FREE Career Track (Please Register Here).
This will be an opportunity for those looking for jobs to meet employers and have your resume reviewed. Please be sure to have your resume on hand!
What happens when you need to find your next job? Most times job seekers just do a quick search of postings, ask friends and basically flounder until they find their next job. At this year’s BSidesTampa we will be featuring several sessions on how to better craft your career strategy even if you already have a job.
We interviewed some of the recruiters that will be at the panel discussion on some tips for your career search.
What are some of your recommendations for people who are changing industries; how do should this be conveyed and sold through the resume?
Mike Wolford: LinkedIn shares data frequently with recruiters based on activity within the LinkedIn network. A recent statistic is that 1 in 3 people are changing careers. It is important to highlight the relevant skills when changing industries and careers. You will want to highlight key aspects of your skills that are relevant to the new career. Job seekers need to understand that career changes do take time and that you may need to take salary cuts or a step back. Finally be prepared for the question, why are you changing careers?
Kirsten Renner: If you are looking to change careers, it is important to understand the value of other community involvement such as being part of a club, volunteering, going to conferences or participating in a competition. All of these activities can help you with changing careers and you having to learn about being your own best advocate.
What about students coming out of high school, is it more important that they have competition skills or the education? Is education out of date and is it more important to be competitive and showcase your skills in competitions?
Kirsten: You have to do both the competitions and the education. You can show that you follow the rules but that you also take initiative. You can’t do all the courses or just do all the competitions, you have to do both as they are both vital especially when employers are looking for both experience and the certifications. This is similar to what you will have to do at work.
Competitions are a great way for students and those who are looking to get into the industry to showcase their technical and soft skills of team building, leadership and resource allocation. Competitions have been around for decades and provide opportunity for professionals to showcase their skills and learn more about what kind of careers they are interested in. There are so many different types of competitions from wireless CTFs to hacking into a car that can you literally determine your career path by choosing the correct competitions. However, the employers will also want the certifications and education, not just the competition experience. Finally you will want to be in the learning mindset because to maintain your career you will need to keep abreast of the new certifications.
One participant shared that in her work experience she was able to leverage her advanced degree, an MBA, in lieu of several years of experience while she was a government contractor. Being in the learning mindset does pay off.
In switching careers it is important to have a strong network and having a mentor. Mike switched careers himself from retail to recruiting and it was through his mentor relationships that he was able to build a new career. Finding a mentor means finding someone who is doing what you want to do and has what you have, and learn from them. Be the eternal student.
What happens when an applicant is overqualified? Have you ever rejected an applicant because they were overqualified?
Mike: There is nothing we can do. The hiring managers won’t look at their application nor resume. A recruiter can submit a candidate to a hiring manager who they think is absolutely great but the hiring manager will reject the candidate for reasons beyond their control. To a hiring manager, an overqualified candidate means that the person will get bored easily, that they are taking the job until something better comes along or you are a candidate can do more than the hiring manager and you are a threat to them. Finally the hiring manager may just feel that a candidate is not a cultural fit, which is very frustrating for the recruiter. Remember the value of being referred. If you are an overqualified candidate and you want to pursue a particular opportunity, you may want to build your referral network. The reasons you want the referral is that the person referring you can be your advocate inside the company with the hiring manager.
Since resumes are so important in a career search, what are some of the things that drive you nuts on a resume?
Kirsten: When job seekers don’t customize their resume to the job; when they don’t keep their objectives short and when there is repeat information in the resume. Please put the technical skills at the top of the resume.
Derek Porter: One of the biggest problems I run into is that people tend to write a book for their resume; they have a lot of experience and they want to get this all out. Most times the lengthy resumes are jumbled together and I end up glazing over all of the information. We are recruiting for professionals and you need to be able to present your qualifications clearly, coherently and succinctly. Presenting your information in a clear format shows me that you are also a critical thinker; if the information is jumbled, I am going to have second thoughts about your critical thinking.
Several recruiter studies will tell you that a recruiter will only look at your resumes for 7-9 seconds; if you lose the recruiter’s attention within the first few seconds due to information being jumbled, they are not going to look through the rest of your resume. If you make a recruiter hunt for the hidden treasure in your resume, they are not going to look for it.
