Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I'm beginning to observe some movement and interest from companies looking to extend critical enterprise applications into mobile computing environments. There has been a "nod" from business toward mobile computing, but the band wagon has been slow in gaining momentum due to a number of either real or perceived obstacles. Security and application dependability has been forefront in the corporate hesitancy.
To be sure, corporations are already moving in this direction. But companies have so much at stake, that the risks of moving an entire enterprise in an initiative that will require so much commitment and investment will demand considerable strategic consideration. But it seems to me that this is a case where the consumer market will lead the way towards growth in the corporate mobility market place. As more individuals are leveraging mobile technology at the personal level (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, bill payment and processing, etc) and proving the value of this new frontier at an amazing speed, corporations will begin to adjust to the comfort that comes with familiarity – and familiarity can happen quickly in the tech world.
So stay on the bleeding edge people! Technology is being driven at the grass-roots level more than it ever has!
(An interesting company that is supplying these mobile computing technologies to corporations is Pyxis Mobile (www.pyxismobile.com) … I get nothing from this plug, but this company can give you an idea of a direction this market is moving
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal Online - http://ow.ly/4f12
Good article regarding personal branding …
"It used to be enough to walk into a job search with an impressive résumé. If you were really enterprising, maybe you'd have a portfolio to showcase your best work. Now, though, people want a better way to stand out, and that has resulted in the very 21st-century concept of personal branding."
Monday, April 27, 2009
Once you have the resume drafted and you are comfortable with how it represents your best product (you!), it's time to get it in front of some qualified prospects! Sourcing employers is where you begin the process of taking your product to market. You are looking for as many touch-points as possible (casting a wide net) without letting the process become counter-productive. Much like a sales process, you want to create a steady pipeline of contacts and activity. The more "at bats" you get, the higher your probability of success. Market conditions will dictate the ease or difficulty of your sourcing efforts. In a robust market, opportunities will find you and there is very little need for me to be writing these words. In a tight market (such as the one we are currently in) sourcing is far more difficult and will require more patience and resilience to find success. The good news is that there are more tools available to the job seeker today than there has ever been. I will address some of the strategies you can deploy. In the interest of brevity, I can't be exhaustive, but can go over some of the more important points.
Personal Network: Without question, the greatest success in both identifying an opening and securing an interview will come from your personal network. This is where the years of maintaining cordial relations with past employers and colleagues can pay off. Make sure that you connect with your second and third tier contacts by email, letting them be aware of your availability. I would recommend contacting your primary contacts via phone. In all cases, inquire if they are aware of any openings in their companies and ask them if they can connect you with anyone in their personal networks who may be in position to assist your efforts. Maintain these contacts throughout your search and circle back to them at comfortable intervals. Be sure to inform them when you land your new position and thank them for assisting your efforts. It's always a good idea to let them know that you will be ready to reciprocate should they ever require your assistance.
Executive Recruiters: Of course, I'm biased on this one. But headhunters are a way of extending your personal network, especially if you have developed a healthy relationship with your recruiter over time. (Indeed, your recruiter should be on your primary contacts list). If you find an experienced, professional recruiter who has deep contacts in your industry, then you are wise to develop a strategic relationship with him or her much as you would with you financial advisor or attorney. Your recruiter is in position to leverage their contact base on your behalf and will also do an excellent job of presenting your qualifications in an accurate and compelling fashion. They will also managing the process and give you invaluable strategic insight you could never glean on your own.
Social Networks: These are the newest players in the game. Social networks can prove invaluable before a search, during a search, and after a search. Services like LinkedIn (linkedin.com), Facebook (facebook.com), MySpace (myspace.com) and Twitter (twitter.com) all offer similar (yet in many ways distinct) value in connecting you with people and opportunities. There are other services as well and a quick Google search will turn up plenty of information on available services and how to leverage them to your greatest advantage. If you aren't into the Social Network "scene" yet, I would immediately jump on this valuable resource.
