Archives for “career focus”

Julie Hancher‘s Epic Career Tale

Listen to Julie Hancher‘s Epic Career Tale

Julie was raised in an environmentally conscious home, and had a penchant for writing about how we can save the planet from as young as 4th grade. Like most graduates, she was uncertain which direction she should take her career, especially since had decided that a career in law was not for her. Julie is the first person to tell you that blogging isn’t necessarily the path to financial freedom that some gurus may proclaim, but had it not been for her decision to turn an angering situation into an awareness mission, she may have found herself careering aimlessly in pursuit of something that would spark her internal flame. Listen to our interview to learn more about how her passion evolved into a career she hadn’t planned and a successful business.

Emily Allen‘s Epic Career Tale

Listen to Emily Allen‘s Epic Career Tale

Emily “fell into” recruiting and HR, as most people in it do. She had some traditional corporate jobs, but is now leading the people movement at one of the hottest digital marketing companies on the rise, Seer Interactive, as Director of Employee Development. Move over, tradition. Make way for innovation and progress. Emily gets to implement some of the newest, and even experimental, methodologies of people development, such as UNLIMITED PAID TIME OFF! Hear about Emily’s vision of how she and Seer Interactive are transforming the relationship between “Human Resources” and the people who make a company what it is.

Morgan Berman‘s Epic Career Tale

Our 9th Anniversary issue!

Listen to Morgan Berman‘s Epic Career Tale

Morgan was very hopeful as a young girl. So, like most of us, the “real world” was a bit crushing. She made what most would consider valiant attempts to land a job that fulfilled her and enabled her to make the big contribution she’d always wanted to, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that, in those jobs, her growth and her contribution were ultimately stifled. She made big changes in her career, created a company that helps a huge movement toward sustainability progress, and rediscovered that young hopeful girl who thought if she believed hard enough, she could make what she wanted real.

Jennifer Robinson, Esquire‘s Epic Career Tale

Listen to Jennifer Robinson, Esquire‘s Epic Career Tale

Jennifer had a near-death experience that changed her life, and her career. She was enjoying her career as a litigator, so this was not a change that would have probably occurred, had it not been for one fateful accident. Her story is very inspiring. We have included an additional interview with Jennifer in our January 2015 Newsletter. Please join our mailing list below and request this issue by e-mailing info@epiccareering.com if you are not already on our list and wish to receive it.

For find out more about how Jennifer now helps professionals and companies be more strategic about their networking endeavors, check out Purposeful Networking.

Tips to Confidentially Update LinkedIn When You are in Transition and are Still Employed

LinkedIn Logo by Shekhar Sahu of Flickr

Many employees fear that their boss is watching their every move on social media and are afraid to update their LinkedIn profiles. Other employees update their profiles and openly express an interest in new career opportunities while they are employed. The first group of employees are limiting their ability to promote themselves. The second group risks being fired by their employer. Depending on your employer’s social media policies, a LinkedIn update can land you in trouble. John Flexman was an executive at a gas exploration firm based in England. He uploaded his CV to LinkedIn and checked the box indicating an interest in “career opportunities.” His company accused him of inappropriate social media use and ordered him to remove his CV. Flexman thought this was unreasonable and resigned. Flexman’s situation is not common in the United States because employers do not own your LinkedIn profile as they do in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, there are cases where employers have monitored their employees’ use of LinkedIn. It is possible to confidentially use LinkedIn during your job search while you are still employed.

 

Promoting yourself on LinkedIn IS part of the job search

A complete and branded LinkedIn profile is the best way to connect with others, stay relevant, and expand your network. However, many people are afraid to update their LinkedIn profile because they fear their employer will become suspicious of their activities. This robs a person of the opportunity to truly optimize their profile in a way that will generate more qualified leads, better opportunities, and will put their career on autopilot. Many of my clients have received offers for promotions within their companies because they have effectively articulated their value. They promote their value as an employee while promoting their company.

