22 comments on “Screw the Parachute: Unconventional Ways to Amp Up Your Job Search

  1. My name is Matt Charney; I work for Monster, but these opinions are my own. Steve, great article here. I think despite the good intentions and well meaning, a lot of job search “expertise” that’s proliferating on the social nets (including BTR/podcasts in this category) might actually be detrimental to job seekers.

    I think it’s “Buyer Beware” in terms of seekers wading into the still-murky waters of Outplacement 2.0, although there are some obvious best practices involved in the job search. You nailed these in your article.

    The reality of social, however, means trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible (the approach of a lot of content out there); the topic, finding a job, is anything but.

    The rest of the employment industry (or the capitalist system, for that matter) trends towards specialization. Why can’t advice for job seekers?


  2. I’m so glad to see the new outlet to document your experience, advice and opinion. What you have done in this post is reverse engineer the job search to provide the candidate with advanced recruiting technique for their own means. When I work one-one-one with people I may or may not provide similar advice depending on the individuals level of comfort. Though they make a lot of strategic sense, unless job seekers are recruiters theses tactics will not only be foreign but often unsustainable. It’s like a person who can’t afford a car so they buy a model kit.. usually it ends up half put together in the basement.

    P.S. All recruiters should be this good…


  3. Great Post Steve, but then again i am not surprised either.
    this post is making me rethink my job search. The ideas
    you suggest are ones that are simple but elegant and not
    even suggested/though of by many job search coaches…


  4. Bob-want to bounce some more ideas off my bald head? All you have to do is call me…

    Karla-so formal! But I have to disagree that the techniques I wrote about aren’t sustainable – anyone utilize these ideas even if it’s taking a highlighter to a single publication. Legacy? Everyone has a legacy from a previous position. Vendors? Here too. In all cases a job seeker may not be 100% engaged like some mystic job seeking warrior but even a little bit outside the lines is a differentiator.

    Matt-I worked in OPC (outplacement counseling – everyone has an acronym) 1.0 but with friends at the big three (DBM, LHH, Right) my take is that they’re still viewing candidates as nails as they approach them with hammers…

    What bothers me most is that the “community” continues to sell the dull parachute – even Monster – when we recruit for “color”. Think about the contrast of a speck of red on a gray tone picture…


  5. Steve –

    Great input. I’ll definitely be adding your techniques and insights into my client arsenal. We’ll agree to disagree on resume design, but I will concur on your view of the fluff verbiage so prevalent on candidate resumes. What is a multi-tasking people person anyway?

    There are basic tenants to a good search. There are advanced techniques. Covering them all and personalizing the message specific to two job seekers in 60 minutes is nearly impossible. Thank you for taking the time to expound on the points you shared during the broadcast. We’d only begun to scratch the surface. The education process is ongoing.


  6. Oh Dawn you are so much more diplomatic than me but I’ll tell you something about resume design: Far too many people who help others write resumes and coach peeps during their job searches believe that if you can’t dazzle them with facts, try to baffle them with bullshit. To me that means fancy fonts (unless a creative person and aesthetic creativity is part of the job), lines, emboldening “special” words so the reader notes them, ad nauseum, are gimics, thinly veiled attempts to get to that next step. Everyone knows these things work from time to time but in the long run they inculcate into the mind of the jobseeker that they are more skilled than the reality – and leads to disappointment as the search drags on.

    Bottom line is to be smart and authentic…

    MVD – Perhaps “100 Job Search Techniques That No One Writes About Because They’re Tangled Up in Parachute Cords”


  7. Screw the parachute? A bit extreme perhaps, unless you are into free falling.

    Re: your job search advice – excellent, spot on. Not really new ideas, but definitely under-used by the average job seeker, which is a shame because they work. Plain and simple.

    Re: defining your legacy – really great idea, and again, not enough people do it. I am a big fan of resumes that tell a career story, and aren’t just a list of job functions and isolated accomplishments. I’m also a ruthless user of the “so what” test.

    Re: resume format – If only all recruiters and hiring managers were as thorough as you – reading the second page, no less – then everybody could get away with a brown paper bag version of their resume, and content would be king.

    But the reality is they aren’t. Resume fatigue kicks in pretty darn fast. I know, I’ve been on the other side of the table wading through a four inch stack of resumes. After the first twenty, they all start to look the same.

    Minimize ink? By all means. Cut out the extra words, don’t use four when one will do, and don’t wordsmith the resume to death. But the selective use of italics, bolds, lines and even, gasp, color, can be useful. It breaks up the page into bite size pieces that are easier to digest. It’s a basic principle of good web design, and is equally applicable to resumes.

    Re Outplacement Services – Often, outplacement service providers are the lesser brother of a recruitment firm whose primary goals are
    1. to maintain good relationships with their client (who isn’t you, btw, it’s your former employer);
    2. find excellent candidates for other openings they currently have on the go.
    All too often, once they’ve picked over the cream of the crop, the remaining candidates are pushed out the door as quickly as possible. This means hastily written resumes, generic job search advice, capability assessments that read like horoscopes, and minimal coaching. Ugly truth, but there, I’ve said it.

    Re Bottom line – the goal of career coaches and resume writers shouldn’t be to make our clients look better than they are, but to make them look as good as they are. It *is* defining their legacy; it *is* researching target industries and companies to find out what skills are in demand;
    it *is* teaching the fundamentals of networking, which includes knowing who to call and having the courage to pick up the phone; and it *is* creating strategically written career marketing documents that are tailored to the information needs of their target audience, only 5%-10% of whom will be recruiters.


