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

What Story Does YOUR Resume Tell and Will It Work?

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 18, 2015 4:09:00 PM

 dreamstimefree_85744

Read through your current resume with an objective eye - what story does it tell? Here are some of the stories I've seen in people's resumes:

- I had a lot of authority in my jobs before 2005 but since then not so much

- I stuck with one job for 10 years back in the '90s but have had really short 1-2 year stints since 2005

- I have a ton of technical skills and am a real hands-on techie (Problem is that resume is meant to apply to Project Manager, Program Manager, Director/Sr. Director of IT, VP of IT, even CIO jobs)

- I've got titles all over the map and am not clear on which one I'm seeking next

- I've got a ton of numbers showing 20 quantitative achievements in my jobs

- I've got odd titles that are not industry standard and I'm not sure how they translate to other companies

These are just a few of the stories I see constantly in people's resumes. And there is a problem with every single one of them. The problem is that the recruiter isn't interested in these stories and may well be put off by them.

If one of these is the story your resume tells, don't despair! These stories and others can all be rewritten to construct a story that will appeal to a recruiter for your target job.

What kind of stories will a recruiter be looking for? It depends on the target job, but may go something like this:

- I've got the title(s) and skills you (the recruiter) lists in the job ad and am supremely qualified for the job

- In every job, I've had one overriding achievement showing what I contributed to the company at the macro level

- I'm a consistent high achiever and you can count on that continuing in my next job

- I am differentiated from the competition by [this will vary by person and is part of their brand]. Here are a few sample differentiators: Ability to turn around under-performing groups/companies; Ability to drive organizational, technological, and/or culture change; High level specialized certifications; MBA or coursework at leading business and computer science schools; A specialty in entrepreneurial situations; The list could go on and on and the differentiator is as unique as you are

- I have a  passion for [name your passion] and, by exercising it in my job, I was able to produce [fill in] results in every role

-  I thrive in high pressure, deadline-driven environment and love the hard challenges

- I uniquely cross boundaries between technology and business strategy to make IT a strategic business partner and profit center

This is just a sampling of possible stories that would appeal to a recruiter depending on the job. And you will need to be sensitive to the specific kinds of stories desired for the specific job.

This process of developing your story may seem foreign to you and your stories difficult to figure out. If so, don't hesitate to call on a professional resume writer who understands strategy in resume writing and can help you identify your story, the one that will appeal to a recruiter for your target job.

Good luck and let me know how it goes in converting your resume story to a recruiter-attracting one!

 

 

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resume

Gallup Reports 70% US Workers Unengaged - Enter: Personal Branding

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 26, 2013 11:58:00 AM

 personal brandingCourtesy Gallup

Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report came out a few days ago and finds that between 1010 and 2012 only 30% of workers report being actively engaged at work, 50% are unengaged, and 20% are actively disengaged (working against the company's interest). The report estimates that this high number of unengaged workers costs the US up to $550B annually. These losses result from absenteeism, health and safety issues, quality defects, and lost productivity.

There are a number of interesting findings in the report. But I am interested today in the recommendations for addressing the problem

Gallup identifies three main ways for companies to increase employee engagement. I'd like to focus on just the second, because it is so key to people's careers and transitions, my particular areas of interest:

"The research shows that people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job."

We can fairly say, then, that if we increase employee engagement by 60%, we've gotten a lot closer to the desired fully engaged workforce. That's a huge impact! Even though Gallup employs "strengths-based" terminology, many of us this see the concept as very close to what we now call "personal branding." 

So what are the Gallup Report recommendations to improve engagement?

They advise that employers and managers actively help their employees to discover and use their strengths, as distinguished from their weaknesses. The idea is to identify what workers are doing and what skills they are employing when they are being the most productive (and fully engaged). Then they need to make sure to assign them the kinds of tasks that require those skills.

In personal branding, we identify a person's "unique promise of value." This is a concept formulated by William Arruda. It includes what a person does best (talents), skills, his/her attributes, unique knowledge base, the value s/he delivers consistently, personal style, and similar factors.

Gallup found that when teams focused on team members' strengths, productivity goes up 12.5% and translates into increased revenues and profitability.

Whether managers and staff choose to use Gallup's strengths-based tools, branding processes such as Reach Personal Branding, or any other related instrument, they have the power to improve lives and businesses to a remarkable degree, according to the findings.

