High contributors/long-time employees will rock an organization with news of an exit and need to take extra precautions before resigning.

1 — 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗮 𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗢𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿. Make sure you have signed the official offer before mentioning anything! A verbal offer won't cut it. You need to make sure nothing will fall through before notifying your current employer.

Recruiter Kelli Hrivnak adds, "Wait for the background check and any other contingencies to pass."

2 — 𝗟𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗼. What's in print might not reveal what is in practice. Your formal job description might not include your full scope. For a clean handoff, make sure everything has coverage.

3 —𝗟𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝗲𝘅𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗰𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽𝘀. Minimize interruptions for contracts and preferred partners by building relationships among your contacts and successor.

Loren Greiff of Portfolio Rocket adds to share client notes, such as likes and dislikes. "If you're you're the primary point of contact, you know the nuances better than anyone else, so best to ensure that relationship remains intact even when you're out the door!"

4 — 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗱𝗼𝗰𝘂𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱/𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗱? Create collateral/video on processes, shortcuts, company history, or legacy products/services that your organization can use moving forward.

Shelley Piedmont of Career GPS says, "I organized my online life into files and made a cheat sheet to find all critical material with my latest departure."

5 — 𝗜𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘆 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗿 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗶𝗿𝗲. If possible, offer a few referrals. Consider if the role should be divided into 1, 2, or 3 lower-level roles.

Katelyn Richards of Sweet Careers adds, "You might even be able to personally train your replacement to take some of the burden off of your company on your way out the door — this can go a long way to ensuring a smooth transition."

6 — 𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗼𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿? Consider who deserves 1:1 versus a group notification.

Matt Tooker of Next Chapter Career Transitions advises exiting employees to quickly notify your own boss, "Never, ever let her/him find out before you have the chance to break the news."

7 — 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗘𝘅𝗶𝘁 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄. At most, list 2-3 points and keep it focused on positive ideas to keep your network intact. If it sounds like complaining, you might not be ready to share.

8 — 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗮 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿. No guarantees they'll offer one, but if you're definitely leaving, you'll want to let them down easily.

If you're open to considering a counter, know what you would need to stay.

9 — 𝗪𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗹𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿. They won't remember what was said. Outline your intentions, timeline, key handoff points, and a clear end date.

Also, if you have a start date that extends a few months out and you have a financial cushion, consider if need headspace prior to the new role.

10 — 𝗪𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘆-𝘄𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝘀𝗸 𝗸𝗲𝘆 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗮𝗹. You can better control the voice, tone, and cadence of communications if you personally write it.

11 — 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀. Essentially, this is a Thank You letter for the company. Keep it positive!

Don't start bragging about your new role just yet. This piece of content is about appreciating the company/coworkers and leave a positive impression.

12 — 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘁. Similar to the internal letter, but for public consumption. It can be posted on your social platforms to notify of your formal departure.

13 — Individual 𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗲𝘀. Personal thank you notes should be reserved for your valued relationships and colleagues. Depending on the time of year, it might be appropriate to wrap it into your season's greetings.

14 — 𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀. Add value and show you care about your friends and colleagues outside your former role.

No clear cutoff? Wait until after you leave.

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TikTok Resumes were hailed as an opportunity to stand out—a replacement for cumbersome applications, stuffy resumes, and buttoned-up LinkedIn profiles. They thought it would be a great method to source DEI candidates who wouldn’t rate well through traditional talent funnels. Others said Gen Z hate applications, so we’ll search TikTok for those tough-to-fill service roles.

TikTok Resumes faced backlash due to fears of prejudice stemming from revealing protected class status early in the sourcing process. After working so hard to remove prejudicial content in resumes and leaning on ATS to avoid discrimination related to race, gender, etc., TikTok suggests we lead with our authentic, fun selves—ideally with a great backing track and lighting. However, what feeds the TikTok content machine might not be what works best for job seekers.

Asking job seekers to create a TikTok Resume puts creators (and extroverts) at a distinct advantage. A larger portion of TikTok users consume content than create content. Many exceptional candidates just won’t read well onscreen, much less have the time, energy, and resources to put together a video resume for the platform.

