4 Important Tips for Passive Job Seekers

Here’s a tip for everyone working today: Even if you love your job, you should be prepared to leave it. While that may seem disloyal, in fact, it’s good advice. That’s because markets can shift dramatically leaving employers facing downsizing, which means your job may be on the line. We also know employers can act erratically, so the truth is no job is ever really safe. Many of us have lived through a down economy, so you should always have your resume updated.

Around 73 percent of employees today are passive job candidates, meaning they aren’t actively looking for a new job, but they’re open to it. Here are four of the best tips to stay prepared for the next big thing.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is one of the resources recruiters use to find job candidates. Take the time now to update your profile. Consider this online presence as your resume, so make it highly professional and up to date, by listing your skills, education and certifications. It’s also a good idea to start to connect with people and their networks to build your own. Try joining a few LinkedIn groups, which are the online version of a MeetUp. Then, write a few recommendations for your colleagues and ask them to recommend you.

Improve Your Networking Skills

While today’s unemployment market heavily favors the job seeker (there aren’t enough employees to go around), it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t force yourself to continue to make networking connections. The bigger your network, the better your chances of finding a job, especially if the job transition is unexpected. Try going once a month to a networking event in your field. Also, post status reports on social networking sites to let people know you’re still around. Sharing interesting job-related articles is just one way to stay in front of your social network.

Check Out Companies

Instead of mindlessly surfing the internet this weekend, surf the internet with a purpose. Start to scope out the kinds of employers you’d be interested in working for, if push came to shove. Here’s another tip: Check out recruiting firms. A recruiter is the best resource for finding the best jobs in today’s hot market. Recruiting firms work directly with hiring managers to fill roles, and many times they find out about positions even before they are posted. So, even though you are “passive” in your job search, you can prepare a list of top companies you’d like to work for and recruiters can help you get your foot in the door.

Update Your Resume

We talked in a prior article about the importance of keywords; updating your resume now and keeping it ready will speed your time to market, should something happen at your current job. Each time you change jobs, get promoted or take an online class, your resume should be updated. You can even have a cover letter template ready to go – just in case.

At Top Stack, we know life changes constantly. Contact one of our recruiters to begin to pave the way for your next job search.

4 Tips For Successfully Reentering the Workforce

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, coming back is going to feel like a big adjustment. The business world and the technology we use to navigate it changes rapidly, so if you’ve been away caring for a sick relative, or dealing with a personal illness, the transition back may feel a little intense at first.

This article will give you the tips you need to successfully reenter the workforce, no matter the length of absence or the type of job you’re seeking.

Tips for Work Reentry

The first step is to connect with a trustworthy recruiter who will have your back as you search, interview, and finally, land the next big thing. Top Stack can help with this. But there are other tips for work reentry you should consider, including the following:

  • Update your skills list before you even start looking for work. We recommend a resume refurbish based on keywords (see our prior blog post), as well as some padding to fill gaps in employment. Do you know the saying that it’s always easier to find a job if you have a job? That’s actually true, so if you haven’t worked in a while, try volunteering for a worthy cause a few months before you even put your credentials out there. This will pad the resume a bit to help employers understand you’ve still been out there in the world.
  • Try building a functional over a chronological resume. A resume that heavily emphasizes the dates of employment will only make it really easy for employers to see where the gap in working was. Try rewriting the resume to focus on experience and not length of stay. You can create headings such as “Programming Experience” (inserting the right keyword for the job you’re searching for) and then listing the highlights of what you’ve accomplished and learned.
  • Get out there. We know this is a difficult step, but it is the most important. Get your resume on free job boards like Indeed or Monster and then talk with a few recruiters to find the one you most want to work with. Most job boards and the applicant tracking system recruiters use leverage very precise algorithms that will aid you in your job search. Use these tools. You may also want to try your hand at networking at MeetUps or other events to improve your chances in the job market.
  • Ask for help. Even if you’ve been out of work for a while, here’s what you need to understand. The unemployment market today favors the job candidate, particularly in those high-demand jobs like programming, engineering or healthcare. But even though the odds are in your favor, it’s important to use resources that are standing by to help. All you have to do is ask. In the case of the job seeker, one of your best resources is a recruiter who can be your advocate.

If it’s time to start your own job search, start a conversation with the team at Top Stack. We are your best resource for reentering the job market, and have jobs standing by that will get you back in the saddle. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

How a Recruiter Will Help You Prepare for an Interview

When it comes to an interview, a recruiter can be your best friend. There’s no one better when it comes to helping you prepare for that very first employer impression. Even if you feel like you don’t interview well (in fact, especially if this is the case), consider working hands-on with your recruiter to put your best foot forward. Here’s how a recruiter can help you interview well and land your next job.

