Career On-Hold for December? Why?

When I went to the post office this week, I had to firmly grip my steering wheel with both hands as my car wanted to turn down the street to the shopping mall — all by itself! Seriously, I wanted so much to go "play" and leave work behind in the office. But if I did, what would my career coaching clients say when they called for their appointments and I wasn't there? What would my clients think who were expecting their resumes completed, and I hadn't even started writing them? What would my creditors think if I ignored the bills on my desk and just added more? I had obligations to myself and others that I needed to fulfill despite the holiday season with its good cheer and temptations beckoning me.
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Traditionally, December is a time when employees party-hearty, slack off some, use up vacation days, and wind down in anticipation of holidays during the month. On the other hand, companies look for ways to meet budgets, trim expenses, and complete their annual planning for the new year. Sometimes layoffs occur before December 31 as cost-saving measures to enhance a company's year-end bottom line – you know that, right?

You may ask, "How does this relate to MY career?" Well, let me tell you — plenty! The economy is coming back. Today the national unemployment rate was announced at 7.7%, the lowest rate in four years. When employers begin hiring in 2013, will you be ready? Or will you be someone who has put your career on hold for December, choosing to play instead of prepare for the hiring rush? Perhaps you are happily employed and have no desire to change career or job right now. If that is your situation, congratulations…you must be working your passion, and I am so thrilled for you.

However, according to several recent reports, 20-50% of all workers are miserable in their current
Definesuccess208gifjobs and want to "bail out"
the first chance they get. If you are ready to jump ship, or if you are currently unemployed, December is the perfect time to update your resume, practice job interviewing skills, work on your career plan, and get ready for January. Don't be left behind when hiring gears up.

Contact Abilities Enhanced for your career change needs. I'm ready to help you!

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Ready to Change Jobs? Follow 6 Top Tips for a Smooth Transition

The buzz among hard workers today is that they're exhausted and ready to make a career change in 2013. Are you one of them? Here are a few tips to help you move forward:

1. Know what you want in a new job.
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Make sure you’re moving toward a better job and not just running away from one you don’t like. What are your values and how do they align with a new company’s culture? What will make this new job better than the old one? (Money is not the most important reason to change jobs.) A coach can help you work through the confusion.

2. Create a professional resume.

Your resume acts as your introduction to a company. It makes your first impression for you. Find books with resume samples to guide you or hire a professional resume writer who is trained, experienced and certified in this field. Make sure your resume reflects your work achievements. Don’t forget to send cover letters and interview thank you letters to show that you understand business etiquette.

3. Evaluate your network of contacts.

The job search process is a lot like dating – prospects usually don’t come knocking on your door! You have to get out and meet people. More people get new jobs through networking that any other activity – up to 80% according to several surveys. Look at the business relationships you already have and what you do to cultivate them. What professional, civic, and social groups do you belong to? Where do the people hang out that can introduce you to the right job opportunities?

4. Prepare for intervieiws with storytelling techniques.

Most hiring authorities use “behavioral or situational” interviewing methods. Write down examples from your work experience of specific challenges or situations, the actions you took to resolve those challenges, and the positive results or outcomes of your actions. Be ready to discuss these in any interview to demonstrate the value you have to offer an employer.

5. Test for business reality before saying “yes.”

Know the salary, benefits, overtime expectations, relocation/travel requirements – you don’t want any surprises after you start a new job. Some executives negotiate exit agreements before signing acceptance letters – kind of like pre-nuptial agreements!

6. Revisit old opportunities.

If the job you really want doesn’t choose you, check in with the employer 6-8 weeks later to see how the new hire is working out. Sometimes – not always – you can head off your competition and get a foot in the door before a second job vacancy notice is issued.

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Boost Your Job Search Effectiveness

Has a state of exhaustion overcome your good intentions to stay focused on a job search? Many job seekers have been unemployed for months, if not years. Many are burned out, burned up and just plain tired. If that fits you, now is the time to re-examine your job search strategy and kick it up a few notches! Imagine a tired long-distance runner nearing the finish line. What does he do? Fall out of the race or dig deeper for the extra spurt of energy needed to cross that finish line?

Let's look at some ways to enhance a job search that will help speed up your reemployment.

