Posted tagged ‘resume’

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.”

You can thrive in, not just survive, an economic slogging!

October 30, 2009

JobActionDay2009LogoAs co-coordinator with my colleague Miriam Salpeter, I am pleased to participate in our second round of posts from our community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective.

This month’s articles are in response to Quintessential Careers Job Action Day. I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, which will be linked at the end of my article on November 2nd. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.

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The economy is in a slump. Cost cutting and lay offs persist. We all know this. It’s not news.

The question: How do job seekers boost their visibility and generate more interviews during these trying times? Moreso than ever before, it is about being crystal clear on your value proposition – what not only makes you unique (yes, your uniqueness is nice to know and often will perk up the hiring manager’s or recruiter’s ears), but it also is about why you matter to that hiring decision-maker. What’s in it for them, specifically?

Although refining and communicating one’s unique market value was advice I ‘would’ have given a year ago, I believe this year’s message is greatly amplified. Your likelihood of being edited out from a hiring manager’s radar screen is multiplied because of the shear masses of resumes circulating for each open job.

More than ever before, being crisp, smart and quick in illuminating your resume and career communication message to the reader or listener is critical to being cutting-edge in your job search initiatives.

How do you do this?

1. Begin by doing career brain dump, an exercise that you should anticipate taking 6-8 hours over the course of several days to accomplish. Do not short-change this step!

a. Be somewhat orderly about it. In other words, start with the overarching initiatives that you faced this past year and the year before that, and the year before that, then flesh out the actions you took, describe the hurdles you leapt over and brag about the special problem solving skills you tapped to make things better (i.e., improved processes, negotiated buy-in to an idea, grew revenue or profit, shortened lead times for product development, appeased disgruntled customers, expanded the marketplace footprint … and much more).

b. Of course, punctuate these stories with the end result in a measurable way: percentages, numbers and dollars work. Remember, even if you didn’t directly impact a measurable outcome, you always are indirectly impacting something bigger and better that a department, division or the entire company is accomplishing. (If you weren’t impacting the bottom line, you wouldn’t be earning your salary!) Map to that – find the path to the numbers.

c. Then, flesh out your soft skills and traits, and how your actions map to those: i.e., Approachability, Having Composure, Inspiring Teams, Listening, Conflict Management, Ethics and Values … etc.

2. Research, research, research. Investigate companies  and types of jobs that interest you and those which loop back to your particular experiences and results. What is realistic? Earmark those! Where (at what jobs) might you take a chance and try to bridge gaps where your experience and /or education fall short? Earmark those, too! Who would be willing to listen to you if the best, most value-laden message were at-the-ready? Note their names, titles, emails and phone numbers. When researching, use these online tools:

a. Company research: ZoomInfo, Hoovers, RileyGuide, Bizjournals, Manta, corporate websites… and many others.

b. Jobs research: LinkUp, CareerBuilder, Indeed.com, Monster, corporate web sites, etc.

3. Start writing, or better yet, partner with a professional resume writer to flesh out your career story. This isn’t the time to be mechanical or rules-focused [i.e., list of subjective resume writing rules that you check-mark; i.e., a. Font size (check!); b. Page length correct (check!); c. # of buzzwords sprinkled throughout (check!); d. Summary broadly written so I don’t miss any opportunities (i.e., “I would take any job mentality) (check!)].

a. Meaningful writing is critical; during this phase you must drill down to the right words and story points that will best resonate with the target reader!

b. Moving a dozen or 2 dozen pages of career brain dump into a 2-3 page sales piece that proves value in a snap through your career camera lens is vital.

Once the resume is complete, begin connecting …

5. Know your audience and reach out to them. Join LinkedIn, then join and interact in groups, post links and updates and invite others. Expand your network, learn about individuals in other companies and become known by them.

6. Start a blog. WordPress.com is free and easy to get started with. Sign up today for an account, choose a backdrop, write an article focused on articulating your value and expertise. Tell your friends and colleagues. Post your blog URL to your LinkedIn account.

