Monthly Archives: August 2013

LinkedIn Gaffes

Maybe you’ve heard or read about people raving about LinkedIn as a job search tool – mentioning recruiters have contacted them through the site, or that they’ve been approached by hiring managers, just on the strength of their profiles.

Is this happening for you? Had any thoughts of why not? What’s wrong with your profile?

The following LinkedIn Gaffes could make the difference between having all the action pass you by or appreciating the full power of the site:

1. Adding Non-Work Info to the Experience Section
LinkedIn organizes and files the data in your work history in reverse chronological order, meaning that your most current experience will be shown first.
Therefore, if you added experience on a Board (or a consulting gig, or any venture that doesn’t represent your work experience) in this section, readers of your profile will see this activity first – listed as if it WERE your full-time job.
Besides confusing recruiters, showing this chronology can convince recruiters that you’re either unemployed or “fudging” your experience.
The Fix.
Move your Board roles all the way down under Additional Information, where there is a category called Associations.
If you feel you are burying this experience too deep, then mention the organization and your role in the Summary as well.

2. Divulging Too Much Information
Did you take LinkedIn’s requests for data too seriously? This is one of the most common LinkedIn Gaffes made by job seekers.
The Fix.
If an item does not belong on your resume, do not add it to LinkedIn! This goes for dates of degrees (especially if earned in the 1980’s or before), or positions held you normally would not show on a resume (because they were too short or are now outdated).
While date fields are used throughout the site for all kinds of career information, you can simply omit the years on everything from education programs to awards, certifications, and so on.
If you are unsure what should be included, remember the last 15 years of your professional life will be of most relevance to employers – then edit your profile accordingly.

3. Remaining Invisible
Are you, lurking in the weeds while others are updating their Status, posting blogs, and contributing to discussions? If you are like me, you may even think you have little to contribute. “My career life isn’t that dynamic.” “I do not have any significant updates and contributing to a discussion…I’m not sure anyone would appreciate my ideas or comments.” You might be surprised…I have been.
The Fix.
It’s time to try, even a little updating. Today take 10 minutes and accomplish one of the following.
Try updating your status; mention an event you’re attending, a book you’re reading, you can issue short “press releases” that note new product introductions or news items that you find complelling and relevant to your profession or career (assuming that these items aren’t confidential). Status updates may enlighten others of what you do in your day-to-day work, and they help you promote specific accomplishments or personal honours that might otherwise go unseen. Updates stay listed on your profile when others find it, displayed like a personal newsreel that continues to work for you 24/7/365.
You can comment on other blog posts (or publish your own) on LinkedIn, use Status Updates to post a link to an online article. All these activities inform your network on your area of expertise and interest.
LinkedIn Groups offer discussion boards that work in a similar fashion to Updates. You can post your comments on a relevant industry topic, or simply comment on others’ discussions.
Join some Groups, if you have not already. Occasionally LinkedIn will send you suggestions, see if any appeal to you and your career goals. Get going – LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50.

4. Not Accepting Invitations or Requesting Invitations

Do you have former employees, colleagues or friends send invitations that you have not accepted? Reconsider that logic. Think back, have you secured most of your previous jobs through a network? Likely you have and statistically so have most people. Think of LinkedIn as a very powerful networking tool. It does not replace authentic relationships but it does prove a valuable tool to professionally introduce yourself and interact with potential employers.
The Fix.
Sincerely consider the Invitations you have received, you can check in the Messages and Invitations tab. Look at each invitation and consider how you could be a support to the individual and what you could contribute to his/her network. If you think you could add value for them, it’s likely a great network connection.
LinkedIn also sends you People You May Know suggestions that you could send an invitation to. Look through the list and send at least one (1) invite today.
In summary, LinkedIn will not magically produce results in your job search – unless you have taken the time to review your profile carefully, with a solid strategy to display your experience and cultivate a following.

So, if others are not connecting with you on LinkedIn, be sure to go back and review your profile in detail for these mistakes – ensuring you have put your best foot forward online.
Article influenced by http://www.careerealism.com/linkedin-profile-back/#chitika_close_button

What Happens to Your Online Application?

Very good article on Applicant Tracking Systems

Additional related thoughts I have.
1. Keep it simple– use very basic formatting in MS Word a pdf file is not often read correctly by the ATS
2. Target your information for the position – generic resumes miss the mark
3. Key words – Use key words that you see from the posting (synonyms are often missed by the software)
4. What and Who – The resume tells the recruiter “What” you can do – the cover letter tells him/her “Who” you are
5. Impersonal response – It is typical to not receive a personalized response upon your application. At best you may receive an automated email confirmation to your application. Applicants should not take this personally
6. Employee referrals – companies have an employee referral program that encourage and allow employees to refer candidates to specific openings. This is a built in vetting process and can add extra weight to a candidate’s application. Typically, employee referrals are reviewed by HR with a reply most often sent to the employee making the referral
7. Network – Network, network, network, find out who you know in the company through LinkedIn, Facebook or online directories. Consider asking your contacts if they know someone at the company and could introduce you
8. Market through the network – always submit your resume through the company ATS but also send your resume and cover letter to your network contacts in the company informing them in detail about the position and when you applied
9. People hire people – ATS assist recruiters to weed out the vast majority of applicants, even some ideally suited and skilled for the position. Invest most your time on finding out who might be responsible to hire for the position, others within the company and introduce yourself

Trend Watch – Canadian Retirement Trends

Canadian parents taking on additional debt to help pay for children’s post secondary education. Often times parents are even delaying retirements five years or more because they haven’t saved enough.

