Who Do I List As My References?

Dear RSL,

I am going to my second on site interview for a position I really want.  The company has asked me for a list of references.  Should I include personal references, peer references, managers or a combination?  What types of questions does a company ask a reference?

Great question!  A company asking for references is a good sign! When you are preparing your list of references, it’s always good to have a combination of people including at least two people who you have directly reported to as well as one or two peers.  There really is no need to add a personal reference unless it is an entry-level position or a first position.

To answer your next question as to what to types of questions a company asks references; that depends upon the company and what type of position you are applying for. Generally, the questions will revolve around work ethic, attendance, reason for leaving, ability to be rehired, etc.

Do you know what your references will say about you? Although my current position does not include conducting reference checks, I have conducted plenty of reference checks in my past.  What always amazed me is those candidates who give me a list of references and one or two people on their list give them a
terrible reference.   Have a conversation with them before adding them to your reference list.  Ask them what they are going to say about you.  Don’t just assume that they are going to give you a glowing reference.  If you’re not sure what they’re going to say when called by a potential employer, don’t include them on your reference list.

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:

Twitter:  resumesurvisldy

LinkedIn: Resume Survis Lady or www.linkedin.com/in/billye

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497

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Know Your Recruiter: The Specialized World of Third Party Recruiting

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

 I posted my resume online and I have had a few third party recruiters contact me.  What exactly is a third-party recruiter and how does a third-party recruiter differ from a Corporate Recruiter

For this question I have turned to an expert in third-party recruiting:  Todd Nilson.  Todd is managing director of Social Syntax, a social media strategy, governance and analytics firm with specialized  expertise in employer branding. He is also the founder of the Milwaukee JobCamp events. You can read his personal blog at: https://talentline411.com

If you’re in a job search, it’s important to remember that not every recruiter you will encounter works in the same way. While some recruiters work as full-time employees of a corporation, you’ll find a much larger number of what’s known in industry jargon as third-party recruiters.

Why is it important to know the distinction? Third party recruiters are compensated in a completely different way than corporate recruiters. Think of a third-party recruiter as a recruiter-for-hire, someone who companies go to because their internal recruiters don’t have enough time or have too many requisition or the hiring need is simply too specialized for the internal team to handle. Companies pay for third-party recruiters as a matter of expediency.

A third-party recruiter may work for a staffing firm, as part of a boutique or search firms, or as an independent businessperson.

How does it work?

Since a third-party recruiter is not an employee of the company doing the hiring, third-party recruiters usually have some sort of financial arrangement with a company called a search agreement.  Leaving aside contract work, third-party recruiters are usually compensated in one of two ways: contingency and retained search agreements.

In a retained search agreement, the recruiter is paid a portion of a search fee to engage in the search up front. The remainder of the fee is disbursed to the recruiter upon the successful completion of a search assignment—namely, when you’ve been hired. Retained searches usually reside at the upper end of the search spectrum, where companies are engaged in a highly confidential search for a new C-level executive. These searches require recruiters with skills at the top of their game and often a highly specialized network of candidates.

As you might imagine, retained searches are in the minority.

Far more frequently the case, contingency searches also involve the payment of a fee based on a percentage of the hired person’s starting salary, but there is no up front cost to the employer to engage services. By contrast, where retained searches are usually given exclusively to just one recruiter or firm, a contingency search is typically given to two, three or even dozens of recruiters depending upon how savvy the company doing the hiring is or how many requirements they’ve got to hire for.

What do I need to know when working with third-party recruiters?

 Knowing payment terms for third-party recruiters is one key to making it a successful relationship. Most of the fees paid to third-party recruiters are significant amounts to the companies paying them, so there is a guarantee period. In many cases, if you are hired via a third-party recruiter and leave the job within the first few months, that recruiter has to refund all of that fee if he or she cannot find a suitable replacement. When you work with a third-party recruiter, therefore, understand that it is in that recruiter’s best interests to make sure you are sincere about accepting an offer of employment and that you feel as certain as you can be that it will be a good company for your career growth.

Most third-party recruiters develop a sixth sense about candidates who are just “shopping” for a new job. If you’re just looking and not seriously committed to your search for a new position, a solid third-party recruiter will confront you about it (hopefully in a nice way) in an effort to protect his or her own time.

A large benefit of working with third-party recruiters is that they tend to have a wide breadth of companies engaging their services. Some of these recruiters work a particular geography or industry segment and tend to have deep connections with a handful of premiere client companies.

Another big plus to working with third-party recruiters is that they can serve as an additional buffer in the dreaded salary discussion process for a job offer. The third-party recruiter is not a disinterested party. In most cases, his or her compensation is directly impacted by the amount of your base salary offer. Treating the third-party recruiter as an advisor, just as you might consult an attorney about your taxes or your lawyer about a legal case, can result in a better, faster offer since most recruiters on this side of the business already know about a tolerable salary range for the position you’ve applied for and can tell you if your expectations are consistent with that range. They understand that range not only from what the hiring company has shared with them, but they also know what the market bears due to the nature of their experience working with many other companies.

