When we begin a job search, we usually start with the resume.  We open a blank document and start from the top.  Where did we work, when did we work there and what did we do.  We add in some leadership stuff, awards and possibly a hobby or two.  Is this the correct way to start?  NO!  Stop right there and delete everything you have written. Let’s start again.

Before starting to write a resume, ask yourself these questions:

1.     What types of positions are you seeking?

The first step in making sure your resume directly relates to what the employer needs to see, you have to identify what you are seeking in the first place.  A resume for someone seeking marketing research positions will be much different from someone seeking positions in energy trading. 

2.   What are the success indicators for professionals in the positions you are seeking?

If potential employers are seeking people with great leadership skills, then your resume needs to scream your leadership success. 

3.  What does an employer need to see?

Don’t waste your time telling employers what they do not care to read because what, they won’t read it.  Tailor the information to what is going to get you the interview.   Employers need to see success in skills and experiences.

4.  Do you know anyone with experience in this area who can give you advice?  Ask people who work for the companies you are targeting or the types of positions you are targeting for advice on what you need to add or take away from your resume. 

5.     Do you have quantifiable results for the stories or bullet points listed on your resume?

Remember that every action has a result, and your resume needs to scream results.  No results will probably equal no interview. 

Once you answer these five questions and make sure each are addressed in your resume, you have now created a targeted document that directly relates to what the employer needs to see on a resume rather than just what you want to write.  The resume now becomes a customer-targeted marketing document. 

Happy Job Searching!

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While many career fairs are still yet to arrive on the calendar, many have already taken place.  For those who have already attended a career fair, the conversations were completed, the give-aways were received, and the applications were submitted online—now what?  Are you one of those people who attended a career fair and are waiting impatiently for a call from all of those employers?  Please tell me your answer is no to that question.  Here are a few tips to make the benefits of attending career fairs last longer than the day of the event: 

  1.  If you received business cards or wrote down the name of the person you met at the various career fair booths, make sure you write thank you notes.  Let me repeat that:  write thank you notes!  Email or handwritten is not the question here.  Just make sure that the people you meet receive thank you notes in one form of communication or another.  That is step one and one of the most important things you can do.  How many recruiters do you think receive thank you notes from career fairs?  Some do, but many do not.  Set yourself apart from the rest of the people who attend these events. 
  2. Make sure you applied online to the positions you discussed with the recruiters.
  3. Search for company representatives through LinkedIn, Career Shift or your campus director of former students.  Contact those individuals to build expanding relationships with people who work with the organizations that interest you. 
  4. If you are seeking an internship yet were told at the Career Fair that the employer will not be seeking interns until the spring, then be sure to connect with that company again later this fall and most certainly early next spring.  Work to get on this company’s short list of candidates. 
  5. If you did interview for a position at the career fair or soon afterwards and did not receive an offer, be sure and connect with this company again.  As I stated in a previous blog, “NO” today does not necessarily mean NO FOREVER.  Work to change that NO into a YES!

Career Changers and the MBA

October 15, 2010

Originally published via http://www.myfootpath.com/mypathfinder/

You may be sitting at your desk or cubicle thinking about returning to school for your MBA yet worried about your employability. Thinking about a career change?  Your current job not the right fit for your interests?

Less experienced career changers are especially hesitant about whether they will be competitive without what the professional world calls relevant work experience. My first piece of advice is to remember that many people change careers at least twice and sometimes three times before retirement and do so successfully. Those who choose to return to school for an MBA and change careers are no exception. It can be and is done every day.

In the job search, your responsibility is to be able answer two questions for a prospective employer: 1. Can you help business make or save money?  2. Can you successfully work in the organization?

How do you successfully do this you ask? Marketing! In the job search, you are not just a job candidate—you are a marketing manager. Your job is to identify your target audience and market your skills and abilities. You will identify and connect with this audience through…you are correct—networking.

Anyone seeking employment in 2010 has heard the importance of networking.  Everywhere you look, you see the corporate buzzword “networking” used when discussing a successful job search. Over 80% of MBA graduates from our program at Texas A&M in the last few years have secured their employment through networking.

I know what you are thinking: “How does a career changer build a network with no relevant experience?”  My answer is that you start the same way everyone else does—start with what you know. List who you know in the functional area of your interest, industries of interest including the industry where you have experience, companies of interest and finally geographical locations of interest.

Let’s use an example of an engineer seeking to transition into finance and walk through the steps.

Functional Area of Interest:  Who do you know who works in finance? Family, friends, classmates from your undergraduate program or those in your graduate program, faculty, etc.

Companies of Interest:  Who do you know who works for companies that interest you? It doesn’t matter in which department they work because the goal is to network to the correct person.

Industries of Interest: If you are interested in the energy industry, ask yourself who you know who works in this industry. The key is to find out where industry professionals congregate such as associations or LinkedIn groups. Wherever they are, you want to be there as well.

