Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Notes From The Job Search

www.NotesFromTheJobSearch.com is now up and running.  I just added a post that is a note from one of the grads who is now working at a terrific job.  Take a look.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Boring Resumes

I had a fascinating discussion with one of my clients last week. It helped me understand in a new way one of the pieces in the resume selection process. This particular client (he’s a “ C” level guy) had at one point used someone from The Ladder's to evaluate his resume. The feedback he got included a variety of things. The piece that caught my attention was a complaint about using the word “developed” on his resume, as in, “Developed and implemented yada yada yada”.  Apparently this particular reviewer has seen that word more than they want.  Actually, my guy reported that he had received a rant advocating the removal of this word from the English language.  What I got from this wasn't so much that the word doesn't belong on resumes, but that this reviewer had seen it a lot and it had started to bug him.

Remembering that the primary purpose of a resume is getting an interview and how very convoluted the path to that has become, it caused me to add another wrinkle.  Your resume can’t be boring.  Isn’t that just crazy?  How the heck are you supposed to do that?  How can you know that you’ve achieved it?  Of course you know that I wouldn’t be writing a blog post if I didn’t have some ideas. 
Part one is to find a variety of ways to describe your accomplishments and your behavior.  For example, if you are a writer, then you are (of course) paid to write, and the temptation to start most of your bullet points with the word “Wrote” will be substantial.  What this feedback tells us is that we need to find synonyms.  How about, “composed” or “created” or “developed” or “built”?  Each of these has a slightly different meaning than “wrote”, but each would be appropriate in its own situation.   Instead of, “Wrote help documentation for health care related web system.”  Use “Built and deployed help documentation for a health care related web system.”

Part two is building your own semi-formal “style guide” and starting with a rigid requirement to limit the use of any single word to two iterations.  This means when you find yourself using some specific word more than two times, you search out a synonym. 

Part three is recognizing that the highest percentage play in job search is networking, not internet applications.  If a friend passes your resume to a hiring influence, then that bored “screener” never sees it.  It also changes the focus of the whole hiring process from “How can we screen this person out?” to “How well can this person do the job?”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Three accountant positions available.

Steve and I are part Native American. The different Native American organizations we belong to send us help wanted notices periodically. Sealaska, a native organization, sent a notice that there are three staff accountant positions available. They give preference to natives, but do hire non-natives routinely. Go to www.sealaska.com career section to apply.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Notes From the Job Search

"The time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things"  As in the blog is moving and will be evolving into a real web page.  You can find us at NotesFromtheJobSearch.com

Friday, August 5, 2011


I’ve talked about StrengthsFinder and branding a couple of times before and how they interact and how they can help your career.  Recently, I’ve had a couple of my clients who demonstrated what can happen if you ignore them.

Person "A" is a tech writer whose number one strength is “Connectedness” and number two is “Communication.”  His last few gigs have been contracts with increasing levels of isolation, eventually working for a virtual company.  (You know the deal, a “virtual” company is one that has no office.)   In his personal life, this person is completely plugged into his community.  He volunteers with troubled kids, he’s a Veteran and volunteers at VA, etc, etc.  His personal life also works great.  His professional life has slowly been spiraling down with increasing problems and decreasing effectiveness and no explanations; just random non-directed anger.  When he took Strengths Finder, he looked at his strengths and for the first time started to understand what his real needs were.  He recognized that as much as he loves writing (and he does love writing), he needed more in order to be effective. 

Person “B” is an engineer.  He worked for the same company for 10 years coming out of college.  The first two were doing new projects and he was terrific.  Great reviews, bonuses, etc.  His whole team got re-orged into a test role and his performance slowly spiraled down (along with his morale) until he eventually went on a “performance improvement plan”, then finally he quit; with absolutely no plan and no idea how to get one.  When he took the Strengthsfinder test, his number one strength turned out to be “Harmony”.  So in this case we have someone who is all about peacemaking/peace keeping being required to tell people how badly they did. 

