Posted tagged ‘branded resume’

DIGGING OUT FROM UNDER THE SNOW STORM OF JOB LOSS

January 4, 2010

I’ve known loss. Haven’t we all?

A blizzard storms through our lives, creating paralyzing white-out conditions.

In my life, a painful storm from which I not only survived but from which ashes I arose to rebuild a new and BETTER life, occurred when my first husband requested a divorce. Within months, I was thrust into life-altering decisions that, even under the best of emotional situations, would have been difficult.

Initially, life lines were tossed my way by family and friends. After years of self-sufficiency, I was faced with either “going it alone” or accepting the help of sincerely caring people. I swallowed my pride and chose the latter.

As well, I acted: traction was the name of the game to maintain my sanity, my emotional stability and my overall fortitude. As in job search loss, the death of a marriage or following the actual death of a spouse or other loved one, the storm requires mourning, but then requires forward movement to recover. Sometimes, even, the two must be managed concurrently.

During my divorce, I did not have the luxury of flying off to a tropical island and licking my wounds or even spending a few weeks resting and healing; instead, I had imminent bills to pay and clients to attend to. Miraculously, I was able to “fake it ’til I made it.” For example, I recall one client telling me (during the thick of the storm) that I was always such a positive person when he and I met! I was strengthened by his sweet comment – further reinforcing the need for forward movement as a key to recovery.

Similarly, job hunters in the midst of career storms often must keep plunging through the cold hard ground of job search. I will venture to say, with persistence and willingness to make changes, these forward-moving job seekers will see sprouts of growth emerge even during the harshest of climates.

Traction Steps Beget Confidence, Courage and Recovery

I imagine the wind-knocked-out-of-me experience I knew following divorce is something people experiencing job loss or major job transition can relate to. I hope some of the practical and soul-fortifying steps I took also may assist job seekers in moving forward in recovery. Here are a few steps I took:

1. Sold my home and downsized to a townhome (saving money but also dramatically reducing my commute to a then brick-and-mortar office from 45 minutes to 5 minutes).

Unfortunately, I hear too many stories of job seekers hanging on to what was versus adjusting their sails and course to mesh with the wind. Sometimes letting go of real estate, other belongings and past lifestyle desires is just the antidote and relief to calm the storms and further work on rebuilding a newer, stronger and often better-than-ever-imagined foundation for the future!

2. Immediately began the process to transform my business, which, at that time was only three years young and not really ready to be self supporting. I had no choice – I was now my sole supporter! I amped up my industry credentials; I now wanted to increase my service offerings (and revenue), so in addition to my Certified Professional Resume Writer credential, I achieved the Certified Employment Interview Professional (interview coaching) training in Dallas, Texas.

3. Earned the globally unique Master Resume Writer credential and received near-immediate PR and revenue.

When encountered with a hard-hit economy and job search, I encourage job seekers to consider future needs, research and listen to other professional opinions and then ACT: if you may benefit by earning a new credential to better market yourself  – go get it! Or, simply, reach for more training, more training and yet, more training. Continuing education opportunities abound either virtually or within brick and mortar settings!

4. Assertively pursued industry partnerships and refocused time and energy on building relationships that would further build my business reputation, visibility, and ultimately, revenue.

Likewise, I encourage job seekers to seek out and build relationships with key partners who may propel their job search. Encourage Recruiters, Hiring Managers, Companies and Human Resources to follow you and your value proposition via Twitter and build your career reputation. Unfurl the sails, look beneath the layers and get curious. Step by step, you’ll learn the ropes of job search, and it will not only flex your untapped job-search muscles, but it will even be fun–an adventure, at times!

Moreover, visit LinkedIn and set up an account. Click on @eExecutive’s informative article: 5 LinkedIn Resources. Order Jason Alba’s LinkedIn DVD by emailing me to help you navigate the ins and outs of creating meaningful relationships within and without your professional industry.

Start stimulating conversations with other professionals and with recruiters, hiring decision makers and human resource managers. Boost your visibility and credibility via a website established exclusively for movers and shakers who not only take pride in their careers but seek to boost their image and career opportunities.

5. Hired another writer and career coach to help shepherd me through a career repositioning and hold me accountable to implement action steps.

As well, job hunters may revisit their career story arsenal: refit, rewire, reword. A plethora of free articles on building a meaty, value-laden resume may be found, starting with articles on my blog and extending through to a plethora of blog posts by resume writers, career coaches and recruiters. Visit bloggers at Blogs I Read to search for how-tos on resume writing.