Personal Research: It's a good idea to jot down the names of competitors or companies you hold in high esteem early in your search. Then research other companies who are in your industry or in your area of interest and add them to your list. Visit their websites and look at the careers page and Executive profiles to get a sense of any current openings and the strength of leadership in the company. I wouldn't discourage you from submitting a resume at their "resume submittal" link, but I would go a step further. Identify the names of the managers who would most likely be in need of someone with your skills and competencies (if the website doesn't have this information, go to LinkedIn and perform a company search. You will find many local and national managers profiles). You can make contact with them on LinkedIn or send an email to them directly with a note of introduction. (Keep this note relatively brief and to the point and if the website lists a position suitable to your skills, be direct and tell them you would be interested in establishing an exploratory and confidential meeting). It isn't too hard to figure out the companies email convention. Look at the company's website press release section. You'll often find press contact email information (and therefore the proper email convention). You can also make an educated guess ("first initial, last name"). If the email bounces back, try "first name.last name" and other common convections. Don't be afraid to also send an introduction letter and resume directly to a senior HR executive. When you're done, you will have sent an introduction and resume to 2 or three different company representatives. And these are strategic contacts. Most people stop after sending their resume blindly to an automated submittal system. A little bit more creativity and work will increase your odds exponentially. Also, if you don't see a job listed on the website, don't assume that they don't have an opening. Replacement hires are usually stealth and companies are not always diligent in maintaining their career pages.
Job Boards: This is the widest net you can possibly toss. Many people look to Job Boards as a first line of search strategy, but Boards may produce the least favorable results for experienced and executive people. That's not to say they are without merit and they are not all created equally. I would recommend that you use these boards judiciously if you chose to use them and consider them to be a part of your search arsenal. People have told me that the greatest value in many of these boards comes to lesser-experienced professionals. But do some research. There are some boards out there that are specifically designed for tenured and high income people.
Be innovative and – most of all – be as patient as you can. The job markets can be very fluid and are ever-changing. So keep detailed notes of your sourcing activities and come back to companies a second time if the search gets protracted. Your diligence will pay off. And remember – you just need one position to be the right one. If you manage your search well, your search for the next position will be shorter.
Friday, April 24, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal on-line (for the full story: http://bit.ly/b8EIh)
"While multiple jobs in a short period of time is often deemed a red flag when it comes to hiring, companies have been forced to become more understanding of this trend during the current economic downturn."
There are some good comments and food for thought in this article. I don't agree with it entirely, but every new strategy you are aware of is like having another bullet in your gun and different industries tend to have their unique "norms".
I'm finding that companies aren't "forced" to be more understanding of your frequent job moves in this economy. They feel that there are a lot of fish in the pond, so they are more selective than ever. (It always amazes me when I have a hiring manager who is dogmatic about movement until he or she is looking for a job and you see they have the same problem with their resume).
In my experience, functional-only resumes (resumes without dates) won't get you much further than the "send" button on your computer. People immediately see that you are de-emphasizing a weakness and will either move on or press you for the dates prior to committing to the interview. I would put dates in the body of the resume and then be proactive with references. Offer your references proactively (in written format) and lend strength, support and credibility to your professional background and reputation. This is an incredible competitive advantage. Most people wait until they are asked for references, I say, have them ready for presentation on the first interview. You can tell a manger how great you are for hours, but one third party reference that corroborates your claims is worth its weight in gold. And managers like people who are savvy enough to recognize this.
The net here is: be innovative, but do so with a filter of pragmatism. Put yourself in the hiring manager's position. If you know executives who hire, run your ideas past them. As mentioned in the previous post, the resume needs to be very well planned and thought through.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Google the phrases job hunt and black hole and you'll turn up 55,700 results. The reason for this confluence of terms, as any job hunter will tell you, is that applying for a position increasingly involves two phases.
Step one: Use the employer's online application center to submit your carefully crafted résumé and cover letter. Step two: Sit and wait until the sun burns out and your bones turn to dust.
Behind the awesome silence, of course, is the miracle of automated screening.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In many ways, the resume (or CV – Curriculum Vitae) is the job seekers “football” It’s near impossible to play the game without it (unless you are hired by a family member or close friend), and even then, HR may require a copy for their files. But the truth is, a resume can either open an interview door for you, or slam it shut leaving you to forever wonder what ever came of that submittal.
The questions I’m getting are “How does my resume read”, “What should I put on my resume”, what format and structure should I use on my resume”? Indeed, these are the right questions to be asking.
Here is the reality: As a headhunter, I can get anywhere between 10-25 unsolicited resumes a day – and that is without any job board postings. If I’m getting that many, then you can bet that a typical hiring manager or HR manager is getting at least that many (and likely far more). At those volumes, it’s impossible to read them all at a granular level. I confess that I never read a full resume. I would venture to say that I don’t likely read half of the content. After many years, I’ve trained my eyes to selectively find data, keywords, and structures that are going to help me make one basic decision: “A” pile, “B” pile, or “Circular” file (known these days as the shredder).
