5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Include Testimonials on Your Résumé

Testimonials-and-reviews

There’s a trend I’ve been reading about in different discussion groups about using testimonials on résumés in addition to or even in place of references. Many of the most vocal proponents are résumé writers who promote the idea that if it’s good for LinkedIn, it should be good for your résumé. It’s a way for others reviewing your qualifications to hear what others say about your expertise. Sounds like a good idea – at least at first. But here are 5 reasons (in no particular order) for not including them on your résumé:

  1. Hiring managers haven’t asked for this information on résumés. The final arbiter of which information is preferred on a résumé should be the individual making the hiring decision. Not HR (usually), not the career coach, and not the résumé writer. Hiring managers do not read résumés, and they typically spend less than 10 seconds on the upper 2/3 of Page 1 where the most recent information is located. Testimonials at the end of your résumé may not get read (that’s why I advocate keeping your References as a separate document).
  2. Testimonials should already be available on the candidate’s LinkedIn profile so it’s unnecessarily redundant on a résumé. I am constantly counseling clients and seminar attendees to avoid redundancy with information in their cover letters and résumés and to get to the point quickly. Repeating a testimonial that is just as easily available on a LinkedIn profile violates that proverb.
  3. Hiring managers want to be able to ask references their own questions about a candidate’ background and expertise. Most hiring managers will not settle for “canned” testimonials on a résumé in place of references. They have their own approach to vetting candidates and their own particular questions they want answers to.
  4. You can’t take at face value that the testimonial was written by the reference. The testimonial could have been written by the candidate (or a résumé writer) with the reference simply agreeing to the verbiage. Book authors do this all the time with blurbs from experts or celebrities.
  5. There’s a question of which party actually receives the added value: the candidate or the résumé writer. Originally, I had 4 reasons why you shouldn’t include testimonials on your résumé, but another manager friend suggested I add this fifth one. According to her, the whole testimonial thing is like someone being sold an extended appliance warranty that statistically isn’t that great an investment. Most of the time, you’re paying for something that wasn’t used.

Résumé testimonials are more of an idea than actual practice now, but no doubt more instances of their use will be seen in the future. Perhaps hiring managers will come around to embracing their use on résumés. However, as hiring managers are under more pressure to do a better job vetting candidates, the cost of hiring the wrong employee is too great to not perform thorough due diligence.

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My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group. 

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10 Cover Letter Clichés You Must Avoid

too much advice

I was one of those ornery hiring managers who wanted to be challenged by a candidate’s cover letter and dazzled with an achievement-heavy résumé. Most of the time, I was disappointed in what I saw. Sure, there are lots of hiring managers who don’t give a rat’s behind about how good or bad your cover letter is, or who may not even be aware of how a well-written, hiring-manager-focused cover letter can indicate a strong résumé is likely attached.

And then there’s those who want to see how good you are at understanding how to use the cover letter to promote yourself as key resource for the hiring manager instead just promoting yourself. You have just 5 to 7 seconds to grab a hiring manager’s attention with your cover letter and you MUST do that with your opening sentence. Do NOT state the obvious like most cover letters do.

But for those of you who want to stand out from the crowd of candidates who are equally qualified, here’s a list of 10 cover letter clichés that will kill your efforts for going further in the hiring process –  especially if the hiring manager is someone who also wants that “something extra” from a candidate’s cover letter. Avoid these (and similar-sounding ones) like the plague.

