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

What To Do When Facing Job Uncertainty

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:53:00 AM

A lot of people are finding themselves facing uncertainty right now. Either they are already unemployed or else they are anxiously eying their company's future as layoffs have begun or are rumored.
 
Of course it makes sense to have an up-to-date, personal-brand-driven resume and cover letter ready. And it's vital to reach out to networking contacts both through your own personal network or through the social and organizational networks you can access online. 

But beyond these proactive measures, what professional certifications, workshops, or continuing education would enhance your brand and give you an edge over your competition?

For IT folks - the niche I work within - there are 5 in-demand certifications at this point in time that would benefit a job applicant to have. According to TechRepublic, three of them are related to ITIL - Information Technology Infrastructure Library, one of them is related to Security, and one is the PMP - Project Management Professional - certification. 

What could you learn about in your field that would cause your resume to be placed in the "yes" pile? Or what mentoring or internship at your workplace would expose you to new skills and learning? Tough times don't have to be hopeless, waiting times. They can be times for you to strengthen your position for getting a job even in this recessionary environment or to position you well for the economic recovery that will surely come. 
 

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Topics: personal branding, technology executive resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, Working

Two Points of View on Purpose

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:50:00 AM

 

I listened with interest to Tim Kelley's teleseminar on "Finding Your True Purpose" and then bumped into Po Bronson's article in Fast Company on "What Shall I Do With My Life Now?" The first asserted that everyone has something that they are "meant" to do and that they can find out their true purpose through an inner dialogue (between self and soul or some other source). 

On the other hand, Po Bronson, author of bestselling books and most recently, "What Shall I Do With My Life?" says, "There is no one thing each of us is meant to do on this planet." He goes on to say there are dozens, even hundreds of jobs that might satisfy someone's need for "meaning and goodness." He says that one can evolve on the job into work that is deeply satisfying.

Where the two authors converge is on the importance of doing work that is meaningful to the person doing it. I think our experiences dictate how we  come down on the question of uncovering our particular work choice(s). From my point of view, finding what one is is going to do next comes from an inner place, from a place of insight, and varies according to the time or stage of life. 

Where do you come down on this question? What have you learned about finding out what work you really want to be doing?
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Topics: executive resumes, career management, career planning, Working

Be the One Left Standing

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:39:00 AM

 
 
"What's most important to my company right now and how do I make sure I'm contributing to that, and that my achievement is visible to my boss?" Sarah Grayson, an executive search consultant, is quoted as asking in a Wall Street Journal article:  Does Avoiding the 9-to-5 Grind Make You a Target for Layoffs?
Although the article is primarily about telecommuters and people with flexible schedules and how they have to be careful so as not to be subject to layoffs, there are implications for all workers.

It doesn't matter - in terms of whether you lose your job or not - if you are making fantastic contributions, but your boss isn't fully aware of them and how they impact the organization. Not only do you need to be involved in critical work, but you also have to make hiring authorities aware that what you are working on really is critical to the organizational mission.

It's all about your brand and how you express it. Make sure you know and your bosses know what your value proposition is, what your value-adds are, and what makes you unique. And then find ways to communicate those to them. Maybe send a brief update memo about a project you just successfully completed, how it benefited the company, and how your unique characteristics were key to the process. Or you could get the message across in a brief meeting you ask for to discuss what the critical activities are that you could be come involved in next. 

This kind of reflection, analysis, and communication will prove invaluable not only in your bosses' appreciation of your important contributions, but also in building your personal brand and enhancing the content of your resume. It goes back to the conundrum: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, can it be said to fall? So, as modestly as possible, get the word out about how the work you do is important to the company going forward!
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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, career management, Jobs, reputation management, Working

In Hindsight, I Should Have...

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:35:00 AM

The Boston Sunday Globe and Monday's Wall Street Journal both have articles about people who have been laid off from their jobs and are turning to entrepreneurship to try to make a living. In most cases, they have to invest a lot of their own (and other people's) money to fund the startups. Then they go through a period of time when they are earning significantly less than they did in their corporate jobs. In several of the examples, the newly minted entrepreneurs may never earn as much as they did before they were laid off, although job satisfaction appears to be generally high. 


