Who has the time for career management? After all, we’re all to busy executing them to manage them, right? As a resume writer, find that one of the most common impediments to capturing quality person-specific content for the resume writing process is that clients either cannot remember or have the time to recall contributions made during their careers. But what if those factoids were documented and maintained on an ongoing basis?
💥 Enter THE BRAG SHEET! 💥
Think of a brag sheet as a career management tool that allows you to easily access a document into which you jot down career related info and high points for future access . You can use either a word processor document or spreadsheet to jot down those facts you may need to recall later. I recommend a Google Docs or Google Sheets file in the G Suite, which allows you to document info on a laptop / desktop, as well as “on the fly via” a smartphone app, all while being backed up in the cloud for safety. 📃 (A Microsoft One Drive file would work just as well)
Now, there is no need for it to stay “well-organized” at every moment of every day. As you navigate your professional day and week, you can jot things down within the file in your own shorthand, because let’s face it, time is often a commodity, right? You can then schedule some time at the end of each week to organize the thoughts into more coherent communications that someone else would understand contextually.
When organizing, be sure to document every entry by date and employer. This serves as ready-made content your resume writer can use to build out your new resumewhen you’re ready for that update. (And all you needed to do was either copy and paste the info into an email, or invite them as a “viewer” of the existing sheet!)
Career management made easy! 🏆
Other areas where this will help with career management are:
“What do you mean, you are taking a gap year?”, said every parent presented with this situation. Once a high school student graduates, they should go straight to college, right? I mean, that is the long-established expectation, isn’t it? But in a 21st century society as complex as ours, is this something we should rethink on some level? Take it from someone who floundered around a bit flowing high school, a little pause can have a financial and directional benefit. Of course, it depends on the lid and the situation, but here are a few thoughts on where there could be some value to a gap year.
Young People Are Still Discovering Who They Are
Not every high school graduate has a well developed sense of self when they walk across that stage. Anyone over 30 can tell you that the person they were at 18 was different than the person they were at 21 or 22. One starts a path in college that is different to reverse. Once a student is inside of those courses in their major, there is usually too much time and/or effort invested to turn back.
A survey by BestColleges revealed that 61% of college graduates would change their majors if they could go back. Also, emerging science about our brain development suggests that most of us don’t really reach full maturity until the age 25. If used properly, a gap year can provide a young person the opportunity to truly explore their “true north” and pursue an education that best aligns with their value set. At the very least, it pushes back the timeline for “mind changing” by a year so that it does not happen a year or two into failing chemistry courses when they would be better suited studying microeconomic theory (perhaps I am projecting here).
Gap Year to Improve and Refine Work Ethic
Not every student leaves high school with good study habits and the discipline to balance work with play. And if everything came easy in high school, they could be headed for a rude awakening when asked to cover and take notes on 6 chapters and produce a 5-page written report. Every week. In just 1 class.
A gap year can be a good time to master study and comprehension techniques, time management, and test taking skills. College freshmen with poor study habits tend to experience difficulties because of a lack of oversight, as there is no longer a teacher or parent holding them to task. In this case, the result tends to be course failures and the loss of 1 or 2 semesters. And guess what? That tuition isn’t refundable, parents. Good use of that gap year can be made by learning when one tends to comprehend material better, scheduling study periods to coincide with those times, and holding oneself to that schedule. Your student can learn to set specific goals to aid in staying focused and monitoring progress.
Gap Year Can Provide Real-world Perspective to Classroom Concepts
If there is one thing that can derail the comprehension of a concept for a college student, it is not knowing that concept’s real-world application. Some exposure to real life can provide an excellent pretext to the concepts that will be learned in the classroom. An article by The IDEA Fund notes: “Relevance is a major component of many motivational models and particularly important if learners’ experiences can be used as a basis for new learning.” It goes on to say: “If prior experience can be connected to new material in a meaningful way, that material can be more clearly understood and more easily learned.” Consequently, your youngster now becomes the de facto expert on real-life situations in the classroom as well.
Gap Year to Let Them Burn Off the Party Energy – But OFF Your Dime
Most of you know by the time they cross that high school stage whether you have a party animal on your hands or not. Do you REALLY want to pay for your kid to attend “ragers” and binge drink 4 times per week while posting all “Fs” in their freshman courses? Consider letting them exhaust that energy and get it out of their system. Perhaps they can hold down a job to pay for their own party habits, but that freshman year’s tuition has a better chance of bearing fruit if they are not repeatedly upside down over a keg. According to ValuePenguin.com, the average cost of a public college education in the US is $9,970 for in-state tuition and $25,620 for out-of-state tuition. Save that scratch if you are sure they’re headed for a rocky opening to that collegiate career.
