Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nine Takeaways From the NRWA Conference

There were a LOT of takeaways from the 2016 NRWA conference in Annapolis. You can read some of my tweets at the #theNRWAConf2016 hashtag, but I did a Facebook Live broadcast today with my top nine takeaways. You can watch them here.

Here's part one (takeaways #1-7):





And here's the second video (takeaways #8-9)






Takeaway #1: Jean Austin: Presenting Your Clients' Talents, or Answering the Big "So What" Question?


Sometimes we forget that accomplishments do not have to include numbers -- they can be things that can't easily be measured. Here are some questions you can ask:


  • Did they complete a project ahead of schedule?
  • Did they satisfy an unhappy customer?
  • Do they go above and beyond the scope of their job?
  • What would others who worked with them say they contributed?


Takeaway #2: Thomas Powner: Cover Letters: Adding the Human Touch to Ignite an Interview


Thomas got us thinking about the reder of the cover letter. What do they want to know about the jobseeker?


He sent a cover letter survey to 190 recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers. One-hundred sixty people participated. Some highlights of his findings:


  • 63% read the cover letter
  • 49% read the cover letter after the resume

Powner developed what he calls the "Human Voice Cover Letter," which includes four elements:
  • Opening statements that connect the jobseeker to the company
  • 3-5 "human voice" snapshots
  • Answer any questions asked in the ad
  • Closing statement/call to action

Takeaway #3: Colleen McKenna: "LinkedIn: It's Not Social, It's Business"
  • 5.4 people are now involved in most corporate decisions -- including hiring. That means more than one person is looking at your LinkedIn profile.
  • The number one activity on LinkedIn is looking at people's profiles -- everyone's sounds the same. The ones that stand out talk about the "why."
  • 60% of people look at LinkedIn profiles from a mobile device -- keep it short and sweet.
  • If you're using LinkedIn Publishing, experiment with Sunday morning posts. One thing McKenna said is that she thinks browsing social media has replaced the old habit of reading the newspaper on Sunday mornings.
  • If you want to increase your chances of getting your LinkedIn Publishing posts picked up on LinkedIn Pulse, have great content. Publish frequently. Use hashtags. Include 5-6 images on video. And produce long content -- 750 to 1000 words.

Takeaway #4: Kimberly Schneiderman: Recruiters: Answers to Everything

I think my favorite session at the conference was Kimberly's. She took the initiative to conduct a survey of 273 recruiters and hiring managers (plus 10 one-on-one interviews) using the RiseSmart database. 


She shared the results with NRWA conference attendees -- including dozens and dozens of relevant takeaways. Some of my favorites:
  • 40.7% cited LinkedIn as an online source of candidates.
  • "Oneline job boards might results in an interview, but they are LESS likely to result in a job offer." Very interesting.
  • 67% of recruiters actually use their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). So it's particularly important for resume writers to make a strong tie between the client's job requirements and the position.
  • Some recruiters said an unnecessarily long resume will date you.
  • 84% of companies use in-person or phone interviews. Only 4% use recorded video Q&As.

NOTE: If you use any of these statistics, please credit Kimberly Schneiderman/RiseSmart



Takeaway #5: Pricing Town Hall

One of the neatest things about conferences is the opportunity to interact with other participants before and after sessions, and learn from them in the sessions. Conference chair Dawn Rasmussen added four concurrent "Town Hall" sessions this year to allow this kind of interaction among participants. I attended the one on pricing.

The content in this session was generated by participants. Here's some of my takeaways:
  • Several resume writers said they have trouble quoting high prices over the phone -- so they tell clients they will email them a proposal.
  • Remember that not everyone who calls you is a customer.
  • Ask questions before you quote a price. (This will help you determine if you're a fit with the client's needs, and if they're a fit for your process.) You can use the "First Call Questions" special report to help identify questions to ask.
  • If you're not rejected everyone once in a while (told your prices are "too high"), your prices are too low.

NOTE: If you are a Free or Bronze level member of BeAResumeWriter.com, sign in and check out the Free Level Resources page for some additional pricing research and resources!


Takeaway #6: Robin Schlinger: Applicant Tracking Systems

I always love Robin's insight into Applicant Tracking Systems -- even if the information scares me a bit. ATS software is more pervasive than ever, and is probably the number one thing that will impact the resumes we write in the next 1-5 years.


