The power of targeting and alignment

September 20th, 2017

When I started JibberJobber people would ask “who is this for?”  Or, “who is your target market/audience?”

I would say, enthusiastically, “EVERYONE!!”

Of course, all job seekers should use it. That’s a no-brainer. But if you are applying to colleges and you want to keep track of those applications and follow-up, JibberJobber would be great, right?  If a grandma, far removed from her career, wants to keep track of the birthdays of her grandkids and grand-nephews and grand-neices and inlaw, etc., she could simply set up JibberJobber to get birthday reminders.

Pretty awesome, huh?

Yes, it is pretty awesome. However, in this message of “everyone” people start to hear “everyone except me, specifically, because I’m unique.”

My product was aligned towards these three groups of people (job seekers, college hopefuls, and grandmas) but my messaging started to say “we don’t focus enough on a particular problem to the point of being expert at that problem.”

And people look for the expert solution.

Last week a good friend asked me to review her resume. Ironic, because I had just written this post: “Will you review my resume?” How to Review someone’s resume

One of my questions to her was “what job is this for? What will you use this to apply to?” Her resume was general, covering what she thought was her accomplishments and skills, and it could be used to apply to a variety of jobs (kind of).  At least, it wasn’t targeting one particular job. It wasn’t “limiting” her to a job.

In short, my response was that this was a great start at creating what we call her “master resume.” A master resume has EVERYTHING on it, and can easily be pages and pages long.  You never send someone a master resume, but you use it to create a targeted resume.

Why?

Because the master resume doesn’t have the right marketing message, and we all know that a resume is a marketing document.

The master resume says “I’ve done a lot of amazing things, and I’m probably great at most things,” while the targeted resume says “I’m the right person for THIS job, and here’s proof.” You use language and substantiation that is aligned with THAT role.

I can’t overstate this enough.

Years ago, when I was in my job search (Jan 2006) I used a resume that was NOT aligned with the jobs I was applying to.  Guess how well that went?

If you want to me like me, one of the biggest job search failures, use a general purpose or “good enough for anything” resume.

If you want to land a job, make sure your resume is 100% aligned with the role you are applying to. I know it’s extra work, but it’s work that is imperative.

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How Much Should You Pay for a Resume?

March 9th, 2017

bridget_brooksI recently saw Bridget Brooks’ blog post about this.  If you are considering paying for a resume writer, and are confused about the range of prices you are getting quoted, you really need to read her article:

“How much does a resume cost?”

Before you pay $5 for a resume (yes, really), understand what you are buying, and what you should pay.

If you are getting ready to cut a check for a few thousand dollars, make sure you are hiring the right resume writer.

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The Resume Black Hole: Disappointing Proof from CareerXroads

June 26th, 2015

In a Wall Street Journal blog post (For Job Seekers, the Black Hole Persists), there’s disappointing and perhaps disgusting proof that the resume black hole is there.  Like anyone in a job search needs to read an article to know it’s there.

But for the rest of the world… there’s no question.

Thanks to Mark Mehler and team at CareerXroads, who put together a fake resume each year and send apply for jobs at companies listed on Fortune’s “best companies to work for” list, we can see how these best companies treat applicants.

If this is how the best companies treat applicants, how do the worst companies treat applicants?

To be fair, the list is of the best companies to work for, not companies who have the best, most respectful hiring process.

Employers (should) know that if you are rude and disrespectful to a job seeker during any part of the hiring process, they remember your company and form new opinions about your products and services that run deep and stay for a long time.

Here are some highlights from the blog post:

“… his CV was loaded with the keywords needed to float to the top of today’s automated job-applicant software.” So in this test, they are playing to the ATS algorithms.  Note this is not about networking in, talking to the hiring manager, etc.  It’s all about the resume strategy, and, optimizing the resume.  Yes, do that, but also network into the company!!!

“He was also not a real person, a fact noted at the bottom of his one-page resume.”  Later in the blog post you learn that only 2 out of 100 companies spotted that.  Of course an ATS isn’t going to look for some statement that this is a fake resume, but from this might we deduct that 98% of companies have no human involvement for much of the process? Mark Mehler, founder of CareerXroads, suggests that “recruiters [only] read the first three paragraphs of a resume.”  Lesson?  Make those first three paragraphs awesome and engaging!

“…64 never sent Stein any notification that he was not being considered for the job for which he had applied.” This has bothered me for a long time.  Companies, please  give me ANY notification of a status update!!!  I know you have legal and HR breathing down your necks to say nothing, but for goodness sake, be humane!

