Interview Hack: Don’t Be Insecure

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Interviewing sucks. The interviewers and screening methods aren’t always objective. You have less than one hour to impress a stranger while being judged by them. There is only so much you can do as a candidate during the interview process.

Good news is that if you got a call scheduled, you’ve passed the first test. You’ve done a decent job crafting your resume or online profile to showcase your experience and skills. The rest is on your ability to further demonstrate your worth as much as possible.

Here are a few quick tips on how to minimize your insecurity as a job seeker when interacting with recruiters and interviewers. Think of the interview as a final exam and crush it like a pro.

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Hack #1 Study & Do Your Homework!

Research about the position, team, and company. Prepare answers for commonly asked interview questions. Being stumped is uncomfortable for both the interviewer and interviewee. However, do not steal other people’s answers online and use it verbatim; interviewers will know because they heard it before! You want to study and practice as much as possible especially for technical positions that require tests. Get a whiteboard and practice writing code and explaining it to someone.

Prepare at least three meaningful questions for each interviewer. Show your passion for the subject matter and company’s mission. The lack of curiosity is often perceived negatively. By simply asking good questions, you appear as someone who cares deeply about the opportunity. It’s also a nice break from doing all the talking.

On the other hand, you will know if you want the job or not by the end of the discussion with meaningful questions. It is your chance to check your mental wishlist to see if the position is indeed a growth opportunity for you.

“What is the biggest challenge for the team?” “Can you tell me about a typical day?” “What are the top three priority for the person in their first year?” “What is your leadership style?” By the way, asking about pay or benefits or PTO is not a meaningful question – save those to discuss with your recruiter.

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Hack#2 Give Them Cliff’s Notes, Not A Lecture

Give a concise and relevant answer to each interview question. When interviewers inquire about your current team, no need to start your story with your college roommate. Cut to the chase… we’re not sitting by the campfire and making S’mores here.

When sharing your experience, keep your story within two minutes, just enough time to play a song and hold your listener’s attention. Like a well-composed song, you want a strong beginning (a business problem), memorable chorus (what solutions you provided and how you solved it), and satisfactory ending (positive results and impact). Give them the highlights of your career that will sear in their brains like a song that keeps playing and won’t go away. The interviewer needs to walk away knowing why you want the job, what assets and experience you bring to the table, and exactly how you can collaborate with the team and contribute to the company. Give them no reason to reject you.

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Hack#3 Smile & Be Nice

Even when you don’t have the right answer, good attitudes go a long way. Emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual capacity and curiosity. Interviewers want someone who won’t be angry, bitter, or frustrated when a perfect answer isn’t available because that’s life. We are often wrong but it is ok when we know we can count on you to figure things out together. If you are driven by positive energies, people are naturally drawn to you and will be supportive of you as a candidate even when they disagree with your point of view.

Lastly, don’t be insecure if you end up not getting the job. No need to take the rejection too seriously. More often than not, employers decided to promote or transfer someone internally or hired someone with a very specific type of experience to fit the business needs. You did your best and there’s no regret. Rinse and repeat.

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Build Your Dream Team In Style

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To me, building a team is a lot like curating a wardrobe. Talent acquisition is an art that requires practicality, sensibility and creativity, the same skills that make or break your own style. Here are the steps in building a dream team using good fashion sense.

  • Know what you need versus what you want

When shopping for clothes, people tend to get what they want, not what they need. For example, you shouldn’t have bought that shirt just because it was on sales. You should’ve got a pair of comfy, everyday flats instead of the stilettos that will end up sitting in the closet because they hurt your feet. A pair of hiking shoes are more practical for your camping trip instead of feeding your Air Jordan collection.

This is one of the most common pitfalls that hiring managers struggle with- they become a kid in the candy store, excited by the variety and possibilities and forget what they were looking for in the first place. Always start with practicality, stop listing what you want as the position qualifications. Look for candidates who can satisfy your needs (must-haves), not your wants (nice-to-haves/pluses).

