13 unique steps job seekers above 50 can take to attract interview calls

With my over 3 decades of experience spread over sales, recruitment and job search coaching , I have observed that there is one major and common hurdle which job seekers over 50 years of age face in receiving interview calls. It is the ‘mindset’ of most hiring managers- “ Candidates above 50 have multiple limitations and hence younger professionals are a preferred hire”. Because it is a perception , it requires a well thought out strategy to overcome this challenge if one wants to receive interview calls. You would agree that there is no limitation in terms of potential when you are above 50. So then where is the the limitation? It is with the job search mode as ninety percent of candidates use traditional approaches.

Let me share 13 unique steps that can help you achieve your goal.

Step 1] Change your  own mind set :

Just to remind you of Mark Twain’s quote “ Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” So don’t start the job search process with the thought  that you are old. There are n number of examples of people making a great success of their careers after they crossed 50. Harland Sanders, founder of KFC was in his late fifties when he founded KFC. Roget Invented the Thesaurus at Age 73 and the list can go on. The most crucial step is to constantly work towards changing your own mindset that you are old. Easier said than done, but it certainly is possible for every individual to focus on his/her unique strengths, the richness of experience and absorb them mentally and shift the thinking towards the beauty of unlimited possibilities that exist.

Step 2]  Take  up freelance consulting assignments :

While you are employed in the job or even if you are currently jobless, it is essential to start engaging yourself with consulting assignments and become a self employed professional. Print out a small quality of visiting cards ( does not cost more than Rs.200 to Rs.300 for 100 cards) to give a  professional touch to your service. Most senior professionals feel that it difficult to procure assignments but small and mid sized growing companies would welcome your experience, inputs and advice on different areas like how to implement systems, marketing, sales, business development and so on. You may choose to do it over the weekends. Do not benchmark  your earning  in the start of your assignment because importantly you would be profiling yourself as an independent consultant which  pays rich dividends as time goes by. Also, companies generally  prefer to hire candidates who are currently employed and being  self employed is perceived positively. So you start scoring  slightly better on this front.

Step  3] Don’t forget to network with alumni and ex employers :

Your alumni would have online groups or if not, they will be available to reconnect on the LinkedIn platform. Improve your network because they may be working with companies who would be potential employers for you to try. These are good sources for you to ask for recommendations and references.

Step 4] Avoid the mental trap of not sharpening the saw :

Don’t allow yourself to be perceived as outdated. Keep reinventing yourself constantly. As the good old saying goes,  “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got“- Albert Einstein. Keep learning and evolving by gaining a cross section of experience within your domain and keep upgrading your skills. You can demonstrate these traits with examples of success while presenting your candidature.

Step  5] Are you adaptable? :

In today’s day and age, things change dramatically and the pace at which things are changing, you need to prove that you have always adapted to different work situations. This is an important trait where the younger professionals score better in this area. Take the extra effort to document success stories of your adaptability which can be used while communicating with potential hiring managers.

Step 6] Avoid asking potential employers directly for a job:

It is important that you start by building  a basic value based  relationship with potential employers before you ask them  for a job. Your research on the company, the detailed homework done on the requirement on the job, finding a match between  your exceptional and rich experience are inputs you may use to showcase your interest level and value that you get to the table.

Step 7] Start Blogging:

Start a blog of your own. Sharing your experiences of management over the years maybe once a month and 12 times a year will be  helpful to many. The less experienced professionals can learn from your success stories.

Step 8] Work closely with a Recruitment Agency :

Without assuming that a recruitment agency will present your candidature because you have shared your Resume, do as much homework as you would do with the employer companies. Study the specific clients’ needs handled by the recruitment agency and then send customised applications and follow up with the recruiter giving them clear reasons of your fitment. Only then will you stand out as a candidate and the recruiter will be motivated to present your case.

Step 9]  Develop a customised Cover letter in an unconventional format :

A general cover letter introducing yourself will have no impact. Remember with the age perception to be handled, your every approach needs to make you stand out. And a cover letter is necessary to induce the hiring manager to click and open your Resume. Focus on the following in the letter:

A] Emphasise on the richness of your years of experience and pick up one or two areas of the pain points in the job which you have successful handled with improved results over the years.

B] Focus on the years of repeated success rate on various areas because younger candidates with lesser experience will not have the depth of  experience in the domain like you do.

C] Your experience, wisdom and maturity in handling teams with man management ability should be included prominently. It will take years for younger candidates to  reach the experience level of handling team situations of varied nature like size and scale, gender, seniority, geographic locations and so on.

D] Briefly showcase your fitness levels by adding a point on your high energy levels – both mentally and physically.

Step 10] Resume should be customised and within 2 pages :

A general Resume which runs into 3 or more pages will reduce the  chances of attracting the attention of the hiring managers or recruitment agencies. Customising your Resume with suitable keywords for each job application is a must.

