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Job Search Tips

Today I have to post this blog post by another blogger/writer/marketing extraordinaire.  His name is Seth Godin and if you have never heard of him, I think you might want to review his writings.  He is geared more for the marketing or business professional who is thinking about customers, clients and how to run a business more efficiently.

He also tackles job seeker topics.  This one is really good and want you to read it.  It is not the “everything you should know” post for job seekers but he hits on some very important parts that every job seeker needs to think about.  The one part I think is important is where he describes the job landscape out there and the difference between Fortune 500 jobs (declining) and small business opportunities (increasing).  The best jobs are ones you can make a difference at not be a cog in a wheel.

Enjoy…

How to get a job with a small company

Most advice about job seeking is oriented around big companies. The notion
of a standard resume, of mass mailings, of dealing with the HR department–even
the idea of interviews–is all built around the Fortune 500.

Alas, the Fortune 500 has been responsible for a net loss in jobs over the last
twenty years. All the growth (and your best chance to get hired) is from
companies you’ve probably never heard of. And when the hirer is also the owner,
the rules are very different.
1. Learn to sell. Everyone has sold something, some time, even if it’s just
selling your mom on the need for a nap when you were three years old. A lot of
people have decided that they don’t want to sell, can’t sell, won’t sell, but
those same people need to understand that they’re probably not going to get a
job doing anything but selling.

Small businesses always need people who can sell, because selling pays for
itself. It’s not an expense, it’s a profit center.

2. Learn to write. Writing is a form of selling, one step removed. There’s more
writing in business today than ever before, and if you can become a persuasive
copywriter, you’re practically a salesperson, and even better, your work
scales.
3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia. This is just like
writing, but for people who don’t like to read. Even better, be sure to mix
this skill with significant tech skills. Yes, you can learn to code. The fact
that you don’t feel like it is one reason it’s a scarce skill.

Now that you’ve mastered these skills (all of which take time and guts but no
money), understand the next thing about small businesses–they aren’t hiring to
fill a slot. Unlike a big company with an org chart and pay levels, the very
small business is an organism, not a grid. The owner is far more likely to
bring in a freelancer or someone working on spec than she is to go run a classified
help wanted ad.

And many small businesses are extremely bad at taking initiative that feels
like risk. They’d rather fill orders than take a chance and go out prospecting
for a person who represents a risk. And that’s your opportunity.

When you show up and offer to go prospecting on spec, offer to contribute a
website or a sales letter or some sales calls–with no money on the table–many
small business people will take you up on it, particularly if they are
cash-strapped, profit-oriented and know you by reputation. (Please don’t
overlook that last one).

Hint: don’t merely show up and expect a yes. It’s something you earn over
time…

The rest is easy. Once you demonstrate that you contribute far more than you
cost, now it’s merely a matter of figuring out a payment schedule.

This is probably far more uncertainty and personal branding than most job
seekers are comfortable with. Which is precisely why it works.

Let’s Get Started!

Career Planning – To Plan or Not To Plan

If you look back on your career to date in terms of what direction it has taken, what do you see?  Do you see a well thought out program where you decided on a job in high school or college and that is what you have been doing ever since?  I don’t know about you but when I look at my career (now 42 years old) I see an ever-changing shift in direction.  Does all that mean I am a flake…well maybe…but probably not.

There are two lines of thinking on this subject.  One group thinks you should plan out every step of the way and keep to that plan.  The other group thinks you should plan a little but let the “winds of change” take over and move you through uncharted territory.

I don’t know the answer to this question.  What I do know is both seem to offer different and wonderful experiences.  In talking to job seekers over the years I know both groups have their issues.  The group who had it all planned out many times made those plans with an immature mindset.  The decisions were made early in life when they had not experienced all that much.  Later they wished they had done something else.  All the while the ones who let changes happen to them felt like they were out of control with their career and wished they could have planned better so they weren’t thrown back and forth from one job to another.

