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Monday, March 30, 2009

Old problems haunt the new face of job searching

Job searching is not fun. Everyone tells you what you should be doing differently, you face rejection, instability, and you are too worried and/or broke to enjoy the free time that you have. Technology has promised to turn the job search process around, make it more efficient, and dare I say fun. Monster is now synonymous with a massive job board as opposed to truck rallies and both my wife and I have found jobs through http://www.indeed.com/. The job search has gotten somewhat more efficient but the basic vehicles of the job search are still in place despite changes in technology. A resume is used to give a summary of your relevant skills, a personal meeting or connection really helps, and a hiring manager will still ask you what your 3-5 year plan is.

Now that barriers to creating an on-line presence are so low that we trip over them and be immortalized forever, there seems to be a sentiment that the job search process will be changed again through technology. There is unfortunately a lot of job searching going right now which has produced some new on-line stunts. There is the wife who started a website for her husband, the boomer who wore a suit and a sandwich board, stalkers of specific companies, and a whole host of imitators.

These have all been techniques to get their resume, application, or candidacy noticed and have all worked. Standing out from other candidates is part of the hiring process and these were successful. While they mastered the 2.0 part of the job search, there was a lot of failure on the 1.0 part or having a decent resume. To be frank, the linked resumes were as effective as a one legged guy in a butt kicking contest. Getting an application to the front of the pile with a successful web presence does not make up for a resume that causes the reader to start thinking about what they need to pick up for dinner on their way home because they stopped consciously reading it. Social media, Web 2.0, or myfacetweeting don't make up for it. Of the links that I included twittershouldhireme.com was really more of a social media portfolio piece so is exempt from this growing rant.

Giving resume advice is nothing new or really that interesting. It's kind of like giving advice on what kind of flavor cake to get as it is fairly personal and everyone thinks that they ar right. However, it befuddles me how these job campaigns that couple a great web strategy to get attention with a poor resume that fails to close. It's like fumbling in the end zone or farting during the cab ride home from the night club.

Here is what frustrated me about the resumes linked to the job campaign sites. While resume advice has devalued faster than some the Zimbabwe dollar, my advice still has to be worth 2 cents somewhere.

  1. That opening 3-4 dense paragraph that people call a "summary", "objective", or whatever doesn't help. If it contains the words "extensive, highly, optimized, or dynamic" it's hyperbole and not credible. In general, paragraphs are hard to read in resumes and it's hard for the reader to glean information in this format. This section of the resume should really be removed.
  2. A reader will spend 1 minute on your resume. That's enough time to give it a good review. No links will be clicked, no references will be called, and unless you are applying for a position that calls for web and video skills presentations, those features won't be viewed. Despite the medium, a resume is still a large business card that needs to contain your key skills. While we have all accomplished a lot, we need to list only the top accomplishments.
  3. There is no need to include a line that describe the company that you work for. If the recruiter hasn't heard of it, it has no reputation and doesn't matter if it's the leading producer of yak milk in rural Cambodia. Space on your resume should be saved for you since you're applying for the job, not the merits of your former company.
  4. Bullet points should have an action verb to describe a skill, a result, and the impact of that result. Being responsible for something is not a skill but an outcome of adulthood.
  5. Outcomes need to be believable or they reduce credibility. Summer interns don't have major impacts on a company's 5 year strategic plan.
I wish all of these candidates the best in their search and apologize for piling on to the public scrutiny that they are receiving. However, that is the other end of using very public web sites to advertise your candidacy. No one can completely control the message and there is always going to be someone who has their 2 cents, francs, pesos, loons, or bolivanos to offer.

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