Posted tagged ‘value proposition’

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!

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MATCH(.COM) YOUR WAY TO A NEW JOB!

December 17, 2009

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER

First impressions matter in dating and job search. I know this all too well as I have moved through dozens of first-date impressions during the seven years following my divorce and before I remarried in 2008.

My husband, Rob, and I met online via Match.com. Besides the first-impression story he wrote in his profile that resonated with my personal needs and priorities for a great mate and life-long partner, the initial photograph Rob sent me was striking—to this day, I call it his glamour shot, as it was obviously posed and snapped by a professional. Rob was decked out in his motorcycle leathers, posing next to his classic Indian motorcycle.

Without hesitation, I responded to his initial ‘resume,’ intrigued by the words he shared and drawn to his handsome picture.

ENTICE INTEREST BY BEING ‘TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE’

As many recruiters and hiring managers may do when reviewing resumes I quickly judged, “He’s too good to be true,” (and beyond that, I thought, if he really looks like his picture, he may be out of my league). But despite that initial feeling of ‘this picture is a bit over the top,’ and in fact in large part ‘because’ of that initial intrigue, I was hooked in. I had nothing to lose by reaching out and affirmatively responding to his gesture to communicate.

We began a series of emails that were engaging, and like a job interview, involved a series of questions and answers. What’s unique and pressing about dating interviews is that you play two roles: both interviewer (company) and interviewee (candidate).

During that time, I ferreted out his real day-to-day physical appearance (he quickly and politely responded to my request for current, non-glamour-shot photographs). A bit relieved he wasn’t a runway model, and in fact, he looked quite attractively normal, I continued the conversation with the hope and optimism that he may be the ‘one’ candidate that would fulfill the job of the-guy-of-my-future.

Within days, we had scheduled a telephone interview, and during this time, our voices and language created new first-impressions. Recently, Rob shared with me that my ability during that first call to hold an intelligent and thoughtful conversation impressed him.

As for Rob, his residual Texas accent, his ability to engage articulately and thoughtfully, his sincere interest in knowing me and his follow-through to place the call in the promised time-frame, met my interview needs and expectations and further attracted me.

DATING, LIKE JOB SEARCH, IS A PROCESS OF INTERVIEWS

Our questions to one another deepened and the answers met my wishes (and apparently his), so we scheduled an in-person interview for drinks at a respectable restaurant. Again, more first impressions were approaching as we scheduled our meet-up,

Our brief in-person interview (remember, it was supposed to be ‘just drinks’) moved into an evening-long conversation replete with laughter, potato skins and chicken fingers.  Like an interview that blossoms into a connection, we politely closed a bit of the distance between one another and signaled our mutual interest.

As he walked me to my car, a second date was planned; and after that, a third date, a fourth, and then Christmas dinner (we began dating just weeks before the holiday!).  The rest, as they say, is history, as our interview dating moved into serious courtship and ultimately marriage.

All of this to say, I continually draw connections between the dating interviewing I experienced over seven years with the job interview process. As such, the following parallels may be illustrated.

1. Job search marketing, like dating, is about being appealing. Be courageous in communicating your allure. Rob’s glamorous picture (combined with his pragmatic, yet best-foot-forward word story) quickly influenced my interest in him as a candidate in my partner search.

2. Job seekers, when building your resume, in addition to writing to your audience’s needs, push your envelope and be courageous. I’ve had many resume clients express initial discomfort with the boldness and bravura of their resume sales message, only later to call or email me that they boosted interviews tenfold and scaled the job search mountain in leaps versus baby steps. Now, more than ever, job seekers need to stand apart and create an appeal.

3. Rob’s profile story (resume) was written in a laid back, direct, ‘real’ tone, focusing on the aspects of his value that would market him – he wrote to his audience’s needs (the audience he wished to attract), and he said no more and no less than needed. As well, he punctuated this profile with a picture that was a bit audacious—he took a calculated marketing risk–that worked!

4. Similarly, writing a resume IS about being YOU and selling your unique value in a tone that is both direct AND value-focused. It IS a marketing tool, and it is written with the reader’s needs top of mind. As well, the resume is no time to be modest—grab the reader’s attention with a presentation that stirs emotions and makes the reader say, “I gotta know more.”

5. Be responsive, polite and persistent. Rob responded to my email response to his initial contact that same day; he also engaged with me via meaningful, thoughtful emails several nights running, maintained a respect for ours/his time (not over-indulging in our new-found interest, placing boundaries and ensuring each communication seemed natural, even though he strategically  responded to make continued positive, authentic impressions). Likewise, in job search, be responsive and engaging, while also applying filters to not saying and doing everything that pops in your mind.

6. He also made himself accessible and reachable with a cell phone number that included a voice mail with HIS voice, and he promptly responded when I called or text-messaged. As we moved past initial interview processes, he quickly removed potential barriers to entry by revealing his home phone number and address.

7. Job seekers, disclosing how you may directly be reached, communicating openly and authentically and being reachable and responsible warms up recruiters, HR and hiring managers versus a nebulous communication strategy.

8. As well, Rob was ever polite and honest without over-revealing (we were dating, remember, not married) and persistent (he initiated follow-up conversations, scheduled our in-person interview and confirmed the meeting the day of). He also asked for the second interview as the first interview was closing.

9. Likewise, job seekers, it is quite acceptable (and necessary) to be persistent in your job search inquiries and conversations, demonstrating interest in the target company; remember, keep it polite, brief and focused on ‘them.’ If you start to feel you are revealing too much about yourself, pull back. If you are under-communicating, push yourself a bit ‘out’ of your reserved zone.

10. Job search is marketing—MARKET you. And the nice thing is, while you’re marketing YOU, you’re focusing on pleasing ‘them’ and filling their needs, so it’s really a process of courtship and you ultimately take the spotlight off of you and place it directly on them.

Bottom line: Proper, persistent and bold online and in-person communications can significantly and positively change the direction of your life and your job search. Interestingly, Rob and I recently were discussing the fact that major decisions in our lives have centered around the Internet: 1. We met on Match.com. 2. We researched and found our sailboat, Seas the Day AND the dock at the lake where our boat resides and where we have expanded our friendship/sailing network by dozens of new, interesting people, via the Internet. 3. We hired our minister to oversee our marriage ceremony via the Internet!

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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/

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.

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.

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.