  • Try them on

It is much harder to terminate a bad hire than returning a pair of jeans that don’t fit. You wouldn’t bend your toes so you can fit the shoes, right? Be sensible without being blinded by your emotions or external pressures when it comes to hiring. Just move on if you’re in doubt about a candidate. To avoid hiring the wrong person, ask for candidates’ portfolio and work samples, or give them a small assignment.  Be open to trying contract to hire to minimize your risk when a reliable skill assessment is not available.

  • Work with what you can get

When it comes to specialized couture, your have few options due to availability and budget. For instance, it’s not easy to find a wedding gown that fits like a glove without alteration. Many new dress shoes require time to break them in. With limited design collections, you can’t possibly buy as many as you want when competing with other shoppers. And sometimes it makes more sense to rent a tuxedo than buying one because you won’t wear it again.

This is another common roadblock in recruiting because the hiring managers aren’t aware of the supply and demand in the market and who they can afford within their budget. When you compete to hire the same type of candidates with similar background like everyone else, there’s not enough talent to go around.

There’s an easy way to broaden your candidate pool by considering candidates who don’t typically fit the profile. Also, remove arbitrary qualifiers that won’t predict performance and potentials. For example, many hiring managers get hung up on the experience or degree requirement when many high performers or high potentials in the organization don’t even meet the requirement. Think creatively and consider candidates outside of the target population.

  •  Buy for the fit, not for the brand

Right. Don’t we all want to fill our closets with designer brands. However, it is not wise to fill your wardrobe with luxury items because you may not get enough use out of them to justify your investment. You want a piece that will compliment your style, not simply speak class with a hefty price tag. Sometime a thrift store find may fit you better.

We all want the candidates with the perfect resume- the exact background, a reputable degree from an ivy league school, and consulting experience with fortune 500 companies. Many hiring managers have a distorted definition of A-player-to-bes and lose sight of what really drives great performance and results. Attitudes, motivations and goal alignment have a higher correlation to success in the position than a candidate’s skills and past experience.

  • Create your own style

Fashion is one of the most fast-paced industries- there’s something new every season. Talent acquisition changes as fast as the market demands, too. “Do my candidates have the hottest skills in the market right now?” “Has the candidate used the latest ERP software that we’re planning to implement?” Hiring managers sometimes get fixated on the past (a candidate’s experience) and the present (a candidate’s skills set) and ignore what a candidate could offer in the future (a candidate’s perspective potential and performance).

True fashionistas know not to chase the trend blindly. You know who is best for your team. Use the market intel to guide you, not blindside you. Many times the recruiting roadblocks are artificial and can be easily removed if we focus on the essentials, not what is trending.

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” —Yves Saint Laurent 

  • Shop around 

Smart shoppers never buy everything from one store so they won’t lose out not only on the bargains but also unique finds. You can’t establish your own style if you settle for what is convenient. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You may find your new favorite pair of jeans at a garage sales. That denim blazer may not be something you would consider wearing, but you don’t know how good you’ll look until you put it on.

Same goes for recruiting. It is a slipping slope when you hire from a specific population repeatedly with the same screening methods. It may be easy to hire from your in-group but easy isn’t always the best. Innovations don’t happen when all of the employees think alike. Like any business function, you should challenge the status quo in recruiting and hiring practice. Consider populations with diverse backgrounds who might not conform to your norms – give them the benefit of the doubt and be open to the possibilities of tapping into a new vein of resources.

Things Software Engineers Say to Recruiters on LinkedIn

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I am one of a few recruiters who actually read through LinkedIn profiles when I source candidates. I keep a collection of what engineers say to recruiters for my own entertainment. Again, this post is meant for people who appreciate the humor and irony; think a Buzzfeed article. No haters here, please.

Recruiters: Happy to converse about your projects that involve telecommuting. I am looking for talent as well, so asking if I know anyone won’t get you very far.” – Architect/Engineer

(Haaaa! He really knows the game.)

