Career & Coffee

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

This Llama needs a Job April 23, 2009

Filed under: Erin's Musings — erinkennedy @ 12:10 am

THIS LLAMA NEEDS A JOB


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Meet Sweetpea.

Sweetpea is 5 years old and was born to a life of luxury.

Day in, day out, Sweetpea grazes in the pasture, drinks fresh water from a constantly filled water supply, and eats as much sweet feed, rolled oats and cracked corn as her heart desires.

Sweetpea has a luxurious coat of fleece and fiber, the softest fur you can run your fingers through. She is groomed yearly and has regular checkups. She has produced 2 healthy offspring and is great with (human) children.

Sweetpea needs a job.

She is bored. She paces the fence line, trying to catch the eyes of passing cars by doing her best poses and tricks. She says the past 3 years have been devoted to the care, feeding, and weaning of her babies. She is now ready to work full-time, she wants to contribute… to talk with other “grown ups”.

Together we created her résumé and she was quick to point out her strong points:

1- Leadership. She is the oldest female in the herd and all the others follow her lead.

2- Sales and Marketing. With her quick poses, tricks, head tosses, and trots, people stop to admire her and immediately decide they have to have a llama, hence boosting sales of all llamas ready for purchase.

3- Team Development & Management. She quickly trains her newborns to adapt to the ways of the herd. The other members grudgingly follow her lead and are sometimes not happy about it, but she encourages group synergy by praising accomplishments (proper hay chewing techniques) and motivating them to work harder together (“alright, on three… toss the head to the left, then back to the right… now stretch it to the sky. Just like that. Great job!”).

Sweetpea adds that she is flexible when it comes to pay, but she would lean toward a position that offered fresh veggies daily (versus the old soggy ones in the back of the crisper drawer). Travel is a consideration, but relocation is out of the question.

She looks forward to working with you and says she can be reached by email or on her iPhone.

Thank You.

 

Is your Attitude affecting your Job Search? April 19, 2009

                

How many times this week has the phrase, “this economy stinks” come from your mouth? How many times this week have you thought, “in this economy, I’ll never get a new job”,

or “I better hold onto my job, even though I hate it, and just be grateful I have one!”.

After you think these thoughts, how do you feel? I can guarantee it is not hopeful or positive. What do you think this does to your chances of finding a job? Would YOU want to hire you? Think about it. You are feeling gloomy and decide to cold call a company about a possible position opening. How is the tone of your voice? Upbeat or down? What is your attitude like? Did you know our mind and body transmit energy frequencies that can be felt by other people?

 

When you go to an interview and you are thinking, “I know I am not going to get this job. Why would they hire ME? I just KNOW they aren’t going to call me back”, what do you think the interviewer is feeling? “This person is not the right fit for the company. I won’t be calling them back.”

Think about the times in your life in other situations when this has happened. When things went EXACTLY as you thought they would.

It is very natural to worry about the economy and the job market. Anyone who turns on the news would agree. But what does all this worry do for you? For your health? For your job searching state of mind?  Remember, you can’t change what is happening out there, so worrying does no good. When my Dad passed away unexpectedly, my Mom said, “I worried for 40 years about something happening to him on the road (he traveled for work), and he ended up dying at home.”

We can’t change things that happen to us, but we CAN change how we react to it. It is very easy to stick our heads in the sand and just hope things get better with the economy, OR we can pick ourselves up and create a healthier attitude about it.

 

So what can we do?

 

If you are in a job presently and you’ve put feelers out and opportunities haven’t popped up yet, then focus on your job in a positive way. Do whatever you can to be the very best you can be. Focus on strengthening relationships with co-workers, vendors, etc. Not only do positive relationships perk up our mood, but they also will let you know if a job has opened up somewhere.

 

If you are job searching, stop worrying about the competition or the ‘lack of good jobs’ out there and focus on your brand and what values you offer to an employer and how you will articulate that in an interview. Expand your job search into new areas: go to networking lunches/dinners, freshen up your resume, and get excited about your job search. You are unique. Sell yourself.

