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Career Change

  • lessons in persistence“I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.”
    – From the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley

    As I watched what looked to be the end of the San Antonio Spurs as we know them, I began to reflect on that team’s accomplishments and what lessons I have learned watching them.

    The Spurs’ “Big Three” of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan have something like 5 NBA Finals appearances with 4 championships as a group. This wsn’ achieved with sky-walking athleticism. And while each was very good in what they did, none of them were considered the best in their era at their respective positions. But with cohesion in a coaching staff that got players to buy into the team concept 100%, they found themselves highly successful every year in racking up regular season wins, playoff series victories, and multiple titles.

    Now I am a Lakers fan, so trust me when I tell you that my appreciation for that team has nothing to do with favoritism and fandom. I simply enjoy watching trust and teamwork win out. I am a huge fan of successful systems and environments where effort and consistency is paramount.

    If you are like me, then you have heard motivational speakers from all walks of life communicate that it isn’t always the smartest, fastest, or most talented that wins. In fact, it usually isn’t. There is a lot to be said for getting up again and again when you experience an knockdown. THESE are the people and/or groups who win out. Once you have chosen a direction and start down that path, you do not waver.

    Even if you don’t see the results right away, you have to trust the process and keep on pushing toward the goal. Pundits have been writing off the nucleus of the Spurs as being washed up for at least 5 years. In that time, they have been in the conference finals 4 times, the finals twice, won title. Those players and coaches trusted the process and no were persistent in their pursuit of flawless execution.

    The next time you find yourself staring into the abyss with your employment situation, your business, or personal goals such as your weight/health or education, remember that just because you don’t see it right now doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made and you are not getting closer to the goal. Just because others are telling you there is no use in pursuing your goal, it doesn’t mean their claims have merit.

    • Construct the plan.
    • Make a decision to begin … NOW!
    • Be persistent in your execution EVERY DAY.
    • Recharge your batteries often.
    • Don’t stop until you “see it”, no matter how long that takes or how many punches to the gut you have to take to get to it.

     

  • How Industry Associations Can Bolster Your Career

    whodoitellaboutmyjobsearchTo establishing yourself as an expert in your field usually takes hours of study, time and patience. But to make the road easier to travel, you want to have access to as many resources as possible. Industry associations provide a wealth of benefits that can support you on your way to subject matter expert status.

    Networking Opportunities

    Industry associations serve as a hub for the best and the brightest within any particular craft. If there are movers and shakers within your shown profession, you can bet that they have a strong presence within these types of organizations. Joining an industry association gives you access to other professionals with which you can build supportive relationships. As a member of the same association, you have common ground with other professionals with which you can form strategic alliances that can help your career endeavors through information sharing or introductions to other bigger players within your profession.

    Continuing Education

    Most credible industry associations offer programs that help their members to strengthen their knowledge base within the profession, secure valuable career-advancing certifications and gain CEUs to keep them. One can usually access course recordings online (some free, some for a small fee) to listen to at your convenience.

    Resources

    A good industry association will provide its members with tools that help them improve the value of their professional “product”. Membership should provide members with advantages not enjoyed by non-members, or why else would they join? For example, resume writers have several organizations that provide everything from keyword research tools to job descriptions to help its members provide a higher quality product to their clients. Most associations also have message boards and chat rooms where professionals discuss their challenges and get input on resolving them. Good associations will also provide their members with excellent discounts programs on items, product and services as excellent incentives for membership.

    Branding

    When employers see that you are an active member of a credible organization, they feel better about you being one who takes their career seriously. This gives you a bit of a leg up on those unaffiliated with such organizations. Employers know it is possible that you bring to the table the three points mentioned above (a network, access to resources) and a strong knowledge base), which only helps their cause.

    Aligning yourself with a strong industry associations is always a good move. You will find that the bonds you form with fellow industry professionals can provide you with numerous benefits in the form of support, new business partnerships, industry intelligence, or perhaps just someone to listen that understands your plight.

  • Oops!In our previous installment , we went over the first three of six resume killer items that can significantly reduce your interview frequency. Many assume the content alone carries the day with your resume. The fact is that nothing can be farther from the truth. Just as with verbal communication, there are many factors that affect how your message is received. One’s resume is no different.

