Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Does Your Résumé Pass 6-Second Test? - 4 Tips

By Kailyn Rhone

No pressure, but your résumé has six seconds to make an impression before it is sent to the don’t-even-bother pile.

That is how long a recruiter typically skims a résumé to decide whether to pass it on to a hiring manager, said J.T. O’Donnell, chief executive of career-coaching site Work It Daily. Recruiters often have hundreds of online applications to wade through, even with algorithms helping filter many of them out. They will likely give yours little more than a glance to judge whether you make it onto the shortlist of candidates.

In other words, your résumé has to be highly “skimmable,” Ms. O’Donnell said at The Wall Street Journal’s recent Jobs Summit. “The human eye works in a Z-pattern, and I’m going down, looking for four to five things that I was told you need to have or you cannot be considered.” 

The CV won’t clinch a job offer, but it gets you to the next step, she and other career coaches say. A résumé that’s hard to skim or fails to mention key skills needed for the job could keep you from ever getting the chance to make your case in an interview. 

Some ways to make your résumé stand out, and some job-search killers to avoid, according to the experts at the summit:  

1) Forget the professional statement.

Job seekers have long been advised to include a short paragraph atop of their résumé summing up their skills, experience, achievements and goals. No more.

“Recruiters don’t have time for that,” Ms. O’Donnell said. Instead, open with a one-line “headline” stating your occupational specialty—ideally with words matching the role you’re applying for, like “digital marketing specialist” or “technical writer,” she said. 

Follow the headline with two short columns of bullets with concrete skills. If you coordinated a team to pull off a big assignment and the job posting mentions project-management experience, use that same language, since that’s what recruiters and their applicant-tracking-systems will screen for, said Jane Oates, president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit focused on workforce development. 

“Every job you apply for, you should customize your résumé just a little bit by putting in some of the words that are in that job description,” Ms. Oates said.

3) Use numbers.

Avoid subjective, ambiguous language, such as “passionate self-starter” or a “dedicated hard worker.” The hiring manager or recruiter will assess your soft skills when they interview you, Ms. O’Donnell said. A résumé is about your hard skills, which are best told through numbers.  

Her tip: Circle all of the nouns on your CV, because they can usually be quantified.

If you are describing your experience as a receptionist, for instance, don’t just say “Answer phones.” More effective is something like: “Work for a 300-person company, answering more than 100 calls a day, on a 12-line phone system,” she said.

See all 4 tips + video and complete WSJ article




Monday, March 27, 2023

Here's How to Land a Job in Tech — and What Can Blow Your Interview

By Dorothy Cucci

A former Google recruiter says layoffs may be trendy, but tech workers are always needed. Here's how to land a job at a major tech company.  

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jeff Sipe, a private tech career coach and former Google recruiter. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Big Tech layoffs were always going to receive backlash — that said, I don't think any of them have been handled perfectly, and many of them could have been avoided. Yes, companies needed to cut down on costs, but more than that, I think layoffs have become trendy.

After layoffs, the company's stock price usually goes up, and the board of directors and shareholders (most of whom don't work there) are happy. It starts becoming more and more acceptable to conduct them; Twitter did it, so Google can do it, so Microsoft can do it, and so on.

But there are other ways to cope with a recession. A Stanford business professor says that layoffs often don't cut costs and suggests companies could implement other strategies like a 10% wage cut across the board.

That said, I don't think anyone who's been laid off or wants to break into the industry should be discouraged — it's always a good time to get into tech. Tech workers will always be needed. So if working at Google or Amazon has always been a dream, I always advise people to go for it.

1) Use LinkedIn to work smarter, not harder

Whether you've been laid off or are hoping to break into tech for the first time, the first thing that you should do is clean up your LinkedIn profile. You could be sleeping, working, or going to the gym, and your profile will do the work for you. Every aspect of your profile, from your picture, to your headline, to your name, to your about, to your experience, that should be buttoned up.

I rarely see true red flags on LinkedIn, but I think it's unappealing when candidates don't include their photo. Your headshot should be shoulders and above; I see a lot of people use a photo of themselves with sunglasses on or a photo with their families, and it's just not professional. I recommend just taking a selfie or having somebody take a picture of you against a clean background.

You should also be using the platform to reach out to recruiters at target companies — with a giving approach, rather than just asking for a job right out of the gate. A message like this will go a long way: "Hey Sue, I came across this really cool article about machine learning, I thought I'd share it with you."

Take a look at what's trending in your space and devote time to sending notes like this, as well as commenting on other people's posts. It will make you much more noticeable to hiring teams on LinkedIn.

I also like when people keep track of what we've spoken about in the past. Let's say you send another message to Sue a month or two later. Keep track of your connections in a spreadsheet so that it's easier to follow up. Trust me: continue with that giving approach, and eventually Sue will ask how she can help you out — it will come full circle.

2) Be open about your layoff

If you're coming out of a big tech company, chances are you've built up a great network. You should be announcing to the world that you're looking for work. Make a LinkedIn post saying, "Hey, I got laid off. Here are the types of roles I'm looking for."

I've noticed that many employees who have been laid off add the "Open to Work" feature to their LinkedIn, but don't necessarily make it clear that they've been laid off.

I recommend creating a banner to set as your profile's background photo. Anyone can create one for free, using Canva for example, that says, "Impacted by Google Layoffs." I'd also include the types of roles you're interested in, as well as your contact and locations.

From a recruiter's point of view, I'd see this and immediately understand your status — I know you've worked in a tough environment, and I know how to contact you. I haven't seen laid off candidates do this yet, but I think it would definitely help them jump up the list.

Read more tips and the complete Entrepreneur article