29 June 2012

The Importance Of An Updated Resume Today

Very often, your resume speaks for you and represents the first impression you make. It’s almost sad to admit, but it is true. Many recruiters and employers miss out on great candidates because they are too quick to jump to the conclusion that an unpolished resume reflects an unqualified candidate. For this reason, many great candidates also miss out on great job opportunities. With that thought, let’s take a look at the 5 reasons why you’ll need to update your resume before applying to a job.

1. To Show That You’ve Read The Job Description

For an employer, or recruiter, nothing is more annoying than reviewing the resume of someone who did not read the job description. With the internet providing the ease of access to many, many job postings, job seekers are taking a shortcut by creating generic responses and mass sending them to multiple prospective employers. You might be able to get away with this in some cases, but most employers and recruiters are able to pick out generic responses. They know when you neglected to read the job description!

By updating your resume, this gives you an opportunity to add something in your “Objective” or “Summary” that shows that you’ve read the job description and have taken the effort to modify your resume to reflect your candidacy. Of course, updating your cover letter would serve this purpose just as well.

You may also show that you’ve read the job description by mentioning in the body and subject of your email the job title you are applying for and how you qualify.

26 June 2012

7 Strategies for Blogging to Your New Career

Do you have an interest in a few different fields but wonder how to get more information about them? Well you’ve got plenty of company—it’s the biggest problem career-seekers struggle with.

That’s why internships are so helpful — they let you try on new careers to see first-hand whether you like them. But there’s a great strategy to be used in tandem with internships, and it’s blogging.

1. Have a Goal

Your blog can be anything you want. But to improve your odds of success you should first have a goal, says John Rampton, founder of Blogging.org. Rampton said it’s important to figure out what you want your blog to do, and to figure out the topics and, importantly, the keywords, to use in your posts. He also recommends writing your goals down where you can see them and revisiting them regularly.

2. Decide On Your Business Model

According to social media consultant Jay Baer you also need to figure out your business model before you start. Do you want your blog to drive consulting work, do you want to get paid for blogging, do you want to get a job or internship out of it? Baer suggests bloggers sharpen their focus by identifying the audience they’re targeting and the questions that audience has so they can provide the right answers. Failing to do this upfront, he warns, will make it tough to be consistent and present a strong point of view—the two most important qualities of a successful blog.

3. Blog Regularly

Most blogging experts concur that if you don’t publish regularly you’ll fail to get traction. The more you post, the more eyeballs ultimately find their way to your blog, with the majority of eyeballs coming through search. And the more you use popular keywords for your category, the higher you will rank with Google, the holy grail of bloggers (and pretty much everybody).

4. Interview the Experts

Get to the experts early and regularly for interviews, and publish timely, interesting content about your prospective sector as you shape your point of view. According to Investigative reporter and journalism and writing professor Dave Copeland, you shouldn’t get hung up about what to write about. If you interview one or two experts you can come up with enough content to fill 3-4 blog posts. And the more you talk to the experts, and read and write about your field of interest, the more of an expert you yourself become.

And never be afraid to reach out. Stephanie Sammons, CEO and Founder of WiredAdvisor, notes that LinkedIn is the perfect vehicle for contacting experts in the field to ask their advice. Sammons suggests using the InMail feature to make direct contact; just be clear about why you’re contacting that person and be brief and to the point. She adds: “Have the confidence to put yourself out there and don’t hesitate to be persistent. I had a young woman contact me a few months ago about managing social media accounts and she had the skills we’re always looking for. Unfortunately she never followed up so I forgot about her.”

Nervous about approaching well-known experts when you’re still green? Copeland counsels, “A lot of the time I’ll say, ‘I know this is a dumb question but I’m trying to explain it to my readers.’ You’re trying to get them to slow down their explanation to speak to the average reader, who also happens to be you!”

5. Link with Others

Blogging is all about sharing, so be sure to tout other blog posts in the field and create a link building strategy early on to both send and receive traffic to other industry bloggers. Alison Groves, User Experience Manager at Raven Internet MarketingTools, says, “Link building is deceptively simple, and yet most bloggers fail to do it in a strategic and consistent way. The key is to find relevant websites with useful content. Then network with the organization (or blogger) to establish a mutually beneficial relationship including featuring content about them in the hope that they’ll return the favor. How do you find those websites? Use tools such as Google.com/blogsearch or conduct a blog search on Facebook, for starters.”

