Hiring/Recruiting

What If Corporate Talent Worked the Same as Athletic or Performance Talent… Is It Time to Consider It?

“I’ll have my people call your people.”

From time to time people tell me that their job search is taken care of because they have recruiters working on it.

Oh, if only.

I’d estimate that the odds of your recruiters actually being out there searching for opportunities for you is 1,000:1.

One out of every 1,000 recruiters will take time away from the 3-6 “hot” job requirements assigned to them at any given moment (positions for which clients are impatiently awaiting a small handful of perfect candidates), to proactively search for job requirements they are NOT working on so that they can find an opportunity for which to present you.

You might be thinking, “but if they place me, that’s money in their pocket, so…” So, you think that they are dividing their time between efforts on your behalf, and phone screening, interviewing, referencing, testing and packaging candidates for the jobs they have a chance at closing right in front of them?

You think that they are searching the jobs other recruiters are working on in hopes maybe that recruiter will offer a split fee to share you?

Or maybe they are looking to gain some new clients by dangling a superstar in front of them?

Or maybe out of the goodness of their heart, or even in consideration of their personal brand, they will take time away from income-producing activities while they are on the job to let other people know just how great you are and how much you deserve consideration?

I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, it just happens a lot less than you’d hope – 1/1000 of the time.

If you are relying on recruiters to make sure you know about opportunities as they arise, you are making a very common mistake of assuming recruiters have time to spare. Recruiters are notorious for failing to follow up. Again, this isn’t a truth for all recruiters, but most models restrict recruiters from spending time outside of producing and presenting qualified, competitively-priced candidates.

They can’t meet their metrics and their income goals if they do this. It’s why I started to resent being a recruiter and considered becoming a coach, and it’s why you see many other recruiters also coaching.

But what if corporate talent management operated more like professional sports and entertainment management?

What if whenever you were ready for your next big blockbuster hit, you had people working on it and trying to find you that next big gig (plus the paycheck to match it)?

Let’s rewind a bit, because in entertainment you’d still need an impressive portfolio and headshot. Much like in the corporate arena, you’d need a distinctive résumé and LinkedIn profile. In sports, it’s your buzz, your stats, and a killer highlight reel that get you the attention of recruiters. An agent will make sure you have all of the above, and they may offer that service in house or refer you to a trusted expert. Either way, that’s a charge that you, the talent, incur. They would spin your story as one of a star-in-the-making, and hype up your value for you. They would consult to you on managing your image and the narrative.

Then, an industry talent agent taps their network of industry players to find out who needs what you offer, what challenges there are, who is making the decision and when, how long you’d be needed, and what it pays. They mediate between the producers and casting agents to coordinate auditions or readings, and sell, sell, sell them on hiring you while you work your magic and do what you do best to earn the part. Then, if your performance matches the hype, your agent does all of the compensation, conditions and terms negotiating to make you as happy as possible.

The agent gets paid, takes 10-20% of your contract, and pays you the rest.

Think about 10% of your current income. Have you invested 10% of your income on things that will increase your career success and income, as most financial stability/freedom gurus recommend?

Now think about how much you’d spare of your income if someone actually helped you increase your income. Let’s say you make $100K annually. That would be a $10K per year investment, but what if investing $10K got you a $25K raise that year to take an opportunity that also elevated your career, impact, and influence.

Why isn’t this model used in corporate talent management?

Let me first say that there are firms who operate as agencies. Some will even postpone payment until you land while others will help you hone all of your marketing tools, like your résumé and LinkedIn profile, and then promote you to their “elite” network full of VIPs and corporate executives.  They may or may not require that you sign with them “exclusively,” meaning even if you land an opportunity not developed by them, they still get their fee. It’s the only way it could make sense for agents.

I would think that would decentivize job seekers to own their own campaign, and leaving your fate solely in someone else’s hands still seems dis-empowering. How can you be sure that the best possible opportunities were identified?

Have you used this kind of service? Please share if this worked for you, because I have my doubts.

It’s hard to believe that an executive in need of talent would entertain the solicitation of an agent representing a talent they don’t know. I know some recruiters and account managers do try to get a shot at filling a prominent placement by presenting a “dummy” profile filled with impressive stats. In those cases, the recruiter is expecting to get paid by the company should they hire someone, but an agent gets paid by… well, they still get paid by the company. This is because their fees would be negotiated into the salary just as a recruiter’s fee would be.

It can work, but I have to believe that this works a lot less often than if the talent were to personally approach that same executive, even digitally, and conveyed stories instead of stats that demonstrate how he or she can help the company achieve what they aim to achieve.

Times are changing, however. This is the first “job seekers” market I’ve ever witnessed. Maybe now, while the people have the power, is the right time for this model to become more prevalent.

It’s true that usually someone else’s endorsement can be more powerful and influential than your own. Does it reduce credibility if that someone is incentivized to endorse you?

Hiring managers and executives – What would it take for you to entertain interviewing a candidate that was represented by an agent?

Will this just turn hiring into a process where the best sales pitch gets the job? Wait a second. How different is that from our current reality? The difference is that the hiring manager would be dealing with a professional pitch master. Would professional pitch masters be trusted? Would it matter if the talent is truly great?

If this started working on a more consistent basis, more often than having someone in your network recommend you and more often than an effectively written cover letter targeting that person/job, how long would this model work for? Would it still be a valid practice if the economy shifted the other way?

Please share your thoughts and concerns as an ambitious talent or as a hiring manager/executive.

What are some other pros and cons to this approach and what the obstacles you perceive to it being adopted?

Does this solve other problems?

How could it be structured for the optimal benefit of all parties?

Fats Domino – I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday

Deluxe edition of Fats Domino’s greatest hits including “My Girl Josephine”, “I’m Ready” and more.. ♫ Listen to the full best of on YouTube → http://bit.ly/2BSub7B ⇓ Stream on Spotify / Deezer → http://spoti.fi/2H8nZI5 / http://www.deezer.com/album/5966978

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

10 Reasons NOT to Apply for Jobs Online

Applying online is a dangerous job search habit, and one that can really restrict your opportunity and chances of landing something that is truly a great career move. Even though job seekers are taught and told over and over again by career experts like myself that applying online is a last resort, it remains a go-to resource for job seekers.

I believe there are three primary reasons for this:

  1. In this world of instant gratification, it seems to easy to resist the low hanging fruit. It seems logical to assume that you have to “strike while the iron is hot!” It’s really a case of FOMO (fear of missing out.) The thing is, fear is not a good emotion to make truly logical decisions. I will lay down some logic here that I hope will strike a chord and make obvious that applying to positions you find online is really the last activity you should invest time in.
  2. Habits run on autopilot in your subconscious mind. You may just go on applying without giving it much conscious thought. When I work with clients on their campaign, coaching and habit tracking tools are necessary to install a new workflow that will eventually run on autopilot – one that actually produces great results, reinforces your value, builds confidence and hope, and generates momentum with even less time and effort. These positive results further reinforce the more effective workflow until they become automatic. This turns career management into a pull rather than a push. However, if people are unaware of their automatic programming, it will continue to run undisrupted.
  3. The investment of time in more proactive, targeted efforts to pursue a role seems to feel and look like a delay to being in action. People get antsy knowing there’s a desirable position open and they’re not on record as being in the candidate pool. It’s true – the alternatives to applying online can take more time than simply clicking a button to apply. However, sometimes online job applications are time consuming and they still don’t get you any closer to being considered, let alone being in demand.

Still, here are the top 10 reasons why fighting the impulse to apply online will help your chances of positioning yourself as a real contender for the ultimate offer.

#1 – The Chances Your Application is Seen by Human Eyes

The quality of online applicants compared to the quality of employee referrals, in addition to other metrics that are more frequently tracked like time to onboard, have taught astute hiring professionals that their time is best invested proactively pursuing referrals from trusted talent and contacts while applications roll in as a last resort. Candidates who apply online will often only get looked at after internal candidates, referrals from employees, referrals from friends, and submitted candidates from approved recruiting vendors.

If you are a “cold” candidate, you have to rely on luck and keyword optimization to push you toward the top of the results in the case that referrals don’t pan out. This makes your résumé a tool that can either help you or hurt you, depending on how well it is written to match keywords. This doesn’t give you a whole lot of power to make something happen.

#2 – The Chances of You Getting Hired

Then, if your application is seen by human eyes, those keywords better show up in a context to validate the strength of your qualifications, at a minimum, and your unique value and culture fit, at best. If there are any anomalies in your experience, such as gaps or shorter stints, you have to cross your fingers that there aren’t applicants who appear equally or more qualified, and less risky. You can be moved from a “maybe” pile to a “no” pile quickly.

#3 – Inadequate Competitive Positioning

Even if you do get into the “yes” pile, you have no idea what the human’s perspective is on what position you are in to get an interview. I hope your LinkedIn profile is branded to help you make a strong case for why you’re a great hire and that other candidates don’t come from more trusted sources. It’s not always beneficial to interview first, but if the interviewer doesn’t have any insight as to who you are beyond your résumé, the interview will be conducted somewhat generically compared to how they would conduct the interview if someone had given you a strong endorsement or even if you had been able to effectively endorse yourself in a cover letter. From this position, the interviewer is then more interested in selling you the opportunity than in validating your résumé and mitigating the risk of the unknown that cold candidates present.

#4 – Nullifying Employee Referral Bonuses

While so many top companies have employee referral bonus programs and cite employee referrals as their top source of great talent, they are often under-leveraged, poorly promoted, and disorganized efforts. That means that when there is an opening in a company on your target list, even if you’ve given someone there a heads up that you’re interested, they won’t be made aware of the job opening, and they won’t be proactively seeking out opportunities to refer people for internal roles. I have certainly informed several people who were unaware that their company even offered an employee referral bonus, even though it was on their company’s employee or career page.

We’re all time starved, so it often takes incentives to get people to act on your behalf. Some of these employee referral bonuses can be over $1,000. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t want an extra $1,000 for spending a couple minutes referring someone. Of course, you will have had to reassure them that you will be a strong candidate and a good hire for them to stake their social capital on you.

If you are already an applicant, some employee referral bonus programs will not give credit to an internal referral source.

#5 – Disqualifying Recruiters from Presenting You

It’s certainly more beneficial for you to be recommended by an employee with social capital and clout, but some recruiters have done a fantastic job of building rapport and credibility with hiring managers. That’s why being presented for opportunities by a trusted recruiter may give you a bit of an edge over all the other cold candidates. A recruiter’s job, after all, is to weed out unqualified or unfitting candidates and whittle a candidate pool down to 4 or so top contenders.

When a great recruiter has a strong relationship and understanding of his or her client, the candidates submitted by him or her get top consideration. Of course, you’ll want to qualify your recruiters, and be forthright about where you have already applied. The clients will not involve themselves in any candidate ownership battles. Most of them are clear that only new candidates can be presented by their recruiting vendors; the company already “owns” candidates that come in directly through their career site or other job boards.

