Education on your resume

educationI see a lot of resumes.  I see very few that are nice to read and even fewer that are nice to read AND contain the information I want.  Part of the issue is that many people just apply for anything.  I have written about objectives before and how they are about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.  If you do not get that joke then you need more help then I am willing to give:)  At best, resume objectives do nothing, at worst they are what we call a “gross negative qualifier.”  That is corporate speak for NOT passing Go and NOT getting $200.

I currently recruit sales people.  Of the applicants who still insist on using an objective on their resume I would say that 10% or less have an objective with the word “sales” in it.  That is usually a deal killer.  Why?  How about if you are a large, short person and someone walks up to you and says “Want to go out?  I love tall skinny people.”  You would be thinking what I do… you so idiot!

I see room for improvement in a similar area, your education.  Or as I say: “your edjumacation.”  Here are some rules that I suggest you follow when it comes to how you got learned:

GED: If this is your highest level of education and you do not have a significant amount of related experience.

High School: If that is your highest degree or if you applying with a recruiter/hiring manager that you KNOW also went to the same high school.

Certifications: If they are directly related to the position.

Training Classes: If they are directly related to the position.

2-year degree: If that is your highest degree or directly related to the position you are applying for.  For instance, you apply at a hospital and you have a 2-year medical related degree in addition to a higher degree.

4-year degree: If it is your highest degree.

Major: If it is related to the position, company,. profession or industry you are applying with.

Minor: If it is related to the position, company, profession or industry you are applying with.

Master’s: If it is related to the position, company, profession or industry you are applying with or you need to account for a time gap.

PhD: If it is related to the position, company, profession or industry you are applying with or you need to account for a time gap.

Be sure to list your education if it is a requirement in the job posting.  Yes, an advanced degree can be bad for your employment search.  If you apply for a management trainee position but I see that you recently received or you are pursuing a Master’s in music that brings up a lot of questions.  No, I do not think these are lies of omission.  Remember, you do not have to be little-kid honest 🙂

On a side-note, do not list that you are a minister unless it is related to the position, company, profession or industry you are applying with.


Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
Robert Frost

Adding connections on LinkedIn

One thing that I suggest doing at this point is to turn off notifications to your network.  You may want to turn it back on in the future but you will be changing a lot of stuff on LinkedIn and you don’t want to be the LinkedIn profile that cried wolf by updates going out multiple times a day for new connections, groups you added, etc…  You change this from your edit profile page.  It should be in the bottom right of the first screen with no scrolling.

LinkedIn notify network

The easiest place to start if you are new to LinkedIn is with the connections you already have.  Mouse-over connections and click on “Add Connections.”

LinkedIn connections

If you are willing to share your address book(s) with LinkedIn you can easily find people to add to your LinkedIn Network that you already know.  After you have gotten all the low hanging fruit, it is time to start searching for new connections.  Click on “Advanced” on the top of the page.

LinkedIn Advanced search

This opens the Advanced People Search.  Start looking some people up!

LinkedIn Advanced People Search

When you find someone, do not just hit the connect button in the search.  That is the easiest way, but do you want to do this well or easy?  If you use this option it sends a VERY generic message to the person.  They might accept it but the odds are against it.

LinkedIn connect

Click on the person’s name and then click on connect.  You want to be sure you write a short and unique invitation to connect.  You will need to choose a way you know the person you want to connect with.  This is up to you but, try to connect to people that you actually have a connection with first (worked with, went to school with, etc…) then you can get referrals to connect with other people from there.

LinkedIn Personal Connect


The lesson will always repeat itself, unless you see yourself as the problem–not others.
Shannon L. Alder


Networking with LinkedIn for your job search

This is NOT a long drawn-out detailed tutorial.  What this WILL do for you is get you started on networking with LinkedIn.  This is assuming (yes, I know what that means) that you have already set up your complete profile.  Networking before completing your profile is a little like applying for jobs before you finish your resume… it don’t work so well.

The first thing is to customize your public profile.  This will control how you appear when people search for you.  You need to click on “Edit Profile.”