Boost Your Activity

How do you track your job search activities? Do you have a system in place to keep your contacts organized so you can methodically follow up on a regular basis? Do you set goals and reward yourself when you meet them? Organization is the only way to stay on top of all the activity surrounding a professional job search. Utilizing technology can save time and the support of a Career Coach can keep you on track.Perfectjob_12

Challenge yourself to increase the weekly contacts you make. If you currently reach out to three per day, raise it to ten. For anyone with sales experience, this tactic should be familiar. You up your chances for success by increasing your calls – it’s a numbers game. Track your average rate of return…you will need to collect your "no's" to get a "yes," but it only takes one "yes" to get a job!

Boost Your Visibility

Now is not the time to stay home. When you are unemployed, looking for a job becomes your full time job. How many people do you meet in a week? If it's fewer than 20, then you are probably contributing to your state of unemployment. Most people (some career experts say as high as 85%) are getting their jobs today through networking – the kind of face-to-face interaction that involves building personal, ongoing relationships. Sure, money is tight, but try to consider the cost of breakfast and luncheon meetings as an investment in your career. Don’t forget the networking you can do on-line, such as through LinkedIn. It is mandatory that every professional has a LinkedIn profile – you must boost your findability on the Internet.

Of course, when you meet and greet people you’ll have to pull yourself out of that "black hole" into which you may have fallen. Put a smile on your face, even if you don't feel it in your heart. Get to know others by asking questions to find out what you can do for them and their job searches. When you leave meetings, you will feel reconnected with humanity. You will be remembered for what you have to offer which will result in others wanting to return the favor. Watch how many job leads begin to come your way! You are probably only 3-4 degrees removed from someone who has the authority to hire you, and you don’t even know it!

Boost Your Creativity

When small business owners launch their enterprises, they are advised to publish articles and deliver presentations to increase public awareness of their new ventures. And it works! So, what would happen if you did the same? Try writing and speaking about your expertise to attract interest in your personal brand. It would be interesting to see how many responses you receive due to this new found notoriety, and how many of these might turn into bona fide employment offers.

How do you reach your target markets through publishing and presenting? Do your research to discover what potential employers are reading, then write and submit articles relevant to their interests and your expertise. Printed periodicals and on-line publications can both work to your advantage. Use the same approach in scheduling presentations. Where does your target market go to learn more about your expertise? (Hmm, are we back to networking?) Contact event organizers to offer your speaking skills. Most professional groups welcome presenters who don’t charge fees.

Boost Your Knowledge

Visibility and creativity will work to your advantage as long as you stay current in your field. As learning is a lifelong process, take advantage of your unemployed status to attend seminars and workshops that keep your skills fresh and up-to-date. (You may even be able to do this on-line, but don’t miss out on more in-person networking.) This rings particularly true for anyone in the information technology field. However, people in most industries would agree that change is occurring at warp speed…don't get left behind! While you continue your learning, remember to read business journals, nonfiction bestsellers, and current events periodicals.

What business trends do you spot? How can you position yourself as a change agent? Companies seek drivers of innovation to impact their bottom lines. Does your resume portray your successes in such a way that hiring authorities can easily see the value you offer them as they try to not only cope, but thrive, in an ever-changing marketplace? Ask a Career Coach or professional resume writer to critique your resume to ensure all your bases are covered.

Boost Your Chances to Succeed

With most things in life, history repeats itself and change challenges the best of us. The status of work in the 21st century is changing as this article is being written. It will continue to evolve as more baby boomers retire and are replaced by their children and grandchildren. For those currently out of work, today's angst will eventually fade into the past as new positions are obtained and careers move forward. What role do you want to play in your overall career satisfaction? Do you want to take charge of your own destiny or surrender your control?

You don't have to do it all alone. "At a time when companies are downsizing and out-placing…at a time whenOver50 boomers are facing 50, coaches are easing traumatic transitions." This quote is from "Career Coaches Offer Help in the Game of Life," Long Beach Press-Telegram, July 9, 1996. Let's see…that was almost sixteen years ago. Now boomers are facing 60 or already there! Isn't it about time to hire a Career Coach to help you map out the rest of your career? Career Coaches can help you with job searches as well as help you with career reinventions.

