5 Accomplishments to Make your Dental Hygienist Resume Stand Out

If you google “dental hygienist resume template”, you’ll find a lot of resume models filled with roles and responsibilities such as:

  • Chart accurate hygiene examination, treatment, and progress notes.
  • Provide education on oral hygiene, mouth guards, and future restorative needs.
  • Assist front office in answering phones, scheduling patients and filing all charting.
  • Processed x-rays.
  • Took and processed panoramic x-rays and cephalometric x-rays.
  • Intra-oral and extra-oral exams, periodontal evaluation and treatment development.

That seems about right, no?

But there’s a problem. A huge problem, actually. Think of the dental hygienists that you know. How many of them have done similar things? Probably most of them. Because that’s pretty much what being a dental hygienist is all about. There are differences here and there, but roles and responsibilities will often overlap. So if your resume is very close to a typical “dental hygienist resume template”, how is that helping you get interviews? After all, the best resumes are distinctive. They make you stand out, not blend in!

So here’s a little something to help you make your resume stand out. It’s based on the 3 Laws of Resume Writing. And it’s not material that I made up. I found it by carefully studying good dental hygienist resumes.

5 Dental Hygienist Accomplishments to Make your Resume Distinctive

  1. Worked with the director of operations on developing a product sales training manual which increased sales by 8% and improved operations. (The “bottom-line” is critical to any and every business. Which means you have to talk about anything you’ve done which has improved sales or reduced expenses.)
  2. Use of intra-oral camera with various educational tools and software, which reduced patients’ reluctance to treatment. (The benefit here is on the patient side. A recruiter will notice that your actions had a positive impact on patients.)
  3. Coordinate monthly office meetings. (Leadership can take many forms, and is always sought after by potential employers.)
  4. Proactively initiated paperless periodontal charting. (“Proactively initiated” is the important part, here. If you’ve ever started something, make sure your resume spells it out.)
  5. Completed approximately 12 to 15 prophys per day. (Using numbers shows clear results. And it doesn’t have to be an amazing figure to demonstrate value!)

The benefit is the key component of each accomplishment: improved operations, more money, demonstrated leadership and reliability, … Accomplishments like these are the most critical pieces of your resume. Now read that last sentence again, because that’s the best resume advice you’ll get this month.

If you’re a fantastic employee but your resume is silent on many of your accomplishments, you’ll end up behind a good employee whose accomplishments are all clearly laid out.

And for that matter, an average employee with weak accomplishments better know how to network, since the resume alone won’t pull its weight. (Actually, networking skills are critical to everyone’s job hunt. But let’s stick with the topic, if you don’t mind.)

Accomplishments are where it’s at. When you solve a problem, reduce costs, make something better/simpler/faster, when you show initiative, it has to be on your resume, without being drowned out by too many roles and responsibilities (i.e. the “we’ve-all-done-it” resume template material). In my view, half of the energy and time spent on your resume should be focused on your accomplishments. To write good accomplishments, you need to think of what your potential employer is thinking about (problems solved, better results, and so on) and emphasize that. If you go through 20 resumes of your peers, you’ll certainly find great accomplishments that you could adapt on your resume. I truly believe that is time well spent.

Many More Accomplishments, Just for You

However, I’ve already done that research… The 5 ideas above are just a glimpse of the full list of accomplishments I’ve assembled. If you’d like that well-rounded, unique list of real-world dental hygienist accomplishments, for just a few dollars, check out our e-book, Dental Hygienist Resume Hacking, on Amazon. You can read it even if you don’t have a Kindle device.

5 Accomplishments to Make Your Admin Assistant Resume Stand Out

If you google “administrative assistant resume template”, you’ll find a lot of resume models filled with roles and responsibilities such as:

  • Kept records of invoices and support documents.
  • Extensive international/national travel arrangements including air, hotel and ground; prepare detailed agendas for all business travel.
  • Process comprehensive expense reports via Concur and approve expenses on behalf of executives.
  • Point-person to office personnel with office questions, concerns, and issues that may arise on daily basis.
  • Prepare PowerPoint presentations, create Excel spreadsheet reports, gather and distribute confidential reports.

That seems about right, no? But there’s a problem. A huge problem, actually. Think of the administrative or executive assistants that you know. How many of them have done similar things? Probably most of them. Because that’s pretty much what being an admin assistant is all about. There are differences here and there, but roles and responsibilities will often overlap. So if your resume is very close to a typical “admin assistant resume template”, how is that helping you get interviews? After all, the best resumes are distinctive. They make you stand out, not blend in! So here’s a little something to help you make your resume stand out. It’s based on the 3 Laws of Resume Writing. And it’s not material that I made up. I found it by carefully studying good admin assistant resumes.

