Monday, November 1, 2010

Anticipating 2011

I deal every day with people who are struggling just to get by.  There are the IT professionals who years ago entered a profession that was supposed to be a sure thing with respect to job security.  Now they feel disillusioned as they watch their jobs get shipped overseas where corporations spend pennies on the dollar compared to what they might otherwise spend here in the US.  (Note you generally get what you pay for.)  I also know somewhat more fortunate professionals who have contract jobs here in the US, but no access to benefits.  I know someone who is probably one of the most highly skilled individuals in his field in the city where he resides, who can earn an exceptional hourly rate by most people's standards.  His family recently lost their home, because a member of his family has a chronic medical condition and they became overwhelmed by bills. 

Not only do I hear it from others, but my family has felt the pinch as well.  Back in 2007, anyone who was alert who worked in the staffing industry could see the writing on the wall.  Clients abruptly stopped hiring contractors.  Then they stopped hiring full time employees.  Then they started laying off employees.  Then some went out of business altogether.

I was very fortunate in early 2008 to reconnect with some former coworkers with whom I had worked in HR, and learned that they had a number of unfilled IT positions, and needed help on a contract basis.  I was even more fortunate in that while I was there, one of the full time recruiters went on maternity leave.  I was able to remain on contract for the duration of the year, and even logged a few hours in January.

Unfortunately, the work ran out, and the contract ended.  In February of 2009, there were no real opportunities for senior recruiters, full time or contract.  So, I hung out my shingle and eSearch Associates was born.  I had no clients and no candidates, but was informed by someone at the unemployment office that I wasn't eligible for unemployment because I was working.  ... IE - No income at all for some time to come, but plenty of start-up expenses.

I had to laugh some time later when my parents showed me a letter they were sending to some friends stating that I had realized a lifelong dream of owning my own company.  (Sorry Mom and Dad if I didn't get the wording quite right.)  Honestly, nothing could have been further from the truth.  I knew full well that starting a search firm in the thick of the nation's worst recession in years was not the ideal business plan.  If there had been a great corporate job available, I'm sure I'd have taken it.

So here we are, nearly 2 years later.  When I say to job seekers "I feel your pain," it isn't because I'm running for office.  It's because when a hiring manager is too overwhelmed by his or her workload to take the time to really read your resume, when I know you'd be perfect for the opening, my financial hopes were pinned on you getting that job too.  By the same token, I understand the stress of the business owner or manager who has a very tight budget and has to be very cautions about making sure that the next person who is hired is a really good fit. 

Yes, I get all of that.  We are all cumulatively stressed out, worn out, and operating on considerably tighter budgets than back on the "good old days" just a few years ago.

Having said all that, I am very optimistic about the prospects for 2011. 

Before I go further, I want to say that even though this is being posted on the even of the election, this post is not about politics.  Both major parties can shoulder their fair share of the blame for events that led us to the near collapse of the economy, and both can make some claim to having done some things to help stimulate the (admittedly lukewarm) growth we're seeing.  For the record, I think that any president in power had to do something to bail out the banking system, regardless what his or her philosophy might have been, and I think that any president would have felt that finding "shovel ready" projects to spend money on would have been a very pragmatic way to create a lot of new jobs quickly.  But rather than focus on what was done, and what should have been done (because both parties also can be criticized for their failures to do more over the past 2 years) I'd like simply to look at where we were and where we are.

Back in 2007, reports started coming out about a looming crisis relating to commercial paper.  I'm not a finance expert, but the short of this was that companies, big healthy companies, were having trouble getting overnight loans for things like paying their employees.  This was a really big deal.  I remember hearing about this somewhat after the fact, in 2008 and starting to put the pieces together.  A small business owner I knew, owed someone a pretty sizable sum of money.  He had enough money in the bank to pay the debt, but couldn't pay the debt because he couldn't get any bank loans to make payroll.  He had clients that owed him significant sums of money, but they weren't paying their bills because they couldn't get loans from the banks to make payroll...  In mid September of 2008, lending completely locked up, and the stock markets tanked.

