My favorite time of the year of professional development is upon me.  I am getting ready to attend the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) National Conference in Dallas next week.  What a great time to connect with current friends and colleagues and meet new ones in both the career services and college recruiting family.  I return home from this conference every year with great new contacts, pages of notes, tons of energy and somehow a great sense of relaxation as well.   As you prepare for any professional development conferences this year, please follow these 6 musts:

1.  Join pre-conference conversations through the organization website or Twitter.  Start connecting with those who are attending the conference which builds energy for the event and offers opportunities to schedule side-meetings as well.  I also love that Twitter allows non-attendees a way to stay connected to the event.  In today’s economy, many organizations are tightening financial belts and Twitter has helped keep those not attending as connected as possible. 

2.  Plan your schedule.  Research the keynote presenters and know which breakout sessions and receptions you will be attending.  By planning your schedule, you have an idea what your expected outcome will be for the event.  You have heard the saying “plan your work and work your plan” so make sure you know what you are doing to do during the conference and then go do it.   

3. Never Eat Alone:  Not to steal the title of Keith Ferrazzi’s best-selling book, but this concept should be the first commandment of attending conferences.  Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone else attending the conference.  I even suggest you split your dining time between current and new colleagues. 

4. Followup with people after the conference:  Warren Barhorst, author of Game Plan, talks about acting within 72 hours of learning something new.  Either send emails or handwritten notes within 72 hours of returning home from a conference.  Collecting business cards does not do a bit of good if you are only going to take them back your office and stuff them into a drawer. Take the time to connect with the person you met or a colleague you hadn’t seen in a long time.  

5.  Send thank you notes to the organizers and speakers.  If you have ever planned an event or spoken at a conference, you know the amount of time put into producing the product.  Send notes to those who invested so much in making sure your experience was fulfilling. 

6.  Share what you learned with your co-workers and fellow members who could not attend.  Chances are, you gather some amazing nuggets of information and innovative ideas at your conference.  Bring it home and share.  Ask you coworkers to have lunch with you on your first day back to the office when your energy is high so you can share what you learned.  Tweet or blog about what you learned so that those who couldn’t attend or potential new members to the organization can grasp a piece of the experience.     

The purpose of professional conferences is to share information.  Make the most of your experience and do the same.

 So much to do; so little time.  For better or worse, the definition of internships have changed overtime.  The number of companies that hire fulltime candidates from the intern pool has skyrocketed in the past few years.  The stakes are much higher for internship candidates to obtain an offer from an employer of choice. Internships have long been considered the 10 – 12 week interview; however, students are feeling the pressure to out shine their co-interns even more than before.     

Here are three things to do during your internship that are sure to make a lasting impression and set you on a positive course towards success. 

  1. Find a mentor:  Build a working relationship with someone within the organization who can offer candid and sage advice throughout your internship.  This person should not be your boss or a fellow intern. Find someone in the company who is well respected and connected.  Be interested in learning ways to be more effective. 
  2. Connect with your supervisor:  Your supervisor can be your best of champions or your worst of enemies when it comes to securing fulltime employment from an internship.  You want your supervisor to find you invaluable.  Be a great communicator, always have a positive attitude, and far exceed the department’s expectations if you want to increase your chances of receiving a fulltime offer.
  3. Welcome and seek feedback:  One major difference between school and work is the timing and delivery of feedback.  As students, you are used to getting feedback after every homework assignment, every quiz and every exam. Some organizations only offer formal feedback during annual reviews or internship exit interviews.  Try to briefly meet with your supervisor every week or so to discuss your performance, and make a concerted effort to correct or polish the areas where improvement is recommended.

Be an asset to the team, and make the employer grow to say, “We cannot afford to not hire this excellent candidate.”  Go beyond your job description.   Always seek ways to deliver quality results and build lasting professional relationships along the way.

I often hear introverts say that they are poor networkers.  I completely disagree.  Introverts are some of the best networkers because they usually spend more time listening to what is being said in a conversation rather than waiting to interject his or her thoughts. 

Great relationships whether they are personal or professional stem from getting to know one another and building rapport. We, as people, want to be heard.  We trust people who hear us. I wrote a blog last year titled “Be Interested, Not Interesting” which proves my point in this blog.  If I’m intent on being interesting, I am concentrating on the wrong person in the conversation.  If I’m interested, then I’m focused on the right person because I’m listening. 

The reason introverts are so good at listening is that they are typically not the type of people to wait for the person talking to take a breath to interject with a story of their own.  Great listeners focus on the person talking and answer with questions about the story at hand rather than trying to trump that story with one of their own. 