There’s still a lot of work to do. I’m not talking about automated technology.  I’m talking about basic, respectful communication, and managing expectations.

Until that gets figured out, folks, please do not solely rely on the spray-and-pray resume blasting strategy.  No JibberJobber user should ever say “I’ve sent out 1,000 resumes and I got nothing… no leads.”  Maybe you will send out 1,000 resumes, but JibberJobber users should use a networking strategy that far outweighs any time spent sending emails and applying to jobs online.  I know it seems harder, but this is how you’ll get closer to getting your next dream job!  Make me proud!

 

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New Course: Resumes and Self-marketing (for Software Developers)

April 14th, 2015

Last week my newest Pluralsight course went live: Resumes and Self-marketing for Software Developers

This is a course on what to do with your resume… how to use it to self-market, and basic understanding of the resume as a marketing tool.

Remember, for any Jason Alba course you watch on Pluralsight, and as many times as you watch it, you can get an additional 7 days of JibberJobber Premium… no limit! Follow these steps (or scroll down and watch the new video below the image to see exactly how to watch this for free, and get additional Premium on JibberJobber!).

Here’s Pluralsight’s announcement on Facebook:

 

pluralsight_course_resume_facebook

 

Not sure if I’ve had anything on Facebook associated to me with that many likes!

Here’s the video on exactly how to do this:

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Example of an ATS (Applicant Tracking System): ApplicantPro (and how to beat them)

November 14th, 2014

Let’s go a bit deeper on the Applicant Tracking System conversation that we started with Louise Kursmark’s comments.

When I see stuff like this it reminds me of when I first learned about it, when I was a job seeker, thinking how unfair it was that I had my stupid Excel spreadsheet to track my job search, and the people I was sending my resume to and interviewing with had sophisticated software.  No more!  Now the playing field is leveled, since you can use JibberJobber…. !

Want to see what an ATS is/does/looks like?  I found this company while poking around the internet and started digging around. I went to the Tour link and saw this 1:30 video.  If you are wondering what HR and recruiters might be using to figure out if you are worthy of an interview.  Here’s the video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toBBvkurG-A]

Sound interesting?  Here’s a 14 minute video from Gillian Kelly, a career pro and outplacement provider in Australia, talking about beating the ATS:

Remember, this does not apply to every company you apply to. Some will use an ATS, some will not (even if they have it).  My recommendation is still to network into the company before you play the “resume black hole” game.  That’s not a fun game.

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Break Down Expert Job Search Advice (say NO to the ATS!)

November 5th, 2014

louise_kursmark_headshotLet’s dig into the post from yesterday, and dissect some of Louise Kursmark’s advice.  It’s a short article, but there’s simple stuff that every job seeker needs to be doing. Lines from her post are in bold, my comments are not bold, and indented.

>> I think that obsession(with gaming the ATS systems) is a distraction from the real work of job search.

Again, you are hiding from the job search.  There is no silver bullet.  ATS is one tiny aspect of the job search, don’t become obsessed with gaming it.

>> Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview. 

Why? Because statistically, jobs posted online are not real jobs that are begging real people to apply. Some (probably those from big companies) have already been filled with internal candidates, but are posted just to satisfy regulations or policy.  Others are, unfortunately, and without integrity, fake jobs that are luring people in just to collect names and numbers.  Sometimes they are just feeling out the market, and seeing what’s out there.  But for the real ones… have you heard how many people apply to openings?  It’s way to many, really.  And those that are getting through are not necessarily the right candidates.  Many right candidates are getting weeded out through errors in the logic of the automated system.  They don’t call it the “resume black hole” for nothing.

>> … it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool.

Lots and lots of people are playing this losing game.  Why throw your hat into a system that is proven to be so ineffective and discouraging, and really, one that doesn’t really work?  Especially when there are more effective ways to land a job.

>> My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS.

And here is the simple truth about what you need for a resume.  Keyword rich and simple format.  That’s it.  Do that, then MOVE ON to the next part of your job search strategy!

>> Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.

Get out of the resume black hole and go compete in a different space… the competition is much easier, and nicer, because too many people are afraid to network, or are doing it entirely wrong.  Be the person who learns to love it (you don’t have to be an extrovert to love networking), and do it RIGHT!  Also, to Louise’s points, do this purposefully and strategically, not haphazardly.

>> Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue.

This, my friends, is networking.  This is more effective than going to network meetings, being nervous or shy, and then going home thinking “I networked!”  You may have, but what Louise is suggesting is to do it right, and go deeper, and be relationship-focused.

