If there is anyone who still believes there is a place for old-school thinking in looking for a job, #b#Richard Stone#/b# wants you to get over it. All those resume and cover letter books that guided hopefuls through the job search maelstrom of yesteryear are outdated, and Stone says good riddance.
Stone, founder of the Princeton Human Resources Network group (he just stepped down as the group’s leader after 20 years) and owner of the Stone Group communications and HR firm at 252 Sayre Drive, in Princeton Landing, will present “Necessary Strategies for Finding a Job in Today’s Market” on Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. at the Lawrence Library. For more information on this free workshop, call 609-989-6920.
Stone is a career HR consultant who has witnessed a paradigm shift in the way we go about courting prospective employers. Unfortunately, he says, a lot of people, particularly older workers, remain locked into a mode of thinking that went out the day employers realized they could search keywords in their inboxes.
Are those parentheses? The most important first step in getting a new job is getting your resume in order, Stone says. This means making it contemporary.
“You need a resume that looks like it was written this year, not 20 years ago,” he says. “We can tell because we don’t put parentheses around the ‘609’ anymore.”
#b#Titles are also obsolete#/b#. “Titles don’t mean anything,” Stone says. “And please don’t ever use those meaningless corporate titles. Nobody cares what your title was, they want to know what you can get done.”
Get (and stay) connected. An old adage in job-hunting circles suggests that you follow up an interview with a thank-you note. Stone advises candidates go one step further — by sending companies an E-mail note every few weeks.
Make sure to put your contact info at the bottom of your letter, Stone says. Use your name, city and state (not full street address), cell phone number, and E-mail address. “Don’t make me go up to the top to find your E-mail.”
#b#Don’t waste your time#/b#. There is no point in shipping off a bunch of resumes to companies that have not asked for them, yet Stone sees people do this kind of thing all the time. “It’s not going to go anywhere,” he says. “Don’t send a resume to anyone who isn’t hiring.”
And whatever you do, forget the cover letter. “If a company asks for one, then you have to do it,” Stone says. “But absolutely do not bother otherwise. If there’s something great in your cover letter it should be in your resume.”
Companies these days rely on keyword searches to find the right resumes, and HR executives won’t save, read, or pass on your cover letter. Particularly in large companies, say, like John Hancock Insurance, which has locations and departments spread throughout the country, cover letters get lost.
#b#Cast your net wide#/b#. Stone advocates the broad approach to finding a job — at least 100 companies. If you send your resume to 10 companies, you might hear from one or two companies.
So do the math. Contacting 100 companies greatly increases the odds that someone (or better yet, many someones) will call you.
Stone grew up in Amsterdam, New York, where his family ran the Stone Clothing Store. He worked there for one summer and during every Christmas season, but he wanted to get away from small-town New York. He attended Penn on a full scholarship, then ran training programs for Equitable Life before becoming director of personnel. After 20 years, he moved on, working for architectural and accounting firms before going into consulting.
In 1990 Stone founded the Princeton Human Resources Network, a group for HR professionals looking to network, pick up search tips, and exchange leads. The group is by invitation only, meeting every second Saturday at 7 a.m. It had met for years at the Nassau Club, but now that Stone has stepped down (replaced by Bruce Doherty, a Rider graduate and former human resources head at Dataram on Princeton-Hightstown Road), Stone suggests that the meetings might move to another location, perhaps Wegman’s in Nassau Park. The group can be found online at http://bit.ly/cGbGG8.
As for why he stepped down, Stone says “There’s a time for everything. I was wearing myself down and it was just time to go.”