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eCommerce Merchandising Specialist

Location: Midwest

Category: Apparel, home decor, lifestyle

Are you innovative, consumer-centric and want to make a difference?  

Work for a direct to consumer company with a half of century of experience. They offer a business casual, collaborative work environment and a flexible schedule.

Summary: 

The eCommerce Merchandising Specialist is responsible for managing the merchandising of products and categories on the company’s websites. This includes: Site navigation, categories, featured products & rich content article placement, management and optimization of onsite search, refinements, etc., site segmentation / site personalization.

Job Description: 

  • Development & execution of online marketing strategies & plans

  • Contribute to the Marketing Department by providing creative ideas during planning and brainstorming sessions

  • Maintain an exceptional understanding of our customer, what motivates them and the products they purchase.

  • Responsible for managing on-site merchandising and search experiences in order to support sales optimization efforts and in support of customer acquisition and transaction goals

  • Management of site navigation, categories, featured products & rich content article placement for the company and other owned online properties

  • Management and optimization of site recommendations engine

  • Management and optimization of onsite search, refinements, etc.

  • Manage identification, implementation and optimization of site segmentation/site personalization experiences

  • Measure effectiveness of Marketing and Merchandising decisions

  • Extract insights from compiled data/results and adjust strategy and execution plans.

  • Create weekly and monthly executive summary reports

  • Provide forecasting, budgeting and pacing information.

  • Continuously identify new ways to develop, implement and support on-site merchandising/marketing strategies and programs

  • Maintain and advance partner relationships with Customer Service, Advertising, Merchandising, and external vendors. Leverage these partnerships in the execution of the marketing, merchandising strategy.

  • Interact with advertising to ensure web advertising is presented in a manner that best optimizes our content and supports our sales objectives

  • Work with business partners to prioritize work and provide estimates

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in merchandising, marketing, business administration, mass communications or related field.

  • 3+ years of experience in hands-on merchandising, planning and editing for ecommerce marketing initiatives in a retail B2C company.

  • Retail experience with an emphasis on home décor, lifestyle and apparel.

  • Excel in gathering, analyzing and acting on marketing data.

  • Familiarity with other digital marketing channels including SEM, Email, SEO, Display, Affiliates, etc.

  • Strong communication and creative concept development and evaluation/judgement.

  • Expert level of proficiency in Excel and PowerPoint.

  • Be a strategic thinker and exhibit a strong business acumen.

  • Have strong program management and organizational skills being able to manage multiple task/projects at once.

  • Experience with Oracle, ATG, Adobe Omniture and Certona a plus.

TO APPLY:
Send your resume with salary requirements to sue@mpresource.com, Midwest Personnel Resource, LLC:

Sr. Product Line Manager

Location: Northwest

Category: Sport Apparel

If you are interested in working for a top sportswear supplier, with a portfolio of strong brands and a rich history we need to talk.

Excellent corporate culture: respectful, collaborative, a place where you can make a difference and achieve desired career growth based on your contribution.

If you have sport/activewear product development experience; including design direction, understand the sport category competitive landscape, are analytical in nature and can drive the product mix/champion development this is the perfect role for you.

Reports to the Brand Director who is wonderful to work for/with; Personable, great manager, mentor with category expertise.

Summary:

The Sr. Product Line Manager will be responsible for driving the product creation process for the assigned private label sport brand. The focus of the role is to meet the sport performance apparel needs of men’s, women’s, and youth consumers. Their advanced knowledge of the market will justify new opportunities for growth and their product expertise will champion product ideas and positioning from product inception through go-to market strategies.   You will be responsible for design, development, forecasting/costing, and meeting the consumer need. Collaboration with cross-functional teams (graphic design, marketing, sourcing, etc.) will be imperative for a successful product launch.

