Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Have Executive Experience – Will Travel: The Interim Executive Phenomenon

December 19th, 2012

Interim management – bringing in heavyweight executives to manage an organization during a period of crisis or transition – is a staffing strategy that began in the Netherlands in the early 80s in response to stringent labour legislation that made it costly to hire and terminate permanent employees. The concept has since been adopted in the UK, Germany, Belgium, and Australia as a strategy for bridging short-term management needs, and is becoming increasingly popular in North America.

I had the chance to talk with Carmen Jeffrey, a Partner with Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, about how Interim Executive solutions are evolving in North America. Carmen is responsible for Talent Acquisition in Knightsbridge’s Interim Management Division.


The Interim Executive Phenomenon

Have Executive Experience - Will Travel

 What Drew You to Specialize In this Field?

I’ve been in recruiting for 15 years, and have personally freelanced for almost 70% of the time, so I’ve always been a big believer in corporate freelance-for-hire. Since my early days in recruiting, I’ve seen an impressive increase in the quality of talent that is available for contract positions, and “contractor” no longer has the stigma that it once had, either for companies or for candidates. Interim management is an extension of that model. With the average tenure of permanent executive placements now being less than five years, it’s a solution that’s right for the times, and it is a substantial growth area for recruiters. 

Why the Growth in Interim Executive Solutions?

Interim management really gained traction in the UK and Europe in 2001 following the bust, when companies found it too risky to hire people full-time. North American employers started taking notice, especially when the recession hit in 2008. It took time for the business model to evolve, for Interim Management to gain credibility as a viable recruitment option at the senior levels. Demand is growing now as employers become aware of the model, and as more and more high calibre executives begin to promote themselves in the interim management market.

 What is the Typical Profile of an Interim Executive?

In my experience, great interim executives are full of a little more “spit and vinegar” than average. They are adaptable and agile, and have built a management tool kit over a varied career. Typically, they will have worked for five or six organizations over 20 or more years, and have grown professionally in that time. They have seen a lot of different business landscapes and have successfully addressed complexities and challenges such as merges & acquisitions and boom & bust cycles.

Ageism isn’t a factor in the interim market because companies are looking for experience. I would say the average age of interims is 50 to 55 years. They are senior VPs, Directors, CEOs who are looking to reinvent themselves and have a lot to offer. They can hit the ground running and be effective within the first week. A lot of project managers and program managers do well as Interims – they know how to make things happen.

 Is There a Typical Profile for the Employers?

Companies of all sizes, in all industries, are using interim executives, sometimes as a way of avoiding the cost of the golden handshake when they know they only need somebody for a fixed term. There is always a sense of urgency, maybe a project deadline, or an audit. It could be the sudden departure of the incumbent due to illness. Usually, in my experience, they also have a “skeleton” in the closet, some kind of internal pressure that means filling the positioning internally is not an option.

 How is this Different from Using Consultants or Contractors?

When a company hires on contract, the contractor is given less access to certain repositories of information. Contractors can’t attend certain meetings for confidentiality reasons. Consultants are brought in to provide advice, but don’t have decision-making authority. Senior-level Interims, on the other hand, become members of the executive decision-making team. It’s always clear that the Interim Executive has been hired with a mandate to drive change. The average tenure is about 18 months. They don’t have to partake in the politics, and are expected to be objective. They have permission, and the luxury, to be blunt – to be “outside” insiders – so it is often easier for them to execute the change agenda.

 Are There Risks/Downsides?

I haven’t personally seen any failed Interim assignments, but I’ve heard stories of interim hires that didn’t work out. Usually its because the expectations weren’t well defined by the company. Perhaps the company’s vision was “go go”, but they couldn’t accommodate the necessary horsepower, or didn’t have the infrastructure in place to support the vision.

What Does the Business Relationship Look Like?

The Interim Executive workforce is more sophisticated today than it was in the past. Typically they are incorporated individuals for hire, and we strongly recommend this. At Knightsbridge we can put them on our payroll if they aren’t incorporated, but the tax savings are almost 20% if they incorporate.

For the employer, the Interim is a line item on a budget sheet rather than a headcount. Compensation is calculated based on a per diem or annual compensation package that includes the monetary value of salaries, benefits, bonus and vacation time if they were hired full-time. At Knightsbridge we take a hands-on role in helping with these negotiations.