Tips and Takeaways From Recruiters

Recruiters can help candidates learn how to stress their strengths and de-emphasize their weaknesses in effective ways. The recruiter you’re working with may ask you to write down four or five strengths and weaknesses, along with a one-paragraph example of how you’ve exhibited your strengths on the job and overcome your weaknesses. The recruiter may even have you talk about these skills, practicing the actual interview process. If they don’t, why not ask them for help? Recruiters are expert interviewers and see countless resumes every day. They’re a resource that wants you to land a job as much as you do.

Recruiters may help you practice the universally accepted correct interview answers. Each answer should be about two minutes long. There’s a concept many recruiters know and teach their candidates called “Say a Few Words” (SAFW). This means:

  • S stands for the opening statement on each question answered.
  • A is amplify, which is a clarifying statement to push the point home.
  • F is to remind you to provide a few examples that illustrate your point.
  • W is the reminder to “wrap it up.”

SAFW leaves the interviewer, whether it’s on the phone or in person, with a concise but effective way to get to know a candidate. It backs a statement up with a short behavioral example illustrating your point. Then it closes the deal, wrapping each question up in a nice package.

Another tip is that recruiters may ask you to write-up two of your most important accomplishments to date. This can include your work on a team as well as an individual goal met. What did you learn? How does it illustrate the job skills the employer is seeking?

The goal is writing up this document is that many times the person being interviewed can get nervous, which may make them forgetful. Taking time to write this down may help you retain the information, even when an employer puts you on the spot. (Especially when the employer puts you on the spot!)

The recruiter may have you practice the universal question: I read the job description and your company’s website, but could you tell me in your own words what you think the job entails? This allows the candidate to take control of the conversation and get the employer or hiring manager talking about what’s important to them. Then the interviewee can zip back in with their SAFW set of job qualifications that sell them for the position.

Recruiters, Not Diamonds, Are a Girl’s (and Boy’s) Best Friend

The Top Stack team is different. Our job is to provide you with the coaching you need to land your dream job. That’s why we partner with our employer-clients to understand exactly what they’re looking for. We can help you prepare for your next big move. Contact us today to start the conversation.

The Importance of Using Keywords in Your Resume

The old days of just creating a resume are gone. Today, the majority of recruiters or hiring managers simply won’t notice a resume without searchable keywords. Let’s look at the types of keywords and how they can help improve your resume to land your next job.

Understanding Keywords

Keywords are a short phrase or individual words on a resume that tie into a particular job posting. They can include credentials, skills, qualities and abilities of a candidate. They could include technical expertise or other requirements hiring managers are looking for in a role they’re trying to fill.

Keywords are important for tracking purposes. Most companies now use applicant tracking systems (ATS). This technology is widely used to track resumes and screen candidates for jobs. The software has a query system so hiring teams can search for candidates by job skills. The ATS software can eliminate candidate resumes that don’t have keywords matching the particular job description. That’s exactly why it’s important to add keywords into both your resume and your cover letter.

What Kinds of Resume Keywords Are There?

The job of keywords is to get the attention of hiring managers because it matches the job description. Given that most recruiters and hiring teams simply scan resumes for relevant experience, having keywords makes your resume stand out against all other candidates. Here are some examples.

For an employee benefits manager role, use keywords such as:

  • Employee;
  • Benefits;
  • healthcare benefits; and
  • benefits policy.

For a customer service manager position, try to use keywords like:

  • customer service;
  • computer skills;
  • order entry; and
  • phone skills.

For a logistics manager:

  • supply chain;
  • warehouse;
  • operations; and
  • logistics manager.

How do you figure out how to use these keywords? Look at the ad. It should have keywords throughout it you can incorporate into your resume. Try searching for similar job listings to find out what top words seem to be used in most of them. Especially look at the responsibilities/qualifications sections of the job description.

You may want to also look at the company website for keywords. Look at the section called “About Us” to determine what the company thinks is important. For example, if the company uses the word “creative,” clone that adjective and pop it in your resume. Make sure the language of your resume is the one spoken by the company — use keywords whenever possible.

Yes, you should do this for each job application. We know it’s labor intensive, but it will increase your chances of landing a job. Salt these keywords throughout the resume and mix up both hard and soft skills. A variety of keywords in several different places will show the diversity of your experience. Since the company’s ATS may be queued to find particular characteristics, try using multiple versions of keywords and phrases. For example, programmer and developer or nurse and clinician are interchangeable job titles that can mean the same thing.

Finally, consider using some of the same keywords in your cover letter, in case the employer is also scanning these types of documents. An easy way to do this is to list your keyword-heavy job skills in a summary at the beginning of the letter in a bulleted format.

Contact the Top Stack team for more career advice and, when you’re ready, we have the best jobs to fit your skills.