Comic Relief: Job-Seeking Humor – Volume 4

Now that we’re past Labor Day, and summer breaks are mostly behind us, job-seekers are probably hunkering down and trying to get back to their daily grind of hunting for employment. To ease everyone back into the work world, I figure – what better time than now for me to take yet another break from my usual “advice for job-seekers” mission, and offer up this 4th blog of pure humor?! [See “Volume 1”, “Volume 2” and Volume 3” for the last three editions of this popular side-trip!] After all … it’s always good to start off a new work week with a good laugh.

Once again, I’ll point out that I fully realize that being unemployed is generally not a laughing matter. However, much like “gallows humor,” the intention of “job-seeking humor” is quite simple: to lift the spirits of people who are in an otherwise depressing situation. I’m a firm believer that maintaining a sense of humor is a key component to positive mental health. And I’m a still a tough critic when it comes to job-seeking humor. I figure, if it makes me laugh out loud, it’s worth sharing here!


In the category of Videos, the following clip is called “David Pedersen’s Video Resume.” Not long ago, “Video Resumes” were touted as the newest “hot technology” in recruiting – but they never really caught on in the mainstream. This clip appeared on YouTube a couple of years ago, and no one is really sure if David Pedersen is an actual person, or just an actor hired by some devious filmmakers … was this supposed to be an actual video resume by a recent grad, or simply a parody? Without going totally over the line, it’s just ridiculous enough that it inspired debate and controversy about its authenticity. Personally, I think it’s just absolutely hysterical. (My favorite moment in this video is the smarmy look he gives the camera at 0:13!) I just never get tired of watching this clip:


In the category of Cartoons, here are some more miscellaneous funnies that I couldn’t fit into any other blog articles, but I think are hilarious nevertheless … and deserve to be shared here:


Finally, in the category of “Letters I Wish I Could Send,” here’s a little something for any job-seeker who has ever received a standard Rejection Letter or Rejection Email from a company after you’ve applied to and/or interviewed for a job. It is a template for a tongue-in-cheek “Rejection of Your Rejection Letter.” I’m not sure where this letter originated … different variations of it have appeared on numerous websites over the years, and yet it always seems timely. Use this at your own risk:


To Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for your letter of [date of the rejection letter]. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment at this time.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals. Despite [Name of the Company]’s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm immediately.

I look forward to working with you. Best of luck in rejecting future candidates.


September 7, 2010 at 12:01 am 4 comments

“Unemployed Need Not Apply” – Working Around This Scary Message

Lately, there’s been a very disturbing trend in the job market. More and more companies are automatically screening out job applicants who are not currently working. They are eliminating unemployed job-seekers from their candidate pools, and are choosing to only interview people who already have jobs. Recruiting firms from all over the country are reporting hearing this from their client companies with increasing and alarming frequency. Some companies are doing this behind the scenes, quietly instructing outside 3rd-party recruiters, internal corporate recruiters and HR people to focus only on currently working candidates while excluding those that are not working (without telling them, of course.) Others are brazenly advertising this preference in their job postings!  I know … it sounds outrageous – and you’d think such a thing would be illegal, right? Well, guess what – it’s not. Unlike race, religion, age, gender, etc., being unemployed is not a “protected” status subject to anti-discrimination laws. Here’s a link to a recent article from CNNMoney that made the rounds a few weeks ago, and brought this issue to light for a lot of people: “Looking for work? Unemployed need not apply.”

Below is a screenshot of an ad from Sony Ericsson for a Head of Marketing Communications and Public Relations position, taken from a video newscast from a TV station in Orlando. The ad was placed by an Orlando-based recruiting agency called “The People Place” for a job in the Atlanta area, which is where Sony was moving their headquarters. They were supposedly creating 180 new jobs at that new facility … and Sony was refusing to hire any unemployed people to fill those jobs! (The irony of this is astounding – advertising for a head of “Public Relations” with an ad that created a firestorm of BAD public relations!!!)

This practice has, for obvious reasons, angered a lot of people. In some cases it has caused a backlash against those companies. For example, in the Sony Ericsson case shown above, the local community of Buckhead, Georgia – the Atlanta suburb where Sony was building their new facility – threatened to rescind a deal they made with the company which included $4 Million in tax credits when they learned of this hiring policy. (Sony subsequently removed the ad, saying it was “a mistake.”) In other cases, when reporters called companies who posted jobs with restrictions against unemployed applicants, those companies removed the ads – obviously to avoid negative publicity … but we can only assume that their discriminatory hiring practices continued behind closed doors.

In the world of 3rd Party Recruiting, this practice isn’t really new at all. Traditional “Head Hunters” have done this for years, only going after top talent – usually people who worked for their client’s competitors – and actually recruiting them away from one company to come work for another. Head Hunters would never call someone who was unemployed. [Read “The Real Truth About Working with Recruiters” for more on how “Head Hunters” differ from other types of recruiters.]

So why are today’s companies now doing this? At a time when there are more unemployed job-seekers out there than any other time in recent history, why would any company eliminate from consideration such a huge pool of talent … potential candidates, many of whom are probably just as qualified (if not more so) as anyone who is currently working? Without trying to justify it, or in any way condone this practice – as a recruiter who has heard these preferences expressed from client companies I’ve worked with myself, I can probably shed some light on their thinking.

One reason might be expediency. Every job posting now brings in an unprecedented flood of applicants. Company recruiters and HR people are completely overwhelmed with literally hundred and hundreds of resumes for each and every job opening they advertise. By eliminating unemployed applicants, they are whittling that number down to a more reasonable group of people that they can screen and interview in a more efficient and timely manner.

Another reason is perception. It’s basic human nature to view a candidate who is still working in a better light than an unemployed job-seeker. No matter what the true facts are, there is always that irrational but nagging suspicion that someone is out of work for “performance reasons.” It’s not logical, and it’s not likely to produce a higher caliber employee … but it is the way many people think.

Companies might also rationalize that a currently working person is “the best in their field” since they managed to avoid the layoffs that so many others experienced in their industry. They may believe that those currently working “passive candidates” are more likely to be up to speed in their industry niche, and would therefore require less training than someone who has been out of work for a while … that they could more easily “hit the ground running.”

Trying to understand the reasons that companies do what they do in their hiring practices can be useful information for any job-seeker in determining how to position yourself for the best chances of success. If the name of the game is perception, then it’s up to you to create a perception that will be most likely to avoid being eliminated before you even get to the starting gate.