Now these groups are not as so well-defined as I portray them.  There are many missing pieces to each but the one thing that holds true is both groups may not be satisfied with where they are (in their career) as they are getting older.  Priorities change, desires change, and needs change over time.  It is virtually impossible to plan for all the changes that happen in one’s career…and I don’t think you really should.

So should you embark in a serious career planning project or not?  I say yes and no.  At all points in your career you should be assessing if what you are doing and who you are working for (or if self-employed – working for yourself) is helping to take you to where you want to go.  If they are then a big “high-five” (slap) to you.  You are on the right track.  If you are not moving forward but feel stagnant and possibly moving backwards, then maybe it is time for a change.

I personally get about three to five years out of a job for another company then poop out.  I am ready to make a change.  When the “thrill is gone” wall hits you, sometimes you need to change.  On the other hand what you might need to do is push through the wall.  Sometimes people cut and run when they hit a wall.  If you run away when the going gets a little tough, that will continue to happen throughout your life.  Maybe now is the time to push through to the other side and see what it feels like.

No one can answer this question for you.  But at each stage of your career you give yourself honest feedback on where you are heading and if the job you are currently doing isn’t taking you there, then maybe it is time to move on.  Quitting and moving on is ok and actually really important.  Quitting is more important than winning.  If you cannot quit the things (or jobs) that are not working for you, then you might not ever win in the end.

So what if you are not sure where you are heading?  That is a tough one because I do understand that challenge.  Knowing “what you want to do with your life” is a daunting challenge we all face.  Maybe stop taking about that very heavy question so seriously and just look for your next step.  Push yourself to find a new situation (or expand your current one) and see where that takes you.  Career planning to get out of a poor situation and into a good one is not the biggest of plans but it is still planning.

Don’t stop planning…you can do it in bite-sized chunks or on a large-scale.  Both work very well.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

General Objective for Resume – 3 Tips

So you are writing a resume and wondering what is the general objective for your resume.  Well I am here to tell you that the most general objective is for it to get read by the person or people you are sending it to in the hopes they will pass it along to the hiring manager OR another person.  Getting your resume read and not just pushed off into the “no” pile is always the main objective.

So many people think the general objective for their resume is for it to look good or have the right key terms.  Those are important for the reader but at the end of the day you want your resume to get read and passed along to the hiring person if they are not the initial reader.  In order to make this happen you need to keep the following three tips in mind:

Tip Number 1:  Think of your resume as having a personality.  This might sound a little bazaar but stay with me.  If you can think of your resume as having one personality and only one, you can write it to align with that personality.  Now I don’t mean being too creative and writing your resume with a new font or quirky layout.  What I mean is if you are an administrative assistant and want to stand out from the crowd, give an example of how you helped your boss complete a project in the last moment or how you creatively pulled off a project by getting everyone else in the department on-board.  If you don’t have these type of examples, maybe you need to get more creative in your job.  Find your unique personality and let it shine through on your resume.

Tip Number 2:  Never make a punctuation or spelling error….NEVER!  I don’t care how many people you have to hire or corral to help you edit your resume.  Do it.  You don’t want one error on that resume ever.  I see the following errors all the time and you better not have them:  punctuation, spelling, grammar (big one), alignment, font style, font size, duplicate info, not relevent info, etc.  No errors.  No more.

Tip Number 3:  The general objective for your resume is not mainly about you but about the reader.  Don’t send the same resume to all job postings or to all your friends.  Send a relevant resume for a relevant job opportunity.  Never think of your resume as mainly about you.  It is way more about the reader than it is about you.  They need to be excited about you because you fit what they need.  Not the other way around.  They don’t care what your objective is…all they care about is their own.  Make it easy for them to get what they want.

There are many different ways to look at the general objective for resume creation.  Everyone has their own style, form and function.  But at the end of the day it matters most of all what the reader wants to see and not what you want to write.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Resume Formats and Layout for a Professional Look

Resume formats come in many shapes and styles.  There are left justified, right justified, center and all variations in between.  So what resume format is the best one on the reader.  Yeah that is right, the reader:  a hiring manager, recruiter, computer screening the resume, the admin who sees them first, the reader…not YOU!

