Posted on: February 19th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

Most large and some midsized companies, have an automatic sorting mechanism for scanning resumes for open positions. Simplistically, they use an algorithm that takes key words and phrases from the position description written by the hiring manager, and matches them to the words and phrases on the resumes from applicants.  The words and phrases that match are sorted into a group of high potential resumes. Resumes are prioritized with the most matches at the top of the pile.


Key phrases might be:  Masters of Business Administration (MBA), cost accounting supervisor, department head, Regional Sales Manager, or any other designation that the hiring manager wants in a candidate.  A more sophisticated system might look for metrics, like 10% reduction of costs, or 8.5% increase in revenue.  A key word might be:  Salesman, Controller, Six-Sigma, or a word known only to professionals in a designated field of experience like Oracle, CMS Marketing, robotics, PCB, electro-mechanical, and so on.  If you don’t match the key words and other resumes are a better match, you’re resume will be kicked out.


Once the computer has completed its task, a human being will take the “winners” and begin the telephone or Skype contact of the top candidates.  Here are few issues you need to understand:

  • Words used in your resume may be similar to the key words in the position description but be interpreted differently by the computer, i.e. Controller, Comptroller, Finance Manager.
  • The quality of your work isn’t recognized by the computer, only the word or phrase
  • The potential value of the applicant in the future can’t be gauged by an algorithm
  • The effective “fit” into the work team isn’t a consideration.


So what do you do when applying to a larger company that uses a computer program?  Play the game to your advantage:


  • Key words are obvious in the position description. Make sure they are on the first page or top half of the first page of your resume. It will be noticed quicker and ranked higher.
  • Critical key words should be repeated throughout the resume. Multiple uses of keywords increases the “hit”, especially when describing past jobs. Algorithms love repetition.
  • Nouns are better than verbs.  Words like energized, talented, accomplished, and so on are meaningless.  Key words must be job specific to match the job descriptors.
  • Similar words may not be recognized. Use the exact words from the position description.  If the company is looking for a civil engineer, using the word engineer may not cut it.
  • Usually there are 10 to 15 key words or phrases that revolve around: Job Titles, degrees, certifications, professional skills, job experiences, technical terms or buzzwords, company names, computer programs or applications, and so on.


However, you must have the experience with results that match the open position, not just words.  If you don’t have the background you’ll have wasted everyone’s time and your own credibility.


For a FREE resume critique, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


Posted on: February 12th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

There are four potential opportunities to make it to the next level in the job search process: The initial screen; a more in-depth telephone screen; an initial interview; and the final in-depth interview. Therefore, you have four chances to cut your candidacy short by not  understanding what is expected.  Let’s talk about what prevented you from advancing to the next level and what you might do differently.


Initially, hiring organizations will screen-out 90% of applicants, based on the resume submissions.  If you’re not a 75% match to their checklist, you won’t get a phone call.  During the initial phone screen, questions will revolve around their checklist.  They are looking for what makes you more or less valuable compared to all the other candidates.  Your resume is the key.


What to do?  Make sure you have a compelling resume that matches or exceeds the job requirements as defined by the positions description. Use the words from the position description on your resume, along with measurable results to demonstrate you have achieved the outcomes that they are looking for in a candidate.  During the telephone screening process, your background and experiences must meet the checklist that the screener has to work from, based on the position description.


How do you create a compelling resume and telephone screen?  When a hiring manager gets hundreds of resumes for an open position, the top 10 or 15 candidates are the ones that will get a telephone call for a screening interview.

  1. You match most of the top items on the position description, better than all others
  2. You demonstrate documented results that match the hiring manager’s requirements
  3. Your current organizational level matches the open position, with room to grow

The metrics that define the results you have achieved are usually the determining factor.


What about the face-to-face interviews?  After the telephone screen, there are usually up to 5 finalist candidates.  The reasons why you didn’t make the cut?  Another candidate had better experiences or results than you; an internal candidate had the edge over candidates from the outside; you didn’t interview well on the telephone; or you didn’t focus on the important elements for which the hiring manager is looking.


The second interview is really about relationships.  By this time your skills and experiences have been checked out.  Now it’s a question of “fit”:  Will you fit into the culture and be a contributor; will you be a disruptive employee; or will you be able to advance the performance of the organization over time.  This final interview is where you usually meet the boss’s boss, the work team, and others who count on you for results.  If for some reason you can’t relate well with them as a “team mate” the odds will be against you.


Each step in the hiring process requires a different approach and skills from the candidate.  Understanding these differences will lead you to a job offer, rather than going back into the marketplace.


For a FREE  critique of your resume, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

The telephone rings.  When you answer, a voice says, “I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about the resume you sent to us about an open position we have for which you applied”.  Ever wonder what the telephone screener is really looking for that will elevate you to become a top candidate?  If this is your dream job, read on.


First of all, the telephone screener has a checklist.  It’s made of  key elements the hiring manager must have to fill the open job.  These elements are usually the first five items on the published position description.  Why?  Because hiring managers write down the most important elements they are looking for first.  These are the “must haves”.


What should you do?  Initially you should have written your resume responding to those first five items.  If you didn’t, you missed an opportunity.  Now that you have another opportunity, focus your experiences and results into those five items during the telephone screen.


Next, the caller needs to know that you’re able to do the job. They will compare the job requirements with both your current and past job experiences, .  Why would they want someone who has no experience in the job they need to fill?