Mike: Recruiters have ADD, our attention spans are very short, so if you make us try to make sense out of your resume, we will just move on. The long resumes need to go away and so do the functional resumes; they need to be chronological. It is not a gimmick, if you make us try to figure out the logic in your resume we are not going to. We have 40 requisitions to fill; we don’t have time to solve your Agatha Christie resume mystery.
If you are trying to figure out how to create your resume, put the most detail to what you are doing now. The further back you go in time, the less detail you need to share. I want to look at more detail to what you are doing now as it is more relevant to what I want you to do now.
But what if you have experience from several years ago that applies now to the job that you are applying to? While that is great, the hiring manager who the recruiters submits the resume to, is going to say that the candidate did that job with those skills several years ago but I need someone who has recent experience. The experience is relevant to your overall skill set but this has to be taken in context with what it is needed for the current position.
Remember that recruiters are relying on search engines to find resumes and the search engines will highlight the keywords that they are looking for. You need to have the relevant keywords to the experience that the job requires for the recruiter to take notice of your resume. While you may have had the experience several years ago, the fact that you don’t have several recent years of experience will not benefit you. Finally, if you want to include the experience that you have from several years ago this may be one bullet point in your summary of qualifications.
A key point to remember is to customize your resume to the job posting that you are applying for. Recruiters will rely on the keyword match to help them to decide which resumes to spend additional time on. The more keywords that are in your resume that matches up with the keywords in the job description, the higher the chances of the recruiter looking at your resume.
One thing that many job seekers don’t understand is that resumes are viewed electronically. As a job seeker you do not know what kind of computer interface that a recruiter will be viewing your resume with. The italics, bolding and special characters may look graphically appealing, but you do not know if these will jumble up your resume when viewed by a recruiter. A graphically plain resume with dynamite keyword content and coherent information presentation is your best bet.
Some job seekers believe that they are protecting the formatting on their resumes by putting their final resume product into a PDF. Unfortunately, PDF’s are not searchable, and recruiters will want to search your resume for the keywords. Keeping your format simple is best.
A question from the audience asked about putting years on the resume. The panel advises not to put years on your resume, but be clear when you have your education on your resume that you put that you have graduated if that is the case. Don’t make the recruiter have to confirm this.
As far as many years of experience, this all depends. If you are applying for an executive position, you may want to include the different years of experience to show how you have developed your career and the strategic experience that you will be bringing to the position. The years of experience also plays a key role in which labor categories you as a candidate will fall into and this is relevant to the salary that will be negotiated. Again, these are for executive positions only.
What do people bury the most in their resumes?
Mike: People bury their accomplishments. Recruiters are looking for patterns of behavior and people who are successful leave a path of their success, but if we can’t see your accomplishments we can’t find how you have been successful. The first word in every bullet point on a resumes should be a verb: responsible for, managed – give the recruiter an action that you did and accomplished. Candidates tend to bury this kind of information all the time especially any awards that they receive.
Derek: Numbers, people tend to hide the numbers in their resumes while recruiters like to see them. How many direct reports have you managed? How many deadlines have you met? What budgets have your managed? In the IT space be sure to list out the number of projects you have worked on or the number of teams you have managed. There is also the business side of any technical project: managing teams, bringing the project in under budget, solving a problem. If the job description is looking for business skills in addition to your technical skills, be sure to share these.
Do candidates need to customize their resumes? What happens with candidates who apply to several positions?
Kirsten: Yes, do take the time to customize your resumes with the key skills, computer languages and experience that are stated in the job description.
What if there are 7 positions available at the company and a job seeker is interested in all of them, do they apply to all of them?
Kirsten: Figure out what you would really like to do. And don’t customize your resume for jobs that you are not going to be satisfied doing. Even if there are several positions that you are interested in and have the experience for, limit the number of applications to your top choices and build the relationship with the recruiter. The good recruiter will also keep an eye out for you for other positions. You first need to build that relationship. It is also important that the candidate do their research about the company to have the initial conversations with the recruiter and be able to then build that relationship to ask about other positions in the company.
Derek: People who do their research and know what is going on in the company irritate me. Why? Because they are smart and I want to know smart people, so I will invest more time with them rather than my breeze through of the initial interview.
Mike: If you apply for 7 jobs, I am going to think you don’t know what you want to do. And if I look into my applicant tracking system and see that a candidate has applied 7 times for various positions, I am not going to look at any of them because this will all be a waste of my time. The candidate does not know what they want and a recruiter is not your therapist.
What about video resumes? We don’t even look at them because there are very difficult to search.