Finally, think for a moment about contingency searches. The recruiter is only paid after a successful placement. Successful placements often take months, representing many hours of unpaid work with the promise of a payoff in the form of a placement. Candidates who back out of a search prematurely or are perceived to waste time will be remembered. Take care when working with these recruiters, because they have a long memory and talk frequently to other recruiters in their industry space!

However, managing a friendly relationship over the years with one or more third-party recruiters can make a large difference in your job search. Their broad understanding of industry segments and variety of search assignments make them good people to know and interact with on a regular basis.

Todd’s personal blog can be found at: https://talentline411.com

Help!!! Who do I follow up with?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m totally confused at this point on how and who to follow-up with directly after filling out an application and submitting a resume online.   Aside from following-up with HR to be sure they have your information, what advice can you give on taking it a step further?

Finding out who the hiring manager is and following-up directly with that person seems to be logical, but isn’t always the best scenario. I’ve had some people react very badly (rude and abrupt reaction to a direct call) and that has kind of made me think twice about this approach.

This is a great question and one I get often.  I hear from many clients that they have been told to find out who the hiring manager or decision maker is regarding the position they have applied to and contact them directly.  From my experience working with hiring managers, this is only a good idea if you either know the hiring manager personally or if you have a direct connection to the hiring manager through a friend or acquaintance.  Typically, hiring managers are extremely busy and don’t like dealing with tasks that they consider to be “HR’s” responsibility and that includes communication with candidates and status updates. 

Candidates that have interviewed for a position are a different story.  If you’ve already had an interview with the hiring manager, it’s completely acceptable, in fact I encourage for you to follow up with the hiring manager by sending a Thank You note after your interview thanking them for their time and letting them know your interest level in the position.  Now days, in the age of technology, it’s completely acceptable to  send a Thank You note via email if you have their email address or via professional networking such as LinkedIn.  Once the Thank You note has been sent, your next follow up is with the recruiter or the person that made the initial contact with you for the position.

I got sidetracked, back to the original question of who to follow up with.  If you’ve submitted your resume/application and have not heard anything back after 1-2 weeks, it is acceptable to follow up with the HR department/recruiter to make sure that your application has been received and to ask where your resume is at in the process.  During this initial follow up, I would also ask the recruiter if for future communication they prefer to communicate via email or the phone.  A rule of thumb with this is that if the recruiter’s initial contact with you is via email, they probably prefer to communicate via email and if their initial contact is via phone, they probably prefer phone.  Moving forward, you’ll know which method of communication to use with them.

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

Phone Interview Jitters

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I FINALLY got a call from a company I have always wanted to work for.  I’m scheduled for a phone interview next week.  I’m really nervous and afraid I am going to mess up the interview.  How can I make sure that I am prepared for the interview? 

Congratulations on your interview!  Getting a call from a company you’ve submitted your resume to for a position that you’re excited about is a really big deal.  With the current state of the economy, there are a lot of applicants applying to positions and very few that are being hired (unless you’re in the engineering field.  If you’re wondering what field is a good field to get in to, ENGINEERING!!!).  I can understand why you’d be nervous, excited and a bit scare at the prospect of being able to show how your skills align with what the company is looking for, put your best foot forward and try to convince them why they need to bring you in for a face to face interview.  Sound daunting? 

 

Enough said about that, no need to make you any more scared.  What should you do to help you be prepared for the phone interview?  I like to think of interviews like tests.   Remember back in high school or college when you had a big test coming up so you would try to cram everything you could in to your brain to try to remember for the test?  Preparing for a college exam is a lot like preparing for an interview.  You’re trying to remember all the projects you’ve worked on, the technology you’ve been exposed to, the experience you’ve had.   Now the good news in all of this is that you’re first interview is a phone interview, kind of like an open book test.  The person who’s conducting the interview could care less if you have “cheat sheets” in front of you or not.  And cheat sheets are the way to go! 

 

So, it’s an open book test, you’re allowed to have cheat sheets, but what do you need on the cheat sheets?  There are a few different things that you’ll want to research and have available to you at your fingertips for your interview:

 

1.                               Make sure you’ve gone to the company’s website and poked around.  Know about the company’s history and why you would want to work for the company.  Chances are you will be asked a question something similar to “why do you want to work for xyz company?” or “what are you looking for in your next position?” Bingo…you’ll be able to talk about things within the company that align with your goals and it will show you took the time to do some research

2.                               Read through the job description and take notes.  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know how important keywords are.  You thought that was just for your resume!  Keywords come back for the interview as well.  Write down from the job description some of the key things they are looking for.  It could be someone with project management experience in excess of $xxx amount or whatever it is.  Right down what they’re looking for and also think about what you’ve done and have an example ready to talk about.  In the example above using the project management experience, you would want to talk about what the project was, the budget and what your individual role was within the project.