The Workaround:

So what is an unemployed job-seeker supposed to do with this information? How can you work around the scary message: “Unemployed Need Not Apply?”  The most obvious answer to that question is to not appear to be unemployed!!!  I’m certainly not suggesting that you should to be dishonest or lie in any way. However, there are several ways to present yourself – especially on your résumé – that will avoid the stigma that comes with being an unemployed job-seeker. My advice is to position yourself as NOT being currently unemployed – but rather to use either Volunteer Work, Consulting (Contract) Work, or Self-Employment as your current position. I’ve detailed those strategies, and described how to use them on your résumé, at the bottom of a prior blog posting: “Explaining Short Job Stints and Employment Gaps.”

Don’t give companies any reason to overlook you before they even talk with you! Use this information, and my suggested strategies, to get past the irrational screening process. Your goal should be to advance yourself to the interview stages of the hiring process where you have the opportunity to impress people with your actual talents and skills, your positive attitude and your passion for your work.

August 23, 2010 at 12:01 am 31 comments

Explaining Short Job Stints and Employment Gaps

There are many criteria that recruiters and HR professionals use to eliminate job applicants after screening their résumés. Recently I posted an article here on that topic [“The Brutal Truth on How Résumés Get Eliminated.”] That blog article became one of the most widely read postings on Recruiter Musings. Obviously, I touched a nerve there!

One of the potential problem areas I wrote about is job turnover. If your résumé’s job history shows too many short stints over a limited time period, the person screening it can read it as a negative: you might be a job-hopping flight risk … you seemingly can’t hold down a job … perhaps you don’t get along with others well … there may have been performance issues that got you fired – the imagination creates all kinds of possible scenarios! Likewise, significant unexplained gaps between jobs can be red flags that will get you eliminated. And finally, if you are not currently working and you’ve been out of work for a long time … well, I don’t have to tell you how awkward it is when someone asks you: “So, what have you been doing since you left your last job?” I thought it might be helpful to suggest some strategies that can be used to overcome those issues.

Too Much Job Turnover

There may be perfectly valid reasons for having a lot of jobs within a short period. I would advise briefly listing the reasons for those short job stints right next to the dates on your résumé to avoid this obvious red flag. The idea here is to be pro-active, and answer their questions about why you left each job before those questions are even asked. It’s a simple thing, and yet very few people do it. You don’t need to go into long-winded or detailed explanations. All you need is a brief phrase, in parenthesis, following the dates of each short-lived position. For example: “Laid Off Due To Economic Circumstances” … or “Position Was Eliminated” … or “Company Went Out of Business,” etc. What this does is provide the screener with a perfectly valid explanation for the short stint, and eliminates the possibility that they will imagine something much worse – i.e., that you were fired for cause, poor performance, etc. (Of course, if you actually were fired for cause … well, that’s another story!)

Unexplained Gaps Between Jobs

Unlike a job application, a résumé is not a legal document and there is no requirement that it must contain a complete history of everything you’ve ever done. It should be truthful … but it’s up to you to decide what to include or not include. Here’s a suggestion: the dates listed next to each job do not have to include the months – instead, you can show them as a range of years. That can often avoid the red flag of seeing brief periods of unemployment between jobs. For example:

Likewise, if there are jobs in your work history (especially if they were short-lived) that were unrelated to your main industry or niche … there’s no reason you can’t leave those off the résumé. You only need to feature your most relevant positions – and usually only go back about 10 years. Many people take positions outside of their industry while between jobs as a temporary way of maintaining an income until they find something in their field. Others have jobs earlier in their chronology that are also outside of their current target industry. Listing those “side-trips” can sometimes be distracting to a screener who is only focused on looking for experience in one particular field.

The one caution I’ll add here, is that sooner or later almost every company will have you fill out an official job application form. Unlike your résumé, that application is actually a legal document that you must sign … so don’t leave anything off of that one. Be sure every job, employment date, salary, and educational degree that you list is accurate. It’s better to leave something blank, than to guess or make something up. Background checks will inevitably uncover incorrect information … and inconsistent or false information on an application will look like you’ve intentionally lied. That almost always results in the applicant being eliminated. I’ve seen job offers withdrawn for things like candidates listing the wrong dates of employment or school graduations, exaggerating salary histories, fabricating educational degrees, etc. Just tell the truth!

Currently Not Working

Believe it or not, there actually are companies out there who have made it known that they won’t consider hiring unemployed candidates!  I know – it sounds outrageous … and that’s a topic for another blog. [See “’Unemployed Need Not Apply’ – Working Around This Scary Message.”] Nevertheless, it’s obviously in any job-seeker’s best interest to not appear to be unemployed. So, if it’s been a long while since you left your last full-time job, how do you handle that? Different people handle this issue different ways on their résumés. Here are three common solutions:

Volunteer Work:  Many job-seekers turn to volunteer work as a way of staying busy and feeling useful while unemployed. Besides the obvious personal benefits that come from the act of giving of yourself, sharing your time, helping others and upping your “karma” score, volunteering can often get your “foot in the door” with a company that might potentially hire you in the future. Showing people what you can do, how well you can do it, and demonstrating your exceptional work ethic – even if it’s not in a paid position – can bring you to the attention of professionals who notice such things, and reward them when opportunities open up. If you are volunteering somewhere, then list that volunteer position on your resume as your current position. However, do NOT use the term “volunteer!” Simply list the organization and your title or role, describe your function, relevant skills used, and any accomplishments there just as you would with any of your other jobs. Let the fact that you are not being paid wait for an interview, where you should then disclose it.

Consulting (Contract) Work:  Depending on your field, many job-seekers choose to take temporary assignments, contract work, or other “1099” (non-employee) jobs. People who engage is this type of work often refer to themselves as “consultants.” Very often, those contract jobs have the possibility of turning into full-time positions. Again, list those temporary “consulting” positions on your resume … and highlight the relevant skills you used, and any accomplishments achieved at those temporary assignments. If your period of “consulting” was not long-term or consistent, list it as one long job period (from the last full-time job till the present) and under that “Consulting” heading list some individual assignments without specifying dates. Again, leave the exact details of when and for how long you actually worked at each assignment for either an interview or an official job application. The goal here is to look like you’ve been keeping busy and working in your field. [Read: “Contract / Consulting Jobs Explained … Available in Three Different Flavors” for more information on this topic.]

Self-Employment:  These days, more and more job-seekers are turning to starting their own businesses. There’s even a media-coined term for this phenomenon: “Entrepreneur by Necessity.” If you are in that category – by all means list it on your resume as your current occupation. Whether or not you’ve actually earned any income from your company or had any actual success in your venture, listing a self-owned company on your resume is much better than having a large gap of current unemployment without any explanation. And, of course, it’s the perfect answer to that question: “So, what have you been doing since you left your last job?”

