JEAN'S BLOG. Best & Next Practices in: Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

"Transferable Skills" Fallacy: When is too late to change industries?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Aug 29, 2012 7:53:00 AM

 

Executive at a crossroads

Executive at a crossroads

Let’s call him Jesse. His story is a hypothetical example, but one that is not uncommon. Jesse has done all kinds of great things. Wonderful quantifiable achievements. And in several industries – IT, Manufacturing, Consulting. Clearly, he’s loaded with talent.

So, he’s 45 or thereabouts. And he wants to apply at the VP level for positions that might come up in any of those fields. The trouble is, is it too late for that?

When is he deemed to be too far along in his career (code for too old) to capture a senior management position in any of those fields?

Talk of  “ transferable skills” is everywhere in media stories about job search. This idea is offered as a panacea for how to get a job in a different field than the one you're experienced in.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m a believer that many people could successfully cross industries and even be more effective because they are deeply familiar with more than one sector.

But that’s the truth from the individual’s point of view.

The truth is the common faith in the transferable skills idea most likely isn’t going to hold any water from the perspective of the hiring authority or recruiter any more, at the executive level. And this is, in part, because the whole world of candidate selection has changed.

Before 2009 or so, the candidate pool was pretty much limited to the recruiter’s contacts, referrals, and perhaps people who had posted their resumes on a job board or corporate website.

But, since LinkedIn has become a premier database of professionals, recruiters now have access to profiles of both unemployed and employed executives. And I have heard recruiters in two panel discussions say that they are now able to hire candidates who possess 10 out of 10 of their requirements. The old, pre-LinkedIn number was 7 out of 10.

What this means for Jesse is clear. If the recruiter can find someone who has 25 years of experience in one industry, and probably is even more narrowly specialized in the desired industry niche, that person is going to be selected over the executive who has 7 years in 3 different industries.

So, if you are 35 and thinking about your next job, know that the industry where you land may well determine the industry you will reside in professionally for decades to come. It will simply be too difficult to switch industries at the more senior levels.

This is not to say that it’s impossible. If you are able to tap exceptionally strong, well-placed personal connections or if you are a well-known superstar you may be able to make such a move at 35 or even 45.

But I encourage my clients to commit to an industry as soon as they are able. Ideally 30, 35. If an executive is 45 and has split experience between 3 sectors, I encourage that individual to strengthen his presentation of his most recent experience and go after positions in that field. And this is the advice I would give to Jesse.

So the word to the wise today is: play the field if you want to in your twenties, but settle down in your 30s. Don’t count on your skills transferring to get you a job. Develop the core, desired skills that recruiters will be requiring. Keep your eye on your goal a couple years down the road and manage your career accordingly.

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Topics: executive resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search, career brand, transferable skills, switching careers

5 Tips for Writing a Killer LinkedIn Profile from Your Branded Resume

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jul 13, 2012 12:03:00 PM

writing a LinkedIn profile 

The LinkedIn Profile is now the cornerstone of your career communications. It is gradually, along with other social media sites and Google results, supplanting the resume as an introduction to you as a job candidate. For those of you who are writing your own profiles from your branded resume, I have put together 5 critical tips:

1. Your Professional Headline

- Make sure you have the title you are seeking in your Professional Headline. You can usually find the title at the top of your resume.

- If you can fit it into your allotted 120 characters, include a “reason to hire.” Your “reason to hire” is your value proposition, the value your bring to the table ($$ in revenue enabled, $$ costs cut, functionality improved, etc.)

2. Summary

- The summary is different from the profile on your resume. Keep it to no more that 3-4 short paragraphs.

- Make it less formal than your resume. Use your own “voice” to express your career brand* and your personal brand**.

- Present a quick overview of your career, particularly the last 8 years. Avoid going into detail.

- Include the top accomplishments – if possible, in terms of dollars or percentages.

- Let your personal brand shine through.

3. Skills & Expertise

- Populate your “Skills & Expertise” section with the keywords appropriate to your job target. These are often the same as the skills list that is part of your resume profile.

- Build these keywords into the Summary in a natural way as much as you are able.

4. Experience

- You want the information under the workplaces to be shorter than in your resume.

- Select your most standout contributions. You will find them standing out in your resume. Write them up using bullets.

- Include a brief snapshot of “Scope” – Number of reports, budgets managed, chief areas of accountability, etc.

5. Recommendations

- Get recommendations from people you work with or have worked with: bosses, reports, colleagues, vendors etc.

