Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Keywords and other resume tips


Key words and other resume tips

By Michael Pollock

When you polish up your resume make sure that it includes the keywords that search engine users are looking for.

Allison Hemmings of The Hired Guns says that when she is recruiting, she searches resumes on three main areas: the names of companies you have worked for, common job titles and clients you have worked with. This specific detail is what sorts people out. The names of TV shows you've worked on, or brands you've been involved with can easily get left as you sort through the thickets of corporate titles and teams, but these can be very important search criteria - make sure the good ones are included.

When a recruiter searches on their select set of terms and say 5 people meet those requirements, then they are probably not going to look further. I was struck by this methodology, which seems very absolute and may not include those "quality" words that can be so effective when someone is then reading the resume. But it can be the specific company names, brands and titles that get the resume read, only then giving you the opportunity to flesh your story out with the innovations and business growth and awards which set you apart and make you unique.

And you shouldn't drop off the things you did 10 or more years ago if they are relevant to your case. But do take care to frame them in a contemporary context, says Hemmings. Technology and jargon has evolved, but there could still be a core that is utterly relevant to the needs of today's employers.

The question of resume boards has arisen in this space. Hemmings says there are "some awesome resume boards." She mentioned The Ladders and ResumeDeli. But she notes, "Just because you have had it professionally written doesn't mean you can't change it and keep it up to date."

Ultimately your resume should do what Hemmings calls "nuggetizing" parts of your background." It should frame each specific job in your history and tell the reader why she should care what the value is to them. She says, "I recommend three bullet points about why you are the best person in the world who can do this job."

Michael Pollock is President of Pollock Spark

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Q+A: Negotiating Salary

Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock

"What should I do when offered a salary? If its within my range do I immediately accept or should I negotiate and if so, how?"

I would first say thank you, and tell them that you are excited and honored that they are considering hiring you. I am assuming that you are a good match for the position and they are really interested in you, so then it is not unreasonable to ask politely if they can go to a somewhat higher number. Name the number: say 10% or 15% higher than their offer. If they say okay, then okay. If they say "No this is all we have," you can ask them if there are perks available instead: gym membership, or education allowance or whatever interests you, and see if they can do something which might come out of a different budget. You don' t even have to give them a reason. They are not interested in your personal situation or your housing costs or your need to buy your spouse a new car. The only thing they are considering is their need to fill the spot with the best person that they can afford with their budget.

Do it respectfully. I do not encourage you to play hardball in this market, unless you are absolutely convinced that you have a better rock solid offer elsewhere, or else you are the only person in the world who could fill that spot, and they absolutely have to have you.

And here is a response from a Cynopsis reader:
"I'm in the midst of re-negotiating my salary/position with my company, as I've come up on a yearly review, so I found your entry today from Cynopsis about salary negotiations extremely helpful! I'm having a big meeting tomorrow"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to grow professionally while you're job hunting

Job seeking doesn’t mean a halt to your professional growth; it may be the best time to develop skills of leadership, software, language or networking.

Michael Pollock is quoted in article by Jenn Danko for @YourLibrary, the Campaign for American Libraries

Read it here

Q+A: How to make the move from radio to TV

Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock

"I am a top radio Producer, comedy script writer, editor and researcher for a top national radio show. However I feel like I've reached the glass ceiling, not only in my company, but also in the industry. I'm fairly young, early 30's and I would love to move to a career in television. Here's the catch, I also have experience in news reporting and I'm pretty camera friendly. I love both sides of the camera. I'm basically stuck at which avenue would be the best for me to pursue in the television industry, behind the scenes or go straight for the reporting work. I have a pretty lucrative job and I don't want to lose pay, but I'm afraid that i'll have to start on the gopher level to move into television. Any advice?"

So I see that among your many skills you are a researcher: I recommend that you research, research, research. Seek out people who work in television - people on both sides of the camera - and ask them what their job is like. Ask your friends to brainstorm who they can introduce you to who is doing a job you might be interested in. Then get these contacts talking over a cup of coffee or a cocktail. Ask them how they got their jobs and what is their growth path. Tell them about your skills and ask them how these skills apply in their business and if they can see opportunities for you to parlay your skills into a lateral move, avoiding the gopher hole. And surely one of the things that they will suggest if you want to be on camera is to make yourself a presentation reel. Do some reporting that will wow people.