5 Administrative Assistant Accomplishments to Make your Resume Distinctive

  1. Created a more efficient Word database for forms, letters and documents, which decreased production time by 20%.
  2. Instituted systems and procedures for general accounting and human resource functions, which brought more consistency and reduced mistakes.
  3. Promoted company and increased sales by coordinating and attending trade shows.
  4. Assisted and arranged meetings between EVPs and their 200+ departmental employees.
  5. Trained new administrative staff members.

The benefit is the key component of each accomplishment: improved operations, more money, demonstrated leadership and reliability, … Accomplishments like these are the most critical pieces of your resume. Now read that last sentence again, because that’s the best resume advice you’ll get this month.

If you’re a fantastic employee but your resume is silent on many of your accomplishments, you’ll end up behind a less impressive employee whose accomplishments are all clearly laid out. And for that matter, an average employee with weak accomplishments better know how to network, since the resume alone won’t help much. (Actually, networking skills are critical to everyone’s job hunt. But let’s stick with the topic, if you don’t mind.) Accomplishments are where it’s at.

When you solve a problem, reduce costs, make something better/simpler/faster, when you show initiative, it has to be on your resume, without being drowned out by too many roles and responsibilities (i.e. the “we’ve-all-done-it” resume template material). In my view, half of the energy and time spent on your resume should be focused on your accomplishments. To write good accomplishments, you need to think of what your potential employer is thinking about (problems solved, better results, and so on) and emphasize that. If you go through 20 resumes of your peers, you’ll certainly find great accomplishments that you could adapt on your resume. I truly believe that is time well spent.

Many More Accomplishments, Just for You

However, I’ve already done that research… The 5 ideas above are just a glimpse of the full list of accomplishments I’ve assembled. If you’d like that well-rounded, unique list of real-world admin assistant accomplishments, for just a few dollars, check out our e-book, Administrative Assistant Resume Hacking, on Amazon. You can read it even if you don’t have a Kindle device.

How to Quickly Write a Cover Letter

Resumes and cover letters go together like popcorn and butter. That said, many people feel like the cover letter is a waste of time and write it carelessly, and only when it’s requested! Since a lot of HR managers still expect cover letters, we strongly advise you to make one to accompany every resume you send. And in this post, you’ll learn how to do it as simply as possible. To make the process less painful, here’s a three-step recipe to help you write smart cover letters, which will in turn increase your odds of getting noticed.

Much of your resume writing efforts can be leveraged into your cover letter. Why think of something new when you can copy and paste, right? You can save some time, while still coming up with a cover letter that shows your best side. So here’s a “paint-by-numbers” cover letter template, followed by an example.

You just have to mix and match the template’s sentences to write a cover letter that makes sense for you!

The cover letter template

Dear Ms./Mr. _________ or Personnel Manager/Human Resources Director:

First paragraph: hook your reader in! In addition to a XXXX certificate in FIELD, I have 12 years of experience in… I have acquired expertise in… While at COMPANY, I [achieved result X]… I have a record of exceptional… Given my 20 years of experience and commitment to … As a POSITION with 6 years of experience, an industrial background and a degree in FIELD, my credentials meet all your expectations.

Second paragraph: the meat and potatoes I’m looking forward to continue my strong track record with an employer searching for a [dynamic/results-oriented/other quality] POSITION… I took a sabbatical last year and completed my Bachelor of … I am replying to your ad on WEBSITE for a POSITION… You are looking for a POSITION… You might need to explain certain things about your situation. This is a good spot to do so. For example, gaps in your employment history, the fact that you’re moving, etc. Always consider how this could be interpreted.

Third paragraph: a list of accomplishments and results (look through the blog for ideas) My most relevant accomplishments: – First accomplishment – Second accomplishment – Third accomplishment Conclusion: a positive and courteous invitation I hope we can soon meet to discuss how I could contribute to your organization’s objectives.

Best regards/Sincerely,

Firstname Lastname

An example of what it should look like

Dear Human Resources Director:

I have acquired expertise with HVAC systems design, at COMPANY, as a junior engineer. I have a record of exceptional project management, with concrete results. Most of my projects have led to process improvements, such as saving X days on quality assurance by redesigning XXXX. I’m looking forward to continue my strong track record with an employer looking for a results-oriented mechanical engineer.

I’m currently living in Texas, but will soon be living in the San Diego area. I have already made plans to be available for interviews as of next week.

My most relevant accomplishments:

– Reviewed supplier agreements to accelerate XXXX and save 12% on XXXX.

– Optimized the XXXX heat transfer from the central plant to the AHU, which reduced XXXX by 34%.

– … I hope we can soon meet to discuss how I could contribute to your organization’s objectives.

Best regards,

Will Douglas

How to Fix Your Visual Resume

Resumes weren’t designed to be cool. Like tax manuals and non-disclosure agreements, resumes need to be very focused to be effective. And because of that, they’re often painfully gray.

“But this the 21st century! And we won’t stand un-coolness!” This seems to be the battle cry of many businesses behind visual resumes. Ok, sure. But good design should support the message. I’ve seen too many visual resumes where design choices brought confusion, not clarity.