- Give them some ideas about what to write. Get these from your resume. Anything they can say that will reinforce your brand or one/many of your accomplishments will make your profile even stronger.

 

* Your Career Brand & **Personal Brand

- Your career brand has to do with your position (title, function, industry) and what you uniquely bring to the table (value proposition).

- Your personal brand has to do with the qualities of your personality, character, and style that are part of what make you successful.

 

 

Character Limits

Headline: 120 Chars

Company name: 100 Chars

Summary: 2000 Chars

Skills: 25 skills up to 61 Chars each

Position Title: 100 Chars

Position Description 200 Chars minimum, 2000 max

Interests: 1000 Chars

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Topics: job search, personal branding, career brand, branded executive resume, resume writing, LinkedIn Profile Writing

Got Passion? Surprising Work & Interviewing Tip

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 30, 2012 3:24:00 PM

Image Passion Enthusiasm Credit to Kim Garst for image

I encountered the phrase “all in” in two quite different contexts lately. In the first, a minister used it to describe his faith. In the second, a technology sales executive said it about the way he works. And then in a third instance, Ralph Waldo Emerson (a voice from the past), is quoted using different words but talking about the same idea (thanks to Angel Maiers for her post and the Emerson quote:

"Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.”

Put this together with a research finding that most of new hires that fail do so because of attitude, not lack of skills – as much as 80%.

And add in the “personal” in personal branding, which is about your passions, values, and goals. In other words, the things that go to make up your personality.

And you’ve got a little-known but apparently crucial ingredient in on-the-job success.

The Passion thing helps in interviewing too. If you know what you’re passionate about, great! Don’t be afraid to show the energy and excitement you experience in what you do. Even if the intervivewer hasn’t thought about passion as a desirable quality in a new hire, you will radiate energy and enthusiasm and that will engage the interviewer’s interest.

Studies have also shown that there is a kind of mimicry that goes on when two people communicate – that is, your enthusiasm will ignite the interviewer's. And that’s got to help!

Surveys find that by far the biggest element in deciding whether to hire someone is based on how s/he looks and sounds. Both your facial expression and your voice change when expressing passion, and, therefore, you will look and sound even better than you ordinarily do (we hope). :)

If you’re not passionate about your work, here are some thoughts. Passion doesn’t have to be fireworks kind of passion. It can be a firmly grounded commitment. If neither of those is true, see if you can find one aspect of your job that particularly interests you. Ask yourself why. Then ask yourself how your heightened interest impacts outcomes. Then, you can take advantage of the magic of passion, at least in the part of the interview where you give an example from the interesting part of your work.

As the hiring process is increasingly using assessments and simulations in an attempt to be more objective, your passion need not lose its power completely. It may be the single differentiating factor between two otherwise similar candidates. It may, in fact, be the one that will put you over the top!

 

 


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Topics: job search, interviewing, interview style, career management, Get a Job, career brand

Move Over "What Color is Your Parachute": New Career Paradigm

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 21, 2012 2:12:00 PM

Choosing a career

Who can improve on What Color Is Your Parachute, the all-time best-seller in the careers field? Who other than the cofounder/chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman.

From his lofty seat at the top of the top professional network in the world - through which daily flow valuable job postings, job searches, candidate searches, and networking requests - Reid has a unique vantage point for observing the life cycle of careers in 2012. 

Along with his co-writer, Ben Casnocha, he brings into question the idea that each of us has a specific calling that requires only that we discern the color of our particular parachute to know what we should do with our life. This prevailing cultural myth is challenged, and rightly so in my opinion, by Reid's particular insight into the way most people's careers actually develop.

Sure, we've all heard of people who knew from a young age knew that they would be a president of the United States (Bill Clinton), or a composer (Mozart). But most of us, especially as the days of staying with one company for 30 years or more are long gone, follow a winding path where the twists and turns may take us to someplace we never thought of to a job we could never have envisioned.

He gives a number of examples of well-known people, himself (started out planning to work in academia), Tony Blair (started as concert promoter), Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook started in public health at the World Bank), and others who have found their way following a different dynamic.

Reid says that careers develop according to the interaction of your assets, your aspirations, and market realities. And that where we end up can be very different from where we started. He also says that often you can perceive an inner logic to the journey. (This may be more where we see Richard Bolles' ideas than anywhere else.)

The book, The Startup of You, is a must-read for anyone charting their career. I believe Reid's ideas have long been true, but technology is currently changing careers, industries, even functions at an accelerated rate. Although somewhat complex, Reid's remarks will help you keep your eyes open to signals of change both within yourself and in the world at large.

