LinkedIn For Executives: How To Create A Winning Profile

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS,CCMC,CJSS,CSMCS linkedinLinkedIn is a great tool for find a new job if you use it correctly.

It’s not enough to have a LinkedIn profile.

Every professional has one. And people are pretty good about keeping their profiles professional and updated, which means that you’ll have to go beyond their efforts to stand out.

If you’re struggling to create a LinkedIn profile that will set you apart from the competition, I have a process for you to follow.

Here are the steps I’ve provided to other executives to help them make the most of their LinkedIn profile.

Step 1: Make your summary meaningful

These days, busy recruiters and potential colleagues see dozens of LinkedIn profiles every day. Use your summary space as a place to write a meaningful paragraph that will immediately connect with people.

With our limited attention spans and endless to-do lists, recruiters and those looking to network with you need a quick way to get to know you, your experience, and your goals. Providing a two to three sentence summary can do just that.

In your summary, focus on the qualities and skills that make you stand out.

What truly drives you?

Where have you seen the greatest success in your career?

Focus on these critical questions to make sure you have an immediate impact on those who take the time to read your profile.

Step 2: Add the right keywords

One of the ways potential recruiters and employers will find you on LinkedIn is by searching for specific skills. By thinking about which keywords people will be looking for, you can infuse your profile with the terms that will get you noticed quickly.

Think about each of your roles - past and present - and make a list of key tasks within those roles. Then, pull out specific, action-oriented keywords that communicate how you had an impact in that role.

And think broadly about skill areas, too - if you’ve spent time working on your organization's social media presence, think about all the ways someone might look for that experience: by searching for “social media,” “social networking,” “online marketing,” or others.

Step 3: Take your photo seriously

Leave your pet photos and family portraits for Facebook.

Connections on LinkedIn want to meet you - the professional you. If you can swing it, invest in a professional headshot - you’ll be able to use it long after your LinkedIn profile has worked for you.

Having a professional, put-together photo shows that you’ve put thought into even the littlest details of your presence online. More importantly, it portrays the version of you that’s most valuable and employable for those looking to connect with you.

Step 4: Take advantage of multimedia

LinkedIn has amazing features that allow you to share images, work samples, links, and articles that show the best moments from your career.

Did you write an op-ed for an industry publication?

Include it in the files on your profile.

Did you write a presentation about industry trends (and check with your employer to be sure it’s safe to share publicly)?

Add a slideshow - or better yet, a video of you presenting it. These add a dynamic dimension to your LinkedIn profile that will set you apart from the pack.

Step 5: Network, network, network

Most people make the mistake of thinking that networking on LinkedIn amounts to connecting with the people they already know from current or previous jobs.

But networking on LinkedIn can be so much more. LinkedIn’s Groups feature allows you to be a part of groups that are relevant to your position or industry, opening you up to connecting with more people through your shared interests.

In addition, you can follow specific companies or thought leaders that share your interests or relate to your work. This shows that you’re invested in following the latest news and trends across your category.

Final Thoughts

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for your personal brand when you take the time to create a profile that really highlights the best parts of you, your experience, and what you have to offer.

These steps will get you started, and soon you’ll be connecting and networking your way into new opportunities!

If you have questions about your job search, contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

Image: Nan Palmero

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast Facts For Phone Interview Savvy

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS Phone InterviewYou have created a killer Value Proposition, an attractive resume, attended networking meetings, researched companies and tracked all of your efforts as part of your career campaign.  All of a sudden, you are contacted to set up a phone interview for a position of your dreams.  The euphoria sets in and then all of a sudden you realize that this is not as easy as it sounds.  How do you ace this part of the interview process so that you can make it to the short list and gain a face-to-face interview spot?  Below you will find fast facts to help you earn your place on the list.

1. Be in control of date, time and place. The phone interview, also known as the phone screen, is your first personal contact with the company. You must schedule it when and where you can be free from interruption and distraction. You have a say in the scheduling so exercise it.

2. Research the companyDo your homework and make sure that you are up to date on what is happening.  (Twitter may be a great source for up to the moment content!) It may be a while from the time you sent your resume in to when you are called. Refresh yourself on the position and what brought you to apply.

3. Prepare the relevant stories for the positionThink about what things in your background relate to the position and what highlights of your career you want to bring out.  For example, if you are in HR and it is a position about benefits, you are not going to be highlighting your labor relations successes. Instead you are going to talk about reducing the cost of healthcare without sacrificing quality of care through smart plan design.

4. Keep your information in front of you. This is a rare opportunity where you can have your resume, notes about the company, validation stories, the job posting and blank paper for notes during the conversation.  Jump on this occasion to be prepared.  Many people do not really need this except for the security that it gives them. Their preparation is such that the words flow and this ease comes through on the phone. For others, a glimpse here or there is all they need.

5. Work on your voiceYour voice is all they have that is personal to go on.  Take a sucking candy to make sure that your voice is not raspy. Drink some water about a half hour before.  Modulate your tone,  Also, remember that they say you can see someone smile through the phone.  This is the time you need to smile because your voice is all they have to go on.  Keep a mirror nearby for a "smile-check"  OR  have a little sign nearby reminding you to smile now and again!

6. Speak on a land line whenever possible! This relates back to number one above.  You control when and where you are going to speak.  I know someone recently who was in the middle of an interview on a cell phone and lost the connection.  The interviewer did not call back!  Don’t let this happen to you!  Exchange contact information at the onset of the conversation in case the call fails.

Follow the above fast facts and you will be on your way to an in-person interview. Please leave me a message and let me know if you find this information helpful.

As always, if you are struggling in your job search, please reach out to me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

Every Success –

Linda

8 Tips To Kickstart Your Career Search in 2014

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCSConcept of start straight for business Whether you have just been laid off or have been working on a career campaign for a while, the New Year brings with it the opportunity to start your job search anew. However, for some people, the feeling of being overwhelmed takes over and they are not sure where to begin. Below you will find 8 tips to start you on your way towards an organized, strategic, planned career search that will bring you closer to your next career transition.

1. Attitude Adjustment. If you were laid off from your job, there are a lot of feelings that accompany this job loss. Some people get angry, some are sad, some become paralyzed and others feel lost. While all of this is normal, the successful candidates are those who realize that this is where they are and what they have to deal with. They take time to deal with the situation but move past it as well so that they can focus on the actions they need to take to secure their next position. Working it through quickly and letting go is the first part of goal attainment.

2. Gain Clarity.  Take some time to think about what you want to do in your next job. This is very important because if you are not clear on what you want, it will be very hard to figure out the steps necessary to get what you want. So, what does this mean? Well, think about what you want from your next job. Do you want to switch industries? Do you want to change careers totally? Do you want to work in a bigger or smaller company setting? Should it be for-profit or non-profit? Take some time to start shaping the vision of your next job. This is one thing that people often forget about in the process. They just turn around and try to go back and do the same thing that they did before. However, for some people, this is a golden opportunity to make the career change they have thought of in the past.

3. Online Presence Check. Another important action to take is to do a check of your  “Online Presence” to see what is out there and what needs to be worked on. Look at facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr and other places that you appear and make sure that you do not have photographs or other information that will reflect you in a negative way.  For example, you do not want to have pictures that show you having taken time off from work for an unapproved reason or holding onto company property that you took home but should not have. You also do not want pictures of yourself getting drunk or doing illegal drugs. You want your presence to appear professional and further support that you have the skills and professionalism for the position you are applying for.

4. Resume Review and Rewrite. Take out your resume and give it a good once over. Is it modern or is this the resume you used 8-10 years ago? Find out what a modern resume should look like and see if yours needs revision. One of the most important things to do for your resume and for your job search in general is to have a strong Value Proposition.  I often call this the “spine” of your career search. It is the statement that answers the question of who you are in relation to the role that you are seeking.  It can be used as part of the introductory paragraph of your resume. It takes some introspective thought to create this statement of the value that you bring to the table so be sure to invest in it.

Re-working your resume is an arduous task that will pay great dividends when you are able to communicate your value and support it with the successes of your work life. It is important to show an employer that when they hire you, the successes that you have had are what you are going to bring to them.  The best way to do this is by recounting these achievements and providing metrics so that an employer can concretely understand what you can do.  A picture is painted when you describe handling global Human Resource issues in Digital Media for a staff of 1,000 employees worldwide rather than saying Human Resources in Digital Media. This is how you can promote your brand and distinguish yourself. Remember, looking for a job is a selling process where the product you are selling is yourself and what you can do for an employer.

5. Create or Review and Update Your LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform so having a good profile is important. When employers are looking to see if they want to bring you in for an interview, they will often check out your LinkedIn profile. So make sure that it is a good reflection of you from a business perspective.

6. Networking. Networking is a very important part of a successful career campaign. The “hidden job market” is often accessed through your network contacts.  What is this hidden job market? Oftentimes, before a position gets out onto the company website. a job board or some other method of advertising, someone hears about it and recommends a person for the position. Many times people are hired at this stage and the job never goes out elsewhere. The only way to hear about it is through someone who knows someone. And, the best way to do this is to share your situation with  your network.

7. Track your efforts. There are a number of things that you will be doing throughout this process including completing a number of applications, sending cover letters, creating and sending customized resumes, attending events and meetings, interviewing etc.  As a result, you need to have a way to track all of this. Figure out what works for you and scrupulously track your actions.

8. Prepare for interviews. Gone are the days when you went for an interview and the company spoke to you about what they do to educate you.  Today, it is expected that when you interview for a position, you have researched all different types of information about the company from what they do to the company culture to press releases and beyond.  Do your homework and be prepared.