How do we fix this? By understanding how the hiring game is played, and adapting the visual resume accordingly.

In this article, I’ll try to bridge the gap between the strong sections of the traditional resume and the hipness of its extravagant cousin.

My main issue with how most visual resumes have been done is that they’re structurally flawed. It looks like the work of designers, with some fixing from career advisors or resume writers. And it should’ve been the other way around. And as I’ve said here, the closer it is to an infographic, the worse it becomes.

Communicating your resume’s key messages quickly

It’s fairly known among job seekers that people in charge of hiring only spend 6 or 10 or 15 seconds on their resume. One of these numbers is usually correct, but only when they first scan your resume, to see if you’ve got the basic criteria (experience, education, key skills). Later on, when the “good” pile is smaller, your resume will be read with attention.

In order to make the most of these 10-15 seconds, visual resumes boast quickly communicating your career path and key strengths. Ok… Maybe they do it slightly better than an average resume. But those fancy skills section and small icons could also distract the reader.

Having clear sections is a big key to help guide your reader’s eye. But were already doing that before visual resumes were around.

So is there a tactic to make sure that a hiring manager quickly sees the value?

Yes. And it’s to start with a resume summary. A short section, tailored for a specific position, where all the criteria and key messages are displayed. It’s a fairly basic technique to use the top third of the resume’s first page to encapsulate the resume’s strongest parts.

This applies to visual resumes as well as any other. So, our first lesson is make room for the summary!

How can we make a resume stand out?

Here, I’m definitely open to suggestions from the visual resume crowd. As long as it involves a strong focus on accomplishments. Nothing is better than accomplishments to show an employer how you’re different from your peers. And from my experience with hundreds of resumes, very few adequately illustrate the candidate’s accomplishments and results. There is, in my opinion, no bigger problem in resume writing.

And that’s why I’m writing the Resume Hacking book series.

But currently, visual resumes have very little care for accomplishments. As if the creators weren’t aware that this is how you stand out. Which is kind of scary!

Most visual resumes waste so much space on cool colors and fancy graphics that there’s hardly any room left for what the reader is looking for! Your resume has to discuss how you saved money, showed leadership or made something faster, or easier. And to do that, you need more than 11 words and a cute icon.

When a resume actually contains compelling accomplishments, they need to be very visible. Now, THIS is where a designer could really be helpful. To draw attention to that critical material.

How accomplishments are presented on regular resumes

How is it done currently on regular resumes? We usually mention accomplishments first, or give them their own sub-section.

Bigger fonts, colors, or any cool design idea, could naturally guide our reader to these golden nuggets we don’t want her to miss. And that would be good design, in support of the message. As it should be. If a visual resume website figures out how to do this systematically on their resumes, it would have a big impact.

And that’s lesson 2: make sure accomplishments are easy to spot.

When should we use visual resumes?

Is it the right context?

In some situations, a visual resume might be especially useful.
Obviously, if you’re in a creative field, a visual resume will not ruffle anyone’s feathers. But a very bland resume might. So if your job involves the web, startups, advertising or anything artsy, a visual resume might help you show that you belong. (As long as you’ve got accomplishments in there.) Give it a shot and spend a few bucks. But if you try to be edgy, make sure the execution is flawless. No one wants to see your half-baked, amateurly designed infographic resume (even if your cousin thought it was really neat). A sophisticated audience is harder to impress.

Now, what if you’re not a creative? You might still find a use for visual resumes, more specifically when a person asks to see your resume (as opposed to sending a blind response to a job ad). I’m all for some proactive networking! And then, you know that a human being will open your file, not a computer. Because visual resumes can be hard to scan (I’ll discuss issues with scanning software, like ATS, further below).

I would recommend not to go too crazy on the bells and whistles. You’ll find what you need with the “Cool design” options below.

If you’re a consultant, you’re usually compared with only a handful of competitors. If you don’t want or need a typical website, a resume/infographic hybrid might just do the trick (see options below). But you’ll also need a paper resume.

Most people will likely be gladly surprised when they see a colorful, yet informative, resume. They’ll notice the nice design, which is likely to create a good first impression.

What is lesson 3, then? In the right context, visual resumes will help more than usual.

What are my options?

Most of these services are not free. But I don’t think it’s wise to compromise in order to save $20 when you’re looking for a job!

Cool design:

VisualCV, Kickresume or Resumup.

Resume and infographic hybrid:

Re.vu, About.me or Flavors.me.

High impact visual resumes for the rest of us

I’ve kept my eyes open for nice resume layouts and out-of-the-box ideas for many years. There have been a lot of cool resumes that were truly remarkable, like crazy infographics, or candy bar wrapper or scratch card resumes. But most of them were for graphic designers and the like.