Job search exhaustion is real. It affects your attitude and your motivation to stay engaged. Get a handle on it now to find that next job. Better yet, take the time to reinvent yourself for a better career for the 21st century.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

(Updated from April 2, 2009 post)

Five Key Resume Writing Fallacies Revealed

OK, let's face this issue head on – professional resumes written by trained, credentialed, professional resume writers do NOT cost $50. Overwhelm There, I've said it – not so hard to do. If you want a well-crafted, marketing tool to help you get a job interview, you'll need to invest time, energy AND dollars into the professional resume writing process. That's the only way to develop the most important document you need to have to conduct a successful job search.

1. Resumes should only cost around $50 – NOT. (See above.) Get over the resume sticker shock. If you get a good job, what percentage of your first year's income would be your investment? One percent or less? Now, isn't it worth it to invest that much in a professional resume? Added bonus: wouldn't it be a relief to not have to stress out over drafting your resume all by yourself?

2. Resume writing is just a typing exercise – NOT. C'mon, do you really want to use a template you found on a computer to create the most important document used in your job search? To compete as part of today's saturated candidate pool, you must stand out! Your resume has to make your case for you, or you'll never get a job interview.

3. Resumes are easy to create for yourself – NOT. Even a resume writer struggles to create one for himself/herself. It's much too difficult to be objective about your own career experience and accomplishments. You need an unbiased eye to dig out what's most important to include in your resume based upon your current target market. Remember, the best resume is the one that's most narrowly niched. Employers never want to hunt for the reason why you submitted your resume to them. Actually, they WON'T do that – they'll throw away any resume that's too general and you'll never find out why.

4. Resume writing is just recording your work history – NOT. Resume writing is a form of technical writing – not reporting, essay, or poetry. It is a skill, craft, talent that is finely honed with frequent practice – after the "rules" are learned. Your "story" must be told in reverse chronological order, painting the picture of how you want to be perceived today in the world of work. It must include examples, accomplishments, and results that demonstrate your value, your problem-solving ability, and why you should be hired above anyone else. Your resume represents your career brand.

5. Resumes should be written by the job candidates themselves – NOT. This is a fallacy perpetuated by human resources. (Please – no fair throwing darts at me for this remark, HR, but your comments are welcome below.) Usually, how successful is a defendant who doesn't hire an attorney but represents himself/herself in court? Do you try to extract your own tooth to save money by not going to the dentist? How about diagnosing your own illness by researching on the internet instead of going to the doctor – how does that work for you? You are probably very good at what you do for a living and have a lot experience with talent to back up your actions. So, if you aren't good at writing your own resume – what's the big deal? Hire the best professional resume writer to partner with you on the project and I know you'll be happy with the resulting product.

I'm fully aware that my opinions expressed in this post may ruffle some feathers. However, based on 12 years of owning my boutique career services firm, I know this information to be true. Most of my clients are walking testimonials to the credibility of my remarks here. If you don't hire a professional resume writer to craft your career marketing materials, I wish you all the best and hope you prove me wrong. Tell me about your success (or not) in the comments section below. I want to hear it all!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Pet Peeves of a Ranting Career Coach (Me!)

As a Career Coach, every once in a while I just have to blow off steam. It seems that I've reached that place today. Don't get me wrong – I love my clients – I love my work – I love working my passion. BUT, sometimes frustrations find their way into my career of helping others master their careers. Usually, it's the obvious to me, but not to my clients, that gives me the most reason to pause. I realize that I have lived my career for so many years, while my clients aren't as focused on the minutia as I. However, other career pros, such as hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals, also seem to spot these tiny things, and they have the power to pitch your resume or reject you after your job interview. Or worse, if you're working, fire you. So, let's just get it right! As always, I welcome your comments below.

1. If 5 years ago you "led" a project, you don't say you "lead" it. Huh? The present tense of the verb "to lead" is "lead," the past tense is "led." When you use "lead" in the past tense, I'm looking for my pencil to red line your resume error. Get it? There is NEVER a valid excuse for an imperfect resume. It can get tossed out of competition for - wait for it – incorrect minutia!

2. If you are going to give your best effort to finding a new position, how difficult is it to create a professional email address? I've seen everything from bubblegumbaby @yahoo.com to footballfetish @hotmail.com – and a lot of others in between. Ideally, you want an email address that includes your name with as few other characters as possible. Even my husband, who is a self-employed carpenter, is changing his email address from scoot### @emailaddress.com to something more professionally appropriate. The days of cutesy email addresses are gone – time to get with the program!

