Bad Job Search Experience: Ignored by Employers

Conducting a job search is hard enough if you get an acknowledgment when you submit your resume for an open position and then don’t hear anything more after that. Not getting any response at all from the employer adds insult to the injury. You probably realize, if you think about it logically, that companies can receive a huge volume of resumes when they advertise a position. However, you also probably can’t help thinking, “There ought to be a way they could at least let me know they received my resume.” You might have heard some of the same explanations (excuses?) for the lack of good communication that I’ve heard. Apparently technical problems with employers’ submission process or systems can make the situation even more frustrating.

How Job Seekers React to a Bad Job Search Experience

An article by John Zappe (on ere.net) talks about this topic in a forthright way. Titled “When Applicants Hear Nothing, They Talk and You Get Hurt,” it suggests that when you have a bad job search experience, you’re likely to act negatively with regard to that company in a variety of ways. As the article indicates, “CareerBuilder’s ongoing Applicant Experience survey found that 78 percent of candidates said they’d be sure to tell family and friends about a bad experience with a potential employer. Seventeen percent said they’d post about it on a social media site….the “black hole” application process causes 44 percent of those who hear nothing to have a worse opinion of the non-responsive employer.”

Apparently, about half of job seekers say they don’t hear anything back at all, so if that has happened to you, you’re in good company–not that that will make you feel a lot better!

Companies Might Pay a Price for Ignoring You

According to the article, “The consequences of a negative candidate experience go beyond the potential loss of quality talent and injury to the employment reputation. The widely held belief is that there is a direct economic impact from treating applicants poorly. A separate CareerBuilder study from a few months ago found nearly a third of respondents saying they are less likely to purchase a product from a company that didn’t respond to their job application.”

What does this mean for your job search? Although you might be distinctly unhappy about being ignored by employers, how likely are you to translate that unhappiness into an action that bad-mouths or otherwise negatively impacts the employer? I suspect this is a situation that makes for a good article but is going to be discounted by many job seekers, who won’t see any benefit to themselves in spreading a bad word about the employer. Doing so is certainly not likely to increase your future chances of working for that company, if in fact you still want to.

And remember: Things you say to others or comments you post online can boomerang and end up costing you, rather than the company that ignored you. It might be a lot better to search actively for companies that treat their applicants with more care, companies that have earned a reputation for treating their employees that way as well.

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Is Your Bachelor’s Degree Worth Its Cost?

If you don’t already have a bachelor’s degree but have been thinking about getting one, this post might be of interest (and possibly useful) to you. It’s based on an article by Lee Lawrence titled “Has the Bachelor’s Lost Its Edge?” published in The Christian Science Monitor Weekly on June 18. A key premise is that the value of a four-year degree is going down at the same time as the cost of a college education is increasing, which is prompting people to seek new ways to make themselves distinctive and marketable to employers.

Does a Bachelor’s Degree Help Your Job Search?

According to the article, studies have indicated that a four-year degree does offer advantages, including enabling people to earn more money, increasing their likelihood of finding jobs and enhancing their chances of being chosen for on-the-job training. That sounds like it ought to be a no-brainer. However, as the article also points out, studies are based on the past and aren’t necessarily good predictors of present and future trends. What has happened is that large numbers of people have rushed to get a degree, and now there’s something of a glut, at least in some respects–and the glut appears to be increasing.

Also, the school you went to or are considering going to can make a big difference in whether or not your degree will help your job search. What’s more, the field in which you earn your degree could significantly influence your job search success. Basically, the decision about obtaining a bachelor’s degree isn’t as clear-cut as you might like.

Alternatives to a Bachelor’s Degree

Professor Richard Vedder of Ohio University refers to a concept he calls “spiraling degree inflation.” His concern is that many Americans will get stuck with huge student loans for degrees that don’t bring them the anticipated benefits. As the article quotes, “‘The fact is that it is not a sure shot you’re going to get the high-paying job’…and the notion that the earnings differential ‘is continuing to grow and expand is somewhat suspect.'”

So what are your alternatives? They include completing a two-year degree program at a community college or a trade-specific certificate program that takes less time to earn, as well as free online education from reputable sources (such as Udacity and Coursers) and company-specific training programs (such as Novell and Microsoft certifications).