I find myself talking more and more about “brand” in my practice and these are a couple of examples of why.  For humans, our brand is that set of work behaviors we do just because we got up.  Not the stuff we try to do, not the stuff we learned.  It is the stuff we always do.  In the two examples above, Person A will be fabulous if he has the kind of contact he needs with the rest of the team.  His last boss got pretty abusive, but even that could well have worked if they had been in the same office.  Person B demonstrated his value doing new projects, and is terrific if he is in a place to build others up.  Both need to understand their brands and make sure that they put themselves in situations that allow them to exercise that “Brand.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now that you got the job

Matt Youngquist just published a "Brag" post on his blog and he said some things that are so spot on.  Career Horizons does a terrific job and it's important to recognize that and thank them.  This post takes a minute to ask the newly employed clients of Career Horizons to say thank you and to use their search as a source of growth.  I am hereby forwarding these thoughts to the folks from NFJS that have recently gone to work as well.  The following thoughts are paraphrased from Matt's post:

·        Say "Thank you" to all of the people who have helped you through an amazingly difficult process and time.  Even if the individual was simply an encouraging informational interview.
·        Follow up on all of the opportunities you were pursuing and let them know you are off of the market.  Say "Thank you." for whatever level of consideration they have given you.  Think about the number of times some employer simply dropped off of the map part way through the process and remember not to be like that.
·        Create a "Lessons Learned" document, maybe just notes, but whatever it is, make it something you can refer to over time and use in the future.
·        Remember all of the bad behavior you experienced and make a very focused effort to not repeat any of it.  If you are a hiring manager, work hard to create a process that is respectful of both the candidates and your company and actually addresses the questions that matter to you, your team and your company.
·        Take a breath.  Take a few minutes to be thankful.  If you can take some time off, do so.

Most importantly, congratulate yourself and give the next person the same respect you were looking for when you were on the market.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Watching the various “social networking” sites as they compete with each other is fascinating.  I don’t understand some of it, but then I’m used to some level of confusion much of the time anyway….

Linkedin is now positioning itself as a place to put your best case resume so you will be miraculously found by the employer of your dreams (and live happily after).  
Facebook has added “BeKnown” as the place to do your business networking and where you can post your resume and then have the employer of your dreams discover you, so you can live happily ever after….

Does anyone actually know someone that got recruited off of Linkedin?  I’m a Career Coach and work with between 150 to 200 people a year and have yet to encounter someone who had that happen.  I know that it does occur, it’s just not all that common. 
The challenge is that all of us bring a lot to the table and it is very unusual for all of it to apply to a particular job we’re interested in.  I’m an old guy, so I’ve had a lot of time to wear different hats, including Teacher, Salesman, Developer, IT Manager and now Career Coach and that doesn’t begin to capture my volunteer work.  Turns out I’m not all that unusual in today’s market.  I was told when I was in college that I would likely have 3 distinct careers, my kids were told to expect 7!  So back to Linkedin, Which of those skill sets do I represent?  Which set of accomplishments?  How do I represent them?  How do I capture 50 years of work history in 400 words or less?  For that matter, how would I capture 4 years of college in 400 words or less? 

Linkedin works great for claiming a set of experiences that demonstrate your brand, your core strengths, those things you always do.   It works really well for connecting to your business friends.  It is truly amazing for allowing us to know what those friends are doing today.  I’m not so sure about how good it does as an advertisement. 
Facebook is fabulous at helping us know what our personal friends are doing.  It also has some semi-serious security issues and it includes a connection to that cousin/friend we all have who has a few “boundary issues” and has been known to post the pics from his last trip to BurningMan…..  My point here is that BeKnown becomes a very hard sell, just because Facebook is so successful at creating/documenting personal and family communities.  Job-Hunt.org had some additional thoughts and took the time to post them here.

An additional consideration is the amount of time spent on the computer.  We have all heard that “networking” is the key to your next job, whatever your profession is.  While Linkedin and Facebook (and Biznik and ….) are fabulous at documenting and tracking our network, the primary source of new connections is getting out and meeting people.  I have certainly heard and read about people getting jobs via connections they have made and only made electronically, it just is not been the case for people I have worked with.  I also have yet to meet someone who has told me about this as something that happened to them, so hoping that it will work seems like a very bad percentage play. 
There are tools that we know work: custom resumes, Linkedin connections, letting your friends know you’re looking, volunteering, researching companies and following what they’re doing, etc.  Focusing on these is a full time job, adding a tool with very uncertain value doesn’t look all that exciting.