HR / Recruiter Insider: Job Search & Career Tips

All Resume Profile team members have worked in the trenches of HR, staffing, and recruiting for many years at brand name companies and nationally recognized search firms. We have received and reviewed hundreds of thousands of resumes in every job function sourced from job postings, resume databases, referrals, etc. We have sat across the desk from endless hiring managers reviewing tens of thousands of resumes and candidates. Below are some tips for an effective job search.

Most Resumes are D.O.A.

The overwhelming majority of resumes are Dead on Arrival (D.O.A.) when they show up at companies. Let the following sink in. The product that HR and recruiters produce is resumes. Resumes represent them. Great resumes, great recruiter, crummy resumes, crummy recruiter. Most resumes never get forwarded on to hiring managers because they would reflect poorly on them. HR/Recruiters will always choose a less experienced candidate with a great resume versus a great candidate and poor resume.

Interview Resumes are Key

The resume you hand to people during an interview is critically important. What does a hiring manager do first when you hand it to them, and very often during the interview, they look it. A resume is like a sales brochure/tool. It can be used during an interview to help sell you, but even more importantly, after all interviews are complete and the hiring manager is trying to decide, guess what they are left with. Exactly, your resume. What a huge opportunity to seal the deal, or ruin the deal, depending on the quality.

Resume Timing is Everything

Timing is everything in job searching. HR / staffing departments are often fielding hundreds or thousands of resumes every single week and they are often responsible for dozens of open jobs. Resumes that showed up more than two weeks ago are not getting looked at like fresh resumes. Do not be afraid to apply for a job multiple times, however, don't think it is a timing issue if you are sending a poor resume. Recruiters have a knack for remembering poor resumes and they will simply delete them again.

Everybody Reads Differently

There are different ways in which HR, recruiters, and hiring managers review resumes. Some people skim read, some read thoroughly, some look for keywords, etc. Whatever the case may be, resumes must have the correct key sections for all types of reviews. Nearly all resumes people prepare on their own are missing critical sections and vital information. Every section of a resume serves a direct purpose whether it is the headline, summary, competencies, descriptions, job summary, bullets, etc.

The American Idol Effect

The American Idol effect sinks many job searches. Everybody knows about the singer that truly believes his or her singing is good, even though to others it is quite obviously not. These people will go down kicking and screaming defending their singing. The same thing happens with people and their resumes. People convince themselves that their resume is good, but it is clearly not. At play here is the fact that it is incredibly hard to be objective and unbiased with ones own work. Your resume does stink.

Clothes Do Make the Man

It is not disputable that the clothes a person wears and how they groom themselves can say a lot about that person, whether it is accurate or not, and that is the key. Perception is reality. You are in complete control as to what others see in you and this presents an opportunity to influence them. Besides clothes and grooming, what else impacts people's perception of you. Exactly, your resume. Poor resume, poor candidate. Mediocre resume, mediocre candidate. Outstanding resume, outstanding candidate.

Two Pages or Less, Always

Many people make the job search mistake of sending out resumes over two pages. Here is some insight. Nobody ever reads pages of information, ever. People fill up resumes with endless information, descriptions, and details all to the horror of HR people, recruiters, and hiring authorities. They do this because they just do not understand how employers review and make decisions on resumes so they throw in the kitchen sink. This is a costly mistake. Providing too much or the wrong information sinks resumes.

Present Level of Awareness

People who make their own resumes always include information that is hurtful. They believe they are including the right content, but they are not. Hiring managers look at resumes/candidates from a completely different perspective. They look at candidates from a risk perspective. Hiring is time consuming and expensive so that want to feel comfortable with their decision. There are too many areas to cover here, but know that an experienced professional can provide solutions and advise you as to content errors.

Jobs Sites Ruin Job Searches

Job sites are not how you conduct a job search. While it may seem like everyone must be spending money to post jobs on job sites, guess what, jobs on job sites represent a tiny percentage of open jobs in America. That is an indisputable fact from people who know. You must research companies on and off job boards. There are tens of millions of employers in America, and while it may seem like everyone must be posting their jobs, they are not. You are blowing it if you are spending all of your time on job sites.

