SOLVE THE RIDDLE: TRANSLATING A POSITION DESCRIPTION INTO SUCCESS

So you’ve printed out your resume, highlighted key phrases, and written some great questions for each
of the central bullet points. Now we need to take a deeper dive into the position description – section
by section.

The company description section of the position description is a great place to hunt for the values and
hints about the corporate culture. Remember that much time and energy has been put into mission
and vision statements and this is a big clue on how the company wants to be perceived. Think about
the difference between “customer-focused” and “results-driven” in the mission statement. Most
importantly – this changes the lens by which you will create your cover letter and what you will want to
convey during the interview.

The position overview will provide some details about reporting structure and general responsibilities.
One of the biggest flaws I see in position descriptions occurs in this section – it is often quite difficult to
determine what the actual day-to-day responsibilities are. The verbs, or action words, that are used will
provide some additional context. What’s the difference between “direct” and “oversee”? If you need to
pull out the dictionary and look the words up – there are subtle differences that may have some impact
on how you portray yourself.

Human Resources and the employment relationship reflect one of the fastest growing areas of litigation
in the United States today. And with that comes something most HR folks dread – compliance. If a
company has government contracts, they are required to follow OFCCP. Aside from sounding scary,
this alphabet soup has a big impact on your job search. If a company uses the phrase “minimum
qualifications” in the requirements section this means that they are truly minimum qualifications. The
HR representative is not allowed to consider you for the position unless you have these qualifications.
Do not waste your time on applying for positions that you only have 3 out of 5 the minimum
qualifications.

The additional requirements section is where recruiters puts the “nice to have” elements of a job. If
you have many of these skills and abilities, you have an increased chance to landing the position. You
will also notice that many of the “soft skills” of the positions are mentioned here. Be sure to use those
themes in your cover letter, resume, and for your interview preparation. Here’s one way to think
about it: If the company says they are “customer-focused” you will want to prepare an example story
to demonstrate of when you delivered exceptional customer service. Also, sometimes you will see
a requirement such as “must come to work on time and be ready to contribute” – which sticks out a
little bit or doesn’t have the same voice as the other parts of the description. This may be a clue that
the person in the role before you had problems with punctuality or brought problems at home into the
workplace. In these cases, be sure to highlight your punctuality throughout the hiring process.

In summary, use the key words and phrases used in the position description when you are tailoring your
cover letter, resume, and through the interviewing process. Pay particular attention to the verbs being
used. Make sure that when preparing for your interview that you are able to highlight examples in your
work history that reflect not only the tasks/skills of the position, but also the values of the organization.

And finally, remember to use the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when, and why to be able to ask exceptional
questions during the interview. Good luck!


Angela Harris has a 15 year career in human resources, with several years in management consulting and quality. She current works at ASQ, the American Society for Quality, where she works on the development of ISO standards.  In addition to working at ASQ, Angela owns a consulting practice (ASHconsulting), is a Wisconsin Forward Award Examiner, sits on the SHRM Task Force for Metrics & Measures, is on the Board of Directors for the Wheaton Franciscan Foundation for St. Francis & Franklin, and was Executive Director of Milwaukee JobCamps.  She received her M.S. in Human Resources from Marquette University.

Feel free to connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/billye

Still Not Sure What You Want to Be “When You GrowUp?”

Remember as a kid how people used to askyou what you wanted to be when you grew up? You probably gave differentanswers depending on your age at the time. As you got older, you may haveswitched from telling people you
wanted to be an actress, an explorer,or a famous writer to giving some kind of expected answer. Maybe you gaveup on all those dreams you had about what you’d do with your life.

Somewhere along the road from childhoodto adulthood you made a decision — or perhaps someone else made it foryou — about what kind of career to pursue. Perhaps that job was a goodfit at first; maybe it was like wearing shoes that are too tight. A lotof people try this job and that one, hoping to find THE ONE that bringsnot only a paycheck but provides meaning and purpose and a feeling of satisfactionat the end of the day.

Are you in a career that makes you wantto jump out of bed every morning, raring to go? Or are you drifting along,trying to figure out what your true purpose is and start living it beforeit’s too late? You only get one shot at living, so shouldn’t you be doingwhat you love instead feeling like you’re stuck on a “human hamsterwheel?”

