There is more than one way to stand out in your job search

Many times around the office talk turns to what one candidate or another has done to stand out of the crowd.  Sometimes good, sometimes not.  Both are memorable but only one gets a call back.

It depends

The way you SHOULD stand out really depends on a lot of factors:

  • Industry
  • Company culture
  • Profession
  • Position
  • Experience level

The list goes on.  People often ask “how can I stand out in the job search as a top candidate?”  I wish it was simple.  It is like asking “how can I stand out on a first date so they want to go out again?”  Not that easy, is it?  Everyone and every company looks for something a little different but I think there are some similarities.

Sales Jobs

If you are going for a sales position you can probably stand to be a bit more persistent than in other professions.  I have had people show up to the office and ask if I was available.  I love that!  Or at the very least just call and ask for me.  That IS what sales people do isn’t it?

Patiently Persistent

I think most companies want to be wanted.  You need to learn how to walk the line between being very interested and seeming like a desperate stalker.  That line can be crossed by one too many emails or calls.  Be sure to ask what the process is and follow up when you say you will.

Don’t get angry

Here is the deal, crap happens.  I have had people no-show their first day on the job or back out the day before they were going to start.  That is after months of me recruiting to fill that opening, us spending thousands of dollars in the process before hiring someone only to have them do an about face.  Do I get angry?  Sure I do.  But do I call them up, email them, or blast them online?  No way!  I get it.

In the same vane I expect people to deal with disappointment, frustration or even anger professionally.  I have had it happen a few times that we like a candidate at first but then decide they are not a fit.  But I have also had it happen where we don’t pursue a candidate only to have them follow up, show their continued interest in the position and get another chance at the job.  In the end, do your really want to work for a company that does not want you?  I don’t.  But I get it, we all have bills to pay.

Be Creative

I personally like people to be a little creative in their pursuit of a position.  Follow your target company on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Like some of the good posts and follow people at the company.  Mention them in your posts.  Follow up after you apply for a position.  I would rather feel like I did too much in my pursuit of a job I did not get than worry that I did not do enough.

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
Joseph Chilton Pearce

6 tips for listing your employment experience on your resume

Here are some basic tips for the experience section on your resume.  First and foremost, don’t lie.  Employers may not be able to dig into your past too much by calling your past employers but we can almost always get your dates of employment and what position you held there.

We’re out of the 1900s so keep it clean

You can use fonts and effects (bold, ALL CAPS, underline, italics, etc…) to draw attention to things but don’t let it take away from a clean looking resume.  Let Comic Sans die already.

What you did is more important than where you did it

I advise people to highlight their position more than the company where they worked.  Take a look at these two examples

Enterprise Holdings Inc.
Management Trainee

Management Trainee
Enterprise Holdings Inc.

For most recruiters and hiring managers they are first interested in what you did in your last positions THEN where you did it.  Put the more important of the two first and bring attention to it through formatting.

Employment dates matter

How you write your dates of employment matter.  Here is how a recruiter/hiring manager interprets different styles:

  • ’12 – ’13: You are trying to hide something… what and why?
  • 2012 – 2013: OK, maybe you worked from December 31st 2012 to January 1st 2013.
  • 2/1/2012 – 3/15/2013:  High attention to detail… maybe too high unless you are applying to be an actuarial or for a government job.
  • 2/2012 – 3/2013: You were there for a year and a month, simple enough.

A brief description may help

You do not want to write a dissertation under each job but a brief description may help.  I recruit a lot of sales people and I want to know what you have sold in the past.  Save me the time of having to look up what industry your company is in and what they do.  But keep it brief.

Bullet your KSAs under each position

I did my reading comprehension in school and I didn’t like it then.  Please do not write a narrative about what you did in each position.  Which do you think is easier to read in 5-10 seconds?

  • Exceeded sales goals by an average of 20% – 30%
  • Hunter mentality with cold calling experience
  • 82% retention rate year over year

As a sales executive I exceeded my sales goals by an average of 20% to 30%.  I have a hunter mentality and I enjoy the challenge of cold calling by phone, email and in person.  Retention of existing customers is also a focus of mine resulting in an 82% retention rate

What to leave OFF you resume

I do NOT need to know how old you are, if you are married, have kids or any other personal information.  Also, leave your picture on LinkedIn but these days it is generally not put on resumes.  If we want references we will ask you for them.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.
Nikos Kazantzakis

5 things you must get right on your resume

How many times have you heard “First things first?”  But time and time again people mess things up from the beginning… their name.  You may ask “how can someone screw that up?”