Get Real Regarding LinkedIn

LinkedIn will not result in a new job. Employers will always search on a person's name in search engines before interviewing and hiring to see what they can dig up, but they are not going to find you searching LinkedIn's site directly. Relatively few employers pay for resume databases like LinkedIn and Monster, and for the ones that do, even fewer actually search them. Searching resume databases is a last resort for HR/recruiters for several reasons. Do not make public profiles visible to all.

Cover Letter or No Cover Letter

You should definitely send a well crafted and custom cover letter when applying to employer or recruiter job openings. If it is prepared correctly it will seal the deal for an interview. Unfortunately, most job seekers do not write and structure it the right way to actually help their cause. At the very least, cover letters let the resume reviewer know that the person who just sent me their resume is sincerely interested in the position being offered and is not wasting my time, like people do.

Become a Great Salesperson

Conduct your job search like a salesperson conducts his or her job on a daily basis. Successful salespeople utilize a sales lifecycle that includes prospecting (job searching), approaching (applying), presenting (interviewing), closing, following up, etc. For example, salespeople utilize various avenues to prospect, such as cold-calling, networking, advertising, etc. Consistently practice and develop your skills in each of these areas and you will get a sale / new job, even if you are not a very good salesperson.

Out of Whack Priorities

You are not being a wise, frugal spender by making your own resume as it will cost you a lot of money in the long run. This is an area you should leave to trained experts. Sure, anybody can make a resume, like people can do many things, but it is not going to be professional grade. A resume needs to open up and hit the hiring manager, HR person, or recruiter between the eyes as exuding polish and success, no matter what job you do or whether you have achieved any measurable success so far. Fake it until you make.

Make a Friend, Get Hired

Hiring managers hire people they like. That may seem logical, but having interviewed thousands of people, job seekers do not often accomplish the goal of being liked. You must make a friend when you interview. More important than any specific skill is whether or not a hiring managers thinks you are the type of person that he or she could see themselves working with or that would be a great team member. Making a friend starts on your resume based on the information your present about yourself.

Employers Did Give You Feedback

The only assumption you should make if you apply for a job that you are qualified for and never hear back is that it is a resume issue. Employers contact great resumes, even if it is not a perfect match. Most people wrongly assume that they are not getting contacted because the company is not really serious about filling the position, there was a more experienced candidate, you must have been over/under-qualified, the job must have been filled, etc. It is rarely any of these. It is your resume presentation.

Get the Job Then Talk Money

Try not to negotiate or discuss pay too early. Until you have gone through the complete interview process, determined that you want to work at this company, and have been given a formal written offer do your best to avoid the topic. When asked, keep your answer simple. I am flexible, I am open, would like to learn more about the position, etc. That will usually end the conversation for now. The goal is to make them want you, badly. Hiring managers will pay whatever it takes to get the person they want.

Lost in the Resume Database

Over 60% of resumes that are submitted to companies never end up in the company's HR/Applicant Tracking System. This is a huge problem that is avoidable. For the ones that do make it in most people have their resume set up incorrectly to be found easy for other jobs. Depending on the circumstance, any one of three document formats should be used. This includes a MS Word, PDF, or Text. All three of these documents must be in your arsenal, and you want to have the right titles, keywords, etc. to be found.

Look Local or Wait a While

Applying for jobs outside of the area you live presents special challenges. You can help your cause immensely by applying with an exceptionally well prepared resume. This overcomes a lot. Companies will rarely go through the time, expense, and trouble to interview someone if they do not live near the job. They do not care if a person indicates a willingness to relocate at their own expense. In general, companies will only work with someone in need of relocating if a person's skills and experience hard to find.

Affirm Your Way to a New Job

Positive affirmations can change your job search and life. They are designed to stem the flow of negative thoughts and words that permeate out thinking, or to create change for a specific belief or value we may have. Saying something to yourself over and over, with meaning and conviction, is kind of like brainwashing. What you say to yourself, whether positive or negative, programs your subconscious. For 15 minutes on your way to an interview say over and over. I do the best interviews, I am the best, I like myself, etc.