Testimony of a Repentant Job Seeker
by Resume Digest on 20 May 2013 permalink
I once was the darling of the recruitment agencies - then I found instead of the wanted one I became the discarded one - why?
Changes can sneak up on us and it's a hard wake up call when you realise that what used to work so well no longer does.
What had changed was that instead of a human being I had become a commodity. Prospective employers were not interested in my potential as a member of their team they wanted hard evidence that I was a direct replacement for the guy who just left and that I came all packaged up with their industry knowledge in my head.
Recruitment agencies know how to make themselves look good by parading candidates who are over qualified and then switching over to some migrant who can barely speak intelligible English but will undercut the current rates.
It became obvious that my employment scene became a crowded space as I went for interview after interview without landing a job.
At least I was getting interviews - I thought that was a positive. In sport you get to see your opponents. In the job market you don't! You can delude yourself in thinking that what once worked will work again - it's just a matter of applying to more jobs. Unfortunately trying to fit square pegs into round holes is a loosing proposition - no matter how persistent you are. Candidates profiling is now an established practise in the employment scene and it is time jobseekers learn the new rules of the game. It's all to do with keywords. Literally (excuse the pun) these words hold the key to your employment success. If you don't have the XYZ industry buzz word in the last assignment of your resume - you won't make it to the shortlist - full stop.
Mostly for cost-cutting reasons employers have long given up on running a Human Resources Department. In fact it used to be called the Personnel Department. The message is clear for us job seekers: We have to be resourceful - not personal.
Things started to change for me when I realised I could no longer afford to blast the same old resume of mine at every job advert that came in sight. Instead I had to find out the specific requirements of each job. Then I would issue a revamped copy of my CV. Slightly more work than just hitting the Send button on my email program with the same attachment each time. Those days were over. It's amazing how ingenuous you become when you are hungry. It could take up to four hours to twist things around so that the ad's pet must-have features were now in front of their nose.
Being the enterprising sort that I am I resolved to get the computer to do some of that work. That is another story in itself but that's how the website resumedigest.net came about.
Lawrence Atkinson says:
Thanks for this - an interesting read, and very true, particularly the last couple of paragraphs; people really do need to pay attention to the job specs and apply to hose specific requirements.
Running The Gauntlet With Recruitment Agencies
by Resume Digest on 13 May 2013 permalink
Let's face it recruitment agencies are here to stay. How can we manage the love/hate relationship between agencies and candidates? As a candidate you need to wise up to some conflicts of interest that are doomed to arise between you and your agent.
But first let's understand the job market. We've all become lazy and fallen down the path of least resistance.
Frustrated jobseekers assume that all it takes to land that perfect job is to blast as many resumes as possible over the internet. Dishing out the same resume to every job advert you're replying to is like trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
Unscrupulous recruiters would be quite content to steal their competitors' employees without any need for training or induction. They seek ways to move people out of employment altogether and hire them back as contractors who have to cater for their own insurance and superannuation.
Employers have axed their human resources departments and scores of recruitment agencies are clamouring to fill the gap. They in turn keep databases of candidates and are in the process of profiling people - treating them not as human beings but as a commodity they can on-sell to someone else. They like to pull up names that match a certain set of keywords and they use scanning software to skim through resumes hoping to find that 5 legged sheep that their client is after.
They sometimes advertise positions that do not exist for the sake of conducting their own job market research and finding out who might apply for that. Worse they sometimes ring you up to find out in not so subtle ways what interviews you've had so that they can field candidates in opposition to the other agent who got you there. So how can we bridge the gap between recruiters and jobseekers? The moment you consider the situation from the other party's point of view you will start to break the deadlock.
The question a savvy candidate should ask is "What about if I identify the employer's needs and go about to meet those needs?"
In fact they make it easier for you as most job adverts feature a bulleted list of requirements to fulfil. The message is clear: "If you don't have those skills don't bother to apply."
You might well have those skills but by replying with the same boring boilerplate resume you make it hard for the employer to search for them like a pin in a haystack. The truth is: if they don't find what they want in the upper third of the first page of your CV they will not bother to investigate further.