    As I mentioned in the previous post, my wife is a huge fan of the show Big Bang Theory. They name their episodes like scientific theories and postulates. As a joke, I decided to do the same for the resume errors. I hope you enjoy.

     

    Resume Killer #4: The “Duplication Complication” (Identical content in separate job descriptions)

    Your last two positions had the same job title and same job descriptions. So, when preparing your resume, it only makes sense to simply copy and paste the content from the first entry to populate the second one, correct? Well, not so fast. Duplicate content is one of our resume killer culprits.

    There are two good reasons we do not want to use a resume killer such as word-for-word duplicate content in position descriptions:

    • Most readers of resumes do so begrudgingly. Like most of us, these people are distracted, working multiple projects and manage other employees who need attention. The last thing we want to do is bore them to death by giving them the exact same thing they just read.
    • You lose the opportunity to restate the description in a way that would allow the use of different keywords. When you duplicate the content, you cheat yourself of the chance go at the applicant tracking system (ATS) from a different angle.

    Keep the content of your resume fresh and interesting. You can even consider trimming the content a bit so that it does not duplicate the concepts. But whatever you do, avoid 100% position duplication within your resume at all times.

     

    Resume Killer #5: The “Gramps Effect” (Dates Exposing Advanced Age)

    In case you were unaware, ageism is all too real in the job market. Older candidates are finding it difficult to get a fair shot at good positions because the assumption is that:

    • As an older person, they will be resistant to change and not understand the newer technologies
    • Their salary requirements will be more than what the employer wants to pay
    • Their health benefits will be too expensive to maintain.

    So, if you are a 55+ job seeker, trumpet this fact before you have even been in the building to state your case for employment is a potential resume killer. I usually recommend to older clients to remove graduation dates that are past 18-20 years. With most people graduating between 22-25 years of age, it is a simple math exercise for the reader to figure out the applicant is at least middle aged.

    When it comes to professional experience, we usually want to take a similar approach by not giving the reader work experience that spans 25 years. While every situation is unique, I usually go into into a project wanting to keep the chronology to 10-15 years to stay away from this resume killer. Not only is this likely to be the most relevant content, but it can disguise the fact that this may only be 50% of your working dossier.

    Of course, once you show up for the interview, the hiring authority can obviously pick up on your age. But you now have an audience where you can convince them of just how narrow-minded this thinking is. Dazzle them with your energy and knowledge of the latest and greatest in your industry. You’re thus avoided a major resume killer!

     

    Resume Killer #6: The “Sardine Can Conundrum” (Improper Content Spacing)

    I can tell you from experience that the last thing a tired-eyed reader wants to do is read a resume that is so crowded and stuffed with verbiage that your eyes glaze over. This is a more common occurrence than you think. The reason is that most people feel the need to tell their life story and erroneously think the content alone will carry the day. Cramming too much content into one page is definitely a resume killer.

    When you are looking to get the message across to a reader, you want to ensure that the entire environment is right for absorption. Would you believe that perhaps the most important factor in your reader’s comprehension of your message is the areas where characters do not appear? That’s right, the white space within a resume helps a reader rest their eyes. This aids in the comprehension of the next information block. Additionally, when executed strategically, variances in line spacing height can subconsciously communicate information groupings, helping the reader with navigation.

    I see many cases of job seekers cramming tons of info into one page simply because they have been told (erroneously, I might add) that that a resume can be no longer than one page. As I mentioned earlier, every situation is different, but there is no general rule that the document MUST be one page. The fact is, a well-spaced two-page document gets an overstuffed one page blur any day. You’ll find a nice article on whitespace by clicking here.

  • Let’s say you have 10 people confined to a house and every day you bring in 10 sets of meals for them to survive. Everybody’s pretty happy and content with that arrangement. But what happens when you increase it to 12 people and cut the meals down to 9 sets? How about we make it 14 people and cut the meal sets down to 7? See where I am going here? It is obvious that at some point you are going to have some starving people on your hands, but this will follow the violent struggles for the limited food supply. So, what I would like to know is “¦ how is the current state of our economy any different.