7. Join Twitter. Create a profile with a picture and be known for the industry or job-specific expert you are. Tweet meaningful thoughts that will add value to your followers. Retweet value-add information from others. Comment on others’ tweets; engage; smile; be uplifting. Offer genuine opinions but don’t openly criticize.

Final thoughts: Your career message in this new economy should certainly weave in your abilities in containing costs, shoring up resources and boosting productivity. However, equally important is a focus on advancing growth, turning around distressed companies, netting multifold returns on capital and generating revenue and profit. It’s not just about surviving, it’s about thriving.

Show (don’t tell) the reader that you are capable of helping them lift themselves from the slog of this downtrend and into a robust, revenue-multiplying and profit expanding new place. Be someone who proves s/he can both execute and deliver the goods for a better future!

Meg Montford:  Job Action Day: Finding Your “MOJO” After Layoff http://coachmeg.typepad.com/career_chaos/2009/10/job-action-day-finding-your-mojo-after-layoff.html

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out? http://resumesdonewrite.blogspot.com/2009/10/plan-b-from-outer-space-or-what-do-you.html

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them, http://dbcs.typepad.com/lifeatwork/2009/10/green-jobs-what-they-are-and-how-to-find-them.html

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint http://exclusive-executive-resumes.com/resumes/job-search-blueprint/

Grace Kutney: Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change http://sweetcareers.blogspot.com/2009/10/securing-your-career-while-navigating.html

Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa– Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Differenhttp://hannahmorgan.typepad.com/hannah_morgan/2009/10/why-our-job-search-advice-is-the-same-but-different.html

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker http://www.theexecutivebrand.com/?p=500

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship http://blog.sterlingcareerconcepts.com/2009/10/30/making-lemonade-out-of-lemons-turn-unemployment-into-entrepreneurship.aspx

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging https://careertrend.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/you-can-thrive-not-just-survive-an-economic-slogging/

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts http://workingwithchronicillness.com/2009/10/preparedness-its-not-just-for-boy-scouts/

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow? http://resume-writing.typepad.com/resume_writing_and_job_se/2009/10/furture-careers.html

Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth http://thewritesolution.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/your-network-is-your-net-worth/

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy http://www.keppiecareers.com/2009/10/30/optimize-your-job-hunt-for-todays-ecomony/

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You? http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds/2009/10/30/the-life-of-an-entrepreneur-is-it-for-you/

Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes http://resumesandcoverletters.com/tips_blog/2009/11/job-action-day-09-his-resume-s.html

Martin Buckland: Job Search–The Key to Securing Your Future Careerhttp://aneliteresume.com/job-search/the-key-to-securing-your-future-career/

Chandlee Bryan: Where the Green Jobs Are: http://emergingprofessional.typepad.com/the_emerging_professional/2009/11/where-the-green-jobs-are.html

Heather R. Huhman, Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job, http://www.heatherhuhman.com/2009/10/take-action/

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are 2009 and Beyond: http://www.careersolvers.com/blog/2009/10/31/where-the-jobs-are-2009-and-beyond/

J.T. O’Donnell: Actions that got people jobs in this recession http://www.careerealism.com/4-actions-that-got-people-jobs-in-this-recession/

The ‘UN-COVER’ Letter

June 30, 2009

I love my local bookstore. Walking down each aisle, I look at one book after another, usually only stopping to review those books that catch my eye, either because of the title or because of the cover picture or a graphic that piques my interest.

While there are certain books I seek out, because of my own interests based on subject matter important to me, all the books I walk past have the potential to wind up in my library.

There is no such thing as a quick trip to the bookstore for me.

Once a book calls to me from the shelf to the extent that I stop to look closer, it has only one chance at securing its place on one of my bookshelves. And that one chance is determined by how I feel about it after reading the synopsis on the cover.

