Friday, February 26, 2010

Must Read: Guy Kawasaki's Reality Check

Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your CompetitionI just finished reading Guy Kawasaki's Reality Checkand I feel a burning desire to blog about it. It blew my mind. In a good way. This book will bring you to the next level in whatever you're doing - whether you're building a team or growing a business.

If you haven't read Reality Check run out and get it this minute. It's more than just a great read, it's literally forced me to take action. For instance, Kawasaki says: "Truly, if no one but your dog reads your blog, it's still worth doing." And here I am writing this blog like a 13 year old groupie.

Kawasaki interviews his favorite authors and summarizes their best work. He begins his chapter The Zen of Presentations, with "All hail Garr Reynolds!" Reynold recommends Kawasaki's famous 10/20/30 method for Powerpoint presentations (10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 pt+ font size). I'll give that whirl the next time I write a presentation.

If you haven't read Chip and Dan Heath's Make it Stick you probably will after you read chapter 28, The Sticking Point. Simple. Unexpected. Concrete. Credible. Emotional. Story. I'm writing some training right now and I cannot be reminded of the six principles of SUCCES too many times.

Perhaps the most helpful tip I picked up from Reality Check is the technique Kawasaki uses throughout the book: Pay it Forward aka What Goes Around Comes Around aka Give Power to Get Power. Kawasaki promotes the authors and innovators that inspire him. And I feel inspired to promote Kawasaki. Coincidence?

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to Get a Recruiter to Open Your Resume

It's not easy to get your resume noticed in this job market. Spamming companies with unsolicited resumes doesn't work. The best way to get a recruiter to read your attached resume: Put the job title in the subject line and summarize your qualifications for that job in the body of your email.

The reality. A recruiter will not be likely to open an unsolicited resume. Recruiters are focussed on the job opportunities they are trying to fill right now.

I just posted a new job. My Blackberry buzzes every few minutes with messages from people applying to the job. This happens anytime I post a job with the word "sales" or "project manager" or "QA" in the job title.

It's a rush job order. I need to call the best applicants right away for an intial telephone screening which could lead to an interview. Every applicant has attached a resume. I wish I had time to open every resume but I don't. Here's how I decide which resumes to open first:
  • Don't spam. If I see a long list of email addresses in the Send To box I'll problably consider the email a spam and ignore it.
  • Put the job title in the subject line. If the job title appears in the subject line I'm going to read your email. If the subject line says something generic like "Resume" or "Job Application" its going to be filed our resume database.
  • Summarize your key qualifications. Briefly introduce yourself then write 5 or 6 bullet points to prove you are qualified for the requirements of the job. If you've convinced me that you're qualified I'm going to look at your resume.

You're one step closer to an interview. You've peaked my interest. Your resume is as impressive as your introductory email. I'm going to give you a call. Hopefully we can get the ball rolling for an interview.

Tim Collins

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Guy Kawasaki's 1/2/3 Rule of Resumes

In Reality Check Guy Kawasaki urges people to "think of your resume as pitch for you, the product". Here's Kawasaki's 1-2-3 rule of resumes with my comments:
Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition1 page long. When some job candidates read this, they will think, "Guy is referring to the hoi polloi and unwashed masses, not me. I have ten years of experience at four different companies covering five different positions. My resume needs to be two--maybe even three--pages to adequately explain the totality of my wonderfulness. And the more I mention, the more the company might see things that they like." As a rule of thumb, if you can't pitch your company or yourself in one page, your idea is stupid and you suck respectively.
When you apply to a job your resume is usually uploaded into an applicant tracking system. Most create a short list of candidates based on keywords. Ensure that your resume has the right keywords by including keywords from the job description. Keep your resume short but it's fine to have more than one page. Just make sure the first pages of your resume is "eyeball" friendly in case an human being actually looks it.
2 key points. Your resume (and interview) should communicate only two perhaps three key points. Key points include pertinent work experience, applicable education, or a love for what the company does. One key point is too few, and three is on the edge of too much.
Employers also want to know about your accomplishments and results with previous employers. Include 3 to 4 bullets points of your results for each position.
3 sections. "Two key points" means that your resume should have only three sections: contact information, work experience, and educational background. This specifically excludes "objectives" (do you really think that a company cares what you want to be when you grow up?), "references upon request" (duh, of course you'll have to give references if you're asked), and "outside interests" (that Lamaze class training will come in really handy when he company stops delivering software by C-section, but not right now).
If you include an "objective" on your resume make sure it is the job you are applying for. Outside interests are valuable if it's volunteer work or if you were a semi-pro baseball player and the company has a softball team. Your outside interests are conversation starters and may provide a common ground between you and the interviewer and differeniate you from a candidate with similar qualifications.

Tim Collins

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What a Cab Driver Taught Me about Navigating the Job Market

I just read Harvey Mackay's story about a cab driver who doubles his income by investing in exceptional service. As I read the story I realized that the cabbie's strategy can be applied to any service business, especially recruiting.

In a nutshell, the cab driver designed a superior experience for his fares. He wore freshly pressed slacks and shiny shoes. He kept his taxi immaculately clean. He offered newspapers, coffee and soft drinks, pedicures and manicures....Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But the point is that the cab driver constantly surprised people with extra consideration for their comfort. Now he doesn't have to line up to wait for fares. His customers call him to reserve a ride and his income has doubled. A few small considerations can go a long way.

The taxi driver's lesson: Exceed expectations. How does that apply to the recruiting business?

The job market like the taxi business is characterized by fierce competition. Either we have a large pool of candidates fighting for a few jobs or we're competing for a rare candidate to fill a highly a specialized job. As I communicate with clients and candidates all day I see every conversation as an opportunity. My goal is to create goodwill, to discover and exceed expectations. Is the commute to a new job placement manageable? Are the salary expectations reasonable? Is this job the right fit? Can I negotiate better work arrangements?

Every interview, telephone call and email reminds me of the taxi driver's message: Meeting expectations isn't good enough. You have to exceed people's expectations to succeed. But I draw the line at pedicures.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Business Case for Hiring Persons with Disabilities

One of the biggest groups overlooked in the typical recruitment process are persons with disabilities. About 1.85 million people in Ontario have a disability. That's one in seven people. So what is the business case for hiring persons with disabilities?
  1. The market is relatively untapped. Under utilized talent sources will be at an advantage in the future race for talent.
  2. With the sheer size of the population people with disabilities represent a large consumer group with significant spending power. Enabling this group to earn and spend is good for the overall economy.
  3. With an ageing workforce, the number of young people and immigrant candidates will be insufficient to meet demand.
  4. Hiring more diverse workforce increases employee morale. Workplaces that are sensitive to their employees are better, more energizing places to work and more profitable in the long run.

  5. Creates a brand as an employer of choice. In a competitive employment market employee loyalty is like gold. And turnover is expensive.

  6. Having a company or product that is open to persons with disabilities will also attract their friends and families – a huge share of the overall market.

  7. Uniqueness breeds unique ideas. Having people of diverse backgrounds at the table brings more creativity and broader range of thought.

  8. According to John Izzo (Values Shift: The New Work Ethic) making your workforce diverse can result in a 8% increase in shareholder value.

  9. People who want to work should be given the opportunity to work regardless of disabilities.

  10. Beyond the benefits to business, employers have a legal requirement to ensure that workplaces are accessible and free of discrimination. Complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission can be both expensive and can earn your company a bad reputation.

Bottom Line: Creating a diverse workforce is good for business. Welcoming persons with disabilities onto your workforce will increase your profitability and create a better working environment for all.