Spring is an exciting time. It’s finally warming up. New flowers are blooming. People all around us are a little happier.
It can be a good time to clean out a few rooms in your home. And, it can also be a great time to clean up your job search approach!
Where do you have the most opportunity to step up your job search game? Let’s start with the basics – YOUR RESUME. This is an area that we often put off until another time. Before you know it, your resume is a year (or maybe even five) out of date.
But, don’t wait to update your resume until you find a job to apply to. First, you won’t be fast enough. It will take you longer to apply for the job than you want. And, when it comes to applying for jobs, speed matters more than you might think.
Second, a resume crams an entire career of information onto one or two pages. If you put off updating it, you’ll forget important details that you definitely want to include.
Here are three tips to get you started:
- Don’t give away your age: One of the top concerns all job seekers have is their age. And, it makes sense. Age discrimination is a real thing! On your resume, there are a few things you can do to make your age a little less obvious to your future boss. First, if you have been in the workforce for a number of years, consider removing some of your early work experience — especially if the skills you gained show up in other places on your resume. Be sure that you’re using an up to date email address. Those AOL email addresses will date you every time. And, remove your graduation year from college. These minor changes can make a big difference in the age of your resume!
- Include your latest work experience: I know, I know — this sounds obvious. But, very often, we get so busy working that we forget to include what we’re currently doing on our resume. This can come back to bite us later, when we’ve forgotten the exact details. Try to quantify your results in terms of numbers. And, if you don’t have a role that’s tied to revenue, think about quantity and frequency. How many people did you manage? How many contracts did you review? How often did you work on a particular issue?
- Comb your resume for typos: This one sounds obvious too. It’s so obvious that most people forget about this. And, why wouldn’t we? We aren’t applying to be a copywriter. What difference do typos make? A LOT! Many hiring managers admit to tossing out any resume that has typos — even for a job that requires no writing. Don’t underestimate the importance of this one. Ask a nit picky friend to help you review your resume if it helps.
Last, but not least, just remember — when it comes to your resume, DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. It’s better to submit your resume quickly for a job than to put off your application while you perfect every detail. By the time you apply, someone else will have already beaten you to the job.
Wow, spring is really here! This weekend was so pretty. I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.
This weekend, I was back at home. Last week, I traveled to Worthington, Ohio (a city near Columbus) to give a TEDx Talk about career success in the face of interference. Giving the talk was a huge accomplishment. Thank you to everyone who helped me prepare along the way!
I look forward to sharing the full talk with you very soon. When it’s available, I will be sure to email you.
In the meantime, I want to touch on a related topic — measuring success. Someone recently asked me, “Angela, how do you measure the success of your work as a coach?”
It’s an interesting question. If I were going the business route only, I’d probably just measure dollars and close rates. But, coaching is different. There are more layers to it. It’s truly special. I get a chance to be part of the lives of individual people.
After I check the numbers, I look at a few things that are a little harder to quantify in Excel. First, I look at the success of my clients. Were they able to make the switch they were aiming for? Did they successfully rebrand themselves? Do they enjoy their new career? For those clients who prioritize salary, how much of a financial jump was the client able to make with their switch?
Then, I look at something I didn’t expect to be thinking about when I started Copeland Coaching. I look at referrals. Surprisingly, most of my new clients come from current or former clients. They send me their friends, their family, and their colleagues.
On a number of occasions, I have had the chance to work with three members of the same immediate family — on three separate searches. I never in a million years expected that. It’s a huge honor when this happens. An entire family is inviting you into their world, to help them get closer to their personal goals.
So, the long story short is: Was a client able to achieve their goals and transition into a better career? And, was the client happy enough to recommend the process to loved ones?
I’m very fortunate to work with my clients. I get to help play a small role and their future, and for that I’m grateful.
At the end of the day, success is something that’s measured differently in each business or industry. Regardless of your situation, it can be good to occasionally take a step back and ask yourself what success looks like where you work. What can you do to constantly improve your results?
Although this is a simple question, it really got me thinking. And, I wanted to take a few moments to share those thoughts with you.
I often get asked, “What should I do if I’m asked an illegal question during an interview?” This is such a tough one. First, you’re caught totally off guard. And, you know the question isn’t right. You know it. But, you only have a moment to think about what to say, and the mold is set. So, in that moment, what should you do?
If you’ve never been asked an illegal interview question, you are fortunate. They are incredibly tricky.
To demonstrate the point, I’ll share with you a time when I was asked multiple illegal questions, back to back. You see, not everyone can guess my age very well. So, sometimes interviewers have questions about me. During an interview, the hiring manager said, “Do you have children? Are you married? Do you plan to have children?”
Yes, this really happened. When it happened, I was a little surprised. But honestly, I wasn’t as surprised as you’d expect. The reason is because I’ve been asked this sort of thing before.
I’m honestly not sure why these questions still pop up at this point in time. But, I can only assume that human resources isn’t training hiring managers well on what they can and cannot say. My guess is that they don’t spend much time on it because frankly, it seems obvious that this question isn’t appropriate.
But, I digress.
So, back to the point. How do you answer an illegal question?
