Posts Tagged ‘Jobseeker’

Fresh Start – Books Worth Looking At For Your Job Search

September 7th, 2011

(Part II of my September Fresh Start series)

September marks the start of a new reading season for me. While my summer reading list typically includes flights of fancy and fiction, I find myself drawn to business, strategy and how-to books by the time autumn rolls around, books that will teach me something I didn’t know, challenge my assumptions, and give me new ideas for my business.

I also like to add to my library of resources that I can recommend to my clients – books that offer genuine value and time-tested ideas on managing an effective job search.  Additions to my recommended reading list this year include:

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies

(Joshua Waldman, MBA) – $19.99 US / $23.99 Canadian

Fresh off the presses, Joshua presents a wealth of tips, how-to’s, and things-to-think-about for managing the online portion of your job search and professional profile.  There’s a ton of information packed into an easy-to-browse  format, and as with most books in the Dummies series, it is an all-you-can-eat buffet rather than a seven course meal. Readers will appreciate being able to pick and choose which sections are most relevant for them, and quickly apply the techniques and strategies to their job search.

The book covers everything from defining your personal brand (what you want to be known and respected for professionally), creating a blog, and using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, to planning and executing a proactive social media job hunt.  I particularly liked the Chapter on Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Job Search, with tips on using online tools such as JobKatch, Becomed, JibberJobber and CareerShift.  It can take jobseekers weeks to figure out a productive “routine”, and these tools can fast track that learning process so that you can be immediately productive in your search and stay focused and organized.

Job Search Magic

(Susan Britton Whitcomb) – $18.95 US / $22.50 Canadian

Published in 2006, Susan’s book is one of the most comprehensive guides I’ve come across on planning, executing and managing the entire job search cycle – in fact it is required reading for the Certified Job Search Strategist accreditation program.  At 500+ pages, with each chapter building on information from previous sections, skipping around isn’t recommended, but the book lays out all the building blocks that a jobseeker will need, in a logical sequence that takes the guess work out of planning a job search and career marketing campaign.

There are chapters on figuring out the right target for your job search, getting (and more challenging – maintaining) the right mind set, writing great keyword copy, managing active and passive job search streams, researching companies using online and offline resources, mastering assessments tests, handling interviews, negotiating salaries, and getting off to a good start in your new position.  With worksheets, quizzes and checklists for each section, this is a true do-it-yourself guide for somebody who is ready to get serious about their job search.

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0

(Jay Conrad Levinson, David E. Perry) $21.95 US / $25.95 Canadian

This isn’t really a new addition to my recommended reading list – I’ve been suggesting it to my clients for several years – but since there is a new edition I’m including it. The rebel of the job search guides, as you would expect from its name this book offers unconventional advice for standing out from the crowd and tapping into the hidden job market.

I first came across the second edition when I was launching Resume Confidential, and it was love at first read. With ideas on how to network for greatest impact, circumvent the gatekeepers, and write extreme resumes that get noticed, it was just the book I was looking for to add immediate value for my clients and break through the body of “presumed wisdom” that has become outdated and ineffective in today’s job market.  I am now on my fourth copy of the book (I keep lending and losing it), and continue to incorporate David and Jay’s ideas into my practice – including the networking resume, modeled on the Extreme Resume.

With the most recent edition, published this spring, the authors add social media advice to an arsenal of nearly 1000 tips and tricks, all of them tested and validated in some of the most nobody-is-hiring-right-now job markets in North America.   Be warned, the ideas are not for the faint of heart, and you can expect to get push back from HR professionals and recruiters who like to keep the hiring process traditional and take control out of the candidate’s hands. But if you are ready to shake up your thinking about what a job search is supposed to look like, then this is the book for you.

How about you? What great career books and resources have you found this year?


Five Statistics That Matter for Your Job Search

September 10th, 2010

Each year for the past nine years CareerXroads has conducted a survey about the sources of new hires.  The most recent survey (full report available here) solicited source of hire stats for 43 large companies, who collectively filled 176,000 positions in 2009. While the sample size is small, and arguments can and have been made about the accuracy and applicability of the statistics, the survey results are nevertheless revealing, and have some  important implications for how jobseekers invest their job hunt energy.

  • Internal transfers and promotions were the source of 51% of all full-time hires in 2009. This is up by 19% from 2006.
  • Why it matters: It is the perennial jobseeker debate: should I take a lower level or lower paid position, just to get back in the workforce, or should I wait for my dream job?  Three years ago, it may have been good advice to hold out for your dream job because two thirds of positions were being filled externally. Today, it may not be such a good strategy. If you can get your foot in the door of a good company, you stand a better chance of being able to work up to your dream job.