Of course, knowing one’s own child is key to whether the gap year works out . You have to be confident you will be able to get them to return, as well as know they will use the time wisely. Some schools even have gap year deferred admission policies that allow students to keep their spots once admitted. A young person can really broaden their horizons by learning a new language, volunteering time overseas, or even earning college credit while studying abroad. Another potential negative to consider is the long-term cost of late work force entry. Graduating one year later means losing the equivalent of that first year’s meaning potential. But if a struggling opening year was in the cards anyway, considering the gap year isn’t a bad idea.
After toiling away in middle management, it seems the next logical step is movement to a senior leadership role. But contrary to popular belief, this is not simply just some next step in the career ladder. The difference in mindset and necessary intangibles between middle management and senior leadership is more like a “jump” than a “step”. Moving into senior management means one’s responsibilities are more on the strategic level than the tactical level. This means that what you deal with daily is more abstract instead of tangible. However, the impact is far more wide-ranging and critical to the organization’s success. If you are looking for the top brass to tap you for a position in a senior leadership role, develop these vital skills to provide the best chance of making the leap.
Senior Leadership Has Ownership in their DNA
As of this moment, phrases such as “not my job” or “I’m not responsible for that” can no longer be part of your vocabulary. True leaders take ownership for the situations in which they are involved. When you are in senior leadership, no one is going to want to hear about how inept certain team members are. Nor will they want to hear you complain about timelines or resources. When it comes to their senior leadership, top brass will only want to know if you or did you not achieve objectives. So, if you are looking to make the job, you need to start now. If there is a weakness on your project team, take responsibility for shoring it up. Tight timeline on a report that is due? There is no law that says you must stop working at 5 pm. Being part of senior leadership is about getting the job done, regardless of the hand you are dealt (at least for the successful ones, right).
Senior Leadership Vision (and the Ability to Communicate It)
Strong senior leadership does not just follow directions. They blaze trails. A key aspect of blazing a trail is seeing things that are not there. At least not yet. Visionaries see the end game before anything has even been mapped out to achieve it. Leaders of vision conceive of what an organization can become. Characteristics of those with vision include the desire to innovate, willingness to take risks, persistence in the face of resistance, communication skills, and a laser like focus. If you are looking to make that leap, you need to step back and take stock of yourself. Have you learned to dream? And dream big? Have you at least worked on a vision for your own personal development? When it comes to this characteristic, thinking like everyone else is not the ticket.
The key word embedded in the phrase senior leadership is the word “lead”. An organization’s mission means nothing if you cannot communicate it and get others on board with moving in the same direction to achieve it. You want to leave? Then you better be able to connect employees with the company’s mission. Top brass will want someone who can motivate, inspire, and focus employee energy and efforts. This can be achieved by setting clear and measurable goals as well as offering regular feedback. It is more than likely in the current position you hold, there are opportunities to show and demonstrate the skill set. Good leaders keep their employees engaged and feeling heard. According to Naz Beheshti, a contributor to ForbesWomen, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Looking to make that move? Do not wait for someone to notice you. Be vocal about it. Make an impact by showing you are a mentor and a leader. Motivate others to perform their jobs better. Build connections at the leadership level and use them. Work on your skill set and do not be afraid of feedback.
Hopefully, you have already read through the first two installments LinkedIn profile improvement and optimization recommendations. Now, let’s wrap it up in a nice bow so that you can put it over the top.
LinkedIn Profile: Unique Presentation for Optimal Effect
If there is one overall weakness to the LinkedIn platform, it is the lack of built-in formatting options to help with the visual presentation of your profile to your connections and page visitors. But that should not stop you from creating uniquely designed profile with accents that help to differentiate you from your competition. While the LinkedIn platform does not offer symbol and bullet options native to its system, there are some that you can manually include within your content that will help to make your profile easier on the eyes and easier to navigate.
Make New Connections
Okay, so now you have a well-developed profile that is content-rich and attractive. But what difference does it make if there is no one to see it? Building an impressive LinkedIn profile and not making connections is like getting dressed up in your best power suit to sit on the couch instead of going to a meet-and-greet. Look for and make strategic connections that can be of benefit to you in the future. Did you know that your connection makeup can affect the search strength of your LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn Profile: Join Groups to Stay Connected
LinkedIn is not only good for building strategic connections with those who can help you to advance your career. It is also a great way to keep your ear to the ground on information that can help with the same. The best way to get access to like-minded professionals in live conversations about specific points of interest that can add to your knowledge base is to join groups aligned with those interest.