#6 – HR Arbitrary Check Boxes

As Liz Ryan pointed out on Twitter last week:

Liz Ryan on Twitter

A hiring manager – that is, your possible future boss – has a completely different perspective and set of of needs from whatever HR is looking for in their tick-a-box exercises. That’s why you have to reach your hiring manager directly, and skip the online job application

 

Why is that? Well, a number of reasons. Just like recruiters can have a solid reputation with hiring managers, they can also lose credibility with hiring managers. Still, they are required to comply with HR procedures, so they will pass along the minimal required details to get HR started on pre-qualifying candidates just in case their network or own individual efforts fail to produce quality candidates, who may or may not get a fair shake.

Another reason is that hiring managers are just more intimately familiar with the nuances of the job and what kinds of people, personalities, and talents lend themselves to success, but the internal HR system doesn’t allow for those nuances to be articulated. It can be too time consuming to communicate those nuances, or the hiring manager isn’t able to articulate them for one reason or another.

Still another possible reason is that passing along check lists is the only way companies have thought of to eliminate having to review unqualified people. They choose things they believe will help improve the chances of hiring someone able to ramp up quickly. At the same time, they systematically rule out people with unconventional careers who can add truly unique value.

A hiring manager has more latitude and perspective to see how out-of-the-box candidates might be able to add something to their team that conventional candidates can’t – IF they have vision, that is.

#7 – Time Suck

You might consider job activities a numbers game, but this is one of the huge myths that lead job seekers to become frustrated and discouraged. When it comes to ROI (return-on-investment) of time in your job search, online applications return the fewest results. Even the results they do produce can be a crap shoot in terms of opportunities that represent your best chances at thriving and succeeding in your new role.

If you invest time based on the probability of that resource producing quality results, you would spend 80% of your time networking (the right way) and 5% of your time on online job boards and filling out applications. After three weeks doing this, you will see your momentum shift at least 3 points on a 1-10 scale.

Limbo sucks. Change is hard. It might seem like applying online will be your best bet at a quick transition, especially if you have reached a senior level in your position. However, you will find that building momentum toward really GOOD opportunities takes more effort, more time and more energy when you’re spending most of your time online.

#8 – The Emotional Abyss

This is the real heartbreaking thing about online-driven job campaigns.  People start to question their worth, their viability, and their chances at improving their financial status. When online campaigns fail, people will blame themselves. This heightens the emotional stress of interviews, impeding your performance. Each interview feels like it “has” to work out. You may find yourself overselling yourself for opportunities that you wouldn’t even consider if you had a competing offer. You may even think you have to make yourself look less qualified. All of the visions of growing and developing in your career seem unlikely, like pipe dreams you have to abandon. You might feel like you’re letting your family down. Worse, you’ll feel like you’re letting yourself down.

In this emotional state, it’s much easier for unethical, inhuman employers to take advantage of your desperation. You may find yourself in a much worse situation, feeling stuck, feeling victimized – unaware that you can actually take control and make something happen.

It’s the whole negative tailspin of career confidence that is the worst part of relying on online efforts to produce results. You’ll never even know how great you could have had it, and you’re unlikely to believe you can have it any better.

Watching my mom go through this emotional abyss is why I do this work in the first place. It seriously breaks my heart.

#9 – The Flood of Irrelevant, Illegitimate Inquiries

I do recommend that my clients set up agents on job boards, and that they set aside 15-30 minutes twice a week to go through them all at once. This helps them better identify redundant postings, and decreases the chances they are persuaded by opportunities that don’t fit what they said they wanted.

Job boards are very misleading representations of how much opportunity is available. You might be tempted to pursue something that is not something you’d otherwise consider, as stated above, and that includes the flood of inquiries that you get to your profile on these job boards that are huge wastes of time disguised as “great opportunities for growth and income.”

Consider this – if technology has not progressed far enough to automatically send you relevant, legitimate opportunities that fit the criteria you entered, how well do you think it’s performing for recruiters in search of candidates? Even AI hasn’t yet made a dent in the quality of results.

#10 – It Is Passive and Inactive

Online resources keep you sedentary and tied to your computer, which isn’t great for your health or mood. Surrendering your power to some unknown force on the other end of an application also isn’t beneficial to you. The best job searches turn fun into results. Spend less time grinding away, and more time on self-care and enriching your life with new contacts.

If you don’t find networking fun, you’re probably not networking with your people. You also probably don’t know what to say that will inspire them to take action, and you were likely disappointed by people who weren’t able or willing to help you in the past.

Networking is not supposed to look like superficial schmoozing with people you don’t like. It’s more like a scavenger hunt that’s more fun with friends – a way to find the people who need you through people who like you and vice versa.


The bottom line when it comes to online campaigns is that there are just better, smarter, and more empowering ways to get yourself closer to the opportunities that are really right for you.

If you’re unsure what they are, I’ve embedded links to helpful articles throughout this post, but you can always reach out to me for some custom insights by scheduling a free consultation.

Mariah Carey – Make It Happen (Official Video)

Music video by Mariah Carey performing Make It Happen. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 21,232 (C) 1991 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT #MariahCarey #MakeItHappen #Vevo

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

How Does a Professionally Branded Résumé Give You More Bang for Your Buck?

When hiring a professional résumé writer, it can be tempting to price shop. However, it’s important, even critical for the unemployed, to know what kind of return you can expect on that investment because you don’t know how long you’ll need that money to last.

That’s why I’ve created a specific process to build professionally branded résumés that ensure top-quality results.

What does the process look like?

Stages of my Epic Branding Life Cycle:

  1. Consultation/Interview
  2. Delivery of Branding Points
  3. Mini360°
  4. Finalization/Prioritization of Branding Points
  5. Mega Document Audit
  6. Request for Additional Information – Gap Fill Using Story Formula
  7. First Draft Delivery (5-10 business days from receipt of additional information from client)
  8. 60-minute draft review
  9. Semi-final draft delivery
  10. Client 10/10 rating and 100% satisfaction
  11. Continue with next document or campaign strategy and coaching

Let’s not get too far ahead, though. If you want to try this on for size, start with a free consultation.

Free Branding Breakthrough Consultation

Admittedly, I won’t be successful working with all candidates in all situations. It is a top priority that when you invest in my services, you get return on investment. While there aren’t many instances where I can’t provide ROI, I will be forthright and give you whatever guidance or referrals I can to point you to a solution for your situation.

That being said, if you have experienced long-term unemployment, are changing industries or roles, have reputation issues, or have been underemployed or underpaid, I’m highly adept at helping you get over the hump of these challenges to reach your goals and have many testimonials to prove it.

If you are not yet at least 80% certain of your target role, you are not ready to move forward with the branding process and I will help you determine if my career discovery services can help you achieve that clarity.

Sometimes personalities clash and visions don’t align. Sometimes your target role can be outside of what I consider myself an expert in, and I may recommend another provider. Sometimes my approach doesn’t work with your timeline and expectations.

The consultation is a great way to try before you buy. If we partner in this process, we’ll be working very closely together. I may need to be able to confront you if you are not working in your best interests. It’s not tough love, but it is compassionate coaching without judgment. It’s best to know ahead of time if you can handle this and if my way of working with you works for you.

Regardless of whether we fit or not, I will deliver value and immediate practical advice that you can apply right away to see a difference in your momentum. If you have not been satisfied with the results you have been getting with your tools and efforts so far, I will help you understand probable reasons why and viable solutions that will help you make the necessary shift to see better results.

The Proposal

Often you will receive a proposal prior to the free branding breakthrough consultation if it’s clear from information you provide what journey(s) will enable you to reach your goals. Otherwise, I’ll at least explain that branding services that include résumé and LinkedIn profile writing range from $1,000 – $2,500, and campaign support services are between $2,000 and $15,000. I’ll do my best to estimate on the call where in that range you’re expected to fall, and then follow up with an exact proposal that outlines your specific investment for the journey(s) being recommended.

You will see that while I require payment upfront for most journeys, I also offer guarantees (very few résumé writing services and career coaches offer these) and use PayPal, which allows you to pay over a 6-month time period at 0% financing (pending you are approved). I have taken as much risk out of this decision as possible!

You Choose

Once you confirm your desire to partner and specify which journey(s) you will take with me, you will be invoiced using PayPal, be sent a link to schedule your branding consultation, and receive a request for supporting documentation that may include, but is not limited to:

  • Job descriptions/postings for target roles (copied and pasted vs. URLs, which expire)
  • Internal job descriptions
  • Personality and/or strength assessments (I may recommend some prior, depending)
  • Performance evaluations
  • Informal kudos or testimonials you’ve received (I’ll import your LinkedIn recommendations)
  • Letters of recommendation

The more documentation you send, the more time prior to the consultation I’ll need to review it. I ask for at least 24 hours.

If you don’t have any of the above supporting documents, my process will ensure that we will still get where we need to go.

NOTE: Should you need to reschedule, please text 610-888-6939.

Your Branding Consultation

At the scheduled time, I will call you promptly at the number you include on the scheduling form.

I will have already developed questions cued from your materials so that I have a rough “bread crumb” trail to follow. All of the content you send to me prior to our consultation is copied and pasted into one master document, which I call a mega document.

We will talk more about your target role, criteria, and the conditions you will need to thrive in your new role. I will share with you my insight based on 20 years of experience working closely with employers and my expertise on employment trends what your audience will need to know about you in order to qualify you.

From there, the process is somewhat organic. One answer may lead to additional questions. I will stop you if I feel that we are straying from relevant stories and information. It is critical to me that we use our time efficiently and effectively.

Otherwise you can assume, even if you are going on a tangent, that you are providing excellent, relevant information.

At some point, you may be compelled to say, “Good question!” That is because my keen intuition enables me to understand where we need to delve deeper.

We will both come to an agreement about what qualities, experience, talents and skills distinguish you for your target role and employer.

At the end of your branding consultation, you will feel understood, proud, confident, and hopeful. You may have a new appreciation for yourself and all you have done, especially if it went unnoticed or unrecognized by your previous employer(s). You will feel more certain that all that you have to offer is needed, not by everyone, but by a particular segment of the market that your new content will now be able to recognize easily, allowing you to attract the RIGHT opportunities that represent your maximum opportunity to succeed, grow, and earn.

The First Deliverable – Branding Points

In the hours following your branding consultation, I will analyze and synthesize the totality of the notes compiled to date in the mega document, which will be well over 10 pages at this point, sometimes as many as 25 pages. I will identify 4-6 primary themes and compose branding points that encapsulate these themes, which are a combination of your qualities, experiences, talents, and outcomes that you produce as a result of having these.

