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The world's most popular job-search book is updated for 2015 to tailor its long-trusted guidance with up-to-the-minute information and advice for today's job-hunters and career-changers.
What Color Is Your Parachute? is the world’s most popular job-hunting guide with more than ten million copies sold. Now, no matter what your circumstances, every job-hunter can find help with up-to-the-minute information on what has changed about the job-market, plus strategies for finding jobs even when everyone tells you there are none. And if you are a returning vet, there is a new twenty-page appendix this year, specifically addressing your unique needs.
This 2015 edition includes up-to-date research and tips about writing impressive resumes and cover letters, doing effective networking and confident interviewing, and negotiating the best salary possible. But it goes beyond that, in helping you to better know who you are, with its classic self-inventory—called “The Flower Exercise”—because the best answer to What shall I do? flows from knowing Who you are.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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RICHARD N. BOLLES has led the career development field for more than forty years. A member of Mensa and the Society for Human Resource Management, he has been the keynote speaker at hundreds of conferences. Bolles was trained in chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a bachelor’s degree cum laude in physics from Harvard University, a master’s in sacred theology from General Theological (Episcopal) Seminary in New York City, and three honorary doctorates. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Marci.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Google Is Your New Resume
I know what you’re thinking. I’m out of work, I’ve got to go job-huntin’. So the first thing I have to do is put together my resume.
Yeah, that used to be true.
In “the old days.”
Before the Internet came on the scene.
Back then, the only way an interviewer could learn much about you was from a piece of paper that you yourself wrote—with maybe a little help from your friends—called your resume, or C.V. (an academic term meaning “curriculum vitae”).
On that paper was a summary of where you had been and all you had done in the past. From that piece of paper, the employer was supposed to guess what kind of person you are in the present and what kind of employee you’d be in the future.
The good thing about this—from your point of view—was that you had absolute control over what went on that piece of paper.
You could omit anything you didn’t want the employer to see, anything that was embarrassing, or anything from your past that you have long since regretted.
Short of their hiring a private detective, or talking to your previous employers, a prospective employer couldn’t find out much else about you.
That was nice. But those days are gone forever.
Since 2008, or even before, there’s a new resume in town, and it’s called Google.
All any prospective employer has to do now is Google your name—yes, Google has become both noun and verb—and there’s your new resume, using the word resume loosely.
If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet—and as of 2014, over 87% of adults in the U.S. have—and if you’ve posted anything on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube, or if you have your own website or webcasts or photo album or blog, or if you’ve been on anyone else’s Facebook page, every aspect of you may be revealed (depending on your privacy settings). Bye, bye, control.
So, naturally, almost all (91%) of U.S. employers have visited a job-hunter’s profile on social networks, and more than 69% of employers have rejected some applicants on the basis of what they found. Things that can get you rejected: bad grammar or gross misspelling on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile; anything indicating you lied on your resume; any badmouthing of previous employers; any signs of racism, prejudice, or screwy opinions about stuff; anything indicating alcohol or drug abuse; and any—to put it delicately—inappropriate content, etc.1
What is sometimes forgotten is that this works both ways. Sometimes—
68% of the time, as it turns out—an employer will offer someone a job because they liked what Google turned up about them. Things like the creativity or professionalism you demonstrate online; your expressing yourself extremely well online; their overall impression of your personality online; the wide range of interests you exhibit online; and evidence online that you get along well and communicate well with other people.
Is there anything you can do about this new Google resume of yours? Well, yes, actually, there are four things you can do.
You can edit, fill in, expand, and add. Let’s see what each of these involves.
First of all, think of how you would like to come across, when you are being considered for a job. Make a list of adjectives you’d like the employer to think of, when they consider hiring you. For example, how about: professional? experienced? inventive? hard working? disciplined? honest? trustworthy? kind? What else? Make a list.
Then Google yourself and read over everything the search engine pulls up about you. Go over any pages you have put up on social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube, and remove anything you posted there, or allowed others to post, that contradicts the impression you would like to make, anything that might cause a would-be employer to think, “Uh, let’s not call them in, after all.” You have the list, above, of what to look for.
If you don’t know how to remove an item from a particular site, type or speak the following into a search engine like Google: “How to remove an item from [Facebook]” or whatever.
