Q&A from Office Hours with Jennie Ellis

This post serves as a summary of some of the Q&A that occurred from the 1st Office Hours Session with Jennie Ellis, the CEO of Bandwidth, and the Silver Lining Community. Thank you to all who posted questions and special thank you to Heather Hamilton for answering questions and providing tips.

Q: Do companies that are hiring assume that only poor performers were laid off in this first round of downsizing? 

A: No. In some cases, companies had to lay off some of their best employees as they evaluate how they need to pivot in these difficult times.Some companies base their layoffs solely on time at the company, which does not reflect performance. 


Q: Is it worth it to get recommendations from former colleagues after being laid off? 

A: Absolutely, particularly if you are applying to another company that a former colleague or manager is connected to. If you can get referrals or recommended through LinkedIn, that is the wonderful. You can also take recommendations with you forever and they are a good confidence builder. 

Tip: Send an email first to a contact or former colleague and then follow up with a LinkedIn introduction request etc. 

Q: How transparent should we be about that we were laid off due to COVID-19?

A: You can be very transparent. A lot of companies are looking to support people in this tough time. It can also be a plus as that means you can start ASAP which can be important to companies at this time. 


Q: Are cover letters worth it? 

A: To be honest, recruiters are inundated with candidates and often struggle to just read peoples resumes. But, if you do use a cover letter, use it as an introduction.Mention what your current circumstance is, such as being laid off due to Covid-19 and why you want to work for them. 


Q: How much should you tailor your resume to a certain job?

A: It can depend.  It is better to decide what you want to be targeted or recognized for and use those words.Instead of being specific to the job, tailor it to what your intentions are. Ifthe job you are applying to differs from your experience, you may want to make a more tailored resume. 

 Tip: Work backward from the job description and use some of their language in your resume. You can also reorganize your resume and refine parts. 


Q: How should I demonstrate my superpowers on my resume?

A: Include statements of impact. The impact doesn’t have to be a number, but you should be able to answer the “so what” for each bullet on your resume. Having a summary section at the top of a resume can be good to show off those skills but try to avoid buzzwords and use natural language. 


Q: Assuming this is just the beginning, is it better to find a job / remain employed and take a less-than-ideal role? Or keep looking for the "best" roles?

A: This really depends on your situation. When you feel confident and ready to get back into searching for roles, then try to get active in the community, male connections and keep yourself working. You can move on to another awesome job in the future, but for now just get working again now to meet life needs and be happy. 


Q: How can an applicant tell whether a job posting is "phantom" or real. Some jobs seem to be still posted even for companies that have hiring freezes. It's frustrating as a candidate to chase a job that's not open.

A: This is tough. Unfortunate it can be hard for companies tore-plan/rally around communicating if jobs are frozen or not. But it is still good to apply, just keep in mind some companies might wait until they are back in the office. 

 Tip: Al lot of companies are taking time to post their “real” jobs to other sites like Silver Lining.You can also look at when the role was posted to get an idea. 


Q: How do you feel about pictures on resumes? Should I include my picture on my resume?

A: If your picture is on LinkedIn, no need to have it on your resume.Hiring managers like to look at a resume as a straightforward view of your skills. 


Q: I'm targeting technical program management jobs with tech companies and have a career that goes back to the mid-'90's, with experience as a developer for about the first10 years of my career. How do you feel about listing experience going back that far, vs. age-bias or other kinds of bias?

A: You can start your resume based on the career you are projecting to do. If you had a job early on that you do not want to do again, then don’t include it. With this case however, having a development background as a project manager can be a good thing. You can also list your most recent (last15 years) roles with more details and included later roles as company names and titles. 


Q: It seems like there has been a lot of resources shared around that list open dev/engineering roles. Are there any resources assisting people looking for less technical roles (operations, customer service, sales, etc.)

A: There was a lot of demand for technical roles before the downturn so that is why you still see a lot of them. You are going to see more and more of these types of roles, but SilverLining has also done a good job of listing non-tech roles. 


Q: ATS are looking for keywords. How would I just have applied and missed all the keywords? I feel like I want to do keyword stuffing…

A: One way to get around keywords is to think about your skills and superpowers and then look at other job postings to see what keywords are being used. You can then use some of those words on your resume. 


Q: If a candidate is a fit for more than one job posting at the same company, should they submit applications for all the jobs? Or is it better to apply for just one?

A: You should always apply to multiple roles. There are often separate recruiters working on roles and sometimes they do not communicate that you are a good fit for another role. In a cover letter you can also outline the roles you would be a good fit for and that can help the recruiter communicate with their team. 


Q: Aside from applying through the company careers website, what else can we do to personally reach out to hiring managers? Should we? Is this considered intrusive?

A: It can be positive, and show that you are very interested, but where it starts to get uncomfortable is when someone repeatedly contacts the hiring manager even after the hiring manager has given them an update on the status of a role. 

Tip: The best thing todo is to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. They are processing a lot of people so it can be helpful to see if you have a connection on LinkedIn that can help make an introduction that will stand out. Don’t be pushy, try to keep it to one request per contact.


Q: If there is a job you really want and you are unsure if the position is in a hiring freeze, is it a good idea to follow up about your application or will recruiters see this as annoying/frustrating and therefore detrimental given the current climate?

A: Yes, it is good to apply as they may reach out in the future. It is also hard to tell if there is a freeze or not. 


Q:Where should I go with my career search? 

A: Look where the demand is and companies that align with what you have done or want to do. 


Q: If we are currently learning new skills (Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, etc.) - how do we list these on our resume when there is no real-life application yet?

A: List this on your resume orLinkedIn profile as a part of your education. This is also a great thing to call out in your cover letter.