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On The Job Hunt? Never Be Afraid to Tell Your Story

Tell Stories_Get Hired_DaisyWright

Today’s career musings is not only based on a quote by actress Angie Dickinson, but also contains elements from the Foreword of my new book, Tell Stories Get Hired. Credit for the Foreword goes to Sharon Graham, one of Canada’s foremost Career Strategists.

While Dickinson’s quote may relate to life in general, this post is written from a job search context and targets mid-career professionals, managers and executives. It is also relevant to job seekers, people in career transition, and even those who are happy at work!

When it comes to job search, we cannot underestimate the importance of storytelling. Your job search story literally starts with “Once upon a time…”. If you can articulate your value effectively, you can succeed in your job search. Career storytelling can help you build credibility, but its benefits don’t end there. It can also help you to identify your dreams, strengthen your values, find your true assets, and build your self-confidence.

Never be afraid to tell your story. Storytelling is an integral part of your job search. It’s a technique you must use to communicate why you are the best person for the job. It’s a strategy you should employ when networking to demonstrate your industry expertise. You cannot afford to be seen as ‘a shrinking violet’, “someone who is shy or modest and does not like to attract attention.”  Don’t be afraid!

Your story should be interesting. When writing your resume, when networking, or during an interview, create a vivid and interesting picture of what role you played in the story. Were you the lead actor, or did you play a supporting role? In fact, take them on a ride in your CAR, and explain the Challenges you encountered, the Actions you took, and the Results.

Your story is unique. Even if your story is similar to someone else’s, it’s not the same. Find ways to showcase your uniqueness. Brand your story in a package that stands out. According to Sharon, “Our current job search environment is very competitive and the only way to differentiate yourself is to tell “unique signature stories.”

Your story is worth sharing. If you don’t toot your horn, no one will know you are coming. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your mind to determine how great you are. One of my clients lost out on a promotion to project manager because he assumed his boss knew what he had done. He failed to share his success stories.

It’s your story. If you accomplished it, it’s yours, so claim it. If you don’t, others will autograph your work with their name on it. Too many people complain that their bosses or coworkers have taken credit for their work. Don’t let that be you…tell your story!

Every career has many interesting twists and turns, but few people are naturally confident storytellers. Most people find the thought of having to “sell” themselves to recruiters, hiring managers, and other potential company representatives daunting. You may know what you want to share, but are not certain of how best to do that. That’s where storytelling comes in.

Want to learn more about storytelling for the job search? Listen to this podcast, or visit Tell Stories Get Hired to grab your copy of the book.

New Book: Tell Stories, Get Hired

Tell Stories, Get Hired is finally here!

Tell Stories Get HiredPRESS RELEASE

Brampton, ON, November 25, 2014 – Job layoffs, a competitive job marketplace, and hiring freezes have put a lot of pressure on job seekers to stand out and be noticed. Those concerns should be alleviated by “Tell Stories, Get Hired”, a new book which demonstrates how job seekers can leverage their stories to convince hiring managers and recruiters to hire them over their competitors.

Daisy Wright, author of the Canadian best seller, No Canadian Experience, Eh?, collaborated with 17 professionals with varying backgrounds from Canada, the US, England, Belgium and France, to develop this new book – Tell Stories, Get Hired. “I value their contributions because, without their collective expertise, this project would have remained a dream,” Wright said. All contributors faced obstacles as they sought to gain employment, advance their career, or break new grounds, but their resilience and ability to tell their stories brought them success.

Wright continued “Storytelling is the new job search craze, and job seekers and career changers need to learn how to dig deep, uncover their stories and get hired. Many people never thought of storytelling as a job search tool, but stories are effective in getting to the heart of a hiring manager.” 

Read more of here >> Tell Stories Get Hired Press Release

IMPORTANT NOTE: Join the 24-hour Twitter-Thon Launch Party on December 2, 2014. Instructions will follow on how you can tweet and retweet from from participating contributors.

Happy Canada Career Week

CPC Canada Career Week

Happy Canada Career Week!

Your dose of Monday Rx comes in the form of a Summit hosted by Career Professionals of Canada in recognition of Canada Career Week.

