Sunday, May 26, 2013

Be Specific to Find a Job Quicker . . . . . or, A Rambling Resume Doesn't Help!

When it comes to finding a job, being specific about what you want to do gets your further faster.
The more specific you are . . .  the better.

Too often I see resumes from job seekers that show a whole lot of experiences in a wide array of jobs, education, training, and accolades.  These ramble on frequently for multiple pages - 5 or 6 or more. 

Or, when I ask a job seeker what they want to do in their next career move, they say something like: “I’m open.  I can do lots of things.”  Well, while that may be true, it doesn’t help focus in the listener or reader’s mind what you, the job seeker, could do for an organization. 

A rambling resume or answer doesn’t help because:
    (1)  It doesn’t provide clarity about what job you could perform. 
    (2)  It doesn’t tell a recruiter or interviewer where you might fit in their own organization.
    (3)  It doesn’t tell a network contact, who has taken their time to meet with you, who they could
           refer you to in their network.

The Fallacy in thinking -- "They’re looking for me"
I think a big part of the problem comes back to the mistaken belief that “They’re looking for me.”  I’m here to tell you, they’re not!  With 100s, if not 1000s,  of resumes to sift and sort through, they are not looking for you –   just a way to get through all the submissions to find a few qualified candidates whom, it appears, can do the job they are trying to fill.

They’re not looking for you
It is a mistaken belief to think that . . .”if I just show that I can do lots of things, they’ll find me.”   A nice thought but the truth is that recruiters and hiring managers just don’t have time to look for ways to use your talents, experience, and education. 

●  Unfortunately, the rambling and non-focused resume just gets put aside. 

●  And, a networking contact often just leaves the conversation in frustration: they don’t know where to direct you amidst their array of contacts.  In other words, they don’t know how to help you.  A direct quote from a referral to a member of my network came back in frustration in a call back to me: “I couldn’t help him. He didn’t know what he wanted to do and I really couldn’t help him!”

The Solution
Do your homework.  Focus your marketing tools  –  your resume, “L”vator speech, marketing letters  – on what you want to do, and back these materials up with examples of you performing aspects of the job or role well.  Make it easy for recruiters, interviewers, and network contacts to help!

Seek assistance.  If you can not do it alone, seek help. 
    - Talk with a trusted colleague who can help you see your strongest capabilities through their
    - Take some career assessments.  
    - Attend a workshop on how to find a job. 
    - Work with a job search / career transition coach. 
    - Use the AJC – Career Strategy website to find guidance and information on how to search for a job, and use the Contacts feature to ask questions.
    - And/or do some serious soul-searching about what you want to do and what experiences you have had that you can use to prove your point!

Ironically, the more focused you become, the more opportunities open up. Your chance of success multiplies.  Finding your focus is an important step to finding that next job . . . . . quicker!
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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Types of Resumes – Resume Formats

There is no one way to write a resume.  Resumes can be organized and written in several formats.  Although you may, from time to time, hear opinions expressed to the contrary, there are several acceptable formats.  And, each of the formats has helped job seekers be successful in finding their new role or position.  The key is to understand the best uses of the various formats, and how each is viewed by hiring authorities  –  a job seeker’s customer!

The baseline against which to decide what resume format to use is just this: Will this help me meet my goal?

Here is a brief look at resume format types and best uses of that format.  They differ in the way a job seeker’s work history is presented.  However,  all types still show education, professional affiliations, etc. in the standard way.

●    Chronological resume  –  Most common type of resume used
  –      What is it?  The chronological resume presents a chronological career history, beginning by listing your current or most recent position on page 1, and progressing backwards to the next most recent position, and the next, etc.  It focuses on positions and the employer’s name is important.  It shows geographic locations of where you worked, and dates of employment in years.

The chronological resume begins with a Career Summary which overviews your expertise, strengths, and a few key achievements.  It then shows your work history per position.  Each position described should contain a short overview of your responsibilities, followed by a list of  Accomplishment Statements.