Some interview coaches would tell you that you should say something light, yet quick witted, such as, “I think you’re asking if I’m committed to my job – and I am!” Answers like this can avoid the question, while at the same time, sticking up for yourself in a non-confrontational way. If you’re up for it, this can be a great option.
But, what I always think is this. Is it more about how I answer the question? Or, is it more about the person asking the question? I mean, when I’ve been asked “Do you have children? Are you married? Do you plan to have children,” it’s a sign to me. It’s a sign that I would prefer not to work for this hiring manager.
And, I’d also like to keep the tension in the interview low, so I can keep a good relationship with the company – in case I ever want to interview there again (for someone else). For me, I choose to politely answer everything I’m asked.
But, I make a mental note of what was asked. I think about it afterward and decide how I want to use the information I’ve been given. And, honestly, I’d much rather know in the interview that you (the hiring manager) aren’t going to treat me fairly than find out after I’ve been hired.
So, thank you ‘illegal-question-asking-hiring-manager’! You’ve helped me to avoid a huge career pitfall!
Let’s be real. If you’re thinking of leaving your job for another one, there’s at least a 50% chance there’s something very wrong where you are now.
Sure, more money and a bigger salary would be great. But, if you didn’t hate your boss, you might be happy to come in to your current workplace.
When you land a new job, the most interesting thing happens. That same boss who’s been ignoring you and overlooking your for promotions suddenly wants to know what went wrong. They also want to know if you’ll be making more money, what your new title will be, and where you’ll be working.
This can be confusing. For the first time in a while, your boss seems to care about what you have to say. You might feel important, and like you could help make a difference for those you’re leaving behind.
This might (emphasis on “might”) be true. Your old company may genuinely want to know what they can do to keep their best talent.
But, I have to tell you, more often than not, this isn’t the case. Even if you suggest a great idea that could be implemented, or a way your manager could be a better leader, it’s hard to create real change based upon one person’s feedback – one person who’s quitting in two weeks.
And, it’s much easier to take feedback as a personal slight. Your company or your boss may feel attacked or put down. And, they may even feel the need to bite back.
Unfortunately, you will need your old boss in the future. It may not seem like it now, but sometime down the road, you’ll need a recommendation for another new job. And, when that time comes, you won’t want a bad exit interview hanging over your head.
This is a very personal decision. But, before you begin to talk, really think — what difference will this information make? Will the company use this information for the greater good? What are the potential downsides to my future if I’m brutally honest?
You know the drill. “If you’re interested in a job, apply on our website. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you.” That’s what the company’s telling us anyway.
So, what’s wrong with this approach? And, what should we really be doing?
This is a great question. The first thing that’s “wrong” is that applying online almost never works – really. There’s a good chance the applicant tracking system (the online website) the company uses doesn’t work. It’s not the company’s fault. They’re probably relying on a third party product they purchased to help them to manage their hiring process. But, when you put your resume into one of these systems, there’s a pretty slim chance that it will make it to the hiring manager. And, even if it does, there’s a smaller chance the hiring manager will select you.
Why is that? Well, when a hiring manager is hiring, they try to think of someone they already know. Or, they may ask around to find a friend-of-a-friend. They’re definitely not going to look at online applications first.
So, if you don’t know the hiring manager already, what can you do? I often advise job seekers to find a way to connect to the hiring manager. Perhaps you reach out to them on LinkedIn. Or, maybe you find their email address and send them a note.
As you can imagine, reaching out to a total stranger can be a scary thought. I often hear questions like, “Won’t I scare the hiring manager away?” This is a good question, and in all honestly, it’s possible that you might. But, let’s consider this.
- The hiring manager may never learn your name otherwise.
- You could be just who the hiring manager was looking for. And, they may be grateful that you reached out.
- The hiring manager may network in the same way. Being a competitive job seeker may be the way they became the boss.
- Nobody has ever not been hired because they were too excited about a job.
- What do you really have to lose?
So, let’s look at it this way. What’s the worst thing that could happen? The worst thing that could happen is…. Wait for it…. Your email is ignored.
Yep. Almost always, the worst case scenario is that the hiring manager ignores you. Is it because you “scared” them away? Probably not. It’s more likely that:
- They were busy.
- They misplaced your email and forgot to respond.
- They gave your application to HR, and asked them to add you to the list for consideration (but never emailed you to tell you).
- You weren’t a good fit for the role.
Picture this: You’re a perfect fit for a job. You are so excited that after you apply, you reach out to the hiring manager directly via email. You send a killer cover letter about how excited you are about the role, and you attach your resume.
In this example, what are the chances that the hiring manager responds by thinking, “Man, that person is the perfect fit. I mean, their resume is just what we were looking for. And, they’re super excited about the job. And, they’re proactive too. But, no. Let’s not interview them. It’s totally weird that they sent me an email. I’m sure we can find another equally qualified candidate in the stack of applications from the internet.”
I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea. The chances that this occurs is slim.
So, get your courage together and test out contacting the hiring manager directly. You’ll show that you’re excited, qualified, and proactive – all great qualities to have when you’re interviewing for a job.