Is Your Resume ATS-Friendly?

Dec 29, 2014

Did you know that 85% of resumes are never read by humans?  Over the years, technology has made applying for positions easier, and as a result, companies have had to find a way to keep up with the hundreds—sometimes thousands—of resumes they receive for each job opening. Since it’s next to impossible for human eyes to read through every application, an ATS, or applicant tracking system, allows them to upload all of the resumes into one database.  Each one is assigned a score based on how well it meets the criteria, so only resumes with a high enough score will pass and make it to the next phase of the application process.


So how can you be sure your resume is ATS compatible?  Since there are quite a few systems out there, you can never be 100 percent sure, but here are some basic guidelines:


Follow directions

If the job lead says to attach a Word doc, attach a Word doc.  If it says to copy/paste your resume as plain text into a text field, copy/paste plain text.  Nothing will get your resume rejected faster than ticking the system off—and, quite frankly, if you can’t follow directions when you���re applying for a job, you’re probably not going to be very good at it after you’re hired.

No templates

The resume templates found in Word are handy, but since they require you to enter your info using fields and tables, they can confuse an ATS.  You’re better off starting from scratch.

Keep it simple

Don’t confuse the system with borders, horizontal lines, tables, and text boxes.  Plain text is best—and be sure to use a standard font like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial since it’s sometimes difficult for software to discern letters of “fancier” fonts.

Make your sections obvious

An ATS needs to differentiate between different sections of your resume to know where to dump what data, so here's where white space is key.  Don’t make your margins or font too small to try to fit everything on one or two pages—it’s better to go to three pages than to have your resume rejected because the system can’t read it.  Try to keep margins at .75” to 1” and use 10- to 12-point font.  Also, use standard section headings like “Summary,” “Experience,” and “Education” so the software knows where to find everything.  

Stay consistent

ATS software is programmed to pick up on patterns, so if your first position lists the company first, followed by the title, years of employment, and duties, the rest of your positions should follow the same format.  This will increase your chances of the right data going to the right place.

No headers or footers

Since some filtering software ignores headers and footers, don’t use them for important information like your name, phone number, etc.

Use the right keywords

Are the words used in the job lead also in your resume?  If a requirement is familiarity with Sarbanes-Oxley, don’t just put that you have “knowledge of federal securities laws.”  Make sure the words “Sarbanes-Oxley” are actually on your resume—and while you’re at it, make sure “Sarbox” and “SOX” are listed, too, since they are common abbreviations.

No cheating

ATS software is pretty sophisticated these days, so don’t try to increase your ranking by entering multiple keywords in the document properties or “hiding” them in the document by using white text.  You’ll get a better ranking if keywords are used in context instead of just listed.  In fact, your resume might get rejected if the ATS thinks you’re “gaming the system.”

Don’t rely on spell check

Spell check is an extremely useful tool, but it doesn’t know what you meant to type, and neither does an ATS.  If you were a manager, but you typed “manger,” spell check isn’t going to throw up a red flag since “manger” is a word, too.  So proofreading is key!


Again, no format is foolproof, but having the basics down will greatly increase your chances of being contacted by an actual human being.  And if you’re worried about your resume “looking pretty,” feel free to take hard copies of a more aesthetically pleasing version with you to the interview!

Searching for a Job During the Holidays

Dec 12, 2014

You may have heard there’s no point in conducting a job search during the holidays because leads dry up and decision makers aren’t available.  The truth is, most hiring managers and recruiters say their postings and searchSearching for a Job During the Holidays//>' style= assignments either increase or stay the same.  And since there are a lot more opportunities for networking during the holidays, it’s actually an opportune time to get your name out there!  Consider the following tips to keep your search on the move:


Party Time

Parties, holiday events, conferences, etc., are all ideal for networking.  Attend as many events as you can reasonably fit into your calendar.  Make it a point to listen more than you talk.  Work the entire room and don’t forget to have your business cards ready to share!


Holiday Greetings

A basic “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year” card is a nice reminder that you're still in a job search (don't forget to include your business card).  If you prefer a more eco-friendly approach, consider sending a short inspirational email message as a holiday greeting to your entire network.  If possible, don’t send the emails en masse—consider a quick personal note for each.