I trust the above information will help you navigate the road of your career transition.  As always, I am here to help you. If you find that you are struggling, please contact me. Whether you want help with your resume, mock interviewing, or figuring out your strategy, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Every Success –

Linda

Networking During the Holidays: 7 Tips for Successful Job Search

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCSChristmas Ornaments Parties galore, lots of good cheer, network during the holidays for a bright New Year!

Yes, it is that time of year where parties abound and wishes of good cheer are everywhere.  What does this mean for you if you are a jobseeker? Does it mean hide because things may not be going the way you would like them to go in your life? Of course not! The holidays and all they entail are a perfect time to help you advance your career transition. Some people are astonished when I tell them this.

Think about it. There are parties and gatherings, both personal and business. People take it a little slower at times as they approach Christmas and are more amenable to the casual “stop by” for coffee and chit-chat.  As a jobseeker, this is your cue to get into gear. What should you do to maximize this window of time? Below are 7 tips to help you on your way.

1. Remember that networking is about them! This is the Golden Rule of networking. While you will share things about yourself and what is happening, your focus is on the person and how you can make a difference for them. Perhaps it is a suggestion of an interesting gift to get their child or a cool recipe to share for their holiday party, do not lose track of the purpose here which is to build and enhance your relationships.

2. Go outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. At office holiday parties, it is very common for departments to hang out together. It is comfortable, everyone knows everyone.  Be different. Break away from the crowd and mix and mingle with people from other departments. You never know when something may come up and a relationship or making an acquaintance with someone from a different part of the office may help you with a problem. For example, you are having a team meeting and were responsible for the food.  You were so busy that you forgot to place the order. Now you have to scramble and figure it out. Well, you remember that you met the head cook from the cafeteria at the holiday party and had some interesting conversations because like you, she is an avid NASCAR fan.  When you sheepishly ask her to help you out, she gives you a big grin and says, “No, problem!” The meeting goes on without a hitch and the food is plentiful with lots of extras. Your new found friend was only too happy to help.

3. Do not be afraid to talk about your situation. If you are one of the people who will be laid off effective 12/31, this is your chance to let people know that you are in search. There is no shame to it. This way if someone hears of something, they know to share it with you. This also applies to your personal parties and gatherings.  Many times people feel like they have to put up a bravado so that no one knows.  It is exactly the opposite. By following Tip #2, speak with people at your family gatherings and be honest and let them know what is happening.  You have not seen each other in many instances for almost a year and who knows what has transpired in their lives.  They may have started at a new company or created their own business. You never know unless you speak with them.  Maybe they entered your industry and have contacts at companies that you are interested in. Maybe they joined an organization that you might be interested in. Put yourself out there, enjoy and see what develops.

4. Don’t just wait for the parties. Christmas is the time of year when people send out their cards or emails with an update on what has happened over the year, the quarter or whatever time period works for you. Reach out to people. Send cards, emails or whatever you like but make the connection. Or, set times for getting coffee or tacos. Whatever your pleasure, just make sure that you do it. Make it fun, so that you enjoy what you are doing.

5. Watch your drinking! I cannot stress this one enough.  You want to be with it, able to speak intelligently and to come across as the consummate professional.  If you get buzzed, you will not be putting your best foot forward.  This is a bad move.  Don’t be lured by the siren of an open bar. It is not worth it to ruin your reputation and chances for making your next transition.

6. Be conscious of what is going out on Social Media. Many people relax their guard and lose track of how they are being tagged in photos or that their tweets may not reflect their best self.  “Digital Dirt,” as coined by Robyn Greenspan, lasts a lifetime so stay aware of what is happening out there. You with a lampshade on your head is not exactly what you want your boss, recruiters, hiring managers or referral sources to see.

7. Follow up with people. Networking is about relationships. You cannot have a relationship without the “relating part.” So throughout the year invest time every week to nurture your relationships and watch them grow.

So here you have the alchemy of a fruitful holiday networking experience.  As always, please leave me a comment and let me know if this helped you. If you are struggling in search, please send me an email at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or call me at 203-323-9977.

Every Success, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays!

LINDA

 

 

 

 

The Key To Being Articulate And Confident In Your Job Search

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCSKnowledge-1 Small If you are at the start of your career search or you are struggling and feel like you want a “do over,” this post is dedicated to helping you get on track.

When I speak with HR people from varying companies, they all tell me that the person who is articulate and confident is the person that impresses them the most. So how can you come across as this articulate, confident person when you are nervous about the interview?

It all starts with knowing yourself and your work life cold. In an interview, the interviewer is going to tell you about the position and you are going to show them how the successes you have had over the course of your career make you uniquely positioned to be the right person for the job.  By knowing the stories of your work life, which highlight your strengths and skills, you can present a clear picture to the hiring manager or HR person of how you can solve the needs of the company and, as a result, are the perfect fit for the job. It does not matter if you are looking to continue on in the same work or are looking to change your career or industry.

So, take some time for self –reflection and think about the successes you have had over the course of time. Do you notice any patterns? What are the skills that keep coming up? What are your strengths?  Make yourself a journal so that you can refer back to it and add to it during your search. Once you have a handle on the many facets of you in your work life, you can start to create your Value Proposition, which is the backbone of your career campaign. Take this information that you have gleaned through your introspection and turn it into a clear, concise statement of who you are and what you bring to the table when you go to work.

In today’s world of job search, you need to be able to spit out your Value Proposition in 30 seconds or less. It has to roll off your tongue in an effortless manner with an air of confidence. And, your ability to do this in such an assured manner sets the stage for the questioning that comes next.  The nervousness can drop away because you are fully familiar with what happened in your work life and can pull examples that match up with or complement the issues that the interviewer is concentrating on.  Most interviewers know that you are not going to have an answer for everything; however, it is how you carry yourself through the process that counts. By being as well-versed in “you” as you are in your research of the company, you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, including responses that reflect that you do not know everything.  This is because this shows your honesty and honesty is a core value that is prized by most companies.

So there you have it. The key to being articulate and confident is knowledge about yourself.  So when Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power,” he was correct right down to a 21st Century job search!

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know if this post helped you. And, if you are struggling in search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or LindaVan@MyExecutiveCareerCoach.com.

Every Success-

Linda

 

 

 

 

 

The Process of Transition in Career Transitions

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS The FutureThis is the time of year when transition comes to the forefront with it being the end of the academic year and graduation time, where speeches fill the air with discussions about the changes that the graduates will be encountering. As we sit and listen to these graduation speeches, we often reflect upon our own lives and where we are at in the process. If you are in career transition, this is particularly apropos.

TransitionsIn the  book, Transitions, by William F. Bridges, the author explains that transition is different than change. Change is more the outward manifestation of the circumstances. Transition is the psychological process that we go through as we move from one stage in life to another. This includes relationships as well as our work lives.  “It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life… Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t take.”

In his book, Bridges uses his wealth of experience and research to explain that “all transitions, (including transitions in our work lives), are composed of 1) an ending, 2) a neutral zone, and 3) a new beginning.” He further states this is “based on a theory of personal development that views transition as the natural process of disorientation and reorientation marking the turning points of growth. Throughout nature, growth involves periodic accelerations and transformations: Things go slowly for a time and nothing seems to happen – until suddenly the eggshell cracks, the branch blossoms, the tadpole’s tail shrinks away….” He says that the same happens in a less clear manner with people. There are “key times of development and self-renewal.” This means that throughout our lives, as many of us realize, change will happen, it is the “norm” and we have to develop ways to deal with it. This applies in our work lives as well.

One of the novel ideas that Bridges speaks about is that “it is the ending that makes the beginning possible.”  Think about it. You cannot go on to your next job without the ending of the first one.  You cannot move to your next career without the ending of the current one.  With this ending comes the psychological change that needs to be dealt with. For some people, the change is planned, and you have had the time to mentally prepare for the orientation shift that is required to move on.  In other situations, such as a layoff, the change happens, you get laid off, but, if it was sudden, you have not yet dealt with the feelings behind this transition such as the mourning of the loss of your job.

Another concept that Bridges describes that applies in search, is the fact that after the ending there is a time of “lostness” or emptiness before we get to the new beginning.  There is a lot of fear during this time. It is scary. Our ship is afloat and we are not always sure which way to go. Without realizing it, this is a very important time in our lives.  While we feel like we are floating aimlessly, there is often a lot of work that is going on in the background to prepare us for the next stage we will enter. This happens during a career transition.  It is a time of reflection, self-examination and ultimately, renewal in some fashion.

One of the important points that he brings forth in the process of work transition is that “in order to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the old one you have now.”  For many people this is a very hard thing to do especially when a career transition is thrust upon them with now warning.  However, embracing the concept will go a long way to help you move forward.  When you are in career transition, now is the time to explore the possibility of moving in a completely new direction with your life’s work. However, you cannot do this is you cling too long to the old way.  You have to learn to “let go of the person you used to and then find the new person you need to become in the new situation.”

So, how do you do this?  Well, Bridges offers two questions to ask yourself. The first is “What is it time to let go in my own life right now?” The second one is “What is standing backstage, in the wings of my life, waiting to make its entrance?”  These are very powerful questions that require for some serious reflection and self-evaluation.

The book, “Transitions,” is a wonderful, easy read that can help you on the road to trying to understanding what is happening as you move through the many stages of life and career transition.  Sometimes people can do this on their own.  At other times, they need the assistance of a professional to help give them the support and guidance when they find that going it alone is just not working for them.  In the work environment, a career coach can help you through in many instances.  A certified coach has been trained to help you understand and explore the way to get through the stages to successfully reach your goal.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if this posting helped you. As always, if you are struggling in search, please feel free to contact me at lindavan@myexeuctivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

I wish you every success. Let's get to work!

