Challenger’s Job Seeker Advice Call-In Days Start Today

Beginning at 10 a.m.EST/9 a.m. CST December 27th, Challenger’s job search coaches will be taking calls to help job seekers strategize their job search until 6 p.m. EST/5:00 p.m. CST.  The telephone number is 312-422-5010.

Goal-oriented employers seek goal-oriented employees

Have you wondered how to distinguish yourself from competitors in your search for a new job?

An effective approach is to prove you are a goal-oriented employee.  In this respect, your most important forum is the face-to-face interview.

It always is a good idea to sell yourself as a goal-oriented employee because employers are goal-oriented themselves.  One of their goals is to find the best qualified people who can make an immediate contribution to the company’s bottom line.  They also have specific objectives for company growth, and are looking for people who will fit easily into the organization and perform capably with a minimal amount of downtime acclimating to the new work routine.

The interview is the make-or-break point in your job hunt.  If you do not make an outstanding impression, you will not be offered the job.  If you demonstrate your ability to set and meet goals, no matter what the time constraints, you will help distinguish yourself from the six or more other job seekers who are being seriously considered for the same position. Continue reading

GUEST POST: The Recruiting Backlash By David Kagan

The Recruiter Backlash By David Kagan

A few years into my recruiting career, the big topic of conversation was around the great hope of the internet. We talked about how it would be a great tool to improve how we recruit and engage candidates. It seems like a lifetime ago that our primary source of resumes was running classified ads in the Sunday employment section. Though we had to open hundreds of envelopes at least we were guaranteed to see each resume. Yes, more work for us but candidates knew their credentials were being reviewed and at the very least it gave them a shot to get a call back. The process was cumbersome but we were very engaged.

Fast forward almost 15 years and the idea of receiving snail mail resumes seems like something out of the dark ages. Undoubtedly technology has made recruiters more effective in many ways, except it has all but killed the candidate dialogue. How many times have we heard from candidates about the dreaded “black hole.” You know, that not so mythical place where resumes go to die while applicants wait for a response they likely won’t get. This mythical place turns out to be our own ATS databases. It seems obvious that we would make the best of those resumes, when in reality recruiters often overlook their ATS, and often in favor of some unproven new sourcing methodology.

It’s not only about resumes; the larger issue at play is how we communicate with candidates on an on-going basis. It’s also about how we keep talent engaged in a dialogue about our business, our industry, our new products and services, big wins and acquisitions so when we’re ready to work together the relationship exists. Keeping candidates informed keeps candidates interested. Recruiting is about the relationship with candidates, the candidates we need today and the candidates we’ll need tomorrow. I’m not writing this from some ivory tower, I’ve been in the trenches dealing with hundreds of resumes for each vacancy. I know how daunting it can be but it’s high time that we figure out how to use technology to communicate in a two way dialogue and without feeding the “black hole.”

A candidate backlash is well underway. They are fed up with organizations that are unresponsive. If you’re thinking it’s a buyer’s market and you can dictate the terms of the game, think again. Hiring is increasing and candidates are savvier than ever. Your organization can not afford a bad reputation about how you recruit. It’s not just word of mouth you have to worry about, it’s word of internet. Web sites dedicated to candidates dishing about everything from unresponsive recruiters, to broken recruiting processes to bad interviewers are popping up everywhere. Take back control, communicate with your candidates and set expectations. There’s no doubt recruiters are swamped, we’ve become a catchall for everything in staffing. However, with the use of smart technology and engaging talent in a two-way dialogue we’ll be on our way to creating a sustainable, winning recruiting culture.

Kagan has been a recruiter for nearly 15 years in a variety of industries, including several years consulting for major corporations. He has filled hundred of positions, managed campus recruiting, lead diversity initiatives, reorganized recruiting processes and organized an internal outplacement program for displaced employees. David has functioned mainly as an IT Recruiter with additional experience in Retirement Services and Investments. He’s had the unique opportunity to experience the various waves of recruiting from the days of sourcing resumes through newspaper ads to the internet revolution. He lives in NY and loves watching his beloved Yankees.