“Attention Recruiters/Talent Searchers – I do not take cold calls.”- Sr. Software Developer

(How about warm calls??? Emails ok???)

“Status: Happily Employed, not looking for work.”- Sr. .Net Developer

(Do you know anyone who is unhappily employed? I offer free displacement services at no charge if anyone is looking to leave. Just saying.)

“…not looking to be poached and am here to network.”- Software Engineer

(So you’re saying you want to network with everyone else but a recruiter. *sad face*)

“If you’re a recruiter, I’m not looking. If that changes, you can sign up for an email at the following address: …”- Dev Manager

(Look at him! What a genius. A soft rejection.)

“I’m not looking for additional work; in particular if you are a recruiter then thank you I’m flattered, but really no, I’m not going to be interested! Thank you, have a nice day.”- Engineering Manager

(How cute. And there’s no trace of anger. I want to hire you already.)

“As a note for recruiters, I’m not looking to move anywhere out of state — you’d be hard pressed to even get me to drive to Milwaukee. Also, specifically to Amazon recruiters, please do not contact me. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve told Amazon recruiters specifically that I’m not interested.”- Software Developer

(Damn, Amazon.)

“RECRUITERS I am currently not looking for a new position. If you work for a recruitment firm please do not contact or invite me to connect. I will not respond.”- Sr. Software Developer

(Severe PTSD from other recruiters, I see.)

“NOTE: If you need to get in touch with me, please do not call my office. I prefer email or Linkedin messages.”- Sr. Software Dev

(Sorry about all the awkward phone calls you have to deal with, dear. Next time, just pretend it’s a pizza delivery guy, “Yeah, a large pepperoni with extra cheese.”)

“I AM NOT LOOKING FOR CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AT THIS POINT IN TIME. RECRUITERS PLEASE DO NOT CALL OR EMAIL.”- Apps Dev

(OKAY. UNDERSTOOD. GOT IT. ROGER THAT.)

When Recruiters Go Bad

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Yes, I’m a recruiter and I’m going to talk about those recruiters who give us a bad rap. Why? Because I love recruiting and it hurts me to continue seeing those who ruin the experience for all. Being a recruiter is fun because we have the power to make someone’s dream come true (or at least bring him/her closer to it). We make magic happen- the moment when we seal the deal between a great candidate and a satisfied employer. It’s all about creating and maintaining happy relationships.

As both the company advocate and talent advisor, why can’t many recruiters follow simple business etiquettes?

Recruiter is probably the only occupation that gets away with being flaky and rude because no candidate wants to be on a company’s bad side.

I bet you have experienced this scenario at least once in your professional life: applied to a job, talked to the recruiter & hiring manager on the phone, brought in for in-person interview, then silence. You called, you emailed. Silence. You called again, you emailed again. Silence. 3 months later, you’d be lucky if you get a canned response about the rejection.

A bad recruiter is like that guy/girl who never called again (or returned calls) after the first date, leaving you hanging, feeling all the negative emotions, and going through all the possible things that could’ve gone wrong in your head. Sadness.

We are all adults; we know how to handle rejections gracefully with our dignity intact. Just tell us the truth and we both can move on. Right?

I understand sometimes a recruiter has no control over the course of action. An interviewed candidate can be ‘put on the back burner’, ‘kept warm’, ‘circled back after we see more candidates’, or ‘second choice if number one doesn’t take our offer’. Complete silence for 3 months or for good is just not nice. Right?

There is almost no repercussion for a recruiter being flaky or rude.

It’s almost impossible for you to complain about anything to a company regarding their recruiting processes. Some candidates take their time to share their stories on Glassdoor, yet most employers dismiss the reviews assuming they all came from bitter, disgruntled, rejected candidates.

