Resume and Job Search Tips

Times have changed, and so has the way recruiters have been getting resumes. Job search sites cost lots of money for recruiters and companies. When companies cut costs, search memberships get kicked. How can you adapt your resume for the new way recruiters will find you?

CareerBuilder is the job search leader, so I’ll use it for examples.  Currently, CareerBuilder charges $469.00 for 1 job posting with a company logo. One year of enterprise-level resume searches will cost a company $9,553. Twenty jobs with logo gets you a discount – $6,800. Want a microsite to go with your postings? $2,160. If you’re a CFO and someone tells you could save $18,513 this year, would you listen?

So what’s the solution for companies looking to cut recruiting costs? Google searches. Using specific syntax in Google searches, companies can find qualified candidates. So how do you prep your resume for recruiter Web searches? Can’t you just post your Microsoft Word resume and be done? NO! Resumes need optimization tweaks just like real Web pages.

Where Are You?

I’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of searches for my resume using Google. Many times recruiters look for candidates in certain area codes or cities. Make sure your location is at the top of your resume. You don’t have to post your address, but your city / state name and phone number should be at the top. Information at the top of pages is given more relevance in search results, so put it there.

Place a bulleted profile list highlighting popular phrases it the top of your resume above jobs and job descriptions. Google will give these more weight and it will make your resume more attractive to recruiters as well since it will save them from having to read your whole resume to get a feel for your skills and experience. For example, “Certified project manager for Fortune 500 companies.”

Where Have You Been?

Based on the fact that location based searches are popular, make sure you list cities and states for past jobs. If you are willing to relocate, that will help you because your resumes will probably come up for searches of several locations. For me, my cell phone has a California area code, but I live in Texas. So I get contacted for positions in both states.

Besides states, recruiters search for companies you might have worked for before, or are already working at so as to snag you for a competitor. Help them find you. List all the company names you worked for, including subdivisions and conglomerate owners. Here’s an example of a recruiter search for me that got them to my site:

filetype:doc resume and nissan and software and michigan

So what do we make of it? This recuiter was looking for software resumes online in Microsoft Word format, with experience at Nissan and experience in Michigan. My resume came up because I did work for Nissan at one point in my career, I did work in software, and my resume has some relation to Michigan because I designed a Web site for the University of Michigan Business School. So it wasn’t an exact fit, but you see the possibilities with the right keywords and places in your resume.

What Do You Do?

Like a regular print resume, you need to put your skills and software skills on your online resume. Be specific. Recruiters are looking for very specific skills and software packages. Take this recruiter search that landed them on my resume:

(intitle:resume OR inurl:resume OR intitle:cv OR inurl:cv OR intitle:vitae OR inurl:vitae OR intitle:homepage OR inurl:homepage) “web developer” (ca OR california) (sql and EKTRON and c# and .net)

This is a very specific search. Look at what’s defined. A position, a location, and specific software skills. If you knew how to use content management systems (CMS) for updating Web pages and you put that on your resume this search  would have missed you. That’s because EKTRON is a specific type of CMS. So ideally you should put broad terms that define your skills and software as well as very narrow terms. If you were a project manager, you would have the phrase “project manger” on your resume with all types of specific project management software such as Microsoft Project, Visio, and others.

Are You on the Map of the Web?

Your resume and the Web site it’s hosted on need to have good content to give it credibility with search engines. Given two equal resumes online, the one listed higher will be the one with more credibility with Google. I posted some SEO resources to help you with this task. If a recruiter typed in keywords to find your resume, do you come up in search results? Try it. And if you don’t, tweak your resume and Web site until you do.

Use a professional networking service like LinkedIn to steer recruiters and companies to your professional profile and resume. You can post links in your LinkedIn profile, so be sure to do so and mention in your profile you have an online resume. Make sure you post a photo to help you get noticed. You are a real person, right?

Over here!

Tough times call for a solid resume. They call for a Web 2.0 resume posted on your own Web site or blog. Your resume doesn’t necessarily need to be tech related, it just needs Web 2.0 marketing behind it to highlight you. Show them who’s the boss.