From November 3rd to November 7th, job seekers and career changers will be able to listen to a variety of topics on job search and career development. Today’s topic is Beyond 2014: Job Networking and Social Media. The best part of this is that the Summit is free, and you don’t have to leave the comforts of your home or office. The full list of topics are:

  • Job Networking and Social Media
  • Managing your Career for the Future
  • The Resume that You Need Today
  • Different People, Different Challenges
  • Generational Career Intelligence

According to Sharon Graham, Executive Director of Career Professionals of Canada, “This FREE event consists of five 40-minute moderated panel discussions on a range of topics for everyone who wants to succeed in the Canadian labour market. No registration is required to participate.”

Go ahead and enjoy these sessions for free!

Happy Canada Career Week!

Google Will Reject You With These Resume Mistakes

 

Resume2_Rejected

Google will reject you with these resume mistakes! That’s the the essence of what Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, and a LinkedIn Influencer, wrote recently. He said that “in a fiercely competitive labour market, hiring managers don’t need to compromise on quality. All it takes is one small mistake and a manager will reject an otherwise interesting candidate.” It’s not just Google, but so will the majority of employers.

A number of recruiters and human resource professionals often say the same thing. Some report that too many job seekers submit resumes that have poor formatting, spelling and grammar errors, and are longer than three pages.

Below are the five mistakes that you, or other job seekers, are making with their resumes, along with suggestions on how to correct them:

Typos. As much as you might be a good fit for the position, if there are typos in your resume, it gives the impression you are not as detail-oriented as you claim. It is easy for employers to reject your resume with the smallest of errors because there is a talent pool of good candidates from which they can choose.

Suggestion: To ensure your resume is error-free, read it in reverse order – from bottom to top, or ask someone else to proofread it for you.

Length. While the length of one’s resume is debatable, an eight-pager is way too much. Laszlo suggests having a one page resume for every ten years of work experience.

Suggestion: The more common rule is one to two pages, but if your accomplishments seep with value, making it a three-pager won’t hurt. Keep in mind, though, that the sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, not to tell your life story.

Formatting. For obvious reasons you want your resume to stand out in a sea of other resumes to quickly grab attention. But, you could easily go overboard with the formatting and your content gets lost.

Suggestion: Laszlo noted that if you are a designer or artist, you can be fairly creative with your formatting. His opinion is that the others of us should stick to white paper with black ink, consistent line spacing, and at least a ten-point font. The resume should also be clean and legible, with name and contact information on every page. He further advised that you view your resume in Google Docs and Word, attach it to an email, then open it in preview mode. This extra work is important as documents sometimes get garbled when moving across platforms. If in doubt, save the resume as a PDF.

Confidential Information. Many job seekers have inadvertently placed confidential information in their resumes. It is great to showcase your accomplishments, but not at the expense of appearing disloyal to one employer, and a potential risk to another. An employer will not hire anyone who shares trade secrets with their competitors.

Suggestion: Think it through carefully. Is the information already in the public domain? Will it breach your confidentiality agreement? If you are not sure, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not disclose the information.

Lies. This one is a no-no. As much as you may be tempted, never, ever, put lies on your resume. You will be discovered, even if it’s one week down the road, or 28 years afterwards. In 2007, the former dean of admissions at an Ivey League university, who was in the job for 28 years, had to resign after she it was discovered she lied about her academic credentials. And, more recently, a few CEOs have lost their jobs because they falsified their resumes.

Suggestion: Honesty is the best policy. Don’t inflate your sales results, your GPA, the number of people on your team, or the degree(s) you have. If you were one credit shy of obtaining the degree, be honest about it. Don’t give the impression you completed the full program when you did not.

You might not agree on all the points. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to miss out on a great job opportunity just because there are mistakes in your resume.  Do whatever it takes to be included on the employer’s list of people to contact, rather than be excluded. Review your resume for mistakes and correct them.

6 Tell-tale Signs Your Interview Went Terribly Wrong

Job seekers, there is a huge difference between arrogance and confidence; watch your body language, and beware of your cell phone etiquette. After all, you are in an interview!

