Repurpose your skills, not learn new ones

Okay, say you have been trapped in a dead-end job that offered no growth potential, advancement in responsibilities or an eventual key to the Executive Washroom, since the beginning of time. An immediate example would be that of AL BUNDY, the perpetual shoe salesman who peeked at 17 when he ran (more or less) 4 touchdowns in a single game. All his life he dreamed of making it big, but felt stagnated by ungrateful children and a wife that emasculated him. If you are a fan of the FOX television show, “Married With Children” then you know of whom I am speaking of. (And if so, give me a Whoooaa Bundy!) If not, hopefully the analogy is not lost on you.

There are many “Bundy” types out there who feel trapped in the day job, but too cautious to start a business of their own. If not that, then they do not know how or if they can switch jobs since they have been doing the same thing for an umpteen amount of time. In actuality, a career transition can be a scary thing as it takes us out of our comfort level. Yet, it is not wholly an impossible task to reinvent yourself for today’s market. (Madonna does it all the time!)

The whole key to a career transition is to develop a unique selling proposition based on what you already know. Instead of teaching an old dog new tricks, show the dog how to do the same tricks a different way. Let me give you a real-life example. I met a woman once who was an Office Administrator/Executive Assistant to a VERY well connected lawyer in Atlanta. If you do business in Atlanta, especially a startup venture, then I guarantee that you know of whom I am speaking of or at the least, know this law firm. Anyway, she reached out to me via a common acquaintance and as a special favor I reviewed her resume and saw a constant stream of “administrivia” (My word! I made it up! It means those duties required and expected from an Administrative Assistant. Patent Pending) She had been in that role for over five years and wanted to do something different with her life besides administrivia. (Hey! That’s the second time that word has been used! It is catching on. Administrivia, administrivia, administrivia…)

One thing recruiters (and employers for that matter) like to do is pigeonhole people based on their resume. If they see on your resume that you have been an accountant for five years, then finance positions are the only gigs they will pitch you. Same goes for techno-geeks, project managers, etc.

These are some of the skills we were able to discern, which were in addition to her typing:

1. Arranging meetings and schedules.
2. Technical support of office equipment
3. Entertaining VIPs
4. Gatekeeper to her employer’s time and potential interests

On the surface, it all sounds like typical Executive Assistant type stuff, right? But check it out! As the Executive Assistant to a well-connected executive, she herself has been well connected, having entertained many other movers and shakers on a first name basis. She could call up VIPs locally and nationwide and they would actually pick up the phone or return her calls! Isn’t this a business developer skill certain companies would find invaluable? I think so! How about all of the out of town meetings she set and arranging his travel schedule? That sounds like a travel agent gig to me. In addition to that, it all suggests someone who is a master of event planning. As she installed and operated the software on the companies’ computers, trained others on how to use said software and considers potential software purchases, she could pursue a position in help desk support, technical training, or even corporate buyer. I also threw in the possibility of being an Executive Recruiter, as she knew so many executives and other such talent that could potentially be interested in new opportunities. So that’s 7 potential career avenues to pursue and possibly more to decide on once she thought a bit more on what she has to offer.

Now you say, what if I am good at so many things and want to do them all? How can I decide? My suggestion is to take that movie line Cuba Gooding, Jr. made famous from the movie Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money!” Figure out which one pays the most and where it pays the most and set your site there. (Unless of course you are independently wealthy and in that case, why are you reading this blog anyway?)

There are websites online that allow you to survey what the average salary is in cities nationwide (Salary.com, for example) and how the industry is doing in cities nationwide (Economy.com/dismal). So pick out what industry is paying the most and where they are paying it. At least, that’s how I would do it. (Smile)

Okay, so you have a new path decided. You cannot stop there; you’re only getting started! Remember, you are a product and nothing sells a product more than testimonials. So towards that end, gather an arsenal of written letters of recommendation and a killer list of references from as many VIPs as possible. After testimonials, the next best thing is to advertise your expertise. Not to worry, there are plenty of ways to do this for free.