I have found that fewer than 4 branding points does not provide a strong enough foundation to substantiate that you are a uniquely qualified candidate. More than 6 branding points adds unnecessary complexity to substantiating your unique value. Also, emphasizing too much value can inspire skepticism.

Because my goal is to be comprehensive and connect soft and hard skills and outcomes, some of them can be complex, even wordy. This is not representative of your final, outward-facing content.

I’ll deliver your branding points to you within one business day along with a template. It is at this early stage that I have learned it is best to procure feedback from people who know you best.

  • People find it much easier to spare 15 minutes to read and weigh in on 4-6 bullets vs. a several-page résumé or LinkedIn profile content.
  • We want to ensure (before content is created) that all of the unique dynamics that make you a valuable employee are captured from the start, so that the content created can substantiate them.
  • We also want to have a comprehensive, accurate foundation from which all of your branded content can be built so that we can tell a consistent story across various media, even while accommodating language that is germane to each media.*
    • The résumé is written to be concise. Pronouns and excess small words are eliminated for brevity, but it doesn’t sound like you would speak.
    • The LinkedIn profile, though it has character limits and still has a business audience that appreciates brevity, is best written to humanize you. That means it will be written in a more natural voice, in the 1st person.
    • A biography is written as though someone else is introducing you, in the 3rd person. It hits the highlights of your journey. At it’s best, it still expresses a theme to your journey so that it tells a compelling story, rather than chronicling your work history.
    • Other platforms and social media have “voices” as well, e.g. Twitter appreciates sarcasm, and infographics are stories in images, icons, and symbols.

* You may not opt to engage Epic Careering for multiple media, but it is still recommended that all of your content tells a consistent, compelling story by basing it on the branding points provided. 

Mini360°

Along with the branding points, I’ll send you a template that you can use to invite 4 people who know you really well, preferably in various contexts, to provide feedback within 2 business days.

As feedback comes in via e-mail, you’ll forward the feedback right to me. It’s best if I read it raw, exactly as it was written, rather than interpreted or summarized.

I will take none of the feedback personally! My primary focus is making sure that the branding points fully encompass and unveil your brilliance in all its glory.

People will tend to want to wordsmith, and you will probably have someone comment on how long or wordy they may be.

This is OK.

Some of this feedback may not be applied at this stage, which is more about my internal processes, but it can be valuable later in the content creation stage.

Upon receipt of all feedback from you and your contacts, I will hone the branding points. I’ll highlight the changes and make notes to address all of the feedback so that you understand exactly what was applied, what was not, and why. Additional questions that I will need you to answer in order to make sure that the branding points align with your vision of how you want to be promoted will also be included.

Along with the semi-final branding points, I will request that you prioritize them in order of what you want most to be recognized and appreciated for.

The process continues until you communicate that the branding points are 10/10, at which point they are considered final and the next stage begins.

Mega Document Audit/Request for Additional Information

During the branding consultation, you probably will have found it helpful to refer to specific points in time when you overcame a particular challenge, or used your unique qualities to finesse a solution. However, all of the impressive context of that story may not have been captured at the time due to a need to be efficient and effective at uncovering all of your unique value.

It’s also probable that there are additional stories about previous experience that would further support and validate your branding points, perhaps even in a way that your more recent experience would not.

I cross reference your branding points with the mega document, color coding where stories support your branding points. This enables me to see clearly which branding points are substantiated the most by recent and/or previous experiences.

The strategy is to make sure that the higher priority branding points are proven with a majority of the space, or “real estate” on your résumé, and where human eyes can see it more evidently. It also helps me understand where there are gaps in substantiating your branding points and what details of stories are missing, but needed, in order to paint a compelling picture of the value you offer and how you delivered such value in the past in relation to your branding points. This enables us to use a sound strategy for what to include or omit when needing to accommodate constraints on space.

You will be sent one or several requests for additional information that include a formula that enables you to provide only the information that is missing. In all fairness, this can seem like a daunting task for busy executive clients. Because chunks of time are easier to find/make than long periods of time, I recommend that you use your phone’s dictation features to open a reply e-mail, go to the formula, and dictate your answers as you are able. Then save the reply e-mail as a draft. Return to it, continuing to dictate your answers as you are able until it is complete, and then deliver it to me.

If you should get stuck during this process, I encourage you to schedule a call using a link that is shared with all clients so that I can help you work through whatever challenges you face in providing me with this information.

The Draft Design and Content Creation

Upon receipt of the completed information request, the drafting process begins. I have a proven, professional template (available for purchase, along with summary and bullet-building tools) and go to work strategizing and composing content that demonstrates your branding points using hard business terms as concisely as possible without losing the impact of details that build the business case for interviewing you immediately.

Most drafts take 5-7 business days, but sometimes based on the initial consultation and scope assessment it may take 7-10 business days, in which case you will have been informed with the proposal.

Along with your draft, you’ll receive a link to schedule a 60-minute phone review and some guidelines to help me arrive at a final draft that 100% satisfies you sooner than if you were to make comments and send them via e-mail.

60-minute Phone Review

We don’t always need 60 minutes to go over the changes, but some clients want to understand why some things were worded or placed in a particular way, need to provide additional clarity on certain aspects of their achievements, company or role, and just have preferences that I want to understand fully. Not only do I want to accommodate client concerns and answer your questions, but I also have best practices to maintain reader-friendliness and flow.

We won’t take time on this call to wordsmith; that’s best done on MY time after the call. I aim instead to understand the source of any concerns or the nature of your preferences. At times, I may advise you if something stands in contradiction to best practices and trends. As my customer, I will go with your decision, but will also make sure it is a well-educated decision and that the potential impact or consequences of your decision are clear.

Semi-final Draft Delivery

Within 1 business day from the phone review (with few exceptions), a semi-final draft will be delivered. If this draft falls short of the 10/10 rating needed to finalize it, I’ll trust you to use your best judgment in determining if another call is required. You’ll decide if clarity is needed from either party, or if you can communicate desired changes (and reasons) in an e-mail.

Though I aim to finalize the project as quickly as possible so that you can be in action in your job search efforts, I also do not rush you or limit the number of drafts that are created, as long as the target of the résumé remains consistent with what you identified from the beginning of the branding process.

The Final Product

Not only will every story told in your résumé prove your branding points in some way, but they will compound to create a sense of resonance and urgency that you are a HOT candidate that better be scheduled for an interview IMMEDIATELY before the competition swoops you up.

This also positions you as a premier candidate throughout the interview process. A résumé written in this way transforms how an interview is conducted. Rather than answering standard qualification and risk mitigation questions, your interviewer will be compelled to sell you the opportunity, telling you more about the daily, weekly, quarterly and annual goals and promoting the company’s benefits, perks, and growth opportunities. You will have more opportunity to paint a picture of how you will be successful in this role and to ask questions that help you determine if this opportunity is truly a fit for your criteria.

Often clients share that if a position winds up not being a fit, the company is so interested in hiring them that they custom design an opportunity that fits them! There is zero competition for these jobs, and it happens a lot more often than you think!

How This Differs From Other Résumé Writing Services

The investment is on the high end of what you’ll find across the market. This is a reflection of the experience that goes into the process and the quality of the output.

  • Many of the good services you will see out there can turn bland, functional bullets into achievement statements. That doesn’t make them branded. When the bullets align to build a business case for what makes you in-demand talent that your target needs, it’s branded.
    • If you see services offered under $100, the contents of your current résumé will be rearranged and formatted into a reader-friendly, error-free (hopefully), ATS-friendly (hopefully) document. Résumé building services fall into this range. Some of them have content databases where you select your target role/industry and you are offered choices to drag and drop into your résumé that you are then expected to customize to fit your situation.
    • If you are on a budget, have more time than money, and you still want branded content, just use my builder; it’s the only builder available that helps you create branded content and it’s fun to use.
  • My process is front end-heavy to ensure consistent quality backend output. I equate this to sharpening your ax when you want to quickly and precisely chop down a tree.
  • I do require your commitment to a partnership in the process (you have mine)!
  • I apply psychology, hypnotic copywriting, personal hiring experience, data, such as eye-tracing tests, and cutting edge industry best practices to strategically craft and locate content in a reader-friendly way where your audience will expect it. This produces more compelling, distinguishing content that resonates instantly and deeply.
  • Not only have I been a certified professional résumé writer for nearly 10 years, but I also served on the certification committee. I have seen what’s out there, and I have seen the best. I know I am providing a premium quality service! My advice was recognized by Feedspot as some of the best in the world. You are not hiring an admin to word process your résumé when you engage me. You are hiring a top-notch professional with executive-level experience in the employment industry and unprecedented credibility as an adjunct professor.

Not everything that’s fast is better, though I understand if you have an urgent need to supply a potential employer with a résumé so that you can strike while an opportunity is hot. I do not bypass my best practices, however. I have learned that the result is content that fails to produce a return on your investment and falls short of my own high standards. If you are not able to invest time being partners in this project, we just are not a fit to work together, and I wish you success and happiness in your career journey. I hope there will be a better time in the future to work together so that I can support you in optimized career growth, impact, recognition, and income.

As you can see, a lot of experience has gone into designing the branding process so that I’m able to deliver consistent quality that creates results.

Even a professionally branded résumé, however, won’t generate opportunity unless it is seen by someone in a position of power to hire you. The whole reason I do this is to help you get to the finish line. If you aren’t sure how to invest less time in your job search while getting more results, you want to acquire a life skill that will ensure true job security, and you want to form habits that make career growth a pull rather than a push. I invite you to partner with me on your campaign strategy, tools, and execution along with magnetic performance coaching.

Carly Simon – Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2)

Music video by Carly Simon performing Nobody Does It Better (Live On The Queen Mary 2). (C) 2005 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment http://vevo.ly/f5G1o0

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Why is an Entrepreneurial Mindset a Hot Quality in Talent Today?

When I tell people that the career management course I teach at Cabrini University incorporates lessons on emotional intelligence and entrepreneurialism, people ask me what that means, though most of them recognize the problems when entrepreneurial mindsets are lacking among their teams. In my experience, advanced learning institutions want to promote entrepreneurial mindsets, but may think that promoting actual entrepreneurship is at odds with a liberal studies education.

Back in 2005, I made plans to earn an MBA in Entrepreneurship. I even had tuition reimbursement approved by my firm at the time. My plan was to earn the degree, make sure it paid off for my firm by helping them successfully launch new services and products, as was the trend there at the time, and then start my own coaching business.

Things didn’t work out as planned, but they worked out… for me. The firm, which was over 20 years old, didn’t survive long enough to have been able to leverage my MBA, and I wound up starting my company much, much sooner than if I had earned my MBA first.