Content is your greatest asset on LinkedIn! Do not be afraid to post industry-relevant content and to share your knowledge in groups. Balance the content you share in order to promote yourself and your company. Share the stories where you saved the day, but also use your status updates to express gratitude for being surrounded by and supported by a great team or leadership. Your next boss would love to picture him or herself on the receiving end of such praise. Keep your praise authentic and make sure other people would be able to validate what you say as truth. Use status updates to simultaneously promote yourself, your colleagues, and your employer. Update your status by writing about problems you solved, your nuggets of practical wisdom, and giving colleagues the credit for a great performance.

 

Keep your direct job search activities hidden

When you use LinkedIn to job search and you are employed, do not openly announce your job search-related activities. This means not mentioning you are looking for a new employer in your status updates and in groups. While it is better to find a job while you are still employed, we know from our results that with a powerful and effective brand campaign and system you can viably land a new job within 10 to 12 weeks.

Although it is possible to turn off all broadcasts of your LinkedIn activity, these decisions are often made from fear and limit your success. The questionable activity to your employer comes from adding connections from the competition. If your profile is locked down to the point where almost nothing is visible, your employer may become suspicious. You also miss the opportunity to network or to be found by potential employers who are actively looking for someone with your skills, and perhaps even your network.

Adding connections from your company’s competition may raise red flags with your employer. In this type of scenario you do want to practice discretion, especially if you plan to transition to a competitor. If you are connecting with the competition, view the profiles of others anonymously by changing what others see when you have viewed their profile. Temporarily turn off broadcast activities when you follow companies for whom you want to work. This action is temporary because you do not want to alert your current employer to a direct job search activity. Otherwise, keep notifications on when you engage in your regular LinkedIn activity to raise your visibility on the network.

Joining job search groups will alert others to your intent to find a new employer while you are still employed. Avert this by not allowing anyone to see you belong to job search groups and make sure these groups are not visible on your profile by changing the order they are displayed. Also, temporarily turn off notifications for groups whenever you join a job search group. This allows you to freely join groups without notifying your network.

If you are using a company e-mail address on LinkedIn, switch to a private e-mail address immediately. Leaving your employer means that you will lose access to your e-mail, and as a result your LinkedIn account. In fact, I recommend this action even if you do not have plans to leave your company. Anything could happen!

 

Imagine a few scenarios:

  1. A job seeker keeps his or her job search activity completely under wraps on LinkedIn.
  • They check out and follow competing companies.
  • Their profile and all LinkedIn activities are completely hidden.
  • Their confidential job search will not alert their current employer, but they are invisible to potential employers.

 

  1. A job seeker updates his or her profile to promote themselves and their company.
  • They are actively looking for work and are employed, but they do not mention direct job search activities.
  • They are not afraid to highlight their accomplishments.
  • Their profile is a beacon to potential employers and it is not long before they begin to receive interview requests and even job offers.

 

Which scenario would you choose? You do not want to scream to the world that you are actively searching for work while you are currently employed. Carefully updating your LinkedIn profile will make your transition quicker and pain-free.

 

7 Ways to Leave Your Current Job without Burning Bridges

Rusty Bridge by ThreePinner of Flickr

Rusty Bridge by ThreePinner of Flickr

Steven Slater, a JetBlue Airways flight attendant, was frustrated with his job. He had enough one day and quit on the spot. He cursed at the passenger he had been arguing with, grabbed a beer, and slid down the plane’s emergency chute. Slater was hailed as a hero by many, but quickly landed in trouble. His method of quitting burned a lot of bridges, to say the least. Workers who are unhappy deserve to find a better job, but how you quit affects your job search. If you leave your employer in a bind, you may jeopardize your professional future as a reputation for quitting suddenly may follow you. Exercising patience and leaving on good terms will make it easier to land future jobs.

 

  1. Keep your job search confidential

Revealing you are looking for work can cause you to be terminated immediately. Many employers fear that job seekers will depart and take confidential information with them, or they may not give the job their best effort. Ask former employers, co-workers, and clients for recommendations to avoid being discovered during your job search. Be aware that updating your LinkedIn profile may alert employers, but do not let that fear keep you from optimizing your profile. It is a small world and word of your search could travel. Explain to your trusted contacts and potential employers that your job search is confidential. When it comes to references, use previous supervisors. They may ask if your current employer will be a reference. The response to this question depends on how confident you feel that, in spite of your leaving, your employer will sing your praises. Let your prospective employer know that upon receipt of an offer, you will ask your current employer to be a reference. You can be honest if you are uncertain. All too often previous employers are spiteful, though there are laws in most states to protect employees from references that prevent them from landing viable new work.

