Career & Coffee

Resume Writing, Job Search, Industry News and Erin’s weekly musings on all things career.

Permanently Moved…. July 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — erinkennedy @ 1:57 pm

Hi folks!

I’ve PERMANENTLY MOVED my blog over to:

http://exclusive-executive-resumes.com/blog/

So, please join me over there and let the party continue…. !

:)

Erin Kennedy

 

Writing your own resume. Up to the Challenge? June 20, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 2:06 pm

Writing a resume for yourself can be challenging, at best. That is why most people these days hire a professional to do it. It’s much easier for the professional because they aren’t you! It’s hard for people to figure out what information should stay or go. How many pages? What about this job or that job? What about if I went to several colleges? What if I didn’t graduate from college? Should I omit that job in ‘03 because it was only a few months? How do I put this accomplishment into words? Functional? Chronological? I’m terrible at writing, what am I going to do?

It’s hard enough suddenly finding yourself unemployed, but now the task of writing a resume? Forget it!

Take a deep breath and relax, dear reader. Here is a brief synopsis that will help even the “worst writer in the world” overcome writer’s block and put the pen to paper. Keep in mind though that this really is ‘brief’ and you will probably want to discuss any finer points with a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

1.  When starting your resume, the first thing you need to do is put yourself in the mind of the reader. What do they want to see? What do they really want to hear? Are you in sales? Then it’s numbers. Operations? Then it’s process improvements or cost cuts. Business Development? New opportunities, revenue pipelines, partnerships and so on. Always keep your reader in mind. They want to know what you have done– and can you do it for them?

2. After you add your contact information, you need to determine your job objective. What is it that you really want to do? You need to have a clear understanding of your focus. You know what you have been doing, or what you are good at, but what do you really want to do? What is your brand? If you are uncertain, you need to dig deep within and explore your skills, core competencies and what inspires you. Fill your career summary with keyword action phrases and value-added snippets of what you do best. Summarize. Be bold and confident (not cocky) in your language.

3. Getting to the meat of the resume= your work history. It does not have to be a career obituary, “Here lies Erin. I did this, this, and this every day, all day. I did this all with boring bullet point after bullet point, and ended each job without a bang. Hire me?” You can talk about what you did at your job without putting the reader to sleep. Mix it up a bit.

You might add a mini-paragraph after the job title, as your narrative (what you were brought in to do). You don’t want your mini-paragraph to be too long, because the reader may skip right over it. Keep it brief and to the point. Follow it up with your accomplishments, or deliverables, in an action verb, bulleted format.

Show enthusiasm in your tone when writing about your accomplishments. Get the reader excited, create a story! Paint a picture of what was going on in the company when you were there. Were you brought in to clean up a neglected department? Had to put in new processes where none had been in years? Created synergy among a previously hostile union/management environment? That’s a lot of work and it should show on the resume. Bring it out and show it on the resume. Keep it interesting.

4. Education & Professional Development. If you are out of college, you don’t need to add your high school. Personally, unless you are IN college, I never put high school on a resume and sometimes even then I won’t.  Why? If you have a college degree it is a given you went to high school.

What if you went to several colleges? Add the one you graduated from and omit the rest, unless they were for more specialized courses. I’ve seen some resumes with 5 different colleges, no real majors and only a semester here or there. You don’t need to add those. It looks like you were/are wishy washy and can’t stay focused.

Add your professional development and training courses. They add credibility to your resume and show that you are always eager to learn and/or improve.

5.  Miscellaneous. Volunteering is a great thing– especially when it relates to your job or future job. Add it. Hobbies, interests, height, weight and zodiac sign? Omit it.

DO NOT add any political and religious affiliations.

As for your format, I would stick to a reverse chronological style. This is the most popular choice by recruiters and hiring managers. I also create a chrono/functional hybrid style depending on the clients situation.

These are some ideas to help you in the writing process.  Once you start writing, you may not be able to stop! Be confident, have fun and just do it.

 

Social Marketing… What are you waiting for? June 15, 2009

There are die hards out there who still insist the best way to get a job is the old fashion way– newspaper ads and word-of-mouth. While I agree on the word-of-mouth (a.k.a. networking) point, let’s face it, the reality of finding a “career” through a newspaper ad is slim.

So, if you are still unfamiliar with social marketing/networking and online branding/profiles, I will give you the 101 basics on how to get started online with fast results.

1. I know I sound like a broken record here, but join LinkedIn. LinkedIn will open doors for you that you never thought possible. Originally started as a professional networking tool, LinkedIn is now being used by employers to seek out job seekers! How do they do this? They type in the keywords of candidate characteristics in the search box. If their words match up with the keywords on your profile, guess what?  You have officially become a contender. You can also research companies online, network with employees that WORK at that company and look for current job openings. Utilize LinkedIn as much as you can. You will be amazed at the results you get.

