Have you ever looked at your boss and wondered “Who promoted you?” or “How have you not been fired by now?” If you have, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone — many of us have to deal with a boss that seems in over his or her head.
While it may boggle your mind that your employer actually promoted your boss in the first place, it may not be your company’s fault — your unsuspecting employer probably had no idea that your boss would be the Peter Principle personified.
Who is this Peter and what does he have to do with your seemingly inept boss, you ask?
Well, Dr. Laurence J. Peter is a former professor who published a book based around his theory that “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” and that “In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”
Or, basically: We do a job well, we’re promoted. We do that job well, we’re promoted again. This happens in succession until we eventually rise to a position that we can no longer do well — we’ve reached our level of incompetence. There, we either stagnate, revert back to a lower position or are fired.
One of the most popular examples from Dr. Peter’s book was that of a salesperson being promoted to the role of sales manager, and then hitting a career plateau. The example argues that this is because the skills needed for each position are vastly different.
For purpose of example, let’s take a look at a sales manager many of us are familiar with: Michael Scott from “The Office.” (For more on our recent obsession with Mr. Scott, check out our other posts here and here.)
As the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Michael seems to be a couple sandwiches short of a picnic, a few credits shy of an MBA, or whatever other idiom you wish to use to describe his lack of interpersonal and professional skills. That’s not to say that Michael Scott is stupid, or unfit for the paper business.
According to “The Office” history, prior to being promoted to manager, Michael was actually an excellent salesman, hence his promotion.
Yet if we take a look at Michael’s incompetence through the lens of Dr. Peter’s example – it makes sense that Michael might make a good salesman but a lousy sales manager:
- As a salesman, Michael’s primary responsibilities may have included establishing new relationships with customers, introducing them with his product and convincing them to purchase it. His job may have required a lot of travel and face-time with customers, as well as the rewarding excitement of making a sale.
- After being promoted to management, Michael became responsible for things like the department budget, the sales efforts of his team, making department hiring decisions, etc. Instead of meeting clients and making sales he spends his time dealing with administrative and human resources issues.
This example basically illustrates how the traditional hierarchy in most companies isn’t necessarily set in place to be a strategic, linear career path for most workers.
Although the idea makes logical sense, the Peter Principle shouldn’t be seen as an inevitable cloud of doom lingering on your professional horizon. Now that you know about the Peter Principle, there are ways to avoid it.
Here’s how to make sure you’re not the next Michael Scott:
1. Don’t just accept a promotion because it’s a promotion. Look at the job duties of your current role, and compare them with what you’d be doing in your next role. Are the job functions the same, with just more responsibility? Or would you be moving into a job where you wouldn’t be using your core talents? If the job doesn’t exemplify what attracted you to your current industry, don’t take it.
2. Should you want to move up, look outside your company.If you’re ready to move up, but the role “above” your current one is not a job you want, or one you think you’d be good at — start looking at other companies. Smaller firms will probably have a more limited number of job functions (think assistant, associate and manager levels), but larger companies may have positions you can move to (i.e. senior associate) that will provide a pay and status increase, without taking on management responsibilities.
3. Find other options. You got into your career because it fit your personality and strong suits. If the next step in your professional career doesn’t interest you, it’s time to re-evaluate your situation. Who says you can’t switch careers, or take a few classes to broaden your horizon?
4. Ask for help. If you do find yourself in a position where you’re “in over your head,” or one that’s not in line with your last role, talk to your HR department about it. Tell them that you’ve had to use new skills in your new position, and ask if there is any training available to help you make a better transition into your new role.
What do you think about the Peter Principle? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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This week, a Mercer Workplace Survey revealed seemingly paradoxical findings, as Forbes reports: Workers believe the economy is improving (especially compared to their views three years ago), but they still have serious concerns about their current situation. Specifically, 36 percent of workers fear losing their jobs.
If they think the overall picture is rosier than it once was, how come they’re still concerned? Although analysts will have their says on what this all means, you might be able to boil it down to one thing: people are having difficulty finding jobs.