The recession has taught us a lot about how insecure our investments and employment can be. And people have learned to be creative about employment alternatives, given the fact that they may not be able to find a job in their (now-dried-up) areas of expertise. 

It struck me that, in the case of career changers as well as entrepreneurs, keeping fixed living costs on the low side (mortgages, rents, cost of cars/transportation etc.) gives them the flexibility to go with a lower paying job or launch a business in response to a volatile job market. It may be that a silver lining of this difficult time is that people will spend less, save more, and, in some cases, seek job fulfillment over financial benefits. 

If even Warren Buffett didn't see this one coming, perhaps the rest of us should plan our lives in a way that allows for down as well as up markets, lean as well as flush times, winter as well as summer, droughts as well as abundantly rainy conditions. And to consider planning our lives in such a way that we are not so wedded to a high-salary lifestyle that we can't change careers or break out on our own to find the job fulfillment we've always wanted.  
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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, Working

What To Do When You Really Can't Get a Job

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:19:00 AM

 

 If, despite conducting an advanced job search with a great branded resume, you still can't get a job in your chosen field/function, the options below are worth considering. Short on time? Skim the bolded areas below to get the gist of these 3 strategies. 

1. KNOW WHERE THE JOBS ARE IN YOUR FIELD AND REDIRECT YOUR CAREER TOWARDS THEM. Do research to uncover the areas of high-demand and the areas that will languish going forward. Consider getting a relevant certification or doing an internship in the growth area.

In IT, there are areas where hiring is expected to be strong and areas where the jobs may be gone forever. The Hackett Group is recommending that companies not hire back laid-off system admins and support staff, but rather outsource those jobs to other countries where the pay scales are lower. Someone called me last week and told me that his job in IT - inside sales - was being offshored to India. So a job that he assumed was secure turned out not to be.

Areas of projected high growth in IT are Security, Healthcare IT, Global Wireless, Virtualization Software, Business Analytics, SaaS. Can you get qualified to work in one of these specialty areas? 

2. CHANGE YOUR CAREER & GET CERTIFIED IN A NEW FIELD. You may or may not be ready for a radical change, but sometimes, to transition to a growth sector and start paying the bills, there is a solution that would enable you to get a good job with  good-enough pay (depending on your requirements) after only a few months or, in some cases, a year or more of study and internship. (A year of studying beats a year of knocking your head against the wall going to job fairs and sending out resumes.) 

Review your local community college's certification programs. Inquire into its career placement program and its ties to local businesses that may be hungry for graduates of the certification programs. These certifications often came about because of the dearth of skilled employees in those areas and business demand for employees in the region. 

There are certifications in many areas, including public safety and homeland security, human resources, and auditing. To stay in IT, you can increase your eligibility for IT jobs in healthcare by getting a healthcare IT certification. Hiring in this area can be expected to be strong as healthcare delivery becomes increasingly IT-dependent.

This is a sample of my local community college's offerings: there is a new Energy Utility Technology Certificate Program meant to help meet the "urgent, long-term need" of utilities for these specialists. Utility SmartGrid initiatives will be requiring IT employees and others. Biotechnology Technician is another certification that is offered that, like the energy certification, requires an internship, giving you real-world, valuable experience with an employer that would give you an edge in hiring. Computer Forensics Certification. Dental Assisting. Many others.

Earning a valued healthcare certification may help you change your career. As the population of aging Americans grows, more services will be needed. There are many clinical-professional as well as administrative certifications in healthcare. Some in-demand jobs with certifications are: MRI technologist, radiation therapist, and nuclear medicine technologist. There are other certifications that promise to be growth areas as boomers age such as Certified Life Care Planner and Certified Life Care Manager, as well as Medicare Set-Aside Certified Consultant.