Job Description:

Research and Product Knowledge

  • Product expert related to style offering, design, fabrication, pricing and positioning in the sports apparel marketplace

  • Market expert related to target consumers and end use

  • Identifies category growth opportunities and new product market potential

  • Researches and analyzes competitor and market product, consumer and competitive trends, while spending time learning customer needs.

  • Possesses and applies understanding of the product, delivery and pricing needs of core consumers, key markets, and channels.

  • Conducts detailed analysis of sales history and forecasts demand for potential new products

  • Creates documentation on findings for consumer and market information and presents information to team.

  • Effectively gathers input and feedback from sales and key accounts

  • Champions product positioning with marketing and sales throughout go-to market process – including web, image (catalog), and other support materials

Line Planning/Product Creation Process

  • Recommends product positioning, creates category construct and line plans, while managing and championing the ideas through the product creation process.

  • Maintains the line planning, pricing and product creation documentation for a complete product line - including silhouette/style/color plan, fit/sizing vision, flow plan, and pricing strategies.

  • Incorporates marketplace trends and consumer insights into product design briefs.

  • Creates design concepts that can be translated into workable concepts/artwork by illustrators/design team

  • Collaborates with cross-functional teams and has advanced understanding of the product creation process that involves merchandising, design, technical design, development, sourcing, quality assurance, and planning

  • Resolves process and merchandising issues that arise throughout the season while analyzing, recommending, and implementing ways to continually improve process efficiencies.

  • Approves product designs and components that the development team brings to meet the needs of the design brief

Presentations/Communications

  • Drive product creation process while developing a collaborative working environment among cross-functional teams

  • Creates and communicates impactful presentations to sell-in the product to cross-functional teams, management, marketing, and internal sales as well as directly to customers

  • Manages the preparation, coordination, proofing, and execution of sales tool information supplied for sales and marketing use (e.g., catalogs, sales samples, sales meeting presentation templates, etc.)

Business/Financial Results

  • Works with category management team to achieve revenue growth and gross product margin goals.

  • Assists in planning the appropriate style/SKU level to optimize productivity and manage inventory distribution.

  • Displays advanced understanding of business operations including systems, marketing, planning, distribution, and customer service

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in Fashion Merchandising or related field.

  • Minimum of 8 years' relevant experience in apparel product related roles.

  • Proven merchandising skills and understanding of the product creation process.

  • Strong business orientation, analytical aptitude, retail math and computer skills.

  • Communicate in verbal and written form to effectively and clearly articulate goals and objectives

  • Seek information proactively and work cooperatively in a diverse group

  • Lead and influence others and champion projects using demonstrated creativity and ingenuity

  • Proficiency in Microsoft applications, including Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint

TO APPLY:

Please send resume and salary requirements to sue@mpresource.com

Marketplace Specialist

Location: Midwest

Are you innovative, consumer-centric and want to make a difference?  

Work for a direct to consumer company with a half of century of experience. They offer a business casual environment and a flexible work schedule. You will become part of a collaborative close knit group were you will gain visibility in this newly created role.

If you have marketplace (Amazon, eBay, Walmart) experience, understand how to craft marketing materials for the above marketplaces and have experience drive the correct product mix to maximize sales we need to talk. 

Summary: 

The purpose of this role is to assist in online sales on marketplace sites such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart and more. This includes inventory management, pricing and promotional activities, online merchandising, content curation, and monitoring the company and competitor performance on online retail sites. The ideal candidate can process product specifications and translate them into formats that meet the expectations of marketplace sites and their customers.

Job Description: 

  • Manage product data and convert to meet marketplace specifications

  • Audit listing information before and after publishing to marketplaces

  • Keyword and competitor research to track performance and ensure optimized content

  • SEO-focused product copywriting

  • Troubleshoot listing and account issues

  • Research opportunities for new product buys

  • Maintain inventory levels and ensure price parity with other channels

  • Other duties as assigned

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s Degree Digital Communications, Marketing or related field preferred

  • Intermediate writing skills, particularly the ability to include keywords in product titles and descriptions

  • Basic knowledge of core SEO concepts

  • Basic math skills

  • Experience with inventory/content distribution platforms (ChannelAdvisor, CommerceHub, Salsify) a big plus

TO APPLY: 
Send your resume with salary requirements to: sue@mpresource.com
     phone: 262.681-3727

Please include Job Code MPS-MPR0319 in the subject line of all emails.

