Thursday, 6 June 2013

How to Totally Avoid Age Discrimination in your CV/Resume

Sadly, age discrimination in the job market is everywhere and many CV's/Resumes exhibit elements that reveal details about a persons age, that can lead to age discrimination. With some simple tweaks though, age discrimination can be totally avoided when applying for jobs.

1. Date of Birth 
Never state your date of birth on your CV/Resume, whatever your age. It's not a requirement, and probably won't be a limiting factor anyway once you've had the chance to show-case your value to the company at a face to face interview. 

2. Email address / Contact Details
People who use email accounts that were popular way back, such as Hotmail or AOL, might be perceived as older, while more recent accounts such and Gmail create an air of current and tech savvy in employers' minds. Consider switching your CV/Resume email to a Gmail account. 

Don't give your age away in your email, such as, as the reader will probably assume that the number is your year of birth. Instead, use a simple email naming convention such as or, without any numbers. If your chosen name convention is already taken by another user, keep trying other formats until you find one that's available.

Also, state just your mobile/cell number, not your home phone number, and consider inserting a link to your LinkedIn profile to stay current. 

Important - if you state a LinkedIn profile address, ensure your LinkedIn profile is optimised and in-sync with your CV/Resume, as many employers will review your LinkedIn profile these days. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, give serious consideration to getting one - it's free and can help open doors to job opportunities. 

3. Professional Profile
Most CV's/Resume's start with a summary of experience, which can lead to age assumptions. For example, an experienced person might state: "...over 25 years Software Development experience..." A better way of stating this, without triggering any age assumptions is: "...10+ Software Development experience..." or similar. 

4. Education, Awards, Training
Remove all dates. State achievements and where they were awarded, in order of highest qualification or most relevant first, but with no dates. Employers might seek to validate your awards, but dates are not usually a component of this process.

5. Experience
Demonstrate that you have relevant experience required for the role (employers often state X years' experience in job descriptions or imply the same), but try not to go back more than 10 years or so. You can always share earlier experienced during an interview.

Note: Some people say that you should state earlier experience if it's relevant to the job you're applying for, but few employers will take much notice of experience that long ago.

Very Important - use the right keywords because automated processes and people will scan for these keywords as an indicator of relevant experience. Use the same keywords / phrases that are stated in the 'required' part of the job ad/description, stating the most important words or phrases more than once, particularly in your most recent experience.

6. Skills
State only the relevant and current technical skills that are required by the job, delete irrelevant skills to bring the focus to what's relevant, and remove outdated computing skills such as WordPerfect and Lotus123 as these will trigger assumptions about your age. 

7. Children
Don't state your kids' age and consider not stating you have kids at all, as this might lead to age assumptions being made about you.  

8. Red Flag Terminology 
Avoid red flag terminology such as 'mature', 'seasoned', 'young looking', 'youthful', 'fit', 'healthy' and so on. And get a feel for the style of terminology being used in the job advert and on the employers' website and try to adapt your writing style to suit. 

When you make these simple enhancements to your CV/Resume, your chances of being selected for interview will be greatly enhanced, guaranteed. I wish you prompt success in your job search and please do feel free to share your experiences. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

8 more reasons why you Didn't get the Job

1. Someone else was more qualified
At another time, you may have been the ideal hire, but this time, there was someone better qualified than you. It's out of your control, don't worry about it. Some jobs get many applicants these days and many well qualified people get rejected. Keep going.
2. You weren't qualified enough
The irrelevance of most applications to clearly stated job requirements never ceases to surprise me. Take time to understand the essential requirements stated on the job description, then match those against your own skill set. Consider picking up the phone to the recruiter to ask clarification if you're unsure. Be honest - is there a good match?
3. You weren't the right 'fit'
Regardless of your ability to do the job, if the interviewer thinks that your personality/behavior might 'clash' with the people you'd be working with, or if they didn't gel with you for any reason, you'll get rejected. Unless you've displayed negative behavior / body language in the interview, don't worry about it. It's out of your control. Move on.
5. You didn't 'sell' yourself
State compelling reasons why you will excel at the job, giving examples of previous work, quantified by measured achievements. You wouldn't hire a person you didn't do this. Neither will they. Try to get more prepared next time, using this experience as a learning exercise. 
6. You annoyed the interviewer or created the wrong first impression
Turning up late, scruffy appearance, phone bleeping, checking your watch, wandering eyes, too much cologne, limp handshake, asking about money / benefits too early, being too pushy, calling too quickly or too often after the interview asking for feedback, and so on. These types of behaviors are a sure-fire turn off.
7. You lack enthusiasm
Don't overdo it and don't look desperate, but prospect employers need to feel that you're genuinely interested in the job you're being assessed for. 
8. The Job no longer exist
Someone internally may have taken the job, the hire requisition may not have been signed off, the project may have been cancelled. Things change, it's out of your control, don't worry about it. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

You're not lucky to have this job, they're lucky to have you...But ...