It might be astonishing for some job seekers to find out that the interview in which they thought they did so well, actually went terribly wrong. And, many of the mistakes they made would’ve prevented them from moving to the next step. In late 2013, CareerBuilder surveyed 406 hiring managers and human resource professionals across Canada. Their major findings are shown below:

Infographic_Interview_Final_DW

While this infographic may add a touch of humour to a serious topic, it is a fact that many job seekers turn up at interviews unprepared and unprofessional. Many do not research the company before they get to the interview. Some do not understand cell phone etiquette; others do not provide specific examples that would convince the hiring manager they would be a good fit for the position, and many fail to make proper eye contact with the interviewer.

To say most job candidates get the jitters when they have an interview, is an understatement. But, there are no excuses for inadequate preparation for this important part of the job search process. When unpreparedness meets opportunity, it results in many of the interview mistakes outlined above.

Just in case you were one of the candidates who committed these interview faux pas, here is an armchair’s critique of your performance:

  1. You were arrogant. There is a thin line between being confident and acting arrogant. Learn the difference.
  2. You were not interested in the position. Your body language gave the wrong message. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
  3. You were uninformed about the company. It showed that you were clueless about the company and the role for which you were being interviewed. In-depth research of the company, as well as a request for a detailed job description, would have set you apart.
  4. You were texting or taking calls on your cell phone. Unfortunately, you couldn’t take your hands off your cell phone. Neither did you turn it off before the start of the interview. Well, there are no excuses for this one because you should’ve known better.
  5. You were inappropriately dressed. If there ever was an opportunity to ‘dress up’, it was this one, and in a professional manner. You could’ve called to ask about the company’s dress code, or visited the location prior to the interview to observe what employees were wearing.
  6. You were burning bridges. While it may have boosted your confidence to badmouth your employers, it was not a good idea. Negative portrayals of employers and coworkers are never acceptable.

The survey addresses other mistakes that employers found. The survey details can be found at CareerBuilder. Pay close attention to the most common blunders, as well as the role that body language or non-verbal communication plays in interviews.

What additional advice would you have for a job candidate who committed such blunders? Add your comments below.

 

The ABCs of Networking: 26 Simple Tips to Get You Started

ABCs_Daisy_WrightMost job seekers wince at the thought of networking. After all, it’s quite awkward. Facing a group of strangers in a large room is like a deer caught in the headlights – stunned and unable to move.

If you are a seeker who is feeling like this deer, then help is on the way. This infographic takes you back to alphabet basics with 26 simple networking tips. They will help you prepare in advance of a networking event, help you deal with the awkward moments, and relearn your ABCs. (Click twice on the image.)

 

And the Most Overused Resume Buzzword for 2013 Is…

 

Responsible2

Over the past several years, LinkedIn has been coming out with its top ten list of buzzwords found in members’ profiles and resumes. This year, ‘responsible’ heads the list, but it won’t be considered ‘news’ to some recruiters.  In a 2010 survey of Canadian HR professionals and recruiters, they unanimously agreed that employers hire based on results, not on what job candidates were “responsible for…”.

To arrive at the top ten buzzwords, LinkedIn analyzes the English-language profiles of millions of its worldwide members. Since 2010, some words have been eliminated or moved further down the list but ‘innovative’ has been a constant. It is interesting that creative, organizational and effective occupy the top three positions in 2011 and 2012.

LI_Buzzwords

What tends to get lost in these analyses is the fact that job descriptions and job postings are full of these buzzwords. The dichotomy then is, how original can a job seeker get? To ensure their resumes are selected by the applicant tracking system programmed with these same buzzwords, job seekers have little choice but to stack their resumes or profiles with them.

All is not lost. There is a way to circumvent this overuse of buzzwords. It is called networking, an activity that many job seekers detest. Networking does not rely on buzzwords. It is a planned approach to building professional relationships through social media and in-person contacts, and a chance to be seen by recruiters and decision makers. Job seekers have an opportunity to add value to conversations, showcase their expertise and gain visibility from the people who really matter.

So while you might be a responsible and strategic thinker, who is creative, effective and patient; an expert in organizational development, driven to deliver innovative ideas and be extremely analytical, you still have a long way to go to create a resume and LinkedIn profile that will totally be devoid of these buzzwords.

Are you ready to shun those buzzwords? You can start by sharing concrete examples of your accomplishments and how you have added value to your employer.