Zac Johnson, founder of Money Reign, says that commenting on others’ blogs is as important as writing your own posts. Your comments should provide value to the audience—not just be a self-serving commercial about you. He also recommends guest blogging as a strategy to reach a bigger audience and achieve links back to your website from blogs that are better known than yours.

6. Provide a Service to Your Readers

Keep in mind that to encourage people to read your blog you need to provide a service in the form of information and problem-solving. Think about the problems your target audience currently has, and who, if not you, might have some answers. That question will guide your interviewing efforts and help you identify and find resolution for issues in your new sector. Sharing the goal of helping others should embolden you to reach out to industry experts since showcasing their ideas in your blog is beneficial to them and their organization.

7. Be Visible on Social Media

Make sure you have a social media strategy for your blog posts. Get the word out about each post on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as a start. (You can link the three services so they automatically update). Use your LinkedIn groups to promote your posts more specifically by inviting conversation among your group members.

Sammons says, “My general philosophy is that you need to be consistently visible and valuable on the LinkedIn network. This means that you’re there frequently and sharing quality content, some of which should be your own, some of which is culled from others. This will generate profile views. When your connections see you on their home page they’re going to be more likely to click through and find out more about you.

About the Author: Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor who works with established executives and young adults who are in high school, college or are recent graduates, to help them identify their unique value in the marketplace, explore alternative careers and get that all-important job.

25 June 2012

Honesty + Guts Works In An Interview

Speak up and be honest!

Two different situations explain why, no matter how desperate one is for a job, interviewing the same way you would if you had the best job in the world, is the difference between getting an offer and not getting one.

As the economy is slowing we were conducting a retained search for a CFO for a small company in Southern California. The company was starting to consider budget cuts. The final two candidates, in the final interview with the president/owner were both asked; “As my CFO, you will lead the cost reduction program, where will you begin?”

Candidate one answered the usual stuff, look at reducing inventory, cutting overtime, review benefits, and require an across the board reduction in the budget, etc. A solid safe answer the president told me.

Candidate two had a more direct and to the point answer for the owner. He looked the president straight in the eye and said, “I would start with your salary and then the rest of the executive team.”

The president later told me, “any CFO that has the guts (he used different anatomical parts) to tell me that directly to my face is the kind of CFO I want.”

Second situation:

On another retained search for a Director of Human Resources, the candidate was interviewing with a large very well-known multinational company. The final interview was a panel interview. In all of the previous interviews she was kept waiting as much as 30 minutes. Prior to the panel interview it was close to 45 minutes.

She was asked in the panel interview “What would be one of the first changes you would make as the Director.” Her answer was; “The way you hire people. The process of letting candidates wait in the lobby for so long is inappropriate and turns good candidates off. In fact, I was ready to walk out just before someone came to meet me.” The panel apologized. They know she was right and had the integrity to tell it to their face.

The new Director of Human Resources later told me she was informed by those on the panel that not one other candidate brought this point up. We both found that to be amazing.

Displaying confidence is a key attribute in the interview. Too often candidates take the easy or safe answer path and miss a great opportunity.

Just be honest. If you are right, and hiring manager doesn’t want to hear it, the bigger question for you is, “Do you want to work for this person?” If they can’t accept the truth now, what will it be like once you come on board?

If you do accept the position I can almost guarantee you, you will end up in the “Circle of Transition.” As our job search workbook and blog article indicates this is not the place anybody wants to be.

I believe this is one of the most important issues for candidates to know, understand and implement in a job search.

24 June 2012

Tips To Network Your Way Into Your Dream Job

Never Stop Networking!

The best way to connect your cover letter and resume to your dream job is by networking!

What's networking? Networking simply means telling people that you are looking for a job and enlisting them into your job search team.

It is a focused way of developing and building a group of contacts; people who can provide career information that can lead to a new or better job. It can include advice, recommendations, or actually being hired. Each person you meet and have contact with brings you one step closer to getting the job you want.