Email Marketing Specialist

Location: Midwest

Are you innovative, consumer-centric and want to make a difference?

Work for a direct to consumer company with a half of century of experience. They offer a business casual, collaborative work environment and a flexible schedule.

Manage email marketing to enhance the brand, expand the marketing message and enhance the bottom line.

If you’ve managed email marketing campaigns, worked with an enterprise level ESP and versed in HTML we need to talk.

Summary:

The Email Marketing Specialist is responsible for the daily activities that drive the email program. This includes product selection, segmentation, creative review, KPI’s and metrics and all related email reporting. There will be an opportunity to work closely with other members of the email and extended ecommerce teams to facilitate a cohesive marketing plan in all ecommerce areas. The ideal candidate will be both creative and analytical. This role is an excellent opportunity for an ambitious individual to join our marketing team and have significant impact on improving top-line sales at a growing multi-channel company.

Job Description:

  • Devise themes for email campaigns. 

  • Participate in eCommerce and Marketing planning and strategy sessions. Collaborate with the team to plan and execute eCommerce strategy.

  • Selection of product level and category level promotions for email campaigns. 

  • Communicate creative requirements for the set-up of emails with advertising and review/proof creative out-put.

  • Assemble the creative elements into email templates.

  • Review inventory levels of products for emails and homepage.

  • Implement e-mail campaigns developed in conjunction with Marketing, Advertising and Product Development teams.

  • Over-see promotions on emails. Which includes; working with Advertising and internal team members for set up, proofing creative, testing promotional codes and communicate promotional plan with other departments.

  • Thorough understanding of email performance metrics and benchmarks, helping drive and optimize key traffic and revenue metrics including deliverability, CTR, open rates, incremental revenue lift, engagement and retention. 

  • Based on strategic plans, build and refine email program including; planning, targeting, segmentation, set-up, testing, execution, reporting and optimization. 

  • Develop and manage continued growth and quality of email lists, buyer segmentation and contact strategy.

  • Evaluate competitive space to recommend/adopt best practices.

  • Maintain a comprehensive email marketing calendar that considers the various pertinent events that affect e-mail campaigns (sales promotions, seasonal opportunities, etc.).

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in eCommerce, marketing or related field.

  • 2-3+ years of experience with managing email campaigns and online marketing programs.

  • Background working in an advanced email platform including the ability to segment a comprehensive email list into multiple targets required. Listrak, Salesforce, ExactTarget platforms preferred.

  • Attention to detail for proofing creative out-put.

  • Basic knowledge of HTML and website functionality.

  • Proficiency in Excel (including creating Pivot Tables/use of formulas), Word and PowerPoint.

  • Highly organized, dynamic, detail oriented, creative, and analytical.

  • Solid interpersonal skills and good verbal and written communication abilities.

To Apply:

Sent resume and salary requirements to sue@mpresource.com

Sr. Designer

Location: Midwest

Category: athletic and base layer

Work for a company who cares about their employees, customers and the quality of their product. The right candidate will collaborate with team members to drive design ideas and infuse function and innovation into designs.

