Careers are not always linear

Hiring for humans, not machines

Disability hiring starts with considering all applicants

There are certain patterns you can see in a resume that signal someone is dealing with a disability. Each resume leaves us hints about life events and perhaps what someone is currently going through.

Each resume tells a story both in what is included as well as what is omitted. To be more inclusive in hiring people with disabilities, pause to dig into these resumes further.

Cartoon depicting progress
Career progress is not always linear. People with disabilities will often experience disruptions to their career.

Resumes we see on a regular basis:

  1. A person is seeking employment after a 5 year employment gap. Perhaps they are recovering after an injury or illness?
  2. A person has a series of very short duration jobs that all seem to end abruptly. Are they struggling with their mental health or finding accommodation difficult in their workplace?
  3. A person takes a step backwards in their career into a less prestigious role or perhaps even a part time role. Are they currently dealing with a newly emerged disability? Are they trying to find something that’s less pressure so they can focus on their health?

Any one of these resumes would raise an eyebrow of a recruiter and these people are the first ones to put on the “no” pile. If you want to make your organization more inclusive towards hiring people with disabilities, the first thing you can do is re-consider these applicants.

Take a chance and give them a phone call. Look at their resume a second time. Finally, don’t rush to make any conclusions about their work ethic or “culture fit” based solely on a sheet of paper.

Disability hiring is human hiring. You are not recruiting for a machine–you are recruiting for humans. And sometimes humans (and life) takes a non-linear path.

What’s in it for my business?

Multiple studies have shown that your workforce with a disability is 48% less likely to turn over. Companies that recruit people with disabilities experience a positive brand boost. Also, companies that hire people with disabilities tend to be more profitable due to the diversity and innovation that they attract.

You can read more about this in our whitepaper, the business use case for hiring people with disabilities.

Don’t have a perfect resume?

Advice for getting a job (without a perfect resume)

I’m a little jealous of my wife’s perfect resume. She’s known she’s wanted to be a children’s librarian since high school. When you look at her resume, she is the obvious choice candidate since all of her experience is applicable. When she first was applying for jobs as a children’s librarian in Austin, she got an interview for every two jobs she applied for.

Most of our paths are not that linear. Most adults will switch careers 5.7 times according to Zippia. This can leave us feeling unqualified for the positions that we’re applying for or force us to make some pretty tricky career transitions with regularity.

What can you do if you don’t have a perfect resume?

Network like it’s your job.

It’s estimated that 75% of all jobs are NOT posted online. You can often make these career jumps thru the networking you do. That way, they see your resume but know the story behind it and make you less embarrassed by your resume.

When networking, focus on making both peer-to-peer connections as well as hiring manager connections. Your goal is to know multiple people in the company who can advocate for you if your resume isn’t the most obvious choice.

Follow up after you apply.

Yesterday I attended a job fair/career panel with 100+ job seekers in attendance. I had 1 person follow up with me afterwards. One.

Following up allows you to connect with people and share your story to overcome barriers, such as not having the perfect resume.

Do some creative writing.

That experience in fast food was not wasted. It probably taught you customer service skills, to work on a team, manage inventory, and even cash handling. You might have even managed people! Sometimes, it’s all about how you frame your experience.

Have someone else look at your resume.

We’re not all strong writers and sometimes our embarrassment comes from grammatical and spelling mistakes. You can have someone else read your resume and provide editing and feedback–this is a great way to help perfect your resume.

If you don’t have someone who can read your resume, at least read it out loud yourself. This forces you to slow down and catch more mistakes.

Seek out resources.

You don’t have to do this alone–there are many local resources to where you’re at (here are a few Austin resources).

Austin Community College offers a free job skills and strategies class where you can work on your resume and interview skills. Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers free job coaching and various other services to help you get working fast. And join a job club such as Launchpad Job Club where you can meet with peers who are also looking for work–use this to grow together and overcome your embarrassment with a support group.

Own your experience.

What inspired this post is yesterday I was talking with a job seeker who seemed to be embarrassed because of her many years of experience working for a multilevel marketing company. While many may not agree with MLMs business practices, that’s not a reflection on you, the “employee.” I think most of us have experience in an industry that gets a bad rap (I used to work as an email marketer.) Also, you still gain valuable skills in sales, marketing, and recruiting–you’re running your own small business! Own your experience and speak positively about the skills and experience you gained from it 🙂

Need help looking for work?

We’re happy to help and are actively hiring! Check out our many jobs here!

So…What Do You Do?

Focus Your Job Search

“So…what do you do?”

Don’t you hate that question? You get it at parties, you get it at job fairs, you even get it at the dentist! I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more than just my work. If I’m a job seeker, though, my resume is not the place to tell you who I am.