  • Referrals account for 26.7% of all external hires, and yield an average of one hire for every 15 received.
  • Why it matters: You hear it all the time: if you want to land a new job you must network, network, network. This stat demonstrates why. More than a quarter of jobs are filled with somebody who leveraged their network of contacts to get a referral. Outside of internal transfers and promotions, referrals were the single largest source of new hires. BUT, and it’s a big one, nearly 75% of external hires were NOT referrals, which means that as a jobseeker you need to have a multi-pronged job search strategy.

  • Job boards and corporate career sites accounted for 22.3% and 13.2% of new hires respectively, 35.5% in total.
  • Why it matters: There is a lot of noise about job boards being dead. Don’t believe it. Don’t spend all day, every day, scanning job boards, but do make sure that you are checking in on a regular basis to see who is hiring. Use aggregator sites such as and to monitor multiple boards at once, and to monitor new postings on corporate boards.

  • Third party recruiters accounted for 2.3% of all external hires in 2009, down from 5.2% in 2005.
  • Anecdotal auxiliary stat on this: a typical recruiter will have some kind of contact with an average of 100 candidates a week, but will place a fraction of 1% of them.
  • Why it matters: A lot of jobseekers have the misconception of the importance of recruiting firms in the grand scheme of job placements (a lot of recruiters do too). Candidates are often outraged about recruiters who focus exclusively on passive candidates, and begrudge the seeming injustice of it. But 97.7% of jobs aren’t filled through external recruiters. Those 2.3% of jobs that are tend to have very specific technical, sales or leadership pre-requisites that are hard to find, or have a mismatch between the location of the talent pool and the location of the job. Be findable by recruiters, but don’t invest a huge part of your job search energy on trying to break down the recruiter’s door. And don’t sweat it if the recruiters aren’t returning your calls.

  • 2.3% of external new hires were people who walked in the door
  • Why it matters: It’s a comparatively small number, but here’s the thing. Most jobseekers don’t do it. My guess is less than 20% do it. In fact, I’d be venture to say that less than 10% do it. This means that 23% of jobseekers who are so bold as to walk into a company and ask for the job actually end up landing a job. Polish up your cold-calling technique if you want to be one of them.

So jobseekers, now that you have some insights on sources of hire, how will you change your job hunt strategy?


A Conversation With David Graziano – Social Recruiting Strategist

September 7th, 2010

If you follow David Graziano on twitter, read his articles, or listen to his contributions on call-in programs such as Recruiting Animal blog talk radio, you will already know that he is one of the good guys. With more than 28 years of experience as both a corporate and third-party recruiter, David has seen a lot of changes in the industry, and has watched recruiting firms come and go. Recognized as one of the 25 most influential recruiters on twitter, he is a vocal critic of a recruiting industry subculture that treat candidates as commodities. I had the opportunity to speak with David recently about his concerns.

How did you get started in recruiting, and are you any good at it?

I kind of came into recruiting through the backdoor. I am a master’s level clinical psychologist, and when I first relocated to St. Louis I saw an ad for a recruiter. I thought it might be a good interim job while I looked for a placement in my field, so I applied and got hired right away. It was a sweat shop. High volume, lots of pressure. The technology wasn’t there yet, but you could see the early warning signs that transactional recruiting was coming. But my background in counselling gave me a leg up over other recruiters in the firm, and I did what nobody had ever done in the history of the company: I made my first placement within five days of being hired. I had empathy, and I understood the importance of building trust. Instead of transactional recruiting I did relational recruiting. I did my best to be genuine when I talked to candidates and hiring managers, and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. This made it easier for me to recognize candidates who were going to be a good fit for my client’s needs. Not just a good fit on paper, but a good fit for the long haul.

Later, I worked as a corporate contract recruiter, and the recruiting center relied on ATS technology. The firm’s average time to fill a job was 75 days, but their goal was to reduce it to 65 days. I did 10 days better than that. My time to fill was 55 days, and I did it through relational recruiting. If somebody called me, I stopped to talk to them. Why? Because if a candidate is going to pick up the phone and call me, that speaks volumes about them. And in a 15 minute conversation, I can find out more about a person’s talents, knowledge, goals, and motivators than an ATS system could ever discover. Sure I leveraged the ATS, I made sure that the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed.  But I took a transactional recruiting model and made it relational, and that was the key to my success.

What do you see going wrong with recruiting practices today?

I deplore the transactional nature of the recruiting business today. We are all technocrats, 1984 Orwell-style, and technology is vastly taking over relational recruiting. Recruiters and corporations are under the misconception that an application tracking system will take the place of engaging, communicating, connecting, and this behaviour is permeating the industry across third party, corporate and staff recruiting. It’s all “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, and candidates are being treated like a commodity.