Linda

 

 

What "Mad Men" Teaches Us About Career Search

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCSMadMen This past Sunday marked the opening of the new season of the hit TV series, “Mad Men.” The title refers to Madison Avenue and its strong connection to advertising in the 1960’s, not insanity.  "Mad Men" is an incredibly well written TV show that deals with the trials and tribulations of the lives of the people involved in one high level advertising agency.

What is the connection between "Mad Men" and career search?  As I watch the show, it further underscores how important the concept of product branding is to the successful sale of the product. They painstakingly create campaigns looking for the precise slogan, gimmick or catch phrase that will make the product stand out and capture the hearts and minds of the public to bring in sales.

This same painstaking care is what it takes to run a successful career campaign.  Career search involves creating and selling your personal brand in such a way that helps you stand out and capture the attention of the recruiter, hiring manager or other professional involved in the hiring process.

It is with the same effort and intensity that advertising people use to create their campaigns that a person in job search must use to work on creating their Value Proposition, their resume, their outreach letters, interview prep, etc.  It is also with the same intensity that a person in search needs to network so that they can take qualitative steps towards securing their next position.  I mention qualitative steps because it is the quality of the work that a candidate does rather than the quantity that is what leads to success.

What are some specifics of what I am referring to?

To start, if you are in search, you must take the time to sit and reflect on the stories of your work life. Think about the different things that exemplify your skills and strengths. Once you have this straight in your mind, create a Value Proposition that reflects this information in a concise manner. Create your resume using your Value Proposition and incorporate metrics that reflect the successes that you brought in your past jobs. Pay attention to the words that you choose so that your resume does not come across as “plain Vanilla.”  Use language that is engaging so that you grab the reader and make them want to read on. Remember, you only have 15 seconds to get the person reading your resume to keep going before they say, “I have 500 other resumes in the pile. Next!”

You want to keep your network up and nurture it to be able to access the hidden job market and gain entry to the positions that never make it to the job boards and Craigslist. In addition, when you finally get called for an interview, you must prepare by learning everything there is to know about the company and what is currently happening. You want to show that you are well-versed and current about the happenings at the firm. By creating a strong, concise Value Proposition and knowing the stories of your work life, you will be able to respond with confidence to most questions that are asked of you in an interview.

By paying attention and synthesizing your ability to solve the needs of the company in a thank you note after an interview, you distinguish yourself from the crowd. And, knowing the things that are important to you during contract negotiation help to provide clarity so that you can negotiate for the best compensation package that you can get.

Like the “Mad Men” of the 1960’s, if you put as much care and detail into creating your brand for your career campaign, you will position yourself in the best way possible for success.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if this helped you. As always, if you are struggling in search, please reach out to me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

I wish you every success –

LINDA

 

Older Jobseekers: 4 Tips to Prepare For Career Search Success

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS Talented Business Executive!Many older workers have been shell-shocked with how hard this challenging economy has hit their demographic.   Older people aged 50 and over, have been affected by this financial crisis than ever before.  How do you navigate the waters and find the position you desire?  The following tips are geared to help older workers lessen their fears and move with confidence towards their goal.

1. Shoot for high level positions. Many older workers think that because the market is so challenging they should look at positions that are at the same or lower level than they were at before.  They let the “fear” cause them to aim too low. I say, if you have the skills, look at positions at higher levels such as Director or Vice President. These positions often seek candidates with 10-12 years or 12-15 years of experience. They are seeking the experience that older workers can bring to the table.

2. Do your research. Once you have secured your interview, make sure that you do all of your research about the company as we have discussed in past postings.  However, this time, you are going to do this research with the thought process in mind about being prepared for “older person” questions. What kinds of questions, you ask? Well, if you are changing industries, you will most likely be asked questions about how you can manage to work in a different industry. Your answer should include information on transferable skills. Showing how your skills and experience can easily bring them quality work in their industry will get them to listen and want to hear more.

3. Show you are contemporary and have kept your skills current. If you are seeking work in the same industry or even a different industry, you are going to want to stress how you will not require a lot of training and can hit the ground running. How do you do this?  You show how you have kept yourself current in everything from industry knowledge to computer skills. If you have been using or learned special software, make sure that you are up to date with the latest versions. When asked about this knowledge, provide information about lessons or classes you have taken to stay current. (See my website for Social Media Classes for Job Seekers).

It is in these discussions, as well as on your resume, that you want to exhibit your knowledge of social media.  Include what you know about and how you use social media in the answers to your question.  This shows that you are tech savvy and tech knowledge equals being contemporary.

4. Be prepared for tough questions. A common question to be prepared for is one about working with younger people.  It is not uncommon today for you to be interviewed by and working for people younger than yourself. What is the best way to negotiate a question dealing with this topic?  Let your interviewer know that you can work with anyone. Age does not matter. What is more important is that you work as a team with the goal of getting the job done well.

My favorite question that older people get asked is, “Aren’t you overqualified?”  When you get asked this question, it is your job to show the interviewer how you are the most qualified candidate for the job. As my friend Absolutely Abby often says, “Do you want a surgeon that is just qualified or one who is perfectly qualified to do your operation?”

So here you have it, 4 tips to bring success to the older jobseeker. As always, please leave me a comment and let me know if this column has helped you.

If you are struggling in search, feel free to contact me at LindaVan@myexecutivecareercoach.com.

Every Success-

LINDA

Career Search And Preparing For Remote Interviews

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS All of your hard work has paid off and now you have been contacted to schedule an interview. In today’s job market, “the interview” has changed. Years ago, an interview was “face-to-face” at the office of the organization. Today, “the interview” starts in a remote  manner using different medium. It helps to save money and narrow the field on all sides - as you do not have to pay to travel and lose valuable time and the company does not have to spend time and money on candidates until they have really narrowed the field down.

The following are  tips of  ways to prepare for each type of remote interview:

1. The Written Interview - While this isWritten Interview not that common, a written interview starts by receiving a notification saying that the company is interested in learning more about you and asking you to sign into a site where you are to answer a series of short essays as the beginning of the interview process. This gives the recruiter a chance to see how well you write under pressure. When the skill they are seeking includes excellent written communication skills, this is a way for the recruiter to hone in on your Value Proposition and supporting stories. The way to be prepared is to have this down cold. Knowing your Value Proposition and supporting stories so that you have them “top of mind’ as you go through the job search process makes it easier to handle any type of situation that comes along such as a written interview. In this arena, in addition to writing about your stories and Value Proposition, you also have to pay attention to your grammar and spelling. As a result you need extra time for proofing. Having your information at your fingertips gives you the extra time to manage these things rather than trying to pull supporting stories out of the back recesses of your memory.

2. The Telephone Interview.  Red PhoneThe phone interview usually starts with an email requesting that you either contact an admin to set up the call or to reply back by email with the date and time that works best for you. Keep in mind that the prep work that you do can be used as you move to other phases of the interview and search process so investing time in this will save you time later.

  • Do your research. Research the company that you are interviewing with. Make sure that you have read their entire website, Google the person you will be interviewing with, look at press releases, newspaper articles and know what is going on there now.
  • Prepare your list of questions.  These may include questions that you think of as the interviewer speaks with you and things you want to know about the interview process itself such as “Is there anything that you are not clear on that we just discussed?” or “ What are the next steps?” The idea here is to get to the next step and move closer to the face-to-face interview.
  • Think about where you will conduct you interview. It needs to be done in a place where you can concentrate, with no noise or distractions with space to spread out your resume, list of questions, and note pad. You can have access to your resume and your research notes and questions. Also, you need a watch to be able to pace yourself.  The interviewer may tell you from the beginning that the entire interview may take a half hour.  You then want to watch that you are not being too long winded so that you get through all of the questions they have.
  • Other considerations.  Dress as if you were attending the real thing. This helps to set the stage for a true, business-like atmosphere. Use a landline telephone so that you are not needing to ask theLights Camera Action question, “Can you hear me now?”

3. The Video Interview – As technology keeps improving and companies are trying to save on recruiting costs, they are using the video interview more and more. This intermediary step continues to narrow the field so how do you prepare to meet your goal of getting the face-to-face interview?

  • Get the details of the event down. Who is your contact? Where is it going to be held? What are your technology needs? Are you going to Kinko’s or is this going to be done on Skype in your home? Have you confirmed the time zone and do you know the differences? Send out an email confirming all of these preliminaries the day before.
  • Prepare your materials. Do you have your Value Proposition and stories ready? Have you done your research? Refresh the part about the press releases and review the website as you never know what changes have taken place since you last looked and this may be relevant to your interview.
  • Prepare your environment. If you are interviewing off site, the area is most likely prepared. If you are interviewing at home, prepare your workspace but keep in mind that with a camera, the other party will be able to see behind you and around the sides. The area they see should be neat and clear.
  • Technology. If you use a camera and a microphone, test them to see that they are in good working order.  If you have an extra laptop or other computer, keep it ready as a backup just in case you have a technology failure.
  • Skype. Skype interviews are more common today and require a little prep work. SkypeFirst, establish a professional sounding Skype name. Make sure you have the company’s Skype information so that you can re-connect in the event that the call drops. Have a telephone ready so that you can switch at a moment’s notice if  necessary. Know what the icons on Skype look like and how to test your connection.
  • Business Attire. You will be on screen. They will be looking at what you are wearing to see that you understand the professional nature of the event. Make sure that you are professionally dressed all the way down to your shoes.
  • Mastering the visual contact. Think of this interview like a face-to-face interview. Even if you are just staring into a camera, you are not functioning in a vacuum. You need to be concerned about making eye contact, have in a smile on your face and conveying high energy and enthusiasm about the position. All of this is done while speaking clearly to convey why you are the best candidate for the job. There is a lot to concentrate on. This is why your preparation of your Value Proposition and supporting stories is so crucial. This will help to lesson your stress and allow you to focus on these ancillary details.
  • Out of the camera’s view. You can have supporting materials to help in your discussion. Your resume, research and other things can be located offsite to help you through the process.
  • Conclusion. As the interview concludes remember that you need to thank whomever you were speaking with, tell them how interested you are in the position and that you want the job.