Step 11] Updating your Resume on job portals :

For senior job seekers, job portal may not be the primary tool but it is an important route to be visible. But just the act of uploading your Resume may not be as effective. It is essential to  update it  on a weekly basis with the right keywords.

Step  12] Develop a strong LinkedIn profile :

In today’s day and age wherein hiring managers as well as recruitment consultants are sourcing  senior candidates through LinkedIn, it is a big loss for you if you do not have a powerful and professionally written LinkedIn profile. There are experts who write it because they have the knack  of using suitable online keywords and building your profile with a powerful vocabulary.

Step 13]  Maintaining good fitness levels:

Needless to mention, you need to take care of your fitness levels by eating right and exercising and keeping a positive mindset.

Follow the above 13 steps and you will be well on your way to winning over the mindset of the hiring manager and the number of relevant interview calls you receive will improve.

Best Wishes!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO

Aspiration Jobs and Aspiration Plus

Aspiration Plus is a job search and interview assistance service. If it interests you, please  click link  or contact Rohit on 9833512086 or mail him on rohit.aspirationjobs@gmail.com.

Are you treating your LinkedIn Profile as a Resume?

I have come across many job seekers who develop their Resume and then simply copy paste the content into their LinkedIn profile. If that is the case, there lurks the danger of you coming across as a commodity and an excellent opportunity to brand yourself is lost. A Resume is viewed by a hiring manager for the sole purpose of shortlisting candidates. While a LinkedIn Profile  is viewed by the same hiring manager with a slightly different frame of mind wherein he/she spends some time  to evaluate because the format is interactive and allows variety. With my experience of dealing with hiring managers, let me share 4 key differences which will help you appreciate that both need to be  treated distinctly.

1] Application vs Profile :

A Resume is received by a prospective employer with a clear objective that it is an application for a job. So the Hiring manager will actively get engaged only if it is well written, achievement oriented and customised. While a LinkedIn profile will be viewed even when you are passive about job search. What attracts the hiring manager in LinkedIn is your branding. Some features that showcase it are  a clear headline, summary, PPT presentations and  recommendations.

2] Active vs Passive:

A Resume is used to connect with prospective hiring companies primarily when you are seeking a job. While LinkedIn Profile offers you an opportunity on an ongoing basis to  build your network with prospective employers as well as with customers.

3] Direct vs developmental:


The LinkedIn platform offers the opportunity  to initially interact with potential employers and develop a relationship through value additions whereas a Resume has it’s limitation of being seen directly as an application for a job. It does not allow you any buffer time to engage with the hiring manager.

4] Limited vs holistic:

A Resume is a 2 pager document which when well written should motivate the hiring manager to meet you.But it has few limitations like  any attachment separately showcasing a presentation may not necessarily  attract attention. While LinkedIn  offers you the platform to attach PPT presentations or media coverage of achievements and so on which can be in general reflecting your areas of expertise. It presents your candidature more holistically.

 

Do keep these tips in mind while you are writing your Resume and LinkedIn Profile.

#jobsearchtips

Best Wishes!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO

Aspiration Plus is a job and interview assistance service to handhold you with a job search strategy. Website : http://aspirationplus.com/. If it interests you, please contact Rohit on 9833512086 or rohit.aspirationjobs@gmail.com for further information

Are your frequent job shifts the biggest hurdle in receiving interview calls?

In my coaching sessions, I come across many mid to senior level job seekers who are not only capable but also suitable for many jobs ; but because of the frequent job shifts, they do not even receive interview calls . The primary reason for the lack of opportunities coming their way is the use of a ‘run of the mill’ approach towards a job search. We need to remember that we all live in a world where perception is reality. And frequent job shifts is perceived negatively by most employers and it requires an unconventional approach while reaching out to prospective employers.

The focus needs to be on presenting your candidature with a variety of learning from each job shift and your performance delivery bringing in  value which makes you stand out as a candidate. To receive relevant interview calls, one needs to take some steps during the beginning stage of the job hunt.

Few key things that you need to do if your candidature is reflective of the so called job hopping problem:

1] Functional story based Resume :

A chronological Resume is the end of a beginning. World wide research has proven that a hiring manager takes 30 seconds to read the initial part ( one fourth) of your Resume and decides whether to read any further. One needs to remember that amongst thousands of applications, the HR /Hiring manager does not have the time to evaluate a Resume in detail. Hence, a display of tenures in the beginning of a Resume is by itself a non starter and your profile gets rejected.

Develop a strong 2 pager Resume with focus on your domain expertise , a display of core skills, a strong headline title to position you and stories of achievements with measurable results making up the major content. Mention just a one liner reason for job shifts presenting them in a positive light under each tenure; however this needs to be done tactfully.