Even if the stars align and you’re great on camera, not at risk for discrimination, and you have the time/tools, you could have some problems with audience. How many hiring managers or recruiters hang out on TikTok? Will they be the right ones?

Marketing and Creatives seem uniquely well-suited to the advantage of the platform. We’ve seen anecdotes about viral posts and hundreds of offers. It could happen! But what are the odds and is it worth the risk?

Thomas Powner of Career Thinker Inc. noted on LinkedIn that China’s ownership of ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, may keep companies from utilizing it as a sourcing tool (https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tompowner_do-you-need-a-digital-resume-in-2021-college-activity-6848936899260899328-nMEn). What company would want to relinquish ownership of their data when safer sourcing avenues exist?

If you decide it’s worth the risk, keep your TikTok Resume simple. Clearly pronounce your name and brand yourself or share your mission. Briefly list 3 strengths, accomplishments, or reasons someone should hire you. Some like to end by including a call to action, like reaching out in the near future.

If you’re uncomfortable with the TikTok platform, consider using LinkedIn Cover Story or posting a video resume on your professional website/portfolio. Possible benefits of a video resume include an opportunity to build rapport and humanize the candidate. Prerecording your introduction and value offering also allows you to control the narrative.

Almost all hiring organizations will conduct a background check and find your LinkedIn profile and any other supplementary content. The top 3-5 hits are generally perceived as true, so curate content that reflects well upon you.

Uncomfortable with the whole idea? Try another route altogether! If you decide to opt out, at this stage of the game, you’re probably not missing much.

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Updated: Dec 29, 2021

1) Lack Target

Whether content is subjected to an ATS or human reader, it should have a clear takeaway. Your target should be immediately and consistently evident. Soft skills, hard skills, and keywords should remain on theme like a red thread throughout your content.

The language should echo the job description to demonstrate your familiarity with the industry and showcase how well you would fit with the organization. Your content should speak to the hiring company's needs and pain points as uncovered in the job description and through networking conversations.

Each resume should be customized to reflect the target opening—the exact title listed at the top of the resume and the document named with the title for easy filing and reference.

2) Unclear Success Stories

Vague and unsubstantiated accomplishments fall flat. Provide context for each success story—use the SAR method (or PAR, CAR, SOAR, etc.) to relay stories with clarity and concision.

Keep it positive and, if possible, select stories that speak to the scope of the target role.

Include concrete numbers, dollars, and percents to add weight.

You might not think you have quantifiable accomplishments, but you do! Dig into each task or project and ask yourself about the before and after. Use % increase or % decrease calculations to uncover those numbers or estimate and appropriately couch your accomplishments as "approximately" or "estimated." If you are very early in your career and have only company-wide accomplishments, you can say you contributed to those accomplishments.

3) Out of Date

If hiring executives see a one-page resume in Times New Roman font with a street address, objective, and references available upon request, their first impression is “behind the times.” What makes it even worse? Tight, blocky formatting…

Modern resumes focus on outlining value to the hiring organization with a summary. Modern resumes have an airy aesthetic—larger fonts for eyes tired from heavy screen use and white space between sections and concepts for easier skimming and greater reader retention.

4) Wrong Career Stage

Sometimes job seekers see a template they like or have personal preferences with regard to style and content. What they don’t always see is the strategy at work behind the content. If using a fill-in-the-blank approach, it is all too easy to adopt a format that does not serve you well.

A few examples of using the content strategy:

  • Executives highlighting certifications or trying to list their entire work history? No doctor tells you he’s CPR certified. It would be weird. Same with executives—you reached this level for a reason, so it looks insecure to tout certifications or go too far back.

  • Non-tech recent grads placing tech skills at the top of the resume? Place tech skills early only if you’re in technology or possibly engineering fields. Microsoft Office and Google Suite are assumed skills.

  • A highly qualified manager with her degree listed first? Only recent grads with little to no experience should use this style.

  • A leader with task-focused content? Time to switch from individual contributor discussions to a higher-level approach.

5) Noise

Nothing kills your message faster than a busy resume—this could be in the form of design elements or wordiness.