Even if you have a job, you probably know someone who doesn’t, and as long as the unemployment rate remains high, you’re going to be afraid of losing your job. If stock and real estate markets are up, you don’t feel as safe and secure as when you’re employed and aren’t worried about bringing home a paycheck. It’s simple and you can’t blame workers for being cautious in this economy.
With that in mind, we want to simplify your job search as much as possible. To do so, we pulled together a list of companies who are hiring right now. The following 10 companies have several openings and they need workers to help their businesses thrive in this economy. Take a look at this list of companies across several industries and states. You can click on the company names to see a complete list of openings.
Sample job titles: Tax accountant, accounts payable coordinator
Sample job titles: Java software engineer, Microsoft administrator
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
Sample job titles: Merchandiser, sales development representative
Kelly Law Registry
Sample job titles: Paralegal/legal assistant (junior level), claims attorney
Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Dentist, Community Relations Specialist
La Petite Academy
Sample job titles: Certified pre-K teacher, child care assistant director
Pepsi Beverages Company
Sample job titles: Product availability supervisor, vending/fountain equipment (field) technician
Sample job titles: Director / senior manager – laboratory/bioinformatics, vaccine, scientist modeling and simulation
Sample job titles: Marketing manager, marketing and sales sr. associate
Sample job titles: Team drivers, diesel mechanic class A
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Last night I turned on the TV, parked myself on the couch and watched for hours as NBC rolled out its fall premiers. My mini-television marathon began with “Community” and progressed through “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “Outsourced.” Then, since I was already sitting there, I decided what the heck and I tuned in to the second episode of this season’s “The Apprentice.”
Besides laughing out loud at “30 Rock” and wishing for a time-refund during “Outsourced,” I also found myself picking up on an interesting theme. Maybe my job makes me slightly more inclined to pay attention to these things, but I found that all of the shows I watched last night contained some interesting career advice. I made a mental note of what I learned, and without further ado, here is what fall TV can teach us about work:
1. Age is just a number when it comes to getting an education
While the first episode of “Community” teaches us about little more than Betty White’s sharp shot with a bow-and-arrow, the show’s general premise is a career lesson in itself. “Community” follows Jeff Winger — a lawyer who is forced back to school when the bar association deems his college transcripts inadequate — as he navigates the world of community college. His classmates, which include a single mother who’s taking her first stab at college, a retired moist-towelette tycoon and a woman looking for a new career direction, prove that it’s never too late to start — or finish — a college degree.
2. It’s probably best to stay out of your co-workers’ love lives
This season of “30 Rock” opens to find Liz Lemon having issues with her love life. She only sees her boyfriend Carol, a pilot, a few weekends a month when he’s in town — during which he stays in a hotel. While the visitation situation is fine with Liz, her boss Jack Donaghy thinks Liz is ready for “grown up love;” which entails, among other things, Carol staying at Liz’s place instead of at a hotel during his weekend visits. To move Liz in the direction of this “grown up love,” Jack calls the hotel Carol plans to stay at and books all the rooms for that weekend. Carol then calls Liz, and asks to stay at her place, because the hotel is completely booked for something called “Jack Fest.” Carol’s only other option it to stay at Liz’s place, which forces the couple to have a conversation that Liz is not ready to have … and leads Carol to spend most of the weekend sobbing over their unconventional relationship. Despite Liz and Jack’s close relationship, things always get messy when they get involved in each other’s personal lives.
3. Don’t hire your nephew in an effort to get back in your family’s good graces
During the summer at “The Office”, Michael hires his nephew Luke as Dunder Mifflin Paper Comany’s new administrative assistant, in an effort to patch up relations with Luke’s mother, who is Michael’s half-sister. Their relationship has been strained ever since Michael lost Luke in a forest years ago. Luke proves to be a terrible assistant, yet Michael continues to keep Luke around, despite objections from all of the employees. Luke gets on Michael’s last nerve when he interrupts a meeting Michael is conducting — so Michael takes him outside and spanks him — in full view of all of the employees in the conference room. Luke then runs crying out of the office.