 How Does Interim Executive Recruitment Work?

At Knightsbridge we work on a contingency model and charge a research fee for sourcing the candidate. However it’s not often that we are competing with another recruitment firm to find an interim candidate. We are working with really short time frames – only two to five days to get the shortlist together, with the expectation that the Interim Executive will begin working within ten days. We have a database of over 6000 Interims, a pipeline that we’ve developed over 7 years and continue to feed through our work Executive Transition, Career Transition, Leadership Development and Talent Acquisition. We also go out to professional associations and headhunt net new talent.

If Somebody Wants to Get Into the Interim Exec Business, How Should They Start?

If somebody is interested in interim management as a career path, I strongly recommend that they research the landscape and become really savvy about how other Interims are marketing themselves. Hang out the shingle and advertise yourself as an Interim Executive for Hire. Have a mission statement that identifies the specific things you can do for a company, the kinds of situations you can handle.

Be proactive in getting incorporated. Two years ago Revenue Canada started audited people who were incorporated to make sure that they stated their books accurately, so it is advisable to work with an accountant to set it up.

Write your resume with Interim Executive opportunities as a target. This is no time to try and hide your age, embrace it. The value that you bring to the table is the depth and diversity of experience you have to offer. Showcase your successes with situational management, where you’ve had to roll things out under duress. Highlight executional accomplishments as opposed to day to day management. As you build a portfolio of interim engagements you can add this experience to your marketing material.

There are a growing number of executive search firms that have an Interim Management group, including Knightsbridge, the Osborne Group, Odgers Berndstson, and Atticus Management in Canada; and FTI Consulting, Boyden Interim Management, and Transition Management Consulting, Inc. in the US.

But Interim Executives should be ready to hunt down their own work. At least one day in five should be spent doing calls. Successful Interims are always networking and promoting themselves, and this has a benefit not only for their own career but for the industry as a whole. As more and more interims advertise themselves, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the interim option, and this is driving growth in demand overall.


Resilience In a Tough Times

November 28th, 2012

I live in a town with a high percentage of first generation immigrants. They came to North America in the ‘50s and ‘60s seeking a better financial future than was possible in their home towns in post World War II Italy, Greece, Portugal, Poland, Yugoslavia. Many of them arrived with little money, bare minimum English skills, and the very basic levels of education. Confronted with overwhelming odds against them, they nevertheless thrived. These “economic refugees” are in their retirement years now, and with few exceptions, are retiring not only comfortably, but with a substantial nestegg stashed away that they can leave to their children and grand children.

As a new generation faces its own set of overwhelming economic odds, it is worthwhile looking at what strategies this previous generation used to stay resilient in tough times.

  • Be Mobile: They lived in economically depressed regions, and didn’t wait for the jobs to come to them. They made tough decisions about leaving family and friends – sometimes for a few months, sometimes for years, because they knew they had to go where the jobs were.
  • Work Hard: They considered no work beneath them. Schlepping dirty dishes, washing floors, picking up trash, fieldwork – they did it. Paying their own way was a high priority, and they never let the kind of work they did define their sense of personal worth and value.
  • Master a Skill: Even as they schlepped and washed, they were on the look out for “masters” who could teach them a skill. They didn’t think in terms of career, they thought in terms of value. They were willing to work for low pay, and in back-breaking conditions, for as many years as it took, if it meant that they could acquire a skill that would increase their market value in the workplace.
  • Build a Company Around that Skill: Once the skill was mastered, they built it into a saleable commodity. As a tiler who built a multi-million dollar contracting company told me, “why would I invest all that time and effort into making somebody else rich? Nobody gets rich working for somebody else. You need to own the company.”
  • Make Friends: They didn’t call it networking, they never had a formal strategy for gathering names and following up. They just spent the time getting to know people. A lot of time, and a lot of people. At social gatherings they worked the room like nobody’s business. They found out who was working on what, who had a wedding coming up, whose son or daughter was graduating soon, who needed help. All these little bits of information that they gathered were filed away for future use. They found ways to be helpful. The found ways to connect people, so new friendships and opportunities blossomed. They didn’t think “marketing” or “advertising” or “branding”, they thought business. And business started with people, and handshakes.
  • Diversify Your Income: They always had deals on the go, multiple irons in the fire, both inside their companies and on the sidelines. At any one time they might be considering investing in a restaurant, or some real estate, or another business. They built partnerships – they were the original venture capitalists – and always entered joint ventures with a plan for  how they could get their money out when the right time came. They invested, not in stocks and bonds, but in income generation opportunities. They managed the risk by being choosy about who they partnered with, and  by not putting all their eggs in one basket.
  • Live Frugally: Even after their businesses were successful and their investments began to payoff, they lived with an eye to saving money. Many continued to have large gardens, and canned vast quantities of tomatoes and peppers, long after they could afford to buy all the food they needed in the grocery store. Wastefulness was a sin. They paid cash, and waited until they could afford something before buying it. Going into debt in order to keep up with the Joneses was the height of foolishness. Mortgages were risky business. They knew from their childhood experiences that good times can end with no warning, that banks could fail, and that they needed to be both mentally and financially prepared for the worst.