Google is quite a trend-setter, as you probably know. Businesses used to be very risk-averse; investing in new ventures isn’t territory companies will enter without extreme due diligence and substantial data. However, if you’re blazing a trail, there’s no one before you to prove which path will lead you to the promise land, and deep due diligence takes time no one can afford at the pace of change today. It’s also risky to avoid innovation, or to have so much structure that it stifles innovation. Today, you’ll be easily surpassed by more agile organizations that aren’t afraid to try and fail. On the other hand, if you jump on a bandwagon that wasn’t built right or headed in the wrong direction, you also risk failure.

To quote Jim Rohn:

“It’s all risky… If you think trying is risky, wait until they hand you the bill for not trying.”

Google has become an interesting case study for various talent strategies, including the kinds of qualities and skills that they seek. It seems that they, along with other Silicon Valley unicorns, have proven that hiring entrepreneurial talent does not make your workforce one big flight risk. In fact, it helps you innovate at a competitive pace, as long as you have the culture to nurture the inclinations of this population.

When I see a job description stating that the company wants an entrepreneurial candidate, or that they have an entrepreneurial culture, I wonder what that actually means to them.

There is a definition for entrepreneurialism, but there are also varying perceptions about the related qualities and conditions that enable companies to fully leverage it.

By some Glassdoor reviews and first person accounts, it seems that entrepreneurial could be synonymous with self-managed. With other data to add context, sometimes you can tell that a company is growing at such a rapid pace that they have little structured training, supervision, and coaching. This scares me, because even effective, successful entrepreneurs need strong mentors.

The benefits of an entrepreneurial mindset can be:

  • Innovation
  • Resourcefulness
  • Accountability
  • Time management
  • Coachability
  • Tenacity/Grit
  • Troubleshooting
  • Multitasking
  • Combination of people and tech skills
  • Opportunity-seeking
  • Problem-solving
  • Experimental
  • Outcome-driven
  • Project management skills

The transferable value of being entrepreneurial to a corporation is a “do what it takes” attitude.

These people don’t complain that they can’t be effective because they don’t have the resources; they go to Plan B, or C, or D, etc.

They don’t sit around while IT fixes technical problems; they go back to the old ways things were done so that progress can continue.

They don’t ask for extensions or offer apologies – they deliver some functional solution on time and promise an even better one in the future.

They don’t wait to be instructed or told; they see what needs to be done and make sure it gets done, even if they have to delegate it to someone they don’t actually have any authority to direct.

They stay on top of almost everything, keeping the customer (and revenue) at the top of the list always.

They put in extra hours when needed, and proactively invest in extra training to acquire skills that are valuable.

They make it work.

If all of this sounds great to you, let’s get clear about what you have to offer talent like this if you don’t want them to jump ship – and they will if their impact or opportunity is limited.

You need to give the room to fail. They will want to try things that have never been tried before, things that have not yet been proven. Be conscious of how often you say no, and make sure that when you say yes, you give them your full support. Back them up when they fail. Take accountability for giving them the leeway, and partner with them to devise their next victory.

Just because they can institute their own structure and deliver on time doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn from working closely with those who have achieved more than them. Don’t let them hang too long solo without checking in, recognizing progress, and guiding them in overcoming challenges. Entrepreneurial people still want to cut out errors and get to results sooner. If you have wisdom that can prevent trial and error, offer it generously.

Just because these folks manage to do a lot with a little doesn’t mean they will sustain a job where resources are chronically limited. They’ll want to see you making investments in new technology and training. If they don’t, they’ll see the risk for them in falling behind and will seek out new opportunities.

Trust these folks to come in, work smart, honor their natural rhythms and work at their own pace, as long as they deliver. If they fail to deliver, help them understand what actually went wrong as a coach, rather than as someone who enforces punitive controls to course correct.

Give them time to recharge. This population is at great risk of burn out, because they are so driven to solve problems quickly and deliver. Even if you offer unlimited vacation, you may need to make sure that this talent is taking adequate time to manage the important aspects of their personal life – their personal finances and relationships. Make sure that they have ample time to enjoy the things that stimulate their curiosity and creativity outside of work. Help them manage their holistic wellness.

Don’t assume that these people want to climb the corporate ladder into management, though they love having an impact. What makes them great could be what they do with their hands and minds, not what they do with their people. Make sure that there are multiple mobility options for these folks to continue being challenged and growing.

Some may say that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurial life. While I’d certainly say that not everyone is prepared for this life, everyone can adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and though we all may need to shift into maintenance mode from time to time, true entrepreneurs will not be happy staying there for very long.

Is your company seeking “entrepreneurial talent” or promote an “entrepreneurial culture?” What do they mean by that?

Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes

Get Imagine Dragons’ new album Evolve, out now: http://smarturl.it/EvolveID Shop Imagine Dragons: http://smarturl.it/ImagineDragonsShop Catch Imagine Dragons on tour: http://imaginedragonsmusic.com/tour Follow Imagine Dragons: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ImagineDragons/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Imaginedragons Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/imaginedragons Directed by Matt Eastin and Aaron Hymes. Special thanks to the Bellagio Las Vegas and Cirque Du Soleil.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Taking On Fixing the Broken System of Hiring and Careering

Any workable solution has to bridge the agendas of all parties – talent, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers. Everyone is working from different playbooks, even using different dictionaries. So much money has been thrown into HR tech, and none of it has fixed what’s broken.

#realities

There are problems with the human solutions:
  • Bias – It requires a LOT of self-awareness, which requires time for reflection. Time is something of which we all, recruiters included, have less and less. Speaking of…
  • Time – It’s not reasonable to expect recruiters to read résumés for 300-3000 job applicants. Then you also expect that they send a response and gather and provide feedback while spending adequate time on the phone with candidates who appear to fit, and hold on-site interviews, test, reference check, network, maintain professional partnerships, etc.
  • Arbitrary job requirements – Companies are too cryptic or even naive about what skills and experience candidates really need to step successfully into a role.
There are problems with the tech solutions:
  • Keywords – What % of résumés do you think actually have all the right keywords, and in a context that qualifies the candidates’ proficiency or lack thereof? Relying on keywords shrinks a candidate pool significantly.
  • True success indicators – Keywords do not predict performance, so the candidates that rise to the top of search results are not necessarily the ones who will perform the best.
Some other unfitting pieces of the puzzle –

Rolling recruitment:

Companies, especially in this market, need to be pooling talent whether there are positions open or not, but candidates aren’t buying into this whole talent community thing. They change jobs when they’re ready to change jobs, and once they land, it’s not a great career management move to jump ship because a company you vied to work for when you were looking is finally ready to hire.

******

Market pay:

If companies invested money in programs that ACTUALLY improved engagement AND accountability (few do!), maybe they would be able to give their current talent the money they expect and would be offered elsewhere instead of losing this talent, suffering losses from vacant positions, and then having to pay a new hire more and invest resources and potentially money in training new talent. Projections on actual losses that may not show up on the balance sheet need to be factored into payroll budgeting.

******

Communication:

Companies automated so much of the recruiting cycle that it seems human-to-human communication is perceived as a nuisance instead of a necessity. HR people don’t want candidates calling. Third party recruiters often have zero interface with a hiring manager. How many recruiters wasted weeks trying to find candidates with X experience only to find out that the client hired a candidate without it? In all that time the recruiter could have followed up with candidates with real updates.

*******

Culture killers:

Hiring managers are spending a large percentage of their time killing drama, trying to get their teams business-ready in the face of resistance to change, and fighting politics and bureaucracy that there is little to no time left to give thoughtful consideration to candidates who don’t check all the boxes and provide productive feedback. Eliminating a candidate because they don’t have industry experience, for example, can be shortsighted.

******

Elimination criteria are evolving:

Background checks are still revealing crimes related to marijuana for candidates in states where it is now legal. Blacklisting is a practice facing increasing scrutiny. Companies are (and have been) eliminating references due to fear of litigation. Discriminating against candidates who suffered long-term unemployment or any unemployment is now illegal in certain municipalities and states. Eliminating candidates who have been underpaid, or using previous pay to justify paying lower than market rate are illegal. Pursuing litigation against your former employer isn’t as illegal as facing retaliation from your former company, but it won’t be long until it is, I predict.

******

There are no band-aids for the problems that plague hiring and careering. The whole system needs to be torn down and replaced.

Yes, I have ideas. I’ve paid close attention as a former job seeker who experienced long-term unemployment, a former IT recruiter, and as someone who has been a close confidant of corporate leaders as a career coach for 13 years as well as an adjunct professor teaching the next generation of talent how to navigate job search, careers, and leadership. I need the right ears. I need to find partners. This is a HUGE undertaking, larger than the sum of all I’ve accomplished to date. Hit me up if this mission speaks to you.

Wounding and Healing of Men

Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Wounding and Healing of Men · Francis Dunnery Hometown 2001 ℗ 2004 Francis Dunnery Released on: 2004-08-03 Auto-generated by YouTube.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Does Your Résumé Pass the Professional Test? [Checklists Within]

The minimal requirement of a résumé is to qualify the professional. I would estimate that 75% of résumés that I have read from students to executives over my 20 years in the employment industry don’t pass this simple requirement.

The standards of résumés have evolved as technology has exponentially increased the number of applicants, and best practices constantly evolve to keep up with changing job markets and human resources technology trends.

So, what does it take to qualify a professional today?

Here’s an easy-to-follow checklist. Does your résumé:

  • Identify the role you are targeting?
  • Include at least 6 key skills commonly found on job postings for your target role, also known as keywords?
  • Communicate your proficiency in these skills or quantify your experience with them?
  • Make clear the recency and relevancy of these skills to your target role?
  • Outline your experience applying these skills to create desired outcomes for previous employers in bullets underneath each work experience?
  • Prove that you have applied these skills to create value?
  • Present your experience in a reader-friendly format that effectively uses white space?
  • Link to relevant work samples and your LinkedIn profile?
  • Get you interviews for jobs that you are qualified to do?
  • Have your accurate contact information within the body of the document (not the header)?

Once you qualify yourself as a candidate, you might expect that, if seen by a human being and not screened out by an applicant tracking system, you will be filtered into a group of candidates who will be pre-screened or invited to interview. The résumé has done its minimal job of moving you to the next stage.

If you invest in a professional résumé writer, you can expect your résumé to check all of the above boxes.

Most job seekers, however, are able to read and apply professional résumé tips to get their résumé to this very basic level, and it’s worthwhile to learn this life skill so that you can respond to opportunity when it presents itself, as it sometimes does.

Are they willing? It appears most are not.

Here is what most résumés do:

  • Provide the name and contact information.
  • List employment and education dates.
  • Identify previous companies and titles.
  • List the primary functions and responsibilities of the role.
  • List skills.

None of the above actually qualify you. They hint that you might have the qualifications, but stating what your job responsibilities were does not communicate that you performed those responsibilities well. Also, having years of experience is not the same as gaining proficiency in skills, let alone expertise. In 1999 when I graduated college, it was not difficult to earn an interview with a résumé like this.