What should you do?  Be prepared beforehand.  Match the requirements of the position description with your own background and resume, then make notes about anything that parallels the two documents:  What matches and what doesn’t match.  Of the things that match, find experiences that overlap and document the results you were able to achieve.  The objective is to translate your current/past experiences with the job to be done.  The greater the overlap, the higher your chances.  Of the things that don’t match, find experiences that come closest and try to segue them to the open job.  It won’t be a perfect fit but you’ll come closer than saying, “I’ve never done that”.


Third, the telephone screener wants to gauge if you’ll fit into their working culture.  Most hiring managers want a “team player” that will not be disruptive to the group already in place. They will ask questions about past cultures, do you use the words “team” or “I”, do you define your results as a group effort or did you do it all by yourself, do you work most effectively in a small group, large group or independently?


Lastly, if you’re asked, “Have you ever……..?” or “How would you find a solution to an issue of…….?”, listen very carefully, because the chances are very good that the telephone screener is giving you a real life problem that they are trying to address. They want to know if you have ever solved the issue somewhere else, or if you have the skills and ability to manage a solution.


Remember:  It’s your job to match your skills and experiences to the job that’s open, not the telephone screener’s job to adapt the job to fit your experiences.


For a FREE  critique of your resume, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


Posted on: January 29th, 2019 by
Comments Requested

Interviews are an interesting way to land a job.  It’s kind of like going on a date:  Everyone is dressed up, on his or her best behavior and then you ask questions to find out more about each other.  Unlike a date, in an interview there are usually three parts:

  1. To start off, the interviewer might say, “Let me tell you a little bit about our organization”
  2. The next segment usually is, “Let me ask you about your background and experiences”
  3. In the last part, the interviewer will frequently ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”


Let’s assume you’re prepared to effectively answer the hiring managers questions.  When it’s your turn to ask the questions, it’s a chance to differentiate yourself from all the other candidates.  So how do you impress the hiring manager with your questions?”  You want the hiring manager to be impressed with your business sense, problem-solving ability, and desire to achieve the results that will make your future boss look good.


Here are a few questions to help you do that.  They’re called Show Stopper questions.  Ask your potential boss:

  1. “What are the key issues that need to be resolved immediately?”
  2. “What are the performance expectations for the new hire during the first 12 months?”
  3. “What must the new hire do to reach your longer term goals?”


These are powerful questions that hiring managers seldom if ever hear from a candidate.  It shows your desire to perform at a high level to achieve the results required.  It’s music to the ears of a hiring manager.


The key information you need to understand is found in the position description.  The first five items gives you insight into the top priorities of the job. By focusing your interview responses to those priority items, you are communicating your readiness to successfully address those issues.  If possible, describe how you resolved similar issues in another organization. The closer you can come to parallel your past experiences with the top five items on the position description, the nearer you are to be the ideal candidate.


In summary:

  1. Shape your answers in a way to provide options for the solution of issues the hiring manager is facing.  Lay out alternative strategies, pro’s/con’s of each approach, and the implications of different outcomes.
  2. Develop an interactive relationship with the hiring manager. The questions in the mind of the hiring manager will be, “What can this candidate bring to my organization that will add value to my results?”  Your job is to answer that question without it being asked.  The Show Stopper questions are the key to achieve the answer.


When the hiring manager sees you as a problem-solver to the issues that need resolution, you become a primary candidate.  Now it’s just a question of “closing the deal”.


For a FREE  critique of your resume, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com


Posted on: January 22nd, 2019 by
Comments Requested

Assume you have two finalist candidates for a dream job.  Both have identical education, background and experiences.  One is an introvert and the other an extrovert.  What are their best qualities and how can they effectively interview to get the job?


Introverts tend to be self-aware, are OK with being alone or with a small group, stays out of the limelight, may be hard to get to know, and learns by watching.  Introverts tend to gravitate to individual pursuits.  Introverts in the extreme are isolates, who don’t work well in large groups and are more interested in the tasks rather than people.


Extroverts tend to talk easily, are energized in larger groups, like the limelight, discuss solutions to problems with a group, and are friendly and easy to get to know.  Extroverts don’t like to be alone for long.  Extroverts in the extreme are braggers, see themselves as better than others, and overpower others toward domination.


We all have qualities of each, but usually gravitate toward one or the other.  Neither is good or bad.  The question is around performance and fit:  Can they do the job and fit in the culture?


How should each finalist candidates interview to best show their qualities?  The Association of Psychological Science did some research that I think has merit for candidates who interview.  What they found was:

  • Introverts tend to be more critical of their skills and ability when interviewing, are modest when describing their achievements, may be seen as a deeper thinker and don’t readily expand on answers to questions from the hiring manager.
  • Extroverts tend to be less critical of their skills and ability when interviewing, may seem superficial at times, tend to overvalue their contributions, may give too much detail to questions and use the “I” word too often.


So, how does each candidate make his or her case to the hiring manager?  For the introvert, practice your interactive skills with others.  Expand and detail your answers to questions that the hiring manager is interested.   Focus on measureable results of the work unit that can be verified along with your part in it.  You’ll become more likeable to the hiring manager when you come out of your shell a bit and show what you can really do.


For the extrovert, tone it down a bit.   When talking about the results of a project, identify your individual contribution as part of a larger workgroup.  Talk less about you and more about the project results. Compress your answers to a thirty-second time frame.  Nothing is more boring to a hiring manager than a candidate who rattles on.  Let the hiring manager ask the secondary question rather than answering questions not asked.


Back to the question of which finalist candidate gets the job?  It depends. Neither has the upper hand.  It’s a matter of how each handles their strengths and weaknesses better.  Also, assess the hiring manager:  Introvert or extrovert?  You need to approach each one differently.


For a FREE  resume critique, send it to:   wkaufmann44@gmail.com