It’s summer and the glowing sun outside coupled with the ocean breeze remind me of renewal and introspection. Are you with me?
New eating habits, a good workout regimen, and new favorite restaurant. New career may be? Many individuals I come in to contact with contemplate their career. They are satisfied with their existing role, and they are successful, their organization is successful and they have a sturdy title, relatively large staff and job security. Yet may be that’s the problem. Too much satisfaction is the enemy of innovation and growth. They tell me they have an aching within that desires change. They don’t feel challenged anymore. That feeling of confidence is making them feel almost bored. They yearn for excitement, intimidation and that adrenalin rush of sink or swim.
I tell them, your instincts are telling you its time to swim, so swim. To them and to you, who are even considering the possibility of a career change, or position change for that matter, I offer the following:
1. Are you ready to hit the waves?
Start by weighing the risks. Know that there always will be that. Family, your identity, and financial responsibilities will always be there, but so will fear. The fear of change and the fear of the unknown. At some point you would have to push away the fear and swim with the waves. Once you accept that reality, your mind and heart will unite and you will be ready to make the proper recourse to weight the real costs and benefits for your decision, without the common denominator of fear.
2. Go for the plunge!
At some point the weighting would need to stop. The decision must be made. Plan your course with plan B’s along the way and start what will undoubtedly feel like an uphill or upstream swim.
3. Enroll an Audience and Cheerleaders
You ‘re going to need all the emotional support you can get. Set yourself up to be around supportive, calm and clear people. Your network will help you get the position you want, but your support system is the one that will get you through this phase of the game. The AA mentality applies here. The buddy system is meant to create accountability. When you share what you are doing with an invested person, you are more likely to persevere. We all like to achieve and part of achievement is the reinforcements we get along the way. Stay on course and celebrate small wins.
4. Assess the Course and foresee Obstacles
Get a clear assessment of your knowledge, skills, abilities and network. It doesn’t mean you can’t expand on them, but you want to be realistic in setting your goals. Many people assume that because they like a type of job, they have to bend backwards to fit themselves within its walls. Think about industry, and organization type, the everyday nuances, and the type of people you want to be working with, the key players and whom you are already connected to. When I do career assessments with my clients, we do a lot of work together. It is deep. Often times, they themselves are shocked at how far they were from their vision, by the time we complete and interpret all the quantitative and qualitative data. The research is imperative. Let me say that again: the research is imperative. The reality is we are all born with certain traits that make us who we are, are family and upbringing solidify them as well. So I always recommend going after something you know you are good and knowledgeable at, rather than going after something you think you like. The other neat thing is that we get attracted to people whom we can relate to, so your network of people will serve you better being that you have built them through “connections” rather than ambiguity. At least that’s the network that we need to be making. Not random and without follow-up. Challenge is good, complication not so much.
5. Get on the Diving Board and Jump.
I like the analogy of the diving board because when you get on a diving board, it means three things: 1. You are making the conscious effort to jump and you know it’s going to be a high jump, 2. You are letting the world know you are jumping, and 3. When you are up in the air, there is no way going back. When you started this journey, you had internal conversations about it. May be you discussed it with a significant other, a colleague or a family member. But your paradigm is still the same. You are in comfort zone. You get the paycheck and the boss still assumes you will be at the next monthly meeting. If you stop here, you don’t have to fear. You are not committed to anything. You didn’t loose anything, but you also didn’t gain anything. Half the battle is the mental decision, but the other half is get on that diving board. You have to make the decision irrevocable. Our brains are trained to form habits. We are creatures of repetition. So unless the walls of the maze are reset, our brains will command us to repeat the past and to not rock the boat. Pull the anchor and let the ship sail where it needs to and don’t look back.
Fear is a defense mechanism to protect us in life. But it’s also there to motivate us and propel us forward. I am not saying live life in fear. But I am saying don’t expect fear to ever disappear. It’s through fear that your interests get peaked and you search for that truth and possibility. Fight fear and it will haunt you, look at it in the eye and it will guide you. Life is a raft, not a ship. Life of Pi was the perfect demonstration of that. Ships have navigation system, propellers, and radars. Your career is one aspect of your life, and just like any other, demands determination, patience and exploration. There are no guarantees, you have to do your due diligence, and take a leap of faith. Let the waves take you where they may.