These people can include your family, friends, neighbors, people you knew at school, former co-workers and professional people like doctors and lawyers. Even if you don't know people very well, most are willing to help if you ask.

Ask the people in your network if they know about any openings. Also ask them to ask their friends, family and co-workers about any possibilities. Research shows that this "third level" can yield results. You will often find a job not through who you know, but through someone that your friend or contact knows.

How Effective Is Networking?

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that 94 percent of successful job hunters claimed that networking had made all the difference for them.
Sixty to 90 percent of jobs are found informally - mainly through friends, relatives, and direct contacts. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 63.4 percent of all workers use informal job finding methods.
Mark S. Granovetter, a Harvard sociologist, reported to Forbes magazine that "informal contacts" account for almost 75 percent of all successful job searches. Agencies find nine percent of new jobs for professional and technical people, and advertisements yield another 10 percent or so.
The Benefits of Networking

If you are serious about finding the best position for your next career move in a timely manner, you must network.
At least 60 percent of job openings in the U.S. are not filled through advertising, recruiters or other traditional methods. They are filled through networking and informal contacts. The goal is to move into the hidden, un-advertised job market, using every available resource that contact with other people will provide you.

Current employees are among the best sources of referrals. Many firms report that 40 to 50 percent of their openings are filled by candidates referred to by staff members. Moreover, companies view such candidates more favorably than those brought in through other methods, because they already know something about the organization and have a personal connection with it.

Here's an example of the extraordinary benefits of networking from The Job Hunting Handbook: Includes the Job Outlook to 2008 by Harry Dahlstrom. Mr. Dahlstrom writes: Just pretend that you are an employer and you have a job opening to fill. Which of the following would you be most eager to interview: (a) an unknown person who answers your advertisement, (b) an unknown person who mails you a resume, or (c) a friend recommended by one of your workers? No doubt, you would choose the "friend". All the other applicants are unknowns. As a manager, you would probably think, "Jennifer is a good employee...hard working...likes the job...someone I can depend on. I'll bet her friend has the same qualities."

If you are wondering why a busy professional would take the time to meet you remember; (1) The average person enjoys helping others, and information and advice are free to give (even when jobs aren't); (2) People enjoy talking about themselves, their ideas, and their opinions; (3) Every now and then, people enjoy a break in their daily routine; and finally, (4) Most people are not so busy that they don't have a free half hour sometime during a week. -- Source: The Job Hunting Handbook: Includes the Job Outlook to 2008 by Harry Dahlstrom.

Brief Statements, BIG Results

Prepare 5 to 10-second statements about yourself and what you have to offer.

It's not enough to have great talents and qualifications to get a job. You have to sound great too! Your opening statement sets the tone for your entire job search strategy. Take Networking for example. Knowing how to ask for, and receive, the valuable information you require is the key to finding the right job.

Delivering 5 to 10-second statements that instantly brings into focus the information you desire is critical to your success. Preparing these brief statements is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and effort summarizing who you are and what you want. However, your efforts will be rewarded as your listener's will recognize your professionalism and be more willing to help. By skipping this essential step, your chances for success will greatly diminish.

Most job hunters have difficulty describing their area of specialty.

Ask a member of the Career Playbook Team what they do and you might hear, "We help people develop action plans and strategies to succeed in their job search and get the results they want fast". If delivered properly, your listener will ask a follow-up question, such as; Tell me more, or, How do you do that?

An accountant might say, "I'm a Certified Public Accountant. My specialty is business and tax planning. I'm currently looking for a CFO position with an organization that wants to improve their bottom line".

A person in sales might say, "I'm a sales manager with proven experience hiring, training and motivating successful sales teams. I'm looking for a management opportunity helping a company grow sales and open new revenue streams".

Brief statements are a consequence of the breakneck speed of today's business world, as time and attention spans are far too short. It's hard to be concise. But the less you say, the more you are understood.

That's why reporters quote experts who are quotable! They only have a small amount of space to write their story, so they need to be concise. If you have this skill, you will be more successful in your job search.

On average, statements of about five to ten seconds translate into approximately 15 to 30 words. Therefore, carefully choosing the right words to create effective statements is vital. With practice, and knowledge about what you want from your networking contacts, most people will be only too happy to help you.