This is a post from one of my other blogs that fits the category of resumes and career planning for college and even high school students.
I had two LinkedIn group members comment about professionally written resumes. The first was an advocate and said that she has received interviews since having it rewritten. The problem is she had it rewritten in 2008 and is still looking. The second said that she spent a boat load of money and it got her nowhere.
My experience is similar to the second individual; the professional resume brought me nothing. The problems that I see with professional resume writers is that most write to impress the person paying the fee, rather than the person that will be reading the resume.
No One Knows Your Skills as Well as You Do!
The truth is that no one knows your skills as well as you do and although your resume writing skills may be lacking; working with someone that will HELP you craft your resume is much more effective. The place where most fail is in self-promotion. We are not very good at tooting our own horn. You need to get the reader’s attention and leave them wanting to know more.
It Is Who Knows You that Counts
The point where I differ with Denise is it is not who you know, but who knows you! What are you doing to get your information out? How are you educating the people that you come in contact with and do you leave them with the ability and desire to promote you to their contacts?
You want the people that you talk with to want to present you to others because they feel they will be helping that third person solve a problem and make themselves look good at the same time.
Are You a Survivor?
I recently finished listening to “The Survivor’s Club” by Ben Sherwood. This should be mandatory reading for anyone that is unemployed or under employed and looking for work!
The book is not about employment and there is nothing in it employment related; it is simply stories about survival against the greatest of odds. Some of the important characteristics that are made by all of the survivor stories include:
As I listened to these stories the parallels that can be drawn to the challenges faced by job seekers is easy to see.
Job seekers must have faith and know that the right job is out there for them. So many job seekers are susceptible to the negative thoughts of their own and others; that they forget about the importance of faith. Whether that faith is placed in a supreme being or faith in themselves is irrelevant. Faith is a critical characteristic necessary to overcome the influence of the negatives.
The unemployed and under employed must remain courageous throughout their ordeal. Yes, I said ordeal, because that is just what it is. Finding that next opportunity is a challenge and especially in this job market. Regardless of what they say in Washington and elsewhere about things improving; if you are out of work or under employed – you just do not see what they are seeing.
It takes courage to maintain your faith and your persistence, but you absolutely have no choice. Courage can help you stay positive and committed; which you must. Without these traits prospective employers and recruiters may see through the veneer and realize that you are desperate. Employers do not want desperate employees; they want people that are in control and will be productive.
Are you committed to your job seeking process? I mean are you really committed to the process? Many job seekers profess to be committed but when “push comes to shove” it is a half-hearted commitment. Where are you in the process?
One of the first things that you must be ready to do is to change. No, not change someone else, but to change yourself. What is your mindset when it comes to describing yourself?
- Do you see yourself as someone that changes as necessary or are you set in your ways?
- Do you see yourself as possessing a set of skills or do you see yourself as the job title you previously held?
- Do you see yourself as someone willing to learn new things or as someone who is too old to learn?
- Do you see yourself as someone with too little experience or someone willing to work to gain experience?
Commitment says that you have moved past these self-limiting beliefs and that you are ready to progress. To progress in your career and job search requires that you have a willingness and desire to change. Without change you cannot progress; in fact, you cannot even tread water. Without change you will drift with the current and it will take you over the waterfall, through the rapids, or out to see. When you drift you are powerless to control your destiny.
A successful job search requires determination that will see you through any setbacks or negativity. If you do not get the job, there is a reason. You may not agree, you may strongly disagree; but if you cannot put it behind you – you cannot progress.
Progression is they key and to progress you must move all of the negatives, your own or those of others, out of your way. You must have a strong belief in yourself, you must love yourself, you must be willing to continue moving forward, in spite of the negatives.
If you have people that are telling you that you cannot do it, that you are ridiculous to think you can do it, and any of the other negatives; get rid of them! You do not need that in your life. If they cannot pick up on your vision and support you in your efforts; what good are they? Some will say you need a dose of reality; maybe so, just not their reality. Do not let others put the box around you and do not box yourself in.
Commitment says that you will not allow yourself to be boxed in by yourself or anyone else. You are committed to making it through to your desired goal.
Using LinkedIn in Your Job Search
The first question that you must answer is: are you trying to find a job or are you trying to be found? Put another way are you pursuing an opportunity or do you want the opportunity pursuing you.
There is a huge difference in the success you will achieve if others are pursuing you. If you are being pursued it means that you have created a brand, that people know you by what you have done and are capable of doing. You are recognized for the value that you offer. Is this important? Absolutely, you want to be in the driver’s seat!
So You Want To Be Found
Obviously you are in a much stronger bargaining position if the employer has done the search and is now pursuing you. To me, this is the situation I prefer.