3. GET CREATIVE, FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, AND CHANNEL YOUR INNER ENTREPRENEUR. On NPR's "On Point" radio program on "Life After Layoffs," the discussion centered around a film, "Lemonade," about what the laid-off executives of a Manhattan ad agency went on to do when it was clear there were no jobs for them. One exec profiled turned his avocation into his vocation. He left Manhattan for a studio upstate and now sells enough of his paintings to live well in a less-expensive region. (The strategy of reducing your expenses and/or changing your lifestyle is one that can help you make the transition away from a big paycheck and towards a more meaningful career.) One exec became a yoga and holistic health counselor. Another became a career reinvention coach. One caller took his passion for European car parts and turned it into an Internet business.

Many people's successful alternative careers are heavily dependent on technology for making products and on the Internet for selling products and services.

Wired Magazine (Feb. 2010) predicts that a new industrial revolution is in the making "in an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design.Now that individuals are able, without a high capital outlay, to use computers and 3-D printers to design and prototype new products and then outsource custom, "small-batch" manufacturing to China, many small entrepreneurs are successfully bringing their products to market. Some examples? A kit car manufacturer. A company that makes accessories that interface with Lego blocks. Bike components. Customer furniture. Noise-canceling wireless headsets. If you have a great idea for a new product, you may be able to grow a business from your garage.

IN SUMMARY. If you are out of work and feel out of options, these new directions might spark an idea for you that could result in a rewarding new career. With the fast pace of technological change, the vicissitudes of the market, and an increasingly global economy, it makes sense for everyone - jobless or not - to be thinking about having an ace up their sleeve and an idea about how to adapt to "what's next."

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Topics: job search, personal branding, executive resumes, executive resume writing, career management, career planning, Get a Job, Working

Match.com and Your Resume

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:06:00 AM

My friend who uses Match.com  has met several people who are a good match for her age, interests, politics, and education level and one person in particular who has become a really close friend. It makes sense - it's why so many people worldwide use the site. Then why is it that people are still indiscriminately sending resumes in to jobs that bear little resemblance to the jobs they have listed on their resume? It just makes things harder for the truly qualified.

One of the reasons that companies and recruiters are turning away from paying to post jobs on the big job boards is that they get so many irrelevant resumes! Even if you are a serious candidate and provide a close match with the advertised job, you will have a hard time penetrating the jungle of thousands of "unmatched" resumes. (That's why you need to network.)

If you are on Match.com and want to meet people who are pacifists like you or left-leaning liberals, you can expect not to be matched up with hawks and right-leaning Republicans. Right? So what does that mean about how you write your resume? You want your resume to provide a "close match" with the advertised position.

First, the keywords. Make sure that the keywords you find in the job posting can be found on your resume, even if you have to make a "Skills" list at the end of your resume to contain all of them.

Second, your industry. Apply to jobs that are in the same industry that you have experience in. With the intense competition for jobs, you are less likely to be considered for a job outside your industry experience. That means that if you truly want to switch industries, don't count on applicant tracking technology such is as used on the job boards and corporate sites to come up with your resume. Instead, power up your networking to give you a chance to get in front of a hiring authority and make a pitch about the transferability of your skills. 

Third, your job title. If you have held the same title as the job you are applying for in the same industry, you will be providing a close match. If you are seeking to take your career to the next level (going from Director to Senior Director or Senior Director to VP, for instance), you will fare better if you mention the higher-level title in your profile by saying something like, "Poised to assume a VP-level position" or "Targeting VP positions." That's to get the keyword in there, but also to let the reader know that you are ready to move up. Your resume will be more credible, then, if you can demonstrate you've used the skills required in the higher-level position, such as including examples of your contributions to strategic planning if you want an executive-level job. 

Fourth, your skills. Make your resume sound familiar to the reader who has posted the ad. You want to provide a comfort level for the reader by using the skills that they are seeking. 

Fifth, your results. The hiring authority can usually afford - given the large number of applicants - to be picky and interview people whose dynamic accomplishments are highlighted in their resumes. So knock their socks off!

Getting a job is all about providing that close match to a position an organization is seeking to fill. As we've talked about before, networking is your best bet for getting a job - by a long shot. Fortunately, networking will most likely provide you with an opportunity to tailor your resume to a job opening. Count on needing to tweak your resume towards that open position. 