Employers get hundreds (sometimes thousands) of applications for every position that they post. This creates a mountain of reading that recruiters just cannot do. Often, computers read your resume first and rate it based on how relevant it is to what the recruiter wants. Or, if you’re an overworked recruiter, you read really fast (i.e. 6-10 seconds per resume).

“Who” is a complicated question that gets to the core of our humanity. “What” is a lot easier to communicate. In recruiting, it’s how we evaluate a candidate for further consideration. In this article, I want to get your resume from “Who” to “What.”

Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking for a Job

One of the hardest parts of the job search is knowing where to start. Full time work provides a location to work, equipment to work on, a community to support and direct you, and, in most cases, clear instructions on what to do on a day-to-day basis.

When you are seeking work, that can all go out the window very quickly. Job searchers must now turn inwards and answer a couple of deep questions.

  • What do I want to do?
  • What can I do?
  • What place (where) do I want to do it?
  • What do I expect from my work?

I have found these questions to be the most basic as well as the most troubling. I ask you to ask yourself, because every day that I’m at a job fair I ask job seekers, “what do you do?”

We’ll take a deeper dive into each, but first you need to gather a few tools:

  • A copy of your resume you can write on
  • A pen
  • A highlighter

1) What do you want to do?

For just a minute, I want you to imagine a perfect world where you don’t need to work but instead just want to work. What would you do? I want you to ignore the lightness of your wallet and the anxiety you feel about being around the house all day.

But I’m going to make this harder. You now need to answer this question in three words or less. Write them at the top of your resume where it’s so big you can’t ignore or forget what you wrote. 

2) What can you do?

Now, write down a list that ignores your list of what you want to do. This list is for the things you can do whether you want to do them or not. Here’s where I want to you get really specific and list all of the things you can do.

This is the most important part to recruiters and companies. Many will train you, but they want you to come in being able to meet the minimum job expectations.

Now I want you to condense this list down to just three words. Maybe you can do a lot! That’s great, but what are your key skill sets? What would jump out to me as a recruiter? Write these skills down on your resume.

3) What place (where) do I want to do it?

The easy answer to this is “within a X distance drive.” Let’s include this and then go beyond the physical location. You should also consider things like a welcoming environment, a company with a social mission, a younger/older workplace, a progressive/conservative workplace, etc. These are going to be different for each individual.

4) What do you expect?

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of the job details. Realize that expectations may have to be compromised, but it helps to write them down. Start with the most obvious expectation and the reason most of us go to work each day. Here are some things you might expect

  • I expect to make $XXXX
  • I expect XXXX kind of health insurance
  • I expect XXXX other benefits
  • I expect to have some level of autonomy in my day-to-day work
  • I expect to be valued for my creative contributions
  • I expect to work in a team-oriented environment
  • I expect to maintain a work-life balance

We expect a lot out of our work. As well we should. We spend a lot of time there! But get this down into three words.

Edit Your Resume

A common misconception is that resumes should be only one-two pages. A resume should be as long as it needs to be provided that:

  1. It accurately and concisely represents all of you
  2. Is long enough to thoroughly address everything that a job description asks for

We’re going to make a generic resume from which you can start. You will constantly be editing this resume for every single job for which you apply.

  • Highlight: I want you to highlight everything on your resume that points strongly to one of the words that is written above. It can (and usually should) be the word itself.
  • Circle: Anything that may be relevant for a job. Education is a good example; you may well need or should include it on your resume, but often the role you’re applying for does not explicitly require it. Often, these circled items will be listed on your resume but de-emphasized.
  • Cross Out: There’s probably a lot of stuff left on your resume. Cross it out. These are like hoarding shoe boxes or 1980s Christmas decorations or Beanie Babies. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and throw it out.

Want more resume tips? Be sure to check out this article.

Getting to “Who”

It’s not that recruiters and HR managers don’t care about who you are…it’s just that resumes are not the appropriate place for it. “What” is clear and objective. It’s also what catches our attention in a stack of resumes.

Once you get to the interview, show off “who” you are in order to stand out from the other applicants.

Are you looking for work? Check out our open jobs.

Best Job Hunting Websites in Austin

Top Job Hunting Websites for Austin Texas

There are a lot of job hunting websites out there.  We often get asked which are the best ones to use? Short answer: all of them.  It is so easy to get your resume multiple places that you might as well.  The bigger task then becomes managing all those resumes and the correspondence you may receive from recruiters.  

Here’s one recruiter’s take on the top job search websites for job seekers to get noticed in Austin, TX.  

ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter has taken the hiring market by storm. They aggregate many millions of resumes and are a great starting point for getting recruiters to call you. Also, since ZipRecruiter “scrapes” resumes from other online platforms, it’s possible your resume already has some visibility on this platform.

