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Ever wonder if you should add your reasons for leaving a company to your resume?  A recent client of mine whose resume I was optimizing had those reasons under each of his jobs.  Small print, mind you, but I recommended that he take them off.  He was concerned, because he had several short stints due to layoffs, acquisitions, changes in strategy, etc., a common issue for senior job seekers in the high tech market, especially early stage companies.

As we discussed, he proposed some sound reasoning for inclusion of explaining his transitions, especially in this hyper-critical tight market.  I held my ground, yet began to wonder if current conditions might require new thinking. 

So, I sent out an inquiry to one of my favorite Career Coaching groups on LinkedIn.com.  I quickly got many replies, all “No way!” and “Never”. 

A few of them did indicate that the reason for the change in companies could be inferred as part of an accomplishment statement, as you’ll see in the comments below. 

Bottom line, not in the resume, perhaps in a cover letter, and for sure the candidate must have a succinct story to describe why s/he made each transition in their career.  And, finally, let me point out that your reason for a change, if your choice, should be positioned as a ‘moving forward’ decision, not a ‘had to get out of there’ decision.  If not your choice, focus on lessons learned, positioning the transition as a great learning experience!

Here’s the compilation of the responses I got from other Career Coaches –

  “I have NEVER included a “reason for leaving” statement in any resume, and would advise squarely against doing so. That goes against the purpose of a resume, which is still primarily a marketing tool. Having critiqued, advised, revised or looked over more than 9,000 resumes in 45 industries or functions in the last 15 years, I have never seen one that would justify the need for including such a statement.”

“It is remarkably rare that I include “reason for leaving” on a resume.  Usually, if I feel the need to discuss the reason a job seeker has left their position, I will address it in the cover letter. Generally, the only time that I’ll include this information on a resume is because the reason they left was so interesting … an around-the-world trip, won the lottery, got funding to study gorilla behavior in Rwanda, pursuing advanced degree to support major career transition, etc.”

“I echo the two previous comments. Resumes are designed to get the interview, showcase your achievements, illustrate your value etc. We all know this but some of our clients don’t. Space on a resume is a premium so I wouldn’t want to use it for non-value-add information. That said?… space permitting, adding highly unique experiences (i.e., participated in gorilla study in Africa) as Wendy suggests, would certainly make a resume more memorable!”

“I agree with Wendy. I’ve never included reason for leaving. The cover letter is where you would include it if it is beneficial to mention it.
I have heard employers say the same thing.”

“Wendy and George hit it on the head. The intention to include all information is commendable. I would highly suggest not including in on the Resume. I know that the resume is about getting in the door for an interview. The client can prepare for that “Sticky Widget” question for the interview. Hope that helps.”

“Occasionally I will add a reason for leaving if it (a) reflects well on my client and/or (2) answers an unspoken question – e.g., short tenure.
For example, “Grew revenue 2X faster than projected, leading to acquisition interest and sale of the company in 2009.” But otherwise I agree with previous comments – don’t take up valuable resume space with something that’s nonessential.”

“I agree with all of our colleagues who responded to this question. I never put reasons for leaving on a resume. I would only include it in a cover letter, if applicable. My only reservation of even including a reason for leaving in the cover letter is that you may disqualify yourself, before you even have the opportunity to land an interview. I feel your chances of landing that interview are greater if you leave your reasons for leaving out of the cover letter as well. During the interview, if a discussion is prompted by the interviewer as to why you left your past employers, this would be the time to do so.”

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I know many of you who are seeking jobs, as well as those of you seeking contracts or consulting engagements, understand the need to craft and practice an engaging introduction.  (I’m not calling it an elevator pitch anymore, since that invokes for some a slimy sales personality, one you don’t want to be associated with.)

Anyway, I read this blog posting, see below, and realized it to be very relevant to our introductions or responses to “What do you do?” or “What are you looking for?”.

Will be curious to hear how you can incorporate this strategy to create more engaging content for your introductions?

Will it be the three points you want to make in your introduction – what you do, how your clients benefit from your service, and what a great referral would look like?

Or, the three accomplishments most relevant to your job search / audience?

Or, the three best strengths you bring to the work you do?

Or, the three target companies you are trying to find decision makers in?

How will you use the rule of three?


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I hear this all the time. “I just can’t get a headhunter to follow up with me. And, I know that I would be a great candidate for their clients, so what’s the deal?”

Well, in my experience there are at least three good reasons:

1) First of all, most resumes just aren’t very compelling. And, in order for clients to hire our candidates, the candidate must be standouts! They don’t need to pay us a fee to find qualified candidates, especially in this market. If you are responding to a posted opportunity, your resume should show accomplishments and credentials which fit the role at 90 – 100%. If you are not responding to a posted role, you will have to be a star in your field and fit the kind of roles that recruiter usually is hired to fill. It must be well organized, have no errors (you can’t imagine how many do have errors!) and be relevant. If the recruiter isn’t impressed within 20 -30 seconds, your resume may just get filed, or worse yet, deleted. Remember, recruiters want you to be exceptional, that’s how they make a living and get repeat business. So, help them help you!

2) You will have a better chance of getting a response if you are referred by one of their clients, a former candidate, or someone else who has built a relationship with the recruiter. I always return the calls when someone I trust and know refers someone to me. Here’s where LinkedIn or another networking site can be a great resource for you. Find someone who has a relationship with your target recruiter and ask them to introduce you.

3) Send an email, rather than calling first. We are usually overwhelmed with calls, to candidates, referring sources, and clients, and we just can’t get to all the calls, at least not when you want us to. Even if I can’t call you back, I can respond to your email, to schedule time to speak. And, I always prioritize my calls from referrals first!

If you are a great candidate, whose experience aligns with the specialty of the recruiter, and you follow these suggestions, you, too, can develop a relationship with a good recruiter.

Let me know how it goes!

P.S.  If you need help with your resume, I’d love to partner with you to make it as compelling as you are!

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Several of my clients have landed new jobs in the last few weeks and others are interviewing more than before, so these are good signs.

Will attribute their success to:

1.  Clients who have taken the time to clarify their value proposition, what they want and what they have to offer.

2.  Clients who make a plan, do their marketplace research, and work their plan daily.

3.  Clients who move outside of their comfort zone, expand their connections, and meet with new connections nearly every day.

4.  Clients who customize their resumes and cover letters/emails for each opportunity and find a connection to help them gain visibility inside their target organization.

5.  Clients who practice their interviewing skills with me and prepare effectively for their interviews.

There’s no magic to it, just strategic thinking, preparation and working their plans.

Let me know if I can be of help!

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Hello world!

Well, finally, I’ve created a presence on the web!  After only twelve years in business, as a consultant, recruiter, and coach, I guess it’s time for me to make it just a bit easier for folks to find me.

This is just a beginning, though.  As I learn more, this site will grow to include well-proven strategies for career transition, hiring, opportunities in high tech and the non-profit world.  I want to help people find their right livelihood, fulfilling and challenging work that makes a difference.

So, this is just a short note of introduction.

Stay tuned…

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