If you’re struggling to decide what youwant to be “when you grow up,” I know how you feel because I’vebeen there myself.

Getting “unstuck” starts with a few simple questions.  In your answers, you’ll find clues (and maybeeven gigantic road signs) pointing the way back to those forgotten dreams,pointing the way toward the life you were meant to live.

  •  As a child, what did you absolutely lovedoing? List anything and everything. The germs of a career may be hiddenhere.
  • What activities can you spend hours andhours doing now, where time just seems to melt away? Don’t worry aboutwhether or not you can get paid for these activities just yet. You’re stillin research mode.
  • If you never had to earn another dime,what would you do for free just because it’s fun?
  • What do you value the most? Is it money,status, recognition, family time, a challenge, security? Be honest. Noone else has to see your answers.
  • Where do you find meaning, purpose, andinspiration?
  • What are you doing when you feel themost energetic? Happy? Peaceful and calm?
  • What do you REALLYwant in your life?

Now look for common threads or patternsin your answers. You may not see your perfect career yet, but these littlenuggets of information are the first step to finding it. Explore your options.Get input from others. Think
outside the traditional Job Box. If you’restill not sure, find a coach to help you sort it out.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 43 or 57 or76, you’re not through yet.  There’s still time to decide what tobe when you grow up. There’s still time to create the life you were meantto live.

 Bonnie Pond is a career change expert who works with women over 40 who want to be their own boss. She helps themfind ways to turn their interests into income. Visit her website, http://www.relaunchyourlifecoach.com,  for free resources to help you decide what you want to be “when you grow up.”

Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/billye

Keywords, Keywords and More Keywords!!!

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

It’s been a long time since I’ve needed to update my resume and I’m sure there have been a lot of changes with how to format a resume and what you need to put on it.  I want to maximize the number of times my resume is reviewed and I’ve heard adding keywords are the way to do it.  What are keywords and how do I incorporate them into my resume? 

Ahhh….keywords!  I love keywords!  First of all let me start by explaining what keywords are for those who may not know.  Most resumes are now submitted and stored electronically.  This would include resumes that you upload to a job board such as CareerBuilder or Monster or a profile that you have created online on a site such as LinkedIn.  For most positions you apply to, you will also be applying online through what is known as a company’s “Applicant Tracking System” or ATS for short.  This would be when you visit a company’s career website and apply to a position that
is listed on their site.  All electronic databases have the ability to search the resumes stored through entering keywords or search strings.  Think of it like a search engine such as Google.  If you go to the Google home page to search for a specific product or specific information, you would enter your search string of keywords and hit enter to see your results.  It’s the same with electronic resume banks.  A potential employer can use a search feature to enter specific keywords of things they are looking for.  This could be something like CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager) to PE (Plant Engineer) to Automation experience, etc.

So, should you use keywords in your resume?  ABSOLUTELY! One of the biggest mistakes I see with resumes that are not professionally written is the absence of keywords.  A great example of this is when you list your employment history.  Do you have the industry listed or what each company does? This is an area that is often overlooked when writing a resume.  If a recruiter is looking for someone who has experience in the “specialty chemical” arena, they will often use keywords like: Chem, specialty chemical, specialty chem, chemical.  If you do not have it listed in your resume,
your resume will not be pulled back.

There are different ways that you can include keywords into your resume.  The first would be to include them in the body of your resume as you are writing it.  Enter a short “blurb” about the company after you list it on your resume such as:

XYZ Company, Milwaukee, WI                                                                                                 4/2006-11/2010

XYZ Company is a Recruitment Process
Outsourcing (RPO) company known as a global pioneer of innovative and uniquely
effective talent sourcing and strategy for its clients.

 You can also create a keyword section at the bottom of your resume where you can list in succession all the keywords that are not already listed in your resume:

Manage, Strategic, automation, DCS

There is no limit as to how many keywords you can add to your resume.  Just make sure that the keywords you enter are relevant to your experience.  The goal of submitting any resume electronically; be it to a job board or through an ATS for a position that you are applying to, is to have your resume reviewed.  Having keywords in your resume will help to ensure your resume is not overlooked during the initial screening process.