I just read this blog by Seth Godin, as below. How very true!
Most people invest a great deal of their waking life at work. Best to try optimise the value of this experience. 
Every day is an investment
"You're not lucky to have this job, they're lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you'll be making that investment.
That project that you're working on, or that boss you report to... worth it?
Investing in the wrong place for a week or a month won't kill you. But spending ten years contributing to something that you don't care about, or working with someone who doesn't care about you... you can do better."

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Problem with Corporate Recruitment Process

There are notable exceptions, but anyone that's been in the market for a new job recently will probably have felt some of this pain, and employers are losing out on top talent as a result. Top talent doesn't stay around for long, and bureaucratic, largely irrelevant and depressingly automated corporate recruitment process is a sure fire way of missing them.  
Liz Ryan, former Fortune 500 HR Executive, nails it in her article at Bloomberg, below and at this link:
"With unemployment still so high, it’s amazing to hear that employers are clamoring for talent. The so-called talent shortage is a major topic at human resources and recruiting conferences, and the balance of messages on my answering machine has shifted over the past year from inquiries by job seekers to contacts by HR folks seeking referrals to talented job candidates. It is strange that even though every hiring manager knows that the sharpest candidates don’t stay on the market long, corporate recruiting processes don’t change. They don’t get nimbler or faster. They don’t get less burdensome or bureaucratic. You’d think that employers hungry for talent would innovate, making their recruiting processes easier and more human.
The worst part about effectively useless corporate recruiting is the notion that the best-qualified candidate for a job is the one willing to climb over the most piles of broken glass to get the job. No wonder hiring managers take a person who is more likely to be the most-compliant—rather than the most-talented—candidate. We could call this person the Last Candidate Standing.
The whole encrusted recruiting process (not to mention unfriendly, robotic auto-responders and the unending stream of honesty tests, writing tests, and other recruiting hurdles) makes it easy for organizations to hire drones, and it makes it hard for them to hire the brilliant and complex people they need to solve their problems. Here’s our list of six ways that recruiting processes conspire to keep great people out while pulling in docile and wan candidates.
How to Hire an Empty Suit:
• Compose job descriptions that list all the tasks the new hire will perform, plus the long list of qualifications the ideal candidate must possess. (Don’t talk about the mission; make the job description as bland as possible.)
• Write a job description that insults the reader from the start, using such language as: “Only applicants with “Blah, Blah, Blah” will be considered. Make sure the tone is such that readers know your company rules the roost—and that he or she will be lucky to get a word in reply.
• Send interested applicants to a horrendously slow-moving and tedious recruiting website and require them to spend two hours or so filling out forms and uploading documents. For extra points, blow up the application two or three times while candidates are working on submissions.
• Throw screening tests and extra requirements at candidates throughout the process, just to keep them guessing.
• Take weeks or months to get back to people to schedule job interviews. At the interviews, keep them waiting in the lobby, ask them idiotic questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” and get offended when they inquire about the actual state of the team and the company.
• Finally, leave candidates in the dark while you prepare low-ball offers, and then send the offers via e-mail with a message that says “We must receive your acceptance within 12 hours, or this offer will be null and void.”
The off-putting legalese is the final touch that will come close to guaranteeing that any job-seeker with an ounce of backbone or self-esteem will flee, leaving you free to hire the most docile and compliant person, aka the Last Candidate Standing."

You might also be interested in: Don't Hire the Perfect Candidate

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Don't Try to Hire the Perfect Candidate

I've just read a great blog by Lance Haun at HBR that will resonate with any recruiter these days. Particularly since the global economic meltdown, due to diminished confidence and perceived (wrongly) abundance of available talent in the market, employers increasingly look for "Purple Squirrel" hires. 

