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Watch That First Step - It's a Doozy!

by Kathy LaFollett

Copyright © 1998 Kathy LaFollett. All rights reserved.

Three years of intensive résumé searching on the Web has led this technical recruiter to one conclusion. It's a long way down!

It's my job to find jobs. It's also my job to find employees. In this day of WWW, email, and "microwave minute" results, anyone utilizing the Web for a new career needs to understand a few things before going down in that trench. It's a war of words out there, professionals! Everyone is vying for attention, and using the weapons of the English language to win that battle. The word is mightier than the sword! Don't mince words! A word in the hand is worth two in the bush - wait a minute. Here are a few tips on submitting your résumé online.

The first line of your submission will either bury you or pull you out of the trenches. No matter what site you use, HeadHunter.NET,CareerMosaic,The Monster Board, or Jobs for Programmers, the heading will either catch the eyes of human resource people, or make us scroll past you like a bad link.

Include your general contact information. Contrary to popular belief, headhunters are not cannibals. We don't chew you up and spit you out. Today's business world demands that we headhunters mind our manners, play nice, and don't bite.

Make sure you include an email address. There is nothing more hypocritical than placing a résumé online without having email access. That is akin to cyber-anarchy! If I find the candidate of the century but he/she lists no email access, I scroll. That alone will leave you behind in the cyber-trench. You can get email for free without Internet access. All you need is a phone line. Check out Juno - free, easy to load, and you don't have to be a cyber-junkie to utilize it.

Next, state where you will and will not relocate. Hey, if you don't want to live in Toledo, say something! If a résumé doesn't tell me no, I figure it's a yes. That will lead to email inundation! Your box will be full of offers for Siberia, Alaska, desert regions, and really bad places like Hoboken.

When you submit your résumé, make sure you state your skills in the top portion of the résumé. Repeat those skills in the subject line for presentation on the search results!

When I do a search I get pages of results listed by name and then a very short synopsis of you. I look at the synopsis first. If it doesn't let me know what you do, I move on. According toWorkforce Online, it's an employee-driven market, but as far as I can tell by my client companies, it isn't. Low unemployment does not give a career hunter the license to be frivolous. Once you put your résumé online, it will be submitted to a number of different newsgroups, linked sites and search engine general query. You get one chance to do it right.

A résumé for online access is not going to look like the résumé of days gone by when you walked into an employer's office proudly displaying your life on paper carried in a sweaty palm. It has to contain every keyword applicable to you and what you do. For example, it's better to use the word "keyboard" than "typing." "WIN98" is better than "Windows" and please, please programmers, if you haven't used a language for over two years, don't put it on your résumé. You'll get so many automated search emails from various recruiting software programs that you'll want to slit a wrist! You'll be contacted for positions you wouldn't be interested in, and which don't apply to what you have been doing for the last 24 months.

When you list your experiences, don't write a novel. Not only does it affect how your résumé loads for me but hey, I'm getting tired by 2:00 p.m., and fidgety as a three-year-old. Cut to the chase and I'll do the same when I contact you. Bullet format is best in presenting what you did, how you did it, and what became of your efforts. Remember the three Rs: responsibility, reactions, results. Trust me, if you do that in a concise format, I'll email and call to hear the full story!

Always include your G.P.A. on degrees. It doesn't matter if it was two months or 20 years ago that you were rewarded for your efforts. Some of our client companies require a standard. We'll contact you, you'll get interested and break out in goosebumps, and then…two days before the interview, I'll find out your G.P.A. wasn't high enough and BLAM! KAPLOW! Game over. You're back in the trenches. Which leads me to another thought. Never shoot the messenger, for we are your friends come salary negotiation time! Also, never, never, never include your references online. There are too many ways for your friends and colleagues to be annoyed by that worldwide exposure. In fact, leave out the old, familiar "references upon request." I delete that anyway when I reformat your résumé for send-out. (Yeah, we do that!) Which leads to the final instruction.

Format! Be mindful of the fact that everyone's system will play havoc with your résumé's format. Some browsers will triple-space and put four spaces between every word. You can't control that. What you can control is how badly it will translate. Use no fancy graphics for bullets. Keep your tabs and margins as simple as possible. Don't use columns. They get blasted first, every time! Don't use boxes, frames, balloons, colors, or a photograph. (You wouldn't show us your driver's license picture, would you?) In the end, every recruiter and HR person has a specific look they require for office policy and procedure. Nine times out of nine, we'll reformat it in some way, shape or form. Wait! I heard that gasp! We don't change the content, just the look. You can go to 2Gallery for a good start.

Above all, as you enter the age of cybercommunications, remember its humble beginnings. The Web, as an infant, was just a bulletin board. A blue-and-white screen in DOS that simply relayed messages between government personnel. It is the age of GUI (graphic user interface) that has brought us to pictures, links, audio and video. At its core, the Web is but a cyber-commercial utilized by millions. Continue in your career changes outside the Web. Go to trade magazines, newspapers and, the most powerful tool, colleagues. Utilize a direct contact with a placement firm. CKL Personnel Services, like many other executive placement firms, has active job openings throughout the U.S. The advantage to working with a recruiter is simple: we do all the footwork. We also have access to companies and opportunities that may otherwise be missed. The hiring company pays all fees. Your only obligation is to be honest about your needs, background and skills. We do the rest. Recruiters are highly valuable to they who are currently employed, and lack the time and ability to contact companies, send out a résumé, and set up interviews. We can also offer advice regarding cost-of-living changes, relocation information, salary negotiations, and current industry changes.

Enter the battlefield of job hunting with confidence. Properly attacking the goal will lead you out of the trenches and into a new, rewarding career.


Kathy LaFollett is a business partner and co-founder of one of Central Illinois' premier contingency and retained executive placement firms, as well as a technical and generalist recruiter with 12 years' experience in marketing and sales.


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