 

  1. Do not make a dramatic exit

If you have a toxic work culture, or boss, it may be tempting to heed the siren call of gleeful abandonment once your next position is secured. There may be an urge to slap a letter of resignation on your boss’s desk, or to tell your co-workers what you really think of them as you make your exit. Keep your exit civil and classy regardless of your working conditions. You do not know when you may need someone at your company as a future reference. They may hesitate to help you depending on how you departed.

 

  1. Give ample notice

Turn in your notice at least two weeks before your departure. Two weeks is standard, but give a longer notice when possible to be considerate toward your employer. A sudden exit greatly inconveniences your boss, colleagues, and customers, and ensures you leave on bad terms as they scramble to find a replacement. Again, it is a small world and the reputation that you left your employer in a bind may follow you. While being considerate, you also want to protect yourself. Some employers may send you home that day when you give your notice, and you may even find yourself escorted by security. This is a policy sometimes borne out of concern that departing employers may take proprietary information, especially if you accept a job offer with a competitor. Still, give them the consideration of two weeks’ notice.

  1. Train your replacement

Training new employees is time-consuming for many employers. Make the transition easier for your boss by offering to work with your replacement, or to create a training manual. These actions create a win-win-win scenario for everyone involved. Your boss does not have to spend time training a new employee, your replacement is empowered to move into your position with minimal effort, and you leave a reputation of reliability.

  1. Finish your existing projects

Finish your existing projects and tie up loose ends. No one wants to be saddled with the burden of trying to complete someone else’s project. If it is not possible to complete a project, create and keep ample documentation. A finished project or detailed instructions makes it easier for your replacement to move into your role.

 

  1. Connect with co-workers

Let your co-workers know of your departure and offer to keep in touch. Informing your co-workers in advance gives them time to prepare for the transition, though you want to use discretion about who you can trust. Send a farewell message via mass e-mail and give co-workers your contact information, such as a personal e-mail address and a LinkedIn profile. Prepare it before you leave, as you may only have 30 minutes to pack up your belongings and leave the premises. Make sure your colleagues are in your LinkedIn network and stay in contact. You never know where a co-worker may end up, if he or she may be your next boss, or in a prime position to hire you at a future job.

 

counteroffer

  1. Do not accept a counteroffer

Your boss may make a counteroffer once they discover your intent to leave. There are good reasons to deny this offer. It is designed to stop you from leaving, but you may be fired within a few months as they devise a plan to replace you. Additionally, the dissatisfaction that caused you to seek a new job will remain, even with a pay raise. Remind yourself of the reasons you are leaving and stick to your decision.

 

If you work at a less-than-ideal employer, it may be tempting to burn bridges as you exit. We hope you are leaving your employer because you have big plans to become happy professionally. We encourage you to take control and plan your exit. If you really have days that are SO bad that you fantasize about going out in a blaze of glory, what you are really seeking is the ultimate feeling of empowerment. This does not come from that blaze of glory moment- that moment can burn you forever. It comes from intentionally and strategically planning your next move and exiting with class. Chances are there are others at your job having the same fantasy who will be inspired by and perhaps envious of your moving on to bigger and better. This is really the best revenge against employers who have proven undeserving of your talents, effort, and time.

 

Create Your Best Year Yet, Part 2

Goal Setting by Angie Torres of Flickr

Goal Setting by Angie Torres of Flickr

Do you feel as if you lived up to your potential during the last year? Are you still playing catch-up from the hits you took during the economic slump? Are you ready to make big changes in your professional life? Your previous year may not have been the best in terms of job success, but now is your chance to make a rebound and create the breakthroughs you desire. You are no longer bound by the shortcomings of the previous year. New job search adventures that enable you to put your life on an upward track await you. Now is the time to create your best year yet!

