When you think of some of the biggest business names around the world, who immediately comes to mind? Sir Richard Branson, the UK’s titan of industry who has had a hand in creating companies in dozens of different sectors, all around the world? Or perhaps the late Steve Jobs, known for his incredible work in helping Apple Inc. and Pixar Studios become the behemoths they are today? RELATED: How Do Employers Find Their Ideal Candidate? No matter who comes to mind, it’s quite likely that some of the top people on the list can be considered “mavericks." But what exactly do I mean when talking about a maverick candidate? The term was coined after the Texas pioneer Samuel A. Maverick (1803-70), who left his calves unbranded and is thus historically associated with a somewhat rebellious person. Studies indicate that successful business people such as Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson are quite often high on the scale of “maverickism," and can be said to possess a number of key traits. While there is no one definition on what makes a maverick, there seems to be consensus that mavericks are individuals that tend to be independent, innovative, and goal-orientated, among other things.
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Time and again, I encounter job seekers that have good prior or current work experience, pretty sharp resumes, and a convincing cover letters, but still struggle to get interviews. Related: Is Your Personal Brand Wrong? In situations like this, I like to suggest having a closer look at their personal brand. Personal brand? What do I mean by this exactly, and might this “personal brand thingy" also apply to your situation? Personal branding is a complex subject, and in my opinion there is no one good definition that sums it up entirely. In my opinion, the bottom line and smallest denominator one can understand under the term personal branding is one's reputation and legitimacy. And that is exactly the part that does not add up for some job seekers.
Lately, I've noticed an increasing number of job hunters and career changers are confused about the ambivalent advice they receive on resume writing. It's an annoying "everyone-is-an-expert" situation. RELATED: Need to write a resume? Watch these resume tutorials! There are two reasons for this dilemma:
When it comes time to search for a new employee, it can be a little daunting to know what exactly to look for. Apart from specialized skills needed for a role, you need to think about what character traits might be the most important, and how do you go about spotting them. Related: Why You Should Hire For Personality, Not Just Experience Whether you're choosing to hire a new recruit yourself or using the services of a recruitment firm like Robert Half, there are three key traits that should definitely be on your “must-have" list.
Just today I got feedback from one of my resume clients, who was a bit beat up by her recent telephone interview. Related: 5 Steps To An Excellent Interview “What happened?” I asked. The answer was that the interviewer had pulled a bunch of old school interview classics like “Tell me a little bit about yourself” and “What are your three main weaknesses?” My client felt that this type of “old-school” interviewing did not result in a natural flow of two business professionals determining a potential match, but rather ended in a “what type of canned response have you got for me” type of interview. But what to do in a situation like this? After all you don’t want to be rude, and you can’t really tell the interviewer what type of questions you want to be asked.
A frequently discussed resume question between resume writers, recruiters, and applicants is the question of the influence of Applicant Tracking Systems (“ATS") on the appropriate length of a resume. Resume: Why You Shouldn't Write A 'One-Size-Fits-All' Resume Back in ancient history (anyone remember the 90s?), the vast majority of resumes were submitted on paper via snail mail and/or fax. Pre-screening of resumes those days was performed by a real human being that physically touched, handled, and actually “scanned" the documents with his/her eyes. That meant a lot of work for HR. Just imagine having to sift through 200 or 300 applications. The rule of thumb in those days for job hunters was thus to not “aggravate" or “bother" the pre-screening human being with overly long resumes that might have meant a quick toss to the “no" pile. As a consequence, job hunters were advised to limit their resumes to one or two pages.
Today I am going to debunk a common misconception on effective resume writing: the resume magic that will solve your keyword problems for passing Applicant Tracking Systems (“ATS") once and for all. Related: Does Your Resume Get Along With Your Personal Brand? Recently, one of my clients forwarded to me about 15 job postings he was interested in. While this alone might already seem a bit lavish (I generally only request two to three job postings for my writing process), the client asked me to include “all the relevant keywords" from these job postings into his resume. Neither would I have been able to do this, nor did I feel like doing this. Why? Because it would not have served the purpose of my client: getting job interviews.
One thing career and job hunters certainly do not suffer from is lack of advice. There is a plethora of sources and experts that present the ultimate solution and the quick fix for your resume. You probably read all about the “ultimate career move," the “latest must have social media network," “video resumes you need to know about," if you want to move up the career ladder, and so on. Related: 5 Simple Career Success Factors As a career coach and LinkedIn moderator of a group dealing with Personal Branding, I feel obligated to go through most of these articles no matter how lurid the message might sound. After all, I have to stay current and spot potential new trends quickly. Today, however, I want to focus on nothing fancy or new, but on a very old-school kind of skill that is very, very basic, yet so neglected, these days: Follow-through!