Author and CFEC guest blogger:
“Employment Projections are forecasts of future employment levels for industries and occupations in Florida. The Long-term Employment Projections program provides estimates of current and projected employment by industry and occupation for eight years into the future. The projections also include rankings of the fast-growing industries and occupations in Florida. These data are produced for the state, Workforce Regions, and counties with employment greater than 100,000. Geographic Coverage: Statewide, Workforce Regions, and large counties. Frequency: Annually”
This information is provided by the Florida Department of Opportunity, and can be obtained by visiting http://www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/data-center/statistical-programs/employment-projections
Employment Projections Data
• 2015-2023 Projections Statewide or by Workforce Region
• 2015-2023 Projections for Largest & Single Counties
By Guest Blooger: Jessica Mattison, JobFinderUSA
Getting the Most Out of a Career Fair
The effectiveness of a career fair is often debated. Some paint them as a huge waste of time, while others swear by them. If you simply show up and expect to land a job based strictly upon your mere presence and winning personality, you’ll fall into the first group. Like most things in life, job fairs take hard work and a lot of preparation. If you are willing to put forth the effort, a career fair can become a truly valuable job finding tool.
Think of a career fair as one big interview. Just as you would if you were being called into a company’s office, you need to be prepared and do your research. Most often, a list of companies that will be in attendance can be obtained. Take this list and research any and all companies you are interested in. Look at their company website and social media pages. Make a list of notes and rank each company based upon which you would like to work for most. Your time is limited at a career fair and you want to make sure you visit with the right companies.
Take this time to customize your resume and cover letter to match with the culture of each company you plan to visit. Also, have some generic ones on hand in case you come across a company that you had not originally planned for. You might even want to have your own business cards printed. They should include your name, desired position, and contact information. They don’t need to be anything fancy, just make sure it looks clean and professional.
Compiling a list of questions you might want to ask each business is also a good idea. Include some blanket questions that can be asked of any industry as well as some more specific ones for companies you have taken the time to research.
You should also dress the part. Make sure you look neat, clean, and professional with your clothes pressed and stain-free. Your best bet is to wear a dress suit of some kind. As a general rule, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
While you’re there, don’t just network with the recruiters on hand, but also with your fellow job seekers. You will most likely be stuck waiting in more than a few lines, so take advantage of that time to exchange information—those business cards would come in handy here as well.
Following up is just as important after a job fair as it is after an interview. To make your life easier, ask each recruiter you meet for a business card. This way you’ll have their name, position, and all contact information at your fingertips; no worries about a bad memory or writing down something incorrectly. In return, give them one of your own cards to remember you.
Remember to send thank you notes or emails to each of the representatives you met with whether you liked their company or not. It is important to make good contacts with as many people as possible—you never know when you might run into them again.
After your initial contact thanking the recruiter, you’ll want to continue to follow up on the position you are seeking. You need to be persistent, but not annoying—there is a fine line. You want the employer to know how interested you are in the position, but you don’t want to come across as desperate and overly anxious.
Generally, no matter the position or form of contact, try to be overly polite and humble. As annoyed as you may be that your phone calls and/or emails have gone unanswered, don’t take out your frustrations on your potential employer. Stay away from statements like, “I still have not heard from you” or “you ignored my previous email.” Maintaining a polite tone throughout your email or phone message will keep the person interested, not angry.
Career fairs can be tough and some might not be as great as others, but generally, they’re a good time investment as long as you’re prepared to put the work in.
Article Reference URL: http://www.jobfinderusa.com/article/getting-the-most-out-of-a-career-fair/
Author and CFEC guest blogger:
Career-Planning: How to Plan for the Interview Process
The unreliable economy and the changes in the job market have certainly impacted the hiring the process negatively. There are now more applicants applying for the same position and applicants are expandintheir search to larger geographical distances. Needless to say, the hiring organizations are becoming more selective because they know there many more applicants available to them. The smart applicant has to not only spend the proper time to brush up their resume and cover letter, revamp their social media reach, and prepare for the interview, but they have to prepare for the 2nd, third and possibly fourth interview.