Now, even in a “job seekers’ market,” in which there are more opportunities than talent available, you are vying for the same positions as other qualified candidates. Employers usually move forward the candidates who have provided clear proof of performance.

Unless you are pursuing a position that requires no previous experience or you have a very unique, in-demand experience made clear based on where you worked and your title, employers will not take the time to find out if you are qualified, even if you are. No matter how many jobs you apply for, you can expect very little, if any, response to a résumé written based on the standards of the last millennium.

I estimate that about 2% of the résumés seen by employers are branded. This résumé goes further than qualifying a job seeker. It positions a professional as a top candidate and creates a sense of urgency that you need to be brought into the interview process immediately before another company snatches you up. It speaks directly to their needs, challenges, and initiatives and distinguishes you from other equally, or even more, qualified candidates as uniquely talented.

If you have any particular challenges in landing a new job, such as changing roles or industries, time out of the job market, associations with disreputable companies, multiple short (under 2 years) job stints, or having been fired, then your job search may continue indefinitely without a branded résumé and a branded, proactive campaign.

If you have none of the above challenges, but want to create demand, generate multiple competing offers, and have the luxury of choosing which opportunity best aligns with your short and long-term career and lifestyle goals, branding is essential.

Branded résumés:

  • Start with defining your ideal audience’s challenges, initiatives, and goals and identifying what 4-6 themes you want to convey that will position you as the solution.
  • Qualify you.
  • Make obvious the role you are pursuing, as well as the industry, if relevant.
  • Have short (under 5-lines) summaries that demonstrate (vs. state) your qualities, perspective, unique experience, and expertise in the context of how they have created value consistently throughout your career for previous employers.
  • Define the scope of your previous roles in short position summaries under your experience.
  • Tell stories that further validate the unique, relevant value you offer in concisely written bullets that explain not only what you achieved, but how and with what results and impact.
  • Define subjective terms, like “large” and “quickly” in quantified terms.
  • Omit terms like “responsible for,” “participated in,” “collaborated with” in favor of more specific, action-oriented verbs.
  • Are generous in explaining the outcomes produced, often accompanied by explaining the challenges needed to be overcome in achieving those outcomes.
  • Present all of the evidence of your skills proficiency, not just in a skills section, but also in context of what you have achieved using those skills within the bullets.
  • Answer the question, “so what?” with each bullet and summary.
  • Omit irrelevant experience, but may include experience further in the past if it supports that the professional gained unique insight, learned and applied industry-recognized best practices, worked for a name-worthy employer, or worked in an industry with transferrable, but not frequently applied, best practices.
  • Position information where employers expect to find it and in a way that is easy to read.
  • Maximize the “real estate” above the fold of the résumé, stating relevant work experience before the reader has to scroll to the next page.
  • Are intentional about where acronyms and numbers, aka “stop signs”, appear based on eye tests.
  • Use formatting features, such as bold, italics, and underline, sparingly to emphasize relevant data.

Though careful thought and intention is put into every single word choice in a branded résumé, it still has to be written so that the reader can make a decision in 6-8 seconds. Every résumé will make an impression in that amount of time.

Possible impressions you can make from undesirable to ideal include:

  • Unqualified/under-qualified – Pass
  • Lacking attention to detail/uncommitted to excellence – Pass
  • Possibly qualified/potential to be trained – Maybe
  • Probably qualified/potential to fit culture – Maybe
  • Qualified, but probably does not fit culture – Maybe
  • Qualified with potential to fit culture – Follow Up
  • Qualified, probably fits culture – Priority Follow Up
  • Qualified, fits culture, and probably attractive and visible to our competition – Follow Up Immediately!

When you start the interview process with a branded résumé, you are positioned as a front-runner from the get-go and the interview process looks very different. Rather than answering questions that help an employer mitigate their risk, they are selling you the opportunity from the get-go. They still will have to mitigate their risk, but they’ll make sure you are engaged and interested first. At this point, it’s your opportunity to lose.

With a branded résumé and a proactive strategic campaign, a job seeker often rises so far above other candidates that companies consider custom-designing a role that allows you to make the maximum impact. Negotiating then doesn’t happen in the context of tiered, approved salary levels; you name your market price based on the value that you know you will create when you are given all of the conditions that are conducive to your success, and you negotiate those as well. You are positioned so competitively that there is little to no competition.

The branding process isn’t something you invest time, energy or money in if you need a job and any job will do. Learn how to master a qualifying résumé and save your money for a professionally branded résumé when you decide to be more intentional, proactive, and progressive in your career goals.

Should you learn how to write a branded résumé? Well, many branding professionals have engaged Epic Careering to write their résumés and profiles because A) it’s challenging to be subjective about a product/service when that product/service is you, and B) they appreciate the personal branding process that we have honed over the last 13 years and the quality output that it consistently produces.

The general rule of thumb, according to authors like Robert Kiyosaki and Tim Ferriss who teach people how to make their money work for them instead of working for money, is to outsource to a professional anything that someone else could do better and in less time. Especially if you are unemployed, time is money.

If your résumé doesn’t pass the professionally branded test and you have a desire to be in control of your career, schedule a free branding consultation today.

If you have had the experience of being the only candidate considered for a position, please share your story in the comments. It’s hard to believe that it happens until it happens to you! Inspire others to have hope that it can happen for them, too!

The Platters – Only You (And You Alone) (Original Footage HD)

(P)(C) Mercury Records (USA) 1955 Only You (And You Alone), más conocida como Only You es una canción estadounidense compuesta en 1955 por Buck Ram y Ande Rand.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Old School Hiring Practices Facing Scrutiny and Backlash in a Job Seeker’s Market

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! There are more job openings than candidates.

I don’t think all people in hiring positions have gotten the memo – it’s a job seeker’s market. I say this because for three years now, I have been tracking and capturing gripes of job seekers (as well as recruiters, human resources professionals, and hiring managers.)

The power has shifted, and qualified job seekers are in a position to demand that a few irksome practices be abolished in favor of you wooing them into accepting your position. In a few cases, the law is even in their favor, as more legislation is passed at the local level prohibiting employers to play games with job seekers.

If we apply the trickle-down theory (not the economic theory) of adoption to hiring best practices, there are going to be early adopters, those who are watching and following the early adopters to see if new practices succeed, those who will only jump on the bandwagon after most others, and those who insist on bucking anything new.

Traditionally, this theory purports that cost is a factor for products, which does apply somewhat to practices, since new employees require training when a company updates standard procedures to adopt new best practices. More recent revisions of this theory take a closer look at motive to adopt anything new. Herein lies a mystery. All companies need talent of some kind or another.

Look at how long it took employers, even early adopters, to jump on the candidate experience initiative. User experience (UX) has been a web interface design focus and official term for nearly 25 years. Customer experience and guest experience have been evaluated and improved in retail and entertainment since the dawn of the industries, but didn’t adopt the Xx acronym until the mid 2010s, and the x can connote a purely digital experience. Patient experience has been measured since the 1980s.

In 2005, talent management thought leader, Kevin Wheeler, introduced the Candidate Bill of Rights initiative. Five years later, the term “candidate experience” was coined and within a couple years, several entities started recognizing companies who provided exemplary candidate experience.

What took employers so long to focus on the experience of candidates? The motive wasn’t there as long as they were in the position of power.

Though candidates have the power, not all employers got the memo, so if you are a candidate and you stand your ground on any of these practices, just know that you could risk an offer with employers who are on a slower adoption curve.

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The following are hiring’s most hideous, harmful practices of which job seekers and their advocates are becoming more vocal and less intolerant about:

  1. Not being transparent about budgeted salary

Job seekers have traditionally been advised to not be the first to bring up salary to avoid being categorized as money-motivated, which could also contribute to the candidate being a flight risk, apt to leave their job at the drop of a better offer. Now we know – employees who stay loyal tend to be paid less than professionals who change employers. This is backwards, yes. Companies, in essence, are losing money by having to replace people they lose with people who will expect more compensation when they could have just offered better pay raises and growth opportunities. Retaining employees costs less than vacancies, re-allocating resources to backfill positions, and paying to onboard and train new employees, and that’s not even taking into account lost productivity while new employees ramp up.

Not being upfront about budgeted salary also doesn’t make sense from a time standpoint. If you have 5 qualified candidates, but only 2 would accept your offer, why invest time in interviewing all 5?

Now that the power is in the job seeker’s hands, it’s the companies who choose to withhold budgeted salary who risk being perceived as wanting to get as much as they can for as little as possible, while C-suite employees enjoy 7-figure compensation and bonuses.

Also, don’t undervalue talents’ time. If they are currently employed, it requires them to take time off of work to interview. If they aren’t employed, their time is their money. They don’t actually have time (or energy or emotions) to invest in opportunities that are not going to help them meet their lifestyle needs.

Don’t jerk job seekers around. When a requisition for a position is approved, it is approved with a budget. Negotiating, at its best for long-term mutual benefit, is supposed to achieve a win-win. We’ve seen how win-lose negotiating eventually backfires.

  1. Asking about perceived weaknesses

I personally like this question, but I have seen/heard certain thought leaders encourage candidates to avoid it because it’s a trick to get candidates to disqualify themselves. As a recruiter, I asked it, but not for that reason. In fact, to preach that the only reason this question exists is to get candidates to shoot themselves in the foot is plain old inaccurate. It has a more noble intention, though I also recognize that the means can be achieved through more conscious questioning.

The intention when I asked this question was to gauge self-awareness, accountability, and coachability. All of these are requirements of being employable.

However, I am in Marcus Buckingham’s camp of focusing more on identifying and applying strengths vs. developing weaknesses as a sound career management strategy. All strengths can be liabilities, however, if unchecked. It can take real world experience to test how to balance strengths, and in doing so, there is trial and error. It’s the error – the acknowledgement of the cause/effect relationship between something done too extremely or too deficiently, and the future correction, that leads to growth and development. Also, as we become we wiser and realize that there are a multitude of things we don’t know that we don’t know, we start to better recognize knowledge and skill gaps.

Questions to identify such moments don’t have to be so entrapping. You can achieve the same result by asking two behavioral questions – one that deals with soft skills and one that addresses hard skills.

A. “Tell me about a time when you identified a knowledge or skill gap. How did you become aware, how did you fill it, and what impact did that have?”

B. “Tell me about a time when you identified an area of growth. How did you become aware, what did you do to develop in that area, and what impact did that have?”

  1. Demanding salary history; asking for W2s

Unfortunately, I worked for a firm that had a policy to require salary history and request W2s to validate a candidate’s most recent salary. It went against my values. As someone who had been chronically underpaid (until I learned and applied negotiating skills with my own boss), I did not feel that a person’s past salary should have any influence whatsoever on their future salary (and the training that my company sponsored in 2004/2005 confirmed this.) Still, it was our policy. This, among other policy and cultural changes, were the impetus for my own disengagement.