The values seem simple, perhaps even a little old-fashioned. Only a few second generation kids were smart enough to learn them and live by them, and they too are finding ways to be resilient in tough times. They offer an alternative to the go-to-university-get-a-good-job advice that forms the basis of most career counselling programs in high schools today, and with most college grads carrying mountains of debt and few job prospects, alternatives are needed. I wish these values had been part of the curriculum when I was going to school.


Cool Tools for Jobseekers – Self-Assessment

February 22nd, 2012

A little self-awareness can go a long way in helping you get clear on the next best move for your career. There are lots of resources available online to help you with your self-assessment. Some of my favorite free tools include:

A candidate assessment tool that was designed for employers, Clearfit has a module for jobseekers to conduct their own evaluation on how well suited they are for their current position, and what positions might be a better fit for their strengths and skills.

“The better you know yourself, the better you grow yourself.” Reach 360 helps you evaluate your professional reputation by soliciting feedback from your network of contacts. Unlike workplace 360′s, Reach allows you to gather insights from all areas of your life – your suppliers, your clients, your colleagues, your friends, people you volunteer with, industry associates. Armed with this information, you can assess how well you are branding and presenting yourself.

Jung Typology Test
Based on the psychology studies of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers, the typological test analyzes your strengths and temperament, and identifies your preferred ways of connecting, communicating, analyzing, and problem solving. The results are categorized into one of 16 Personality Types, and provide astute insights into what it takes for you to be able to do your best work.


The New Job Didn’t Work Out. Now What?

February 17th, 2012

It was a whirlwind romance. They wooed you, you wowed them. Fine, you had a couple of misgivings, but you ignored them because this employer liked you. They really, really liked you. And who can afford to turn away an offer in today’s job market, right? You tell all your friends about your great new job. You let your parents/spouse/therapist know they can stop worrying about you. You buy new clothes, new must-have-for-the-new-job accessories.

But within the first couple of days of starting the exciting new stage of your career, your “uh oh” signals kick into high gear. This job isn’t quite what you were imagining it would be.

Maybe the corporate culture has some unhealthy undercurrents. Maybe your new colleagues or staff aren’t welcoming, or the small “p” political atmosphere is toxic. Perhaps the skills you thought you were “good enough” at or could learn on the job, they need you to be exceptional at from day one. Or the training you were promised never materializes. Or the challenges that were described as minor in the interview, turn out to be a huge cesspool of issues that will take more than one person to fix, and there is no corporate willingness to acknowledge this reality.

Whatever the reason, the job is a miss-fit, and you decide to leave, or you get pushed out.

You now face the challenge of putting yourself back into the job search arena.  It can feel overwhelming, and more than a little bit humiliating, to have to start all over again. Before you start recirculating your resume, take some time to take stock. There are valuable lessons in every career miss-fit.