The first interview, is now mostly done by phone as a screening process. In order to save the recruiter time and effort. The good news is, if you make it past the first interview, it will probably mean you will be interviewing with the hiring manager who has better insight about the role for which you’re being considered. We are taught oftentimes that impression making is all about listening, but as someone that has been involved in the HR arena for over 15 years, I always advocate for two way interviewing. Just because the market is not as upward as we want it to be, we don’t have to settle. An individual who is asking the right questions during the interview can make a well-informed choice if and when they receive the job offer and if they don’t receive the offer, at least they know parts of the job that didn’t fit well within their schema of the right job. Job-hunting is an emotionally challenging task and we can’t possibly receive all yes’s. To stay feeling emotionally positive, and cognitively ready and up for the challenge it’s best to be in the pilot seat than the passenger. If you ask more questions now, rather than later, then the hiring manager will not wonder where your heart and intentions are and whether you were even paying attention.
Finding the ins and outs of the company and the job, doesn’t have to come after six months into the job. There are a lot of questions that can quickly get at the heart of the “True Side” of the job rather than what is portrayed as the “Perfect Side” .
Leader vs. Follower Role
Emotionally intelligent applicants know who they are; their personality, their work style and communication style. Before even applying to the position, the applicant would need to know that the position they are applying to is within the ream of their knowledge skills and abilities. Experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee ability, neither does education and training. Our genetic make-up generally defines our personality and knowing that make-up is very insightful in all aspects of life in dealing with others, but especially in career planning. If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, it is crucial to know you that, that interests you. Plenty of individuals are in follower positions and have less of a headache and more flexibility and their income is not necessarily capped either. On the other hand, a position could be posed as a leadership position, but once on-board, there is not a lot of latitude. If you enjoy and are good at understanding and withstanding subordinates and delegate work to them, you would want to ask that. Asking the right question regarding this in the 2nd interview will lead the hiring manager to explain where you stand in the company’s hierarchy as well as specifc decision-making capabilities of the role.
Norms, Expectations and Performance
The culture of an organization speaks volumes to how the everyday gets done. Walking in to an interview, the applicant needs to have already done their homework as to what type of culture the organization has. The 2nd interview will allow the applicant to ask questions pertaining to communication guidelines, work product reviews, valued actions, and rewarded behaviors. There are two sides to a job, the social aspects and hard skills. I always advocate that if the player doesn’t learn the rules governing the game early on, they are just throwing darts in the dark, hoping it will hit the board. The game is half branding, and reputation building, and half performance as generally defined by fulfilling the job description. All companies want their employees to meet their performance expectations. Its important to ask the hiring manager to explain to you through scenarios, “right” and “wrong” behaviors. Something as simple as resources (staff, copier, paper and ink) can cause conflict. Can you imagine miscommunications? Discussing scenarios and finding out how they are perceived or timelines are played, will not only speak to performance appraisals but also to the underlying rules that govern everyday actions before and after the reviews.
I am always amazed to find out how many individuals fall in to the trap of taking a job that pays higher over a job that pays a little less but has a clearly defined path for growth. During the 2nd job interview, it is wise for the applicant to ask about the training and advancement process. Finding out what your role is and what the company’s role is, is very important. The employee contract is very employee driven now and if an applicant wants to succeed, he or she must clearly know what the unspoken rules of that contract are. A position may be on a basic tier level, meaning within a number of years or experiences the next position would be within access to the applicant. On the other hand, the position could be on a partnership track, meaning, a certain group would need to provide a positive evaluation for the individual to go up the ladder. So on and so forth. Asking that the hiring manager to simply provide examples of career advanacement within the company would be a great way to learn the process.
Network Building Opportunities
Social media has amazingly taken over the work culture. Employers not only use social media to make hiring decisions now, but also look at your network to see contacts that you will potentially bring with you. Furthermore, who you’ll be working with is just as important as what you will be working on. It is very typical for managers to invite you to take a tour of the office and meet some of the people with whom you’ll be working. Although this may be a good opener, it will not shed any light on the dynamics you may be walking into. Finding out names and doing a background search on the individuals would be a lot more useful. Again social media is great for that. You can also ask how the organization incorporates team work, how teams are formed, who and what determines which teams get what projects and how is the team evaluated. Knowing how messages are transmitted in an organization speaks volumes to how you will spend your day. The people you work with, ultimately become your second family. The difference is you have a chance at picking your second family.
