Branding? Positioning? What IS all that?
The terms “branding yourself” has already become a part of many people’s vocabulary, while others are still wondering about its definition. While “branding” (which is defined as “to make an indelible mark or impression on somebody or something”) is a valuable strategy, you may be more comfortable with the idea of simply positioning yourself to be successful in your job search and career.
Many jobseekers don’t realize they have already positioned themselves — they just haven’t articulated it yet. Maybe you’re known as “the sales manager that makes quota, no matter what’s going on in the economy,” or “the engineer that can speak in language the customer understands.” That’s your positioning.
To cultivate the positioning that will help you reach your career goals, you must understand and be able to communicate what makes you exceptional and compelling.
You must find a way to stand out in a crowded job search. If you’re not known for something, you won’t be known for anything. One size does not fit all.
Knowing your skills and professional qualifications — and being able to articulate them — will also help you navigate applicant tracking systems (ATS).
Position yourself effectively to attract connections, opportunities, and job offers.
How to Develop Your Positioning
To identify how to position yourself, it helps to examine a couple of key issues:
Be aware of the kind of work you are willing to do, and the kind of work you don’t want to do. Make a list of the things you like to do, and what you don’t like to do.
Look to your work history for clues to your positioning. What in your work history did you do to make things better? Look for instances where you showed leadership and accomplishments.
Check out your existing online profile. What comes up when you Google yourself? What is your social media presence? What are you known for online?
Begin with the end in mind: What job do you want? Then figure out what qualities and attributes set you apart from your competition.
Additional resources to help you identify what makes you stand out:
Research Your Profession to Identify Your Positioning
Researching your desired job can also help you identify your unique positioning. Looking at job postings can help, but you should also consider going further in-depth. These sites can help:
O*NET Online (https://www.onetonline.org/)
This website was created for the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration by the National Center for O*NET Development. The O*NET program is “the nation’s primary source of occupational information,” according to the site. It contains information on hundreds of occupations and is available to jobseekers at no cost.
Every occupation requires unique knowledge, skills, and abilities. These occupational characteristics are outlined on the site. The occupational descriptions, which include descriptions of day-to-day work, along with qualifications and interests of the typical worker, allow jobseekers to identify unique positioning opportunities for themselves in their job search.
You can also access the O*NET Resource Center, a free tool (available for immediate download) to assess your occupational interests. The tool offers personalized career suggestions based on your interests and level of work experience.
Access the tool here: https://www.onetcenter.org/IP.html
My Next Move (https://www.mynextmove.org/)
You can start your research on an O*NET affiliated site, My Next Move. The site is an interactive tool for jobseekers to learn more about career options. It includes descriptions, skills, and salary information for more than 900 professions. You can identify careers through keyword search, by browsing industry classification, or through the O*NET Interest Profiler.
My Next Move is maintained by the National Center for O*NET Development under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration.
When you identify a profession, you can assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for success in the role. These can often provide guidance for positioning yourself. The “Personality” and “Technology” sections also give insight into your personal positioning.
The “On the Job, You Would” information includes common job functions. Look to see if these are areas where you excel — this can be a point of differentiation.
Also check out the “Also Called” information under the occupation for related job titles you can use in your personal positioning tagline.
America’s Career InfoNet (https://www.careerinfonet.org/)
This website is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop program. The website includes occupation and industry information, salary data, career videos, education resources, self-assessment tools, and career exploration assistance.
Occupational Outlook Handbook (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/)
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) provides information on what workers do, working conditions, what qualifications are required for success in the position, pay, job outlook, similar occupations, and sources of additional information for research for more than 300 occupational profiles.
To find an occupation, browse the occupational group of interest on the left-hand side of the website, or use the “A-Z Index” (if you know the specific occupation). You can also enter a job title into the “Search Handbook” box at the top of the site. You can also search for occupations by pay range, education level, training, projected number of new jobs, and projected job growth rate — using the “Occupation Finder” or occupation selector drop-down menus on the home page. If you can’t find an occupation you are interested in, look in the alphabetical index, using similar occupational titles to search for an occupation.
