Job Search

How To Write The Perfect Resume

The title to this blog post is a bit of a ruse. There is no ‘perfect résumé’. Perfect is in the eye of the beholder, and you never know who’s going to be reviewing your résumé – recruiters, hiring managers, founders, admins, etc. Aiming for a ‘perfect résumé’ is a lost cause.

Like most recruiters, I’ve read thousands of resumes over my career. Some great, some awful. Some memorable, some not. The key (in my mind) to a great résumé is one that’s laid out in an easy to follow chronological order. A format reviewers can scan vertically from the top, and ascertain in the first 10 seconds whether there is enough relevant experience to review more thoroughly.

Wait, isn’t the résumé dead?

There is a lot of chatter these days about the death of the résumé, that your ‘digital footprint‘ or LinkedIn profile have made your résumé obsolete. This is (for now) a myth. The reality is while there are sufficient tools and platforms out there to allow hiring teams (in many industries) to make early stage viability decisions, most organizations are still managing through hiring apparatuses and workflows designed 5+ years ago, before some of these technologies existed. This is particularly true with large organizations, or those required to have compliance-driven processes. For now, resumes remain a necessity in most job searches.

What about the robots?robot

There are many blog posts out there advising candidate to load their resumes with keywords to get past keyword scanning tools some organizations have baked into their ATS (applicant tracking system). I personally don’t put a lot of weight into these tools, but there are organizations that do. If you heed this advice, be sure the flow of the résumé is still logical, and doesn’t read as if you’re aiming for keyword density. You might get past the robots, but eventually a human will see and this and may be turned off if it’s an obvious ploy to get past the robot gatekeepers.

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#InTalent Preview: Develop A Winning Talent Brand As A SMB


This week I’ll be hitting the road to attend my second LinkedIn Talent Connect conference. Talent Connect (#InTalent) is LinkedIn’s annual user conference; bringing together users, speakers, and recruiting thought leaders from around the globe to spend three days learning about the latest trends in recruiting. I enjoyed my first Talent Connect experience, and shared my review on their LinkedIn Talent Blog.

I was happy to be invited back as a speaker for this year’s event, and wanted to share a preview of our session below. I’ll be joining two talented peers from Suncor Energy, Lauren Larose and Stephanie Ryan. If you’re not familiar with Suncor, a Canadian-based global energy company, you can learn more about them here.

You might ask how organizations like NPR and Suncor got paired for a Talent Connect session (full disclosure, I’m sure we did as well). While our organizations appear quite different on the surface, we learned during our session planning that we traveled similar paths in developing our talent brands. We each had unique challenges based on our organizations, and our tailored tactics differed, but our strategy and roadmap was surprisingly similar.

In our session, “Developing a Winning Talent Brand as a Small or Mid-Sized Company”, we’ll be sharing our individual stories of how we went about building our talent brands.

We’ll focus on four key areas:

  1. Define Your Talent Brand

  2. Gain Executive Buy-In

  3. Develop & Execute

  4. Measure & Optimize

Our presentation will be Wednesday 10/16 from 2:45-3:45pm in Room 312/317. If you’re attending Talent Connect, we hope to see you there. You can read the full session overview below.

Develop a Winning Talent Brand as a Small or Mid-Sized Company

You can follow along on Twitter at #WinningTB

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM  Wed, Room 312/317

Lauren Larose Marketing & Communications Advisor at Suncor
Stephanie Ryan Manager, Talent Acquisition Marketing & Stakeholder Relations at Suncor
Lars Schmidt Senior Director, Talent Acquisition & Innovation at NPR
You don’t need to be a Fortune-ranked company or the latest hip start-up to have a winning, engaging talent brand. You do need the right strategy, planning, and action. In this session, you’ll hear from two talent acquisition leaders from Suncor and NPR’s Head of Talent Acquisition & Innovation on how they brought their employment brand to life through a targeted multi-channel approach. Core takeaways will include how to create and garner internal buy-in for an employment brand targeted talent attraction strategy, how to engage your employees and build brand ambassadors, and how to measure success.
Data Brain

Employee Engagement: Can Data Save Your Organization?