Every job seeker needs a chronological resume!  So don’t skip this step.  Even if you choose to prepare other resume formats, you will need a chronological resume because: 
  • Most employers will request it.  
  • It forms the basis for crafting the other resume format types, and you will need it for filling out applications.
Uses:  Traditional, large, Fortune 1000, “blue chip”/ prestige organizations will almost certainly require it.  Human Resource department personnel will use it to check the type of organizations and companies you worked for to see if there is a possible fit, and they will also check for any gaps in your employment history.  They will also use it to see where you used your skills and achieved your accomplishments and how recently you did so.

●    Functional resume  –  Stresses skills, experience, and expertise
  –      What is it?   The functional resume shows “functions” you can perform.  It presents a career history in terms of skill sets and areas of expertise.  It stresses experience and qualifications and not individual positions. Page 1 shows 3 or 4 functional groupings of skill sets and areas of expertise, often referred to as competencies.  When you prepare a functional resume, list accomplishments under each of the 3 or 4 areas of expertise.  Page 2 shows a simple listing of companies and organizations you worked for, including only the company name and location, position title, and employment dates.

Uses:  Consulting and contracting firms as well as small to mid-size firms find this type of resume useful  –  at least initially when they may be looking for specific capabilities.  It is often used by job seekers who are highlighting areas of expertise or qualifications, particularly in situations where they are seeking contract or project work.  It is also useful when changing career direction or hiding gaps in employment dates.  It is also useful in preparing a “Bio,” where Page 1 can serve as the basis of your bio’s narrative.

 Tip: •    If you decide to prepare a functional resume, begin by preparing a chronological resume as your first step.

        •    Then extract accomplishments from the chronological resume to support your claims of expertise and/or skill on your functional resume.

        •    Even if your functional resume opens the door initially, the Human Resources Department of an organization will generally require you to produce a chronological resume.  HR and hiring managers will want to know at which organizations you used certain skills, achieved your accomplishments, and when.

●    Combination resume  –  Hybrid resume
  –      What is it?  This hybrid resume combines features from both the chronological and functional resume.  This is useful to a job seeker who wants to stress qualifications on Page 1, but whose company history will be impressive to the hiring company.  It amplifies the simple listing of the organizations the job seeker worked for by adding a few outstanding and relevant accomplishments the job seeker achieved. 

 Uses:  Increasingly popular with job seekers who want to show areas of competency, and still attribute skills and accomplishments to specific positions, thereby also possibly eliminating the need to provide a chronological resume for the hiring company.   Consulting and contracting firms as well as small to mid-size firms find this type of resume useful as they look for specific capabilities.  As with the functional, it is useful to a job seeker who is highlighting areas of expertise or qualifications.

●    Electronic resume   –  Simplified formatting
  –      What is it?  Today, most companies post job openings on their web site as well as on general employment websites.  Some allow a job seeker to upload their resume in its formatted state.  Most, however, provide a format for the job seeker to apply on line in direct response to the opening.  A time saving tip is to prepare an electronic resume ahead of time and keep it in a computer file designated “Electronic Resume.”

Uses:  Having an electronic version of your “general use”  resume ready to go will save you lots of time and aggravation.  However, remember to customize it to the requirements of the hiring company or organization.

Tip: •    To prepare an electronically formatted resume, make a computer copy of your resume.  Remove all formatting, such as bold, italics, bullet points, underlining, etc.  For those items in bold or italics, type them in capital letters.  For items designated by bullet points, substitute dashes (--) or asterisks  (*).
        •    Customize your submission as you would to any resume submitted in response to an opening or target organization.
        •    Should you be called for an interview, prepare a formatted version to take with you.

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Open and Hidden Markets = the Employment Marketplace

Advertisements    in newspapers          Job Fairs        Employment agencies        Indeed        Linked In     Face book    Tweeting
Search firms        Federal employment        State employment services
    Newspaper Advertisements online          Newspaper Advertisements paper
Not-for-profit associations' job banks        Company websites employment opportunities
    Job search groups          Professional group meetings        Alumni groups   
Targeting companies        Internet        Networking   . . . . .
Friends & family who want to help!  

