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Archive | March, 2011

Video Resumes: Are They for You?

15 Mar

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But would a so-called video resume by another name be on the tips of our collective tongues? Let’s examine this phenomenon and see if we can make heads and/or tails of it, shall we?

First, let’s look at the name. It’s not, in fact, a resume. A resume outlines your past work experience and job qualifications. What we’re talking about is a recorded elevator pitch; a chance for you to put on your best interview outfit and try to be impressive while not looking self-conscious. And this is a best-case scenario. (Worst-case would be a video of you reading your resume.) To discover the origins of the video resume, you’ll have to take a trip with me – back to before there were blogs; to a dark time. It was a time that I first arrived in New York with the big dreams of making it on Broadway. I always stuck with stage work rather than on-camera, but I had plenty of friends who did TV and film work. Know what they all had? Video resumes. Except back then, we called them “reels.” They were video clips strung together with pieces of work taken from actual TV shows/movies/commercials that they had done, mixed in with audition pieces specifically selected for the roles or jobs they were trying to get. For actors, the video resume was and continues to be a great tool.

“But Dave, I’m not an actor. Should I have a video resume?”

Let’s say you’re a financial analyst. Will a video resume tell me as much or more about you than a traditional resume? Nope. Even if you were to create an advanced spreadsheet (with pivot tables!) in real-time on camera it probably wouldn’t help your chances much (but it might well go “viral” among the HR set.) What if you’re a writer? Nope. I don’t really want to see you read from your selected works. Marketing Director? No again. HR Manager? Please no.

Salesperson? Aha! I believe we’ve stumbled upon the one area for which video resumes might actually catch on! If you present for a living, you might want to have a video resume in your bag of tricks. If I see your resume, like it, and see that you’ve attached a link to your video resume, I might actually click to see if you’ve got the goods. If you can sell yourself into an interview, you have a shot. If you can’t sell yourself, then how are you going to sell my product? Either way, you’ve probably just saved me some time. So thanks in advance. Oh, and if you decide to do a video resume please make it look professional. Just like you wouldn’t want to distribute a hand-written resume, you don’t want a video representation of yourself to look like it was done with a flip camera or a phone.

In my opinion, the video resume is never going to catch on in a major way. Employers, and especially HR people, are going to continue to shy away because of the legal implications (video resumes, like pictures on resumes, can open the door to all kinds of discrimination complaints based on ethnicity, age, gender, etc.) So for all the marketing dollars that these video resume companies are putting into making you believe you can’t get a job without one, you’re better off putting that time and effort into making sure your traditional resume is the best marketing tool it can be.

Do you have a success story to tell about your video resume? Have an opinion on them? I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments/questions below. Or email me at hr.dave1@gmail.com

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Career Lessons: If I’d Known Then What I Know Now…And Vice Versa

11 Mar

I’ve spent the better part of my career matching people to jobs, which is ironic considering that when I started in the industry it was from pure, dumb luck. My resume wouldn’t have even been looked at long enough to be laughed at. And now here I am, telling people just starting out the things I wish I’d known.

 But at the same time, some of my views have changed in some unfortunate ways. My 21 year old self could teach the 36 year old me a thing or two as well. Here are a few tidbits that I wish I’d known then, and some gems I used to know that I wish I’d held onto.

 If I’d only known then…

  1. Education is great, but experience is better. Sure, we all say in our job requirements that we want a college degree. But that degree without experience is like a hot fudge sundae without the spoon – tasty, but not practical. So if you’re looking to enter the job market in the next 2 to 3 years, start thinking about internships now. The time spent will pay dividends in helping your resume stand out.
  2. Being good at what you do is only half the battle. It will keep you employed forever, but won’t get you ahead. What will get you promoted is being liked. Don’t underestimate the social aspect of your career. I know many more people in the executive ranks who are incompetent but charismatic than those who are talented and dull.
  3. Like it or not, you’re a grown up. It took me longer than I’d like to admit before I started really seeing and talking to people 20, 30, or 40 years older than me as people instead of some superior, mysterious super-race. I may call recent grads “kids” behind their backs, but you can’t view yourself that way. And it doesn’t have to be an age thing – sometimes seniority and status are just as intimidating as age, if not more. You have to work through it and treat people as peers. Trust me – your first boss doesn’t want to be talked to like your third grade teacher.

If I only knew now…

  1. If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. I knew this when I pursued my undergraduate degree in Musical Theater, moved to New York to make it on Broadway, and scrounged for 7 years as a struggling but unreasonably happy actor. As I’ve gotten older and adopted new responsibilities, both financial and personal, it’s been easy to forget that I always wanted to work to live, not live to work. There have been times in my professional life that more money, status, and influence were the driving forces in my decisions. I haven’t always followed the path that just sounded like more fun. And I’ve lived to regret it.
  2. Make time for yourself. I work a lot of hours at the office, and log almost as many hours being Daddy. Naturally some other aspects of life have fallen by the wayside. Sure, I can’t go out socially like I did years ago – and frankly I don’t want to. But even in your busiest and most stressful times it’s important to remember your friends, your hobbies, your joys outside of work. Jobs come and go but the rest of it, if you’re lucky, is life-long. Your relationships are like your teeth – take care of them and they’ll take care of you.
  3. It’s just money. I’ve been living in the same home for many years. It’s the only one I’ve ever owned, and I bought it when I had was just starting out in my career and making $42,000 per year. My tax bracket has changed considerably since then, but I somehow don’t feel considerably richer. Granted, plenty of my take-home pay goes into various savings mechanisms, but it still doesn’t feel as different as I expected it to. My clothes may have better labels and my TV is a lot bigger, but everything isn’t easier. I’m still a fan of happy hour, 2 for 1 specials, and Chinese take-out. Everything else is just gravy, so don’t go too crazy keeping up with the Jonses.