Get your name right on your resume

For some reason people often times put their full name on their resume.  Put the name you usually go by on your resume.  No, not the nickname that you got as a pledge but the name you prefer people to call you.  There is no rule or law out there saying your resume must match your social security card.

This comes into play when someone from a company calls you.  If they ask for your proper name you may think it is a telemarketer.

Your resume should include your location

Many people are nervous about including their address on resumes but you at least want to put the city and state.  Many companies only want to hire local candidates.  If it is not evident that you are local they move on to the next candidate.

Be sure your phone number is working

I have had it happen on several occasions that I call a candidate only to hear that the number is no longer in service.  Or I hear that their voicemail is not set up.  To bad for them, I am calling the next resume.

Use a good email address

I shouldn’t have to mention it but I will… be sure your email address is professional.  You also want to be sure you don’t miss any emails.  I recommend starting a new email address for your job search.  That way your spam filter is less likely to grab an email from a company and it won’t get buried.

Social Media and your resume

You may want to include your LinkedIn and possibly your Twitter handle.  It is easy to create a custom LinkedIn url.  Most companies will check social media before hiring you so you might as well include it up front.  Hopefully you are using your social media to your advantage.

If you don’t get these things right, not much else matters.


Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details.
William Feather

Prove something to yourself every day

Are you listening to any self-help or performance oriented podcasts?  If so it won’t be long before you will hear something about pushing your comfort zone.  The challenge is, that if you do that long enough then you expanded your comfort zone.  Then you need to push more.  Sound frustrating?  It doesn’t have to be.

Do one thing a day that makes you a little uncomfortable.

Want to start a new habit?  Then you need to be consistent.  You may be thinking “I am consistent… I am consistently inconsistent.”  But seriously, start something new today that will move you in a positive direction.  I bet, it you think about it for about two minutes, you can think of at least one thing that would improve your life.  And I bet that you have wanted to do it for a while now.  Science has taught us that if we say “I will start doing that or stop doing this tomorrow…”  tomorrow will never come.  Start today!

“There is no future, there is no past.  I live this moment as my last”

Jonathan Larson

So what do you need to do in your jobcerch right now that makes you uncomfortable?  I bet it has something to do with following up with someone or reaching out to a few contacts.  Most people don’t like networking.  Think of sales people… most of them do not like doing cold calls.  But the successful people do it because they know it leads to success.

I know what you are doing… you are emailing them, right?  That is OK for today but in two days I want you to call that person and when they answer the phone, you ask them “Hello, this is Al Pollard.  I am following up our email from Wednesday.”  They are then most likely scrambling to figure out what the email was about.  Now is your time… hit them with your elevator pitch.

But I don’t like “selling” myself.

OK, that is fine.  The other applicants for that position might not like it either.  But if a few of them do it and you don’t, it will put you out of the running.  You only need one job but at the same time a company only needs one butt in each seat.  Will it be yours?

When we think of sales we usually think of some guy named “The Dog” (I actually know him and he is a really nice guy) who calls over and over and over…  Or maybe you are thinking of that kid from Better Off Dead… “I want my two dollars.”  What we don’t think about are the friends who sell us things every day.  Why do you like what you like?  I bet someone “sold” you on the product, or on the idea of shopping at that store.  Sales is not a bad thing.

What is on the other side of fear?  Nothing.

Jamie Foxx

Not many of us have the focus, determination and the fearlessness of Jamie Foxx but we can learn from him.  In his interview with Tim Ferriss, Jamie talks about his life and the obstacles he has overcome and continues to face.  What obstacles are you creating for yourself in your jobcerch?


Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.
Shannon L. Alder


Science proves Proverbs 11:25 is true

proverbs 11 25Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

If you have not listened to Shankar Vedantam’s podcast HiddenBrain then you are missing out.  One of the episodes is on compassion and how being kind to others can make a real difference in your own life.

You may be wondering how this affects your jobcerch.  Do you think companies WANT to hire angry people?  Or how about mean people?  Have you ever seen a job posting like this…

Requirements include:
    -Being rude to people, especially receptionists. 
    -Answering the phone tersely: "what?"
    -Taking others for granted and not saying thank you.
    -Not helping others.
Pains in the ass wanted!  Apply today!