With Weak Job Market, Comes Opportunities For Resume Fraud

As millions of Americans struggle with long-term unemployment, the temptation to stretch the truth on one’s resume to gain a competitive advantage is becoming harder to resist. Some desperate job seekers are going so far as to establish fake references. However, the payoff may not be worth the risk, according to one employment authority.

“There is very little proof that any form of resume boosting directly results in a job interview, much less a job offer. In contrast, there are scores of examples of individuals who have been eliminated from candidacy or fired after a fraudulent resume was uncovered,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the global outplacement consultancy which provides job-search training and counseling to individuals who have been laid off.

The significantly weakened job market, which is expected to continue to struggle even as other segments of the economy begin to recover, creates an environment that is ripe for resume boosting. As of January there were 14.8 million unemployed Americans. Of those, 6.3 million or 41.2 percent have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Another six million have opted out of the labor force but still want a job.

Statistics on resume fraud are difficult to obtain because only a fraction of resumes are ever checked for discrepancies. The best evidence of resume fraud’s pervasiveness may come from the companies that provide employment screening services.
In its 2009 Hiring Index, business services provider ADP reported that 46 percent of employment, education and/or credential reference checks conducted in 2008 revealed discrepancies between what the applicant provided and what the source reported. That was up from 41 percent in 2006.
More than 22 percent of the tech-sector resumes verified in 2007 by New York-based risk consultancy Kroll contained misrepresentations of academic credentials, according to a company spokesperson interviewed by tech-industry publication IEEE Spectrum. The firm estimated that more than half of the tech-industry resumes it reviewed had discrepancies related to employment history.
IEEE Spectrum also cited a study of erroneous resumes by executive search firm CTPartners, which found that 64 percent of candidates overstate accomplishments, while 71 percent misrepresent the number of years they held a position.

“These somewhat alarming statistics are just from companies that make the effort to check the veracity of claims made on resumes or in interviews. The overwhelming majority of employers do not go to such lengths. Many companies limit their efforts to criminal background checks and reference checks. They do not spend the extra time and money to verify the accuracy of every job title, accomplishment and educational achievement listed on one’s resume,” said Challenger.

“This lack of oversight, however, should not be considered an open invitation to defraud the system. If discrepancies are discovered, many companies maintain a no-tolerance policy on such matters and will move quickly to investigate and possibly terminate. In high-profile positions, where the discovery of resume fraud often becomes public, the breach can taint all future attempts to find employment,” he warned.
Unfortunately, too many job seekers are willing to take the risk. Some have even taken resume fraud to the next level by providing prospective employers with bogus job references.

After spotting dozens of requests for fake references on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, one entrepreneur founded CareerExcuse.com. As reported in the human resources trade publication HR Magazine, CareerExcuse.com offers fake work histories and references to job seekers.

Desperation in this job market may force other job seekers to turn to outfits selling fake diplomas. Because of the underground nature of these so-called diploma mills, there are no reliable statistics on the number of bogus degrees sold each year. George Gollin, a physics professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign and a board member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the federal government’s recognized authority on accrediting agencies, estimates that 100,000 to 200,000 phony degrees are sold every year. Furthermore, he estimates that the federal government spends roughly $300 million a year on pay increases for employees who got jobs or promotions using fraudulent degrees or certificates.

The problem of diploma mills has become so widespread that Congress is considering legislation that aims to reduce and prevent the sale and use of fraudulent degrees. The legislation introduced in January by Reps. Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Michael Castle (R-Del.) would cement in federal law definitions of “diploma mills” and “accreditation mills”, bar federal agencies from using degrees from diploma mills to provide jobs or promotions that depend on candidates’ educational credentials, and give the Federal Trade Commission more authority to define and crack down on deceptive practices by dubious institutions.

