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Transition Masters Tips


By Frank Shea

If it has been more than five years since you last sought employment, your experience is invalid. If you don’t accept that you will have a long and hard road getting the position you seek. Don’t try to tell everything about yourself to open the interview. Focus on how tightly your skills and accomplishments match the Job Description (JD).


Accomplishments you are proud of, or things you believe are interesting have little or no value if they are not relevant to the JD. They may be a distraction that takes the focus off what the interviewer needs to know about you to hire you.


Your opening statement should be precise, concise, void of filler words, and must not sound rehearsed. Craft it until it is perfect and then rehearse it again and again. To be able to do this you need to start with a JD that is very close to your ideal job. 


You need to know your answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question with a response focused on that JD so well that you are not anxious about your ability to deliver it flawlessly under pressure. Joe and the coach's ability to help you get to that point is directly dependent on the JD and your resume. The resume by itself is of little value.


An interviewer will form a strong bias, either positive or negative, in the first two minutes. The remainder of the interview will be to confirm that initial bias. This makes your response to “Tell me about yourself” critical to your success

Just answer the question. Elaboration is your worst enemy.


The interview is not about you. It is about how well you fit the JD. Well-crafted Problem, Action, Result (PAR) stories/statements are the most powerful tool you have in the interview.


A "wordart" word cloud is the best way to visually identify what, not who, the potential employer wants to hire. Do a wordart graphic on your resume and the job description and compare the two. Do your homework. Linkedin, Mission statement, word cloud, JD. A LinkedIn profile with a photo is 21% more likely to be looked at compared to that same profile without a photo.


You will need two resumes. An adjective-heavy one to get through the ATS and a second much briefer one that is tightly focused on the JD and your directly relevant skills and accomplishments to hand to the interviewer at the beginning of the interview. A high-quality focused resume that is the ideal tool for the interview may not score well on an ATS or Jobscan because the ATS and Job Scan focus on keywords.


The following tips about ATS's are from the producers of the top 5 ATS systems in use in the US. Date 10/20/2020

  • A resume should be as simple as possible

  • It should be in Word. Absolutely not in PDF

  • Simple font, not fancy, creative, or decorative

  • It will not process a jpeg, pictures, tables, graphs, or text boxes

  • A candidate will need two resumes. One to use to get through the ATS and another one tightly focused on the JD to hand to the interviewer

  • Each customization will reduce the chance that it will be read

  • Clients are asking for only a few (3-7) resumes to be moved forward regardless of the number of applicants.

  • Using a percentage of the resumes received has yielded too many applicants in many cases and is no longer the preferred way to identify the top candidates

  • Headers for sections are absolutely necessary

  • Attempts to fool the system by using a tiny, paper-colored font or stuffing a resume using a keyword many times out of context will result in that applicant being “tagged”. The ATS will reject any other resumes from that candidate from all of its tracking systems

  • An ATS will count keywords but can now read and understand the context around the keywords. Using the keyword in the appropriate context is scored higher than the number of keywords

  • The heading should read ‘Professional Summary’ or ‘Summary’ ‘Work History’, or ‘Employment History

  • List here and left dates only once when the candidate has had multiple positions or promotions at one company. An ATS will understand that the jobs/promotions are ‘nesting’ at that one company

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