Here's what she had to say:


  • Taleo ATS software is being used by 36.4% of companies -- or about 1/3 of jobs that are publicly advertised. How can you tell? The job posting may say "Powered by Taleo" or the URL of the job posting may include Taleo.
  • Robin likes to give clients ONE resume (not an ATS friendly one and a non-ATS-friendly one).
  • Font doesn't matter with the ATS. Standard bullets may not be read, but they don't mess up keywords if they're not read correctly, unlike text words. Robin pointed out that accented words will screw up keywords. This also applies to client names with an accent mark -- like José -- as one participant on the Facebook Live broadcast pointed out.
  • Tables, graphics, and columns CAN mess up fiends in the ATS -- "like big-time mess up" -- it can put data in the wrong fields entirely. Robin pointed out, however, that it won't "kick out" the resume -- that's a scam. But you won't know if a particular company's ATS software can overcome the formatting issues. So, better safe than sorry.

Robin also shared "Known ATS requirements":
  • Use standard header names to help the ATS categorize information (i.e., "Education," "Training," "Work Experience," etc.)
  • Do not put titles after the client's name -- i.e., MBA, CPRW, PE. These may cause problems with data field population too.
  • Here was an interesting one I'd never heard before: Did you know that Taleo has a setting that (if enabled), allows the hiring manager to reject all resumes without a physical address on it? So include the address, city, and state. Just in case.
  • Repetition is encouraged in ATS-friendly resumes, even if it duplicates information from work experience to work experience. Duplicate content can strengthen keyword density.

Takeaway #7: Modernize Your Resumes: Content, Format, and Design with Wendy Enelow

Following immediately after Robin Schlinger's session on ATS resumes, the logical question (one asked by audience member Thomas Powner and deftly answered by Wendy, was: How do these beautiful resumes fit into an ATS-friendly (ugly!) world? 

Wendy's answer: She would only do these types of resumes (with images, tables, charts, and other graphics) if the client's job search was focused primarily on networking and referrals. If you're not doing an ATS resume, graphics, tables, and images can communicate information effectively and succinctly.

One thing that hasn't changed with the "modern" resume format -- the importance of the top third of the first page of the resume. Wendy advocates "Start With the Wow" -- make every word count in this area. Consider including third-party endorsements and testimonials for additional impact.

Also, Wendy says to consider fonts and design choices on the modern resume -- they need to correlate with the client's desired industry and their personality.

Takeaway #8: So, Tell Me About Yourself … Translating Personal Branding Into Powerful Resumes and Interview Skills with Elaine Lien and Lucie Yeomans

There's no more powerful testimonial for the information that Elaine and Lucie shared than the fact that right before their presentation, Lucie swept the ROAR Awards (Recognizing Outstanding Achievements in Resumes) for Experienced Resume Writers. To me, that really communicated the value of assessments that they use in their branding work. Specifically, they focused on the Reach360, DISC, and StrengthsFinder assessments.

Lucie emphasized how having this assessment information helped her overcome writer's block -- the data gives her both concrete information and a point of view for her client, which makes the resume easier to write.

With the StrengthsFinder, she buys and sends the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book to clients. Each book contains a unique code for clients to go online and take the assessment. She then asks them to send the results to her. (Individual tests can also be purchased online here.)

Again, this strategy is obviously working for Lucie, as her award-winning resumes demonstrate. Assessments like these are things that more of us resume writers probably need to be using.

Takeaway #9: "5 Steps to Creating a Million Dollar Brand" with Dr. Brandi Baldwin-Rana

"Doctor Brandi" was hilarious, and I wish more of the attendees had been able to participate in her presentation. As is usually the case, though, attendees who departed the conference early to make a flight missed this fabulous closing session.

One of the things that resonated most strongly with me is her assertion that resume writers need to work on their own branding. "Perception matters," she noted. (I always say that resume writers/career professionals are like the proverbial "shoemaker's kids" -- they're always barefoot.)

Doctor Brandi suggests creating an Ideal Client profile and using that to attract your perfect clients. (I believe strongly in that too!) She also had attendees write down "3 words that describe your brand." This was a fun exercise.

Then, she encouraged resume writers to align their ideal client profile and personal brand and articulate it -- and COMMIT to it. She said "you never want to be off brand."  


There were a LOT more takeaways from the NRWA Conference, and I'll be sharing more of them, so stay tuned!




2 comments:

  1. Hi, Bridget. I was wondering about using the Strength Finder. Do they actually buy the hardback book and have it mailed to the client? Or is there something the client can complete online?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Michelle!

    Elaine and Lucie said they purchase the book and ship it to the client. However, you CAN purchase the test directly (without the book) here:
    https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/?utm_source=purchasepage&utm_medium=webad&utm_campaign=strengthsdashboard

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis

Facebook Like