letting people know about the groups and the blog and how we can support each other. Shari Fox was an enormous help early in this process keeping us grounded in the realities of the hiring process and focused on how people can negotiate that. Gayle Rose has been terrific in sharing leads and ideas. When she's gone to trainings, she has been most gracious in sharing. Monica Cavagnaro for her eagerness to share. Stacia Polhonka and her willingness to be an example. Mike Montgomery for his the same reasons. Kerrie Schurr shared her training in "Dependable Strengths" which strongly reinforced where we are going with resume's. My brother Mike Paul, who has now joined me as part of the NFJS team. He has been incredibly generous with his time and ideas. His experience with Networking is a paradigm in how to make this work.

Matt Youngquist for his encouragement -- and one of the best blogs out there on job search and career success!

So we could surely look at the problems and declare the glass half empty, but there is just too much good that is going on to get stuck there. So goodbye to 2009, it's been a very good year, 2010 is looking even better!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Resume path part 2

In my last post, I discussed how a job posting showed up on an advertisement/job board etc. and that by the time it reached a job board, it had been worked into a set of criteria. What happens next is why we spend so much time on resumes.

The result of posting an opportunity is that the recruiter will be bombarded with resumes. It has become common for me to be told that as many as 1,000 resumes can be submitted to a single posting. So when I say that a recruiter can be bombarded, that is really close to what they experience. And honestly, no one can review 1,000 resumes and no company wants them to.

For smaller companies that do things manually, the person will start at the top of the pile and go through resume’s until they find some pre-determined number of resumes that might be good fits, then files the rest and deals with the selected ones. Maybe it’s 50, maybe as much as 100, it’s just very hard to imagine the number getting much bigger than that. So lots of resumes aren’t even reviewed. Frequently not even logged in.

Larger organizations use some kind of software that allows them to do “key word” searches. A key word that is popular currently in IT is “Scrum”. It’s a development project management methodology. So the recruiter has all of the resumes entered into a database then scans them for “Scrum”. If your resume doesn’t use that word, then it is eliminated. If the number of resume’s left after this is too large, then the recruiter will add some other word, perhaps it will be C#. Still too many? Check to see if Scrum appears two or more times, check if C# appears more than two times, then three, etc.

There is almost no chance a human will look at more than 50 resumes for an opening. Even then, the first human scan will probably take less than 10 seconds, probably closer to 3. The recruiter will now have 20 to 25 resumes that are read in any kind of depth at all. Their job is to deliver between 3 and 10 resumes to a hiring influence. Worst case scenario, has 10 screening interviews extracted from 1000 resumes submitted. That is a 1% chance of a screening interview, let alone an interview for a job.

The result of this maze, from the applicant’s point of view is that resume needs to be built specifically for the opportunity. What are the key words? What is the emphasis? What is the required experience? Assuming you have them, then they have to be on the resume the way the job description describes them.

I am painting a couple of worst case scenarios here, that’s true and there certainly are exceptions. There are companies that commit to reviewing every resume, and there are recruiters that commit to that as well. Unfortunately, it is way too common for the scenario's I'm describing to be real, so even if your resume isn’t going through half of these hoops, and even if the number of resumes submitted is only 100, the resume itself must be prepared.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why do resume's matter?

At Notes from the Job Search, we spend a lot of time teaching that the perfect resume is the one you drop off after your first day of work and that the job you want is one that you get through a referral from a friend. We also spend a lot of time working on making our resumes the very best possible; which seems like a contradiction. Why spend time perfecting something you shouldn’t be letting anybody see? Unfortunately, we normally need to work both ends of a job identification/recruitment process in order to get the job we want.

What makes writing a resume such a tough problem? Heck, there is a whole industry built up around writing them and it’s easy to spend 2 or 3 thousand dollars on one. Is that a good use of money?

The answer is tied up in the other end of the process, specifically the recruitment process. What does the hiring company go through in order to hire a new employee?

The hiring process works best for the potential employer at the same time it works best for the potential employee: When a potential opening and a potential employee meet up before HR gets involved. Sorry HR folks, but it does. The hiring influence and the job seeker talk about the problems that need to be solved, the job seeker is identified as compatible through mutual experience and common friends and interests, the quality of the work can be reviewed based on relevant criteria.

Bringing HR into the process requires that a fundamentally subjective process become objective. Step one is a “job description”. My background is IT and in IT terms, that is a “solution” or a “specification”. Solutions that are separated from problems probably represent the largest number of failed projects in IT and that is what’s required when hiring is turned over to HR. HR has a specification and then does it’s level best to fill it. They interview the hiring influence, get that person’s best guess as to what they need, translate into a series of questions, etc. etc. In the end they have a rigid set of criteria, questions with a rigid set of answers.

The reason for all of the time worked on resume’s is to negotiate that rigid path… In competition with some ridiculous number of other people doing the same thing. The resume is the first step down that path.