What can you do today to discover your strengths or remind yourself of them, if you already know them? If you manage others, what can you do today to ensure that your staff are using their individual strengths? If you are managed, how can you influence your manager to make use of your unique constellation of skills, attributes, and talents?

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Topics: personal branding, career management, personal brands, branded executive resume

Killer Bees & Your Job Search: 5 Takeaways

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 10, 2013 10:57:00 AM

Killer Bees & Your Job Search

Been paying attention to the Survival of the Fittest going on before our very eyes in the case of bees? The very bees responsible for pollinating much of the world's crops? This is the current state of affairs: honey bees hives are failing in large numbers, so much so that many growers have to depend on trucked-in bees to pollinate their crops. In China, crops are being pollinated BY HAND!

What is the reason for this serious threat to our foodstocks? Scientists are not sure; some say perticides and herbicides, some say malnutrition (too much monoculture of low-nutrition crops). Still other scientists opine that honey bees have been bred for low aggression traits, so that handlers don't have to wear as much or any protective clothing.

In any case, there is a third option some growers are using: introducing African killer bees to pollinate their crops. This strain appears to be thriving in Texas and other states that have imported these aggressive bees. The danger of course is to humans and animals who can die from these stings. Killer bees sting readily in contrast to the domesticated honey bees. It appears that being highly protective of the honey correlates with robust hives.

I couldn't help but think about this lesson from nature and wonder if it is suggestive of what we are seeing in the new world of work. Not just how to get a job, but how to keep it and how to keep your career growing robustly. The recommendations below are based on commonly understood trends that currently prevail.

1. Keeping your job: Get aggressive about owning the results of your work; don't let someone else taka advantage of your less boastful personality and take the credit - and the promotion!

2. Keeping your job: Abandon the passive honey bee side of you, and fiercely hone your branded value proposition within the company. Get the word out by circulating project status memos, networking internally, and pushing to get on projects that will enhance your brand.

3. Getting a job: Forget waiting around for recruiters to get back to you about jobs you've applied to. Aggressively mine your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, college alumni, and professional groups to make contact with employees of your target company. More about this in other blog posts here.

4. Getting a job: ALWAYS be in the job market. Gone are the days of the "company man." you cannot count on an employer to have your career security as a goal. That's the honey bee way: "OK you took away my protect-the-hive response, now you have to take care of me, your employee." It's not happending. Now, you will be cut loose if it's financially beneficial for the firm. So get your branded value proposition out there internally and externally and get active!

5. Getting a job: Every day of your job search, pick something you can actively do to get in front of decision makers: build a company list, network into the companies, connect with employees, send a direct mail campaign, work your alumni and association member lists. In other words, leave the traditional passive job search in the past and aggressively go after unpublished and post opportunities. Even approach organizations with the idea of writing your own job description.

The work world of the past is the world of the honeybee. The hives are dying. Employers won't look out for you. So aggressively protect your work product from being poached just as the killer bees protect their honey. And aggressively pursue job search strategies that have a high success rate. You need to win in this world of hyper-competitive search and short duration jobs by channelling your inner killer bee!

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Topics: job search, networking, personal branding, executive resumes, killer bees

Top 15 Resume Hurdles of IT Managers/CIOs/VPs of IT/IT Directors

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 26, 2013 6:12:00 PM

Image hurdle

People come to an executive resume writer for a number of reasons. One or more of the following may sound familiar to you.

  1. "My resume is attracting lower level jobs that are too hands-on technical"
  2. "My resume doesn't communicate my true value"
  3. "My resume doesn't communicate anything beyond my technology skills, like my business skills"
  4. "I’m not sure what job titles I should apply to out there - my company uses titles no one else is using"
  5. "I’m not sure what my objective should be and what jobs I can get"
  6. "I got off track in a niche area of IT and don’t know how to get back into what I want to be doing"
  7. "I’m not being paid what I think others are for what I do"
  8. "I’ve done everything there is to do here, and I feel as though my career is getting stalled – I need more challenge"
  9. "I want to be making more money, and I'm not sure how to go about getting a higher salary"
  10. "I'm more of a generalist, so how do I go about getting a job where my skills are valued?"
  11. "I have a lot of skills and experience, but all the tech jobs, even the executive ones, want specific technology experience that I often don't have"
  12. "I want to change industries, but employers want you to have had experience in their industry; how do I break into a new sector?"
  13. "I don’t have the exact tech skills and experience with certain environments employers are looking for, but I know I can do the job – how do I convince them?"
  14. "I'm too senior for a lot of the tech jobs but too junior for the ones I know I can do and want to target; what do I do?"
  15. "My resume and LinkedIn profile are attracting the wrong kind of jobs"

