Excerpts From Resume Storyteller with Virginia Franco Podcast With Shelley Piedmont
Here is an excerpt from my 45-minute conversation with Virginia Franco from virginiafrancoresumes.com. Virginia is a multi-certified Executive Resume and LinkedIn Writer, Coach and Storyteller. Virginia also has a weekly podcast, and she invited me to be a guest. You can find the audio of the entire podcast here. We talked about my unique perspective on job searching from my years in talent acquisition as well as from being a Career Coach.
Virginia Franco: So given that you have been on both sides (corporate recruiting and a career coach), what do you see as a couple of major challenges facing those that are jumping back in the job search after a long time or perhaps even making a career change today?
Shelley Piedmont: Well, Virginia, I think that one of the things that job seekers feel is a challenge now, here in 2019, is that they hear so much about the low unemployment rate and that it is a seller’s market. So they feel like they should be out there getting a job in two weeks, ten days, and the reality is that it is not necessarily (the case) in their particular profession and in their particular location. So I think for some this is a rude awakening. They think it was going to be really easy and often times it’s not. It can be challenging. So I think that is one challenge.
I think the other major one I see is that with the evolution in this field and in job searching. In the old days, contacts were important, but you could send in your resume and you would get a look through because there weren’t as many. Nowadays, with the applicant tracking systems, it has made it so much easier for people to apply. People really can get lost in that process so networking, making contacts, doing those sorts of things that get you noticed outside of the process by not only the talent acquisition staff but also hiring managers; this is extremely helpful. But a lot of people are reticent to do networking. I don’t know if it is because they are introverts and they are just very uncomfortable with the thought of that and just doing it, but I find that is a challenge for many, many job seekers.
Virginia Franco: No, I concur. You are right about this great market is a dual-edged sword, because it also means that many more people are dipping their toe in where maybe they wouldn’t have, depending on their niches, their industry, or where they live. It can be a pretty competitive process. And coupled with the fact that an ATS means that anyone can hit a button from all over the world to apply to a job, it is really (challenging), I feel that is has overwhelmed the system. So you have to go above and beyond, where before you didn't due to the pool you were considered in, which was much smaller so you didn’t have to go to that extra effort.
Shelley Piedmont: That is exactly correct. You know it takes all of about two or three minutes maybe in some cases to apply for a job. So for the talent acquisition teams and the number of resumes that they have to go through is very large, and there are many people, frankly, that are not even remotely qualified for the job, but they still are part of that process so it slows things down. They say a recruiter looks at a resume for six seconds. I have timed myself, and when I have done it, it has been more than six seconds, but you really have to do a good look through it. Things need to be really like flashing lights on your resume, because if I am going through a requisition, I may be going through hundreds.
Virginia Franco: Yeah, don’t make them dig for it, don’t make it…
Shelley Piedmont: Correct. Absolutely. So if I need to dig really hard to figure out how you meet the qualifications, that is going to make it tougher for you to stand out. And quite honestly, you might get forgotten. It is on to the next.
Virginia Franco: Is there something that surprises your clients the most?
Shelley Piedmont: Sure. I think the biggest thing, honestly Virginia, is how to articulate their value proposition. In marketing, we talk about the “value proposition” and what do you bring, what do you stand for? Very few people, I think, do the hard work of figuring that out for themselves. When you have that value proposition and you know exactly what it is, everything you do becomes a lot easier. Your resume is so much easier to write when you know what you are trying to offer and why you are unique from somebody else. Your LinkedIn profile, how you interview, all of that comes so much easier and more compelling when you know what you stand for. But so many people have no idea what they stand for. It does take a little bit of work to figure that out. It is probably, to me, the toughest part of the job search process, and it is a part that many people skip and that’s to their detriment.
Virginia Franco: It is hard for me, and I am a really good writer, but I did not write my own resume. I had a colleague do it. I find it very hard to write about yourself. You do need to know what you bring to the table and be able to articulate it. Once you figure that out, everything else does sort of fall into place, because you can have a version for a resume, a version for LinkedIn, a version for an elevator speech, a version about “tell me about yourself” in your interviews.
Shelley Piedmont. Absolutely. And you make a good point which is somebody else doing it for you. Obviously, everyone can write their own resume, but the help of having somebody else doing it are the questions that are asked. If I am writing a resume, I am asking specific questions, because I really want to know what you stand for, what have you done, what have you accomplished?
Virginia Franco: Why do people want you?
Shelley Piedmont: Yes, exactly. Oftentimes the reaction I get is oh, I never thought about that.
Virginia Franco: Yeah, yeah.
Shelley Piedmont: Absolutely. So when I am doing that I am also thinking from my talent acquisition hat and my many years of (doing) that. Those would be the type of questions, in talent acquisition, I would have asked. So yes, please make sure you are putting that forward so the person who is reading your resume absolutely knows who you are.
Virginia Franco: So what advice would you give someone, and I am sure they come to you all of the time, (who says) I am thinking about a job search, getting back in there. How do I get started? Where do you happen to start?
Shelley Piedmont: What I really feel is very important in a job search or career move, whatever you are doing, is that it is important that you are going to something and that you are not running away. Too often people do not like their boss, they don’t like the job, or they don’t like the company, or the commute or whatever it might be. They just don’t want to do that anymore., and they are fixated on not doing that anymore and not thinking about what will be best for me. I have so many times heard and have seen people who say I don’t want to work for a boss that is micromanaging. Okay, so they are very focused on I need to get out of a situation where I am micromanaged. So they find another place where they are not micromanaged. But then they can find that they don’t like the company, they don’t like various aspects, (such as) the job doesn’t interest me. They didn’t think broadly. They want to get rid of this situation, but what is going to be the positive? What is going to engage me? What are the trade-offs that I might need to make? If I know what I am looking for, then I can easily decide if that trade-off is worth it or not.
Virginia Franco: So know your deal-breakers. You really need to do your homework. Otherwise, you are just being reactionary, and you might trade one misery for another.
Shelley Piedmont: Yeah, it is amazing. You find, and I have seen this..people will investigate buying a new car longer then they will investigate the employer that they will go to. And you think about it, you are there 40 hours a week, full-time, you are spending at the employers with the people around you, your team, so that better be a positive experience or it is going to be a long 40 hours each week.
Virginia Franco: I have had a couple of discussions on LinkedIn where we said would you ever go buy a house without a sense of where you wanted to be? How big it needs to be? What neighborhood does it need to be in? What the commute is like? You would never do that. But (what) people do with their careers, they often don’t think of it in that way. But it is a huge investment in you, it is a big decision. It is 40 hours a week if you are lucky. So very good advice.
Shelley Piedmont: Absolutely. And people really need to take the time and make sure it is the right place. It is helpful if you have the time to make those decisions. I think what ends up happening, because of financial needs, people will feel like they need to take the first job they come across because they don’t have the ability to either be out of work, if they are out of work, or need to change their situation. This sometimes can work not to their advantage.