Indeed

There are a lot of other platforms recruiters use that tie into it. Many Applicant Tracking Systems can already search Indeed and many other commonly used recruiting tools like Ziprecruiter or Mightyrecruiter access it’s immense database effortlessly.  Indeed boasts 200 million unique visitors every month and is used in over 60 countries.

Google Jobs

Known for disrupting marketplaces and aggregating hoards of data, Google recently rolled out an updated job search platform that seeks to solve the problem of the same job being posted multiple places.  Does it work? Usually. This is a great place for discovering jobs posted on other platforms or directly on company websites.

LinkedIn

Increasingly, LinkedIn is being used by recruiters to search for living, breathing resumes.  In the recruiting community, some rely on it so strongly that they’re advocating the discontinuation of the resume  If you know someone — or know someone who knows someone — LinkedIn can be a valuable networking tool. You can draw extra attention to your resume when you connect with a contact and/or send them a personal message through the LinkedIn platform. A LinkedIn profile can direct the viewer to specific credentials and expertise, and often the most regular users of the site are those who are currently employed but entertaining other options.

Glassdoor

Glassdoor wins points for most insights into companies — but, you can find jobs on it too!  Employees past and present are encouraged to post anonymously about their employment experience: including wages, other benefits, work environment, and their personal experience.  As with all online review platforms (*cough* Yelp *cough*), the voices of those who had a bad experience can often drown out the silent majority who had a good or fine experience, but Glassdoor does seek to mitigate this by collecting as many reviews as possible.  Still, take what you read with a grain of salt and use Glassdoor to get an idea of what you’re walking into with a company.

Work in Texas

WorkInTexas.com may not be the most user-friendly interface but you will often be required to create a profile if you’re filing for unemployment benefits in Texas.  Don’t think this tool can’t be valuable, though. Your career advisors will use it to help match you up with potential jobs, and recruiters like me peruse it regularly for candidates that have recently joined the job market and may not be visible on other platforms yet.  Also, since many job seekers do not fill out complete profiles, WorkInTexas.com provides a unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re looking for work in Texas, don’t forget to send your resume to Peak Performers!

6 Tips for Resume Writing

Your resume gets you the interview . . .  you get the job!

Resume writing can be a long process with lots of conflicting advice.  As a recruiter for Peak, a staffing agency in Austin, I’d like to share some of our recommendations and then also share tips from other top websites. One thing that recruiters and hiring authorities agree on is that the purpose of your resume is to provide a snapshot of your experience and skills with an emphasis on how they relate to the job you want.

Tailor your resume.

This can be hard, especially if you are submitting your resume to a lot of different places. Making your resume specific to the job really does help it jump out to recruiters.  Are you applying for an Administrative job?  You need to say explicitly how you’ve worked in similar roles before or had experiences in different roles that exposed you to similar environments.  Your resume should include relevant experience like answering the phone, responding to customer questions, generating reports, coordinating schedules, etc.  Are you applying for a technical role?  Be detailed about the kind of technologies you know and experience you’ve had.

How long should it be?

This varies. On the Information Technology side of things, I look at a lot of highly technical candidates. An IT professional’s resume should reflect the technologies they’ve worked with and the environment—it’s not uncommon for me to see 5-10 page IT resumes. On the Office Professional side of our business, resumes are being reviewed for less technical roles and successful applicants will focus on experiences but also keep it briefer, around two pages in length.  Regardless, I recommend that job seekers build multiple versions of their resumes of varying length and details to submit depending on the job and the organization.

Make it readable but not ostentatious.

Remember tip #1? Tailor your resume.  We work with state agencies and many are more conservative in the kinds of resumes they’re looking for.  They’re screening for experience and hard skills first and will get to know you during the interview.  On the other hand, if you’re applying to work for an ad agency, your tailored resume should probably be flashy.  Know your audience and write to that audience.

Don’t date your experience or credentials.

It can be tempting to go all the way back in your work history, especially if you’re a late career job seeker. However, conventional wisdom holds that you do not need to date experience in your resume that is older than ten years. If you possess relevant but dated experience, include it in an ‘other relevant experience’ section omitting dates. Note: also remove graduation/completion dates from schools/training that you have attended.

Avoid unnecessary personalizing details.

We recommend not disclosing anything in the resume that is overly identifying in a personal, non-job relevant way.  No photos of you, your spouse/partner, your kids, your pets.  Avoid mentioning your political affiliation, your religion, your heritage, your favorite ice cream flavor…just ask yourself if it’s necessary for the hiring manager to see this side of me on paper?

Read it out loud.

