4 Not-So-Great Resume Trends

hiringI recently had the opportunity to play HR Manager at my current job.  As an assistant to the HR Manager for many years, I was excited to step up and help out my organization while my manager was out on leave for a few months.  I couldn’t wait to sift through resumes and see what had changed and what trends had emerged since I was last in the job market. Although I see plenty of resumes in my role, it is usually further along in the hiring process.  In the past, I never had time or much reason to read them.  Now that I’ve had this rare opportunity to see the entire hiring process from beginning to end, I’ve never been more shocked.  Here’s a couple of “trends” I noticed…

1. No address listed.  I know we live in a digital world and all, but in my opinion there is still a need for addresses on resumes.  Why?  So I know where you live! Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think it’s helpful for employers to know your physical location, even if all communication is through phone and email.  If an applicant needs to fly in from somewhere or drive a thousand miles to get to an interview, it may be easier for everyone to do a video or phone conference first.  If things progress, an address also helps with travel accommodations and scheduling.

2. Vague objectives.

“Objective: To obtain a position where I can utilize my work experience and education to improve the company’s operation.”

NOOOOOoooooo.  Ugh, c’mon people!  This is so boring.  I can tell by reading the very first line in your resume that you took no extra time applying.  In my head I’m thinking, “I bet they sent this exact same resume to 100 other places.”  It takes two seconds to write a real objective or goal that actually applies to the position you’re applying for, so get specific.  Or, leave the objective out altogether and just tell me about yourself and why I should like you if you have a lot of positions to apply to.  This is the first thing employers will read so whatever you write, make it good. HR experts, please chime in here and tell me your thoughts on this.ability-to-smell-fear-cartoon-sm

3. No cover letter. I know, cover letters are a pain.  They take time.  But let me tell you, the people who write one are going to get my attention.  I know how long I’ve spent writing them in the past, so I appreciate anyone who takes the time to write me one.  This is not to say you won’t get beat out by someone who has better experience and no cover letter, but it definitely ups your chances.  In my limited experience, the majority of applicants don’t submit cover letters. Writing one could make all the difference.

Get-Hired-Fast-Social-Media-Job-Search4. Stalking.  This HR experience was the first time I saw the full picture from the employer’s perspective.  It was also amidst an era of social media.  A little following up is always a good thing but don’t cross that line. The line will be different with every employer.  As an applicant, it is your job to figure it out and stay on your side.  Once you cross it, there is almost no going back.  One recommendation I will make is to contact only one person, two at the very most if you don’t hear anything at all.  Don’t email me, call two other people and connect with someone else on LinkedIn within 24 hours of an interview.  I hate to break it to ya, but employees talk to each other and sooner or later we’ll realize you’ve contacted all of us multiple times and that’s just crazy.  If you decide to engage via social media, don’t choose them all!  Just pick one medium and one person and be patient.

Ok HR experts, what are your thoughts?  What resume trends have you seen emerge over the last few years?

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5 Networking Tips for Noobs

Networking is such an important part of life.  It helps you makes friends, learn new areas and land great jobs.  It also helps boost confidence and, if done properly, will make you actually appear interesting to others!  The problem so many people face is finding the courage to get out there and do it.

Networking-for-latino-mbas-LAM-Social-Club1I have been part of Rochester Young Professionals (RYP), a networking group in Rochester, NY for about a year now. “Rochester Young Professionals is a group that coordinates, collaborates, and promotes events around Rochester that are either, social, volunteer, or informational” (RYP, About Us).  Over the last year I kept tabs on RYP activities, but never managed to make it to any events until yesterday.  I’ve attended plenty of events in the past, but never one that was meant specifically for professional networking. I have to admit, part of why I wanted to go was just to check out a cool new bistro downtown.  I had no idea what to expect, but I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised!  I attended the event with my good friend/roommate and her co-worker.  The three of us were a little shy at first, but after we realized everyone else was in the same boat (and after a glass of wine), we dove right into the scene and met a handful of really great people.  After my first professional networking experience (in true non-expert fashion), I can confidently offer up the following tips for others who may be thinking about going to a networking event:

1. Look nice.  Personally, I would suggest going business casual.  I know every company has different dress codes and many people attend these events right after work, but don’t look like a slob!  Even if your employer thinks that’s peachy, other people will judge you first based on your looks (we all do it, don’t pretend you don’t). Put your best foot forward. One man who attended wore a flannel shirt, gym shorts and a lot of accessories.  I remember him quite well, but not for the right reasons.

2. Go with friends.  One reason it took me so long to attend one of RYP’s events, aside from being short on time, was that I didn’t feel like I had anyone to go with.  I was completely surprised to find out that my roomie has been wanting to attend an event for as long as I have.  All this time I was LIVING with a friend who wanted to go, and I didn’t even know it!  Don’t be afraid to ask your close friends or coworkers to go.  At least tell them about the drink specials and fancy places first before mentioning the networking bit ;).  I would recommend going with a group of three.  Four people is too many and you’ll end up just talking amongst yourselves instead of meeting new people. Two might feel a little awkward during the times you’re not talking to anyone else.  Three is just right! With three people, you don’t look like losers while still remaining approachable to outsiders.

