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.
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.
Who Needs A Functional Resume?
by Resume Digest on 24 Dec 2012 permalink
As soon as gaps or changes of direction appear in your employment history you may benefit from a functional resume. The time worn chronological format is a bit like a trail of where you've been as well as how long you stayed in one place on the employment scene. It gives out spurious information that can be used against you.
The first move towards a functional format is when people list their work experience in reverse chronological order. Obviously no employer is too concerned about how you started off in your work life since many students take part-time jobs unrelated to their studies.
So from an employer's point of view your last assignment is the most relevant because what you are doing right now gives many clues as to how employable you are to them.
But why stop there? If your purpose is to match the requirements laid out in the job specifications and you have to compete with scores of unseen other candidates for the same position why not give it your best shot? You've got it - your last role may not be the most relevant for the position you're applying for. Who said you have to list your experience in reverse chronological order? So what are the complications? For a start you can no longer list your start and end dates. What about posting the duration of each role you had instead? Does the employer read some horoscope to screen those who started their last job in May or April? Who cares!
What then will determine the order of your work experience in a functional resume? It will be the order of relevance for that one position you're applying for. Here lies the major trump card of the functional resume: it is custom written for one job posting in order to maximize your chance of being called for an interview.
This is in stark contrast to the reverse chronological resume that people would aimlessly blast on blogs or resume farms in the hope that the prince charming employer in shining armour will find you. Wake up and be real! It's not going to happen. What you have to do in a competitive employment scene is identify the jobs that will both give you the most satisfaction and give you the chance to unleash your skills. Then target each one of those job posts with a tailor-made functional resume.
Sound like a lot of work? Don't worry others are already using a tool to do just that.
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