Perpetuating low pay keeps marginalized groups marginalized. This policy is anti-equality and sustains gender and race wage gaps. This is why many municipalities and states have passed laws prohibiting employers from requesting salary history.

  1. Ghosting/Blacklisting

The majority of job seeker gripes revolve around spending time pursuing open positions, filling out online applications, doing due diligence as advised, and then getting nothing – zero response – from a company. Even an automated confirmation of receipt would be reassuring to some level, according to job seekers. However, once a candidate is in the system, they expect an update of some kind. Newer applicant tracking systems build in candidate updates and make it quite simple to blast out when no more applications are being accepted, when first round candidate interviews are being scheduled, and when the position is formally closed with an accepted offer. Not all employers have such sophisticated ATSs, however the early adopters and those that have followed them do. The companies lagging behind are sending a message that they are not focused on candidate experience.

One of my most viral LinkedIn posts to date is about recruiter blacklisting. Some have mistaken this post as an endorsement for this policy, but it was really intended to make job seekers aware of things that they do to burn bridges with recruiter, and how the small world of recruiting can mean a mistake with one recruiter may restrict your ability to work with other recruiters as well.

It happens, and to be clear, I am not condoning it. It, too, is illegal in certain states and municipalities.

However, when a bad reference comes back or a candidate abuses a client or no-shows, their file gets marked accordingly. Many readers who commented rightly pointed out that some recruiters are on a power trip, and can be vengeful in limiting someone’s future opportunity because of a bad experience that perhaps that recruiter even precipitated.

Yes. There are recruiters who have become a bit too accustomed to judging candidates as worthy or not worthy of working with them. These are the recruiters who need a wake up call. Just as ATSs allow recruiters to keep notes on which candidates have misbehaved, there are several recruiter rating sites out there now, and their brand is sure to be tarnished by acting from ego. Karma is a b*tch.

  1. Automated rejections to candidates who have interviewed

This is a bit like breaking up over text. When two or more people have invested time getting acquainted face-to-face, an automated response just seems shallow and dismissive. Some of these candidates could be your second choice, and you might want to tap their shoulder in the future should your #1 reject the offer, not work out, or move up quickly. Any of the candidates you’ve personally met are potentially in a position to promote or tarnish your employment brand. Have you read Glassdoor lately?

I get that you can’t give a personal response to hundreds of candidates who apply, but if you’ve had under 20 people interview, (and, really, if you’ve had over 10 without an offer, there’s a flaw in sourcing and/or qualifying) it is reasonable to expect that you can let them know they are no longer being considered, even if you use a template – at a minimum.

  1. Not giving accurate feedback and updates

If someone takes the time to come out to meet you and your team, take a moment to give them real, individualized feedback and updates. A phone call is preferred, but I have had the experience, as I’m sure any recruiter who tried to make it a policy to provide feedback, of someone swearing that they would take feedback professionally, take it personally, and dismiss the feedback as wrong, or even discriminatory. There are liabilities in providing feedback, even when the reason for rejecting a candidate is on the up and up.

However, if your hiring practices have been thoroughly audited (have they?), and you are sure that bias is not influencing hiring, I’m certain that you can provide a legitimate reason for a candidate not being considered, or even being forthright about something that puts them at a competitive disadvantage or advantage.

Do you think there are legitimate reasons to NOT let a candidate know that they are one of three finalists? What this information does is help the candidate understand that, even if they feel that they are a shoo-in, their efforts to find their next opportunity need to continue.

Don’t let a candidate believe that a job is theirs to lose so that they cease other opportunity development while you continue to vet other candidates.

  1. 4-month long hiring cycles

At the executive level, especially in this day and age, leaders need to be scrutinized to a certain degree. The stakes are high, and there are potentially many stakeholders. It is understandable that the hiring process can be delayed for due diligence and because getting busy executive leaders and/or directors to arrive at a consensus can be a time-consuming process.

However, we all know that the pace of change is accelerating and even at the executive level, decision-making needs to be expedited.

At an even lower level, four months is just excessive. Top talent who make things happen and innovate will perceive a long hiring cycle as a systemic sign of slow progress. If you have justifications for such a long hiring process (such as clearances or thorough background checks), it would be best if you clarified this from the beginning.

  1. Passing over people for employment gaps

When I finally landed after a 10-month unemployment period induced by 9/11, I found myself expected to disqualify technical candidates who had been unemployed for 6 months or longer. This client request was based on the implication that tech talent who had not been actively working for 6+ months somehow lost their touch, grew stale, or had skills that are now obsolete.

This was 18 years ago, and things weren’t changing that fast! This was a huge conflict for me, and one that made me rethink my own career choice.

Fast forward to the great recession, and layoffs touched more people than ever. Hard-working, talented, valuable, qualified employees were out on the streets, not just those you could assume were dead weight – which is a bias, if you hadn’t recognized this.

There are some who never financially recovered from that, 10 years later! Add to being laid off any kind of personal or health challenges and you have people who are now perpetually in debt.

Anyone can be the casualty of poor leadership in any economy.

  1. Requiring 3 references from past supervisors

Even 14 years ago when I was recruiting, many of the companies we recruited for and from instituted “no reference” policies. Apparently, many employers had been sued for defamation, among other things. The best some of them can do is verify work history and maybe be coerced into affirming or denying that they would hire them again in the future.

Here in the pharma-rich Greater Philadelphia area, pharma professionals, among others, are unable to provide references because their company adopted this policy. Does that make them unemployable? No.

Reference checking is and has been a hiring best practice based on the theory that past behavior is the best predictor for future behavior, as is the behavioral interviewing methodology.

Has this theory been proven, though? Is it infallible? Are references the only or best way to validate performance?

There are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth. Hearing someone else’s version of a story does not help you arrive at truth, necessarily. In fact, it can raise caution flags where there needn’t be any.

My previous firm’s policy required three reference checks. Every time I butted up against a challenge, I had to validate the challenge in order to circumvent the policy and move forward with a candidate, or I was told to find new candidates. This was an unnecessary hurdle to finding the right candidate.

I’ve also learned that, not only can references be biased, but they can also can be faked or pressured.

I admit, I check references for people I hire for my company, even subcontractors, but it’s not a witch hunt. It’s a way for me to learn how to inspire their best work and what projects I might want to outsource to someone else. I don’t require a certain amount and most of the time, if they have impressive, specific LinkedIn recommendations, that is good enough validation.

As a recruiter, sometimes the validation a reference provided was used verbatim in my candidate presentation to a client, so they do have value, but should not be required to consider a candidate. Special circumstances and changing corporate policies have to be considered.

  1. Using the term “overqualified”

I admit, I have defended this term as a justifiable reason to reject candidates. It’s true that from experience, some employers have learned that hiring an experienced person to do a job below their abilities has resulted in that person disengaging, growing frustrated by not being able to apply their knowledge, jumping ship at better offers more in alignment with level and pay, and resentment toward younger managers who feel threatened.

A hiring manager will not trust a candidate’s word over their own experience, but this can still signal a bias.

The problem is that the term “overqualified” has become synonymous with age discrimination. You can’t detach that meaning once it’s there.

The pressures of decision-making authority and staff supervision can lead to burn out, family issues, and even health complications. For many legitimate reasons, some people choose to sacrifice income for better quality of life. Get a candidate’s why – always.

If there are ethical, logistical, or cultural reasons why you won’t offer an experienced candidate a position, explain them explicitly.

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These are just 10 of many trends that are shifting as companies become more aware of the need to be attractive to top talent in order to survive the next few years.

Epic Careering wants to make sure that more of the opportunities that are available for today’s and tomorrow’s talent are with conscious companies with conscious leaders who are nurturing a conscious culture.

If you know or work for a company that has a future at risk, that is losing top talent to competitors, or that is behind the curve in adopting consistent conscious hiring and leadership practices, nominate them anonymously. Provide their name, your reason, and any contact information that will help us get through to a decision-maker.

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin’ 1964

TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing’ (1964) Directed by: Daryl Duke Starring: Bob Dylan

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

5 Ways to Reclaim Your Power in Your Job Search or Career

Humans have a primal need to be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated.  The job search process, even working, can give people quite the opposite experience. Putting yourself out there, crossing your fingers, and hoping that someone likes you enough to talk to is degrading.

The default mode of job seeking is reactive; you see a job opening posted, then you follow the instructions on the platform or in the job description to apply. You then get funneled in with all the other applications and hope that it is received and that your value is appealing enough to get an invitation to take next steps. The ball is in the other court this whole time.

But statistics show that we are in a very strong job-seekers market. There have been more job openings in the US than unemployed workers for a good year now.

How can that be? Wouldn’t that mean that all applicants would get a fair chance? No. Of course, you need a strong résumé, rich with keywords used in context to demonstrate your qualifications. However, using your résumé purely as a tool for job applications is a disempowered strategy.

There are things that you can do to make things happen in your job search, and you may not believe that it’s true until it happens to you. This means that you should experiment. Give a few, or all of these tactics a try and allow yourself 3 weeks of dedicated effort in job searching. During this time, stop spending your time on reactive activities such as scouring job boards and applying online. If something pays off with an introduction, interview, or offer, keep doing it and abandon what hasn’t been successful.

I’ll bet you’ll like how it feels to know that you can not only generate leads that you would never have found on Indeed, but that you can also get others to generate leads for you and multiply your results without multiplying your time. Generate leads, generate momentum, and then have your choice of position rather than only being able to consider those jobs that you found on job boards when everyone else is vying for the same jobs.

I’ll bet one of the methods below will lead you to have an interview for an opportunity that outside job seekers don’t even know about yet. All of the methods below have worked for my clients, so they have already been proven to succeed.

In order to make this work optimally, you will need*:

  • A branded résumé that not only qualifies you, but makes your unique value evident.
  • A complete, branded LinkedIn profile written in 1st person that supplements and compliments your résumé (not replicates it) and shows that you are a dynamic, interesting person outside of your work as well.
  • A target list of at least 25 companies that have cultures that will enable you to thrive – this activity will lead to positive momentum, and an acceptable job offer if you’re not wasting time making progress with companies where you ultimately would not want to work. THIS LIST IS NOT BASED ON JOB POSTINGS YOU’VE SEEN. This might sound counter-intuitive, but the point of these proactive efforts is to pursue organizations based on their fit to you, not whether they have an opening for you!

* If you don’t have all three of the following, schedule a free consultation with me.

1. Volunteer

It’s not always easy finding opportunities to volunteer, as strange as that sounds. I was new in business when I first started volunteering and I pursued well-known organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross, but opportunities seemed to be targeted at organized groups, not individuals. I spoke with a client who was also involved in local government and asked about opportunities in the community. Because of that, I wound up being a race marshal and handing out water to runners at a couple of 5Ks. These were great opportunities, and they got me started, but I didn’t meet anyone, and it wasn’t always clear when I showed up of how I was going to help. Sometimes I took it upon myself to help out in the best way I could, and then found out I was doing it wrong. This was still good experience for me, and you need to remember that some organizations are better at volunteer training than others.