3. Know why you’re there.  Try to go with a purpose in mind.  Are you there to advance your career or are you just looking for new friends?  Knowing why you’re there will help you ask better questions and make connections that are more valuable to you.  A salesperson trying to connect with potential customers will need different questions to ask than a person who is just looking to make friends.  We ran into one salesperson who clearly wasn’t prepared and came off very “sales-ey.”  Had he asked the right questions, he would have realized that I wasn’t interested sooner and moved on to better candidates.  Don’t worry though, these events aren’t littered with salespeople by any means!

awkward3-300x3004. Know when to leave the conversation. You know that awkward moment when you run out of things to say or can’t find anything in common?  That’s your queue to leave! You don’t have to talk to someone for 10-20 minutes to make a good connection.  Sometimes the best connections only require a 2-3 minute convo.  One gentleman we spoke with yesterday stuck around for a solid 10 minutes for NO REASON.  It was really obvious he didn’t know what else to talk about.  Maybe he came alone and didn’t want to walk away only to stand by himself, I don’t know (this is why you go with friends), but he just lingered.  It made things really awkward and it wasn’t until I bumped into someone else that he made his exit.  When you feel that awkwardness approaching, simply say it was nice to meet you and bow out. Don’t stand around in silence like a weirdo!  Honestly people.

5. Follow up! Take note of the people you connected with and follow up with them on LinkedIn or via email.  You don’t need to do this with everyone (you stalker), but I recommend following up with important connections a day or two after the event just saying how nice it was to meet he/she.  This lovely little act will do one very important thing, if nothing else: it will keep a written record of people’s names and how you met them! I guarantee a week after the event you’ll forget that person’s name unless you had some magical moment.  On LinkedIn it’s important to limit connections to people you actually know and have met face-to-face.  In the event that you need that connection down the road (to help land a new job, for example) you’ll be able to recall that person and say, “Oh, I met Dave through Rochester Young Professionals and bla bla bla…”

Oh social media, how I love thee.  Just don’t forget to stay human.  Networking events are for face-to-face interaction, so if you begin attending just to boost your virtual connections you’ll turn into a big annoying robot.

My friends and I plan on attending more of these events, now that we’ve gotten the first one over with.  I had a blast and it helped get me out of my comfort zone, which is always helpful when trying to ditch being dull!

What networking groups do you belong to?  Please feel free to share your networking tips!

What You Don’t Know About Gamers

So here’s something I find interesting: gamers.  Why do I find them so interesting?  Well, as a marketer, the gamer demographic is just fascinating to me.  Of the top 1000 YouTube channels, 20% are gaming channels.  Gaming channels are the most popular category on YouTube, second only to music.  What is interesting to me about gamers is their power, the way they communicate and disseminate information, and how they coordinate things.gamerEvolution

The gamers I know are always the first to know about everything and they are super quick to spread information.  Gamers are so powerful that they often start major trends and influence pop culture.  Where do you think “rofl, “ftw” and “noob” came from? Let it be said that I am not much of a gamer.  As much as I love to play games, I can never play the same one for long and often find myself slightly outside this social circle.  However, over the last year or so, I worked on a marketing plan for a local gaming store and was quite surprised by what I discovered in my research.

Cartman from Family Guy playing WOW Many people, when thinking of gamers, envision a lazy overweight slobbish kid, vedging out in his parent’s basement, playing Call of Duty into the wee hours of the night.  I’m not saying those people aren’t out there (they are), but this perception is not representative of the typical gamer.  Here’s a few things you may not know about gamers:

  • They are very social.  Whenever major tragedies happen, I swear there’s always someone who says, “he always kept to himself, didn’t have many friends…just played video games all day.  I never thought he’d murder 12,000 people…”  I know this is a hot button issue with many, but if violent video gaming always led to violence, then we’d all be dead.  Gamers can be extremely social!  Have you ever watched people play WOW?  MMO players will coordinate raids (and whatever else those nerds do) with dozens of people from all over the world at the same time.  It’s just insane.  There are tons of other genres of gaming that also involve heavy socialization. Take role-playing gamers.  RPG events happen weekly here in Rochester where hundreds of people meet up (in person) to play Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-OH!  All of a sudden those basement gamers aren’t looking so lonely and anti-social right?social-gamers
  • Their skills are valuable.  Oh, you didn’t think all those hours of hard “work” would pay off?  Gamers have a very unique set of skills (que Liam Neeson voice).  They get things done efficiently.  They work great as part of a team and independently.  They are often leaders and they are always strategists.  Gamification plays a huge part in marketing plan strategies.  With the influx of mobile technology, gamification is becoming a more popular way to attract and retain customers.  It’s usually based around rewards programs or promotions (I can’t tell you how hard I’ve worked to achieve gold status on my Starbucks app).  Wouldn’t it be great to have people who know how to achieve your company’s business objectives using a game that’s actually fun to play?  Click here for some excellent examples of how valuable gamification can be.

So…the next time you start to stereotype gamers, I hope you’ll keep these tidbits in mind.

May the 4th be with you.