I have never seen a job posting like that and I bet you have not either.  But many people seem like that is the job they are going after.

I also do not think that many people wake up thinking “Man, I can’t wait to get out there and start spreading some unhappiness!”  Most people can’t seem to help it… or so they think. They can help it, they just need to choose to help others and it will very likely make them happier also.

So after you get that email wishing you the best in your future endeavors and you are feeling lower than a snake’s belly in wagon rut get out there and do something nice for someone.  Ideally someone you don’t know, who cannot repay your kindness.  The giving of the gift is your reward.  It is amazing how scientists spend a lot of time, effort and money confirming what many people already know.


It’s all really very simple.  You don’t have to choose between being kind to yourself and others.  It’s one and the same.
Piero Ferrucci

Do you have access to your resume… Right now!

cloud storageNetworking should be an ongoing process.  Because of that you should keep your resume handy.  We are lucky.  Not that many years ago that would mean carrying around a hard copy with you.  Today you just need access to your Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc…  That is IF your resume is there AND it is up to date.

Keep it up to date.  Recently I have interviewed several candidates with outdated resumes.  I usually start off the phone interview going over their resume with them.  I even tell candidates my first two questions ahead of time!  It is not uncommon for the most recent part of their resume to be a little out of date.  I hear “Oh, I am no longer there” a lot.  I can handle that, although for many employers that is a BIG RED FLAG.  But, like I have said before, I am flexible.

What is less excusable is two weeks and two interviews later when we have our final interview, the exact same resume is provided with the same incorrect information.  I tell candidates to bring an updated version of their resume with them to the interview.  About 60% of the people who come to the final interview bring their resume with them.  Of those, about 50% of them have changed their resume.

Your resume should be a living thing.  You should update it regularly just as you do your LinkedIn profile.  You should also be able to access it and send it to someone when you need to.  Come to think of it, mine needs a little more work, if I can find it. 🙂


I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.  
Mohandas Gandhi

What to do when you get Ghosted by a recruiter

Pac-man-ghostsThis happens to everyone.  You apply for a job and nothing.  You might get the “don’t call us, we’ll call you email” still, nothing… crickets.  You feel like you are back in high school and everyone breaks up with you by not calling.  Or maybe you are playing golf with a buddy and at the turn he asks “When did you and Caroline break up?”  My answer “We haven’t.” (OK, I should let that one go)

Many of us go through the job search like this.  We think we are out of the running for a job but we are actually still being considered.  Or more frequently we are counting on the company contacting us but they no intention of doing so.  First, I will talk about the why people get ghosted then what to do about it.


Recruiters are like the rest of us.  They have jobs. They usually have more work than they have time for and if they don’t get their job done the company will find someone else who will get it done.  People tend  to focus on what is measured, and candidate satisfaction is usually NOT a metric for recruiters.  Compound that with the fact that most companies do not care about the candidate experience because you are not their customer.

Some companies receive 100’s or 1000’s of applicants, many of whom are not even close to being qualified for the position.  Imagine trying to drive down a freeway if they let everyone on freeways; pedestrians, bicycles, horses, etc… it would be a MESS!  That is why most freeways have a minimum speed and only allow motorized vehicles.  Unfortunately there is nothing preventing unqualified people from applying.  To fix this companies run algorithms in their ATS to select the “most qualified” candidates.  If you do not have the right keywords then you may be out of luck.

Another way recruiters handle a large number of applicants is to just take a chunk at a time to work with.  If they do not find anyone in that group then they grab another chunk.  Maybe you applied at the wrong time.

But there are some of us who do care but remember no good deed goes unpunished.  I have followed up with people to let them know they did not make the cut and received emails like this:

Why did you email me to tell me I wasn't being considered for the job?  Thank you for wasting my time.
Your company is full of idiots, I wouldn't want to work there anyway.

After a while these “Ricky Bobbys” wear you down and you stop replying to everyone that applies.


First, DO NOT just apply, Apply and Adjure.  You need to be you own advocate.  Remember the dating analogy?  You want to show interest but you don’t want them asking about restraining orders. Don’t be a stalker.  It is a fine line and it is different for everyone so you need to pay attention to the signs.