I’m sure you’ve heard at least some of this before; I sure had. But sometimes it’s useful to think about the lessons you’ve learned. And the ones you wish you had.

This post was first published on www.myfootpath.com, which contains a wealth of career advice. Read the original post here.

“Overqualified?” How to Shift Careers and Get the Job Anyway

9 Mar

My latest reader question is one that comes up often, and one that’s definitely worth exploring. She writes:

“I graduated at the onset of the recession with several magazine internships under my belt and a promised job. Things fell through; I looked to PR to ride the wave. On the side, I’ve freelanced copiously, and developed my resume towards editorial jobs in every way possible. Now I’m told I’m over-qualified to be an Editorial Assistant almost everywhere I interview, but don’t have the full-time work experience necessary in magazines to be considered for anything higher up. I’m stuck in an in-between zone, and don’t know for sure if this “over-qualified” story is a ploy or the truth (though I make more than pretty much any EA, and have had much more responsibility, I am always clear about my willingness to start at the bottom). What’s a girl to do?”

When it comes to career, there are two universal truths:

  1. It is better to make a living doing something you like than doing something you don’t like.
  2. Regardless of universal truth #1, bills have to be paid.

These two truths frequently lead to career shifting, sometimes a year or two into a job and sometimes 20 or more years into a career. Career shifting can be extremely challenging when we find ourselves up against candidates whose resumes read like the descriptions of the jobs we’re going for. The reality that must be accepted is that, more often than not, you will have to start at square one with your new chosen career, usually taking a step backward in status and pay. Hiring managers and recruiters can get skittish around career shifters because we’re never quite sure what to make of them. I’ve had some very successful professionals who said they were ready to go from 6-figure incomes to entry-level wages, and I had to make a judgment call on whether I believed them.

So we throw around the term “overqualified”, which is really a misnomer. You’re not overqualified for the job – more likely you’re either underqualified or just plain old qualified. Overqualified is code for “we just don’t know what to do with you.” We’re not convinced that in 6 months you’ll still be happy with your choice, and the last thing we want to do is to have to fill the same position again when you decide you really can’t afford that pay cut after all.

So what’s a girl to do? First, be realistic with yourself and with the people making the hiring decisions. Research the workload and the salary range, and know for sure that you are willing and able to make it work. If you’re living on your own, you may need to consider a roommate situation. That shoe collection of yours? It may not see any growth for a while. I’ve been burned by candidates swearing up and down that they were ready to start their careers over again, and at the 11th hour they’ve balked at the salary/title/job description/something else. Fool me once; shame on me. Fool me twice; well you know the rest.

Once you’ve thoroughly assessed the situation and are 100% positive that you can and will live on less money and with less clout than you’re used to, it’s time to start over-communicating. I want to know that you have thought it out and you’re ready to make it happen. I want to know that if you get a job offer you’re not going to back out. I want to know that doing someone’s expense reports and eating ramen noodles sounds like your dream existance because you want it that badly. So although I’m usually anti-objective statement on your resume, this is a time to use one. And it should say “To find entry-level employment in the editorial department of a national magazine (edited to suit your specific career, obviously).” If you’re writing a cover letter, open with the statement that you’re looking for entry-level positions. Hammer the point home until I can’t hear the words entry-level without picturing your face.

When making a career shift, it can also be a time to take some creative chances that might work in your favor. In this specific situation, since you have directly relatable internships, you might want to experiment with removing from your resume all of your professional work experience since graduating, and don’t list years for your internships or your college graduation. Though some may see omitting dates as a gaffe, it might make you much less intimidating for recruiters who are looking at your resume. Try it – it truly couldn’t hurt. Then, once you get the interview, you can do a bit of explaining as to why you set your resume up that way. Frankly if I found out you’d put that much thought into it, I’d be pretty likely to take you seriously.

Career shifting is always scary and usually frustrating, but if navigated effectively it can be managed down from impossible to simply the next great challenge. Good luck – it’s a jungle out there!
Want to see how the story turns out for this reader? Here it is! (hint: it’s a happy ending.)

Have any career shift stories you’d like to share or questions you’d like answered? Leave comments below or email hr.dave1@gmail.com

Back in Business

8 Mar

Hello readers. Sorry that the blog has been out of commission for a few days. We’re back up and running, and more fresh content is coming soon! Remember to let me know if there are any topics you want me to cover. Looking forward to hearing from you!

HR Dave

hr.dave1@gmail.com

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