In terms of layout and design, opt for visuals that highlight your skills, rather than distract from them. Most often, color should be a subtle tint rather than bright graphs or call-out boxes. The takeaway from these elements is most often “nice graph,” when we actually want the takeaway to be “excellent candidate.”

In terms of language, be wary of repeating content word for word (boring). Watch for egregious use of adjectives. To improve language strength and concision, consider the following:

  • Eliminate articles (a, an, the)

  • Delete unnecessary words/phrases like “in order to,” “that/which,” or “resulting in.”

  • Rephrase to eliminate forms of “to be” and other weak verbs like “assist,” “support,” or “help.”

6) Voice

Be wary of creeping into Jargonese. While you want to echo the language in the job description, you also want the content to sound like you, so you can speak to various phrases and topics the hiring committee may pull from your resume in an interview setting.

The last thing we want is for job seekers to respond “huh?” when a phrase is lifted from their own resume.

7) Crowd-Sourcing Tips

Many resume writers have different styles and perspectives, which is great! Problems can arise when job seekers crowd-source advice and combine a mishmash of styles to create—a mess. Even outside of curriculum vitae or Federal resumes, there are many different types of resumes:

  • Storytelling resumes with context and nuance (great for specialized or mission-focused execs).

  • ATS-focused resumes with keyword clusters and multiple titles (better for those who avoid networking).

  • Master resume listing all of your experience and accomplishments in great detail (helpful for those pursuing more than one career path and intending to customize resumes extensively for each role--not intended for submission as a whole)

  • Recruiter resumes with industry, company info and size, # of direct and indirect reports, to whom you reported, and budget amounts (fine for those pursuing lateral moves within the same industry).

  • Networking resumes with a photo and a few quotes from internal referrals/advocates (these work well for in-person events).

Many job seekers muddy the waters with a combination of the above styles, compromising the effectiveness of the content strategy.

8) Not Considering Your Job Search Style

  • Passive Search: If you’re working 60+ hours a week, networking will be tough to squeeze into your schedule! Opt for an ATS-friendly resume and/or a resume that caters to recruiter interests.

  • Active Search: For those networking and reaching out to hiring managers, plan to customize your resume for each conversation and role. Speaking to a recruiter? The recruiter may ask you to include those metrics they like to lean on for making quick decisions. Setting up an informational interview with an industry leader? Keep it broad and transferrable to remain open to any number of possibilities.

  • Ambitious Search: Branding, gaining visibility, and playing the long-game become important. With this approach, a job seeker may leverage multiple resume styles; for example, a longform storytelling resume with shading for one-on-one career conversations, a succinct black and white resume for online submission, and an overview resume with photo for easy recall at networking events.

9) Don’t Address Underlying Concerns

Many DIY resumes fail to offset concerns about candidacy, often related to tenure length or career progression.

  • Lack of Focus: Low retention

  • Age Discrimination, Young: Unpolished with peers/customers, afraid to dive in

  • Age Discrimination, Old: Out of date on tech/industry, talk down to younger colleagues

  • Long Tenures: Resist change, stagnancy

  • Short Tenures: Opportunist, lack basic requirements

  • Job Hoppers: Ill-suited for corporate roles

  • Overqualified: Conflict with leaders, poor retention

  • Overly Academic: Thinker, not a doer; difficulty with ambiguity

  • Former Entrepreneur/Consultant: Won’t take direction well, not a team player

  • Peaked: Poor ROI, disengaged

Careful use of adjectives and finessing the work history can help alleviate concerns, but most job seekers simply list all of their tasks chronologically and hope the hiring team will overlook any issues.

10) Leave $ on the Table

The worst mistake job seekers make with a DIY resume is that they leave money on the table.

If your internal voice says, “Agh… that’s good enough,” then you’re probably not going to land exciting offers.

You should be delighted with your resume! It highlights your proudest professional moments and speaks for you when you can’t be in the room.

Moreover, there is no excuse for a lackluster resume. Career centers, nonprofits, LinkedIn, Clubhouse, and paid professionals are readily available.

No one can make you care about your resume, but it sure is obvious if you don’t…

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