However, the most effective way is to write. Write on subjects you have a passion for and how it applies to your new field of interest. Going back to the Administrivia example, she could write a paper of funny anecdotes based on bad travel planning and how to prevent similar circumstances from occurring. She could then send out the article to every travel magazine (as FREE content) she could find and sign it as a “Professional Travel Planner” and an e-mail address for contact. Now everyone that subscribes to the travel magazines that run her free article now have knowledge of her and potentially could contact her.

Okay, I can hear you saying, “I’m not a writer!” Well, I have an alternative for you as well. Become a pointer! What’s that, you ask? Glad you asked that. Once upon a time I was a huge fan of  across an email newsletter called DAVENETICS that spotlights the technology industry in the United States. It was a GREAT newsletter that eventually morphed into a wider coverage of political news events and pop culture. It is now called NEXTDRAFT (www.nextdraft.com) and I highly recommend it (or I would if it were not on hiatus). Anyway, in the beginning Davenetics was a collection of tiny commentaries of stories that Dave Pell (the publisher) found online. For example, if he read an article on Compaq laying off a significant number of people, he would title his comments “Compaq drops the axe.” He would add a witticism akin to, Is Compaq trying to live up to the sound of its name (Compact? Get it?) by reducing the size of its workers? You decide. And at the conclusion of that comment would be a link pointing to the article itself.

Pretty simple hun’h? I think it is genius personified; Davenetics produces this content to people interested in technology. His subscriber base grew to well over 35,000 in a short period of time and these are steady readers (myself included). Now at anytime he could put out a request with his newsletter that says, “Will Work For Money” and a short bio of his skills. Chances are with 35,000 plus subscribers all operating in his field of interest, there are bound to be quite a few job leads there. At the same time, he has established himself as a noted expert in the field of Business Technology. And check this out, what could stop you from listing a short bio on the homepage of your newsletter?  (Isn’t a “bio” nothing more than a really short resme?) Or better yet, have a link to it inside each issue of your newsletter? In this way, you are perpetually sending your resume out without being so obvious about it.

Something to think about, yes? I suspect that my more net savvy readers out there are thinking of doing this with Twitter. If so, knock yourselves out! That would be a better way of implementing this strategy anyway. (Smile)

Good luck in your job search!

Jim

How to Find a Job (when the economy sucks) Part 3 of 3

Okay, still with me? Good. Here is part 3 of the series.

Once you have your resume pages in line to be indexed by the major search engines, you want to create a budget for advertising in Google. You will be amazed at how well this could work for you! For example, in this screen shot (above) I am looking for an administrative assistant resume and since I am not all that specific with my search, I get back a lot of what I don’t want which is sample resumes. However, just to the right in the “Sponsored Links” section is an advertisement. Now, what if I did a similar search for resumes matching your background and in that same spot is an advertisement leading people to your online resume page?

Sound good to you? Just expensive? How much do you think it would cost you to advertise on Google, the #1 Search engine on the planet?

The Google Ad Words Program that is responsible for the ads you see next to your search results costs a $5.00 activation fee and whatever budget you set. In other words, you buy certain keywords (“administrative assistant,” or “VP of Sales”). You write a short ad that links to your site (or in this case, your resume). You set a spending limit of say… $20.00. When someone does a search using one of your keywords and clicks your ad, so many cents are subtracted from the $20.00 budget you set up. Once the $20.00 budget is spent, your ad comes down. It is a VERY simple service to join and use, plus they have lots of tutorials for your review. Check them out and you will be glad you did.

When you think of job boards, sites like Monster, Hot Jobs and Careerbuilder come to mind; but there are many more job boards out there. More than I can count and more coming online every day. No one site has all the jobs that are posted, especially since it costs money to post those jobs. That being said, when looking online for advertised jobs, take this approach: 1) Search with Google, 2) Search Job Central, 3) Search the major boards. Why? Searching Google (in a certain way) will uncover jobs “under the radar” so there will be less competition. Searching Job Central will connect you to jobs on the career sections of various company websites. This means that you will find more jobs there as it does not cost a company extra to have their own jobs listed on their website. Finally, search the major boards, just because you want to keep all of your bases covered.