But visual resumes for people who don’t have a “creative” job? Great infographic resumes need the following three elements, and I’ve only seen one guy who’s been able to do it consistently, :

  1. Create visually captivating resumes…
  2. for non-creative professionals…
  3. without putting accomplishments in the backseat.

His name is Hagan Blount. I’ve never met him, but we’ve exchanged a few emails. The examples below are taken from his portfolio.

hblount1-2

The first thing we notice is that they grab attention. But that’s usually where it stops with the online tools (for example, with Vizualize.me or Resumup infographic resumes). 

What an untrained eye might not perceive is that these resumes contain many accomplishments. This takes serious resume writing skills. (Or a Resume Hacking e-book.) But these accomplishments are beautifully integrated with the whole design. And that’s what makes these resumes remarkable. Unique. (Yeah. I’m in love.)

However, everything he does is fully tailored. It’s not $30, 10 minutes, clickety-click, thank you m’am! There is no template. He’s got a rare combination of skills, and he has told me that he charges $1,800 for these fully customized resumes. In my perspective, that’s money well spent if you want to go “all in.”

This might seem steep, but have you ever thought how much job interviews are worth? Hiring a good resume writer can cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000, just for the resume. And a career coach is usually more expensive.

If you want a truly unique infographic resume, Hagan Blount is the only one-stop shop. (But I might try it one day, with a graphic designer I know…)

Lesson 4: For the job of your dreams, if you want to stack the deck in your favor, you might have to pay big bucks.

Visual resumes are not very computer-friendly

But even the most beautiful resume has to face obstacles. A very serious problem of visual resumes is the fact that they’re hard to read for computers. Nowadays, especially with big companies, there is a significant chance that your resume will be crunched by an applicant tracking system (ATS). This software looks for keywords, job titles, dates, and such. It tries to “understand” your resume.

These ATS are known to struggle with columns, headers/footers, tables, text boxes and, obviously, images. Yes, it’s weird that in 2015, we can’t even count on technology to let us design sexier resumes. But it’s very real. Talk to your friends in HR; more than 90% of fortune 500 companies use ATS to scan resumes. So when you’re sending a resume through a job board or anytime you’re filling a form, don’t attach your visual resume. It’s a bad idea. Especially with big companies. It will never be seen by a human eye.

Lesson 5: Use your visual resume when networking (i.e. when a human is on the receiving end). Make sure to have a simpler version for typical job applications.

(About networking: most people don’t do it enough, even if it’s been consistently demonstrated that your chances are greater when you’re being referred.)

The web version of your visual resume isn’t that useful

Some websites say that they offer more than a paper resume. VisualCV helps you create a “media-rich online resume, which means lots of bells and whistles and much more information than you could ever fit on a single piece of paper…” And Re.vu “is a complete rethinking of what a resume can be. You no longer have to cram your experience and expertise onto a plain white piece of paper… “

You get a website/page/platform… Whatever. But recruiters are already using LinkedIn. That’s the online resource they’re used to work with. It’s their tool. If there’s one link you want to give to recruiters and hiring managers, it’s LinkedIn. It will make their jobs easier and they’ll be happy. They have plenty of tools there. Their network lives on LinkedIn. And the site’s algorithms provide similar candidates. LinkedIn is THE giant in this space. It makes no sense to put your energy elsewhere. Maybe your resume looks better on this other site, but if it’s not where your readers hang out, what’s the point?

Lesson 6: When you send a visual resume (PDF or on paper), provide a link to LinkedIn, not the online version of your visual resume. (Unless your visual resume is absolutely amazing.)

What have we learned?

Here’s a recap of the 6 lessons to fix your visual resume:

1-    Make room for a good summary. 2-    Use the visual aspects to make accomplishments easy to spot. 3-    Visual resumes are more appropriate for a “cool” company or context. 4-    Don’t expect big impact with a $29 product. (No amount of visuals can compensate for a lack of accomplishments.) 5-    Only send your visual resume to a human.

6-    Don’t link to your visual resume. If you want recruiters to click on anything, it should be your LinkedIn profile.

How Far Back Should my Resume Go?

There’s no precise formula to calculate how much experience you should include on your resume. However, most career advisors seem to agree that going back 15 years is enough. That’s a general rule, but your specific situation might require you to go back as far as 20 years. More than that is rarely useful or relevant. 

And “relevant” is a very important concept for this topic. Everyone agrees that your resume has to be relevant from beginning to end. But let’s unpack what “relevant” can mean.

If you’ve been in similar jobs for 22 years, your first few years are probably not relevant anymore. Your reader understands that the skills you’ve been sharpening over the last 10-15 years are the same that you were working on previously.

But what if your trajectory holds a couple of sharp turns?

For example, some jobs aren’t connected to a specific degree, and you can use various routes to get there. You might have to go back 20 years to demonstrate you’ve got all it takes. To piece together a fuller picture. That’s fine.