His perspective may also take some of pressure off for those who are frustrated trying to look deeply within to discover their purpose. I see the process he describes as more like a white water rafting trip than a fishing trip in search of a particular gold coin.

We each, in our own wonderfully unique way, find a twisting path that is both our own and profoundly influenced by our world. If we are lucky, each stage of the journey holds a fulfillment of its own while providing us with strengths that can transform the next leg of the trip.

I'm a believer, in part, because his observations have been true in my career: teacher of children with learning disabilities, handweaver, careers professional. ?? I think I know why I made those shifts. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to tell them. But what has been your path? What has influenced you in your career decisions? Do you know where you will turn next? I'd love to hear.

 

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Topics: personal branding, personal brand, career management, career planning, personal brands, career brand, careers in retirement

Our Power Word for Job Seekers in 2012

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jan 3, 2012 3:14:00 PM

Image align

Our power word for job seekers in 2011 was LEVERAGE. We used it (and still use it!) in multiple ways: "Joe leveraged his people skills to turn around morale and retention in a team demoralized by multiple layoffs." Or: "Joe leveraged the group's expertise in project management best practices to collaboratively establish the company's first formal PMO."

We love "leverage" because it is able to say so much in just one word and because it is a "body language" word. We can feel what it's like to lift something up with the help of something else (a lever). It's also a word that teaches us about something we can do in our personal brand or our job. For instance, we can use one of our brand attributes to empower us in doing our main job. This attribute may be a strong differentiator for us as a candidate or as an employee.

Our power word for 2012 is ALIGN. It is defined by Meriam-Webster as:

Transitive verb

1. to bring into line

2. to array on the side of...

Intransitive verb

1. to get or fall into line

2. to be in or come into precise adjustment or correct relative position

For example: "The school had to align their programs with state requirements," or "She is aligning with other Senators to oppose his nomination."

Why is "align" a useful word for job seekers? Because employers are looking for applicants...

  • who are aligned with the values of the company
  • whose actions are aligned with their own personal brand
  • who can (for example) align IT with the business objectives of the organization

"Align" can say so much in one word. It can say that the person's personal brand is unified and internally and externally consistent or that the person's work lines up with the values and goals of the organization.

"Align" is a "body language" word too. We can feel in our muscles what it is like to line up with or become parallel to something else.

So here's to 2012! May you align your actions with your core values. May you align the work of your group with the overarching goals of your organization. May you become aligned with a path that will enable you to reach all your personal and professional goals.

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Topics: personal branding, personal brand, career management, executive job search, career brand, career

In a Job Search, Who Gets Hired? The MBA or Certified Technologist?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 18, 2011 4:48:00 PM

Image teamleadImage courtesy of jscreationszs

Let's get real. In business, the guy with the Ivy League MBA usually gets hired first, for IT management positions.  Companies want to hire a graduate of a nationally ranked Business Management program that has been awarded high praise by Business Week or The Economist. However, in today's innovation economy, the MBA has a rival for some management positions: the IT Certified Technologist. 

In terms of cost and time efficiencies, IT certifications yield fairly high value for a lower investment of time and money.  So, while MBA graduates have spent anywhere between one and three years earning their advanced degree, an IT specialist has had the chance to earn certifications in multiple, specialized fields in a more condensed period of time.  

MBA graduates, especially those who come from a top-ranked program, develop business acument through studying finance, marketing, and entrepreneurism. MBA graduates have often studied under the leading professors in their field, endured the rigors of academia, and demonstrated their business savvy through varied internships. 

An IT Certified Technologist, on the other hand, has had intense training in technologies that may give a competitive advantage to the employer. With options ranging from Global Information Assurance Certification, Cisco Certified Security Professional Certification, Certified Information Systems Auditor, and CompTIA Security Certification, IT specialists bring a lot to the table. 

Not only have IT certifications proven to be valuable indicators of field mastery, they also correlate with wage increases, promotions, and new employment opportunities. In a study of 700 network professionals, conducted by Network World and SolarWinds, over two-thirds of the respondents reported that an IT Certification had earned them a new job. Almost one-third of the Certified Technologists surveyed said that professional certifications earned them promotions and salary increases. The evidence from this study suggests that IT certifications improve the employment prospects and earning potential of IT professionals. 