Reflections of a 50 something parent of teenage children as influenced by the CIBC research article
1. Do parents (I do include my wife and I) have an unrealistic expectation of retirement? Have we been so influenced by media to believe that freedom 55 is a sustainable retirement age?
2. Has the relatively recent global economic correction adjusted our bank accounts but maybe not our overall expectations?
3. Have we falsely placed more faith in the financial markets to give us a sustainable and healthy 10% or 15% return on all our long term savings in RESPs or RRSPs?
4. Is it the expectation that I will incur all the dept so my children can be debt free?
5. What are our expectations of our children and their ability or willingness to contribute financially towards their own education?
6. What are the lessons that can be learned by children through personal debt, sacrifice, self control, frugality, industry and contributing towards a goal?
7. What are the expectations of children towards parents and finances?
8. Have “helicopter parents” taken on too much responsibility for their beloved progeny and in turn assumed many of the consequences for them?
9. Do we as parents expect our children to follow the same path we did towards university?
10. Have we parents determined what our children will be and will become as a professional…?
11. Have we worked so hard at providing the best education but abrogated the responsibility to coach them up as contributing, thoughtful, respectful, spiritually and emotionally intelligent young men and women?
12. May be it’s my hope that if I provide for their education now, it’s with the unspoken but implied expectation that they will care for me in my old age?

Please note: I am writing this in a “tongue in cheek” but truly self reflective manner. I am not really as pessimistic as written or represented.
Brook 😉

Job Vacancies – 6 Job Seekers for Every Job – What to Do

The latest Job Vacancy data from StatsCan indicates that there were 6.3 job seekers for every posted position. Does this mean the competition for available jobs has increased? Does this indicate a weaker economy? How does this relate to the hidden job market that traditionally states that over 80% of jobs are never advertised.

Job Vacancies – Canada – May 2013

What this means for job seekers is that it is very important to prepare yourself well for the job search.
1. Thoroughly research the labour market
2. Learn as much as you can about the careers/jobs you are pursuing
3. Accurately take stock of your accomplishments, skills, experiences, duties and contributions
4. Complete informational interviews within your network and in your job(s)/career(s) of interest
5. Professionally and strategically build your network (more on this shortly)
6. Create a professional and positive web presents through LinkedIn and in some situations Facebook
7. Target your resume and cover letter
8. Practice your interview skills
9. Budget your time, resources and energy well
10. Lead a team of supporters and cheer leaders
11. Remain resilient and persistent
12. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually
13. Consider additional training possibilities
14. Volunteer with an eye to contributing but also learning new skills towards a job/career goal
15. Positive, professional, polite and polished people are always in demand, an employer can teach you new skills but they can’t teach you character…(only you can).

Statistics seem to indicate that there is more competition for available jobs. Knowing this can be discouraging and challenging to job seekers, but those who prepare themselves well do succeed no matter the economy.

The Value of Education – Earnings and Unemployment

Sometimes it is hard to visualize the return on investment received through post secondary education, especially in a difficult economy where there are higher unemployment rates even for college/university grads. Now just attending school does not automatically assure anyone of a higher paying job any more than going to the gym will automatically ensure you are fit. However, if the knowledge and skills acquired are consistently practiced, there is a strong and positive correlation between higher earnings and higher education, despite the stories of the Taxi driver with the graduate degree or the millionaire entrepreneur high school dropout. Compelling indeed but truthfully these still prove to be an exception and not a norm.

Targeted Resumes

How important is a targeted resume? Well I was reminded again just a few days back when a client “Sue” (not her real name) stopped me in public to thank me for encouraging her to target her resume for a specific posted position. She had always just sent in her resume and hoped that the employer would see what a great fit she would be. Not surprising she hadn’t realized how ineffective this strategy was and just chalked it up to a weak economy and tough competition. After taking the time to target her last resume Sue was ecstatic that she was one of four (4) candidates interviewed out of over 60 applicants.

In an earlier post I wrote about Resume as Marketing Tool so the points apply to a Targeted Resume and support the concept.

Is a targeted resume what it sounds like?

1. Yes. The intention of a targeted resume is to appropriately and honestly present your skills and experience in a manner the the employer would value. This becomes easier if you have a job posting or job description, but if you don’t have either of these resources, here are some tips to garner that information.

2. Adopt the wording and phrases used by the job posting, make it easy for an employer to read and translate your experience and skills to the job. Additionally, using those key words ensures scanning the resume more effective for both human eyes and electronic searches. Fair warning, synonyms may be missed by both human eyes as well as electronic scanning so take the time to correct the wording to best reflect the posting.

