Archives for resumes

If You Are Braving Résumé Writing On Your Own, Some Expert Tips

As an expert in a professional field, you face very different challenges than most other job seekers. Advice that you have been given by anyone outside of your industry could be misguided. If you are going to invest time and/or money in your résumé, you might as well know if what you are doing is going to get you results. We will examine the various ways your résumé can be received and the best ways to maximize the appeal of your résumé since there are many different kinds of individuals that will be reviewing it.

Here are some guidelines specific to IT résumés:

“Big” is relative

When it comes to your experience, start with what you accomplished. What were the challenges you and/or your department were facing?  If this was an official initiative, what is the size and scope of the project? How many users were affected? Detail what you used and how you used it to conquer the challenge. Include the result in quantifiable means whenever possible.

Do not enforce the usual page limits on an expert-level résumé. Hiring managers and recruiters need to know exactly what a candidate has done. Vague résumés will often get passed over for “lower hanging fruit.” Adding these details can make a résumé longer, but a non-technical recruiter, sourcing specialist or administrator would find it difficult to locate you among applicants and qualify you otherwise. Mid-level professionals, especially consultants can very acceptably have a 2-3 page résumé and executive or senior professionals can acceptably have a 3-5-page résumé, so long as the experience is relevant and written concisely. There is no need to add or subtract content strictly based on outdated length “rules.” As a caveat, you have to know your audience, too. If your audience wants the facts and only the facts, get to the point!

It’s all in the details

Any application/suite/module, database, language, tool, server, operating system, protocol, switch/router, etc. that you wish to continue working with should be included in the résumé. When a potential employer reviews your résumé, they want to know more than that you have worked with X technology. They want to know how much and how in-depth your experience is. The technology should occur proportionally as frequently in your résumé as you had worked with it. Frequency of keywords increases your relevance in the results of a keyword search making you further up on the list of candidates to call for further qualification. Include versions.

Some companies require a résumé to include 80% of the requirements listed in their posted job description. The initial gatekeeper has a checklist that includes the number of months/years of experience for each requirement. They systematically divide how many boxes are checked by the total number of requirements to see if you make it to the next round. In order for a skill to be considered a valid qualification, it must be substantiated. This doesn’t mean that your potential employment is always measured by these methods. It is evident that you should always include all details of your experience that are specifically requested in a job description. 

Alternate spellings

As you write your job descriptions, think about the step-by-step processes. Include tools, methodologies, applications that you involved and any corresponding acronyms.  Scan job descriptions posted by employers to see what variation of terms they use. For example, M is a common way to refer to MUMPS. Caché is a version of Mumps (which is a language and a database, so make sure that is clear). When applicable, add the alternate term in parenthesis a couple of times throughout the résumé. This will ensure that keyword searches will extract your résumé regardless of which variation the individual is using to search.

Training/Certification/Education

Placing this section at the top of your résumé versus the bottom is dependent on how much these qualifications are going to generate interest in an interview. Some certifications are very sought-after. Certain schools produce alumni that are highly recruited. If you know that this applies to you, make your credential obvious as an acronym next to your name or somewhere in a concise executive summary. Include a section at the bottom with the name of the establishments from which you received any training/certification/degree, even if it is a foreign university. Omitting it automatically generates doubt in the reputation of the establishment.

A lot of candidates put the logo for the certification they have received on their résumé, which looks great. However, applicant tracking systems usually do not store graphics or formatting because it takes up too much space/memory. The certifications should also be listed in text form (Acronym + full spelling).

Wasn’t me

It is not as important to a recruiter what your team or manager accomplished as what YOU had to do with it. Give yourself credit for your contributions. Avoid phrases like “involved in,” “contributed to,” and “attended.” These phrases communicate that things happen around you. If your résumé does not show off HOW you contributed, what your involvement was, it may have the opposite effect you want it to. It may make you look like an observer rather than an achiever. Conversely, do not take credit for other’s accomplishments. I often had candidates explain things in “we” terms. For example, “We reviewed the code, identified errors, and worked with the developers to remediate the problem.” What was really meant was that the individual reviewed the code, identified the errors, and the project manager worked with the developers.

Tell them what YOU did, not what the team or manager did, or you may wind up in a role that you are not qualified to do. Gaining employment by misrepresenting your abilities and experience can be the most detrimental career move. It ruins your credibility in a small world where recruiters move around and warn each other about the people that ruined THEIR reputation. Remember, résumé rules forbid the use of pronouns. In most cases, you can remove the pronoun or replace it by specifying who is meant by the pronoun without losing meaning or comprehension.

 Mingle it!

