Can’t get a call back from a job? You might be making one of these common mistakes.

Monday, December 6, 2021

The “Great Resignation” can quickly become the never-ending job search for people who quit during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s what life has recently felt like for Patrick Moran, who is hoping for a major career change — from production manager at a Rhode Island doughnut bakery to an office job. The 25-year-old says he previously never used online tools for work. So applying through various Web portals with little guidance or knowledge on how to use them only led to discouragement.

“It’s defeating applying for a bunch of jobs and not getting a call back,” he said.

Moran was making a number of common mistakes, according to job experts, but with just a few tweaks and a little more time, he could vastly increase his chances of getting hired. The Washington Post sat in on consultations with Moran and three job coaches to uncover the best ways for job seekers to use tech tools and avoid some of the pitfalls. The gist: Finding an online job listing and submitting a résumé is the bare minimum. Tech tools, if used correctly, can aid job seekers in landing their next jobs, but they can also create a network that can serve them well into the future.

“This is the power of social media,” and tech, said Yolanda Owens, a former corporate recruiter and founder of the coaching service CareerSensei Consulting in Washington, D.C. “You will be surprised to learn that help will come from unexpected places.”

Experts said Moran, like many others, probably wasn’t getting much interest from recruiters and employers because he was missing some key elements in his résumé and online profile, which is where recruiters find most of their candidates. And with a little help from Google, LinkedIn and social media sites, he could strengthen his network and his chances of getting hired.

First, he was missing a summary that should be at the top of every résumé or online professional profile, experts say. This becomes even more important for people who are trying to transition from one industry to another, because it allows them to explain how they are a fit for the job even though their previous experience may not be directly related.

Adrian Klaphaak, founder of the Bay Area career- and life-coaching service A Path That Fits, took the summary a step further, suggesting that Moran search Google, Indeed and LinkedIn for openings for the job title he wants — even if he doesn’t necessarily want to apply for that specific opening — and look for commonalities in the descriptions. Identify the top five skills or qualities they all have in common, he said. Then, after a couple of introductory lines, bullet point each skill that the candidate possesses and follow it with a line explaining how the skill was demonstrated in previous jobs. Preferably pair each with metrics or numbers as proof.

“The more that you can add specifics to your résumé that prove that you can do what you say you can, the more excited that gets the hiring manager,” he said.

Lauren Milligan, career coach and founder of ResuMAYDAY in Warrenville, Ill., who offered to help Moran after reading about his employment struggles, said the summary section is also a great place for candidates to showcase their personalities and most marketable skills. In Moran’s case, she said, personality was one of his greatest strengths.

“If someone was saying, ‘What is Patrick’s brand?’ This [summary] is what it’d be,” she said. “On LinkedIn, it can be more conversational — it’s still social media.”

In an era when a computer is likely to see Moran — or any applicant’s — résumé before any human ever does, experts say there’s one thing all job seekers should keep in mind: keywords, keywords, keywords.

Job seekers should research the jobs they want to determine the best keywords to include in their online profiles. This could be anything from the actual job title to key skills, qualities, software programs or technical qualifications. The keywords should be peppered throughout people’s résumés and LinkedIn profiles.

“Stay away from general things like ‘communicating’ or ‘working in teams,’ ” Owens said. “Use things specific to the job like ‘staff management’ or ‘production operations.’ ”

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