Posts Tagged ‘Resume Confidential’

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.

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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.

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“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 Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com, 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?

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Jobseekers, be Interview-Ready: Company Research 101

May 26th, 2011

Interview Calendar

A question was posted on LinkedIn recently asking hiring managers what their pet peeves were when it comes to interviewing job candidates. Over and over again, respondents indicated that their pet peeve is candidates who come to the interview and don’t know anything about the company.

Jobseekers, there is no excuse.  When you go into the interview, you should know the company’s products, its mission, its history, its industry, its competitors, its strategic goals, and any big projects/products/announcements that have made it in the news.

“But I Don’t Know How To Research a Company!” you say? Here’s how:

  1. Start with the company’s website. Look for an “About Us“,  “News & Press“, “Our Team” sections.  Look for an “Our Services” or“Our Clients” section.  Basically, read everything you possibly can on the company website.
  2. Look at what the company says about itself on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to check out new hire listings.
  3. Go back to the team list you found in step one. Now search each of these names in LinkedIn. How long have they been in the position? Where were they before that? Do they mention any projects they’ve been involved in? What groups do they belong to? Have they asked or answered any questions in LinkedIn Q&A? Have they contributed to any group discussions? Do they have a blog?
  4. Google the company name and click through to some of the links. This is a scavenger hunt, of sorts. You won’t know what’s good until you find it. Skip through to the third, fifth, seventh and tenth pages. Look for articles that mention the company in terms of industry trends and developments, new products, customer service experiences. If you have more time, read more articles.
  5. Go back to the google search page, and toggle on the NEWS tab. Search the company again. Look for press releases, industry analyses, financial analyst reports, controversies, praise, mentions by journalists. Often you’ll find more illuminating information from the financial and industry analysts  who talk about an annual report than you will from the report itself.
  6. Reset the time parameters, and look for news articles about the company from a year ago, two years ago, five years ago.
  7. Search the company name together with “merger” or “acquisition”. Has the company acquired other companies or been acquired? Is there any news about how smoothly (or not so smoothly) this went?
  8. Search the company name together with the title of your target position. You may be able to find out who the incumbent was before you, some of the projects they were involved in, any PR (negative or positive) that they attracted.
  9. Do it again, using the title of the person you will be reporting to. Is your soon-to-be-supervisor new in the position, or was there somebody in the position before him/her? How recent was the change? This search should be done both in Google and in LinkedIn.
  10. Search the company name together with the word “convention”, or “trade show”, or “conference”. Look for any presentations, keynote speeches, whitepapers. At a minimum, you will learn which industry associations and events the hiring company deems valuable.
  11. Search the company name together with keywords from the job description. Use one keyword at a time: Research. Marketing. Project Manager. ISP.  This is a great way to find clues to the goals and challenges that you will be facing that are specific to your target position.
  12. Search the company name together with the word “case study”. IT companies love to create case studies of their success stories. Check out what problems these vendors helped your target company to solve. Match this information against press releases announcing a different vendor for the same solution, which is often a clue that a mega-project went bust.
  13. Use www.wefollow.com to search for the company and any of its employees on twitter. Check out their twitter streams. What are they talking about? What are they excited about?
  14. Google “who are COMPANY’s main competitors“. Look for entries from sites such www.finance.yahoo.com, wikinvest.com, www.hoover.com, and www.corporatewatch.com.
  15. Use www.glassdoor.com to research the company culture.

Organize Your Information

The amount of information you will uncover will vary depending on the company’s size and years in business. For smaller firms, you might not get much more than their stated business goal and the names of its founders and executives. That’s fine, that’s more than you knew before. Try other search engines like bingPipl is a great tool for doing a deep search on people’s names. For most mid to large-sized companies, the information will be so voluminous that it will be overwhelming.  Organize your findings by the questions you want answered:

  • What is the company’s product/service and target clientele?
  • Where does the company say it is heading in the next five years? What are its goals, values, mission?
  • Has there been any events recently that confirm or contradict those values, mission, goals?
  • Who are its main competitors? How does the company stack up against these competitors?
  • Has there been a lot of staffing changes recently? Is this because the company is growing, or is it an indication of potential trouble?
  • What are the company’s main challenges? Pain points? Risk exposures?
  • What are the company’s main competitive advantages?

If you want to position yourself as the solution to their problem, think like a marketer. Do your market research. Understand who the company is, what its challenges and pain points are, where they are going, and how you can contribute.  Then, be ready to demonstrate your insights in your interview.

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Fishing in the Swimming Pool and Other Job Search Mistakes

May 19th, 2011

Fishing in the Swimming PoolAn ex-military professional posted a question on LinkedIn: Why do employers on Linkedin say they have a hard time finding good qualify [sic] people to hire/employees? When in the mean time I have a hard time getting hired?

I had a look at his LinkedIn profile and quickly identified some deadly mistakes that were making him invisible to employers.

