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How to Spring Clean Your Career in One Day!

If a job opportunity falls in your lap today, would you be prepared for it? A woman left me a message this past Monday: “I would like a professional resume, and need it done by Friday, so I can’t really waste too much time here.” Wow! I said to myself. Some people seem to conduct their job search by the seat of their pants. They spend more time planning for their vacation than they do on their job search or career. Think of it: they research the places they want to go; determine a budget, and book the date, but when it comes to the job search, or a career transition, they don’t give it the same priority. They have a casual approach to the very job that would help them pay for the vacation.

“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” said Whitney Young Jr. It is not too late to spring clean your career and be ready for your next opportunity. Here are some tips:

Conduct an Inventory of Your Skill-sets

The moment some people think of job search, they equate it to a resume. “I just saw an job posting, and I need a resume right away.” Although the resume is very important, it is not the first thing one should think of when it comes to the job search. Think of what you would and would not want in your next role. Take an inventory of your values, interests, skills, knowledge and personal qualities:

  • Values – what is important to you? Integrity, status, accomplishments?
  • Interests – what do you enjoy doing?
  • Abilities/skills – what you are good at?
  • Knowledge – what you know: your “intellectual capital”.
  • Personality – your attitude, what you are passionate about, what motivates you.

This assessment helps you plan what type of job or career you wish to pursue.

Dust Off the Old Resume

Creating a professional resume is not something to be done in a hurry as alluded to above, so never leave this very important task for the last minute. Review your journal (hopefully you have been keeping one) where you recorded your achievements, the projects you worked on, and the role(s) you played. Check your email for recognition messages from people you have interacted with. Pull out your performance appraisals and review the positive feedback. These all tell your story, and should be appropriately incorporated in your resume.

Prepare to be the Closer (Not the Loser), at the Interview

Some people are afraid of interviews the way others are afraid of public speaking, but that’s not you! You are ready with memorable stories of your successes (and failures). Yes, what have you learned from those failures? Research, not only the company, but its competitors; not only their website, but annual reports and industry reports. Prepare a mini presentation or proposal identifying the company’s pain points. You can bet your competitors won’t be thinking that far ahead. Even if you don’t get a chance to present it, you can have it as a ‘leave-behind’. (A year ago, I took my own advice, created a mini presentation when I interviewed for a Committee position, and was selected).

Craft Your Salary Negotiation Story

Afraid to have the money talk? Unable to answer the “What’s your salary expectation” question? Salary discussions can be scary. Some candidates are scared they might mention a dollar amount, or say “yes” too quickly and lose out on an opportunity. Do not wait until an offer is apparent before you craft your negotiation story. Conduct your research and enter the negotiation conversation well-prepared and confident.

Build Your Online Brand (and that includes a Personal Website)

Many people wince when they hear they need to build their online brand. Some believe only executives should do so; others start thinking they are going to overexpose themselves. There is some truth to that, but in the digital world we live in, coupled with a very competitive job market, it makes sense to explore the online world when seeking to stand out. A LinkedIn Profile is great, but what happens if LinkedIn disappears? Someone referred to that situation as “having your house built on a rented property”. As a backup plan, think of building your own personal website that you own and control.

Put a Job Search Strategy in Place

You need a proactive and carefully orchestrated job search plan that will bring results. Not one that have you looking for a job once you become unemployed, or when you are at your wits end. This ‘on-the-fly’ job search approach does not work and will, more often than not, end in frustration. It’s better to take the time to conduct a targetted search with a limited number of companies you would want to work for, than uploading your resume to any and every company for any job, and hope to be contacted.

Learn Effective Networking Strategies

The moment some people hear the word ‘networking’, they conjure up images of people with name tags and business cards running around in a meeting room. They then tell themselves “That’s not for me…I am too shy…people might think I am forcing myself on them.” Some of that may be true, but if orchestrated well, networking is not as difficult as it’s made out to be. According to Executive Search guru, David Perry, “For those of us who are terminally shy the Internet has made it possible to network from our computer keyboard and avoid those awkward mixers. So start your networking online, but be respectful, and don’t go begging for a job at the first opportunity. Build the relationship first.

