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  • Changing Careers
    New starts are never easy. But good preparation can make it easier

    The best part about changing careers is getting that fresh start. Something to give you a new reason to wake up in the morning. But you only get that great feeling if you choose wisely. When considering making what could be a life-altering decision such as changing the way you make your bread and butter, you do not want to do this lightly.

    Of course, some professionals have the decision thrust upon them, as their industries are either contracting or disappearing altogether due to technological transformation. But some of us are looking to change careers because we need a fresh perspective, more money, or other reasons that meet material, situational, or personal growth needs. Before making any hasty decisions on a career change, be sure to consider these three things.

    Before Changing Careers, Research The Industry Outlook

    Making a drastic move into a new profession just because it sounds good isn’t smart. What if that profession or sector is shrinking? What if compensation is stagnating? Hey, what if it just is not as wholly rewarding as you initially thought? Do yourself a favor and do your homework before changing careers.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics often provides good information on everything from 10-year industry growth to prevailing salary averages. Also, companies such as Deloitte provide good sector status information. Another great way to assess viability before changing careers is by connecting with industry professionals on LinkedIn. Once connected, strike up a conversation and get their input on where they feel the industry or profession is headed.

    How Do You Support Yourself During The Career Change Transition

    Okay, your research has revealed that your new career target is viable. It is now time to plan the execution. Is your new career direction one that you can pursue while holding down your current position? Or will the transformation require a time commitment that will not allow you to remain employed where you are currently? If you need to quit your job to pursue this career change, will you rely on any savings or nest egg, or do you have a secondary source of income that will help “grease the skids”, so to speak?

    Before doing anything rash, be sure to give this some thought. Of course, some of you out there are just straight up risk-takers. If you do not have a lot of commitments to others and your psyche is one that can deal with it, then go for it. But know who you are before you do such a thing, as the transition can be a very stressful time.

    Identify Mentors to Guide You Through the Career Change Maze

    There is this theory that one should learn from one’s own mistakes. Well, I don’t buy it. Not when one can easily learn from someone else’s faux pas. When it comes to that new career path you are seeking, someone has already blazed the trail. They know where the pitfalls are, so why should you have to experience them as well? Identify a couple of industry professionals that can serve as mentors and guideposts to provide you with the shortest possible path to your goal.

    What if you are considering taking a certification course that everyone in the industry knows is worthless? Perhaps there is a specific concentration of the new profession that provides more opportunity for growth than others. Someone who has already “walked the walk” is likely to shorten your conversion time and make it less painful.

    Conclusion

    Many say different strokes for different folks. But it is also true that sometimes the same folks need different strokes. Going against the inertia of your current career likely won’t be easy. But if you take some time to figure out who you are in that process and build a plan accordingly, it can work. It has been done before. The average person will change careers up to 7 times during their working life. You may as well make the transition as smooth as possible. So once you have made the decision, do your research, retool your resume, and get cracking!

  • Senior leadership
    Perhaps it is time to focus on your ability to “lead” and not just “do”.

    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.

    Senior Leadership Galvanizes Troops Toward Organizational Mission

    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.

    Conclusion

    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.

  • When it comes to optimizing the performance of your resume, don’t let anyone fool you: “What you don’t know WILL hurt you.” Check off all the boxes to ensure the resume reaches decision makers and consistently secures interviews. (Trust me when I tell you that there are far more boxes to check than most job seekers are even aware exist) A stalled or stagnant job search usually scapegoats the economy, industry, and other factors, when the fact is a poorly designed resume is usually the culprit. Below are 5 major reasons your resume may not be cutting the mustard, so to speak.

    Your Resume Has No Summary Section (or it is Poorly Written)

    Remember going to the bookstore and deciding what book to buy? (I know in this Amazon world no one goes to the bookstore anymore, but bear with me) A major influence on whether you purchased a book or not was the description on the inside cover, right? When a hiring manager has dozens (or hundreds) of resumes to review, something needs to grab their attention.

    A well-written summary leading off your resume convinces your reader to go deeper. Research has shown a resume has anywhere between 7 to 15 seconds to impress. So obviously no one is reading the entire resume in that time frame. A quality executive summary (or profile) section skillfully encapsulates why you are ideal for the role. And it does so with strength and style. Ignore this important strategy at your own peril.