 Key responsibilities include:

  • Design

  • Trend and market research

  • Fabric, trim and color development

  • Technical sketching, construction call outs; relaying to TD’s and PM’s

  • Leadership

  • Business Analytics- aid in cost effective designs and ensure competitive assortments, as it relates to design, and pricing

  • Timeline management (managed design work flow to ensure milestone dates are met)

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Apparel Design

  • 7 to 10+ years of professional experience in Apparel Design

  • A comprehensive designer skill set which includes excellent illustration and CAD skills, fashion and color design aesthetic, and ability to design highly creative concepts

  • Strong aesthetic; base layer, activewear

  • Prior knits experience preferred

  • Excellent understanding of garment construction, fit, finishes and industry resources

  • Excellent computer skills including Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Ability to travel to international and domestic markets

  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively cross-functionally and to influence ideas internally. Experience with Product Development Process; understanding how to take a design from concept through commercialization

  • Strong leadership skills, and ability to partner with management cross-functionally

  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic, and collaborative team environment; flexible and adaptable to change

Candidates will need to have an online portfolio. Additionally, before the start of the interview process they would need to be comfortable completing a project.

To Apply:

Send your resume to sue@mpresource.com. Please include the job code SD-MPR0119 in the subject line and make sure your resume or cover letter include a link to your portfolio.

 

Sr. Product Developer

Location: Northwest

Category: Workwear

A small established growing organization is looking for a stellar sr. product developer to help them disrupt the market and create excitement for their customers.  You will play a key role in product strategy to develop a product mix that positions the company for their next phase of growth. As the workwear category expert your voice will be heard!  

Work in a creative, fun and productive work environment. If you work hard but play hard too this culture is for you.  

Summary:
The sr. product developer is an essential member of the product development team who is responsible for researching the market, designing and executing product along with maintaining effective production processes that bring innovative workwear apparel to the company’s global market. 

Job Description:  

Product Development:

  • Accountable for executing all aspects of the product development process from concept through production.

  • Accountable for all aspects of design from researching trends, analyzing competition to sketching. Next steps include design adoption, gaining consensus and further advancing design details as needed.

  • Responsible for concept and line architecture, engineering of prototypes through product ready. Effectively collaborates with various teams: Sales, graphic design, China office, Marketing and production. Drives the PD process and ensures all products meet or exceed expectations.

  • Partner and collaborate with overseas partners to ensure product execution including close collaboration with China office workwear assistant who is responsible for reviewing samples, evaluating production and approving for all carry-over styles.

  • Executing the testing requirements for workwear assortment. This includes establishing the testing, monitoring and capturing results. Making determinations for assortment based on results.

  • Ensure that designs are manufacturable, meet cost and quality objectives.

  • Travel to Asia to work with manufacturers and our China office on current and future development projects.

  • Create and manage tech packs assuring documentation is current and production ready.

  • Establish expertise in fabric development including gathering knowledge around future technologies. Be the product development source for new, innovative fabrics and their capabilities.

  • Responsible for negotiating cost and aligning cost capabilities.

Product Line Management:

  • Initiate and manage consumer, market industry and competition research to identify business opportunities; keep pulse on existing distributors/customers and understand needs and expectations of prospective distributors.

  • Responsible for identifying trends and opportunities based on analysis of product performance and competitors.

  • Manage and monitor new product introductions as well as carry-overs. Balance brand and business ensuring apparel assortment and color/sku offering deliver on product goals.

  • Establish year-round margin and analytics review of categories to ensure profitability.

  • Act as a product evangelist presenting product and POV at pre-lines, sales meetings and meetings with key distributors.

  • Effectively collaborate with distributor partners in both the US and EU markets ensuring open communication and a solid understanding of the unique aspects of the market.

  • Partner with key cross-functional partners (marketing, ecommerce, sourcing, finance, operations) to ensure category execution is on brand and delivers business objectives.

  • Be the category expert with all cross-functional partners to ensure product execution aligns with your seasonal line plan and brand direction.

  • Ensure timely delivery of all projects and processes within timelines.

  • Attends photo shoots, initiating shot lists and coordinating outfit pairings that drive product marketing stories. Partners with Mktg on catalog lay-outs and features.

  • Partner with VP of merchandising to continuously strive for process improvement, making solid recommendations on ways in which the organization can gain additional efficiencies.

Leadership competencies:

  • Inspiring others/leading by example

  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, with the ability to communicate new ideas, concepts and expertise within internal product development team and to external partners.