If you can relate to any of these issues (there is some overlap), you are not alone. There are ways to overcome hurdles like these with a skillfully written (and strictly honest) resume and LinkedIn profile and some career and interview coaching. Don't be hesitant to reach out for help to someone in the careers community. It can make the difference between getting a great job and just settling. Good luck!

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, IT job search, IT management job search, IT director jobs, CIO jobs, IT manager jobs

Executive Resumes & Personal Branding: What Is No One Talking About?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 9, 2013 10:36:00 AM

personal branding & living the life you were born to live

Every once in a while I get to step back and look at the work I do with my clients from a larger, more expansive perspective. Ordinarily, we are laser focused on developing a branded executive resume and LinkedIn profile that will attract interviews and job offers. But what is really at stake here?                

Nothing less than your life. I'm currently reading The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope, Director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the famed Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Western Massachusetts. I tell you I did a double-take! He's talking about personal branding using the vocabulary of yogic fulfillment!

Yet, the criticality of discovering who you are, who you are given to be in your life, is rarely mentioned in personal branding discussions. Personal branding sounds like it's "nice to have," optional, a smart thing to do for career advancement, for making more money, and achieving greater fulfillment, but - is it a tragedy if you don't do it, find it, live it out?

Steven Cope says it is. If people "miss the mark" by even a little - say, they're a priest when they reallly want to lead the choir - that person may well experience ill effects from boredom, depression, feeling out of sync with what they do with most of their waking hours. And the world will have an uncomfortable, conflicted priest instead of inspired sacred music making.

Another thing that happens is that people undervalue their gifts, and therefore continue to do what they do with a nagging sense of falling short of "the big thing" they should be doing.

This is the situation I see most often. Wiliam Arruda's Reach 360 Survey is a fabulous tool for helping my clients see the gifts that others see in them - that they are too close to to see - or that they discount because their gifts come so naturally to them.

Learning that others DON'T usually have their particular gifts and that they turn to them for their gifts is a real eye-opener. The process helps my clients achieve a new sense of themselves as highly valued for their unique, natural-to-them ways that they do their work and interact with others.

What does the world lose by inidividuals not valuing themselves for their intrinsic personal brand? A person on fire with their passions and coming from a place of inner alignment with the greatest life that they can have - who does his work skillfully and with joy.

So, when you come to write your executive resume, be sure to let employers and recruiters know who you are - someone no one can duplicate - along with why the company needs someone like you. Get your personal brand out there - and give the world a chance to be benefited by you, living out your greatest life.

 

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, LinkedIn Profiles

7 Key Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

Posted by Jean Cummings

Mar 3, 2013 6:06:00 PM

Using Social Media for Job SearchOne of the biggest concerns my executive clients have is how to use social media in their job search. They know that it's the new kid on the job search block, but they themselves have rarely gone beyond a bare bones LinkedIn profile (LIP). Facebook evokes shudders of horror, and Twitter is deemed trivial.

Some rethinking might be in order. Life calls on us to go out of our comfort zone on occasion - and this may be one of those times. See what you think about these steps to start actively leveraging the good in social media to promote your personal brand for job search and career advancement. Do they feel doable to you?

1. When you see a job you're interested in anywhere, use LI to connect with a couple of managers in the company that posted the job. Ask for 5-10 minutes of their time - say that you are interested in the job and want to find out a little bit about company culture, trends, etc. If it feels comfortable, request that they forward your resume to the hiring manager (not HR - submit that separately as instructed in the job ad). Why would they help you? Employees frequently get financially rewarded for referring a candidate that gets hired.

2. "Rinse and repeat" for your other social media sites: Identify employees, ask for a brief conversation, ask that they forward your resume to the hiring manager.