Be patently persistent.  Since you ALWAYS ask what the next step is in the process and when you should hear from them, you know when to follow-up.  If they said you should hear something by Friday, then I feel it is a good idea to follow-up Saturday if you have not heard anything.  When following up always assume the best and be understanding.  Here are some BAD examples that I have received with my unwritten response below each one:

You said I would hear by Friday, it is now Saturday.

This is a statement, not a question.  No response necessary 🙂

Did you receive my previous email with my questions???

The excessive use of “?” is the main issue here.

I am assuming that you have hired someone else since I have not heard from you.

I will now.

Here are some much better responses that I have received:

You had mentioned that you would touch base with me Friday.   I know the week can get away from you but I want to make sure I have not missed your call or email.
I am still very excited about the opportunity.  Please let me know if you need any additional information.

You also want to follow-up with anyone you know that is an employee at the company you are interviewing with.  They may be able to nudge a decision maker in your favor if they are on the fence.  An employee may also have inside information on the position that they can provide.  If your contact at the company is a friend of yours you can ask detailed information but if it is an acquaintance, you may want to keep things more general:

I interviewed last week and I hope to have an opportunity to make it to the next round of interviews.
I feel like my interview went well.  They mentioned that they were making a decision last week but I have not heard anything, keep your fingers crossed.

So don’t assume you have been ghosted until you do your due diligence.  They may have not seen your information at all.  Your goal is to have the hiring manager or recruiter to reach into the black hole, that is their ATS, and pull your information out.  There is no ONE right way to get this done but you want to work as many avenues as possible.

Do your best to stay positive in your job search.  Negativity is no bueno.


Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
Bill Bradley

The one on one interview

interviewOne on one interviews are the mainstay of corporate America.  Here are a few things you can use to your advantage in a one on one interview.

Stereotypes: All us have stereotypes.  They are not always true but there are stereotypes for a reason. Use them to your advantage.  If someone went to the University of Alabama, they probably follow Alabama football.  It really helps to be observant and do your research ahead of time.  If you know who you interviewing with ahead of time be sure to look them up.  Where did they go to school, what is their work history, etc…  This will also help with the small talk part of any interview.  Just keep in mind that you are walking the line between confident and cocky / interested in them and stalking them.  Saying something like “I bet things were exciting at Countrywide Financial Corporation back in 2007” sounds a lot better than “How do you feel about being part of the real estate bubble popping in 07-08?”

Horns or Halo:  There is something called the horns or halo effect.  You want to make the best impression as soon as possible in the interview.  If they like you right off the bat the interview will likely be better for you.  A seasoned interviewer may know how to mitigate this effect but the fact is that an interviewer is much more likely to hire someone they like.

Follow up:  You only have to write one follow-up/thank you email so you can spend more time crafting it.  ALWAYS follow-up!  As I write this there are candidates whose interview outcome hinges on whether or not they follow-up with their interviewers.  A well crafted email definitely helps.

Connect with them: Find some common ground; school they attended, sports teams, fashion, technology, etc… This is where it really helps to be observant especially if you are interviewing in their office.  Be inquisitive: “I see you have a variable height desk, do you use it standing very often?”  not “Wow, those are expensive shoes, you must do pretty well around here.”

Body language: Mirror (but not exactly) their body language.  If they are sitting up straight and more formal you want to do the same.  If they are more casual, then you might want to cross your legs. It is also a good suggestion to match the cadence of their speech.  Don’t talk fast to a slow talker.

Ask for feedback: An interviewer is much more likely to give you some direct feedback when it is just you two in the room.  Many interviewers are worried about being judged by others just like you are as a candidate.  But if it is just you two, then they may be more forthcoming with information.

If you are prepared, interviews can actually be fun.  Where else in life are you encouraged to talk about yourself?


All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
Mark Twain

Become a Nowist in your job search

I just watched a great 13 minute TED Talk from Joi Ito: Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist.”  He is speaking about innovation, but this applies to all parts of our lives, including your job search.  Don’t plan, do!

  • Don’t spend time worrying about what are you going to do when the recruiter calls, start applying for jobs.
  • Don’t worry about how someone will respond when you ask for an informational interview, call or email them now.
  • Don’t spend 50 hours on your resume, start asking for feedback from others.
  • Don’t focus on what you don’t have, can’t do or don’t know… focus on what you do have, can do and what you know.

Don’t worry about the HOW, do the NOW.