2] Customised Solution letter :

I prefer calling it a Solution letter instead of a cover note which should be customised for each job application presenting you as a solution provider for the pain point of the job. To excite the hiring manager to meet you, demonstrate by mentioning one success story which find’s that connect with the job’s requirement. If you apply for 15 jobs, each solution letter should be different because every pain point is different. Remember one size does not fit all. Importantly, keep in mind that the objective of this solution letter is to motivate the hiring manager to open your Resume.

3] Network using LinkedIn :

Develop a strong LinkedIn profile with a powerful Summary which differentiates you on the basis of your strengths and positions you in your field. While developing your Profile, keep in mind how you want your target audience to feel about you. Use the Profile actively and start building value based relationships with your network like with ex bosses, alumni batch mates, ex colleagues , prospective hiring managers , HR managers, recruitment agencies. Sharing of valuable research findings with them in only one option. Think of how else can you develop and strengthen your relationship first instead of just asking for a job. While one is anxious to get called for an interview but you cannot be seen as desperate or else the effort boomerangs. Then once your perceived value has improved, the prospective employers are open to considering your Resume because their attention mentally shifts from the concern of frequent job shifts to what you bring to the table.

4] Recommendations :

Write to people who know you well professionally like ex bosses, ex colleagues, clients, vendors and ask for recommendations specifically regarding your domain strengths and achievements. That helps because a third party gets in the objectivity .

5] Recruitment Agencies :

While approaching them, don’t be defensive about your job changes. With a well written Resume and a Solution letter, keep the focus on the connect you have with their clients’ requirement. Remember that the consultancy makes money by placing you so they will be motivated to present your candidature to their clients provided you show them how you can be the most suitable candidate. You need to meet/ connect with recruiters from the reputed consultants and present the value you get specifically to each of their clients ( not a generalised  approach). Study the pain points of each of their clients and when you connect with the recruiter, keep the focus on how you are a solution provider to each of their client. Devise a different tailor made pitch for every prospective employer. An overall professional approach from your side makes you stand out as a candidate and the consultant will start appreciating your effort and your relevant experience.

Taking these 5 steps at the start of your job search will help you overcome the challenge of not receiving interview calls because of the negative perception of frequent job shifts. And long before you know, you will be sitting in front of hiring manangers  and acing the interview.

Best of Luck!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder and CEO – Aspiration Plus

Expert in unconventional job search and interview strategy.

Aspiration Plus is a Job & Interview assistance service. Over 1500 professionals across industries have availed of our service in the past two and a half years. Our website is http://aspirationplus.com/. In case it interests you, please call  Rohit on 7021275146 or mail rohit.aspirationjobs@gmail.com with cc to Sahil on sahil@aspirationjobs.com.

 

 

7 effective probes for interviewers to get the right fit in a candidate

With my experience of over 3 decades, I come across many instances where in the interviewers do not look beyond the obvious and miss out on critical assessments ending up with hiring mistakes. Very few select organisations have established HR practices to aid the preparation on part of the interviewer and it  is assumed by most hiring managers that just a glance at a Resume, and questions to ask will start naturally following. While it is true that with your experience as a HR professional or a Line manager , you may naturally come up with general common questions, it is only when you have prepared that you are able to unfold what lies beneath the response. We all know that while there are multiple tools like assessment tests and so on used during the recruitment process, the interview still remains the most widely used one and in many situations, it is the only tool used. So with my experience of interviewing as well as coaching job seekers on acing the interview, let me share with you 7 probes which you as a hiring manager can use to understand what actually is meant by the response of a candidate:

1] Tell me something about yourself.

Common response: “I have 15 years experience in hospitality industry and have worked for some of the reputed brands and with a post graduation degree in management I have excelled in my career ” .

Probe : Since this description provided is already mentioned in the Resume,look for whether the candidate is able to present his strengths and expertise as per the requirement of the job applied for. It will give you pointers regarding his interest level as well as suitability. It should not be a general description about the candidate’s background and experience.

2] How do you think you suit this role?

Common response: “ I am a sales professional with 15 years experience who is passionate about building customer relationships and have delivered sales targets. I know how to convert leads and am persistent. I can do the same for your organisation”

Probe : Look for how much is the candidate able to co relate his/her experience to the KRA’s of job role applied for. There should have been detailed homework done on the organisation and the pain points of the job ( indicates interest level) and the candidate should clearly be able to focus on matching his/her expertise to the  requirement.

3] Tell me something about your strengths?

Common Response : I have extremely high order of communication skills, am good at building relationships , can motivate teams , and am extremely committed ( such an  answer is focused on general strengths).

Probe : Look for suitability of specific strengths pertaining to the job. Probe further by asking candidate to talk about the related strengths .

4] What are your areas of weaknesses ?

Common responses: ‘I don’t think I have many weaknesses” OR something like ‘ I sometimes tend to overwork’.