A Couple of Troubling Concerns

One potential problem is that fact that companies can, do and might continue to require a degree for jobs that really don’t need them, so they can screen out many applicants. I’ve commented on this before and won’t go into it again here. The other concern is that the two-year college programs might not be as widely available going forward as they have been in the past. The article notes that “just as some manufacturing sectors are reporting worrisome shortages of qualified workers, cuts in state funding are forcing many community colleges to replace occupational classes with cheaper-to-run liberal arts courses.”

If you are considering earning a degree, then, it’s important that you evaluate your options carefully before committing to a program and an educational institution. On the other hand, if you already have a degree, you should at least consider whether it’s helping or not. In cases where it’s not clearly helping, maybe you need to find an alternative to beef-up your perceived value and increase your marketability as a job seeker companies will want to talk to.


Interview Preparation: Are You Ready?

The phone rings, and a company you applied to wants to interview you more or less “right now.” What should you do? Ideally, start by buying yourself some think-time. That is, indicate to the caller that although you don’t have time to talk properly at the moment, you are definitely interested and would like to schedule a call or in-person interview for a later day/time. Too much is at stake to rush into the interview without a chance to think about it.

Lack of Interview Preparation Time

A recent article by Nick Corcodilos (Ask The Headhunter), has some excellent points to make on the subject of interview preparation. He was specifically responding to an inquiry regarding a call from a recruiter, but his points relate equally well to calls from employers. Basically, he made 3 comments:

  1. Don’t apply if you didn’t choose the interview based on research.
  2. Good headhunters always prep their candidates.
  3. Preparation is more important than showing up on demand.

To finish up, Corcodilos lays it on the line like this: “If you’re dealing with lousy headhunters, stop. If you’re desperate to interview as often as possible under any circumstances, stop….Decline the interview until you are prepared. This isn’t a race. It’s business, and unprepared business people lose.”

Horror Stories: Why Interview Preparation Isn’t Optional

Years ago, I had a client call me to say that he thought he had just blown his chance for an interview. He had received a call from a manager about the resume he had submitted. The indication at the beginning of the call was that this was just the precursor to an in-person interview. By the end of the call, no suggestion of a face-to-face interview was made. What went wrong? It might have been the fact, as my client mentioned to me, that he happened to be taking care of his two young grandchildren at the time, and he was distracted on more than one occasion while trying to answer the caller’s questions–to the extent that he wondered once or twice where in the world his responses had come from!

As I tell clients when we’re doing interview coaching, you do not have to proceed at the time of that initial phone contact, and if you handle it professionally, you can arrange a time to talk that allows you to prepare properly and to minimize interview distractions during the phone call. Along with that, however, it’s a good idea to heed Corcodilos’ advice to avoid applying and trying to secure interviews until you’ve done your research. You owe it to yourself to give interview preparation your best shot.


Digital Stress and Your Job Search

It seems that stress of one kind or another is part of our everyday lives now. It certainly plays a role–good or bad–in job searching, as well as on-the-job activities. But are you familiar with current views about the role of stress in conjunction with multitasking? I recently received an email link from OnlineUniversities.com regarding “Digital Stress and Your Brain” that gave me a lot to think about. I highly recommend that you check it out. It’s in the form of an infographic, with relatively little text to read and graphic images to make the text clear.

Multitasking Job Seekers: Are You Kidding Yourself?

If you think you can effectively manage multiple overlapping or basically concurrent tasks during a job search, you might well be kidding yourself. According to the infographic, even Superman and Wonder Woman might not do as well at multitasking as they think! For starters, here are a few excerpts of information from the infographic:

  • The average amount of time we spend daily on media consumption rose from 5 hours in 1960 to 12 hours in 2010.
  • Only 10% of adults spent measurable time online in 1995; by 2011 that had skyrocketed to 75%. even worse, for teens it was 95%.
  • When your brain faces two tasks, part of it divides in half so each half can focus on one task. Another part enables you to switch between the two. Once you add a third task, the brain can’t divide any further, so accuracy drops considerably.

What if You Feel Compelled to Multitask in Your Job Search?