But, it doesn’t matter how you start. Just start. If you’ve been undervalued at your job or you have been transitioning for a while, it is easy to forget why you are so valuable. Being helpful in any way can remind you of your value. It doesn’t always create a direct line to opportunity, but it can potentially. It’s led to many opportunities for me and my clients. Check out opportunities at volunteermatch.org. See what non-profits leaders in your target companies support. Ask avid networkers you know where movers and shakers they know volunteer their time and talents.

In past articles, I encouraged you to volunteer at professional organization events, like volunteering to speak on a topic within your expertise that can help other professionals be more successful, or you can pick a cause for which you have passion. If you spend your free time worrying about a problem, you’ll gain power by doing something about it.

Volunteering is something you’ll want to add to your LinkedIn profile and it something that can look favorable to companies that value and promote community and social impact. Also, it’s much harder to validate that you are passionate about something if you aren’t spending time in it or doing it. You know you are passionate when you would spend your time doing something whether you are paid or not. Everyone says they’re passionate, volunteering proves it.

2. Approach letters

If you have a cover letter template, scrap it. I’m not talking about a cover letter that you attach to your online application, which can be a way to find out if you have strong written communication skills. I’m talking about a letter of interest that you send directly to your would-be direct supervisor in your target company. The qualification for who receives it is NOT based on the recipient having a posted job opening, but if the company has a need, challenge, or initiative that you can bolster by being part of the team. This is not a request for a job, but rather a request to talk further about the company’s future plans and how you can support them. It’s more like you are a consultant who is trying to identify whether you offer a skill or service that this company needs, but you do your homework ahead of time and drop some bread crumbs that entice the recipient to know what the recipe is.

The letter must explicitly lay out what you know about the company, and how that implicates your added value. Connect the dots between the problem and how you have added value to such endeavors in the past. The call to action is to invite the recipient to a 20-minute discovery call, just to see if what you offer is a match for what they need.

Even if you are committed to a full-time permanent opportunity, position yourself as someone flexible about terms. This also communicates that you are confident that you can add value in the short term.  While you are there adding short-term value, you can gain insights that enable you to pitch a long-term value proposition.  Make yourself indispensable, and you will have the leverage to ask for all the perks and benefits of a full-time employee, plus a signing bonus. This will require you to do some market research on an hourly rate that will help you cover costs an employer would normally cover, plus self-employment tax for working as a sole proprietor.

This approach requires being bold. Fortune favors the bold, in case you hadn’t heard. If your confidence isn’t quite there yet, volunteer your skills to a non-profit and add value until you feel confident moving forward. Again, this is an experiment, so try this with about 5 companies.

3. Take on a leadership role in a professional or community organization

60% of recruiters are specifically looking for this kind of engagement through your social media. It takes a village to run successful events and programs.

There are steps that lead to engaging as a leader in an organization. You don’t just jump right into it.

Step 1 – Observe. Check out several organizations to determine which one has the kind of people, programs, and mission statement that resonate with your career mission.

Step 2 – Join. Attend regular meetings where you will naturally become more acquainted with other members and the breadth of what is offered.

Step 3 – Volunteer. Many organizations crave doing more, but they need the manpower to do it. Look for the board names on the organization’s website. Ask them what initiatives they have tabled because of lack of manpower, or what additional help they could use to make their events and programs even better. If that doesn’t fit what you do, make a referral and keep looking for opportunities. Remember to follow up frequently. Many of these organizations are full of people who have other full-time obligations and won’t easily remember who offered what help.

Step 4 – Lead. Once you get to see events and programs from the inside you’ll better understand the undertaking of running them. It’s a natural progression to lead one event or get involved in the organization’s operations and strategy or do both. It comes with visibility, but is not without its conflicts – even the best organizations. It’s how conflicts are handled that will influence how long you remain involved in the organization, I have found.

4. LinkedIn outreach

Just to be clear, outreach is not the same as clicking on “send invite” for all of the people LinkedIn suggests or who appear in a search. That’s as good as spam; your low success rates will deceive you into thinking that people are not looking to connect on LinkedIn when that is exactly why they are on LinkedIn. People only make progress through REAL connections, not superficial ones. This means having shorter, well-vetted lists and custom invitations. You can increase your chances of having your invitation accepted if 1) the person you’re inviting to connect to is actually active on LinkedIn and 2) you engage with that person’s content.  The first step is to follow this person. This will be an option if they are active. (If they aren’t, see the next item on the list.)

Once you follow someone, you are notified when they engage on other people’s content as well as when they create and share their own. It matters little which you engage with, but if it is other’s people content, respond directly to their comment on it. If it is their original content, share it, tag them, and take care to write something insightful that will inspire others to give their content some love and attention. Then send them a customized invitation to connect, making mention of how much you appreciated their content.

Just like the approach letter, the goal is to take that initial connection to the next step, and connect offline via phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting.  Initially, just ask for 20 minutes. The point is to determine if there is enough synergy to invest more time. Make sure you have 5 good, specific questions based on their background that can help you understand who they are, where they’ve been and how they got “here.” Also, make sure you ask the #1 most important question – what introductions, resources, or support would help move your most important projects forward faster? Don’t just ask generally, “How can I help you?” This is a burdensome question. How could they know what you can do to help? Find out first what they want most, and then tell them how you can help. Also, deliver your call to action, which will help them self-identify that they are someone you are qualified to help.

This works! First, target people in your focus company, but do it also with other professionals in your field, fellow alumni, thought leaders, authors, and influencers.

5. Try a brand new platform

Recruiters are taught to go where the talent is. So, whenever a platform gains popularity, recruiters are tasked to evaluate how it can be leveraged to get in front of talent where other recruiters are not. It might surprise you to know that because of this, 63% of recruiters in tech companies are using Instagram.  That’s just recruiters, though. If they’re looking for talent here, could your future supervisor be also?

Marketers are always looking at ways that they can catch consumers in the flow of their day and interrupt their attention with messages that resonate. Where is your future supervisor hanging out? This may take a bit of research, and the findings may be very different from target to target.

I have had clients say “Twitter is stupid,” but they suspended their skepticism and tried it because a simple search showed that their targets were active with personal and company handles. If you are involved with an organization that uses Slack, try it out. There’s a learning curve to any new platform, but a good three weeks will get you comfortable enough to leverage it. Just like organizations, observe first, then engage. Try a few different things.

Other platforms are meetup.org, Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, Musical.ly, AngelList, f6s, and I’m sure you’ll find some Listservs and Yahoo groups that are still being used. There are abundantly more platforms and there will continue to be more. You don’t have to learn them all, but if you find out that people you know, respect, and would want to work for are on them, get familiar.

Companies have needs well before they have formally posted job openings. This is the “hidden job market” you may have heard about but weren’t sure existed. It exists, and it’s a gold mine of opportunity for those who can unlock it. The best part is that the hidden job market is where you are the driver of opportunity. Once you know how to access it, there’s no unknowing it, but you might fall back into reactive job searching if you don’t make it a habit.

Once you find one or two methods that work for you and your target employer audience, dedicate most of your job search time to it. Abandon what disempowers you and fails to generate opportunity.

Then the challenge shifts to keeping track of all of that momentum. You’ll spend more time in meetings, interviews, and negotiations, and there will be little time for job boards and online applications, anyway.

Because of that, you’ll want to be very selective from that point forward on what companies and leaders you invest time getting to know better.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to spend more time doing the things you love.

The success will be a natural motivator, so you won’t have to push yourself every day to make efforts.

You may even start to enjoy creating career opportunity so much that you form habits that you maintain during your employment and you’ll never have to be out of work ever again.

That’s power!

Snap – I ve Got The power

“The Power” is an electronic pop hit song by the German music group Snap! from their album World Power. It was released in January 1990 and reached number-one in the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, as well as the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Rap charts.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 401 for the Network-Disabled: Following Up 

If you have experienced moments as I described in posts from previous weeks (Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301), such as fears of being imposing, too aggressive, not interesting enough, etc., then following up will potentially, if not certainly, trigger more thoughts of the same.

Even if you felt as though there was a strong rapport and that the person seemed genuinely interested in connecting again, analysis paralysis can strike and cause procrastination, which may present in full-blown failure to follow up. This stage is where you determine the return on your investment of time, energy, and occasionally money, in your networking endeavors.

I’ve been prone to overthinking when needing to follow up, even though I’m consciously aware that the best practice is to follow up the next day while people’s memories are still fresh. If someone you met was wildly popular, I’d wait a couple of days for the eager beavers to filter through.

If you find yourself unable to follow up promptly, don’t abandon hope that you’ll be able to generate opportunity because you are late. Like being serendipitously late to an event, sometimes delays can benefit you. 

Firstly, if when you first met you mentioned a resource, introduction, or information that you thought would be immediately helpful, deliver it. Then ask the person to schedule a follow-up call or meeting. If you’re not able to deliver, then at least update them. Perhaps a follow-up conversation would help you deliver better.

The objective, once you have met someone digitally or in real life, is to allocate more time to get better acquainted. This can look like a lot of things, some of which you may even enjoy!  We are all time-starved. Rather than resorting to an email, where most people I know are over-flooded with incoming communications, see if there is a medium that is already a part of the person’s daily, weekly, or monthly flow – someplace they’ll already be, but where their attention isn’t diverted to too many other demands. 

WHERE TO FOLLOW UP:

In real life

If you both mentioned a love of hiking or some other activity, tie that into your next plans. Perhaps there is a group hike you can both attend where you can not only get to know each other better, but can also help each other meet other people.  

When one person I was introduced to told me that she couldn’t talk on a Tuesday because she was attending a flower show that I also had considered attending, I suggested we meet there. And we did. And we wound up spending a whole day together appreciating flowers and flower artisans. We were also able to write that flower show off as work expenses, along with the expenses of getting there. 

If this person works or lives somewhere near you or somewhere you want to go, you can double leverage your time and schedule other activities or errands, let them know and offer to go when they have time to meet. 

On social media

Perhaps personal interests didn’t come up. Do a bit of personal research. See what you can discern from social media. If you met someone and only talked business, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, but not Facebook or Instagram (unless their business is on Instagram.) You may not be on Twitter, but I have found that people who tweet regularly tend to divulge personal opinions you may not see them sharing on other social media.  If you think your audience isn’t using Twitter – think again. It takes but a minute to check. If they are on Twitter and tweet daily, this is the best way to catch them in the flow of their day.  

If you send a LinkedIn invitation to someone, you only have 300 characters. Not everyone is active on LinkedIn. If you see that your contact has only a few connections, little content in their profile, and no recent activity, they may not see your invitation for a while, if at all.  If this is the case, use a backup method. 

