How to Beat Ageism and Get Hired

Ageism — age discrimination — in the job search is a reality that’s hitting both ends of the spectrum. As a job seeker, it’s pretty easy to fall prey to it (especially when you don’t get the job you’re after) if you don’t have the right attitude.

Can you guess which generation I’m describing?

  1. Old school. Stodgy. Unwilling to change.
  2. Lazy. Entitled. Selfish.
  3. Pessimistic. Disillusioned. Skeptical.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are pretty prevalent, and my guess is most of you had no problem identifying A as Baby Boomers, B as Millennials or C as Generation X.

Ageism — age discrimination — in the job search is a reality that’s hitting both ends of the spectrum. As a job seeker, it’s pretty easy to fall prey to it (especially when you don’t get the job you’re after) if you don’t have the right attitude.

A friend of mine — a young-looking 55 year-old — is coming up on the two-year anniversary of being in transition. He has had lots of interviews and been the second choice a couple times, so clearly he’s able to generate interest. However, when you ask him why he can’t seem to land the offer, he’ll tell you it’s because of his age.

Do you believe he’s right? I don’t.

You will experience ageism in your job search, but it’s not the cause of everything going wrong in your job search. Once you accept that it will be an obstacle you can’t control and change your focus to things you can control — your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, interviewing skills — you will no doubt land faster.

Avoid Looking Your Age on Paper

Whether it’s your LinkedIn profile, cover letter or resume, chances are hiring managers or recruiters will first meet you on paper (or online). A Millennial, GenXer or Baby Boomer “star” will either sizzle or fizzle with how they present themselves in writing.

Star Millennials will pounce on the opportunity to showcase their writing ability in their cover letter. It makes an impact because, unfortunately, most people don’t even bother writing one. It’s also a good way to debunk the myth that Millennials are only able to text and cannot write in complete sentences.

A star Millennial’s resume WILL NOT include the following:

  • Lists of tasks: Just because you’re a doer by the nature of a lower-level role, doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact to your employer. What results did you help achieve?
  • Smugness: No jokes, irony, Millennial buzzwords or exaggerations. Just professional in tone and presentation.
  • Language errors and typos: “Your” and “you’re,” “there” and “their.” You get the point. No mistakes!
  • GPAs: Anyone that’s been out of school more than three years needs to scrap it from their resume.
  • Self-centered summaries: You need to focus on what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you.

Gen Xers are in the middle of their careers — and in the middle of the workforce, so one strategy to take in your cover letter is to indicate how you serve as a bridge between Millennials and Baby Boomers. It can appeal to a hiring manager who may be older or younger than you.

When it comes to your resume, Gen Xers should quantify achievements with numbers and results. Many members of this generation have had managerial experience, so it’s great to highlight any organizational results here as well. A star Gen Xer’s resume WILL NOT include:

  • Overdone, meaningless cliché’s: “Results-oriented,” “passionate” and “guru” should be deleted.
  • Basic technical skills: Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are assumed skills and should be left off the resume.
  • References: “References Available Upon Request” should be left off because it’s assumed and having it there, just dates you.

When it comes to a star Baby Boomer’s cover letter, clearly illustrate how you’re willing to embrace new things and how you can help mentor younger employees. Highlight your unique qualifications and recent accomplishments (not from 10+ years ago). You might even tackle difficult issues here — things like resume gaps or why you’re coming back to a corporate environment after running your own business.

A star Baby Boomer’s resume WILL NOT include:

  • Volumes of your life story: Keep it under two pages at the most, focusing on your most recent 10 to 15 years. Anything prior to this can be included in a summary paragraph with dates left out.
  • TMI: Every single job you’ve had does not need to be clearly described and listed. Only relevant ones to the position you’re offering.
  • Descriptions of outdated skills: Outdated technology and skills should be simply documented as part of a job.

Avoid Appearing Your Age in Person

Now that we’ve got you looking good on paper, the next step is to look good in person – the interview. According to a survey of 2000 bosses, 33 percent claimed that they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone. That means first impressions really count.

3 Tips for Writing Winning Job Ads to Attract the Candidates You Want

Feeling frustrated with HR because they’re providing inadequate candidates to fill the open positions within your marketing team? Sparking the interest of the best and brightest job candidates to help your company succeed requires the right techniques. Remember, first impressions are crucial, and the first time potential employees “meet” you and your company is through your job ads.

Feeling frustrated with HR because they’re providing inadequate candidates to fill the open positions within your marketing team? Stop spinning your wheels and start collaborating with one another to find your ideal hire. Working together, you’ll be able to clearly understand, define and communicate the skills and experience necessary to perform the job.

