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Posts Tagged ‘Nick Corcodilos’

Slim Down That Resume

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These days, most folks say that a resumé can be two pages if you really need it.

But headhunter Nick Corcodilos in his latest Ask The Headhunter newsletter (abridged version here) questions whether you really need that second page.

“At least 30% of any resume is jargon that’s in all resumes,” he writes. “The ‘objective,’ for example, is purely wasted space. Look at five resumes, and you’ll see similar jargon and gibberish about wanting a job with a growth-oriented company, and good opportunities, and a progressive work environment, where you can make a positive contribution as a team player by ‘working with people.’…Gimme a break. Gag me with a spoon.”

What else can you cut? Jargon. It doesn’t make you sound like you know the industry, it makes you dense and unclear. “If you can’t explain it so your grandmother or 12 year old daughter would understand it, leave it out,” writes Nick.

Finally, remember the resume should show solutions. “Managers are lousy at figuring out—from a resume—how you will profit their business. So you have to spoon feed them and explain it quickly.” (Nick doesn’t say it, but your cover letter should be doing this too.)

If your resume was 30% lighter, what would it look like?

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Fight Bad References The (Hard But) Smart Way

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flickr: Omar Omar



So you’re applying for that new job after leaving your last nightmare of a workplace. You know this new gig will be perfect for you. They seem to like you through the interviews, you love them and you’re pumped about the work…and then at the end of the last interview, the manager says, “Everything looks great. We just need to check your references…”

If you left your last gig because your manager was a tyrannical, egotistical failure, you’re pretty sure they’re not going to say anything nice about you. Could your crazy ex-boss actually torpedo your chances at this new job?

The answer is yes, of course, but how do you solve this problem? Telling your interviewer “Well, my last boss was crazy” is not going to endear you to them, even if it’s totally true.

Nick Corcodilos, author of the Ask The Headhunter newsletter, has a perfect solution.

Like most of Corcodilos’s advice, it’s not easy to implement. But it’s really the most graceful way to get yourself out of this bind.

Don’t talk bad about your boss; get your other references to do it for you.

He says:

At least one or two of the references you provide to the new employer should be (other) managers or employees at your old company who know the old boss’s attitude and behavior. Make sure they know the old boss might try to torpedo you.

So, the new employer calls that reference and asks about you. The reference explains you did a good job, discusses your skills and talents, and endorses you. Then the reference explains how unfortunate it was that the lack of necessary tools and resources made it impossible for you to do the job you were assigned.

“I felt bad for the guy. He used all his skills to work around the lack of resources, but I’ll be frank with you: His boss found it easier to blame him than to buy the tools we needed. I think it’s a shame the company lost a great worker due to poor management. I’m going to miss working with him, but our loss is your gain. If you run a good operation, this candidate will do a phenomenal job for you.”

Yes, this takes effort and tact, and it might not even work. But, short of begging the bad reference to back off, there’s no better alternative when an old boss is likely to hurt you. I’ve used this method when delivering references about my candidates to my clients. I don’t try to hide the bad reference. But I make sure to provide a reference about the bad reference, who in turn casts doubt on the negative comments, and reinforces the candidate’s better qualities.

See what we mean? Definitely not easy. But worth it for sure.

Would Hunter Have Gotten Hired Today With That Letter?

Last week we published a letter a pre-famous Hunter S Thompson sent to the Vancouver Sun looking for work.

Thompson never worked for the Sun in his lifetime, so perhaps the cover letter didn’t work…on the other hand, the editor to whom Thomson had addressed his missive lasted less than a year in his position until he apparently offended everyone else he worked with and was demoted. So maybe there were more forces in play than it seems.

But would the letter work today? We polled a number of career and recruiting experts, including Ask A Manager‘s Alison Green, Ask the Headhunter‘s Nick Corcodilos, and Laurie Ruettimann of Punk Rock HR and now New Media Services. Here’s what they said… after the jump.

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Turning Networking Into Jobhunting…With Scripts

If you’re not subscribed to the Ask The Headhunter newsletter, you may be missing out.

In this week’s issue, headhunter Nick Corcodilos provides scripts to use when you’re trying to go from casual networking to “oh god please give me a job” without coming across as obnoxious or, well, needy.