You can also research your prospective employer to identify how to effectively position yourself to work at that specific company. Glassdoor is an excellent way to assess what is important to the employer and how you might fit in.
Dos and Don’ts For Positioning
Here are things you should do:
Here are some things you should not do:
Positioning Can Make It Easier to Find a Job
Recruiters and hiring managers need help knowing what kind of position you’re focused on. It’s harder to find a job when you don’t know what kind of job you want. Conversely, it is easier to find a job if you know what kind of job you want.
There are fewer opportunities for average performers to be found in the hiring process, but there are tremendous opportunities for stars. Positioning helps you identify where you can be a star performer and then make the case (through your work and your career communication documents) to support this claim.
The next step is to align your job search with your positioning. Make sure your résumé and interview preparation supports this and makes your case.
Build Your Personal Position Before You Start Looking for a Job
Many jobseekers develop their personal positioning when they are looking for a new job. But personal positioning can help you be more effective — and visible — in your current job.
In your current job, get attention for the work you’re already doing:
Develop your own communications plan in your current position. Increase your personal visibility by speaking, writing, and participating in social media. Once you’ve identified your personal positioning, see how you can incorporate it into your everyday work life. This will make you worth more to your current employer (remember, superstars stand out!) and make you more attractive as a job candidate when it is time for you to look for a new position.
A 21-day plan to a new job
A new year is a great time to assess where you’re at professionally. Is it time for you to make a job change? Or a career change? This 21-day challenge is designed to help!
During this challenge, you’ll take 30 days of consistent action in five different areas:
1. Where Are You Now?
2. Where Are You Going?
3. What Sets You Apart?
4. What’s Your Plan?
5. Let’s Do This!
Take action each day in one of these areas (see the list below for ideas). This challenge will reward effort, not results. But results will come when you take consistent action, day after day, in meeting your goal!
For best results, enlist an accountability partner to help you complete the challenge. Ideally, it will be someone who is looking to make a job or career change too, so you can keep each other accountable and on track. For best results, check in with each other daily.
You can choose to use either the Challenge Calendar or the Challenge Planner to plan and track each day’s activities. Write down the activity you will do and put a big red “X” on each day you complete a challenge activity. At the end of the month, you want as many spaces marked off as possible on your Calendar or Planner.
There are three ways to conduct the challenge:
It’s up to you!
At the end of each week during the challenge, reward yourself for good performance. Enjoy a special outing or anything else that will encourage you to keep going!
Here are suggested actions within each of the areas.
Where Are You Now?
Where Are You Going?
What Sets You Apart?
What’s Your Plan?
Let’s Do This!
Completing the 21-Day Challenge
The law and the job application forms
You’ve spent hours writing your résumé — or may have invested hundreds of dollars hiring a professional résumé writer — and maybe even drafted a cover letter to accompany it. You now have all you need to apply for a job opportunity that caught your attention — or do you? At some point in the process, you’ll be required to complete a job application, which may seem redundant. After all, doesn’t the résumé cover everything the employer needs to know?
Employment Application Basics
Despite all the changes in résumé content and style — as well as how one looks for work and applies for jobs — one constant remains: The employment application is an essential part of the hiring process. From the employer’s perspective, the application serves a number of purposes that are not addressed in a résumé (and optional cover letter). These may vary, depending on the nature of the job and the preferences of the company; however, the following always applies:
That last point is quite complex, sparking debates about what are — and are not — lawful questions, and leaving jobseekers confused and anxious.
In earlier decades, almost any question was acceptable. It was not unusual to ask the applicant’s date of birth, marital status, or citizenship. Things that were once okay are now prohibited by numerous federal laws that turned the tables in the applicant’s favor. Under these laws, employment applications/employers cannot inquire about the following:
As you can see, it’s been more than 25 years since any significant regulations were put in place to protect job applicants from discrimination. Other employment application practices that are still in place include inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history, credit standing, and salary history, all of which can negatively impact a jobseeker. Fortunately, there are grassroots initiatives taking hold, and new regulations being adopted at the federal, state, and municipal level all across the country.