3.                               Have examples ready that go over things that you’ve done where you’ve encountered challenges and were able to overcome them, turn what could have been a negative into a positive. 

4.                               Relax

 

Most importantly, you are going to want to be yourself over the phone.  A lot of the time the initial phone interview you have will be with someone from HR (Human Resources) who may not be all that familiar with the position.  In that case, it will not be a real “position specific” interview as much as “how do you communicate over the phone” and “do you meet the minimum qualifications for the position.”

 

Good luck, let me know how it turns out!

 

Have a question for Resume Survis Lady?  Leave a comment or send her an email at: resumesurvislady@gmail.com

Keywords….To Add or Not to Add

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 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 that 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:

What has been your experience with keywords?

LinkedIn Recommendations On Resumes???

Dear RSL,

I use LinkedIn for my professional networking and have a number of colleagues both current and past that have written recommendations that are visible on my profile.  Now that I am out job searching I would like to share those recommendations with potential employers.  Is it okay to add my LinkedIn recommendations on my resume?

First of all, congratulations on the recommendations!  I know it can sometimes be difficult to get co-workers and managers to write recommendations so you must be doing such a great job that they want to shout it from the rooftops.  After all, I received 3 requests for recommendations in the last week.  Of course they were from people I didn’t know and I will never ever write a recommendation for someone I have never worked with and do not personally know.  But I digress.  You asked about including LinkedIn recommendations on your resume.  You can probably ascertain by my introduction that I do not recommend it.

While there might be some out there that do not agree with me and I’d like to hear your reasons if you do disagree; I don’t think that a resume is the place for these recommendations.  As I mentioned above, I have received requests for recommendations  from people who I have never met.  How many other people have received the same requests?  As a recruiter or hiring manager, while I might look at the recommendations, they would not sway me one way or the other as to if I was going to move forward with the candidate. I would still require a list of professional references that I could call and talk to regarding the candidate’s qualifications, previous work history, etc.  Perhaps I’m “old school” but I like to talk to the references and see what information I can pull out of them to make sure I am making the best hiring decision.

So, back to the LinkedIn recommendations and what should you do with them.  I have two recommendations for you.  The first recommendation would be to include your LinkedIn address on your resume.  This allows the potential employer to go to your profile and look at not only your recommendations that you have listed, but also see who you’ve recommended, what groups you belong to and compare the work history on your resume to what you have listed in your profile.   The second recommendation that I have is if you absolutely feel a need to share your recommendations with your potential employer, put them together in an attractive format separate from your resume and if the occasion arises during an on-site interview you can pull out the list and share some of the recommendations with your interviewer.

LinkedIn is a great networking tool that should provide a synopsis of your professional history.  Having recommendations on your LinkedIn profile can help to build credibility.  I utilize it extensively to network and recruit candidates.  But while I look at the recommendations occasionally, I always have in the back of my mind the emails from those requesting that I write a recommendation for them without ever having met them.  Bottom line; leave the recommendations on LinkedIn where they belong, leave the resume to showcase your talents and successes to land you an interview.

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 Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Resume-Survis-Lady/150368705033497

Do I need an Executive Summary?

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I have been requested by a recruiter to provide an Executive Summary along with my resume for a position that I’m interested in.  What is an executive summary and do I need to provide one for every position that I’m interested in?

An Executive Summary that accompanies a resume is a synopsis of the information listed on your resume.   It typically will list major accomplishments and results that you have achieved and where you would like to go; your potential.   Think of it like a detailed, long winded introduction to your resume.  Many people choose to put an objective at the top of their resume which is like a very short executive summary;  highlighting a few key attributes/skills that they have along with what they are looking for in a position/company.  Now, I’ve done the research on executive summaries, I understand their purpose, and as a resume writer I’ll write one for you if you request it.  As a recruiter, I think a cover letter is much more effective, customized to each individual position that you apply to outlining specifically what you will bring to the job you are applying to.  The key take away being to make sure you customize for each position you are applying for.  I see multiple resumes a day where the objective or cover letter very obviously has not been updated for the position the candidate is applying to.  Often times I will get cover letters referencing the wrong position title and even the wrong company.   As a recruiter or a hiring manager looking at the submission, I have to wonder how serious the candidate is about the position if they did not take the time to proof read their submission. 

As a job seeker; make sure you are aware of the position you applying for, the qualifications that are being requested from the job description and customize as applicable.  Make sure your resume reflects what it is the job description is asking for and if you do decide to submit a “generic” resume, make sure that you take out anything that was specific to a previous position applied to.

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