August 9, 2010 at 12:01 am 145 comments

The Lost Art of Customer Service: Unreturned Phone Calls & Emails

I hear a lot of complaints from job-seekers. Obviously, when someone is out of work they encounter a lot of frustrating situations. It’s often said that looking for a job is itself a full-time job. The process of searching and interviewing for a job is actually a sales position. You are “selling” an intangible … yourself! You are selling your experience, your skills, your personality, your talent, and your abilities to solve a potential employer’s problems. [Read “Why Job Hunting is a Consultative Sales Position” for more on that topic.]

Being rejected or ignored is a regular part of the job-seeking routine. It’s the nature of the beast. Professional sales people may be used to facing rejection on a daily basis … but most others are not. Emotionally, that can take a huge toll on a person’s attitude, which is a big problem when maintaining a positive attitude is so critical to a job-seeker’s chances of success. [Read “The Power of a Positive Attitude.”] Professional sales people do not fear rejection, nor do they take it personally. They simply plow forward, knowing that the more times they hear “no,” the closer they are to a “yes.” However, I realize that job-seekers are not all professional sales people, and rejection is much harder for some to handle than others. [Read “The Double-Whammy of Rejection and Isolation” for more on this.]

Of all the complaints I hear from job-seekers, by far the most common one is people not returning phone calls. Not too far behind that is a lack of response from emails sent. The sad fact is, most online submissions go totally unanswered. That’s why savvy job searchers do not rely on simply applying to online job postings, but rather spend most of their time networking, finding ways to go around HR, and talking with actual decision-makers at their target companies. [For details on how to network your way to a job, read “How to Network: A Step-by-Step Guide for Job Searching.”] Most résumés and online applications go into the proverbial “Black Hole of HR.” [Read “Avoiding the Black Hole of HR” for some strategies on getting around this fate.]

I understand why most online applications go unanswered. The majority of those applications go directly to an HR Department that is flooded with resumes and candidates. Sadly, many of those applicants are not truly qualified for the positions they are applying for. Most recruiters and HR people are looking for exact matches to their job requirements, and are under a tremendous amount of time pressure to screen an overwhelming flood of applicants. [Read “The Brutal Truth on How Résumés Get Eliminated” for more on how that screening process works.] They simply don’t have enough time to respond to each and every application they receive. I get that.

However, having said that, what I don’t get or accept is the seemingly total lack of a good old fashioned “customer service” attitude at so many places. There are certain companies that are famous for their top-notch, world-class customer service. Neiman Marcus and Disney are two that immediately come to mind. Those companies are known to bend over backwards to treat everyone who comes in contact with them – both their existing customers and their potential customers – like royalty. People flock to do business with them in large part due to that customer-centric attitude and the positive experience it produces. Executives from Fortune 1000 companies in all sorts of diverse industries fly to Disney’s Corporate Headquarters in Orlando every year and pay tens of thousands of dollars to take Customer Service Workshops from them in order to learn how they do what they do, and to emulate their fantastic model.

Now, when someone sends an application or an email with a résumé to a company, and then gets absolutely no response … what kind of message is that company sending? Do they not realize that every negative impression they create by such non-responsiveness trickles down to their consumer base? Do they not understand that all the dollars they spend on their website and media advertising designed to increase their company’s positive image are undone by such non-responsiveness? Don’t they get the simple fact that totally ignoring an applicant is just plain unprofessional and quite frankly, rude?!

One easy solution that any company could institute is SO simple. They could have an automated program that sends an acknowledgment to each applicant explaining that their résumé has been received, and will be reviewed. It could also include a simple disclaimer that only qualified applicants will receive a further response. Personally, I think those automated responses should also include the name and contact information for an actual live person who is overseeing the search for that position – but I also realize the unfortunate truth that most companies are afraid to identify a specific individual and invite direct inquiries to that person. It’s much easier for them to dodge applicants and avoid the responsibility of returning emails or phone calls if they keep the identity of their HR screeners or corporate recruiters a secret!

I’ve instituted an automated response system like the one described above for any applicants contacting my company, Midas Recruiting, so I know that it’s not that difficult to do. Now I realize that when any company sends an automated “canned email” response saying they’ve received a person’s résumé, it generally means nothing … but at least the applicant knows they received it! Unfortunately, most companies don’t even do that simple thing.

Phone calls are another story. I can understand why most companies don’t return most emails … their recruiters and HR screeners are often overwhelmed with hundreds of emails each day, and simply cannot answer every one. But voice-mail messages? I’m sorry, but I have NO patience for people who don’t return calls. As a recruiter, I always made it my rule to return every phone message I got within 24 hours – usually the same day. In my experience, I’d only get one phone message for every 100-200 emails – an unfortunate sign of the times. It’s so easy to hit “send” and so hard to pick up the phone and actually try talking to someone! I feel that anyone who makes the effort to call me deserves a response. To do otherwise is just rude. I expect the same professional courtesy from the people that I call and leave messages for, as well. Maybe I’m just naïve … but to me, that’s just basic customer service!

July 6, 2010 at 12:01 am 26 comments

Comic Relief: Job-Seeking Humor – Volume 3

OK … here we go again. It’s time for me to take yet another break from my usual “advice for job-seekers” mission, and offer up this 3rd blog of pure humor! [See “Volume 1” and “Volume 2” for the first two editions of this popular side-trip!]

Once again, I’ll point out that I fully realize that being unemployed is generally not a laughing matter. However, much like “gallows humor,” the intention of “job-seeking humor” is quite simple: to lift the spirits of people who are in an otherwise depressing situation. I’m a firm believer that maintaining a sense of humor is a key component to positive mental health. And I’m a still a tough critic when it comes to job-seeking humor. I figure, if it makes me laugh out loud, it’s worth sharing here!


In the category of Videos, this clip called “Job Interview” was an actual TV ad for Pepsi Max. (It was shown during the 2009 Superbowl.) I’m not sure if this ad was very effective in actually selling their product … but it sure is a funny job-seeking scenario:


In the category of Cartoons, here are some more miscellaneous funnies that I couldn’t fit into any other blog articles, but I think are hilarious nevertheless … and deserve to be shared here:


Finally, in the category of “Reality Humor,” here are some actual résumé bloopers gathered from various reliable sources that were submitted in response to job postings:

●  “I am about to enrol on a Business and Finance Degree with the Open University. I feel that this qualification will prove detrimental to me for future success.”
●  “I’m intrested to here more about that. I’m working today in a furniture factory as a drawer.”
●  “Hobbies: enjoy cooking Chinese and Italians.”
●  “2001 summer Voluntary work for taking care of the elderly and vegetable people.”
●  “Skills: Strong Work Ethic, Attention to Detail, Team Player, Self Motivated, Attention to Detail.”
●  “Objective: Career on the Information Supper Highway.”
●  “Experience: Stalking, shipping & receiving”
●  “I am great with the pubic.”
●  “My duties included cleaning the restrooms and seating the customers.”
●  “Revolved customer problems and inquiries.”
●  “Consistently tanked as top sales producer for new accounts.”
●  “Planned new corporate facility at $3 million over budget.”
●  “Seeking a party-time position with potential for advancement.”
●  “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”
●  “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”
●  “Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”
●  “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”
●  “I would like to work for a company that is very lax when it comes to tardiness.”
●  “Spent several years in the United States Navel Reserve.”
●  “I have a lifetime’s worth of technical expertise (I wasn’t born – my mother simply chose ‘eject child’ from the special menu.)”
●  “Reason for leaving: Terminated after saying, ‘It would be a blessing to be fired.'”