How often have you talked with someone who focused on you and your story then walk away thinking you had a great conversation?  Of course you have.  On the flip side, have you ever talked with someone only to walk away thinking to yourself, “That person never shut up!”  Don’t be that person.  Use your listening skills to build your network in these three easy steps: 

  1. The next time you attend an event, focus your conversations on listening to what other people have to say and only respond with comments or questions directed to the person talking and not about yourself. 
  2. Send the person or people you met an email or hand written note the very next day and mention something discussed in your conversation as opposed to something about you. and….
  3. STAY IN TOUCH!  Don’t drop this potential contact.    

Be a great listener, and you will a trusted and respected colleague and friend.

My blog today is all about thanking five great career experts and bloggers I follow.  This is my #FollowSundaythroughSaturday list.   

1. Debra Wheatman @debrawheatman  The career coaching reputation Deb has created with http://careersDoneWrite.com is inspiring to say the very least.   Her blog is no nonsense, and her enthusiasm for coaching great people towards great careers is contagious.   

2. JT O’Donnell @jtodonnell and @careerealism  This career management guru’s energy amazes me.  She works with the very best in career experts, and if you can’t find the answers at www.careerealism.com, then I would bet you are asking the wrong question. This is simply the one-stop shop of career resources.  I read her daily updates every morning before I read the morning newspaper.  You must join her email newsletter list my friends.

3. Brent Peterson @interviewangel Look for Brent’s work at www.interviewangel.com.  I had the pleasure of hearing Brent speak at the National Association of Colleges and Employers National Conference last summer in Orlando, FL and am looking forward to meeting Brent again next month in Dallas.   I always look forward to Brent’s blog and Twitter updates. 

4. Kirk Baumann @kbaumann  Kirk and I have many common interests such as helping the next generation of college graduates find their career passion, Students in Free Enterprise and FOOTBALL!  Kirk is exactly what he notes on his Twitter bio:  a Social Media Enthusiast.  If Kirk doesn’t know someone, I would bet he knows someone who knows that person.  This guy is CONNECTED!  His blog at http://campus-to-career.com is a must add to your blogroll. 

5. Diane Gottsman @dianegottsman  Diane’s Protocol School of Texas http://protocolschooloftexas.com is sharing etiquette wisdom with every age group of life.  She receives rave reviews from her work with children to college students to business executives.  I was so honored to have Diane here at Texas A&M speaking to the Mays Business School Fulltime MBA Program last fall.  The company tag line says it best:  A Better Way to a Better You.

This might be a short list of must-follows, but it is a most powerful one.  Please follow these experts, and I promised you be inspired and find yourself looking to learn more.

Original post on:  http://www.careerwizardsinc.com/blog/ 

 
One of the reasons job seekers dislike writing resumes is because they dread writing an objective statement.  Job seekers worry that the statement will be too specific or too broad.   So, what do most job seekers write as an objective statement? Most sound just like this: “Seeking a challenging position that will utilize my skills and abilities and give me the experience I need for a future career.”   Frankly, this type of statement is a waste of precious resume real estate.

My advice, delete that meaningless objective statement.  Objective statements focus on what the job seeker wants.  The job search by its very nature is about marketing your services to a company in need of someone with your specific skills and abilities.  The first thing to do when you create your personal marketing campaign is to determine your unique value proposition.  Once you have identified your value proposition, the next step is to create a complete marketing portfolio with your value proposition as the continual message.  This is what creates your personal brand.

Your resume is a snapshot of your personal brand that communicates what you have to offer to prospective employers.  Have you ever seen a marketing document that focuses on what the seller wants?  Absolutely not!  Effective marketing focuses on what the buyer needs and wants.  The employer is the buyer that has outlined their needs for a certain position.  Every word on a resume must promote the value that a potential employee can bring to the position and employer.

Objective statements have no place on a resume because they don’t market the features and benefits of hiring you, the candidate.  A buyer-focused resume opens with a profile statement that summarizes the value you bring to an organization.  Instead of an objective statement, write a profile of your skills or a summary of your qualifications.  Profile or summary statements communicate the value or solution you bring to the equation.  They’re employer-focused statements designed to grab the attention of hiring managers.

Employers want to know what types of positions you are seeking, and a well-written skills profile will promote the value you bring to the employer while at the same time communicating exactly what position or career path you are seeking.  For example, a well-written skills profile might read “Financial professional with nine years of experience in valuations, financial modeling and analysis.”

The next time you start to write an objective statement, stop and write an introduction to your resume that is something that the employer wants to read.  Ask yourself, what does the employer need from an ideal job candidate?  Do not let a traditional and meaningless objective statement kill your resume.

Original post on www.careerwizardsinc.com/blog

Anymore, editing resumes is only a small portion of what I do.  Instead, I teach students how to write a resume the right way in the first place.  Over 80% of the resumes that I am asked to edit must be completely rewritten due to five common resume mistakes.  Some of these mistakes used to be acceptable resume writing practices, but times have changed and if you want to be competitive in today’s job market, you must change with the times.