 

Related links:

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2013 [Infographic]

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2012

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2011

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2010

 

 

 

Why Job Seekers Should Get on Board the Social Media Train

SocialNetworkingIf you are a job seeker who has been avoiding the social media recruiting train, it’s time to get on board. That’s because more and more recruiters are riding that train and will continue to do so in future. According to a recent survey from Jobvite, 94% of the 1,600 recruiters they interviewed either use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts. If that’s the case, wouldn’t be a good idea for job seekers to get on board and be found?

Key Findings from the Survey 

  • 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment efforts.
  • 78% of recruiters have made  a hire through social media. Of this number, 92% hired through LinkedIn.
  • 42% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate positively or negatively, based on what they saw after viewing their profile.
  • Social profiles give  recruiters more  confidence in a  candidate’s  professional  and cultural fit.
  • Social recruiting generates strong ROI,  both in dollars and candidate quality.

LinkedIn Dominates 

While these recruiters are using multiple channels to find top candidates, LinkedIn remains the dominant channel according to the report:

  • 96% use LinkedIn to search for candidates
  • 94% use it to contact candidates
  • 93% use it to keep tabs on candidates
  • 92% use it to vet candidates, and
  • 91% use it to post jobs.

Facebook and Twitter round off the top three channels of choice for recruiters at 65% and 55%, respectively.

What Recruiters Look for on Social Profiles

Recruiters not only look for professional experience on a candidate’s social profile, but also for length of tenure, hard skills, industry-related conversations (via blog posts for e.g.), and cultural fit. Sixty-five percent of the recruiters view volunteering and donations to charity as a plus for candidates. The report also shows that when a candidate has a strong social profile, it gives recruiters more confidence about their professionalism and potential as a good cultural fit.

Social Recruiting Generates Strong ROI 

Some recruiters have found that companies that have implemented a social recruiting strategy, have seen a positive impact on the companies’ ROI. For example, they have seen a 33% jump in the time it takes to hire a candidate, a 49% increase in the quantity and quality of candidates, and the quantity and quality of employee referrals have jumped 43%.

These recruiters have said what many people already know: that the best-quality candidates come through referrals from employees’ networks. As a result, 68% of the companies interviewed offer referral compensation to gain a competitive advantage.

Based on the survey, it is even more important for job seekers to become more strategic and develop and nurture relationships with people within the companies they are targetting. Are you ready to ride the social media recruiting train?

Grab a copy of the report here: 2013 JobVite Social Recruiting Survey

Job Seeker, What’s Holding You Back?

What's Holding You Back?

Image Template Courtesy of @HubSpot

Dear Job Seeker,

What’s holding you back from achieving your dreams? Have you failed too many times to get a promotion so you have given up on yourself? Do you have dreams yet to be realized, but something in your past is holding you back? Whether you are looking for a new job, a promotion or to attain some other personal goal, it’s never too late.

In one of Joel Osteen’s daily messages, he mentioned an article that says “..the wealthiest places on earth are not the oil fields of the Middle East nor the diamond mines of South Africa. The wealthiest places are the cemeteries. Buried in the ground are businesses that were never formed, songs that were never sung, books that were never written, potential that was never realized, and dreams that never came to pass.”

Author, journalist, and long distance swimmer, Diana Nyad, had an extreme dream – to swim from Cuba to Florida. Nothing could hold her back from achieving this dream. She made four attempts and failed, but she never gave up. On September 2, 2013, and on her 5th attempt, she accomplished that dream. It only took 35 years, and being 64 years old.

How many of us have the determination to hold on to a dream for that long? Not many. Thirty five years  and five attempts might be extreme, but there are many people who abandon even smaller dreams in months instead of years. They hold themselves back after having one or two failures. Nowhere is this more evident than in the job search.

Job seekers of all ilk, (entry-level professionals, managers and emerging executives), are settling for less. They are in jobs that are no longer fulfilling. They are bypassed for promotions and see this as a life sentence. Don’t let setbacks and failures hold you back. Begin to push yourself forward rather than being held back. Here are three quick tips to help you get a job or a promotion:

  1. Conduct a self-assessment. Find out, through formal or informal assessments, whether you have the specific skills and experiences required for your next role. If there are areas for growth, commit to investing in yourself.
  2. Meet with the boss. Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your desire to assume a new role. Ask him or her if there is anything you could take off their plate which would allow them to focus on other more pressing issues.
  3. Take on a project that others refuse to do. It might not be the most glamorous task, but you will be noticed for showing initiative, and you will learn new skills to add to your resume. Remember to document your activities so you can refer to them at your next performance appraisal.