Web Resumes and Filetypes

Google Docs - Resume FiletypesThere are dozens of file formats to save your resume in, so which one should you choose? There are three filetypes I recommend people save their resumes in and send off to recruiters. First, because there are literally thousands of hardware and software combinations, not every machine will display the same filtetype the same way. That’s why I first recommend you should create a PDF document of your resume so that recruiters can see what you think your resume should look like. It’s the only way to almost gaurantee that your resume layout format, fonts, and typfaces will be preserved. This way, when comparing the PDF resume to other filetype, layout issues can be discovered and resolved by recruiters.

PDF resumes should only be used for presentation purposes. Recruiters like to mark up resumes in Microsoft Word, so a PDF resume shouldn’t be your sole resume for the fact that it’s difficult to edit and you need special software to do it. Several free programs allow you to create PDF documents without buying the expensive Adobe Acrobat software. You can export PDFs from OpenOffice and Google Docs for free.

Microsoft Word is the next recommendation. Word has been around for over 15 years. It’s the format most resumes are typically stored in. Be careful with compatibility. Unlike PDF, Word is not easily transferred between computers. Within Microsoft Office products, you are mostly safe, but formatting is almost never completely preserved when migrating the file to Google Docs, OpenOffice, or resume import software. The old file extension for Word files is .doc. Most programs will read this format. Some will not read the newer .docx format. Also, you would need a newer version of Microsoft Office to create a .docx file. Always save your Word files as .doc. You want to guarantee compatibility. The last thing you want is your resume to be a “problem resume” for a recruiter. They shouldn’t have to work to view your resume.

Word files can be created from any number of programs now. Google Docs and OpenOffice can create them for free without the need to purchase Microsoft Office.

Finally, I recommend the OpenDocument format. This could be the future format of documents. It’s supported by OpenOffice, Google Docs, and Word 2007 with Service Pack 2. Most likely newer versions of Word will support it as well. The reason I like this format so much is that the files are small, and you don’t need to purchase any software to view or create them. They run on Mac, Linux, and Windows computers. OpenOffice is free, as well as Google Docs.

So when you send out your resume, make sure to send a PDF version, .doc version, and a .odt version. The recruiter should be able to view at least one of them.

Recruiter Boolean Searches and Your Resume

Sometimes when you want to people to find you you need to leave a trail for them. Your resume posted online is one way for recruiters and hiring managers to find you on the world’s largest resume database – the Internet. When most people think of resume databases, they think of an individual companies’ database of resumes. It’s common sense to think competing agencies won’t share their databases of resumes. So what’s a smart recruiter / hiring manager to do to get a large pool of resumes without cost and featuring exactly the skills they are looking for? Boolean search.

I’ve posted my resume online now for 11 years. Recruiters have found my resume using Boolean searches and regular searches. If you’re not Web savvy like I am, it’s unlikely you’ll appear in a regular search, but a Boolean search is more likely. So how can someone find your resume online using the right techniques?

Boolean Operators

AND – Finds resumes or pages that contain all terms. resume AND (HTML AND Facebook)

OR – Finds resumes or pages that contain one or the other terms. resume AND (HTML OR Facebook)

[NOT / – ] – Google describes NOT search with a minus sign prepended to a search word. Finds resumes or pages that contain a term but filters out a particular keyword. For example, resume AND project manager  -senior would filter out resumes that contain project managers that are not senior level.

NEAR – Finds resumes or pages that contain both terms in close proximity to each other. resume AND (skills NEAR HTML)

( ) Parentheses – Allows you to group terms together to create a complex search query. Also makes it easier to read your own queries. resume AND (project manager AND microsoft) AND (consultant AND freelance)

* Wildcard – Allows you to replace a whole word. resume Adobe * experience would find resumes with adobe software experience like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator or any of the other Adobe software packages.

Not all search engines support these operators, but these are some of the basics that most do. See the help pages your particular search engine. Google is a very intelligent search engine. Here is link to their search help page.

You can easily see how powerful and exact these queries can be. When you are searching millions of resumes, these techniques become invaluable. Remember, managers want to hire perfect candidates, not good enough candidates.