If you’re loaded with responsibilities when you’re trying to conduct a job search, you might feel as if you have no choice but to multitask to get all the essential tasks done. However, I encourage you to think beyond this snap-judgment view of the situation. You could find better, more effective and less harmful ways of dealing with it. Sometimes, for instance, you can stagger the tasks somewhat, so you’re not trying to meet same-time deadlines on all of them. Along the same lines, you might find–if you think carefully about it–that you can divide the tasks into chunks and focus on one at a time at least for short periods. That could help your brain transition from one to the other more smoothly and productively.

I’m a fan of making lists or timelines for the tasks I need to accomplish, to help me stay on track and not get overloaded (stressed). When I make a good effort to do that, it invariably helps. The problems arise when I don’t stick to that approach and “overwhelm” attacks me! Sometimes it comes from external factors outside my control, and I just need to regroup as quickly as possible and get back on track. However, at other times it happens because I didn’t stay focused and let my functioning become scattered. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather keep that from happening! I work more effectively and feel better at the same time. I suspect you would, too.


Job Search Tools: Online Visibility Management

Along with other people in my profession, I’ve been telling clients, blog/Facebook followers and a lot of other individuals they need to make online presence a part of their ongoing career management, with particular attention paid when they’re preparing to launch an active job search. I’ve mainly considered that to mean doing your best to avoid posting or becoming the subject of potentially negative items online while also developing and maintaining an active, positive presence on the Internet.

A recent article I read online gives more emphasis to this subject. The article, “Social Media and the Job Hunt: Squeaky-Clean Profiles Need Not Apply,” cites comments by Joshua Waldman, a careers expert who’s an expert on using social media in job searching, and by James Alexander, CEO of Vizibility, an online reputation management company. Although they address slightly different aspects of the situation, they both make points you might want to keep in mind.

“Public Private” Concept for Online Visibility

Although we’ve cautioned people to make their online presence very professional, it now appears that trying to scrub all personal aspects out of places like Facebook could boomerang by making you something of a non-person (no personality at all). According to the article, it could even torpedo your chances of being hired. Waldman’s suggestion for dealing with such possibilities is to view yourself similarly to TV or radio show hosts. He says, “They’re talking about personal details of their lives in a very public way. These details are important because they make themselves seem accessible to listeners but they’re definitely not deep secrets or potentially embarrassing.”

In other words, you should “aim to post something publicly private to the social graph at least once a week….” That’s one way to keep yourself visible in a positive way.

An Online Reputation Job Search Tool

Vizibility.com provides another way of dealing with your online presence before, during and after an active job search. It “helps individuals curate [edit], package and distribute their social presence…through links or QR codes on business cards resumes and email signatures.” Alexander’s take on the situation is that you need to be prepared for people checking you out through online searching. Vizibility offers a function that lets you choose your “Top 5” Google links and “create a specialized query for potential employers.”

Does this mean employers can’t or won’t search elsewhere to find information about you? It’s hard to say for sure, but there’s certainly nothing stopping them from doing that. After all, they probably know you’re not going to provide them with links that will reveal bad things about you. That would be like providing negative references for a prospective employer to check! However, if you can at least get them to glance at the good stuff first, you might be a bit ahead of the game, and any advantage you can legitimately gain is worth trying.


Resume Trends: Modernizing Your Resume

Recently I participated in a teleseminar titled “Modernizing Your Resumes and Cover Letters,” presented by the Resume Writing Academy and Career Thought Leaders Consortium. This seminar gave me a lot of food for thought, including the fact that change has been happening so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up! Among other things, this means you can’t keep using your old resume indefinitely. If you haven’t updated it within the past year, you probably should…and soon.

Resume Trends to Pay Attention To

For starters, recognize that people are not going to read your life story–or even your lengthy and detailed career story. In fact, they never really did read the whole thing, and your resume might have ended up in the discard pile more often than you’d like to think because you tried to give employers too much information.

These days, conciseness has become even more important. You need to evaluate your resume content based on communicating the information most critical to employers and strip-out anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be there on that basis. Save the rest for interviews or other possible opportunities to share. You want to catch favorable employer attention, not overwhelm them and discourage them from reading your resume.