Transferable skills can be relevant

It goes without saying that direct experience in a field is highly relevant. But many other skills can also be relevant. It’s what we call transferable skills. Communication, budgeting, time management, customer service, leadership, handling fast-paced environments…

Certain transferable skills are better for certain roles. For example, if you’ve been in a technical role for 13 years (R&D, engineering, IT) and you’re now looking for a senior sales position, people skills suddenly become more valuable. In that case, experience waiting tables or selling sporting goods makes your resume more compelling than your colleague who was always glued to a keyboard. Even if you have to go back to your college days.

But that’s not what you’ll emphasize. While your recent positions will be described with many bullets, your restaurant job might have none. Just write the title, the venue and the years. You could also add a bullet in your summary that says “3 years of experience serving 50-100 clients daily.”

It’s a light touch that could make you stand out.

Try to find a balance

Every situation is different. But remember that the hiring manager is comparing you to many other relevant candidates. And you’re more likely to outshine them with accomplishments related to “hard” skills, not transferable skills. So a relevant resume is mostly about hard, technical skills.

And recent is better. The further back you go, the less credible it feels.

Don’t get emotionally attached to your resume as a grand portrait of your fascinating life. Think of what your reader needs to know to call you for an interview instead of your peers. And stick to that.

The Vanishing Hidden Job Market

There is a very stubborn statistic in the world of job seeking, or more specifically, networking: 80% of jobs are (supposedly) never advertised.

And that is commonly referred to as the “hidden job market”. Search for that phrase on Google, and you will soon find that 80% number again and again. From reputable sources (such as Forbes or CBS).

Since so many experts agree, it’s probably true, right? But where does that number come from? Curiously, no one seems to know. Research is never quoted to back that claim. It seems to be “true” simply because it’s regularly echoed by enough experts.

So I decided to investigate. And I found fresh data that strongly contradicts the experts…

Where (or when) does that figure come from?

It’s far from a new thing. With Google Books, I found material from 1990, 1993 and 1997 already using that figure. But no one knows where it comes from.

However, in “Writing a CV that Works” (1997), Paul McGee had the clarity of mind to say: “The exact figures are difficult to come by, but it is commonly accepted that around three quarters of jobs available are not advertised.” Even 20 years ago, the source of that important piece of advice for your job search was lost in time and space!

To push my investigation further, I even subscribed to the New York Times archives. (Yup, I was that determined to seek out the truth!) Their online tool is called the TimesMachine… Now that’s a cool name! And check out this beauty, from the New York Times in 1980:

So our 80% figure isn’t just a bit old. It’s a blast from the past. (A distant time where tech geeks would brag about their brand new VCR). The expert quoted above, Richard Bolles, is the author of What Color is Your Parachute?, a great career coaching book which is still around.

The godfather of networking advice

The old wiseman who started all this, as far as I can tell, is Mark Granovetter, a Harvard sociologist. He wrote a book in 1974 studying a very new thing for the time: social networks. The book is called Getting a job: a study of contacts and careers. (Yeah… Professors aren’t that good with book titles.)

His key findings about people who had found a job: 56% used personal contacts, while 37% used a more typical approach (sending out resume or applying on a job post). Not only was the networking aspect more important, but both job seekers and employers felt it brought more quality – the right person for the right job. He appeared in Forbes magazine, saying that almost 75% of all successful job searches are the result of informal contacts. And that is probably the “original” 80% figure. You know, 75% rounded up.

Maybe this was true back then (more than a generation ago).

However, these were early efforts and the research, in retrospective, seems to be painting with broad strokes. One thing becomes clear when we look for hard data on the job search: there are many fuzzy areas and it’s hard to come up with clear statistics. (More on that below.)

“Hidden job market” didn’t mean the same thing around 1980

Already in 1999, before social media, we could read: “For at least twenty-five years, career advisers have been reminding the job seekers that only a small fraction of all available jobs appear in the “help wanted” ads, and have urged people to go digging in the “hidden” job market. The Internet has changed that somewhat. […] Much of the hidden job market is not as hidden as it used to be. This is a tremendous benefit to you, and not to be underestimated.” (That’s from The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century.)

Some people realized that the internet was having a major impact on the job search. But that old statistic is very stubborn. And probably quite useful to career advisors. So it survived the internet boom and is still thriving today. But I will not let my readers be the victims of such overcooked non-sense. With all the automated tools involved in the job search, we do have new data, that reflect the job market of 2016. Let’s have a look.

The vanishing hidden job market

The internet has dramatically transformed how people look for work. Recruiters can find you on LinkedIn. Companies have their own career sites. Job ads can be posted very quickly to generalist and niche job boards (everywhere at once — which is amazing! — thanks to the magic of the internet). And job postings also appear on job search engines/aggregators (like indeed.com), where they let you search jobs posted on thousands of websites.

That’s so much better than ads in newspapers or monthly trade magazines! The internet has revolutionized recruitment. Jump straight to the image below if you don’t want to go too deep in the numbers.

