The Sea of Candidates: Analyzing the Resumes to Create Your Short List

While much of the “job focus” these days is on the job seekers and the difficulties they’re experiencing, those in human resources or other hiring agents are having an equally hard time. The multitudes of people out of work or searching to better their careers has resulted in dozens, hundreds or even thousands of resumes being submitted for every position that becomes available.

A handful of basic requirements come along with the right hire — or at least the candidates on your short list:

  • Dresses professionally during the interview
  • Is prompt
  • Is polite and cordial
  • Has personality, drive and experience that will correlate with the demands of the position

Sure, that’s all great, but when you have possibly hundreds of resumes sitting on your desk, you first need to decide which of those candidates will make their way through your door for an interview so you can have the visual backup.

As the hiring agent, the only thing you have to go off of at first is a piece of paper or two per candidate. Your eyes may begin to burn as you sift through the stack of paper, even if it’s a virtual stack of paper from resumes submitted online; your diligent reading is likely to become nothing more than your eyes grazing over the resumes. If you’re lucky, the company you’re hiring for has a software program that analyzes the resumes that are sent via the internet to automatically disregard applications that don’t meet certain requirements.

Of course, there are some things about a bad resume that will immediately turn you off. Spelling errors, unprofessional email addresses, an over-the-top or unprofessional photograph attached, too short, etc; the list could go on and on. Your eyes have probably trained themselves to look for at certain areas first to narrow your list. However, if your eyes haven’t automatically started going to certain areas, start training yourself to look at the contact information and Experience and/or Skills sections. These two or three sections can greatly reduce the number of candidates due to their importance.

When you’re filtering using this method, you’re offering yourself the ability to first look at what the candidates have to offer, instead of reading too much into the rest of the resume. For example, if a candidate doesn’t offer any skills or experience that relates to the position, you can weed out their resume.

This is only the first step in going through the sea of resumes, but if you can train your eyes to look at a few things first, it will prevent you from blankly staring at the stack of papers — or your computer screen — during the process.

8 Hiring & Resume Trends Every Executive Needs to Know

Resume and hiring trends can confuse even executives, especially when they are getting advice from multiple sources, and some information may contradict what others are saying. So what data can you depend on?

Career Directors International created a Global Hiring Trends report after surveying professionals worldwide for their insights and preferences, and brought context and relevance to the data contained therein.

Here are a few insights from that report regarding resumes and hiring that can help executives be more successful in job search.

1.         What is the preference of executive resume length? 33% preferred 2-page resumes and thought they were sufficient length, while 37% reported that length was not an issue as long as the document included relevant information. The 1-page resume only received a vote of 6% of professionals surveyed.

2.         Would you eliminate an executive candidate from consideration based on the resume length not meeting your preference? 58% of the people surveyed said ‘no,’ 21.5% said ‘maybe,’ and 5% said ‘yes.’ All agreed that page length was not as much of an issue for executives as long as the content showcased what the executive could do for the company through their achievements and experiences.

3.         If a recruiter or hiring manager received a 1-page “brief” executive resume, but it was accompanied by stand-alone “success story” career summaries, how likely would they be to read them? The majority (59%) said they would likely read the success stories – so executives might want to consider adding examples of their skills and experience to capitalize on the opportunity to provide additional information. To be fair, 26% said they would not read additional material and didn’t have time to read multiple pieces of paper.

4.         How often are smart phones and mobile devices used to review resumes? Don’t ignore the facts – resumes are reviewed on mobile devices every day! Statistics from 2012 show that at least 18%, which isn’t sizeable, but that number is growing daily. The question you need to ask yourself: “Is it worth ignoring the preferences of 18+% of hiring authorities and consider the merits of optimizing content for a smaller screen?”

5.         What is the preferred format for receiving resumes? You may have guessed that Microsoft Word is still the preferred format for resumes, at least for 49% of those surveyed. The other half split their preferences with 23% wanting a PDF file and surprisingly, the other 26% stating that the format didn’t matter.

6.         Would a recruiter or hiring professional review video resumes? Even with technology as advanced as we think it is today, only 13% of professionals surveyed said they would review a video resume as part of a candidate’s selection process. That’s a fairly small percentage, so it would be prudent to include all key information in a traditional resume in case the video presentation is not viewed. That being said, if you put the ‘maybes’ together with the 13% of ‘yeses’ you have a combined total of 33%, which might be enough to consider capitalizing on the power of multimedia as an adjunct to a traditional resume.

7.         Do recruiters or hiring professionals “Google” or search other social media before deciding to interview a qualified candidate?58% of people surveyed said they ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ check out candidates online before calling them for an interview. Be aware that your digital footprint is becoming more important and can impact your career positively or negatively.