The above advice is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are ever looking for an accountability partner to assist you, I would be pleased to be that person. In fact, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, you could benefit from a Career Empowerment workshop I am hosting on June 3, 2017, at the Corporate Event Centre in Mississauga. Click here for details: Spring Your Career in One Day!

 

STOP Scaring Recruiters With Your Bare Bones LinkedIn Profile

TheWrightCareer.comIt’s not yet Halloween, but your LinkedIn Profile could be scaring away recruiters and potential contacts in obvious and not-so-obvious ways. Recruiters and hiring managers source LinkedIn all the time for great candidates. When they stumble on an incomplete profile, a blank photo box, or missing dates, they don’t contact you for details; they move on to your competitors.

A lot of people believe that the fact they have a LinkedIn account with a name, degrees and a list of employers they are all set. Not so! Take the example of someone I was introduced to recently. Her name was followed by a list of degrees, names of former and current companies, and a long list of committee and board affiliations. That was it! As bare-boned as a skeleton! Yet, in speaking with her, I discovered she is a highly-accomplished professional who could easily attract the attention of recruiters, But her LinkedIn profile lacked substance and would scare the daylights out of a recruiter.

In an informal conversation with a few recruiters recently, I asked them what scared them the most about someone’s LinkedIn Profile. Here are some of their thoughts:

  1. Gaps and Omission of Dates. When recruiters review resumes, they zero in, with eagle eyes, for start and end dates at each employer. It’s no different when they view a LinkedIn Profile. Olivia Petrou, Research Consultant at TWC International Executive Search Limited, says the lack of dates, or gaps in dates, scares her most when looking at job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. “It makes me curious as to whether that person is hiding something.”
  2. Photograph vs Blank Box. Many LinkedIn users omit, or refuse to include a professional photograph in their profiles. It is a given, in my opinion, that people would be more inclined to reach out or accept a LinkedIn invitation if they can associate a name with a profile. On a recent webinar with LinkedIn’s Michael Shamshoian, he said that “one’s LinkedIn profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if a photo is included.” (By the way, there are some people who have included a photo but it is either a group or a photo of their spouse. Really now? “Who is who?”).
  3. Skimpy information. LinkedIn offers 120 character spaces for the Headline and 2,000 spaces for the Summary, yet so many people skimp on the information they include. While the entire profile is important, the headline and summary sections are considered ‘prime real estate’ spaces and should be maximized.
  4. Incomplete This relates to point 3 above. When we consider that LinkedIn is probably the most significant channel to tell one’s story and build a professional network, members do themselves a disservice when they have incomplete profiles. Geoff Webb, Global Sourcing Strategist at Aon PRO said, “I consistently hear from recruitment teams that the more incomplete a profile is the more likely they are to ignore the profile, so there is great value in making your profile as complete as possible.” 
  5. Spam or Fake Profiles. Who hasn’t received LinkedIn invitations that, at first read appear genuine, but once they are accepted, they are quickly followed up with unwanted business proposals or romantic pursuits? I have had my share and that’s scary! Webb continued: “I am more concerned with the increasing number of ‘spam’ or ‘fake’ profiles on LinkedIn, and although they are pretty easy to spot they waste a huge amount of effort”. Fake profiles and spam messages are time-wasters, and LinkedIn is not for that.
  1. Misreading the audience. Jeff Wedge, a Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at Aon RPO, opined that although he reviews over 300 resumes and LinkedIn profiles per week, he is hard pressed to find one that attracts his attention to the point where he would pick up the phone to reach out. “Most candidates, ranging from CEO to entry-level, do not understand the audience they are trying to reach. That scares me. They need to have teasers or accomplishments that would convince me to pick up my phone”, he said.

LinkedIn considers itself the world’s largest professional network, and it offers free visibility. In fact, it is frequently referred to as someone’s resume-on-steroids (being visible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year). Unlike a resume that has to be brief, a LinkedIn Profile has a number of categories to showcase your skills, experience, education, accomplishments, projects, causes hobbies and interests. Maximize its benefits. Use the categories and spaces to build a robust profile and draw recruiters and potential contacts to you rather than scaring them away.