3. Reach out directly through LinkedIn to the recruiter or hiring manager. Express interest. Send your resume.

4. On Facebook, go to the company pages set up by your target companies and "Like" the company (recruiters say they notice "likes" more than comments!).

5. Expand your online footprint, so that when your name is Googled (and it will be!), you show up, on brand, in a number of places, not just LinkedIn.

6. Search for jobs on LI, Twitter, and Facebook every day or every other day. They (and job apps created around them) all have extensive job listings. To find third-party apps, Google like this: "[Twitter] job search."

7. Watch the activity of companies you are targeting. If you see they are going through M&A (mergers and acquisitions), opening up new offices, expanding product lines, etc., use that information to position yourself as a "solution" in a letter direct to the hiring manager (US Mail) or via email.

This is a limited list, but if you implement some or most of these items, you will be in a good position to both attract recruiter interest and get interviews. Practice until you become adept at leveraging the personal promotional potential of social media sites. Take the advice of my client who "poo-pood" these suggestions at first and now uses Twitter almost exclusively for Healthcare IT professional information. Do it and see. You'll be glad you did.

 

 

Tags: LinkedIn, Twitter, networking, social media job search, Pinterest, youtube

 

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Topics: LinkedIn, networking, personal branding, personal brand, Twitter, Social media job search, Pinterest, youtube

Follow Your Bliss? Or Get Real? Career Choices

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 20, 2012 11:16:00 AM

career choices - bliss or money?

Image courtesy of lowdensitylifestyle.com

Peter Weddle - known for his authoritative work on on employment sites showcased on weddles.com - has written a novel on how three protagonists navigate the new world of work. It's called A Multitude of Hope. His thesis is that, with the demise of the corporate ladder, we are on the verge of a work renaissance, where talent and continuous learning and training are the determinants of career success. While being interviewed by coaching pioneer Susan Whitcomb, Peter, somewhat surprisingly, didn't repeat the common mantra of the age:

"Follow Your Bliss."

Popularized by Joseph Campbell, this is the instruction commonly given to people who are unhappy in work. Having been interested in the world of work for decades now, I have always veiwed such a proscription with a touch of skepticism. I know it works out for some. Some are able to follow their bliss and still make the money they need or adjust their lifestyle to match their new income stream.

But, for many, there is a difficult tradeoff between what they would love most to do all day and the job that will bring them in enough money. So, what did Peter say? He said that your work should be at the intersection of your talent and practicality.

Although talent isn't identical to what you love to do, the concept is the same: for work, find a situation where you can use the particular subset of your talents and/or bliss activities and also get paid what you need (your assessment). Also, find a job that provides you with the challenges and opportunities for growth that will maintain and sustain you over time.

Take the musician who works in Whole Foods' award-winning cheese department during the day, but plays the gigs she loves to play at night and on weekends. She also loves cheese and relating to people. So her day job pays for her first bliss, music. And Whole Foods is a company that provides the team-centered and customer service work she enjoys and also an opportunity to earn a wage that has the potential to inflate significantly over time, even if she doesn't progress up the ladder of promotions.

In another instance, a Director of IT has worked in the insurance industry for a decade. He loves IT, but not insurance. So he lands a job working for a charitable organization he is passionate about and where he has volunteered his time. He gets to exercise his leadership and IT talents, follow his bliss, and make the money he needs, even though compensation is less than in insurance.

This issue comes up a lot in career branding and personal branding, areas that I work in. It's critical, in helping my executive clients to get their next great job, to find the sweet spot where their personal brand and their career brand and requirements live.

Peter Weddle's book promises a lot of very interesting ideas about the world of work. This is just one of them. How have you found a way to strike a balance between your talents, your bliss, and your need for practical rewards?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy of lowdensitylifestyle.com

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Topics: job search, personal branding, career management, follow your bliss

Is Your Executive Resume Ready for Prime Time? 2 Simple Tests

Posted by Jean Cummings

Oct 1, 2012 1:51:00 PM

Is your resume good enough?

Most people approach the matter of submitting their resume with some trepidation - certainly with the sense that there is some mystery surrounding whether a recruiter or hiring authority will, in the first place, see it at all and, in the second place, act positively on it. And so much rides on whether they do! Success or failure can make the difference between getting an interview or not.