Creating your best year starts with attainable goals that allow you to achieve your dreams. Take a moment to reflect on your highs and lows from the previous year. If any attachments from the previous year are holding you back, take the time to release them. Where have you been and where would you like to proceed? Remember, where you have been does NOT limit where you can go. What are your biggest career goals? What have you done to achieve them? If your biggest goal is to simply land a new job, it is time to dream and plan bigger. Now is your time! Now is your greatest year! However, you will not obtain your best year yet without planning, especially in your job search. What do you want from a future employer? What are your long-term career goals? How quickly do you want to land? How do you want your job to enhance your life? Once you have your goals in mind write them down and create a plan of action, and commit to that action.

 

1. What are your counter-desires?

Once you have decided what your career goals are, and what you do and do not want from your next job, it is time to consider your counter-desires. As Esther Hicks, an inspirational speaker, puts it, “Any time you decide what you don’t want, a counter-desire is born.” This is a logical place to decide what you want. Approach your counter-desires with the mindset that achieving your goals is possible, and that you deserve to complete them. Think about it in this manner- if anyone else has completed it, you do not need any further evidence that it is possible. Why not you? We know that plenty of people search for and land jobs. There are no reasons why you cannot do the same. Most people have challenges; all you need are solutions (we have those!). Look for inspiration from others who are already where you want to be.

 

2. Sit down and decide what your career goals are

Career goals are more than just settling for the first employer that will hire you, or finding a new position with a higher salary. Sitting down, figuring out what is best for you, and writing those goals down are critical first steps. Evaluate and reflect upon what you want from an employer in order to feel fulfilled. If you plunge head first into a job search without goals, or a plan of action, you risk being dissatisfied in the long-run. This could be in the form of a continued job search that extends for several more months, or landing a position with an employer you are not passionate about. Take the time to set goals to ensure that you have a solid vision of how your job search will flow and that you have a desired end-goal in mind, beyond landing.

Setting goals can consist of creating micromovements as a way to get started. Think about setting smaller goals that can be done in five minutes or less, as you move toward your larger goal. These goals will propel you forward in your job search, help you determine what you do and do not want, make a seemingly difficult task less difficult, and will help ignite your drive during your search as you build goal-achieving momentum. Who can’t find five minutes to move toward their goals?

 

3. Develop your S.M.A.R.T. goals to form a plan of action

I fully believe in the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” S.M.A.R.T. goals are an excellent way to begin setting realistic goals that are achievable. I was impressed when I learned that Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business teaches their seniors how to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals for their job search in the mandatory Career Management course I teach. S.M.A.R.T. goals are defined as:

Specific: Do not be vague. Exactly what do you want?

Measurable: Quantify your goal. How will you know if you have achieved it or not?

Attainable: Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life- along with taking your current responsibilities into consideration. It has to be doable, real, and practical.

Results-oriented: What is the ideal outcome? How will you know you achieved your goal?

Time: Associate a timeframe with each goal. When should you complete the goal and/or the steps associated with completing the goal?

S.M.A.R.T. goals, as opposed to common goals, enable you to be optimally effective in developing and achieving your goals.

For example:

A common job search goal may be to land a job soon.

A S.M.A.R.T. job search goal would be to land at one of your top five choices within two months, by contacting ten people each week, and setting up at least two meetings each week.

Goals2Go has an excellent tutorial video and worksheets on how to develop, set, and apply S.M.A.R.T. goals.

 

 

Goals-Theres-no-telling- Jim Rohn

 

 

Your previous year may not have been your best year. You may have felt as if you did not live up to your professional and economic potential. Or perhaps you are still recovering from the economic slump. Now is the best time to create your best year yet. Leave the difficulties of the previous year behind by starting the New Year with attainable career goals. These are goals you have taken the time to carefully develop in a  S.M.A.R.T. way, these goals are an obtainable plan of action, and they form a vision for what your job search will look like. You will dream big, land quickly, and obtain the position you want at an employer that excites and fulfills you. Can you feel it? This IS your best year yet!

 

9 Soft Skills Every Employee Needs, Regardless of Technical Skill

Business Team by Penn State on Flickr

Business Team by Penn State on Flickr

A brilliant scientist was hired at a pharmaceutical company and was let go six months after landing. He was challenging throughout the qualification process, and I thoroughly coached him during the interview process. He ultimately lost the position because no one could work with him. His brilliance could not be properly leveraged to create value for the organization. Because of his failure to succeed, I was unable to place him anywhere else. Unfortunately, there are a lot of brilliant technically skilled people whose potential for creating value in this world is inhibited by their lack of ability to integrate and collaborate with others.