 

Layoffs – Not all Doom and Gloom: 7 Tips to Cushion the Blow

Layoffs_Again

As I listened to the message, the woman’s tone was one of panic and confusion. “I have just been laid off after 20 years at the same job. I received a severance package, but I am in my mid fifties and will need to continue working. I never took any additional training all these years, and don’t have a clue how to conduct a job search. Can you help me?”

Several questions starting with “Why…, What… and How…?”, raced through my mind, but I banished them very quickly, because it wasn’t the time to be self-righteous. She was in a serious crisis, and needed a listening ear.

Conversely, I was recently contacted by two senior management professionals, one was a referral from a client, and the other found me online. In both cases, changes are taking place in their respective companies, and they have an inkling that layoffs are imminent. Although both believe there could be internal opportunities, they are not taking any chances. They are being proactive and are making plans for what may or may not happen. After all, it’s better to hope for the best, but for the worst.

Layoffs happen quite frequently, and no one ever gets used to it. Falling oil prices have led to massive layoffs in the Canadian energy industry. Rogers Communications recently eliminated several hundred middle management positions as part of its revitalization plan. And recently, Microsoft announced it would be laying off 7,800 of its employees from its phone division. This is enough for any employee or job seeker to be terrified.

The truth is, downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, or whatever other name it is called, is a way of life in today’s economy. When it’s time to restructure, years of service and loyalty will not guarantee anyone a position in a revitalized organization.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. If by some misfortune you are laid off, there are several strategies you can use to cushion the blow and minimize its impact:

  1. Give yourself permission to be angry. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Anger, as long as it’s not misplaced, could have a healing effect. However, do not vent at work or with coworkers or your boss. Such behaviour could be construed as negative and unprofessional; could damage relationships, and thwart your chances of getting a good reference. Find a safe place where you can let off the steam.
  2. Get support. Find a trustworthy person who will listen to you, and give you some good advice. Stay away from anyone who is inclined to help you bash the company or your boss as this is counter-productive.  There might also be free and fee-based resources within your community you could explore to see if they can help you find a new career path.
  3. Engage in self-care. This is an opportunity for you to put yourself first. This is not the time to beat upon yourself and question your ability or self-worth. Take that long-awaited vacation to clear your head and develop strategies to help you bounce back. Use this time to redirect your energy into something productive. Get some exercise, or just relax.
  4. Spotlight your assets. Turn this negative experience into something positive. Begin by spotlighting your assets. What are you good at? What have you accomplished? What awards, recognitions and comments have you received from your supervisor, coworkers and customers? Write out an inventory of your transferable skills that could benefit another employer. All of these are your assets – documented evidence that validate your capabilities – and will help you when you are ready to craft your résumé.
  5. Review your résumé and online profiles. A one-size-fits-all résumé will not work in today’s competitive job environment, neither will an incomplete LinkedIn Profile. The résumé needs to be strategic, and oozing with value. This takes time as you will need to assess all of your skills, attributes and achievements, and determine how to showcase them in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. Your online profiles are also essential pieces of your marketing.
  6. Remember this phrase: “This too shall pass”. What you are feeling now is real, but it won’t last forever. Sometimes a layoff is just the prescription you need to propel you to action. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions: “Is it time for me to retool, brush up on my skills or go back to school to gain additional skills? Do I have what it takes to start a business? What do I really enjoy doing, and should I be exploring this as a career option?”
  7. Maintain a positive attitude. The road to a successful job search, especially in such a competitive job market, is paved with disappointments and frustrations, but don’t give up. Tap into your network; join a support group like a job-finding club, engage in social media groups and networking activities that will put you in touch with people who can offer assistance. Be cautious when introduced to other people’s networks, as you don’t want to begin asking ‘strangers’ for help before they get to know you, and vice versa.

These seven tips are not all-inclusive, neither are they meant to trivialize the emotional impact, but they are steps in the right direction to help you deal with a layoff.