So what does this mean for job seekers looking to get found? Have the right keywords in your resume. Have your location in your resume – city, state, phone area code. On the flip side, if you get too many queries on your resume like I do, think about removing some keywords that don’t apply.

…what if resumes didn’t even really matter at all???

Quit Looking for a Job – How to Use Web 2.0 to Get Found

Quit looking for a job - get foundTired of looking for work? Don’t look! With the advent of Web 2.0 and social media, headhunters can find you using new methods. Even if you are the type of person needed to fill their position, can they reach you online? If you are online, are you easy to find?

In the past, I’ve always had luck getting freelance opportunities and jobs because of my online portfolio. But was it just luck? In 1999 a project manager for Learnlots.com contacted me about writing tutorials for AOL version 4.0. I had no idea who this person was and they were several states away. Clearly he didn’t hear about me through networking because I was in college at the time. How did he find me? A search engine. My Web site always did well at search engine ranking.  Having a higher ranking gives you authority. Authority gets you jobs.

Build Your Online House

Ever since 1999, headhunters and corporations have found my Web site. How do I stand out? How can you stand out? First thing to do is get a Web site. Your own yourname.com site. You are your brand. Differentiation makes one person get hired over another. Research other people in your field you want to emulate. What do their Web sites look like? How do they present themselves on their Web site? What makes them stand out? Remember that it’s not easy to gain trust over the Web. The Web is becoming more personal, but by design it is an impersonal technology. Having your own domain name lends a sense of trust. Anyone can setup a fake Yahoo! account. Putting your name online says you’re serious.

Post a photo. So many people online don’t post a photo in their online profiles and Web sites. I don’t get it. You can’t be “sticky” in the minds of headhunters if you’re just a name. A photo can convey a bit of your personality and make you seem real. Seeming real on the Web matters to people who make hiring decisions.

Make Your House Presentable

Once you have a Web site address, you’ll need to build content for your site. This depends on your industry, but why not first start out with a description of yourself? When I analyze Web site statistics for the sites I manage, some of the top pages are always bios of the people behind the company. People want to know who you are and what you’re about. Write a short and substantial bio about yourself. Get friends (ideally a writer friend) to review your bio and make sure it sounds professional. Next, you’ll need content on your site. Maybe this is a portfolio of art, music, Web designs, or if it’s something that isn’t visual, just go into detail about projects you worked on and post some visuals that represent your projects. You won’t believe how many Web developers I know who don’t have Web sites, much less blogs. Whatever industry you are in, you should be online.

Post Signs to Your House

Okay, you built your online house with fancy shutters and Spanish tile roof. How are people going to find it? Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’m sure you’ve heard the term before. The reason it’s mentioned a lot is because it’s so important. You must understand that without good SEO, you’ll never be found. Google is blind, literally. Google reads text on a Web site like braille; it can’t see visuals on Web sites. So no matter how pretty your Web site looks, it will never compete against a site with excellent textual content.

SEO items in your site are like signs that point Google to your site instead of another’s. I do everything to make sure each all of my pages have all the details search engines need – descriptive titles, meta descriptions, content with keywords, and all-original content. My resume is posted in both Word and PDF formats. My resume describes what I do and the specific software I use to get my projects done. Since my site has been around for over 10 years, search engines give it some authority over sites that have been up for just a few weeks. You need to be around for a long time, too.

If you’ve ever used Google, you know that oftentimes the results on the first page of your search are very, very good. It’s almost like Google can read your mind. Headhunters know this, and when they find resumes at the top of the online search pile, they are pre-conditioned to have some trust in the site and its owner. I have an online resource page that can help you with marketing your site and connect with decision-makers.

Meet Your Neighbors

Search engines, Web site, yadda yadda yadda. What about Web 2.0? Haven’t things changed? Yes, in fact you’re in a whole new neighborhood now. Headhunters can reach you in more places now.

Build a profile on LinkedIn. Fill out every field with accurate, descriptive information. Post a photo. Post links to your new Web site. You may even have a blog. Post a link to that too. Headhunters are watching you on LinkedIn. Give them a show.

Start a blog. If you’re an authority in your field, you should have one. Headhunters will read it and place you in a different realm if they think you’re an expert and have a following.