3. Do you want a potential employer who calls you to schedule an interview to have to listen to your 4-year old kid's 3-minute answering machine greeting on your home phone? Or cell phone? Hmm, how much do you really want a new job?

4. So you don't want to add your photo to your LinkedIn profile (assuming you even have a LinkedIn profile) because you're afraid of discrimination or privacy issues. Gosh, haven't you heard? Privacy is passe – it doesn't exist anymore, thanks to the Internet. If you have ever given a recorded speech, shared a pic with friends on Facebook, volunteered or participated at a media-covered charity event, or had a friend send you your photo in a text message – your picture is already out there! Cover your professional bases with a professional photo on LinkedIn. You'll be glad you did. And you will boost you chances for being targeted for good job opportunities.

5. Speaking of the Internet, what do you think your boss will say when he or she reads your hastily typed comments about him or her on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, email, or any other online program? Please, remember that anything you type becomes a permanent record. People have been fired for saying work-related things they they had thought they were sharing privately with co-workers and friends. Again, let me repeat, "There is no privacy anymore!"

BONUS: Please tell me you already know that you are being researched online by Traffic lightprospective employers and current employers alike.  Just as that red light camera snaps your picture to send you a traffic ticket when you don't stop in time at an intersection, your work activities are being constantly monitored. Quit using work email as a personal email! Stop using the company's computer for non-company activities (shop from home!). In these trying times when jobs are really hard to come by, protect yours by following smart online practices. Find a job by exhibiting the highest ethical and moral standards. Whether we like it or not, the age of Big Brother has arrived – and we're all caught up in it.

OK, this coffee pot has finished brewing. All the steam in gone, for now, except for one last spout-off: Respect is the first expectation any potential employer will have of a candidate, and the ongoing expectation any current employer will have of you. Prove you are reliable and can be trusted by the way you conduct yourself with your professional best practices, and that includes the Internet. 

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Is Your Career Canvass a Triptych?

During the first weekend in August, I visited Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Impressionist painter Claude Monet's triptych painting, "Water Lilies." Monet While Kansas City has hosted 1/3 of this masterpiece for many years, the other two panels have each resided, respectively, in Cleveland, OH and St. Louis, MO. This was the first time in 30 years that all three panels were brought together for a unified viewing. As a big fan of Monet's work, how moving and exhilarating it was to see this in person! For those who have not seen the Water Lilies painting, I suggest you visit the Nelson's website to get a vague idea of what you're missing: http://bit.ly/i5Br4U.

For me, this was also the first time that I'd encountered the word, triptych. As a resume writer wordsmith, I am always intrigued by any new word. When I researched its definition, I saw how this word could also be applied to the job search process. Let me explain.

Wikopedia defines triptych as the following: "A triptych is a work of art (usually a panel painting) which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and folded." Each panel can stand alone, but when connected, they will provide a more powerful and enhanced expression.

When you consider a successul job search, it normally consists of three main components: 1) clarifying your job goal, 2) writing your resume, 3) interviewing for the right position. Of course, several other activities figure into the process: seeking job opportunities, networking with key players, completing job applications, researching companies, and more. But at its core, the job search process is incomplete if one of its three main components is missing. And like the triptych, each of these components is a stand-alone on which the other two hinge.

The take away here? The next time you sit in front of an artistic masterpiece contemplating life, listen to your heart as it reflects your thoughts and feelings about everyday life. It's not always about what's in your brain that matters most.

Hugs and wishes for your career success in 2011!

Meg

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search

Whether you've been in a job search for a week, a month, or a year, you probably feel like it's been forever. ForOverwhelm most, job searches are no fun – they are hard work! But more than the work, it's the overwhelm due to isolation coupled with periodic rejection that compels many job seekers to lose self-motivation to persevere. So, what  can you do to refocus and re-tool your job search? What can rekindle your energy to keep you moving forward to attain success?