Soft skills such as time management, relationship building, and communication allow employees to effectively leverage their technical skills and knowledge. These skills are the unsung heroes of the working world and can make or break a job search. A lack of soft skills can cause an otherwise talented employee to lose a job. A good grasp of soft skills separates an above-average employee who constantly brings value to their company from an average employee who only performs their day-to-day tasks. There are numerous soft skills, but I’ve narrowed down the list to nine of the most important skills employers demand:

 

1. Time Management

Effectively managing time allows you to take other people’s busy schedules into consideration.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give answers that stay within a reasonable limit of time for the details asked.

Demonstrating in your past experience: Promote your ability to deliver assignments or projects on time, even in challenging circumstances.

 

2. Communication

Communicating effectively allows you to connect interpersonally with others via written and verbal means.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Plan and practice what you will say before the interview. Speak clearly and concisely, and listen to your interviewer.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Provide examples of written material you created, such as a memo.

 

3. Relationship Building

Good relationships are built on trust, positivity, and communication.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Listen and be respectful of your interviewer, and ask questions in order to build rapport.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Talk positively about your previous employers and provide examples of teamwork.

 

4. Attitude

Your attitude consists of a positive frame of mind that exudes hopeful optimism, and is focused on creating solutions.

Demonstrating it in the interview: You are positive and upbeat throughout the interview.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how your positive attitude raised morale, allowed you to easily participate in teamwork, and helped provide solutions.

 

5. Confidence

Confidence is the belief in your own skills and the ability to take on new tasks.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give your interviewer a firm handshake, make eye contact, and maintain good posture.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Promote your achievements, especially the successful completion of tasks that were new or difficult.

 

6. Leadership

A good leader is constantly motivated to improve and acts decisively, even if you are not managing others.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Provide examples of how you faced a challenge and acted decisively to create a resolution.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Quantitatively speak about your accomplishments. How much money did you save the company with your actions?

 

7. Flexibility

Being flexible allows you to adapt to a variety of circumstances and people, and work through unexpected events.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give your interviewer examples on how you quickly adapted to changing circumstances in the workplace.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how you used your flexibility to step out of your comfort zone and to take on new tasks.

 

8. Creativity

A creative employee offers suggestions or ideas on how to improve workflow, or increase work value.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Explain how you solved a productivity problem and how your solution benefited the company.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Promote the value you added to a company by introducing a more efficient work method.

 

9. Problem-solving

Effective problem-solving takes into account how you encountered a problem, and how you persisted until the solution was found.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Walk an interviewer through your problem solving processes.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how you solved a particularly difficult problem and how it positively impacted your employer.

 

Why soft skills matter

Employers use hard skills as criteria to ensure a candidate meets a job’s technical requirements. The interview determines a candidate’s soft skills. I spoke to Guy Fardone about how Evolve IP, a cloud services company, primarily hires candidates based on their emotional intelligence and aptitude. Questions the employer asks are “Do they look me in the eyes, and are they able to listen and then respond appropriately?” “Can they build rapport?” People who come in the door already having a baseline understanding of how to build relationships with people are going to be that much more successful in their career.

 

Many employers rate the importance of soft skills just as highly as technical skills. Your technical skills may open the door to interviews, but your ability to manage time, problem-solve, build relationships, and your creativity are what enable you to land and keep the job. Emphasize how your use of soft skills has to led success in the workplace, and how they can help you bring value to a potential employer. Successfully leveraging your soft skills and your technical skills can set you apart from other job seekers, and enable you to land faster.

Is Your Résumé Outdated?

Resume - Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Resume – Glasses by Flazingo Photos of Flickr

Has it been more than five years since you searched for a job? Do you remember the last time you looked at your résumé? Do you still believe in the use of an objective? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is time to update your résumé. Most people believe that adding a few bullet points about what they have done in the past five years is adequate. They make these small changes and start submitting their résumé. One major reason people hate going near their résumés is because it forces them to remember what they’ve done professionally over the past few years. It is a fact that the more time that passes, the harder it is to recall everything, unless you have kept track of your accomplishments somewhere.

