Expert Advice

Full-length articles, listicles, videos, and other resources to guide you in making great decisions in terms of your resume, interviews, job search, and overall career trajectory.

Archives for the 'Job Hunting in a Recession' Category

Too Big To Care: The Indifference of Big Companies & How Workers Can Protect Themselves From Layoffs

Adjusting the tie

Layoffs & Loyalty

Twitter, Meta, Amazon, Salesforce… titans of Tech, supposedly too big to fail.

But we’re seeing some wavering. And employees are certainly feeling the quake.

Inflation is taking its toll, the global supply chain is still screwy, and consumers are pinching their pennies. As a result, profits are down, even for the big guys, and the #1 strategy of public companies to keep dishing out shareholder dividends is to cut the workforce. And fast.

Tens of thousands of workers are being laid off, in some cases 10%-50% of the workforce.

If you’re not lucky enough to be above the fold, you may find yourself dumping your desk tchotchkes into a cardboard box with an unrequested escort to the front door.

It’s not enough to work hard and be loyal.

When the chips are down, your salary can always be rescinded.

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Part of protecting yourself is knowing this to be true and taking precautions to be ready for when it occurs.

  1. Stay to the outside. If you’ve got some tenure under your belt, love what you do, and want to call your own shots, consider shifting to consulting. Self-employment is the only true job security because you, and you alone, are in charge of your paycheck. As long as you keep a balanced portfolio of clients (3 or more clients, 2 or more industries), you will always be safe from being out of work.
  2. Sleep with the enemy. Get to know folks in your role at competing companies. Don’t gossip or trade trade secrets, but have lunch every once in a while. Welcome someone from the other side into your life. You’ll be better able to see the industry trends coming around the corner, you’ll have a bigger picture when doing your own work, and you just may have some inroads into a new job, should your company decide to downsize…er, rightsize… no, I mean consolidate… Wait, restructure?
  3. Toot your horn. Everyone in a big company knows they have to find ways to add value to survive, but you also have to find ways to prove you’re finding ways to add value. This means, telling your boss your good ideas *and* making sure you get credit for them, volunteering to do “high-visibility” projects, making post-project slide decks that show business impact, and reminding people of your greatness during meetings and reviews. Don’t count on anyone else to advocate for you. It’s not that your colleagues don’t care; they’re just as busy as you are and they can only fit one horn in their mouth.
  4. Interview every once in a while. Especially when things are good, dip a toe in the job market. See what’s out there for you. See what salaries look like. Guage the eagerness of another company to snatch you up. This is a good way to make some alliances within other companies and turn enemies into friends, which is always a good business strategy (and life strategy). Interviewing is a skill. And you should always keep your skills polished.
  5. Keep your resume sharp. Military veterans and Information Security professionals are great at this. Perhaps it’s because they know bombs can drop at any moment. There is no better way to gain peace of mind in an unstable job situation than to have your resume updated and ‘at the ready.’ At the first explosion, you’re ready to fire back. If you really want an edge, hire a professional resume writer to do the job for you. It can be challenging to get your story down on paper, especially after an involuntary, abrupt ending.

Life is uncertain. Companies have plenty of failsafes in place to protect them from sudden catastrophes.

Do you?

top Career Transition, COVID-19, Executives, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Mature Workers, Navigating Work Stress, Networking, Resumes, Salary |

Automated Resume Builders – Who Needs Them?

Job seeker frustrated with job hunting

Robots to the Rescue?

Everything’s automated now. So why not automate the process of building a new resume?

The benefits are obvious: a resume. And fast. You enter a few action verbs and phrases, pick a template, and presto, the resume gods spit out a brand-new resume for you. As a resume writer, I thought about building something like this. I still might but I always come back to the same reasons why I don’t think it’s a good idea.

They can hurt more than help.

Who Needs Them

If you’ve got a linear career path with no job gaps or short-term jobs, and your most recent position and company are directly relevant to the job you are targeting, then a resume builder should be fine for you. You should catch the attention of recruiters and HR folks easily. Well done toeing the line.

Another scenario where resume builders work well is if you’re applying internally. That is, a job opened up at your company, and you need a resume to apply for it. As long as the people doing the hiring know exactly who you are, then it’s not such an imperative that you wow them with words on your resume. A slight caveat, though: you may be surprised how little people know about what you do, including the colleagues you talk to every day.

Who Should Avoid Resume Builders

Resume builders don’t allow you to pick and choose where to put content, such as titles, company names, dates, education, certifications, and skills. You’re stuck with a template. The template decides which foot you put forward first, and that can mean a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

For example, if you have a job gap or a short-term gap, having prominent dates could be a problem. If your job titles don’t match up with the industry, showcasing titles might trip you up. If you just got a groovy new certification, but the template forces you to put it at the bottom of the resume, under your education, then you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Resume-builders don’t allow you to have subheadings, sidebars, case studies, and other callouts in your Experience section. It’s tricks like these that help to tell an accurate story, visually and literally.