You may also hire a Master Resume Writer or other professional career writer, coach and/or consultant from Career Management Alliance, Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Career Directors International or National Resume Writers Association. Resume writers, coaches and consultants will help uncover the snow-shrouded career story-book and then parse chapters, sub-titles and talk points that reveal your true value to your target audience!

6. Transitioned my business from a locally based, brick and mortar office (with premium office space leasing costs) to a globally focused, completely virtual operation serving clients from coast to coast in the United States, in Canada and also in far-flung places such as Europe and Asia!

Likewise, job seekers should embrace the global design of 2010 job search.  The Internet, and in particular, Twitter, offers a treasure chest of career strategy resources. First, I recommend joining Twitter, creating a pithy profile, and start following others.

As well, my colleague and Twitter friend, Miriam Salpeter and I initiated a Career Collective of 20+ bloggers focused exclusively on job hunters’ needs. Stop in, read a while, find and then personally connect with a couple career experts that appeal to you and with whom you feel a connection. Conversations beget action which beget results–moving from a career hull cloaked in snow to a brightened and buffed career that sails the high seas.

7. Focused on my personal life recovery and fulfillment; getting out there and dating–making it an adventure versus a drudgery. I ENJOYED (for the most part) the interesting conversations and new opportunities to meet new friends. The world was my oyster! It was a series of shared experiences that added value to my day to day life until one day I met and married the love of my life. He is leaps and bounds beyond my expectations, and not because he is perfect (sorry, darling!), but because he is my heart-mate.

Just as the snowstorm that swept through my fare city this holiday season (or that swept through my personal life several years ago), career slamming challenges erupt from time to time, packing your  job-search hulls with snow that weighs you down, virtually paralyzing movement.

After you’ve licked your wounds, commiserated with others about the tragedy that has beset you, Iencourage you to take action. Grab that shovel and start digging! Get out from under that avalanche of job-search snow and regain your career footing.

Captain your career, mend your sails, learn the new rules of career navigation, partner with career experts and SET SAIL!

Advertisements

Navigating the Mistletoe of Job Search

December 9, 2009

As co-coordinator with my colleague, Miriam Salpeter, I am pleased to participate in our third round of posts from our community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective.

This month’s articles address the topic of Job Search Strategy During the Holidays.

Please follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter.

Having personally experienced the setback of divorce about 8 years ago on the threshold of the holidays, I empathize with job seekers undergoing the radical change of job loss, job transition and career makeover.

The bottom line, I think the holidays  are ‘not’ the magical time during which careers are fixed, made or broken, However, the holidays also are not the time to feel paralyzed in your search. A healthy blend of job search and rejuvenation are in order!

Earlier this week I featured a technology leader and client of mine, Altan Khendup, in a blog post explaining his job search strategies and the phenomenal results he has achieved.

As this post on ramping up one’s job search efforts during the holidays emerged, I sought out Altan’s tips. As well, I’ve blended in my own opinions on how job seekers may approach the ‘search’ during this particular season drenched in mistle toe, calls to ‘give, love, share’ and dripping in niceties and demands that, if not managed well, will sap our time and energy.

I’ll blend Altan’s and my ideas and comments hereto.

1. How should job seekers use their resume during the holiday season?

Altan suggests:

Do the ‘typical thing’ with your resume: prepare it for presentation, ensuring it’s up-to-date and incorporating any ideas that have been happening throughout the year.

I agree!

Now’s the perfect time to review and revamp your resume, if need be. Even if it’s just been a couple of months or more since you last adjusted your career story, you want to take a fresh look at your message to ensure it’s on-point with your target goal.

As well, if you have held consulting roles, part-time or short-term positions, volunteered, engaged in continuing education or training, or involved yourself in any meaningful endeavor that will support your value proposition, you want to evaluate how this information fits into your resume story, then effectively knit it in.

2. Is the holiday season a good time to distribute your resume and job search / network? Do you think it is, perhaps even better than other time-frames throughout the year?

Altan encourages:

The holiday season is the best time to distribute your resume but not in the typical sense. It is a charitable time and most people really are looking for ways to give back to people that they know and to help them along.

He recommends bearing in mind that the resume is not the first thing to push; instead, focus on strong follow-up post-networking.

Most people will respond positively to a well targeted and prepared networking effort during the holiday season. It is through these connections that resumes should be ready to be shot out at a moment’s notice.

