Seven Secrets for a Smarter Job Search

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Job SearchBy Kathryn Ullrich

Here are seven secrets to help fire up your search and fuel your success from a seasoned suffer-no-fools executive recruiter:

1. Recruiters spend 10 seconds "reading" your resume.

Odds are, you can lose up to a third of the words on your resume without compromising the content. So put your resume on a word diet and eliminate the bloat. Remove extraneous words and phrases and generic mom-and-apple-pie references ("strong team player") to bring your experience to the forefront. Additionally, bring your resume alive by branding yourself from beginning to end and by using active verbs to describe accomplishments relevant to your target job.


2. Recruiters look for specialists, not generalists.

Today, companies want specialists who have done the job before. Develop a personal brand, distinguish your skills and strengths, and design your job search around industries or functions targeted to your background. For inspiration, study real-life job specifications online. Recently, for instance, a well-known software company was seeking a seasoned marketer "skilled in developing online video for B2B marketing." Translation: specialize!


3. Recruiters search for candidates who know where they're going.

Have a long-term career strategy or, at the very least, a strong sense for where you're headed. Ask yourself, "Where do I see myself in five to 10 to 15 years?" Then figure out what steps you need to take to get there. Having a clear, concise understanding of your career path can demonstrate your leadership maturity to potential employers.


4. Recruiters care about how you present as much as what you present.

Your communication skills can make -- or break -- your job search. For every situation, from interviews to networking events, know your key points in advance and be crisp and organized in communicating them. Practice your responses to common interview questions, determining the "just right" length to illustrate your strengths and experience, and using interesting, impactful examples as much as possible.


5. Recruiters anticipate well-crafted exit statements.

Be well-versed in discussing the movement on your resume. If you've jumped around a lot, prepare your "exit statement" for every move. Also, if you have gaps between jobs, have an explanation for what you did during that time.


6. Recruiters have finely tuned "BS" detectors.

Be open, honest, and authentic. If you aren't, you won't fool recruiters or employers, at least not for long. They will sense something isn't adding up and will get to the bottom of it. If you've had a bump or two along the road, personally or professionally, be upfront about them. Also, focus on the facts of any situation, not the emotions surrounding it.


7. Recruiters "watch, look, and listen" on social media.

Nearly all employers look at your profile online: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social-media websites. Leverage that opportunity and have your online presence tell a story. Sure, you watch the appropriateness of what you post online, but take it a step further: Tell your story and tout your brand.

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Kathryn Ullrich is a Silicon Valley-based executive search consultant and author of the award-winning book 'Getting to the Top: Strategies for Career Success' (Silicon Valley Press, 2010, $19.95). She also leads Alumni Career Services at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Contact her at kathrynu@ullrichassociates.com.

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