“These are indeed desperate times, and desperate measures are definitely required to find a job. However, these desperate measures should not include lying on resumes, falsifying work histories, or buying fake references and diplomas. Instead, job seekers should be considering seeking positions in different cities, states, or even countries. They should reach out to people they have not spoken to in 15 years and identify all potential employers, not just the ones posting online and newspaper help-wanted ads. These are the types of desperate measures job seekers should be employing,” said Challenger.

TOP RESUME, INTERVIEW FABRICATIONS
(in no particular order)

Education: Listing degree from a school never attended; inflating grade point average and graduate honors; citing degree from online, non-accredited “education” institution.

Job title: Making up a title or boosting actual title by one or more levels in hopes of obtaining better salary offers.

Compensation: Inflating current or previous salary and benefits to secure more money from prospective employer.

Reason for leaving: Saying it was a mass downsizing when the discharge was based on performance; asked to leave, but saying you quit; underplaying or completely hiding poor relationships with superiors.

Accomplishments: Overstating one’s contributions to a team project or company performance; claiming to have received special recognition; exaggerating level of participation in an important aspect of the business.

Should I omit experience that is more than 10 years old?

A reader with over 25 years of work history recently wrote in to ask whether  experience from more than 10 years ago should be de-emphasized or omitted from the resume.  Or, is it best to have different resumes to emphasize the skills required in different positions?

Firstly, it is important to understand that the resume is basically a marketing brochure about the skills and experience you bring to the table.  It should be all-encompassing and nothing should be omitted.  The most emphasis and detail should be given to your most recent position, but this does not mean that other positions should get shortchanged, even if it requires extending your resume to a second or third page.

Some job seekers feel that including experience from more than 10 years ago “ages” them.  However, one should not look at 25-years worth of experience as “aging” himself or herself.  Instead, you are selling your vast experience, which tells employers you can hit the ground running.

Regarding the question about having more than one resume; a good resume that is all-encompassing does not have to be tailored for specific employers or positions.  The problem with trying to customize one’s resume is that the job seeker will develop the resume from his or her own perspective about what is important to the employer or for the position.  However, this may or may not match up with what’s important to the prospective employer.  It is better to include everything that is relevant and  demonstrates the skills you offer, and let the employer sort through the information to decide what is important.

Can you take a look at my resume?

We get a lot of requests to review resumes.  Job seekers want to know if they should use chronological or functional.  Should it be just one page or is it okay to have two or more pages?  How should long periods away from one’s prime occupation be addressed?

These are all valid questions and there are indeed valid answers.  But they are so specific to the individual and his or her particular circumstances that we cannot address them in this blog.  And, unfortunately, we can’t review everyone’s resume and provide individualized responses.

What we can say about the resume is that most job seekers spend far too much time worrying about them.

Resumes serve a purpose.  They should be viewed as a marketing brochure about the job seeker.  They should communicate the essential  “features and benefits” of the candidate.  They should describe measurable responsibilities and achievements, as opposed to generalities and unsupportable statements.  They should portray the job seeker in the most positive light without resorting to embellishment or dishonesty.

But just as most car buyers have never made a purchase based solely on the beautifully designed brochures, most employers do not make hiring decisions based solely on the resume.  It may get you in the door for an interview, but even the best resumes are often overlooked when they are mixed in with hundreds of others.

Instead of hoping the resume will be noticed in the overflowing email inbox of an overworked human resources manager, the job seeker should focus his or her energy on trying to get in the door WITHOUT a resume.  The best way to do this is to employ a strategy of networking and meeting with people who can help keep your job search moving forward.

We will have a lot more on networking in the days and weeks to come.  In the meantime, remember that there is no correct or incorrect way to write a resume for everybody.  They can be written in hundreds of ways.  In the end, all that’s important is that it presents you and your candidacy well.