Think of a resume as a sales or marketing document and NOT a resume because that is what it is.  It is a document you use to display and demonstrate what experience you have to offer (benefits) and not just who you are (features).  I use the words “features” and “benefits” as an example of how people in sales and marketing think about promoting their service or products.  The features are not as important as the benefits.  So what are they:

“Features” are:  details of the product or service being promoted.  Details such as what you did/do on a daily basis, where you worked, if you travel and/or what you think you learned from each job.

“Benefits” are:  details of your successes in your past jobs such as “trained 55 new hires on company policies and procedures”, “type 65 words per minute consistently” and/or “surpassed sales goals by 122% during 2009 and 118% during 2010″.  These benefits are the sizzle behind what your role or daily work was/is.

So in the end, features or your job functions give you the ability to knock on the door of a hiring manager and the benefits begin to tell them who you are and what you are capable of.

So what is the best resume format for all job seekers…the best format is one that allows the reader to take five to 10 second snap shot of who you are.  Too many words tightened together without a lot of breaks does not allow the reader to quickly understand who you are.  Your resume is part of your story.  Your story begins and continues with any and all communications you make.  If your resume is the first time they learn about you, you need them to understand who you are quickly and what you have to offer.

So to me the best format is one that looks like this:

Using a layout or format that reads smoothly and free of complexity is good for the reader.  Strive to be as simple and to the point as you can.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Online Careers Advice

Where do you typically go for advice?  Do you go to your parents, your spouse or a friend?  Does it depend on what you are looking for?  It does for me.

Watch out for Online Careers Advice from just anyone.  There are tons of websites out there with good things to say about what you should do with your life or how you should do it.  I am guilty of that as well.  Instead of seeking online advice for what career or careers you should consider, stop.  Stop looking for advice.  Instead, spend some time listing the top two or three things you want to do.  Then go find them.

Stop looking for someone to wake you up or tell you what you should be doing or give you some generic list of “top five things you need to find the perfect job” advice.  Stop, stop and stop doing it right now!  Do I sound like your mother?

I want you to spend your time doing and not looking for advice, help or assistance.  Go out and do something.  Meet new people.  Volunteer to help out with a program at your church, neighborhood, your office, wherever.  Get out and meet new people and put yourself in new situations.  Once you are there talk to people.  Ask about the weather or what they do for a living.  So it sounds cliche…who cares.  It is part of creating connections.

Once you pick the one or two things you most want to do with your working life, then talk to other people who are doing it or talk about it with other people who are not doing it and ask if they know anyone doing it you can talk to.  Talk to people.  Make phone calls.  Ask good questions to learn and expand your horizons.  This is what a job search is all about…or n-e-t-w-o-r-k-i-n-g.  (I still hate that word btw)

I care about you and your job search.  I care so much it hurts me to see you just spinning your wheels and thinking and asking for advice.  I don’t think you need anymore online careers advice.  I think you are ready to get out there.  Push yourself out of the nest and…

fly…be free…explore….make mistakes…learn….repeat.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

Objective For Resume

Does anyone use and Objective for their resume anymore?  The answer is a Big Fat No.  No way.  No how.  Objective for resume are the “old school” way of building a resume.  If you are still using them.  S-T-O-P!

Sorry to be so rough on the poor little objective statement but I want to be clear if you are thinking you should add one, you are probably a little out of touch with what is required in an updated resume.  Resumes are not about you.  I keep saying this over and over again but I truly want you to understand that resumes have changed in their form and function over the years.

A quick history lesson…

Most jobs in the 1800’s and early 1900’s were found within your family or friend network.  If you were born into a family of farmers, there was a pretty good chance you were going to learn that trade from and early age.  Once the industrial revolution came about the factories and plants were looking for good people they could trust to consistently put in their time at their post whether it was in an assembly line or at a desk.  The work was consistent, mundane and required a certain skill to do it over and over again.  Factories and plants were interested in what you wanted to do with your life because their work was consistent and were looking for you to want to be there.