Regardless of what could have or should have been done differently in the years and months leading up to September 2008, at that point, we were in a crisis.  If nothing had been done, I really can't imagine how bad things would have gotten.  I'm sure that somewhere there are plenty of articles on the topic.

Where we find ourselves now is that we're seeing some improvements.  We have gone from headlines describing a state of crisis to headlines that discuss modest job growth.  (Do a Google search for "job growth" and modest) over the past 12 months.)  There are increasing stories of companies accumulating large stockpiles of cash (not necessarily a good thing) and also stories of pent-up demand for hiring.  Headlines like this would have been unheard of even a year ago.

I personally think that companies are waiting to see the outcome of the election, simply because any election presents an element of uncertainty, which companies don't like.  I think that regardless of the outcome, the level of uncertainty will go down after the election, and in early 2011, we'll start seeing more job creation.  (Stay tuned, I'm working on a separate article relating to the mobile device and mobile applications industries and why I think they will stimulate job growth.)

Here in the US, we still have huge challenges to face:
* Expect another hit to the housing market as financial institutions foreclose on a lot of houses next year and those homes have to get absorbed into the market. ... It would be great if Republicans and Democrats alike could work together to promote some assistance for regular folks who are trying to make their payments, but have gotten behind due to job losses, lack of healthcare coverage, or other factors.
* We still have some long term challenges relating to the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas. 
* Congress and the president still need to tackle the 500 lb gorilla that nobody will face - huge expenditures on Medicare and Social Security.  Some sort of graduated benefit seems a no-brainer, but neither party will let the other party discuss the issue without bashing them.
* Rather than just extending the Bush tax cuts, reallocating them and offering cuts to payroll taxes seems like another no-brainer that would stimulate job growth and help companies and individuals across the board.
* Finally, there are stimulus funds that have been allocated and not yet spent.  Despite those who are concerned about long term deficits, I believe that growing the GDP in the short run, thereby increasing tax revenue and decreasing federal and state program expenses.  In the short run, this should still be a major priority.  This doesn't take into consideration any potential multiplier effect on jobs.

Despite considerable heavy lifting that ideally needs to be done by our leaders, I think there are still indications that some recovery will take place regardless of what they do.  (Because the cynic in me isn't confident that they will collaboratively do anything that requires bipartisan teamwork or courage.)

Aside from the clear differences in the news of the day that point toward reasons for optimism, I'm also feeling very upbeat because others in my industry also appear to be feeling the same way.  Those in the search and staffing industries were among the first to know that we were in a huge recession, and (because prevailing thought is that jobs are a lagging indicator of recovery) unfortunately also the last to see signs of improvement. ... There are signs of improvement though.  I'm seeing them firsthand, as are my peers, and I'm very hopeful that circumstances will be even better in 2011.

Best wishes to all of you.  I hope you find this to be encouraging.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some VERY basic job search tips.

I was recently reprimanded by one of my few followers for not posting anything here for quite some time.  In my defense, it isn't as if I haven't been doing anything at all.  Business is finally beginning to pick up some for eSearch Associates, and I continue to write on a freelance basis for TechRepublic

Still, I promised some job search tips quite some time ago, so here they are.  These are things I try to tell everyone.  Nothing fancy today.  This is just off the top of my head.  No style points.

1.  Use the Internet to search.  There are websites like that you can use which will search by location, job title, and which pull jobs from major job boards, but also from corporate websites.

2.  Create online resumes.  Create different versions if you are seeking different kinds of jobs.  Update your resume at least twice a week if you are actively seeking a new job.  This puts a new time and date stamp on your online resume.  When recruiters search through online resumes, they almost always search from among the candidates who have posted in the last week, or last month at most.  The older your resume, the fewer hits you will get.  You don't need to change anything when updating a resume on a site like  Just click "edit" and then save it.  Bingo.  You're back at the top of the list.

