Monday, February 14, 2011

Making the Job Boards Work For You

Sooner or later, everyone will either be out of work or looking for a job.  It doesn't matter who you are or what level you are.  This post will help you use the internet without over-using it or misusing it in your search.

I occasionally use the job boards when my networking is not producing the candidate I am looking for. I am always amazed at the results produced.  Consequently,  I have discussed the use of Monster, Hot Jobs, The Ladders and others with many candidates.  Their comments are fairly uniform.  Based on their input and my experience, I would like to make a couple of comments that should make your use of them more efficient and productive.

Don’t  Apply To Everything
I am shocked at the number of people whose résumés I have received, literally, dozens of times.  They apply to everything.  I can run a listing for an account director, a digital ad manager, an account supervisor, an account planner, a strategist and I will receive the same résumés over and over again.  I receive them so often that when I see their names, I skip right over them. Sadly, some of these people have been applying for every job in sight for several years. I know there are some people who are desperately out of work and others who really hate their job, but this is just the wrong thing to do. I know that company recruiters who receive these names also skip over them.

If you want to be seen, target your jobs.  Every good advertising person knows that effective marketing requires effective targeting.  Think of yourself as a product.  Know yourself.  Understand what you can do and what you can’t do.  I know that when on-line and visiting the job boards, it is easy to press a button and send your résumé, but you have to be smart about it.  Many candidates have told me they do this simply to take a shot.  But it can backfire.

Adjust Your Résumé
This is so basic that it is silly.  If someone is posting for an advertising account director, your résumé has to reflect that it is an appropriate level or job for you.  I am shocked at the number of résumés I receive that lead off with things like, “Marketing and Sales Manager” – I need to read no farther if I am looking for an advertising person.

If, in fact, you have appropriate background, reread your résumé and make sure that the person you send it to will understand your candidacy at a glance.  This also applies to résumés mailed to companies.  I recently was making a sales call at an agency.  The receptionist was sorting the printed email submissions.  She told me she discarded and then erased the ones which had inappropriate headings. 

Send Only To Appropriate Places and Jobs
If someone in their listing says they are looking for a person with sales experience, they are not looking for an account planner.  This, too, is basic.  People tell me they send their résumés to everyone and still get no response.  This may be a good reason why.  Reread the listing before you press “send” and make sure that the job is really appropriate.  This includes the level and your experience.  Remember, it is almost impossible to get a job working for someone who should be working for you.

If someone says they are looking for an account planner with eight years planning experience and you have fifteen years of experience, you are probably too senior and will not be considered.

I recently posted a job for a digital advertising account director.  I received one résumé that was totally inappropriate.  His job objective was: “A challenging and rewarding position in procurement, sales or marketing…”  I didn’t bother to read farther.

I received another for the same listing with the headline on the résumé reading, “ Sales/Marketing/Business Development Strategist.”  I also read this one no farther. It was a waste of my time to even open the résumé.

Your Résumé Is An Ad For Yourself
I cannot stress this enough. Many candidates get so caught up in process that they forget about what they are communicating.  Someone who is trying to keep their résumé to one or two pages should not cut the type size down to six points and expand the margins.  It makes your résumé unreadable.  If you have a messy or unreadable résumé, it will not be read.

I have said this before: all anyone wants to know is where you worked, what you worked on, what your title was and how long you were there. If you were promoted, it should show the progression of your career. The reader will immediately decide if you are appropriate to contact and interview.   If you want to highlight a couple of real accomplishments, do so.  But keep it short and simple. 

Keep Your Cover Letter Short
Most people don’t read cover letters!  They go right to your résumé to see if you are an appropriate candidate.  Then they might read your letter.  Don’t over sell.  Selling is for interviews.  Cover letters should be short, to the point and ask for an interview.  Maybe a paragraph long, but no longer.  Long cover letters are actually a turn-off.

And make sure there are no typos.  Remember spell check cannot tell the difference between hear and here. 

In Fairness To You, Many On-line Listings Are Gibberish
I have previously written that most job specifications are incomplete.  On-line ads are worse.  The only person who may know what they are looking for in an ad or listing is the person who wrote it.  On-line listings are often a crap-shoot. Just accept that and don't be discouraged.

Finally, A Word Of Caution
Be careful of posting your résumé on-line if you are working.  I believe in anonymous postings if the company you are replying to is not specified.  You never know who will see your résumé.

True story:  I know one candidate who told me that a recruiter saw his résumé on one of the job boards and called his boss and told him that he knew the candidate was leaving and asked if he could fill the job.  Fortunately, the person who posted it was good friends with his boss and so it was done openly and with the supervisor’s knowledge.  Enough said.

If your résumé contains what the listing company is looking for, they will contact you. 

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