Within reason there are ways to make you look like the perfect fit. Unfortunately it may take you several hours to rewrite a tailor-made version of your resume which addresses specifically the requirements of the ad. That's why most people don't bother but that's where lies the prize.
Time to re-enter the job market
by Resume Digest on 06 May 2013 permalink
This is the time to beef-up your resume and hit the job market with new expectations. This is the start of the new financial year and companies have a new budget to spend. Some will create new positions to wrestle market share from their competitors.
Contrary to popular belief the job market is indeed seasonal and if you have pulled out in despair and resigned yourself that you won't secure a job - well guess what - that might become a self fulfilling prophecy!
On the other hand if you believe this is your opportunity to show up your face at interviews and hone in your ability to sell your unique combination of skills - go for it!
The first step of course is to work on your resume. But let us suggest a different approach: why not work on the job advertisement instead? You have sent scores of your resume without much success and are deprived of any feedback as to why it fails to generate interest. It could br the sheer number of applicants you are up against. It could be your resume lacks some specific industry buzzwords recruiters are skimming for. It could be the lack of substantiated achievements in each role you held as opposed to a bland statement of your duties.
Be as it may - why not take the opposite approach and work from the job advertisement back to your own resume? Pick the exact requirements found in the ad and match them each time with some specific instance in your work history where you have exercised and demonstrated that particular ability.
That could be a lot of work. In particular you may not be able to keep the chronological order of your work history. The most recent employment may not be the most relevant for the position at hand.
That's where Resume Digest comes to the rescue. Give it a go!
Unusual Jobs That Pay Well
by Resume Digest on 15 Apr 2013 permalink
Going on with the latest trends you will find that some long forgotten skills are now back in demand. Also some new opportunities emerge in outdoors, entertainment and sport.
The great outdoors
Being passionate about your field of expertise will land you a job to match. Think about all the environment issues and see how local, state and federal governments want to be seen as doing the right thing for the planet. Being a nature park ranger is now very much sought after but don't stop there. Think of all the new rules and regulations about water consumption, monitoring water quality, surveying natural resources, etc... Don't forget how to measure your carbon footprint on your resume.
A dog is man's best friend or so the saying goes. If you are keen and knowledgeable with animals there are scores of opportunities to uncover. Don't stop at being a worker in a theme park, think about working as a scientist for a museum or a government department monitoring endangered species and natural habitats. In agriculture there are lost skills in farming unusual beasts like camels, lamas, crocodiles, kangaroos, etc... What about collecting poison from venomous snakes to produce antidotes. Even the RSPCA is hiring to enforce laws against cruelty to animals.
Parra medical industry
With the burgeoning of body part replacements there is a need for technicians to produce all those knee and hip prosthesis. Quality control is paramount and this is an industry flowing with money.
There are scores of unusual jobs out there from entertainers in shopping malls to stunt men in movies. Being a stand-up comic in a cabaret or bar will get you to travel and see places. Musicians are still in demand for live performances. Applying in a classical orchestra might teach you how to handle rejection but think about jingles at your local radio.
You don't have to be an Olympic champion to get a job in sports. You may not qualify to coach the brightest stars but you can be an expert in a local sport store or a consultant in sponsorship schemes. Local councils have lots of venues to maintain. Competitions need lots of volunteers to organise and this is your ground floor opportunity to mingle with the crowd and make yourself useful. You will find your enthusiasm and your cheerful disposition will open doors at a later stage - not always in sport but in other fields too because outgoing people are always in demand.
Resume Digest is an online service to customize your application for each job you are responding to.
Aptitude Tests is an online service to prepare yourself for aptitude, knowledge and IQ tests.
I took up a Santa Claus assignment in a Shopping Mall. It's good money for just sitting down and just having your photo taken with kids...
Can't find a job? Be your own recruitment agency!
by Resume Digest on 04 Mar 2013 permalink
When was the last time you have been intimidated or abused by so called recruiting agents? If they treated you like a commodity rather than a unique human being could you do better than them? After all you know the product intimately well.
Welcome to the real world. Finding work is entering into a relationship where you trade your time and knowledge for cash. If someone is going to take a cut along the way and do a lousy job at it - fire them!
