Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A resume reader’s confession…some truths about resumes from my perspective

I am busy and probably have ten other things on my plate in addition to reviewing resumes and screening candidates. You have no more than 10 seconds (and in many cases less) to grab my attention. That’s it. So how are you going to grab my attention?

Most resumes today are housed in large resume databases. Most searches of those databases are done by HR generalists and recruiters that while skilled in the art of staffing, are not fully versed in all of the positions that they recruit for. How can they be? That is the dilemma that you face. Your solution is…?

I am busy. At this moment, I only care about what I am looking for. You either have the skills and experience I need or you don’t. As I am reviewing your resume very little else matters to me. Can you help me fill my need?

Sorry, but your marital status, age, weight, high school attended and love of butterflies really doesn’t interest me. In fact, it has me wonder why you would think I cared in the first place.

The look and feel of your resume does matter. With all of the books, articles and general information about writing resumes available, if your resume isn’t well formatted and visually pleasing, consider the red flag

Typos = Careless = Poor Quality = NO THANK YOU.

I rarely read cover letters. I will read the email message that accompanies a resume. If your resume doesn’t pique my interest in the allotted 10 seconds I will NEVER read your cover letter. Couldn’t you address whatever you want to say in the cover letter in the resume itself?

Unless you are in academia the only purpose of your resume is to generate an interview. If your resume is not generating interviews it is not well constructed or you are not targeting the right jobs. Don’t use what doesn’t work.

I would be happy to offer some simple and pragmatic solutions to all of the scenarios and questions posed above. Just ask…

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Reading the Economy

Having now been in the learning and performance improvement business for 25 years I am now experiencing the third major market downturn. Interestingly, each market downturn has followed a similar business cycle:

Full Steam Ahead: All is well with corporations and the economy. Corporate profits abound with ample budgets for investment and expansion and personal income increases. In almost every instance during this phase of the market cycle, the demand for talent is greater than the available talent pool and corporations are fully staffed with full-time employees and outside consultants.

Trouble Brewing: Market uncertainty raises its ugly head as corporate profits begin to lag, rumblings of layoffs and downsizings begin, and corporate budgets are re-evaluated and pared. Normally, outside consultants are the first to be impacted as assignments or projects are either ended or not extended. The number of full-time opportunities begins to decrease and the available pool of talent begins to increase.

Market Crisis: Business takes a marked downturn with consistent stories of significant corporate losses, layoffs, and cut-backs. The general mood in the economy is one of concern and worry as the prevailing economic indicators point to a recession or stagflation. Full-time staff levels are cut and organizations re-evaluate their organizational priorities. Full-time positions are few and far between with a large number of qualified candidates vying for the few positions available. Critical projects requiring additional resources are most likely to be filled with contractors or outsourced to third-party vendors. Salaries for these positions decrease in relation to supply and demand market forces.

Signs of Life: The prevailing conversation in the business world is one of a market rebound and improving business climate. While conditions in the economy are beginning to look better, most corporations are wary of adding to their permanent headcount. The number of full-time positions begins to increase slowly with most new initiatives being staffed with outside consultants or outsourced to third-party vendors.

I find a large percentage of professionals that we encounter are not mindful of the climate in the marketplace until it is too late. Each of the phases listed above require different actions to ensure ongoing income and employment.

This mindfulness is also important for consultants and business owners. As a case in point, during the last significant market downturn, we placed a heavy marketing focus on the pharmaceutical and health care markets. These industries are historically less impacted by market recessions. It proved the correct strategy as our revenues remained steady at a time when most competitors suffered significant decreases in sales and several competitors left the marketplace entirely.