  1. I have enclosed my résumé for your consideration… For crying out loud – I’m reading a cover letter. I KNOW that your résumé is going to follow the cover letter and OF COURSE you want me consider it. You must get to the point immediately. Place the position title for which you are applying in the “re:” line just above your opening salutation. You can get that bit of business out of the way and not waste precious space stating the obvious.
  2. As you can see from my résumé…/As my résumé reveals, I have…Why do I need to look at your résumé if you’ve summarized it in your cover letter? That’s another misuse of valuable space. Never use your cover letter as a summary of your duties, responsibities, degrees, certifications, awards, etc. But DO include accomplishments – even better if you can attach some value to those accomplishments, such as revenues generated, costs avoided, percent improvement. And put that information close to the top.
  3. I am a self-starter/self-motivated/conscientious…Says who? You? This is just another way of saying you are a hard worker. Well, guess what…so is my grandson who works at Pizza Hut part time while pursuing his undergraduate studies. Such statements do not differentiate you from others who may be saying the same thing. Any statement about your personal qualities written by YOU will naturally be somewhat suspect because you won’t be writing that you are lazy, unmotivated, and require a kick start. Avoid the self-accolades. These are qualities that are best said about you by others.
  4. I feel that/I believe that/I’m confident that you will find….Hiring managers aren’t persuaded by what you feel, believe, think, or how confident you are about your qualifications for the position. They will determine that by seeing how much value your accomplishments (not duties or responsibilities) brought to previous positions from your résumé. Avoid such squishy language because it turns off many hiring managers.
  5. I am passionate about…/I love working with… Again, a hiring manager has no interest in what you love or what you are passionate about. More squishy language to avoid.
  6. I have a proven track record…Really? Then for me to believe the “proof” I’ll need to see highlighted accomplishments on your résumé that are (1) quantified or (2) demonstrate a contribution beyond duties and responsibilities to the organization’s higher strategic objectives. Don’t write this if you can’t comply with either/both of these requirements.
  7. Thank you for your time and consideration. Two statements that shouldn’t appear in a cover letter if you fully grasp the purpose of a cover letter: Please and Thank you. The cover letter should have a declarative tone as it’s a promotional piece that affirms your expertise as the problem solver the hiring manager is looking for. Their “time and consideration” is part of their job – they aren’t doing you a favor.
  8. I look forward to hearing from you…Of course you do. If you are the expert problem solver you claim to be, the hiring manager should be looking forward to hearing from you. To improve your odds of contining forward in the hiring process, you have to take control of the next contact. Tell that hiring manager you will be contacting him or her in the next few days to further discuss how you can be that solutions provider he or she has been looking for. And initiate the contact.
  9. I can be reached at the numbers below (or above). Do you really need to tell a hiring manager how to contact you when your contact information is at the top of the cover letter or underneath your signature block?
  10. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. Really? Do you have to tell a hiring manager to do this?

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My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group. 

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6 Secrets to Enjoying a Rewarding Career from a Hiring Manager’s Perspective

secrets-career-success

We all know the role talent, knowledge, and experience play in getting hired and succeeding in any professional career. But little is known about what drives us to pursue long-term goals. Is it perseverance? Passion? Persistence? The great American psychologist, William James, wrote in the early 1900s:

Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental resources…men the world over possess amounts of resource, which only exceptional individuals push to their extremes of use.

Several studies by various university psychologists have shown that achievement is the product of talent and effort, which is a combination of intensity, direction, and duration of focus toward a goal. Follow-through is the purposeful, continuous commitment to a specific outcome; in fact, follow-through has been shown to be a very good predictor of significant accomplishment in science, art, sports, communications, and organization than other variables. After SAT scores, and high-school ranking, follow-through was the next best predictor of which students would graduate with honors.

In one study of 120 world-class pianists, neurologists, swimmers, chess players, mathematicians, and sculptors, each of the high achievers possessed three important characteristics

  • A strong interest in a particular field
  • A desire to reach a high level of attainment in that field
  • A willingness to put in great amounts of time and effort

What I Have Observed in My 25-plus-Year Career in Hiring Manager Positions for Fortune 500 Companies

Over the years as a hiring manager, I have taken notice of certain individuals I had a hand in hiring or managing who went on to enjoy highly successful careers for themselves. These people more often than not showed personal and professional initiative, a willingness to learn, displayed a flexible attitude toward projects, had great people skills, demonstrated excellent communication abilities, and possessed an ability to navigate successfully through organizational structures (and the politics that go with them).