Applicant Credit Checks
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) is a federal law that governs how a credit reporting agency handles your credit information. It is designed to protect the integrity and privacy of your credit information. The FRCA permits employers to request credit reports on job applicants. A 2010 study from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimated that 60 percent of companies checked some (or all) job applicants’ credit reports.
Federal law permits employers to use credit history as a basis for denying employment and even rejecting any applicant who refuses a credit check. When applying for jobs, it is important to know your legal rights regarding credit checks.
Employers using credit reports to screen job applicants must do the following:
Potential employers see a modified version of your credit report. Information that might violate equal employment regulations — such as birth year and marital status — is omitted, as is your credit score and account numbers.
As of February 2013, eight states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have passed legislation to restrict the use of credit checks in employment, and dozens of additional cities and states have introduced bills to do so.
At the same time, however, these laws include numerous exemptions that allow certain employers to continue conducting credit checks — even when there is no evidence that credit history is relevant to job performance. Check your state’s labor department or your city government to find if you are covered by any applicable laws.
The Equal Employment for All Act, introduced to Congress in 2013, would amend the FCRA to prohibit employers from considering credit reports in the hiring process, except for jobs that require a security clearance, are in the public sector, or are related to financial services. As of November 2018, that bill continues to languish in the House Financial Services Committee.
In the meantime, there are things you can do to protect yourself:
As of 2014, nearly 90 percent of U.S. employers asked job applicants to reveal information on an employment application about their criminal histories — have they ever been arrested and/or been convicted of a crime — but the tides are turning.
As the national movement to improve fairness in hiring grows, currently 36 states, the District of Columbia, and 150+ cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” laws, which mandate the removal of criminal history questions from employment applications. These laws help the estimated 33 percent of adults with a criminal past get a fair shot at finding work by delaying inquiries about arrests and convictions until after the employer considers the applicant’s qualifications and determines whether he or she is suited for the job.
Currently, there is no federal “ban the box” law, with a bill to pass the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2017 stalled in Congress. Because of this, there is a lot of disparity and confusion about what laws/policies exist and where they apply. In some locations, these laws apply only to public government positions; elsewhere, they apply to both private and public employers.
To further compound the issues, there is little consistency in stipulations for when background checks can be used in the applicant screening process, even in places where fair-chance laws are in place. For employers with a presence in multiple states, each location is responsible for complying with local laws, even if these conflict with the company’s existing hiring practices.
Capitalizing on the “ban the box” movement, some state and local governments are adopting laws and regulations that prohibit employers from requesting salary history information from job applicants, as well as preventing asking the minimum salary an applicant is willing to accept. This growing trend is part of a push to fight wage discrimination and eliminate or reduce the gender pay gap.
Four states (Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Oregon) as well as Puerto Rico led the way by enacting statewide bans for public employers in 2017, with California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Vermont, and Washington passing laws in 2018. Laws are set to go into effect in Connecticut and Hawaii in 2019. More than 20 states have proposed legislation prohibiting salary-related questions.
In February 2017, Philadelphia became the first city in the country to ban private-sector employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. Under this law, employers can be penalized if they ask salary questions on applications and during interviews. In October 2017, New York City joined Philadelphia in banning public and private employers from asking an applicant’s pay history. Similar laws went into effect in San Francisco in July 2018.
As privacy concerns grow and anti-discrimination issues continue to rise, employers and jobseekers are challenged to keep pace with changes in what information is lawful and unlawful to request during the application and screening process.
Currently, employers are permitted to ask applicants in all states for their social security numbers; however, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts require employers to put safeguards — like encryption — into place for online applications to protect the privacy of jobseekers.