So, what should a resume be these days? Everyone knows times have radically changed in terms of job search and recruiting. Old-fashioned networking is still a good way to get a job. But companies and job seekers alike are finding new opportunities for networking and search on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other online networks. And the increasing use and sophistication of applicant tracking software (ATS) has put a premium on knowing the keyword rules.

But there are a couple of tests you can run your executive resume through that will give you an idea of whether yours is ready for prime time. The first has to do with whether a human being viewing your resume will be inclined to put it in the Yes pile. The second has to do with whether your resume has a good chance of being retrieved electronically so the recruiter will actually see it.

Test #1 HUMAN EYES

Can the reader figure out your unique selling points in 4 seconds? Since you have ONLY 4 SECONDS to make an impression, is your resume set up to be visually accessible and with critical key content that will motivate the recruiter to contact you?

Test #2 ELECTRONIC RETRIEVAL

Does your resume have the keywords and formatting that will enable it to be retrieved in an electronic search by a hiring authority or recruiter for a specific job?

If you've answered "Yes" to both #1 and #2, read no further. But if you've answered "No" to either, keep reading for 6 quick pointers on effective ways to get your resume to pass both these tests.

HUMAN EYES - 3 POINTERS

1.Customize your resume for each opportunity. State your career brand - your unique promise of value for that specific opportunity - right at the top under your contact information. If you don't know what yours is, look through my earlier posts or contact a Certified Personal Branding Strategist like myself for help.

2. Use the target title (as listed in the ad) somewhere in your profile, and use the core competencies required for the particular job somewhere in your profile, preferably in text or in columns/lists if you have too many. This is important, because when a human being scans your resume, s/he will be looking for a match with their open job.

3. Make your top accomplishments stand out visually. For instance, in the experience section below your job title, select the one stand-out contribution you made when you held that particular job title. Then bold it, box it and/or graph it. And use numbers! Then there will be just 3-5 such statements over your whole career that the eye will have to process. Take advantage of the 4 seconds you get to whet the recruiter's appetite for reading about the other accomplishments for each position in more detail!

ELECTRONIC "EYES" - 3 Pointers

1. Identify the keywords in the ad. They will be the required and desired titles, skills, degrees, training and technologies listed. Try to include them in the text portions of your resume as well as in lists/columns. Newer, more sophisticated ATS systems can identify keywords in context and may drop or give less value to lists.

2. Save your resume in ASCII/text format. This is because the formatting you use in your Word version may not translate well, therefore making your resume very hard to read. To save a Word doc as a .txt file, choose Save As from your drop down menu under File and select "text only" - then clean it up and save.

3. Keep your section headings simple and obvious in your ASCII/text version: Summary, Work Experience, Education. The ATS is geared to look for these. If it doesn't recognize a heading, it may well drop that whole section, deep-sixing your resume's chances.

Although all of the above may sound daunting, make every attempt to render your executive resume both people- and machine-friendly. Swing the odds in your favor!

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resume, executive job search, ATS, recruiters

You don't want to do it...do it anyway! Facebook & Your Job Search

Posted by Jean Cummings

Aug 21, 2012 7:42:00 AM

images gorilla

Facebook is considering launching a job board. How you react to this information in a Forbes' blog post may well impact your success in your job search some day soon:

Facebook Jobs Could Kill LinkedIn's Momentum

So, will Facebook eat LinkedIn's lunch re job search and recruitment? Never underestimate the power of the 900M-active-monthly-users Gorilla!

Can I tell you what the percentage of the time my tech exec clients say they steer away from Facebook? Approaching 99%.

Time to play catch-up ball! Already Facebook has job apps such as Glass Door and JobVite. With a new job board/aggregator, it will be a force to be reckoned with. Don't think recruiters haven't noticed the huge database that is Facebook. They have, and companies are already using Facebook to build a recruiting and employment-brand presence.

LI is still the #1 source with 89% of companies having hired people using LI. Only 26% have hired via Facebook. But those numbers may be about to change.

So get ahead of the curve. Establish a public profile on Facebook where you can post mostly professional activity. Or, if you have a personal profile that adds to your brand rather than subtracts from your hireability, begin to insert professional updates.

Being on Facebook doesn't have to be ugly! And it may well get you a job one of these days.

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Topics: job search, LinkedIn, personal branding, Facebook

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

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