I hope this has opened your eyes to the remote forms of interviewing and the preparation required to be successful. As always, if you are struggling with your search, please do not hesitate to contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Every success –

Linda

 

 

Eight Tips For Organizing Your Job Search In Today’s Challenging Job Market

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS Suit PocketThe beginning of a New Year brings with it an opportunity to clean your slate.  You can start everything fresh.  Or, if you are newly laid off as often happens at the end of the year, you will be starting from scratch in your job search.  Either way, one of the many important things to do in your search is to be organized.  Treating it like a job will go a long way towards helping you secure your next position. This posting is devoted to organizing your career campaign so that you can manage all of its moving parts resulting in functioning like a well-oiled machine!

1. Start by creating your space.You need a spot for your computer and whatever supplies are required. Think of yourself as telecommuting for a job and set the stage for productivity. Unless you work completely paper free, you will have papers that need to be organized in folders, books that you will or have read, articles, scratch copies of resumes and other things to manage. Also, you need to work in a place that is conducive to the search process so you can concentrate and be free of mess.

2. Determine your skills and strengths to prepare creation of your Value Proposition.  Think about and write down the stories of your work life to see where your skills and strengths are which proves your value to any organization that you work for.  You will need to pull them out over the course of your search to create your Value Proposition, your resume, for your letter writing campaign, phone screens interviews and many other situations.

3. Arrange your stories in a way that helps you create your Value Proposition. I often call this the “spine of your search.” You manipulate your Value Proposition for many purposes from your resume to networking meetings to interviewing and many other situations. The organization of your work life stories helps you keep them top of mind so they are at your fingertips and ready when the time calls for them.

4. Create or update your resume by coordinating the varying tools you have for this process.  I have always said that a good place to start is by looking at postings of positions that you are interested in applying for. Use word lists that you can find online to help you figure out different ways of expressing the things that you did. Keep a highlighter to use as you modify your resume so that you can highlight the changes you make as you tailor it to the postings you start to apply for.

5. While you are preparing your resume, you can also start researching the companies that you are interested in working at. You need to manage your research so that it is available to you later on when you finally are able to secure that coveted interview. In addition, you will need to be joining organizations to increase your network so the research on this needs to happen here as well.

6. So now you have arrived at the heart of your search, which is to start applying for positions, posting your resume on job boards, attending networking functions and other parts of the process. How do you keep track of all of it?  There are many ways to do it. There is the old fashioned pen and paper way. There is the very sophisticated online way by using cloud software like JibberJobber.com. For those of you who are familiar with Salesforce.com, JibberJobber is similar to this for the career search industry.  All components of your job search can be entered into your database including your networking contacts and their information. You can track your resumes, job postings and see who you know at the varying companies you look to apply to.

Another cloud service is called Huntsy.com. With Huntsy, you can keep track of all of your job postings and Huntsy will help you manage the timeline of events for the position such as which resume did you send, when is your interview, contacts with HR and all of your correspondence. With Huntsy, you can attach postings to your tool bar as you move from place to place. The Huntsy owl sits at the top in your tool bar waiting to prey on your job components.

Then, there is always creating a spreadsheet on Excel for tracking purposes.  Use different workbook sheets to manage all of the different parts of your search always making sure to include the dates of your contacts and submissions.  Create a sheet for networking, recruiters, job boards, outreach to companies, interviews and whatever else you want to track. Whatever method you choose, your goal is to be so organized that you are able to function with the parts of your search in an efficient and effective manner.

7. Design a schedule for yourself.  I have always told my clients that huddling over your computer for hours at a time will not serve you well.  This is still my mantra.  Develop a  schedule that includes computer time, networking time, family time and recreation time (and don't forget sleep!).

8. Lastly, establish a positive attitude towards your search process so that you can overcome the tolerations and problems that drag you down.  Realize that it is not that difficult to get things going by systematizing your career campaign with the suggestions presented above. Having an organized framework goes a long way to helping overcome inertia issues that weigh you down.

So here you have eight tips to help you organize your job search. Please leave me a comment and let me know if this was helpful to you.  As always, if you need help with your search, please do not hesitate to contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-7797.

I wish you every success - Let’s get to work!

Linda

 

 

 

10 Tips for Networking During the Holidays To Move Your Career Search Forward

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS “Tis The Season!” is a phrase that for some says, “take a break and relax”, but for savvy job seekers it is a signal to stay in search mode and take your search to a different level. I often hear people say, "Who hires during the holidays?”  My answer always is that hiring goes on during this time and offers you an opportunity to compete against a smaller pool of candidates because people are of the opinion that nothing is going on. How fortuitous for you if you avail yourself of this opportunity!

My Human Resource contacts say that if they are in a situation where they need to hire for a position, they are moving their search forward during this time of year and not backing down. Why? Because they would like to be able to hit the ground running right after the first of the year with their new recruit or a list of candidates. Since it is a quieter time of year, they can really devote themselves to the process without a lot of other things pulling at them.

So, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, the number one way to secure your next position is through networking. For many, networking is a regular part of their business regimen. For some, however, networking is like pulling teeth and presents a challenge that they struggle with. Networking during the holidays is different than during the remainder of the calendar year and offers an opportunity to connect that job seekers should embrace. The follow tips can help you make the most out of your networking events:

1. Remember that networking is about the other person – Successful networkers understand the golden rule which is “Networking is about them, not you.” When you are looking to build or maintain your network, your main focus is on the other person. Networking that is focused on the work and personal interests and lives of the other person helps your network to thrive.

2. Send Holiday Greetings – Whether you send out a greeting card by snail mail, or an e-card through email, holiday greetings offer a chance to reach out to others in the spirit of giving without having any type of agenda.  It puts you top of mind and presents your wishes in a personal, non-business manner.

3. Attend holiday parties and gatherings – If you hate networking meetings, holiday parties present an opportunity to network in a very relaxed atmosphere.  People are generally in a good mood and more open to talking. Many organizations have holiday parties where networking opportunities are afforded. Attend these functions and take advantage of the opportunity to get to know people on a social level.  This is the beginning of building relationships that can be  more long term. Remember, though, that where drinking is involved, you want to maintain your professionalism so keep this in mind as you make your choices.

4. Research before you go – To make your networking event a productive one, research the people that you think you may come across and want to meet. In this way, you will have fodder for discussion.  Having topics ready for discussion takes the stress off the networking situation because you will have things to say and do not have to worry that there will be pauses in the conversation.

5. Quality vs. Quantity – Some people think that they have to go to networking functions and come out with numerous contacts.  Smart networkers know that it s the quality of the connections that they make that is important.  If you speak in an in-depth manner with only two or three people and schedule follow-ups for after the first of the year, isn’t this better than flitting from one person to another without really connecting in a meaningful way?

6. Be prepared – I always tell my clients that when it comes to job search, they need to be prepared.  When they go on a job interview, they go prepared ready to answer the question “So, tell me about yourself.”  In networking situations, especially where you will be meeting with people that you have not seen for a while, I tell my clients that they need to be prepared to discuss how they are and what they have been up to.  The holidays are a time when you connect with people that you have not seen for long periods of time.  This is often the case with family gatherings.  Yes, family gatherings are definitely ripe networking opportunities. So, be prepared when Uncle Ed asks, “So, how have you been?” or Aunt Martha says, “So what have you been up to over the last year?”  What do you say?  Well, you could say, “I have been deeply depressed as I look for a job and have been sending out hundreds of resumes without having any interviews scheduled.”  Or, you could say, “I have been working on a career campaign and have been meeting new people, upgrading my skills through volunteer work, and increasing my industry knowledge through continuing education courses.” Think they will be impressed? Who will they share this with and possibly introduce you to? You never know.

7. Review your brand – While you should be doing this on a regular basis, the holidays offer you another opportunity to do a quick update.  Look at your LinkedIn Profile and see if it needs tweaking to reflect new things that you have been up to.  Look at your facebook page to see if it needs work and prepare a bunch of Tweets to send out through Twitter that are geared to the holidays. Also, while you will not be bringing your resume to these networking events, you will be bringing your business cards.  Look them over to see if they need a freshening up or a whole new re-vamp. Use this as an occasion to make a change.

8. Setting dates to get together – Following up with people is a very important part of the networking process.  This can be achieved in many different ways.  For example, you have to be smart in the way that you spend your valuable time.  So, if you think that going to a party or other networking event is not an option at the time, respond to the invitation with a “No, but let’s schedule a date now to get together.” On the other hand, when you are attending networking events, try to set follow up dates not too long thereafter.  Set as a goal filling your January calendar with meetings so that you can be set right after the first of the year instead of playing catch up to schedule times when everyone is crazy busy after the first of the year.  Don’t forget that you can be scheduling informational interviews during this time.  It is the connecting part that is key as well as getting the information.