Purple Squirrels are perfectly skilled, perfectly experienced and perfectly educated candidates, living locally to your business and who are willing to work for peanuts. The problem is that in today's competitive market, these people don't exist (or they're extremely rare at best), and that's why some vacancies remain unfilled for so long.

"Companies often throw good money after bad when looking for the perfect candidate for an open position. Due to the lingering effects of the recession and the perception of a glut of talent, hiring managers are still picky about their hires and many jobs remain unfilled. Who can blame them? The cost of hiring the wrong person is extremely high, especially when you factor in the hidden costs.

When the right candidate doesn't materialize, the common solution is to keep searching, add more recruiters, or tap a search or staffing agency to increase the chances of finding Mr or Mrs Right. But, keeping a job open for months on end or redoubling a company's recruiting efforts doesn't actually address the core reasons why it's hard to find the perfect candidate. One of the reasons is that perfect candidates are too rare to bank on.

At the crux of the problem is the purple squirrel, a term recruiters and hiring managers use to define the the rarest of candidates, almost mythical in nature. These candidates are near impossible to find in an ultra-competitive industry and posses the perfect mix of skills, education and experience.

For every purple squirrel hire out there though, there are dozens, if not hundreds of open, unfilled job openings. Look at the career pages of some of the largest companies. Some of the best places to work in the tech industry like Google and Microsoft have hundreds of job openings that have been there for for, five and six months or more. They aren't the only ones by a long shot. Hiring manager and recruiters keep them open hoping that one day, they'll get notification of the perfect new applicant.

Too often, the candidate never materializes. If the purple squirrel doesn't show, you've spent money and time on a fruitless endeavor. It costs you the time the recruiter spent on the opening, the opportunity cost of time the recruiter could have spent on another opening, and the time of those impacted by the opening (managers, colleagues etc).

I'm not suggesting you go the other direction and hire whomever you want, no matter the consequence. It is time, however, to think much more strategically about purple squirrels and the pursuit of perfect candidates everywhere.

Let's imagine a fictitious future where all job openings had to filled in no more than 60 days. In this future, if you miss getting someone hired or if you wait too long, you lose the position for good and your business has to adapt. What would change?

Those purple squirrels would disappear. Very few companies could fill jobs in a timely manner while also chasing the scant possibility of snatching one of those rare creatures. Even companies with the budgets for it would at least hesitate with that sort of deadline. How would companies adapt to this new reality?

1. They'd better analyze what the job market looks like: One of the hot, ultra competitive fields for talent is in the engineering field, especially in Silicon Valley. Now, if you're a firm and you understand the competitive landscape, you can better decide on a winning strategy. Your chances of getting top talent across the board is next to nothing, but your chances of getting one or two very talented people that you've targeted and laid out compelling offers for is much, much better. You'd spend the rest of your time finding capable, but not top talent.

2. A better focus on training and retention: In some cases, it will be impossible to find even good matches for all the positions you need to fill. Sometimes that can be because of location or a labor shortage in the industry itself. Some companies choose to escalate the salary until they start landing the people they need, but others are using training programs to supplement their workforce. Keeping existing employees happy and on-board is the cheapest form of hiring. Retention would need to become a huge strategy to avoid hiring.

3. Throw cost-of-hire concerns out of the window: If time is everything, the effectiveness of a hiring tool must reign supreme above its cost. San Francisco State University professor of management Dr. John Sullivan banned cost of hire calculations when he was chief talent officer because, as he writes, "cost per hire had the negative effect of causing recruiters to shift their focus towards cost reduction and away from our real job, which was to produce high performing hires."

4. Recruiting would become a hunting profession again: The terms headhunter is a little out of date, not just because of its taboo sounding name, but also because many recruiters don't hunt. Instead, they are administrators, project managers or coordinators. If you only had 60 days to fill a job, you'd want some assurances that your team could do it, even if the applicant flow wasn't there.

5. A more honest evaluation of what the organisation needs: With a better understanding of the job market and what's available, along with recruiters who are empowered and enabled to find those folks in a timely manner, hiring managers and recruiters will be able to have a really honest discussion about priorities. When you can't float out a job opening forever, it forces all parties to understand the capacity of a recruiting department as well as what are the highest impact positions you should be hiring for.

This exercise is about planning and preparing for the best realistic talent acquisition outcomes. Even if you can't live in this ideal, you can better understand your situation to aim for more realistic candidate expectations."