Probe: Look for any kind of weakness mentioned which may directly impact the job performance . That can be a red alert. For example low expertise in using tally for an accounts role can be a hindrance to perform the job. Also pay attention to whether the response is the rehearsed and canned kind. Most importantly focus on the attitude of the candidate which should be of learning and evolving, being open minded and having a positive mindset.

5] Why did you leave your last job? ( candidate being currently jobless)

Common response with a defensive body language : There was downsizing in my company OR did not find the work culture conducive OR role was changed and responsibility was reduced OR could not get along with my boss OR want to shift industry so decided to quit.

Probe: Be sensitive to how genuine and confident is the body language. Is it folded arms ? or wide open confident body language? Look for the previous employment tenure history – does it reflect stability? Ask for references and see the quality of references and the spontaneity of the response in providing the reference names. And as a test , ask if you can do the reference checks then and there at the very moment? See the reaction of the candidate to this kind of a stimuli. Then try to maturely and with an unbiased approach understand the reasons provided.

6] Can you give me an example of how you would handle a similar XYZ ( challenging) kind of a scenario.

Common response: I have handled these kind of situations and have achieved success. I can do the same and I love to handle challenges. Once I was handling a similar situation in my company and we achieved our goals.

Probe: Look for if a candidate can share specific real time stories of his/her success to back up the handling of the scenario. It should not be general responses and it should reflect how the candidate individually contributed not through team work. Does he/she reflect a clear understanding of the challenge , offer a strategy of handling it and was there a measurable result?

7] What are your salary expectations?

Common response : Expect 25% to 30% hike. Or As per industry standards.

Probe : Ask the candidate to prioritise 4 factors in order of his/her importance in the current career shift.

1] Compensation

2] Job profile and career prospects

3] Work culture

4] Relationships with colleagues and seniors .

The response will provide an indication  to you of how important is the money aspect. Then you can use the inputs to discuss your offer holistically at the appropriate stage.

 

Using the above will improve the suitability factor while hiring talent.

Best Wishes and happy hiring 🙂

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 key benefits of a well written Resume.

Unfortunately, 80% of the Resumes that I have come across reflect poor application of thought by a job seeker and I always think to myself “what an opportunity lost?”. The lack of focus on writing a strong Resume is primarily because it remains an undermined tool in the job seeker’s mind. It’s kind of ‘taken for granted’ because either a job seeker feels that being an achiever, he/she has all skills that are in demand or is well networked with professionals and recruitment agencies who will put them up to the hiring managers and many do not have the time to invest in writing a powerful Resume.

But we also know that  job search can be a frustrating experience for job seekers and one cannot risk and underutilise even a single tool which is an integral part of the marketing mix for promoting a candidature. Just like in marketing, even if the product is good but the distribution is weak, the consumer will not be able to purchase it and one loses to competition. Similarly a job seeker loses out on opportunities because his/her Resume has not succeeded in attracting the attention of a hiring manager who has to go through thousands of Resumes.

With my experience of over 3 decades, I know that a well written customised Resume combined with a powerful cover letter which connects with the job requirement improves the scope of getting a job seeker an interview call. A Resume plays the role of a silent salesman and quality time needs to be invested while writing it .

While you might be aware of them, let me share with you, as per my experience, the reasons for a Resume to be an important tool:

1] The first impression is the last impression : A Resume is a document which is used to present your candidature without you being physically present to explain your suitability. You may be competent but a poorly presented Resume creates a poor impression and you may lose out by not being called for a meeting. Many times qualified candidates get rejected because of poor body language and it is the same if the Resume does not speak well for itself.

2] Widens the net : A good Resume opens up doors of opportunities for you to apply at multiple companies across industries and domains and goes beyond any kind of limitation like knowing the hiring managers. This enhances your chances of being called for a meeting.

3] Customising : A Resume offers the scope of customising it as per the job requirement and backing it up with the impactful cover letter. This again, motivates the hiring manger to want to meet you.

4] Success stories : A Resume is an opportunity to present your stories of success and build momentum.

5] Interview performance : During an interview, it prompts the interviewer to ask some relevant questions. So it is critical that the focus is on your achievements and not responsibilities so that you get a starting point of presenting your strengths.

6] Silent Salesman : It serves as a marketing tool like a direct mailer to promote your candidature.

7] Differentiates : It allows you to differentiate yourself ( within 2 pages) by presenting your individual strengths and hence your candidature.

It is a good idea  to combine your Resume with a powerful LinkedIn profile because in this digital era, it gives you a cutting edge.

Hopefully I have given you some ‘food for thought’ to improve your Resume and widen your net of searching for a job.

Happy job hunting !! ( the unconventional way)

Sarabjeet Sachar – Founder & CEO , Aspiration♦Recruitment♦Expert in unconventional strategy for job search & interview success.

 

 

How to respond to a job offer lower than expected and win!!

