Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Advice For Things You May Have Overlooked On Your Resume

I must confess, I am desperate to fill a job and ran a blind ad on one of the job sites.  I was dismayed by the quality of the résumés I received. Most of the résumés I received had nothing to do with the specs which were linked to the listing;  And I know perfectly well that these are the same people who will complain that they submit résumés and then hear nothing back from the company.  Duh.  Besides that, there was much essential information missing from many of the résumés I received.

The whole purpose of a résumé is to make a company desire to meet you and then to provide a guide to interview you.  When there is missing information or bad formatting, it makes it more difficult for companies to see you.

          I understand that in this day and age, people, may not want to list their home addresses.  But how about listing your city, e.g. New York, New York?  It merely puts the résumé into context so that the reader of the résumé, knows if you are easily available for an interview. It is very difficult for the recipient of the résumé to evaluate the candidate without knowing where he or she lives.  If the firm running the listing wants someone from a particular area, because, let’s say, there is no relocation attached to the job, the screener may skip it just because they don’t know where the candidate lives.  Why take a chance?

·        Honestly, one of the résumés I received was from a person with an asexual name – Jean.  I don’t discriminate, but it would be nice to know his/her sex so I could send back a letter, Dear Mr. or Ms. Use of a middle name might have helped.  While it may seem awkward to put a Mr. or Ms. on a résumé, I have seen it done many times.

·        If you work at a company or on clients that people who see your résumé may not know, tell them what it is.  One of the résumés I received said that she worked at a particular firm I had not heard of; Google turned up nothing.  It made it difficult to evaluate the candidate’s experience so it would have been appropriate to say what the company is.  In fact, the bullet points listed under this and other companies were so generic that I could not tell what field she came from.  These problems are especially true if one has worked abroad and the companies and brands are unfamiliar.  One should not assume that a brand well known in one country is also known in another. For instance, most Americans do not know that Ariel Detergent is P&G’s equivalent to Tide in Europe.

·        Use of certain terms or words can be confusing. You must be careful of unintelligible terms and words.  Many companies have proprietary research or procedures or terms for what they do.  Don’t assume that everyone knows what those initials stand for or mean. And don’t presume that putting them on your résumé will make you appear smarter or better skilled.  If the person reading your résumé doesn’t understand it, they will disregard your candidacy.

·        Beware of complicated résumé formats.  Research has shown that the average reader will spend less than six seconds on your résumé.  I see many candidates who use complicated and often colorful grids and formats, which make the reader work too hard to figure out if they want to meet the person who wrote the résumé.  Creative people are particularly guilty of doing this.  Make your résumé easy to read and follow.  Standard formats are easy to read and follow.

·        Synthesize who you are and what you have done.  Every accomplishment and every detail of your job is not necessary. I saw resumes that were three and four pages long - from people still obviously in their twenties.  Remember, the primary use of your résumé is as an interview guide.  So list specific bullet points of things you would like to be asked about, so that you can explain them at greater length.  It is okay if a résumé runs to multiple pages as long as it is compelling and easy to understand. I have seen long résumés reduced to five-point type so that they end up being only one page, but if that page is difficult to read, it is useless. Your resume should have at least 11 point type, but 12 point is better.
r     Resumes must be compelling to read and not redundant.  If you are an account executive (or more senior) in advertising and looking for an advertising job, don't bullet point the obvious.  No need to say, "handle budgets." "Liaison with client".  Everyone reading your résumé already knows that.  Put down your accomplishments so you can talk about them, if asked.
      Many of the résumés I saw had the same mistake.  They did not articulate exactly what the person did.  For instance, in this day and age of key word search, it is not enough to say that you are integrated.  What is needed is an articulation of integration.  Did you work on direct mail, SEO/SEM, CRM or retention, social marketing, web sites, television production, strategy?  What you don't know is whether the person at a company who is screening your résumé is not told to look for these words (or worse, the person may be a scanning machine.)

·        Finally, remember that a résumé is an ad for yourself.  It should be neat, well formatted and easy to read.  Take a good look at it when it is complete.  Have a friend who is not in your business read it to be sure they understand it.  Formatting can be a problem, as well. I have seen the keyboard shortcut for centering (Ctrl+E) not put things in the center, making the résumé look awkward.  I have seen résumés with multiple type sizes and fonts, making them difficult to read.  And be careful with your use of bold type.
People complain all the time about sending résumés online and then hearing nothing back. If you have made any of the mistakes I have listed, you are actually inviting  no response.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why Human Resources Should Never Be Delegated To Terminate An Employee

If someone works for an executive and is being let go, even if it is a staff cut-back, it is up to the executive, not Human Resources, to terminate them. Terminating someone is, at best, difficult, at worst, heart wrenching. But having human resources do it is cowardly and impersonal.  Part of all business is learning how to do difficult things. The deed should not be delegated to someone else.  After all, the executive knows them best and should know how to do the deed in the best possible way.

When people get called down to human resources they generally know what is coming.  However, I read on LinkedIn about an administrative assistant who was called to HR under false pretenses (she was told it was good news so she thought she was going to get a raise or promotion).  Instead if good news, she was terminated.  That just adds insult to injury. Luring someone to HR under false pretenses is the sign of a weak human resources person and is also a signal that the person she worked for was weak.  This incident prompted me to write this post.

In advertising, having HR do the termination is all too common.  I think it is terrible to have someone else do the deed. I always had the idea that if someone worked for me and was hired by me they should be fired by me.  Terminating anyone is difficult, at best, and never very pleasant, but that goes with the territory of being an effective manager and executive. Every executive, at one time or another, will have someone who works for them be terminated.  Delegating someone else, even if the reason is l mass layoffs is, in my opinion, dereliction of duty.  Human Resources can and should play a definitive role in the termination of an employee.  They can certainly council the manager on what to say and how to say it.  It is HR’s job to insure that this difficult situation is handled correctly and within the guidelines or policies of the company.

When HR does this deed alone, most times they barely know the person being fired. It is mechanical, impersonal and cruel. (The 2009 George Clooney film Up InThe Air depicted this situation very well.)  One compromise is that a human resources person join the manager, but, in my opinion, that too is sending a message that the remaining manager is not trusted or competent to do it right or is afraid to do it alone.  And two against one is always unfair. Some companies defend the practice of having HR in the process by saying that HR is there to insure that company policies such as severance are adhered to.  That is nonsense since it can also be attended to in a subsequent meeting.  Some companies and some HR people defend this practice as making it easier on the manager.  That may be true but it is too impersonal to have a stranger fire an employee.  

I am not attacking HR.  Once it has been determined that someone is to be dismissed, it is the role of human resources to insure that the manager is able to make the termination and able to do it nicely and sympathetically and, indeed, it is their job to insure that all company rules and procedures are followed and explained.   After the employee has been terminated by their manager, HR should be seen to insure that policies have been explained and that questions about procedures have been followed. This meeting with HR should take place far enough from the actual firing to give the employee time to get his or her bearings.  

A few weeks ago I wrote about reasons why HR gets bad marks. This is one I didn’t think of at the time I wrote that post.  When HR always does the termination, they are seen and remembered as “the bad guys”, which impacts on the way they are perceived.

An employee, unless they have committed some grievous deed, should never be escorted out of the building.  I have written before about the awful act of escorting a formerly trusted employee out of the building upon termination.  My opinion is that when managers do the firing, there is a period, however short, for the terminated employee to recover from the shock, especially if they had a decent relationship with their manager. 99% of the people who are fired are good people in unfortunate situations.  Throwing someone immediately out of the building adds to the humiliation.

Human resources should be the buffer who insures that all is handled well.
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