  • Effectively communicate design presentation, line validity to CEO and leaders of organization.

  • Ability to share your vision for your area and shepherd your strategy through the development process.

  • Decision making

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Conflict resolution management

  • Collaboration and innovation

Qualifications: 

  • Bachelor’s degree with 5-7+ years of experience in the lifestyle apparel industry

  • Leadership role working with product design and development teams

  • Strategic thinker with proven results

  • Ability to develop, inspire, and empower a team

  • Creative, innovative, with the ability to identify key design elements to increase sales

  • Strong sense of trend, fabric, style, color and print direction

  • Strong interpersonal skills, willing and able to work with people at all levels

  • Technologically savvy, proficient in PLM systems

  • Excellent public speaking skills, able to tell a story

  • Exceptional financial acumen and business planning skills

  • Ability to perform in a fast paced, dynamic, entrepreneurial environment

  • Ability to travel internationally and domestically, 20-25%

  • Excellent at building relationships internally and externally

  • Strong negotiator

  • Experience effectively conducting business in Asia a must

  • Detail oriented and highly organized, maintain clear priorities

TO APPLY: 

Send your resume with salary requirements to Sue at Midwest Personnel Resource, LLC:
   
     E-mail: sue@mpresource.com
     phone: 262.681-3727

Please include Job Code SPDWW-MPR0417 in the subject line of all emails.
 

10 Job Interview Tips to Land the Career of Your Dreams

Great perspective from Caren Merrick. Many of things she covers in the article we address in our interview prep! The interview is not about saying all the right things, it is about knowing yourself and articulating to the employer why you are the right fit! 

 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-job-interview-tips-land-career-your-dreams-caren-merrick

Will Your Resume Get Into the Database?

 
Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape.jpg

Many companies are utilizing applicant tracking software to upload resumes, organize & track applicants in the hiring process and to access qualified candidates (via keywords) quickly.  

Do you want to make sure your resume is uploaded and searchable?  Here are a few tips:

  • Use a universal program like Microsoft Word to save and send your document. We often get PDF files that are nicely formatted but, on average 1 in 5 cannot be uploaded into our database. Google docs can sometimes create a problem too. 
  • Keep your resume keyword focused by using common industry terms to explain what you do. This eliminates the need to include a string of industry terms.
    • Common search criteria includes job title, key software systems, industry buzz words (example: "Apparel Designer" AND Illustrator AND trend)
  • Don't create a header with your contact information in it. When the resume is uploaded that information won't be included because it is NOT a part of the main document. You are requiring the company to manually enter important information.
  • Apply for jobs that are relevant to your skills. If you don't have the minimum requirements DON'T apply for that specific job. You are better to send a resume when the right opportunity becomes available. 

For additional information on this topic check out the article link below: "Resumes built for today's database-driven recruitment" by Martin Yate, CPC (career expert blogs from careercast.com) :

http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pennenergy/2014/07/resume-tips-overcoming-inexperience-on-a-resume.html

 

Excellent tips to help you prepare for an interview (on your own or through a recruiter)!

Are you thinking... "I have sent out 100's of resumes why haven't I gotten a job...."

If you are an A player you will give 120% on the job. Why would you do any less to land your dream job.

If you are an A player you will give 120% on the job. Why would you do any less to land your dream job.

LinkedIn Top Influencer Jeff Haden wrote a great article - "A Resume Will Never Get You The Job You Really Want."

Here is a link to that article:

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140512122551-20017018-a-resume-will-never-get-you-the-job-you-really-want?trk=eml-mktg-inf-w-top-p1

Summary of article:

The article discusses how hard the job seeker needs to work to land their dream as opposed to sending out 100's of resumes and hoping a miracle will happen.  

 

Additional application of his content:

Use these tips to prepare for the interview! You have already done a lot of legwork to get your foot in the door (or your search firm has gotten you in).

