Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Expert: Rob Taub, RésuméPro Plus

Well, here's a real treat. Rob Taub, veteran job search consultant and creator of RésuméPro Plus took some time out of his busy schedule for a Q&A on best practices. In addition to his impressive credentials, he's also my uncle and someone I've turned to for expert career advice since entering the work force. Believe me when I say: he's the real deal. Here's the skinny on resume writing, networking, layoffs and more, from a pro!

You started your career as a teacher. What was the catalyst for your transition to career consulting?

Oddly enough I answered an ad in the Boston Globe that read, “Sales Opportunity - “work in a beautiful office, talk with professionals all day, make good money and never make a cold-call”. That was 23 years ago.

What is the most common mistake you see people make on resumes?

(a) Leaving off an objective and (b) putting in a self-serving objective: Let me explain.

I liken the objective on a resume to the title on a book cover. If the title read “Indy 500” you would assume that it has something to do with racing; even if only the backdrop. You wouldn’t have to read through several pages to know. In fact, you may never have picked up that book in the first place; especially when there are so many other books on the shelf with titles, saving you time and guess work. With regard to “self-serving” objectives, such an objective might read like this: “Looking for a growth opportunity in a growth organization that will utilize my skills and experience and provide opportunity for advancement” Duh! … Who isn’t?

Now more than ever, companies need to make smart moves and hire good people. Companies need to see how you can help them advance their agendas not your own. Candidates need to target their assets to the employer’s needs. It begins with “Positioning” the product and that starts at the very top of your resume with the objective.

CV or Resume: what's the difference and does it matter?

CV is a history of where you’ve been and what you’ve done; the Resume is the potential you have for where you are going and what you will be doing. CV’s are mostly used for Federal, Institutional and Academic positions; and all too often mistakenly used for private openings when a Functional resume would be more effective. By the way, there are 10 different resume styles of which Functional is only one; Chronological is another.

When a company asks for applicants to include a salary range on their resume, what's your best move?

Include it. If you don’t you will be automatically disqualified. Most people try to get around because if they’re too low they’ll be disqualified or if too high, too, they’ll be disqualified; nonetheless you have some chance. Leave it out? “Auto-disqualifier” – no chance, nothing…nada…nil…nichts…neit

When writing a cover letter, should you go for the hard sell or stick to the facts?

I would have to settle somewhere in the middle. You do want to “sell”, but not “hard”; and you want to sell using facts – concrete info that positions you as a viable candidate, for example you may say in the middle of your cover letter, “Some of the skills I developed over the years that would be of benefit in a college teaching/administration capacity would include the following:

  • Solid professional presence and significant relationship development experience

  • Administration, staff development and operations management

  • Highly perceptive in ascertaining individual and group needs

  • (Etc…)

Is it better to email or snail mail a "thank you" note?

It really depends on who it is that will be receiving it. Similar to resumes … what’s the best resume format to use? Depends on who will be reading it. Also remember that every contact including rejections should receive a “thank you”. You might want to consider as a rule of thumb, to send a hand-written “thank you” (regular mail) to those who reject you. All your other contacts are on going while these are ending. If you respond with something relevant, professional and memorable (which in this digital age may very well be a hand-written “thank you”), you may keep the door open for another day.

How have social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter changed the job hunt?

70% of your time in a job search should be spent networking. (Limit the time you spend applying online to 1 hour a day). Making and staying in touch with networking contacts is a must. Social networking like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. are great portholes because you can network without drawing attention to the fact that you are looking for a job! To be most effective you must make sure your updates on these sites are full of valuable ideas and resources for the readers.

What's been your best moment as a career consultant?

Everyday is filled with some really great moments. Everyday you help someone; and when they know it, they let YOU know it.

If you could give job seekers one piece of advice, what would it be?Something I read just this morning! “By believing passionately in something that (still) does not exist, we create it. The non-existent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired” –Nikos Kazantzakis

Ok - ok … something less esoteric then: I said it on my blog the other day – When communicating with others, don’t make them plow through jargon. If they understand it they’re unimpressed; if they don’t, they’ll take out a book and read.

Any other advice?

I guess I’d go with the Four P’s I invented back in the day: “Prepare to Practice Patience or P_ _ _off”. The impatient person (a) speaks without thinking and (b) is less likely to listen and consequently will miss all the signals.

And, finally, since this is a blog about layoffs, have you ever been laid off? If so, what were your "lessons learned" from the experience?

Yes, 3 times in 4 years; and the biggest lesson learned, years later, is that you shouldn’t take it personally EVEN IF resultant of personal differences or personality conflict.

Other lessons learned? Unemployment can leave plenty of space on your calendar. I learned that unless you’re careful, free time can be squandered easily, and important momentum will be lost.

A layoff is also the perfect time to assess where you belong (specific industry, job function, company culture); most people never do. Many employed professionals are misaligned in their careers but lack the time or energy to do something about it. Unemployment frees you up to give full attention to defining what it is, clearly, that you CAN and WANT to do, WITH WHOM, for HOW MUCH and to WHAT END.

Finally, there’s a temptation after you’ve been laid-off to take a time off to spend with family or to take on projects or go on vacation. DON’T DO IT! DON’T DO IT! The longer it takes for you to return to the marketplace, the harder it’ll be.


For expert advice on resumes, interviewing and more visit Rob Taub online at RésuméPro Plus and the blog Job Searching With Rob.

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