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

Use This Simple Brain Technique to Get Your Next Job

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 10, 2015 8:58:20 AM

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This may seem like a blog post title that seriously overreaches. But, there is a sense in which there is one simple, essential ingredient to job search success. This is it:

Visualize your goal.

It's not enough just to have a goal, although that appears to be critical for success in job search as in just about everything else. It's also important to paint a picture in your mind of what your goal would look like, feel like, sound like, etc. Brain science suggests that the brain is stimulated in the same regions whether we are only visualizing or actually experiencing a state of affairs.

Srinivasan S. Pillay, M.D. is a master executive coach to Fortune 500 leaders who examines new findings in brain science and makes suggestions for business behavior in his book: Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders.

If you want to explore his ideas in depth, Dr. Pillay discusses a range of compelling ideas to emerge out of brain research that have the potential to enhance leadership success.

But for those of us who aren't F500 executives, goal visualization holds great promise as well. The US Olympic Committee has increased the number of psychologists on staff 600% over the past 20 years in recognition of the importance of training athletes mentally to achieve their goal. Read more at Business Insider.

For years I've been coaching clients on how to interview to get the job. One key ingredient in my coaching is to encourage clients to visualize before the interview starts that they are already in the job and functioning with authority as part of a productive team. In visualizing these states of affairs, they are feeling confident, "in their element," collegial, knowledgeable, valued and have a sense of belonging and of liking their colleagues. The impact of this kind of visualization on a client's body language, energy, attitude towards the interviewers, and general affect can be profound.

People promoting visualization as a success tool suggest that by visualizing the goal the person is actually preparing the brain to understand and proceed on the steps that need to be taken to reach the goal.

In job search, the individual can visualize the ultimate goal - being an employee at their company of choice - and also visualize performing the steps required to meet that goal: connecting with people from the company or recruiters on LinkedIn, leaving a message for a hiring authority, meeting with key networking contacts, writing two letters a day to specific hiring authorities at specfic companies, etc.

The time required to do this kind of visualization daily is not more than a minute. See if it works for you in helping you get the job you want!

Jean Cummings

 

 

 

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Topics: job search, interviewing, career management, career planning

Mayor Menino's Little House: Musings on Money and Career

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 10, 2014 11:34:35 AM

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Mayor Menino in front of his home in Hyde Park section of Boston

Boston and Masschusetts were honoring the life of Mayor Tom Menino last week. It is said that he had met 60% of Boston's residents and had a hand in every building project in the city over his 20-year tenure and 5 terms. He was much loved - a man of the people - who loved his city and its people. His accomplishments were many.

One item struck me as the remembrances rolled in on the radio and - though slightly off-topic from what I usually write about here - I wanted to put it out there. It was that he continued to live in his modest house in the city neighborhood he started out in. We are used to seeing big names and their big homes. What does it mean that Mayor Menino did it differently?

These are musings on money and career - on money and values - on money and freedom - on money and retirement. In no particular order, these are thoughts that are prompted, in part, from having worked with so many people over the years at different stages in their careers experiencing those twin concerns of almost everybody: how to make enough money (whatever "enough" means for the individual) and how to be happy.

1. Why is it surprising that a prominant public figure like Tom Menino never felt the need to upgrade his house to match his increasing levels of influence, power, and compensation? Is it necessary to spend and own in keeping with one's level of career advancement? What does it mean when someone steps out of this lock-step advance?

2. What can we infer about Mayor Menino's value system? We can guess that he valued his feeling of home and neighborhood and that he didn't care about house pride and wealth demonstrations.

3. What kind of freedom does owning less in terms of possessions confer upon a person or a family? Is it worth giving up the possible benefits of more comfort, beauty, space, and status in one's property for the ability to live on less and then be able to choose a lower-paying job, if it provides more life satisfaction?

4. When we see celebrities like Mayor Menino and Warrren Buffett - both top practitioners in their respective fields - decline to purchase showy properties, what does it make us feel? It makes me feel that their work is something they do because they were born to do it - they love it and it allows them to be perfectly who they are. And it is not necessary linked to a need for impressive property ownership.

5. As so many baby boomers approach or select retirement, what do the issues of spending and lifestyle during the working years have to do with retirement lifestyle? I expect we will see many creative solutions where, because financial constraints will be the norm, people will develop innovative solutions for housing as well as for how to make those years fun and meaningful. Feeling free to step out of the realm of competition in housing/possessions will become key to retirement "success" for many I would guess.

6. Here is a common pattern I see in my increasingly wealthy town, understanding that this scenario is only avalable to the top few percent. People trade up houses 2 or 3 times to get bigger. more beautiful, or high-status homes. Why did Mayor Menino do it differently?

7. A final thought: since we leave this world with nothing, what part, then, do we want things and money to play in our careers and lifesyles during our brief span of life?

