Friday, August 31, 2012

An Overview of the Prospect and Process for . . . Finding the Job You Really Want

Have you decided to look for a new job or find a new role for yourself?  If you have, I am here to tell you
that you can do it!

However, if you are like many of my clients, and it’s been a while since you sought a new role or job, I am also here to tell you that going about finding a job has changed.  As you begin to think about and plan your search, here are some things to think about to prepare to make the most out of your search for a new job or role.  Here are some thoughts on getting started  –  some thoughts, if you will, on how to “think about” your search for the most productive outcome!

A job search is like a journey
I open some of my job search workshops by saying that a job search can be like taking an interesting trip or journey!  As you network and talk with people, interview, and interact with companies, you’ll meet some new and interesting people, see some new places, attend some interesting events, make a few friends, and develop some valuable contacts and colleagues that you keep for life.  You learn a lot about yourself and get a good gauge of your value in dollars and cents in the marketplace.

There are, however, a couple of key differences between this job search journey and other trips you’ve taken, and that may take some preparation for you to get comfortable with this journey to find your new job or role.
    (1) The destination is unknown.  As you begin your search, you can’t predict where you’ll end up.
    (2)  You can’t predict how long it will take.  It could take a day, a month, a year.  However, while you can’t predict how long it will take to get there, you can influence the time factor by how hard, smart, and strategically you work at your search,
Both factors can be a little disconcerting.  The antidote?  –  knowledge and a positive attitude!

Develop a positive mindset
It will be easier on you to conduct a search for a new job or role if you can be realistic about the process and challenges of finding employment in today’s tough employment marketplace.  Being realistic allows you to anticipate challenges on the road ahead and in so doing, not be thrown by them.  It all really comes down to enjoying and celebrating the small successes along the way, and developing a mindset to take challenges in stride.  Developing a realistic and positive mindset will help you get further faster.

Managing a job search is like managing a project
How do you prepare to take a trip where you don’t know the eventual destination or time it will take to
arrive?  Pretty much the same way you prepare to take any trip.  In fact, it is akin to managing a project with the two main differences that you don’t know (1) how long it will take and (2) where you’ll end up.  However, preparations still need to be made for planning your project, gaining information and knowledge, acquiring the project tools you’ll need, organizing your project, and performing the work of the project.  So take out your project management skills and employ them in planning and performing your search.

Employ strategic thinking
Today’s job seekers don’t achieve success just by happenstance.  While the exact destination is not known, you either know the type of position or role that you would like to achieve, or you can find out through assessment of your capabilities.  Identifying the type of role or roles you would like to achieve is your first step.  The role(s) is your destination goal.  Figuring out the strategy to achieve your goal will keep you on track.  Very importantly, it will help you figure out what is a good use of your time, energy, and resources and what is not!

While some job seekers think that sending out resumes “helter-skelter” to anyone and everyone  –  referred to as “shotgunning”  –  is a route to their next role, in fact, experience shows just the opposite.  As the name implies, sending out a round of shot and hoping it will hit the target is less effective, than taking careful aim at a target and strategically taking action.

You’re in sales
“Ever been in sales?’’ No?   –   Well you are now!  If you are looking for a new job, new role, expansion or contraction of your current role, or venturing off into a contracting or consulting career, you are in sales.  And you are selling the most important product or service you will ever sell  –  YOU!

There is a lot to learn about how to sell yourself in the employment marketplace.
    (1) First and foremost, when selling your product or service, it is important to understand that you are selling or offering your skills and capabilities to your customer  –  your potential employer.
    (2) Develop a mindset and understanding of the customer relationship and its management.
    (3) And, most importantly, recognize early on in your search that, in sales,  “it’s all about them”  –  their business, their needs, their wants.  It is not about you.

What is “about you” is understanding your role.  Your role, as a good salesperson, is to uncover and learn about your customer’s needs and demonstrate that you are the best candidate to fulfill them.

