Posted on: February 5th, 2019 by
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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
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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
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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


Posted on: January 15th, 2019 by
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Hiring managers who interview applicants for a job are very attuned to the way a candidate answers certain questions:  How they explain their responsibilities, describe their relationship with their boss and teammates, define their individual achievements, identify their team results, and clarify why they are looking for another job. All of the answers to these questions tell the hiring manager a lot about the candidate.

One of the things an experienced interviewer is looking for is the candidate who accepts responsibility for their actions, no matter what the circumstances or outcomes.  One of the ways to fall short as a finalist candidate is to say, “It wasn’t my fault that I missed the goal.  If it wasn’t for my co-workers I could have done much better.  They prevented me from reaching the team objective”.

What’s the difference between a whiner and a winner?  I’m sure you’ve experienced both, but my focus is on the job search and interview process.  A whiner tends to blame others for their shortcomings, deflects responsibility, or redirects accountability for a lack of results onto others.  Here are some examples of both a whiner and a winner using the same issues for both:


  • “As a team, we could have reached our goal except for one of our members who kept dragging the work group down”
  • “My boss kept moving the goal post toward an objective that was unattainable”
  • “The organization did not provide the support or information that was required in order for me to achieve the outcome, on budget and on time”
  • “The competition prevented us from increasing market share by using unethical practices”

Let’s take the same issues and translate the response as communicated by a winner:


  • “As a team, we reached 94% of our stretch goals in a difficult competitive market”
  • “My boss always encouraged us to outperform our goals. We succeeded in about 75% of the time”
  • “The organization had about 80% of the information to complete my project. 20% of the information was not available”
  • “We stabilized our market share and did not lose one major customer in spite of a competitive campaign of predatory pricing”

The difference between how an issue is communicated separates the whiner from the winner. The whiner talks about the negative aspect of an issue and projects it onto someone else.  The winner emphasizes the positive side of the same issue and objectively describes the situation, not the people.

What’s the morale of the story?  Whiners tend push the shortcomings of the work to the people around them.  Winners tend to put a positive spin on the results, the team, and are viewed as a contributor to the effort.

Winners get hired. Whiners get the opportunity to try their luck somewhere else.

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


Posted on: January 8th, 2019 by
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What are the jobs in jeopardy during the next 11 years, to 2030?  The first jobs to go are:

  • Jobs that sort, inventory, or pick products: Warehouse, distribution, catalog
  • Administrative support for Police, Fire Fighting, Bankers, Tellers, and record keeping jobs
  • Jobs that use driverless vehicles:Trucks; Taxi; Livery; Short or small deliveries; Shuttles
  • Jobs that are repetitive: Fast food; Data analysts who copy, record, sort, or audit data
  • Jobs that can be replaced with electronics: Security, medical monitoring activities

And the one that can affect you the most:

  • Jobs that use artificial intelligence for screening and interviewing job applicants

This last item should be of special interest to you.  Large companies are already using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sort and “read” resumes, then perform an on-line “interview” to check out the knowledge and skill of the applicant.  Next on the horizon will be telephone screening calls by a robot!  The phone call will be automated to ask a series of pre-defined questions of all applicants.  Your answers will be recorded then compared to the position description along with all other applicants.  The hiring manager will then interview the top two or three candidates. Does that sound impersonal or lacking the human touch?  Welcome to the future!

So, how do you beat the robotic system?  Focus on the position description.  It’s the key.

Computers are programmed to look for key words on your resume that parallels the key words in a position description.  If you use the same words on your resume, the computer will view you as a viable candidate.  Use different words and your resume will be tossed.  Here are some useful tips:

  1. Use the exact words from the position description on your resume. If the company is looking for a civil engineer, using the word engineer may not cut it
  2. Usually there are 5 to 10 key words or phrases that describe the critical requirements the hiring company is looking for in a candidate: Job Title, degrees, certifications, experiences, industry, company names, computer programs or applications, and so on.
  3. These key words will be noticed quicker and ranked higher if they’re on the first page
  4. Multiple uses of key words increases the likelihood of a fit, especially from past jobs. Algorithms like repetition.
  5. Words like energized, talented, accomplished, loyal, effective and so on are meaningless. Words that are job specific are critical as they match the descriptors.
  6. If a cover letter is requested or required, focus like a laser beam on the key job skills and results that are most likely to get attention.  Personalizing a cover letter or hoping to charm a computer won’t work.

Outsmarting a computer is easy, once you know the tricks. However, to succeed with a personal interview with the hiring manager takes a background with results that match the open position.  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
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