What you are looking at (above) are search results from Google. With this this search, I was trying to find Recruiter Jobs in Ga. What I want you to notice are the domain names for the sites; many of them are from job boards I have never heard of (or in some cases) have not been to in a very long time. (Flipdog, for example. I did not know that they were still around.)

(Above) Here are a few examples that you might want to experiment with in your job search. As you may notice, I have used several keywords and phrases that are typically found in job descriptions. Although many job seekers glaze over such terminology (and recruiters for that matter), they are very useful in finding opportunities that most job seekers will overlook.

A few more examples:

If your niche industry is slow, why not try recruiting for a different sector? A recent article gives some terrific insight towards this idea.

John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, told Yahoo! HotJobs that careers in the following fields may offer a good chance of weathering a storm this year.

  • Education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has historically shown teaching to be relatively recession-proof. But demographics are important: High-growth areas like the Sun Belt offer much better prospects than the Rust Belt.
  • Energy. “This is a major issue for the global economy, and jobs related to oil and gas, alternative energy and even nuclear are likely to see strong growth,” Challenger said.
  • Health care. Almost half the 30 fastest growing occupations are concentrated in health services — including medical assistants, physical therapists, physician assistants, home health aides, and medical records and health information technicians — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • International business. “If you have a strong knowledge of other cultures, and an ability to work in another country, you’ll find plenty of opportunities,” according to John Challenger. “If you’re first generation Chinese, with business skills and Chinese language skills, you’re in good shape.
  • Environmental sector. There is a huge and growing industry geared to combat global warming. “Not only will professionals with skills in sustainability issues be in demand through the end of the decade, we are likely to shortages of professionals with ‘green’ skills,” said Rona Fried, president of sustainablebusiness.com, a networking service for sustainable businesses.
  • Security. “Crime doesn’t stop during a recession, and police officers, port security specialists and international security experts will continue to be in demand,” Challenger emphasized.

Additional tips:

  • If you want to track the resumes you have been submitting, sign up a for a Gmail account. Use the “plus” feature when sending out your resumes. Use a different email alias for each position you apply to. (For example: johndoe+americahires@gmail.com will be delivered to johndoe@gmail.com)
  • Make contacting you as convenient as possible, sign up for an Instant Messenger account (Skype AIM, Yahoo IM) and post your IM alias on your resume beneath your phone number. Recruiters who work late hours might reach out to you if they see you online late as well.
  • Read blogs that discuss your industry. Leave comments with a link back to your resume page.
  • And of course… Linkedin.com

Any questions? (End presentation)

How to Find a Job (when the economy sucks) Part 2 of 3

As the title points out, I am continuing in my series of job hunting tips for Recruiters (and/or anyone else looking for work). Enjoy…

When posting your resume online, increase your chances of being found by having your resume posted in multiple formats, on different websites and with unique titles. Why? So searchengines catalog each one as a different search result. (Plus, what if a Sourcer is looking only for resumes formatted in Word? Or as a PDF?) Finally, I would be sure to link to companies where you have worked in the past. Why? This helps Sourcers (and Recruiters who do their own sourcing) find you as well. (But you knew that already, right?)

There are lots of companies giving away free web hosting. For $0.00 you can add your resume to any or all of the free hosting sites listed above. This is only a partial list. (Personally, I recommend my pal Otis Collier’s free hosting site.) Add your resume to one or multiple free web hosting sites to increase your chances even moreso. Also, if you are paying for Internet access (Earthlink, Bellsouth, et cetera), chances are you have web space available to you already.

I suggest that when you add your resume to the web, that you add more than just your resume. What I did was create a profile page that linked to a WORD version of my resume. I also added a list of companies that I admired, keywords relevant to my background, cities where I wanted to work, the area codes relevant to cities I wanted to work in and additional information relevant to my career. (Such as HR events where I presented, links to articles where I was quoted and so on.) Its a bit out of date, but you can click here to see it for yourself.