Related links:

Plan Ahead Before the Layoff Axe Falls (first published on Job-Hunt.org)

Got Laid Off? So What?

Microsoft Layoffs

 

5 Job Search Mistakes You Should Avoid

Oops_Mistake

From time to time job seekers, prospective clients and clients discuss with me the difficulties they face in finding a job, or getting interviews. Sometimes, these conversations come from unexpected sources: mid-career professionals, managers, and executives.

Most times I empathize with these individuals because the job search process can take a toll on anyone; people get into panic mode, and all rational thinking goes through the window. Sometimes, though, I have to be direct and tell them to hit the delete button on negative thinking. Professionals at these levels should be focusing on who they are and the value they have to offer, rather than how difficult the job search process is. It is said that whatever one focuses on, expands. Focus on negative thinking and it breeds more negatives.

Over the past few days, I have had some email and face-to-face exchanges with several job candidates and identified several job search mistakes they were making. This prompted me to write this post on five job search mistakes you should avoid:

  1. I am overqualified. How do I handle this in the interview? Do not spend your time focusing on being overqualified. Think about what you have to offer. Prepare to explain that you may be overqualified, but only if the company is looking to remain where it is. But, if they want to benefit from your years of experience delivering results; if they want to surpass their competitors, then you are the right person for the job. Of course, back that up with concrete examples that demonstrate your point.
  2. The company indicated only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Follow their rules. Don’t contact them directly, but no one said you couldn’t contact them indirectly. Find employees willing to talk with you about the company, and the position. Ask them for specifics: contact details for the person responsible for hiring, major problems the company is facing, workplace culture and fit. Check out the company’s blog and online presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook). What’s being discussed? Who are the influencers? Also, search for former employees who will be able to give you the inside scoop on the company. All this investigative work could pay off, and place you and your resume ahead of others competing for the same job. Some companies offer incentives for internal referrals, and this extra research might just helped you to find one.
  3. I don’t have any interviews lined up, so I am going to wait until I get a date before I seek help. This the most crucial part of the job search. Don’t wait for the last minute on something as important as an interview. Review some interview questions that you are sure they are going to ask, such as ‘Tell me about yourself’, or ‘Why should we hire you?’ Practice with a friend, family member or a career or interview coach. Be prepared! “It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Whitney Young
  4. My friend in HR reviewed the resume you did, and said it does not have an Objective. This is ‘old school’ thinking, in my opinion. But, on a more serious note, keep in mind that if you show your resume to ten different people, you will get ten different opinions. So, while I respect your friend’s opinion, current resume practice, especially for mid-career professionals, managers, and executives, is to substitute an Objective for accomplishment or value-based statements that speak directly to the position. If the statement focuses on the company’s pain points, and grabs attention, you have just made the hiring manager’s job easier.
  5. I have a LinkedIn Profile, but don’t want to upload a photograph. This is a huge mistake. Without a photo on your LinkedIn Profile, you are considered invisible by hiring managers and recruiters. Go ahead and upload a photo, and when you do, make sure it is professional, and does not include other people. As of today’s writing, I have 27 LinkedIn invitations waiting to be accepted, but they fall into the categories of: no photo, a group photo, or a sketchy profile. I am sure they are great people, but they are hiding. As a job candidate, if you want to grow your network on LinkedIn, or get connected to other people, stop making these mistakes.

Are you making any of those mistakes? Are there others you could add to this post? You are welcome to comment below.

Are You Among LinkedIn’s 1%?

LinkedIn_1_PercentLast week I received a personalized congratulatory email from LinkedIn’s Senior Vice President of User Experience that said “You have one of the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn Profiles for 2012”. LinkedIn now has 200 million users, so by the time I worked out the math (1 in 2,000,000), the message didn’t have as much meaning, unless I was going to assess and quantify how many connections or clients I received as a result of these views.

Anyway, for it was worth, I googled the sender’s name to make sure it was legitimate, then tweeted the news. What algorithm LinkedIn used to arrive at this percentage is anyone’s guess, but it has certainly garnered a lot of discussion among some of my career practitioner colleagues – from humour to an attitude of ‘What will they come with next?

