Job Change Perscription

If you are thinking about making a job change, consider the old adage:  fish where the fish are.

What is it that you want to do next and where are the people who are doing it now?  Better yet, who is doing it now and has a big problem?  The kind of problem that you know exactly how to fix.

Imagine you have decided that you want to move from the inside customer service team to an outside sales role.  You have been feeling hemmed in lately.  You really want to get out in field and get face to face with customers.

How about this?  Look for a company that has a product that’s the same or similar to yours and then drill down to find trouble.

Trouble could be in the form of a growth spike, a quality issue or wider market acceptance.  These challenges are pain points for company leaders.  Leaders want to relieve pain.  Figure out how to market yourself as the prescription.

An email message might say:

I have been listening to customers like yours for years.  I know what they need and how to package your product so that it provides a solution that fits.  Couldn’t you use someone like me in the field?

Just attach your resume and hit send.

There is certainly no guarantee that one email will start a conversation but it’s a good start.

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Tips for Everyone Who Used to Work at Sears

We learned this week that Sears is going to close all of its Canadian stores.  This will impact not only the 12,000 people who work there but their families too.  A lot of the employees have worked for Sears for many, many years.  It is going to be hard slogging for them.  Dealing with the grief of losing a job is tough.  Putting together a resume for something new is going to be a tough too.

The employment market will often make assumptions about a candidate who has been in the same role for a long time.   A hiring manager might think that the person is complacent, does not want to be challenged or is comfortable with the “same old, same old”.

Anyone who has been working for the last 10 years has seen plenty of change and had to adapt to a lot of transformation.

It is important to use your resume to illustrate what you have seen change and how you adapted to it.  If there were not computer systems or online tools, that is worth noting.  If the pace of product change increased or if customer expectations changed, that should be pointed out as well.

The other thing that your resume needs to do is to point out why you were in a role for a long time.

BECAUSE YOU WERE GOOD AT IT.

Take some space to lay out the personal qualities and characteristics that made you successful in the job.

  • Dependable
  • Commitment to looking after customers
  • Easy to get a long with
  • Likes looking after all the details
  • Great at coaching new employees

Think about what your favourite manager would say about you.  How would your colleagues describe your attitude? How about a long term customer?  Sometimes you need an outside point of view to get a fresh perspective on your better qualities.

You need to help potential employers to see the value that you would bring to their organization.

Once you figure this all out, apply it to your LinkedIn profile too.  Then share it with your family and friends.  Don’t be shy – they might not know about all the different things you have done.

A strong resume is the foundation of a strong job search.  Get started today.

 

 

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How to Prepare for a Skype Interview

Skype interviews are becoming more popular.  They are frequently easier to coordinate and they have the added benefit of avoiding traffic jams and  exorbitant parking fees.

A Skype call sounds easy and it is – if you are prepared.  Take a few minutes the day before to get everything set up and checked.  Otherwise you will end up with the same sweaty armpits you would have in  a face to face interview.

Decide what device you are going to use.  Make sure you have the latest updates and a strong internet connection.  Pixelated faces are only funny in Snapchat.

Think about where you are going to take the call.  If it it is going to be lunch time and you will be in your car or truck, that’s okay just tell the interviewer that before hand.  Otherwise, find a neat spot with a flat surface and no distractions.  Art in the background is okay but sitting in front of  your bookshelf of romance novels might not send the right message.

Don’t hold the device in your hand.  Put it on  a book or stand it up on a table.  It is extremely nauseating (for me anyway) if the phone moves every time you scratch your nose.

Do a dry run with a friend.  Ask them where you should look and what they see.  I spent an entire hour this week looking at an Adam’s apple.  Not the best.  Check the angle and the height to make sure you are putting your best face forward.

Log on about 10 minutes before – just like you would arrive a few minutes before your appointed interview time.  Check you hair and your teeth and have a great conversation!

 

 

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The Audacious Resume

Would you describe your resume as bold or gutsy?

Probably not.  Most people’s resumes aren’t.  Their resume is a lackluster description of the jobs that they have done since they graduated.

Sometimes there are “highlights” or “action verbs” but they don’t always present the skills and experience behind your very successful career.  You really need to put on your marketing hat when you look at your resume.  You want to create a real interest in what you have to contribute.

A bold resume clearly states what you are good at and more importantly, what problems you can solve.

  • I create software that makes your process faster.
  • I build highly productive sales teams.
  • I resolve customer issues quickly and effectively.
  • I can identify and attract candidates that will thrive in your demanding culture.