Be Found

Update your LinkedIn profile and build on the contacts you currently have.  Remember, every time you add a contact or update to your profile, your LinkedIn connections get an update about YOU, which is a great way to stay on their mind!


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

If your holiday travels include destinations that are potential job targets, plan ahead by notifying potential employers and letting them know you’ll be in town.  As an out-of-towner, you have an advantage over someone local since your time will be limited and people will be more accommodating. 


Quiet Time

Take a step back to revisit every aspect of your search (resume, LinkedIn profile, target companies, activities, automated job searches, etc.).  Take time to assess what you really want from a new job and your career overall.  Seeing it on paper is a good first step in outlining a strategy that will serve as a road map for the New Year.


Nobody Likes a Grinch

Exude confidence with a positive attitude and demeanor everywhere you’re seen, heard, or read!  Get excited about the opportunities ahead of you and get into the holiday spirit.  The excitement will rub off on the people around you and help you stand out among the desperate masses.

And Most Importantly...Relax

It’s also important to take some time for you and your family, so don’t forget to relax and enjoy the holiday season.  Use holiday events to schmooze with family, friends, and acquaintances.

Evaluating a Job Offer

Oct 28, 2014

If you're considering changing jobs, you're not alone. Today, few people stay with one employer until retirement. It's likely that at some point during your career, you'll be looking for a new job. You may be looking to make more money or seeking greater career opportunities. Or, you may be forced to look for new employment if your company restructures. WhateverEvaluating the job offer the reason, you'll eventually be faced with an important decision: When you receive an offer, should you take it?  You can find the job that's right for you by following a few sensible steps.

How does the salary offer stack up?

What if the salary you've been offered is less than you expected? First, find out how frequently you can expect performance reviews and/or pay increases. Expect the company to increase your salary at least annually. To fully evaluate the salary being offered, compare it with the average pay of other professionals working in the same field. You can do this by talking to others who hold similar jobs, calling a recruiter (i.e., a headhunter), or doing research at your local library or on the Internet. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good source for this information.

Bonuses and other benefits

Next, ask about bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing plans that can increase your total income. Find out what benefits the company offers and how much of the cost you'll bear as an employee. Don't overlook the value of good employee benefits. They can add the equivalent of thousands of dollars to your base pay. Ask to look over the benefits package available to new employees. Also, find out what opportunities exist for you to move up in the company. This includes determining what the company's goals are and the type of employee that the company values.

Personal and professional consequences

Will you be better off financially if you take the job? Will you work a lot of overtime, and is the scheduling somewhat flexible? Must you travel extensively? Consider the related costs of taking the job, including the cost of transportation, new clothes, a cell phone, increased day-care expenses, and the cost of your spouse leaving his or her job if you are required to relocate. Also, take a look at the company's work environment. You may be getting a good salary and great benefits, but you may still be unhappy if the work environment doesn't suit you. Try to meet the individuals you will be closely working with. It may also be helpful to find out something about the company's key executives and to read a copy of the mission statement.

Deciding whether to accept the job offer

You've spent a lot of time and energy researching and evaluating a potential job, but the hardest part is yet to come: Now that you have received a job offer, you must decide whether to accept it. Review the information you've gathered. Think back to the interview, paying close attention to your feelings and intuition about the company, the position, and the people you came in contact with. Consider not only the salary and benefits you've been offered, but also the future opportunities you might expect with the company. How strong is the company financially, and is it part of a growing industry? Decide if you would be happy and excited working there. If you're having trouble making a decision, make a list of the pros and cons. It may soon become clear whether the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice versa.

Negotiating a better offer

Sometimes you really want the job you've been offered, but you find the salary, benefits, or hours unfavorable. In this case, it's time to negotiate. You may be reluctant to negotiate because you fear that the company will rescind the offer or respond negatively. However, if you truly want the job but find the offer unacceptable, you may as well negotiate for a better offer rather than walk away from a great opportunity without trying. The first step in negotiating is to tell your potential employer specifically what it is that you want. State the amount of money you want or the exact hours you wish to work. Make it clear that if the company accepts your terms, you are willing and able to accept its offer immediately.