3.  Use LinkedIn.  Use LinkedIn even if you aren't actively looking for a job. Build your network and references even if you're totally happy with your job.  You never know what will happen in the future.  Stop playing Mafia Wars on Facebook.  Quit posting about how stupid you think the opposing political party is.  (And in the process alienating would-be bosses.)  Do something useful.  Build your network.  Remember, your online profile is like a resume.  Spelling and grammar count. 
Make it easy for recruiters to contact you.  Put your email address on your profile.
Finally, be a good citizen on LinkedIn.  When contacting people, read their contact preferences.  Don't "friend" people the way you might on Facebook or MySpace.  On LinkedIn, some sort of contact message is preferable before inviting someone to join your network.  (Here's a link to my profile, by the way: )

4. Don't send your resume to every recruiter under the sun.  If you do, you lose all control over who gets your resume, and in some cases actually diminish your chances of getting a job.  Let's say that a recruiter submits you for a job for which you are not a great fit, and/or does a poor job of "selling" you to the client.  In most cases, other recruiters cannot submit you to the same client for at least a year.  Additionally, some harried corporate recruiters will not consider you if you have previously applied for and not been selected for a similar position. 

5.  Don't "blast" the same resume out to hundreds of would-be employers at one.  Target your resumes and customize your resume whenever possible.

6.  Don't EVER send a resume to anyone by email without an accompanying message in the email explaing who you are, which position you're applying for, and why you're a good fit.

7.  Don't apply for positions for which you are clearly not even remotely qualified.  Most large companies will get 500+ applicants per position within just a few days.  Corporate recruiters generally can pull up your online activity if you have registered with their site.  What do you think it says to them about your career focus if you have applied for every position that's posted?

8.  Network.  If you know a company is hiring, see who you know who works at that company.  See who you know who knows someone who works at that company.

9.  Consider freelance jobs that may pay next to nothing, but at least put some work experience on your resume.  There are a number of websites that are decicated just to freelance and contract jobs.

10.  Don't ever pay money to post your resume on a website.  The whole concept of The Laddrs mystifies me.  Why would I as a recruiter want to pay a website for access to people who are so desperate to get a job that they are paying to post their resume when, if they were smart, they would instead be building their profiles on LinkedIn and posting on the other large sites? 

11.  It's definitely OK to grieve the losss of that job you had that was really great.  It's also OK to be frustrated about how unfair life can be at times.  However, don't get immersed in blogging about how unfair life is or posting about it on Facebook.  (If you have to, create an anonymous blog and just use it to vent your emotions, but don't invite the whole world to see it.)  At some point, spending all of your energy focusing on "poor me" rants will not only scare off potential employers, it will have perpetuate your negative state of mind.  There are about 1.7 billion people living in total abject poverty.  If you have access to a computer and are reading this blog, you aren't one of them.  (Yes, conceptually, you could be poorer, since you may be in debt, but you are still better off.)  About 50,000 people die every day from poverty-related issues.  Over 30,000 children die every day before they reach their 5th birthday. 

If you're unahppy about how unfair life has been to you (and I'm not saying it hasn't been) go out and find someone who's in worse shape than you are to help.  It really will do you a world of good to do something meaningful and will help your perspective as well. 

12.  On a positive note, it's hard to remember it, but we are actually WAY better off than we were 2 years ago.  (This isn't a political statement.  Both parties can tae credit or blame for problems and solutions.)  In 2008, major companies were having trouble getting simple overnight loans from banks so they could make payroll.  We were really a gnat's eyelash away from a major meltdown.  ... I could go on at length about this and might in another post.

Suffice it to say that the staffing industry is the last to see when a recovery is happening, and I am hearing encouraging things on many fronts from others in the industry.  No, it's certainly not great yet.  I still have white knuckles from trying so hard to hang on, but I am expecting 2011 to be a much better year than any of the past several years have been.

I hope this has been helpful.  ... And sorry if I sound unsympathetic.  If I do, please go back and read this article.  Believe me, I totally understand how stressful this is, and hope this has given you at least a few helpful tidbits that you can use.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lenovo ThinkPad T410s and Windows 7

As some of you may know, I have been wearing a splint on my left arm for the past week that extends from my hand to my bicep.  (The result of carpal tunnel surgery as well as surgery on the ulnar nerve.)