8.         If a recruiter or hiring professional sees negative information online, would that affect their decision to interview an executive or make a job offer? Well, 57% say that if they found negative information about a potential candidate they would commence further investigation or consider someone else. Only 5% say that negative online information would not affect their decision.

Emerging trends show that LinkedIn and other social site links are seen as favorable in resumes, while video resumes still seem too risky as a stand-alone submission.

Overall, it was noted that a powerful executive resume should focus primarily on meaningful, targeted content that is easy to grasp, while portraying a clear strategy and brand.

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This post was written by  and was originally seen on Career Hub.

The Cover Letter Conundrum: When, Why and How to Write and Use Them

This post was originally seen on the Career Rocketeer site and was written by Perry Newman.

In my opinion cover letters are the most controversial aspect of a candidate’s resume portfolio and there is much debate about the pro and con of when, why and how to write and use them effectively.

For me only one cover letter rule is written in stone; if a job posting, recruiter, or the person you are sending it to specifically ask that you include a cover letter you must send one along with your resume! If they also include a special instruction such as salary history etc, you must address the request without being cute or overly evasive.

On the other hand if a cover letter is not requested and you choose not to include one, no harm/no foul.

Something I think job hunters should be aware of is this: when you send both a cover letter and a resume as a package the majority of people in the selection and decision making process will not receive or read your cover letter; unless one is specifically requested.

First off not everyone who first screens your documents will read both; at best 50%-70% of the people will read the cover letter; this figure gets lower depending on how many resumes they have to review. Then at each level of escalation only 25%-50% of the people who got both the resume and cover letter will send the cover letter up the line to the next level of interviewer or decision maker along with your resume.

So if you’re counting on a cover letter being read and influencing the decision to interview or hire you, as we say here in Brooklyn Fuggetaboutit.

The most common cover letter approaches

Sell Yourself Approach
This approach is my least favorite, but for some reason it is the most common. I believe if a resume can stand up to scrutiny a sell yourself oriented cover letter is unnecessary. However if you feel a need to sell yourself in your cover letter to get noticed do it subtly. Focus on how you fit the job, don’t stretch the truth, and by all means don’t be long winded or ramble on. Make your point and stop.

One reason I dislike this type of cover letter is that most people who use this approach tend to reiterate verbatim the words that appear on their resume, especially the accomplishments. Worse yet some cover letters I’ve read include information that contradicts what is written in the resume.

If you are going to sell yourself in a cover letter I suggest rewriting and repackaging the information so it will be fresh not boring when they get around to reading the same information on your resume; and check your facts.

On the creative side I’ve seen people, I being one of them, use charts in cover letters when the goal is to draw comparisons between the candidate and what the company wants, what the competition brings to the table, or to compare industry wide metrics the candidate greatly exceeded.

A sales approach is best used when the resume can not strongly articulate certain critical factors because they may not be current, they are solid but limited in time or scope, or it is felt the competition is stronger. Some use a sales approach because they are lazy or uninformed about tweaking their resume for particular a job, or they feel they have a poor resume but a strong cover letter will compensate for this.

Letter of Introduction Approach

This is the approach I favor most. Again, I am of the belief if your resume can stand up to scrutiny and shows that you fit the desired profile there is no need to pre-sell yourself in a cover letter.

What I prefer is a brief professional letter of introduction expressing your interest in a specific position and telling the reader why you want this particular job and want to work for their company above all others.

I’ve been know to make a strong opening statement and then in the following paragraph/s quote the company’s own words that describe what they are looking for and close the paragraph with a statement such as ‘this is an area in which I excel’, or ‘this is my forte’, or ‘as you will see from my resume and accomplishments, I am a perfect match for the person you seek to interview and hire.’

I also on occasion have suggested including verifiable endorsement/s in this cover letter to validate value.

Closing On Objections approach

Sometimes you are not a perfect fit for a job and your resume taken at face value includes as many deselecting points as qualifiers; and there is a lot of what I call green areas (a term based on my resume writing exercises) that can be misinterpreted. These are areas where you do not have exactly what the company seeks in a hire in the exact way they want it; but you do have closely related skills, experience or had similar responsibilities in a different field or industry.

In these cases I suggest a cover letter that focuses on getting the reader to see you through your eyes and why you feel you can do the job.

If you can anticipate their objections you can overcome them before they become a deselecting factor, or get a reader to give you the benefit of the doubt and bring you in for an interview to see if you are a good match.

This cover letter is the most difficult to write; it needs to be 100% on point, positive, and perfectly worded to get your point across without turning off the screener.