I have categorized these abilities into six major qualities that each of these individuals possessed:

  • A sense of project ownership
  • A sense of project urgency
  • A sense of personal integrity
  • A desire to help others succeed
  • An attitude of being “self-employed”
  • A sense of the graceful exit

A Sense of Project Ownership. A sense of project ownership is prized by hiring managers everywhere because it conveys that an individual brings to the table a quality mindset, a get-it-done-right-the-first-time approach to whatever project is being undertaken. An individual with this attitude shows concern for budgets, schedules, and meeting customer requirements—whether that customer is the job foreman, the CEO, or the consumer in the marketplace. It is a forward-moving focus that can not help but pull in others in its wake. People who display a sense of project ownership are not clock-watchers—they often “call it a day” at some logical stopping point in their task, not when the clock says 5pm or when the whistle blows (union rules not withstanding).

A Sense of Project Urgency. A sense of project urgency implies that an individual’s approach to project work is immediate, purposeful, and resolute. Such determined individuals are decisive about which solution to a problem to embrace after a careful evaluation of the problem, the potential causes, and an assessment of all possible resolutions, and how those fixes should be implemented. Such folks rarely keep others waiting or guessing as to how to proceed next.

A Sense of Personal Integrity. Personal integrity is a quality that, when tarnished, is hard to return to its original luster. And when it is lost altogether, is very difficult to recover. A person’s integrity is wrapped up in their truthfulness about all matters, their honesty in dealing with people and projects, and their reliability to honor their word. Personal integrity is not a badge people wear on the outside, but it is more a reflection of the deeper nature of their character and moral, ethical fiber.

A Desire to Help Others SucceedMany years ago early in my career, I heard some great advice from author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar: “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll eventually get what you want.” That philosophy works best when it is a conscious heart-felt decision to help others first and not seen from the flip-side perspective: “To get what I want, I need to help others get what they want first.” It is embracing a servant attitude that is so often lacking in the business world today. Imagine if Wall Street investment bankers, mortgage brokers, and auto company CEOs, and movers and shakers in Washington, D.C. had just made it their daily mantra: “how can I best serve your needs today?” we would not have high underemployment, lost retirements, exploding health care costs, and an economy struggling to find any sense of consistency.

An Attitude of Being Self-Employed. Truly successful individuals always understand that no matter where the paycheck comes from, they really do work for themselves. Besides the skills, knowledge, and experience they bring to any job, project, or task, it is also the sense of project ownership, sense of project urgency, personal integrity, and helping others succeed that makes them “self-employed.”  Contractors and consultants know what being self-employed is all about but sometimes people in hourly or salaried positions lose sight of the fact that they are self-employed as well. No one keeps anyone on the payroll out of the goodness of their hearts; it is the application of all those qualities mentioned in the previous paragraphs that keep the paychecks coming on a regular basis.

 A Sense of the Graceful Exit. In many industries (particularly the high-tech field), people often end up working together again at different companies, or end up managing former peers. Not only is it a smart career move to not burn bridges when you leave one company for another, it’s just plain courteous. Your reputation will continue to linger in the hallways and cubicle neighborhood for some time after you leave, so how would the odor of burning bridges enhance your character in the minds of those you worked with?

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(This post is excerpted from Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 [Second Edition]. Refer to Chapter 16 for more details on these 6 important secrets to a rewarding career).

My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement(September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  I lead career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com for more information.

Don’t miss out on my blog posts…follow me now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group. 

 

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5 Signs You Suffer from Career Entropy™

meltingiceEntropy. A long-forgotten term from our high-school physics days, no doubt. Let me refresh your memory: Entropy is a lack of order or predictability; a gradual decline into disorder in a system. Examples would include ice melting, your teenager’s bedroom, and our propensity for less physical activity as we grow older (for many of us anyway).