The following post was co-written by Susan Strayer LaMotte of Exaqueo.

As the economy continued to tank in 2011 and 2012, employee engagement dropped with it. Down economies often impact organizational loyalty in a negative way and Mercer’s 2012 report confirms that. According to the report, 24% of organizations are reporting lowered engagement up from 13% just two years ago.   And while organizations continue to invest in employee engagement, or some form of loyalty strengthening activities, popular HR analysts and bloggers are challenging the notion of engagement score value.

Companies do care about employee feedback: 96% of Fortune 100 companies and 65% of mid-sized companies use some sort of employee surveyBut is fighting for increased engagement scores a good use of executive time and attention? And are increased scores really that valuable to your business?It’s data that’s valuable. But it has to be the right data. Data that provides insight. Data that’s proactive.  Imagine if you had a sense of when your best talent was restless and contemplating leaving – Turnover, particular involving key talent, costs employers billions of dollars every year. There are a variety of ways to consider and calculate the costs – recruiting fees, training/onboarding, lost productivity, hidden costsburnout – it’s a cyclical problem that many organizations face.

The HR profession’s answer to this challenge hasn’t changed much over the years. We create annual employee surveys and performance reviews to measure individual performance and collective themes and trends across our workforce.  These procedures are often ridiculed by staff as a ‘check the box’ exercise, and in many organizations are meaningless unless truly championed by leadership and bought into by the organization.

There are exceptions of course. Organizations that are truly performance-driven are often successful because they have leaders and line managers that are constantly checking in on their teams, identifying and addressing challenges and celebrating wins as they happen, using incentives, and openly and honestly confronting challenges head-on.

So why is it that the HR community has seemed to settle on an annual or bi-annual assessment? A great deal can change in a year. The world of work has evolved. The goal for many employees is no longer 20 years of service and a nice watch, particularly for Gen Y talent. Employees want to be challenged and make an impact. They want to be recognized – and they’re less likely to hold onto a job where they don’t feel satisfied, and job dissatisfaction costs companies talent.

In today’s workforce where job mobility is becoming the norm, it’s even more important for organizations and leaders to regularly assess the mood and culture of their organization, and take steps to address issues before those issues send talent out the door.  The problem is, reactivity is a hallmark of old-school HR organizations.  They use exit interview to assess talent misses and performance reviews to address issues that have already been festering for 12 months. And by the time the leadership team has enough meetings and gets enough buy-in to act, the issues could be years old.

That’s why we were interested in taking a look at a new tool focused on real-time, proactive data: Tiny Pulse, the latest creation of serial entrepreneur –David Niu

The premise is pretty straight-forward. You create an account and answer some baseline questions related to how you feel about and inside your workplace.  Then you invite your employees to join. They create a profile and begin receiving weekly ‘pulse check’ surveys where they answer the same question and have an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback. Then employees begin receiving weekly TINYpulses with just one culture or performance related question each time. TINYpulse’s questions vary from “On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?” to “What drives you crazy here and decreases your productivity?” Employees can also provide ‘virtual suggestions’ in their weekly surveys, essentially creating a virtual suggestion box for employee feedback

The administrator views all of the anonymous feedback, as well as week-over-week trends in answers in a reporting dashboard. This repetition of questions, along with the stock monthly question ‘How happy are you?’ allows the admin to identify trends and potential trouble spots early. Like many engagement surveys, you can also benchmark your performance against other companies using the same questions.  You can also publicly recognize colleagues through the “cheers” function.

There are some limitations–at this time you’re not able to create your own questions, which may be a limiting factor if you’re looking to gather feedback trends in specific areas or known trouble spots for your organization.  BuTiny Pulse is an intriguing platform that represents new approach to the outdated annual employee survey.

Regardless of the tools used, the question hinges back to the importance of data. Proactive feedback represents a fundamental shift in assessing employee morale and feedback early and often.

Think about it like this: the FAA grounded the Boeing Dreamliners after several major incidents from Boston to Japan. A reactive review is taking place before they’ll be allowed to fly again.  Imagine if regular data was collected on performance at every step along the way from design to development to launch. Could the incidents have been prevented? Maybe.

