John Younger is president of Accolo, an online community of job seekers and employers seeking mutually beneficial employment matches. That’s a mouthful of words -- something I usually avoid. But as I spoke with John recently during my interview with him, I realized his company is more than an automated human resources system – it’s a group of smart, caring people who facilitate job searches and job placement with a higher goal than simply profit. And that’s what makes that mouthful meaningful!
Like other online job boards, Accolo posts job openings for its client employers. Job seekers can select jobs they want to apply for, submit their resumes, and go through a recruitment process. Here’s what seems to be unique about Accolo: It treats both the employer and the job seeker with equal respect and value.
In the traditional recruiting world, an employer might engage a live human being called a recruiter to find candidates for a job opening. The recruiter’s loyalty belongs to the employer because the employer is the one paying the recruiter for his or her service. Crudely put, the job seeker is a commodity who generates money for the recruiter when he or she is placed in a job.
Although Accolo performs the task of recruiting for its client employers, it does so with a level of integrity and thoroughness that honors the job seekers as much as it does the employers. You see, Accolo knows that the real name of the game isn’t just the numbers on its paychecks from the employers. It’s really about building lasting, growing relationships (among job seekers, job seekers’ networks of other job seekers, employers, and Accolo) that are based on trust.
Here’s how it works: A job seeker joins Accolo (for free). He then completes an online form, which includes the basics: name, address, etc., along with his resume (more on the resume later in this post). The job seeker then searches Accolo’s database for jobs he’s interested in, based on profession, industry, skills, location, etc. While browsing through the job posts, if he sees a job that a friend might be perfect for, he can click on a button to have that job post sent to his friend. Aha! The Accolo community expands through a trusted referral!
Each job on the Accolo site has a human Accolo consultant who handles that application process. The consultant has spoken directly with the hiring manager to understand what’s required for the job, what the company culture is like, and how success is measured for that particular job. He also knows for sure that the job is, in fact, not yet filled (not always true for jobs listed on other job boards).
Together, the hiring manager and the consultant develop a set of unique multiple-choice questions specific to the job, which each applicant is asked as part of the online application -- a first virtual interview, if you will. If the first interview indicates an applicant is a possible match for the job, he is asked to answer more questions, which involve written answers -- think of it as a second virtual interview. If things are still looking up for the job seeker after his second round of questions, he’s invited for a phone or in-person interview.
So what makes Accolo special? Its Candidate Bill of Rights. I won’t post it all here, but essentially, Accolo promises:
1. To keep information confidential
2. That all jobs are validated
3. That each applicant is considered for a job fairly
4. That each applicant will get closure and follow-up no matter what the outcome
Okay, now that you know how impressed I am with Accolo, here’s what I learned about the nuts and bolts of creating and submitting a resume online.
Search optimization: When a search engine “reads” a resume in its database, it searches the content from beginning to end, giving priority to keywords in the beginning of the document. Therefore, important information and keywords should be put near the beginning of the resume to make the “best impression” on the search engine (otherwise known as search optimization).
Here’s a technique John Younger recommended: Make a long list of keywords that describe your relevant qualifications, including hard keywords (like computer applications or manual skills) and soft keywords (like people skills and personality traits). Prioritize all those keywords. Using the top six or so keywords from your list, create a sentence that summarizes you as the candidate of choice (the candidate who will take away the employer’s “pain”). Incorporate this sentence into your job objective statement so that it’s concise and says what differentiates you from others.
Here’s how John’s technique would work if I applied for a job as a technical writer:
- My top six keywords might be: write, edit, documentation, organize, user manuals, and technical.
- My job objective statement might read: Technical Writer with ability to organize, write, and edit technical documentation for user manuals for novice and savvy readers.
Keyword section: Near the end of your resume (that you’ve already loaded with keywords), create a section called Keywords. In this section, put all those hard and soft keywords from that long list you just created. If there’s a choice between various forms of the word (noun, verb, adjective, or gerund; e.g., manager, manage, management, or managing), include all forms. If your list gets really long, John says it’s okay to insert a little flair here and there (e.g., “You’re still reading!” Or “Haven’t found it yet?”) for the amusement of the human reader. Of course, if this sort of humor doesn’t suit your personality, don’t do it.
Upload your resume: Given the choice to submit your resume as a copy-and-paste or an upload of your MS Word or PDF version, pick Upload. This will deliver a resume to the hiring manager that’s most like your beautifully formatted hardcopy resume. By the way, don’t upload a resume that contains images, or colored print or background because these features can make the resume hard to read on the employer’s screen or when printed.
Copy and paste your resume: To copy and paste your resume into the online resume system, first open your resume in MS Word (or whatever word processing application you used to create it). Copy the entire document and paste it into the specified window on the resume website. Review your online resume, adjusting the spacing and indents as needed to make it attractive and easy to read, even though some of your desktop publishing features may have been stripped from the document. Check that characters such as bullet points, ampersands, and quotation marks transferred accurately. Most online systems have perfected the ability to recognize and reproduce these characters, but you should proofread your resume carefully to be sure it’s perfect. Just as with a hardcopy resume, this online resume will be the first impression an employer has of you, so make it a good one! By the way, on most resume sites, it’s What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG, pronounced wiz-ee-wig), meaning your resume will look the same on the employer’s computer screen as it does on yours.
If your hardcopy resume is two pages, delete any reference to the second page that might have appeared at the bottom of page one (e.g., “continued” or “1 of 2”). Keep your name at the top of page two so that when the employer prints your online resume to hardcopy, your name will identify the owner of the second page, should the two pages get separated.
One final piece of advice: When answering online questions as part of the application, be honest -- don’t try to game the system. On Accolo, the questions are designed to create good employment matches for both the employees and employers, which ultimately serves all parties’ interests.
My interview with John Younger was part of my research to update my E-Resume Guide. I’ll take this opportunity to thank John for sharing his insight and expertise with all of us here in The Job Lounge. In future posts, I’ll tell you about my interviews with other online resume and human resources experts.