Again, I totally get how HR or Recruiting department is usually under-staff, under-budget and with the most ancient tools/software (if any at all) because HR is not a revenue generating function. This is one of the most ironic things about corporate America, we think “people are our biggest assets” but we spend minimal investment in treating talent right.

Unsubscribe marketing emails all you want, but you’re not likely to escape spam emails from bad recruiters. Most of them probably don’t even know what CAN-SPAM act is.

I receive about emails/inMails regularly for legitimate career opportunities that match my skills set and also for random jobs that match some keywords on my LinkedIn profile. Those random jobs include various engineering positions that I have no capability to hold whatsoever. It saddens me when recruiters don’t read resumes/profiles before they poach a passive candidate. It’s really sad, like 😦 x 10,000.

Selectively, I responded to some of the legitimate emails not because I was looking for a job, but to learn some market intel. After all, it is the best way to gain the insider’s view and industry trends from your fellow recruiters. And honestly, you never know what kind of opportunity you may miss until you hear about it.

Sadly, I also received poor treatment from recruiters. My most unpleasant experiences include the following: [1] When they rejected me as an active applicant and reached out to me as a passive candidate. {Why did you reject me in the first place? Hello?} [2] When they failed to reject me after interviewing me, and later tried to sell their services or products to me. {They just turned me from a candidate to a potential client without even consulting me first. WTH?} [3] When I responded to their poaching emails, they didn’t follow up but emailed me again two months later for the same job. {Now I know why that job was open for a year. Duh.}

It’s time for us to rethink recruiting. The system is broken. The process is broken.

We keep talking about this huge talent war and how we suffer from a massive talent shortage. How about starting treating candidates with respect? Adapt customer service and marketing strategy to create quality candidate experience. Similar to what the internet has done to the sales industry from a ‘Buyers Beware’ to a ‘Sellers Beware” world. We have to adapt the ‘Candidate Driven’ model soon away from the ‘Employer Driven’ standard.

My suggestions to break the vicious cycle and improve your candidate experience:

  • Hold your hiring team accountable for candidate experience, including the hiring manager, interviewing panel, and HR/recruiter. Ask your candidates to rate their experience on key performance indicators (KPIs) according to your talent acquisition strategy.
    • Email an automated survey link to every candidate after each phone and in-person interview.
    • Include a ‘unsubscribe’ link in each sourcing email. Track the unsubscribe rate, segment your candidate population, and create targeted job promos or candidate engagement campaigns.
  • Ask for candidate feedback regarding your current application process and applicant tracking system if any.
    • Add a survey link on your careers page or encourage candidates to talk about their experience on social media if applicable.
  • Be kind. Don’t be a jerk. Treat a candidate how you want to be treated.

P.S. Candidates, When a recruiter asks you to wait two weeks for a decision after an interview, please wait or tell them that you can’t wait that long. Also, please don’t hate on a recruiter when you are rejected in a timely manner after an interview. 99% of the time you just don’t match all of the hiring manager’s laundry list of requirements or some external factor happened to be against your odds. It’s not you, it’s them. Seriously.

Unplug and Make Your Career Resolutions

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It is amazing how we have grown so reliant on technology and how we consult an app before completing a simple task. We live in an era where distraction is allowed and even encouraged. How about giving yourself a break from all the distractions?

As you pause and reflect on the achievements and learnings in 2014, set aside some time to think about your career resolutions for 2015. Career planning requires a true ‘you’ moment without texts, emails, nonstop notifications, random googling, or yet another Youtube video. Trust me, you’ll have the chance to research online after you finish this exercise.

Whether you’re in transition, wanting a promotion, changing your career path, or simply happy in your current role, your career will thrive with mindful planning and execution. No one cares about your career like you do. In order to realize your potential, you have to set and own your goals. When you truly take advantage of the science of goals, you’ll get to where you want to be in no time.

When you’re ready to think long and hard, turn off your phone, tablet, and computer. Get a notebook (that’s made out of paper) and a pen. Go to a quiet room without interruptions from people or pets. Then, let your mind flow and start writing down your thoughts.