Visual CV is a website that is built around this principle. Like I believed when I created my first resume page in 2002, a resume does not share the whole story and more is needed. Check them out at www.VisualCV.com. K7.net is a free voicemail/fax service. It’s a convenient way to manage inquiries about your resume and protect your personal information from identity theft. That being said, I would strongly suggest that you only list your cellphone (preferably your K7 number) and email address on your resume.

I also suggest that you get a domain name that matches what you do. For example, if you are a recruiter in Atlanta, register the name AtlantaRecruiter.com. Why? You will have a much better chance of being found that way and it will be easier to refer people to your resume as you network. For example, if you wanted to connect with me, simply go to JimStroud.com. Prices vary for registering a “.com” domain, but some of the better deals I have noticed have come from Godaddy.com (which gives excellent customer service by the way). Last I checked, you could get a dot com name for about $10.00 a year.

Once you have your resume online on one of the free web hosting sites and/or you have it on your own domain; next step is to make sure the searchengines are cataloging them. Use the links listed here to get your resume page listed in Google, Yahoo and Live.

End part 2

How to Find a Job (when the economy sucks) Part 1 of 3

I recently gave a webinar on job hunting for Recruiters that were unemployed, under-employed or unhappily-employed. It seems to me that there is a need for this type of information, especially in these “interesting” times. That being the case, I have decided to post the slides and notes from my webinar here for all to use. Please pass on these notes to other recruiters, HR personnel, or anyone looking for a new opportunity. (Although it is slanted towards HR personnel, anyone can use the startegies cited herein.)

The title of the webinar was “Confessions of a Job Search Strategist.” Enjoy…

2002 was not a happy time for me; at least, not initially.

I was in a position where my wife laid off, I was laid off, I had a little one to take care of and bills that would not stop coming in. So, being the responsible man of the house I began looking for work in the the most common ways: Online job boards, newspaper classifieds, career fairs and networking groups. And the more I did those things, the more frustrated I became because I was not getting the results I needed. For the matter, neither was anyone else I was associated with as several people at the time were looking for work and all doing the same things I was.

And then it hit me, I said to myself, “Jim, do something different…” (And so I did)

I reflected on my many years in Recruiting and how I found people for opportunities I was trying to fill; then I simply put the process in reverse. The end result was a sort of push/pull strategy. On one end of my process, I would strategically circulate my resume to companies I was interested in and on the other end, I would position myself to be found by recruiters looking for passive candidates.

In our time together, I am going to show you things I did to find work in the last recession. I am also going to show you things I wish I had done in the last recession. Finally, I am going to show you how implementing all of what I show you here will place you in the most-desired position of all; referring jobs to others because you are already gainfully employed.

In preparing this webinar, I knew from experience that there were a lot of recruiters with profiles on Linkedin and inside Recruiter Networking groups, but I was curious as to how many actually had their resumes posted on a homepage somewhere. So I did the following search:

intitle:resume -jobs -sample -template -apply -submit recruiter education

At the time I ran this search, I found 16 resumes in the first 50 results. I also noticed that there were 11,900 results returned and all of them were not resumes. When I added city names and states, the results were (of course) significantly less. For example, when I added Houston, TX (194 results), San Francisco, CA (294 results) and Atlanta, GA (237 results). Of course, I could have played with that a bit more with area codes and other criteria, but I would still get a low return.

All of this suggested to me something that was very ironic; recruiters (overall) tend not to put their own resumes online. Go figure…

As I reviewed the resumes that returned in my search, what was also surprising was the fact that Recruiters did not classify themselves by the type of recruiting they did. As a Recruiter you know, going through a long list of search results can be tedious. Why not make it easier for the next Recruiter or Hiring Manager or HR Generalist? Should you decide to add your resume to a homepage, give it a title that would catch the attention of a recruiter.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Resume – I Recruited 25 Executives in 2007
  • Resume – I Staffed 18 Startups in 2007
  • Resume – Technical Recruiter – 5 Years Experience
  • Resume – I Recruit Recruiters
  • Resume – Recruiting Healthcare Professionals since 1997
  • Resume – Call Center Staffing – I put butts in seats

End Part 1


Nine reasons why recruiters never call you (and ways to convince them otherwise)