It’s overwhelming!  So many sources, so little time!  Where do I start?  What should I focus on ?     What do I spend my time on?        It’s overwhelming!  
You’re right!  It is overwhelming!  Or at least it can be, if you are a job seeker without a method to manage all this madness! 

How do you, a job seeker, manage your search?  Much like any other project you would manage.  You need a goal (not a wish but a clearly defined and demarcated goal), a strategy, tools, checklists & checkpoints, and an understanding of the field you are working in – in this case the employment marketplace. 

So, when it comes to finding a job, your chance of success multiplies with having an understanding of the job market and how it operates.  Basing your campaign for a new job on reality -- not myth, misinformation, or hearsay -- is critical to success, and important to finding a job you really want . . . . . quicker!

“Job Market 101"
Here’s a quick course on the employment market and how to access it!  The employment marketplace is really comprised of two markets when it comes to sources of jobs:
(1) The Open Market  –   The market which is open to all and in which opportunities are seen by all, such as in advertisements, newspapers ads, employment agencies, job fairs and job banks
(2) The Hidden Market  –  The market in which opportunities exist but are not common knowledge , such as those found by networking and targeting companies.

Each market represents a source of jobs.  It is important to understand and work in both markets in order to find the best position in the shortest period of time.  But it is equally important to know how to prioritize the time you spend working in both markets for maximum results and success.

Not all markets are created equally
The important thing to remember in working the Open and Hidden Markets is not all markets are created equally.  Over 75%  –  and I think it is actually much higher  –  of opportunities are found in the Hidden Market.  So work smart and apportion the majority of your time to working in the Hidden Market.  Spend at least 75% in the Hidden Market, and the rest of your job-search-workday in the Open Market.  It just makes good $$cents$$ !

The Key to the Open Market
The key to the Open Market is to identify all sources where listings of jobs can be found. Look for positions on the open market in:
    Advertisements in newspapers and trade journals, Advertisements in Job Search websites like, Indeed, Linked In, Job Fairs, employment agencies, search firms, Federal employment, State employment services, association job banks, and company websites.

It’s a numbers game! 
Keep in mind that if you can go to a website or a job fair and find these opportunities, so can the 1000's of your competitors.  The mass awareness of these jobs means competition is keen. Advertisements routinely draw over 150 resumes, and in many cases far more.   As in sales in which "Success," it is said, "is in the numbers," when you are working the Open Market, it is a numbers game! 

The Key . . . . .You maximize your chance of success on the open market by locating as many sources as possible and contacting many, many prospective employers.

The Key to the Hidden Market
The key to the Hidden Market is to identify all sources where listings of jobs that can not be openly found – after all, this is the Hidden Market.  Look for positions that are not yet advertised, and needs that companies have and problems that are keeping management up at night. 
    Identify these opportunities from talking with your network, and targeting companies in industries that you are interested in.  Smaller groups such as professional associations, job search work groups, and alumni associations can also be inside sources.

These jobs can not be found in the Employment Section of your newspaper or in state and federal job listings. These positions, or potential positions, exist but their existence is known by a small group of people. These positions comprise the hidden job market; for some reason of the employer's choosing, they are not made public  – or at least not yet.

Note that the term, Hidden Market, also refers to the possibility that an employer may be open to creating a job if the need is pointed out to him or if the right "problem solver bottom line contributor" comes along.

The Key . . . . .You maximize your chance of success on the hidden market by spending the majority of your time networking, targeting companies and organizations and finding a way in via an internal champion, and attending association meetings.  Being out and about, showing up at functions, business cards in hand and “L”vator speech nicely honed, increases your effectiveness.

Any way you slice it, finding a job is hard work!   Certainly, there are those who step out of their doorways one day and luck hands them an opportunity.  But, for most of my clients, their success was derived by putting in a hard day’s work and equally importantly, by working smart.
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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Staying in Touch - a 5-Step Model for Staying in Touch Once You've Landed

When clients land their new job, I ask them this question: “What are you going to do with your new-found network?  You know, that network of contacts that you built during the course of your job search.”
    “Stay in touch?” clients say.
“How?”  I ask.
    “I don’t know,” they say.