    You’re Missing Impact Content

    You are more than just a stale job description. Act like it! If your resume only communicates the basic duties you have performed, then you are missing true value you get by providing one. After all, wouldn’t every applicant with a similar background have resume that sounds exactly like yours if this was the way to go? A powerfully consistent resume differentiates you from your competition. Take the time to explore where you had positive impact for each employer. What special projects did you contribute to? What are your contributions to policies and procedures? How about measurable performance metrics? Anything that sets you apart from those with a similar background should appear in the document.

    Your Resume is Missing Rich Keywords

    Your resume does not only have to impress the human audience, but it needs to navigate the digital audience as well. 75% of large companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS), with that figure jumping to 99% of Fortune 500 companies. Want that resume to disappear into a black hole? Ignore the value of keywords in that resume and your wish will come true. ATS software scans your resume for high-value keywords to help hiring authorities trim that huge stack of resumes. Perform research on the most valuable words and phrases for the positions you seek. Keep it based in differentiating skill set and stay away from the broad soft skills that say nothing (hiring managers hate navigating this).

    Your Content is Difficult to Follow

    Pretend your submission is number 143 of 150 that your reader has to review. Now let us suppose the resume is structured in such a way that the hiring manager cannot tell where one position ends and the next one begins. Perhaps it is highly difficult to visually pick up on these things quickly. Not only that, the resume is littered with grammatical mistakes, run-on sentences, inconsistencies regarding phrasing, and other issues that make it difficult to read. Once the hiring authority runs across one or two of these issues after already going through 142 other resumes, how likely is it that they will keep going?

    Clarity of prose and ease of navigation is important to ensure your reader does not struggle to comprehend your information quickly. Remember our stat regarding resume review time? Resumes only have a brief period in which to make an impression. Don’t distract or overly tax your reader, as it is sure to get your document placed in File 13 (that’s the trash can, people!)

    Your Resume Has Technical Design Deficiencies Affecting the ATS

    Remember our friend the ATS? While it is popular in its use, the software can be pretty finicky. While getting better, these hiring management systems still have their faults. A good resume will account for these issues by using proper document infrastructure, section labeling, and content spacing. Opportunities have been lost by having resumes die within the systems they attempt to navigate. If the ATS doesn’t properly scan your resume, you don’t exist to most of these companies.

    Don’t use pre-formatted resumes because they cause a lot of these issues. Especially those that use design elements where it has not been properly thought out regarding what systems see. Of course, one must have the knowledge of what the ATS software does and does not see to properly build your resume. Remember what we said earlier (what you don’t know can and does in fact hurt you).

    Conclusion

    Achieving consistency in gaining interviews is more than about your hustle and drive. You need to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your resume project. Send out hundreds of weak written, poorly structured documents and you’ll only get more frequent “no’s”. Your inbox will still be empty, and what’s worse is that you will never know why it happened. If going it alone with the resume, don’t just scribble duties and think it will beat out other job seekers.

    Take the time to learn the ins-and-outs of what makes your resume jump to the top of the stack. If lacking time or comfort level to research what makes a great resume tick, seek help. Hire a certified resume professional to do the dirty work for you. After all, even when you write your own, you’re competing against our offerings – and we have the cheat codes, right?

  • front-end developer resume
    With an average growth rate of 27%, front-end development is a stable career path

    So, you need to bang out an eye-popping front-end developer resume. But not exactly sure of the way to go. One thing to remember when writing any resume is to first consider the end game. Who is our reader and what are the high priority skills that would make them sit up and pay attention? Of course, when it comes to a stellar high impact resume, there is more to consider than just skill set. How about design styling, overall strategy, organization, phrasing, highlight communication, etc? However, core skill set is critical to impressing your reader and navigating applicant tracking systems with strength.

    If you are a front-end developer, your career is pretty safe for now. Some believe we have only scratched the surface of website application development. But to stay marketable, you want to keep developing that skill set. What are the latest languages? How about new libraries? Mid and senior-level web developers can easily land six-figure salaries. So if staring out of your window at work and itching to make a change, consider this field.

    Below are 4 key skills for your front-end developer resume that you want to insure your reader does not miss.