So go for it - get a great date, um, job!

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Topics: job search, personal branding, executive resumes, executive resume writing, career management, Jobs, Working

What My Alpha Dog Taught Me About Working - 5 Lessons

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 6:27:00 AM

 
 When our yellow lab died, I tried to live without a dog. But I found myself at one of our association conferences down in Florida going on the Internet searching for pictures of dogs in every spare moment instead of paying attention to the presentations! When I got home, I jumped on a small ad in the Boston Globe: high-performance black field lab – 18 months. We went out to visit and came home with Lili. The “high-performance” should have been a tip-off, along with the fact that two of her other families had returned her to the breeder, but I was blind with need for that which only a dog can give!

Now there are a lot of words I could use to describe Lili, and high-performance is definitely one, but another few are: highly dog aggressive, fearful of dogs, needing extraordinary amounts of exercise each day (even now at 8), out-of-control, and physically powerful!

So, a major problem: how to exercise her and survive encounters with other dogs so that they didn’t get hurt. From Lili I learned several valuable lessons about how to do my work.


1. Exercise Discipline. Without a full half-hour walk in morning and afternoon we get hyper dog who flips tennis balls at us all night. I realize, in my work, if I have a goal – such as wanting to extend my brand through social media - I have to devote a specified time EACH day to that task.


2. Be Resourceful. When I first started walking Lili, I thought a chain collar would be all I would need to keep her under control, since all the dogs around seem to be on leashes. It worked until we encountered one who wasn’t: a golden retriever. Anyone who knows the breed knows that coming up close to sniff at a snarling, maniacal, foaming-at-the-mouth, scary-as-hell animal isn’t out of character for a golden. I knew I had real trouble, that Lili could easily have savaged that dog. So – in addition to a chain collar – I put Lili in a muzzle. In my work, once I realized that my old pay-for-advertising methods weren’t working anymore for my business, I experimented and found a new marketing strategy that brings me great prospects.


3. Have Courage. Braving the civilized world with a killer dog – even in a muzzle – is daunting to someone who feels deeply that politeness is the general rule of social intercourse! In work, I have learned to risk putting my thoughts out there in an eBook and in blog posts and take a chance that other people’s reactions might be either positive or negative.


4. Play the Cards You’re Dealt. One day, as we were passing a man with a nice, calm, obedient dog, he took a look at Lili’s overwhelming aggression and said “That’s a problem.” So, right, I’ve got a problem and everyone sees it. But I knew that I had Lili under control with her muzzle and chain collar and that I could keep her head within inches of my knee. I did everything I could about our problem and would just have to put up any with criticism and negative reactions from others. In my work, as the recession hit and many of my target market were out of work and methods of finding work had changed, I needed to be sure that my executive resume clients knew how to be successful. I revised my eBook on strategy to include social networking and gave it a priority among my offerings. I did what I could to give my clients the strategies and tools they would need in the new environment, even though I wished job search could have been easier for them.


5. Be Grateful for the Good Stuff. Have I told you that when Lili is in the house and well-exercised she is devoted, affectionate, smart and sweet? It’s true. Once we knew her problems, we knew that we would simply have to deal with them as best we could. We tried one-on-one training from 2 different trainers, going to a dog shrink, and trying many other techniques, all to no avail. We felt that we had made a commitment to Lili and that we couldn’t return her to her breeder for her to face another loss and an uncertain future. So we try to remember the good with the bad and appreciate her good and special qualities. At work, when I am feeling pressured, frustrated, pulled in too many directions, or uncertain about marketing in a recessionary economy, I try to remember that I am so happy to be running my own business, that I love to write resumes that help people get jobs, that I love having control over my time and my working destiny, and that I truly feel I am doing what I am meant to be doing in the universe at this time.


If any of you out there have learned things from your creatures, your "familiars," I’d love to hear them. (And if you have a magic bullet that cures dog aggression, let me know about that too!). Peaceful, happy holidays to you all.

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Topics: executive resumes, career management, Jobs, Working

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