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Quiet Persistence

 

Don't Give Up

Here is today’s #MondayRx. It’s based on a woman I have had the pleasure of coaching over the past several months. My work with her was minor compared to the work she put into her search:

? She hadn’t worked for over 15 years

? She left her job with the City of New York to move South to take care of her wheel-chaired confined mother

? After her Mom passed two years ago, she re-started her job search

? She is 50+

? She was faced with all the other ‘isms’ you can think of, but, she quietly persisted.

? Two months ago, she found a job as a Customer Service / Covid Screener. Not her ideal job, but she continued her search

? For the third time, she submitted her resume for a Customer Service role with the City where she currently resides.

? The City did not advertise a position (?????? ??? ??????), but she proactively applied. She wanted to get a foot in the door.

? Instead of another rejection email, she was invited for an interview.

? Late in the interview she realized she was being assessed a job as a Deputy Clerk, not the Customer Service position

? Here’s part of our conversation last week:

“?? ??????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ? ??? ? ???. ??? ????????? ??? ???? ? ????????????. ?? ??? ????? ????? ?? ???? ??????? ???? ??? ?????????. ???? ????? ????????? ?????? ?? ?????????? ?? ? ????????? ?? ?? ??????? ???? ???. ???? ???? ????? ? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ??????? ? ???? ? ??. ? ???? ?????? ?????? ? ??? ???? ??? ??????. ?? ??? ???? ? ???? ????.”

This morning, August 23rd, on what would’ve been her late mother’s birthday, she started her new job as a Deputy Clerk!

If you are facing similar job search challenges, especially with all the ‘isms’ attached, don’t give up! Take a break, if you must, but quietly persist. There’s a job out there with your name on it.

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5 Job Search Mistakes You Should Avoid

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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.

Why Dumbing Down Your Resume is a Dumb Idea

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If you are dumbing down your resume and downplaying your achievements, you are playing small. You are cowering under the pressure of other people’s opinions. You are undervaluing your capabilities.

The majority of my clients are aspiring managers, managers and emerging executives. Some are also senior leaders or presidents of their own companies but are considering corporate opportunities. Many are faced with challenges from being told they are overqualified, they don’t have Canadian experience, or that they are too old.

I had a conversation with a senior leader (someone in his late fifties) this past week where he said that headhunters have told him that he is too old. I asked him how old is his intellectual capital – that mass of knowledge, ideas and experience housed in his cranium that some 30- or 40-somethings wouldn’t have. This man is an executive within the energy industry, and prior to that worked in the investment and bond markets. Will his age prevent him from adding value to a company?

My colleague Sharon Graham, wrote a blog post recently on this topic. The link is posted below. In it she exposed some of the myths about dumbing down one’s resume. She discussed the fact that there is currently a leadership vacuum, and that new industries are emerging, while others are here to stay. For those reasons, one should highlight one’s achievements instead of dumbing them down.

We live in a real world where these things happen, and I know you hear it quite often. Employers, hiring managers and recruiters telling you overtly or covertly that you are overqualified or you are too old. This is a dumb approach and only serves to exclude potentially good candidates. By the same token it  puts you on the defensive. There are strategies that you, a potentially good candidate, can use to overcome these barriers:

  1. Research the potential employer thoroughly then focus on areas where you know you can solve their problems and add value. Don’t apologize for your accomplishments and successes.
  2. Seek to connect with decision makers, or other people who know these decision makers. This proactive approach might be uncomfortable for some of you but it’s better than constantly uploading  resumes that may end up in the resume black hole.
  3. Be prepared to begin your conversation with something like: “I want you, just for a moment, to suspend your belief that I am overqualified, too old, don’t have Canadian experience [or whatever your specific circumstance is]. If you would like your company to remain where it is, then I might not be a good fit. But, if you would like to see explosive growth within the next X months/years, then we should be having a discussion.” Of course, you have to back up this blatant claim with your proven success stories.

It is the responsibility of managers, emerging executives, or any job seeker for that matter, to focus on what they have to offer their next employer. The next step is to determine how they can package this offer in a way that will have employers reaching out to them. This is not the time to leave your career up to job boards, applicant tracking systems, or junior staff who sometimes screen you out because their perception is that you are overqualified or too old.

If you find yourself downplaying your achievements, it’s time to stop. You are someone with a whole lot of things to offer. Stand tall, pull your shoulders back and be prepared to articulate your stories in ways that produce conversations. If you are meeting too much resistance, then ask yourself if this particular organization would be a good place for your to work.

Have you been told to dumb down your resume? If so, share your story in the comments section below, reach out to a career coach, or contact me. We just might be able to help you overcome these job search obstacles.

Related resources

Dumbing Down a Resume is Not a Great Idea (Sharon Graham)

10 Resume Tips to Beat Online Applicant Tracking Systems

 

Monday Rx: What Can You Be Thankful for Today?

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today, and I am using this space to reflect on some things for which I am thankful. I begin with three quotes taken from my recent newsletter followed by my short list:

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~William A. Ward

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”  ~ Anonymous

Here’s my short gratitude list created on-the-fly, and in no particular order of importance:

  • I am thankful to call Canada my home for 22+ years, and for the challenges and opportunities that have contributed to my personal and professional growth.
  • I am thankful for Jamaica, land of my birth, and the values that have shaped and prepared me for a wider world.
  • I am grateful for my family and friends and the love and support they give so freely.
  • I am thankful for my clients who keep my business going and for the referrals they send my way.
  • I am thankful for my professional colleagues from all over the world who I learn from each day through social media, webinars and teleconferences.
  • I am thankful for the 16 career professionals who contributed their expertise to the second edition of my book.
  • I am thankful for my church and my Christian beliefs that keep me grounded.

And in classic Steve Jobs style, “…and one more thing:

  • I am thankful to you for reading this post. May you find many things to be thankful for today?

 

To your success,

 

 

 

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