Your career and your professional brand can suffer from entropy as well (“Career Entropy” doesn’t seem to exist as a formal term, so I’ll claim it with a ™ ). Early in your working life you may have been actively involved with professional, social, religious, or community organizations. The excitement of working in a profession that you devoted at least 4 years of your student life to fuels your drive to achieve and excel. As your career matures, maybe you’ve let up on the gas pedal just a little; maybe you find yourself being distracted by things you would have ignored before.

Here are 5 signs that your career universe is slowing down to a crawl:

  1. You aren’t involved with professional associations to the same level as you once were. You don’t read the journals anymore; your attendance at chapter meetings has been hit or miss; you don’t go to as many conferences as you used to, you thought about submitting an article for publication, but it’s too much trouble – maybe you let your membership lapse completely.
  2.  You’ve exchanged your “consultant” attitude for an “employee” attitude. You’re starting to find yourself cutting corners on the quality of your work, unnecessarily pushing out schedules, or just skating by with a lower level of effort than before.
  3. Your level of social media activity has decreased or changed direction. You are spending less time on networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn,  and cranking out fewer blog posts, and putting more effort into social sites. (True, there’s too much of that seeping into networking sites now).
  4. You’ve been bypassed more than once for a promotion or raise. Before you start thinking “conspiracy,” look in the mirror and perform an honest assessment about your performance at work. The truth is out there.
  5. You have an itch you can’t scratch. Maybe that restlessness, that full stall you find yourself going into is a signal that you need a change of job, company, or career. Truly evaluate your current situation and future prospects; they can’t pay you enough to be miserable. Time to move on.

To paraphrase an old saying, if you ain’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards. Or maybe it was no matter where you go, there you are…

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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Do Companies Keep Your Résumé “on File”?

RayLiotta

Here’s the answer: Some do, most don’t today. In pre-Internet days, if you applied for a job and didn’t get the offer, more than likely you received a form rejection letter from HR that stated something like, “We will keep your résumé on file for XX months…” It’s probable that a real person reviewed that résumé as well.

I once got a great job with Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector in Austin in 1994 because a hiring manager I interviewed with in early 1993 held on to my résumé and forwarded to the hiring manager that hired me as a project team leader. They did it the Old School way.

It’s a different story today for the most part. Once the dumping ground for solicited and unsolicited résumés and job applications, many medium and large HR deparments have been forced to devote more resources to implmenting Federal employment law and related legislation; talent retention and training; HR information systems; implementing and managing the Affordable Care Act; and employee benefit/assistance/compensation packages; employment/recruitment/placement; and so on. More and more today, résumé screening gets relegated to jobbots (software applications also called applicant tracking systems), and rejection letters (or email) just are too far down the list of “things to do.”

Why do some companies make the promise to hold on to your résumé for a few months (or even years)? There are a few possibilties:

  • They really will hold on to your résumé if you in fact made the hiring manager’s “short list”
  • They may keep it to see if you’d be a good fit for a different position in the company
  • If the promise is to keep your résumé for a few years, it’s possible that your résumé may be so bad that they don’t what to hear from you for future positions.
  • They make the empty promise in rejection letters as a practice

Hiring managers are under increasing pressure to do a better job identifying stellar talent because the cost (and paperwork) of hiring the wrong person is skyrocketing. Besides managing projects and teams as a first priority, the manager with hiring responsibility first spends around 10 seconds scanning the top 2/3 of page 1. If there’s nothing there to grab the hiring manager’s interest, he or she’s off to the next candidate résumé.

If your cover letter states that you’re “looking forward to hearing from you soon…” you may be waiting awhile. Don’t let grass grow under you; you have to keep moving forward even if you think the company/hiring manager/HR will keep your résumé on file. If they do contact you down the road, it will likely be an email or a phone call so be sure that information on your cover letter and résumé is correct and current. A swift response will be in your best interest (don’t expect a company today to put a 50-cent stamp on a letter and send it through snail mail – that’s Old School!).