About the Author: Perry Newman is a nationally-renowned job transition specialist who develops branded resumes and is a career coach for executives, professionals and MBA’s seeking six- figure positions in multiple industries within the USA. As a Certified Placement Consultant, Certified Social Media Strategist and founder and former Managing Director of a NYC-based executive search firm, Perry has a rare combination of talent and experience that is essential for your success in today’s job market. Acknowledged as a subject matter expert in his field Perry is a sought-after public speaker for radio, TV shows and career services seminars and his articles and blog posts are published in national newspapers, magazines and blogs throughout the nation and the world.

The Interviewer Said!

This post was written by Perry Newman and was originally featured on the Career Rocketeer blog.

In my career, I have written and read thousands of resumes and I will be the first to admit a well-written resume is no guarantee that you will be hired for a new job. However from my own experience and the experiences of many of the people I have worked with I can say with 100% certainty that a well-written resume will increase your apply to interview ratio by at least 25% and improve your chances of impressing the people who interview you.

To highlight for you how a effective a tool a well-written resume can be, I asked a number of people who found a new positions about the feedback they received on the resume we collaborated on, and here are a few responses..

1: The interviewer said “you are a candidate we could not afford to pass on so after I finished reading your resume I picked up the phone ASAP to contact you to schedule an interview.”

2: The interviewer said” the minute I finished reading your resume I knew you were a perfect match for the profile we developed for a new hire.”

3: The interviewer said “after reading your resume I felt I’ve known you for years even though we’ve never met.

4: The interviewer said “based on your resume I know what we can expect from you in the future if we hire you.”

5: The interviewer said “I screened over 100 resumes but yours was one of only a handful that stood out and caught my attention based on its style and content.”

6: The interviewer said “your resume answered all the questions I had about you and raised a few questions I had not considered about your competition.”

The bottom line is if you have a well-written resume you can elicit they same type of responses as well. Not every resume can get interviewers and screeners to react like this; after all you must have the talent and ability to put on paper that will excite people. But I can tell you that a well-written resume will get people to take notice of you and what you have to offer and it will increase your chances of being considered a front runner for a new job.

Perry Newman is a nationally-renowned job transition specialist who develops branded resumes and is a career coach for executives, professionals and MBA’s seeking six- figure positions in multiple industries within the USA. As a Certified Placement Consultant, Certified Social Media Strategist and founder and former Managing Director of a NYC-based executive search firm, Perry has a rare combination of talent and experience that is essential for your success in today’s job market. Acknowledged as a subject matter expert in his field Perry is a sought-after public speaker for radio, TV shows and career services seminars and his articles and blog posts are published in national newspapers, magazines and blogs throughout the nation and the world.

When You’re Getting Interviewed, But Not Getting Hired

With all the applicants that are sending off their resumes to fill open positions, it’s easy to get excited when you get a call back for an interview. So, what happens when you consistently interview, but don’t get offered the job?

Here are a few things to consider if your getting an interview, but not an offer.

  1. Does your resume accurately reflect your accomplishments, skills, and qualifications? If you’ve fluffed your resume, you could inadvertently cause a red-flag during the interview. When most employers or staffing companies do their first round of interviews they are seeking to eliminate people. They are watching for cues that you are being untruthful, incongruences, and signs that you won’t fit within the company culture. The more accurately your resume represents you, the more likely you are to move through to the next round of interviews.
  2. If you are sure your resume accurately reflects your work history and skill set, take a look at where the next stumbling block may occur – the actual interview process. Would you consider yourself to be a good interviewee? Are you able to act natural and be yourself? Do you exhibit the level of professionalism the company is looking for? It’s not uncommon for people to believe they are a good interviewee, when in fact, compared to other candidates they lag behind. Seek out a professional coach or mentor to help identify where your interview skills could be improved.
  3. Do you go for the close? Candidates who don’t inquire about the next step are missing out on a great opportunity to seal the deal.  Always ask what the process is to get hired, don’t be afraid to inquire if there’s anything they are concerned about with you as the candidate of choice – which will give you an opportunity to refute those concerns. Also find out how you should follow up and how soon. Additionally, take the time to send a handwritten thank you note or card through the mail. Email is okay when you know the decision making process is short (it’s Wednesday and they want to decide by Friday), but nothing says you really want the job like proper follow up. Lastly, tell your interviewer that you are definitely interested in the position. If they feel you are possibly on the fence, it’s likely they’ll overlook you as a candidate.

Getting the interview is a great thing, and you should acknowledged that your resume helped you stand out in the stack. But interviewing frequently, without a lot of forward movement just lets you know there are other areas you can improve on for your job search. With a little awareness, attention, and creative thinking you’ll be sure to get an offer soon.