How to Make Yourself Stand Out (AKA How to Get an Interview)


First of all, let me apologize for not writing in a few weeks. My new job has been awesome and I’ve been so focused on making sure I do a good job there that a few things have had to fall to the way side. So thanks for sticking it out with me!

Now on to the good stuff =]

Recruiters, sourcers, hiring managers, etc., who does everyone you want to impress look for? Rock stars. It’s the recruiting #buzzword of the day. So are you a rock star? I bet there’s something that makes you a rock star. Whether it’s a cool hobby, some impressive expertise in a domain, or your ability to just make something look easy. I won’t write about figuring out what that special something is just yet, maybe that’ll be good for another post.

So, assuming you’ve already followed the first few common-sense steps to applying for a job… (in no particular order)

  1. Make sure you’re actually qualified for the jobs you’re applying for
  2. Follow directions
  3. You’ve got a resume and a cover letter draft ready to go (yes, you are supposed to tailor them to each job you apply to…)

…you should be ready to rock star up your resume and cover letter.

What makes a rock star? Outstanding accomplishments, deep expertise, an unquenchable thirst to learn…. oh and some crazy notion that challenges are fun and exciting. So how do you show people you’ve got a little (or a lot!) of that?

You tell them a story. Not a long, 10-pager mind you. Just enough to help them see what’s so special about you. Your story starts at the objective line.

  • Are you a recent grad?
  • Do you have 10 years of experience?
  • Do you have an unquenchable thirst for learning
  • Do you love challenges?
  • Are you just way too excited to change this industry?

Point it out! Your objective line is a great place to do that! “Recent grad with 1 year of experience in PCB design for consumer electronics looking to take on new challenges and make company XYZ’s products even better!”

Make sure whoever’s reading your resume doesn’t miss that because it’s drowned out in some not-so-glittering details about all the super technical, in-depth things you did. 

  1. Cut out the jargon. Does your mom understand what you do when she reads your resume? If yes, you’re on the right track. If not, consider changing some of your verbage…
  2. Bring out the meaning in the tasks you did. Did your technical jargon accomplish something like creating a new product for your company? And oh, you were in charge of doing everything from A to Z all by yourself? Well, make sure you write that clearly and simply! I sure as heck don’t that’s what your “oscillometer design, integration and validation” experience means.
  3. Don’t undervalue your college triumphs. Winning some cool competition or working on an electric car in college is just as valid once you graduate as it was when you were trying to flirt with the not-so-geeky sorority girls (although I would continue to do cool things after college, especially if it’s been several years since you did anything that exciting. You want to continue being a rock star!)
  4. Show off a little. There’s nothing wrong with dedicating a few lines to some cool personal/research projects you undertook or having a section where you list all of your accomplishments and awards. Heck! Have both (just stick to the 2 page rule. Less is more.)

The point is – don’t be afraid to show off, and write it all in a way that makes it easy to understand for everyone who did not sit in those mechanical engineering courses with you.

Freebie insider tip: Don’t apply to a whole bunch of jobs at one company – the recruiters and hiring managers can see the list of the 10+ openings you applied to. Let’s face it, how likely is it you’re a good fit for ALL of those roles?

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

What a Recruiter Will and Will Not Do For You


It’s been interesting getting into recruiting, because I suddenly became the go-to for all sorts of resume, cover letter, job pivot questions, etc.

One of the more interesting ones is “Will a recruiter get me a job?” Honestly, I see exactly why so many people think this, and I would love for it to work out the way we all wish it did, but…

A recruiter’s job is not to get you a job.

Wait, so if your job isn't to get me a job... what do you do all day?!

Wait, so if your job isn’t to get me a job… what do you do all day?!

You getting a job is often a great benefit of a recruiter’s work, but a recruiter is usually focused on the company s/he works for and its needs. If your needs and the company’s match up, then it’s a match made in heaven. The rest of the time though, there may not be much a recruiter can do to help. (Nope, no magic perfect job creating wands.)

So, considering that a recruiter gets paid by a company (or several) to find people and therefore focuses on getting that entity what it needs first and foremost, what kind of assistance can you expect from a recruiter?