Plant your career search seeds during the holidays in prep for the beginning of 2010 when hiring starts up again in a more formal manner.”

I agree!

Use the holidays to set aside typical job-search methods and simply have conversations around your situation with people who care about your well-being. When a connection is made, and the timing is right, have that resume ready to whip out.

As well, he makes a good point about hiring starting up more formally again in 2010. Though I agree with numerous reports of hiring happening ‘right now’ (and am personally witnessing those hiring events with my clients), I also realize that that activity speaks to  a portion of the business population.

In other parts of business, you have decision makers, recruiters and HR leaders slowing the processes of hiring just a bit in prep for a hit-the-ground running 2010.. Either way, conversations around these impending hiring decisions are happening NOW. Having meaningful, current career positioning documents at-the-ready is critical to job-search preparedness.

3. What are the obstacles in job searching this time of year? How do you overcome them? (i.e., action steps to take; attitudes to adjust/reframe; etc.). What obstacles can you actually convert to opportunities? How?

Altan says:

The biggest obstacles are vacations. Many prospective employers are now taking their vacation times and spending them family and friends. As a result it is important to make the most of every opportunity one can during holiday parties and other occasions where networking can work really well.

Avoid sending anything in email prior to vacations, or if you must, make sure to follow up immediately after. People’s emails will be piling up while away, and once they return to normal work pressures, the urge to move ‘less urgent’ items into the electronic trash bin is high.

Look at each job search action as making the best impression during the holidays, leveraging the good will of others into follow up actions, and working out follow-up action items that can be acted upon post-holidays.

I concur!

The temptation to be so immersed in one’s job search goals and forget that others may possess less of a sense of urgency about your job-search needs is sometimes difficult to resist. However, being aware of your audience’s situation will help you manage your own activities and expectations. With that said, it’s okay (and good!) to maintain a thread of communication with potential employers, recruiters, etc., while adjusting the methods (i.e., phone vs. email or positive-impression, relationship-enhancing emails with short-order follow-up, and so forth).

4. What are the advantages to job searching during the holidays? How do you leverage those advantages? (i.e., planning and preparation plus action steps to take)

Altan says:

What I have found is that many organizations are attempting to use their budgets before year end which pushes them into trying to get last-minute hires before the start of the year. Additionally, the year end also happens to be a great time for companies to look at projects, assess them and make plans for the future.

This is an excellent time to network, engage and establish your value to these future plans. By being properly engaged many people will be looking to recruit you or work you into their plans as soon as possible. Everything has to be ready so make sure that you have the plan and actions ready: engage the network, assess opportunities, present your value, propose your follow-ups, and follow through.

5. Have you in fact found this to be a ‘slow season’ for job search? If not, what has been your take on the activity of this season?

Altan says:

Actually not at all. In the past few weeks I have had quite a flurry of interest from people trying to hire me for a variety of positions. Most are trying to get things in place so that they can execute on them for the following year. Most that I have talked to want to get a head start in the new year so they want to make sure they start the process as soon as possible with some even looking at hires before the holiday season, if possible.

I’ve seen the same with several clients!

Lots of activity, continuing conversations, requests for resumes persist as the year concludes. Engage, engage, engage. Job-search communication should maintain a steady pace as you maintain and cultivate relationships that may convert to tangible career opportunities, if not before year-end, as the new year builds speed.

6. How do you personally plan to pursue your job search through the next several holiday-weeks?

Altan says:

I have already started by responding to inquiries, planning which networking events to go do, getting small gifts for everyone (this helps and is appropriate during the holiday season), having my resume in place, and making sure that I follow up with everyone before the holidays fully kick in. Now is the time to really have great networking opportunities, with many of the folks that I have spoken to looking to grow in 2010.

Good points!

It takes a good deal of organization to do so, but augmenting your networking attendance with thoughtfully selected gifts for people who have added value to your career and life is nice. People appreciate being appreciated … and they remember those who appreciate them!

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, “It’s Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?”

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs”

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: Drive Your Bus!”

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution “Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?”

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, “(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job”

Does your job currency stand out like a shiny coin?

December 8, 2009

According to Altan Khendup, senior technology leader, strategist and advocate in Silicon Valley, California, when people think you’re interesting, they start listening; they become engaged, and then you can inject your pitch and your value.

I’ve had the pleasure of keeping in touch with this forward-thinking technology leader (oh, and by the way, a client of mine!) for the past nine months. An active Tweeter, blogger and LinkedIn contributor, Altan is a remarkable example of proactive career management!