The idea is we’re a reactive society. We say we care about feedback and engagement but we rarely take action unless it’s reaction. With proactive feedback, you can identify triggers to potential issues before they happen. And address them in advance. Think that would engage your workforce? You bet.

Michael Douglas Old Cell

The Accelerating Pace Of Innovation

Hello from #truHelsinki. I’m spending the next two days with a diverse group of recruiters and HR pros across Europe for the first Tru event in Helsinki. The sessions have been interesting, and confirmed that we all face many of the same talent struggles around the world. I had several conversations over the past three days on a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – innovation.

“When I’m talking about the future, I’m talking about three months time. That’s the pace of technology” – Bill Boorman

It’s fascinating to think of how far technology has progressed over the last 10 years. I remember my first talent database at a recruiting agency I worked with, Pencom Systems. It was built on Sco Unix and was coded to be just simple enough that non-techies could use it. There was a library of four digit skill key words and an open text box for recruiter comments. You could search on keywords, area codes and zip codes. It was quite effective, and a differentiator for Pencom at the time. Continue reading

Job Search, Video

4 Tips For Writing A Great Cover Letter [Video]

I just returned from the UNITY12 conference in Las Vegas where I had an opportunity to lead a panel discussion of recruiters sharing job search tips. We spent a good amount of time discussing cover letters so I wanted to share some of those tips.

  1. If the application instructions request a cover letter, be sure to include it. (you’d think this is a given, but recruiters and hiring managers see a lot of applications without them. Don’t be that applicant.)
  2. Avoid cover letter templates that are clearly boilerplate. It’s important to personalize your cover letter to the organization. More on that below. (If you do use templates, BE SURE to double-check the company name before sending. Listing company A when you’re applying to company B will sink your application)
  3. There are 3 things you should convey in every cover letter: a) why you’re interest in the organization b) why you’re interested in the role c) why you would bring to the role or team. The last point is important, as it allows you ro present yourself as someone who is bringing solutions to the problems this job is trying to solve.
  4. Make sure your cover letter does not exceed one page. This is a general rule.  There are exceptions in situations where you’re asked to answer multiple questions or provide lengthy feedback. Anything more than a page runs the risk of not being read when a recruiter or hiring manager has hundreds of applicants to consider.


There was a great article shared by Craig Fisher (@Fishdogs) recently, Best Cover Letters of 2012, with examples of cover letters you might want to review for inspiration. A key point to consider is cover letters won’t even be read if the resume doesn’t align with the role, so make sure your resume is strong first. What advice would you have?

Recruiting, Social Media, Video

Recruiting on a Budget Using Social Networks (VIDEO)

Dice has been doing a tremendous job in partnering and advocating in the HR social media space. They developed a great YouTube channel and have engaged recruiting leaders like Sarah White to get tips from a broad range of human resource professionals. Here is an interview I did with them following my presentations at ERE’s Recruiting Innovation Summit earlier this year.


The Greatest Job Description Ever Written

It’s been almost a year since I wrote the Recruiting Manager job description below. Sadly, the role was put on hold a few months into the search and remains vacant. Does this derail my search? No chance. This person is out there. I will find them. While I may not be able to hire them now, I will one day. Together we will make magic (okay, maybe ‘magic’ was a reach but we will build one badass talent team).

So, are you out there? Are you patient? Does what you read below fire you up? If so, let’s talk.

Hey, this job looks familiar? Well it is (kinda)

You may recall a very similar looking job posting for Recruiting Manager, NPR News. That job has evolved a bit to a broader recruiting focus in this new role. The core recruiting criteria (innovative, progressive minded, proven experience building bench strength and talent pipelines, understanding of & interest in social media, commitment to diversity, etc) remain. If you possess all of these traits AND experience recruiting in a newsroom/journalism environment, I will high five you. If you possess all of these traits and no newsroom/journalism experience, but have an interest in the craft and a demonstrated history of recruiting in varied fields, I’d like to hear from you (and you may still get a high five further in the process). Continue reading