Employers are encouraged to ask themselves what information is essential to screening and qualifying the best candidates. And jobseekers are challenged to ask themselves how much personal information they are willing to share to get the job. The answers are continually changing.
What do recruiters look for?
Recruiters are looking for candidates that are a close match to what an employer has outlined as the hiring requirements for the position. In essence, they are looking for square pegs for square holes. If your work history and accomplishments meets their current or future needs, they may add you to their database. Recruiters may contact you if they have a position that fits your profile — or they may make contact to ask you to recommend other people who might be interested in an opening they are recruiting for.
Finding a recruiter
There are many ways to connect with a recruiter. Sometimes, a recruiter will find you. This is particularly true if you have specialized, in-demand skills. If you post your résumé to an online job board, you are likely to receive contact from recruiters. Others may identify you through a professional association you’re a member of, or through mentions of your work that appear online (for example, blogs, articles, and publications).
LinkedIn is also one of the most common ways to be “found” by a recruiter. Recent surveys indicate that 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to identify candidates. You are more likely to be found on LinkedIn if you have a complete profile that is optimized with specific keywords and accomplishments. Recruiters are always looking for good candidates to add to their database.
But you don’t need to wait to be found to work with a recruiter. Proactively making a connection with one or more recruiters can be a good strategy, even if you are not currently looking for a new position.
LinkedIn can be an effective way for you to make a connection with a recruiter. Use the “People Search” function on LinkedIn to find recruiters in your field or specialty.
Search the “Keywords” or “Title” field for recruiter and keywords and industries relevant for your field, like “engineering,” “manufacturing,” or “technology.” You can then narrow down the search by other criteria, like location. You can continue refining the results until you come up with a few names to contact.
Google can also help you find recruiters. Search Google (http://www.google.com) using a search such as “IT Recruiter Las Vegas” or “Engineering Recruiter San Antonio.” You can also search Google and job boards for jobs posted by recruiters. If you find postings for positions similar to the one you’re interested in, you can contact the recruiter and present yourself for other opportunities.
You can also use a résumé distribution research firm to identify targeted recruiters to contact. For example, Profile Research (http://www.profileresearch.com) can research and develop lists of recruiters that are looking for candidates with your qualifications and expertise. For a fee, they will identify the recruiters and distribute your résumé and cover letter to these individuals (either via e-mail or offline).
You can use free and paid online directories to access recruiters as well.
Custom Data Banks (https://www.customdatabanks.com/) maintains an online directory of recruiters.
Online Recruiters Directory is another resource that you may want to explore here:
One free directory option is SearchFirm (http://www.searchfirm.com). Designed to help executive search firms connect with corporate clients, jobseekers can search the database by specialty, geography, and recruiter name.
NPA (The Worldwide Recruiting Network) - Jobseekers can also search the online directory of The Worldwide Recruiting Network (http://www.npaworldwide.com/DIRECTORY/) to find member firms.
The NPA website also has a job search to tool for jobseekers to view listings posted by recruiters within their network. Search the NPA Job Board by job title, keywords, and/or specialties (https://npaworldwide.com/for-job-seekers/ ).
Often the best way to find a recruiter, however, is through a referral from someone you know. Talking with co-workers in your field to see who they have worked with is a great way to find a recruiter. If there’s a specific company you want to work for, you can also make a connection with someone in their human resources department and ask if there is a specific recruiter or recruiting firm they work with often. Learning proven networking strategies will always help you be more effective.
Research your recruiter. See if he or she has been involved in any high-profile searches in your industry (these are sometimes profiled in industry publications). Google your recruiter’s name and see what job postings he or she has listed online. You are trusting your personal information and reputation to your recruiter, so trusting him or her is essential.
Ace the job interview!
Accomplishments demonstrate your skills and experience. It’s one thing to claim you can do something — it’s another to prove you’ve done it.
When collecting accomplishments for a job search, consider the key areas of competency required for success in the position you are seeking. What are the key components of your job? You should be able to identify accomplishments directly related to this expertise.