The longer a résumé has not been reviewed, the more painful or frustrating it can be to update. Here is a more timely focus to consider- as the New Year approaches, assess your employment goals and take some time to be intentional about your career direction. Update your résumé based on where you want to be in the future as a reference for what to include about the past. Be conscientious about your BRAND. This is critical- we are not just taking about a few résumé updates, but reinventing your brand to fit your future goals.

If you have not been actively searching for a job in the last few years, the process of revising your résumé can be intimidating. Even if you are not actively searching for work, NOW is still the time to update your résumé. You may not need a job today, but your employment circumstances could change in an instant. Keeping an updated résumé is useful because an opportunity could present itself at any moment. You could meet your next boss ANYWHERE. A quality résumé branding and writing process takes five days for a first draft, and a comprehensive review process can take another three days. If a position is open, and you are given the opportunity to be the first in, be ready to strike! If 70% of the workforce is disengaged from their job, and you are one of them, this advice can help YOU.

 

What you need to know about the evolution of résumés

Résumés have evolved over the years. For decades the evolution has been slow, but in the last five-to-ten years there have been dramatic shifts in what résumés are and what employers expect from them. Mashable has tracked résumé standards throughout five hundred years of history. Here is what you need to know from the last three decades:

  • In the 1980s it was acceptable to include a fax number with a résumé because of the popularity of fax machines. It was during this time that formats with 1”+ margins, sub-headers in the left margin, and content indented to the right became popularized.
  • In the 1990s email became a popular way to send résumés. Still, résumés kept the formatting that became popularized in the 80s.
  • In the 2000s interactive résumés were popularized. By the end of the decade large margins were out, and the use of white space gave résumés a less cluttered appearance. Objectives were replaced by professional headlines and summaries, branding allowed job seekers to demonstrate their value to employers, and keywords made it easier for résumés to be found in applicant tracking systems and online databases used by employers.
  • 2010 to now- Résumés can be shorter, but it depends on the field. For years the myth that résumés had to be one page was prevalent. Actually, two-to-three pages are the standard for senior professionals and executives, and some fields require even more extensive documentation. Résumés now contain social media links and a LinkedIn profile can serve as a good companion.

 

What modern résumés require

Résumés must now be tailored to a particular job and company. The days where a general résumé would suffice are gone.  Thanks to the LinkedIn and the prominence of personal branding, you can no longer be everything to everyone. You can be dynamic, and wear many hats, but you also have to know which employers want that and to state what resonates with them. Then you have to make sure they can visualize how you will fit into their company and avoid applying to targets that do not fit. This next part takes people into a conversation I have most frequently with people who have searched for a long time. They have been advised and decided that they MUST make themselves as “employable” as possible. This often means applying to multiple positions in the hope of being seen as flexible. However, as I state in my article, “More résumés ≠ better results” taking this approach means that the job they really want will escape them. Instead of coming off as employable, you strike a potential employer as desperate. Tailor your résumé instead.

Crafting a tailored résumé requires you to put on a marketing hat and to research your targets. This means finding out what a company wants and needs for a position. If you do not believe us (per above), ask an employer if they want someone who is willing to take anything, or if they would rather hire the person who can clearly articulate where they want to add value and demonstrate how they add that value.

 

Why your old résumé needs updating

Chances are if you have not taken a look at your résumé in several years the format is dated. Most hiring managers only spend an average of seven seconds looking at a résumé. If your résumé is difficult to skim, it increases the chances of an employer passing over your résumé in favor of a candidate with an easier to read résumé. Just imagine if this article had huge indentations, and was poorly aligned. You probably would not make it halfway through before you stopped reading. The same can be said about your résumé.

Poor spacing between lines, extra indentations, and typefaces that are not compatible with both Mac and PC make for difficult-to-read résumés. The most impactful changes you can make are to remove all of your indentations so the document aligns perfectly, and to decrease your margin size. LifeClever has an excellent visual tutorial.