As the industrial revolution migrated towards a more “international” and technology focus on jobbing, less and less of the mundane work was required.  Employers were not looking to make sure you were happy but to make sure they could survive AND how you can help them survive and prosper.  They didn’t and don’t want to know what your objective in your career is as much as they care about their objective and needs.  So an Objective For Resume was and has not even been looked at.  What was needed (and still is) is someone who can fix a problem or fill in a knowledge/experience gap they have.  Resumes moved away from you being part of an already well-oiled machine, to one with increased competition which needs innovative thinking and experience.  Your objective doesn’t matter much anymore…but theirs does.

So stop thinking about your resume as about you.  It is not and probably won’t be until we get back to the mundane work again (I seriously doubt it).  Get rid of the objective for resume, pick one job title and brag about yourself with as much detail and facts as possible.  Then put the resume on your desk and go out and meet people.  You will more effectively find a new job that way and possibly without a resume.  Not everyone needs one these days.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff

The Perfect Resume – Five Tips on How to Write One.

A perfect resume is not written about you.  A perfect resume is meant to find you a job right?  If it is perfect then it will help you find a job fast.  The reason I say a perfect resume is not about you is because a resume done the right way, connects with the reader in a way that the reader says:  “Hey, I need to give this lady a call and see if she is a good fit for the opening I have.”  That is what a perfect resume is supposed to do.

So here are five tips on how to write a perfect resume every time:

1. No more than two pages.  If you have too many jobs or too much text about each one, shorten it.  I personally think a resume that is one and a half to one and three-quarters of a page is the perfect length.  Less than 1.5 is too short and 2.0 means you tried to squeeze in as much as you can.  Shoot for 1.75 pages for your resume.  It will be perfect.

2. You better not create and send the same “general resume” to all job postings you find.  This is a very easy way to get sent into file 13 (the trash) pretty quickly.  You must, must and MUST tailor EVERY RESUME to the job posting you are applying to.  Otherwise stop wasting yours and the hiring manager’s time.   General resumes don’t get read.  Your perfect resume must be focused on the job title you are applying for.

3. If you don’t meet 75% of the requirements of an online job posting, don’t even send a resume.  A perfect resume gets read every time.  If you don’t qualify with real world experience and FACTS to back it up then don’t even bother sending your resume.  It is not perfect because the hiring manager will get 50 to 500+ resumes and some of them will be perfect and push your wimpy resume off “the desk of follow-up.”

4. A perfect resume tells your story in a way that is interesting.   Anyone can list things like:  “I typed letters and documents” or “I cold called prospects to locate appointment opportunities”.  Those are boring and don’t tell your story.  There are facts to everyone’s job (well most everyone) so dig deep and state the facts, man.  Facts such as:  “Type 67 words per minute” or “juggled three attorney’s letter styles and completed most projects two hours ahead of time” or “averaged 22 cold calls per hour and uncovered 4 sales of over $1000 every day.” Those facts start to tell the kind of person you are and could be if they decide to hire you.  Facts = sizzle.

5. Stop being a wimp on your resume.  You are a fantastic employee and you deserve every job you are applying for (well most of you).  Show that strong attitude on your resume and then back it up when you get the face to face interview.  Your resume details should have some weight and power behind them.  Don’t write like you are back in high school (unless you are).  Don’t tell me you are not a good writer.  Who cares.  You better start practicing otherwise the good writers will get all the jobs.  Excuses are for wimps.  Stop making them especially with your writing skills.

A perfect resume starts with you feeling confident in yourself and finding ways to demonstrate that on paper.  List all your job functions and accomplishments at each company.  List them.  Read them again.  If they are not exciting to you, then find some new ones.  Don’t leave your desk until you have two or three for each job you have had.  They are there.  Go find them.

Let’s Get Started!

Jeff