3. Be truthful about your skills and experience but truly consider how your skills could translate into the position you are applying toward. An employer may not see how your skills translate unless you take the time to articulate them clearly. Don’t allow an employer to assume you don’t have a certain skill because of your education or work history. Take the time to clearly articulate your transferable skills so there is not mistake.

4. One resume and cover letter for each job is the best strategy. One size does not fit anymore…if it ever did. With the ease of word processing today, I would suggest a unique resume and cover letter for each and every position.

5. Location, location, location. Recognize that the most important real estate on your resume is the top of the first page, as such be sure the most relevant information resides in the top one third of the first page. Obviously begin with your name and contact information, followed by the objective or at least name the position (title, competition or job number) and be sure to complete this top third with accomplishments or highlights that relate to the position.

6. Read three times send once. While serving as a HR manager I received resumes with the wrong company name and job title. Because I’m an educator at heart, I would contact the candidates to inform them they made the mistake but I’m pretty sure most potential employers wouldn’t invest the time. Needless to say, I didn’t end up interviewing any of these misaddressed applications because none took the time to follow up with me. Save yourself the trouble and the embarrassment, read three times send it once.

Back to “Sue,” although she didn’t secure the position, she has renewed confidence in her resume and cover letter writing skills and now sees the value in targeting her resume and cover letter for future applications.

Tips to finding job descriptions and key words.

Tips to finding job descriptions and key words.
1. Check out the job search site Indeed.ca and key word search the title you are interested in, you are sure to find some job ideas as well as some valuable key words for your resume lexicon.
2. Research careers, duties and locations through http://www.workingincanada.gc.ca
3. The National Occupation Classification System has thousands of job titles and descriptions available online http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/SearchAlphabetical.aspx
4. Informational interviews can provide real world details and key words that would add to your lexicon as well as help build your professional network.
5. Visit your your Career Centre and ask questions, they can likely help you find some job descriptions that can help you write an effective cover letter and resume.

Labour Stats – July 2013 – Difficult Summer for Students

The number of students I have met this summer who are working less than full-time supports the recent Stats Canada Labour Force data.

Returning students aged 20 to 24, observed an employment rate of 69.7% in July, with a posted unemployment rate of 9.1%, little changed from the previous year.

Students 17- to 19-year-old observed an employment rate of 59.0% in July, with a posted unemployment rate of 16.8%, little changed compared with July 2012.

Students aged 15 to 16 saw a difficult July 2013 with an employment rate of 28.6%, the lowest since 1977, when data became available. The unemployment rate for these students was 30.0%, similar to the rate observed July 2012.

Table: Labour Force by Age

The implications:
1. Students may not have earned enough from summer jobs to attend or return to school
2. With a stagnant economy, families will have a more difficult time funding adult children in school
3. Student loan requests should increase as they have since 2006 (343,261 full time borrowers) 2011 (424,575 full time borrowers) a 19% increase
4. Some students may return as part-time students rather that full-time, increasing the likelihood they may not complete
5. Stress on students to balance school, work, family and finances
6. Higher youth unemployment indicates that youth are not transitioning well into post-education careers
7. Graduates with limited practical or transferable experience
8. Total disengagement from labour market or education all together (loss of hope)
9. Stalling of the economic rebound due to demographic trends and limited skilled, experienced youth to replace aging workers

Potential Solutions:
1. Increase career and employment support services for youth in high-school and college/university
2. Expand experiential learning (apprenticeship, internship, school to work pathways) opportunities for high-school and college/university students
3. Education and service providers partner with employers, unions, NGO’s and public service to facilitate school to work transitions
4. Improved real-time labour market information and career education resources/services
5. Adaptable and flexible training/education models (e- learning) options with willing faculty support
6. Encourage incentives (tax or monetary) for SME’s employers who hire and train youth into productive careers

This trend is not unique to just Canadian youth but youth unemployment rates have risen around the world.

Relying upon immigration may serve as a short term solution. However, considering youth unemployment is currently worse in most of the OECD countries, relying solely upon immigration as a long term solution may prove foolhardy.

LinkedIn – Profile Tips

This is very good article on improving or creating a LinkedIn Profile. Here are the 12 Ways but read the article for the very helpful details.

1. Treat Your Profile Like a Website.
2. Know Your Key Words. See the previous post Resume – Marketing Tool
3. Keep Your Name Clean.
4. Keep Your Photo Professional.
5. Don’t Ignore the “Post an Update” function.
6. Personalize Your Public Profile URL.
7. Personalize Your Websites.
8. Juice Up Your “Experience” Section.
9. List Your “Additional Education.”
10. Get Recommendations.
11. Use Applications.
12. Always be Courteous.

Resume – Marketing Tool

A well-written and professional resume is a necessary component to any job search and the primary marketing tool a job seeker needs when marketing themselves to prospective employers.
Concentrating on the following important aspects will significantly improve the chances a resume will garner the interest necessary to land an interview. Truthfully, the real test of an effective resume is an interview.
Marketing Tool