What happens next? It's possible that the company will accept your counteroffer. Or, the company may reject it, because either company policy does not allow negotiation or the company is unwilling to move from its original offer. The company may make you a second offer, typically a compromise between its first offer and your counteroffer. In either case, the ball is back in your court. If you still can't decide whether to take the job, ask for a day or two to think about it. Take your time. Accepting a new job is a big step.

Chronological vs. Functional: Which Resume Should You Choose?

Aug 21, 2014

I’m often asked which is better, a chronological or functional resume…and the
answer is, “It depends.”  Most people need a chronological resume, i.e., oneResume writing//>' style= that lists your titles, companies, responsibilities, and accomplishments in reverse chronological order.  But are you planning to change career fields?  Do you have large gaps in your employment history?  A functional resume focuses on your transferable skills by relating each to a previous responsibility or accomplishment--while your work history on a chronological resume is, well, chronological.


In a chronological resume, you typically start with a summary paragraph that includes an overview of your career along with soft skills like problem solving, adaptability, communication skills, conflict resolution, etc.  Then you list your experience in reverse chronological order, including company names, titles, tenure, and the responsibilities and accomplishments associated with each job.  Finally, you would list your education, any specialized training, professional affiliations, and/or community involvement.


A functional resume may start with a summary paragraph, but it’s typically followed by an accomplishments/capabilities section, and here’s where you list all of your transferable skills and achievements.  You can list information from multiple positions here.  If you used to be a manager in retail, but would like to move into human resources, you can explain how you hired, trained, and coached employees and responded to employee relations issues, i.e., HR duties.  If you were in education and you’re considering a career in sales, you would list responsibilities and accomplishments related to your presentation and interpersonal skills.  This will also allow the reader to determine the extent of your experience if your former titles don’t make it that obvious.  Next you’ll list your employment history (company, title, tenure), followed by your education, any specialized training, professional affiliations, and/or community involvement.


And there’s a third option:  the hybrid.  This format is a lot like the chronological resume, except that instead of listing your accomplishments under each corresponding position, you put them all in an accomplishments section following the summary.  Many people prefer this format because it puts your achievements front and center.  Since the average reader’s attention span is about 10 seconds, this can be extremely valuable.


So there are obviously a lot of things to consider when creating your resume.  Decide what your goals are and you’ll be able to create a document that gets you noticed and sets you apart from other candidates.

Gaining Family Support for Business Ownership

Jul 22, 2014

When thinking about starting a business, it’s critical to start with aFamily support for business ownership//>' style= conversation with your spouse/partner, family members, or anyone involved in the decision.  It sounds like simple advice, but it’s one area where I continually see individuals make a mistake.  They went on the Internet, clicked on “more information” regarding franchising, a rep shared some encouraging information with them, they spent hours researching the market competition, and then, BOOM—the dinner table veto.


Many people think they’re helping their spouse by doing preliminary research.  “If all looks good, I’ll bring him/her up to speed.”  But would you look for a new house alone?  No (I hope), you would go on the journey together.  Major life-changing decisions, like starting a business, need to start with all parties involved.  So sit down and have the conversation about business ownership FIRST!  Then cover some of the expectations:

  • Is now the right time?
  • What do we want to accomplish (more free time, control, money, etc.)?
  • How much can we afford to invest (time and money)?
  • Can we cover living expenses during the ramp-up?
  • When can we reasonably expect to make some money?

You don’t need to come away from the conversation with a well-refined plan of attack.  The goal is to surface any apprehensions your spouse or family members may have toward the idea.  It’s common for one party to be more risk-adverse than the other, so an open mind and support is what you are looking for. 

Visit my web site for information on some of the other critical areas you should think about when considering business ownership.

Is Age an Obstacle in Your Job Search?

Jul 9, 2014

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had more mature clients ask me if their age would be a problem for them when searching for a new job.  The truth is, your attitude, energy level, and experience are more important than your age. 


How many times have you had to deal with someone with a bad attitude?Mature workers in transition  They can drain the life right out of the room.  And let’s face it, the less energy you have, the older you appear.  So be sure to stay upbeat and energetic—not just during face-to-face interviews, but during phone calls, as well.