The site itself may not tell you, but using your favorite search engine, you should have no trouble finding somebody’s detailed, step-by-step instructions for scrubbing any site.
I guarantee you’re hardly the first one with this need, so someone clever has already figured out how to do it, and posted the answer. But you want current instructions, so look at the date on the list of items the search engine pops up. Pick the most recent, and do what they say.
If you want to be thorough, you should do this editing on any and all sites that you find you’re on.
Now to the second of the four things you can do about your new Google resume (so to speak).
2. Fill In
On any site, but on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Plaxo in particular, if they allow you to fill out a profile, fill it out completely: cross every t, and dot every i, have someone check your spelling. Leave no part of the profile blank unless you have a very good reason.
Most importantly, be sure to keep each profile up-to-date. Really up-to-date. Week by week, or at the least, month by month. There is nothing that makes you look less professional than having an obviously outdated profile.
Last thought in this section: I mentioned LinkedIn; be sure to get on it, if you’re not already (www.linkedin.com/reg/join). More than 277 million people have—84 million of them in the U.S.—and it became the first social media site to go public. It’s the site of first resort when some employer is curious about you. It allows corporate and agency headhunters to avoid advertising an open position, but nonetheless to go “trolling” on LinkedIn for what employers call “passive job-seekers.” You ain’t lookin’ for them, but they are lookin’ for you. Of course you have no control over whether they find you, except for being sure you have a completely filled-out profile. (They search by keywords.)
Any job-hunter working online these days will want to pay large attention particularly to LinkedIn.
Background: This is “the Swiss army knife” of job-sites; it is a multi-tool. It is used (at this writing) by at least 277 million people worldwide. Employers from around the world who are searching for prospective employees are among them.
General Description: LinkedIn gives you a “profile” page on which you can write anything about yourself and your history that you want to, using the standardized format or template that LinkedIn provides.
Usefulness to Job-Hunters: If you have contacted a particular employer, most of them now search to see what there is about you on LinkedIn (and on the Internet in general, anywhere and everywhere) before inviting you in, or deciding to hire you.
Ways to Make It More Effective:2 Remember, this is a professional site. If you are looking for work, don’t post anything here that isn’t related to your professional goal. (Need I say, leave out parties, dating, summer vacations, etc.) Make your profile page really stand out from others’ profile pages, when employers go browsing. There are ways to do this. Here are some hints:
1. A PHOTO is mandatory. Every survey has revealed that not having your photo posted there is a turnoff for most employers. Make it a shot just of your head and shoulders; in fact, fill the frame with just your head and shoulders. Make it sharply focused and well lit, even if taken with an iPhone. Dress up for this one. And smile.
2. In the section called JOB TITLE, if you aren’t searching for a career-change, and you like what you’ve been doing, but the title they gave you aren’t the words that a hiring manager would normally use to search for someone who does what you do, put in a slash mark, then add the title they would use. Alternatively, if you are looking for a change, after you list your current job title in this title section, enter a slash and then add the industry you want to find a job in (so that an employer’s search engine will pick you up).
3. In describing your PAST JOBS OR EXPERIENCE, don’t just make a list of tasks or achievements. LinkedIn gives you enough space to tell a story, so tell a story. Summarize some major achievement of yours, in that job, and then tell a story of how you did it, and what the measurable results were (time or money saved, or the profit created, etc.).
4. In the SUMMARY be sure to state whatever you think gives you a competitive advantage in your field—i.e., what makes you a better hire than nineteen other people who might compete for the kind of job you want. This is a place to highlight what makes you the best (or, for the modest, what makes you a better) choice for that kind of job.
5. Under SPECIALTIES list every keyword you can think of, that would lead a search engine to find you for the job you want. If you don’t know what keywords to list, find someone on LinkedIn who already has a job like the one you want, and see what key-
words they listed. Copy the ones that seem relevant in your case.
6. LIST any hobbies, interests, education, training, community service, associations you belong to, etc.
7. ADD LINKS TO ANY WEBSITE you feel would help you stand out: your blog? (if you have one, and posts there are solely devoted to your area of expertise); your Twitter account? (if you have one, and if you’ve only been posting tweets that manifest your expertise in your field); your Facebook page? (doubtful, unless it looks very focused and professional—if it’s sloppy, real personal, and all over the map in its content, it is unlikely to help you get hired, and may in fact hinder you). Consider filming a video of you discussing some area of your expertise (with numbers if possible), post it on YouTube, and link to it on your profile page here. If you don’t know how to shoot and upload the video, there are loads of free instructions (even on YouTube) telling you step by step how to do this.