Here’s the key part:

When you get face-to-face with a person who works at your target company, try this: “So, how long have you been at Company A? What’s it like to work there? Are there new projects coming up in the next six months?” Allow time for answers to each question before you move on to the next.

“I’ll be honest with you: I’m very interested in working for your company. But I don’t want to start a random job search. The manager whose project you just described—I think I could make a useful contribution to her department; if not now, at some point when a job opens up. What do you think she looks for in a job candidate?” And finally, “Do you think you could introduce me to the manager?”

(If the person you’re talking with is the manager you want to work for, all the better! Just ask, point blank: “Is there anything I can help you with in your department?”)

Of course, as with all “scripts” you want to put this in your own words. But it’s important not to start out with the job question. Remember, keep it comfortable. It’s really easy to think of yourself as needy—after all, you need a job—but you’ve got to remember that you’re talking with peers, not superiors. As Corcodilos adds: “No one wants to find you a job — but they’re often glad to offer advice to someone they view as a compadre in the same business.” It helps, too, if you’re springing for coffee…nobody can turn down free Starbucks, right?

Writing A Cover Letter Blindly Makes You ‘No Better Than The Guy On The Corner Handing Out Leaflets’

That’s what headhunter Nick Corcodilos says.

In the latest edition of “Ask the Headhunter,” he writes that sending a cover letter to a person you have met is one thing, but writing one and attaching it to the resume you’re blindly submitting is likely useless.

If your mailing (whether via e-mail or regular post) is not addressed to anyone in particular—or is submitted to a name in a job posting—then it will wind up in the hands of the human resources (HR) department. The chances of its getting through the HR filter to the hiring manager are not high, simply because HR doesn’t understand the fine points of the work that you and the hiring manager do. (HR’s selection criteria are almost always different from the manager’s.) And the more details you spill in that cover letter to HR, the more potential reasons HR has to reject you….You might do some very thoughtful work on your letter, but the quality of a cover letter does not determine whether it gets read and whether it is understood. Success depends on whom you send it to, and on the method HR uses to process incoming applications. You have control over the former, but not over the latter.

Corcodilos suggests, as he often does, calling the manager you want to work for, instead. It’s not a practical suggestion for all people at all times, but it is definitely an alternative to “Please consider me for your open position…”

Review: ‘How Can I Change Careers?’ Worth Its Salt

hcicc1.jpgWe often post advice from the Ask The Headhunter newsletter as, in a sea of career advice echo chambers blogs, Nick Corcodilos‘s advice is different, unique, and often, maybe even always, sage. And yeah, he sells his time at $150(!) an hour, but may all of us aspire to that level, right? Anyway, whether you believe that a conversation with anyone except maybe your shrink is worth that kind of money (and Blue Cross Blue Shield definitely won’t foot Nick’s bill), we’re talking about a much cheaper product today.

For thirteen bucks you can buy Corcodilos’s ebook, How Can I Change Careers? $13 is slightly steep for an ebook, especially one that’s only 36 pages long, but we’ve read the thing twice now (disclaimer: Corcodilos sent us a review copy) and feel that there are worse ways to spend your money. Brown-bagging it once’d probably get you $13, right?

Listen. If you’ve mastered the art of the informational interview—the real informational interview, not the kind where you ask for a job at the end—you’re cool with networking, and you’re pretty sure you know what you want to do with your life, you may not need this book. There. Said it. But if you’re stuck, confused, feel like you’ve been reading and doing and trying and you’re getting nowhere, the simple fact that How Can I Change Careers? is so different it may just inspire you to get out of your rut.

In summary, the price makes us balk, but the content is intelligent.

Best of luck in your job hunt.

More Unethical Headhunters And How To Protect Yourself From One

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flickr: oskay

Let’s get one thing straight: there are a lot of great external recruiters/headhunters out there. But for every great recruiter, there are plenty of horror stories, too. In that spirit, we offer this cautionary tale from Nick Corcodilos‘s Ask The Headhunter newsletter. Essentially, a jobseeker got an offer from a great company, and then “her” headhunter sent the company a bill. The company then backed out, saying their policy excludes headhunters. What the heck? First of all, this sucks, and second of all, how did this happen?