This may seem a little short-sighted to some of you. And admittedly, I have probably put back many a good book based on this method, but I gave those books the same opportunity as the ones I did take home. It’s not my fault they didn’t pull me in. I wanted to like them or I never would have picked them up in the first place. They simply did not give me enough information, or the right kind of information to deserve the time commitment I must make to complete the entire tome.

So it is with the cover letter, or the ‘un-cover’ letter, more aptly.

A busy manager looking to fill a post in his organization will have to sift through many resumes in his search for the right candidate. So that cover letter better stop him in his tracks or there is a good chance the resume will remain on the shelf, eventually finding its way to the bargain bin, and ultimately to the trash bin.

It should uncover some of what waits for the reader inside, clearly and concisely crafted to beg the manager to look a little deeper, bidding his attention to the point where he has no choice but to “buy in.” This sheet of paper will be your first impression, and you know what they say about first impressions.

So if you wouldn’t buy the book your cover letter is attached to, don’t be surprised if it continues to collect dust on the shelf.

Disengaging from Job-Search Crisis Mode

April 21, 2009

Do you know that person? The one consistently in crisis? The one whose voice is always a pitch or two above their normal when explaining their day to day challenges? Someone who is never quite satisfied and always  the victim or simply the sad sack with little hope?

Though we all, as humans,  share a given fact of life — we WILL endure a crisis (or crises) at SOME point in our existence  — it is not necessary to perpetually hang around a crisis, befriend it and make it a way of life.  It is possible, in fact, to convert a crisis into a journey that unfolds into a more beautiful life than we previously knew.

Every week, I encounter job-search clients, some who who appear to be in crisis. Many times, because of the point in time during which they engage me, as well as my pragmatic and creative role in their marketing process, I am not directly touched by their crises — am not the brunt of their emotions. Many, I’ve noted, have risen above their crisis, created and implemented an action plan to re-frame their negativity into positivity and hope and are fueling their own traction, gaining momentum as they reinvent their path.

How did they manage to progress to this better, more positive place? I’ve got a few ideas.

a) Sought out emotional support from friends, family members, partners, spouses. Engaged listeners to hear their story, then vented a bit. As well, allowed others to console them, to cry with them, to laugh at the absurdity of life with them. Gained perspective through holistic emotional therapy.

b) Detached from negativity. Separated themselves from disruptive  influences, personalities and dead weights that may otherwise have dragged them down into a deeper abyss more dire than that in which they began. Chose not to engage in a regularly scheduled whine fest. Sought out “the good.”

c) Made a plan. In the case of my clients, that plan included hiring a partner writer and career strategist to help unearth their unique value and articulate it to a target reader.  Beyond hiring a career consultant, they revamped their personal budget, revisited short- and long-term personal and business goals and stemmed any bleeding so that they could move forward with a semblance of health and calm.

d) Executed the plan. Day by day, step by step, breath by breath.

e) Allowed the plan to morph – to ebb and flow  – to expand and contract. When Plan A wasn’t working, shelved it and moved into Plan B. When Plan B didn’t work, looked on the shelf, and revisited the timing and validity of Plan A. When Plan A and B resulted in zip, took a walk in the country and rested their mind, only to dream up a new plan that took half the time to Plan A or B but netted double the return, or at the least, got them back on a forward-moving path.

f) Stepped away when the overwhelm began mounting. Laughed daily. And if laughter escaped them, chased down a resource for new laughter and lingered in it as long as needed to heal and refresh.

g) Recognized and declared, “I am valuable!” Reinforced this by writing it down – via career documents and online social media profiles. Reinforced this by talking to others, hiring career coaches and resume strategists trained to help them reclaim and crystallize their value, gaining heightened perspective. Custom built their value proposition; then believed what they built.

h) Empowered themselves to make their own decisions about their vision, their plan and how to execute the plan. Listened, respected and responded to the experts and friends from whom they sought advice. Knit together a plan that threaded the best of the advice through their own personality ‘fabric,’ and ultimately tailored their own decisions. Didn’t play the blame game; instead, embraced their options and their own ability to choose. In doing so, found they chose wisely a majority of the time – a winning proposition.