What has been your experience with keywords?

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your
questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady:

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Do I Want To Be An Open Networker On LinkedIn?

Dear RSL,

I see you are a member of an open networking group on LinkedIn. I joined that group partly because I
saw you there.  I’ve also joined some other open networking groups, but many of them seem so “spammy” and it seems like all a lot of them do is promote connection invites. I’m not getting the point of that unless that’s the only purpose.  So… which groups do you belong to and why?

You’re right; I am an open networker on LinkedIn.  What that means is that I accept all invites sent to me.  As for the open networking groups, their primary purpose is for open networkers to grow their networkers
and connect with other “like minded” open networkers or LIONS (LinkedIn Open Networkers).  I started off on LinkedIn about 5 years ago and from the start I have been an open networker.  There are different schools of thought on open networker with some wanting to only connect with people that they know personally, others want to only connect with others in their area of expertise and others like myself who will accept invites from anyone.

Why am I an open networker?  As a recruiter the biggest part of my job is building relationships and networking.  Over the years I have recruited professionals with a wide array of skill sets.  By being an open networker I have been able to not only connect with people as first connections, but by connecting it also allows me to be able to contact their connections if I want to.  So, it may not be my direct connection I’m looking to recruit or network with, but their connection.

As for the different groups that I am in on LinkedIn and why, I am in a number of different groups and they primarily fall into 3 categories.  The first category contains groups that are related to the types of positions that I’m recruiting for at the moment.  These categories will change periodically and you will notice at the moment they are focused primarily on Engineering and IT.

The second set of groups that I belong to on LinkedIn is centered around my resume writing business so you will notice that I belong to a few groups for Resume Writers.  These groups allow me to connect with others in my industry where we exchange ideas and ask each other’s questions.   I also belong to various job seekers groups and HR groups.

The third set of groups that I belong to on LinkedIn is related to my blogging.  These groups are for people like me who keep up with a blog and enjoy writing

To make LinkedIn Groups work for you is to determine what it is you want to do on LinkedIn and from there join appropriate groups.

 

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by RSL, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Other ways to connect with RSL:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn: Resume Survis Lady

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Ok To Contact A Headhunter?

Dear RSL,

I’m just getting started in my job search.  I’m currently working and happy with where I am at but I’ve reached the top of where I can go in this company.  I’m thinking about working with a “head hunter” to help me find a new position.  Is this a good idea?

Absolutely it’s a good idea!  When you’re in a job search there’s nothing wrong with exploring your options and having others help you to find the next step in your career.  For those of you not familiar with what a “head hunter” is, a “head hunter” can also be called an “executive recruiter” or “third party recruiter.”  If you have not yet had a chance to read the guest blog by Todd Nilsen, “Know Your Recruiter: The Specialized World of Third Party Recruiting” (http://wp.me/p1rGgF-1d) I highly suggest you read it.  Todd offers some great insight into Executive Recruiters/Head Hunters.

While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working with a head hunter, there are a few things you will want to consider in choosing who you ultimately partner with.  Do your research.  If you’re looking to be in a specific industry or within a specific vertical, look for recruiters that specialize in those areas.  Ask the recruiters which companies they have contacts with and what types of positions they have placed with them in the past.  Most
importantly remember that you are not the only candidate they are working with.  You will want to continue to network with others and search on your own as well.

When you are working with a head hunter, it’s important to note that most companies will always try to fill positions on their own first.  Because of this, if there are specific companies that you are interested in working for try to network with others at that company.  You can network with them through networking sites and various networking events (these can be both virtual or in person).  There are a tremendous number of positions that are filled through networking and no one knows your background, qualifications and future goals better than yourself.

Go ahead, call that headhunter.  Just don’t forget that they are only a small part of your search solution.

Resume Survis Lady is written by Billye Survis. To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com
Feel free to also connect with Resume Survis Lady through twitter:  resumesurvisldy her LinkedIn group: Resume Survis Lady and on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497

Is There Something Wrong With My Resume?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

Is there something wrong with my resume?  I’ve applied to over 100 jobs over the past 6 months and have gotten only a handful of responses which haven’t led anywhere.  I understand that I don’t have a lot of “real world experience,” but I do have an MBA along with 5 internships.  I’m at my wit’s end; any help would be greatly appreciated!