Here are a few interesting bits from 2014 Source of Hire study, from CareerXRoads. (The results below are averages over 3 years: 2011 to 2013).

Top sources of hire – CareerXRoads

Referrals, 24% Career Site, 17% Job Boards, 18% (indeed.com, careerbuilder.com, linkedin.com – as a job board -, monster.com, many niche job boards…) Direct source, 9% (when they keep your resume on file or do some proactive recruitment on LinkedIn) College, 8% 3rd party, 4% (recruiting agency)

Others, 20% (temp-to-hire, rehires, etc.)

These categories aren’t always clearly defined (remember when I said things were fuzzy?). Direct source, for example. If a recruiter finds you on LinkedIn, have you found a job by networking or by updating your online resume? We can’t always put everything in a nice bucket. However, the 80% figure already seems way out of line.

There’s another company who is crunching data to help us along our investigation. It’s SilkRoad, a talent acquisition software. They’ve reviewed data related to almost 300,000 hires, which were monitored with their system. Here’s the data from their 2015 Top Sources of Hire study.

Top sources of hire – SilkRoad

Referrals, 22% Career site, 11% Job search engines, 16% Job board, 12% 3rd party, 12% Current employee, 12%

Other, 15%

Notice that they have a separate category for “current employee” (meaning someone getting a promotion). Their data says 12%, but CareerXRoads says 42% for the same data (they’ve decided to exclude these numbers from their top sources of hire study, to focus on the other, more useful, categories). Now that is one huge discrepancy. However, does it really matter that much for job seekers? Internal promotions are often jobs that are pretty much out of reach for outsiders.

So let’s leave that aside. If we redistribute the 12% of “current employees”, to help us compare apples to apples, we get the following.

Top sources of hire – SilkRoad (after gross redistribution)

Referrals, 24% Career site, 12% Job search engines, 18% Job board, 13% 3rd party, 13%

Other, 20%

These numbers are a bit harder to analyze than if it was only referrals vs job ads… But they reflect the complexity of hiring. Both companies don’t track the same elements, and sometimes their definitions are different.

Referrals are a big chunk, but nowhere near what we hear from the hidden job market conspiracy. If you add career sites and job boards (the online channels), you respectively get 35% and 43%. So it’s reasonable to say that about 40% of hires come from these online sources.

A last big piece of the puzzle comes from SilkRoad’s Top Sources of Hire. Of all the recruitment sources in their study, online sources produced 59% of all interviews but only 42% of all hires. Which means that people who sent their resumes through job boards or company’s career sites got more than half the interviews. But they don’t get as many hires. Referrals and those who went through recruiters had a better batting average. In other words, they were more trustworthy.

So what’s the conclusion?

 * * *

Networking is the better option…

Networking is quite powerful. Being referred by someone does make people trust you more. That’s why it’s still the most reliable channel.

Also, a CareerBuilder research has demonstrated that employers like it more. It’s where they start: before posting a job, 72% of employers will first look at internal resources (referrals, their own resume database, the talent community/network).

And a general rule is that networking becomes more valuable as you’re aiming for higher positions, especially at the executive level.

… but it’s not a secret garden of magical opportunities

Getting interviews is hard. And this applies both to networking and replying to job ads. If you’re only working your network, you might be missing out on MANY more accessible job interviews given to online candidates.

A great job search strategy commits serious efforts to both sides.You want to have many streams of networking going (LinkedIn, industry events, informational interviews…) while sending tailored resumes and cover letters to relevant job postings (where you meet 75%+ of criteria).

While the 80% figure used to suggest that networking was categorically better, the data we now have, in 2016, points to a balanced approach.

Experts, take note.

If you like this article, let your connections in on the new data regarding the hidden job market: share it on LinkedIn or Facebook!

* * *

If you enjoy job search articles that take a long time to write, you might be interested in:

Quickly Get your Admin Assistant Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for administrative assistants.

1. Summary for XYZ Inc.

  • Possess strong organizational, creative and leadership skills drawn from 20+ years of administrative experience, making sound decisions in support of senior executives and company objectives.
  • Skilled in planning projects from inception to completion with a strong focus on coordinating relocation of offices as well as developing educational support materials for the sales force.
  • Design and manage distribution of marketing materials for pharmaceutical industry training events, increasing attendance by 150% from prior years.
  • Coordinated out-of-state travel for over 100 management-level staff.

2. Profile

  • 4 years of experience as an executive assistant, mainly in the Financial industry.
  • Extremely organized, dependable and proactive in coordinating, planning and supporting operational and administrative functions.
  • Created a more efficient Word database for forms, letters and documents, which decreased production time by 20%.
  • Instituted systems and procedures for general accounting and human resource functions, which brought more consistency and reduced mistakes.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Also, unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. If appropriate, you can talk about advanced skills in certain software or uncommon abilities.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized. As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of admin or executive assistants. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on increasing an event attendance by 150% or creating procedures which bring more consistency.