Next, realize that the business world today frequently involves more than one technology tool for looking at resumes and cover letters. We know, for instance, that people sometimes (maybe often) view resumes on their smart phones or PDAs while they’re traveling. It’s highly unlikely they will scroll down through multiple screens to see all the “wonderful” information you’ve tried to cram into your resume.

It’s also quite possible that at some point your resume will hit an ATS system. In that case, a lengthy, detailed resume that over-emphasizes words not directly relevant to the opportunities you want to pursue will not do you any favors, especially if it also under-emphasizes the keywords you should have included.

Dense paragraphs and long bulleted lists are on their way out. Actually, they should have been dispensed with a long time ago, because they do a very poor job of communicating valuable information. And that’s putting it mildly. To some extent, at least, you need to adopt the concept of “lean and mean” used in industries such as manufacturing. More is not necessarily better.

Resume Headlines that “Pop”

Email marketing experts tell us that the subject line of your email is critical, although many of us don’t give enough thought to that aspect of our emails. However, in terms of your resume, headlines (profile and other section headings) can play a critical role and don’t always receive the attention they deserve. For example, “Career Summary” doesn’t suggest a compelling profile to employers. It also doesn’t give them any hint as to what kind or level of candidate you’re likely to be.

What’s the alternative? You could use something along the lines of “Global Energy Industry Executive,” which provides focus and indicates to employers the scope, nature and level of positions you’ve held and/or are targeting.

Continuing with the overall trend of modernizing your resume, you can support the headline with one or more subheads that expand the focus while providing a few clues to important additional elements of your value message. As an example: The energy industry exec might specialize in the oil-and-gas sector and in countries located in the Middle East and decide to use that kind of information as brief subheads rather than full-blown sentences.


Job Search Tools: Preptel

In a recent post on job search tools–specifically, TagCrowd–I promised the next post would cover Preptel as a job search tool. To be brief, life got in the way! However, from my preliminary research, I think Preptel is a tool you might want to investigate. It might help you cope with the aggravating trend toward forcing job seekers to fit their resumes into the ATS (applicant tracking system) mode if they want to avoid being prematurely ruled out by employers, so this post is a quick look at what Preptel is and does.

What Preptel Offers to Job Seekers

Preptel is a company that “provides Candidate Optimization services to improve a candidate’s chances of getting an interview and securing an offer.” [Quoted from their website.] The actual name for their Resume Optimization service is Resumeter(TM). It offers you help in customizing your resume to increase its odds of being reviewed and considered for an interview. Among other things, it can highlight errors and areas that could stand improvement in order to meet the specifications of the employer’s system.

The company’s Interview Guides give you a detailed analysis of how you stack up compared with other people who are applying for the same position as you are. It ranks your strengths and weaknesses in 7 major categories, including education, work experience and industry experience. Since I haven’t tried it out myself, I’m not sure how they access information about the people are who are competing against you, but I imagine that’s covered somewhere in their information that I haven’t read yet. In any case, it seems like a potentially useful concept.

Why You Might Want to Try Preptel as a Job Search Tool

According to the company, “job candidates have less than a 2% chance of getting an interview. Preptel is the first technology company to focus on improving a candidate’s chances by providing proven solutions to help a candidate be positioned for each job.” That’s essentially typical marketing verbiage, but it basically says you could be up against some stiff odds in trying to land an interview and they might be able to offer a useful option for improving your odds.

The good news is, you can check out their free trial and decide whether you think the service is worth hanging onto. If so, you’ll pay about $25 for one month or $50 for three months. It’s hard to see how you could go very far wrong with this arrangement.

A Word of Caution about This Job Search Tool

This cautionary note doesn’t necessarily just apply to Preptel. The key point is that you must have a specific job opportunity in mind for Preptel to evaluate your resume against it and against your competition. If you’ve designed your resume to fit a number of opportunities in a job field you’re interested in, the postings for the jobs might contain at least some elements that are different from each other. I assume that means you’d need to make changes in the resume to fit each specific job opportunity. Depending on your circumstances, though, you might figure it’s worth the trouble. Like many other situations, the final decision rests with you and what you think makes sense.