2. Join Twitter. If you are an entrepreneur, have a small business of some sort or are a job seeker, Twitter is a wonderful way to connect fast with all sorts of people. You build your network by following others who in return, follow you. It sounds strange at first until you get going. I created my profile in November, but didn’t see the value of Twitter until the following January when I started really connecting with colleagues and jobseekers, plus all sorts of other interesting folks. You can spread the word that you are job searching. The bigger your “follower” list is, the more people will know this and keep their eyes and ears open for you. I just read a great post about a college grad who got a job within just a couple of weeks of joining Twitter. Read it. Then join Twitter.

3. Facebook is a great way to connect with lots of people and get a little more personal with them. With the option of adding pictures, videos, quizzes and applications, you let the other person see more into your personal life–if you want them to. Many companies have their own Facebook pages that you can research.  Again, another great networking tool.

4. Another one I think everyone should do is to set up a Google profile. It is a basic profile with facts about you on Google. You will be able to control, or at least add to, what people see when the ‘Google’ you. Put up a professional picture and add a little bio. It adds to your online presence.

There are also Naymz, Plaxo, Ning, Ecademy, and many, many more.

As with anything, there are a few rules to keep in mind when doing your online networking. NEVER ever say anything you wouldn’t want a perspective employer to know. Remember that hiring managers ARE GOOGLING YOU and an unsavory post on any of your networking sites may come back to haunt you. And PLEASE do not post any pictures that you wouldn’t want your Grandmother (or an employer) to see. Be smart. Keep it professional.

 

When to Walk Away from a Job June 7, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Erin's Musings,Job Search — erinkennedy @ 12:50 am

I was listening to a client recently tell me how she is in this job that she hates. The boss is horrible to her and she now has ulcers, which she (and her doctor) suspect comes from the job stress. She doesn’t want to quit because she is afraid of not being able to find another comparable job.

Even in this tough economic climate we’ve been faced with this past year, there are times when you have to JUST SAY NO and walk away from a job.

Speaking from an experience back in my early 20’s, I can tell you why…

Recently laid off from my pharmaceutical sales job, I found an ad in the paper with the words “Sales Representatives Needed” screaming out at me. Not that I even liked sales. I didn’t, but at the time, I didn’t know what else I would be good at, so I stayed with it.

I arrive at the meeting place, a hotel lobby, around 6:00am and met the DM and two other reps. They start talking about what entrance they thought they’d be able to get in through. A small warning bell went off in my head, “Why can’t we just use the front door?” I ask naively. They all sort of looked at each other and chuckled…”new kid”. “They don’t let us in the front door, they don’t like ’solicitors’ so we find our own way in” chuckle, chuckle, wink, wink.

We get on the road and head over to this company that manufactures chemicals. The DM insisted we sneak in through the back door that says,’Authorized Personnel Only’. I didn’t like this one bit. First, OK, I am a very polite person… I like to be invited places, not sneaking in to a place–especially potential clients. The only time I ever tried to “sneak” in anywhere was a Def Leppard concert when I was a teen–and even then, my good manners told me it wasn’t the right thing to do. But I digress.

 So, short of skin tight black spandex from head to toe, I felt like I was on Mission Impossible (hear the theme song in your head?) creeping through the side entrance and hiding behind boxes until we could “come out” of our hiding spot. Seriously. Keep in mind that I am in a skirt, pantyhose, high heels, and a brand-spanking new white blouse. I didn’t think that I would be slinking around oily plant floors when I dressed for my new job that morning. That is how unethical these people were. Slinkers. My new word.

Now I am thoroughly embarrassed, hating these slinkers, and wanting to leave, but with no ride and not really knowing where I was, I was stuck–and with them for the entire day.

We try to act as if we belong as we brazenly come out from our hiding spots and waltz along the shop floor.

Until we are stopped by the shop superintendent, who didn’t want to hear what we were trying to sell, utterly disgusted that we snuck in, and marched us out the front door. I was very happy and nodded to everything he said, giving him my very best, ‘this is my first and last day of this awful job and I’m chalking this up as a terrible experience, sorry to bother you’ look.

This went on with 4 other “prospects” who all kicked us out. I was SO happy when that day was over.

I have never quit a job without another one lined up. In fact, I’ve never NOT worked since I was 15 years old. But in that instant, I knew I was never coming back. I had been listening to my instincts tell me from the minute I got there that it was all wrong, it wasn’t the job for me, that I would be miserable there. For once, I didn’t stick it out. I didn’t say, “OK, see you all tomorrow!”. I left.

It was the best feeling in the world and I was so grateful to not have to go back.

So, my point is this:  if you go to a job that makes your skin crawl, that goes against everything you believe in, or you are getting treated poorly, LEAVE.

I am the first to think, “desperate times calls for any ole’ job’, but there are lots of other jobs out there that are less painful and cause much less stress. Think of your mental and physical health if you are going to a place of work that you despise. It’s not good for you. I am a firm believer in the mind+body connection. If you are miserable, your health will start to deteriorate and THEN how are you supposed to work?

 

Using the C.A.R. method on your Resume June 2, 2009

Filed under: Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 12:44 am
Tags: , , , ,

Have you heard me talk about the C.A.R method? If you are a client of mine, you have. It’s a method I use in every single resume. It is, to me, the single most important factor when writing about your accomplishments.

OK, so what does C.A.R. stand for and what does it mean for you?