4. Stepping outside your comfort zone (or your country) can be good for your career
“Outsourced” begins with young businessman Todd Dempsey returning to work at his “American novelties” company after a stint at a managerial training program, only to find his office completely empty. The reason? The company has outsourced to India … and if Todd wants to keep his job, he has to move to India too. Although initially skeptical, he makes the move. By the end of the show, he’s not only taught his team of misfit salespeople about American cultural icons like Green Bay cheese heads and “Sweet Home Alabama,” but he’s started to unlock the inner potential of both his team … and himself.
5. Learn to sell yourself like Frank Sinatra
Donald Trump, sovereign patriarch of “The Apprentice”, is always chock-full of wisdom — especially in the boardroom. At the end of the show, he asks the two contestants on the chopping block why they didn’t perform up to par. James, a lawyer, tells Trump that he failed the sales-based mission because he isn’t an experienced salesman. Trump tells James that everyone should be an experienced salesman, because the only people who are successful are those who can sell themselves. Trump says he has met performers more talented than Frank Sinatra, who end up going nowhere because they don’t know how to sell themselves.
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Today’s unemployed job seekers haven’t had the easiest time finding work. That pesky recession (over or not) has put a damper on career prospects for millions of Americans. The job situation is more complicated than applying and waiting for an offer, finds a new survey by Personified, CareerBuilder’s talent-consulting arm. Job seekers aren’t only looking for a job—they want to find one that suits their lifestyle and goals.
Seventeen percent of unemployed workers have received at least one job offer since they became unemployed, yet 92 percent of them declined the offers. Why? As you might expect, pay was the most commonly cited reason candidates turned down a job. In fact, 54 percent of surveyed workers say the salary offered was at least 25 percent less than their most recent salaries.
Why you might say no
While money is the premier reason to say no to an offer, it’s not the only one. Job seekers turned down jobs because the commute was too long, the job title was too low, the position was not in their preferred field, or the opportunity to advance was too limited.
At first glance you might think, “If you’re offered a job in this economy, why wouldn’t you take it?” Sure, in theory any job is better than no job. In reality, job offers require careful examination. For example, if you’re offered a job at an office 20 miles away, you now have to consider paying for gas and the wear-and-tear on your car. And you need to make sure your work attire is appropriate, which can mean buying new clothes or adding a weekly dry-cleaning bill. If you’re a parent, will you need to find a sitter or pay for daycare? Add up these expenses and you could be losing money by taking the first job that comes your way.
For job seekers who can afford to be selective about offers, long-term benefits or setbacks influence the decision-making process. A lower position or reduced salary can cause a worker to regress in his career and have to work several years to once again reach the previous level. In another scenario, if a worker thinks her ideal job is within reach, she wouldn’t want to accept an offer and leave three months later when the better one comes along, thus missing out on a great opportunity.
A complicated decision
Further proof that job searches are nuanced processes than simply saying “yes” or “no” can be found in the breakdown of who is searching and how frequently:
- Workers with post-graduate degrees look more frequently and apply to more jobs than any other levels of education.
- Workers with no college degree apply more frequently and to more jobs than workers with a college diploma.
- Workers with a college degree (but no post-graduate diploma) have the least aggressive approach to finding work.
You can speculate why this behavior play out in this manner, but no one theory works for every job seeker. For example, post-graduate workers might earn more (which means bigger savings accounts to live off of) and be older (with no young children to occupy their time), so they can spend their days aggressively searching and applying without distraction. Or maybe they earn more (and therefore have a lifestyle with bigger bills and educational debt) and are older (with looming retirement) and need to aggressively search to maintain their lifestyle.
No two job seekers are identical, and that holds true for each demographic. Similarly, workers whose previous annual income was $100,000 or higher spend more time searching for jobs than workers in any other income level. Do they need to find a job quickly because of their expensive lifestyles or are high-paying jobs harder to come by and therefore require more intense searches? The answer depends on the individual.