Use that information to communicate your value proposition in the interview!

"Preparation up front gains you so much mileage along the journey!" - me

 

If you read my article "Do You Need A Cover Letter"...

Here is an interesting perspective on the cover letter from a recent hiring manager and LinkedIn top influencer Marina Glogovac, Digital, eCommerce, Media, Marketing and Social Enterprise CEO:

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140509213747-2471478-slacking-on-your-cover-letter-i-wouldn-t-hire-you?trk=eml-mktg-inf-w-top-p5

Why Work with An Executive Search Firm?

Why should a company work with an executive search firm?

  • An executive search firm/head hunter/agency typically has a broader reaching network and an on-going pulse on who is confidentially looking. They also have an understanding of your competition and which companies have happy/unhappy employees. Timing is everything. An executive search firm can typically tap into qualified/employed candidates at critical times and entice them to make a change when the right opportunity comes along. Hint: It is critical that you work with a firm who values the candidate relationship and builds long term partnerships with their candidates.
  • A firm can actively market your opening(s) to a potential employee (often a company does not want to gain a reputation of stealing talent from their industry partners or competition- remember that golden rule: do on to others as U want done on to U)
  • A firm can get to the root of why an employee is really looking to make a change and define what is the next best career move for them
  • A good firm partners with the right candidate to engage them in the process, gets them prepared to tell you why they are a good fit for your specific position, culture, company (what are they going to do for your company) and help them successfully relay their value proposition to you.
  • A firm will work with you to understand the key skills/objectives that the right candidate needs to bring to the job/and expected accomplishments required of them
  • A firm will help you to close the deal. A good firm is partnering with you to understand your critical salary range. They are partnering with the final candidate from the beginning of the process to understand their salary history and future requirements, bonus/sign on needs, relocation expense expectations, benefits needs, etc. The recruiter has on going conversations during each stage of the interview process to make sure the company needs and the candidate's requirements are in line, thus ensuring acceptance of the offer by the candidate once an offer is extended. Additionally, the recruiter is gaining full visibility to other opportunities that the candidate is pursuing to determine the viability of your opportunity against your competition. A successful recruiter will help you to stop the candidate's search process and accept your offer when the right fit/connection has been made!
  • A firm who understands your culture can find you the right talent before you have the need. This is often the best time to hire. A company often waits until they have an opening (I understand the need to manage head count) and then they make a selection from the available candidate pool at the time. Is that really the best candidate for the position/organization or does the company settle based on a need to fill an urgent position so as to not continue to tax existing staff? A successful company will not miss the opportunity to hire the right culture fit/strong talent when they become motivated to make a change! The sweet spot!
  • A firm will expedite your hiring process and find you the right candidate for your specific needs!

Why should a candidate work with an executive search firm?

  • An executive search firm can educate you on your marketability. Do you know how you compare to the candidate pool whom you are competing with? Do you know what your strengths/weakness are compared to your competition? How valuable are you to a potential employer?
  • A firm can get your resume noticed and to the top of the pile. That is priceless in a saturated market!
  • A firm can get you prepared for the interview. We review our interview notes with you, prepare you for the interview in terms of helping you uncover specific skills, relative to the position, and how to communicate those to the future employer, we give you a sense for what to expect in the interview process, we share relevant interview feedback and educate you on your monetary market value!

How do you qualify an executive search firm?

  • You need to find out what the firm's process is. How do they screen their candidates? How do they build relationships with their candidate's to ensure they are getting the true picture of their skill set/personality/capabilities? When and how are they reference checking their candidates? How detailed is the reference? Are they calling only the listed references or are they digging to talk to past supervisors/peers to get the real scoop. The quality executive search firm is uncovering all the facts to ensure a LONG TERM placement!
  • What credentials do they have in the industry that they are recruiting for
  • Do they have an HR perspective and an understanding of employment law to keep the process unbiased
  • How did they train/study to get good at what they do
  • Ask them for references of other satisfied clients
  • Ask them how much information they are going to provide on the candidates they submit. Warning, those firms who are submitting an attached resume and limited information (only salary requirements and ability to relocate) have probably not thoroughly screened the candidate for your specific need!
  • Ask them why you should be working with them over another firm- do they know their strengths relative to their competition?