Geographical Locations of Interest: If you are interested in moving to Charlotte, NC, ask yourself who you know in the area. Find out where to go to research the top businesses and industries in the area. What are the employment trends?

By creating an initial list, your A list, of people you know in each of these four areas or their contacts who fit into these buckets, you have taken a major step in networking your way to employment. Career changers should focus on transferrable skills when proving value to potential employers. Networking contacts are the best people to offer advice on exactly what you should do to market yourself in order to be successful.

Your goal in the job search is to market your product, YOU, to business and prove you can add value to the organization.

How’s the weather?

October 14, 2010

Do you ever find it difficult to engage in small talk?  How do you feel  when you walk into a room full of people you don’t know?  Do you stand on the sidelines waiting for someone to come and talk to you?  How do you engage in conversation?

It’s easy…just start talking and asking questions.  Okay, maybe it’s not that easy, but the savviest conversationalists ask lots of questions.  They show genuine interest in the other person; they laugh at any jokes; they think of ways to understand and compliment the situation.  They seem to know every current event and historical moment in time.  You almost want to be a fly on the wall to watch them in action.

Well, you can do it too.  How? 

1. Read – Take a few minutes out of each day to catch up on current events in your field.  (Networking tip:  If you find something interesting about a company in which you have a contact, be sure to “ping” them by sending them the information.)  Pay attention to things you overhear from TV, the newspaper, people chatting on the street, and things you hear in any training sessions; jot things down that you need to look up or interesting tidbits of information.  All of these things can provide you with interesting topics to use as you engage in conversation. Do your research – If you are going to a meeting with a large group of people, research the topic at hand, the people invited, and utilize Linked In to find out about those people, their companies, interests and way in which you share commonalities. 

2. Know yourself – Remember that a conversation goes both ways so have interesting things to talk about.  What are you good at?  What are your talents?  Why are you interesting?

3. Engage – You’ve got to go for it.  Begin the conversation by introducing yourself, and then allow the other person to introduce himself or herself so that you can include his/her name in the conversation.  It shows that you are interested in that person. 

What about when you walk into a room of people you don’t know and you are supposed to be there to “network”…what do you do?   Now, if you are like me, you like to take in the situation, stand back for a little bit to assess the situation before engaging…somewhat like a Lioness before she leaps for her kill…only kidding.  I really like to look at the room, the people in the room, and the organization of the people to decide where I want to begin, and then I approach a group or person and introduce myself and take it from there.  One of my wonderful mentors told me something that really resonates with me regarding engaging with people in a group setting.  Think in terms of putting the other person at ease.  They are just as nervous and unsure of themselves as you, but you can help with that by being the one to initiate the conversation.

4. Listen –  Ahh the lost art of listening…There is nothing worse than someone who completely dominates every conversation.  Listen and allow them to tell their stories.  Act interested and entertain questions.

5. And finally, Practice, Practice, Practice…oh and have I mentioned that you need to practice?  Just go for it!  If it flops…oh well!  Try again with someone new, taking in what you learned from the last experience.  If the conversation is not going where you want it and you have Dudley Doorknob on the other side, just excuse yourself politely and make a restroom stop or grab a drink.  Then you can engage with someone new.  Not every conversation you have will be a great conversation with small talk, deep insight, and magical inspiration.  Learn from each of your conversations. 

Before you know it, you will be the King or Queen of small talk! 

SC

You don't want to be "that guy"

I know I have talked about it before, and please know I am not perfect with regard to a professional image, but there are some easily identifiable faux pas to stay away from.  Your image communicates who you are professionally.  Job seekers need to be aware of a few details that can have a huge impact on their career search as well as potential advancement opportunities.

For Men:

  • Stay away from the white socks!  Match the socks to your suit so that if you are sitting down, there is no distinction between your pants and ankles.
  • Check for dandruff (always noticeable with a dark suit)
  • Have your clothes dry cleaned (You cannot iron it better than them, so don’t waste your time…pay someone to do a better job)
  • Have your suits tailored.  Buy your suit to fit the largest part of your body and have the rest professionally tailored. 

For Women:

  • Hosiery:  This is a tricky one.  In some regards you will need to wear nylons when interviewing but with our hiring managers being younger and younger, there is less of a need to wear what could possibly be the most uncomfortable piece of apparel known to mankind.
  • Have a hairstyle.  It doesn’t matter if you have long or short hair, just make sure it is well kept and up to date. If you have frizzy hair and don’t have a lot of control over it, pull it back neatly for the interview.
  • Don’t go too trendy but don’t wear your grandmother’s suit.  Think class and tasteful. Learn the difference between fashionable and trendy when it comes to business suits.  Stylish business dress is taken seriously; trendy business dress is not.  Think class and tasteful.
  • Have your suits tailored.  Buy your suit as separates or but your suit to fit the largest part of you and have the rest professionally tailored.

Following these tips will help you show your prospective employer that you pay attention to details.  The idea is to eliminate the risk of not being considered due to your professional appearance and image.