The next thing to consider is how technologically savvy you are.  It’s not just about checking your e-mail and surfing the Internet anymore.  Nothing puts up red flags like someone who doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile or is resistant to using the latest technology.  If you haven’t maintained your skills, get some training!  There are tons of professional training centers like ExecuTrain and most state career centers provide basic training on the most commonly used software.


Another way to combat negative stereotypes associated with being older is to create a personal brand that focuses on your strengths, experience, and successful track record.  Position yourself as an expert.  Do your resume and online profiles identify the positive, lasting impact you’ve had on previous employers?  If you don’t tell people, how will they know? 


Keep in mind that a common misconception by some hiring managers is that they can’t afford you.  The trick is to get them to realize that they can’t afford to have you join the competition!  Ask what their biggest challenges are and show them how your vast skills and experience can be the solution.  Highlight how you can save money and improve profit margins so they don’t get hung up on trying to match your previous salary.


Finally, don’t let your age become a topic, or even joke about it!  Experienced hiring managers and HR professionals know not to ask how old you are, but don’t try to hide it by omitting dates on your employment history or education.


The important thing to remember is that your maturity and experience level are POSITIVE things.  Once you start to believe it, it won’t be difficult to convince others.

Do You Really Need a LinkedIn Profile?

Jul 7, 2014

Do you really need a LinkedIn profile?  The short answer?  Absolutely.  In today’s world, there’s no excuse for not having an online presence.  And NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a giant red flag that you may not be as confident with technology as you claim.  Networking is still the #1 way people find jobs, so why wouldn’t you want to reap the benefits of the world’s largest professional network?


It’s Who You Know

With 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories worldwide,Using LinkedIn during your job search//>' style= that’s a lot of potential.  So rather than applying for a position online and then sitting back and waiting to hear from them, be proactive and see if you have an “in” at the company.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have a 1st connection who will be able to give you tons of insight into the corporate culture, hiring process, etc.  Or if you have a 2nd connection (you know someone who knows someone), take advantage of the opportunity to ask for an introduction.  Since companies often receive hundreds—sometimes thousands—of applications for just one position, having a connection who will bring your resume to the top of the pile can make all the difference.


Sell Yourself

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your “commercial” to the world.  It’s basically free advertising and an opportunity to give the professional community a full view of your capabilities, including your volunteer causes, projects, publications, honors and awards, patents, etc.  Use it to showcase your personal brand (what other people think of when they think of you).  What is your reputation in the business community?  Are you known for your expertise in a particular area?  What do you represent?  When you’re in a job search, it’s more important than ever to consistently and clearly exhibiting your distinctive value to your target audience. 


Be Found

We recommend putting your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume to point employers to your online presence.  And let’s face it, even if you don’t, chances are they’ll find you anyway.  Whether they admit it or not, most people will do a Google search on a candidate before bringing them in for an interview.  The goal is to find the “bad stuff” like court cases, criminal records, etc.  If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will probably be the first thing that comes up—and they’ll learn about your vast skills and experience, as well as the positive, lasting impact you’ve had on previous employers.


Research, Research, Research

The Advanced search function in LinkedIn will let you pull up information by keyword, first name, last name, title, company, school, and location.  By searching for other profiles with your qualifications, you can find out what your competition has that you don’t and determine what you need to do to stay relevant.  You can also join LinkedIn Groups that match your interest to make more connections and stay current on industry trends.  And if you have an interview scheduled, be sure to prepare by learning as much as you can about the employer and the hiring manager.


So, in essence, there’s no real excuse for not jumping on the LinkedIn bandwagon.  With so many benefits, it should be an integral part of any job search.

Easing Family Stress During a Job Hunt

Jul 1, 2014

Sitting in the office of their marriage counselor, Sam and Marlene appeared the ideal couple.   During most of their 14 year marriage, they had communicated openly and had a sense of unbounded optimism for the future.  Now, sitting slightly apart and refusing to look at each other, they were obviously in pain and confused about its source.