June 28, 2010 at 12:01 am 5 comments

The Résumé Test & Checklist: Does Yours Pass?

If you ask ten “experts” what an effective résumé should look like, you’ll get ten very different answers. There is no one-size-fits-all template for a perfect résumé – it’s very subjective, and opinions vary widely. Certainly, if you show your résumé to any professional “Career Consultant” – i.e. someone who gets paid to offer career advice and re-write résumés – they will likely tell you that yours is flawed, and that they can “fix” it (for a fee, of course!)

Naturally, I have my own opinions on what constitutes an “effective” résumé. Recently, I posted a blog describing the process that most recruiters and HR people go through when screening résumés against a job opportunity. [“The Brutal Truth on How Résumés Get Eliminated.”] The sad fact is that the average résumé-reader will give your résumé less than 15 seconds of eyeball time on the first pass. They’ll scan the first page of your résumé, rarely progressing on to the second or third pages. If they don’t quickly see exactly what they think they want or need right up front … bye bye – delete key for you! Most job-seekers never find out the true reasons why their résumés are eliminated, and my “peek behind the curtain” proved to be quite revealing for many readers.

The Purpose of a Résumé

The purpose of a résumé is NOT to sell yourself. Rather – the purpose of a résumé is quite simple and straightforward: it’s to get you an interview! An effective résumé (similar to an effective Elevator Pitch) should pique the interest of the person who is reading it, show that you are a close match to the criteria they are looking for, and make them want them to find out more about you. Unlike a job application, it is not a legal document and there is no requirement that it must contain a complete history of everything you’ve ever done. It should be truthful … but it’s up to you to decide what to include or not include.

The 15-Second Eyeball Test:

Keeping in mind the typical 15-second viewing window most résumés get, here’s a test that you should perform to gauge the effectiveness of your own résumé. Choose an impartial friend or networking acquaintance, and ask them to look at your résumé. Ideally, it should be someone who doesn’t already know all about your professional work history or your career background. Hand them your résumé and ask them to take 15 seconds to review it. Now look at your watch … and time exactly 15 seconds. (If you want to be generous, you can extend this to 20 or 30 seconds … but certainly no more than that.) Then, immediately take it away! Now ask them the following questions:

1)  “What do I do for a living?”
3)  “What industry do I work in?”
3)  “What are my most significant skills?”
4)  “What is my current career objective?”

If they can’t answer those basic questions after looking at your résumé for 15 seconds, you need to work on it! It occurred to me that a résumé checklist might be an extremely useful tool. My intent here is to provide job-seekers with a guide to evaluate their own résumés based on elements that I think are pretty basic, and essential for any effective résumé. This checklist should help as you go through the process of revising and rewriting. Once you’ve done a re-write, try the 15-second eyeball test again – either on that same person, or someone else. See if your score on those basic questions improves.


The Résumé Checklist:

  Two pages or less.

  Formatting is standard and easily readable.  Uses only standard fonts (Times New Roman, Ariel, etc.)  No colored text, graphics or other non-professional flourishes.  Is saved in the standard Microsoft Word format – .doc (not .docx or .pdf.)

  Contact information is up front and easy to spot.  Email address sounds professional.

  Clearly says in top third of first page what industry you are in, and what profession and job function you’ve had, and what you want to do next.

  Chronological format (as opposed to “Functional.”)  Lists the most recent and relevant companies you’ve worked for, what positions you held and the dates you worked at each place.  Has brief one-line descriptions of the companies.  Has bullets that show what skills were used and what you accomplished at each place.

  Showcases critical background, experience, education, and skills directly tied to your work objectives.

  Highlights your most marketable skills.

  Contains all the various keywords and buzzwords common in your industry, and typically found on job descriptions for positions you match.  (Create separate modified versions for specific jobs you are applying to, using the language found in the job descriptions.)

  Contains quantifiable results, accomplishments and achievements using numbers, dollars, percentages, names of any awards you’ve won, etc.  Provides concrete, measurable data whenever possible.

  Makes liberal use of “action” words (e.g. “created,” “completed,” “built,” “developed,” etc.) to trumpet your accomplishments.

  Avoids using the “I” word.

  Answers the question:  “Why should someone hire you?”

  Does NOT include a list of your professional references.  (Save them for when they are requested.)

  Avoids personal details that have no connection to your professional profile (e.g. hobbies, family information, non-work related activities, etc.)

  Contains no typos, spelling or grammatical errors.


Now, I should mention that some of these checklist items are open to interpretation and modification, depending on your own circumstances and personal preferences. For example, if you are a graphic artist or web designer … it’s probably OK to have the résumé look less business-like, and more “artsy” – using colors, non-standard fonts, graphics, etc. And if you feel strongly that your non-business activities are likely to help you impress a potential hiring authority (for example, charity involvement, volunteer work in your community, etc.) then by all means include them. The bottom line is that you should do what you think is best, and seems to work for you.

It should also be pointed out that satisfying all of these checklist items will not “fix” certain issues that often raise red flags and get people eliminated by screeners. Re-writing your résumé will not overcome a lack of the required skills, experience, education or other qualifications listed for a particular position. Likewise, unexplained gaps in your employment chronology or having too many unexplained short job stints over a limited time period are two potentially troublesome issues that are difficult overcome no matter how you write your résumé. [Read “Explaining Short Job Stints and Employment Gaps” for strategies on how to deal with those issues.] All you can do is present your history in as positive a light as possible, using the most effective format you can.

Again, as I said at the top, there are multiple and sometimes contradictory opinions out there on what an effective résumé should look like. Based on my own experiences as a recruiter who has reviewed literally thousands of résumés … these checklist items represent general guidelines that I feel will apply to most résumés and most job-seekers.