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

 

5 Simple Ways to Refresh Your Social Media Activity

refresh

Everyone’s looking for ways to squeeze more miles per gallon (i.e., value, $$, etc.) out of their social media activity. But it’s easy to have that activity become a time sink that eventually consumes your waking hours. Here’s what I do to avoid that from happening (your mileage may vary…if so, let me know what you do):

  • Use a social media engagement management tool. It’s fairly common knowledge that most social media posts don’t get read at the first exposure; those posts need to be refreshed from time to time to capture more eyeballs. Some tools let you control the schedule when those posts should be refreshed. Some like HootSuite; others prefer MeetEdgar (I just started using MeetEdgar). Check out a comparison of the two tools. You’ll get some of your time back into your schedule.
  • Work your social media activities at the same time every day. I write my blog and posts to social media early in the morning. That’s my most productive time of day – before noon. Figure out what time of day is best for your efforts, but research the best time of day and days of the week to post on your social media platforms. I write 5 or 6 daily items for Twitter for 5 days at one sitting and I plan out new blog and LinkedIn posts for the week on Monday mornings. Then I schedule those activities in MeetEdgar.
  • Get involved in other writing-related and speaking activities. It’s another way to get your content and brand into other channels. I’m always working on one or two drafts of upcoming books, keynote speeches, ebooks, columns for professional association journals, and Powerpoint presentations. These activities are usually scheduled for after lunch for a couple hours.
  • Get involved with other creative pursuits. Activities that involve other areas of the brain (and body) often lead to creative breakthroughs. I play classical guitar and have my own recording studio. I perform mostly on Sunday mornings at churches around central Texas (I have a Bach repertoire and a few old hymn arrangements) or with my flute partner for public and private performances in evenings during the week or weekends on a regular basis. The idea for my book about classical guitar (Instrumental Influencess – another 2012 IBA Winner) came about while practicing one evening in my studio. I’ve also just re-immersed myself into painting seascapes and landscapes, following my father’s footsteps as a painting hobbyist.
  • Make time for your family with activities outside of social media. Be sure you support the people at home with your time and attention who are supporting you. While my wife and I schedule fun things to do on the weekend, we also have downtime to do whatever (for me, that may include some classical guitar practice or working on book drafts), but it usually doesn’t involves adding content to social media platforms.

My schedule is a busy one, but it’s a well-rounded one that includes my family life, interests, and goals. If you’re involved in many different creative pursuits because you have to be…I completely understand!

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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6 Tactics for Working a Job/Career Fair

careerfair_1

I’ve been involved with my share of job and career fairs over my 25+-year career, mostly at conferences that sponsor the event. The candidates who understand how to work a job/career fair tend to stand a better chance of getting followup contact with company representatives who are present.

There are basically two types of job/career fairs: Conference-sponsored events and non-conference-sponsored events. Conference-sponsored events are usually supported by employers with a connection to the conference profession.  Non-conference job/career fairs typically have a variety of employers and industries represented.

Here are six tactics for maximizing your effort at a job/career fair:

  • Plan in advance. Review the list of employers who will be present and which companies will be of interest to your expertise. Follow up by researching the targeted companies to get a feel for the corporate culture and type of work environment. Make a list of “A” employers and “B” employers to visit or schedule interviews.
  • Memorize your pitch (value proposition). Your are the problem-solver and solutions provider they have been seeking, so sell them on the benefits of your expertise and how it will serve the hiring manager/company’s interests going forward. You should know every bulleted item on your résumé and be able to speak at length on each one. Be ready to answer the inevitable question: “So, tell me something about yourself…” Keep any idea of salary and benefits out of the discussion; you aren’t at that point yet.
  • Dress for success. Regardless of the type of position for which you are interviewing, dress like the CEO of “YOU, Inc.” Remember the power of visual first impressions; dress for how you want to be perceived by company representatives. It’s human nature for the eyes to exert so much influence over that instant first impression.
  • Establish your LinkedIn profile before attending the job/career fair. Many company representatives may first check your LinkedIn profile prior to your meeting. It’s a good idea to connect with the company representative on LinkedIn after the job/career fair.
  • Bring plenty of copies of your résumé with you. Be sure you pull out that copy of your résumé from a nice leather portfolio or briefcase, not a plain file folder. Be sure to have a reverse-chronological version if you are changing jobs; have a functional version for changing careers. Make them perfect so you don’t have to apologize for anything when you hand a copy  to the company representative. Bring with you a list of references, but unless you are asked for it, resist the urge to leave it and any other documents with employee representatives. They don’t want to be lugging reams of documents on the plane with them when they return to their home cities.
  • Don’t be a Ralphie. In the hit seasonal comedy, A Christmas Story, young Ralphie brings to class a large fruit basket for his teacher. After the teacher thanks him, he remains at her desk, staring and smiling at her, oblivious to the cue that “the moment” is over. Don’t be a Ralphie. Recognize social cues that your interview time is over (interview times at job/career fairs are often abbreviated due to the number of candidates being interviewed). Don’t treat the meeting as an excuse to linger in the booth area or intrude on free moments between interviews. Close it out by controlling the follow-up. Think of the encounter as the first of several meetings or communications with the individual or the company.

Having access to a variety of employer representatives gathered in one location is sort of like speed dating: you want to show up prepared, be a great listener, and leave a positive first impression that makes the employer representative wanting to know more about you – perhaps even discussing a job with the company.

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

 

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Why Including a Photo with Your Résumé is a Bad Idea

photo resumes

I am confounded that many career advisors still raise the question about including photos with résumés; it should be a no-brainer for experienced professionals. With nearly three decades of experience evaluating a variety of scientific/engineering, marketing, and communications candidates, I’ve learned alot about human nature. We are visual creatures, and we cannot escape the influence visual appearance plays on first impressions. In fact, many times, positive visual impressions provide a false inner narrative to hiring managers/decision makers about a candidate’s potential for success before the résumé is reviewed. The candidate evaluation is then adjusted to fit the first-impression narrative.

In the above example, how can you NOT look at the photos and in some way or fashion lean toward one candidate vs. the other without even so much as a glance at their CVs? (Yes, CVs for academic, medical and some legal positions; résumés for nearly all others.) Even without photos attached, there is the temptation to run a Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google image search on a candidate’s name before reviewing the résumé. A good policy is to not perform any social media searches on job candidates until they have been interviewed in person to avoid first being swayed by visual appearance. Adhering to such a policy helps ensure you bring on board the most qualified candidates as a first priority, regardless of their appearance (unless you’re interviewing candidates for the next Victoria’s Secret catalog perhaps, where a certain look and body type are a priority).

I’ve written extensively about hiring manager presuppositions and “positive prejudice” in the hiring process (a few previous blog posts too), and it comes in many forms – from comparing the expertise of a candidate with the person who last had the position, to comparing a candidate’s expertise to a preconceived “ideal” candidate. Hiring managers have to be aware of the condition in order to avoid it.

Yes, physical appearance takes priority over qualifications in many European and South American countries. Those preferences are built in to the culture as a way of doing business. When the most qualified candidates take a back seat to the most attractive ones, the business bottom line (and shareholders) suffer.(I’ll take the U.S. economy over Brazil’s or Italy’s any day).

This is not imply that attractive people can not also be the most qualified for a particular position; the point here is that physical appearance should not be the definitive criteria for candidate selection.

When considering advice from career professionals, not all career professionals are created equal; choose wisely.