LinkedIn edit profile

Next you want to click on the cog next to your link that says “Update your public profile settings” under your picture.  You have a professional looking head shot, right?

LinkedIn Public profile settings

I have no idea if this is the only way to access your public profile settings.  If it is the only way then LinkedIn needs some UI/customer experience people, not very intuitive.

Over on the right hand side you can create a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile and you control what is available on your public profile.  The very security-conscious people will not want anything to show but that could make it difficult for others to find you.  Your call.

LinkedIn customize public profile

Next, you want to start adding some connections!  I will cover that tomorrow.


You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
John Bunyan

Preparing for an interview – company research

researchI have said it before and I will say it again… I am amazed at how many people do not even take the time to look at a company’s website.  I am not talking about people I cold-call.  These are not even people who just take the time to apply.   These are people who apply AND schedule a day and time to talk with me so there is no surprise factor at all!  Add to that, I email them a multi-page job information document on the position.  What do I get… blank stares.  Well, they are blank stares over the phone but I can hear them!

So, step 1 is… look at the freakin’ website!  You will be amazed at the information on company websites.

2. Glassdoor.  They are the place to look up companies.  Keep in mind that people usually only post when they have an axe to grind.  But a company should be responding to posts.  If you have half a brain you can see through the employee whining and get to the real issues.

3. Look at the job description again.  Do they mention other parts of the company like “builds cross-functional strategies with marketing” or another department?  If so, look up marketing and the other parts of the company.

4. Research other openings.  A good question can come from other openings.  “I saw that you also have a bottle opener position, how does that interact with this position as a bottle emptier?”

5. Google.  This sounds like a no-brainer but believe me, there are a lot of people with no brains.

6. Set up a Google alert.  This is also a great way to stay up on industry news and job openings.

7. Social Media.  You want to look up @company and #company.

8. Competition.  Also do some of the same searches on the company’s competitors.

If you even do one of these it puts you in the top ten to twenty percent.  But remember… there is usually only one opening.  You don’t want to be the first looser, do you?


If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.

Wilson Mizner

LinkedIn Profile for your Job search

LinkedInIf you are on social media at all for your job search, the first place you want to start is with LinkedIn.  I recently participated in a webinar hosted by Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes.  I encourage you to participate in one of her free webinars.  If you can afford her paid services they are also probably high quality but she does provide a lot of good information for free.

You will want to have a complete profile.  This is not the time to skimp.  Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find passive and active candidates so you need to put your best foot forward.  This will also be one of the primary places to network.

Name: Please use the name you go by most often.  This is the same with your resume.  You do not have to use the name your Mom calls you.

Headline: You will want to be sure that your headline has keywords that a recruiter might search on.  If I were in the job hunt I would use “HR, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition” and similar keywords.  Don’t worry boss, I’m not looking! Pete Leibman puts it this way: Say what you are, who you help, how you make their life/work better and proof that you are credible.  You get 120 characters, make them count.

Location and Industry: You will want your location to be where you want to work. It is a big turn-off to most recruiters if candidates are not local.  We don’t like paying for relocation and a lot of people are “open” to other locations until the rubber meets the road.

Contact info: You can control who has access to your information but I would encourage you to let your connections have access to a phone number and email address. It is frustrating when people apply for a job posting on LinkedIn and they don’t have any contact information in their profile.  You can also add your Twitter handle, website, blog, RSS feed, etc…

Summary: You have 2000 characters available.  Jenny Foss of puts it well:  Tell your story.  You want to be engaging and original.  Also, write it in the first person.  It sounds weird otherwise.  Lastly, you can have an actionable item at the end of your summary.  If I am reading your summary should I contact you?  Read your blog?

Summary uploads:  You can upload logos, images, videos, documents or presentations.  Remember, it is better to have a little too much info than not enough.  I said a little too much.

Customize your public profile URL:   It just looks better.  Linda Cheung tells you how.

Experience: This is from your resume.  Be sure it looks good.  How far back you go is up to you but the more recent and relevant the better.

Skills and Endorsements: It is a good idea to ask a few people for endorsements.  I don’t hire people based on endorsements but every bit helps.