Finding a job is a full-time job
It’s almost become cliche to say that finding a job is a full-time job.  But, in fact, the truth is  –   it is.
Finding a job takes a lot of work.  It:
    (1) Takes learning about the job of finding a job in today’s changed employment marketplace.
    (2) Requires gaining skill in the techniques of presenting yourself to the employment marketplace, and marketing yourself strategically.
    (3) Takes learning how to talk about yourself as the solution to a prospective employer’s needs, and them negotiating for the best deal!

It is a tough and demanding job  –  one that may not be done Friday at quitting time.  Weekend get-togethers, evening meetings, and early morning coffees become the sum and substance of a savvy job seeker’s work week.  Finding a job is indeed a full-time job.
So there you have it  –  the view from 20,000 feet of the prospect and process of finding a job or new or expanded professional role in today’s challenging employment marketplace.
Sound challenging?  It is!
Sound exciting and worthwhile?  It can be.
Achievable?  With the information, knowledge, and know-how provided by The AJC © ~  Career Strategy, most definitely. 
So pack your bags and let’s begin your journey!

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tab of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting Started - How to Begin to Write Your Resume

Your resume is a lifeline to your next position!  
It is a particularly acute lifeline if you are out of work or miserable in your current position.
Yet I’ve talked with job seeker after job seeker who delays producing this all-important marketing tool.  Why?  Why is it so hard to get started?

Why is it so hard to get started?
There are lots of reasons job seekers put off writing their resumes.  One reason is that writing a resume requires you to put down on two sheets of paper the history of your career and accomplishments.  It’s a daunting task  -- to say the least!  Couple this with uncertainty about the type of information that should be included and knowledge of effective formats, and the task grows even bigger.  Then, add factors such as lack of confidence in your writing ability and style, and the task grows immense.  It can, in fact, be overwhelming. 
It is no wonder that many people find getting started very difficult.  Procrastination has been known to go on for weeks, months, years, . . . . even entire careers!

So, how do you begin to put down on paper a career spanning 2 years or 2 decades?
The best way to begin a resume is simply to begin.

Step 1:  Just start writing.  I advise clients to begin writing their resumes by starting writing.  Start anywhere!  It doesn't matter where you begin.  Just begin!

You can start by thinking about a position you held recently or one from 20 years ago.  Begin by listing the duties of the job.  Start recalling some of that job’s highlights  –  things that you recall that you are proud of having accomplished.  Jot those down.

Now, use the same process for another position -  Again just pick one.  This part of the exercise does not have to be done in order of positions you held.  The chronological positioning of your jobs on your resume will come later.

Continue in this way, listing highlights of your work job by job, until you have notes on each position you have both (1) held and (2) decided to include in your resume (Note:  It's your choice.  Not every position held has to go on your resume, especially early jobs that have little bearing on the work you want to do now.)  Voila!  You have a basic resume  –  a “skeleton” of your eventual  resume.

Step 2:  Documentation and amplification
The next step is to fill out the skeleton of your resume produced in Step 1.  Gather together documents that will help you recall details about jobs you held.
Some examples of documents helpful to constructing your resume are:
    - Old resumes
    - Job descriptions from previous positions you held
    - Performance appraisals
    - Letters of commendation from previous employers
    - Awards
    - Letters of thanks or praise from customers, clients, vendors, colleagues, managers,
       or employees
    - Articles you wrote or articles written about you
    - Publications / books / reports / studies / executive summaries of any of these
    - Letters acknowledging your contribution to the community from community organizations
    - Professional association acknowledgments of your role and contribution
    - Training courses you have delivered or taken
    - Presentations
    - Records of education courses/ degrees you successfully completed
    - Certifications
    - Licenses
    - Job descriptions / advertisements for positions you would like to hold
Look through the documents for information identifying or amplifying particular tasks you performed well that are also relevant to the type of work you want to do.  As you go through these documents, you’ll find yourself not only remembering achievements that you had forgotten but recalling details surrounding them.

Now go back to your skeleton resume and fill out the skeleton with information you have just found.  Add tasks you performed well and the results you achieved under the appropriate position.