While we ponder this, however, I am reminded of the many job seekers who are not aware of, or are still not taking advantage of LinkedIn as a job search and networking tool. One woman called me aside at church the other day and said, “Someone sent me an invitation to join LinkedIn. I don’t understand what it is, but I know you would, so I joined, and now am asking you to explain.”  I gave her a brief description of LinkedIn and told her it is often referred to as ‘having one’s resume on steroids’ so she is to make sure she completes her profile.

It might be presumptuous to say that LinkedIn is fast becoming somewhat of a ‘recruiter of choice’ for some employers, but many of them are using LinkedIn to conduct ‘stealth hiring’. This is where they quietly target, recruit, interview and hire employees without advertising job vacancies. They are able to view profiles, see who is connected to whom, what skills and expertise they have, and reach out to them even when these individuals are not looking for job opportunities. On the flip side, they can view profiles and if they are incomplete or do not have the right keywords to appeal to them, they can disqualify them right there.

So, whether or not you are among LinkedIn’s 1%, 5% or 10% most viewed profiles, here are six quick tips that could bring your profile up to speed and have you on the radar of potential employers:

  1. Complete your profile. This means writing an attention-getting summary and adding skills that will show up in searches and help to attract recruiters and hiring managers.
  2. Upload a professional head-shot. First impressions count, even for your profile, so replace that ‘egg head’ blank square with a professional photo if you want to impress a recruiter or hiring manager, or connect with someone.
  3. Customize your LinkedIn invitation. People are more apt to connect with you if you put a bit of effort into crafting a customized invitation. Let them feel special! Remind them where you met or how you are connected.
  4. Join industry and professional groups. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, so search for groups by industry, alumni, former companies and career or job search groups, and join them. Once you have joined, PARTICIPATE!
  5. Follow your target companies. During your research you would’ve identified companies with which you would like to work. Monitor their company pages to learn more about them, their products and services, as well as who has recently been hired.
  6. Ask and Answer Questions. LinkedIn is made up of a community of learners, so don’t be afraid to showcase your expertise by answering questions posed by other users or to pose questions of your own.

While this article primarily pertains to job seekers, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs should harness the power of LinkedIn to build relationships and visibility, and increase business opportunities.

Let us know how you are using LinkedIn and if you have been counted among their most viewed profile.

10 Ways to Optimize your LinkedIn Experience

See on Scoop.itFreelance Writing On Careers & Resumes

It is said that LinkedIn is the number social network for professionals and job seekers, and I agree. However, many people are not taking advantage of this tool. This post, scooped from Scoop.it, ties in nicely with another recent post LinkedIn Endorsements: Fad, Foe or Friend!

LinkedIn offers value for all walks of life. This post tells you how you can optimize your LinkedIn experience . . .

1)      Keep your profile updatedGain more visibility by completing your profile and uploading a professional headshot.

2)      Customize your website or blog linkNo need to use LinkedIn’s generic “Company Website”. Personalize it with the name of your website or blog.

3)      Join Groups and EngageThis is where you meet people and build rapport. It’s not good enough to join groups but you must interact with members and contribute to discussions.

4)      Use the LinkedIn’s Endorsement FeatureWhile this feature has had its critics, it is a neat way to show appreciation to someone else.

5)      Recommendations – A recommendation is a more thorough representation of a business relationship. It can be time-consuming to write so if you are requesting one, proactively write it up yourself then send to the person to whom you are making the request. If someone is asking you for one, have the requester write up something themselves and you can tweak and edit accordingly.

6)      Content Curation – Take advantage of the LinkedIn Today feature where LinkedIn captures the day’s news. Stay informed!

7)      Post, Comment and Like – Create your own blog post on a topic, add your voice to a discussion by commenting on people’s blogs, and show appreciation by clicking on a ‘Like’ button.

8)      Tight or Loose Connections – You can determine how you want to use LinkedIn. Tight connections are those where you decide which invitations you will accept; loose connections means you are a LION – LinkedIn Open Networker – but it opens the flood gates to receive numerous invitations. This feature costs $10 per month.