Perhaps it comes down to how critical technical mastery is to increasing profits and driving sales. In the balance, does business acumen trump technical knowledge? It appears that the greater the level of authority, the more critical is the business skill set. Certified Technologists who really "get" how to leverage contemporary and emerging technology to advantage their company have a valuable role to play. If they add business management skills to the mix, they are increasingly competitive for the top jobs.   

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search, Get a Job, career services, career brand, IT resumes

3 Very Easy Shortcuts to Getting a Personal Brand

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 4, 2011 7:30:00 PM

personal brand

When people first hear that they need a "personal brand" to get a job, they often can't relate. First they think, "I am not a consumer product. The whole idea of branding myself turns me off!" And then they worry about how they are going to get this foreign thing, this personal brand, so that they can compete in the job market. They assume that their personal brand is going to be hard to figure out on their own.

There is a shortcut to going through a long process of personal branding. (Please note here that I am a Certified Personal Branding Strategist and have seen the incredible benefits that come when an individual goes through an in-depth process of self-discovery with a strategist!) But it isn't for everyone.

This personal branding shortcut is for people who are short on time, money, and/or interest and who just want to be as competitive as they can be in looking for their next job.

Here's what to do. Answer the following three questions and then use those answers in your resume, both in the Summary section at the top of the resume and in the body of the resume itself. And Voila! you'll have a personal brand that will serve you well.

1. What do people value you for most at work? What would they miss the most, in terms of getting work done, if you weren't there? What do people turn to you for?

2. What is your value proposition? Define this in terms of your ability to contribute to reducing costs, adding revenue, increasing profit margins, streamlining processes, reducing time-to-market, improving internal and external client satisfaction, enhancing user experience, innovating to add new functionality or revenue streams, amping up team performance, reducing risk etc.

3. What five adjectives would people use to describe you? Things like leader like, entrepreneurial, smart, creative, international etc. Pick the ones that have particular bearing on helping you be successful at work.

Then, at the top of your resume, after your name and contact information, center your title - that is, your job or the job you are seeking. Underneath your title write a sentence about how you typically add value to an organization, your answer to #2. Center it and put it in bold. This is the most important piece of a brand to an employer, for obvious reasons.

Then, in a brief summary paragraph or set of bullet points in the top third of page one, include answers to #1 and #3, along with your other credentials.

Then be sure that you demonstrate your value proposition (#2) in the achievements you talk about in your resume.

If you can't think of the answers to any of the three questions above, ask your co-workers for their take on what makes you special, unique, and valuable to an organization.

This quick start guide to do-it-yourself personal branding may be sufficient to accurately and authentically differentiate you from your competition and help you get your next job! Good luck with it - and let me know how it goes!

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Topics: LinkedIn, personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, technology resumes, career management, executive job search, Get a Job, Job Interviews, personal brands, LinkedIn Profiles, career brand, reputation management

7 Tips: Land Mines to Avoid in Your CIO Executive Resume

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 31, 2011 4:54:00 PM

Get Your Next NIf you are vying for  the top technology job in an organization, your resume has to follow best practices for writing executive resumes. But CIOs potentially face land mines that other C-level execs don't have to worry about. Here are seven of them:

  1. Don't Blow the Title. The top technology executive in an organization can have a different title depending on the company: CIO, CTO, VP of IT, or some of the other emerging names that converge technology and a functional business specialty (such as Executive VP of Marketing Applications). You want to be sure you capture the most common ones if you’re not going to tailor your resume to each job (the best idea). That way your keywords will help you show up in a search. If you are targeting a specific job, use that title.

  2. Don't Describe the Wrong Job. The top technology leader in an organization can have a scope of responsibility that varies widely from company to company. Try to provide as close a match as possible to the requirements of the specific position. This is another reason to tailor your resume. If you don’t tailor, be sure you include the primary competencies that a CIO is expected to have in a range of environments.

  3. Don't, Whatever You Do, Lead with Your Technology Skill Set! The technology leader is not, unless the company is a startup or a very small firm, usually the person who does the coding! So don’t write your resume emphasizing the exhaustive technical skill set you bring to the table! For the top job, people will be interested in you for your executive leadership, strategy, and technology visioning skills.  

  4. Don't Be Fooled into Thinking that the Top Job is Just about Technology. Think like a business-side C-level executive. Do not convey your major contributions and accomplishments in technology terms alone. Always be thinking about impact on top and bottom lines, considered broadly.                                                                         

  5. Don't Just Put in Your Accomplishments! That's so nineties. Sure, translate your accomplishments into quantifiable results. BUT, take the next step of putting them in context in order to convey the significance of the achievement – this single step alone will put you ahead of most of your competition.                           