Most transition resources will tell you that networking is the best way to gain new employment. It is true what they say, “It’s all about who you know.”  This can be discouraging for people who are not lucky enough to have family connections, but you can always go out and meet people.  The good news is that there are new ways to introduce yourself completely virtually.

Online methods of networking include e-lists, user groups, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, and many more.  Whomever you do not know now, you can meet in cyberspace. The point of networking is to generate leads and referrals for employment. Referrals are recruiters’ favorite way to find new candidates, so an e-mail subject stating “John Smith referred me” is GOING to be opened and given priority! Remember that you can also introduce other people and the more you do it, the more it will be done for you. If you want to know the best way to present yourself to strangers, read How to Guerilla Market Yourself, Get What You Deserve! by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin.

Remember, too, that once you make an online connection, the most effective and efficient way to further it is through voice-to-voice communication, whenever face-to-face communication isn’t possible. Pick up the phone and convert online relationships to offline relationships.

Call!

Unfortunately, the résumé you send may never reach a person. Sometimes applicants number in the hundreds to thousands and it is not humanly possible to review that many résumés, let alone send a response.  What can you do to make sure that your résumé doesn’t sit in a dummy inbox? Call!  Follow up.

Your résumé displays experience, skills, accomplishments, education, and certifications. What is not evident is your motivation. Your dedication to finding a job is an indication of how motivated you will be to bring value to your next position.

Your value and your ability to mesh with a company’s culture is what gets you a job offer.  If you reach voice mail, leave a polite invitation to learn more about what you can bring to this position. Say your number S-L-O-W-L-Y and spell your name so the recruiter or hiring manager can locate your résumé prior to returning your call.

Now, if the return call does not come, leave another message the following week reinforcing your enthusiasm for the job. Try a different venue, like LinkedIn or Twitter.

It is okay to keep trying. Sometimes, it can take four or five calls. You would probably be surprised how often the person called THANKED me or my client for diligence in following up. Most people don’t want to or mean to be unresponsive. So many of us experience time poverty. Empathize.

DO NOT leave any trace of a guilt trip. Understand that “Drop everything! This is HOT!” is the nature of a recruiter’s day. Priorities flip-flop and zig-zag. Plus, few people would be motivated by undue guilt, and do you want that to be their reason for calling you? Out of guilt?  Be patiently persistent. It may not get you a job, but it will most likely get you a response and a chance to introduce yourself.

 

I can do bad all by myself – Mary L Blige

Many people can relate to this song

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.

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.

 

Unemployment Bias: Create Your Own Opportunities

"College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 23" by COD Newsroom from Flickr

“College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 23” by COD Newsroom from Flickr

 

Finding employment can be more difficult if you’re unemployed. It can be a frustrating period in your life, but it can also be a great opportunity to transition faster into a new position. You can spend a 40-hour week networking, researching employers and creating opportunities that will help you land sooner.

 

Jay had been working as a User Interface (UI) Programmer in a large marketing firm for nearly five years. He was suddenly laid off from his job and at a loss as to what to do next. It was the first time he found himself unemployed. For a while, he lived off of unemployment benefits and applied for jobs using various job boards. Before he knew it, more than six months had passed. During the worst of times, it seemed as if Jay’s résumés went into black holes, or what we refer to as “e-pits”. Other times, he landed interviews only to have the gap in his employment looked at with suspicion by employers.

Finally, Jay had enough of his confidence being undermined by his unemployment situation and fear of never finding work again. He began to explore his network, volunteered, attended industry group meetings, and wrote often about his skills and knowledge as a UI Programmer. He made sure his work was posted to his social media accounts. He presented himself as “between jobs” and “open for new opportunities”. Eventually, he was hired by a new marketing firm. The information about the job opening had come from his network, but it was Jay’s self-confidence and ability to sell his own worth (as opposed to coming off desperate) that helped land the job.

This example encompasses two scenarios. In the first, a person finds him or herself without employment and they reactively search for a job. They visit online job boards or send hundreds of résumés out in the hope of getting called for an interview. They don’t find a job immediately, months pass and they become caught in a vicious downward cycle. Employers question the long gap in their employment, they lose confidence, become desperate and apply for any open position at a company and they continue to languish as the interviews (and their finances) dwindle away. There are millions of these types of heart-breaking stories.

While some people eventually get a break, there is a difference between getting lucky and creating your own luck. Getting lucky means you’re at the mercy of your circumstances. Maybe someone will see your résumé and give you a chance. When creating your own luck, you’re actually creating your own job opportunities. Your ambition, passion and drive, combined with your skills and qualifications make you too tempting of a candidate to pass up. Which brings us to the second scenario.