9)      Premium Account – Read up on this option and see if it will be beneficial to you as there’s a fee structure.

10)  LinkedIn Advertising – Depending on your situation, you could take advantage of LinkedIn’s advertising service.

As it is with all other social engagement, you get what you put inIf you don’t stay active and participate consistently you will not get results from LinkedIn.

 
See original post on Steve Hughes’ geeklesstech.com

Social Media: The New Job Search Frontier

Recently I did some presentations and a webinar on social media for my clients and a couple of community organizations, including the Kiwanis Club of Brampton.  These presentations offered simple strategies to build a LinkedIn Profile, how job seekers can use social media to market themselves to employers, and how professionals and entrepreneurs can benefit from having an online presence.

Many people are nervous at the mere mention of social media. They are afraid people might misuse their information; they want to guard their privacy, or they are just plain overwhelmed with so many of these tools from which to choose. One webinar participant wrote me to say, “I am scared of a free service that takes my data to make money and promises not to share my information.” She then asked if I thought she was paranoid. Privacy is a legitimate concern, of course, especially since we know, or have heard of many online horror stories, but one does not have to become paranoid.

At one point, I was hesitant to use Facebook, for example. Although I have had an account since 2008, I did not start actively using it until 2010, when I began to see additional benefits other than getting updates from my nieces and nephews. So, social media is scary, and it might look like a time-waster sometimes, but is that enough not to test the waters? From a job seeker’s perspective, is it worth missing out on potential job opportunities, or connecting with a couple of influential decision makers? Wouldn’t it be nice to address someone by name at one of your target companies instead of “Dear Sir/Madam”?

There are many advantages to using social media. During a LinkedIn conference in Toronto last week, the keynoter said, “If you have hired more than 10 people through LinkedIn, stand.” Over 600 HR professionals and recruiters stood up. In other sessions, presenters spoke about how companies can build their employer brands on LinkedIn by reaching out and engaging potential employees through Career Hub Pages and Groups. The overall message from my perspective as a career coach is that job seekers need a LinkedIn presence, for starters.

I also learned that Canada is the 5th largest country on LinkedIn, and that IBM is one of the most active companies on LinkedIn, with over 280,000 employees and 650,000 followers. Want to join IBM? There are lots of people with whom you could connect!

Here’s a summary of some major social media tools:

  • LinkedIn – known as the number one social media tool for business, it has over 150 million members. Not only can profiles be created, but resumes can be uploaded, and by following Company Pages, one is able to keep track of new hires, promotions and the overall health of specific companies.
  • Twitter – a free micro-blogging platform that sends short messages using 140 characters. Recruiters, employers and HR professionals are quite active on Twitter and quite often use it to announce  job vacancies.
  • Facebook – permits businesses to establish a presence and allows people to “Like” and follow those businesses.
  • Pinterest – a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to pinboards. At first glance, one may wonder how effective this is as a job search tool, and the jury is still out on this. However, if you are the creative/artistic type, you can certainly market yourself or your business with it, so, join Pinterest and ‘get ‘Pinspired’!
  •  Google+ – another content sharing service, with an added feature called ‘Hangouts’. It’s a new video service where one can hold meetings, arrange study sessions, family meetings, or social gatherings with up to 10 people. Some companies have already started to conduct interviews with Hangouts.
  • About.me – serves like a parking garage for your online presence. It is a personal page that points people to everything you do around the web. It can be useful as a link in an email instead of uploading your resume and your other documents.

I believe the new job search or business frontier is through social media, and job seekers and entrepreneurs need to leverage its use. None of us can afford to be left out, especially as online interactions are becoming as meaningful as in real life. Does this mean social media is the ‘be all’ of your job search or business? No! What it does is help you build relationships, engage in conversations, and demonstrate your expertise. This will (over time), lead to opportunities, value and profitability.

Still scared? It’s time to jump on the social media bandwagon. Experiment and see which ones resonate with you, because these tools have become major players in how we conduct a job search, how and where we do business, what we purchase, and who we connect with.

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

How a Patchwork Quilt Résumé Could Damage Your Brand

Wikipedia’s Definition of a patchwork quilt: a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design.