So, here is what I tell people regarding resume construction:
1. Find a sensible format - There are more flavors of resumes than there are ice creams. Most formats are crafted around the same principles, so it’s what you do with the format that matters most. Some excellent templates to start with can be found at Microsoft Office Online (http://bit.ly/I6coc) Look for a template by industry or by lay-out. But understand what your marketable qualities are and chose a template that will highlight those assets. If you have been very stable throughout your career, then chose a resume that allows the reader to see your stable job tenure quickly and easily. These resumes usually list dates of employment in the left column, isolated from other distracting text. If you have experienced some job movement, then chose a format that blends your employment dates into the body of the resume.
2. Style - Choose a clean, crisp and readable font. NEVER use a script or calligraphy font. Chose a font size that allows for maximum use of the page without causing the reader to strain or squint. Don’t go so small that the reader feels like they are reading small print disclaimers on prescription packaging. Likewise, avoid very large font sizes (which can tend to make the resume look like a Dr. Seuss book). Create a document that allows the readers eyes to easily flow through the page while harvesting its valuable information. Strategically using bold, italics and underscores will create emphasis and natural starts and stops between thoughts.
3. K.I.S.S. - Keep it simple - Basic advice that so many people have a very hard time following. There’s so much to say and so little space to put it in. As you begin to consider what content to add to your resume, operate under this simple principle: The purpose of a resume is to whet the appetite. Your goal is to entice the reader and make them feel compelled to hear more. Like a movie trailer, the best way they can know more is to see the movie
4. Content – So what exactly should you include in your resume? The keyword here is SUBSTANCE. Throw away the superfluous, clever lingo that kills a resume (and your chances of getting an interview). I absolutely hate trying to sift a wordy resume just to get to the stuff that really matters. (Sidebar: Off the bat, I’ll say right here that every resume you see will have an “Objective” field. This common resume header has become a throw-away statement and has become so perfunctory, that I rarely read them. Either eliminate it all together or keep it to one line. Consider it your mission statement – short, memorable, and packed with punch). In fact apply that principle to the whole resume. Use bullets and make a series of impact statements for your current and each of your previously held positions. Include (where applicable): Brief product description, key notable achievements (where you have made or saved your employer money. This is where you employ the “cocktail party test. List only those things you would share at an evening party in hopes of impressing your listener, and you have 2 minutes to do it in), awards and recognitions, and promotions. Of course you’ll want to include your contact information (don’t use emails you never check or phone numbers that aren’t at least semi-private) and make note of your education (School, degree, year of graduation, honors/societies, etc). That’s it. This should not exceed two pages – tops.
5. Wording - Use words and vernacular that portray action, energy, and confidence. This is your time to boast. You have invested valuable time and expense in your career through either education or experience or both. Given the energy and effort most of us apply to our jobs, you have every right to “toot” you own horn here. (There is a line between confidence and arrogance, and if you don’t know where that line is then this whole paragraph won’t make sense to you anyway).
A good resume will cause its reader to pause, raise an eyebrow, and ask a few questions. The goal is to get “invited to the party”. So, it’s critical to have a high impact resume. If you don’t, you’ll discover that the paper in your briefcase is really your greatest foe.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"When it comes to career reinvention, too many people make a fundamental mistake: They don't know themselves."For a free on-line assessment, see: http://bit.ly/fl9qp
"So when I talk to people about making a career change, I always suggest first doing a few self-assessment exercises. Career self-assessment is the process of getting acquainted with what you like -- and don't like -- in a work environment."
"You can do this by simply making a list of your skills and interests, and asking yourself questions such as "What type of work would make me sit in traffic for hours just for the privilege of showing up?" and "What energizes me at work?" Increasingly, though, career changers are drawing guidance from more sophisticated tests."
Resumes, cover letters and broadcast letters are like footballs. They are necessary but what we do with them will change as our times change. I’ll be taking a look at some strategies that can help you at various stages in your search. What I share in the upcoming posts will come from years of experience in preparing and coaching professionals in their careers and job searches along with feedback I’ve received from hiring managers and candidates who seem to have a natural knack for having a usually high probability of success when it comes to getting job offers. I’ll break the information into bite sized pieces to allow for reflection and implementation.
My hope is that – even if what I share isn’t revolutionary – it will inspire thought and maybe even encourage some of you as you engage in a very difficult and competitive job landscape.