Joi Ito lays out a great argument for a few things that will make us successful in the PI (post-internet) era:

be CONNECTED: Why do we continue to try to do things alone?  As humans we are made to work together and we usually do it very well.  Find others to connect with where you can help them and they can help you.  I think we use to call that synergy.  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media can be utilized for way more than just learning new recipes and who is doing what with whom.  These are your social networks, invest in expanding and contributing to them.

always LEARNING: I love that he says “Learn over Education.”  I totally admit that I have skin in this one.  My 2.48 BA in Criminal Justice did not open many doors for me.  GPAs do not predict long-term performance.  They do however, predict what college you will get into, so don’t ignore them.  You do not need to pay a fee, fill out an application, make a request or join a group to learn.  Innovators like MIT,, Coursera, and many others have made learning fun, easy and cheap.  One question many interviewers ask is “How do you/have you improved professionally?”  Life is not static, you are either moving forward or you are being left behind.

be fully AWARE: This includes being self-aware.  If we do not see the opportunities for us to improve or make a change, nothing will happen.  Think of the TV show Fear the Walking Dead (Yes, I am a Dead-Head) Travis, his family and the Salazars have figured out what is happening so they are leaving their neighborhood.  As they drive by we see  other families having a quiet dinner, unaware of the real situation.  Many times we see the sign posts in life but do we pay attention.  Many of us do not move over when the road sign says “lane ending.”  We drive until we run out of road.  What do you need to do today?

be super PRESENT:  Stop worrying about that will happen tomorrow, next week, or next year: What if I lose my job? What will we do when the kids grow up? How will we pay tuition next year?  I am not saying don’t plan at all, but don’t prioritize planning over action.  Here is an example from Beth Moore of what happens when we keep thinking “if this happens, then what?”  Start living in the now and making things happen.  You can fall into analysis paralysis very easily in life and your job search.  I’ll throw another one at you: how do you eat an elephant?…  yep, one bite at a time.  Won’t worry about eating the whole elephant, start taking bites.

have a COMPASS:  We need to know where we are going but we don’t need to have the entire route planned out.  “Compass over Maps” lets us move and figure it out along the way.  You rarely find yourself without resources along the way to somewhere so don’t worry about what will happen, get busy making it happen.  You hear about a moral compass but I have never heard of a moral map.  We need a job search, career and personal compass.

We need to work on being NOWISTs.  I know that investors, banks, boards of directors and other “business” people do not like going without a plan, but some of the biggest and best results are from being a Nowist.

One example of this was during Katrina.  The Coast Guard did not wait around making plans like the Federal Government did.  They headed to New Orleans and made things happen.  They saved more than 33,500 people including rescuing from peril 24,135 lives and evacuating 9,409 medical patients to safety.  This was from action, not planning.  They were able to do this because they stayed connected, had learned through cross-training, they were aware of the issues, and they were super-present in the moment.

What are going to do today as a Nowist?


P.S. This article may not be the best-written, most grammatically correct written piece but I got my butt out of bed at 6am on Saturday, made my coffee, turned on the computer, started reading my Twitter feed, watched Joi Ito's Ted Talk, and started writing.

Doing what needs to be done may not make you happy, but it will make you great.
George Bernard Shaw

Focus on the positive in your jobsearch

think positiveMuch of what I read about the employment market is negative. Here are some not-so positive quotes from the web:

  • More Americans than ever before are not working with 92 MILLION people out of the workforce.
  • Job-seekers are taught to grovel and beg for a job.
  • How to deal with job search pain points.

Let’s face it, looking for a job can really suck.  Interviewing CAN be fun but the job search, I don’t think so.  So you need to stay positive and not have a bunch of pity-parties.   There are several ways to do this during your job search.

  • Do at least one fun thing a day, but have a time limit.  When I say something fun, I mean something positive.  Yes, drinking 6-12 beers may be fun but there is a heavy price to pay for that.  Maybe sit outside and drink a cup of coffee or meet a friend for lunch.
  • Surround yourself with positive people, online and in person.  You may need to block some people’s news feeds for a while.
  • Work on some professional development.  I find that if I am learning something new I am in a much better mood.
  • Laugh.  If you look at YouTube videos or The Chive be sure to laugh.

Yes, you need to plan your fun when you are in a job search.  Set time aside for yourself but limit it.


I am being positive… I am positive that you are an idiot.
Al’s wife