Mistake #1: Military-Jargon Rich, Keyword Poor

If you want to be found by recruiters (corporate or third party), you have to understand how they think and work. If they think they need a Manager of Corporate Training, then they will use boolean search strings that include “Corporate Training” or “Corporate Trainer”. Education Management Professional won’t show up. If they think they need a Supply Chain Specialist, they will use boolean search strings that includes “supply chain”. Supply Sargent won’t show up. Jobseekers need to review job ads that interest them (and they are qualified for), and then incorporate the keywords in their online profile and resume. Military-to-civilian jobseekers need to translate military vocabulary and acronyms into words that are relevant in the civilian work world.

Mistake #2: Career Story – There’s No “There” There

From the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I could tell a little bit about where he’d been, but not what he did or whether he was any good at it. Job search is marketing, and marketing is story telling. Jobseekers need to use their resume, their LinkedIn profile, their networking time, their contributions in online discussions,  and their interview answers to tell a compelling story about what they are good at, the kinds of problems they are good at solving, the kinds of situations they are good at managing, the kinds of goals they are good at achieving. And they need to use examples from their career to prove it.

Mistake #3: “I Don’t Know What I Want To Do Next” Syndrome

When I looked at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, I had no idea what kind of position he was looking for. So even if a recruiter happened to stumble across his profile, there wasn’t enough information to determine whether the candidate was the kind of person the recruiter was looking for. Some jobseekers are afraid to be specific in their career goals, or to name a target position, for fear that they will miss some opportunities. What happens instead is that they miss all opportunities. Jobseekers need to be as specific as they can be about what they are looking for.

Mistake #4: Fishing In The Swimming Pool

If you want to find the right job, then you need to fish where the fish are at, and not stand in a swimming pool and hope that the fish will show up. One of the possible career goals for this candidate may be Early Childhood Educator (hard to tell for sure, because of mistake #3).  There are thousands of positions for which LinkedIn is an ideal place for self-promotion. But for some kinds of positions, LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) are a waste of e-space.  Organizations that hire ECE specialists don’t use LinkedIn for recruitment. The largest ECE-themed group on LinkedIn has only 1500 members worldwide.   Jobseekers need to find the right niche job boards, discussion forums and professionals associations if they want to be found for highly specialized positions, and LinkedIn may not be it.

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The Passion Myth

June 10th, 2010

If you google “find your passion” you will get 39,000,000 hits. Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and you will see 50 or more volumes on finding your passion, following your passion, living your passion. Every other twitter bio or LinkedIn bio has a reference to “passionate about.” Passion, as they say, is the new black.

So I was hardly surprised when a young friend came to me for career advice, and started the conversation by saying “My job sucks, I’m bored to tears. I just can’t figure out what my passion is”. She spoke as if somewhere, out there, is a single career-related purpose that, if she could but find it, would lead to eternal fulfillment. This was her fifth “it sucks” job in three years, and it was clear that she had fallen for the passion myth.

Myth # 1: I’m not making enough money, so clearly I’m not on the right path.

Reality Bite – Passion does not equate with income.
If you are lucky, you have a passionate interest that feeds your soul and gives lightness to your day. But if you look outside yourself for affirmation or compensation for your passion, you may be in for disappointment. Don’t believe me? Watch the auditions for American and Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, and you’ll see thousands of people hoping that their talents will make them a star. For all but a handful, that dream will be crushed. Many of those crushed enthusiasts will be too embarrassed to ever sing or dance again and that, to me, is tragic. If you are passionate about singing, then sing. If you are passionate about dancing, then dance. But do it because you love to sing and dance. Not because you crave the applause.

Nearly every self-help book or website mentions turning your hobby into a career. Stories abound of people who did exactly that and made millions. Less often told, but exponentially more numerous, are the stories of people who tried to turn their hobbies into an income stream and things didn’t work out the way they expected. The woodworker who stopped getting any joy out of his art because all of his commissions were boring pieces for clients with no imagination. The cooking enthusiast who never got to do any cooking because they spent 95% of their time dealing with the mundane business details involved in running a restaurant.

More practical advice would be to “Find a Job that Pays Reasonably Well So That You Can Afford to Follow Your Passions Outside of Work – but that wouldn’t be a very sexy book title.

Myth #2: ‘Following Your Passion’ is doing work that has meaning instead of being a mindless worker ant.

Reality Bite – All work has meaning – even the boring stuff.
Stop approaching passion as if it were something that you can “find”, like the perfect lifestyle accessory, or something that you “do”, like saving the world. Start thinking of passion as a way of being, a quality that you can and must cultivate.

When it comes to our work, we choose to be passionate. Or not. We choose to be actively engaged. Or not. We choose to be conscientious. Or not. We choose to treat customers and colleagues with courtesy and consideration. Or not. We choose to give more than is expected. Or not. We choose to see ourselves as part of the big picture. Or not.

People who can manage to be engaged, conscientious, courteous, considerate, giving and enthusiastic even while slinging hashbrowns or counting widgets *have* passion. And that passion gets noticed. And that notice results in new opportunities to do something more challenging and interesting. You are only a mindless worker ant if that is how you choose to see yourself.

Does That Mean I Shouldn’t Leave My Horrible Job?!??!

Of course not. But take the time to honestly figure out what makes the job horrible. If the problem is your attitude, your expectations, your need for applause, your passion myths, then chances are good that the next job you find isn’t going to be any less horrible than this one, and you are not going to be one inch closer to finding your passion.

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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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