I know, I know, who has time to check in on every group to get the latest on subjects being discussed? Well, you can adjust your settings within the group so that you receive updates on the latest chatter. Have an email notification arrive once per day, or make it once per week (my preference).
Additionally, you can use groups to share information of value to the community. After all, if you’re receiving quality input from the community, you should contribute where possible, right? Not to mention you begin begin to establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. And that has real value, people.
As professional resume writers, we can always tell which of our clients is most serious about their career trajectory. The answer usually lies in the first question that they ask when calling. Usually, if the first question that come out in an initial inquiry involves the price, this is a sign that they may not be fully versed on just how important the document is. This is not to say that one should pay any price for the product. This is still America, and everyone loves a great deal. But if you are making a decision on whether or not to seek professional resume services based upon the cost, then you may not truly understand its impact on not only your frequency of securing interviews, but also the opening offer from the employer.
Now, when a caller is first question is about finding out if you have what it takes to get them into the interview door, this is usually someone who understands the purpose of the exercise. These individuals see professional resume writing as an investment in their career, advance, and net worth building. When one is only concerned with the cost, your decision is made from a position of short-term viewpoint. Have you ever considered what the actual cost is to you up and ineffective resume? I once had a client who try for 18 months to get on with an employer who was in the door within 3 weeks after the completion of her resume. Now, how much money did she lose over the course of those 18 months?
First, let’s make no mistake. When it comes to a resume, you are always better off with professional help than without it. Just think of the numbers. The average corporation receives 250 resumes per opening and you likely need to be in that top 3 to 5 % just to get into that interview door. So do your due diligence and find someone who understands how to market someone on paper. Next, when looking for someone to prepare your resume, the most important factor is that they have the skills to properly frame your experience, training, education, and skill set for hiring managers. Regardless of how expensive cheap the resume, if you are not convinced that the professional resume writer possesses the skills, then any feedback they are asking is too much. I don’t know about you, but even if you find someone willing to take a crack at it for $65, if it does not achieve the objective, didn’t you just throw away $65?
It is time to change how you view and categorize your resume in your mind. You should not see it as some expense to get a hold of a piece of paper. If your head is on straight, and you are taking your career seriously, you will see it as valuable investment that optimizes your interview frequency, resulting in finding employment sooner and getting the best offer that you can get.
And isn’t that what it is all about, ladies and gentlemen?
We all look to stay as employable as we possibly can. Not necessarily “employed”, but “employable. Being employed is always good. But being employable comes in handy when you happen to find yourself unemployed. As part of your career management strategy, ensuring an optimal skill set should not be the only item on your “To Do” list. What is the use of a killer skill set if no one knows you have it. Yeah, yeah, your Resume Clinic resume and cover letter will definitely give you an advantage, especially at the beginning of the process where 85% of applicants will be weeded out. But you have to think bigger than that. When you’re managing your career the right way, you should be looking for ways to raise your profile within your chosen profession. Here are a few easy things you can do to get started in establishing yourself as a leader in your chosen field.
Personal Branding Strategy #1: Start a Blog or Vlog
Hey, if you do something for 2080+ hours every year (the official number of work hours for the standard 40-hour per week employee), you are bound to know a lot about it. Well, there’s no easier way to let the world know than to begin your own blog or Vlog on the subject. There are any number of platforms you can use for free, including WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr, which is hot right now. A well maintained blog / vlog with thoughtful and insightful posts tells other professionals you take your career seriously. You can also offer to guest post on related blogs to increase your profile even more. Let others do the same. Also, if you maintain a website, a regularly updated blog give your website a consistent boost of fresh content that helps your SEO.
Personal Branding Strategy #2: Be Visible
Getting out into the community to represent your profession establishes you as a champion for the trade. Offer to deliver presentations at the local community college on subjects related to your chosen profession. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, as well as local and national branches of associations serving your industry, as well as related ones. Serve on their committees and take an active role.
Personal Branding Strategy #2: Social Media
Man, I can’t tell you how many people are wrecking their brand daily on social media. Well, if you have a social media account, you already see it. Many of us make the mistake of thinking our social media accounts are separate from or professional lives, but it simply is not true. Employers are not only hiring talent, they are hiring personalities and people who will in one way or another represent THEIR brand. If you’re smart, you’ll delete all of the skimpy selfies and pics from the keggers and use the platform to reshape the view of your persona to the rest of the world. When employers are making the decision between you and your competition, they’ll see you expounding on the nuts-n-bolts of your industry, while your competition is posting fight videos and vines.
In the future, think of your personal brand in terms of dollars and cents. Every public interaction (either real or digital) has the ability to add to your pocketbook, or subtract from it. Manage these interactions accordingly.