Another big gripe about resume builders: they rarely offer the option of creating a summary section. You’ll usually be allowed to create a massive keyword list, which is critical, but you won’t have a nice juicy intro on your resume saying who you are and what you’re about.

This leads me to the biggest issue with Resume Builders…

The content comes from you.

You’re already struggling with what to say. It’s hard to know what to include and what to leave out, what to infer and what to explicitly state.

No resume builder is going to help you with this.

Alternatives to Resume Builders

There are a few paths you can take to free yourself of the burden of building your own resume (or outsourcing to a bot).

  1. Use job listings. Pick out 3 target jobs with the exact same title at different companies and analyze the crap out of them. Highlight common keywords and come up with a short list of the highest priority job duties and qualifications (i.e. whatever they list first). This content should be on your resume. Pro tip: used a word cloud tool to see what keywords and phrases pop up the most.
  2. Talk to a hiring manager. They’re the ones who have all the answers. If you don’t already know someone who has hired for your specific position, line up an informational interview. Then ask this person what they’re looking for. Get the answers to the test. Then you’ll know what to say on your resume.
  3. Take a course. Consider enrolling in an online class about building resumes. Just make sure there is a part in the course about overcoming specific work-history challenges you may face. For example, if you have a job gap, you’re going to need to figure out how to deal with that on paper.
  4. Hire a resume writer. Ever tried to fix your own car or toilet and ended up with a bigger mess than when you started? The same is true with your career. Keep it in good hands, expert hands. With a good resume writer, all you have to do is talk about your jobs; they’ll know what to include and leave out, how to say it so the hiring folks will be pleased, and where to put everything on the page so that the readers’ eye is directed in the appropriate sequence.

Sometimes a robot can’t do a human’s job. When it comes to mapping out your career and telling your life’s story on 1 or 2 pages, resume builders are usually going to come up short. It’s tempting to want to believe you can magically create a winning resume with the click of a button, but…

If your career runs a path that is anything but straight and narrow, think twice before you push that button.

top Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Recruiters & HR, Resumes |

Involuntary Abrupt Endings

Mystery curve

Getting let go from work is like getting hit by a bus.

And like getting hit by a bus, people who get fired, laid off, or asked to leave often experience PTSD (post-traumatic-stress-syndrome). I see it more often than you might think.

The symptoms show up in one’s work history:
–extended time off
–private consulting
–gig work
–sudden or serial entrepreneurism
–underemployment

A common behavior amongst people with Job-related PTSD is complete and total avoidance of an intentional job search — like a batter avoiding the batter’s box or a veteran avoiding loud noises or a driver circumnavigating busy intersections.

It’s understandable. It’s a smart reaction to a bad experience: the brain saying “hey that sucked. Let’s not go through that again.”

But it abbreviates your life. It makes you take U-turns that keep you from certain roads.

To break free of job PTSD, you have to confront it. (Ghosts hate it when you give ’em a name.) Talk about it, replay the crap-ending to someone who loves you and supports you. No need to deconstruct it or overanalyze things, just pull it into the light and let your emotions go where they go; you’ll probably cycle through quite a few of them.

Then go back before that ending and remember the good stuff too. And if it was always bad at that job, go to the one before it.

You’ve got victories; you’ve just forgotten about them. They’re obstructed. The ghosts are in the way.

Once you get them to move, you’ll see all the roads again. And the intersections will be clear.

top Career Transition, COVID-19, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Mature Workers, Navigating Work Stress |

How to Ace All Types of Video Interviews During COVID-19

Woman having a video call

Everybody’s doing it.

Even before COVID-19 struck the world, employers have been relying on virtual interviewing to screen out candidates. It’s inexpensive and way less time-consuming. There are several types of video interviews employers use. Make sure you’re savvy in all 4 of these formats. Continue reading this entry »

top COVID-19, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Uncategorized |

The Difference Between Responsibilities and Accomplishments, and Why You Should Have NEITHER on Your Resume

Just a reminder to take a break and do something special for yourself once in a while.

As a former recruiter and professional resume writer, I’ve looked at a lot of resumes. I can tell you this: people seem to struggle with knowing how, where, and to what extent to include Responsibilities and Accomplishment on their resumes.

Most people have one or the other, the coffee or the cookie. Some have both, a 2-course delivery. Neither of these strategies is optimal.

To show you why Continue reading this entry »

top Executives, Job Hunting in a Recession, Resumes |

5 Stand-out Strategies for Answering the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

Most interviews start with the same question (which, actually, isn’t even a question):

“Tell me about yourself.”

Why?

Because open-ended questions are the best way to get to know someone. And, they’re the easiest way to allow someone to reveal themselves.