To think of your accomplishments, take a look at your past performance reviews and think about any awards or recognition you’ve received. It may even lead you to start building your own professional portfolio.
The most important part of the accomplishment is outlining your results. To be most effective, however, you also need to provide context for your accomplishment. There are several different formats to do this.
Here are three common formats: STAR, CAR, and PAR.
Recruited to revitalize an underperforming sales territory characterized by significant account attrition. (Situation) Tasked with reacquiring accounts that had left the company within the last six months. (Task) Developed contact list for lapsed accounts and initiated contact with decision-makers at each company. (Action) Reacquired 22% of former customers, resulting in $872,000 in revenue.
Manufacturing plant recently had its third accident, leading to a line shutdown. (Challenge) Updated internal safety plan and instituted new training program for production employees to reduce accidents and injuries. (Action) Plant has been accident-free for the past nine months — the longest it has been without accidents in plant history. (Result)
Nursing home employee morale was at an all-time low, and long-time employees were leaving in droves. (Problem) Identified that new scheduling system was not well received by either new hires or long-time employees, resulting in significant dissatisfaction with employee schedules. Instituted new “employee choice” schedule system that increased employee cooperation in determining ideal staffing schedule and improved employee satisfaction as a result. (Action) Reduced turnover by 15%, saving more than $12,500 in hiring and training costs in the first three months after implementing new system. (Result)
Quantifying your accomplishments also helps you stand out from others who do the work you do — whether you’re using the information for a raise or promotion request, or when seeking a new job opportunity.
Job search planning tips
Many jobseekers have no clue about the research and statistics when it comes to their job search. Research indicates that in today’s market employees spend an average of 4 years per job — and most people have up to 12 to 15 jobs throughout their career.
Here are 4 planning strategies that jobseekers can implement for a successful job search. Remember, you only need one company to hire you. Instead of focusing your efforts on making dozens or hundreds of contacts with prospective employers, be selective!
Five Most Effective Job Search Strategies
1. Applying for Job Postings Online
This is where most jobseekers spend their time, but most people won’t find their dream job by applying for posted positions. Research suggests that only 2-4% of jobseekers land a job using Internet job boards. Most large companies receive between 200 and 10,000 résumés a month — the majority of these come from online applications for jobs they’ve posted.
There are many places where jobs are posted online. These can include the hiring company’s website or LinkedIn Company Page, niche websites (like Dice.com for information technology jobs, or JobsInLogistics.com), aggregator sites (such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, or Indeed.com), social media (some companies will post job openings on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), or even Craigslist. Many companies try running an employment ad on Craigslist first, simply because it is not expensive; so they try it first, before spending more elsewhere.
The aggregator sites — also known as the “big boards” — aren’t as effective as they used to be. Listing fees have increased while success rates have declined. However, you shouldn’t discount them entirely. If you see a job posting on a big board, go directly to the employer’s website and see if the position is listed there as well. By applying through the company’s website, you’ll not only get the chance to research the company, you might be able to identify a hiring decision-maker directly. And if you are able to find the hiring manager’s name, follow-up your online application with a résumé and cover letter by mail. Remember, once a position is advertised, the competition for it can be overwhelming. Use all your resources to compete.
2. Responding to Newspaper Ads
Most jobs posted in newspapers are for lower salary positions (under $30,000/year) but that is not always the case, so it can be worth your while to spend some of your time finding and applying for jobs you see advertised in print publications. You may find jobs advertised in your local newspaper or in a trade journal for your industry.
Newspaper advertising is expensive for employers. That's why you’ll find a lot of companies with openings aren’t advertising them in the newspaper.