What is a recruitment agency after all and what prevents from doing for yourself what they are supposed to do? Agencies claim to companies they have a database of experts at the ready who can jump into a role with no training and no induction. You feel at a disadvantage because your database has only one person on it - you!
But wait a minute. Since you are a talented, versatile, articulate, knowledgeable, fast-learning professional that could count for as many aliases of yourself.
Another thing agencies do is to unearth job vacancies before they get advertised. Sometimes they even advertise vague roles on their books and you wonder whether there was really a role there in the first place. It is like the case of the real-estate agent with pretty photos of properties that are not really for sale. They are there just for the sake of not having an empty window...
Ever heard of LinkedIn? Can you be recommended by former work colleagues? Another drawback with agencies is their blind date approach to matching candidates. You have to tell everything about yourself first only to find out the job is with a company you don't really want to hear about.
Just like a sales professional you are only as good as your network of connections. Luckily it is not a static thing and you need to swap business cards where ever you go. When is the last time you went to a trade show in your industry? Have you heard of BNI, Toastmasters, Rotary, etc... don't kid yourself. You won't find a job on facebook but you might re-kindle with an old acquaintance.
The idea of maintaining your network of connected people will be a glaring need when you are looking for a job but that's something you should be doing year around.
The irony is that you might be able to find a job for someone else before the compliment is being returned!
Yes job hunting is a full-time job, but don't despair. Why not use an online tool like Resume Digest to do it like a professional?
Recruitment Agency Not Your Best Interest
by Resume Digest on 18 Feb 2013 permalink
Even though a recruitment agency takes a cut on your salary or hourly rate they are not working in your best interest - instead they are doing the employer's bidding. This is exacerbated by the fact that few employers will grant an agency exclusivity to field candidates for a given position.
Agencies like to play it safe and build their reputation in front of their clients. That means they will go for the no-risk candidate who has already been in a similar role for years. The person who is the perfect mule who will not get bored doing it again twice as long. Too much passion and lateral thinking from an agency's point of view are risk factors.
Agencies have a predilection for a chronological resume that exposes you bare with gaps and changes of direction in your career. They store candidates' resumes on their database and check several revisions you submit for inconsistencies. That way they can screen out people who are fudging things. The chronological resume allows agencies to calculate your average tenure in a job and screen out applicants classed as high risk.
On the other hand the perfect fit for a given position will be a functional resume matching every requirement of the job with your own skills listed by order of relevance - not chronological order. With an agency that is not an option because they claim they are prevented by law to alter your resume... They already do that anyway by masking your contact details so that their client can't bypass them and call you directly. Sadly that shows the level of trust or lack thereof.
Agencies like you to go for a blind date - not disclosing the employer's name until you are booked for an interview. This has some severe drawbacks. You might be applying for a role to be filled at your current employer and through the agency indiscretion your boss will find out if you have itchy feet. You might wonder if in the future we could turn the tables around and apply for jobs with a dummy name - only revealing our real identity when we land the job and have to disclose our banking and insurance details...
Agencies like the bait and switch approach. They will parade you in front of their client as an articulate, well mannered candidate but also have ready on hand some migrant who will undercut you by 20% which they have especially sponsored into the country.
Agencies like asking for references. Normally you should only give references to the employer after the first interview. Agencies on the other end may ask for them as early as possible not so much to check on your background but to try to place other candidates there. Needless to say that when your valued referee gets a call to speak well of you all that bother will dampen their enthusiasm.
I will stop there in case you get depressed. There is hope though if you take the matter in your own hands and target one specific job that you like - one at a time. There are still employers out there who dare to advertise roles in their company name. It sounds that this boldness alone makes them people worth working for. In order to give yourself the best possible chance you will have to analyse closely their requirements and craft a functional version of your resume to suit.
The trap of a secure and boring job
by Resume Digest on 14 Jan 2013 permalink
What once happened to blue collar jobs is now happening to white collar jobs: The Commodification of the labour market.