A person is unemployed, but instead of reactively looking for work, he or she takes a proactive job search approach.  They go to their network and ask about open positions. They volunteer when they can, and they make sure to attend networking events, industry meet-ups, and do whatever they can to meet people in person. They present themselves as “between jobs”, but they keep abreast of industry news and maintain a competitive advantage. They even take some time to hire someone to polish their résumé or do it themselves. Their personal brand demonstrates their skill, value and passion. They know people in their network will eventually produce leads, and they will be ready to capitalize upon those leads.

Let’s get the obvious bad news out of the way: It can be harder to land a job if you’re unemployed. Employers have a variety of biases toward the unemployed. These biases can create a challenge for job seekers, which may require applying a different strategy to a job search. Employers may assume a worker’s skills may have become rusty if he or she has been out of work for more than six months. They may feel if a person can’t immediately land a job, he or she must be lazy and can’t keep a work schedule. Or it may be more tempting to poach an employee from a competitor than hire someone unemployed, even if the unemployed person has stronger qualifications. Some employers may go as far as to tell the unemployed they should not apply for an open position at their company.

Quite frankly, excluding the unemployed is extremely short-sighted. Abby Kohut argues in her article, “Why ‘The Unemployed Need Not Apply’ Need Not Apply to You” that it is absurd to eliminate out-of-work job-seekers without understanding why they’re unemployed. The reasons can range from stay-at-home parents returning to work, workers who were laid off, or workers who were fired (it’s not always the worker’s fault). That last reason is quite chilling. Your job could vanish in an instant due to no fault of your own. Don’t let employer bias deter you from your job search. At the end of the day, networking is still the best way to land a new job. Also, the employer practice of poaching talent doesn’t always work. There will be positions that need to be filled immediately and a highly qualified unemployed person could be the perfect match.

Employer bias is such an issue that legislation has been passed banning this practice. I wrote about it in my article, “Unemployment Discrimination: Does it need a solution?”, New York City passed a jobless discrimination bill in March 2014, while 11 states and multiple cities have their own versions of these laws. The legislation seeks to prohibit unemployment discrimination and allows aggrieved applicants to sue employers (in certain cities, like NYC). Unfortunately, as I wrote in my article, these laws are more of a hindrance than a help as the economy improves.

Technology is rapidly changing business and the long and short-term unemployed need to have the latest skills to compete. If these laws aren’t accompanied by training programs to help the unemployed compete in the workplace, they can be harmful. In some states the unemployed have to surrender their benefits to receive state-compensated training. While such a move could be beneficial in the long run, a reasonable person would have a difficult time forfeiting guaranteed income in order to participate in such a program. It’s hard to focus on learning when you’re unable to put food on the table. Furthermore, creating legislation to ban unemployment discrimination won’t prevent employers from covertly excluding the unemployed if they’re really determined.

So, should you present yourself as unemployed?

My opinion is… Be You! Lying on your résumé or your LinkedIn profile about your employment status won’t gain you any favors. In fact, it may become clear that you’re lying. I had a prospective client who was told by peers not to change her status on LinkedIn. This could be perceived as a lie, or an oversight. Either way, it doesn’t present you as forthright, accurate or prompt. Be yourself and believe in your professional value. You may be out of a job, but you still have a lot to offer an employer. Your skills and knowledge didn’t vanish along with your job.  (There are some careers that will become obsolete in the future, and it may become necessary for those professionals to reinvent themselves.) Know your target market, your skill set and your qualifications.  It is the passion for an industry that shines brilliantly. Your passion is your brilliance, and that brilliance will attract others to you.

Your personal brand should reflect your brilliance. You’re unemployed, but if you constantly blame others, and your former employer, it reflects badly on you. Think about it. If you’re constantly on your social networks, or attending events decrying your unfortunate situation, others will take notice. Instead of noticing your passion for your industry, others will only see your bitterness and will make it a point to give you a wide berth. On the flipside, if you’re constantly presenting yourself as passionate and engaged in your industry, someone will take notice and it could lead to job opportunities. In short, you may never know who’s watching, and you want to attract people, not repel them.

There are employers who will always have a bias against the unemployed, but ultimately it is their loss. Being passionate and unemployed can have its own advantages. Here’s a scenario to consider. Some employers are targeting those currently working for their competition as their priority effort, or expecting the third party recruiters they work with to do so. However, this requires a lot of selling and wooing, and there’s also a LOT of negotiating to make this successful. When this gets tiring, they look for the people immediately available. And if a need is urgent, they are not going to look for people who need to give two week’s notice. Suddenly, that highly-qualified, zealous and extremely available job-seeker is too tempting to pass up. Or maybe that job-seeker has been targeting employers of choice and now a position is finally open. Again, why bother looking elsewhere and negotiating with someone who’s already employed, when you can hire a passionate job-seeker who has been making connections within the company?