Health benefits are important for many workers, and losing those benefits is a significant issue. Of surveyed unemployed workers, 49 percent do not have health insurance, and for those unemployed for more than a year, the amount increases to 55 percent. And for all the talk we’ve seen in the news of extending unemployment benefits, most job seekers don’t plan to change their approach to finding work because of benefits. Fifty-two percent of workers don’t expect an extension to affect their search, 31 percent think it will allow them to find a job that is in line with their career goals, and 15 percent think it will put a new sense of urgency on their searches.
No one knows the thought that goes into to mulling a job offer better than today’s job seekers. Since you began searching for a job, has your experience been similar to these job seekers? Have you had to turn down a job because the pay was too low? Are you holding out for a job that satisfies your financial needs and career goals? Are these job seekers being too picky? Let us know in the comments.
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One of CareerBuilder’s Facebook fans recently asked us, “Why aren’t I being hired when my resume is fine and I make an outstanding first impression?” Can you relate?
While it’s easy to point to the obvious (Great Recession, anyone?), it might be time for some good old-fashioned tough love. Let’s take a closer look at the three parts of this very loaded question; one or all of these might be the reason you’re still looking.
“Why aren’t I being hired …”
Finding a job has certainly been more challenging over the last few years, but people are still hiring. You might not be able to improve the economy but you can do can control how you search. There are job openings you just have more competition. It’s time to push the discouragement away and fight harder against your increased competition.
Try this: If you want to find a job, you have to be willing to do the work. Do your research and learn all you can about the employment outlook. Look to see which industries and occupations are healthier than others. Pretty much every industry has a professional journal or blog. Become an expert in the field you want to work. The more you know, the more you can show it in your applications and interviews. And that will show an employer what an asset you’ll be.
“… my resume is fine …”
While you might think your resume is “fine,” employers might have a different opinion. Besides, shouldn’t your resume be better than OK? Employers want to see a stellar resume. That doesn’t mean you need to give yourself an Ivy-League degree and inflated job experience, but your resume should present the best professional you possible. That means crisp grammar and no typos. That means showcasing specific accomplishments and concrete skills. That means a stranger should understand your aptitude without you saying a word.
But your resume has all that, right? If that’s the case and you’re not hearing back, you might need to start mixing things up and make some tweaks. Change the format. Add quantifiable results. Each time you apply, make sure you’re resume is telling each particular employer that you’re a match for that job.
Try this: Show your resume to someone you know who has actually hired someone before; ask for feedback and use it to improve your resume (if it’s negative, try not to take it personally). While that person may tell you something you don’t want to hear, it will be to your benefit.
“… I make an outstanding first impression”
Really? How do you know? Did your mother tell you that? Again, you might think you make a great first impression, but an employer might disagree. Put everything under a microscope: your appearance, your handshake, your eye contact, your mannerisms, your attitude. If you’re getting called for interviews but not invited back for a second round or receiving offers, this might be your problem.
Try this: When you find out that you’re no longer in the running for a job, ask for feedback. Try: “Thank you for considering me for the position. May I ask what it was about me or my qualifications that disqualified me as a candidate? Any feedback would be appreciated.” Hopefully, the hiring manager will tactfully respond with something constructive. Whether delivered with tact or not, (again, try not to take it personally) take that response and apply it to your next interview.
Do you have a question for us? Ask us below or post it on our Facebook page.
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Yesterday we mentioned the news that the recession ended in June 2009. We then explained that the news was just as befuddling to us as it is probably is to you. From a textbook, economic standpoint, perhaps the recession did end 15 months ago, but for anyone watching the unemployment rate, things aren’t good enough yet. We know many of you are still looking for jobs, and that’s why we’ve got this list of companies who are hiring right now. Recession or not, here are some career opportunities for you:
Sample job titles: Temporary Halloween sales associate, general manager
Sample job titles: Senior product manager, merchandising specialist (retail software)
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
Sample job titles: Warehouse supervisors, operations manager
Sample job titles: Executive team leader overnight replenishment
Sample job titles: Audit senior manager, financial consultant
Industry: Health care
Sample job titles: Chief nursing officer, director of social services/social worker
Sample job titles: Environmental engineer or geologist, senior trenchless technology engineer
Sample job titles: Senior scientist – nucleic acid purification chemist, senior research scientist – ADME, toxicity, viability
Sample job titles: Facilities service manager, warehouse supervisor
Universal Technical Institute (UTI)
Sample job titles: Associate director regional admissions, temporary seasonal instructor
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Today, the National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the recession ended last June.