 How to Find the Pony in the Pile of Fertilizer

  • With as much honesty and objectivity as you can muster, inventory what didn’t work, and what did work, in that job. Was the job different than advertised? Did they think that you were different then advertised – were they assuming that you had knowledge and skills that you didn’t have? Was it a culture misfit or a personality misfit?
  • Whatever the reasons are that the position was a miss-fit, own your share of it. Create a list of 10 to 15 “truths” or take-away lessons. Structure them as “I learned” statements. For example, “The position required me to do ABC. I learned that I need to get more training before I take a job that requires  ABC.” “The manager didn’t give me enough direction. I learned that I need to be clear at the outset in asking for direction.” “The position was completely different than advertised. I learned that I need to do more due diligence before I accept an offer.” “The position required me to develop strategy. I learned that I am better playing a tactical role.”
  • For each take-away lesson, create an action plan. What specific steps are you going to take now to help yourself feel more confident and successful if such as situation were to arise again? Try to make the action specific, measurable, and with a deadline. “I will take the Color of Communications workshop within the next three weeks so that I can better understand my communication style and learn how to communicate with people who’s style is different from my own. ” “I will practice asking the right kinds of questions in interviews so that I can better gauge culture fit.” “I will rewrite my resume to focus on my strengths as a tactician, and target my job search to positions that call for strong day-to-day leadership.”
  • Develop a communications plan. You are going to have to explain this misstep, not only to your friends/parents/spouse/therapist, but also to your network of contacts and perhaps to potential employers during job interviews (yes, there will be other interviews). Use the lessons-learned and action plan to craft a message that not only demonstrates that you understand why the job didn’t work out, but that you have the maturity and professionalism to own your share of it.
  • Decide how you will handle this position in your career marketing collateral. Will you feature it front and center in your resume, list it under “additional experience includes”, or exclude it altogether? What about on your LinkedIn profile?

Job Miss-Fits Aren’t Career Ending

There are any number of reasons why a new job turns out to be a bad fit, and it happens more often than you might think. One leadership study found that 64% of new leaders hired from the outside don’t make it past the first year. Another found that 35% of American workers quit within the first six months of taking a new job.

Hiring managers know that failure happens. They won’t judge you on the fail, they’ll judge you on how you handled it. “Weaker candidates are able to analyze failure, but they are more reluctant to acknowledge their role in it. Stronger candidates are able to analyze failure and success – and acknowledge their role in both.”

The good news is that you know you have a resume that gets noticed, and with some fine-tuning you can make sure that it is showcasing you as the perfect solution for the right kind of problem. You also know that you have the skills for managing a job search, even if you were hoping you wouldn’t have to do it quite so soon.  Armed with some new self-awareness and a plan of action, you can get back into the job search arena with confidence that you will be able to find the right-fit job for you.


FreshTransition – Project Management Software For Your Job Search

January 2nd, 2012

One of the many benefits of networking is the opportunity to find out about new products and services before they become mainstream. In October 2011, I got a personal demonstration of FreshTransition, a software program designed for career services companies to help their clients manage a full-cycle job search.

“Wow” doesn’t begin to describe my reaction.  With its intuitive design based on a thorough understanding of what it takes to plan and executive a Strategic Job Search in today’s job market, this is exactly the tool I have been seeking for my clients.

FreshTransition - project managing your job search just got easier

FreshTransition - project managing your job search just got easier

So I am thrilled to announced that, starting January 2012, a subscription to FreshTransition is included in Resume Confidential’s Strategic Job Search Coaching Programs. With this tool, our coaching clients will be able to set targets and milestones for active and passive streams of their job search, track contacts and company information, get alerts from job boards, organize job applications, resumes, cover letters and calendars, and more. And the analytics that FreshTransition provides will enable Resume Confidential to tweak our one-on-one coaching sessions to address “problem areas” in the search process before they have a chance to derail the strategic job search plan.

Sound terrific? You better believe it. Want to find out more or have a demonstration? Let me know.


Be Volunteer-Savvy for Your Career

September 19th, 2011

Some of my favorite business entrepreneurs worked pro bono for many months in order to acquire the skills and knowledge they needed to make their next career move.  Others felt deeply committed to give back to the community – locally or globally – in some capacity, or were driven by a passion for a cause. Whether you are motivated by altruism, professional development, or both, volunteerism can be a great tool to boost your value in the job market.

VolunteerA LinkedIn survey found that 41% of professionals considered volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating job candidates, and 20% of the hiring managers made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer work experience.