In anticipation of the surgery, I began researching various options that would enable me to remain productive despite the limited use of one hand and arm. 

Dragon DNS was mentioned on numerous occasions as the industry leader in voice recognition software.  However, it was also mentioned that Windows 7 includes voice recognition as a part of its normal functionality.  I decided to look into it further, hoping to write an article on the subject, and Lenovo was kind enough to loan me a ThinkPad for review purposes. 

Without writing the complete article here, I must say that I've been very happy with both the ThinkPad and with Windows 7. I'm actually writing this blog right now using voice recognition.  This ThinkPad has been a huge blessing, allowing me to remain much more productive than I otherwise would have been.  I was able to even answer a few emails within hours of my surgery despite my entire left arm still being completely numb from a nerve block.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Tips for staying positive when facing unemployment

Back in 2002, the economy was in some ways, similar to today.  ... At least with respect to unemployment.  Many people were hitting the wall emotionally, having been unemployed for much longer than they ever thought they would be.  May of these were people who had previously always been highly sought after for their skills.

I wrote the article that I have linked to for TechRepublic, and got more positive responses to it than I did from any other article I wrote.  I remember getting an email from a former Computer Associates VP who had been hit hard emotionally by her job loss.  (I have desperately tried to remember her name, but it was several employers ago, and several home PCs ago. ... Somewhere along the way, I lost her contact info.)

If I were to write a similar article today, I think I'd still cover those four points, at least.  For anyone here who either was recently let go, or has been unemployed for a while and is struggling emotionally, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Follow up regarding resume tips article...

First, I want to thank Toni Bowers for mentioning my blog article.  You can find her comments here:

I have looked over some of the reader responses to her article, and thought I'd add a few clarifications.

Applicant tracking software or applicant tracking systems can vary greatly in terms of cost and functionality.  Here's a link to a short Wikipedia summary:

Mention of these systems can refer to the enterprise level systems used by multinational companies, but can also refer to applications that are used by small to mid-sized employers.  Search firms also use similar systems that also include the functionality of being able to manage client information.

Technically, resume scanning, refers to the process of manually scanning resumes and then using OCR software to convert the scanned images into documents.  This represents a somewhat dated process, but probably still takes place.  That's why you'll see resume tips about creating plain vanilla versions of resumes if you are going to fax them in, or mail in hard copies.

What I was referring to was more of a data extraction process.  Good applicant tracking applications can not only extract your contact information, they can even identify employers, job titles, and many words and phrases referring to specific skills.

Someone rightly commented that it hardly seems necessary to make sure that you r name gets extracted when many employers require you to manually log into their systems and enter all that data.  That's technically correct.  However, many companies don't do that.  Many search firms don't do that.  Lots of organizations would rather make the application process as easy as possible for you and will accept emailed resumes or uploaded resumes.

Another person commented on how sad it is that many resumes don't actually get read.  While I agree, I may end up having to write a complete article on the subject of what corporate and/or third party recruiters deal with on a regular basis.  I'll just mention one incident that comes to mind.  A couple of years ago, I was working as a contract corporate recruiter for a major employer.  In that role, there were countless instances of people logging on and applying for every single posted position, or every single IT position.  (Consider that a not what to do when trying to get hired tip.)  In one instance, I posted a position on the company's website, and in a matter of just a few days, there were considerably more than 500 applicants.  Had I physically opened every single resume, I would not have had time to do anything else.  Also, I had tools at my disposal to start eliminating unqualified candidates based on things like educational requirements and required skills.

Sorry that I can't comment right now on other feedback people provided.  There were some very good comments.

Thanks again Toni!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Political Rants and Job Seeking

It has been really interesting (and also painful) to watch the growing tendency of people to blindly accept as truth the outrageous assertions that are made by various TV personalities. Even more troubling is the acceptance of their behavior as normative.

Let's consider how this plays out when it comes to your job search.

Just for the sake of not stepping on any toes, let's assume that the following political parties have been resurrected recently in your city, and are represented by the proportions below:

Bull Moose Party 40%
Natural Law Social Democratic Party 35%
Gibublican Party 25%

For whatever reason, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents have all fallen into disfavor in your county.