It can be extremely frustrating when you’re putting a lot of time and effort into something, in this case your job search, and getting very little in return.  Let me start by asking a few questions.  What type of positions are you applying to?  Are you sending out a generic resume for each position you are applying to?  What type of networking and self marketing have you done?

Let’s start with the positions that you are applying to.  With 5 internships, you’ve probably accumulated about 1-2 years of “real world experience” so you will want to make sure to target your search for positions that require a degree and require minimal experience.  If you are interested in a position but it’s requiring 5 or more years of experience, I can pretty much guarantee you will not get a call for an interview.  Know your skills.  Make sure the positions that you are applying to are positions that you are qualified.  Often times I have clients wonder why they’re not getting calls on positions they’ve applied to only to find out after some probing that they are applying to positions that “sound like something I’d be good at” but in reality do not have any of the required experience.

Have you changed up your resume for the different types of positions you are applying to or are you sending out the same resume for each
position?  Are you including a cover letter?  In addition to writing a customized cover letter for each position, it’s also very important that you customize your resume for each position that you apply to.  When I say customize, I mean change your heading to the title of the position that you are applying to, change your summary/objective to match the position and make sure your bullet points are showcasing the things that you have done in past positions that make you a strong candidate for the one you are applying to.  You want your resume to be focused.   If you need help, you might want to talk to a professional resume writer for ideas or take a resume writing class that teaches you how to customize your resume for each position.

Have you started networking yet?  No one can market yourself with more passion than you.  Make sure you join professional networks like LinkedIn or professional organizations in your area.  I can’t tell you how often I hear from people who have found their job through networking; myself included.  The last two positions I’ve had were due to being on LinkedIn, the jobs found me.  Don’t be afraid to join groups on LinkedIn or other professional organizations and be active.  These are professionals all there to help each other.  Ask questions and learn from others.

Is there something wrong with your resume?

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy or connect with her directly on LinkedIn by sending her an invite to connect:  resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Addresses on resumes?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

With everyone using the internet to submit their resume and email to communicate, is it necessary to put my full street address on my resume?

I have to say, this is a question I have never been asked before in my 10+ years of resume writing and recruiting.  I have always included full addresses on resumes that I have written, so I needed to do a bit of research before I felt I could answer this question.

I went through and read everything I could on the pros and cons of including the full address on a resume.  It really is a personal call as to if this information should be included or not.  After I finished reading up on the matter, I asked some hiring managers what their thoughts were regarding addresses on a resume, but more on hiring manager’s views in a moment.  First I will address the cons of including addresses on resumes.

The biggest negative I could find with including addresses is around privacy.  If the resume was to fall into the wrong hands, there’s the possibility that their privacy and/or security could be breached.  I have to admit, the only resumes I have ever seen without an address are those received from an agency recruiter who doesn’t want me to contact the candidate without their knowledge.  The second negative I found was that including the street address on a resume could be seen as being outdated, not technically up to date and instead just be sure to include cell phone, email and LinkedIn profile addresses.  The final con that I was able to find was for candidates that want to relocate to where the position is located and do not want to be removed from the applicant pool based on where they currently live.

By including an address on a resume, you are providing the recruiter and hiring manager a complete picture.  When there are pieces missing off of a resume that are usually there, I start to think that the candidate is trying to hide something and there resume gets extra scrutiny.   I also spoke with a few different hiring managers regarding their views of including or excluding addresses on a resume.  What the overwhelming consensus was is that they want to see the address on the resume.  Without that address, many hours could be spent on the candidate before realizing that relocation might be needed or that the candidate is interviewing with the hope that they will be able to work remote within a few months of starting.

I’m curious as to your thoughts.  Do you currently have your address included on your resume?  Until I have a compelling reason not to, I am going to continue including addresses on the resumes I write for my clients.

To have your resume or job search questions answered by Resume Survis Lady, send your questions to: resumesurvislady@gmail.com or on twitter: resumesurvisldy

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