Vijay ( name changed for matter of confidentiality) , a professional with 12 years experience, was disappointed because he got a job offer which was below his expectations in terms of compensation. While he really liked the job profile and the organisation, he felt that the offer under discussion was not what he deserved. He had a successful track record and was happy with his current company but what attracted him to the new role was the scope of a larger responsibility which he was excited about. Now, he did want to lose out on the offer but at the same time wanted to negotiate for a better compensation package.

He consulted us on what should he do? And as we all know, negotiation requires tact and is an art.We offered him a non traditional approach and few options to handle the offer but negotiation does remain a challenge for most professionals because human tendency is to be reactive. And there is a thin line dividing negotiation and haggling. It is important to remember that a negotiation can take place when an offer is at discussion stage. Once the offer has been signed and sealed, the scope to bargain is as good as nil. So here is the  approach I advised him to take :

1] Price value equation :- While the kind of offer that is made by an employer is on the basis of the grades within the organisation for the specific position, it is primarily based upon  the kind of value /perceived value one  gets to the table. Generally speaking, if the price value equation is imbalanced, the offer would not meet your expectations. Reasons for the imbalance could be many. But the most crucial one is that during the interview process you have not successfully presented your merit in total for the job? There  still remains a gap in the mind of the employer which requires to be filled. An  employer should be fully convinced that you are the right candidate and stand head above shoulders over other candidates for you to get a deserving offer.

Now, since the interview process is over, you need to handle this offer acceptance stage with kid gloves. It should not be considered as haggling or else it can back fire and there lurks the danger of you losing the offer. I am going to suggest few steps which are  non traditional but they will be worth your while. Importantly, your confidence level in performing on the job needs to be sky high for you to negotiate ( but without sounding or coming across as arrogant).

You can do the following on hearing from the employer:

A] Do not react: Just respond that you will evaluate and revert soon ( though not advisable to ask for much time ).

B] Re- evaluate your matching skills :Re run the interactions you had through all the rounds of interviews , the homework you had done on the job and company. What are the inputs you gathered which are most crucial for the job to be performed successfully ( business pain point)? You now have the advantage of knowing what the prospective employer is looking for?

C] Fill in the blanks : Pick up your unique experience or expertise which will help the company performing successfully on the job. Perhaps you did not get the opportunity to fully demonstrate the aspect during the interview/s. For example, there could still be a underlying concern whether you will be able to handle senior management team members within your team and align successfully with them across various departments . This maybe be one very crucial aspect of the job. You can demonstrate once again with specific examples that you have done this over the past few years successfully . Suggest to them that they may do a reference check on this part specifically if they wish ( reflects confidence). Prepare a presentation on a critical aspect of the deliverable on how you will attain positive results within the initial 3 to 6months ( stick your neck out).For example, if it is a sales role, what kind of customers you can get on board and how much revenue would that translate into.

D] Meet face to face : Seek an appointment with the concerned HR department or the line manager ( whichever the case may be). If a Recruitment Agency is involved, it would be a better approach to first route your points through the Agency and seek an appointment with their client.

E] Make the presentation: First appreciate the offer, thank them and tell them that you are interested because of the prospects it offers. Then show enthusiasm and excitement about the job and present all the points ( demonstrating your unique value ) once again. Show them that you are ready to commit delivery of results/objectives. Make a very brief presentation.The gap can be covered up by demonstrating your value.

2]Market standard Salary  :Then present to them the kind of compensation professionals in your field with your kind of experience and background are already getting.The industry wise benchmark salaries across domains is available online ( it will be indicative).

3] Range is better : Assuming you have been offered say 10 to 15% hike by the employer. And you expected 25% . Then depending upon the specific situation, you can ask for a hike in terms of a range ( 22 to 28 % ) instead of a single digit figure. Asking for a range always allows flexibility and leaves room for negotiation for the employer. And assuming you succeed in getting a 22%, it is fair because negotiation is all about a win win feeling for both parties involved.

4] Performance linked variable : All employers need to be sure of  tangible delivery of goods for them to offer you an increase . As an option, discuss with the employer to add a performance linked component to the package. That  can give comfort to the employer.  Can the performance linked component be offered every three months to you on quarterly set objectives? Explore that option too.

Optional approaches ( to be used discreetly) :

5] An early performance review : Explore the option of reviewing your salary within a period of say 6 months instead of one year.

6] Loan :Can they offer you some amount as a  company loan for say repaying your housing loan?

7] Joining Bonus : Can a one time joining bonus be considered?

8] Higher Conveyance : In case you are relocating to another city,costs of commuting can increase. If that is the case, you may use it as a negotiation point.

Assuming all the above tools do not yield the result that you expect and the offer stands as it is. Then seriously evaluate the job prospects and the solid platform it offers for you to perform exceedingly well ( do not miss the woods for the trees). If it does, then decide to surprise the company with outstanding performance and be a star employee so that you cover up for the monetary loss within or in less than a year’s time.