But all this is not just about research. You will also be building a valuable network of professionals to contact when you have homed in on the route you eventually decide to take. They will know you and hopefully like you and even feel vested in helping you to succeed. At the research stage it is fine to be curious about the best way for you to go, but by that time you had better have decided on what you passionately want to do.

Michael Pollock is President of Pollock Spark ( www.pollockspark.com ).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Your pitch, your resume, your story

More on the power of stories.

What is a resume but the story of who you are and how you got to be that person, told in a way that will move the hirer to want you on her team? What is a business pitch if it isn't the story of how your business can help the client - as they evolve their own story?

McKee talks of the value of originality. He says that it is the confluence of content and form: not only what you have to say but how you say it. "If the content is cliché, then the telling will be cliché. If the telling is conventional and predictable it demands stereotypical roles to act out well-worn
behaviors." He then reminds us sternly not to mistake eccentricity for originality. Difference for the sake of difference is as empty as slavishly following commercial imperatives, he says.

We are creative professionals: surely what we offer must be originality: isn't this what you want to be hired for? Isn't this what will separate you from the pack?

Think hard and deep about story as you craft your own pitch. In the meantime you can get your own copy of his book - click on the image. He lays out provocative ideas for writing screenplays that can provide you with a powerful framework and challenge for your own thinking as you write your pitch or resume.

It's not just about you!

Any communication - or at least any persuasive communication - has to be about the needs of the person you are trying to persuade. Not about your needs. Here is something that a recent client told me about our work together:

"The first really cool thing that I was enabled to understand is how to think of it (whatever "it" may be - an interview, a phone call, a party) from "their" point of view. Always asking and trying to figure out what "their" process is? Where are they coming from? What do they want and how can I fit into answering that for them?

That's always a cool, interesting exercise and I loved to hear MP go through that drill time and again .. it was awesome and Insightful"

Writing pitches and resumes

Robert McKee's thoughts about writing screenplays have much say to us as we write our pitches and our resumes. A great story, he says, is something worth telling that the world wants to hear. This must be true of any successful pitch - though your "world' may be just a handful of carefully identified clients and employers.

You must have the creative power to put things together in a way that no one has ever dreamed. You must be driven by your passion courage and creative gifts, - but even this is not enough - your story must be well told.

I have adapted his words here - you should read the book.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Q+A: Should I take a job at a company that is going bankrupt?

Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock

Q. I am a recent college graduate gearing up for an interview at a company that recently announced that it was going bankrupt. If I receive the position, should I be hesitant to take it over something else because of possible layoffs to come? Should I address the company's bankruptcy during my interview in regards to knowing if the "job will be around for a while"?

A. I don't believe that pretending everything is ok looks so smart. It makes perfect sense to ask what the future holds: "I've heard the company is having some difficulty. Can you tell me how this position might be affected by what is coming?"

I would certainly think carefully before choosing this company over a more healthy one. Cost cuts, even without layoffs, can affect your ability to do your job properly if you cannot get the resources you need. If it is a spectacular opportunity and you will gain invaluable experience and boost your resume then you should consider whether the job is in the core business of the company: the piece that's likely to make it through reorganization and perhaps even gain in importance in a new structure.

Q+A: Do I admit to interviewing with other companies?

Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock

Q: What is the best way to respond when asked "Are you interviewing with other companies?" Part of me feels like politely saying that is between me and that particular company and the other part doesn't want to shoot myself in the foot by NOT answering the question.

A. It is perfectly reasonable to respond that you are meeting with other companies in your search for the opportunity that make best use your unique skills and experience. You should not name the other companies though; after all, your interviewer would not want his competitors to hear about his search.

You can certainly tell him that you see the opening at his company as the one where you can do your best work and make the biggest difference. An intelligent interviewer should respect the fact that you are leaving no stone unturned - as long as he feels that he is your favorite.