  6. Don't Miss Out on Conveying your Brand. Articulate your career brand and value proposition so powerfully that you become the candidate of choice. There are a lot of great technology leaders out there with strong records. Don't come across as just capable. 

  7. Don't Write a Resume that Looks Like the Ones in Most of the Resume Books! Make your value prop pop out visually, so that the reader, whether viewing your resume on a smart phone, computer, or hard copy, will be able to grasp what you uniquely bring to the table inside of 3 seconds! Forget 20 seconds. We're talking 3.

Because CIO resumes are different from other C-suite resume and require very sophisticated handling,  be sure to pay attention to the above tips. Be as strategic in your executive resume writing as you will be in the job you aspire too - and good luck!

 

Image courtesy of jscreationzs

 

 

 

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Topics: executive resumes, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, executive job search, Get a Job, career brand

Zen and the Art of Job Search

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jul 20, 2011 7:01:00 AM

 executive job search - poise and power 

As I was driving home Sunday from a weekend away, I tuned into an NPR interview on the radio. He was taking about stress-free productivity. Something job seekers need desperately! Along with everyone else practically! His ideas sounded oddly familiar...

Yes, it was David Allen of Getting Things Done fame. I'd read it years ago - it's a classic in the field of personal organization - and used the system for awhile, then fell away (alas, the end of most good intentions). But his words about having too many different kinds of things to do on our minds causing significant stress resonated big time for me.

So I pulled out my iPad when I got home and did what he said to do: take everything on your mind and write it down in a way that makes sense to you. And then have a system for checking it and also for continuing to enter anything that is a to-do and that preys on your mind. I used Notes but there are lots of apps I will explore. (Put that on my list!)

OK, I did that. The rewards Allen promises are valuable: the ability to be highly productive and react in perfectly appropriate ways to stressors. He describes the "mind like water" that martial arts practitioners use for perfect readiness and power. 

I think daily pauses (mini meditations if you like) for deep breathing and contemplation of a serene image (water receding from the beach, then rolling in again, for instance - my image) help get us into that frame of mind of poised readiness and response.

Looking for your next job involves a myriad of things to do and keep track of: executive resumes sent, personal branding initiatives, targeted cover letters written, networks contacted, appointments planned and kept, research on companies, interviews planned and attended - all with various schedules and levels of importance. What better time to apply Allen's ideas?

The Zen job search would be one conducted with full confidence that you had the bases covered and WRITTEN DOWN according to your system, so that you can act from a place of calm productivity.

The Zen interview is when you can bring a mind open and a readiness to respond to the interviewer with calm interest, quiet confidence, generous openness to the other person, and keen listening (to hear the subtext of questions), and make an appropriate on-brand response that speaks to the employer's needs. A Zen mind is also ready to ask insightful questions and proactively project its personal brand in appropriate ways into the conversation. 

So, "mind like water," T.S. Eliot's "the still point in the turning world," and Yeats' "I hear lake water lapping, with low sounds by the shore." Now we are ready. Bring it on.

 

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, interview style, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, executive job search, Job Interviews, personal brands, career brand, salary negotiation, salary negotiations, job interview, power of attraction

Should Your Personal Brand Include Your Job?

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 25, 2011 10:14:00 AM

personal branding

I'd like to address a knotty problem that surrounds the branding issue for technology executives and other leaders. How different is someone’s career brand from their personal brand? To optimize their chances for getting their next executive job, are they better off with the personal brand or career brand on their communications? Is there a place for title/function/industry career brands as a tool in job search? How does the personal brand feed into the career brand?

Having worked with these issues as a Personal Branding Strategist helping technology executives in transition be successful, I have a general opinion at this point in time:

1. Since employers demand and can get good job and culture fit, it is essential to provide the match in a candidate’s marketing materials and interviewing. I see this as non-optional in this new job search environment, where employers and recruiters can get 10 out of 10 of their criteria met. I see the appeal in an industry- and position-agnostic brand, particularly for people changing careers, but for someone progressing in their field I believe it is necessary to commit to title/industry.

2. The “personal” part of personal branding can be strongly reinforcing and a value-add for the career brand: values, attributes, commitments, unique gifts, etc.

3. As a practitioner in the trenches, I see how important it is for a candidate to integrate their personal and career brands in a very pragmatic, goal-focused way: to provide that fast match that the employer is seeking.

Is your personal brand integrated into your career brand and does your brand communicate what you do for a living? I think it's a good idea!

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Topics: personal branding, career brand

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