Sam reported frequent headaches, shortness of temper, and other vagueEasing family stress during a job search physical discomforts, all of which were uncharacteristic.  Marlene complained that Sam was increasingly withdrawn and often snapped at her and their two daughters.  Sam countered that he was constantly being interrupted while doing "important work" at home and that he was often "just tired."


As the discussion continued, the doctor learned that Sam had recently lost his financial management job after 10 years at a local manufacturing company.  He was still angry at being a victim of downsizing, but held his feelings "in check" because he believed anger was unproductive and immature.


"I should have seen it coming," he said, "but I never thought it would happen to me."  To Marlene’s surprise, he said he often woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble getting back to sleep.  He was frustrated at his lack of progress in finding a new job but didn’t want to burden his family with details about his search, especially since he didn’t have much to report.  "Anyway, it’s my problem, not theirs," he said.


Sam and his family exhibit the common symptoms of stress.  Losing a job ranks with death, divorce, and being jailed in the toll it takes on mind and body.  Individuals and families alike will experience the stresses associated with a job loss and subsequent search.  The following are eight reasons why the stress of losing a job affects families, and nine steps to help you handle the loss more effectively.


  1. Stress is a function of change.  Making any change in your life requires adjusting how you think and act.  Rapid, unexpected change is more stressful than alterations that come gradually or are anticipated.  Even changes that are considered pleasant are stressful.  Thus, beginning a new job that you’ve known about for weeks is just as stressful (though in a different way) as leaving your old job.  If a job loss is completely unexpected, the stress is greater.
  2. Stress manifests itself physically and psychologically.  Symptoms may include restlessness, excessive sleep, a lack of motivation, a sense of foreboding, digestive upsets, decreased sexual interest or sexual response, moodiness, a short attention span, a short temper, obsessive thoughts, unusual or exaggerated fears, headaches, backaches or other physical symptoms.  Guilt and depression also often accompany high stress.  Many people attribute these symptoms to getting old or not feeling well.  It’s important, though, to take them seriously, since ignoring them can lead to more severe problems.  Your body and mind are a set of interacting systems that can break down if the stress isn’t dealt with.
  3. Families experience stress in different ways.  Stress may show up as increased bickering, giving others "the silent treatment," or an increase in minor problems that may have existed before.  Stress in children is often disguised.  Young children who are not very verbal often manifest it through abrupt changes in their behavior at home or school.  For example, they may suddenly develop discipline or performance problems.  When children cling to you more or return to comfort objects (blankets or teddy bears) that were previously discarded, or if their behavior becomes excessively ritualized, search for the causes of stress and try to reduce them quickly.
  4. One of the most common responses to job loss is grief.  Any loss triggers a normal grief response.  Job losses can cause as much grief as a death or divorce, but terminated employees often ignore their feelings or try to keep a "stiff upper lip."  Believing they should handle it well keeps them in denial, which usually is the first stage in the grief process.
  5. Spouses often feel angry toward employers but blame their mates.  A job hunting mate is often the handiest target for displaced anger at an employer and often is blamed for the job loss.  Telltale remarks start with, "Why did you…?" or "Why didn’t you…?" or "If only you had…."  Sole breadwinners who lose jobs are sometimes accused of breaching an implicit marriage contract, which calls for them to be the primary wage earner and source of support for the family.  In dual career families, job seekers may be blamed for not carrying their fair share of the load, leading to resentments about the loss of family perks, such as dinners out, theater tickets, etc.
  6. Fear of the consequences of income loss often causes irrational thinking.  Fear and anxiety are energy sapping feelings.  Rather than drive productive behavior, they cause us to "vibrate" unproductively.  This includes over generalizing, moralizing, disqualifying positive events and jumping to conclusions.  "You always…," "You never…," and "You should…" are typical responses to this kind of fear.
  7. Both the job seeker and family experience shame.  This leads to keeping the job loss a secret from neighbors and friends and, in some cases, children and relatives.  Ironically, they’re the likeliest sources of emotional support and potential leads for job hunters.  Shame also keeps couples from talking to each other about the job search, since discussing the search means acknowledging the loss repeatedly.  Unaccustomed feelings of shame are confusing and embarrassing. If unaddressed, they can lead to more serious marital problems.
  8. Anxiety is probably the strongest feeling that spouses experience due to the ambiguity of their position.  Job seekers know how the job search is going, but spouses have to wait for reports, which often are delayed or nonexistent.  The lack of information leads to increased anxiety and, eventually, nagging for information, suffering in silence or attempting to take control of the job search.  Job hunters will sense their spouse’s loss of confidence and feel resentful or lose self esteem.  This is another breach of the implicit marriage contract, which calls for complete trust under all circumstances.


