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Will Your Resume Get Into the Database?

 
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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

 

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!