When you are tempted to give up on your dreams of a better job or a new career, think of Diana Nyad and her tenacity. Remind yourself of these two things: You are never too old to chase your dreams, and never, ever give up.

 

LinkedIn Endorsements: Fad, Foe or Friend?

If you are active on LinkedIn you may have started receiving endorsements from some of your connections. I have, and must say that when they started arriving in my Inbox I thought spam hackers had infiltrated the accounts of some of the people in my network and were sporadically sending out these messages. I became a bit more curious when I noticed endorsements were coming from some individuals with whom I had very little, if any, interactions. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate all I have received so far, but because I wasn’t aware that such a feature exists, I was sceptical. It wasn’t until I saw several posts on a discussion board and visited the LinkedIn blog that I realized the emails were legitimate.

LinkedIn Endorsement is a feature that allows your contacts to click a button and recognize and validate skills and expertise that you have on your profile. They can also add skills and expertise that they know you have but ones you may not have listed. In fact, in a word or phrase, a LinkedIn endorsement could help to answer the age old question, “What are you good at?” The feature also allows you to pay-it-forward by endorsing the expertise of people in your network who you know quite well or by reciprocating the favour of those who have endorsed you. Having said that, is this LinkedIn Endorsement feature a fad, a foe or a friend?

Fad. From much of what I have read, some people have characterized it as a fad – a trend that will pass. One individual curtly said, “This too shall pass”, referring to Twitter‘s #FollowFriday and Facebook‘s ‘Likes’. A comment on Inquirer.net states, “As the feature stands, it’s really just eye-candy for Linkedin, perhaps catching the attention of an employer but quickly fading away under detailed scrutiny.” One colleague commented that, “This whole endorsements thing is kinda brainless…silly and devoid of meaning.” Digital marketer, Eric Whittlake, portends that the value of LinkedIn as a business network will decrease while traffic to the site and potential advertising will increase. And, blogger Garrett Heath, said, “The Endorsement feature cheapens some of these accomplishments and turns a candidate’s profile/resume effectively into a “Like” contest.”

Foe. Although this could be more perception than reality, somewhere down the road, recruiters and hiring managers could be tempted to look at the number of endorsements one has and eliminate some otherwise talented people from the competition because they do not have many endorsements. This is not too far-fetched as there were discussions in the blogosphere and on job boards several months ago about some employers using one’s Klout score (or number of Twitter followers, for that matter), to determine how much clout (influence) one has and which applicants should be short-listed for interviews. Endorsements could also impact the LinkedIn’s Recommendations feature since it is easier to click on a skills button than to write a recommendation. And, in some circles, endorsements could be viewed as a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” strategy, which could be frowned on and diminish its effectiveness.

Friend. The upside to the act of endorsements is that it could be perceived as a 360° validation of your expertise. Not only are you saying you are ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ but people who are familiar with you and your work also agrees with you. These endorsements add value and credibility and back up your claim of having those skills and expertise. An endorsement could also be mutually beneficial as you can return the favour of the endorser and thereby capitalize on each other’s network. If done correctly, endorsements could enhance the value of the recommendations you already have.

It’s obvious that the feature has friends and foes. From my perspective, however, the jury is still out. First, the feature is only a month old (up to the time of this post); second, I am still not sure how to use it effectively. For example, when I thought I was accepting endorsements, I ended up clicking on the “Endorse All 4” button that popped up without clearly looking at who I was endorsing. There will be many more discussions about the value of endorsements, and when that happens we can all determine if a LinkedIn Endorsement is a fad, a foe or a friend. Leave your comments or your discoveries in the “Speak Your Mind” section below.

Additional reading:

The Pros and Cons of Endorsements

How LinkedIn Skills Endorsement Impact Your Job Search

Endorsement Feature Degrades LinkedIn as a Professional Network