Get on Facebook. While Facebook is primarily a social networking tool, you can get job offers and freelance projects from people in your network. Make sure you post links to your Web site and blog on Facebook. Headhunters and business owners are on Facebook too.

Spruce Up the Neighborhood

With Web 2.0, contribution and sharing are in style. Voice your opinion on forums in LinkedIn and Facebook. Write answers to questions people have that you can answer. Improve your online neighborhood. Networking is more important now than ever. People want you to reach out to them if you have something intelligent to say and can help them in some way. They will return the favor. You might have heard the term “be sticky” when it comes to job seeking. Send follow-up emails, forward links, present yourself in a memorable way. The same goes in the social media / Web 2.0 world. You need to be unique and everywhere headhunters and business owners congregate.

Own Your House

By using these tips you can control your career. And you don’t even have to be in the news or have written a book to be found.

Don’t search for jobs. Be sought-after.

(Photo courtesy tibchris)

Applying for a Job? Background Check the Company Using These Web Sleuth Tips

You’ve often heard that companies perform background checks on potential hires. But shouldn’t you do your own background check on them? There are many reasons you HAVE TO do this.

Can They REALLY Support You?

You need to make sure the department you are hired in is growing. Human resource managers may need you right away because someone quit. You want to be part of a department that is growing — a company that is growing. There are a number of ways to check this, and luckily with so much information on the  Internet this is easy. First, check the general news about the company using Google News. Then, try looking up the company using ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo will give you the company revenue, number of employees, and relevant news stories, as well contact information. LinkedIn is another popular service that companies themselves often provide. Beware any information a company tells you about itself. Using these services, you should look for keywords about the particular department you are planning to work in.

ZoomInfo will even tell you competitor names. Would you be working for the lesser company? For example, if you were applying to work at General Motors, but found out Ford was a competitor and closer to a turn-around, shouldn’t you work there instead? Interestingly, if you are good at what you do competitors will reach out to you and offer you more money. Do your homework. A temporary boost in pay at a weaker company may backfire.

When you search news sites and search engines, be sure to put the company name in quotes “” with the location next to it. For example, large companies often have multiple divisions and many different companies have the same name. So if you wanted to work at DownTown Disney in Anaheim, CA, you would search “Downtown Disney” Anaheim, CA. The quotes tell the search engine to look specifically for that phrase, while the keywords Anaheim, CA can appear separately in the article or page.

Articles about scoring new business, the company pioneering new research, or winning awards are all great things. Healthy companies should have year-over-year growth in revenues and profits. Make sure there is no government regulation coming that could jeopardize company profits or jobs. For instance, if you are looking to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and environmental regulation is coming that could eliminate drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, you would be in the unemployment line.

Bigger Companies Generate More News

When you are applying to work at a small company, realize there may not be a lot of information present. Small companies may not even have a PR department. Large companies, however, generate lots of news. For instance, when the iPhone was first released, there were thousands of news articles, blog posts, and research papers written. A great place to find blog posts on publicly traded companies is Yahoo! Finance. While you are there, research the company financials. Stay away from companies with large amounts of debt. Bondholders want their money, and when they want to collect it may be your job!

What Are People Saying?

If you’ve ever used social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, you probably know some people can’t keep their opinions to themselves. While this may not be desirable for general posts, it’s fantastic for Web sleuths! Harnessing the opinions of loudmouths can give you the company zeitgeist. Twitter is a better tool for searching public opinion because people are more liberal on Twitter. The connections are more superficial and the search system is real-time and powerful. Just like other ratings on the Web, people tend to be more vocal about negative impressions than positive. So what you want to look for is the volume of relative negative opinions. On the flip side, good companies should have people mentioning positive things. For example, a co-worker of mine tweeted that he was thankful to our company for sending him on a conference. On a negative side, using LinkedIn, one of my co-workers mentioned that  he was laid off before Thanksgiving and that wasn’t how you should treat a member of the corporate family. People get laid off all the time, but the timing certainly is interesting. It made me think. It should make you think.

Have more suggestions for Web sleuth tools and methods? Feel free to comment. (Photo courtesy Digiart2001 | jason.kuffer)

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