Wanting to be found, however, requires that you have the right mindset. You must not only feel that you are worthy of being sought after, but you must believe that you deserve to be sought after. You must also have the experience to back it up.
To be the object of the search a person must have a very strong profile. You must understand the skills and abilities that you possess. These aren’t the ones that you think you possess, but the ones that others believe you possess.
Descriptors Others Attribute to You
Developing this list requires you contact former co-workers, managers, customers, subordinates, vendors, and others with whom you have interacted and ask them for an honest assessment of your skills and abilities. Ideally they will include examples of situations where you displayed the skills and abilities that they identify. Assemble the list and look for the recurring theme in the lists. Obviously the more lists that you have the better picture you can develop.
Next research advertised jobs based upon the skills and abilities that you have compiled from the above exercise. Find out what job titles are associated and what additional skills are desired. Check your lists and see how the assessments you received can compliment these additional desired skills.
Use the Google SEO tool to find out the frequency the skills on your list are used as search criteria and factor that into your choices.
Develop Your List of Keywords
Once you have completed these tasks build your profile to include these keywords. Seed these words, as appropriate, in your prior work experience, your professional headline, your summary, and your interests. Ask the people that provided you with your skills inventory to write recommendations that include these words as well.
To get the best attention, not necessarily the most attention, you want to be very focused in your process. Employers like to know what they are getting and where they will be able to use your talents. There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than to have someone say “I will do anything”; most businesses do not have “anything” jobs.
If you are pursuing the job and doing the looking you still want to have a detailed understanding of what skills and abilities people attribute to you. Build your profile around those skills and abilities. Again do the Google search to see which skills or abilities were desired by the most prospective employers.
Your resume must showcase these same talents; consistency is important. Do not make your resume a duplicate of your profile; instead your profile is your opportunity to expand on the resume and tell more details of your story. It is critical that resumes and on-line profiles tell your story. People like reading stories; they don’t want to simply have a bunch of facts shoved at them. Ideally they want the story that bears out the facts.
Use LinkedIn to search for the key skills and abilities that you possess to see who and what job titles were unearthed. Continue doing searches on the key skills and abilities, but also do searches on the job titles that you uncover.
Study the profiles of the individuals that you find with positions that had appeal to you and assess those profiles compared to yours to see how you could improve.
We are never perfect; we can always improve; but we don’t want that improvement process to cloud our true objective of getting a job.
You Are Employed; but You Know You Can Do Better
Social Media and Networking can be a great way to search for a new job or career; but there are definitely drawbacks when you are currently employed. It is a fact, there are many, many people that have taken positions below their skill levels, abilities, and interests during the current recession. The problem is how do they get back to where they were OR MORE?
You Are Connected and You Cannot Hide
The ubiquitous nature of the Internet knows you. You are no longer able to hide. You have an Internet presence and people can see what you are doing. If they are one of your contacts, connections, friends, followers, viewers, or whatever they have an even greater insight into your activities. Does this mean that you have no hope? Absolutely not; it just means that you must be more creative.
The Advantage of Being Employed
The truth is that being employed is an advantage during these lean employment times. Being employed means that you have survived the cuts, the layoffs, and the failed firms meaning that your value continues to be recognized and desired. This does not mean that those currently unemployed do not have value or are not desired. It just means that those that are employed have been more fortunate and right, wrong, or indifferent; it is an advantage.
It also means that coming from a position of employed to employed has an advantage over coming from unemployed to employed. Again, this is just a fact and not meant to demean anyone.
The second advantage to being employed is that you have the opportunity to create a situation where you are being sought, rather than you doing the seeking. The benefit is that it puts you in the driver’s seat for negotiations and gives you a better opportunity to say “no” when the opportunity is not to your liking. It is great when you are not desperate!
Keeping a Low Profile
How do you keep a low profile while carrying out an effective job search? The first way to keep a low profile is to avoid announcing that you are searching. Strange as that may sound, there are people that profess to want a low profile, but blatantly announce their intention to change jobs. This is not a wise tactic if you want to keep your job until you find the new opportunity.
I will use LinkedIn for the second example, but this would apply to any Social Networking site with similar capabilities. In your LinkedIn profile you have the ability to identify your reason for networking. Your answers should be networking, connecting, collaborating, answer questions, research, etc. None of your answers should have anything to do with looking for opportunities.
Next you must have a complete profile. You cannot expect success when your profile simply lists the places you have worked. What did you do there; what were your accomplishments? As Caesar said Veni, Vidi, Vici; I came, I saw, I conquered. What did you see, what action did you take, and what were the results of those actions? Let the reader know what you have done and what they can expect?
Your next focus should be getting the word out about your expertise. Join and participate in relevant groups. Ask and answer questions, offer advice and information, share your knowledge so people get to know you. Do not hide what you have to offer. Successful networking starts with you giving of yourself, your knowledge, and your expertise. Build your credibility and trust; so people will seek you out.