When I read that this morning – I thought there was a typo. “It ended last June? As in, June 2009? Someone call the NBER, they’ve got this all wrong!”
But, as it turns out, there was no typo. At least in an economic sense, the recession is officially over.
The reason that I, and probably most everyone else in the country (except the eight economists on the NBER committee) completely missed the end of what will probably go down as the worst financial downturn of our lifetimes, is because many of us are still feeling the “lagging indicators” of the recession.
History says that these lagging indicators, which include unemployment, often take years to recover to pre-recession levels — something that is clearly illustrated in the unemployment rate. In June 2009, unemployment was at 9.5 percent. A year after the recession ended, in June 2010, unemployment was still at 9.5 percent. In August, it was 9.6 percent.
Yet despite a persistently high unemployment rate, there are signs that we’re slowly moving in a positive direction. Below, a roundup of some recent good news from the world of employment, which gives us a reason to hope that someday in the not-too-far-off future, lagging indicators will be no more:
College hiring: According to a recent survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire 13.5 percent more new college graduates in 2011 than they did in 2010.
Holiday hiring: The outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas put out a study today on holiday hiring trends. According to the study, retailers anticipate hiring 600,000 holiday employees this year, up from 500,000 last year, and 384,300 in 2008.
Health care hiring: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the health care industry added 23,000 jobs in August.
Temporary hiring: The temporary employment category has added 392,000 jobs since September 2009, according to the BLS.
Long-term unemployment: The BLS also reported that the number of people unemployed for longer than six months dropped by 323,000 in August.
Pay increase: Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 1.6 percent.
Graduate school: In mid-September, the Council of Graduate Schools reported that first-time enrollment in graduate school increased by 5.5 percent from 2008-2009.
How do you feel about the end of the recession? Is it just an economic formality, or do you think we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel?
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These days, a stint on reality television can provide as much career enhancement as getting a master’s degree or scoring a promotion. Think about all of the television personalities that went on from relative obscurity to become trusted authorities and sought-after professionals — the only catalyst being an appearance on a reality TV show.
Take Christian Siriano, for example. At age 22, he became the youngest-ever winner of fashion-design reality series “Project Runway,” when he took home top honors in the shows’ fourth season. Prior to appearing on the show, Siriano was a makeup artist for Stila Cosmetics and occasionally made wedding dresses for private clients. Since winning Project Runway, his collections have been picked up by stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and he’s collaborated on projects with Puma, Payless and Victoria’s Secret, among others. If it weren’t for reality TV, he might still be behind a makeup counter somewhere.
The same thing can be said for the careers of dozens of former reality TV contestants and stars — Lauren Conrad from “The Hills”, Bill Rancic of “The Apprentice”, various “American Idol” winners and multiple “Real Housewives,” — who have all parlayed their fifteen minutes into careers that are arguably more successful than they might have been otherwise.
Though these tales may seem like Cinderella stories, boosting one’s career via reality television is becoming increasingly common — and everyone from hair stylists and fashion designers, to doctors and lawyers are giving it a go.
We talked to two former stars of totally different shows about how national exposure lead to professional success. Here’s what they had to say:
Prior to winning Bravo’s first season of “Shear Genius,” a reality-competition featuring hair stylists, Anthony Morrison (pictured above) had just opened a hair salon in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and was concentrating on making his business a success. Now –more than three years after he appeared on the show — he can’t keep people away.