Education: Unless you think it is to your advantage, I would leave the dates off.  Also keep in mind relevancy.  You do not have to put down irrelevant education.

Organizations: I would keep them professional and neutral.  Stay away from politics and religion.

Groups: These are a great way to network with people in your profession or with similar interests.  Some are public and some you need to approved to join.

See how easy that was 🙂  I don’t know about you, but this was a multi-day project for me.  I also periodically update my profile.  After writing this I am not happy with mine!  But wait, there’s more!  Now you need to connect with people and post!  More on that soon.


You can observe a lot by just watching.
Yogi Berra

Networking in your job search

Networking sounds salesy to a lot of people.  Many people think of some dude name Biff going around handing out business cards for some multi-level marketing deal.  But it should not and does not have to be like that. defines networking this way:

Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question “How can I help?” and not with “What can I get?”

Help other people… what a novel idea.  For many people this is not a very easy thing to do.  You may be panicking a little right now, thinking that you don’t know that many people very well.  That is OK.  On the podcast Question of the Day they mention a study that showed loose acquaintances are actually better at helping you find a job than close friends!  So let’s start there.

What is a great place to have lots of friends that you don’t know very well?  Social Media!  You can use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to build and maintain a network.  If you do not already do this, you need to start and once you start, don’t stop.  Ideally you will keep your network and expand it as your career grows.  If you already have a social network and it is not geared towards professional development then you might need to start fresh or at the very least start heading in a different direction.

Keep in mind that networking is a marathon, not a sprint race.


You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Dale Carnegie

What is your pitch?

Elevator-Pitch1Second only to a resume in your job search is your pitch or what is called your elevator speech.  It should last about as long as an elevator ride, 20-30 seconds.  You need a few of them handy but the two biggest one is the answer to “Tell me about yourself.”

What it is NOT is your biography.  I hear people a lot start wandering down the “what makes me, me” path:

  • “I am an only child”
  • “I have been married for 20 years”
  • “I have five years of experience with…”
  • or my favorite of the Ricky Bobby responses… “What do you want to know.”

This is where your research can shine.  You want to tell them why they want to hire you.  How about these responses:

  • “I am a recruiter that believes in attracting and connecting with candidates through honest and refreshing dialogue. “
  • “I enjoy being part of a team that challenges me and allows me to find creative solutions to problems. “
  • “I do not like the answer ‘because we have always done it that way’ to the question of why do we do it that way.  I am always looking for a better way to do things.”

I may be biased, but those sure do sound a lot more interesting to a recruiter.  One thing that your elevator speech MUST be is true to you.  You need to believe what you are saying.  Not sure?  Act like you believe it.  We all question ourselves or have self-doubt but you don’t want to lead with that.

So be sure to practice your pitch.  Record it, listen to it, ask others to listen to it, work on it and repeat the process.  You should be able to own it, not just know it.


The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.
Vince Lombardi

Making a hit list for your job search

targetsAnother quote that rings true in your job search is from Jim Key: “You’ll only hit the targets at which you aim.”  If you are applying for EVERYTHING you will probably end up with NOTHING.  This is why a lot of people get frustrated in their job search.  They apply for hundreds of jobs and never hear anything or they get a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” email.

At the beginning of any job search you need to start a list of industries, companies and positions you are targeting.  You will add to this list as you go through your job search.  I recommend using a spreadsheet but it is up to you.  If you use a spreadsheet you can cut, paste, insert, sort and filter your data.  This can also turn into your tracking spreadsheet, which I will discuss in a later post.

Your first four columns should be Industry, Profession, Company and Position.

Job search spreadsheet

Now start listing them.  Each row does not have to have all three columns filled yet but you want to list out what you think are good matches for your background AND what you want to do.  You may find that somethings you CAN do you don’t WANT to do and some things you WANT to do you CAN’T, at least not yet.  To find more information on bridging the gap between what you want to do and what you can do look up Informational Interviews, they are awesome!

For instance, for me, my list would start like this:

Job search spreadsheet 1

If you want to look for more ideas on occupations check out O*NET Online.  You can look up occupations by name or look up occupations by abilities, interests, knowledge, skills and much more.  This step is important because what if you want to get into recruiting but you don’t look up “talent acquisition?”  You could miss a lot.

