Archive for May 2009

Making Yourself Heard Through the Noise: Lighting a Fire Under Your Career Message

May 4, 2009

As with most careers conferences, the value is in the golden nuggets of information mined from a series of seminars and behind-the-scenes conversations with global career experts. For example, at the recent Career Management Alliance conference in San Antonio, Texas, I learned that in the last month alone, 4.4 million people in the U.S. got hired and Twitter’s audience grew by 130%. As well, the unemployment rate, though uncomfortable at 8.6%, is not as high as the 10.8% reached in the 1982 recession.

The value of a conference also stems from a new way of looking at an old idea or truism. For example, career strategists and writers know that each and every of our clients can stake claim to their unique identity. We also are deeply aware that most job seekers ineffectively mark those differentiators.

Peter Weddle, CEO, WEDDLE’s Guide, further underscored why distinguishing oneself is important. He pinpointed that only 3% of a job seeker’s identity sets him apart from another job seeker – the 3% that defines the ‘best self’ – so, the conclusion I draw: individuals must relentlessly articulate their 3% differentiating value.

As a careers writer, my challenge is building distinctive and gripping career stories that fully leverage my client’s 3%. What is it about the product development leader’s ability to drive double-digit revenue impact that separates him from the next revenue propelling executive? What identifiably unique leadership and problem-solving attributes should be embedded into a spellbinding story that compels the employer to act?

As Weddle noted, running the best race every single day to sharpen that 3% of your identity and become an A-player is critical. I’d extend that by saying, there is no better time to light a fire under your career message, all of you A-players out there! Many of you have already sharpened that career saw and are running at warp speed to prove your commitment and excellence in solving revenue, profit and efficiency challenges. Consider these tips most of which were extracted from Peter Weddle’s and ExecuNet’s Lauryn Franzoni’s and Robyn Greenspan’s presentations:

  • Job seekers need career strategies on steroids. Complacency is the killer of opportunity.  Be visible with a clear, precise and targeted communication of your message to cut through the noise – because more than ever, there’s a lot of job-search racket out there! Clamor emanates from an environment wrought with four people contending for every one available job and dozens of social media outlets upon which those job seekers are squatting, in effect, commingling their messages.
  • Place all of your attention on THEM, not YOU. “It’s about my lawn not the grass seeds.” Deliberately carve out a career story replete with painful obstacles you faced and clearly defined solution-focused action steps you took to surmount the obstacles that healed the company’s pain. Mirror these stories to mimic scenario challenges faced by the companies you target. Zero in on your leadership strengths, tenacity, savvy, skill and creativity to communicate to the employer that you ‘get’ what they need, have ‘been there/done that’ and are resilient, with a fervent desire to replicate your solutions behavior with them.
  • Court the Employer. Think about it – whether in a dating relationship, a marriage relationship, a friendship relationship or a business relationship, the party being courted is the one who is on the receiving end of the attention. Providing attention means the courting party is asking personalized questions, listening to the responses, and then extending their line of questioning or responses – perhaps a response laced with solutions to problems or ideas for enhancement. Being ‘them-focused’ will spur the courted party to draw closer, become more committed and loyal to that person and in the end, hopefully extend a proposal of marriage, sustain an existing marriage, cement an existing friendship or make a job offer.