“[Being on the show] exponentially increased my visibility as a hair stylist, shining the light on my unique talents and ideas as an artist,” he says. “It also brought attention to my brand new salon, and further facilitated my ability to hire the most talented stylists in Los Angeles because of my work on [the show]. As a natural part of the process, new clients found me and the shop, we continued to honor the ‘old’ clients who had been so loyal before the show, and I built on my reputation as a creative, respectful, responsive business owner and stylist.”
It isn’t only Morrison’s salon that has benefited from his appearance on “Shear Genius.” Since winning the competition, his career highlights have included co-hosting the TLC Discovery show “10 Years Younger” and launching his own signature hair-care line — a long-time career dream.
“I have always had the goal to create a line of hair-care products. I felt that having the distinction of being on a respected show like this one — no less actually winning the competition — would open the doors to partnerships, projects and boundless potential with regard to a line launch,” Morrison says. His product line, Anthony Morrison Weightless Moisture Hair-care, launched last month.
Morrison says he is “humbled and so gracious” for the doors that opened up for him after being on the show, and is glad he’s not ”hair today and gone tomorrow,” like many of his fellow reality stars. “I am boundlessly happy and grateful to those with whom and for whom I have shared this journey,” he says.
Adam Mills has a slightly different story when it comes to reality TV and his career.
After being laid off from his job as a corporate events manager in 2008, Mills said he felt his career hit a stalling point. “I just became another fish in the sea of unemployment,” he says. “When you’re on top, people gravitate towards you; you’re constantly building momentum going from one great program to the next with no end in sight. When you become ‘that guy on unemployment’ you begin to start losing credibility.”
Instead of immediately pursuing another full-time job, Mills decided to try something new. “I got on the show after a late night conversation with three of my closest friends. A simple reply to a Craigslist posting turned into a bet which ultimately landed me on the show. When you’re unemployed, you don’t have any excuses.”
Though admits that he appeared on “The Cougar” — a dating show in which younger men compete for the affection of an older woman — “purely for entertainment purposes,” Mills found that appearing on TV came with the added bonus of a career boost.
“Being on ‘The Cougar’ helped me gain some notoriety within my circle of friends and put me back on the minds of people I worked with in the past,” Mills says. “I was soon flooded with calls from new friends, old friends and my parents’ friends. Everyone just assumed I was now pursuing a career in the entertainment business. This new title was a gateway into letting people know what direction I was headed. I was now back on the radar in the world of event production but this time work was no longer a 9-to-5 job, it was on my terms. I established a company, Division Mind Lab and leads started pouring in. I was back on the map.”
Interested in advancing your career in this non-traditional way? The following shows are now casting:
What do you think about using reality TV as a way to build your career? Let us know in the comments section, below.
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No one would say that being a working parent is easy. If you have a newborn at home, good luck getting more than a few hours of sleep each night. Once your children are in school and participating in extracurricular activities, you have to pick them up at one place and drop them off at another. Don’t forget the overall pressure of having another human being relying on you for food, shelter and clothing. You have enough responsibilities to make parenting a full-time job without ever having to step foot in an office.
And if no (reasonable) person would claim the life of a working parent is easy, you probably won’t find anyone who thinks working mothers have had an easy time balancing work and family. Working women have faced an uphill battle for generations and still do. As we’ve pointed out, don’t be an attractive woman who wants a traditionally masculine job or you’ll be sorely disappointed. Progress has a long way to go.
But the situation for working women in 2010 is better than in previous generations, as we have recently noted. As that study explains, 20-something single women are the ones making the greatest financial gains, and experts suspect that this is because many women choose to get married and have children in their 30s and 40s. Essentially, once a woman becomes a mother, her professional life becomes more affected than her male counterparts. Each couple decides how it wants to divvy up the daily responsibility, but women still seem to be the ones who leave work to pick up the children from school or who stay home if they get sick.
Realizing that mothers (or women who plan on having children) have extra factors to consider in a job hunt, Working Mother magazine has compiled a list of the best places to work. The Working Mother 100 Best Companies list is based on “workforce, compensation, child care, flexibility programs, leave policies” and other factors affecting workplace productivity and culture.