The biggest energy boost of all comes from human contact, especially if it is coupled with acknowledgment, recognition, and support. This is why so many job clubs have been launched since the recession began with all its layoffs. Most job clubs cost you nothing to attend. Many are held in church basements or activity rooms and are led by caring community members who volunteer their time. Depending on a job club's purpose, you may get peer reviews of your resume, discussion with peers and local guest experts on how to hone your job interviewing skills, perhaps even a presentation on improving your social networking skills, and more. All of this career advice is great and you would be wise to pay attention. Of course, you will need to get it all organized, scheduled, and incorporated into your job search plan. (You do have a job search plan, don't you?) When you Google 'job club' you will get a large number of sites to explore.

If there's no job club close to you, then look for another person who also is in job search mode to become your buddy. Take on the role of each other's booster. Talk daily – or at least weekly – to share your goals, successes, and rejections. Learn from each other about what works and what doesn't. However, if you begin to notice your conversations turning into "pity parties," STOP – take the time to correct the situation or replace your "buddy."

While having a spouse or partner to share everything with may seem ideal, it really isn't. Of course, your significant other will want to know and help you the best they can, but remember, they have a vested interest in the outcome of everything you do in your job search. What will work better for you is a more impartial individual who will put your needs first. Many relationships can't survive the stress caused by a layoff. Please reserve your relationship time for sharing your "normal" life activities with your loved one.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the best option for getting the job search support you need – hiring your own career coach. As a trained and credentialed professional, this individual can help you keep your job search on track, will listen without judgment to everything you say, offer sound advice, and challenge you to stay focused on doing the job search activities critical for success – in other words, getting the right job offer! Sure, you will need to invest in this service, but you wouldn't go to court without a good attorney or build a swimming pool in your backyard without a reputable contractor – or would you? Career coaching services are an investment in your future. An experienced career coach can help you reduce your job search time. After all, what percentage of your first year's salary would some career coaching actually be?

So, here are some options for getting your job search rekindled. Do you have other ideas? I'd love to hear them in your comments – please share!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

 
Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective - as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "How to Re-tool or Refocus Your Job Search." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Personal Branding to Fire Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman

Succeeding in a “Final Jeopardy!” World, @WalterAkana

5 Steps to Retool & Jumpstart Your Job Search, @erinkennedycprw

Your Job Search: Let's Just Start Again Shall We? @GayleHoward

Checklist for Spring Cleaning Your Job Search, @careersherpa

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Ten Surefire Ways to Organize Your Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Put Spring Into Your Job Search, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

Toes in the Water, @ValueIntoWords

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search, @KCCareerCoach

How to re-think your job search, @Keppie_Careers

Wake Up and Smell the Flowers: Spring Cleaning Your Resume, @barbarasafani

Spring Cleaning and Your Personal Brand, @resumeservice

Spring clean your mind clutter first, @DawnBugni

Managing Your Career 2.0: On Giving Something Up To Get It Right, @Chandlee

Clean up, Chin, up, Shape up, @LaurieBerenson

Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule?

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? I certainly hope so since this is the first place recruiters go to find their ideal candidates. SilhouetteDo you have your photo on that LinkedIn profile? Again, I hope so – as today it is expected that you should. If you don't, get a professional pic up there now! What you don't have on LinkedIn says more about you than what you include.

But did you know that only three-plus years ago a big debate broke out over whether or not it was appropriate for LinkedIn to let its users have a photo anywhere close to their career qualifications?

Today most professional resumes still don't include photos, exceptions being professional bios in the entertainment and public speaking fields, maybe a high-level executive resume. This job search "rule" is due to the Human Resources concern over liability regarding interviewing a candidate based on appearance, race or age.

(Maybe it's time to change this rule, too? Please share your comments below.)

In doing research for this post, I found an interesting article, "A Photo Is Worth a Thousand Words" by Adam Nash on the LinkedIn blog. In this article the following announcement was made: "We’re excited to announce that starting tomorrow LinkedIn members will have a new option available: the ability to add a professional photo to their profile." (9/27/2007)

Business publications raced to cover this revolutionary change in how HR and recruiters might be swayed on whom they would choose to interview. In fact, Bloomberg BusinessWeek printed the following: "As recently as an August interview, LinkedIn's co-founder and president, Reid Hoffman, said 'photos and business don't go together,' partly because images could unduly influence recruiters. To lessen that threat, LinkedIn is letting HR reps turn off the feature so they can screen candidates without regard to age, race, and appearance."  (9/27/2007)  — Turn it off? Hmmm…. Does that ever happen?