    HTML/CSS

    Okay, let’s be blunt here. If you are reader cannot readily pick up on your HTML/CSS skill set, then you haven’t got a chance. After all, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) represents the standard when it comes to building a web pages. The reader of your front-end developer resume has to know you understand concepts such as document object models, tags, and semantic markup. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) represents the language one uses to present the HTML created document. Does your resume communicate your ability to embed.css files into pages? Yes, I know, it seems a little obvious, right? But you would be surprised at how many front-end developer resume attempts I see that do not convey this important foundational concept.

    JavaScript/jQuery

    JavaScript represents a tool that powers a website’s interactivity and allows the building UI components that include image sliders, site navigation mega menus, form validations, and pop-ups. Be sure that front-end developer resume shows this skill so your reader knows you can build sites with  functionality past HTML and CSS capabilities. jQuery is a JavaScript library designed to simplify HTML DOM tree traversal and manipulation, as well as event handling, CSS animation. Front-end development can be pretty Javascript-intensive due to the demand for highly-interactive website applications.

    Responsive Design

    A quality website is one that responds to a user’s behavior and environment based on screen sizes, platforms, and orientations. Want to build out front-end developer resume that get call-backs? Then make sure you communicate a healthy knowledge of this concept. When you bring this skill, the employer sees someone who can save money by foregoing the need to develop separate mobile applications. When you can house all of the code into one single website, everybody wins! Additionally, Google implemented search engine algorithm change back in 2015 that factor in website mobile presence as a core ranking factor, so responsive design also helps sites rank higher. So be sure that front-end developer resume gets this concept across to that hiring manager.

    Git

    Most development projects are collaborative in nature. And digital collaborations can be complex. Things may start out simple, but with several participants making changes, how can one be sure you are working on the most current version? Let the hiring manager know you can use Git to manage source code and manage and track versions. There are a few other version control systems (VCS) out there, but Git provides a foundation for services such as GitHub and GitLab. A strong front-end developer resume tells the reader that Git (or one of the other VCSs) is in your toolbox. We want them to know your ability to merge changes into the working branch so that things stay current, as well as timely.

    With an average salary of $79,591 (Glassdoor), it’s no wonder that front-end web development is a hot commodity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics had web development jobs in the US expected to grow 27% from 2014 to 2024. If you haven’t already, consider pursuing the W3C Front-End Web Developer Professional Certificate to increase your marketability. Also, consider using a professional to develop your front-end developer resume. After all, someone else is doing so, right?

  • linkedin profileHopefully, 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.

  • job searchIts dangerous when one’s technology grows faster than he ability to responsibly manage it responsibly. No, I am not talking about nuclear warheads or automatic weapons. I am talking about the almost instantaneous proliferation of social media into our mainstream existence, and how it affects your job search and can be keeping you unemployed.

    Don’t get me wrong. Social media has provided us with some extraordinary capabilities that we did not have in the past. In the 21st century, you can send a kid off to college and communicate as though they in the next room. Small businesses can reach large numbers of potential customers through engagement.

    But as I peruse some folks’ social media profiles, I can only hope they are self-employed or work for family. Because with some of the content in these profiles, they are making themselves unhirable and ruining their job search.

    (Hey, before anyone lights into me, this isn’t about the “should-or-shouldn’ts”, its about the “is-or-isn’ts”)

    Social media communication is like talking in public where the room is bugged. And hiring managers are in another room with a listening device. Before you hit “post”, pretend a potential employer is standing over your shoulder. If you’re good with what they can hear and see, then by all means go for it!

    Now, before you all go patting yourself on the back about your privacy settings protecting you during your job search, perhaps you should read this:

    https://storify.com/sarahhazell829/are-my-privacy-settings-really-private

    Let me be clear, I am personally all for people being able to say and post anything they want to on their social media accounts. Your account, your business. But when one does, one should just be able to accept the fallout, whatever it may be. And that includes hurting their job search by creating a negative perception with employers.

    There is a lot of debate (and some litigation) going on as to whether it is right or wrong for an employer to use social media in their hiring decisions. But if you are looking for employment TODAY and your rent is due TOMORROW, one needs to consider the impact of their posts as the hiring environment currently exists, whether or not one agrees with the merits of it. As they say:

    “Freedom of speech is not freedom of the consequences OF that speech”

    Now, let me get back to this cat video.

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