Step 3.  Overview your goal and qualifications by writing your Career Summary
Write a paragraph that overviews duties you held, your strengths, and area(s) of expertise.  It should be no more than 5 or 6 phrases.  Remember, no complete sentences appear on a resume - just phrases.

Almost without realizing it, using this method, you have a resume! And, it is a resume that is focused on your goal.  Simply beginning in this non-threatening way will get you started and well on your way to a producing an effective resume!

Still procrastinating?  Here's an exercise to help
What causes you to procrastinate?         Here’s a short exercise to beat procrastination.
Take a moment and think about the times you procrastinate.  
What are the tasks you put off doing?  Be specific.  
Is there a common thread that runs through the types of things you put off doing?

For each task you list, identify a cause, and figure out one strategy to overcome procrastination.

  Task                                 Cause                                          Strategy to Overcome                  

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

Resume Realities

Here is a quick look at some truths about resumes as evidenced by their use and role in today's employment marketplace.

Resumes get seconds - not minutes - on the first read-through.  Some recruiters now say as little as “7" seconds for a first-time read-through!

A resume presents a “snapshot” of you.

Resumes should be focused and tell the reader what you want to do.

Resumes should be relevant to the (each) job you are applying for.

There is no one way to do a resume.

Should be 2 pages (a little longer more such as 2 ¼ or 2 ½ pages is OK).

Use phrases. Do not use complete sentences.

Chronicle approximately 10 - 15 years of experience -10 in detail.

Number of years in a position can be ( - ) or (+) .

Should be attractively laid out on the page.  White space counts.

No excuse for typos or misspellings.

Grammar counts. (Can count against you.)

A resume presents a first impression of you. It is a reflection of your image.

A RESUME OPENS THE DOOR TO OPPORTUNITY! For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

What is the Purpose of a Resume?

What is the job of your resume?  
When you think about it, . . . . . its job is simple: To get you into the employment game and keep you there until you land your ideal job!
However, a well-crafted resume that is a strategic, focused, future-oriented, relevant, and succinct written representation  of you and your career history is anything but simple!  It is quite a complex document.  And the job it performs is no less complex.  Let’s take a look at the purpose of your resume and how it serves you.

The job of your resume is multi-purpose.  It is to . . . . . . . .
●  Create a first impression of you in the employment marketplace
Your resume is a career management and job search tool.  It is one of your marketing tools, and it is fair to say it is the most important of your marketing tools since it is the most visible.  Generally a two-page written representation of you and your career, your resume is seen by all prospective employers, current employers at times, and members of your network who often distribute it to other people.  It is the document that creates an employer's first impression of you.  So, it is critically important that this document create a favorable first impression of you. A lot is riding on it!

●  Sell you in the employment marketplace
Your resume is your sales brochure.  Have your ever been in sales?  Well, you are now!  When you are seeking a new position or new responsibilities, you are in sales  – selling the most important product or service you will you ever sell —YOU!

Think of a resume as your sales tool.  Its purpose is to sell you and your capabilities to employers in your target market.  It is a very important part of your sales presentation of yourself.  Therefore, your resume needs to present you in the following ways.  It should show:
    1.    What you have to offer.  The resume should strategically state capabilities  --  Strengths, Skills, Expertise, Knowledge (SSEK)  –  that you have to offer.
    2.    How you add (have added, will add) value to your employer.  The resume should strategically state how you have “benefited” your employers.  How has the use of your services benefited others?

●  Present accomplishments
Your resume should be “accomplishments-based.”  This means that you show outcomes of the work that you have done, not just a “laundry list” of duties you have performed.  Showing accomplishments is the best technique for (1) showing how you have actually added value for past employers, and (2) proving your claim that you can benefit your future organization.  (For additional information on accomplishment statements, please refer to “How to Write Accomplishment Statements” in the Resume and Marketing Tools section of the AJC website.)