You are a diehard Gibublican and believe adamantly that all Natural Law Social Democrats are in fact Marxists in disguise, and all Bull Moosians are fascists. No arguments to the contrary will convince you otherwise. Let's even assume that you are absolutely correct. Unfortunately, because of contact with a parallel universe, everything in the world has remained the same, with the exception of those facts. ... You have been very energetic in trying to get the word out to people. You have posted about in on LinkedIn, and you regularly post links on your Facebook page commenting about what simpletons our leaders are and how only the Gibublicans have any sense at all.

Now, assume that you are unemployed. You have seen a position posted online that would be PERFECT for you. You apply online and are brought in for an interview. The interview goes well. You go home, certain that you will get the job. Unfortunately, you're not aware that the hiring manager is a Bull Moosian and the department director is a Bull Moose Social Democrat.

Sadly, you don't get the job, and you are left wondering why, thinking perhaps it might be your age, or that you were overqualified and they took someone less qualified, for a lower salary.

What happened? As you might guess, both got online at home and looked you up. Each decided for different reasons that you weren't a good fit. One saw your rants about people who disagreed with you and wondered how you might respond in a work environment when confronted with people who didn't agree with you. The other, decided that you were simply a moron who might say something which could reflect poorly on the company, and opted not to take a chance. Technically, neither made a decision based on your political ideology, and you would be hard-pressed to prove it even if they had.

Note, I'm not saying that people shouldn't have strong opinions or be active in their respective parties. I am saying that how you conduct yourself, especially online, is very important.

Here in the United States, our population is fairly evenly spit with roughly even numbers of Democrats and Republicans and growing numbers of independents, who believe that both parties have lost their marbles. In the real working world, you not only have to learn to get along with members of other groups, you have to treat them with respect, as if their political affiliation doesn't matter. ... Because when it comes to the job that you have to do - it DOESN'T matter.

If you're spending a good deal of your time online bashing a particular group or a particular elected official, then the odds are pretty likely that anyone with a browser is going to be able to find some of your comments, even if they look 5, 10, or 20 years from now. If you make inflammatory statements about members of another group which can only be substantiated by some talking head on TV, but not by any real facts, a hiring manager who's a member of that group might at some point in the future read them and take umbrage.

Bottom line: If you don't like someone's views, at least be civil in the way you communicate. Better yet, get away from your PC. Get out in the world and do something useful. Go mentor some kids that need help in school. Find someone who's more down-and-out than you are and offer a helping hand. You'll accomplish far more doing those things than you will yakking away on Facebook, and you won't be sabotaging your own future.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Getting your resume noticed. (A quick tutorial for anyone in a leadership role.)

Back in the days after the dot com crash and 9/11, I moderated a little support group of sorts on Yahoo for unemployed and under-employed executives. After getting to know many of the members, one common theme started to stand out.  Most of them had never had to look for jobs before.  Job offers had already come to them.  When time came for them to prepare their resumes, many of them were simply finding the old resumes they used when they were fresh out of school, complete with bachelor's degrees listed at the very top, and inserting their most recent employment down below.  Thus began a journey for me that has involved years of one-on-one resume critiques.

A lot has happened in the ensuing 8 years or so.  Many people are a lot more sophisticated with respect to the way that they network and manage their careers.  Yet, many of the resumes I see today aren't all that different from the ones I was reviewing back then.

The challenge for job seekers today is that the must differentiate themselves from the countless other applicants against whom they are competing.  I heard on the news the other day that there are six job seekers in the US right now for every open position.  My experience as a corporate recruiter is that there are hundred of people applying for just about every open position that gets posted online.  Shake out the many desperate or indiscriminate individuals who apply for every opening they see, and you still are facing really slim odds.