The content matters just as much as the format. Résumés filled with clichés such as “hard working,” “team player,” “proven track record,” or “motivated” are so overused that they have become meaningless buzz words to most potential employers. Employers want to SEE these qualities in their candidates. Instead of telling a hiring manager that you have these qualities, demonstrate them. State HOW these particular qualities have manifested value throughout your career. Think of your achievements and how your particular attributes have helped you accomplish those achievements. Expand on those specific attributes in the experience section of your résumé.

Specific attributes also form the foundation of your personal brand. In fact, your personal brand is the foundation upon which the powerful content of your résumé is built. Branding allows you to better market yourself and to stand out from the competition. A brand communicates who you are and the value you bring to an employer. A brand also allows you to demonstrate to an employer what you offer above and beyond the qualifications listed on a position, how you are a good fit for the company, and the numerous ways you have made significant contributions to previous employers. To create and infuse your brand throughout your résumé consider your talents, your skills, your most valuable personal attributes, your passion, and what makes you stand out from other potential candidates.

Many résumés are read online. Keeping that in mind, it is important to use keywords in order to ensure your résumé is found by potential employers, but they must be used in context. Keywords are a series of words related to your skills, your experience, and the position you are seeking that employers use to find your résumé among other applicants. Some résumés without keywords are never even seen. While these words are literally the key to being seen by potential employers, using too many keywords can raise red flags and cause an employer to reject your résumé. Use these words with care.

 

Updating your résumé

If you have decided your résumé is in need of an update, we can help. Check out our video series “Scrap your résumé if it has these 10 things,” to guide you in the revision of your résumé. We also offer branded résumé writing services, including semi-branded low-budget options. If you want to update your résumé yourself, we have a DIY Résumé Summary Builder (it requires Microsoft Word 2010 or newer). To be ready for an opportunity at any time, tailor your résumé for your next ideal position, and update it at least every year, if not twice a year. Keep that file of achievements handy.

 

The purpose of your résumé is to entice employers to invite you for an interview. An old résumé may garner some responses from employers, but the response will be much higher with a résumé that is current with the times. The task of updating a résumé can be daunting, especially now that you know what is required of an effective résumé, but the more often you go through the process, the faster it goes. After all, having a powerful résumé will pay dividends when you are able to shoot it right over to your next boss that same day, and you are quickly invited to interview. Have the peace of mind knowing that your résumé is ready to go at any time, even if you are not actively searching for work. Consider it a critical component for your self-generated job security.

 

Is Work Killing You?

If-you-are-depressed-you

Sound words of advice from Lao Tzu

 

Yoshinori Ono is a producer for Capcom, a Japanese video game development company. After a long and grueling work schedule, Ono suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized for a week. He remembers the morning of his hospitalization very well. Ono woke up to use the bathroom and saw steam everywhere. There was so much steam in the air that it seemed to choke him. He then collapsed on the bathroom floor. Hearing the crash, his wife called for an ambulance and Ono was rushed to the hospital. When Ono regained consciousness, the doctor informed him that his blood acidity level was extremely high. He had the same level of acidity as someone who had just run a marathon. Ono joked he was just using the bathroom, but his wife noted there was never any steam in the room. In reality, the long hours he put in at Capcom had taken a toll on his health. Even though Ono would go on to recover from his illness, he still puts in long hours at work.

Reading Yoshinori Ono’s story may cause you to wince, but have you ever assessed your own employment situation? You may be a workaholic without realizing it. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • When you are with your friends or family, are you thinking about work?
  • Have you been turning down invitations to social events to work more hours?
  • Do you rarely take vacations or find yourself working through your vacation?
  • Do you have trouble delegating work?
  • Do you feel your identity is your work?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be a workaholic. A workaholic is defined as a person who works compulsively. Some people work long hours because they LOVE their career. Other people work long hours because they are motivated by fear, anxiety, or pressure. Whether you work long hours because you love your job, or you’re motivated by pressure, long hours at work can cause an imbalance and negatively impact your health.

Dr. Travis Bradberry noted in his article “Is Your Boss Worse Than Cigarettes?” that a bad boss can have serious health effects on workers. While having a bad boss isn’t the sole cause of workaholism, the effects are similar. Worrying about losing your job can make you 50% more likely to experience poor health, while having an overly demanding job makes you 35% more likely to have a physician-diagnosed illness. These illnesses can include depression, heart disease, heart attack, sleep deprivation, strained relationships with family and even death. In the long run, the quality of your work may suffer because of mental exhaustion and burnout.