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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Why Video Résumés are a BAD Idea

video resume

“First Impressions Video”, “Video Cover Letter”, and “Video Résumé” all sound like creative and unique ways to be remembered by hiring managers. Before you whip out your Sony handheld, have you ever heard of Aleksey Vayner? As a senior at Yale, he created a video résumé entitled, “Impossible is Nothing” for potential investment banker hiring managers, and he never dreamed of the results.

He included clips of his weightlifting expertise, some dance moves that would make Baryshnikov blush (the dance moves – or the outfits – or maybe both), and his own unique diatribe about the ingredients for attaining success in the working world. One of those hiring managers emailed the video to his friends, and from there it went to YouTube, where it instantly went viral.

The media and bloggers everywhere ran the story, thereby making Mr. Vayner’s humiliation total and complete. You might find some YouTube parodies of Mr. Vayner’s video, but the original has long since been removed. Wikipedia and Google have documented Mr. Vayner’s self-absorbed career strategy beyond the video résumé and it makes for an interesting read. A wild and crazy guy for sure.

Besides the video résumé being an ineffective medium for getting a hiring manager’s attention (do you think attractive people might receive a different level of consideration vs. less attractive candidates? Wouldn’t you want to be evaluated on your expertise instead?), Mr. Vayner mistakenly believed that a résumé was about him, and not how his skills, knowledge, and experience could be positioned as the hiring manager’s problem solver.

I think the grammatically incorrect title of the video résumé should have been a clue to its contents – or maybe a warning.

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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5 Ways to Up Your Interview Chops

cowardly-lion[1]

Look, not all of us have that Tony Robbins charisma when it comes to speaking to crowds or even one-on-one in a job interview. But we all have the capacity to rise to the occasion when it’s in our best interest, especially when it’s to avoid negative consequences. I have a friend whose picture is in the Whos’s Who of Introverts, but can reason and persuade like William F. Buckley when it comes to talking himself out of a speeding ticket. He rose to the occasion to avoid  a very expensive ticket and taking a hit on his car insurance.

Interviews are no different. The negative side of doing poorly in a job interview is not continuing forward in the hiring process. That’s pretty strong incentive to put on your game face if you’ve made it as far as the job interview. It’s not about trying to be someone you’re not; it’s about stretching more out of your own comfort zone to embrace the opportunity. Just adding some slight vocal inflections and facial expressions adds enthusiasm to your statement “I have the necessary skills and background to help add value to the team” (or something like that). A genuine degree of enthusiasm helps convince the hiring manager you are interested in the position.

Here are 5 suggestions for upping your interview chops:

  1. Embrace the fact that no one knows YOU and your expertise better than YOU. How can someone without the knowledge you have of your accomplishments, skills, and knowledge get the best of you? Only if you let them.
  2. It’s OK if you’re a little nervous, but try to eliminate any fear of failure. The highly skilled concert pianist may be nervvous as he or she walks out on stage, but the audience is on the artist’s side – they want the event to be successful. It’s the same with hiring managers – they have thought highly enough of your background to invite you for an interview; it’s in their interest to want you to do well.
  3. The best antidote to nervousness is knowing your résumé and accomplishments backwards and forwards. You can’t get tripped up by anyone regarding your work history if your résumé serves as your talking points; letting fear control your emotional response to an interview situation might, however.
  4. Ask questions about the project work, challenges to be addressed, or specific tools to help you control any sense of being in the witness box. When there’s a two-way exchange of information, a conversation happens, which is a lot less threatening than an interview.
  5. Have a sense when the interview is over. When I have interviewed quiet, introverted candidates, many just didn’t have any sense of timing when the interview was concluded. There’s that embarrassing pregnant pause and stillness in the room as if  the candidate is waiting for someone to call him or her out of the room.  I’ll often toss out the cue, “Do you have any other questions for me or about the position?” That’s usually a signal that we’re done if you don’t have any questions.

With solid preparation and going in to an interview to have a conversation about how you are the hiring manager’s problem solver, you’ll  eliminate the competition “from top to bottomus.”

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.

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