How to Deal With Gaps in Your Employment History
Whether you have been out of work for some time due to an illness or a family situation or simply have not been able to find the right employment opportunity, at some point you will have to answer the dreaded question of what you did while you were out of work for so long. Don’t panic! Think of this time off as a positive rather than a negative. Consider the examples below:
I was out of work because I had kids.
I gave birth to two wonderful children in the span of 2 years and my family and I made the decision that I would stay at home to raise and nurture them during their younger years. I am now eager to jump back in the workforce and hit the ground running using the time management and conflict resolution skills that I sharpened during the time I spent with my children. I’m sure these skills will greatly benefit your bottom line.
My mother was sick so I had to take care of her.
I spent the last two years as the primary caregiver to my mother who was diagnosed with a terminal form of breast cancer. During my time off I attended many appointments, treatments, and support groups with her. I learned a great deal about the disease and truly developed empathy and understanding for those going through treatments. I’m eager to bring this experience to this position which will help me understand and relate to your customers in a genuine way.
My last job burned me out.
In my previous industry the status quo was an 80 hour work week. In the summer of last year I decided that for the sake of my health and well-being I would take a sabbatical. After taking time to get to reconnect to my family and friends a little better I found that I truly enjoy working with teens and young adults. I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and found my true calling.
Do you notice a pattern here? The negative examples all sound like they are excuses, as if you are blaming someone else for your situation. In the positive examples, you put yourself in the driver’s seat and you show what you learned and gained from taking time off. This will set you apart from the masses and ensure that an employer will remember you for your abilities and not your excuses.
Written by Guest Blogger and CFEC Board Member:
Employment Coordinator, Orlando Office
Brevard Achievement Center
(repost for upcoming job fair) By #1 Best-Selling Author and Recruiter Scott Vedder
It’s always best to customize your résumé and explain exactly how your experience has prepared you for the specific qualifications listed in a job posting. That’s a key point I teach in my best-selling book, Signs of a Great Résumé. But what should you do when you’re attending a job fair where you’ll meet with lots of different employers? In a job fair setting, employers will know it’s nearly impossible for you to customize a cover letter and résumé for every single company in attendance. To quantify what makes you a great candidate for several prospective employers, you should showcase examples of your accomplishments and skills related to the most common requirements in your field.
Before you write your job fair résumé, search for online job postings roles related to the career you’re pursuing. Take a look at the qualifications that different companies require. You’ll likely find some common trends and frequently used terms which appear in job postings at several different companies. With this bit of research, you’ll be able to write a résumé that speaks for itself and a cover letter which addresses your qualifications to fulfill the most common needs of your desired career field.
Next, before going to the job fair, try to determine which companies will be represented. Take a look at the jobs these companies already have posted on their web sites. If there’s a specific opening for which you’d like to apply, customize a separate résumé and cover letter for that posting and bring it with you along with your job fair résumé. If there’s not one particular opening that appeals to you, consider how that company generally evaluates prospective candidates. What key words do they use in their job postings? What types of skills and leadership attributes do they value? What can you learn about their corporate culture and business priorities from their web site? Then customize a résumé for that company with those ideas in mind.
Consider making a list of the companies you know you want to approach at the job fair and write a customized cover letter for those prospective employers. Your cover letter should explain why you want to work for that specific company and can also indicate the general field for which you’re interested in applying. When you submit a customized cover letter with your job fair résumé, you’ll stand out from your competition. Remember, most other applicants, if they submit a cover letter at all, will be handing over form letters written “To Whom it May Concern,” and not to a specific employer.
In your job fair résumé and cover letters, be sure you use specific examples to quantify what makes you a great candidate in your field. Whether you’re attending a job fair or you’re applying for a single position, your résumé should always be full of !@$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé.
! - Any part of your experience that was "amazing!"
@ - Defining points, places, dates and things in your experience
# - Numbers that quantify and prove your past successes
$ - The dollar value of your contributions
% - Figures that easily show growth and results
When you write a résumé that’s full of !@$%, your résumé will speak for itself and you’ll be on your way to a successful job fair!