  • 1. Passive Voice: Have you ever started a bullet point with “responsible for” “participated in” or “assisted with”?  At one time or another, every job seeker has probably written a bullet point in a passive voice.  What makes this a mistake is that passive does not sell, ACTION SELLS.  Without action, you cannot have results. When you sit down to write your bullet points begin the sentence using action words such as developed, introduced, accelerated, built, designed, etc. Using action words makes your resume more hard-hitting and compels the reader to keep reading.
  • 2. Quantifiable Results: I am amazed at the number of resumes that I see with bullet points that only state the tasks performed in a job with no mention of the accomplishments that followed. If your efforts resulted in increased revenue of 45%, make sure you include that valuable information in your resume. Your ability to communicate quantifiable accomplishments such as volume, percentages, and numbers will greatly differentiate you from the competition.  Prove your value wherever possible.  Failure to do so is a huge mistake.
  • 3. Objective Statements: My advice to job seekers is to omit an objective statement and replace it with a statement of purpose or summary statement. Objective statements typically focus on what the job seeker wants and not on what the company needs.  If well written, a statement of purpose or summary statement will promote the job seeker’s value, and as a result, what the job seeker wants.
  • 4. Personal Information: You may want the employer to know more about you, but the resume is not the place for personal information.  Honestly, this information should not be shared during the interview process at all.  Marital status, number of children, or place of birth bear no weight on your marketability for the position and may eliminate you as a potential candidate.
  • 5. Grammar: Let me start by saying that spelling and grammar mistakes are the most common reasons that hiring managers toss resumes into the trashcan. Rule number one to avoid these resume mistakes, never trust spell check.  For example, lead is a word, but it is an error if meant it in the past tense form of the word, which is led.  While spell check would not catch the error—a prospective employer will.  Another error often overlooked on resumes is properly capitalizing words. One of the most common places that I find these errors is the resume heading.  Yes, I said it, the heading.  If you live on Smith St. be sure that you do not type Smith st.

Your resume is the story of your career experiences and achievements.  Errors discount your value and minimize your ability to communicate the value you bring to a prospective employer.  Your resume is the hiring manager’s first impression of you.  Remember that old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression”.

Original post from www.careerwizards.com/blog

Typically, when we write a resume, we open a blank page in MS Word and start at the top with our personal information.  We add a few tabs and set the font, and then what?  If you write an objective and then list your work experience, this blog is perfect for you.  This approach to resume writing might sound common but is, in fact, the most ineffective way to marketing your skills and abilities.

Beginning a resume with an objective statement followed by a list of work experiences is a thing of the past.  This resume writing approach focuses only on facts and what the job seeker wants rather than what the employer needs.  Today’s marketplace requires job seekers to focus on marketing their unique value proposition to potential employers.  Think about it, the employer is the consumer, right? With that information in mind, consider what should drive the advertising message for this vital marketing document.

If  you really want to write an effective resume, my advice is to forget everything you have ever been taught about resume writing.  Don’t open a blank page and start writing because you will forget your audience every time with this approach.  Your first step should be to break down your past experiences.  For every work or leadership experience, list the duties, accomplishments, and skills that you demonstrated, along with a copy of the job description(s) for which you want to apply, and then compare the two.  Prove that you possess the skills and competencies that the employer needs in this position. Using these two documents, write a summary statement at the top of your resume that promotes a snapshot of the value you will bring to the job.

The best practice when writing a professional resume is to tell a successful story about the candidate.  When writing your own resume, don’t let resume buzz words get in the way of the action or “sizzle” of your story.  Phrases such as “responsible for, acted as, and participated in” diminish the impact of your message and will not inspire hiring authorities to read your resume.

Remember that the average time spent during the first pass of a resume is roughly 10-20 seconds.  Frankly, readers scan for relevance and focus on finding candidates to eliminate the first time through the stack as opposed to targeting the ideal candidates.

A resume needs to be a job seeker’s written masterpiece.  Resumes beginning with the typical “Seeking a challenging position that will utilize my skills and experience” will not merit a second look.  A professional opening to your resume will grab the attention of the reader and get right to the heart of the employer’s needs.   This is what brings the sizzle and steak together.

A resume that only contains bland facts displayed in a tasteless manner will usually be overlooked. Whereas a resume that addresses the needs and interests of prospective employers will result in invitations to interviews.

To learn more about how Career Wizards can help you develop a resume that focuses on the job you want and how you are qualified for it, visit us at http://www.careerwizardsinc.com. And please feel free to reach out to us through our “Contact Us” page. We look forward to hearing from you!