Here are a few things I see commonly which, in my opinion, do little or nothing to help you in this respect:

Listing Competencies:

Many leadership resumes will begin with a laundry list of competencies which the candidate hopes to use to define himself or herself.  Typically this list appears just under the objective or summary statement.  In resume terms, this is prime real estate.  This is the section of the resume that you're using to entice the reader to go further down the page - to get into the meat of your resume.  Common phrases will include things like Visionary Leadership, Profit and Loss Responsibility, Mentoring, Vendor Management, and Change Management.  Somewhere, I'm sure that someone has compiled a list of the catch phrases.  I'd imagine that there are at least fifty or so that are commonly used.

The problem is that I doubt if anyone really reads these.  Even if they do, do you think it really matters?  Can you imagine a CEO reading over a resume and thinking, "I see that Susan listed mentoring on her resume and Bob didn't, so I'm going to put Susan's resume in the keeper stack."  Of course not.  Because all of the phrases start to sound the same, and if someone is reading the 20th resume in a stack of 50 resumes, and they all take that approach, none of the stand out.

Focusing On Responsibilities

Let me be clear that you have to explain in some detail what you did.  However, talking about your responsibilities doesn't answer the "So what?" question.
  • Responsible for $2 million annual budget (So what?  That proves you know how to spend money.)
  • Led application development team.  (So what?  What did you and your team accomplish of significance?)
  • Met daily with company CEO.  (OK, you get the idea.  It doesn't matter who you met with or what you did unless it resulted in some accomplishments that you can point to that brought value to the organization.)
Trying to tell EVERYTHING about yourself

People try to accomplish this by either filling up their resumes with huge paragraphs that essentially become walls of words that are too much for the reader to easily process.  Alternately, they offer a page full of bullet points, implying that everything that's bulleted is of critical importance.  The problem is that if you stress everything, you have effectively not stressed anything.  The eye won't naturally fall on any of the bullet points as the reader tries to scan down the document.

Something Different...

An approach that I have been recommending for years, which I feel will help anyone stand out who has served in a leadership role is to focus on accomplishments.

What I'd recommend would look something like this:

John Q Public

In this paragraph, you want an objective or summary statement.  It's three, no more than four lines about who you are, and what you bring to the table, or what kind of position you're seeking.  I gravitate more toward a summary, rather than an objective, but am fine with either.  The main purpose of this is just to make sure that your resume ends up in the hands of the right person, or is considered for the right openings.

Selected Accomplishments
  • Proposed, designed, and implemented new XYZ system, resulting in $500,000 in annual savings per year.
  • Brought about world peace.
  • Responsible for $25 million annual budget
(I actually would like to see more space between each bullet point, but this blog editor isn't cooperating.  Two of these accomplishments are poorly written for a resume.  World peace isn't quantified in terms of revenue generated, cost savings, or any other quantifiable measurement communicating value to the organization so, while commendable, shouldn't be listed.  As mentioned above, being responsible for a large annual budget isn't really an accomplishment, though many people think it is.  It simply means you know how to spend money.  It doesn't answer the "So what?" question? ... What did you do for the organization with that 25 million?)

Experience                                                                                                 2006 to Present
Director of Really Important Things
What I'd like to see here would be a short paragraph, or no more than four lines, that lists your responsibilities.  Be sure to use action verbs.  The Ladders, a website with a completely preposterous premise, has a good article on the subject here: Resume Action Verbs Article  You never want your experience summaries to go more than 4 lines.
  • Under each position (and you can align them all the way left) include a couple of slightly more detailed accomplishments.  They can go up to 2 1/2 lines apiece.
  • Remember that good accomplishments are quantifiable.  Here in the meat of your resume, you can include some details regarding how you achieved the accomplishments.  Up above, you just want to focus on the results. 
GreatBigCorp, Inc                                                                                          2004 to 2006
Manager of Pretty Important Things
Follow the same pattern as above.  List your responsibilities.  Note that it's not important that the person who's reviewing your resume actually read these details on the first pass.  Instead, your hope is that he/she will scan down your resume, noting your position titles, and accomplishments. 
  • If your accomplishments are compelling enough, then the person will want to go back and read your resume again in greater detail.
  • What you're doing is communicating a story, that wherever you go, you make a very positive impact.  It's implicit that you can do the same for this potential employer.