The question is simple enough, yet most people answer it incorrectly. Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Executives, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Recent Graduates |

5 Things Your Resume Can Do For You Beyond Just Getting An Interview

There is a common misconception that the only purpose of the resume is to get you an interview. You’re short-changing yourself if you believe this.

I’ve watched resumes do many more things for job seekers, time and time again. Here are some of those things. Continue reading this entry »

top Job Hunting in a Recession, Resumes |

How to Keep Your Career Alive Through Coronavirus

Is anyone hiring?

Not really. There are, indeed, industries and companies that are going strong, but they’re not necessarily adding to their headcount right now. Everyone’s in waiting. HR departments are in an Arctic freeze. People with jobs are clinging to them like driftwood in the cold open sea. Unemployment numbers are rising, which means the competition for life rafts is growing.

It’s hard to be cooped up in your house, knowing all of this is going, feeling like you should be “out there” looking for work.

Still, it’s always better to take action during a crisis. Action delivers a sense of progress. It fans the flame of hope in the night while we pray for the sun to come back over the horizon.

Here are some ways to stay productive and generate your own warmth in this time of uncertainty: Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Networking, Resumes |

Resume Tips For Overcoming Recession-Related Challenges

Recessions tend to push hardworking people into two groups. On the one hand, is the layoff survivor handling the load of multiple former employees. On the other is the hyperqualified, abruptly laid-off job seeker who needs to explain the abrupt ending to their tenure. Different destinies but both types tend to struggle with how to present these career changes on their resumes.

Here are some tips: Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes |

Not Going Down Alone

I admit I’ve had a couple of challenging clients recently. It’s easy to write them off but it’s always best to look inward before casting blame.

So, what’s really going on? Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes |

Are Job Gaps A Good Thing?

Recently, a resume client of mine forwarded a newsletter article from a job board discussing ways to overcome “job gaps” of 3-6 months.

Here’s a snippet from the article, and my subsequent retort as to why we should redefine the criteria for a job gap: Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Resumes |

Let the Government Pay For Your Career Development

One of the best kept secrets in job-hunting: The government has offered to pay part of your expenses!

You read correctly: Career expenses, including fees incurred for career counseling, professional resume writing, and job-search coaching, are tax-deductible for everyone with only a few exceptions: Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Interviewing, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Mature Workers, Resumes |

Why You Should Avoid Functional Resume Formats

I took my my kids on an ice cream date and my daughter was making the best facial expressions. This shot was taken right after she took a big bite of cold deliciousness.

An aggrieved job seeker, sick of hearing that functional resumes are the scourge of an HR person’s day, asked why this type of format is unfavorable. Here’s my response: Continue reading this entry »

top Career Transition, Executives, Job Hunting in a Recession, Mature Workers, Recent Graduates, Recruiters & HR, Resumes |

11 Ways Executive Resumes Differ From Other Resumes

man standing near high-rise building

Executive résumés should be distinguishable from lower-level résumés, even at a glance. However, the differences don’t stop at appearance. There’s much to consider when developing and positioning content for senior-level résumés. You may be surprised at how many “golden rules” of résumé writing I’m about to break. Continue reading this entry »

top Executives, Job Hunting in a Recession, Mature Workers, Recruiters & HR, Resumes |

How To Make Your Job Better

Overworked adult female entrepreneur with papers in light modern office

A lot of us hate our job or at least see it as a grind. Getting up in the morning is a chore, there’s not much we look forward to. We become dichotomous in our thinking: “Maybe I should quit.” In other words, it’s either this crappy job or nothing at all. And leaving is often too big of a hill to climb. There’s another way.

Make your job suck less.

1. Find people who don’t suck, and hang out with them.

Ask them what they do and what they like about it. They don’t have to be in your discipline, in fact, it might be better if they’re not. Most important, make sure this new alliance doesn’t turn into a venting session (for either of you).

2. Start a pet project.

What change do you wish to see at work? What would give you energy if it was there waiting for you every day? Maybe it’s about addressing the culture of the company, maybe it’s about changing a process, or rearranging furniture. Own something and chip away at it. Create something to look forward to.

3. Expand your perspective.

Pull back and look at the whole organization, the workflow across the entire enterprise, no matter how big. Which parts light you up. Are you touching them? How can you make it so that you are?

4. Harness your negativity in a positive way.

Determine what’s frustrating you, get to the heart of it. If it’s mostly about you, that’s good news. That means you can change it. If the problems lie with the company, think about an alternative way of doing things. If it really catches fire with you, turn it into a proposal and bring it to a supervisor. Share it in earnest but as a proposal, not a demand. You may be surprised by the reaction.

5. Give yourself something to get up to.

Try not to have your first thought be about the job you hate. Have your first thought or activity of the day be something good. This will shift your perspective for the rest of the day, including your perspective at work.

Sometimes, it’s not about leaving. It’s about tweaking. Change is at hand.

top Career Transition, Job Hunting in a Recession, Job Market, Navigating Work Stress |