Best wishes for prosperity on your terms. I'd love to hear your thoughts. And thanks, Tom Menino, for your amazing contributions and for prompting these musings!

 

 

 

 

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Topics: career management, career planning, career services, careers in retirement

Tech Job Search: "Software is Eating the World" - and Your Job?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 3, 2013 8:11:00 AM

Tech job search: impact of cloud computing
Quoting Teshma Sohoni (Fast Company Ap 2013), "Software is indeed eating the world as...industries are adopting SaaS/cloud faster than ever." He goes on to state that startups are targeting both niche and large industries with custom solutions.

For tech job seekers, whenever there's a disruptive trend, new types of jobs will never be far behind. These startups, in addition to established service providers, will be expanding their services and markets and in need of skilled tech workers. However, there's been a perceived downside for technology professionals in the trend to SaaS/cloud:

"What will happen to my job when my IT Dept. increasingly oursources both applications and infrastructure that have traditionally been under the control of the internal IT shop?"

Contrary to the fears that SaaS/cloud would decimate IT departments, it appears that tech jobs are still around but rapidly adapting and changing to service the new landscape. How will this trend affect you in your job search and career? Forbes addresses this question in their article, "The Great Cloud-induced Job Implosion That Never Happened," in reference to the Deloitte study published in the Wall Street Journal:

"If anything, cloud computing is increasing complexity and workloads, creating more demand for IT skills."

But the skills needed for current and future IT jobs will need to be actively cultivated in order for IT professionals to stay relevant. Oddly enough, we're not talking about mastery of new languages or technologies here as much as learning to interface effectively with internal business customers, vendor staff, and external customers.

In addition, new types of competencies are growing in importance:

"Deloitte reports that rather than diminish in-house IT departments, it is generating more “value-added” activities such as 'high-end software development, business analytics, enterprise architecture, and strategic vendor relationship management.'"

We have discussed in this space before how IT professionals are increasingly expected to be business savvy. The sought-after hires will be those who are attuned to leveraging IT to add value to the business.


Specifically, in three companies, here are examples of how certain jobs are morphing:

Programmers/coders to.....Application Developers, Technical Analysts

IT Staff to.....Business Analyst, Architects

IT Staff who maintained/fixed apps to.....Teachers/mentors/trainers supporting end-users in the use of new cloud/SaaS services

Where do you see possibilities for your career in these changes? I'd love to hear!

 

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Topics: career management, career planning, executive job search, branded executive resume, career marketing, SaaS jobs, Cloud jobs

"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

Programmers & IT Support Staff: SaaS & Your Job

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 20, 2012 5:23:00 PM

SaaS & Your IT Job

As a follow-on to my last post on the impact of cloud computing on the IT jobs landscape, here are a list of jobs predicted to emerge as one aspect of the cloud - software-as-a-service or SaaS - becomes even more widely adopted. If you work currently as a traditional software programmer or support back-end systems under the leadership of a CIO, take note of the opportunities emerging as discussed in CIO Magazine's article on: "What SaaS Means for the Future of the IT Department."

Programmers: Less demand for software programming and more for Web 2.0 and Java skills along with knowledge of open Web standards, as the trend toward Web-mediated application delivery and mobile computing accelerates.

For the large numbers of IT support staff out there, who primarily keep ERP systems running, support the infrastructure and the back end, you may no longer be working for the company you're with. The jobs will be at the SaaS vendors: roles integrating different SaaS solutions for a customer or working in the data center.

Large-scale adoption of ERP delivered as SaaS may be slow, however, due to the complexity of the inter-relationships between applications. Single application SaaS is booming though, and here is a recommendation as mentioned in CIO Magazine's article worth serious consideration:

"The SaaS trend will force many IT professionals to rethink their skills and the value they bring to their companies, says Jeffrey Kaplan, president of THINKstrategies, a consultancy that helps companies adopt SaaS applications."

Translated, what this means is that you need to build your career brand around the skills in current demand and your unique value proposition. I never write an IT resume that doesn't showcase my client's value prop  - and you shouldn't either. For more on branding, click here.

 


 

 

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Topics: IT job search, career management, career planning, career services, cloud technology

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

Tech Job Search: Do They Want a Sword or a Swiss Army Knife?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 15, 2012 10:10:00 AM

If you want a tech job in the future, which do you have to be? A Sword or a Swiss Army Knife?             or               To get an IT job, should you be a sword or a Swiss army knife?

If you are an IT professional and looking to add certifications in order to advance and make more money, think again. According to Foote Partners, a boutique IT benchmarking firm, as reported by CIO blogger Meridith Levinson, the pay premiums for 82 specific IT skills and 88 IT certifications are falling. What they are seeing is none other than a sea change in how tech professionals are valued.