June 21, 2010 at 12:01 am 19 comments

The “T” Cover Letter – The Only Type Worth Sending

Many job-seekers have asked whether or not it’s worthwhile including a cover letter with their résumé when they apply to an online job posting, or email it to a contact at one of their target companies. It’s a question that many people struggle with. Should they attach a cover letter as a separate Microsoft Word document? Should the cover letter be the body of the email? Does anyone actually read cover letters?

I’ve asked that last question to a number of colleagues of mine who are both recruiters and HR people. The answers are all over the map. At one extreme, some recruiters say they never even look at cover letters, and just go right to the résumé. At the opposite end of the spectrum, some say they pay close attention to the cover letters, and actually use them to decide if they even want to look at the person’s résumé based on what it says and how well it’s written. And others are somewhere in between – they’ll sometimes glance at it, but pay more attention to the résumé for evaluation purposes.

Basically, there are three ways to send a cover letter in an email:
1) Typed into the body of the email, with the résumé attached as a Word-formatted document.
2) As a separate (second) Word-formatted document sent as an attachment along with the Word-formatted résumé.
3) Integrated into the actual résumé document itself, and formatted in Word to appear as the first page of the résumé which is sent as an attachment.

By the way … just as an aside – I would not recommend using the Adobe PDF format for résumés or cover letters. The reason is that most recruiters and HR people will want to import the text of your résumé into their electronic database or Applicant Tracking System for future keyword searches. Those programs deal much easier with Microsoft Word documents, and often cannot read or properly import the text from a PDF. All that beautiful formatting you think you are preserving by using PDF gets lost in translation, and your résumé can end up looking like unreadable gibberish!

Personally, I prefer the first method listed above … I’m much more likely to read the body of an email message than to open up a separate attachment. The likelihood of anyone opening a cover letter sent as a separate Word document is very low. However, if you are bound and determined to force your cover letter to be read, the third method is probably the most surefire. Everyone opens the résumé, and making your cover letter be the first page guarantees it will be seen. Of course, the potential down side of doing it that way is that it could annoy the reader who typically spends about 15 seconds or less reviewing your résumé, and will be less likely to get to the “good parts” if you make them stop and read your cover letter first.

Whichever way you do it, if you do decide to send a cover letter along with your résumé, in my opinion there is only one format that is worth considering … it’s called the “T” Cover Letter. The name is derived from the look of the page itself. Imagine taking a piece of paper and drawing a huge letter “T” on it, with the top line appearing under your opening paragraph, and the vertical line dividing the page below into two equal spaces. The opener should be a brief introduction of who you are, and what position you are interested in (two or three sentences at most.) Then you say something like: “Below is a comparison of your job requirements and my qualifications.”

Now comes the good part: in the “T” chart you’ve drawn, on the left side you have a heading called “Your Job Requirements” under which you copy and paste each of the bulleted requirements listed in the company’s job posting or job description. Then, on the right side you have a heading called “My Qualifications” under which you match up bullet-for-bullet your specific skills and experiences showing how you fit each job requirement on the left.

  • Here’s what it looks like:

It should be noted that this “T” format (which can also sometimes look more like a chart with boxes) can be easily created on a Word document using the Table creation tool. But because it depends so much on the formatting, it really only works if you are attaching a separate Word document to an email (numbers 2 & 3 above.) However, you can still use a modified version of the same concept if you choose to have your cover letter be the body of an email. All you have to do is just forget the fancy “T” table, and simply list each requirement from their job description, and under each one list your matching bulleted qualifications. It may not be as “pretty” as the formatted “T” version, but it serves the same exact purpose. Also, this would be the version to use in an online application where you are asked to paste your cover letter into an open field in a web-based form.

The reason this “T” Cover Letter is so effective should be obvious. Most recruiters and HR people are looking for exact matches to their job requirements, and are under a tremendous amount of time pressure to screen an overwhelming flood of applicants. [Read “The Brutal Truth on How Résumés Get Eliminated” for more on how that screening process works.] Typically, they’ll scan the first page of a résumé for less than 15 seconds, and if they don’t quickly see exactly what they think they want or need right up front … bye bye – delete key for you! By providing the “T” Cover Letter, you are simplifying their job, and cutting right to the chase of what they are looking for … the match! You are saying, in effect, “I’m exactly what you are looking for, and here is why!” It’s kind of like “Résumé Reading for Dummies!” If you truly match their job requirements point-for-point – and send the “T” Cover Letter to prove it – your chances of passing through that first step and progressing on to the next step (usually a phone screen) will be WAY higher than someone who just sends a résumé with either a generic cover letter, or none at all.

June 7, 2010 at 12:01 am 88 comments

The Brutal Truth on How Résumés Get Eliminated

Did you ever wonder how job-seekers get screened out or eliminated based on someone looking at their résumés? When a job-seeker is being considered for an open opportunity, the first person who will read their résumé is generally either a recruiter or an HR person. If it’s a recruiter, it could be either a 3rd-party, agency-based head-hunter type, or an internal, company-based corporate recruiter. [Read “The Real Truth About Working With Recruiters” for more on the different types of recruiters and how they work.] If it’s someone in HR, it could be anyone from an entry-level screener to a Director of HR – depending on the size of the company.

This screening and elimination process happens when you respond to online job postings, and it also happens during proactive searches for candidates done on résumé banks like CareerBuilder, Monster, etc., or on Social Networks like LinkedIn. Basically, anyone who is looking for and screening potential candidates for an open job opportunity goes through this process.

The sad fact is, most online submissions go totally unanswered. That’s why savvy job searchers do not rely on simply applying to online job postings, but rather spend most of their time networking, finding ways to go around HR, and talking with actual decision-makers at their target companies. [For details on how to network your way to a job, read “How to Network: A Step-by-Step Guide for Job Searching.”] Most résumés and online applications go into the proverbial “Black Hole of HR.” [Read “Avoiding the Black Hole of HR” for some strategies on getting around this fate.]

Now I’m sure that you slaved over your résumé for hours and hours, writing and re-writing it, revising, refining and retooling its language until it’s as “perfect” as it can be. If you are like most serious job-seekers, you are hoping that the person who first screens your masterpiece will take their time and read it over very carefully – absorbing every detail of your background, analyzing your qualifications and experience, and making a carefully considered, informed decision about your fit for the position they are trying to fill. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. I hate to break this to you … but the average résumé-reader will give your résumé less than 15 seconds of eyeball time on the first pass. [Read “Beating the Résumé-Elimination Game: Where Do Recruiters’ Eyes Go?” for more on this.] They’ll scan the first page of your résumé, rarely progressing on to the second or third pages. If they don’t quickly see exactly what they think they want or need right up front … bye bye – delete key for you! I know — it sounds pretty brutal, right? It reminds me of a recruiter’s version of the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld!