Corcodilos responds, and it isn’t pretty. Turns out, there’s really no way for a company to get to the offer stage not know that a potential employee is working with a headhunter—unless the recruiter didn’t have a contract with said company and was hoping to “surprise” the company into paying a fee. Unethical? Totally.

This unsavory character was banking on the company paying him a fee when his unauthorized submission of your daughter’s resume resulted in a job offer. The company wisely called his bluff and rescinded the offer.

Now what?

Drop the “unsavory character like a hot potato,” Corcodilos advises. Call the company and explain what happened and ask for the company’s side. (Though he doesn’t imply that the jobseeker could get that job offer back, it’s good to clear the air.) And when applying to new jobs, Corcodilos advises being upfront in the application and stating that there’s no headhunter involved, because word can travel.

What an icky situation.

The Reason For The Season: Take An Unemployed Friend To Lunch

This is not a feel-good post, so skip it if you haven’t had your morning coffee. Really. Plus, at the bottom of it we are going to nag you, so if you don’t want to be nagged, scroll on by, buddy.


Unemployment sucks so hard. Being jobless makes a lot of people feel worthless (if your inner fiber doesn’t link your work life with your self-worth, you’re one in a million and we salute you), and when you feel down, it’s harder to get a job because nobody wants to hire a downer.

This week’s Ask The Headhunter newsletter took a somber turn: a reader of the newsletter, so distraught at his inability to land a job, just up and left in August; his body was found, an apparent suicide, two weeks ago.

Just ugh, ugh, ugh. Nick Corcodilos, the newsletter writer, suggests—and we completely agree—that especially this season when it seems like almost everyone is totally happy and peppy and everybody else is trying to get you to spend money you don’t have, it’d be a good gesture to take a jobless friend of yours to lunch. Just talk, and listen, and remind them through your presence that it will get better.

Even in a crap economy it only takes one yes to turn your life around. So be good to your friends & family members who may be feeling the stress of the great recession.

And if you yourself are unemployed, remember that one of the best ways to lift yourself up is to help someone even less fortunate.


Okay, no more browbeating. We return you to your regularly scheduled program of snark, doom & gloom, and job openings.

Doing The Job To Win The Job: Exploitation Or Good Idea?

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flickr: creatingkoan

We covered this idea a while back from the employer perspective—basically, the idea that an employee who proves him/herself on a tryout or by doing unpaid work is one an employer can be sure about.

In this week’s Ask The Headhunter Q&A, headhunter Nick Corcodilos says a reader wrote to tell him that this advice is “intended for the exploitation of the less mentally adept.”

We wondered, too, which is why we’re throwing the question out there. It totally sucks to put together a bunch of writing samples or marketing materials or whatever and then still not get the gig. And it’s certainly true that at lower levels of the job spectrum, it’s common for “employers” to solicit samples with the worst of intentions. But does “doing the job to win the job” encourage the same behavior in otherwise legit companies?

Corcodilos’ rejoinder is that one doesn’t expect to be paid for going on an interview. It’s treated as an investment, and so should doing the job to get the job.

His readers seem to agree, but do you?

How Do You Impress A Headhunter? (Headhunters, How Do Jobseekers Impress You?)

How do you impress a headhunter?

Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone, says Nick Corcodilos in his latest Ask The Headhunter newsletter.

We’d argue that this is a good strategy to use on anyone interviewing you, but since headhunters’ pay depends entirely on how quickly they can fill an open position with a qualified candidate, you don’t want to waste their time trying to be impressive.

The easiest way to be impressive, Corcodilos says, is to ask one simple question: “What does your client need a new hire to do in order to make an impact on the company’s profitability?”

Sounds simple, and it is. But, Corcodilos writes, few candidates actually ask that.

At the end of the meeting, close with something like: “I know you’ll talk with other candidates. If you introduce me to your client, I’ll be ready to prove that I can do the job profitably, make you look good, and help you close the deal. Any guidance you can offer me will help us both.”

“It’s a rare candidate who approaches a headhunter with such integrity and preparation,” he says.

Why do we like this? It’s not showmanny. It shows a teensy bit of vulnerability (“I’m asking for help”) but still makes you look prepared and confident.

Any headhunters reading this? What do you like to see?

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