Drawing on the success stories of my clients, some kinds of volunteer work are more valued by potential employers than than others, particular in terms of demonstrating transferable skills and experience. Some things that you can do to maximize the “market value” of your volunteer efforts when it comes time to find paid work:

  • Choose volunteer opportunities that align with your career objectives, and allow you to develop and showcase your professional skills.
  • Have a clearly defined and documented deliverable (ideally with metrics or evaluation criteria that can be verified), or a specific problem to solve, and know how you are contributing to the big picture goals and mandate of the organization.
  • Look for opportunities to lead a team. As challenging as it can be to build and motivate a paid team, overseeing a group of volunteers can be ten times harder, and many employers know it.
  • Ask your team leader or supervisor if they would be willing to give you a performance review, which can be particularly valuable if you don’t have a lot of professional experience under your belt yet.
  • Cultivate your network. Volunteer organizations bring together people from a wide range of industries and backgrounds, and you will never have a better chance to broaden and diversify your network of first degree contacts.
  • When it comes time to write your resume, describe your contributions using the terms and keywords of your career target – if your goal is to be a project manager for example, speak in terms of project management; if your goal is marketing manager, speak in terms of marketing and marketing communications.

Ready to become a volunteer but not sure where or how? Check out the website of your favorite cause for information on how to volunteer, or visit sites such as (USA) or (Canada) or (UK)** to see who may be able to benefit from your passion, expertise, and time.

** Thanks to Paul Williams (@PaulWill1977 on twitter, who works with the UK Stroke Association) for this link.


The Twitter Wars, or, How Not to Get Noticed By Recruiters

September 11th, 2011

Most days twitter is an enormous time suck a great way to share information, debate ideas, learn who the thought leaders are in a particular industry, and develop a professional reputation as an expert in your field. But some days the twilight zone kicks in. Today was one of those days. What started as a discussion on twitter bios for professional branding  took a strange and interesting twist that left me laughing and shaking my head.

It started with a harmless suggestion:


That triggered a discussion on hashtag ownership:


Which escalated into a territorial pissing contest heated debate:



That led to threats:


And name calling:


And more threats:


And ultimately, the notice of recruiters:

sawitallThere was more, of course (isn’t there always?) More threats, more name calling, more histrionics. You get the idea.

Never let it be said that twitter can’t be a great learning experience, especially if you can learn from other people’s mistakes. Here’s the take away lessons I see for people thinking of using twitter for professional branding:

  1. Know your facts. #hashtags can’t be trademarked (yet). Trademark laws that apply to domain names are not applicable to hashtags (yet). Trademarks that are registered in one country aren’t automatically protected in other countries (yet).
  2. Use your 140 characters carefully. A suggestion or request can all too easily look officious or pompous, and it’s hard to untweet a bad impression.
  3. Respect #hashtag etiquette. Just because they aren’t legally protected (yet), doesn’t mean there aren’t unwritten rules about their use. If you know, or are informed, that a #hashtag is being used to track a particular theme or discussion (think #HFChat, #HireFriday, #DriveThruHR, #FILLYOURHASHTAGINHERE), choose something else.
  4. Know when a public argument is worth it. In this case, the use of the misappropriated hashtag would have fizzled out in a matter of hours, as soon as the discussion was done.  It’s rarely worthwhile engaging in an ugly debate, and it can reflect poorly on you when you do.
  5. Argue principles, not character.  Ad hominem attacks may feel deeply satisfying, but they don’t win you any points in the debating club, or in the court of public opinion.
  6. Don’t engage in mudslinging with puppets unless you know what you are getting into. By this I mean anybody who has made it their twitter brand to be adversarial and irreverent. They will take the argument down to a street brawl in no time flat. Another way to put this: “Don’t wrestle with pigs, you’ll both get covered in mud and the pig will like it.”
  7. Remember that there is no such thing as a private argument in a public forum. You don’t know who is watching. If you wouldn’t say it in a job interview, think twice before you say it on twitter.

Fresh Start – Books Worth Looking At For Your Job Search

September 7th, 2011

(Part II of my September Fresh Start series)

September marks the start of a new reading season for me. While my summer reading list typically includes flights of fancy and fiction, I find myself drawn to business, strategy and how-to books by the time autumn rolls around, books that will teach me something I didn’t know, challenge my assumptions, and give me new ideas for my business.

I also like to add to my library of resources that I can recommend to my clients – books that offer genuine value and time-tested ideas on managing an effective job search.  Additions to my recommended reading list this year include:

Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies

(Joshua Waldman, MBA) – $19.99 US / $23.99 Canadian

Fresh off the presses, Joshua presents a wealth of tips, how-to’s, and things-to-think-about for managing the online portion of your job search and professional profile.  There’s a ton of information packed into an easy-to-browse  format, and as with most books in the Dummies series, it is an all-you-can-eat buffet rather than a seven course meal. Readers will appreciate being able to pick and choose which sections are most relevant for them, and quickly apply the techniques and strategies to their job search.