Happy job hunting!!

Best!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO, Aspiration -♦Recruitment♦Expert in non traditional strategy for job search & interview success.

How To Ensure That Your Resume Is Read?

An effective customised ‘Cover Note’ can help you achieve that objective. First, let me tell you How NOT TO DO it!

Dear…………….

Please find attached my CV .I am a professional with 16 years of sales experience and have grown up the ladder to lead a team in the West. My strengths are distribution and vendor management and have a hands on approach. Please let me know if there is a suitable vacancy”.

My experience has been that 90 to 95% of the cover notes are weak and general in nature which means opportunities lost by candidates. A Cover Letter is similar to the ‘Title of a Book’ which  makes a positive difference to it’s sale. One does not take away the fact that the content of the Book has to be worthwhile, but a poor Title can adversely affect the sales of a Good Book.

The objective is to attract the attention of the hiring manager and motivate him/her to open your Resume.You don’t have to tell the whole story in a Cover Note. It has to be short and crisp but focus very briefly on that aspect of your background which helps in solving the employer’s problem.

Here are tips to write an effective Customised Cover Note which would motivate the reader( prospective employer) to read your Resume ( my examples are from the Media sales domain for reference but can be applied across industries):
1] Brief profile:– Right in the beginning itself, it is important to introduce yourself by mentioning areas of domain expertise so that it spells out  what your core area of strength is along with the industry experience. Importantly, share one unique quality/ achievement that attracts attention and makes you stand out as a candidate.

For example “ I am a Media sales professional with an overall experience of 16 years in the Corporate category across Print, TV and Radio with reputed organizations X, Y and Z. Well networked with established relationships in the Delhi market and have been recognised  to successfully convert 8 to 9 out of 10 Non Advertisers .”
2] Address The Pain Point:- Do a lot of research and homework on the problem/s ( pain points) that the prospective employer is facing. For example assuming you are applying for a Regional Media Sales role. And your research feedback throws up information that the Group does not attract Ads for three categories vs the competition(pain point) though their reach and other parameters qualify them to be in the Ad.campaign. And if you have proven ability to bring in different perspective to crack non  advertisers specifically from those three categories, highlight that as a point in your Cover Note.Which also means a tweaked Cover Note for each job application.
3] Challenges Handled: Spell out one challenge that you have handled successfully. Employers like to meet candidates who think out of the box. It could be any challenge that you handled ( think about it and you will come up with few).

For example “I have successfully converted non advertisers in Print and attracted them on board which has helped me overachieve my targets”.
You may mention ….. “I understand that there is a need with ABC organisation to grow the categories in the XYZ region ( addressing the pain point). I have been a top performer for the Ad.categories like Auto, Telecom, Textiles and FMCG wherein I grew the market share from X % to Y % in one year’s time and overachieved my target”.
4] Luring the Employer:-Finally tempt the interviewer to meet you by mentioning something like “There are certain key strategies which I have used to achieve my goal and they have been appreciated by both, my seniors and my clients. My achievements and Recognition Awards are spelt out in my Resume ( tempting the reader to open your Resume) and I would be happy to personally share the execution tools which are applicable to your organisation as well and can help improve performance. Look forward to meeting you to discuss further”.
Follow these and before you know, your Resume would be read and well, you could be sitting in the interview room 🙂

Would be happy to answer any related Queries you may have.

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO, Aspiration- Expert in job search assistance & interview success.

10 Major ‘Sins’ In A Resume

With my experience of reading hundreds of Resume on a daily basis and dealing with employers’ feedback , I do believe that a well developed Resume does play a critical role in creating a powerful impression about you as a candidate ( brand). Certainly it influences the decision of meeting you or not. And many times candidates fall into the trap of not paying much heed to their Resume because they feel that if they know people in the decision making capacity, they will get a job. Knowing people is good but doesn’t it limit your job search options? A well written Resume can widen your net by professionally showcasing your talent in front of decision makers who may not know you but would become eager to meet you.That opens up doors of so many opportunities.

Let me list down the 10 Sins never to commit while writing a Resume:

1] Over 2 pages: A Resume has to entice a prospective employer to meet you. It is important to pay attention all critical and unique  points and condense them into 2 pages without losing the impact.

2] Ignoring the beginning : Worldwide research has proven that a prospective Recruiter would spend not more than 30-50  seconds to decide whether to read the rest of the Resume. If the initial content of your Resume is not engaging enough, you lose the opportunity of being called for a meeting. ( For example Residence address need not be mentioned at the top of the first page as it wastes precious space. It should be at the bottom of the 2nd page and there is no need to write the POSTAL address; just city and suburb should suffice).

3] Forgetting YOU: Most Resumes are typically written in a Traditional format. Chronological, Functional and so on. While it remains acceptable,YOU as an individual Brand are lost. You need to write it in a story telling format using a conversational tone.