 

Take a chance. Try a new career path. You never know if you might be better suited for something else. But most of all, stay positive and hopeful. Don’t be a victim like everyone else. Stand out from the crowd and be confident. Remember, your vibrant energy shines through and is felt by those around you, including hiring managers.

 

Gen Y — getting a bad rap? April 18, 2009

Filed under: Career & Workplace,Erin's Musings,Interviewing — erinkennedy @ 12:44 am
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I’ve had this post tabled in my “draft” box for a while because  it just wasn’t finished. Then today I read Penelope Trunk’s blog, “4 Frequent questions about Gen Y answered” and my brain kicked in.

 

I am wondering if Gen Y is getting a bad rap.

 

For a couple of years now, all I’ve heard about is how the Gen Y generation don’t want to work. They think nothing of quitting a job after a year. Coddled by their parents to the point of complete lack of understanding of the pressures facing them in “the real world”. You have to talk to them gently. They can text, type, talk and listen… all at the same time.

They think it’s OK to come in to work at noon in Berkenstocks and toting an iPod.  And still be the company President in a year.

 

Some employers say it’s frustrating. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place because boatloads of baby boomers are retiring and Gen Y is moving in. They are more technically savvy and can do the work in half the time as their older peers. Their older counterparts are going to have to learn to work with them, if they want to work collaboratively at all.

 

I am seeing it in a different way. I have 4 nieces and nephews (ages 18-22) in college and they are all incredibly hard working (and I’m not just saying that because I adore them). They all held jobs through high school and still in college, while juggling sports, chores, friends, etc. They have turned out to be very respectful young adults and they don’t expect to be given anything. Now perhaps they are in the minority, but judging by their roommates and friends who are doing the same thing, they seem to be in the average.

 

True, Gen Y professionals don’t have the mindset, “stay at your company until retirement”, and rarely will they stay long enough to leave an impact, but in this economy is that such a bad thing? When I was in my teens and early 20’s, my parents kind of gave me the “Oh well, deal with it” shrug if I complained about a job. They also gave me the “You’re not living here if you don’t have a job and are going to college” look/talk. Needless to say I moved out at 21, went to school full time, and worked full time while paying for my own education.  ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

I am so glad I did. What a sense of accomplishment. The kids today are told they can come back to stay. 65% of kids move back home after college and they are OK with it, whereas I would have been mortally embarrassed to face friends AND family if I moved back to Mom and Dad’s. Times are different today. Parents parent differently today and kids expect things from their folks (imagine that!) but that is a whole other story!

 

So, what’s the conclusion to the story? Perhaps we judge too harshly EVERYONE in the Gen Y generation. There are still good, hard working young professionals out there, wanting to find a good job and stay there for many, many years. Not ALL people in their 20’s are “slackers” and reside in the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. Maybe they will help transform the workplace into a more flexible and friendly place to be– while still getting their work done and rescheduling their yoga times to evenings. Who’s to say? Anything is possible.

 

For further reading on Gen Y and what is available in the workforce, go to: http://mashable.com/2009/01/30/generation-y-social-networks/ Dan Schwabel’s Gen Y blog or www.BrazenCareerist.com.

 

Why I love LinkedIn (and why you should, too!) April 17, 2009

Filed under: Job Search,Networking — erinkennedy @ 12:27 am
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Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways…

LinkedIn has become my new favorite thing. It is the fast growing professional networking site with 30 million users in 150 different industries. It helps open doors and uncover opportunities on a broad spectrum while building contacts and relationships.

I am constantly asking clients,

“Have you joined LinkedIn yet?” or

“Have you beefed up that LinkedIn profile yet?” or

“If you don’t have the time, let me know and I’ll do it for you— just make sure you do it!”

By now you can probably sense my passion about the site. I’ve only lately become overzealous about LinkedIn because of some very useful information I’ve heard at conferences AND because of the success my clients have had with it.

Did you know that some employers are hiring directly from within LinkedIn? Some are also posting their job openings ONLY on LinkedIn. This is a big deal especially since the majority of these companies are huge.