However, the newspaper can be a useful tool in identifying job “leads” — companies that hire people to do the kind of job you want. You may find you get more mileage by reading the newspaper or trade journal to find companies that are expanding and growing. You’ll also find these kinds of companies profiled in the Business section of the newspaper, in magazines like Inc., Forbes, and Fortune, and in local business journals. (Locate local business journals here: https://www.bizjournals.com/)
3. Employment Agencies/Recruiters
For certain kinds of jobs, companies pay third parties (recruiters or employment agencies) to screen and recommend potential employees.
These jobs usually fall into three areas:
In exchange for finding candidates, screening them, and recommending the “best fits,” an employer will pay a fee that is negotiated from about 10% up to 25% of an employee’s base salary for the first year to the recruiter or search firm (employment agency), upon a successful hire.
The most important thing to recognize about working with recruiters is that they work for the hiring company, not for you. They only get paid if they make a successful placement. Because you’re not paying for the service, sending a résumé to one of these companies is a good idea, but it won’t always result in success — or even a return phone call. They are not obligated to call you back, if your résumé does not match their search criteria. In that case, they may keep your résumé in their database; or not.
You can find recruiters in the phone book (under “Employment Agencies”) or online. Use Google to search: Recruiter and [city name] and [job title].
Or look in the newspaper classifieds or your industry trade journal for recruiting firms advertising for candidates in your field. You can also make contact with recruiters or employment agencies at job fairs or through LinkedIn.
Remember, the employer pays the recruiter fee, so you should never be asked to pay a fee to work with a recruiter. Don’t be fooled by people claiming to be recruiters who ask you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to work with them.
It’s fine to work with multiple recruiters. The more recruiter contacts you have, the larger your network, and the greater the number of opportunities that will present themselves. Recruiter relationships are generally not exclusive. Start with 2-3 and expand your contacts if you’re not getting results. But be honest if you’re asked who else you are working with.
There are also variations of the employment agency you may come across. For example, if you are employed in a union trade, your union hall may function as an employment agency, offering connections to union jobs. And if you are between jobs and want to be hired as a day laborer, there are certain employment agencies that specialize in extremely short-term positions (usually one day, or a few days at a time).
And, don’t discount the resources offered by CareerOneStop (https://www.careeronestop.org/) or (https://www.usa.gov/job-search). Local or state employment agencies can also help connect you to employers in your area.
Networking remains one of the best job search strategies you can use to find your next job — or your dream job — but it’s probably the least understood method. Many jobseekers think networking means alerting the people you know that you want a new job. But it’s more than that. Your network is most valuable when you can ask for help in identifying job leads, obtaining information, getting advice, and/or making referrals. For example, if you want to work at a specific company, ask people in your network if they know anyone who currently works for — or used to work for — “Company X.” Then, ask for an introduction to that person, and ask them about the company, culture, and hiring practices.
It’s important to actively develop and cultivate your network. This can include: friends, relatives, parents of children’s friends, parents of your friends, relatives of your friends, club members, cousins, neighbors, your doctor, financial advisor, attorney, current and previous co-workers and managers, suppliers, professional association contacts, clients, and community contacts (civic leaders, clergy, etc.).
Here are some more opportunities to develop your network:
The single biggest mistake most jobseekers make is not asking for help from their network. People want to help you — so let them!
5. Direct Contact
Tap into the so-called “hidden job market” by using the direct contact job search method. Remember: Companies hire people to solve their problems.
In her book “Résumé Magic,” author Susan Britton Whitcomb suggests jobseekers target what she calls “employer buying motivators.” These include the company’s desire to:
It’s estimated that anywhere from 30 to 75 percent of jobs are not advertised. How are these positions being filled? Through networking and direct contact. How do you make direct contact? Call, use your network for an introduction, send an email, or write a targeted cover letter and send it with your résumé. You can also use résumé distribution services — like ResumeSpider or ResumeRabbit — to send unsolicited résumés to targeted contacts.
But the real key to success is following-up. When using direct contact, persistence is the key!