More tips for administrative assistants

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews!

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for admin assistants, EDIT LINK!!! check out 5 Accomplishments to Make your Administrative Assistant Resume Stand Out. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the Administrative Assistant Resume Hacking e-book!

First Impressions on LinkedIn: The Big 3

If someone is quickly scanning through LinkedIn search results, they mainly see your name, picture and headline.

What LinkedIn search results look like

linkedin_big_3_search_results-2

Since your picture and headline are so prominent, they are naturally very important elements that people will use to get a sense of who you are. Are you a valuable connection, potential employee or industry expert?

The third big thing on your profile that matters most for first impressions is your summary (a quick overview of your experience and expertise). Let’s see how we can optimize the Big 3 of LinkedIn first impressions.

1. Your LinkedIn picture

If you go to www.linkedin.com without being logged in, you’ll see very good examples of pictures. (Notice that they’re a bit darker, to make the form more obvious).

linkedin_big_3_portrait-2

The pictures make these people seem approachable and reliable. And that’s what your picture should convey. So how can you achieve that?

Well, let’s examine what they have in common. (Ok, yeah, it’s a bunch of not-quite-models-but-very-good-looking people who are still fairly young. But there’s more.)

  • Lights are flattering. Which means natural light if possible. Flashes or direct sunlight aren’t good for portraits, as they create harsh shadows.
  • Dressed professionally.
  • Smiling (but not overdoing it).
  • Tightly cropped: we see a bit of shoulders and there’s just a tiny space above their heads. (Go back to the first image at the top of this article to see how small pictures are in search results. The lady in red is unrecognizable.)
  • No white-wall backgrounds. The above pictures with a white background look great because they were achieved with professional equipment. The background is very crisp, without shadows.

I don’t want to geek out on the technical side, but these pictures all have a high quality feel, which is very hard to achieve with point-and-shoot cameras or smart phones. A big camera makes a big difference, beyond megapixels (i.e. image resolution). Lenses and sensors play a big part. You might not have a DSLR camera, but you probably have a relative or a friend who does. Maybe they could help? Or you could pay a professional (which can easily cost in the hundreds of dollars).

But take the time to do it well. It will definitely have a positive impact.

2. Your headline

Your LinkedIn headline is the first thing people read (after your name). These are words which will strongly shape your reader’s first impression. Will they click on your profile? It really depends on the compelling power of these 120 characters in your headline. So try to make the most of it!

The obvious way to do it: say what’s your job and where you do it.

  • Marketing manager at [Company]
  • Global IP strategy at [Company]
  • Lab technician looking for new challenges

But that’s what everybody does. If you want to stand out, you’ll have to try something else.

As an aside, if you’re looking for a job, recruiters might be using keywords such as “opportunities”, “looking for”, “challenges”, and “new”. You want to hit those keywords. So don’t find a clever way to say it, like you “want to slay bigger dragons” or you’re “craving innovative work”. Keep it simple!

Three ways to write a better LinkedIn headline

Alright. Here are 3 options to go beyond the typical headline and stand out.

5 things about you
This one is fairly easy to execute. And you get to choose cute little separators (check marks, vertical bars, stars… or, you know, commas). Of course, it doesn’t have to be five things. Here’s a few examples I found in groups I belong to:

  • Speaker. 20+ years of B2B. Integrated marketing & sales, strategic planing, inbound marketing
  • Business intelligence // Data // Reporting analyst // BI project manager
  • Keynote speaker ** Social selling evangelist ** Startup advisor ** Modern marketing expert ** Change agent
  • CEO ✔ LinkedIn author ✔ Social media speaker ✔ Sales and lead generation ✔ Brand management
  • Senior social media marketing manager, digital storyteller, corporate brand strategist and speaker

The “classic plus…”
You can start with your job title and add something about the way you do it or the value you bring. See for yourself:

  • Senior brand marketing associate @ [Company]. I’m creating clear, distinct, on-brand stuff.
  • Marketing leader helping brands through smart strategy and technology
  • Social media manager who tripled an already big B2B e-mail list in 6 months
  • Cardiac devices specialist, author and educator
  • Social media | Branding | Online marketing | Simple tips + strategies on how to profitably market your biz/brand online

With panache
This is the most creative approach. It’s obviously not for everyone. Some readers won’t like it, but those who do might really like it.

  • The World’s Greatest Cold Caller / Author / Speaker
  • Registered nurse known for laughing too loud
  • Passionate writer with an addiction to dictionaries

If you want to portray yourself as a “legal ninja” or an “Excel junkie”, this is your chance. And the headline is one of the rare places you can get away with this sort of eccentricity. It’s not a “safe” way to do it, but it will draw attention. Try it at your own risk. But please do me a favor and never call yourself a guru.