The book covers everything from defining your personal brand (what you want to be known and respected for professionally), creating a blog, and using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, to planning and executing a proactive social media job hunt.  I particularly liked the Chapter on Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Job Search, with tips on using online tools such as JobKatch, Becomed, JibberJobber and CareerShift.  It can take jobseekers weeks to figure out a productive “routine”, and these tools can fast track that learning process so that you can be immediately productive in your search and stay focused and organized.

Job Search Magic

(Susan Britton Whitcomb) – $18.95 US / $22.50 Canadian

Published in 2006, Susan’s book is one of the most comprehensive guides I’ve come across on planning, executing and managing the entire job search cycle – in fact it is required reading for the Certified Job Search Strategist accreditation program.  At 500+ pages, with each chapter building on information from previous sections, skipping around isn’t recommended, but the book lays out all the building blocks that a jobseeker will need, in a logical sequence that takes the guess work out of planning a job search and career marketing campaign.

There are chapters on figuring out the right target for your job search, getting (and more challenging – maintaining) the right mind set, writing great keyword copy, managing active and passive job search streams, researching companies using online and offline resources, mastering assessments tests, handling interviews, negotiating salaries, and getting off to a good start in your new position.  With worksheets, quizzes and checklists for each section, this is a true do-it-yourself guide for somebody who is ready to get serious about their job search.

Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0

(Jay Conrad Levinson, David E. Perry) $21.95 US / $25.95 Canadian

This isn’t really a new addition to my recommended reading list – I’ve been suggesting it to my clients for several years – but since there is a new edition I’m including it. The rebel of the job search guides, as you would expect from its name this book offers unconventional advice for standing out from the crowd and tapping into the hidden job market.

I first came across the second edition when I was launching Resume Confidential, and it was love at first read. With ideas on how to network for greatest impact, circumvent the gatekeepers, and write extreme resumes that get noticed, it was just the book I was looking for to add immediate value for my clients and break through the body of “presumed wisdom” that has become outdated and ineffective in today’s job market.  I am now on my fourth copy of the book (I keep lending and losing it), and continue to incorporate David and Jay’s ideas into my practice – including the networking resume, modeled on the Extreme Resume.

With the most recent edition, published this spring, the authors add social media advice to an arsenal of nearly 1000 tips and tricks, all of them tested and validated in some of the most nobody-is-hiring-right-now job markets in North America.   Be warned, the ideas are not for the faint of heart, and you can expect to get push back from HR professionals and recruiters who like to keep the hiring process traditional and take control out of the candidate’s hands. But if you are ready to shake up your thinking about what a job search is supposed to look like, then this is the book for you.

How about you? What great career books and resources have you found this year?


Fresh Start – Make an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

September 6th, 2011

This weekend the temperature in our neck of the woods plummeted, and suddenly it was Autumn. Despite what the calendar says, to me the start of the new year always coincides with the start of the school year. Although it’s been (unspecified number of) years since I was in school full-time, I still get that rush of excitement that comes from preparing for a new year – buying the right supplies, picking out the wardrobe, deciding on courses, preparing to meet old friends and renew summer-lapsed friendships. In fact I spent the last few weeks updating my strategic business plan and refining the services and programs that I will be offering to my clients this year.

Whether you are running your own business, freelancing, looking for a job or in a steady career, September is a great time to take stock and make an annual strategic plan for your career.