1. Know thyself. Your first step is to become more self-aware.

  • What are the differences between what you want and what you’re good at?
  • What are the differences between what drives you and what gives you satisfaction?
  • What are your values?

2. Ideas for 2015. Here comes the fun part.

  • What do you need to start, change, develop, grow, succeed, or retire at both micro and macro level?

3. Prioritization. Look at your ideas and focus on the most urgent and important matters that will affect your career. List items by urgency and importance for a better picture on what to do next.

  • Use the 10/10/10 rule by Suzy Welch to evaluate the impacts of each priority and write down your decided priorities.

How will you feel about the decision 10 minutes from now?

How about 10 months from now?

How about 10 years from now?

  • Compare your values and priorities. Identify and write down the differences between your values and priorities.

4. Reality check. It is only a dream until you make it happen.

  • Having measured the differences between what you want and what you’re able to do, between what drives you and what satisfies you, and between your values and those of your environments, are you able to overcome those differences?

If your answer is yes, proceed. If not, repeat the previous steps.

5. Closing the gaps. You’re almost there. You’ve identified the roadblocks to your success; now it’s time to finalize your 2015 career resolutions.

  • What are the resources (who and what) you need to overcome those differences?
  • What are the actions (where, when and how) you need to overcome those differences?

6. Showtime. Congrats, you just created the ultimate guide to achieve your career resolutions.

You can download a print-friendly worksheet via this link. Hope you enjoy this career planning exercise. Wish everyone a happy new year!

This article is an adaptation of Warren Bennis‘ four-question test for people seeking success.

Modern Wage Slavery: Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internship is sadly an accepted form of employment in the US. Younger generations are paying a lot more for career preparation than ever before. “U.S. companies have been cutting money for training programs for decades, expecting schools and workers to pick up the slack. College students have to pay for school, training, and internships. What do employers do? They complain about talent shortage.

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Here are some empty promises from unpaid internships:

  • “You get college credits”: Yes, but interns may or may not get the ‘education’ or ‘experience’ that’s worth the price of those credits. They might as well take another elective course with greater rewards. Students are actually paying for unpaid internships_think about the costs of transportation, insurance, and lost wage.
  • “This internship may lead to a job”: That’s not an official job offer. And it is illegal for a company to use internship as a trial period. Why would they pay their interns in the future to do exactly the same thing when they can get away with hiring a new, unpaid intern? Even if an intern does land a job, s/he will probably soon discover the company’s lack of respect for employees in other areas or other unethical ways of cutting operating costs.
  • “Use it to build your resume”: Have you seen the increasing number of entry-level job postings that require ‘3-5 years of experience’? More and more companies are turning entry-level jobs into internships and advertising their professional jobs as entry-level positions. In fact, not every company and hiring manager will value an unpaid internship experience and the new graduate’s first salary offer may be significantly lower than the average because that’s not a real job’.
  • “It’s a great experience”: It really depends. Some companies offer structured and thoughtful internships where interns can gain real experience, including training, final deliverables, and networking opportunities with industry professionals. Some of them just ask interns to do whatever tasks that no one wants to do, a.k.a any administrative, tedious or manual tasks that require little intellectual power (It’s a different story when they’re paid to do those tasks. That’s called ‘part of the job’. ).

Here are three reasons we should fight against unpaid internships:

  • Unethical: Why would you work for free for 3 to 6 months for someone who’s making money out of you, possibly someone who you’ve never met and may never meet during the entire employment? And 99% of the time you won’t know their profits and where they spend the money. It doesn’t make sense. It is just wrong.
  • Unsustainable: With tuition hikes happening almost every year, students are struggling to keep both their brains and wallets full. Parents are picking up the tab so their children can get the experience they need for their career. If the student is not getting enough financial support for education and college expenses, s/he is very likely to get money via other means (a part-time job or loan) in order to stay self-sufficient during an unpaid internship. Higher education is the most viable way for us to sustain the knowledge economy. The last thing we need is to make it harder for students to get the education they need to grow our economy.
  • Unproductive: Even though many unpaid interns still work very hard to earn their stripes, an exploitative program like unpaid internship may not generate as much savings as expected for the employers. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The hidden costs of morale, reputation, potential lawsuits, health issues will incur at the employer or the society’s expense.