This is what a hiring manager needs to see.  They don’t have time to get to the bottom of the first page to figure out what you can contribute to their team. They need it to be front and centre.

In order to do this, you need to know what you are really good at.  Try this: distill your work/career/experience into just three words.  Yes, only three.  It’s hard but when you get three words that are happy with, you can use them as the foundation for your newly refreshed and revised audacious resume.

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The Best Time to Find a Great Job is When You Have a Great Job

I had an interesting situation this week.  One of my candidates, who had been on a long and successful interview journey, ended up with several offers in his inbox.

He was really stressed.  He said he could not understand how this happened.  He was not even looking.  He really likes his job and his team. 

How did this happen?

First of all, he is an interesting and curious person.  When I told him about my client and what they needed to do, he thought it made sense to explore the opportunity.  He felt that it would allow him to build up his skills in a new area.

The first two interviews went really well.  He and a couple of senior managers had wide ranging conversations and he felt really good about it.

Guess what?  After that second interview, he was walking around with just a bit more confidence.  He had third party validation that he was doing some really good work in a really good way. 

It’s not as noticeable as a haircut or new glasses but that kind of confidence shows.

Seemingly out of the blue, he got a couple of networking requests and coffee invitations.  Those led to more casual conversations. Casual, because he had moved beyond the “interview panic prep” and into “this is just a business meeting”.

On top of that, his boss started to let him know about a some longer term projects that he be leading. 

To be clear:  he was not a disgruntled employee complaining about things at work.  No one was trying to placate him or keep him in order to get though the busy cycle.

I suggested that he look at multiple offers as a positive thing not a stressful thing.  It’s a successful measure of how he is navigating his path through the industry.

After weighing the teams, the work, the manager and the future possibilities, he a solid choice.  I think he is going to be very happy. 

So, get off the merry-go-round of your job and take a look around.  Because looking when you are not looking may the best time to look.

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Want to Advance your Career? Stop Eating at your Desk

It is easy to get in to the habit of eating at your desk.  It seems like you are squishing in some extra work and looking super productive.  In fact, you look anti social and usually end up with heartburn.

Lunch was invented for a reason.  We need to stop and refuel.  It is a chance to change our surroundings and interact with different people.  It does not mean you have to spread out the white tablecloth and silverware.  Even if you just grab a quick salad or sandwich and sit with a few people, you will head back to your desk feeling refreshed.

The eating area is a common gathering place so you can learn a lot.  Not just gossip either.  You can hear what other groups are working on, get in on the good jokes and get exposed to a lot of different kinds of food.  You never know when you might have to opportunity to share your knowledge of where to get great Korean barbecue with the CFO.

Three other things to consider when deciding what to do about lunch:

Walking through a cube farm with your lunch smells wafting by is not always going to make you popular.

Crumbs in your keyboard is definitely frowned on by IT.

If you are not into eating (diet, Ramadan, cleansing), a walk outside is a great alternative.  Especially if you do it with someone else.  This can be extremely refreshing.  We refer to this as “walk n’ rant”.

So take the time and change your space.  It will be worth it.

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Mastering the Skype Interview

This week has been interesting. I met a lot of people – about half in person and the other half virtually.

I like the skype interview. I don’t feel guilty about making people come all the way to my office (and mortgage their car to pay for downtown parking). It’s also easier to fit in to busy people’s schedules.

Here is what I noticed. The people who met me in person had obviously taken care with their appearance and their timing. There was a general sense of preparedness about them when I met them in our reception area.

The skype chats were different. It seemed to be a much more casual thing. Not too much care with the surroundings and not to concerned about attire.

Now, I know that different industries have different “uniforms”. If you meeting someone from a financial institution, you need to look well dressed and successful. Cuff links and monogrammed cuffs are optional but the suit is mandatory.

But even if you are interviewing in a software company with Red Bull on tap, you are probably going to put on a clean t shirt.

Don’t let a video interview be your downfall. It is just as important as an in-person one.

  • Be ready – test your wifi connection with a friend before the call
  • Look neat – you can take the TV news anchor approach – shirt and tie on top, shorts on the bottom
  • Have your resume and place to make notes beside you
  • Turn off your phone – you know it’s going with that obnoxious ring tone you assigned to your brother-in-law in the middle of the thorny salary question
  • Remove distractions – let everyone (including your dog) know that you are in an important meeting

These things won’t necessarily get you the job but they will help you make a better impression.

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