Thursday, April 29, 2010

Being on-time will kill you!

My mother taught me a very important lesson that resonates with me today. She said, “If you are on-time to every meeting, then you will go out of business…” This may seem counterintuitive but if you really think about the lesson, you will see that she is absolutely right.

Her perspective is, and always has been, that if you want to have the edge over your competition, then you need to arrive early. Not too early, but early enough that you have time to park, use the restroom, check your clothing and hair etc… in the mirror, and be fully prepared for the engagement.

This is especially true if you are going on a job interview.

I frequently invite candidates to my office for a pre-interview before I submit them to a client for an open position. It amazes me how many people show up two or three minutes late, and then wonder why they are having trouble finding a job.

If I am representing a candidate, it is essential that I am 100% confident that the person I submit will represent my reputation to the fullest extent. When I submit a resume to a job opening, I am not just sending paper across the hiring manager’s desk; I am selling the person, including their soft skills, to that manager. If you are late to my interview, then how can I be confident that you will be on-time for the client interview? What if you in fact get the job, how can I be sure you will be on-time for work every day? The obvious answer is, I Can’t!

It is very rare that skills and credentials alone will be enough to get you in the door. You have to have the other intangible qualities that set you apart from everyone else. Being a little early to an interview is never a bad thing, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get through traffic, find a place to park, get to the office and be fully engaged and prepared to have a meaningful conversation. You may be the most talented person in the world, but if you show up late, you lose!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is your niche?

Every day I read resumes that are overfilled with irrelevant credentials.  One woman I recently met with is an MBA, CPA, PMP, BFD...   She has made it her passion to get as much education as possible in many areas, hoping that this will help set her apart from the rest of the candidate pool.  She is right in that it sets her apart, but I am not sure she is getting the attention she intended.

In today's job market, employers are looking for candidates that have specific skills and credentials.  If they are looking for a Project Manager and you have a PMP, then put it on your resume.  If you happen to be a CPA or have some other credential that is meaningful to you, and is most likely a great achievement, but it does not relate to the position you are applying for, then leave it off your resume.  It can do more harm than good if an employer sees too many letters after your name.

Companies are looking for value, and people who can bring value to their organization, but they typically do not want people who are not focused on their craft.  It is important to present yourself as an expert in one area, rather than familiar with many.  Find your niche.  What are you good at?  Where have you experienced the most success?  Emphasize these points, and let the rest of the information fall off.  This will help you position yourself to find the best job.

Many people have several resumes, especially if they are capable of various tasks.  If you are looking for jobs in separate fields or industries, then you should tailor your resume for each category.  There are some people with five or more versions ready to send to employers for what ever opportunities may come available.

What most people don't understand is that your resume will not get you a job, but it most certainly has the ability to keep you from getting one.  If your resume ends up in the trash pile because you are perceived as unfocused, over-educated, or over-qualified, then you should prepare for a very long job search.  And, when you do come across an opportunity, chances are it will not be the job you were hoping for.

Get focused, lose your pride, and align your resume with the desires of the people reading them.  If you would like your resume evaluated, sent it to me.  I will gladly give you my critique and help you position yourself, not just for a job, but for the best job...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What does your resume really say?

It’s astonishing how many people believe they are “Top Talent” but fail to represent themselves as such in their resume. I don’t think people realize that your resume will not get you a job, but it most certainly can keep you from getting one. Employers sometimes immortalize resumes as the funniest or most ridiculous. I knew one guy who kept a “Donkey List” and quite literally put the worst resumes on the list for all to see.

Your resume is your vehicle that allows you to get to the hunting ground. It is your first opportunity to represent yourself to an employer and you must find a way to distinguish yourself from all the other candidates.

Think of your resume as a piece of marketing material. Equal to something you might get in the mail from a company that wants you to buy their product or service. Unless your career is in sales, you must find a way to change your perspective altogether and start thinking of your resume as your product sheet, you are the product, and you have to sell yourself to employers.

In sales, it is important to provide value to your client. In a job search, you have to consider the employer is going to make an investment in you, and they need to judge if you are going to be of value to their organization. If your resume is not up to snuff, then you will easily be disqualified.

Some of the most common mistakes I see are simple to fix. Many people say they have “Strong communication skills” and then misspell words or write incomplete sentences. Sometimes you can tell when someone is stretching the truth or exaggerating their role. Many times, formatting is inconsistent and hard to follow. These are all things that scream to an employer, “Donkey!”

So what does your resume really say? Does it tell employers that you are the only candidate they really need to talk to? Does it say I’m ready to take on the challenge? Does it convey confidence, ownership of your career, and your ability? Or does is say, “I’m a Donkey?”