Mulitple Resumes Reel In Interviews

A resume alone will not get you a job. It is not a brochure that can speak for you. It may not even open any doors. Most employers use resumes to eliminate candidates for a job. You may be eliminated from the recruitment process without ever having an interview if there is something in your resume that the employer does not like or feels is missing.
However, a well-written resume can provide enough information to interest the employer in interviewing you. While it is no substitute for an interview, your resume should be prepared in such a manner that it will stand on its own and provide enough information about you to enable an employer to make an intelligent decision. Remember, all candidates being considered look alike. Your resume needs to present your accomplishments and capabilities in a manner that makes you stand out over the competition and catches the employer’s attention.
Counselors at Challenger, Gray & Christmas recommend three types of resumes for their clients:
• short chronological resume
• long chronological resume
• functional resume
Each one has a different appearance and a different purpose.

The Short Chronological Resume
A short chronological resume summarizes the last 10 years of your career in reverse, briefly listing your accomplishments from the most recent to the much older. It is possible to summarize as much as 25 years of career experience within two, 8-1/2 by 11-inch sheets of paper. This type of resume should be used whenever you are forced to go through a screening process instead of going to a decision maker.

Brevity is important, because many firms still sort through resumes manually. Your short chronological resume should contain enough information to get you into the ‟will interview” pile, but not so much that it overwhelms the individual sifting through a high stack of resumes.

Increasing numbers of search firms, executive recruiters, and personnel managers initially use computer software to scan resumes for history, education, location, and so forth. Once scanned, resumes can be sorted by these key words to produce a customized list of professionals in a certain field. By including the right key words in your short chronological resume, you can increase the chances that it will pass the screening process.
While accomplishments are paramount, you should also stress responsibilities, position titles, and your education. Although it does not contain as much detail as a long chronological resume, the shorter chronological resume should summarize your ability to make
bottom-line contributions to an employer.

This resume should open with an extensive one-paragraph summary of accomplishments that accurately reflect a solid track record in the specific field of application. Then, for each previous position held, provide a summary of responsibilities and accomplishments. Phrases like ‟Recruited 2,000 resellers” quantify accomplishments and their value to former employers.

The Long Chronological Resume
Use the long chronological resume when you meet with the hiring decision maker. Its goal is to distinguish you from other contenders whose backgrounds resemble yours; therefore, focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities. This is your chance to provide a comprehensive summary of your career accomplishments.

For example, your path to divisional sales manager may not be unique; chances are most divisional sales managers started out as sales representatives and put in a few years as sales managers before ascending to divisional manager. Moreover, most divisional managers will content themselves with a basic chronological resume. To set yourself apart from the competition, provide details about what you did to earn each promotion. Did you win every sales contest during your first five years in the business? Say so. Did sales in your division double under your leadership? Put it on paper. Include all your major milestones for the previous five to ten years.

Companies want to hire people who are good at what they do. You can alert them to your strengths by starting your resume with a paragraph or two positioning you in the marketplace by summarizing your experience.

Each work entry on this resume should start with a summary
(a paragraph or two) of responsibilities, followed by specific accomplishments and results. Using bullet points to set off the accomplishments is a good idea. Jobs held more than nine years ago get a thorough but shorter description.

The Functional Resume
A functional resume stresses abilities such as purchasing, marketing, selling, managing or analyzing. Resumes organized by function rather than chronology give you an opportunity to gloss over a gap in job history or frequent job hopping. If you have many skills, this kind of resume can market you as a sort of utility infielder who can perform well in several functions.
Chronology cannot be completely omitted from a functional resume. Be sure to summarize your career chronology at the bottom of the resume. Like a chronological resume, a functional resume should begin with a summary that positions you in the marketplace. Accomplishments are grouped by area of responsibility. Bold type will draw attention to specific areas of experience, enabling potential employers to see at a glance just how diverse your talents are. Education and personal data are summarized briefly at the bottom of this and the other two types of resumes commented upon here.

Finally, it is not necessary to draw attention to your resume by using florescent paper or flashy graphics. Most human resource departments do not have the time for a distraction of this nature and might discard your resume, writing it off as flash over substance.

Remember, like a good marketer, you need to see your
product you from your ‟customer’s” point of view. Your resume needs to focus on results, not characteristics. A results-oriented resume, regardless of format, helps employers reduce the risks that are associated with hiring because they see what you have accomplished as well as your attitude toward work.