Relieving the Tension

What follows is a "recipe" for restoring confidence in the family while providing mutual support.  These suggestions will help improve family communication, reduce negative feelings and relieve the stress associated with a job search.


  1. Nothing reduces tension like acknowledging feelings.  Talk to members of your family, especially your spouse, about how you feel.  Recognize that your feelings are normal and that talking about them doesn’t make them worse.  In fact, the reverse is true.
  2. Acknowledge the grief process.  Realize that grief is a process with a beginning, middle, and end.  If not interfered with, grief will run its course, leading to a feeling of acceptance and the ability to move ahead with life.  Don’t try to stifle or deny your feelings; that only delays working them through.
  3. Share your feelings.  Describe your observations, thoughts, emotions, intentions and behaviors.  Distinguish carefully between what you see and what you believe, and between what you think and how you feel.  Try not to blame; there’s a difference between "I want" and "You should."
  4. Monitor and control displaced anger.  Pent-up anger is caused by an inability to express feelings toward your former company.  Resist the temptation to call your old boss, though, since you don’t want to jeopardize future employment references, severance pay, health insurance or outplacement assistance.  The energy generated by your feelings is best discharged by positive, helpful behavior leading to a new job.
  5. Create and nurture a support system within and outside of the family.  
  6. Talk to friends and relatives about what you’re experiencing.  Allow them to offer emotional and moral support.  Give them the opportunity to provide potential job leads, but don’t hold it against them if they don’t.  Allow children to contribute to solving family problems as well.  This will help them avoid excessive anxiety and the consequent misbehavior associated with a lack of information and a feeling of powerlessness.
  7. Reduce the potential for depression by taking control of your life wherever possible.  Take a financial inventory to determine how long you can survive without income.  Decide on a standard of living you’re comfortable with, beginning with a clear picture of your fixed expenses. Do you know how much money you need to make ends meet?  Make rational estimates about the length of time you’ll need to find a job and whether you’ll have to tap IRAs, pension or other funds in the interim.  Develop a realistic budget that includes all necessities and some luxuries. By budgeting time and money for "extras," you won’t feel so guilty or deprived.
  8. Learn to recognize and avoid communication roadblocks. Open communication is the key to reducing anxiety.  Avoid "all or nothing" thinking and other forms of irrational reasoning.  (An excellent book on this topic is Feeling Good by David Burns, M.D.)  Create a structure for talking about your situation.  Schedule discussions with your spouse and children so you won’t "forget" to talk about important subjects.
  9. Recognize that a successful job search is a full time endeavor.  Don’t let anyone in your family think that job seekers are available for child care, shopping or errands because they don’t go to "work" or have lots of "free time."
  10. There are no perfect solutions.  No decision is always "right."  Even those that once seemed logical may now seem to be mistakes.  Yet, it doesn’t help to blame yourself or your spouse.  Remind yourself that you tried your best and have learned from your experiences, just like you’ll learn from this one.

Use Social Media to Empower Your Employees

Jun 30, 2014

Most companies have a social media policy for their employees that includes what they can and cannot post on company pages and when, as well as guidelines on harassment, posting confidential info, making disparaging comments, etc.—but we’ll leave that to the lawyers.  This is about encouraging your workforce to SUPPORT your company on social media whenever possible.  While it's critical to let them know what they shouldn't do, letting them know what they should do can be just as important.


It’s imperative for a company to have a social media presence, and givingUsing social media to empower your employees//>' style= your employees plenty of opportunities to support your efforts is key for building a strong following online.  Be sure your workforce knows that sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are actually good for business.  It might seem like common sense, but those who are less technologically savvy may not see the point.  Social media channels can be used to keep your company “on the customer’s mind” since regular updates will show up on news and activity feeds, boards, and e-mail notifications and increase brand identification.  Employees need to know that they can be an integral part in improving the bottom line by sharing, liking, pinning, and retweeting product and service launches, articles, events, photos, new employee announcements—basically anything you want the world to know about your organization.  