LinkedIn also has other benefits:

1) Unlimited amount of exposure and visibility of you and your business. “Connect” with as many people as you can. If you are job searching this is a great way to network. Once you start connecting, you become visible on other people’s pages, increasing the chances of getting to the top of a page when people are looking for someone to hire.

2) Use your LinkedIn profile to research companies you would like to work for. Go to the “Companies” tab and type in the name of a company you are interested in.  Check and see if they are hiring and inquire!

3) Get help or advice. Use the “answers” section of it to pose and answer questions. Answering questions and having your answers voted as “best” or “good” boosts your creditibility and gets your name out there. Use it to get answers to just about anything. Be prepared for a lot of feedback.

4) Boost your Search Engine results. If you are a business owner, we all know it’s all about Search Engine Optimization. The great news about LinkedIn is that it allows search engines to index your profile information. Adding your LinkedIn link to your signature line while posting to other sites further strengthens your visibility to the search engines.

This is just a quick version of how LinkedIn can help job seekers and professionals. Create your profile and see for yourself.

 

Keeping it Relevant on your Resume April 10, 2009

It is very important to keep the information on your resume as relevant as possible. Remember, the hiring person is only going to take around 15 seconds to scan your resume, so yours has to be “quick and dirty”. In other words, keep your information current and pertinent to the job you want. If the reader has to weed through loads of extracurricular activities, you may find your resume tossed aside which takes you right out of the running.

 

Many times a client will send me “extra” information to put on their resume. Or, it is already on their existing resume. This “extra” information consists of things like:

 

– Church Involvement

– College Activities / Fraternity/Sorority info

– Sports Teams or Leadership

– Marital Status/# of Children

– Political Affiliations

– Scouts

Now, in certain circumstances you DO want to add college info, i.e. relevant coursework, volunteer activities, intern/externships, etc.  This is good to add if you are fresh out of college and looking for your first “post-college” job. However, when you are in your 40’s, it isn’t necessary to talk about your fraternity. I get this a lot. I know it was a great time for the client and they learned a great deal about life, service to others, and brotherhood. But if you have been in the workforce for 5+ years, you’ve really built up a good amount of experience that will warrant it standing alone on the rez without the aid of your college courses or social clubs. The exception to this rule is, if in this short amount of time after college when you tried your hand at say, sales, but your degree was in finance and now you want a finance job, THEN adding your relevant college courses would work in your favor.

 

In truth, sometimes extracurricular information can work against you. As important as your church or religious affiliation may be to you, it is never a good idea to add it to your resume. Why? Well, many reasons. One is– what if the reader is a different religion… one that doesn’t care for your religion at all (and you know we all have our differences!)? Right there it is a strike against you. Same goes with politics. Not a good idea to say your “volunteer” involvement was to work on so-and-so’s campaign. Now, if you have actually WORKED in a campaign/political environment, of course you would add it. I’ve had many clients who worked in PR or journalism-type fields for certain candidates and it was OK for them, because it was relevant to the PR/journalism job they were trying to land.

 

Obviously here in the States, adding marital status is not a good idea. In fact, people just don’t do it here like they do in some other countries.

 

You may think, “but I’ve heard it is good to add my community involvement, or that I coached soccer”. Really, it’s not relevant to your job search. Yes, you can handle a team of 8-year olds, but does that compare to running the operations of a multi-million dollar manufacturing facility? No.

 

If you are questioning what to add or what not to add, please, ask a certified resume writer. Let us be the ‘reader’ for you. We can help you decide what needs to stay or go. Our goal is that you get put into the “YES” pile, not in the circular file. Just remember that even though it seems important to you, or if it was at the time, if it isn’t going to help you get the job, then leave it off the resume.

 

Dressing for Career Success (and what NOT to wear) April 9, 2009

I recently commented on the ‘What Would Dad Say’ (jobdig) website where GL Hoffman wrote the interesting post,  “Someone should Say it, so it might as well be me”.