 

Let’s return to a favorite adage of mine that you can apply to employers and their attitudes about hiring you– “Some will, some won’t. So what? Next!”.

 

That’s much easier to say when you have momentum on your side. Don’t fall into a fear trap, thinking that you have to play political or tactical games to make it through the process. The difference in how it feels to generate interest by just being your best self versus pretending to be something that you’re not is the difference between freedom and being trapped. This is what we mean by “Unveil Your Brilliance”. We mean, be you, because you are brilliant, and people just need to see that. We don’t mean try to be something or someone else. That’s not the path to empowerment or authentic happiness.

 

 

Why I do what I do (part III of my series on work attitudes)

Photo courtesy of koka_sexton on Flickr creative commons: http://bit.ly/1Apu1uz.

Photo courtesy of koka_sexton on Flickr creative commons: http://bit.ly/1Apu1uz.

My mom was underpaid and underappreciated. She looked at numbers all day so when she got home she didn’t want to play cards with me. One my favorite things to do was play (win) Rummy.

My dad afforded a nice lifestyle pre-divorce. He napped when he came home when I wanted to play catch. I remember being really little and begging to play “horsey.” Then, the divorce.  It was a long emotional and financial battle that decimated our standard of living for a while. My mom recovered more easily because she continued working and re-married while my dad was forced into early retirement, working odd jobs and surviving on a lesser pension and eventually social security. Now, his health insurance was eliminated as a retirement benefit just when he needs it most.

My brothers enjoyed a higher standard of living for much longer. For the most part, their financial blueprint (J. Harv Eker’s term) was set during better years. All I learned about work and money was that it was tiring and no matter how hard you worked, eventually, there would be no pay off or not the kind that I wanted. I wanted a lot. I dreamt of a BIG life. When I played monopoly with my friend, Julie, we would daydream about huge houses with rooms for all the animals we would rescue and adopt. When I dreamt of a big life, there were always big things I could do for other people at the forefront and at the same time provide exotic opportunities for my kids.

So, going into college, my idea of being a “successful” adult was that you get a degree so you’re not stuck for 20 years in a dead-end clerk job. But I didn’t want to be the boss, either, because then I’d hold down the little guy. Choosing radio as my career was an anti-corporate statement to all of my seemingly misguided advisors. Not until I started attempting to make a buck while I worked in radio that I got to see that not all companies operate like, well, almost every company depicted in every sit com and movie up until…. uh… Grandma’s Boy (circa 2006.)

Then, I realized as a recruiter I could place people in the “good jobs.” At least, that is what I thought I would like best about recruiting, and it was…when it happened. However, speaking with 500 candidates every week and placing maybe one of them is hardly a record of success given my mission.  Plus, for a good percentage of the jobs, my position on the vendor chain didn’t allow me to fully assess the suitability of a job for a candidate. When I was able to get the goods on a job straight from the hiring manager, their budget often prevented me from presenting the best candidate.  So, it was frustrating, but enlightening. Meanwhile, it was becoming clearer what career was going to give me the best chance at really making a difference to professionals seeking career stardom, or even simply career satisfaction – career coaching. Right alongside that was résumé writing. IT résumés appeared to be enigmas for other professional résumé writers. I could tell when a candidate had paid someone to write it, but, unfortunately, oftentimes had to tell them to add or change something.

Eight years after I changed careers yet again, I cannot only say that I found my passion and my purpose, but I have embodied and developed a gift. Now that career fulfillment is something I can speak about first-hand, I want it for EVERYONE!  Thankfully, I have been able to dramatically impact people’s quality of life in a positive way, not that I deserve all of the credit – all of these people were already successful in many ways.  In fact, there is not ONE client that I would say was not BRILLIANT.

Looking forward, you will see an expanded offering of solutions that will fit virtually any budget, and they will generate superior results to anything else currently offered.  I vow to continue my own personal and professional development, and to expand my team in numbers and capacity to help you UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE.

May 2015 bring you better opportunities, better income, and better quality of life!