4] Words are ‘copy paste’ : It is common experience that it gets difficult to differentiate between the Resume of candidate A vs candidate B. So why would a reader be compelled to meet you? Your vocabulary has to find the connect with the reader.

5] Spelling errors: It creates a negative impression about an individual and he/she is perceived to be possessing a careless attitude. It is a big put off because it gives a feeling to the reader that this is how the candidate would approach his/her work. Remember the first impression is the last impression.

6] Irrelevant information: If you have 15 years work experience, there is no need to elaborate what your achievements were as a college student.

7] Focusing on job responsibilities and not achievements: You are going to be hired for what you achieved and not what you were responsible for. So there is no point in elaborating job responsibilities( they become obvious from your job title). Just a brief one liner is enough. Then focus on sharing your stories of success.

8] Elaborating past experience beyond 10 years : The environment as we all know is very dynamic. The employer is interested primarily in knowing about what you’ve evolved and are you adaptable? There is no need to detail your success stories of your past tenure beyond 10 years. Just snippets are good enough.

9] Tampering with Tenure : Many times candidates feel that either knocking off a tenure completely or tampering with the period is required as the background was irrelevant. Unless it was just a very short tenure like less than a month, build a story around your lessons learnt and mention it. Importantly, if discovered at a later stage ( after you are employed) , it becomes an unrepairable damage to your credibility which is not worth affecting at any cost.

10] Not tweaking and customising: As they say One size does not fit all. Studying the pain point of the prospective employer and then customising your Resume adds power to your Resume and makes it compelling for the Recruiter to call you.

Avoid these SINS and you are well on your way to receiving an interview call or if not, at least a response from the hiring manager.

Best!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO- Aspiration, Job search assistance & interview coaching expert

10 Things You Can Do As A Job Seeker Above 50

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

Generally speaking, it remains a challenge for many to get interview calls on crossing age of 50. And it is’nt that you are not qualified for the position.You might be suitable but it is about managing the general perception that people at that age are not open minded, low on energy levels, not up to date with technology and with different set of priorities at that later stage of a career. However when planned well and by focusing your efforts on the wealth of resources that you are equipped with at an enriched age , you can become a sought after candidate. But it is also good to remember that it’s a process  requiring steps to be taken to position you and takes some time before you start reaping the rewards.

Let me share with you 10 things which in my experience you can do which will help:

1] Changing your own mindset : This is the biggest challenge and needless to mention, it is a life long process across our various aspects . Right from your body language to your interactions and inputs, you as an individual need to come across as progressive. I know it is easier said than done , but we also know ‘No pain….No gain’.

2] Prepare a list of Target Companies : Recently when I was counseling a senior candidate from a Legal background, he shared that with his experience of 30 years, he had successfully handled IPO’s at every organization he worked with. I advised him to prepare a list of Companies which were about to launch IPO’s in the next few months and devise a search strategy accordingly. Identifying your area of expertise over years and focusing specific companies in that niche sets the right direction.

3] Active on LinkedIn : With the Digital medium becoming an integral part of our lives today and also of every organization, it helps beat the ‘perception’ – “ You Are OLD” when you are active on LinkedIn. It resonates your ‘learning’ ability to move with the times. Keeping your Profile up- to -date, posting thoughtful updates and being a participant in discussions on relevant groups helps. Few recommendations from younger team members who have loved being led by you is also worthwhile.

4] BLOG : Develop a BLOG of your own. Start sharing your perspectives and years of learning with the readers and the lesser experienced ones could gain value. Just once a month, you may write an interesting article. It helps position you as a brand amongst both, prospective employers as well as companies/start ups seeking management advice ( who can be your potential customers when you decide to do independent consulting at a later stage).

5] Use your Network Resources: At 50 plus, you would have developed the wealth of a strong Network by sheer work experience of so many years. It only means that you need to re-connect with them and activate your relationships . And believe me, with the social media platforms, it is far easier to do so today. The Network Sources can be a big source for leads  :

  • Alumni Groups ( College, management institutes)
  • Classmates
  • Former colleagues
  • Ex Bosses
  • Former Team members
  • Professional Associations ( like BMA – Bombay Management Association)
  • Teaching Faculty Groups ( in case you have been a guest lecturer)

6] Resume needs to be updated:Your Resume needs to be updated and be with the times ( 2 pager) . The recent past 8 to 10 years experience needs to be elaborated rather than the entire 30 years. Customizing your Resume for each job is critical. It should also reflect that you have kept yourself updated with the use of technology positioning you as a progressive individual. New innovative approaches used by you to solve problems displays you as an enthusiastic  ‘learner’. As it was said by Mahatma Gandhi “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. Avoid mentioning skills or experience which might reflect being outdated. Videos are the in thing, not so much of long PPT presentations.