Do your homework about companies you are interested in. Always research the company. The basic information you need is: Who to direct your résumé to within the company and whether the company has jobs (or job possibilities) that match your area of interest, education, and/or expertise. You can’t just send a general letter to “HR” or one addressed to “President, ABC Company.” You have to send it to a person. The best people to contact are managers and executives.
Every unsolicited résumé you send should be accompanied by a personalized, targeted cover letter. You are simply “spamming” potential employers when you mass mail 10, 20, or 100 résumés without researching them individually and customizing a cover letter. Even if you have the most creative résumé, without supporting documentation, you’re probably wasting your time.
Instead, take the time to develop a customized cover letter listing how your specific skills and attributes can be an asset to the company.
Next, make sure you keep a record of the résumés you’ve sent, using a follow-up log. When you send out a résumé, mention what your next step is — for example, “I will be contacting you within the week.” Make a note in your calendar and then follow-up as promised. When you’re “spamming” employers, you lose the ability to closely follow-up on the résumés you’ve sent. Ten résumés and cover letters that you follow-up on are better than 100 résumés with no follow-up.
Follow-up on letters by making a phone call. If you call and don’t get a response, send an email. Leverage your network to get personal introductions. Your efforts will yield interviews. You can dramatically increase your chances of being interviewed and receiving a job offer by following-up with both your network and the person with the power to hire you in an effort to positively influence the selection process.
In your job search, you shouldn’t rule out any job search tactic — just consider how effective it is, and spend more of your time on high-impact tactics like networking and direct contact.
Visual CV for job search?
Visual CV's have a different purpose than a standard resume. They are not exactly the same thing... A Visual CV is an effective tool for networking purposes. It is a step up from just handing out your business card while networking. It is a step towards branding your name, your service, and all that you have to offer.
Visual CVs are NOT ATS-friendly (Applicant Tracking Systems). There are over 40 attributes one can unwittingly build into a resume that will cause ATS difficulty reading. Some will cause ATS to not be able to read anything at all.
A major contributor to problems is graphics. But that is not the only problem. In fact, it goes beyond graphics. File types such as PDF's, font choice, mixed fonts, how certain information is laid out, even section tiles, can cause problems depending upon who the ATS software vendor is.
With over 200 ATS software providers and no standard to uphold, it's no wonder people fail to get responses or are rejected regardless of qualifications.
Visual CVs are fine IF, ... IF you can hand the resume to a human. The computers that read them are blind. That is why a Visual CV is best used only for networking purposes. A more classic resume is still your most powerful tool to navigate through the job search process.
Classic resume vs Visual resume
TRADITIONAL RESUMES WIN EVERY TIME
No visual resume has “perfect fit” formatting for most people and it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel to make visual resumes bend to your wishes. Visual resumes ARE slick to look at. Use them for networking at a job fair where somebody has already met you and you just want them to remember you.
Visual resumes are usually created with complex formatting features such as images, graphics, text boxes (most ATS systems can't read information in a text box or in the header or footer), columns, etc. Images, color, and "fancy" elements on a resume just interfere with the ATS and are visually distracting for most people reading and comparing Visual CVs to a normal, easy-to-read classic resume.
Visual CVs with a picture of the jobseeker are considered automatic disqualification by most HR Managers. In fact, it is close to illegal for an HR Manager to even have talents’ photo(s) on hand (on one's computer).
What to do about References on a resume
Should I or shouldn't I include a "References" heading at the bottom of my resume?
A professional resume writing service can only be provided by an expert resume writer who can easily explain every strategy that is implemented in writing a new resume. But there is much controversy when it comes to including or not including References as a heading at the bottom of your resume.
The truth is that reference-checking is still a widespread practice and there are effective strategies to professionally handle the reference checking process.
I see time and time again, in various articles, that the line "References available upon request" is outdated. I find the advice so wrong that I like to search and learn more about the professional backgrounds of the writers who spread this futile advice online. Often I find that most of them have not worked A DAY as a Recruiter! But I have! In fact, I have been a Recruiter for more than two decades. I have called on countless jobseekers' references, and have heard all kinds of details from employers, communicated verbally, or otherwise. So, you must believe me when I say that not everybody has shiny references. Employers have their ways of letting Recruiters know that.... And recruiters are professionally trained to dig for details; that's what they are paid for, among other things.