The truth is, most employees are probably willing to promote company information, but if they aren’t sure how or are confused about how it works, they probably won’t.  So keep your workforce informed.  Do they know how to access the company’s social media pages?  Do they know what to do when they get there?  You can help by clarifying the do’s and don’ts and asking for more questions until everyone feels comfortable.

Once your employees are aware of how simple it is to promote the company in a positive way, they’ll feel empowered to get the word out to as many people as possible.  

The Job Search: Then & Now

Jun 27, 2014

HRMC has been in business since 1982, so I thought it would be interesting to imagine conducting a job search…32 years ago!  Some of us can remember what it was like, while others only read about it.  Although much has changed, here is a review of a few core elements that remain part of an effective job search and how they must be executed today:


Job Postings

As much as job search candidates consider the electronic applicationThe job search--then and now process impersonal and oftentimes tedious, consider the process in 1982!


Then:  Newspapers were the single source of advertised job leads. 
Conducting a national job search required access to other major city newspapers and/or National Business Employment Weekly (a Wall Street Journal publication until 1999).  And the added bonus was after scouring the paper for jobs, you had to wash the print ink from your hands!


Now:  Utilization of online job boards has become the norm; however, few job seekers use them effectively.  Most people either get frustrated sifting through hundreds of jobs that don’t match, or their search results don’t reveal the great job postings that are advertised…but why?  Because their search parameters are either too basic or too restrictive.  When using job lead aggregators such as (which is the best, in my opinion), it’s essential to use the Advanced Job Search function.  It provides greater control of where your keywords must be found within the job posting (e.g., in the title or in the job description) and allows alternative words to be included (e.g., accountant or finance or accounting).


Job Market Research

Understanding the general job market is one thing, but gaining insight regarding your skills, experience, and interests is essential.


Then:  Nearly all available data was in print form—newspapers, magazines, periodicals—thus making the data outdated by the time you read it.  Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics published information on growing industries, it was still limited, dated, and very time consuming.


Now:  The web contains a plethora of job market information, yet most people overlook the “goldmine” of insight available from the sites they visit frequently!  By refining your search techniques and studying the data differently (on sites such as, you can:


  • Gain insight on general salary ranges for your targeted positions.
  • Assess what employers require from candidates for jobs you consider a perfect fit.
  • Determine the best job boards for you (by industry, discipline, employee level, or geography).
  • Identify primary keywords to attract recruiters to your LinkedIn profile/resume.


Know Your Audience

Just as important 32 years ago, preparing for a job interview includes learning as much as you can about the employer and the hiring manager.  This is where the playing field has really been leveled—to the advantage of the job seeker!

Then:  Company research was limited to archived news/magazine articles (which you could access at your public library on microfiche), research directories (printed annually), or a personal office visit.  Candidates oftentimes knew very little about the hiring manager.


Now:  Considering the availability of personal and corporate information through company websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, ZoomInfo, etc., candidates should be very knowledgeable about the organization and the hiring manager.  Beyond reviewing a hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile, you must do your homework in capturing personal insight about the “key players” in the hiring process.  Most importantly, you must know how and when (or if) to use it.


True story:  John, a client of mine, implemented these research techniques and during the “small talk” portion of an interview, the manager asked about traffic conditions getting to their office.  John replied, “Not a problem.  I actually got here early and had a chance to admire this classic 1967 Corvette Stingray in the parking lot.  This car is incredible…perfect interior, everything!  Have you seen it?”  John knew the hiring manager owned this car, having found a photo of him next to his Stingray since he was a member of the local Corvette club.  Although John knew he wouldn’t be hired because he admired the manager’s car, it immediately “broke the ice” and allowed for a very open discussion about many topics.


Sure, many things have changed in the job search process over the last 32 years.  Just as you should reinvent yourself (skills, experiences, and personal brand), you must incorporate these and many other core job searching skills using today’s technology.

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