By Stephanie Stevens
As the economy recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, job seekers are looking for timely advice on how to use online tools to their advantage while leaving behind obsolete practices that could put them out of the running for a new position. UC San Diego Extension Human Resources Management instructor Michael McGinnis recently offered his expertise to UCSD Extension's LinkedIn followers on how to secure their next position. Here are some key points from the conversation.
What do you believe is the most effective way to conduct a job search?
In effect, we are learning how to be like a Millennial with respect to managing our careers. Millennials inherited the changing business landscape with eroding security and loyalty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure in a job for ages 25-39 has dropped to only 2.8 years! The mindset is to take a job, be a top performer and learn new skills to prepare for the next step. These steps can lead to faster career growth and earnings. We need to think of ourselves as free agents in today's career search.
I haven't looked for a job for more than a decade. Can you tell me how important keywords are in my resume and share any tips on determining which ones to use?
The job search is hugely different than it was 5-10 years ago. Resumes are, in many ways, becoming extinct as recruiters are using LinkedIn to search for potential candidates. However, the resume is still used today and is a must for a job search.
If you apply online, your chances of having someone see your resume are very slim. Identify and make connections within a company and try to get into the company that way. If you rely on applying online, keywords are important since many companies scan your resume electronically into their system.
The best way to consider what keywords to use is to review several job descriptions that fit your background, skills and interest. I always advise clients to print out these job descriptions and use a highlighter to identify the keywords and qualifications listed. Over time, you will identify the more popular keywords and qualifications for these types of positions. Then find ways to build those keywords into your resume.
How important is it to network on LinkedIn when looking for a job?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most important, an 11!
Networking lands 80% of jobs today. Therefore 80% of your time spent in a job search should be networking. LinkedIn is an amazing tool for this. Whether you are in a job, searching for a job, or just landed a job. Commit to spending thirty minutes a week on LinkedIn and an hour each day in a job transition. There is a ton of information available via Google search or whatever search engine you use. The real value comes from doing it yourself so that you can adjust as needed.
Do I have to redo my resume every time I submit a resume?
Yes, you should tweak your resume but remember that you only have one LinkedIn profile. There are ways to create a universal resume with only minor tweaking. You do not want to be in the situation where your resume says one thing, and your LinkedIn profile says another.
Instead, spend your time making a connection with someone in the company first and then apply. It's like a salesperson. Cold calls get hung up on, while I am more prone to consider the request from a person I know. There are many methods to make a connection first, and LinkedIn is a key part of most of these methods. Learn how to use LinkedIn for a job search, and most importantly, have a stellar profile!
What are some tips on what recruiters are seeking?
1) Passion - that you love what you do, the industry you work in, and what you have learned about the company you are applying for.
2) Confidence - comes with preparation, preparation, preparation. Know your responses to common questions, be brief, practice them, and be sure they are genuine to you. Confidence in what you do and what you can do for the company and job you are applying for.
3) Personality - they want to know who you are. Most of us are uncomfortable marketing ourselves, but this is when we have to, and the better we market ourselves, the more we can stand out. Avoid ego, which is confidence gone too far.
4) Be sure you have done your homework with respect to reviewing the job description, relating your accomplishments to the job description and research the company.
Is it okay if my resume is more than two pages?
Generally speaking, a resume should be two pages in length, but there are exceptions. For example, scientists often have publications and patents that make up additional pages.
What is most important is the top section of your first page. If you do not impress them with this section, your resume is often set aside. Your opening paragraph needs to impress them and distinguish and differentiate you from your competition. Feature your strengths and core competencies as it relates to the job, your personality type, how you work with others, what you are noted for, along with your leadership style, if applying for a manager and above role.
I have 20+ years of experience in my field, but I'm concerned that my age will be a negative factor while looking for a new job. How do I get an employer or recruiter to value my experience enough to hire me?
This is a tough subject and one where I've found that the truth hurts, but it's best to understand so that you can set realistic expectations. Demonstrate passion and eagerness in all your conversations, and demonstrate your comfort with technology and working with all generations in the workforce. Show that you are still relevant and be willing to prove it to them. Look where "maturity" is perceived as a value such as non-for-profits, education, public service, contractual work, consulting, and more. And if all of this still fails to produce the result you wanted, accept life for what it is and move on. Find your own way.
How important is a cover letter from an HR professional's eyes?
Based on my polling of recruiters, cover letters are used less often today. However, there are times when a cover letter is advised. They can help focus on potential concern areas and/or on connecting the dots between your background and the job description, along with any area that the applicant wants to ensure is considered.
Here are some instances for when a cover letter is helpful:
1) You anticipate a concern if you were to use your resume alone. For example, your role has been at a Vice President level, and you are applying for a Director level role. By viewing only the resume, you would see career growth and interest in taking a "step down." A common perception could be that this person would be a "flight risk" since they would probably leave once they landed a VP or higher role. A cover letter could start with something like, "Why would a candidate with VP level experience want to consider your Director level job?" And then you would go on to answer this question.
2) You connect the dots between the job description and your background. Often a recruiter would have to scan through the entire resume to figure out if there was a fit. This way, you help by doing this for them in your cover letter. You create a basic table with the first column being "Job Description Requirements" and the second column being "My Background." For each major requirement, you then summarize your background specifically related to this requirement.
3) There are specific requirements listed in the job description that your resume does not adequately address on its own. For example, the job description highlights the need for problem-solving complex and time-sensitive challenges. Reading your resume would not cover this adequately or at all. So you provide a bulleted list of examples, including your "STAR" results (Situation, Task Assigned, Action you took, and Result achieved) to help clarify.
Are there any human resources scholarships offered at Extension?
UCSD Extension has begun offering the Vicki Krantz Human Resources Management scholarship annually as of 2021. Learn more about it on the Human Resources Management certificate page.
(Please note: Edited for length.)