Phone/Texting

How many times do you answer your phone when you don’t know the number calling? Rarely, I’d bet, unless you are a busy salesperson. The art of calling people has really become the art of leaving a message. The rules are simple: don’t be a telemarketer. 

Often when I leave a message, I let the other person know that they can respond via text to let me know their availability to speak. I may also let them know that I will follow up with an email or LinkedIn message (if I know they use it daily). This gives them options to respond in a way that is most convenient for them. 

Video Conference

Though I don’t prefer it because when I don’t have meetings scheduled I like to save time by staying in leisure clothes (okay, pajamas), I accommodate requests to video chat because there is something deeper about looking at someone when you talk. It can be a bit awkward, however, with delays, cameras that don’t line up with your eyesight (so you look like you’re looking elsewhere), and technical difficulties.  It’s still the next best thing to meeting in person, and you don’t have to take time to travel anywhere (just to get camera-ready.)

All of the above

Ideally, somehow you are tracking all of your networking outreach efforts. (We have a toolkit for that). I suggest trying a variety of social media outlets. You may find success with one method where others have failed.  

HOW TO FOLLOW UP:

KISS

Write or say a sentence that reminds the person how and where you met, and why you decided to follow up, specifically how you think you can help each other. 

The logistics of making time to network are challenging for most people. You can make this easy and minimize the time needed to exchange communications just to schedule by sharing a scheduling link. Calend.ly offers free accounts where you can sync with your other calendars and provide people with a link that lets them book right on your schedule. Networking meetings by phone require 20 minutes. You may upgrade your account to also offer happy hour or coffee/lunch meetings that would be longer. You may also give them a choice between the two, but that’s not quite as simple. 

Yes, everyone has to eat. You can make that point. We all know, however, that eating takes much longer when you combine it with talking, so you turn a 30-minute lunch easily into a 90-minute lunch.

Add value

Send an article, information, event registration link, RFP link, LinkedIn profile link, or something else you suspect will be of value based on your brief meeting. 

HOW OFTEN/LONG TO FOLLOW UP:

12-call rule

I have had sales training that taught me that, statistically, it can take a salesperson 12 calls before securing a sale. Thinking about it, I believe I have worked with vendors who were patiently persistent, special emphasis on the “patiently.” If you have someone who has explicitly expressed an interest in what you offer, give them every chance you can to follow through. 

5-touch rule

Even for general networking, I would say that five attempts to contact someone are sufficient and that often four falls short. As explained by all of the above methods, don’t make touch-base using the same media every time. Maximize your chances of interrupting someone’s attention by using first what you think they use most often, but where you aren’t competing with many others for their attention. At least one of these methods should be a call. 

On the last attempt, just as a courtesy to them and out of consideration of their time, let them know it’s the last attempt. You probably wouldn’t believe how often I have seen this work. In fact, to quote contacts that I have reached out to on the 5th contact, as well as many other clients who I recommended follow through with one last (5th) attempt, the contacts said that they “appreciated the persistence.” Truly – people want to help. Everyone’s time and energy is being pulled by different priorities. Making that 5th attempt is a way to acknowledge that someone genuinely wants to connect/help/be helped, but has other priorities which you can empathize with. 

MISCELLANEOUS TIPS:

Target Company Sponsors and Informants

When one of your contacts has inside knowledge or influence to increase your chances of getting an interview (based on need, not necessarily a formal job posting,) do your homework before you take their time. Come up with five to seven questions, each of which your contact can answer in a minute or less. I suggest comparing what you learn about a company, opportunity, and boss with a set list of 25-50 criterions, including some must-haves and some ideal (jackpot) criteria.  Whatever you can’t determine through online research is potentially something you can learn from your contact. 

Someone willing to help you by giving you insight may or may not be willing to help you by getting your résumé to the hiring manager. Be direct in your request – “Would you be willing to make an introduction to the Director of Technology?” OR “I’ve tried applying already. Would you be willing to send my résumé directly to the hiring manager?” OR “Do you know who the hiring manager is on this?” I recommend you also ask if their company has a referral bonus program and if you can use their name as the person who referred you. 

Some may say “no” based their perceived influence, or lack thereof, their lack of relationship, or lack of access to the hiring manager. Some companies have policies that prevent this. It’s not always about their willingness to help. Again, be empathetic here. If they can’t help you by sponsoring you (being the source of your referral into the company or introducing you to the hiring manager), ask them how most of the people who are hired make their way in, NOT the best way to apply. Applying always implies a website these days; that’s the answer you’ll get. 

Respect people’s time/schedule

If you say you are only asking for XX minutes, make sure that you only take XX minutes. Keep your eye on the time and let them know when you only have a couple of minutes left. If by the end of that time you feel that you have only scratched the surface, suggest that you pick a new time right then and there to continue the conversation, and suggest that you allocate more time next time, and perhaps combine it with a meal or activity. 

Tickler

The same way I hope you are tracking your outreach activities and contacts, I hope that you have a way to remind yourself to follow up with people every so often. Within the month of your follow up meeting, then every three months is a good best practice, but not always possible. Some people you may not follow up with for another 6 months. Make a note of when their busy season is and try to avoid following up then.  

This is the last article in the Networking for the Networking-Disabled series. If you have not read those, click on the following links: Networking 101, Networking 201, Networking 301.

I hope that you are inspired and feel better prepared to start expanding your sphere of influence and fulfillment.  It does get more comfortable the more you do it, and you’ll definitely feel more motivated once you have some great outcomes resulting from your efforts. Imagine those outcomes now. What kind of magic do you want networking to make possible in your life?

Blondie – Call Me (Official Video)

Official video of Blondie performing Call Me from the soundtrack of the movie American Gigolo. #Blondie #CallMe #Vevo

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Networking 201 for the Network-Challenged

Last week we talked about how to find great events to begin and expand your comfort zone with networking. 

This week let’s explore what you can do prior to an event that will help you make the most of it.

Let’s assume you were able to identify 5 or 6 great events in the next two weeks that you can attend, and 3 or 4 of them feasibly work with your schedule. 

You have a decision to make right now for some of them with limited attendance and registration cut-off dates.

If they require tickets and you cannot afford to go, as advised last week, contact the organizer(s) to see if they could use an extra volunteer. Once you commit to being a volunteer, show up 15 minutes earlier than you committed to. Follow through, but remember that emergencies happen. Take care of an emergency, but if you say you’ll volunteer and don’t show up, you’ll be lumped into a category of past volunteers who flaked.  In essence, you’re flaky. That’s the opposite impression you want to make.

Not all events require you to commit to going, and I wouldn’t always advise you to be early. Sometimes, it’s best to talk to people when they’re fresh, and sometimes you’ll find that people need some time to warm up and get in the groove. I’ve even showed up to networking events late, which is better than never, and found that the exact person who I wanted to meet was still there and heading to grab a bite to eat, so we did together and accomplished so much.  If you’re just a guest, know that it may not be of consequence to anyone else when you show up. When you show up can be based on what you hope to achieve.

Set your intention. What is the best thing that could happen from you attending this event? Take a moment to visualize it – statistically, this leads to increased chances of synchronicity, or luck.

Check the attendee, speaker, and sponsor lists ahead of time.  If there is someone you want to meet, don’t wait until you’re at the event to approach him or her. You’ll risk competing with many people. Touch base ahead of time via LinkedIn, e-mail, or twitter.  A sample message would be:

“Hi, Rachel.  I’m looking forward to the XGAMA Conference coming up.  I see you’re speaking and wondered if you could meet up for coffee beforehand so that I can help you get what you hope to out of the event. Please let me know if you can show up 20 minutes early.”

You could also invite them to call ahead, but be sure to make it a point to introduce yourself at the event. By then you probably will have established rapport and deepened it by associating your face with your name. 

With whatever they share with you about what they hope to get out of networking, be proactive in delivering it. If you get motivated my missions or games, make it one.  For example, give yourself 5 points for every lead you send another person’s way. Set a goal of 30 points. If you reach 30 points, treat yourself to a milkshake. 

 Do some homework on people. It can help to give you an idea of something you have in common and can use to build rapport. However, even though some of us keep our profile’s mostly public, there is such a thing as knowing too much. What’s fair game? Not kids! Nothing sets alerts off like people who know too much about my kids. Not neighborhoods, either, which is a bit too specific. Avoid scandals, as well. Politics and religion are usually considered taboo, but there is a context for them.

Big trips, public company initiatives, non-profit activities, industry trends, local developments, hobbies, and pop culture are usually safe enough to generate a good conversation that leads to deepening your understanding of another.  

Let’s remember that that is what this is about. You don’t have to mingle with everyone or hobnob with people you have nothing in common with, especially values. On the contrary, you’re there to find the few people who will become strategic partners with you in creating a better future. You’re looking for resonance. Much like a funnel, you might need to meet with 20 people to find 10 who are willing to talk further and then 4 or 5 with whom you will develop deep rapport and synergy. If you’re lucky, at least one of those will become a lifelong friend. 

Generate some questions and practice them.

Develop a powerful call to action. A 2016 blog shared a great formula and example for this. Since then I have enhanced it and created a builder for my clients and students. The enhanced formula is below:

I  am looking for introductions to [who],  who are experiencing [pain/challenge/initiative 1] and [pain/challenge/initiative 2]  so that I can  [solution/skill #1], [solution/skill #2], and [solution/skill #3] so that they can be/do/have [ultimate business outcome #1], [ultimate client/customer outcome #2], and [ultimate emotional outcome #3].

It’s ideal if instead of memorizing, you can hone one statement and become comfortable delivering it naturally. Then as you get comfortable, expand your database for each component for a different audience or to promote a different skill or outcome. It’s like doing Madlibs on the fly. The key to inspiring people to help you are the associated outcomes. The thing that makes your mission and value crystal clear and memorable is the emotional outcome. As logical as we think we are, most of our decisions are driven by emotions. Also, when someone confides in another about their work pain, the tendency is to share the emotional context of a story. This is what clicks for people the most, leading to a moment where you can say, “I know someone who complains about technology breaking” or “I know someone who would love to triumph in their finances!”  This is where the magic happens. 

Before you walk into an event, take a moment to ground and calm yourself. There is a meditation I teach my students and clients that enables you to slow your heart rate and embody your highest self, which makes you more confident and magnetic. There are a lot of meditations out there, any number of which will be beneficial. It matters less with what kind of meditation you do and matters more that you do it. Take some deep breaths. Remind yourself that no matter what, you are loved and whole. You are deserving of your ideal outcome. Then visualize what you intended yet again. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll cover more about how to ace networking in the moment, and how to carry the energy forward to make magic happen. 

Please share with us your stories of applying these tips.

 

Bruce Springsteen – I’m Ready (1974-06-03)

Uploaded by Johnny OnTheTop on 2014-06-01.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.