In my many years as a recruiter, I’ve certainly read my share of résumés. There were times when I went through over a hundred a day. I certainly know how this elimination game works! So … what follows is a peek behind the curtain. I make no apologies for how this process works, or how fair or unfair it may be – like it or not, this is simply the way it is. I feel it’s best for job-seekers to be informed about this to be able to better navigate the process and avoid obvious pitfalls as they move forward.

First of all – here are three immediate deal-killers that lead directly to the Delete Key:

1) “Functional Résumés.” Almost every recruiter and HR person I’ve ever talked with about this agrees – a chronological résumé is essential. It should list the companies where you’ve worked, the dates you were there, and what you did at each place. Every so often I receive a so-called “Functional Résumé” filled with long bulleted lists of undated skills and accomplishments … and then (almost as an after-thought) at the bottom will be a short list of places they worked with no dates. My immediate reaction to that is that they are trying to hide something. Maybe it’s an age thing – or perhaps their experience is outdated. Where and when were those skills used? Where and when did those accomplishments happen? Who knows?! Big red flag. Traditional chronological résumés are the only way to go.

2) Typos, Spelling or Grammatical Errors, Poor Writing. If you are so careless that you can’t even proofread your own résumé, then the assumption is that you would be equally careless with your job performance. Likewise, using unclear language, rambling, or just having it be too long are traits of a badly written résumé. One to two pages is standard. Three pages may work in rare cases (e.g highly technical roles) but anything beyond that is simply too long. Don’t make the reader work too hard to see the basics. If someone can’t figure out what you do by quickly glancing at the top third of the first page of your résumé … that’s a huge red flag.

3) An Incomplete Profile on LinkedIn. By this I mean profiles that do not provide a full, relevant employment history, do not include details about specific skills and experience, and (to my total amazement) do not even include basic contact information! Sending messages through LinkedIn’s own internal system should never be the only way to reach someone. How does any job-seeker expect to be “found” by a recruiter or a company if they don’t even include a direct email address or a phone number?! Every day I see so many profiles that only list job titles, with absolutely no details below each position describing what the person did at those places. The fact is many people now apply for job postings using their LinkedIn profiles instead of sending traditional résumés. Also, many recruiters and HR professionals now routinely search for candidates using LinkedIn profiles instead of viewing traditional résumés. Incomplete LinkedIn profiles are completely ineffective, and actually reflect poorly on anyone who creates one.

So once you’ve passed those deal-killers, here are some of the most obvious things that recruiters and HR people look at to eliminate candidates based on a quick review of a résumé or online profile:

  • Keywords
    Keyword searches are usually the first method used to find résumés with specific skills that match job descriptions. If the right words or phrases are not present in your résumé or profile, you simply won’t come up in a search done by a recruiter or an HR person. It would be naïve to think that someone will “read between the lines” on your résumé and realize that you have the skills they need even though they are not spelled out, or that anyone will understand the subtle details of your experience without you clearly stating them. You should modify and tailor your résumé to each individual job you are applying to, using the language contained in the job description. If your résumé does not contain the exact buzzwords or phrases that match the language of the requirements listed in the company’s job description … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Location:
    With very few exceptions, candidates must live in the same geographic area as the job. You may say you are willing to relocate … but that’s a potential headache for the company who hires you compared to a local candidate. If your résumé shows that you currently live in a different place than the job … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Industry
    In most cases, you must come from the same industry as the job. For example, if the job is in the Financial Services industry and you come from Manufacturing bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Function
    Moving from one job function to another that you’ve had little or no experience with is an uphill battle. For example, if they are looking for someone with a sales background, but you have never actually been in a sales role … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Level
    If they are looking for an individual contributor, and you’ve been at a much higher level – say managing other people or a department … it’s not a match. Conversely, if they are looking for a Manager or a VP or a C-Level Executive, and you’ve never held those titles … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Number of Years of Experience – and How Recent
    If the job description calls for someone with 3-5 years of experience, and you’ve had 10-15 years … it’s not a match. And if the specific experience they are looking for is actually listed on your résumé – but it occurred many years and several jobs ago, and you’ve done other unrelated things since then … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Education
    Some companies require a college degree, or a specific type of certification. If they say you must have a B.A. and all you’ve got is an Associate’s Degree – or no degree at all … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Job Turnover
    If your job history shows too many short stints over a limited time period, it can read as a negative: you might be a job-hopping flight risk … you seemingly can’t hold down a job … perhaps you don’t get along with others well … there may have been performance issues that got you fired – the imagination creates all kinds of possible scenarios! Likewise, significant unexplained gaps between jobs can be red flags that will get you eliminated. There may be perfectly valid reasons for having a lot of jobs within a short period (mass layoffs, position was eliminated, company went out of business, etc.) I would advise briefly listing the reasons for short job stints right next to the dates on your résumé to avoid this obvious red flag. [Read “Explaining Short Job Stints and Employment Gaps” for more details on handling this issue.] But unless you can effectively explain those circumstances … bye bye – delete key for you.
  • Salary Range
    This one is a biggie – and obviously would not be listed on your résumé, but rather will often come up when filling out an online application. If asked point blank what you made at your last job, or what your salary expectations are going forward – don’t play games or avoid answering. If you dance around this issue and/or refuse to give a straight answer, then it will likely raise a red flag that will get you eliminated. There are simply too many qualified applicants for every open job for recruiters or HR people to want to deal with someone who can’t give a straightforward answer on this. [Read “Answering the Dreaded Salary Question” for more details on how to handle this issue.] The bottom line is that if your salary history and the range you give for your salary expectations going forward do not overlap with the company’s budgeted range for the specific job you are applying to … bye bye – delete key for you.

June 1, 2010 at 12:01 am 80 comments

Comic Relief: Job-Seeking Humor – Volume 2

A few weeks ago, I took a break from my usual “advice for job-seekers” mission, and offered up a blog of pure humor. [“Comic Relief: Job-Seeking Humor.”] To my great surprise, that blog received a record number of hits (over 2,500 views within the first 36 hours!) as well as a huge number of comments. Readers seemed to really appreciate the welcome shot of comic relief from their daily job-seeking grind that Monday morning. So with that reaction in mind, I’d like to revisit that same theme and offer up this second edition of comic relief for job-seekers.

Now again, I fully realize that being unemployed is generally not a laughing matter. However, much like “gallows humor,” the intention of “job-seeking humor” is quite simple: to lift the spirits of people who are in an otherwise depressing situation. I’m a firm believer that maintaining a sense of humor is a key component to positive mental health. And I’m a still a tough critic when it comes to job-seeking humor. I figure, if it makes me laugh out loud, it’s worth sharing here!


