News of major layoffs coming at Disney and in the airline industry led me to think about things new job-seekers can do immediately to give themselves an edge.
The “low hanging fruit” you can take care of as soon as you lose your job includes:
- Using a document format that recruiting systems can read,
- Removing the first-page header from your resume,
- Placing a job title above your summary,
- Replacing the default LinkedIn headline, and
- Preparing to network.
It will take just a few minutes of your time to implement most of these ideas. The unemployment compensation systems I’ve dealt with require that recipients demonstrate they are job searching, so it is important for you to get started and ensure you receive this safety-net income while you search. Also, many companies encourage or expect that laid-off employees will enter applications into their systems for any future openings. It’s a good idea to take advantage of this opportunity. Go to your home office desk at your regular time Monday morning if you are let go on Friday, and start on the steps we discussed.
Use a document format that recruiting systems can read.
Recruiters and job placement specialists I’ve worked with or spoken to consistently tell me it is important for you to send your resume in an electronic file format that application tracking systems (ATS) will read. Most of us generate our resumes using MS-Word and save them as Word or Portable Document Format (PDF) files. ATS software that processes online applications will usually work with either format. Make sure, if you use other word processing programs such as Mac Pages or Google Docs that you convert your document to a Word or PDF file.
An upload dialogue screen should inform you what file formats are acceptable for that system. A system that is correctly designed and implemented will also tell us if the format we are trying to upload is not acceptable. There is no assurance this will happen, so have Word and PDF files available, and read the instructions.
Avoid putting contact information in a first-page header.
Many of us are accustomed to putting contact and other basic information into an MS-Word header on business documents. I’ve been told many times over the last few years that ATS software ignores first-page headers, so your contact information could be lost if it is there. Put your contact information in the body of your resume on top of the first page.
It’s okay to use a header for your contact information on the second page of your resume if you have one. The purpose of the second-page header is to make sure that, if a reader prints the resume and then separates the pages, they will recognize the second page and put the document back together. We do not want the ATS to see the second-page header because it will disrupt the flow of our text.
Place your target job title above your summary.
Another common “error” I see on many resumes is placing words such as “summary,” “qualifications summary,” or “Profile” above our summary paragraph on the resume.
A simple fix most of us can do right away is to replace the summary header with a job title. You may also want to include your specialty within your job title or your industry. For example, three of my most successful clients have used the following headlines:
“Embedded Software Engineer ● Aerospace ● Wireless Connectivity ● Robotics”
“ Senior Government Relations Director”
“Senior Business Analyst ● Product Owner”
You may want to change the headline later, when you have spent time evaluating your job target and revising your resume. The important thing is to have a powerful headline that will help you get started.
Replace your default LinkedIn headline.
LinkedIn has increased in importance as a job search and business networking tool during the Pandemic, so you should start creating a strong personal brand right away. Your personal brand starts with a great LinkedIn headline.
If you do not create a headline, LinkedIn will write one for you. It does not attempt to figure out the best headline for members. Instead, LinkedIn inserts your current or most recent job title and the company name. My LinkedIn headline would read “Resume Writer at Resumes that Shine” instead of “.Resume and LinkedIn Profile Writer ► Certified Career Management Coach ► Job Search Consultant ★ I Advance Careers! ★ ResumesThatShine.com.”
Recently, LinkedIn raised the number of characters from 120 to 220 (I just tested this on my own profile), so we have plenty of space. Again, you don’t need to be super-creative for your first headline—just try to include some meaningful keywords you feel recruiters would look for during searches. This is important because your LinkedIn headline, according to recruiters I’ve spoken to, scores highly on search engine products LinkedIn licenses to recruiters.
It takes some work to build a best-in-class LinkedIn profile. You should start with an advantage if you write your own headline as a substitute for your default headline.
Prepare to network.
Yesterday, I spoke with Toby Haberkorn, author of “Best Job Search Tips For Age 60-Plus: A Practical Work Options Resource For Baby Boomers,” and asked her for a tip that would help job-seekers make a fast start on their resumes. She said the most important preparatory step, in her view, does not relate directly to your resume. She feels it is of paramount importance to make sure you have a spreadsheet of contact information for your network of industry contacts before you leave your job. Of course, only take home information that is not proprietary. Toby feels most people are aware of warning signs that their job may not continue, so they can prepare. Today, for example, I spoke with a client that knows his organization is losing astounding amounts of money due to the Pandemic. Layoffs, he believes, are likely at the end of the calendar year.
Take indications of trouble seriously. A key representative of our contract customer at one job told me his agency was not renewing my organization’s contract months before it happened. He was correct. The job ended despite repeated assurances from my department head that the agency official was “full of it.”Start working on your job search marketing strategy as soon as HR zooms around with “pink slips,” if not sooner. Let us help. Click here to get a spot on our calendar for a complimentary appointment over the phone.