If you ever wondered why a recruiter never called you back, chances are these are the reasons why:

  • Situation: Too many responses and not enough time. One advertised job can bring as many as three hundred responses in less than three days. It is logistically impossible for a recruiter to reply personally to every applicant.  Job Seeker Advice: Network your way into the company. This is the best way to circumvent the tidal wave of resumes recruiters face daily.
  • Situation: There is a relevancy factor. Many resumes received are not even in the ballpark of what is being advertised. Simply put, some applicants are tossing their resume against the proverbial wall and hoping it sticks. These types of efforts are immediately recognized and consequently ignored. Job Seeker Advice: Make sure your resume is accented with keywords significant to the job you are applying for. (ONLY add those terms relevant to your experience.) I would also suggest a cover letter that extols your professional virtues pertinent to the employer.
  • Situation: Your resume did not make it through the OFCCP process. Even if you have the ideal experience and a recruiter would love to speak with you yesterday, you may have been randomly deselected from the process and the recruiter never had access to your information. Job Seeker Advice: Know that if the job description has required skills listed it is not negotiable by law. If you do not have one of the required skills listed, then do not apply. Also, pay attention to verbiage and the way your experience is described within the job posting. Use similar phrasing in your resume to maximize the chance of being selected in the recruiter’s search.

  • Situation: There is the issue of spam. Due to the overwhelming proliferation of unwanted solicitations of Viagra, prescription pills, easy lending, gambling and dubious business opportunities from African countries, it has become expedient for companies to initiate spam filtration systems. As such, some emails never reach their intended destination. For example, if you have the credentials of “Magna Cum Laude,” a spam filter may cite the term “cum” and label it as pornographic spam and delete it. Job Seeker Advice: Look for a return-receipt from the company database, an automated email that thanks you for applying and promises a follow-up if there is an interest. If you apply on line and do not receive an email confirmation within 24 hours, then resubmit your resume.
  • Situation: The position advertised is now “on hold” or cancelled all together. With the changes in the economy, huge waves of previously thought to be critical positions (if a company pays to post the job it is high priority) are put on hold or cancelled as there is internal squabbling to complete the dreaded re-organization or for budgeting purposes. Job Seeker Advice: Do not be discouraged or black list a company, because you do not get more than an automated response of application. Continue to apply to positions within a company even if you do not receive a call about a specific position.
  • Situation: The hiring manager wants to hire a friend, but must follow company protocol which includes publicizing the opening. Job Seeker Advice: No way to guard against this as many times the recruiter is oblivious to this fact as well. The good news is that you are front and center in the recruiter’s mind and will be on the short list for the next opening.
  • Situation: The hiring manager wants to promote someone internally, but wants to “window shop” before committing to the hire. As such, a job will be announced and each applicant will be measured against the standard of an established employee well-acquainted with the inner-workings of the company and the existent personnel. Job S eeker Advice: No way to guard against this as many times the recruiter is oblivious to this fact as well.

  • Situation: The hiring manager is on a never-ending quest for the non-existent “perfect candidate.” Generally the manager has the hope of an unrealistic list of skills that he wants an applicant to possess. Typically this “perfect candidate” will have senior-level knowledge from competitor companies but a junior to mid-level work history that makes him/her easier on the budget. Job Seeker Advice: As only the manager knows for sure what is in their head, the recruiter has the difficult task of qualifying you against ambiguous requirements. I have no way to advise you on this matter.
  • Situation: You were submitted to the company by a search firm. Job Seeker Advice: If a company has a job posted, then apply directly. A search firm opens doors into companies that do not initially post positions publicly due to cost or confidentiality. This is certainly true with executive positions or those that would negatively impact market share or position should the opening becoming common knowledge.
  • Situation: Search firms may charge a company as much as 30% of a candidate’s salary for their services. Not willing to take on that fee, some companies make it a policy not to deal with search firms. I suggest that before working with a search firm; ask them if they are presently representing a client. Job Seeker Beware: Some agencies make it a practice to secure a resume from an interested candidate first and then using it as leverage to secure a customer.

Good luck with your job search!

Jim Stroud