The post was about Megan Joy from American Idol. GL wonders if she was booted off because of her singing, or because of her arm tattoos. Of course I had to reply to that. What was she thinking? She is a beautiful girl, but has this tattoo that runs the entire length of her arm. If not a career in music, who in the world would hire her? Don’t get me wrong. I think some body art can be really beautiful. I’ve seen some tattoos that have wow’ed me. I remember when I was about 20, my girlfriend and I wanted to get tattoos (this was before all the rage, mind you, so we thought we were crazy rebels!). We had just broken up with our boyfriends and wanted to celebrate our independence, I guess. Can’t remember the exact reason now, except that we wanted to get one. (Young, silly and free).

When I told my open-minded mom this, she said: “Well, as long as you can live with it when you are 80 and it is saggy and faded, go ahead. And don’t forget, if you ever plan on getting a job in the ‘real world’, employers will discriminate against you.”

The last part really hit home. Well, both parts did, but I knew that when I was done with college I would have to go out and get a “real job” and didn’t want to wreck my chances by getting a tattoo where a prospective employer might see it.

Whether we admit it or not, covering oneself with tattoos/piercings/body art DOES affect our chances of being hired. I know I am probably angering some folks reading this, but it’s true. I know that any of my executive clients would think twice about hiring someone with tattoos crawling up the neck or one of those gigantic ear things in their ears. I don’t normally think of myself as ‘narrow minded’, but I know when it comes to appropriate dress in the workplace, we need to be as professional as possible.

True, some companies embrace or support body art, but most don’t. Companies strive to maintain a professional front, so hiring someone with a stud through their tongue or in an eyebrow goes against everything the company is trying to do.

Keep in mind when deciding on your next tattoo that you may end up NOT working at the job you want because of your appearance.

 

Twitter is Twitterific for Entrepreneurs! April 6, 2009

Filed under: Networking — erinkennedy @ 11:11 am
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I joined Twitter in January.


I joined because I was feeling pressure to do so from clients, colleagues and well… Anderson Cooper.  Every night when watching “AC 360”, the fabulous Mr. Cooper would say, “Follow Me on Twitter!”. I thought, “Why does Andy (my nickname for the handsome-Ms.Vanderbuilt’s-son) want the world to follow him on Twitter? And what is so special about Twitter anyway?”

At first I just didn’t get it.


Then, when someone I really respect and admire,  Women for Hire’s Tori Johnson, “followed” me I sat up and paid attention. From then on, it’s been a daily ritual to go to Twitter first thing in the morning and “tweet” a few sentences, and on and off throughout the day.

I’m not going to say I am the pro with Twitter yet, but here are a few things I can tell you right away:

1- Your visibility is limitless. You can literally reach an unlimited amount of viewers. It all depends on how many followers you have. When I first joined, I had no idea how to go about getting more followers. But now it seems like every other post on Twitter is about how to get more followers. I like Mr. Tweet because it picks out 200 potential followers for you and you can pick and choose.

2. You can promote your business. Everyone promotes their business on Twitter. Doing it in moderation is the best choice. I know there are a few that promote endlessly and sometimes it gets to be too much. I mean, how many times can one person tweet about colon cleansing? You would be surprised. Keep it to a few times a day. I try to do a “Tip of the Day” at least once a day. I don’t always get it in there, but try for every day.

3. Creating Relationships Builds your Business. When replying to ‘tweets’ or ‘retweeting‘ someone elses tweet, it creates a relationship with that person and they are more likely to ‘retweet’ something you said, which will increase your visibility. Plus, it’s a great way to gain new business. I’ve gotten quite a few new resume clients since being on Twitter. I’ve also just gotten to know people and created new friendships. Sometimes working in a home-based office can be isolating, so it’s nice to be able to “talk” with other business owners.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on the benefits of Twitter for your small business. There are also lots of different applications to use as well as loads and loads of articles on Google.

Social media is the hottest new trend and one of the fastest ways to build your business. Give Twitter a try. You’ll quickly become addicted. 🙂

Erin Kennedy