Heavy D & The Boyz – Now That We Found Love ft. Aaron Hall

Music video by Heavy D & The Boyz performing Now That We Found Love. (C) 1991 Geffen Records

Stop Treating LinkedIn Like An Online Résumé

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

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

Your LinkedIn profile is different from your résumé

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

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

Use your LinkedIn Profile to dazzle your audience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Missed Opportunity

1988 Music Video for Missed Opportunity

3 Unexpected Places to Find Job Leads

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

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

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

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

  1. Your “Other” Network

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

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

  1. Online Marketing

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

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

  1. Become a Public Speaker

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

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

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

Survivor – The Search Is Over

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

Beware the Job Search Trap of the Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of s0crates82 on flickr open source. (http://bit.ly/1vQeqQ4)

Photo courtesy of s0crates82 on flickr open source. (http://bit.ly/1vQeqQ4)

The holiday season is almost here and it is one of the most captivating times of year. There are great sales everywhere, you have a long shopping list, and you can’t wait to decorate the house while the sweet smell of pastries fill the air. You’re looking forward to seeing some of your favorite holiday specials on TV or maybe you’re delighted as you make those travel arrangements to see family and friends. Wait a minute! What about the job hunting plans you had?

With holidays inching closer, now is not the time to take a vacation from your job search. Look for your next job before the holidays hit. Thanksgiving is less than a month away. It is the time of year when job seekers think less about being hired, and more about family gatherings and the perfect gifts. You may be more interested in a winter getaway than making a career transition. The temptation to shelve your résumé and start fresh in January is simply too powerful.

What his hiring really like during the holidays?

It is a common perception that no one hires during the holiday season. This simply isn’t true. Employers want to fill open positions before and after the New Year. Specifically, in January companies want to have potential hires already in place. The end of the year is also a time when many companies increase their payrolls. Also, in a recovering economy, hiring does not slow down much at all. The year 2004 was an example of that. I was unexpectedly busy with just as many, if not more job requirements to fill than during September. And I had been looking forward to some holiday downtime. On top of stress, there is increased competition during the holiday season. Taking the initiative before the holidays arrive could help you avoid a stressful job hunt.

The biggest potential threat to your job search during the holidays is a lack of focus and drive. As I stated earlier, it is extremely tempting to take a break from a job transition to relax from November to January. We want to spend quality time with our family and friends. There are also a lot of great sales for those who love to shop. Unfortunately, the next three months are one of the busiest hiring periods of the year. As companies seek to fill positions by or in January, the call for job applicants picks up in November and December. When the holidays are in full swing, competition for open positions can be fierce. You want to get ahead of the competition by making the most of your job search NOW, not later.

Ever try getting people together over the holidays?

Consider it from a tactical standpoint. If you wait until the end of November, you’ll have several things working against you. First, there are the savvier job seekers who know companies are hiring. Second, hiring managers are inundated with applications on a normal basis, and it will take them longer than usual to setup an interview. Likewise, you may find yourself landing interviews at odd times because of how busy hiring managers are. Coordinating schedules with managers is notoriously hard during this time. Odd interview times could easily put a damper on your holiday plans. Third, a lot of the positions during this time of year are contractual. The last thing you want is to cast your net out, only to find less than satisfying offers. If you want to give your career the epic boost it needs, get out in front of the competition. Don’t let your résumé be swept away by a wave of job seekers; ride that wave to your new career.

Kick-starting your job search immediately will ensure you are interviewed by hiring managers before they are swamped with applicants. This means renovating your résumé, especially if you have been neglecting it. Next: network, network, network! Touch base with friends, acquaintances, or alumni in your professional network, they could be the key to a potential job offer. Attend networking events and make an effort to talk to at least one person per meeting. Holiday parties and company events can be used to further network. The end of the year is already a time when we connect to others, so don’t miss the opportunity to advance your job search. Sara Canuso describes how to make the most of a networking event in her program training module, “Networking for Impact.” Make sure you don’t ignore LinkedIn and other social media networks. Building up your personal brand is essential to standing out from the rest of the competition.

Think QUALITY, not quantity

It is always best to identify prospective positions before the holidays hit. You’ll benefit from having your résumé in front of hiring managers early. You will also stand out from the crowd because you put the maximum effort into your job search. You’ll also avoid the huge rush of job seekers trying to land the same position in the New Year, if it remains open. An open position means hiring managers and other stakeholders will scramble to coordinate their schedules to fill the position. You definitely want to avoid being a part of this scenario. Moreover, you’ll have a leg up on those who chose to suspend their job search until the New Year. Not only will you avoid the many pitfalls the holiday season brings, but you’ll also be able to actually enjoy this time of year. Peace of mind is a brilliant way to celebrate the holidays.

If you need help with your résumé or brand management, we are always here to help! Think of it as an early Christmas present to yourself. (Check with your CPA – our services are often tax deductible!)