  1. Determining whether this is a job you want. A recruiter will usually have 10-20 job openings s/he’s working on and should be knowledgeable enough about the openings and company(ies) to help you figure out whether you would like any of them.
  2. Positioning yourself. With that knowledge about the companies comes insight about what they want. A recruiter will be able to help you tailor your resume and prepare for interviews so that you can confidently showcase the skills and attributes that will be most impressive and valuable to the hiring manager.
  3. Advocate for you. If a recruiter submits you to a recruiting manager, it’s because s/he saw potential for you to be good in a particular team/position. As such, s/he will be able to argue your case to the employer (and will want to since recruiters are paid to find people who get hired.)

Here’s what a recruiter usually will NOT do:

  1. Sit you down and explore lots of different options
  2. Go out there and find jobs for you to apply to
  3. Force the employer to hire you

Now that you have a better idea as to the support and guidance you can expect, what are the things you can do to  get the most from any recruiter?

  1. Build good will by being responsive. Hate it when you don’t hear back from a recruiter for weeks on end? Well, we don’t like that very much either. If you help us by keeping us in the loop, we will want to help you that much more.
  2. Be honest. There are benefits to hiding your cards, but a good recruiter has your best interest in mind. No one wins if you leave for another company after a few months. If you let us get to know you, the improved understanding of your personality, goals and singularities will enable us to represent you more accurately and to make better suggestions regarding openings.
  3. Be understanding. It may not seem like it from your end, but there is actually a lot of elements recruiters do not have control over. Case in point: sometimes a hiring manager will not return our phone calls or reply to our emails for weeks, so we have no updates to give you, no matter how many times you ask. Or we can receive feedback that someone we submitted was not a good fit, but no details as to why, so we have no advice to offer to help you be more successful next time. As much as you may want to take the frustration of the job hunt out on a recruiter, try to remember that we can be powerful allies and that sometimes we’re just doing our best to connect you to a job but don’t have the power to hire you ourselves. 

The take homes are that recruiting can be messy, and that recruiters can help you but will not do all of the work for you. You still have to go out there, find jobs, apply to them, and give some great interviews. Oh, and recruiters are people too. Treat us well and we will (for the most part) return the favor.

Will Playing Hard-to-Get Help You Land Your Dream Job??


Well… it really depends! Let’s keep this short and sweet though.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s use a metaphor anyone can relate to: relationships. Finding a job is like dating; both process are driven by people. Can playing hard to get help you in dating? Yes. But it can also ruin your chances! So, as with just about everything else in life, it’s all about balance.

The point of playing hard-to-get is to communicate that you are wanted and have other options; it gives you value in other’s eyes. This works with finding a job. Why would a company want you if no one else wants you? If you had valuable skills then other companies would want you too, right? So whether you do or don’t, act like you have options!

Ask insightful questions, like what the work environment is like, what people like about working at this company, the reason the last person left, the kinds of tasks you will get to do in this position (you want your work to be interesting!)… Things someone who is deciding between several options would take into account.

Yes, it sounds simplistic and silly, but HR, recruiters and hiring managers are all people too. Life lessons permeat all of our actions, including what we do at work.

There is a flip side to take into account: pulling too far and losing it altogether. Just like in dating, you can play too hard-to-get. Make your interviewer think you’re not interested and just wasting their time, and they won’t take you seriously.

So how do you avoid doing that? Don’t act disdainful, like you’re too good for the job. That’s one of the biggest tip-offs someone won’t take the position in the end, and a recruiter is looking for the best person for a position, so why would s/he waste his time on someone who obviously is not interested?

Another large hint is when a candidate asks about money too early; it can foretell problems in negotiating money. Sometimes candidates try to get as much as possible, so much so that they end up asking for too much and end up losing the job. If you’re sure you can find a company who will pay you for, then great! But if not…. then you might not want to ask about money too early.

The point to remember is that this whole process is driven by people: the candidate, the recruiter, HR, recruiting managers… It’s the biggest variable to keep in mind. Keep your sights on your interactions with you interlocuteur(s) and you will be that much closer to getting that dream job!