For any worker, especially a working mother, access to on-site child care or the ability to telecommute is important for balancing work and life. Working Mother magazine says that the companies on the list are ahead of most national organizations. For example, only 37 percent of nationwide companies offer health insurance for part-time workers, whereas 100 percent of the companies on the list do.
Although the list is presented without order, 10 companies were highlighted as being the top finishers. They are (in alphabetical order):
- Bank of America
- Discovery Communications
- Ernst & Young
- General Mills
- IBM Corporation
- KPMG LLP
- University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
- WellStar Health System
You can view the 90 other companies here.
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“Looook into my eyes. You’re getting sleeeepy. You want to hiiiire me.”
That’s right; according to one response from CareerBuilder’s annual survey of memorable résumé mistakes, a job seeker actually sent in his résumé with an accompanying video that attempted to hypnotize the HR manager into hiring him.
But the strange tactics don’t stop there. Imagine listing “God” as a reference on your application. According to the survey, one applicant did just that (although he or she did not leave a contact phone number for God).
Hypnosis and divine references aside, other résumé gems included:
- Candidate listed her hobby as alligator watching.
- Candidate claimed to be a direct descendant of the Vikings.
- Candidate’s e-mail address had “lovesbeer” in it.
- Candidate listed “Master of Time and Universe” under his experience.
- Candidate started off the application with “Do you want a tiger?”
- Candidate specifically pointed out that he was not a gypsy.
- Candidate’s condition for accepting the position was being allowed to bring his pet monkey to the workplace.
- Candidate pointed out, “I’ll have your job in five years.”
- Candidate sent a 24-page résumé for a five-year career.
- Candidate put a picture of her cat on top of her résumé.
- Candidate declared himself the LeBron James of table games.
Despite these over-the-top (to put it mildly) attempts at attention, it’s understandable that job seekers want to distinguish themselves from other candidates these days:
- According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, there are 4.8 unemployed people for every job opening.
- Nearly half (48 percent) of the more than 2,500 human resource managers surveyed by CareerBuilder reported they typically review 25 applications or less for open positions.
- Thirty-eight percent said, on average, they spend less than a minute reviewing a résumé ; 18 percent spend less than 30 seconds.
Yet there are still certain lines of professionalism that must be left un-crossed when attempting to get the attention of HR. “While it’s important to stand out from the crowd, job seekers need to make sure their résumés catch hiring managers’ eyes for the right reasons,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Job seekers need to communicate their relevant experience and utilize keywords from the job posting, while customizing their résumé for each and every position. Focus on what you can bring to the table right from the get go.”
Haefner offers the following tips to get you started on your road to résumé success:
Focus on achievements — Instead of simply listing out the duties of your past jobs, list what you achieved in those positions. Focus on significant sales you’ve made or how you increased team productivity — and wherever possible, quantify these achievements. Doing so will show potential employers how you’ve positively affected bottom lines in the past — and how you can do the same for their organization.
Keep it professional– In other words, resist the temptation to highlight your love of alligator watching on your résumé. Try to focus on items that are business-related, such as volunteer work or membership in professional organizations. Also, if your e-mail address does happen to have “lovesbeer” or anything comparable in it, do yourself a favor and head to a site like gmail.com or live.com to sign up for a free, more professional e-mail address.
Make it easy to read — Nix the Comic Sans. Not only are cutesy and ornate fonts harder to read, they can cause formatting issues when sent electronically. Also, use bullet points to break up large blocks of text. Doing so will make it easy for hiring managers to zero in on important points.
Customize it — According to the survey, 79 percent of HR managers said they pay more attention to resumes customized for their open position than they do to general ones. Tailoring your skills and experience to the position you’re applying for will give you a better chance of getting noticed.
Need help making your résumé pop? Check out CareerBuilder’s résumé writing services at www.CBrésumé.com. Job seekers can upload résumés and receive feedback from professional résumé writers.
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