9. Prepare a Networking Overview Sheet - Now that you will be having these networking connections and they know that you are in search, prepare a Networking Overview Sheet to be prepared for when they ask you for your resume.  I like my clients to be in control of their resumes so that they can tailor them to the specific position they are applying for and not just send them out to anyone.  The Networking Overview Sheet provides you with an opportunity to send out something in response that contains your Value Proposition so that they know who you are, your skills, your proof, your accomplishments and targets of companies that you are interested in.  But, be specific. People can only help you if you are targeted and provide specific information such as names of companies that you are looking for. If you are vague and say, “I am looking for a position that will help me use my skills to achieve world peace,” they will not know what to do. However, if you tell them the names of the five non-profits that mesh with your goals, you never know who they know who can help you get there.  You can find a sample on my networking page on the website. See page three of How to Prepare for a Networking Meeting for the sample:  http://www.myexecutivecareercoach.com/executive_networking_fairfield_county_ct_200k.htm

10. Be gracious and generous – Generosity is the overriding theme you hear throughout the holiday time of year.  Give the gifts of your time, your compassion and concern and, if you can, give the gift of business contacts and referrals.  When you are generous, people appreciate it and remember the type of person that you are. Showing your gratitude also adds to their thoughts of you as the type of person they want to relate to.

So there you have it.  Ten tips for networking during the holiday season.  I hope that I have helped you. Please leave me a comment and let me know. As always, if you need help with your search, please contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Let’s Get to Work!

Every Success –

Linda

 

Career Search - Avoiding The Pitfalls of Electronic Resumes and Job Postings

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS When I work with my clients, I often hear that they struggle with the technical aspects of their job search. This includes how to format their resume for posting on job boards, online applications and a host of other situations that arise on a case-by-case basis. As a result, I have decided to dedicate this posting to some of the technical aspects of a career campaign and have called upon a couple of experts who have experience in the area of job search and online recruiting.

If you have entered the world of search, you have most likely experienced posting your resume to a job board or applying to an online job application and experienced the frustration of your beautifully formatted resume losing its panache when it crosses over into the online world.  It takes a lot of time and effort to straighten the whole thing out and oftentimes; you are unable to return it to its original format.  To prevent this from happening, take your original resume and save it as a .txt file. Then open it up in Notepad or TextEdit, if you are using a MAC, and format the spacing in one of these text editors. In the electronic arena, it is the text itself and not the formatting that is top priority so format everything with a left alignment and differentiate information through the use of capitalization and inserting blank lines. Then, when you make it to the interview stage, you can bring your beautifully formatted resume.

Chris Russell has used his expertise to create successful online job boards such as AllCountyJobs.com, consults for people interested in starting or improving their job boards, and has recently become the Founder and CEO of CareerCloud, a new social recruiting platform that will launch this fall.  Chris’s advice is to have multiple versions of your resume ready. To complete online job applications and job board profiles, he recommends that you learn how to cut and paste efficiently. Have CTRL-C and Ctrl-V become your best friends as you transfer information from one place to another. I instruct my clients to create a “Scratch Language” document where they keep things they have written on job applications and job board profiles to be re-used when the time is right. In this way, they can just cut and paste the information in the appropriate format without having to re-write it as many forums ask for the same or similar material.

Chris also recommends that you pay close attention to the instructions in the job ad with respect to technical requirements. Otherwise, you might screen yourself out of the process by not following directions such as in an email situation. He suggests that if you are attaching your resume to attach it using Microsoft Word format (.doc).  When you name the file that you are sending, he advises that you put your name on the file in case it is saved elsewhere by the recipient.  If you name it resume.doc, you will get lost in the shuffle. I advise my clients, who are responding by email or otherwise, to put the name and identifier of the position along with their name as it provides a way for the HR people and hiring managers to trace back to their correspondence and identify what position they were interested in.

Chris pointed out that another way to respond to online postings is by using the “Apply Now” feature through LinkedIn.  Using this feature allows you to see immediately if you have connections to the target company. Before you jump in though, make sure that your profile is complete as the recipient of your application is going right to your profile. Have some recommendations so that people can see what others are saying about you. Use some of the ancillary features to reinforce your fit. Include your reading materials and link to your blog or Twitter account.  Also, if you have special articles or presentations, include them so people can get more of a feel for your expertise and your fit for their company. If necessary, tweak your profile to make sure that it is consistent with the position you are applying to.

I consulted with Dave Opton, CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, “a full-service, private membership organization tuned exclusively to helping senior-level executives attract rewarding new opportunities; get "unstuck" and transition into gratifying new careers; maximize their leadership performance; and get better business results.” While ExecuNet has many job listings posted by recruiter members, he started by underscoring how important it is not to “fall into the trap of putting too much time into a job board.”  According to Dave, “people quickly forget that from a percentage perspective, it has nowhere near as high a success rate as professional networking. It is more productive to spend time expanding your professional network as 70% of ExecuNet members state that change came about from networking and not answering an ad.”

ExecuNet posts jobs.  These jobs are posted by recruiters who pay to be on the ExecuNet site. Due to the large response they get, Dave says that most of the recruiters prefer to look at online profiles. Therefore, he said to try to look at your profile from the other side of the desk. This really applies in whatever forum you are presenting yourself, not just ExecuNet. Ask yourself objectively, if your resume and profile came in as a result of the posting, would you want to call yourself in? Is your profile providing information that shows that you are a good fit for the position and company?  In search, it is often a given that the person has the skills that they are highlighting on their resume. So, what sets you apart is being able to also show electronically that you are a good fit as well.  ExecuNet helps its members convey this as part of the profile they create in the “More About Me” section.  Many other job boards have sections for content that can help you convey the “fit” part of your qualifications.

People complain that job boards often have listings that are stale.  You want to use a job board that keeps a tight rein on its listings so that the listings are fresh. ExecuNet keeps postings for 45 days and requires listings to be re-posted thereafter.  EntertainmentCareers.net keeps them for 45 days as well so at least you know that it is not a stale posting from last year that you are responding to. Check this out before you start the posting process so you make productive use of your time.

I hope this has helped to take some of the frustration out of the technical part of the search process.  As always, if you need help in search, please feel free to contact me at LindaVan@myexeucutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Let’s get to work!

Every Success –

Linda

Taking The Scary Out Of Writing Resumes

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS Halloween is a time that many use to dress up in costume with a theme that invokes fear, whether it is a zombie with a knife and blood dripping down, a witch with sallow skin and a long, wart-covered nose or a ghost or goblin. That same fear rears its ugly head for some people when they think about writing their resume!  This post is designed to help take “the scary” out of the resume writing process.

The first thing I recommend is that you take a deep breath, close your eyes, and transform yourself into an advertising executive. “What?” you say.  Yes, an advertising executive!  No matter what your industry, profession, or job title, if you are in job search, you have entered the world of advertising. Your resume must be looked at from this perspective. It is a tool that will convey information about your product, which is you!

So, how do you start this process? The first thing that I recommend is that you gather all of your information and write it down in one spot so that you don’t have to be running around ripping apart files to figure out when you worked at what job, what year your promotion took place, when you took a special certification course and what the titles of the awards were that you received that are further evidence of your expertise.  Think of all of the information that is relevant to you and put it in one spot.

Whether you have done your resume before and are looking to give it a fresh face, you have never done a resume or haven’t done one in 20 years, it is time to talk about the physical appearance of your resume.  What should it look like?  Well, while there are no resume police out there, you want to give your resume a modern format and this means certain things.  Let’s start with your contact information.  The standard information- name and address go without saying.  Your telephone number should be a number that you can be reached at as quickly as possible.  Timing is everything in a career campaign. For most people this is their cell phone number instead of their home number.  Just remember that if you have a casual voice mail, you need to update it to one that is more professional sounding.  Also, your email address belongs in your contact information. I recommend that you have a dedicated email that is more business-like or professional sounding such as your name @gmail.com. If you have a LinkedIn profile (which you should), please include your LinkedIn vanity url for that, and if you are establishing yourself as an expert on Twitter, including your Twitter handle as this shows that you are current and tech savvy.

A few more housekeeping rules that must be considered start with neatness and typos. They count.  You do not want your resume to look like a solid brick of text. Use bullet points and paragraphing. This provides resting spots and air space so that an interviewer can rest their eyes along the way and have a chance to process what they are reading.   Use a fresh font like Calibri and keep it to 11 pt.   If you are going to upload your resume to a job board, sometimes you may have to convert it to RTF or Rich Text Format that strips out the formatting. This is okay. Everyone else is going through the same process as you. But however you do it, take the time to proofread to make sure that all is in order. If you are not good at that, ask a friend or read it to yourself out loud to try to catch mistakes.

Now that you have inserted all of your contact information, it is time to get into the body of the resume itself.  Start with an abbreviated version of your Value Proposition. The category title above it can be the name of the position that you are applying for, your specific title, or the word “Profile.”  Do not use the word “Objective” as in today’s economy, employers are not concerned about your objective.  They care about what you are going to do for them and how you are going to help them solve their needs.

When you insert your Value Proposition, please load it with the key words that you have done that match the responsibilities in the job posting or you have done in your career.  We all know that today, technology is the first responder in recruiting so your resume will, in many instances, travel through a filter that is in search for the keywords of the position. If you can honestly, ethically and professionally say that you did it then include it. Also, at the end of this paragraph include your core competencies. This gives you another opportunity to get your resume tagged by the filter because your core competencies include words that the computer is looking for.  If a human eye is looking your resume over, the core competencies help provide a person glancing quickly at your resume with vital information that they can glean quickly. Yes, unfortunately, your resume will most likely be given no more than a 30 second glance to see if the person actually looking at feels it should go on to the next level.