His steady stream of high-level career conversations, interviews and job offers have mounted as he charts his course for the next career destination—on a given day, he receives up to 12 opportunities. Among his interview opportunities, Altan has collaborated with key technology innovators as well as large, Fortune 100 companies.

His luxury of cherry picking from opportunity inquires from a plethora of executive recruiters, HR professionals and direct company principals may seem a bit unexpected during this tough economy. In one recent instance, a company even offered Altan the opportunity to create his own job description.

Fundamental to Altan’s recent career search advancements are the following:

1. Articulating (with my help) his ‘complete story’– finely focused and value-driven resume, cover letter and power statements that are consistent with what Altan wants to be.

2. Creating a digital footprint, including blog, LinkedIn profile and Twitter account, among other social media venues.

3. Actively engaging on Twitter: Tweeting meaningful, value-driven contributions, which resulted in a major technology innovator inviting him to discuss a job opportunity after they followed his tweets about some of the technology they were interested in.

4. Selectively targeting / attending various meet-ups and unconferences and actively engaging in social networking discussions.

5. Spending the appropriate level of time and attention on company research before engaging in written and spoken conversations.

In your career,”you will eventually hit choppy waters, and you must prepare for it,” says Altan.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; anticipate it’s (lay off) going to happen and take steps to manage the change. These are career survival movements you must take, not just to succeed, but to thrive in this economic downturn … or virtually any economic climate.

“If you’re not prepared with excellent job currency (resume, power statements, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc.), how do you expect to compete with 10 million others?” asserts Altan.

For Altan, who seeks higher level positions, the principals reviewing his resume are accustomed to advanced-level resumes and will have doubts about his qualifications if his career positioning documents fall short.

“Having job currency that is valuable is key. Even with initial introductions, a resume is the common job currency that is requested, and you must make it look like an investment.

Continues Altan, “If you invest $2,000 and it helps you land a $150,000 job, then it’s done its work. I’m not saying your resume will physically go to meetings for you and introduce you, or will do your social networking. It’s a tool (like a power saw that cuts wood) – $50 saw vs. $500 saw – sooner or later you’ll have to look at that tool and say, ‘Is it worth buying the right one – or any one?”

“All of these are tools, part of the process, part of the journey.”

They Shoot Muffins, Don’t They?

November 23, 2009

A few months ago, I stood looking at myself in the full length mirror in my dressing room as I struggled to fit 45 years of bad eating habits and a total disregard for exercise into the waist of my dress slacks. I knew it was happening; I just enjoyed the status quo to the point that I would simply blame the clothing manufacturers for sub par materials that seemingly shrunk before my very eyes.

I sucked in for one last glorious attempt to fasten the brave clasp and zipper that would attempt to contain all l that I had become. I stood, glaring at the form before me, as the old axiom, “you are what you eat” hit home in a big way, when I suddenly realized how much I had in common with a giant blueberry muffin that had been yesterday’s snack on the way to work. I headed to the closet to rifle through my shirts, looking for at least one with enough girth to somehow camouflage the aforementioned midsection. But soon I was faced with the fact that the same people who made my ‘incredible shrinking slacks’ must have gotten to the shirt guys too.

Exasperated, I chose a tan one, and turned back towards the mirror to finish getting dressed. Once my shirt was buttoned and tucked in, the transformation I had hoped for fell short of the reality. Now, instead of a pasty white muffin, I looked like a freshly baked golden brown one. That didn’t help my outlook for the day at all. And, to add insult to injury, I was now starving for, you guessed it, a nice warm blueberry muffin!!

On my drive to work that day, I pondered the vision of my out of shape physique and decided it was well past time for a change. So, over the next few weeks I read and researched all I could about ways to change that reflection, and before long I was eating healthier, working out on a regular basis and appreciating more and more what I saw in the mirror. What in the world does any of this have to do with a resume?

Well first of all, it’s no secret that we all outgrow our resumes. With every new job we take on, we must fit that new experience into a space that may be getting a little tight. That also goes for degrees, and certifications that we pick up along the way, as well. And just like the guy who’s trying to fit his size 38 waist into a pair of size 34 slacks, those new experiences can be left on the outside of the waist band in a usually not very attractive manner. Just as I was able to get help for my somewhat rotund shape, the professional resume writer can take what you have become and help mold it into a more desirable form.