As technology continues to change in the blink of an eye and often in surprising directions (the death of the desktop?), companies are looking for people who don't simply have the certification de jour. Instead, they are demanding a much broader skillset, one that isn't limited to technology. For instance, they are looking for folks who have technical depth but a business perspective. People who can foster innovation, drive revenues, help evolve the organization in ever leaner, more profitable directions.

Foote reports, "...the restructuring of IT departments that took place during the recession, which in some cases continues today, is driving demand for business skills and contributing to the devaluing of pure tech skills." Pure-play technical expertise is becoming "a dime a dozen." In other words, technical skills are becoming a commodity. And, like other products and services that have been commoditized, their price goes down. 

What should tech professionals managing their careers do to avoid becoming a commodity? Develop value-adds, such as another area of proficiency in a business function (i.e., marketing, accounting) and an abiity to continually apply business concepts (strategy alignment, product and service innovation, bottom-line growth) to the activity of IT.

"They're looking for walking Swiss army knives," says Foote. It can sound daunting. But the more aware you of these seismic shifts in your profession and the more you shape your professional identity in the direction of market requirements, the more you will have an edge in your IT job search, now and in and for the (foreseeable!) future.

 

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Topics: IT job search, career management, career planning, compensation

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

IT Job Search: How to Be Relevant in Today's Job Market

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 17, 2011 10:02:00 AM

Top IT Skills

Photo by scottchan: Cloud Computing Technology Concept

Matt Ferguson, the CEO of CareerBuilder.com, the largest online job board, has a uniquely broad view of the labor market. And what he sees is that, despite high unemployment, there is a major labor SHORTAGE in some niche fields, including technology, engineering, and health care.

In his article in the Harvard Business Review, "How American Business Can Navigate the Skills Gap," Matt suggests several strategies for addressing what he views as a critical skills gap that, if not addressed by business and government, could cause "a long range structural problem."

One of those strategies is retraining. For example, if you are an IT professional and can't find work, consider retraining in one of the IT niches that are in demand right now. Cloud developers is one such area. 

ComputerWorld lists 11 skills that are hot right now. They include:

  1. Programming and application development (Java, for instance)
  2. Project management
  3. Help desk / technical support
  4. Networking (& virtualization)
  5. Security
  6. Data center
  7. Web 2.0
  8. Telecommunications
  9. Business intelligence
  10. Collaboration architecture
  11. Business acument and communication
Read this list carefully, though, and do your own market research to be sure that the skill you would retrain for is hot in your area - and what specific aspect of the general skill is in demand.
If you've watched the TOP HOT SKILLS lists over the last decade, you'll have noticed that they are a moving target. What do you do if you retrain for the skill that is hot now and in three years is not? Keep your eye on emerging trends, extend your capabilities while on the job into the newer skill areas, and know that you will continually be learning and building throughout your career. To remain relevant, know and follow the trends!
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Topics: job search, personal branding, executive resume writing, technology resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search, Get a Job, IT resumes

On-the-job Praise Leads to Cheating?? Job Search Hints

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 10, 2011 9:29:00 AM

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(Beautiful image by Federico Stevanin)

What?? Here we've always been told that giving positive feedback is important. And we've always felt it helps improve behavior (of our co-workers, direct reports, spouse, kids!) So what does the new study on the subject suggest for job seekers in particular?

A Harvard Business Review blog post by David Rock, Praise Leads to Cheating, suggests some provocative conclusions. A Carol Dweck study presented at the NeuroLeadership Summit in 2011 finds that praising someone's talent, intelligence, or some other quality viewed to be "inborn" makes the person more inclined to lie about their performance (3x more likely) and less likely to take risks.

Those whose work is praised are more likely to take learning risks and be truthful about their performance. The critical distinction here is between praising someone for a static trait s/he is born with and for a work product that is the result of effort. Dweck is quoted as saying:  "trusting in the value of hard work and effort is not just a stronger predictor of success, but a much more powerful motivator."

She contrasts the "fixed" mindset of people in the "inborn quality" camp and the dynamic, willing-to-take risks-and-learn-new-things attitude of those who believe that their hard work will produce results - she calls it a belief in the neutroplasticity of the brain.

What does this mean for job seekers? Job search involves large elements of learning new behaviors and information and taking significant risks. If you can prime yourself with the belief that you can, by hard work and trying new things, be successful at getting a job, you will be much more likely to acheve your goals.

Let go of any ideas such as "more talented people than I are getting the jobs," or "you have to be really smart to do that," or "I'm not as good as the rest" or any other belief in the fixed quality of your traits. 

Focus instead on your ability to make something great happen for yourself through dint of hard work and taking risks. Risks would include networking boldly and actively and directly approaching hiring managers. They would also include becoming more active in online conversations (LinkedIn, Twitter). It's within YOUR power!

 

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Topics: job search, executive resumes, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive job search

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