Sparking the interest of the best and brightest job candidates to help your company succeed requires the right techniques. Remember, first impressions are crucial, and the first time potential employees “meet” you and your company is through your job ads.

Here are three ways you can win over the perfect job recruits for your business:

1. Accurately Brand Your Company

Effectively branding your company is probably one of the most important aspects of any size business. Be passionate about your company and convey that in your ad. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people, but make it really clear what makes your business great. It’s not by mistake that some of the most renowned, successful companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are masters at hitting all the right notes in their job ads to generate a lot of positive response — and they hire and retain some of the most brilliant talent in any industry.

“Everyone at Google is sharp and inspired to build great things.”
Review on Glassdoor.com from a current Google Interactive Designer

Google Job Ad
Google job ad for a “Communications and Change Project Manager.”

In this vibrant and colorful ad for a Communications and Change Project Manager, Google uses a very welcoming and friendly tone. The company culture is clearly described, along with the concise job description and responsibilities, and opportunities and contributions this position will make to benefit Google.

On the flipside, there are some companies and firms that go beyond a playful ad and try to be funny. Remember, not all jokes are funny to everyone. Take this ad that was placed by an architectural firm. Do you find it compelling enough to want to work here? My guess is no. Their “clever” branding techniques seem inappropriate and demeaning to me, but maybe there are recent architect grads out there dying to be a Minion.

Ergo Architecture job ad for a "Minion."
Ergo Architecture job ad for a “Minion.”

2. Use the Right Advertising Channels to Get the Right Candidates

Mixing things up is essential when you’re considering which channels to use to attract the job candidates you want. There’s no single “right” channel to use anymore. More and more businesses are turning to the Internet and social networks to recruit the right employees.

LinkedIn for Stealth Job Seekers

Updating your LinkedIn profile without looking like you’re launching a job search is tricky. Colleagues, bosses and other connections often react to a profile update as, “Oh, she must be looking for a new job.” But when you take the right precautionary steps, it becomes much easier to take a proactive approach to your career. Today, we’re going to discuss just how to do this.

How to update your LinkedIn profile without looking like you’re launching a job search is somewhat tricky. Most often colleagues, bosses and other connections react to a profile update as, “Oh, did you see Mary’s new LinkedIn profile? She must be looking for a new job.”

Well, when you take the precautionary steps to limit or suppress announcements to changes, and frame your experience as a dedicated and loyal employee, it becomes much easier to take a proactive approach to your career. Today we’re going to discuss just how to do this.

Settings to be a Stealth Job Seeker on LinkedIn

LinkedIn recently gave their settings area a facelift so things are easier to find. I would suggest taking some time to familiarize yourself with all the settings so you know exactly what is being broadcast and how to get the most out of the platform.

The most important setting before making any changes to your profile is “Sharing Profile Edits.” You want to make sure this is switched to “No.” You can also do this right from your edit profile screen by clicking “No” in the “Notify Your Network?” box (found on the right-hand sidebar).

LinkedIn Sharing Profile EditsLinkedIn Notify Your NetworkNext you want to change “Who Can See Your Connections” to only you. This is so people aren’t notified of when you’re making new connections, especially helpful if you are connecting with a potential employer.

LinkedIn Who Can See Your ConnectionsThe last setting to change is “Profile View Options.” You probably want this to be in “Private Mode” or “Private Profile” characteristics, so when you’re researching potential employers on LinkedIn and viewing profiles, no one knows who you are. Beware of this setting, though, if you have the free version of LinkedIn. Being anonymous will erase your viewer history, and you also won’t be able to see who viewed you.

LinkedIn Profile Viewing OptionsHow to Write a Headline and Summary That Grabs Attention
(But Not Too Much Attention)

When you’re in stealth job seeking mode, you will have two audiences for your LinkedIn profile — your primary and secondary.

Working With Recruiters: What You Need to Know

Most job seekers I meet lament how they haven’t had much luck working with recruiters. As a job seeker, don’t you wish you knew the best way to work with a recruiter? I recently spoke to two recruiters who specialize in marketing roles …

Most job seekers I meet often lament about how they haven’t had much luck working with a recruiter. As a job seeker, don’t you wish you knew the best way to work with a recruiter?

Recruiters get paid by their clients, the employer, so their attention isn’t proactively looking for a job on the candidates behalf. It’s their job to fill an open position for their client.

Lynn Hazan, President of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc.
Lynn Hazan, President of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc.