C.A.R. stands for:   Challenge   Action   Results

When consulting with clients and proceeding with the data mining process, I always ask them about their C.A.R. stories. What were the stories behind their accomplishments? What was going on in the company before they took on the issue? Give the reader some background, not a novel, just a hint of what the environment was like.

So ask yourself, what was the Challenge I faced when either a) I joined the company or B) I took on the new situation or C) I was promoted?  Briefly discuss the Challenge. Again, it doesn’t have to be super lengthy. You  just want to get your message across.

For the Action portion, this is where you can talk about what you did to resolve or change the situation. What action or steps did you take? For some jobs, it might be quite detailed, but I wouldn’t advise talking about every single thing. Summarize as best as you can. Remember, HR people have lots of resumes to review and not a lot of time.

For the Results portion of C.A.R., talk about the results. What was the percentage of production increase? How much did you increase sales or people productivity? Use numbers and percentages whenever possible.

These are the things that stand out and make you more employable as employers want PROOF of what you are capable of doing… it shows them what you can also do for them as well.

C.A.R. is the easiest way to pull out your accomplishments if you are having a hard time thinking of what you did/do.

Good luck!

 

Definition of Thought Leadership June 1, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Resume Writing — erinkennedy @ 11:00 am

WHAT IS A THOUGHT LEADER (and is it YOU?)           

 

 

What is a Thought Leader? Lately I’ve had clients discussing this topic with me and wondering what my take was on the term. So, I decided to do some research on the subject and see what others had to say about it.

According to Wikipedia, Thought Leaders are used to describe a “futurist or person who is recognized among peers and mentors for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights (thinklets)”.

I have dozens of clients who are thought leaders—organic thinkers, consistently offering ideas that propel businesses forward—and have crafted résumés to position them as such. Thought leadership isn’t anything new—it’s been around for years and years, but the term has grown in popularity the past 5 years or so.

I remember back in the 70’s and 80’s when my Dad worked in sales for IBM, he had a block sign that was at his desk at work—which he later brought home and sat on his dresser—that simply said, “THINK”. It intrigued the heck out of me and I would ask him, “Think about WHAT?” As I later came to understand it, it was IBM’s slogan for (among other things) developing the top technical and sales teams in the industry by thinking ‘outside the box’—being unique “expert” leaders of their product or service.

Just as it was back then, thought leaders of today are being recruited to work within huge organizations to promulgate an idea and teach this learning to others. It’s going beyond ‘business as usual’ and setting yourself apart as an innovative leader and establishing your organization as a trusted advisor and knowledge resource.

The best part, according to Galen DeYoung’s article, “B2B Blogging: Using Thought Leadership to Drive Positioning & Sales”, is thought leaders are sought after and paid more. They are “perceived experts that companies want to hire. In going with an expert, the perceived risk is lower”.

I also like what Execunet’s founder, Dave Opton had to say about it in his “Keys to Influence” post of why leaders of any enterprise continually succeed (it’s the attitude… and people trust the confidence)…“I can’t prove it, but this is what I believe…”

I have had clients ask me if I would consider them a “thought leader” due to their contributions and if it is worthwhile to brand themselves as such. Do your career accomplishments include a history of pioneering new products or processes, or promoting or discussing ideas relevant to departments and/or companies? Are you singled out for your innovation and expertise in a certain subject? Have you been told you “think outside the box” or you are a “change agent”? If you answered “Yes” to any of those, then you have your answer. Brand yourself on your résumé and look for new opportunities within that realm. Have fun!

 

Searching the Hidden Job Market May 27, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Interviewing,Job Search,Networking — erinkennedy @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , ,

In a climate like the one we are in, it’s easy to feel like we will never find the job we want, or that ‘no one is hiring‘. However, you can increase your chances of landing multiple interviews if you can tap into the “hidden” job market, or, the one that hasn’t been advertising. Contacting the companies/contacts directly makes a much more powerful impact then random online resume posting to (some useless) job sites.

How do you do this? Have a plan! This may take a little longer, but it’s the best way to control your job search, land quality interviews and increase your pay scale.

1)  Get your online presence together. Chances are, if you are going to be Google-ing companies, they will Google you. Create a Google profile or a LinkedIn profile and put your brand out there for the employer to see. Show your stuff.

2)  Make a list of your target information– industry choice, job position, company listings, etc.

3) Do a Google search on your industry and job titles. There may be quite a few, but you can weed through what you like and don’t like. You can also do a local business search with the same requirements and see what you come up with.

4) Send your resume directly to the hiring person. This is usually the person who is 2-4 levels above where you see yourself within the company. Make sure your cover letter is short and concise.

If this method makes you squirm a little, remember that you will see significantly higher results than you would normally. It’s also good to move beyond your comfort zone. Clients who’ve used it report more interviews, quicker interview cycles and less competition. It is more effective than blindly submitting your resume to lots of job search engines AND it reduces your anxiety of not knowing if the person who you want to see it really saw it or not.

In the end, it will give you greater job search confidence and renewed excitement about the process. Try it and see. Then let me know how it went.

 

 
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