Join Kyle Roed as he discusses with Doug Levin how to cultivate a resume and job search that works!
As the Owner of JobStars USA LLC, my daily commitment is ensuring the delivery of top notch career services.
I run the day-to-day operations and serve as the lead resume writing practitioner. This means empathizing with clients, stepping into their shoes, and leading the process of developing ATS-friendly documents that communicate context, highlight achievements, and provide an accurate portrayal.
HOW I GOT HERE
In 2011, after nearly seven years working in the corporate world and earning an MBA in Marketing, I chose to quit my comfortable job and venture into the unknown. All I knew is that I had an entrepreneurial itch to scratch.
It took blind courage to leave my job and I didn’t have a plan when I made the leap. So, I needed a way to make ends meet. That’s when I started working as a freelance Resume Writer. Day after day (with rare exceptions), I worked on new Resume projects. In total, amassing 10,000+ hours of experience as a Resume Writer by continuously shaping, mastering, and refining my skills over 10+ years.
Concurrently, I started building my business (JobStars USA LLC). This involved developing an e-commerce website, establishing a menu of services, creating processes to serve multiple clients simultaneously, as well as managing all the other aspects of running a business.
Nowadays, I am living my dreams as a small business owner. Thank you JobStars clients!
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Maybe you don't have a passion for benefits. And maybe you want to be more like doing training and development, maybe you want to be pursuing dei and it shouldn't, you know, maybe you want to be more of a generalist. If you're in the HR world, but you're not super happy with what you're doing, take a step back and analyze all the different components that are available to you. And maybe try to find something that you're more passionate about within that space.Kyle Roed:
This is the rebel HR Podcast, the podcast, where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of work, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe from your favorite podcast listening platform today. And leave us a review revelon HR rebels. All right, welcome back. revelator. Our listeners extremely excited for the conversation today with us, we have Doug Levin, he is the owner and founder of job stars, USA, his daily commitment is ensuring the delivery of top notch Career Services. And t does everything from resume writing to career coaching. Welcome to the show, Doug, really appreciate having you here today.Doug Levin:
Kyle, thanks so much for havingKyle Roed:
me extremely excited for the conversation, this is a little different than than what we typically talk about, you know, we're going to be talking about, you know, career development as it relates to HR professionals. But before we get into that, I want to understand a little bit more about your background. So tell me what what prompted you to get into the career coaching and resume writing role?Doug Levin:
Yeah, so taking it back, you know, coming out of undergrad 2005. You know, I joined the company CareerBuilder, that was my first job out of undergrad, at the time in 2005. CareerBuilder was kind of kind of the top of the heap along with monster in the whole kind of job posting atmosphere, you know, the Internet was still relatively kind of new, and it was just, you know, an interesting place to be at an interesting time. So I worked a corporate role at CareerBuilder, from 2005 to 2011. My final two years at CareerBuilder, ran their resume service, it was called CB resume. And long story short, kind of found itself in that role. And just learned everything there is to learn about resume writing, career coaching career services, and just kind of fell in love with it. I love the idea of the business of helping people. Um, you know, I have a natural talent for writing. And so all these things kind of came together. Eventually, in 2011, I decided to kind of quit my comfortable corporate job and, you know, go out on my own. And after having been exposed to the career services world, it was kind of a good way to transition from the corporate world to being self employed. So I started writing resumes, you know, and I became a professional resume writer, and did that for a number of years, around 2016, or 2017, is when my business really started to get going. And so since then, I've been running my business full time helping individual jobseekers.Kyle Roed:
It's really interesting, you know, and I think it's, it's, you know, that world has changed so much, just still, we're just with technology over the last few years. So I'm sure, you know, kind of being on the front lines with CareerBuilder. You've seen, you know, quite a bit of change in kind of just in the job search process and, and how that all works. So what are some of the things that that you've observed? And that have really become a, you know, a difference in that world? Since you started your organization?Doug Levin:
Yeah, I mean, and taking it back to kind of 2005 again, per second, like that's before really eat them. LinkedIn is on the scene, you know. And so I remember around 2007, you know, that CareerBuilder, LinkedIn was starting to make noise, you know, what's this LinkedIn thing. And, you know, before long, LinkedIn, obviously, is what it is today, the monster that it is, and in a good way, you know, there's so much to LinkedIn. And so I think that's been one of the biggest evolutions is, you know, just LinkedIn. The other thing is applicant tracking systems, right. So, companies embracing applicant tracking systems, the growth of that technology from both five to 15, to where we are today, and companies of all shapes and sizes, you know, maybe back in the day the large companies had of applicant tracking systems and maybe smaller companies, you know, didn't have access to that technology. It wasn't kind of scaled out here. But here in 2022, I mean, I imagine pretty much every company is, you know, running through some sort of ATS. And so that's radically changed, you know, thanks for jobseekers.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, absolutely. You know, one of my, my favorite pieces of random advice is the whole, like, put a bunch of white text in your in your resume that you can't see, but that the applicant tracking system can pick up. So does that actually work?Doug Levin:
I've heard that one. I've heard that one from a couple clients haven't tried it, I think probably work from applicant tracking system standpoint. But if you get caught doing that doesn't look great.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, yeah. Little little gamesmanship, I suppose. But it seems a little, little little slimy to base. So So you know, I think it's, you know, it's, it's a fascinating world. It's one of those things where, you know, I've hired well over 1000 people, my career is the applicant tracking system on the back end. But I haven't, I haven't been in the job market for a number of years, you know, even my last position, I didn't really search for it, it just kind of, you know, found me. So, I guess I'm a little bit uneducated on the candidate, you know, what experience and exactly what that looks like. So as you bring on a new client, as you think about a plan and a strategy to get somebody into either a new career or a new job, you know, what are kind of some of those initial steps that you take somebody through as you're building out the plan there?Doug Levin:
Yeah, I mean, so, when it comes to the applicant tracking system, you know, one of the things with job seekers, there's, it's kind of a cloud over their head as far as a lack of understanding about what applicant tracking systems are, why they matter how they're used by employers. And so I try to give my clients, you know, the fundamentals of what we need to do to build an ATS friendly resume, one of the things that is really important is to understand is that there's hundreds, if not 1000s, of different applicant tracking systems out there, you know, an applicant tracking system is really just kind of technology, it's an umbrella term, right, or software that companies use to manage the flow of applications. So you have, you know, major ATS like taledo, and other ones, and then you even have internal, you know, kind of company built applicant tracking systems are very system. So, it's not necessarily one size fits, all right, there's all these different systems and as a job seeker, you're approaching this, and it's hard to really even understand that. But what I try to do with my clients is to build an applicant tracking system friendly resume, that means it's free of distortions, that means it's, you know, aligned with their target. So part of it is like making sure that the, the resume is able to be analyzed by the applicant tracking system, the automation of pulling the information, understanding what's on your document, and part of that is using the right keywords. So, you know, when I'm working with a client, you know, it's like, I'm trying to assess what's the background, what's this individual's background, what's this individual's focus from seniority level, industry specialization, functional role? Right? So are you an HR generalist, are you benefits and comp specialist, you know, whatever the case may be so using the right keywords, language terminology, is also part of making the resume ATS friendly so that it's going to score well with these applicant tracking systems.Kyle Roed:
Think that's really, you know, it's interesting, it's a different way to think about a resume because I think a lot of us, especially those of us that you know, were in HR before applicant tracking systems really took hold it's it was all about crafting the story, you know, was the make sure the sentence makes sense and make sure that you know, you're using the same tense and all that. Make sure the objective is on point. But keywords are just a little bit different. So maybe the you know, dumb it down for my nontax tech savvy friends, you know, present company included, is a keyword really just essentially what you want to be known for, on the resume you know what, what you want somebody to take away from it.Doug Levin:
So I think the way to think about the keyword is, it is. So when you're thinking about keywords, and we're talking about for the benefit of applicant tracking systems at this point versus the human reviewer, I mean, keywords and key phrases matter to human reviewer too. But specifically as it pertains to scoring well, with an applicant tracking system, it's about kind of using the language that you're going to find on the job description. So you want your resume to possess keywords and competencies, you know, phrases that you would likely see in the job description for the role you're applying to, you know, so a keyword or key phrase can be anything from, you know, a functional expertise, like benefits and compensation, that could be a key word or key phrase. Another kind of key word or key phrase could be something seniority level as so, you know, being an executive or being a director level professional. So I don't know if that answered your question. But yeah, I mean, it has to help the applicant tracking system, understand what's on your resume, tie that back to the job description that they're hiring for. And hopefully, if you're using the right keywords, and a lot of a lot of that content, it's going to help you score better when an ATS is automating the process of evaluating your resume.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, makes sense. Yeah, I think it's, it's interesting to think about it in that context, but you know, it's not dissimilar from, you know, the advice that any HR professional would give, you know, anybody writing resume, which is make sure the resume is applicable to the job you're applying for, right? You know, first of all, make sure you're qualified, but then make sure that the, you know, the resume matches, right, as opposed to just having like, the days where you could just like, apply to 100 job apps using the same resume? And you know, not really not really think about it, am I on the right track?Doug Levin:
Right, right. And often case, you know, sometimes it requires building multiple versions of a resume so that you can be hyper targeted, and narrowly, you know, focus on your objectives. And so I often give the example of like, you know, you could, like I've mentioned benefits and comp, but it's just a good one where, you know, in HR, you can be either kind of an HR generalist, right, where you do everything under the sun HR. And so, you're gonna select more broad, broad ranging keywords and key phrases to try and hit on all those things. Maybe training and development is a piece of that, you know, maybe dei is a piece of the whatever. But if you specifically are like, Hey, I'm a benefits on comp guy, or gal, or, you know, I just want to work in benefits and comp, then the keywords and key phrases you're going to select are going to be more narrow, they're going to be more targeted specifically on things that matter to that focus.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, hats off to all you COPPA benefits, folks. But that is not me. I'm definitely the other kid. But I have hired for those roles. And yeah, making sure you find the right kind of right person is, is critical. So the other thing I'm hearing here, and I'm you know, maybe shifting to the other side of the recruiting puzzle here is, if the entire point of the applicant tracking system is to match keywords with the position profile, or job posting, how important is it to make sure that job posting is accurate?Doug Levin:
Yeah, that's huge. When you're building a job description, and you're an HR professional, I mean, and of course, every applicant tracking system is a little different. But assuming yours, you know, is effective, that kind of analyzing resumes versus the job description, you're that you're hiring for, the more detailed, you know, the better your job description. The better results in terms of its analysis of, you know, potentially hundreds of resumes, right. So if you're posting a job, indeed or or zip recruiter, what have you. You know, I imagine many hiring managers are seeing hundreds of applicants to these roles. And so that's I think, why a lot of, you know, people rely on The automation of applicant tracking systems because there's just only so much time in the day. And so the better you can do to build that job description 100% You know, then your ATS is going to perform better at analyzing resumes.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. And I think, you know, it's, it's an interesting topic, it's something that I think, you know, especially for our listeners, who are primarily HR practitioners, it's a good reminder that, you know, the tool is only as good as the information you put into it. You know, I, I have seen, especially over the last few months, a really sharp increase in applicant flow. You know, I think the, one of the last HR positions I posted, got, you know, 70 resumes in the first three days of being posted, right. And so, you know, they're, they're the reality of sifting through all these, it's really time consuming and challenging. And so, you know, leveraging a tool to help you is, is important. And, you know, I think if you don't, you're gonna be doing it yourself, and you're gonna be using a human algorithm instead of a computer algorithm. So, you know, think about, think about that position profile, that job posting, make sure it's on point, both for your sake, but also for the candidate sake, too, because I think there's also a lot of times, and I'm sure you've, you've heard this, Doug, where you, you have a job posting, and somebody will apply for it, and then they actually talk to a human about the job, and they're like, this is not the job that's posted. I'm sure you've never heard that.Doug Levin:
No, not once. Yeah, so just been hiring for it and just being friendly to your applicants, right, and making your hiring process, maybe better than the one next door? Entrepreneur?Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. Are you What are you seeing out there with your clients as it relates to time to, to get a new job? You know, I think it you know, things were going pretty fast and furious here over the last, you know, couple years, I feel like, you know, maybe things are slowing down, what are you seeing out there as relates to, you know, kind of time to fill and that candidate experience from that aspect?Doug Levin:
But yeah, it can, it can range quite a bit, you know, I think people go about getting jobs and in many different ways. And so some manners of finding work take longer than others. You know, I think the traditional kind of search and apply, where you're going to a website, you don't have maybe any connections to the company, and you're just kind of coming in cold off the street, you know, applying to a job, that timeframe tends to be a little bit longer, because you know, you're kind of a stranger, you're going through all the, you know, the hoops of, and a phone interview, an in person interview, probably a second or maybe third in person interview. Whereas, you know, if you're coming through from wrong, let's say, a friend of a hiring manager, you pass your resume along. And you kind of someone's vouched for you, perhaps, that can move a lot faster, because there's a lot less risk for the employer. And, you know, they're quicker, they feel like they have more trust for you as a candidate, because you're coming through someone that's referred you that they trust. And so that bexon makes a huge difference. But I think it just varies from company to company and person to person. You know, sometimes I'll work with a client, they're coming to me in kind of a difficult position. In a month later, they're like landing a job that they're really happy about. And it's amazing. And then other times, I'll have clients that seem like they're in a really good spot, very marketable, have good credentials, and they're on the sidelines for three or six months. And they're not, they're not sure why. So it can really very interesting. So,Kyle Roed:
you know, I'm curious, I think, you know, to shift gears towards, you know, individuals who are maybe maybe looking for something new or considering something new, you know, what are what are you seeing there? You know, specifically in the world of human resources as far as why people are, are looking to do something different, or maybe some common themes that you're saying for for folks that are looking for, for something different coming out of human resources, either a different company or a different career.Doug Levin:
Yeah, I mean, I think specifically within e feature, there's a lot of different avenues that you can pursue. And so maybe you get into HR. And, you know, let's just go back to the benefits on comp, let's say, you know, you've somehow for some reason you go to school, you get your degree, you know, you join, Sherm, and you know, you get your first role, and you're working in HR, and one thing leads to another and you find yourself in like a benefits on comp, maybe you don't have a passion for benefits and comp, maybe you want to be more like doing training and development, maybe you want to be, you know, pursuing Dei, and it shouldn't, you know, maybe you want to be more of a generalist. And so maybe, you know, the passion, your natural inclinations, the things that you value, aren't, you're not necessarily getting within that specific niche. And I think it's just about, you know, especially in HR, it's just so broad, there's so many different avenues that you can explore. I think, you know, if you're in the HR world, but you're not super happy with what you're doing, you know, take a step back and analyze all the different components that are available to you, and maybe try to find something that you're more passionate about within that space.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely, it's, you know, like many occupations, you know, HR can be extremely varied, especially depending upon the company. That's who worked for it, right, and kind of where HR sits in that company. So companies, they're the culture, you know, torchbearers and they're driving, you know, strategy, and it's up in other organizations, they're, they're more of an administrative compliance kind of a resource, right? And so, you know, I do think that's, that's an area, if you're an HR professional, and you're just not not satisfied, it doesn't mean that the, the occupations wrong for you, it might just be that either you, you need a role change, you know, either within your current company, or or, you know, maybe you need to step away, it just kind of depends, I suppose. But yeah, I think it's a really good point. And I'm sure you, you see that, are you? Are you seeing an increase? Given kind of the macro environment recessionary fears? That sort of thing? Are you seeing an increase in folks that are maybe a little bit apprehensive and looking to find something that's more stable, or, or just find something different?Doug Levin:
You know, that's a good question. Um, I think a lot of the headlines, catch people, you know, and so you go on LinkedIn, and you see, you know, metas, laying off X number of people, or there's been a lot of layoffs in the technology space, specifically, but when you look at the big picture, you know, I was looking at the job numbers for October coming into November, and we actually, you know, had more jobs reduced than expected by close to 55,000 jobs. So I guess the point is, you know, try not to get too caught up in the headlines and the things that you're seeing, you know, there's a lot going on underneath the surface that we don't see on a daily basis. And so just have faith and belief in yourself. I think, regardless of what the economic conditions might be inflation rising, people getting laid off, I mean, it's still a great time to be in corporate America. I mean, there's a lot of opportunity. There's new companies coming on board every day. And so I think it's just finding your niche.Kyle Roed:
Okay, good. Well, that's encouraging, although it doesn't make a recruiters job any easier. But I appreciate that perspective. So, you know, you, you have spent a lot of time with with, with your clients, and then, you know, kind of working on their career goals and, and building out your business. What's one piece of advice that you would give somebody who's listening to this that is either just starting the job search, maybe they're currently in the job search, maybe they're just dissatisfied in their current job? Yeah. What's a piece of advice you would give them as they start to consider their options and approach?Doug Levin:
So as you're approaching the job search, I think one piece of advice is to just know your value proposition. So, you know, understanding as you're approaching putting together your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and your general presentation to go and approach employers, you know, understanding what it is that You offer what it is that you can bring to the table? And where do you fit in the organizational hierarchy? And so that really boils down to what's your functional role? Right? Again, but are you benefits on comp person? Are you an HR generalist? Are you training and development specialist? And it's okay, if you don't know the answer, but it's helpful. If you can say that, you know, one or the other of those, then that's understanding, do you have an industry specialization, you know, maybe you've been working for a bank, or like a finance company for the last 15 years? Well, you know, you might have some particular expertise, you know, even if you're an HR professional, but you're working for Bank of America for the last 20 years. When you go out onto the job search, and you start applying, you might want to think about, hey, I kind of do have an industry specialization in banking and finance. And that can make you a more kind of competitive candidate in those types of roles. So, again, it's your functional role. Your industry specialization, if you have one, and then your seniority level, right? Are you entry level? Are you professional? Are you management? Are you C suite, understanding where you fall into that hierarchy is really important. So once you have those three things, I call them, the three pillars are establishing your kind of professional brand and value proposition once you understand your three pillars. You can approach the resume and LinkedIn with a clear head, understanding what it is that you're trying to communicate, and then kind of it builds itself from there.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely, I think that approach just makes makes a lot of sense. Having some sort of a framework or a structure to approach it by, you know, just I think there's so much value there. And I think it's really, really great advice, something to think about for, for anybody that's out there, you know, kind of wondering what's next. So, with that being said, really appreciate the time here. But I want to switch gears because I'm curious to get your perspective on the rebel HR flashrom. Questions? Are you ready? I'm ready. All right, here we go. Okay, first question, Where does HR need to rebel.Doug Levin:
So coming from my unique perspective, where I'm working with job seekers every day, you know, and I take that approach, I would say that HR might want to rebel on its overuse of applicant tracking systems and automation and technology. Maybe we've gone a little too far on that. And that we need to rebel towards kind of a middle ground, where we're leveraging technology with kind of that human element, because I think a lot of jobseekers feel very frustrated, unseen, you know, unheard. And sometimes a job seeker just wants to be, you know, to be seen or to be heard. And so, maybe just a little more of a human touch, you know, and rebelling against too much automation.Kyle Roed:
Yeah, it's it's kind of a slippery slope, right. It's the, you know, it's the trade off of convenience. But, you know, you might be inadvertently, you know, missing out on some really great candidates just because you're trying to be more efficient. Or you might be getting the wrong candidates, if your parameters are wrong, you know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of risk there that you just need to be be aware of. I mean, you know, here's a great example, at one point, I was doing a search, and we wanted somebody within a specific geographic region, but the way that we, you know, the way that we populated the knockout question, you know, inadvertently kicked out a number of really qualified candidates that later the hiring manager, they reached out to the hiring manager directly, and the hiring managers like, Well, why aren't these enlist you know, they, why didn't I talk to these people? And it was, it was just something as simple as, you know, the, the language in that knockout question was, wasn't appropriate. And we just had to change it. Right. But it's simple stuff like that, where I think I think you're 100% Correct. We just got to be thinking about that. So all right, question number two, who should we be listening to?Doug Levin:
Who should we be listening to as HR professionals? Yeah. You know, I think everyone You know, whoever you can get good advice from, I think you need to listen to your applicants in this particular case, you know, maybe understanding what the job seeker is experiencing when they're interacting with your organization. So, from my perspective, just trying to listen to the job seeker, understanding their experience, their plight, and how you can improve your HR systems to be more friendly to them.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely. Great advice, Doug. It's been wonderful connecting with you. How can our listeners connect with you learn more and connect with your program?Doug Levin:
Sure. So jump starz.com is my website. I provide resume writing and career coaching entry level through exact broad range of industries, I'm easy to get a hold of, you know, just feel free to check out my website. If you're interested, you know, hit the Contact Us and happy to review your resume or, you know, provide any advice or feedback that I can.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely, we will have all that information in the show notes. So feel free to pop open the podcast player you're listening to this on, you can click right in connect with Doug. Doug. It's been great, great connecting with you really appreciate you helping us think a little bit differently about the candidate experience as well as give us some tips if we are also kind of looking for something different. So thanks for joining us have a great rest your day.Doug Levin:
Yeah, thanks so much for having me. Congratulations on the success of your podcasts. You know, it looks like you're doing an awesome job. And I know people get a ton of value from it. So again, thanks so much for having me and I hope we had some value for your audience today.Kyle Roed:
Absolutely did. Thanks, Doug. Appreciate it. All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Maybe