Ready to hit the submit button?  Take an extra ten minutes to read your resume out loud.  You are your own best editor and reading your resume aloud will help you catch awkward phrasing, extra words, and sometimes even misspellings.

Was this helpful?  You can read our other two articles on resume writing (Professional email address resume tips) and (What’s in a name? resume advice).  Ready to send us your tailored, pitch-perfect resume?  You can do so online.

Don’t just take our word for it.  Many recruiters have different opinions on this subject.  Here are some tips from Monster and here’s what Glassdoor has to say.

Resume header: Your professional email address

Email Address: Part of your Professional Image

One of the most common resume mistakes we see is with email addresses. Your email address is just one of the many elements that can contribute to your professional image.

Certain e-mail addresses do not convey professionalism: Hotmama78@hotmail.com or Benchpress247@yahoo.com, for example.

Aside from a professional-sounding address, for consistency of personal branding, I recommend an email address that closely matches the name on your resume. This kind of address has the added bonus of always being recognizable; it takes the guesswork out of a contact list.

Common Email Mistakes

Certain details that should not be in your email address. At Peak Performers employment agency, we are widely recognized for our nondiscrimination advocacy. Unfortunately, not every other employer shares this value. To play it safe, we recommend an e-mail address that doesn’t include:

  • a reference to age or year of birth
  • race or national origin
  • religion
  • familial status (marriage, children, being a grandma/grandpa, etc.)
  • or a reference to any other characteristic that is a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

One of my favorite “inappropriate email address” real-life examples is the curse of a name that inherently sounds unprofessional.

Above all, the most important thing is that you give out an e-mail address that you actually check. The hazard of setting up a new, professional e-mail address is that you’ll forget to check it. The solution is simple: set up account forwarding. This way, you’ll be able to send and receive e-mails as a professional, with the convenience of being able to check both accounts.

Resume header: What’s in a name?

Resume Headers

As my favorite leading lady Julie Andrews once sung on screen, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

In this series, however, we’re not going to learn how to sing (at least that’s not the plan). Instead, we’re going to learn how to write a resume, starting at the top and working our way down. The Alps and singing nuns might not be involved (again, not in the plans), but we do guarantee you this: if you follow these guidelines, step by step, your resume will convey professionalism and help you look like you know how to get a job.

Why is it important that your resume conforms to certain standards? Recently, an eye-tracking study was conducted to discover how long, on average, a recruiter spends looking at each resume. The results will blow you away…

Six seconds.

That’s only six seconds of glory for you. How can you make the strongest possible impression, within that minuscule amount of time? Your resume needs to be clean, easy to visually search and scan, and yet tell a recruiter everything they need to know. Very, very quickly.

Your name

It seems overly basic, yes? But let’s start by thinking about how you write your name.

In today’s recruiting world, it’s important that your name be consistent across all of these many platforms we now use. We call this “personal branding.” And as any catchy advertising jingle shows us, consistency is the key to making your brand stick.

Do you go by your middle name? A shortened version of your first name? It’s not vital that your resume match your legal name, but it is important that you be consistent.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your full, legal name is Ronald Eric Smith. This is the name on your official forms of ID such as your driver’s license. However, everyone actually calls you Eric. Your professional-use email address is ericsmith@gmail.com. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you’re Eric Smith. Your resume might therefore read: R. Eric Smith.

Here’s another example: Let’s say your legal name is Ronald Eric Smith, but everyone calls you Ronny. Your email address and online profiles are all under the name Ronny Smith. Your resume might therefore read: Ronald “Ronny” Smith. Or, since this is a pretty well-recognized nickname, it’s not necessary that you specify it. But if you can’t stand being called Ronald? Then your resume should definitely read: Ronny Smith.

One more example: Let’s say your legal name is Ronald Eric Smith, but everyone calls you Rattlesnake. We’re sure there’s a great story behind that nickname, but this is neither the time nor the place. Your resume should read: Ronald Eric Smith, Ronny Eric Smith, Ron Eric Smith. Anything, really. Just please, not Rattlesnake!

Unprofessional nicknames aside, there are many name scenarios that quite possibly apply to you. For instance, you might have a name that’s difficult to pronounce. In that case, consider writing the pronunciation in parentheses, briefly, next to your name.

Lastly, if you have a pretty common name—Ronald Smith is a good example again—we ask you to seriously consider including your middle name on your resume. This will spare recruiters a name mix-up, and it will help distinguish you from other applicants.

For more insights into the nuances of what name you should put on your resume, check out these helpful articles:

https://www.pongoresume.com/blogPosts/180/put-your-brand-name-on-your-resume-not-your-real-name.cfm
http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/when-use-nicknames-legal-names