 

A visual of the statistics from Dr. Travis Bradberry's LinkedIn article.

A visual of the statistics from Dr. Travis Bradberry’s LinkedIn article.

Other studies have concluded that working too many hours can even impair your cognitive functions. In a five-year study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, participants who worked 55 hours per week performed worse than the participants who worked 40 hours per week. Compared to many other cultures, Americans tend to work longer hours and take shorter vacations. People who worked long hours did worse in terms of intelligence, reasoning and verbal recall. In short, working longer hours has a negative impact on productivity, and the overall returns are diminished. Working long hours can also lead to major regrets later in life. Game Designer Jane McGonigal mentions in TED Talk about regrets of the dying that remorse over working long hours and not enjoying life is the first regret of many people.

Admitting you may be a workaholic is the first step in tackling the problem. You may be deep in denial, as many people are. However, the idea of not spending your waking hours being productive, or seeing leisure time as wasteful are big warning signs. If you find yourself working too many hours, stepping back from work is a good way to help combat workaholism.

 

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your complete attention to the present moment. It is being fully aware of yourself and your surroundings. You live in and meditate in the moment, instead of thinking about the past, or the future. Mindfulness is also a great way to relax, and can help relieve stress and anxiety. Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, is famous for his timeless nuggets of wisdom. On anxiety Tzu stated, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

 

Find ways to lighten your workload

If you have a heavy work schedule, you may need to let go of some of your work.

  • Don’t accept more work than you can handle.
  • By juggling more tasks, you may feel more productive, but in reality you may not be accomplishing much more. Marcus Buckingham revealed some great research about multi-tasking and the detriments of doing so in his book, Find Your Strongest Life.
  • Manage your energy by completing the most urgent tasks first in your day.
  • Learn to delegate some of your tasks to others, as you may not need to complete each and every task yourself.
  • Learn to stop being a perfectionist and a multi-tasker.
  • Taking on too many tasks at once can cause you to lose focus on what’s important and your work may never seem to end.
  • Take your breaks. If you’re fond of not taking lunch breaks, or eating at your desk, it’s time to kill that bad habit.
  • Take your entire lunch hour and try going for a walk during your breaks.
  • Exercise before you work. Brent Phillips, MIT-trained engineer and founder of Awakening Dynamics- The Formula for Miracles, promotes exercise for increasing blood flow to your brain, increasing your productivity, and your IQ.
  • A few small changes to your day can go a long way.

Businessman and author Tom Peters has stated, “Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.”

Lao Tzu also has a few words of wisdom on leadership, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim is fulfilled, they will say: ‘we did it ourselves.’”

A heavy work schedule may also be a matter of the work being allocated to you unfairly. If this is the case, don’t allow this practice to continue. You can do better! Sometimes people take on more because they can’t say “no.” Is this you? There are a ton of articles that teach people how to say “no.” However, we also TRAIN people how to treat us. We think that people “always” treat us unfairly, but really they have learned from us how to treat us, and we condition them, by reinforcing that we will accept and complete the work.

 

Leave work at work

You are more than your job. You are allowed to relax and to enjoy your free time. Think of it this way- anything that runs at 100% all of the time will eventually burnout. The same applies to you. Schedule free time into your day and heed that schedule. During your free time, ignore the temptation to squeeze more work into your day. If you’re with your family, whether it is the weekend or a vacation, dedicate your free time to them. Don’t run to your phone every time it beeps with a new message or e-mail. Save those matters for your working hours, unless it is an emergency. Taking the time to rest and to enjoy that rest will ensure you return to work refreshed and recharged.

 

Think about your future and the legacy you may leave behind. You may enjoy working long hours at work because you love what you do, or you may be fearful of not working hard enough. The short-term bursts of productivity are negated by the long-term detrimental tolls overworking can exact on your mind and body. Learning to let go of long hours can improve your health, your productivity, and your relationships with your family and friends. In the long-term, you will look at your career and smile as you’re able to say you worked hard, but took time to take care of yourself and your family.