In my recruiting days, whenever I came across a resume that did not include the clause "References available upon request", at the very least, I would frown. I could not help but wonder if this person has bad references, otherwise "what would it take to just include that clause in the resume for us????? How hard could it be???" And that is why I would insert that resume at the BOTTOM OF THE PILE.
Considering the number of resumes I had to review on ANY given day which would actually offer me the information I needed, I wasn't going to call "Mr/Ms Mysterious" to find out the thought process behind not including that simple clause about References at the bottom of their resume. I would just call the resumes who made it clear that if I need to check references, it "WILL BE" available upon request.
I have not only applied this rule to those resumes that have crossed my desk, but over the years, I have also trained many other recruiters to do the same. Needless to say, they all found this internal strategy to be an efficient one, in terms of time management.
My 2 cents comes from first-hand experience, from the other side of the interviewing desk... Only because I have been there, COUNTLESS times... Today, I share that with you, here.
Here is a list of tried-and-true strategies to prepare yourself for your job search.
Job Search Preparation Guidelines
1. Update your résumé.
While ideally your résumé is customized for a specific job, having an up-to-date Master résumé is the next best thing. So if you are continually doing more at work, or if you’ve changed your career direction, or obtained additional credentials, now is the time to review the various options available at www.market-connections.net, as listed on the Start Here page. (And if you don’t have a résumé at all, now is definitely the time to put one together! Market-Connections Résumé Services can help!)
2. How solid is your LinkedIn presence?
There are distinct differences between a LinkedIn profile and a résumé… While they are not the same thing, your LinkedIn profile complements your résumé. Hiring managers and recruiters routinely conduct searches on LinkedIn and find suitable candidates for almost any and all kinds of professions. Or, someone in your network might be interested in recommending you and forward your LinkedIn profile URL. So make sure you have a LinkedIn profile — and make sure that it’s updated. (Yes, this is something Market-Connections Résumé Services can help you with.)
3. Know what you’re worth: conduct salary research.
One of the most often-cited reasons to consider a job search is to increase your salary. But how do you know what you’re worth? There is more salary research data available than ever before. Websites like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can help you see how your current salary and benefits package stacks up.
4. Build your network.
It’s estimated that 40-80 percent of jobs are found through networking. Networking effectiveness is not just about quality — although that’s important. It’s also about quantity. It’s not just about who you know. It’s about who your contacts know. Many times, it’s the friend-of-a-friend who can help you land your dream job. Grow your network both professionally and personally. Learn how to network your way to your next job. You never know who will be the one to introduce you to your next job opportunity.
5. Manage your online reputation.
More and more hiring managers are checking you out online before they interview you. What will they find when they type your name into Google? How about if they check out your Twitter profile? Or find you on Facebook? Now is the time to audit your social media presence and clean up your online profiles.
6. Define your ideal job.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” That line, from Alice in Wonderland, is important to remember in your job search. This is when a career roadmap is essential. If you don’t know what your dream job looks like, how will you know how to find it? What job title and responsibilities are you interested in? Do you want to work independently, as part of a team, or both? Do you like short-term projects or long-term projects? Who would you report to? Who would report to you? Answering these questions can help you define your ideal position.
7. Create a target list of companies you’d like to work for.
Like your ideal job, you probably have a preference for the type of organization you want as your employer. Things to consider include: company size, industry, culture, location, and structure (public, private, franchise, family-owned, nonprofit, etc.). Once you’ve made your list, look for companies that fit your criteria.
I am a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Recruiter with three decades of experience in assisting jobseekers, working with employers, and writing effective resumes. I am well-versed with Applicant Tracking Systems. I use the right keywords so my resumes go through ATS successfully and without complications