Next stop in resume creation is the body of your resume. If you are fresh out of college and do not have much in terms of work experience, you may start with your education and special activities, awards, and GPA.  However, once you have your first job, I would put this information at the end to place the focus on your work experience. If you have been out in the workplace, your work experience should be the next category. Include work experience that is from the last 10-15 years. This is what most resume reviewers are concerned with. If you have worked at one company for a while and been promoted, show this by delineating each position with dates.  If you have work experience that extends beyond the 10-15 year range, include a section that is titled “Previous Experience.” Here you can list names and industries or anything pertinent to what you are going for.

As you are writing the text of your work experience, remember that in today’s resume, employers are looking to see your accomplishments because they transition this to the things that they need from the candidate.  For example, if you are a medical billing manager it might look like “Supervised 8 staff members processing 100,000 claims per year with 10 providers having a denial rate of less than 10%.” Compare this to reading a resume that just says, “Supervised medical billing.”

But what happens if you started in business and never contemplated metrics before? Sit down and take some time to think about it.   If you cannot quantify in numbers, think about times you improved, increased, decreased, something. Then see how you can describe the outcome some that you provide concrete information rather than a statement that says, “I did X.”

Another point to contemplate is that you are using your resume to engage the reader. As a result, mix it up!  Don’t always start with an action verb. Lead off with a metric. Put yourself in the place of the person reading hundreds of resumes. If you can distinguish yourself, you will remain top-of-mind with the reader who may be the hiring manager or HR person.

After your work experience, include the category of your education and licensure. Include any special training or certificate programs to show that you are constantly a work in progress always upgrading your knowledge base. Any licensure that you have, JD, CPA, CFA or whatever it is should tie in if you have this type of alphabet soup of initials after your name in your contact information.

Professional affiliations should come next and should reflect organizations that you belong to that support the type of work and background that you are looking to highlight.  Examples would include the state, national and local Bar Associations if you are a lawyer along with industry groups that apply to the work that you do.

Technical Skills should highlight the fact that your skills are current and match the requirements of the position you are looking for.  If you are not very well-versed in a certain program, there are ways to improve so that you do not lack confidence on an interview about this.  Go to YouTube and search on whatever the program is. There you can get training videos to help you on you upgrade your skills and your confidence.

Last tips, if you have applicable volunteer experience, I would put it in a Volunteer category. If you sit on the board of a charity, or serve as the head of a committee, this confirms your leadership abilities. Also, do not put “References Furnished Upon Request.”  This is expected and a waste of valuable space.

I hope that I have taken the “scary” out of the resume process by providing you with concepts and tips to help you create the best advertising promo that you can. Here’s to landing your next job!

As always, if you need help with your search, please do not hesitate to contact me at LindaVan@MyExecutiveCareerCoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Every success –

Linda

 

 

A Fresh Look at Recruiters As You Kick Start Your Career Campaign

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS While September is Back-to-School for some, for others it is the kickoff of their career campaign.  As a result, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a fresh look at a component of the career search process that every jobseeker should be including in their campaign – working with recruiters.  In order to do this, I spoke with three recruiters who I have established relationships with to provide valuable insight into the process from their perspective.

The most important theme that I heard them all say leads me to feel that the “R” in recruiter really stands for relationship.  Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with a recruiter is very important in the search process. So how do you find a recruiter to start the relationship going?  Most point to the same place- The Directory of Executive and Professional Recruiters published by Kennedy Information. This book can be found in the Reference Section of most public libraries as well as online.  It contains a wealth of information about recruiters from explanations about the different types of recruiters to how to work with them as well as providing lists of recruiters by geographical location and industry. It is an important tool that you should look at during some point in your career campaign.

Michael Baroody, a retained recruiter at Harvard Group International (www.hgi1.com, mbaroody@hgi1.com ), suggests another place to find a recruiter is at www.bluesteps.com.  This is a website that connects executives with leading recruiters.  It is a site that requires payment to join, however it is a place where you will find leading search firms going to make connections with qualified candidates. Jennifer Scott of Workforce Engine ( www.workforceengine.com ), suggests looking at the website from NPA, www.npaworldwide.com.  This is a website devoted to independent recruiters and has a lot of information about independent recruiters and includes an area for job seekers with postings by recruiters.  It is a niche job board from that standpoint and deserves consideration as part of your search.  There may be other websites with information about independent recruiters, so do your research to find them. Sherri Rosenberg of Sherri Rosenberg Executive Search, LLC ( smrosenb@me.com ), recommended using LinkedIn to see who the recruiters are that other contacts have in their connections.  In this way, you find recruiters in your industry or functional area. She also reminded me of something very simple that people often forget.  Talk to other people and ask for information about the recruiters they used and would recommend.

So now that you have located recruiters, reach out and start a dialogue and relationship.  This will help you become and stay top-of-mind as they look for candidates.  According to Michael Baroody, it is important to update a recruiter every 6-8 weeks with what you have been doing so that they can see if you are a good fit for a position they are looking to fill. Sherri Rosenberg likened it to planting seeds that germinate over time. While she may not have something now, she may look to reach out in the future to suggest you as a candidate for a position.

Another thought in this networking process is that there is a give and take with recruiters.  They appreciate your offers of suggestions of other people as candidates when the position is not right for you.  Let’s face facts. In your industry, you know who good potential candidates might be.  Helping out a recruiter is appreciated and can pay dividends down the road.

Recruiters also appreciate your looking to see how they want you to work with them.  As part of your outreach, Jennifer Scott recommends asking the recruiter how he or she wants you to communicate with them.  You want to be respectful of their time and everyone works differently. Find out the preference of your recruiter and follow it.

I asked these recruiters if there were some things that they could say to candidates in today’s job market, what would they be?  Their replies included the following:

-       Mike Baroody said he would like job seekers to  “Understand that the process takes much longer than ever before, so be patient. For each position, there are hundreds of qualified people. If you are working with a search person, trust him or her, as the recruiter is your best advocate."

-       Jennifer Scott advised candidates to “Read the posting and be more discerning about where you send your resume. If a position advertises for certain experience and you do not have it, don’t send in your resume.” She also could not underscore how important proofreading your resume and cover letter are.  Lastly, she said “Do not start your letter off with “Dear Sir.”

-       Sherri Rosenberg stressed the importance of relationship building and maintaining that relationship even after placement. She stressed the importance of  continually making sure that your recruiter has an updated copy of your resume and is aware of the things that you have been doing.

-       All three discussed being truthful. This includes the dates on your resume. At some point, these dates will come to the forefront. While they all understand the concerns about age discrimination, your experience got you to where you are today. Have confidence in yourself and this will shine through as part of your passion in conveying who you are and why you are the best candidate for the role.

So here you have a new perspective from recruiters actively working with candidates. Take these suggestions and incorporate them to move you forward in your career search process.  If you are struggling in search, please reach out to me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

As always, I wish you every success –

Linda

10 Cool Resources - Catalysts for Your Career Campaign!

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS There is an adage that says, “There is no substitute for preparation.”  As we enter the beginning of August, on the cusp of the fall hiring season, I want to share with you some cool resources that you can use to help prepare for the fall hiring season.  When you have that overwhelmed feeling, wouldn’t having a multitude of resources to help you create your search roadmap take the edge off your anxiety?

Below I have created this “cool resources” tool bag that I believe you will find helpful. Using this mix of resources can move you closer to success in attaining your goal.

1. Books – Whether it is reading about how to Brag, by Peggy Klaus, Never Eat Alone, a book that teaches the ins and outs of networking by Keith Ferrazzi with Tahl Raz,  The Twitter Job Search Guide by Susan Britton Whitcomb, Deb Dibb and Chandlee Bryan, or The Essential Phone Interview Handbook by Paul J. Bailo, having these resources can give you the nudge in the right direction of some very important facets of a career campaign. Check out last month’s blog posting that discusses some of these books in depth.

2. Social Media – It is here to stay. Embrace it! Start to play with it and you will feel less intimidated by it. Social Media is very important for establishing your brand as well as actually using it in active career search. Watch out for our 3e seminars on LInkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook coming this fall.  We will be conducting several, hands-on seminars to teach you how to work with Social Media in job search.

3. Job Boards – Job Boards are a source for passive postings. As I have said before, to have a complete career campaign, you need to include applications to passive job postings.  Find a mixture of general and niche sites for your field and use them to add this component to your campaign.  Also, look at sites like ExecuNet which is a more unique site where you can peruse job postings, meet like minded career professionals, gain a plethora of valuable insight and information about career search and network both online and offline.

4. Networking – You know that I cannot say enough about how important your network is.  Keep enlarging it and nurturing it.  It is a valuable way to actively get your name and your brand out there. And, being out there is where you meet people that can possibly connect you to the companies you want to connect with. This includes keeping in touch with your alumni network from your college, masters and doctoral programs. Use them as a resource.

5. Public Library – Due to the downturn in the economy, many libraries have devoted special sections to job search with computers for research.  They bring in speakers that discuss different aspects of how to do an effective job search and they are usually free. Next time you are out and about, check out your local library to see what is going on.

6. Organizations – There are numerous organizations out there providing support to those people who are unemployed. There are job clubs, religious groups, and national organizations that are trying to provide information and assistance during these challenging times. Sit down and think about what groups might apply in your case and then do what my kids tell me to do all of the time, “Google it, Mom.”