7] Cover Note : This again should capture and focus on points which you as an experienced professional bring to the table. Like Diversity , Maturity of going through the crests and troughs of professional challenges, Great work ethics and Stability in thinking backed by positive results. At the same time the tone and presentation of your note should showcase you as an open minded individual who has absorbed the latest happenings and put them to good use.

8] Speaking engagements : Accept speaking engagements with management institutes, professional bodies and other relevant platforms. Prepare and present unique perspectives with your experience on the subject. It helps you to be top of mind.

9] Energy levels : Needless to mention, a well maintained healthy body and minddemonstrating high energy levels are essential to impress the prospective employer.

10] Being active on Managing Committees : There are management associations or other professional groups which offer a platform catering to the development needs of organisations both big and small . Being on the management committee or leading projects for such groups helps you to position yourself as an active resource for any company. You might do it for free now, but over time, people at the right places see the value you bring to the table and when there is a suitable opportunity, chances of your getting a lead and preference are high.

These TIPS would certainly catch the eye of the prospective employers making you a WISE (not the so called OLD) candidate being sought after 🙂

Would be happy to answer any queries in ‘comments’ below or you can mail me on sarabjeet@aspirationjobs.com.

Best!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder  & CEO – Aspiration – Job search and Interview success expert

6 Situations When A Candidate Can Accept An Offer At Par Or A Lower Compensation

It sounds painful to accept an offer at a CTC ( cost to company) which is either at par or lower than your current one. Right? The answer to this question I know is subjective. But it’s similar to life situations when we, at times, consciously accept things which give us short term pain to achieve long term pleasure.

I am in no way saying that you need to under value yourself in the job market. You certainly need to keep the focus on your strengths and worthiness you bring to the table. However with my experience of handling thousands of candidates, I have come across situations wherein candidates miss the woods for the trees and do not evaluate the offer in it’s totality.

If the overall prospects of the job offer are good and you as a job seeker currently find yourself in a challenging situation, evaluating an offer at a lower CTC or at par does make sense.

It is important to evaluate an offer holistically rather than just focusing on the immediate gain /loss in terms of money. Let me list down situations where in such an offer is worth considering:

Situation 1 :If you have been jobless for some time now and in spite of your structured efforts for a job search, a concrete offer has not materialised.

As you know, getting hired depends upon multiple variables which might not necessarily be under your control. Maybe your experience is limited to a specific niche or you are competing on the age factor with youngsters. And age being more of a perception challenge, requires a different kind of approach to handle it.

The reason you are without a job could have been a sudden decision on part of your past employer, maybe down sizing or any other like there could have been issues with the man management style of your boss. But the fact is that being jobless is painful.

So take a decision considering the other aspects besides the monetary loss like

  • Job profile
  • Work culture of the company
  • Career prospects
  • Stability offered
  • Opportunity to learn and develop new skills
  • Brand reputation of the company.

If some of the above outweigh the money offered, it is worth considering the opportunity because within say one year, you will be in a position to  cover up also for the monetary loss you experienced while accepting the offer. It is better than being without any income for another few months and increasing the career gap. You can always continue building your career once you get employed. Remember, the larger the gap, the more challenging it becomes to get your next job.

Situation 2 : If your current  CTC is exceptionally high as compared to industry standards for some reason. Maybe you have joined a start up wherein the tendency of employers is to give an exceptionally attractive hike to hire talent. Or, it can be that you have received a very recent salary hike in your current organisation .

Even in situations like these, if the overall prospects of the job are better and offers a stronger platform to make greater use of your skills, then a lower CTC or at par can be considered.

Situation 3 : The job offer gives you an opportunity to learn a new skill in a different domain or industry which you are certain will see a far better growth rate as compared to your current job.

For example if you are inclined to move from traditional media to the Digital space, and the offer is from a reasonably reputed brand with an enriching job role, it would propel your career on a fast track.

Situation 4 : In case you are keen to relocate to a particular region/city or have any other compelling personal reason, then also you can consider the offer.

In such cases, the compromise gets compensated by achieving a balance with your other priorities in life.

Situation 5 : You have made too frequent job shifts in your career span. Here again to handle the instability factor remains a challenge.

In case the offer is from a company which is relatively well established in the marketplace and has a track record of offering long term career prospects, then it is worth considering an adjustment on the salary front.

Situation 6 : The prospective employer is offering a lower fixed component but a high and attractive variable linked to performance.

If there is a track record of the company rewarding it’s employees with a better compensation linked to results, consider it. Evaluate the other aspects of the offer.

While as I mentioned in the beginning of my article that the decision is subjective, the above 6 situations can give you some food for thought so that you do not miss the woods for the trees. And decisions in such instances can help put your career back on track.

In case you have any queries, please feel free to ask in the ‘comments’ section below.

Best of luck!!

Sarabjeet Sachar

Founder & CEO- Aspiration- Recruitment and Job search assistance services