ZNet conducted an informal survey asking the public if adding a photo was a good or bad idea. Results: 70% said it was good, 30% said bad.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about recruiters using social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn and Facebook) to check job references on candidates before getting their permission, before even referring them to an interview with an employer. (I believe this topic warrants another post.) They went on to say, "LinkedIn, which already has a similar recommendation feature, plans to announce today that it will allow users to add photos to their profiles – a feature that could help make job seekers more recognizable to industry recruiters who may know them." (9/27/2007)

What a lot of hoopla! What do you think – can having your photo on LinkedIn enhance your chance for illegal discrimination? There was concern about this in 2007 – has that concern faded away in 2011? Or maybe everyone has just come to terms with the fact that there is no privacy anywhere since the Internet has become everyday SOP – notably where job search is concerned.

I would particularly like to hear from HR professionals and recruiters on this topic: How do LinkedIn photos on candidates' profiles affect your decision to conduct interviews? Pros and cons, please!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

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SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective - as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Job Hunting Rules to Break." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Juice Up Your Job Search, @debrawheatman

It's not your age, it's old thinking, @GayleHoward

Want a Job? Ignore these outdated job search beliefs, @erinkennedycprw

Job Search Then and Now, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Break the Rules or Change the Game?, @WalterAkana

The New: From The Employer's-Eye View, @ResumeService

Job Search: Breakable Rules and Outdated Beliefs, @KatCareerGal

Job Hunting Rules to Break (Or Why and How to Crowd Your Shadow), @chandlee @StartWire,

Shades of Gray, @DawnBugni

3 Rules That Are Worth Your Push-Back, @WorkWithIllness

Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule?, @KCCareerCoach

How to find a job: stop competing and start excelling, @Keppie_Careers

Be You-Nique: Resume Writing Rules to Break, @ValueIntoWords

Modernizing Your Job Search, @LaurieBerenson

Don't Get Caught With an Old School Resume, @barbarasafani

How Breaking the Rules Will Help You in Your Job Search, @expatcoachmegan

Beat the Job-Search-Is-a-Numbers-Game Myth, @JobHuntOrg

25 Habits to Break if You Want a Job, @CareerSherpa

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!

OK, folks, let's get real about job search – seriously!

I appreciate that you've put many stressful hours into resume preparation. That's not an easy project to complete. Hopefully, you hired a professional resume writer to ensure that your resume is letter perfect. When it comes to your resume, there is absolutely no room for error.

BUT, no matter how much work and money you put into your resume, keep in mind that it will probably be glanced at by a Recruiter or HR professional for maybe 10-15 seconds on its first pass when you submit it for Suit and resume any job opening. Ouch! That may make you stop suddenly in your tracks – but don't let it. Most recruiters and HR personnel receive many, many resumes for each job opening they post. There's just not enough time in a day to study each document carefully. So how does your resume become the one considered for final review? And an interview for you?

Keywords! Most resumes are stored in electronic databases where they rest until pulled up for review on the basis of keyword search. Your resume writer knows how to embed the right keywords into your resume to enhance its chances for final review. If you're working on your resume yourself, take a look at relevant postings on job boards. That's where you may get some hot keywords to use in your resume.

The other critical factor is having a crisp, clear target that is expressed through the experience and skills listed on your resume. No employer has time to figure out what you're looking for. Make it easy on them – leave nothing to chance! So, guess what, this means tailoring your resume for each job opening you apply for. Yes, a lot work, but well worth it. There's no such thing as a general or "I'm open" resume – be specific if you want the employer's attention.

Now, let's assume your resume makes it to the final cut and you become one of 10 or fewer people called in to interview for the position. How do you prepare for this opportunity? It's a given that you NEED the job, but, again, who cares? Only YOU! Your task when you get to the interview is to demonstrate your highest value to solve this employer's problems. In other words, focus only on what you can do in this position to contribute to this company. Remember, what YOU need doesn't matter – only what the employer needs is important, especially in your first interview.