I recently spoke to two recruiters who specialize in marketing roles — Lynn Hazan, president of Lynn Hazan & Associates Inc., and Maricel Quianzon, business development manager for Paladin. Lynn has been an executive recruiter for her entire career, and has been leading her agency for the past 16 years. (For full disclosure, I am both a past candidate and client of Lynn Hazan.) Maricel began her career as a creative and moved into recruiting about 10 years ago. Since, she’s been in her clients’ shoes, she has an empathetic approach to recruiting.

Maricel Quiazon, Business Development Manager for Paladin
Maricel Quianzon, Business Development Manager for Paladin

The transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

Lynn Hazan: They need to have passion, energy, creativity, a smart can-do attitude, the ability to empower others, curiosity, be deadline oriented and committed to continuous learning. I need to see a spark and how they can fit the company’s culture.

Maricel Quianzon: Most importantly, I am very interested in who is passionate and has a keen interest in what they do. The more focused a candidate is with their search, the more attractive they are. Many things actually go into it, the cultural fit and emphasis on certain skill sets. Lately, it’s heavy emphasis on digital, marketing automation and customer acquisition.

Q: Where do you like to find candidates?

LH: Everywhere. Literally, planes, trains and automobiles. I think every opportunity is a good opportunity to connect with good candidates. I also find candidates through professional associations and LinkedIn, primarily.

I am a relationship builder though, so many clients find me through my website, public speaking and articles. It’s common for candidates to introduce themselves to me after I speak. Recruiting is really a relationship building business. I like to know candidates as they grow through their careers. I track their progress over time.

I tell both my clients and candidates, I don’t hire resumes, I hire people.

MQ: I’ve been doing this for 10 years. The best candidates come from referrals from talented marketers. People that we have placed in the past often refer their friends and colleagues. I make time to talk to them right away because it is always great to know who you have in the candidate pool.

For the “purple squirrel” (very specific and unique set of requirements) jobs I do go to the job boards to source candidates.

It really boils down to networking. I always have my ears open to find out what people do for a living. When I meet someone, I always start trying to match them in my head.

Q: What is the most important thing you consider in assessing a candidate?

LH: Fit! I get a lots and lots of candidates applying for potential jobs, so the first thing I do is see how close a fit are you to my current clients’ needs and jobs. Then I can see potential fit for other jobs. I have an analogy I like to use involving ducks. In fact, if you come to my office you’ll see all my ducks. If you look like, walk like, talk like and sound like a duck, and my client is looking for a duck, the more duck-like you are the better chance you’ll have of being hired.

How to Write a Killer Marketing Resume

I don’t know about you, but I never had a class in college called Resume Writing 101. Consider this article your first class in that course. By the end, it will help you create a marketing resume that gets you interviews.

I think you’ll agree with me that marketing yourself is one of the toughest projects you’ll ever face. We’re all great at marketing the products and services of our companies, but not so much when it comes to promoting ourselves.

It is not so hard to promote yourself if you approach it like a marketing problem. Who is your target audience? How do you solve the pains of your potential employer? What is it that is unique about you? And, how do you convey that?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I never had a class in college called Resume Writing 101. Consider this article your first class in that course. By the end, it will help you create a marketing resume that gets you interviews.

I want you to dig out your most current resume. Go ahead, I’ll wait. What? You don’t have a current resume?!

Lesson one: Even if you’re not actively job searching, you should have an up-to-date resume. You never know when that recruiter may call with the opportunity of a lifetime.

Lesson two is going to walk you through each section of the resume and how to position yourself to stand out from the competition.

Please note, some of the recommendations below to enhance your resume will make it unsuitable to pass through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Watch for the ATS tips to format a version for online applications.

Breakdown of a killer marketing resume.
Breakdown of a killer marketing resume. (Click to download the PDF.)

1. The Header
One simple way to stand out from the crowd with your resume is to design a professional-looking masthead for it. The majority of resumes I see have contact information presented like this:Bad Resume HeaderWhile there is nothing eminently wrong with this, it does not stand out in any way. Stacking the data in this way also takes up precious space.

Instead, you can do something similar to the killer example. Get creative with font sizes and don’t feel like you need to dedicate a whole line to each data point.

ATS Tip: When submitting your resume online, you do need to devote each data point to its own line as applicant tracking systems read that much better. Also, make sure this content is not in the header or footer section of Word.

2. Title and Summary
Think of this section as your elevator pitch or unique selling proposition. Recruiters only spend about six seconds looking at your resume to decide if you go in the yes or the no pile, so this area of your resume is hugely important.