>> Rather than applying for a job, have a conversation about the company’s needs and how someone with your background might be able to help.

Again, this is networking.  And this hints to informational interviews as well!

>> Become a real person rather than a piece of paper or collection of keywords.

You do this by focusing on conversations, relationships and real networking, rather than throwing your resume into the black hole…

>> Even if you don’t (get interviews), you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.

Building these strands, or let’s go further and say this fabric, is what I call career management. It is having strong relationships over time, not just during this hard transition, and it is helping people understand who you are (and how they can help you)… it is long-term.  It is the new “job security,” and it’s all in your control.  It’s why I say you need to use JibberJobber, forever! (yes, a little fanatical there, but I get to do that on my own blog :))

>> And isn’t it more satisfying to have a colleague-to-colleague business discussion than to be judged (and rejected) based on a mysterious set of keyword qualifications?

You know who has control over the keywords?  NOT YOU!  You have control over, which means influence on, your relationships and communication, but not on the arbitrary keywords that someone chose. And you don’t have control over who else applies, or how their resumes compare to yours in the ATS black box logic.  Work on what you can control… !

I love Louise’s no-nonsense advice… thanks again for letting me share it!

 

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What Is an ATS? Should You Care? #jobsearch #resume

November 4th, 2014

For a few years the new buzz word in training for resume writers is how to write a resume to get through the ATS system.

ATS is “applicant tracking system,” which is kind of like JibberJobber for the recruiter.  They aren’t tracking a relationship with YOU as much as they are tracking specific job openings, who applies, and who gets to have an interview with a human.

I guess that is tracking you, kind of. But only as far as that specific opportunity goes.  There is no relationship nurturing going on… it’s all about filling open jobs, and weeding out the high percentage of people who shouldn’t have applied in the first place.

You can imagine how resume writers want to write a resume that will get through the ATS, and eventually get to the live person.  I haven’t completely wrapped my brain around the technology, but I’ve understood that most jobs people are hired for are with companies that are smaller, and might not even know what ATS means.  I’ve focused my advice more on networking into a job than on monkeying around with your resume to get it better (which I call “hiding from your job search,” since you can do that for days and weeks and not really get any closer to getting an interview).

But I keep my ears open to what the experts are saying, and am always looking for any information I can share with you.  When I saw this article on LinkedIn from Louise Kursmark, I knew it would have important information.  I think this is a super-important perspective because she is a well-known resume writer who has trained hundreds, maybe thousands, of resume writers. Louise gave me permission to repost her article here (original post)… I hope this helps you with your job search strategy today!

ATS: I Couldn’t Care Less

louise_kursmark_headshotATS – Applicant Tracking Systems – cause a lot of twitter and chatter among job seekers and resume writers. I might even call it an obsession about finding the keywords, mimicking the job posting, and designing the document to get through the automated screener.

Personally, I think that obsession is a distraction from the real work of job search.

Even if your resume is a perfect match for the job posting, you have a very small chance of being chosen for an interview. That’s because your resume is one of dozens or even hundreds competing for just a handful of top slots. It’s likely at least a few other candidates will have qualifications that are slightly stronger or a background that’s just a bit closer to the ideal specified by the recruiter or employer.

So it’s easy to spend a lot of fruitless time trying to rise to the top of a very large pool. And when you don’t, you feel frustrated, discouraged, maybe even depressed and angry.

My advice: Have a keyword-rich, simply formatted resume that stands a reasonable chance of making it through the ATS. Then, spend less time applying to posted openings and more time getting referrals into the companies you’re interested in.

Use your network to find a connection, ask for an introduction, and start a dialogue. Rather than applying for a job, have a conversation about the company’s needs and how someone with your background might be able to help. Become a real person rather than a piece of paper or collection of keywords.

Chances are very good that you’ll be able to parlay many of those conversations into actual interviews for real jobs. Even if you don’t, you’ve built another strand in your web of connections that will ultimately lead you to your next job.

And isn’t it more satisfying to have a colleague-to-colleague business discussion than to be judged (and rejected) based on a mysterious set of keyword qualifications?

Thank you, Louise, for a real perspective and great advice!  There really is no way around doing some of the hard work in the job search!

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An Interview with Jeff Browning (Austin Ventures) and Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes)

October 1st, 2014

I get Liz Handlin’s newsletter.  She gave me permission to post this from her newsletter… I thought it was interesting. Liz says these are her questions and his answers over coffee (learn more about Jeff Browning here):

Do you read profiles on resumes?No. Most of them are not useful to me. I want to know about specific domain experience, scope of job, and your accomplishments. Metrics matter. Add metrics to your resume.  I also want to see some information about your employers because I haven’t heard of every company in the world. What does the company do? How large is it? Is it public or private?