In the category of Videos, I came across the following hysterical animated piece called “The Unemployment Game Show.” Funny and sad at the same time, this 2-minute video pokes fun at how those official government unemployment statistics are arrived at, and how inaccurate they may be:


In the category of Cartoons, here are more miscellaneous funnies – all on the theme of interviewing – that I couldn’t fit into any other blog articles, but I think are hilarious nevertheless … and deserve to be shared here:

And one more, just for the IT people …


Finally, in the category of “Reality Humor,” the following “Job Application” was an internet hoax that went viral a couple of years ago and became somewhat of an Urban Legend. It was circulated (without credit) under the guise of being an actual job application submitted to a McDonald’s in Florida by a 17 year old boy. The story was that McDonald’s actually hired the boy because his application was so “honest and funny.” The actual truth is that it was a totally fictitious parody piece created by a writer named Greg Bulmash who was frustrated with his own job-seeking process! Real or fake, it’s still very funny:

SEX:   Not yet. Still waiting for the right person.
DESIRED POSITION:   Reclining. Ha ha. But seriously, whatever’s available. If I was in a position to be picky, I wouldn’t be applying here in the first place.
DESIRED SALARY:   $185,000 a year plus stock options and a Michael Ovitz style severance package. If that’s not possible, make an offer and we can haggle.
LAST POSITION HELD:   Target for middle-management hostility.
SALARY:   Less than I’m worth.
MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT:   My incredible collection of stolen pens and post-it notes.
PREFERRED HOURS:   1:30-3:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?:   Yes, but they’re better suited to a more intimate environment.
MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?:   If I had one, would I be here?
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY?:   Is “felony” sex with a cat? Because if it is . . . no.
DO YOU HAVE A CAR?:   I think the more appropriate question here would be “do you have a car that runs?”
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?:   I may already be a winner of the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
DO YOU SMOKE?:   Only when set on fire.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IN FIVE YEARS?:   Living in Bimini with a fabulously wealthy supermodel who thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. Actually, I’d like to be doing that now.
SIGN HERE:   Scorpio with Libra rising.

May 24, 2010 at 12:01 am 10 comments

Age Discrimination: Exposing Inconvenient Truths

Several months ago I posted a blog called “Age Discrimination: Secret Conversations Revealed!” That posting became the most read article on Recruiter Musings with over 2,000 views on the first day alone, and several thousand more over the following weeks. Readers logged in over 130 comments. Those comments (posted at the bottom of the article) comprise a very interesting dialogue in and of themselves, and are definitely worth reading. They make it very clear that I had hit a sensitive spot among job-seekers everywhere. Even now, people continue to log onto that blog article, and I’m told that it inspired the formation of a special-interest group on LinkedIn.

Since that posting, I’ve discovered some very interesting facts and truths about Age Discrimination in today’s job market. Much of this is not necessarily good news for job-seekers over a certain age. Nevertheless, as inconvenient as these truths may be, I feel it’s best to be armed with the most accurate and up-to-date information. Ultimately, how one handles this issue is a very personal decision. What follows is simply the way it is:

Face It – Age Discrimination Exists!
The vast majority of “older” workers have experienced it on some level or another. It’s difficult to come up with hard data, since most companies would never truthfully cooperate with any official study … but we all intuitively know that it’s true – age bias is simply a fact of life in our society. That basic truth really hasn’t changed very much over the last century – most modern societies favor youth over age. What has changed is the advancing age of the “Baby Boomer” generation – a group that has grown proportionally compared with the rest of the population, and has skewed the age curve of available workers. In today’s candidate-flooded market resulting from the economic downturn that began in 2008, those growing numbers of older workers are increasingly competing for the same jobs as younger candidates caught up in the same mass layoffs as everyone else. Add to that the fact that everyone’s investments and retirement funds shrunk drastically during the last couple of years. As a result, Boomers are now finding that they need to keep working well past the age that they originally thought they’d retire. At the very same time, cost-conscious companies are still nervous about adding back headcount in today’s slow climb back to economic recovery. When companies do hire new staff now, many try to save money by hiring younger, less experienced people who require lower salaries. It’s really not hard to see how all those factors combine to perpetuate the practice of Age Discrimination.

Asking Your Age Is NOT Illegal
Many job-seekers erroneously think that it is illegal for an employer to ask for a candidate’s date of birth (or year of graduation, social security number, marital status, or any number of other supposedly off limits questions.) That’s simply not true! Although they’re often called “illegal interview questions” on the web, such questions are not actually illegal at all. There is no law that says that an interviewer cannot ask a job-seeker point blank: “How old are you?” However, if an interviewer asks a question that has discriminatory implications and then intentionally denies you employment based on your answer to the question, he or she may have broken the law. So to avoid any risk of exposure to future litigation, most HR professionals (especially at larger companies) are told to avoid asking such questions. But again, it’s not illegal to ask, and it still happens frequently. It happens during interviews, and it happens quite often on those pre-interview applications where leaving a question blank will get you screened out. The problem is that it’s almost impossible for a job-seeker who has been denied employment to prove age discrimination. No interviewer in their right mind would actually admit to eliminating a candidate based on their age – even if that’s exactly what they did. You’ll simply be passed over, and never really know why. That’s one of many reasons why interviewers do not return calls and emails from, or give specific feedback to job applicants who did not get hired. It’s much safer to say nothing!

Don’t Waste Your Precious Time Trying To Fight The System
I’ve heard from a lot of people who get very worked up about Age Discrimination, and feel they need to “do something about it!” They write letters, consult lawyers, lobby government representatives, circulate petitions, and threaten (and sometimes initiate) law suits. They rant and rail about it, join discussion groups that focus on it, and generally obsess on it as the main reason for their own failure to find a job. Well … sorry if I offend anyone by saying this – but I have no patience for that type of behavior. In my opinion, that sort of thing is extremely counter-productive. You certainly won’t endear yourself to any potential employers by focusing on such activities. (And make no mistake – employers are very aware of who writes what on blogs, discussion groups, LinkedIn forums, etc.) None of it will ever change the way employers behave, or the way interviewers and decision-makers screen candidates. They just won’t hire you! You cannot change the criteria that individual companies use to evaluate potential workers, nor can you change their actual job requirements – even if they include things that imply a bias towards younger applicants! If you are a serious job-seeker, then don’t waste your time and energy fighting against those things that you cannot change.

