As co-coordinator with my colleague Miriam Salpeter, I am pleased to participate in our second round of posts from our community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective.
This month’s articles are in response to Quintessential Careers Job Action Day. I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, which will be linked at the end of my article on November 2nd. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.
The economy is in a slump. Cost cutting and lay offs persist. We all know this. It’s not news.
The question: How do job seekers boost their visibility and generate more interviews during these trying times? Moreso than ever before, it is about being crystal clear on your value proposition – what not only makes you unique (yes, your uniqueness is nice to know and often will perk up the hiring manager’s or recruiter’s ears), but it also is about why you matter to that hiring decision-maker. What’s in it for them, specifically?
Although refining and communicating one’s unique market value was advice I ‘would’ have given a year ago, I believe this year’s message is greatly amplified.Your likelihood of being edited out from a hiring manager’s radar screen is multiplied because of the shear masses of resumes circulating for each open job.
More than ever before, being crisp, smart and quick in illuminating your resume and career communication message to the reader or listener is critical to being cutting-edge in your job search initiatives.
How do you do this?
1. Begin by doing career brain dump, an exercise that you should anticipate taking 6-8 hours over the course of several days to accomplish. Do not short-change this step!
a. Be somewhat orderly about it. In other words, start with the overarching initiatives that you faced this past year and the year before that, and the year before that, then flesh out the actions you took, describe the hurdles you leapt over and brag about the special problem solving skills you tapped to make things better (i.e., improved processes, negotiated buy-in to an idea, grew revenue or profit, shortened lead times for product development, appeased disgruntled customers, expanded the marketplace footprint … and much more).
b. Of course, punctuate these stories with the end result in a measurable way: percentages, numbers and dollars work. Remember, even if you didn’t directly impact a measurable outcome, you always are indirectly impacting something bigger and better that a department, division or the entire company is accomplishing. (If you weren’t impacting the bottom line, you wouldn’t be earning your salary!) Map to that – find the path to the numbers.
c. Then, flesh out your soft skills and traits, and how your actions map to those: i.e., Approachability, Having Composure, Inspiring Teams, Listening, Conflict Management, Ethics and Values … etc.
2. Research, research, research. Investigate companies and types of jobs that interest you and those which loop back to your particular experiences and results. What is realistic? Earmark those! Where (at what jobs) might you take a chance and try to bridge gaps where your experience and /or education fall short? Earmark those, too! Who would be willing to listen to you if the best, most value-laden message were at-the-ready? Note their names, titles, emails and phone numbers. When researching, use these online tools:
3. Start writing, or better yet, partner with a professional resume writer to flesh out your career story. This isn’t the time to be mechanical or rules-focused [i.e., list of subjective resume writing rules that you check-mark; i.e., a. Font size (check!); b. Page length correct (check!); c. # of buzzwords sprinkled throughout (check!); d. Summary broadly written so I don’t miss any opportunities (i.e., “I would take any job mentality) (check!)].
a. Meaningful writing is critical; during this phase you must drill down to the right words and story points that will best resonate with the target reader!
b. Moving a dozen or 2 dozen pages of career brain dump into a 2-3 page sales piece that proves value in a snap through your career camera lens is vital.
Once the resume is complete, begin connecting …
5. Know your audience and reach out to them. Join LinkedIn, then join and interact in groups, post links and updates and invite others. Expand your network, learn about individuals in other companies and become known by them.
6. Start a blog. WordPress.com is free and easy to get started with. Sign up today for an account, choose a backdrop, write an article focused on articulating your value and expertise. Tell your friends and colleagues. Post your blog URL to your LinkedIn account.
7. Join Twitter.Create a profile with a picture and be known for the industry or job-specific expert you are. Tweet meaningful thoughts that will add value to your followers. Retweet value-add information from others. Comment on others’ tweets; engage; smile; be uplifting. Offer genuine opinions but don’t openly criticize.
Final thoughts: Your career message in this new economy should certainly weave in your abilities in containing costs, shoring up resources and boosting productivity. However, equally important is a focus on advancing growth, turning around distressed companies, netting multifold returns on capital and generating revenue and profit. It’s not just about surviving, it’s about thriving.
Show (don’t tell) the reader that you are capable of helping them lift themselves from the slog of this downtrend and into a robust, revenue-multiplying and profit expanding new place. Be someone who proves s/he can both execute and deliver the goods for a better future!
Meg Montford: Job Action Day: Finding Your “MOJO” After Layoff http://coachmeg.typepad.com/career_chaos/2009/10/job-action-day-finding-your-mojo-after-layoff.html
Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out?http://resumesdonewrite.blogspot.com/2009/10/plan-b-from-outer-space-or-what-do-you.html
Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them, http://dbcs.typepad.com/lifeatwork/2009/10/green-jobs-what-they-are-and-how-to-find-them.html
Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint http://exclusive-executive-resumes.com/resumes/job-search-blueprint/
Grace Kutney: Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change http://sweetcareers.blogspot.com/2009/10/securing-your-career-while-navigating.html
Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa– Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different http://hannahmorgan.typepad.com/hannah_morgan/2009/10/why-our-job-search-advice-is-the-same-but-different.html
Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker http://www.theexecutivebrand.com/?p=500
Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship http://blog.sterlingcareerconcepts.com/2009/10/30/making-lemonade-out-of-lemons-turn-unemployment-into-entrepreneurship.aspx
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogginghttp://careertrend.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/you-can-thrive-not-just-survive-an-economic-slogging/
Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts http://workingwithchronicillness.com/2009/10/preparedness-its-not-just-for-boy-scouts/
Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow? http://resume-writing.typepad.com/resume_writing_and_job_se/2009/10/furture-careers.html
Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth http://thewritesolution.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/your-network-is-your-net-worth/
Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy http://www.keppiecareers.com/2009/10/30/optimize-your-job-hunt-for-todays-ecomony/
GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You? http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds/2009/10/30/the-life-of-an-entrepreneur-is-it-for-you/
Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes http://resumesandcoverletters.com/tips_blog/2009/11/job-action-day-09-his-resume-s.html
Martin Buckland: Job Search–The Key to Securing Your Future Career. http://aneliteresume.com/job-search/the-key-to-securing-your-future-career/
Chandlee Bryan: Where the Green Jobs Are: http://emergingprofessional.typepad.com/the_emerging_professional/2009/11/where-the-green-jobs-are.html
Heather R. Huhman,Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job, http://www.heatherhuhman.com/2009/10/take-action/
Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are 2009 and Beyond:http://www.careersolvers.com/blog/2009/10/31/where-the-jobs-are-2009-and-beyond/
J.T. O’Donnell: Actions that got people jobs in this recession http://www.careerealism.com/4-actions-that-got-people-jobs-in-this-recession/