(There are many parallels between the job search and the dating scene: trying to “seduce” by showing what’s great about you with various limited tools, having to meet certain criteria very quickly, the pain of rejection, how stressful it is, … OkCupid wrote a fascinating piece on attractiveness. One of its conclusions is that “The more men disagree about a woman’s looks, the more messages she gets.” In my view, their analysis demonstrates that something which turns off a lot of people (e.g. tattoos) could be a strong turn on for many others. A good creative headline probably works like that. But that’s just an intuition.)

3. Your LinkedIn summary

Your LinkedIn summary should be very similar to your resume summary. With bullet points, you want to show that you’ve got the credentials, the experience and the skills required. And you want to put forward your best accomplishments. It gives your reader a very quick overview of the value that you can bring. And it’s a good spot to drop a few critical keywords from your field.

Example – IT Security (from this article)

  • Seasoned analyst providing leadership, training, and monitoring in security protection and solution development.
  • Unique background includes software engineering, project management, and enterprise-wide security assessments as well as security research.
  • Lead consultant for two large PCI-DSS compliance remediation projects, with a retail client (500 stores) and a restaurant chain (1200 locations).
  • Trained several junior analysts on conducting network forensics and identifying hacking activity.

Example – Finance professional (from this other article)

  • 15 years of experience in investment management, and certified as a CFA.
  • With a record of outperforming widely utilized benchmarks on a consistent basis, I am a top performer with the ability to deliver immediately in new roles.
  • Key accomplishment – Two separately managed account strategies out-performed the S&P 500 in 2013 and 2014 by an average of 250 to 300 basis points annually.
  • Key accomplishment – Recruited, hired, mentored, and led a core team of 6 managers who worked together for 3 fruitful years.

Your LinkedIn summary can repeat material that is found later on in your LinkedIn profile (for instance, the accomplishments can simply be copied and pasted).

* * *

If you do it right, the Big 3 will make your LinkedIn profile shine, which will be a great stepping stone for your job search or your networking efforts.

According to a CareerXRoads 2014 report, 6 in 10 companies surveyed said that LinkedIn was a critical component for their recruiters and sourcing groups. Since LinkedIn has become such a popular recruiting and vetting tool, the time investment to tweak your profile is definitely worth it!

Get your Sysadmin Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

Sysadmins are expert troubleshooters, who usually know a lot about many different aspects of technology (servers, OS, applications, databases). But how do you showcase all that knowledge very quickly? The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you’ve got what it takes! Let’s look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for system administrators.

1. Highlights of resume for Pineapple Inc.

  • Serious-minded IT professional with 12 years of experience in systems administration and information security in a fast-paced work environment, supporting a global IT infrastructure.
  • Expertise in data center operations and architecture with focus on performance and reliability.
  • Robust experience with Microsoft and Cisco networking technology.
  • Key accomplishment: Implemented site-to-site VPN WANs for multiple medical practices in the greater [city] area, saving each client nearly $5,000/month.
  • Key accomplishment: Identified 20+ vulnerabilities by testing infrastructure security, using both automated tools and manual testing.

2. Summary for Big Bank Inc.

  • Network administrator/engineer with 25+ years hands-on experience, with a master’s degree in Computer Science.
  • Demonstrates excellent interpersonal skills, concern with quality deliverables, and a passion for new technologies.
  • Solid grasp of banking IT infrastructure (for loan applications, money laundering, etc.) and regulatory constraints, after 6 years at [Large bank].
  • Resolved system slow-down issues through network migrations, reconfigurations, integrations, and troubleshooting.
  • Managed local and off-shore staff and consultants who support Intel systems. Off-shore staff has allowed better 24/7 support and incident response.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Unless you’re too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. Also touch on the sectors you’ve worked in and name drop a few of the big tools/technologies you work with (this should be expanded on in a “Technical Skills” section on your resume.)

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you’ll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There’s no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized.

As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of sysadmins. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you’re applying for. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It’s a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won’t mind that you insist on resolving system slow-down issues or saving $5,000 per month to your clients!

If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that’s a necessary step to getting more interviews!

More tips for sysadmins

If you’re looking for more advice specifically for sysadmins, check out 5 accomplishments for Sysadmins. But if you feel like 5 isn’t enough, get the Sysadmin Resume Hacking e-book!

Our job search infographics

At Resume Hacking, we love visual stuff. We decided to work on clean, well-researched, infographics to help job seekers find new ideas and avoid dangerous pitfalls. Each infographic has complementary information, for those who want to explore further.

(If you like what we do at Resume Hacking, join our newsletter to get daily tips for your job search. As a bonus, you’ll get a visual guide to help you along!)

This infographic will teach you how to beat job boards and their 21st century gatekeepers: applicant tracking systems (ATS).

LinkedIn is a great tool to help you find work! This infographic brings you proven LinkedIn tips.

Here’s a complete rewrite of the history of resumes, in visual form.