Archive for September, 2011
Personal Brand Boundaries And Your Job Search
Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Show and tell, I remember it well. I vividly remember not getting one wink of sleep the night before I brought my prized Fred and Wilma Flintstone mugs to school – so cool!
Show and tell takes on a whole new meaning when you’re in job search mode. What does how you show up for an interview say about your ability to do the job? Are you being judged for the tattoo on your ankle or the blue streak in your hair?
What do your likes, links and tweets tell a prospective hiring manager about your propensity to succeed? Are you being judged for your choice in music, your political inclinations or religious affiliations?
The days of privacy are gone forever. Think I’m being extreme? Read this article about privacy by author Brian Solis who writes that “it’s now easier than ever before to share actions or content without intending to do so.”
The new era of job seekers must spend as much time thinking about how they appear online as they do offline. Shine your shoes, brush your hair, and clean up your Facebook timeline stat!
Think before you show. Think before you tell. Think about it.
You Can’t Go Wrong With C.A.R. Stories
Sunday, September 25th, 2011
If you haven’t heard of the acronym C.A.R. (Challenge, Action, Result), you may have heard of some of its variations: Problem, Action, Result (P.A.R.) or Situation, Action, Result (S.A.R.) to name just a couple. They all basically mean the same thing, and are typically used in resumes and interviews.
Research has shown that the best indicator of future performance is past performance. These stories can indicate to a prospective employer that you are the best candidate for a position – by illustrating what you’ve done in the past. Below is a sample C.A.R. story from the book, “I Want to Work in an Association – Now What???”
CHALLENGE: Membership had been declining for years due to older members retiring and fewer people entering the profession.
ACTION: Designed a college recruiting program to promote the profession to students in relevant majors.
RESULT: Membership has been up 26 percent among 22 to 25 year-olds in the last two years.
This scenario can be formatted as a bullet point on a resume or as a response to an interview question. Review job descriptions, determine what key qualifications are needed for your target positions, and create C.A.R. stories that speak to your success. Though you can never have too many, aim for at least 10-15 scenarios to start. On your resume, include the biggest relevant successes. For your interview, practice all the stories until you are sure you can confidently recite them in person.
Take it a step further, and include a few of these situations in your cover and thank you letters. Take every opportunity to remind employers of your accomplishments!
Your Job Search Spiel
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
If you’re in job search mode, you have to know what type of work you’re looking for, and you have to be able to articulate it to your friends, peers, neighbors, former colleagues, even complete strangers. There is no getting around it – you need a one minute spiel… a positioning statement that quickly helps people comprehend what your dream job looks like, and it should roll of your tongue with ease.
I would go so far as to say that if you don’t have your spiel down pat, stop reading this blog right this very minute and go figure it out! Just last week I gave a presentation on personal branding to a room filled with job seekers. As I shook their hands I asked, “What type of work are you seeking?” One man answered by telling me the job he just lost. “I was a General Manger,” he said. This tells me next to nothing. I need to know more about his skills, his accomplishments and what his dream job looks like if I’m going to help him find it.
In another instance, a woman told me that she honestly didn’t know. “I was a pilot and I’d like to find a job that allows me to spend more time with my two young children.” Then she asked me, “Do you know of any career paths that might be suitable for me, or how I might go about researching my options?”
Her answer was perfect! She didn’t know what her dream job looked like so instead she invited me to help her discover it. If you’re fresh out of school, your strategy might be to solicit contacts for informational interviews. “I’m a recent graduate with a degree in political science and researching jobs in the nonprofit sector. I’d ideally like to work for an social service agency that helps rebuild communities… do you know anyone in the nonprofit world that might be willing to spend 15 minutes on the phone with me?”
Consider your spiel. Be able to articulate, clearly and with conviction, that which you seek so your connections can help you find it!
Monday, September 19th, 2011
For numerous reasons, I never use objectives on resumes. Some of my clients are shocked by this, and are concerned that companies won’t know which job they’re applying for.
They will – you just need to tell them in a different way. One of the quickest, easiest things (for both you and the reader) is to just headline the resume with the name of the position in which you are interested. Not only does this set the stage for the rest of the resume – similar to the title of a book – but it frees up room for the summary of qualifications.
In some ways, the summary is an objective in reverse. Objectives typically begin by telling the reader what the job seeker wants. For example: “Seeking a marketing manager position in a challenging environment.” Since the goal of the resume is to sell yourself, the question the reader wants answered is, “What’s in it for me?” By changing the focus around, you’ll automatically draw the reader in. Tell them what you have to offer for the position, what makes you different (your unique value proposition), your specialties, and keywords. Below is a sample summary for a Director of Marketing, as published in the book, “I Want to Work in an Association – Now What??”
