Job Seekers – Is a Professionally Written Resume for You?

Professional Resumes

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.

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Job Seekers – Are You Sabotaging Your Job Search?

Do We Sabotage Our Own Job Search?

Speaking for myself, I know the answer is yes. We may not mean to do it but many times we subconsciously sabotage our own success. You may wonder how we do that and here are my thoughts.

We allow self doubt to creep into our minds. We tell ourselves that maybe we are not good enough or the right person for the job. When we have those thoughts, whether we are conscious of them or not, they will affect our product; whether the product is a resume, cover letter, or ourselves during an interview.

Where Does Our Sabotage Come From?

We may have our own self doubts as described above. We may have doubts placed by others; e.g. former employers and co-workers, friends and family, society in general, even our spouse or significant other can plant these thoughts.

When we allow these things to creep into our mind our confidence takes a hit and it shows. We second guess the things that we do or want to say; which results in hesitancy and does not inspire the person with whom we are talking. They can sense our hesitancy and regardless of how things have gone to that point, this becomes their most recent perspective.

What Kind of Sabotage Do We Perpetrate?

Maybe we feel that we are not worthy of the opportunity. Maybe we feel that we have not earned or do not deserve the salary, title, or benefits. Maybe we have a lingering doubt from a previous work experience. Maybe we were fired and somewhere in the back of our minds we feel it was justified.

There are many, many different things we can do to harm our prospects and we must be aware of them, so that we can prevent the harm they can do.

What Do We Do to Prevent Sabotage?

One of the first things we must do is stop beating ourselves up and even more importantly stop allowing others to beat us up! As long as we allow these things to happen we cannot move past what is holding us back. We must be proactive on our own behalf.

Take some time, when you are not preparing a product, and think about those things you or others say about you and write them down. Then look at the list and say to yourself; “Realistically are these things true; am I really like that or do I really do that?” The honest answer may be yes and if it is you must learn how to change that behavior and how to mitigate its impact on your job prospects.

That idea of change will be tough, because most of us do not like to change and we will, in fact, do everything we can to fight the change. However, change we must; take on the battle and make the change. Your ability to change will set you apart, because 90% of people are unable to make changes; they would simply rather stay in their situation and complain.

Another thing we can, and should, do is keep our own little notebook or diary of our accomplishments. In fact, you should always have it with you so you can record those special things you do and the results of your efforts. You should be writing in this book at least two or three times per week about the things inside and outside of work that you have accomplished.

When you or others are getting down on you, pull out this little book and start reading about the things you have done and accomplished. This little brag book can serve many purposes.

  1. To build you up when you or others are down on you.
  2. To provide you with ideas for your resume or on-line profile when you need to demonstrate what you have accomplished.
  3. To review just prior to going into your interview so that you have a positive feeling about yourself.
  4. To review just prior to going for your annual or semi-annual performance review.
  5. To serve as a reminder when your boss is preparing for your review and asks you to list some of your accomplishments over the past year. (Yes, the boss should know, but more often than not, they do not remember key accomplishments. Help them out, do not lament that they do not remember. Show them that you care.)

So my questions to you are;

  1. What are you doing to yourself?
  2. How are you or others beating you up?
  3. What are you doing to stop the beatings?
  4. What work have you undertaken to solve the problem?

If you need help find a Career Coach that will address issues honestly with you. Find someone that will be your Accountability Coach and engage that person to help you.

Job Seekers – Who Are Your Five Closest Friends?

What Do Your Five Closest Friends Say About You?

Most people do not understand the importance of their five closest friends. What they typically miss is; this group will greatly influence your goals, your ideas, and your achievements.

The average level of achievement within this group will parallel your progress. If they drive average cars; you will drive an average car. If they have an average house; you will have an average house. It is not that average is bad; it is just that if you aspire to more – this group of friends may not be the proper launching pad.

Look at the successful people that are around you; who do they keep company with? Are they running in the same crowd as you; if so then you are probably doing well because you will be close to the average of a higher income group. If you are not in that group then you are probably somewhere below their economic position.

The questions are:

  1. Where do you want to be?
  2. What are you doing to get there?
  3. When will you get there?

Social Networking and Your Five Closest Friends – Are Your Friends Right for You?

Let’s move this examination to your job search. The truth is that 80% to 85% of jobs are found through networking. This begs the question then as to how successful you are as a networker? If your group of close friends are not effective networkers, chances are that you are not an effective networker.

If your friends are on LinkedIn or other Social Networks and they have the average number of connections, then you probably have the average number of connections as well. If they are not on LinkedIn; then you are most likely not on LinkedIn.

People that are progressing in their careers have more connections than those that are not moving. People that are progressing in their careers are adding higher caliber connections; which brings higher caliber second level connections.

This concept may be familiar to you or maybe not, but there have been studies performed on friendships and this is exactly what the researchers found. We are heavily influenced by those around us and often times to move forward we need to break out of these relationships.