Yes, you can always buy more paper and add those new items to the bottom of the page, and I could have simply bought new bigger clothes to help conceal the additions I had made. But at the end of the day, that simply is not the best answer.

You must make an investment of time, money and energy in anything you wish to accomplish. Since the day I chose to make that change in myself, I have not regretted one workout session or been unhappy with the decision to eat healthier. It was hard getting started, but the results have been well worth the pain. So, if you haven’t looked in the mirror at your resume lately, maybe its time for a check up that could lead to a whole new outlook for you career.

Written by Rob Poindexter, sales executive and sailor, who, as Jacqui’s husband and business partner, provides an observer’s perspective to job search coaching and resume writing.

I’m not a career coach, and that’s okay

October 22, 2009

pen_night_writerOkay, so by default, I weave guidance into my in-depth resume writing processes that smacks of coaching.  Recently, Recruiting Animal (@Animal) took note of this in his blog post: “The Resume Writer.”

However, today, I beg to differentiate myself: I am a word wrangler, message clarifier and career story teller (i.e., resume writer) – not a career coach. At the end of the day, my clients hire me for the influential ‘words’ that erupt from the virtual and literal pages that we create, for the words that spring from their lips during job interviews, networking conversations or when caught unaware in casual conversation.

As well, my job as a career writer is to push, prod, ask the reporter’s ‘who, what, where, when and why’ questions, drive for deeper understanding of where the job seeker has been and even more importantly, provide them the spade to unearth their unique value drivers that help define where they want to go!

As a good career reporter, I do my research. This involves a barrage of questions, the answers of which often lie dormant in the job hunter’s head and involve intellectually rigorous recovery and regurgitation (My clients work hard! Likewise, I lift intellectual weights on their behalf!). Moreover, the job seekers I write for find themselves performing research to illustrate their go-forward goals.

Serious about my writing trade, I maintain ongoing niche-specific credentials (including Master Resume Writer) qualifying me to build the engine for a job seeker’s career vehicle, tapping the job seeker’s truth and powering it up with word fuel that drives the message home to the target reader. It’s all about the audience reading the story, after all!

It’s been bugging me for awhile, this tendency to lump resume writers and coaches into one entity, almost as if to say, that without adding ‘coaching’ to our label, then we’re ‘just’ resume writers with perceived lower value.

I applaud my resume writing colleagues who equally market their career coaching and resume writing talents, for many are passionate about blending the two professions. However, that’s not me. My overriding value proposition is my career reporting skills: abilities in in-depth research, asking the driving questions, unearthing career gold nuggets, whittling 25 pages of career brain dump down to 2-3 crisp, compelling and focused pages, and marketing the job seeker’s value to the right reader, influencing them to call.

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.

The Branded Resume: an Essential Tool

January 31, 2009

CAREER BRANDING – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

~ THE BRANDED RESUME AS AN ESSENTIAL TOOL ~

TOOLS TO EQUIP YOU IN DELIVERING ROI CAREER COMMUNICATIONS

Introduction: Planning Your Career Move (as important as planning your vacation?)

It’s been said that most people spend more time planning their vacations than planning their careers. While most of us spend 40-60+ hours per week performing our jobs and making our living, it is an amazing concept that we don’t spend more time and energy assessing and preparing for the next steps that could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in future compensation and dramatically impact our overall career satisfaction.

Whether the above assertion re: planning vacations vs. planning careers is true or not, I do have a gut feeling from my 10+ years of writing resumes full time, that many people do not adequately invest themselves in the resume prep portion of career strategy – feeling it’s just a ‘whip up my career bullets’ task that should be executed in a few hours or days with abbreviated thought and using canned language, prescribed job descriptions and buzzwords. That is, until a light-bulb moment erupts when they hit a roadblock and SOS for help, admitting that their resume is evaporating into a black hole and that the interview opportunities are few and far between.

Often, this awareness hits at the end of the first, second or third month (or longer) of a stagnant job search. Unfortunately, this duration of job search combined with waning financial resources feeds anxiety and germinates a problem of how to make up for lost time and how to devise a tailored resume in short order and cheaply (clearly, short-order, cheap resumes are ineffective – at the least, they are ‘less’ effective).

Resume Writing Is Manual Labor of the Mind

Resume development, I realize, is manual labor of the mind – and it stretches muscles beyond our comfort zone. Or, put another way, developing an original resume is like going to an annual health exam (uncomfortable and sometimes a bit painful) and afterward, the resume requires continuous, rigorous checkups to address additions to your career chronology/achievements and/or changes in career direction, but for the health of your career and for preventive care reasons (and sometimes, unfortunately, to address career health issues before they worsen), a meaningful, well thought out resume process is essential!