There’s a huge push toward transactional recruiting, especially in this economy where there is such pressure to reduce hiring costs. Corporations at the senior level are thinking that their sophisticated applicant tracking system is reducing their cost per hire, but they are deluding themselves because they are measuring the wrong things. They aren’t considering the time to fill a position, the lost opportunity costs, the impact of a black-hole application process on their employer brand. They don’t understand the value of having a good recruiting process that is built on people, not just technology.

Is it fixable?

Frankly, I don’t know if the problem is fixable, but I think it can be influenced. People like Jerry Albright, who understand that picking up the phone is the primary way of making things happen, they are quietly following a relational model of recruiting. It’s not really revolutionary, good recruiters have known it for years. But there is more urgency now if the recruiting industry wants to survive. The recession has only made it worse. Recruiters aren’t recruiters anymore, they are resume sourcers, paper hangers.

There is a lot of buzz about social media and recruiting through social media. As if social media is going to be the new recruiting panacea. Tools like twitter and Facebook are just another form of handshake. The value is still in relationship building, and this takes time. You won’t magically improve your cost of hiring by setting up a twitter account and blasting job ads. Companies like Sodexo know that. They are actively online, building candidate relationships. Most companies haven’t figured that out yet.

Corporations need to be taught how to use recruiters more effectively. We can save them money, we can improve the quality of hire, we can shorten the time to fill jobs, if we go beyond a transactional model. Perhaps I need to offer a series of seminars on how to work with recruiters. It isn’t all the fault of the corporations. Recruiters haven’t been all that transparent or forthcoming.  Some recruiters are afraid of looking stupid, so they don’t ask questions. They are afraid of risking the client relationship, so they don’t push back when corporate processes aren’t working. It’s the emperor’s new clothes thing. So they end up with job descriptions that are poorly written, or jobs where there is a hidden agenda, and because recruiters aren’t taking the time to really talk with the hiring manager, they aren’t seeing the intangibles. They just get told “no, he’s not the right candidate” or “bring me somebody else”, but they aren’t finding out why.

If jobseekers want to fight back against a “candidate as commodity” talent acquisition culture, what do you suggest that they do?

If you get a call from a third-party recruiter, ask questions. Not just about the job, but about the recruiter himself. Or herself. Figure out if this is even a person you want to work with. Ask how long they’ve been in the business. What kind of success have they had? Who are some of their customers? What do they know about your current skill set – the marketplace you work in? As a candidate you have the right to ask this stuff, and if the recruiter resists telling you, they may not be somebody you want to work with. Also, pay attention to whether the recruiter understands the position being filled. With the tools available for a recruiter to get up to speed on different verticals, there is no excuse for them not to be able to have an intelligent conversation about your industry. But they should also be willing to acknowledge what they don’t know. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t be in this recruiting space, and you as a jobseeker shouldn’t work with them. Don’t forget, only 5% of jobs are filled through third-party recruiters. You have options.

I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for this, but my recommendation is that, for a lot of companies, jobseekers should by-pass the corporate recruiter altogether. If you see a job that interests you, find out who the hiring manager is, and connect with them. In my experience, most in-house recruiters don’t care about the candidate experience, and they add little value to the hiring process. These are the ones I hear from  all the time saying “I’m too busy to speak to every candidate” or “I can’t possibly make all the follow-up calls”. Don’t believe it. Corporate recruiters who think like that just aren’t aggressive enough. There are exceptions, and Sodexo is a shining example, but unfortunately companies like that are rare.

Jobseekers should also learn how the hiring process works so that they can work it to their advantage. Understand the different players – the third-party recruiter, the corporate recruiter, the hiring manager, and who does what, when, and why. Understand the so-called rules, the small-p politics, so you can know which rules can be broken, which ones can be bent, and which ones they absolutely must comply with. It isn’t easy, I know. Jobseekers have to be much more savvy than they did in the past. But using tools like twitter and recruiting blogs can help, because recruiters and HR experts share information with each other that is valuable for jobseekers too.

Are there experts you would recommend that jobseekers follow?