Are your closest friends supportive of your efforts, ideas, and goals?

The next question is whether those around you are supportive of your aspirations. If they do not share your vision and are not excited for you; then it may be time to change friends.

For you to be successful you need people around you that share your dreams and some that have obtained the level of success you are seeking. Without that support the negativity of your friends will can be a barrier to your achieving the success you desire.

Maybe you have heard of Zig Ziglar. When he was starting in his writing career he wrote that he was 165 pounds; the problem was that he was not 165 pounds. He was close to 200 pounds. Immediately he recognized that he had a credibility problem. Does he change his weight to 200 pounds in the book or does he lose 35 pounds.

He decided to lose the wieght. He wanted to do it properly so he went to his doctor for advice. Once there he realized that this was a problem because his doctor was over weight and decided right then that he needed a new doctor. A doctor that believed in what Zig wanted to accomplish.

The moral of the story is that you must surround yourself with people that share your goals and ideas. If they do not they will not be supportive and, in fact, they will be negative and detrimental to your efforts.

Job Search – What Are You Made Of?

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:

  1. Faith
  2. Courage
  3. Commitment
  4. Determination

As I listened to these stories the parallels that can be drawn to the challenges faced by job seekers is easy to see.

Faith

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.

Courage

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.

Commitment

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.

Determination

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.

Job Seekers – To Pursue or Be Pursued

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 Pursued

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?

Is Thinking Out of the Box the Correct Advice?

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.

Personal Experience

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.

Do You Know What Your On-Line Presence Says About You

Your Internet Presence

Virtually everyone today has an Internet presence. If for some reason you do not; you will attract as much attention as you would with a poor Internet presence. What story does your Internet presence tell people?

Have you ever taken the time to Google your name, enter it on Yahoo, or Bing? You must do this; you must know what is on the Internet pertaining to you! Go to Google.com and type in your name, press the enter key, and see what comes up. Are you happy with the result? Are you seeing, and therefore a recruiter or hiring manager seeing, what you would like them to see?

What Is Unacceptable Information

Things that are unacceptable include:

  • Pictures that show you in compromising situations.
  • Inappropriate language or posting from you or your friends.
  • Pictures or stories that include you in illegal activities, even as basic as under age drinking.
  • Discussions and stories that are derogatory to you or others.
  • Negative comments you have made about employers, businesses, other people
  • Negative comments about teachers, managers, supervisors, and other authority figures.
  • Insulting or disparaging comments about friends and associates.

Any of these items can be the negative that causes the recruiter or hiring manager to reject you as an employee. This is not discrimination, this is just business. Businesses cannot afford to hire employees that may bring discredit on the business, negative attention, or other adverse effects.

What employees and prospective employees bring to the business can be critical to the business success. You, as an employee, must bring positives; not negatives.

How Do You Clean Up Your On-Line Presence?

Cleaning up your on-line presence starts with your Social Networking. You need to remove any photos or information that is negative. If you started the discussion, you can delete the entire discussion. If you commented on a discussion, you can remove your comments. If you have friends or connections that are offensive you can unfriend or remove them.

Take the offensive information out of your on-line presence and do it now!

What If Your Removal Offends Your Friend or Friends

If the postings of friends and connections is negative, you can ask them to change their behavior because it jeopardizes your opportunities. If they are unwilling to help you, then they truly are not very good friends and you are probably better off without them.

If you are serious about having a good on-line reputation, then you must think of yourself first and make the necessary choices. Obviously your goal is not to hurt others or their feelings, but it is to ensure that you are presented in a positive light.

After the Clean Up

Once you have cleaned up those things that you can; what is left? If you still have negative or derogatory information, what can you do to eliminate or at least mitigate the impact.

One way is to create positive Internet articles related to you. Participate in events or organizations that generate positive information and get involved. Join organization boards, involve yourself in civic activities, write your own blog articles, comment on popular blogs and leave your name, join LinkedIn, Facebook, and other Social Networking sites that receive high search engine rankings. Build your connections and friends lists which will raise your rankings. Create a Google Profile, put positive postings and videos on YouTube.

If you have many negatives associated with a Social Networking profile, delete the profile and start over.

What If the Negatives Are from Someone with the Same Name?

If you are being haunted by someone with the same name that has negative information; do not despair, you can address that as well.

Some of the steps you can take include:

  1. Post a consistent professional picture with all of your profiles.
  2. Use your middle initial, middle name, maiden name, nickname, or something else that will differentiate you.
  3. Create an Internet Gravatar (picture) that can be used for postings on sites where you cannot add your picture.
  4. Change your reference on your sites to a consistent name. Use the username function on Facebook, the change profile name on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., to capture your identity. Choose a name combination that no one else is using.

    Cut, purge, erase, delete, replace, create, post, comment, participate, and do any other positive things you can to recreate your on-line profile in a positive manner.