Join the fight to end unpaid internships by supporting the Fair Pay Campaign!

What You Didn’t Know About Your Resume

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It is unfair that employers judge your knowledge, skills and ability on a piece of paper. On the other hand, it is scary for employers to hire someone based on the information on a piece of paper. Would you pay $100,000 for a piece of paper? No. So if you’re shooting for an annual salary of $100,000, better make sure your resume reads like it is worth $100,000 of investment with minimal foreseeing risks and high potential ROI.

Every recruiter knows. Some hiring managers say no to your resume even though you have the exact qualification as the job description.

Why?

“I don’t know about this guy. He’s bounced around too much. ”

“What school is that? I never heard of it.”

“Never got her degree? Nah.”

“He’s never worked in the industry. He’s never worked with (specific) software/system/program. We need someone with experience.”

Unemployed for months? I don’t know about that.”

“She lives too far. She’ll quit in a month.”

“He’s always worked at a small/medium/large organization; he won’t last here.”

You have to manage two things: risk and expectation. Job hunting is a lot like dating, you want to be a safe and attractive choice. By managing risk, you’re telling them why they should hire you over other candidates. By managing expectation, you’re tell them what they’re getting for their bucks.

Market yourself like a investment portfolio. First, you have to know your investors. Are they looking to get rich fast and move on to the next opportunity? Are they looking to let their money sit in the account for years to come? Here are some actions you may take to mitigate the obvious risks on your resume:

  1. Explain briefly about your employment gaps or presumed job hopping.
  2. Include relevant experience in targeted industry or projects even it was a pro bono gig for your family business or your church or your children’s school.
  3. Clarify any change or anything out of ordinary: relocation, change of career path, change of industry, job search after only one month into a new job, etc.
  4. Show the expected graduation date if you’re still in school and let them know if it’s a remote/part-time/evening program.
  5. Monitor your social media activities and profiles. Make sure your online professional information are up to date and either match or supplement your resume.

Second, you have to sell your investment mix. Just the right amount of everything that will satisfy the investors’ needs. Here comes the expectation management- make it look so good that they can smell the money just by reading it. Some actions you may consider to reflect or boost your market value:

  1. Quantify your duties, accomplishments, tasks, or knowledge (e.g. managed 10M annual budget and 5 direct reports, optimized conversion rate with email marketing campaigns by 123% within a year resulting in 10% increase in revenues, analyzed data of 2 million unique records with 500 variables, 800 hours of Coursera on open source coding, progressive career advancement in a well-respected company). Include a link to your personal website or portfolio (a must for creative positions) so employers can check out your work samples.
  2. Research about the company and list any relevant facts about your professional history that would resonate with the employer (e.g. worked on a major account that the employer is trying to get, implemented agile for a startup).
  3. Paint a picture of who you are so the employer can gauge your culture fit (e.g. hobbies, memberships, charities/causes).
  4. Tell a story about where you work(ed) and how you work(ed). (e.g. company mission, infrastructure and operations, on-site v.s remote v.s travel/ team v.s individual/ domestic v.s international).
  5. Showcase your learning agility, including any current training/courses and earned certificates/licenses. This is an indicator of your future efficacy. The only constant is change and employers are looking for people who are lifelong learners.

Lastly, do not lie on your resume. Yes, some people may get away with it. You? Probably not. Remember, there’s only six degrees of separation. People can find out a lot about you if they try. And you probably won’t enjoy the job you get from a fake resume because it is not who you are and what you want to do ultimately.