“Accomplished professional with 8 years of marketing experience in associations focused on animals. Proven success in driving membership increases through development and execution of integrated marketing campaigns. Results-driven leader skilled in creating innovative strategies to capture new markets.”
Using a summary in place of an objective is a no-brainer. Not only will be giving the reader what they want, a summary is an easy place to make changes if you’re going to target the resume for different positions.
Resume Writer’s Block
Thursday, September 15th, 2011
There is a really good reason that “professional resume writer” is a career path: Writing resumes is hard work!
When I’m updating my resume or helping a client with theirs, here are a few things I keep an eye on:
1. Consistent formatting. Do you use periods at the end of your bulleted statements, semi-colons, or omit punctuation altogether? Being consistent from top to bottom is half the battle!
2. Measurable achievements. Some jobs are harder to quantify than others. Do your best to include success metrics, performance ratings or other benchmarks whenever possible.
3. Action orientation. The most exciting resumes are written with an eye on action. Do you use a passive tone? Try adding some oomph with this list of Words That Make Your Resume Stand Out!
When you think it’s perfect, be sure to ask a detail-oriented friend to carefully read your resume for typos and clarity.
PS: When you’re resume is polished to a high gloss, select a few snippets and update your LinkedIn profile to it shines just as bright!
Q&A: Jason Alba, Founder of JibberJobber.com
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Recently, I contacted Jason to get his perspective on why it’s important to organize your job search. After all, since this is one of the main focuses of JibberJobber.com, a database tool for job seekers, I figured he must have a good reason!
Organizing the “who’s and what’s” of Jason’s job search were not important to him – until he really started looking for a position!
Jason found that once he kicked his job search into high gear, the amount of information he was trying to track grew too quickly for an Excel spreadsheet to handle. Below are five reasons he thinks it’s important to maintain an organized job search:
So you don’t miss opportunities and follow-up. “I will never forget the day I missed a phone call I was supposed to make to a hiring manager,” said Jason. “My spreadsheet was too messy, and it got lost in the mess.” When you’re a job seeker, you are expected to be professional and call or email people when you say you will. That’s what professionals do. Even if you are unemployed, you are still a professional.
So you can remember who you talked to, when, and where you met them. If you met someone at a networking event last night, you’ll probably remember them today, but will you remember them in four months? Will you remember why you wanted to talk to them again? Probably not, this is why you really need to record this stuff somewhere. Do you regularly get emails from people who you think you know, but you can’t find any correspondence from them in your email history? Do you remember what you last talked about? You don’t have to record everything, of course, but if you record some relevant information, down the road you’ll be glad you did!
So you can see the relationships between all of the people, companies, and jobs on your radar. If you speak with someone who works at your target company, that makes them a more relevant contact. If someone in your network introduces you to another great connection, you want to keep track of that. In weeks one and two of your job search this might seem trivial, but by weeks ten or twelve it’ll be very useful information.
So you know which resume you sent to each company. It’s not just names, numbers and relationships you are trying to manage. You need to know which version of your resume you submitted to each opening, what the job description said, and which elevator pitch you should use in each situation. Keeping track of people is hard enough before you realize that there is a lot more to know for each individual interview. Let the feelings of being overwhelmed begin!
So you can be more prepared for the next transition. Of course you don’t want to think about future layoffs and unemployment, but statistically it will happen and you don’t ever want to be unprepared. You will have to keep track of target companies and contacts for the rest of your career, whether you’re in transition or not.
You don’t have to organize your job search; but if you do, you’ll see immediate benefits that will carry forward in future transitions.
The Brand Is You
Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Personal branding gets a ton of digital ink these days. There are countless groups on LinkedIn, hashtags on Twitter and “gurus” on Facebook lined up to tell you the secrets of personal branding. The truth is, no one can do it for you. Your personal brand is just that – personal! It’s equal parts competence, character, and charisma all rolled up into one. It’s how you are known, and how you are remembered. A strong personal brand helps open doors to job leads, opportunities to be promoted, invitations to join boards or even present at an industry conference.
The first step in creating a strong personal brand is to craft a unique positioning statement that tells people you meet – be it online or off – who you are, what you do and why you’re special. If you don’t have a well-rehearsed positioning statement then I invite you to read an article I wrote Social Media Marketing Magazine entitled “The Brand Is You.” In it I lay out the steps to get started. I’m not promising it will be easy at first, and it may take a few tries, but if you want people to remember you, the first step is to work on being memorable.