When someone sends you a resume how long do you look at it to determine if you are interested in reading more of it?

About 5 seconds.

What are you looking for in resumes that are submitted to Austin Ventures for jobs in your portfolio companies?

Well first you have to understand that most of our job descriptions are VERY granular and specific.  Domain (industry) experience is the most important thing I look for so if you don’t have the domain experience we are looking for at the moment you may not be a fit for the immediate need we have, but could be at a later time.

We also look for individuals who have actually worked in early-stage start ups before. We want someone has seen this movie before and knows how it goes because we need our executives to be able to hit the ground running.  If you have never worked in an early stage start up before you just don’t know what you don’t know. Individuals who have spent an entire career in large corporations sometimes think they could easily make the jump to early stage start-ups but it’s just not usually the case.

Do you think that someone who has spent their entire career in Fortune 500 companies could be successful at an early-stage start up?

Well anything is possible and large company executives have many talents and valuable experiences. It also depends on the stage of the company. But, generally speaking, we find that executives who are the most successful in leading start-ups have previously been employed by other start-up companies.

What advice do you have for big-company executives who want to switch gears and work in a start-up environment?

If you are an executive at a large company like, say, IBM, and you want to work in an early-stage start-up, my advice is to take it in steps.  The analogy I use is diving. You learn to snorkel first and then you slowly learn to dive deeper and deeper.  The same can be said of the start-up world. If you are a big-company executive you might try transitioning to a mid-sized company before diving into the world of early-stage companies.  Start ups and large corporations are totally different professional experiences.

What DON’T you want to see in a resume?

I don’t like to read functional resumes because they are confusing.  I want the resume to be simple, straightforward, and to the point.  No graphs. No charts. No hard-to-find dates or metrics.  Think about how to make the resume easy for me to get the information I need to decide whether or not to call you. Don’t make it confusing or colorful because it’s distracting and I don’t have time to try to decipher confusing resumes.

What surprises you about the job seekers to whom you talk?

I am surprised at how many people contact me about jobs and when I tell them that I don’t have a position for them currently and don’t really have any ideas for them about job openings they have no other questions for me. They don’t ask me about the Austin marketplace which I know well. They don’t come prepared with questions other than “do you know of any job openings.”  I enjoy executives that have done their homework and come prepared with thoughtful questions.  It’s also really nice when they end the conversation with “is there anything I can do to help you?”

Liz says “Jeff may see more resumes than any other recruiter in Texas so his perspective on what a resume should say and how it should look is crucial information for job seekers.”

Thanks for sharing Liz and Jeff!

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Get Useful Resume Feedback

June 26th, 2014

Nine times out of ten, when someone asks me to look at their resume, I’m assuming it’s because they want me to make an introduction, or help them find a job.  I don’t assume it’s because they really want my feedback on their resume.

Maybe you have truer intentions, and only want feedback on the resume, but the truth is, I’m not the person to give it to you.  My brain and resumes don’t mix very well.  They are too formal, with boundaries that I think are dumb.  I can point out glaring issues, but so can most people.  Why are you taking up my time (and potential help) by asking me for something that doesn’t make sense.

It’s like asking your neighbors to check your oil in your car.  You can do it, you can learn to do it, or you can find someone qualified to do it.  But you don’t ask all of your neighbors to check your oil, right?

If you really want my help with your job search, find out how I can help you, and then ask for that!  It might be networking, introductions, sitting down and giving you ideas, participating in a mock interview, or a host of other things.  But don’t let the first request be “will you look at my resume?”

Here’s a post I wrote about this last year: What do you do with a Killer Resume?

Here’s a recent post from Thea Kelley, a resume expert, titled How to Get Useful Resume Feedback

There comes a time when you have to stop hiding behind “I’m working on my resume” and realize you simply need to have the right conversations with the right people.  And you don’t need to use your resume to do that.

 

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Keyword Tips For Resumes (cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, etc.)

June 13th, 2014

chris_russell_headshotChris Russell is a job seeker’s advocate. I met him before I started JibberJobber, and in a way, he introduced JibberJobber to the world (in a blog interview he did back in 2006).

He has a great LinkedIn article/post titled Keyword Tips for Every Job Posting.

His first and last tips are my favorite… are you optimizing your marketing material so it is seen by others?

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