So, how do you prepare? Start by thoroughly researching this company. Learn as much as you can from your Internet detective work about this company's products and/or services. Read this company's press releases. Check out this company's website, plus go to LinkedIn.com for information about this company and its employees. Know anyone who works there? Reach out to them professionally to see if you can get some inside scoop. It helps if you can learn why this job is open – is it a new position, a replacement, or was someone let go?

Once you have insight into why this job is open, take stock of your experience and skills to figure out what you have to contribute that can be of benefit to this compnay. Think in terms of what challenges you've faced, what actions you've taken, and what results you've attained. This critical information will help you "tell stories" in your interview to demonstrate your "best stuff." Storytelling is important as it will leave pictures in the minds of your interviewers to make you memorable and a stand-out among your competition.

During the interview, think in terms of sell, sell, sell! Your interview is your opportunity to sell your Suit and smile qualifications to the employer (or its representative). Just like your resume is your marketing brochure, your interview is your sales presentation. Try to de-personalize yourself a bit from the process. Think in terms of selling "Brand Me, Inc.," to the employer. You are your own product!

Don't worry. There will come the time when your needs will be considered, usually when a job offer is made. Until then, only be concerned with how you can help a prospective employer want you and only YOU! Always put the employer first!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

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SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic of common misconceptions many have about the hiring process. You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these experts in the careers field!

 

5 Misconceptions Entry-Level Job Seekers Make, @heatherhuhman

How "Interview Savvy" Are You?, @careersherpa

Employers Don't "Care", @ValueIntoWords

Misconceptions about Using Recruiters, @DebraWheatman

15 Myths and Misconceptions about Job-Hunting, @KatCareerGal

Are You Boring HR? @resumeservice

Job Search Misconceptions Put Right, @GayleHoward

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!, @KCCareerCoach

How to get your resume read (sort of), @barbarasafani

The 4 secrets to an effective recruiter relationship, @LaurieBerenson

Job Interviews, Chronic Illness and 3 Big Ideas, @WorkWithIllness

The secret to effective job search, @Keppie_Careers

Superstars Need Not Apply, @WalterAkana

The Jobs Under the Mistletoe, @chandlee

8 Common Sense Interview Tips @erinkennedycprw

Still no job interview? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Misconceptions about the Hiring Process: Your Online Identity is a Critical Part of Getting Hired, @expatcoachmegan

How to “Stage” A Successful Job Search

While I was channel-surfing recently, I discovered HGTV, a cable TV station that offers programming on topics related to buying, selling, and renting homes. Not having sold a house lately, I am learning a lot about working with today's real estate market.

Mathouse3274 One topic I find particularly fascinating is the concept of "staging" rooms to sell a house. The way I understand it, staging refers to updating a house's rooms to make them attractive and appealing to prospective buyers who want to be able to walk into a house and immediately "see" themselves in the space. This updating could be as simple as painting the interior walls with a neutral color that blends with the furnishings. It could mean replacing a kitchen's appliances, counter top, or even knocking down walls to enlarge the space.

One might ask, "What's the point to investing money into a house that you're trying to sell? Won't that just decrease the profit you make on the sale of the house?" Yes, it will, but keep in mind that today's home buyer's market requires sellers to work harder to make the sale happen.

Staging is a technique that job seekers can utilize to make themselves appear more employment-ready to prospective employers. I see it applying to your resume, job interview preparation, and attitude adjustment.

When it comes to your resume, think, what does a potential employer want to see? What will make you stand out among all competition? Niche your resume as tightly as you can in order to brand yourself as a unique expert in your field. A resume shouldn't be designed to appeal to the world, but rather to a narrow slice of the employment market.

Job interview preparation should help you learn how to answer interview questions to demonstrate that your past experience and accomplishments can be translated to solve the problems of a potential employer – remember, it's always about the employer, not you. Before your interview, research the employer so you are able to prepare. You need background information to help you discover the employer's needs, and then, frame your work stories accordingly.

Your attitude adjustment may be the most challenging aspect to engage into staging your job search. I would never ask you to surrender you authenticity, but rather, boost your opinion of yourself and the job search process. Each job interview offers you a new chance to show how you are the perfect pick for the job. Make the best of this opportunity by leaving your grudges, prejudices, job seeker weariness, and overall disappointment behind you. Stage your attitude with enthusiasm, hope, self-confidence, and faith in the job search process.

Employers want to meet upbeat candidates – so become one!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg