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3 Formulas for Powerful Achievement Stories

Day 102-365 by Markgranitz of Flickr

Day 102-365 by Markgranitz of Flickr

 

After you have defined your distinct brand and clarified your target audience, you are tasked with creating content and messaging that will resonate with your target employer and position you as a competitive candidate for jobs of your choice.

I know that résumé writing doesn’t come naturally to most people, even writers and marketers. In fact, a lot of us go to work feeling like we are merely fulfilling our functions and collecting a paycheck for our efforts. We are completely unaware and unawakened to the value we bring to an organization and the greater purpose and impact of our work. Yet, identifying and articulating this is what will enable you to inspire your next employer to offer you the job.

At a minimum, you must set up some context for what you did, and prove that you did it well or better than someone else who might have filled that role.

At a maximum, to excite the employer, you want them to be able to easily visualize you succeeding in the role by using an approach and being a personality that meshes with their culture. The impact is the extra step most formulas are missing. Distinct from a result, the impact is what occurs after a job has been done well.

For instance, writing a résumé that my clients completely love is a result. The impact of the résumé done well is that it produces interviews. The impact of an increase in interviews is an increase in confidence and hope. This leads my clients to feel a greater sense of empowerment and control over their professional destiny. I may not include all of these impacts in the résumé, but I would most certainly start with the most immediate impact on my client, and then in my LinkedIn profile go into greater details about the most fulfilling part of doing a job well, which is the trickle down impact and cascade of further positive outcomes.

To just get started with the basics, here are some formulas that can help you build the bullets of your résumé and prepare anecdotes that will validate you have the skills to do the job throughout the interview process.

Most achievement story templates tend to be two to three paragraphs that fit on one page. They may be included in a portfolio or binder that you bring with you to interviews. However, most people do not easily recollect details buried in paragraphs, and you will not want to read your achievement stories in an interview. At the end of the last formula, we will tell you how to remedy this.

 

Beginner formulas:

 

  1. PAR/CAR – Problem/Challenge > Action > Result

Problem/Challenge – This becomes difficult for someone who, say, closes the monthly financial books.  Ask yourself, what are the consequences to the business if this job is done poorly? Within the answer you will be able to find the value. It is what you may prevent from happening.

Action – What you did, specifically, to resolve the problem or overcome the challenge.

Result – The proof that what was done was effective.

 

  1. STAR – Situation > Task > Action > Result

Situation – Includes Who, What, When, Where and How

Task – What had to be done and what the challenges of doing so were

Action – What YOU did, specifically, your individual contributions

Result – What was the measurable outcome? How do you know you took the right actions?

 

Advanced formula:

  1. SCPDASTRI – The EPIC formula

My formula is not as simple an acronym, and you would not necessarily use all of these components in a bullet in your résumé. Use this formula to lay the foundation of a cohesive story that your résumé, LinkedIn profile, interview and other venues compliment and supplement, building greater and greater excitement.

Situation – the conditions that existed that necessitated a change or some kind of action

Challenge(s) – what made this an impressive feat

People impacted and the impact – who was experiencing the conditions AND who was engaged to address it

Decision made – and who made it/them

Actions taken – and by whom (“we” is not specific enough.)

Skills, talents applied – “hard” and “soft” skills

Tools used – technical tools, as well as approaches and methodologies

Results – what outcomes did the actions produce in as many measurable terms as possible. Think about showing PROOF that the action was taken or that it was successful

Impact – how that trickled down to other people

 

For a résumé intended to be concise, you would pick out the most impressive components, and start to build bullets from the bottom of the formula and work upward.

For a LinkedIn profile, you would include more of the backstory and use natural language, versus concise résumé speak.

In an interview, you would actually want to break the story out into bullets, and, depending on how you best recollect details, associate these bullets with something memorable to you. (More in a future blog on this.)

It can be quite a leap from thinking of your job as fulfilling your daily, weekly, monthly duties to seeing clearly the impact that you had on an organization by doing your job well. I recommend that you start with the basic formula. Build it into your résumé to have something effective that will help you present your skills, knowledge and experience. Make sure your LinkedIn profile converts your bullets into a compelling story, and then convert your story into even shorter bullets that will be easy to remember when you network and interview.

Then, as you master that, start to expand your awareness of your value and impact. Look past your duties to the reasons you were chosen to do the job, and why your bosses and co-workers should be grateful that you were the one in the position (whether they were actually grateful or not).

Fill in the additional details from the advanced formula. Re-craft your bullets and LinkedIn profile. Enhance the achievement story bullets that you have already been recalling with ease with additional details that paint an even more vivid picture of what it looks like to have you in the job.

 

The better your interviewer/future boss can visualize this, the harder it will be for someone else to come in and make a stronger impression.

 

The Shoo-in Trap

Trapped by Christos Tsoumplekas on Flickr

Trapped by Christos Tsoumplekas on Flickr

Beth was certain she was a shoo-in at her dream company. The web administrator had gone through several interviews and even met with the company’s CEO. During each interview she was told that she was an excellent candidate and she was perfect for the job. Everything seemed to be going Beth’s way and she began to think there was no way she wouldn’t land the job. After receiving great feedback from her potential employer for a month, Beth quit searching for other jobs. She even turned down interviews and offers from other companies to focus solely on her dream job. Several more weeks passed and Beth received a phone call. The Web Administration job at her dream company had gone to a stronger candidate. She was shocked and devastated. She had put all of her job prospect hopes on one position at one company and the position fell through. Nearly two months had passed and Beth suddenly found herself having to rebuild momentum for another job search.

In Beth’s case she originally had momentum going into her job search. Momentum in the job search is like a steam train. It takes a lot of preparation to get the train to start moving and to get the fire hot enough to boil the water. Once that train starts, it takes less and less effort to keep it going. When you know there’s a mountain up ahead, you put a little extra coal into the fire to keep the train moving. It gets tougher toward the top, but once you reach the pinnacle, it’s an easy road down. Depending on one opportunity to come through, no matter how certain you are, is like getting the fire going to get the train moving, and then expecting that fire to create enough steam to move you up a mountain. The only thing about a mountain is you know when it’s coming, you have a map and can see it in the distance. In your job search, a mountain can be any obstacle and you don’t necessarily know it’s coming.  In that respect, it’s like any challenge or unexpected change in life. In a job search, anything can happen, and as a former recruiter I can tell you with 100% certainty that nothing is 100% certain.

The moment Beth thought her dream job was a sure thing she slowed down her momentum and stopped exploring her other options. In short, she placed all of her hopes on one job prospect, and when it fell through, she didn’t have another job offer lined up or other prospects in motion. Candidates can be turned down for a number of reasons and it’s always best to assume the job isn’t yours unless you’re actually offered the job.

Now, let’s re-imagine Beth’s scenario- Beth has a dream opportunity, and several other opportunities. She really wants the dream opportunity, but doesn’t want to slow her job search momentum. She uses another offer to entice her dream company into action. They might make her an offer just to prevent her from accepting a competitor’s offer, IF they really want her. And, if they don’t and they’re a good company, they will be fair and give her the information she needs to make a well-informed decision about her other offer. That company will set her free. This is an ideal scenario for when you’re seemingly a shoo-in for one company you love, but you also have strong prospects at other companies.

 

 

Don’t let your train run out of steam

 

Getting a call for an interview and acing several interviews can definitely build confidence in your job search. After all, getting called back for an interview and landing several more interviews means that an employer is strongly considering you for the position. That said, it is folly to believe that a few rounds of interviews automatically translates to securing the position even with spectacular feedback. You want to believe the position is yours, especially if it is your ideal company. At this point in the game, it may be tempting to put your job hunt on hold in order to focus on that one position. If there’s no offer, there are still concerns, questions and potentially other candidates. Former Marketplace host, Tess Vigeland describes being a shoo-in as the next host of NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered, only to not get the job.

Limiting yourself by focusing on one company means that you are potentially missing out on other great opportunities, and you are limiting your income. You have the ultimate leverage when a company really wants you, but another company gives you a great offer. (Note: there is a tactful and professional way to approach this, as well as a way that will cause both companies to revoke their offers. Proceed with caution.)

Even if you’re convinced that a possible employer is the very best fit for you, it is impossible to be certain without fully exploring your options. An employer who is a better fit for your criteria may offer you a job opportunity. If your current job pursuit is going extremely well and you love the company, nothing is truly a done deal unless you’ve signed an employment contract and have a start date, and even then I’ve seen job offers fall through. Focusing on one employer also means you’ve slowed down your job search momentum and potentially caused that momentum to grind to a half if you aren’t the final candidate. Here’s another scenario to consider: You could drop all of your other employment prospects to focus on one job, research the company and discover you don’t want to work for that company. Now you have to restart your job search. This extends the time, money and effort you have to expend to land your ideal job.

 

 

Why promising candidates are turned down

 

Promising candidates are frequently turned down for positions even if they seem to be a perfect fit. The most common reason why candidates are rejected is because someone more promising or qualified is given the position. Having a series of great interviews and being told you’re a great candidate may just mean you’ve made it to the final round of the job hiring process. You may find yourself as the runner-up, despite being a very strong candidate. Imagine it from the employer’s perspective- you’ve just had a great interview with a strong candidate and that prospect matches all of the criteria for the position. The decision process is coming to a close and at the last minute you interview someone else. Now you have two very strong candidates in the final round. Both candidates have great qualifications, but you go with the job seeker who’s a better cultural fit and has better chemistry with the team. If you have your employer’s best interests at heart as a hiring manager, naturally you’re going to choose the candidate who’s the very best match for the company. In fact, team chemistry really matters in the hiring process. I’ve seen SO many job seekers believe they were a shoo-in for the job because they felt amazing chemistry with a team and a boss. They aren’t able to see how another candidate can come in and have even better chemistry.

 

Other reasons for being rejected can range from surprising to petty.

 

  1. The funds for the position were never there, are reallocated, or spent

 

Perhaps the hiring manager was given the green-light to interview for positions, but they never received the necessary budget to actually hire a candidate. The job seeker and the hiring manager go back and forth, and it seems like a done deal until the funds for the position don’t materialize in a timely manner. When the funds and the position are finally available, you have given up on the job and moved on.

I actually experienced this first-hand. In 2002 I was looking for a recruiting job for 10 months. During that time a company that I really wanted to work for told me that I was the strongest candidate, and the only candidate, but the company was undergoing a reinvention, as did most companies during that time in order to survive the recession. For months I followed up weekly, eagerly hoping to hear that the position was ready to go. This was also true of another small recruiting company. I was the lead candidate, but was the position really open?

It was too tenuous of an economy for any firm to know if another recruiter was really necessary. I lived this and learned from this experience myself. Within those 10 months there were three jobs that I not only felt strongly I would land, but was the ONLY candidate being considered. It took me 10 months to learn that momentum was critical to optimizing my chances at landing a job, and I became more proactive AND responsive to EVERY job lead and introduction.

After finally landing, I was laid off again three months later, but the next time it only took me five weeks to land, because I had learned my lesson. Even if you have 10 to 12 months worth of savings in the bank to cushion a longer transition, that’s 10 to 12 months of income LOST instead of saved or invested for your retirement, your ultimate vacation or your own business. Learn from MY mistakes and save yourselves nine months.

 

  1. You had a bad reference

 

The position could have very well been offered to you, but near the end of the hiring process one of your references spoke poorly of you. A bad reference could have come from a client, co-worker, or a previous employer. This could be especially true if you left your previous job on a less than positive note. A bad reference isn’t always malicious. They might have said something as innocent as, “Yes, they were late more than three times.” BANG. You’re out of contention. It is also not uncommon for former bosses or co-workers to give a potential employer their opinion about your performance, especially if he or she didn’t like you. Or, a reference may not have been expecting a call, and a potential employer has a difficult time contacting them. This could also reflect badly on you. Recruiters can also call people NOT on your reference list. If they have their own contacts, they’ll be resourceful enough to reach out to people they know. Making sure you have references that are willing to say positive things about you, and letting them they will be contacted can help avoid inadvertently getting a bad reference. If you know you a former employer won’t provide a good reference, you may to warn your prospective employer about that reference. A quick tip: Stick to the facts and keep it simple; don’t go into your “story” about what happened.

 

  1. Someone at your potential employer recognized you

 

You could have aced all of your interviews, had great references, and you could have been the very best candidate for the job, only to have a former co-worker ruin your prospects. A co-worker you didn’t get along with may have landed a position at your potential employer. He or she may have recognized you during an interview and later told the hiring manager that you’d be a bad fit for the company. They could have not liked you, genuinely thought your work was subpar, or they may be jealous of your talent. Whatever the reason, they had enough sway within the company to completely halt the hiring process.

 

Recovering from a job rejection

 

No one likes rejection. It is easy to internalize a job rejection and see it as a personal failure. Feelings of depression and doubts about your self-worth can set in, sending you on a downward spiral. I wrote about positive ways to deal with job rejection in a previous article. It is important to remember that your ability to quickly land a job isn’t directly tied to your worth as a person. Job rejections are common and you’ll hear “no” several times before someone says “yes.” If necessary, give yourself a little time to recover from your rejection. You may need a few days or as long as week. Focus on your accomplishments and move forward in your next job search. You may have not gotten your dream job, but the opportunities to land another job are plentiful, as you search smartly and target your next employers.

 

 

Best practices

 

It can be easy to become fixated on one dream job at your ideal company. In reality, it is best to have several job prospects. You want to be in a position where several companies are extending job offers to you, instead of assuming you got the job without an actual offer. This means researching companies and making sure they meet your list of criteria, networking with and connecting to people at a potential employer, and it also means being the candidate employers don’t want their competition to hire. This can be accomplished by presenting a strong résumé, crafting a personalized cover letter, and having a positive social media presence that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. Being a desirable candidate and having multiple job prospects at once ensures that your job momentum doesn’t slow down, and that you’ll always have additional opportunities if you ultimately aren’t selected by a particular employer.

 

 

Being a shoo-in for a particular job is a great feeling. The danger of being a shoo-in is that you may be tempted to ignore other job prospects in order to focus your energy on one job. Expand your self-image to see yourself as a shoo-in for multiple jobs, in a position of empowerment and choice. Your opportunities will be abundant, and you’ll never be limited to just one job. You won’t have to face the disappointment of not possibly getting that job. Think of it this way- your train is steaming ahead and a mountain is fast approaching. You know the mountain, like any challenge in life, has the ability to cause your job search to lose momentum. You want to keep your train moving, so you carefully stoke that fire to help you get over and down the mountain to your next destination safely with your valuable cargo. Don’t place all of your hope on one dream job at the expense of other jobs. It takes extra work to keep multiple job searches going, but the results are well worth your effort. Having more opportunities means you’ll recover from setbacks quickly, land your next job faster, negotiate the salary you want, and enjoy the freedom that overall financial well-being can bring.

 

Catch Your Next Job with the Right Tools

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/fishjob Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/fishjob Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Trout season is approaching in Pennsylvania! Would you try to catch those fish by throwing stones at them? Throwing stones could possibly work, but using a fishing rod is a much better idea. We’ve all heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Learning how to fish is great, but you’ll still need the right pole. A rod used for fishing in a serene lake is very different from a rod used to fish in a choppy river. You also can’t ignore the importance of a good lure, bait and a hook. Not being able to catch fish means starvation, especially if you’re dependent on that catch for your meal. At the very least, you’ve wasted your time and energy with efforts that don’t pay off for the day. How many days can you do this before you give up? Likewise, when it comes to job opportunity, skills are crucial, but you still need the right set of tools and a good location to reel in an employer. Like a fish, a good employer can provide substance in the form of financial security, a sense of purpose, and putting your passions to use.

Find a place to start by creating a plan:

If you were going fishing, you wouldn’t start by running to the closest creek and casting your line. First you would decide on what type of fish you’d like to catch. Then you would research an ideal fishing location, and ask a few fishermen to tell you about it. Next, you would get your gear in order and you would be certain to make sure you have the right pole for the situation. You can think about job hunting in the same way. You locate your ideal employers, research the company, work your networks, manage your brand, revise your résumé and review it.

In my article, “Become an Effective Job Hunter: Work Smarter, Not Harder!”, I wrote that you can see tremendous results in fewer hours than you think, if you put your time into the right resources. A lot of job seekers may be tempted to apply online through job boards and internet searches, because they think they’ll be missing out on opportunities AND because it’s a habit. Or they perhaps they work during the day and feel that the job boards are the only resource they can turn to after work hours. However, the percentage of people hired via internet searching is shockingly low. Less than 10% of people are hired by employers through this method. In fact, only 5% of your time should be spent looking for work on job boards, after you’ve set up your agents and have validated suitable results. Choose two days per week to check your agent results and add those companies to your target company list, research them, network and market yourself appropriately. Relying solely on job boards is like going to the ocean to catch fish. The fish are plentiful and so is the competition. The chances of getting the fish you actually want are slim. This concept can be summed up succinctly by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, “The fishing is best where the fewest go.”

Picking your employer and role:

Do you want to work for a large employer, or a small company? There are positives and negatives associated with employer size. A smaller company will most likely have you wearing multiple hats. In other words, all of your skills will be put to use. If you’re the type of person who likes doing multiple jobs that take advantage of your dynamic skill set, a small company could be a great fit. If you prefer to do a specific job, and you don’t mind being slotted into one position, a larger company may be a better fit. It really depends on your needs, and your ability to identify those needs. These are typical characteristics of jobs at smaller and larger companies, but there are also exceptions. Your target list goal, if your criteria defy those typical characteristics, would be to identify those exceptions and research, network and market to them appropriately.

Once you have a company size in mind, and a possible employer, it is time to research that company. Job review sites like Vault or Glassdoor are great places to get a feel for employers, including salary rates. There may be companies worth flocking to. Other companies may raise too many red flags, or may not be a good cultural fit. I wrote extensively about this process in my article, “You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!” In addition to salary and healthcare benefits, vacation time can be considered as part of your compensation package. At this stage you’re still at the pre-qualification level, not unsimilar to when an employer determines if you meet the minimal qualifications for a job. At this point, you’d really want to do as thorough a job searching them as they would do to qualify you. There are some great research tips within the Daily Job Search Tips on the Accelerfate Facebook page.

Work your networks:

Networking is the number one tool in your job seeking endeavors. The word of mouth has serious power; according to a 2012 ABC report, 80% of job seekers land their position through networking. It is similar to the way a fishing buddy can help steer you to the right fishing spot. Start with your professional connections, friends, family and even alumni for job leads. Reaching out to employees and hiring managers at companies you’d like to work for could result in a job. It is through these professional and personal networks that possible job openings can be discovered. When companies have exhausted their internal candidates, they will often rely on referrals from employees and job seekers they’ve met at informational meetings. In short, networking is the lifeblood of a job seeker. Many people don’t think that they have a network. Other people assume that their network doesn’t know anyone. There are also people who’ve tapped their network, but got few to no results. Without connections, finding a job becomes significantly more difficult. I discuss how to tap into these networks in my vlogs, “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?” and “Get Interviews in Your Network.”

Your personal brand:

Networking is an outlet for your personal brand, and your brand messaging should be consistent with networking as with your content. A well-crafted online presence can be thought of as a lure for job recruiters. For working professionals, LinkedIn is absolutely the best place to be. Over 97% of recruiters looked for talent on LinkedIn in 2012. It also serves as a great tool to engage with recruiters, and further research an employer. You can receive job postings along with company news through the service. The postings are a great way to become aware of opportunities and to find out who you know that could recommend you for the job. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile recently, make sure you’re not using a default headline and that your profile doesn’t mirror your résumé. Make connections to your corporate and school alumni, if you haven’t already. You can also take your experience on LinkedIn to the next level by joining groups within your industry.

Facebook and Twitter are other platforms for your personal brand. You can cultivate your presence on these networks in order to capture the attention of employers. These are great tools for sounding off about your industry, keeping abreast of news, posting news, and following influential people within your industry. Professional blogs are also a great way to demonstrate your knowledge about your industry. Workers with a passion for their field, and those who take the initiative shine brilliantly, and stand out from the competition. Again, if your personal brand can be likened to a fishing lure for employers, bold and bright lures tend to capture attention. It’s like being the most attractive, juicy bait for your ideal catch.

Hook employers with your résumé and cover letter:

A fishing pole, lures, and other types of bait aren’t very useful without a good hook. No one wants to work hard with networking and personal branding, only to let the job get away. A well-polished résumé and cover letter can get an employer to bite. A personalized cover letter is the result of your research on a company. It stands out and makes it impossible for a hiring manager to ignore, even if the company isn’t hiring at the moment. A generic cover letter makes it much easier for a recruiter to ignore and weed out potential candidates. My vlog, “Our Cover Letter Secret Sauce” discusses how to write a customized letter. A well-tuned, well-customized letter can garner same-day responses from top executives at highly attractive employers. After all, taking the time to write a great cover letter shows an employer how passionate you are about the position, and how you could bring that same passion to the workplace.

A résumé is the deciding factor in getting that all important interview and most hiring managers only spend a few minutes looking at them. Taking the time to invest in a professionally written résumé can help you stand out from other job seekers. You are competing with hundreds of other potential candidates for the same position, and hiring managers are inundated with résumés and cover letters on a daily basis. The key is not just having a powerful, branded résumé, but getting it in front of decision makers.

You have your job skills, and you’re very good at your job. Think of landing a position at a new employer, like catching a great fish. Locating a spot where few reels are cast by others, wrestling with the fish, the excitement of pulling it into your boat and ultimately tasting the success of your hard work is a thrilling reward. Not only are you great at sustaining yourself with the job hunt, you can easily do it again the next time you’re ready to move on. New employment opportunities can bring greater financial gain, and renewed passion in your professional life, especially if you feel stagnant at your current employer. To get to the next level of your professional life, you’ll have to reel in a great employer, and you’ll need a good set of tools and the right techniques to stand out from the crowd. These techniques consist of brand management, going to where the recruiters are, and reaching out to hiring managers to ensure that they see your cover letter and résumé.

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Top 10 Corrective Actions to “Fix” Your Job Transition

Photo courtesy of JD Hancock (http://bit.ly/1whbJh7) "The Fix Is In" : Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) on flickr creative commons.

Photo courtesy of JD Hancock (http://bit.ly/1whbJh7) “The Fix Is In” : Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) on flickr creative commons.

The good news is that there are a lot of people out there who want to help you find a job.  The bad news is that not all of the advice out there is good.  In fact, some of it, when followed, will stand between you and the job you want and need.

There are also things that job seekers do that completely contradict the good advice that is out there.  It never ceases to amaze and alarm me that job seekers spend their time engaged in activities that do absolutely nothing to help them achieve their goals when there are so many enjoyable activities that will.

Here are the top 10 things that I have personally seen done in the last 8+ years with alarming volume and the things that can be done instead to help job seekers gain and sustain momentum in their job search.

  1. Asking people who cannot personally vouch for your performance to help you get an interview in their company

People currently in a job that they want or need will make keeping their job a priority.  They will not do anything to jeopardize their reputation or the well being of their organization.  They will, however, be sure to make recommendations that have a high chance of improving their company or make them look good.

Corrective Action: Request a new contact’s time to better understand the organization’s needs.  Inspire them to give you an introduction to the stakeholders so that you can recommend solutions, even if the solutions are other people.

  1. Inviting people you don’t know to connect on LinkedIn with no indication of why they should want to connect

Certainly, there are a lot of people out there who want to help.  Even helpful people have a limit to their time and their willingness to help strangers who may abuse the network that they have invested time in nurturing.  You DO have a lot more to offer than just filling an open position in a company.  You have a network of your own and solutions to problems.

Corrective Action: When you identify a contact who may be able to assist you, review the contact’s profile for indications of how you or your network might be able to serve him or her, such as in the recent status updates.  Then, write an invitation that requests a phone or in-person meeting to discuss how you can help each other before you join each other’s network.  Then once you do connect, use the notes field of the profile to record what you identified as that person’s needs and be proactive to follow up on them.

  1. Using a boilerplate message to invite people to LinkedIn or importing contacts

About every article or speaker that I have ever seen on the subject of LinkedIn has advised users to replace the boilerplate LinkedIn invitation. Unfortunately, almost all of LinkedIn’s screens inform you of people you can invite, or prompt you to do so, without giving you the ability to customize your message. You actually have to visit their profile and click on the CONNECT icon to have the option to customize your message.

Corrective Action: Personalize every message and be explicit as to what assistance you are seeking while offering yourself and your network to help with their initiatives.

  1. Asking a company that has extended an offer to wait for you to hear from other companies

Let’s say you were on a date and it went well and you asked for a second date for next Friday, but he or she wants to wait until next Thursday to let you know.  Now let’s say they told you that they wanted to wait until Thursday because they want to see if a hotter date is going to pan out or not.  Now let’s say you’ve been dating for months and you proposed, but your amore wants to explore his or her feelings for someone else before giving you an answer.  When you consider that a company spends weeks or months trying to find that special someone, and you usually have weeks to consider the company as a match, more time to consider an offer puts the company at risk that they might have to start the process all over again.

Corrective Action: Request 48 hours to evaluate a company’s WRITTEN offer and give them an answer in that time.

  1. Going above the hiring manager’s head to get ahead in the interview process

If you are already in consideration for a position, there are ways that you can improve your chances, but there are also ways to hurt your chances.  Trying to engage inside advocates often just creates internal conflict.  Most hiring is not done democratically.  A new person can really tip morale one way or another, so everyone has a vested interest in who gets hired, but few have the authority to do the hiring.  Keeping a company’s politics in check so that it does not affect productivity is already a tricky enough task.  Asking someone to “pull some strings” if they are not the hiring manager is a request that can put everyone in an uncomfortable position.

Corrective Action: When you identify additional contacts in an organization, ask them to help you gain additional perspective on the organization’s problems (without jeopardizing confidentiality) and discuss potential solutions.  Then you can include this insight in the WRITTEN thank you note that you send to the hiring manager and any other stakeholders who were involved in the interview process.

  1. Ask people to pass on leads for positions that match your job title

Chances are, even if you are “flexible,” you have more criteria to the job that you would accept than it just matching a job title.  Logically, it may make sense that the more general you are when you ask people to keep alerted to positions for you, the more leads you will receive.  Practically, however, your function in a company rarely cleanly matches a job title and not only will you receive job leads that you will not want to follow up on, but the people who pass them on will be discouraged and less likely to pass something on if they think you will not follow up.  Also, by the time a posted position makes it to you, it is often too late in the game to be considered.

Corrective Action: Explain to people what problems you solve, for whom, and what conversations they might hear that indicate that an introduction would be beneficial to all parties. When you do receive a lead that does not fit, but includes a contact name, follow up, be forthright and offer to help them find the right candidate.

  1. Only seeking the help of those in your field

Back to the song from Sesame Street, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?”  Think about the people who see other people all the time.  People in your field may see other people in your field, but they also might be limited to seeing people in their field that only work for their company, and once they exhaust their own company as a viable employer for you, there may be past colleagues.  According to a University of Virginia study, we are all connected by no more than seven degrees of separation.  If you are on LinkedIn, it probably surprises you how you are connected to people.  It is very visible once you put your network into a digital map.  What about the rest of your network, however?  What about your dentist, your mailman, your landscaper, the cashier at your favorite lunch spot? They also see other people all the time!

Corrective Action: Make inquiries of people who are outside of your professional realm to see who and what they know that might help you find out who has problems that you can solve.

  1. Asking other people what kind of job you should be pursuing

When you are doing a self-discovery process to determine what your next line of work will be, the input of others is sometimes helpful; it is impossible to be objective about yourself, after all.  However, no one should know more about what you want than you.  People generally have great intentions when they make suggestions, but most of their reasons will be in direct contrast to YOUR priorities.

Corrective Action: Give other people an idea of what you consider to be your strengths and what you suspect you would want to contribute to an organization.  Ask for suggestions and make a list.  Identify at least 3 people for each potential path who are willing to share with you what the challenges and rewards of that role are.  Compare these with your concerns and greatest desires.  Narrow the list down to one and design your campaign (or ask us for help).

  1. Using job market data to determine the viability of your job transition

When the Bureau of Labor and Statistics gather and disseminate information, it is comprehensive.  When the media reports it, it is simplistic and usually bleak.  If an area is “growing,” so is your competition in that area.  What is growing today may be shrinking tomorrow.  Those who survive will be the ones with the highest qualifications and passion.  Also, it is not as important to know who is NOT getting a job as it is to know who IS getting a job and why.

Corrective Action: Pursue the position that is most viable for you – the one that genuinely aligns with your talents and motivations.

  1. Spending more than 10% of your transition time on job boards

When job boards first became commonplace, they did more good than harm.  Now they are a necessary evil. Companies need to track their candidate applications and are required to keep records on what actions are taken.  That does not make job boards the best way for you to be noticed or invited for an interview. You may still have to submit your information through a company’s website to comply with their human resources procedures. You do NOT have to start there.

Corrective Action: Track the time that you spend on your transition, including social engagements, as long as you leverage them.  Adjust your weekly activity so that no more than 5% of your time is spent on job boards.  Set up agents on the aggregating sites (Indeed, Simply Hired) and check them ONLY twice a week.  Once you identify a desirable position on a job board, go straight to LinkedIn or niche recruiters to find a better way to get in front of the hiring manager.  Use the online application offered by job boards as a LAST RESORT.

Are Careers Like Soul mates? Is There Only One?

Photo courtesy of Flazingo Photos on flickr http://bit.ly/1srWO1B.

Photo courtesy of Flazingo Photos on flickr http://bit.ly/1srWO1B.

Some people believe there is only one soul mate out there for us. Others believe we could have multiple soul mates, or that everyone has the potential to be our soul mate. There are also a few people out there who believe there is no such thing as a soul mate. Likewise, many people hold similar views on careers.

There are those who believe there is no set career path, and that anyone can do anything if they work smart enough. This may mean starting over and redefining themselves every few years. Or they may chase after their passions until they find a career that excites them.

Then we have those who believe we are all destined for something, or we should use our God-given talents to their full potential. It could be the boy or girl who discovers they love drawing at an early age and sticks with a career as an artist. These kinds of career paths aren’t always easy to follow, but those who stick with them are driven and passionate.

For many, the career paths we originally set out with turn out to be very different from what we ultimately settle on. We may switch careers multiple times within our lives. Or we may hold down more than one career at a time. Here’s an example of someone who has multiple careers:

A 2001 New York Times article titled “Traveling 2 Roads In One Life” profiled Angela Williams. She began her professional life as a lawyer. After a few years in the Air Force as a prosecutor, she moved on as a federal prosecutor in Florida. A year later she traveled to Jerusalem, and visited Biblical sites. Suddenly, she felt a strong calling to devote herself to the ministry. Within two years she began to study theology while she balanced her life as a lawyer. By 2001, Williams put in 50 hours a week as a corporate lawyer by day, and worked up to 40 hours per week as an associate minister at night. When Williams began her career as a lawyer, she never envisioned being a minister as well.

As I wrote in my article, “Your Attitudes About Work Can Shape the Career Path of Others,” the idea of working for one company in one field is a rarity in today’s world. We are living in a world where people either switch careers or are expected to juggle multiple careers within their lifetime. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 5% of the labor force are multiple job holders as of December 2014. Ed Dolan breaks this information down further and explains why people hold multiple careers in his EconoMonitor article. Data from a 2004 survey suggests about 25% of people have multiple jobs because of financial hardship and 21% of people care more about the value of a second job, rather than the extra money. These are people who are more interested in the experience a job brings, or because they enjoy doing the extra work. Another 38% wanted the extra income, and the last 15% gave no reason why they took on multiple jobs.

There are some people who feel drawn to a calling from a young age, and manage to stick with that calling. These people often buck the trend of conformity. They are not satisfied with being told what they should do, and instead pursue what they are passionate about. The pay may be low, or unstable but they are determined enough to walk a path that satisfies their calling. The career itself doesn’t matter in this case, as long as a person loves his or her work. Think of teachers, nurses, artists, performers, factory workers, and even mechanics. The work is less about career advancement and more about personal fulfillment. A 1997 research paper title “Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relations to Their Work” details why some people feel called to a particular career.

The reality shows the majority of adults will hold multiple jobs within their lifetime. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working adults will hold an average of 11.3 jobs from the ages of 18 to 46. The data was collected from 1979 to 2010. In an employee tenure summary released in September 2014, the BLS noted salary and wage workers stayed with an employer for an average of 4.6 years. Management and professional occupations often stayed with employers a little longer, up to 6.9 years. New York Times Columnist Marci Alboher, states in a 2007 article that the wave of professional reinventions is rising. Corporate job security is no longer guaranteed, and millions of Americans are finding their own career paths. Some will work as entrepreneurs, others will become consultants, and some may bounce back and forth before returning to the corporate world. Entrepreneur and author Tim Clark outlines a similar path in his TEDx Talk “Say Goodbye to Career Planning.”

There is a generation of people who don’t subscribe to the idea of having multiple careers. Perhaps the idea of changing employers within a career is normal, but they’ve never once considered the idea of going into a new field. Or they may be part of a shrinking group of employees who expect to stay with an employer for a decade or longer. Forbes contributor David K. Williams gives us “10 Reasons To Stay At A Job For 10 Or More Years.” Stability, seniority, leadership opportunities, dependability, and a say in the company’s future are just some of the reasons why people may not believe in having multiple careers, or changing careers. After all, there are many people who balk at the idea of cashing out a 401K, or selling a home if a new employer requires relocation. For these employees, consistency and loyalty is king.

Employer loyalty can be a particular sticking point when it comes to employers. Some people feel company loyalty is important and will ultimately be rewarded by employers, in the form of pensions and healthcare. There are those who believe there is no such thing as company loyalty. If a job can be wiped out by downsizing, why should anyone expected to have a long-term career within a single company?

The views on careers are diverse. The data shows us that the majority of adults will hold down multiple jobs within their lifetime. At the same time there are people who manage to find their calling in life early, and stick with their passions no matter the hardship. There are others who believe in a more traditional path of deciding on a career early, and sticking with it until retirement. The adventurous believe a career should be exciting and don’t mind changing fields until they find their passion and some workers believe it is possible to maintain more than one career at a time.

What are your beliefs about careers? Are we destined to only have one calling in our life? Or are multiple careers and career change inevitable?

Bob Marley – One Love

One love, One heart Let’s get together and feel all right Hear the children crying (One Love) Hear the children crying (One Heart) Sayin’ give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right Sayin’ let’s get together and feel all right Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One Love) There is one question I’d really love to ask (One Heart) Is there a place for the hopeless sinner Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?

Stop Treating LinkedIn Like An Online Résumé

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Are you using your LinkedIn profile as an online résumé?  In other words, does your profile reflect a personal brand you’ve carefully crafted, or does it just mirror your résumé? You know as a professional you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. You created an account, made a few connections, and copied a few items from your résumé to create your profile. In fact, you used so much material from your résumé that it is impossible to distinguish it from your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile deserves to be so much more. A résumé is a document that reflects your past experiences and is meant to be seen by future employers. In contrast, a LinkedIn profile is a vital part of your online presence and is meant to be seen by a much wider audience. It should compliment your résumé in an exciting and engaging way.

Your LinkedIn profile is different from your résumé

Let’s imagine a scenario for just a moment. You have been using your LinkedIn profile as little more than an online résumé tool, and a hiring manager comes across your profile. You have already sent them your résumé as part of a job application, and they decided to Google you. Imagine their disappointment as your LinkedIn profile is exactly the same as your résumé. Or, on the flipside, they’ve seen your LinkedIn profile and ask for your résumé. Again, both your résumé and your profile are indistinguishable. This redundancy isn’t helpful because that potential employer won’t learn anything new about you, and you’ve done very little to set yourself apart from other job candidates. A redundant LinkedIn profile is also a major missed opportunity to show employers, connections, and others members of your online audience how unique and interesting you are as a professional. It’s a chance to allow people into the back story of who you are. Help them visualize what it’s like to speak and work with you.

Your résumé is concise, is customized for your potential employer, and is designed to show an employer how you are uniquely qualified for their opportunity. You can’t include all of your past work experiences, recommendations from others, or general interests. In short, your résumé needs to be laser-focused on a specific role, and on a specific employer. However, your LinkedIn profile can include all of your work experience, recommendations and interests. A good profile allows you to weave an engaging professional narrative that showcases your personal brand far beyond your résumé.

Use your LinkedIn Profile to dazzle your audience

LinkedIn should compliment your résumé by being a creative vehicle that illustrates your professional life. Every aspect of your profile should enhance your personal brand. If you’re using the default headline, ditch it. I previously wrote about the importance of strong headlines in my article titled “Increase views: Ditch the default LinkedIn headline.” The experiences section is an opportunity to list vital keywords that will attract the attention of job recruiters. I covered the importance of carefully using keywords in another article, “Use Keywords With Care or Beware.” The summary is where you can exercise the most creative freedom. In contrast to your résumé, you are allowed to talk about yourself in the first-person. Use this section of your LinkedIn profile to breathe life into your experiences, skills and professional achievements.

You don’t want your profile summary to come off as trite and uninteresting. These types of summaries are often subjective and vague. Just think of a profile summary filled with boring buzzwords shaken up in a bag, poured out into a pile, and arranged in the semblance of a paragraph. Here’s an example of a profile summary filed with cliché words pulled right out of a résumé:

“A dynamic individual with great leadership skills who is highly organized. A proven track record of accomplishments and great teamwork. An effective communicator with a strong business sense and a can-do attitude…”

Most career consultants and recruiters viewing this LinkedIn profile would be tempted to close the page quickly as they stifled a yawn. I believe a person with such a profile is capable of so much more than a lifeless summary. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a boring paragraph of buzzwords. Tell your audience a captivating story. Here’s an example of a more engaging profile summary:

“From a young age the phrase, ‘Shoot for the stars,’ has always caught my attention. It spoke to the core belief that I should never do anything half-heartedly. If I’m going to do something, whether it is professionally or personally, I’m going to go above and beyond anyone else.

‘I have over a decade of experience managing large IT projects, and leading large teams to success. Under my leadership, members of my team knew exactly what was expected of them. The results of our projects were some of the best in the industry…”

This type of profile summary captures a reader’s attention and gently invites them to learn more about you. In short, it compliments your actual résumé and adds a new level of distinction to your online presence. Earlier, I mentioned a hiring manager coming across your LinkedIn profile. Now imagine their delight as they read a captivating profile that brings a new dimension to your résumé.

The point is to captivate your audience and polish your personal brand to until it shines. Again, your résumé is a brief account of your job qualifications, while your LinkedIn profile is a living part of your online presence. It is a compliment to an already great résumé. Your audience should be entranced by your profile, and should want to connect with you. A redundant LinkedIn profile that mirrors your résumé is a wasted opportunity. Unveil your brilliance by showing your online audience just how creative and interesting your professional life is!

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Missed Opportunity

1988 Music Video for Missed Opportunity

3 Unexpected Places to Find Job Leads

Photo courtesy of Sharyn Morrow " X marks the spot (where the center caved in on the vegan cake)." http://bit.ly/1znpXtL

Photo courtesy of Sharyn Morrow ” X marks the spot (where the center caved in on the vegan cake).” http://bit.ly/1znpXtL

In May 2011, Dianez Smith was ready to take her career an epic level. She was tired of not getting interviews and working a low-wage retail job. Dianez literally took to the streets in search of leads. Armed with a homemade sign, dozens of résumés, and a sharp business suit, Smith stood at the corner of a busy Washington D.C. intersection. The recent college graduate desperately wanted land a job that would put her bachelor’s degree in studio art to use. She passed out 17 résumés in total to anyone who would give her a second glance. Smith’s résumé eventually landed her an interview and a job as a receptionist at a law firm.

Dianez Smith’s case of standing on a street corner may be extreme, but she was willing to look in an unexpected place to find job leads. With the economy still in a state of recovery, the job market is flooded with applicants. You have to stand out from the crowd just to get an interview. The idea of doing this may cause your creative side to balk. After all, you’ve polished your résumé until it sparkles and you’ve come to dread attending the same old networking events. In short, you’re tired of searching the same employers, in the same way everyone else does. In fact, you’re itching for the novelty of trying something new. Or maybe you have yet to search for a new career, but you want to start in a unique manner. If you’re willing to take a path less traveled, you may find surprising leads in your job search.

  1. Your “Other” Network

Other realms of your community can be a great source of unexpected job leads. The idea is to expand your network beyond the professionals you normally interact with. First try asking the people outside of your immediate circle of friends (assuming you’ve already told your friends how to identify leads for you.) Consider all of the folks with whom you are on a first-name basis. Your neighbors, your barber, your hairdresser, your trusted mechanic, and the parents you know from PTA meetings and kids’ sports and activities. Think personal relationships VS professional ones.

If you want to expand even further, look into community workshops, neighborhood events, and Meetup.com gatherings related to your interests. The point is to meet and network with different people to search for job leads. I’ll use Meetup.com as an example. You might be into web development and content management. So you find a local group dedicated to WordPress (yes, they exist), and decide to attend a local event. Such meetings could be the perfect place to ask for job leads. Or if you attend social gatherings completely unrelated to your profession (i.e., clubs, board game nights, or even religious services), take a moment to ask for leads there. You never know who may be the source of an important job lead.

  1. Online Marketing

In August I wrote an article titled “5 of the Craziest Ways People Found Jobs.” In this list I wrote about one man who got a job by advertising himself on Google’s AdWords. There’s no reason why you can’t market yourself in a similar manner. Set up a personal blog or website if you don’t already have one. Get yourself a personal domain name to brand as a URL. Naturally this would be YourOwnName.com. Next, create a page just for your résumé. Once you have such a page you’ll purchase an ad and use it to promote your résumé and highlight your achievements in a few words. For the AdWords URL you’ll want to use that personal domain name you bought.

If Facebook is more of your flavor, purchase a social ad. Use the title of the ad to target the business you want to work for. Make sure to include a professional picture, and a 25-word description about yourself and the job you want. Make sure to link these ads to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and your other social media outlets. Ask friends on these networks to share the ad. You want to target people in your profession in order to generate job leads.

  1. Become a Public Speaker

Volunteering to speak through community and professional organization can be a great source of job leads for those willing to try. It can be a breakout way to garner attention, establish expertise and value, and to expand your network. By public speaking, you’re marketing yourself to other professionals outside of your usual network who can then market you by word-of-mouth. Seek out clubs, civic groups, and professional organizations. These engagements can be used to gather job leads from attendees. If you’ve never spoken in public before, or the task seems a little daunting, you will definitely need to practice. Christopher Witt’s Entrepreneur article “How to Get Started in Public Speaking” is a good starting point.

Be bold and refuse to leave any stone unturned by looking for leads everywhere you can think of. Strike up a conversation with acquaintances and steer the discussion to job leads. If you don’t mind contracting work, try a few gigs on sites like Fiverr or Elance. In addition to making some extra cash, try asking clients about job leads. Consider putting out ads asking for leads in your local newspaper and on Craigslist. These sources are a little more risky, and you may end up with irrelevant leads, or no job leads at all. The point is, never stop looking and asking for leads.

These methods are not a substitute for a solid résumé, strong networking, references, and researching the company you want to work for. You can think of it as a quirky complement to the good practices you’re already using. As the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Survivor – The Search Is Over

Survivor’s official music video for ‘The Search Is Over’. Click to listen to Survivor on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/SurvSpot?IQid=SurvTSIO As featured on Ultimate Survivor.

Who would you rather hire: the undependable one or the incompetent one?

Photo courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Here’s some food for thought: If faced with a choice between an undependable and an incompetent employee, who would you rather hire? Let’s be clear, no one wants to willingly hire an undependable or incompetent employee. These types of workers can be toxic to employee moral and productivity. Like a nuclear wasteland, you ideally want to stay far away from this hiring situation. In a perfect world, hiring such people would be a rare occurrence, but reality is rarely so cut and dry. In fact, reality can be quite strange. In 2010 an English recruitment agency boss was told posting an ad for “reliable” applicants could be offensive to unreliable people. Most managers will not face such an extreme situation in the hiring process, thankfully. It is still inevitable that an undependable or incompetent person will slip through the hiring process. Let’s assume you have two employees and you need to hire one of them, despite knowing their issues in advance.

An undependable worker may be an employee who is constantly late, may not show up for work on certain days or is a habitual procrastinator. When they are around, they do their job well and may be quite talented. For example, your company’s accountant may be brilliant with finances, but they make take every other Friday off. Or you may have a social media specialist who is always a half hour late for work. Projects may not be directly impacted, but your more reliable employees may have to work harder in the morning until she arrives.

Undependable workers, especially those who are talented, can be managed. Clear expectations, boundaries and rules are the first step in dealing with an undependable person. Going back to my second example, if your social media specialist has been getting away with constant tardiness, boundaries need to be set. Unreliable employees need to be reminded that their behavior affects the company as a whole. Unless you address the issue, a problematic employee may not see their actions as harmful. If you dig deeper you may even find an underlying reason for their unreliability. Family members may be ill or there may have been a recent lifestyle change in the undependable’s life. Addressing these issues may be as simple as a change of hours, designated coverage for temporary problems, or giving the employee the option to telecommute.

An incompetent employee may present more of a challenge. He or she may have the best of intentions, but constantly makes mistakes while doing the job. They may be eager to please, and may give you the impression they fully understand the task at hand. Despite their hard work, the level of quality is still subpar or the job is done incorrectly. One pertinent example comes to mind. I was once told by a good friend about a part-time mechanic who worked on the truck fleet for a large shipping company. He attempted to fix a broken truck bumper with a forklift (not an uncommon practice). Instead, he made the problem much worse when he accidentally pierced the grill and radiator with the forklift. This was just one incident in a long string of problems stemming from incompetency. The mechanic was ultimately given the simpler task of working on brakes for large trailers.

This anecdote leads me directly to my next point, managing an incompetent person. Once again, clear boundaries and expectations will need to be set. Unlike the undependable employee, the incompetent employee might be willing to improve. An underperforming employee should be reminded of their strengths, while their areas of weakness are defined. Perhaps a particular job task wasn’t explained well enough or the employee is afraid to admit they lack proper training. If an incompetent employee still doesn’t “get it” after explanations and training, they may need to be reassigned to a position that matches their skill level, if possible.

In our theoretical hiring situation, we have the undependable worker versus the incompetent worker. Both problem employees have their potential solutions. One person may perform their job just fine, but may require more flexible hours, while another person may need to be retrained or reassigned. If you look at the situation from a resources viewpoint, the undependable worker is a better choice. You won’t have to expend time and energy retraining or reassigning them because they know how to do their job. If time and energy aren’t a major issue, and the attitude of the incompetent employee fits your company culture, they may be a better choice.

So, who would you hire?

Joe Purdy – Can’t Get It Right Today

Joe Purdy – Can’t get it right today Enjoy!

5 of the Craziest Ways People Found Jobs

Crazy Fools by Ian Wilson from Flickr

Crazy Fools by Ian Wilson from Flickr

 

Creativity and passion are important in distinguishing yourself while searching for your career or making a transition, but some job seekers take theirs to epic levels. While many insist on stating in their résumés and profiles that they are creative, innovative, think out of the box, etc., there are some job search heroes out there proving it. I scoured the internet for the craziest ways professionals sought their dream jobs. Here are five of my favorite stories.

1. Using an employer’s platform to showcase yourself.

 

Mike Freeman wanted a job as a Business Analyst at Shopify. Instead of sending the usual résumé that hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants use, he bucked the system and made himself a spectacle, a very creative and attractive spectacle. Freeman set up a store using Shopify’s own platform and used it to showcase himself. A bold and dazzling display on the storefront read “So I’ve noticed that Mike Freeman doesn’t work for you guys yet. Let’s fix that.” The clever job seeker went even further. Going beyond just listing his résumé, Freeman even gave employers the chance to book a meeting with him in-person. Fortunately, his boldness bred success and Freeman landed a marketing position at Shopify.

 

2. Launch a spectacular online campaign promoting yourself.

 

In 2011 Kimberly Ashdown was determined to work for Ashton Kutcher’s media company, Katalyst, as an intern. There was only one problem – she wasn’t currently a college student. The Creative Production Coordinator didn’t let a few minor details stop her. Ashdown launched several websites including iwannaworkatkatalyst.com, internuptopia.com and kimberlyashdown.wix.com in order to land her dream job as a Katalyst intern. Her efforts were rewarded, and she worked briefly for Kutcher before returning to her career as a Production Coordinator.

 

3. Infographics can be spectacular résumés.

 

Chris Spurlock was a senior journalist student at the University of Missouri in 2011. He showcased his ability to create infographics by creating a résumé with visual flair. The result was a spectacular infographic. Spurlock took his work a step further by posting his résumé to Huffington Post. It wasn’t long before the article went viral and garnered hundreds of tweets, thousands of likes on Facebook, and tens of thousands of views at Huffington Post. The popularity of the infographic résumé persuaded Traffic and Trends editor Craig Kanalley to hire Spurlock as the news organization’s Infographic Design Editor. Spurlock isn’t the first person to obtain his dream job by taking a visual route with his résumé. In 2010 a few other creative job seekers saw success by using infographic résumés, and I’m somewhat surprised the practice isn’t used more often. At Epic Careering we promote infographic one-page profiles as a very effective way to generate high-quality employment leads. Images are so much more memorable than text.

 

4. Stalk your potential employer using social media.

 

Max Crowley was a Systems Integration Consultant for Accenture when he wanted a change of pace in his professional life. Namely, he had his heart set on working for Uber, a relatively new startup company introduced in 2009. His previous role and company weren’t an obvious match for Uber, but he devised a strategy to overcome that challenge. When Crowley learned Uber would be launching in Chicago, he positioned himself to be hired. His endeavors included following Ryan Graves, Head of Operations, on Twitter, sending him e-mails, and showing up at recruiting events Graves attended. Crowley’s passionate determination paid off and he got the job as Uber’s Senior Community Manager. While this approach can produce favorable results, you must take care not to blur the line between pursuing a potential employer and being creepy. In my 2013 article, “Can this strange campaign advice land you work?,” I highlight the risks of digging too deeply into a decision-maker’s background.

 

5. Advertising yourself on Google’s AdWords.

 

Alec Brownstein was a Copywriter. His professional life at a large ad firm was not what he wanted. He wanted to work for genuinely innovative Creative Directors. Brownstein was also a fan of Googling the very Creative Directors for whom he dreamed of working. One day, the copywriter was hit by a stroke of genius. He noticed his favorite Creative Directors didn’t have sponsored links attached to their names. Using Google AdWords, Brownstein purchased the top advertising spots for the directors’ names and used the space to advertise himself. He figured the directors, like everyone else, Googled themselves and they would eventually see the sponsored ad. The effort literally cost him $6 and paid off a few months later when he was contacted by almost all of the Creative Directors he targeted. It wasn’t long before Brownstein was hired as a Senior Copywriter at Young & Rubicam (Y&R) New York.

 

When you look at how most people look for a job, it isn’t hard to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Focus on doing a few things well instead rather than reaching for a particular volume of activity. Volume does not equal desirable results; it’s not necessarily a numbers game! Work smart rather than hard. Creativity and passion can go a very long way in your career. We live in a world where all things are possible. Be bold. If these professionals can think outside of the box to land their dream jobs, so can you.