This step should not stop you from applying for positions or looking for work but it will assist you in focusing your efforts.  In my opinion there is only one thing you should do before applying for any job, have a good resume.  I did not say great or perfect, a good one will do to start.

As you go through your job search you will add to this list and I encourage you to change it into your tracking spread sheet.  Call it a very basic JSM (Job Search Management) tool.


Be sure you positively identify your target before you pull the trigger.
Tom Flynn

How to work a job fair – game day

In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photo, job seekers line up to meet prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. The government issues the January jobs report on Friday, Feb. 7. 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
In this Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, photo, job seekers line up to meet prospective employers during a career fair at a hotel in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

So, you have done all your research on the companies.  You have your hit-list for the job fair.  You are smiling and ready to be nice to everyone.  Now what?

This might seem silly but few people do it.  Usually you want to go to your hit-list companies that don’t have a line first.  But be sure to pay attention to the companies around them.  Is there a competitor there?  As a recruiter at a job fair I would try to keep an eye on my competitors and I would want to talk to the people they seem interested in or that look like good candidates in their line.  Keep that in mind when working the fair.  You don’t want to play them off one another but it is OK to let one company know that their competitor is interested in you, just do it tactfully.

So you ask “what does a good candidate look like?”  The short answer is “it depends.”  Generally I would look for someone who seems to have their crap together.  This is where body language really comes into play.

  • Wear clothes that look professional and fit you well.  Fit is more important that the cost of the clothes.  Don’t try to be too trendy, unless that fits with the company’s culture.  You want to be comfortable in them.
  • Try to just have one binder or some type of pad-folio.  You don’t want to have to fumble around for a resume.  Also, try to just take in one car key.  You do not need to take your janitor-worthy key chain with you.
  • Look professional, not like you are going out.  Also, be sure to shave guys or at least trim up the facial hair.  Ladies, keep the make-up minimalistic.   No strong perfume or cologne and please for the love of everyone no patwoe oil.  Yes, I know it is spelled patchouli but saying pa-two-E sounds more like the smell.  🙂
  • If you have dress shoes on, shine them.  Yes, we notice these things.
  • Also, be sure to have a pen with you.

Be sure you have your elevator speech ready.  What type of position are you interested in and why?  What do you know about the company?  What is your background? Be ready for some of the questions you get when talk to the company reps.

Try to get their contact information (business card) or at least their name.  It is a great idea to write thank you emails after the job fair.  I, personally, also like it when people stop back by as they are leaving to say thanks and they look forward to hearing from us.

ALWAYS ask what the next step is.


If you continuously compete with others you become BITTER.  But if you continuously compete with yourself you become BETTER.

How to work a job fair part deux

job_fair_prod_imgOnce you know who you want to talk to at the job fair then the real work begins.  You want to do more than just look at their website.  Keep in mind that even looking at their website puts you ahead of most people in the job search.  Many times when I ask people what they know about the company I am working with they barely know anything.  That is not to say this is a time to slack.  Remember, you only need one job and you might be up against several people for that one job.  You want to put them under the table.

When you are researching the company be sure to take notes so you can remember things about the company and the position(s).  Research to find out who the leaders are at the company.  Look them up on LinkedIn.  Do they tweet?  If so, follow them.  Try to find the HR and Talent Acquisition employees.  Do the same for them.  This may seem like a lot and if you are happy being un or underemployed then nah, you don’t have to do all this.  Heck, you may even get the job you want without it.  But would you rather over prepare or wish you had done more after getting the phone call letting you know they offered the job to someone else?

When you head to the job fair it’s game-time from the moment you leave your front door.  Put your game-face on.  Everyone is a potential hiring manager or recruiter.  You do have a good handshake, don’t you?  How about eye contact?  Ask a few friends what are some of the nonverbals you do that are distracting.  Oh wait, did that hurt your feelings?  Suck it up buttercup, do you want a job or a handout?

Tomorrow we hit the field at the job fair.


Don’t worry about those who talk behind your back.  They’re behind you for a reason.