7. Volunteer at a Non-Profit– Yes, volunteer a little bit of your time. This gets you out of the house and into the world of infinite possibilities.  You may learn a new skill. You will meet new people. You will be giving of yourself and feel gratified for doing it.  Your mood will change and so may your outlook.

8. Job Fairs – Seek out the Job Fairs in your area.  Do your research. Often you can find a listing of what companies will be attending and what jobs are open. Attend them with lots of resumes in hand, dressed professionally, with a smile and your Value Proposition down pat. You will have 30 seconds to tell it to the person taking your resume so be prepared and role-play, doing it in a rapid-fire manner.

9. Recruiters – Reach out to recruiters as another facet of your career campaign. Use The Directory of Executive & Professional Recruiters from Kennedy Information, which is the Bible of books providing listings of recruiters indexed by geographic region, industry and function. If you are looking for a recruiter in Connecticut that deals with Human Resources, you will find it here.  This is an expensive book and may often be found in the resource section of your public library. It can also be found online, if you are not in a position to pay for the service, look to your library in the reference section.

10. Career Coach – I saved the best for last!  If you are struggling in search or, if you are just starting your search, a career coach can be a valuable part of your career campaign. Just like using a trainer at the gym, a career coach is there prescribing the exercises and cheering you on your road to success.  Your career coach can help you establish your brand by working with you to create your Value Proposition, tweak your resume, teach you how to research companies and prepare and practice for the interview process. A good coach will explore with you, guide you, take you to task sometimes, and lift you up when you think all is lost. Coaches have their fingers on the pulse of the job market and when that final interview happens and you are determined to be the “one,” your coach can help you with the negotiation process so that you do not leave money on the table. Lastly, your coach can support you through your first review to help with any adjustment issues.

So here you have it.   Ten cool resources to catapult your career search. Pull them out of your tool bag and use them to help you when you feel lost or want to get back on track. Or, if you are just starting out, you now have a myriad of tools to give you a great start.  As always, please leave me a comment and let me know if this posting helped you. If you are struggling in search, please contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Every Success -

Linda

Summer Beach Reading = Career Campaign Improvements!

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, CCMC, CJSS Being proactive over the summer will put you in good stead when the fall hiring season starts.  Taking steps to advance your search now can make all of the difference and give you a leg up! One way to do this is by reading.  So I have compiled a reading list of 3 books that are valuable reading to bring to the beach, the park, on a family visit or wherever your summer plans take you.

The first book is Called “Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It” by Peggy Klaus.  For those of you who find it difficult to talk about yourselves to let people know about your accomplishments and other career highlights, this is the book for you! I have often said that the workplace as we have known it is gone and that we have to become the masters of our careers. No longer do we work for companies and get the proverbial pocket watch at the end during an emotional retirement dinner. The only emotion left today happens when you are stunned by the words, “Sorry, but we have to let you go.” So who is going to speak up for you out in the workplace and the world, if not you? Peggy Klaus’ answer is to “start thinking like an entrepreneur and start bragging about your most valuable product: you!”

Ms. Klaus starts by writing about the myths that keep people from promoting themselves such as “modesty is a virtue” or “if I brag about others, they will brag about me.” The answers she provides are helpful in overcoming these types of things that hold us back.  As she puts it “bragging is about becoming more of who you are and bringing forward your best parts with authenticity, pride and enthusiasm. It’s about telling your story in a way that showcases your strengths. It’s a way of building a bridge to others and to better opportunities.”  How many times have I told you about telling stories to hiring managers to convey your core expertise and how it can help solve the problems of the company with which you are interviewing? By changing the way that you think about bragging, Ms. Klaus takes the agony out of it and turns it into a tool so you can convey your message with sincerity and ease. You will learn how to create a “brag bag” filled with “brag bites” and “bragologues,” short or long stories that you use as appropriate to the situation at hand.  This book is an enjoyable, easy read filled with valuable information that you can use in search and in life in general. Start with yourself and disseminate the information down to your kids. Everyone can benefit from learning how to “brag” about themselves in the correct manner!

The next book that I put on your reading list is entitled, “Never Eat Alone And Other Secrets To Success, One Relationship At A Time,” by Keith Ferrazzi with Tahl Raz.  This is one of the consummate books on networking and relationship building. Another easy, enjoyable read, Ferrazzi shares the fruits of his expertise with informative, concrete examples to help you take the concepts and incorporate them into your everyday life. He shows you how to create valuable relationships and to nurture them with the “secret to success” which, according to Ferrazzi, is “generosity.” For “… its value in the world of networks is proven.”  Ferrazzi sums up his version of connecting as “… a constant process of giving and receiving – of asking for and offering help. By putting people in contact with one another, by giving your time and expertise and sharing them freely, the pie gets bigger for everyone.”  One statement that he makes is often hard for some people to do. As Ferrazzi puts it “You’ve got to be more than willing to accept generosity. Often, you’ve got to go out and ask for it.” This is where many people go wrong and Ferrazzi shows you how to improve in this type of situation and why.

As Peggy Klaus mentioned in her book, Keith Ferrazzi also mentions that where generosity in the past was found at the company you worked for, today it is found in the network that you nurture to help you promote you! Throughout the book, there are fascinating examples of famous people and the way that connecting to others helped make them successful. Reading about Bill Clinton and Michael Milken, among others, will help synthesize the concepts that Ferrazzi brings to light.  I highly recommend this book to everyone, however, if you struggle with networking, connecting with people and would rather die than reach out, this book can change your life. Read it and be transformed!

Saving the best for last, I also recommend that you read the book “The Twitter Job Search Guide, Find A Job and Advance Your Career In Just 15 Minutes A Day.” Written by Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dib, here you have a bible on how to use Twitter in job search. These three authors have come together to take you on a tour of Twitter, explaining in detail, the nuts and bolts of Twitter. I cannot stress enough that Twitter is one of the most important social media channels out there. With learning about how to create your Twitter handle, your Bio in 160 characters, to tweeting in 140 characters, following people, tweeting and a whole host of other tips and tidbits, you go from newbie to intermediate and beyond in using this valuable job search tool.  As I have mentioned in the past, you cannot ignore Twitter when millions of jobs are being tweeted on a regular basis on this social media medium. This book provides you with information on using hashtags, creating tweets, following your targeted companies, using Twitter for job leads and more.  Whitcomb and her colleagues show how you can do all of this and devote 15 minutes a day, not 15 hours as some people mistakenly think. I require my clients to use this book as a resource. I tell them to continually go back as they a work on becoming a savvy tweeter.

So here you have it. Three books that provide valuable information for your job search that are also enjoyable, entertaining quick reads.  Bring them to the beach or wherever you go to relax and recharge and you will accelerate you search to the next level at lightning speed.

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you need help in your career search, please contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Every success!

Linda

Summer Assignment: Establish or Enhance Your Social Media Presence To Catapult Your Job Search Forward

By Linda M. Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS If you were to ask me what one of the most requested speaking topics people have requested of me is, I would have to say that it has something to do with Social Media in job search.  Whether it is learning about using Twitter, or special tips on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, those involved in helping job seekers transition understand that employers are embracing Social Media in epic proportions. As a Twitter Certified Career Strategist, I can say without equivocation that Social Media must play an important part in your transition process. More than a million and a half jobs a month are advertised on Twitter alone. Can you afford to turn your back on metrics like this?

So, if you are not that well versed in Social Media, take the time over the summer to become knowledgeable enough to add Social Media to your career campaign. If you are using it now, see how you can improve on your ROE, Return on Effort! The following assignments are designed to help you get there!

Starting with LinkedIn, make sure that your profile is at 100%. Use all of the real estate that they provide you with to present your brand. Under your name, there is a place that most people think should just say the title of the position that they hold or are searching for. Use it as a place to insert some of your value proposition/headline so that you set the tone about who you are right after your name. This should also be loaded with the keywords that direct searches back to you!  Seek out at least 5 recommendations.  When you write 5 recommendations for colleagues and associates, usually 3 will write back and do the same for you! This continues to whet the appetite of the person that is viewing your profile. Research at least 10 companies that you might be interested in and then find 10 names of people to contact to set up informational meetings to learn more about the company and its culture. How do you do this? In the right hand search box, do a reverse look-up by putting in the company name. Up will pop people that work there enabling you to see if you have any connections. See who is there and if you have anyone that can help the process along for you. These tips can help you maximize your LinkedIn profile and increase your ROE.  Joining groups that these "influencers' belong to is another way to be able to reach out and speak to them!

Twitter is the Social Media Tool that can provide a big return for 15-30 minutes a day. Read about how Twitter works. Buy a copy of The Twitter Job Search Guide written by Susan Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan and Deb Dib. It is chock full of information to help you become a Twitter aficionado. It is easy reading that can help propel your career campaign to the next level.

If you have not established a presence on Twitter, establish your Twitter handle at once. Create one that ties into your brand. Create your 160-character profile which means convey your value proposition in as succinct and catchy a manner as possible.

Twitter is the one Social Media tool that allows you to follow people without needing permission. So, follow the rule of "C-I-O".  Follow Companies, Influencers and find Opportunities as they are tweeted. Watch the jobs that they advertise on Twitter and listen to the tweets of the HR people. Yes, many of them are on Twitter and this allows you to peek behind the curtain of the company in a way that you cannot do with other Social Media.

Learn about using hashtags and play around with them. Also, practice tweeting 140 character tweets by writing them out on paper. This will help you become more confident before you start.

Lastly, I recommend that you attend my Twitter For Job Seekers Workshop to be held on June 20, 2012 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm in Stamford, CT. It answers the questions "What is this stuff anyway and how I am supposed to use it in Job Search???"  For those of you in the local Stamford, CT area, this workshop will prove to be invaluable in getting you on the road or enhancing your use of Twitter in search.  To register, click here .