Make an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

Make an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

  • Do an annual retrospective: what worked for you, career-wise, over the past year?  What accomplishments are you particularly proud of? What obstacles were you able to overcome? What kudos did you receive? What didn’t work so well? What feedback did you receive that made you sit up and take notice? What parts of your career feel stagnant, or worse, toxic? What steps do you need to take to further the successes, overcome the obstacles, and ensure that professional development needs are addressed?
  • Define career goals for the coming year: What do you want to accomplish professionally over the next 12 months? What can you do, and should you do at work to move your career ahead? What can you do, and should you do, outside of work hours to move your career ahead?  Is it time to make a move, and if so, do you have a clear idea of your most logical next career step?
  • Update your career marketing material: If somebody asked you for a copy of your resume, would you be able to give them one? Do you know which of your accomplishments make you most marketable in today’s job market?
  • Update your industry knowledge: Do you know the emerging trends and industry dynamics that are most likely to impact your company, your clients and your career this year? Do you know who the thought leaders are in your field, and where to find them?
  • Refresh your network: Do you have a database of contact information for your network? Are you keeping it up to date? When was the last time you exercised your networking muscles (they go stale pretty quickly if you don’t use them on a regular basis)? do you have lapsed contacts that need to be renewed? Which five to ten people would you like to catch up with, and what is the best time/place to get this done? Are you a member in name only of your professional association? What industry and professional events are coming up this year that you should make a point of attending?
  • Review your IRL image: Do a wardrobe check – are there missing buttons, frayed seams? Are there favourite pieces that really should retire to the great donation heap in the sky?  Does your makeup and hairstyle make you look tired or dated? Have somebody take a picture of you from behind – are you comfortable with what you see? Are you a member of a gym in name only?
  • Review your online image: What about your online image? If somebody searches your name online, will they get an up-to-date impression of who you are and what you have to offer? Do you have a profile in ZoomInfo, Pipl, Does your LinkedIn profile reflect where you are today in your career?

Create an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

Using the above information, define specific goals and action items for the coming year. Formalize them in your calendar with reminders, deadlines and deliverables. Pace yourself and prioritize, you don’t have to tackle everything at once. If you are having trouble getting started, consider working with a career coach who can help to get you on the right track.

    Whether it’s time for radical change or incremental progress, creating an annual strategic plan for your career can help to ensure that you don’t get stuck in a rut and continue to have the knowledge, skills, networking connections and professional reputation to keep you marketable and in demand.


    “Apply With LinkedIn” App Could be a Game Changer

    June 2nd, 2011

    Apply with LinkedIn AppGigaOM leaked the news yesterday that LinkedIn is getting ready to launch a plug-in for employers’ websites called Apply With LinkedIn, which will allow job candidates to apply for available positions using their LinkedIn profiles as resumes.

    Game Changer for Corporate Recruiting

    Depending on LinkedIn’s pricing and packaging strategy, this has the potential to be a game changer in the recruiting and hiring world. Not only could it drive standardization in the front-end of applicant tracking systems, but it will virtually eliminate two of the biggest pains of online job application processes (the need for applicants to cut and paste into predefined boxes, and the need for HR folks to try and fix resume parsing errors).

    I also anticipate that this move could seriously cut into the profits of job boards such as and, especially if LinkedIn creates an attractive bundle that combines access to LinkedIn job boards with the application plug in for corporate career sites.

    Game Changer for Jobseekers

    For jobseekers, the Apply Within LinkedIn app could be a game changer too, especially if corporations move to “Upload from LinkedIn” as their preferred option.

    For any jobseeker who has ever labored over the cumbersome cut-and-paste requirements of some corporate career sites and wondered why they have to upload everything when they’ve already attached their resume, the option to point and click will come as a welcome relief. The ability to set up job alerts and immediately apply using your cellphone will speed up candidate time-to-market.

    As much thought and strategy will need to go into creating your LinkedIn profile as has traditionally gone into your resume, and it will become even more important that your profile be 100% complete.

    The Downsides

    The biggest downside that I see is the potential for higher incidents of spray-and-pray job applications, which is a no-win for everybody. In fact David Zax with Fast Company has suggested that this will make Apply with LinkedIn a non-starter.

    For jobseekers, the one-size fit-all format for LinkedIn profile will limit their ability to tailor their application to the specific information needs of each company, which goes against the grain of job search best practices. Further, a fully developed LinkedIn profile is announcement to the world that you are open for business, job-offer wise, which you may not want your current employer to know

    How Will This Play Out?

    LinkedIn has probably redefined recruiting and job search best practices more than any other platform, so it will be interesting to see how the business model rolls out. Unfortunately they have a recent history of alienating their core base by monetizing member services that have previously been free, and creating fee structures that price casual users out of the market.

    The plug-in may end up being a tool for large corporations only, and its ease of use may make it more of a liability than an asset it when it comes to candidate screening and selection. But with the right business model it could become the must-have tool for applicant-employer interface, no matter what the company size.  How do you think this will play out?


    Meet Karen Siwak

    An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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