8. JOIN one or more LinkedIn groups, related to your expertise. Post sparingly but regularly, when they are discussing something you are an expert on. You want to get a name and reputation, in your field. “Groups” are in the bar across the top of your home page. Once you’ve filled out your profile completely, click on “Groups” and then on the subheading “Groups You May Like.” It will make suggestions, based on your profile, with information about each group, as to whether it is Very Active, Active, or very neglected. Join ones, related to your expertise, which are at least Active. Be aware, if you join a group and then don’t ever contribute, LinkedIn has a cute little habit of summarily removing you from that group without any advance warning. Just a nice brief note after the fact, saying “We removed you” due to your inactivity there. (And you thought they weren’t paying attention! Oh yes, they do. They are. They will.)
9. You can use LinkedIn to DESCRIBE a project you’re proud of, post a photo, or report on a recent professional event. To post this also on Twitter, always begin not with Twitter but with LinkedIn. Write your update here, check the box with the Twitter icon, and then click “Share.”
Now to the third thing you can do about your new Google resume.
Expand your presence on the Internet. How to do this? Several ways:
Forums. Professional sites like LinkedIn have forums, or groups, organized by subject matter. Other social networking sites, like Facebook, have pages devoted to particular subjects. Look through the directory of those groups or forums, choose one or two that are related to your industry or interests, and after signing up, speak up regularly whenever you have something to say that will quietly demonstrate you are an expert in your chosen subject area. Otherwise, keep quiet. Don’t speak up about just anything. You want to be seen as a specialist—knowledgeable and focused. You want to get noticed by employers when they’re searching for expert talent in your field or specialty.
Blogs. Start a blog (that’s short for “web log,” which most people now don’t remember), if you don’t already have one. It doesn’t matter what your expertise is; if it’s related to the job you are looking for, do a blog, and update it regularly. And if you don’t know how to blog, there are helpful sites such as Blogger.com that give you detailed instructions. Incidentally, there are reportedly over 152 million blogs on the Internet. Figure out how to make yours stand out.
If you already have a blog, but it roams all over the countryside in terms of subject matter, then start a new blog that is more narrowly preoccupied with your particular area of expertise. Post helpful articles there, focused on action steps, not just thoughts. Let’s say you are an expert plumber; you can post entries on your blog that deal with such problems as “how to fix a leaky toilet,” etc. Generally speaking, employers are looking for blogs that deal with concrete action, rather than lofty philosophical thought. Unless, of course, they represent a think tank.
Twitter. Some experts claim that blogs are so yesterday. Communication, they say, is moving toward brief, and briefer. Texting has become hugely, hugely, popular. So has Twitter. Twitter now has over 231 million active monthly users, who post over 500 million “tweets” a day. Twitter’s advantage is that it has hashtags, and Google is indexing all those tags and “tweets.” Savvy employers know how to do Twitter searches on Google (or on Twitter itself, for that matter). All you have to figure out is which hashtags employers are likely to look for, when they want to find someone with your expertise and experience.
Videos. Presentation is moving strongly these days toward the visual. People like to see you, not just read you. Expensive equipment not required. The Flip video camcorder used to be the most popular and inexpensive way to record yourself, but that is ancient history, now. It was displaced, as you might guess, by smartphones, which usually can do video, and sometimes rather surprisingly good video.
As for where to post your video, once you’ve shot and edited it, the champion of course is YouTube—1 billion users, 4 billion views per day. But there are other choices: see PCGDigitalMarketing’s list, found at http://tinyurl.com/8owtlbo.
Now to the fourth and final thing you can do about your new Google resume.
It will take any employer or HR department some time to sift through all the stuff about you that may appear when they do a Google search. You would help them by summarizing and organizing the pertinent information about yourself. You do this by—surprise!—composing an old type resume. And you can post it on the Internet (where Google will find it), as well as taking or sending it to an interested employer.
You wanna do this? Of course you do. Here’s an outline you may find useful for gathering that information about yourself.
Since a resume is about your past, this gives you a framework for recalling that past.
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