Focus Instead On Positives
You certainly can’t change your own age. That’s an obvious given. Sure, you can limit what’s on your résumé to the past 10 years, and pretend that you didn’t exist before that – at least that will avoid the sting of being eliminated before you even get to first base, and most likely score you some interviews that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. But sooner or later in every job application process, you’ll meet face-to-face with a decision-maker and they’ll size you up. Your age will be a factor – for better or worse. So what can older job-seekers do to help themselves? Here are some ideas:

  • Target companies who are known to be “age friendly” and concentrate less on the ones known to favor younger workers and who emphasize their youthful cultures. You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable working in such a place anyway. Seek out employers who value workers for their capabilities and contributions, regardless of age. There are certainly industries, companies and organizations out there who are less likely to practice age discrimination than others. Naturally, the challenge for job-seekers is to identify those places and go after them. A good starting point is to simply do a Google search on the phrase “Age Friendly Companies.” You’ll find a multitude of great resources there that will lead you in the right direction.
  • Pay attention to the job requirements, and only pursue positions that you truly match. Don’t waste time applying to jobs that are clearly not a match for your skills, or level of experience. If the description says they want someone with 1-3 years of experience and you have 10-15 … it’s obviously not going to be a good match. Do you really want to fight that battle? Do you really need to hear that you’re “overqualified” or that they are really looking for more of an “entry level” person?
  • Keep yourself up to date on technology, and current on the details of your industry. Be a continuous learner. Be as computer and internet savvy as your younger competitors. Embrace the new information age. Read articles, blogs and professional journals that pertain to your field. Be ready to demonstrate your up-to-date knowledge in any conversation you may have with people in your specific niche.
  • These next ones are cliches … but I’ll throw them in anyway: Take care of yourself physically! Exercise frequently to maintain your fitness, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. Pay attention to your appearance – keep yourself well groomed. Dress for success with an up-to-date wardrobe. You can’t change your age, but you can change the way you present yourself. Having a youthful energy and demeanor are not things that happen by accident, nor are they strictly hereditary. They are things that to some degree you can alter, and they need to be constantly worked on.
  • Finally, embrace “The Power of a Positive Attitude.” Concentrate on projecting positive energy and enthusiasm in every casual conversation, every networking meeting, and every interview. I’ve coached thousands of candidates for interviews during my many years as a recruiter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the interview process that holds true for almost every industry and every position, it’s this: the number one most important factor that determines who gets hired and who doesn’t is NOT who is best qualified, who has the most experience or skills, or who has the best résumé – and it’s NOT AGE. It’s attitude! People hire other people that they like, and want to be around. Real enthusiasm for a position or a company, true passion for your work, a sense of humor, and a genuine projection of positivism and optimism are the qualities that make a person attractive to others. A positive, energetic and youthful attitude can easily transcend age as a factor and it’s nearly impossible to fake. It’s an incredibly important issue for every job-seeker to think about and to try adjusting within themselves.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:01 am 48 comments

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Michael Spiro

About the Author:

Michael Spiro has been a 3rd-Party Recruiter and Account Executive for over 20 years. He is currently the Director of Recruiting / NE Ohio Region for Jefferson Wells, a dedicated business unit of ManpowerGroup. Other recent positions include President of Midas Recruiting, a boutique head-hunting firm, Director of Talent at Patina Solutions, and Executive Recruiting positions with two of the largest search firms in North America. Before his career in the staffing industry, Michael was a manager in a large non-profit social-services organization. And in a former life, Michael was active in the entertainment industry, with extensive road-warrior experience as a touring performer (singer-songwriter / guitarist / comedian) and as a recording artist, producer and booking agent.  [More...]

Index (by Topic):

Résumés & Cover Letters:
 The "T" Cover Letter - The
         Only Type Worth Sending

 The Brutal Truth on How
         Résumés Get Eliminated

 Explaining Short Job Stints
         and Employment Gaps

 The Résumé Test &
         Checklist: Does Yours

 Beating the Résumé-
         Elimination Game: Where
         Do Recruiters' Eyes Go?

 The Truth About Lying on

 "Why Did You Leave Your
         Last Job?"

 How to Network: A
         Step-by-Step Guide for
         Job Searching

 Looking for Networking in
         All the Wrong Places

 Targeted Networking: How
         to Effectively Reach Out

 The Art of Giving: the Key to
         Effective Networking

 Face-to-Face Interviews:
         Secrets, Tricks and Tips

 Phone Interviews: Secrets,
         Tricks and Tips

 Video Interview Tips
         in the Pandemic World

 Nuggets: A Secret
         Interviewing Technique

 Answering the Dreaded
         Salary Question

 20 Surefire Ways to Blow
         an Interview

 "So, Do You Have Any
         Questions?" Nailing the
         Interview Closer

 Cool InfoGraphic: "What
         You Wish You'd Known
         Before Your Job

Age Discrimination:
 Age Discrimination: Secret
         Conversations Revealed

 Age Discrimination:
         Exposing Inconvenient

 Are You "Overqualified?"
         Handling the Age Issue

 Baby Boomers to the
         Rescue! An Idea Whose
         Time Has Come ...

 Overcoming Job-Search
         Obstacles and
         Redefining Your Career
         After 50

 Advice for Recent Grads
         and Career-Changers

Switching Jobs:
 The Proper Way to
         Quit a Job

 Counteroffers: Just Say No!

General Job-Seeking Info:
 The Real Truth About
         Working with Recruiters

 Contract/Consulting Jobs
         Explained ... Available in
         3 Different Flavors

►  What Recruiters Say
         vs. What Job-Seekers

►  The Dirty Truth About
         Unemployment Statistics

►  Let the Jobs Find You:
         Making Yourself More

 "Help ... I Need a Job!" A
         9-Step Guide for Newly
         Minted Job-Seekers

 Avoiding the "Black Hole
         of HR"

 Is Your Elevator Pitch
         Taking You UP
         or DOWN?

 Time Management: Recipe          for a Well-Balanced Job          Search
 Getting Un-Stuck from your

 The Double-Whammy of
         Rejection and Isolation

 "Unemployed Need Not
         Apply" - Working Around
         This Scary Message

 Using Social Media to
         Enhance Job-Searching

 Warning: That Rant You
         Posted Just Went Viral!

 The Golden Rule for
         Business: Never Burn

 The Power of a Positive

 Why Job Hunting is a
         Consultative Sales

 Top 10 Most Helpful Things
         for Job Seekers

 Top 10 Most Annoying
         Things for Job Seekers

 New Year's Resolutions for
         Unemployed Job-

Job-Seeking Humor:
 Comic Relief: Volume 1
 Comic Relief: Volume 2
 Comic Relief: Volume 3
 Comic Relief: Volume 4
 Comic Relief: Volume 5
 Comic Relief: Volume 6
 "In Transition" and Other
         Awkward Euphemisms

 Candidates Gone Wild:
         Recruiter Horror Stories

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