By hiring drones who follow instructions factory owners can drive their labour costs to a bare minimum. We have seen so many manufacturing jobs fly overseas and we are delighted to import from these people what we used to produce ourselves. Some people call it progress. Progress for who?
Here comes the call-centre. An entire office floor of cubicles with in each a computer screen to read the script to the customer, a telephone headset to yap all day to strangers you never get to see and a mirror to remind you to keep smiling...
Yes - wake-up to it office jobs are now a commodity. There will always be someone else to take your place and undercut your pay.
By providing a script, a rule book, a procedures manual (whatever you want to call it) bosses are declaring that you are not allowed to think for yourself. You are not expected to show initiative or demonstrate problem solving skills - all you are expected to do is turn up on time and stay there for the duration of a day's work.
You have become a cog in somebody else's marketing machine. Everything that could be tried has been tried. Outbound automated telemarketing messages were the ire of homeowners who got interrupted at meal time by obnoxious appeals.
Failing that, we had the craze of calls from India to induce us to take up a new credit card or swap our telephone plan.
In the face of all this, it seems that average jobs are disappearing fast. You can either get undercut by a plethora of cheap labour eager to take your place. Or you can make yourself indispensable by providing initiative in a workplace where they didn't get around putting everything in the rule book yet. (They might actually ask you to pour all your knowledge into the rule book and then turn around and make you redundant...)
You think this is too far fetched? I worked in the IT industry as a contractor and the Indian effect was astounding in cutting down our hourly rates. The permanent staffers had a unique technique to hang on to their jobs: procrastination by obstruction. Under the cover of security of information they erected barrier after barrier of passwords and network access so that newcomers could waste an entire day's work by simply being unable to get to the data they needed to perform their task.
Paul Mendham says:
This is all 'well-&-good' Bruno, but whilst true is a tad depressing! What would be the positive ways out of this downward spiral? Go out on a limb, take a huge risk, and set up by yourself (thence introducing your own systems!)? Or maybe look at the changing business landscape and get ahead of the curve? Or move to India?
Face-to-face roles seem more free from systematisation, where can these be found outside sales? I look forward to the next instalment, including a solution, with interest.
Are you job hunting back to front?
by Resume Digest on 31 Dec 2012 permalink
Did you know that employers and job hunters go about meeting each other in exactly opposite ways?
Let me explain. A boss would most preferably fill a vacant position internally - stealing a gifted person from another department within the company. If that fails they would seek people from their sphere of influence - service clubs, professional associations, churches, etc... If still no success, only then would a company hire a recruitment agency - despite the cost, it will take care of everything. If that's not an option they will reluctantly put an ad in the paper or online and brace themselves for the onslaught. And finally if they are totally clueless they will pull a cardboard box where all the unsolicited resumes that arrived in the mail are dumped.
Now look at the irony. What would most people looking for work do? Exactly the opposite! They compose a 'one size fits all' CV and blast it on the net onto resume farms. Next they would join the scores of candidates who replied to the same ad - unaware that the name of the game is selection by depletion: people who scan your resume look for reasons to discard you until they are left with a short list of 10 people they are willing to call for an interview. The more daring candidates would then call a recruitment agency and hope they will line up a few good jobs that would match their skills. Little do they know that recruiters don't work for candidates - instead they do the bidding of employers.
Finally la crème de la crème are the smart operators who do their homework and take the time to think about their dream job. They are the eternal optimists who go after jobs that don't even exist - they are such outstanding people that a job will be created just for them... no that's not a joke - their enthusiasm is catching. They can talk their way into a boardroom and convince people to put their good ideas into motion. Bosses are busy and lazy. If someone comes along and repeats out loud all the good things they know they should have been doing some time ago - they would take the plunge and hire the person on the spot. The new recruit doesn't need induction, they have done their homework on the company already. They don't need motivation, they will motivate other employees around them.
You might think that only applies to marketing gurus or public relation experts who do their own spin. But you can scale this approach down to the local workshop. Find out where people have their lunch break and strike a conversation. What have you got to lose? At least you will overcome your shyness and be good at talking to strangers.
Adrian McCabe says:
Sounds about right. Thanks Bruno.
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Time to re-enter the job market
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