●  Overview your experience
The resume presents an “overview” of your career history.  It can not and should not tell your whole life story.  It should include work you've done, and results you've achieved, that is relevant to achieving your career goal.
Remember, your resume is not a "tell-all" document.  It is a strategic, focused, future-oriented, relevant, and succinct professional representation of your career that shows prospective employers why you are worth devoting time to meet and interview because of the value you can add to their organization.

●  Keep you in the game
A resume is a powerful marketing tool because it gets you in the game!
When your resume arrives at a company in response to a position advertisement, scanners  –  human or computer  –  review your resume.  They are scanning initially to see if your qualifications match the position’s requirements, in total or in large part.  If they do appear to match, your resume is put in the “to further consider” or “to call” stack; if they do not match, your resume is put into the “do not call” stack.
Your resume first gets and then keeps you in the game!

●  Generate interviews
In a nutshell, your resume opens the door to opportunity!
Your resume does NOT “get you the job.”  Only you can do that.  Your resume is simply a tool to assist you in achieving your goal of getting a new position or new responsibilities.

There are many steps in the hiring process  –  think of them as hurdles to jump over and get past to get to the finish line.  The objective of the resume is to get you past the hurdle of anonymity.  Your goal is to present your qualifications in a document that spurs the hiring organization to contact you for an interview  –  generally a “phone screen” in the earliest stage of the interview.

A well-constructed resume that shows achievements earns you the opportunity to demonstrate in an interview why you should be the candidate of choice.  In a nutshell, your resume opens the door to opportunity!

●  Generate networking meetings
Networking finds the doors of opportunity!
Networking meetings often lead to interviews; they are, in fact, informal interviews (For additional information on networking, please refer to the Networking & Interviewing section of the AJC website.).  
Talking with people in your network in order to seek information and advice is a time-tested technique for finding a new position or enhancing the one you’ve got!

The key to effective networking is to learn to listen.  A general rule of thumb for a networking meeting is a 60 / 40 guideline:  you talk no more than 40% of the time during a networking meeting and spend the other 60% listening.  To hold this conversation successfully, (1) Clarify your objective as to why you are talking with this person, (2) Ask pertinent questions, and (3) Actively listen to their responses.

Your resume is a complex document that works hard for you.  It  first gets and then keeps you in the game! And, when crafted well, it opens the door to opportunity!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub

What is a Resume?

Everyone knows what a resume is –  Right? . . . . . . .  .. . . Wrong.  
After 20 years of teaching and preaching about resumes, and the role a resume plays in a job seeker’s success, I still see job seeker after job seeker producing resumes that are too long, unfocused, and irrelevant to the position for which they are applying or to the company they are targeting.

I still meet and talk with so many job seekers who are immensely frustrated with and aggravated by the process of sending hundreds of resumes to organizations from which they never hear back.
And, I still find myself reading resume after resume, and asking: “What does this person want to do?  What type of job or work are they looking for?”  Because their resume doesn’t give me a clue!

So, what is a resume?  Knowing the real answer to this question can save opportunities that would otherwise be lost to you by submitting a rambling, hard-to-read, unfocused, and irrelevant resume.

Here’s a definition:  A resume is a strategic, focused, future-oriented, relevant, and succinct 
written representation of your career history and qualifications, using appropriate language, that is designed to help you get you the job you want  
– not just a repeat of the job you had.  

A resume should tell the reader  --  without too much work on the reader’s part ---
    1.  What type of work you do and want to do in your next position.
    2.  The level at which you want to work.
    3.  That you’re qualified to perform the type and level of work you are seeking.

You’re in sales now!
It is fair to say that your resume is your most important “marketing tool!”  Think of it as a sales brochure  –
your sales brochure  –  because when you are looking for your next position or role you are on the market  –  selling yourself and your capabilities.  In your sales brochure, or resume, you present “selective” information about your career and job history in a succinct manner, and show why YOU should be seriously considered as a  candidate for the position, promotion, or additional job responsibility.  In other words  – “in sales speak”  –  you show the features you bring and the benefits of hiring you!

                 A First Impression Is A Lasting Impression if Not  A  Last Impression!
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
  Linked In:        
Twitter:  @AfterJobClub