"Well, here's how . . . . . . . . . "

During your search, you worked hard to build a network of professionals, colleagues, service providers, hobbyists, friends, and even family members who helped you in some way during your search.  And, chances are, it was information provided by one of these folks that helped you identify the link that led to your new job.  As you reflect on your search, you can see that your network has developed into a valuable resource.  You don’t want to treat a resource as valuable as this cavalierly.

Keep your visibility high
In my article, You’ve Got the Job . . . Now What?  – 10 Tips for Staying Marketable, I suggest you pro-actively manage both your public professional and internal company professional profile.  One way to do this is to keep your visibility high by staying in touch with your network, and continuing to add to that network.  It’s a kind of insurance: While it won’t guarantee you’ll never lose another job, it has been proven to be the best insurance to finding another more quickly.

In it for the long-haul . . . . .
Now that you have landed in a new job or role:
  1. Begin to think of your network as a resource for the long-haul.  
  2. Think too, how you can also be of value to your network.  
Networking is a 2-way street: they help you and you help them, and you are glad to do so.

So, what are some ways to keep your network current, active, and a dynamic part of how you go about managing your career?  Here is a 5-step method for managing your network.

Managing your network - A 5-Step Model
STEP 1:  Make a list.
Make a list of the people with whom you came into contact during your job search.  Make it a
comprehensive list - include everyone who helped in any way.  This help could range from just being a friendly ear to listen to you during the tough times, to those who provided leads to opportunities. 

STEP 2:  List the types of help you received.
Turn your list into a table and list how people helped.  For instance, they may have helped by: 
    - providing leads,
    - introducing you to people  – the person who is "in the know" and/or knows everyone
    - sharing knowledge about good companies to work for
    - being a good listener
    - encouraging you to keep going and boosting your spirits
    - challenging you, making you think more critically about your job search strategy
    - being a friend to lean on
    - helping with the logistics of your search. . . .

STEP 3:  Now, rank their assistance to you on a scale of 0 - 5.
Ask yourself, how helpful was the assistance or help provided?  Is this someone I want to stay in touch with in the future?  Rank the value on your table (0 being of no valuable, and 5 being most valuable).

STEP 4:  Get back in touch . . . . . . with a heartfelt “Thank You!”
Everyone on your list who was helpful in any way, no matter how small, deserves a written Thank You, that:
  1. Expresses your gratitude
  2. Notes how much you value their assistance and what it meant to you
  3. Shares basic information about your new job - company name, your title, duties, etc.
  4. Says that you would like to stay in touch
  5. AND – this is big –  offers to be of assistance anytime you can be helpful to them!
Make it special:  For those you found especially helpful to you, do more.  Some possibilities include sending a gift, a personal visit to say Thanks, or taking them out to lunch or dinner.  For these special folks, who went above and beyond, make your heartfelt Thank You special!

STEP 5: Decide how you will stay in touch!
Finally, decide on ways to stay in touch.  Go back to Step 3.  Highlight your most valuable contacts  –  Use
your discretion, these may be ranked by 4s and 5s.  Those of moderate value may be ranked by 2s or 3s.  Minimal to no value contacts may rank as 0's or 1's.
  1. For those contacts you deem most valuable, you may want to stay in touch with a quarterly or semi-annul lunch meeting, a coffee meeting, or a call.  
  2. For those of moderate value, an e-mail sent 3 times a year to say how you’re doing and inquiring about them may be adequate.  
  3. For those of minimal or no value, a once yearly e-mail, or a holiday card, maintains your visibility.
Maintaining your Network = Managing your Career  --  No one will do it for you!
Maintaining your network is integral to managing your career pro-actively.  Don’t count on anyone  – no matter what they say –  to do it for you!

Taking the time to stay in touch in a meaningful way, and to continue to build new contacts into your network is a smart move!  While it won’t keep you from losing another job  –  although it can help prevent it  –  it will ensure that should that time come, you are well-positioned to launch a search culminating in finding a better job quicker!

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