If I had to hazard a guess, I bet most of you have a summary section that looks something like below.Bad Resume SummaryIn the killer example, you’ll not only see a target job title, but there is a subhead that serves as a personal branding statement. This candidate had a history throughout his career of growing successful brands to be No. 1 in their markets, so we really wanted to highlight that.

You’ll see more details in the three bullets of the specifics and some of the strategies he used to get there.

Your Job Search Is Like a Marketing Plan

The modern-day job search is not like it used to be. Long gone are the days of applying for jobs online and getting calls for interviews. Depending who you ask, there’s only a 2 to 4 percent response rate for posted positions. Yet, so many people start their job search this way because that is what they know. Essentially, what they are doing is marketing without a plan.

Job SearchA client recently came to me frustrated.  He had been applying for jobs for about a month and was not getting any traction/response. In the past he had never had a problem, and he couldn’t figure out what might be going wrong. From my experience, I know he is not alone in his thinking.

The modern-day job search is not like it used to be. Long gone are the days of applying for jobs online and getting calls for interviews. Depending who you ask, there’s only a 2 to 4 percent response rate for posted positions. Yet, so many people start their job search this way because that is what they know. Essentially, what they are doing is marketing without a plan.

When I first got introduced to direct mail 15-plus years ago, I was told, “Direct mail is like the salesman that lands in your mailbox.” Well, this scared the heck out of me, because I was coming from a graphic design job and knew nothing about sales. Yet, those words always resonate with me whenever I plan marketing campaigns. In job search, it’s really no different. Your LinkedIn profile, resume and cover letter are your sales team. And they are going to help your ideal employer find you.

So, you really need to run your job search like a marketing campaign. Let’s walk through the critical components of a campaign. Then I’ll show you how it translates to job search.

1. The Target = Your Ideal Company and Position
You would never go to market without knowing who your target audience is. So why would you launch a job search without knowing where you want to end up? Everyday I see people launch their job searches by updating their resumes and then blasting them everywhere. In reality, it pays to take the time to figure out where you want to be.

Just like you have buyer personas for your company’s products, you need a company persona for your job search. With your company persona in mind, it will be easier to write your career marketing materials. Answer questions like these when creating your company persona:

  • What industry?
  • What size company (staff and revenue)?
  • Agency or Corporate?
  • B-to-B or B-to-C?
  • What type of culture are you looking for?

Once you have your company persona, start researching companies that fit your description. Find out what their pains are and how you can solve those pains.

If you want to go a step further, write out your ideal job description. It can serve as a guide when you’re wondering if you should apply for a posted position.

  • What title do you want?
  • Who do you want to report to?
  • What type of projects do you want to work on?
  • Do you want to manage or be an individual contributor?

Now, you truly have your target defined. Then instead of searching for a job, you’ll search for companies with specific challenges you know you can solve!

What Do Marketing Executives Seek in Ideal Candidates?

Whether you are an active job seeker, or just seeking a promotion at your current employer, the job search process can be frustrating. I’m here to shed a little light on the hiring process from the perspective of hiring managers — CMOs, VPs of marketing, and directors of marketing

Russell Evans, CMO of OnCourse Learning
Russell Evans, CMO of OnCourse Learning

Whether you are an active job seeker, or just seeking a promotion at your current employer, the marketing job search process can be frustrating. It can often seem a mystery why you don’t get calls for jobs where you think you’re a match. And if you do get calls for interviews, then sometimes it’s a mystery why you don’t get the offer. What are they looking for in ideal candidates?

Well, I’m here to shed a little light on the hiring process from the perspective of hiring managers — CMOs, VPs of marketing and directors of marketing. Recently, I spoke to Russell Evans, CMO of OnCourse Learning. At OnCourse Learning, Evans manages a team of 41 that defines their overall go-to-market strategy across multiple on-line campus websites. His own expertise is in brand and product management and he has even developed three patents relating to marketing business intelligence for the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Michelle Robin: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

Russell Evans: It varies by candidate. We follow a process called “Targeted Selection” which is a program put on by DDI (Development Dimensions International). We train our people how to interview using this method, and the specs for our jobs are based on competencies. Depending on the position, these might be things like strategic thinking, follow through and planning. We look for people that excel in those competencies tied to that specific job.

We have a pretty high standard on the quality of candidate we look for. In addition to the competencies, we also look at intangible qualities like teamwork. We want people who are good communicators, able to work through conflicts, can collaborate across different types of organizations, and then achieve break through results with that collaboration.

Robin: Where do you like to find candidates?

Evans: My best success has been through LinkedIn or referrals. I’ve been able to find top quality employees through people I’ve worked with over the years. Sometimes we use local publications like Crain’s Chicago Business and Careerbuilder to advertise openings.