Once you get past the why and what, employers will figure out how to get you.

Good luck!

To LinkedIn or Not?

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LinkedIn is one of those things that you either want to do it right or not at all.

The benefits of having an All-Star LinkedIn profile:

  • You can be easily contacted by your network (and beyond) for any of the following:
    • career opportunities
    • job inquiries
    • expertise requests
    • reference requests
    • getting back in touch
    • consulting offers
    • business deals

An increasingly popular trend,  employers and recruiters are checking your social media profiles as part of their informal screening processes, especially your LinkedIn profile.

Busy recruiters don’t check every single applicant’s LinkedIn profile if the resume shows all three ingredients of the Holy Trinity. As a job seeker with a killer resume, you really don’t need a LinkedIn profile when you don’t have time or don’t want to make time for managing yet another social media account. My role of thumb as a recruiter for checking an applicant’s profile is to validate one or more of the following:

  • Missing Contact Information:
    • No kidding. I’ve received many resumes without their phone number and email address. Most of the time I ignore them for obvious reasons but I do try to reach out to some that look promising.
  • Omitted Job History:
    • This is more commonly seen with experienced professionals with more than 15 years of experience. Sometimes candidates try to shorten the length of the resume OR avoid possible age discrimination. My recommendation is to include all but keep the older, irrelevant job history short such as listing companies, years and titles only. If you omit most of your work history without an explanation, it would look suspicious. “How did s/he have all these experiences and titles within 10 years?” “Does s/he own the company?”

Also, the employer will find out about your age eventually- you wouldn’t want to work for an employer who would devalue your worth based on your age, would you? So why waste your time appearing to be ‘younger’ and to be disappointed or dismissed or mistreated later? If you worry about being excluded due to the possible compensation concerns (“Oh s/he’s definitely too expensive for this role with 20 years of experience”), it wouldn’t hurt to include your salary history and expectations along with your explanation such as looking for a career change or enjoying more hands-on projects.

Try to include the reasons for gaps in employment history if possible and appropriate. If you went back to school full-time, state it. If you took a sabbatical, say it. Any legitimate reason without disclosing any or much of your protected class.

  • Omitted Graduation Year:
    • Again, this is more commonly seen with experienced professionals. No point to hide and it may create some confusion, “Did s/he graduate?” “Is s/he still in school? (We’re looking for graduates only!)” “What year is s/he? (We’re looking for juniors/seniors only for those internships!)”
  • Conflicting Location:
    • Please explain in your resume if (1) your current work location is nowhere close to your home address, (2) the position you’re applying is nowhere close to your current home address, or (3) the location of your current education institute is nowhere close to your current home address or the position you’re applying (without explanations, I often assume it’s an online program or the person is passively pursuing the degree while working full-time).
  • “Do I know this person?” “Oh wait… Bob from Accounting used to work for the same employer during the time when the person was there. Let me check if they know each other.” “Wow…she’s the organizer of a networking group that my friend always goes to. Let me check if my friend knows her.”
    • I can’t stress more about the importance of maintaining your professional reputations. Trust me- people remember things about you, especially when you’re stellar or horrible. I hope you’re the former.
  • Missing Target Skills or Results
    • I check the profile to validate the stated experience in the resume when the applicant didn’t include the target skills (e.g. specific software or technical skills) or results (e.g. executed marketing campaigns with 10 million budget and gained 5% market share in the US healthcare industry within a year)
  • Missing (Required) Work Samples or Portfolio
    • It’s an unspoken rule that you should have your own website(s) or links to showcase your work for certain occupations such as designers or developers.
  • Missing Information that We Asked You to Include in the Resume
    • For example: Your resume looks great but we have ten facilities with three shifts in the same city. You don’t answer your phone and we really need to know (or guess) what shift or location you would like to work. 
  • Any Other Discrepancy

Takeaway for all: invest your time in building both your own professional portfolio and networks either offline or online.

Good luck!

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