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  • resume targetingA common mistake that job seekers make when trying to develop a strategy for constructing their resumes is assuming that they need to communicate the totality of their skills and experiences to every reader. This sounds like a viable plan on its surface and it is an understandable assumption from the perspective of the applicant. But the key to success, CONSISTENT success, is to always put yourself in the seat of your reader. It is always about the other side of the desk during your job search. Does the hiring manager really need to know the “whole” story right up front? The answer is usually no.

    Hiring managers don’t really care about everything you’ve ever done in your career. When there are 100+ resumes and cover letters that need to be cut to 20 by the end of the day, this simply is not realistic. The employer has a specific set of problems that need to be solved at the end of this process. Your resume’s job is to quickly explain how you are the ideal solution to their unique problem. Now of course, if your background is consistent with the needs of the current position, you really don’t have that issue. But if you are an applicant submitting a resume that has expertise in three or four areas, you need to beware. 

    Stressing a diverse background with no focus may communicate to the reader that you lack focus and dedication to use of the skills they are looking for. It will also confuse a reader during a brief review because they will not search through the entire resume for the skills and experiences they need to see. After all, the resume before and after yours told them everything they need. The only times a the broad brush stroke approach actually works for your resume is when you are seeking consulting positions or perhaps applying to grad school, where knowing a little of everything may be just what the reader wants to know. But that is likely it.

    Be sure to make the focus the relevant experience and skills of each position, even if not in the standard job description. For example, if your last job title was a Database Analyst but you are seeking a position as a Project Manager, address all of the project management related duties and projects you worked on first, even if they were secondary in priority. After all, they will be top priority for your reader. Ensure your profile/summary section communicates focus on the target positions. Research the keywords related to your new target to ensure the database has something to hold onto and your reader. 

    Your chief concern is creating a “perception” where the reader sees and feels you as the type of professional you’re trying to become. In 15 seconds, so in our example above, the reader should get the sense they are reading the resume of a Project Manager, not a “Database Analyst who has a little project management experience”. See the difference?

    Press On My People!!!

  • resume service progressThe horse and buggy.
    Archers as a military weapon.
    Typewriters.
    Kerosene lamps.
    Pony Express.
    Vinyl records.
    35 years with the same employer.

    What do each of these have in common? They were all considered the primary way doing something, and at some point immediately became a relic and a thing of the past. If there is one thing that remains constant, it is change. To assume something will never morph or evolve makes no sense if one simply looks back on history. Just because one cannot conceive of what that change will be doesn’t mean one is not eventually coming. For example, if you were not involved in tech, did you REALLY see the ability to make free Skype phone calls and pay your bills over something called the Internet back in 1985?

    As resume writers, we also have to look at our industry and anticipate where the changes will come that will affect our core value to our clients. When most people think of a “traditional” resume writing service, they think of either an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper that is mailed in to an employer, or an electronic version of the same document uploaded to job boards, company websites, or emailed to a recipient. But is this where the evolution stops?

    We are already seeing LinkedIn become a major player in the job search game. LinkedIn not only provides job seekers with job postings and a medium for posting information similar to one’s resume, it offers excellent networking opportunities (STILL the #1 way to find a job). But even with LinkedIn, one still needs their content to be well-organized, concise, written in the appropriate voice, and proofed for grammatical correctness and phrasing consistency. Considering these development needs, us resume writers still provide immense value to our client base. But can we conceive a scenario where our unique skill set would be obsolete? It is worth consideration.

    In one scenario, I imagined a nationwide and centralized database used by the majority of employers consisting of job seekers’ “vitals” regarding their employment history, education, training, affiliations and other qualifications. But in such a scenario, a change in career would be difficult. With a system used for employment purposes that is strictly data driven by past hard facts, it would be difficult to change your career path, as such a database would not likely be able to account for lesser-used skills and experiences that would translate to the new target. Because of this, even a tool like this would require a vehicle for creative input to ensure that the applicant can show the reader where they match up with the position requirements for the new career goal. Without it, one would be stuck in a particular career path with no way out.

    I think my job is still safe. At least for now. No telling what the future holds.

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