Archive for September 2009

Don’t Be a “People Person” In Your Job Search

September 28, 2009

People Person picI understand the impulse to flesh out one’s career value with sweeping generalities:

  • I’m a people person (or, I’m really good with people; or, I like people).
  • I’m very strategic.
  • I’m attentive to detail.
  • I’m very organized.
  • I’m results oriented.
  • I’m innovative.
  • I think outside the box.
  • I’m a change leader.
  • I’m a team leader.
  • I bring people together.

I discourage this approach in favor of a more specific, focused method.

To engage in a job-search-related conversation with such bland language is counterproductive and akin to omitting the baking powder from a chocolate cake. The conversation falls flat. That glazed-eyes look you evoke in your listener (e.g., hiring manager, recruiter, HR manager, networking contact, etc.) results.

What listeners desire is a vivid word picture that you paint using bold color strokes that evoke emotion and crystallize your value to them.

If you’re speaking with a hiring manager, and he’s looking for a sales manager who can take their down-trodden, global sales team from lagging sales to double-digit growth, then you’d best BE that person. Your words must serve as both frame and photo; you quickly frame the situation and then create a bold, focused snapshot that crops out unnecessary details, a word snapshot that illustrates you’ve been there, done that!

By snapping word pictures ahead of interviews (i.e., creating a targeted, crisp resume story and interview prep material), you’re equipped with a word story collection that you can tap for interviews.

Initially, you may be sifting and sorting through an amassment of 5, 10, 15 or even 25+ years of career snapshots. Many of these snapshots are only relevant to you, and not the listener, as they lack vivid focus, have too much background noise, or simply, aren’t relevant to the targeted listener who can impact hiring you or recommending you. Pack those irrelevant pictures away and maintain the relevant images top of stack.

To recap:

• Don’t be a “people person.”

• Be a problem fixer whose stories resonate with the listener’s needs (points of pain; areas where revenues need boosted, costs need contained, processes need streamlined, etc.).

Show, through striking word snapshots that you have solved problems similar to the problems the company you’re targeting is facing.

Be selective, identify the most relevant, compelling word pictures that illustrate your value to the individual you’re communicating to (versus spilling open a long album of word snapshots that will invoke boredom and frustration).

• Frame your picture (your frame should accentuate and introduce your picture story, not detract from it).

Ensure you’ve used word snapshots that are colorful and sharply focused.

• Be humbly confident in your picture storytelling abilities; this positive energy will flow to the listener.

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Six Tips to Hit Your Job-Target Bullseye

September 11, 2009

bullseyeAfter a recent consultation with a job seeker, I was inspired to post the following on Twitter (via @ValueIntoWords): Often hear re: job target, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” Take a stand, be somebody~focus on a bullseye.

Harry Urschel, also a Twitterer via @eExecutives and founder of the recruiting company under the same name, followed with this value-add post: No one can help you find a job if you can’t tell them what you’re looking for! Make a decision and go after it!

As a resume writer, I’m often a sounding board for job searchers who have catapulted their careers from undergrad to high-performing executives, yet when asked their job target to focus their resume they stutter and stumble, unable to articulate a concrete, concise snapshot of their go-forward goal.

Oftentimes, they ask me, “Where do YOU see the market opening? Where do YOU see my skills a fit? What do YOU think?” The answer is never within ME … it is tucked under layers of the job seeker’s fear–a fear that they will be aiming at too narrow of a target and missing the 100s of other perceived opportunities outside of their target.

This simply is NOT true. By sharpening and meticulously aiming your arrow, you will be the one who hits the job-search bullseye, versus the 100s of other job seekers who commoditize and water-down their message to the point of hitting the outer perimeters of the job-search dartboard, thus, removing them from the winners’ circle.

Six tips to aiming your arrow:

1. Take initial stock of your achievements, bottom-lining your overall value to your recent company. How did you achieve results? What skills and abilities did you tap to accomplish those results? Write those down! (This tip is the first of 2 written assignments, the second of which is more in-depth career archaeology, later on in the prep process, below. Initially, in tip 1, simply sketch out your overall results and skills/abilities, then move on to tip 2).

2. Research target jobs that have the look and feel of a job you would be excited to apply for. Use LinkUp.com, ExecuNet.com (membership-driven site I urge all executives to join), SixFigureJobs.Com, etc. and copy/paste those jobs into a Word document. Either print the jobs out and grab a yellow highlighter or use MS Word’s highlight feature to highlight key phrases and language that describe requirements that map to your experience.

3. Review position titles and make a list of those titles.

4. Make a list of requirements that you see ‘repeating’ themselves from one job posting to the next.

5. Google several of the companies you wish to target and unearth intelligence news stories, reports and content that helps you construct a visual snapshot of their current situation, their areas of pain, their future needs, etc. Get intimate with your target companies’ stories. Network with individuals at these companies live/in-person/telephone or via LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media venues.

6. Write down (yes, this is hard, tangible work – you must write, not just ‘think’ about these things), 7-10 of your own CAR (challenge, action and results) stories. Create a funnel based on your target goal, your target companies’ needs and target companies’ pain points; then filter your stories through this funnel.

The so-what factor applies. Your decisions about resume content must meaningfully answer the resume readers’ question, “So what?” — the “What’s in it for me?” question.

Bottom line, to hit your career search bullseye, your value proposition statements must be sharpened and aimed at your target audience’s needs.

For further reading on how to sift through your career past and present to prove your future marketability (personal marketability) via your resume, you may visit my article at Job-Hunt.org: Your Resume as a Job Search Marketability Tool.