Join the answer boards and respond to posted questions. Give excellent, thoughtful answers; on LinkedIn people vote on your answers; work to get recognized for the quality of your answers. You are building your presence, reputation, and your brand. This must be a focus of yours.
Following these steps can help you create a presence without necessarily exposing your intentions. If you have not been very active on the Social Networks; make this a somewhat gradual process so you do not attract too much attention immediately. Let your presence grow so that you demonstrate reliability and consistency. You cannot jump out there one day with a flurry of activity and then disappear. You must create a consistent presence for the best success.
Some Job Seekers Pursue, While Other Job Seekers Are Pursued
There are many different ways to seek new opportunities but all of them will fall into one of two categories: to pursue or to be pursued. A job seeker that is pursuing is the person that is out beating the bushes looking for the next opportunity.
The pursuers are targeting employers, sending resumes, filling out applications, searching job boards, networking and making contacts, responding to want ads, etc. They are working to find that next opportunity.
The second category are the pursued. Those are people like Lee Iaccoca in the 1980s, when Chrysler was looking for someone to save the company. Iaccoca’s performance record with Ford made him not only a logical, but a great choice. Iaccoca was the father of the Mustang and that innovative mind was just what Chrysler needed; a person with talent and vision. Iaccoca was pursued by Chrysler.
This is what today’s job seeker should be looking to accomplish with their career.
- What have you done in your past that you can do in your future to make people seek you?
- How are you presenting your skills and abilities?
The pursued have a brand and a reputation that is known by some or even many. The more that know your brand the greater your appeal and the greater your opportunities.
Develop Your Brand
Success requires that you develop, build, and promote your brand. Do you have a brand? What is your brand? How can you promote your brand?
These are important questions that you must be able to answer and then act upon. What can you do to establish your expertise and gain the visibility necessary to promote your brand?
Developing your brand requires that you have visibility. In the past this was often difficult to accomplish. There were limited places where you could promote and there was tremendous competition to get your information placed. Today that has all changed.
With the advent of Social Networking. Blogs, and other Internet capabilities; you can get your word out. There are numerous outlets (magazines, ezines, blogs, websites, etc.) where you can gain tremendous visibility and credibility. These outlets suffer constantly from the lack of quality information and ideas. They are experiencing increasing competition for materials and therefore they are always looking for new material and differing perspectives. If you want to get the recognition; the possibilities are unlimited.
Are you pursuing or being pursued? Most job seekers fall into the category of pursuing; what can you do to change yourself from pursuing to being pursued?
Maybe Thinking Out of the Box Is All Wrong
I just finished reading “The Age of the Unthinkable” by Joshua Ramo and it has made me reflect on this topic. It is a great book and I highly recommend it.
We hear frequently about the idea of thinking outside the box and I’ve come to realize that maybe outside the box is not the correct term. In the book Ramo uses the example of a picture. Many pictures have a foreground object and then the background. Since reading the book; I now look at the foreground object as my current job and the background as my skills that put me in that position.
Your Job May Be Obsolete, But That Does Not Mean That You Are Obsolete
When a current job disappears, I mean becomes obsolete; if we are focused on the foreground then we have become obsolete as well. But if we look at the background as our skills, abilities, and talents that put us into the job we will see that we have many things working in our favor to continue moving us forward.
When I discuss issues pertaining to job searches; I speak from experience. I have had numerous occasions over the past fifteen years where I have had to search for a job. Sometimes it was because a contract ended, sometimes it just was not the right fit, and sometimes I was too honest and people did not like it. Whatever the reason I have experienced many of the same situations as you. I have walked into the office and been told that today was my last day on more than one occasion. No preparation, no advance notice, nothing, just you are done.
Here’s an example; I’m in IT and after 9/11 my projects which were all new infrastructures, just dried up. I had been working for a local firm for a couple of years and things were going well. 9/11 changed all that and their business just came to a standstill. I was a contractor and they had to cut costs immediately. I was expendable and quickly out of work. They told me to come back after the first of the year and see where things stood. They did not pick up and eventually the operation shut down. Although not permanently obsolete it was devastating enough to be a challenge.
I lamented and mourned and went through months of not moving forward. Finally I stepped back and looked at all the things I had done (the background of my picture) and realized that, although I was not an IT security expert, I had over 20 years of IT security experience. I had grown up with IT security from four letter passwords to what it was at the time.
Restructure Yourself Based Upon What Made You What You Were; Not For What You Were
I restructured my resume to focus on this experience and lo and behold I found a job. Everything I needed was in the box, I just had to get past the foreground picture to find it.
We do not need to go off the deep end, we just need to be willing to look beyond the obvious.