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

Why HR is Rejecting Your Resume


Who WOULDN’T hire this ?!

Yeah, it sucks. Even worse: recruiters / hiring managers / HR usually aren’t willing to give you a straight answer since you might try to argue with them or sue.

So what are the reasons your resume isn’t getting you anywhere? Well, you just don’t fit the profile! But what is this profile?

  1. Experience: Do you have the skills asked for in the ad?
  2. Seniority: Do you have way more or less experience than they’re looking for?
  3. Loyalty: Do you skip around from job to job every 6-12 months? This may indicate to a hiring manager that you’re not going to stay at their company long. Hiring and training someone costs $$ so they’re hesitant to to spend it on someone who’s going to leave after only 1 year.
  4. Consistency: Do you have a 5+ month gap without a job? This might make who ever is reading your resume wonder whether there is an important reason you had so much difficulty finding another job.
  5. Communication: Many job ads now cite written and verbal communication as skills they want. While you can’t do much about verbal communication until you’ve got someone on the phone, the email(s) you send can have a huge impact! Do you have obvious grammatical mistakes? Use a lot of slang or unprofessional language? Type in all caps? All of these reflect on your written communication style and aptitude.
  6. Miscellaneous Requirements: Is this position only for locals (no budget for relocation)? For candidates with a university degree? All these and other factors go into the decision whether or not to consider interviewing you.
  7. Silly Mistakes: I’m not talking about grammatical mistakes here (although a very poor grasp of English grammar can be worrisome… ) Did you send a blank email with no message or attachment?
  8. Email Filter: Have you been checking your spam filter? Recruiters send a lot of emails out everyday so sometimes our messages end up in your junk folder.

What it comes down to is, someone has a very specific profile in mind and the minions reading the resumes and sending out sad rejection emails (or not — another post coming on that soon) are bound by that. So please, don’t shoot the messenger. Just read this post and ask Q’s!

Ways to counterbalance some of these are coming in another post soon =]

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How to Make a Recruiter Like Your Resume


So… I’ve been getting a lot of emails, Facebook messages, texts… well everything really ^^ asking for tips on resumes, cover letters and finding a job since I became a recruiting coordinator.

Figured I’d make it a little easier for everyone and share the wisdom I’ve learned over the last month and a half (hey, it may not be a long time but I think I’ve been doing OK ^^)

My Rockstar Trophee!

How to Make a Recruiter Like Your Resume

  1. Keep it short — there’s a reason you keep reading everywhere that your resume should be no longer than a page. I read dozens of them every day, and yes, I do spend an average of a few seconds on each and every single one of them. I don’t want to look through 3 pages of experience that is always the same duties or doesn’t even relate to the position.
  2. Nice and organized — you don’t want your resume to look like a nightmare. How do you make your resume easy for a recruiter to read?
  3. Bold your positions — make it easy for me to see what you’ve done.
  4. Use keywords — I look for the exact same words I use in job descriptions, so use them! It’s a surefire way to grab my attention.
  5. Use bullet points — please don’t write a paragraph about each job you’ve had. A list of important duties (punctuated with key words and compelling adjectives / adverbs) will more than suffice.
  6. Use headings — does the ad specify you need to have a Bachelor’s degree? Make sure you list education, nice and obvious!
  7. List your skills — it doesn’t hurt to have a section pointing our notable skills (make sure you include as many of the skills listed in the ad as possible!)
  8. Use font bigger than 10. I may be 23… but I don’t want to squint at resumes. That stuff gives you crows’ feet!
  9. Personalize your objective — I know you didn’t just send me a generic copy of your resume when I see the position title and the name of my company at the top of your resume. Hey, it won’t change whether you have the experience necessary to land this position, but it will grab my attention and win you brownie points.
  10. Make me laugh — Yes, it makes my day! Oh, and it makes your resume stand out ;D

So how does all this look? Thought you might ask O=] About.com has some pretty decent resume samples.

That’s all for now folks! Leave me a comment and let me know whether this was helpful (oh, and ask more questions! I’m thinking about writing a post about cover letters soon — been getting a lot of questions about those too.)

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***