Lastly, create your individual experience page on facebook. Research and like companies you have targeted so that you can follow the company and see what is happening including becoming privy to job openings as they come up.  Lastly, join or use BranchOut.com which is the facebook equivalent of LinkedIn.

Implementing a holistic Social Media approach can pay big dividends for your career campaign. Working on the foregoing assignments will help you position yourself in Social Media in the best way possible. Please leave me a comment and let me know if this has helped you. As always, if I can help you in search, please feel free to contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com or 203-323-9977.

Every success -

Linda

How To Fill Your Pipeline For The Upcoming 2012 Summer Season

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS In a few short weeks, we will be preparing for picnics, barbeques, beach trips and other rites of summer.  If you are in career transition, you know that preparation is the name of the game. So, how do you prepare for Summer 2012?  The following is a primer to help you prepare and make the best use of your time to fill your pipeline and be successful in the coming summer months.

First, look over your networking events and appointments. Make a concerted effort to get yourself out there during the months of May and June. Start new relationships so that you have contacts to meet with nurture over the summer.  Continue your networking by using LinkedIn Groups and Answers proactively.  Join some formidable groups (1,000 +) members and reach in to like-minded or interesting people to start a conversation with.

Next, start a new Recruiter Reach Out Campaign. Target five new recruiters in your specialty. Write our recommended recruiter letter and then circle back one time per month with a portion of your Value Proposition to stay top of mind. Also, create a new ACTIVE LIST to pursue.  Identify 50-100 companies that you might be interested in contacting.  If they make it to your top fifteen companies, identify people in the company to talk to and begin talking.

Continuing on, offer to become a presenter at a group.  Volunteer to speak for a charity or some other organization.  Thereafter, see if you can get a reporter to watch so that you can get it into Community Events.  Also, start a BLOG – be proactive, get your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) up. Write to show that you are an industry expert. Blog each week! Get in the Blog Directory and add it to your signature file

Then, start working with your Social Media tools. First, start by cleaning up your Social Media Profiles. Add industry keywords, eliminate jargon, include your website or LinkedIn link to gain traction. Then Tweet about anything that is search related – your blog posts, your speaking engagements, your industry knowledge, etc. Whatever positions you in the best light possible should be included in your Tweets.

Follow target companies, influencers and search for opportunities that come across your bow on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  Lastly, get on Vizibility.com. Are you findable? If yes, make sure that you cleanup what is found so that your online presence is as pristine as possible.

Work consistently now on these things and you will be surprised to see how many new developments you will spring up as you head towards the summer season. As usual, please leave me a comment and let me know whether or not this posting helped you. If you are struggling in your search, please feel free to contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Every Success

- Linda

Sometimes You Have To Transition Even Though You Do A Good Job!

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS New York is ripe with sports sensations. First it was Jeremy Lin and Linsanity. Now, there is lots of hoopla about quarterback Tim Tebow, who was traded by the Denver Broncos to the Jets. The acquisition of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning by the Broncos set the wheels in motion. Tebow, the quarterback who brought the Broncos to the playoffs after a long hiatus, was traded to join a team in turmoil, the New York Jets.  So here you have a good guy who did a good job being sent to the showers. Sound familiar? Did you ever do a good job at work and then, in the blink of an eye, you are given the pink slip?  It comes as a shock and hurts to high heaven to find out that your efforts for your employer are unappreciated.

The Tebow firing is analyzed in an article by Suki Shah of the New York Daily News on March 23, 2012, in the “Your Money” section entitled Work Like Tebow: Doing a good job doesn’t always mean you’ll keep your job-ask Tim. In this article Suki Shah says that “there are good reasons why Tebow landed back on his feet so quickly and could end up doing to underachieving incumbent Jets QB Mark Sanchez what Manning did to Tebow. Shah outlines several things to do to help you be resilient like Tebow in the face of a situation such as this.

First, do not concentrate on your bad fortune. In Tebow’s case, he handled the change with “grace and professionalism,” according to Shah. To quote Tebow, “We’re talking about Peyton Manning,” said Tebow. “I understand exactly what the Broncos are doing.”

Next, Shah says you should “find a new boss that appreciates your particular expertise.”  This means that you should seek out a company that will understand the value that you bring to the table and provide you with opportunities to grow and flourish in your work. The hope is that Tebow will help be a driving force to improving the “divisions amongst the Jet players.”

Thereafter, Shah says to “Learn to be a team player.”  In everything that you do, it is important to get along with others and work well in a team setting.  “It’s in our nature to work in teams, and we rely on our teammates’ strengths to work together to achieve the best results.”

Lastly, Shah points out that “Success isn’t only about your ability to execute. It’s about your ability to lead a team, to instill confidence and inspire passion.”  While Tebow is not a perfect worker, suffering from issues with throwing accuracy, he exudes role model and positive attitude.  Shah cites a quote from Tebow’s personal website that says, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”  What does this mean for you, the job seeker in career transition? No matter what comes your way, work hard like Tebow and you may end up being asked to leave one job where you were a good worker quickly landing somewhere else with more opportunity!

Please leave me a comment and let me know if this helped you. As always, if you are struggling in search, please do not hesitate to contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Every success,

-Linda

What Do Career Search And March Madness Have in Common?

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS Another exciting season of NCAA Men's Basketball is moving in the direction of the playoffs.  Soon there will be words thrown around like March Madness, being invited to The Dance, the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite 8, The Final Four, and Bracketology. I am often struck by the similarities between career search and March Madness and would like to share with you some of my thoughts on the subject.

No matter what team you choose, it starts with a wide-open playing field and ultimately the teams winnow down to the Final Four semi-finals and then the Monday night championship game. It is a ritual that takes the country by storm, the pre-cursor to the beginning of baseball season! As the mother of a son, sports have played a huge part in my life and the similarities to other aspects of our lives  consistently comes to my attention.

What commonalities do job search and March Madness share and what can we learn from them?  Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that at the very beginning of the college basketball season, there is a very large playing field like in job search. There are anywhere from 64-68 teams that will compete across the Division 1 spectrum and it is a clean slate. Ever so slowly, the teams start to play and the standings emerge. Eventually, in each of the regions, the top team emerges and tries to hold onto its spot for prime seeding. Seeding is a technical term referring to where the team will be placed in the regions of the conference. Better seeded teams get better geographical placement. In job search, candidates start out with a large playing field, which they have to narrow down as they figure out what they want to do and what companies they want to apply to in the hopes of gaining an interview.

A lot of work goes into becoming a top seed.  It is hard, physical and mental work. For the jobseeker, being in career transition is some of the hardest work they will encounter, too. What do the players have to do to make it to New Orleans where the final championship game is held? They must do the same thing that jobseekers have to do to get chosen as the final candidate.

The players need to develop a plan for winning and then work on implementing the game plan.  They have to do research including watching practice films of the opposing team and learning as much as possible about the opposing team, which for the jobseeker would be the company. They must learn how to manage the clock and make sure they use it to their advantage. Jobseekers must manage their time between pouring over the computer, attending networking events, taking classes or other ways they invest in themselves. The players must train themselves to focus on the game and the task at hand with laser beam precision. They need to understand that the game is comprised of both long and short shots. Some teams are masters of the long or three point shot, like the Duke Blue Devils, and use a combination of the two types of shots to garner their success.  In search, jobseekers go for their “reach” companies along with their short shots.

The players know how to play to their strengths as well as the strengths of their teammates. For example, if Austin Rivers is sinking his 3-point shots, you pass to him and he plays to that strength. Players work as part of a team and know that having a great coach can be the difference between victory and defeat. This is also true in the world of career transition. In career transition, your career coach is right there with you every step of the way providing feedback and guidance for your success. They are there in victory as well as defeat, providing the motivation to keep going, helping to modify the plays as the field of play changes. Sometimes, even when they are right, the referees make bad calls and the players have to keep quiet and move on without anything further being done or said. In career search, jobseekers deal with submitting resumes and doing preliminary interviews and have to move on without complaining when things do not work out.  In order to stay motivated, it is important that the players celebrate every success and use visualization techniques to help them see themselves being successful. Like all athletes, these players must draw upon their tenacity and resilience regularly to stay in the game. Giving up is not an option. Perseverance is a mainstay. You lose, you learn and move on to the next game. In search, the jobseeker must learn as he or she goes through the process and move on. At the risk of sounding trite, the only thing constant on the court and in search is change and adaptability. Those players who are able to change as the game and season progresses, are the ones who will be successful at the end. The same applies in job search.

The last part of March Madness includes the “Cinderella” factor. This is where any team on any given day, from out of the blue, can win and upend a team that is on its way to the Final Four!  Take the recent contest when the St. John’s Red Storm beat the number 18 team, Notre Dame. The “Johnnies” as we affectionately call them, took down the team that ended the winning streak of Syracuse, a team that had 17 wins in a row in the Big East conference. This year St. Johns has been struggling and is not playing basketball as in the days of yore under Coach Lou Carnesecca. But out of the blue, they defeated Notre Dame, like a Cinderella fairy tale! Another example would include the ascent of the Butler Bulldogs who came from out of nowhere to end up playing Duke for the championship game in 2010.  Talk about a fairy tale, this was amazing.

The same thing happens in search. There may be a number of candidates who are more qualified than you, but all of the stars align, and you are at the top of your game. Your interview is stellar, the chemistry is great and you are the one they choose!

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.  If I can be of help to you, please contact me at lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Every Success-

-Linda