Writing a resume is much more of an art than a science.  If you speak with 99 other recruiters, you'll hear 99 other opinions regarding what makes a good resume.  At least you will until this blog gets popular.  ;-)
I think if you follow this approach though, you'll accomplish two important things:
  • Your resume will be easy to read and process.  What's important will stand out.
  • Your "value proposition" will be clearly communicated.
I hope that you find this to be helpful and would love to hear from you if you do.  I also welcome ideas regarding other creative approaches that have worked for you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Resume Tips: Your Name

This is pretty basic, but it actually comes up more often than one would think.  When submitting your resume either by email, or as an attachment as a part of an online application, you need to keep in mind that not only will one or more people take a look at it, that resume is more than likely going to be stored online in a resume database of some sort.  Sometimes, in addition to submititng your resume, you will be asked to complete a variety of fields which include basics like name, address, and phone number.  However, some systems have the ability to grab that information off of your resume, provided you help them at least a little.

Keep it simple.  Put your name in bold at the top of your resume.  It can be centered, or justified to one side or the other.  That doesn't really matter.  The key is to make it easy for the software to find it.

A few common pitfalls which can confuse software include the following:

Text Boxes:  Many resume databases don't have a mechanism for incorporating the contents of text boxes into the data that they grab.  Therefore, if your name is front and center, at the top of a resume where it should be, but in a text box, it might get missed.  Just this week, a woman sent me such a resume.  It was beautiful... Very well written ... Nicely laid out.  When my software grabbed it though, and I looked at the summary of her contact information, the software had decided that her name was: Profile.

In my case, I do my best to check every resume that gets entered into my system.  Imagine though that your resume is going intot he database of one of those search firms that runs lots of phantom openings.  (They look like openings, but they aren't real.)  They have sucked in several hundred resumes int he past few days and some admin assistant has clicked on abutton and processed them all intot he database.  You call a few days later:

(You) - Hello, this is Sandy Jones.  I'm calling about my resume....
(Recruiter)  - I don't see a Sandy Jones in our database...

It's a problem that the recruiter can easily fix.  Let's say though that you didn't follow up, and the mistake wasn't spotted.  Several months later, a hiring manager who you have networked with calls the recruiter.

(Manager) Could you pull up the resume of Sandy Jones?  I'd like to have a look at it...
(Recruiter)  I don't see anyone in our database with that name.  Maybe she emailed her resume to the wrong address.  That happens from time to time.
(Manager)  Hmmm.  OK.  Well, here's the type of person I need. ...  Please see if you can turn up some candidates for me.

And you have just missed out on an opportunity.

Headers: Placing your name in a header seems like a good way of saving space.  However, some systems don't read headers when looking for contact information either.  Additionally, resumes often get reviewed without being printed out.  Sometimes people will have their word processor set so that the headers and footers don't even show up. 

My pet peeve as a recruiter is that when I submit a candidate to a client, I include my company logo in the header.  A resume that is formatted to look "right" with the name and contact information in the header generally requires some time and effort on my part to get it looking right again when I have to pull the name out and insert it into the text of the resume.  ... All the more problematic if a candidate has created a resume using tables in the body of the resume.  (Another pet peeve.)

Alphabet Soup:  Ever see a name at the top of a resume like this? 


Alphabet soup at the end of the name can screw up the identification of your name.  More importantly, it actually can be viewed as a negative by many people.  Some think that if you're really that good, you don't need to compensate by adding all the acronyms to your name.  Some think it's a sign that you're pretentious or arrogant.  Some will see the PhD in particular, and think you're an academic .... That you're not geared for the rough and tumble world of corporate America. 

My personal feeling is that when you're really good, you don't need acronyms listed at the end of your name.  You can and should list all of your certifications and qualifications on your resume.  It's just a questions of how they are presented.

S P A C I N G:

Every blue moon, I see a name on a resume that looks like this:

B E A U R E G A R D  Q.  P E R I W I N K L E

Simply put, when you add a space between all of the letters of your name, it makes it impossible for most software applications to accurately parse out your name.  Regardless of how good you think it looks, it's not a good idea.