I hope this gives you food for thought.

You are paying a fee if you hire a candidate from an executive search firm. Know what you are paying for. A good recruiter is worth their weight in gold, but you need to know who you are working with!

If you are a company looking for quality fashion industry professionals we would welcome the opportunity to expedite your hiring process!

From a candidate perspective, you need to be working with a firm who values the candidate relationship as much as the company/client relationship.

If you are an fashion industry professional we would love to partner with you in your search!
 

Do You Need A Cover Letter?

The cover letter is a controversial thing. I hesitate to communicate my thoughts on this topic because I am sure that many people labor over the cover letter and spend an enormous amount of time on it.

First, what should the cover letter include:

  • The title of the position that you are applying for
  • List how or where you learned about the position (if there is a job code include it)
  • Parallel your background/experience and how you can be of value to the future employer based on what "they" are looking for
  • Your availability to talk to the hiring authority and the best way to reach you
  • Your contact information

Now, do you need a cover letter?

Answer: it depends.

No if,

  • Someone who is already connected to the company/position is putting forth your information
  • You are applying for a specific position
  • You have the direct contact name for the person overseeing the hiring process

Yes if,

  • You are not applying for a specific position
  • You are seeking an informational interview
  • Have a unique aspect of your resume that needs to be explained
  • Are applying for a position where your skills are not current in the specific field (the cover letter will allow you to explain why you feel you are a fit)
  • You are applying for a marketing, communications, sales position- often your written style will be a assessed as a part of the interview process!
  • They are asking for one

My experience with cover letters:

When I was hiring (as a Manager of HR) I typically went straight to the resume to get to the meat of what the person could do/bring to the company/position. If the resume had positive attributes (longevity in positions, growth/advancement, relevant experience) but, they were not a direct fit, I would reference the cover letter to get a sense for why they felt that they were a good fit.

Cover letters can be valuable for showing your ability to communicate via writing, which is critical in many professional level positions. It can also "sell" your background differently than a resume.

When the top 5% bubble to the top, the cover letter may become a deciding factor relative to who a company brings in for an interview. Especially if the position is in marketing, sales or communications!

My thoughts on the cover letter:

Given a saturated market you may be laboring over a cover letter that is never read! Recruiters/hiring managers are so busy trying to get through the resumes that reviewing every cover letter can become very time consuming. Keep in mind that cover letters are often poorly written and are done in a lot of different formats which requires more time for the "reviewer"!

According to data released in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in '09; there were 5.4 job hunters for every advertised opening in April. This was up from 4.8 in March and up dramatically from 1.7 in December 2007, when the recession began. Note: As of April '14, the BLS had not published updated information.    

How to Get Your Resume Noticed!

A little foreground before I give you tips on how to get an employer or recruiter to read your resume:

Why do you need a resume?

  • The resume is the tool that will typically get your foot in the door
  • If it is done correctly it will land you the interview
  • The resume is the "first impression" of you to an employer. Remember the old saying "you only get one chance to make a good first impression"!

Important Note: You should consider LinkedIn and other social media as a resume of sorts.
Do your social networking sites represent you appropriately to your future employer? Even if you are not looking, your next employer might be passively looking for you! Caution, keep profile pictures "employer" appropriate!