There are some really good people, both corporate recruiters and third-party recruiters, whose voices are helping to bring integrity to recruiting and talent acquisition. Lots of them are on twitter, and jobseekers would do well to listen in on the conversation. My recommendations include:

  • @Greg_Savage: Greg Savage, CEO of Aquent International
  • @Deandacosta: Dean Da Costa, Senior Talent Sourcer/Recruiter with Microsoft
  • @CincyRecruiter: Jennifer McClure, Founder of Unbridled Talent LLC
  • @SodexoCareers: Kerry Noone, Head of Marketing & Employer Branding for Sodexo
  • @sullivanmarkd: Mark Sullivan, Director of Recruiting for Time Warner Cable
  • @BooleanBlackBlt: Glenn Cathay, Vice President of Recruiting at Kforce
  • @Ray_anne: Rayanne Thorne, Marketing Director at Broadbean Technology
  • @lruettimann aka @punkrockHR: Laurie Ruettimann, HR Blogger and co-founder of New Media Services LLC
  • @ResearchGoddess: Amybeth Hale, Editor of ERE Media’s The Fordyce Letter & SourceCon -
  • @AmitaiGivertz: Amitai Givertz, Principal at AMG Management Advisors and Program Leader at Brown Bag Recruiter
  • @animal: twitter persona of Michael Kelemen, Canadian Headunter and host of the Recruiting Animal Show
  • @BillBoorman: Bill Boorman, producer of The Recruiter Unconference events, with TRU Conferences in North America, Europe, and soon in Southeast Asia and Australia.
  • I would also recommend Jerry Albright. He’s not on twitter any more, which is a shame because his voice is missed, but you can catch him as host of the Recruiting Animal aftershow.

Follow David Graziano through twitter @DavidGraziano

connect with him on LinkedIn

or follow his blog


Jobseeker Coach’s Corner – Recruiter Houseparty

April 22nd, 2010

(Originally aired September 21st, 2010)

Geoff Webb (aka @RadicalRecruit) interviews Karen Siwak about what jobseekers can expect when they work with a professional resume writer and career coach.

Listen to internet radio with Recruiter HouseParty on Blog Talk Radio

Win-win tips for hiring managers and job seekers

November 26th, 2009

(Originally published CareerBulletin, CareerEdge Organization’s Quarterly e-Newsletter)

If you’ve monitored the social network over the past nine months, you may have noticed a litany of complaints from both candidates and recruiters about the challenges of the recruitment process in today’s job market. Recruiters complain that a single advertised opening is attracting hundreds of candidates, many of whom are unsuitable for the role. Job seekers, on the other hand, describe the experience of applying to advertised openings as “tossing my resume into a big, black hole”, and complain about never hearing back from employers.

Having reviewed the most common complaints from both sides of the hiring table, I can offer the following suggestions to reduce the tension and disconnect in the recruitment process.

Tips for hiring managers:

  • Create job descriptions that clearly spell out your expectations. Too many job ads have vague descriptions or lack keywords that can help a candidate assess whether they fit the bill. This encourages “spray and hope” job searches from applicants who are ready to apply for anything and everything.
  • Be realistic about the necessary qualifications to do the job. The opposite of the “too-vague” job description is the one that could be simplified to “Wanted – Superhero.” Rather than narrowing down the candidate pool, a lengthy list of over-the-top expectations can actually dilute the pool, as candidates say “Nobody can meet all these expectations, I may as well toss my hat in the ring and see what happens.”
  • Provide the name & title of a contact person. Nobody wants to write a “dear sir” or a “to whom it may concern” cover letter.
  • Get over the “passive candidate” versus “active candidate” mind-think. The talent pool of active job seekers has never been as rich as it is today, and there are many highly qualified, experienced and motivated candidates who have the flexibility and willingness to start immediately.
  • Don’t make the recruitment process “a big black hole”. Let candidates know you’ve received their application and are seriously considering their candidacy. Special note to users of talent management software: A “form rejection” email less than 10 minutes after the resume has been submitted is still “big black hole” behaviour, it just has the finality of a thud as the candidate hits bottom.

Tips for job seekers:

  • Read the job description. Too many applicants ignore the job description and focus instead on the Job Title. Titles can mean different things in different companies. “Operations Manager” can mean plant management in one company, sales management in another, logistics management in a third, and administrative oversight in a fourth. Use the description to figure out whether this is really a job you are interested in.
  • Be realistic about your qualifications. Just because you think you can do it, does not give you the right to claim it as one of your core skills. Being part of a project team does not necessarily make you a Project Manager, for example.
  • Don’t apply for jobs for which you are clearly unsuitable. It was this strategy that led to the wide spread adoption of impersonal software to screen hundreds of resumes in order to find those few candidates who actually matched the search criteria.
  • Customize the resume to the specific job. Don’t apply for a Bookkeeper job with a resume that says your career target is marketing.
  • Don’t submit “Resume.doc”. Make the hiring manager’s job easier by distinguishing your resume from the 100+ other applications he receives each day. At a minimum, use your name (JohnDoe.doc). Even better, use your name and the target title John_Doe_Operations_Manager.doc).

Meet Karen Siwak

An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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