Branded Resumes – Packaging Your Value

That said, I will congratulate the majority of readers who have ‘seen the light’ and have invested in themselves and their careers and maintained a current, branded resume to propel their career advancement. Many professionals and executives (my clients, especially!) “get” the idea of packaging themselves as a brand and understand the return on their investment garnered in doing so – not just a return on the financial investment but the return on intellectual energy expended. (Those who have completed my professional prep worksheet know what I am talking about! :- )

This leads my to my focus of today’s blog on “career branding” as it relates to building a branded resume. Branding is a term that has leapt to the cutting edge of career communications in the past couple of years. I have a passion for leveraging this personal product packaging technique for my clients, as it just makes sense to me, and I began employing branding strategies before the term became popular.

First, I will share with you that I review hundreds of resumes annually for ExecuNet members and other prospective clients and job searchers who find me through my Web site, who are referred to me by former clients and who link to me through the several partnerships I have forged through my years in the industry.

As such, I am quite convinced that the greatest ‘lack’ in most resumes is their inability to effectively stand apart from the resumes of throngs of other candidates with similar credentials and experience. Most resumes I assess are well structured, but not tailored, are dutiful in checking off the resume design/content ‘boxes’ required by resume readers, are often even well written with the appropriate action verbs (“spearheaded, innovated, devised,” etc.) but are not customized in their message toward the individual job candidate’s unique promise of value. Rarely does a resume create a vivid snapshot of the individual’s precise performance style and drivers.

It’s like viewing a movie in black and white, or listening to an otherwise engaging song with the volume turned a bit too low, missing the opportunity to energize the listener. Most resumes possess the essential elements as touted by resume builder tipsters to construct an intro (Summary/Profile), middle (Experience) and end (Education/Development), and some include the appropriate measurements (%, $, #), but in a majority of cases, these resumes do not compel the (right) reader to call. The reader initially is interested and hopeful to digest the rest of the story, but he/she often drifts off the page, uninspired or unclear as to how this person’s message resonates with his/her specific needs.

Avoiding Me-too Resumes / Creating the Emotional Hook

In other words, one resume mimics the content, results and ‘buzz’ language of the next resume and of the next resume … and of the next resume… and so on. An objection I often hear from individuals whose resumes I review when I urge them to try my resume writing ideas is that they don’t want to say ‘too much’ on their resume – that they want to wait to ‘save this information to tell’ during the interview.

Unfortunately, when you do not create a hook or emotional appeal with your resume, you will not secure the opportunity to tell more of your story later. I am confident, through observing my clients’ profound results with the resumes we develop, that you can successfully build muscular content into the resume and still leave more of your story for the telling at the interview. (Trust me: most people’s stories could fill a 300-page book, so a 2-3 page resume will ‘not’ threaten to exhaust your career archives.)

As your career strategist, I am not one to shy away from pithy content — because substantive writing in the form of resumes does work to your gain! Although achievements are vital, accomplishments statements without substance describing how you forged those results, and accomplishment statements that are devoid of the trials and tribulations with which you grappled, often leave the reader unconvinced or frustrated or simply, uninspired and unfocused as to whether you’ve solved the problems like they currently are facing (i.e., that you can hit the ground running).

A kernel of inspired writing that paints the picture of a stumbling block you surmounted or a wall that you knocked down to achieve double-digit revenue stimulation or a program you drove to attract thousands of new customers to your business door or a process improvement you devised to beat down costs will speak volumes to the right reader (question is ‘who, exactly, are you targeting?’ – but that is the subject of another article :- ). By resonating with the reader’s unique pain points, you can do more than simply tout results and keywords, and you can ensure a results-generating and interview-cinching resume.

In Conclusion: Wrangle Content and Refine Your Story to Spur Dramatic Results – Getting the Interviews You Deserve !!

Examining your career archives in-depth, wrestling down dozens of pages into a high-impact 2-3 page brand document that sells your value proposition versus regurgitating a bland or worn out buzzword summary and chronology of bullet achievements with me-too speak will be fruitful for any job seeker at any level. Not only will you ferret out the critical drivers that will steer your career to the next level, you will create a repository of stories from which to pluck and refer to as you engage in the interview process that will surely follow.

Posted by Jacqui Barrett, MRW