Keys to getting your resume noticed:

  • Create a resume that is easy to read - bullet point format is typically best- it allows you to concisely relay your KSAA's (knowledge, skills, abilities, accomplishments)/paragraph form is NOT an effective way to relay your KSAA's...(it is overwhelming to read this type of format). Imagine yourself, for a moment, as a recruiter or hiring manager and you are up against a large stack of resumes...Would you want to read a labor intensive paragraph- even with good sentence structure!?
  • Make sure your resume succinctly relays your KSAA's- you should spend the most time on your accomplishments and the least amount of time on skills- although they are important and should be mentioned!
  • Be consistent in your format throughout the resume
  • Flow it similar to a book (you read left to right) use that same format in your resume...requiring them to read the resume in another flow is confusing and takes precious time that they do not have!
  • Create a tag line with appropriate buzz words in your industry or key skills that you are looking to incorporate in your next position (list skills that you possess not desire to gain). This will get your resume to come up when employers/recruiters "search" databases or surf the web
  • Keep your resume length to two pages (1 page for 5 or less years of experience)

I could spend a whole day on this topic, but hopefully these initial tips will get you off to a good start!

Appropriate Follow Up on Submitted Resume

What does this economy mean for a candidate/job seeker?

You are now competing with many more candidates (not necessarily more qualified candidates) than you were several years ago. This means that the hiring process may be slower. HR/Hiring Managers have to filter through a lot more resumes to find the "diamond in the rough". Additionally, they may be taking on multiple job responsibilities (due to downsizing) leaving them less time to focus solely on recruitment.

Appropriate follow up on your resume status includes:

  • An e-mail to HR or the Hiring Manager (whom ever was listed in the job posting) to clarify that they received your resume NOTE: If you do not get a response from your e-mail it would be appropriate to follow up with a phone call, but wait several days to give them a chance to respond!
  • A telephone call to HR/Hiring Manager to confirm receipt of your resume. NOTE: If they do not answer please leave a message. People are extremely busy and leaving a message will still get you the same results: your resume to the top of the pile.

A word of caution (coming from in house recruitment for 9+ years) if your follow up is too aggressive, it may hurt your chances of getting an interview.

How To Prepare For An Interview!

Your frame of mind is really key to a successful interview. To put things in perspective: Think of the interview as a conversation. Nothing more. The interview is NOT a test, it is NOT an interrogation, it should NOT be a stress test and you do NOT pass or fail.

You are talking to the employer to learn more about their needs (relative to the position that they are trying to fill) and to determine if the position, location, environment and employees are a match with what you are looking for. The employer is doing the same thing! If the two align an offer is typically extended.

How do you best prepare for an interview?

I recommend that you use the following strategy to answer the employers questions. The concept is taken from the behavioral based interviewing method/model.

Behavioral based interviews are formatted to get specific examples of your past experience so an employer can determine if you can be successful in their open position in the future. The interviewee's answers give the employer insight into how they performed the process/job/responsibilities in a prior role.

Use the job description as a key reference point. The objective of the interview is to relay, to the employer, how you can be of value based on their specific need/open position.

The following strategy can be used by candidates to prepare for an interview.

  1. Review the job description.
  2. Review each action point on the job description and come up with 1 or 2 examples (use your past performance/job experience) where you have done what they are looking for.
  3. Then use the following tool to get your toughs in order prior to the interview:

On the right hand margin of the job description write BAR or STAR vertically and fill in the blanks horizontally. Think of the acronym BAR, B= Behavior, A= Action, R= Result
or STAR, S=Situation, T= Task, A= Action, R= Result.

EXAMPLE:

Job Description:

  • Work with Sales and Marketing to develop season’s themes, promotional items and marketing campaigns

B= As Director of Men's and Boys Product

A= I worked with Design, Sales, Marketing & Key Accounts to research and develop seasonal marketing strategies (which included: POS, GWP, promotional kits, packaging, hang tags and advertising spots)

R= I had full accountability for the revenue in my assigned categories. My efforts resulted in a 30% increase in sales year over year, a 5 pt margin increase and a successful launch (and line extension) for the Men's and Boys product category.

This preparation should position you to communicate your strengths, relative to the employer's needs, and ultimately land the job- providing you have the KSAA's (knowledge, skills, ability, accomplishments) that they are looking for!