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  9. Great post Steve- You bring up some great thoughts, and I will be re-evaluating my approach to Job searching too. Thank you for the kindness you have showed in reaching out to me. I look forward to many more insightful conversations with you. I am with Mike Vandervort, Write the Job search book, and I will buy it, But,, I want mine autographed. LOL.
    You ROCK!


  10. Your Random Job Search Thought really nails something simple that people don’t recognize until they are in NEED – personally connecting to another human being for the sake of making a connection (yes actually having a conversation) will ALWAYS trump just clicking “accept”.

    What’s the saying… “…It’s who you know…”

    We really do our best to get to know candidates in our outplacement program – it takes a heck of a lot longer but the results are candidates putting their best foot forward, feeling good about it AND being connected rather than being nailed into a template. I don’t know how anyone that has been involved in recruiting and then works in outplacement doesn’t see the value in this differentiation.

    Glad I found you here – you’ve got tons of great content!


  11. You are brilliant, Steve! This is the real meat and potatos of our industry and why you are so successful. It reminds me of a search lesson you taught me back in 2005, when I was working for a big pharma, on a difficult position – only it was candidate search instead of job search. (You told me it was a trade secret…shhh. And I never told anyone!)

    I do take one teeny-weeny, itsy bitsy, spider exception to your resume formatting – You are so right that ATS’s could care less what your resume looks like, and I might add that they also do a great job in “mangling” them to death. But, a hand delivered paper resume needs to have some kind of format with a few highlighted or italics details, otherwise the words just run together and you have to decide where one job ends and another begins. Basically, stick to the “keep it simple,” rule! It works.


  12. Welcome back to the recruiting blogosphere, Steve. Feel free to tap into Recruiting Blogswap should your pen run a little dry.

    I love the idea of tapping into vendors. A recently hired pharmaceutical sales rep told me years ago that when she wanted to get into pharma sales she was told to visit her pharmacy and doctor’s office and ask if she could look at the business cards left by the drug reps. The pharmacist and doctor obliged as they knew her and liked her enough to know that she’d raise the level of intelligence amongst those sales reps — she was really sharp. She then had contact info for people already in the industry, networked, and was hired.

    You also are raising the level of intelligence amongst those of us who have been writing about issues related to recruiting and we welcome you back with open arms!


  13. Steve, I really enjoyed this article. Upon you mentioning the show you called into, it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, “Traditionalists often study what is taught, not what there is to create.”
    To your point about avoiding legacy accomplishments, I agree with the fact that this is a shift in thinking . . .
    My only concern is whether the recruiter/resume-intaker/appointment-setter on the other end of the funnel will have any clue what the word “sustainable” even means.
    My experience says that I doubt it, that is unless we’re talking about an experienced Exec Recruiter worth his/her salt.
    For me, if I received a resume speaking to accomplishments that persist forward, I’d know I’m dealing with someone who wants to make a real difference (i.e. “Good to Great” mention of Level-5 leadership: extreme humility and tremendous willpower) . . .
    The truth is that I would likely update the resume to reflect the mindset (or lack of one) at the Hiring Manager or HR level.
    Great conversation and super-long post. You didn’t come back half-stepping :)


  14. Steve loved the blog. Thanks for the mention but what I loved even more than the blog is the fact that we have done only 2 shows so far on Extreme Candidate Makeovers to date and out of 4 candidates 1 has accepted a job 2 1/2 weeks after being on the show and listening to the advice given, 1 has had more calls and potential opportunities after the show another is working with a coach from the show and is doing much better than they were prior and last 1 is looking for a position that they are not qualified and even you couldn’t help them when they reached out to you.
    So, while I agree that sometimes things seem a little bland and colorless we think things are heading in a positive direction. But hey speaking of colorless parachutes seems yours is a little gray at this point. Is that intentional to match you twit pic.?
    Feel free to call in to any show always enjoy your opinions. Again, thanks for the mention and good luck with the blog!


  15. Eric-Nothing like a good firm handshake, eh?

    Brenda-Teensy weensy thought for you: I didn’t say write a resume devoid of bold, italics, etc. just keep non-essential ink to a minimum. Hey, I love when people give me resumes on parchment paper with gold leaf…

    Josh-My thought is that when we as a field of “professionals” – recruiters, coaches, resume writers – begin to preach new concepts, we’re going to add lots of color again to people as individuals rather than as masses that can be more easily managed with a common template.

    Paul-As you know by know, I can be a Drama King in that I like to push envelopes just to see the limits of the paper. One of the peeps on the call I was on became the target of a few of my calls; my purpose was to seed a few new ideas into their heads outside the resume; I’m pretty sure I succeeded in doing so.

    Realistically though, I know that I spent an inordinate amount of the blog post focusing on the resume rather than on the real vehicle of the job search – the person’s psyche – and I suspect most do the same. At the core, if we can assist the jobseeker in becoming personally amped up to network, etc. then the resume becomes merely one brick on a very wide road to a job. So sometimes pushing the envelope on things such as a resume can help energy jump from paper to soul which is the real vehicle one needs for success.


  16. Steve, I got that teeny weeny itsy bitsy thing from Nancy Polosi. I was making fun of her. Some great conversation here, though!


  17. Pingback: Favorite resources for job seekers | The Write Solution

  18. Pingback: Favorite resources for job seekers | Career Management Alliance Blog

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