By my own definition, a patchwork quilt résumé is one that is made up of phrases and sentences copied from other people’s career documents (résumé, cover letter, bio, or LinkedIn Profile), and presented as one’s own.

Recently, there was an intense discussion on the forum of one of my professional associations about someone who had copied blocks of a sample résumé to create her own then contacted one member to spruce it up for her. While scrutinizing the document, the member realized the contents didn’t gel, so she did a Google search. It turned out the sample résumé was crafted by another member of this same association and posted in an article on AOL.

I have had my share of people sending me résumés made up of bits and pieces of other people’s résumés, and sometimes cover letters. In one case, it was the summary from one of my own creations. As I started reading the résumé, I thought the wording sounded familiar. On checking, I realized it was one I had written for another client. This new client told me someone had helped him out for free but he wasn’t having much success with it.

When information is copied from someone else’s résumé, it is very easy to spot the patchwork quilt design. The information is incoherent; statements are generic and some phrases just do not match the person’s experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringements, and ethics. Moreover, if such a résumé lands on the desk of a discerning hiring manager, such a candidate’s credibility will come into question, and he or she will most likely not be called for an interview.

Here are the facts:

  • Your résumé is a branding tool that tells YOUR story, not someone else’s, and shows the face YOU want employers to see.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. You must differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a résumé that captures your unique talents, accomplishments and experience; not one that looks like a patchwork quilt, or one that gives the impression you have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scouring the Internet for sample résumés to build your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself “What have I done with the job they asked me to do? How is the company better off since I joined?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what’ factor to each. For example, if one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened?”
  • Review your last two performance appraisals and look for the nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a résumé that tells YOUR story. Make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the employer’s question “Why should we hire you?” If you are unable to create your own résumé, find someone whom you trust; has credentials and know what they are doing.

Don’t damage your brand with a patchwork quilt résumé. Learn to tell your own story and get hired!

10 Résumé Buzzwords to Avoid in 2012

Hear ye, Hear ye! This is hot off the Press! LinkedIn has just released its list of most overused professional buzzwords for 2011. They did this after analyzing 135 million professional profiles on their website. Some of these same words were on the list in 2010, and have resurfaced. Check your résumé or LinkedIn profile to see if you are guilty of using any or all of these:

1.      Creative

2.      Organizational

3.      Effective

4.      Extensive experience

5.      Track record

6.      Motivated

7.      Innovative

8.      Problem solving

9.      Communication skills

10.    Dynamic

As much as we might want to eliminate or reduce the use of these words and phrases, employers tend to lag behind with the use of clichés. Their job postings still include many of these words. Their applicant tracking system still contains these words and phrases, yet if the words are not incorporated in a candidate’s résumé, the résumé does not stand much of a chance of being seen by the human eye.

One way to overcome or minimize the use of these words is to give examples or tell stories of:

  • how you were creative
  • what problems you solved
  • what really got you motivated, and
  • how many years of experience you have.

By using this method, the hiring manager or decision-maker can easily see your potential value.

As with everything else, your decision to include or exclude these words requires a delicate balance. The fact is, there are going to be times when using the ‘word or phrase’ is your only option!

 

Source: LinkedIn’s Most Overused Buzzwords for 2011

 

It’s a Business Card…It’s a Resume…It’s a QR Code

It is (or used to be) the norm that a business card would include a name, title, phone number, email address, website and sometimes a tagline. That was yesterday. Today, in addition to the elements mentioned, the business card could contain one’s elevator pitch, branding statement or mini resume, thanks to the arrival of the QR (or Quick Response) Code.

A QR Code is a collection of symbols that when scanned by someone’s mobile device provides more detailed information about an individual. See the sample below which was created from my LinkedIn Profile using Pingtags:

 

 

As trendy as a QR Code may be, it could present a challenge to those without a  barcode scanner or mobile device with a QR Reader App. That said, from a job search or business perspective, it could be seen as another way for someone to set him or herself apart from their competitors and enhance their brand. What will they think of next?

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Related Website: Skanz