Scott Vedder is a Fortune 100 recruiter and the author of the #1 best-selling résumé book, Signs of a Great Résumé. Scott has taught thousands of students and job seekers in résumé workshops at high schools, colleges, universities and non-profit organizations across the country. Scott’s book has been endorsed as “Recommended Reading” by groups including the Central Florida Employment Council and the Central Florida Jobs Initiative. Scott has been recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management and has been featured as a career expert in nationally-syndicated newspaper columns, on international blogs and in dozens of live interviews on radio programs and television news. For free résumé and interview tips, visit http://scottvedder.com/freestuff.html
Volunteer Employment Counselor
Founder, Empower Creative Services, LLC
Hope for the Hurting
I feel betrayed, beaten.
I draw into my shell for protection.
How easily I retreat
to stay untouched.
I wrap myself in pity.
With my body rolled into an
impenetrable ball, my muscles grow
weak, my mind dim.
Lord, untangle me, please.
You were rejected by many.
I know you understand.
Fill my drained body
with energy and courage,
Help me to try again.
Lois M. Ludwig, Seattle, Washington
I’m a wounded soldier. How silly of me! I didn’t expect to get hurt when I picked up the cross to follow my Commander. He warned me that I would have to suffer with Him to be raised; that I would have die before I could truly live.
I didn’t count the cost beforehand; death didn’t even occur to me. Totally disregarding the enemy’s strong arsenal and my orders, I failed to put on the protective armor. With reckless abandon feeling confident that my Commander was fortunate to have me in His troop, I grabbed my slingshot of sincerity and stones of child-like faith rushing headlong to the front-line of battle. Assuming that ministry was a picnic, I was engaged in spiritual civil war.
My first reaction to being “shot” was shock and denial. I ran a few feet before falling helpless and numb. The pain was not as intense as I would have expected. The danger of the wound seemed minimal; hardly life threatening. Besides, the location and cause were embarrassing— imagine telling a physician that you were dumb enough to go to war without your armor!
So, I picked myself up, put on a Band-Aid, and persisted. I managed to fight a few more battles feeling relief when my wound scabbed over a bit. But one day, rampant infection burned and festered refusing to be unheeded! I wanted to mask my emotions, but I was bleeding like someone who had been riddled with a virtual machine gun.
It’s much more difficult, for me, to receive ministry than it is to give it. Suddenly, I’m not in control, but vulnerable and dependent. I hate the trauma of transparency! I don’t like to bleed on the floor and make a mess for someone else to clean up. Even now, with healing well on the way, battle fatigue keeps me very sensitive. If someone inadvertently touches my wound, I burst into tears: it’s so embarrassing. I desire the hurt to disappear quietly and the ghastly scar to fade. Crying, however, is a normal part of healing which God allows for our benefit and considers priceless.
Chuck Swindoll, in his precious book, For Those Who Hurt, says this about tears: “A teardrop on earth summons the King of Heaven. Rather than being ashamed or disappointed, the Lord takes note of our inner friction when hard times are oiled by tears. He turns these situations into moments of tenderness; He never forgets those crises in our lives where tears are shed.” Such comfort!
I see myself as one still on a stretcher. The stretcher has four poles. One is prayer; the second is the healing Word of My Commander; the third is the leave of absence for rest and relaxation (although I want to be active); and the fourth is the love of the fellow soldiers.
The first handle is my prayer journal which I’ve been keeping since I got “shot”. Most of the entries are embarrassing to me now. (In my confusion, I actually turned and started fighting my own army. Some friends were hurt before I was stopped.) It is wonderful to know that I can be completely honest with my Commander and Chief, Jesus. Nothing I say will cause Him to turn His back on me. The prayers of others on my behalf have obviously been answered, also.
The Word, the second handle is probably the most helpful. Really, it was right there all the time; I should not have been surprised. In James 1:2 – 4, J. B. Phillips paraphrased: “When all kinds of trials crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they have come to test your endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men (and women) of mature character . . .”
The third arm of R&R is very humbling. It’s hard to sit on the bench when you were once in the thick of battle. It seems like people are saying, “What’s wrong with you; are you lazy or backsliding?” But when I try to get up too soon, my wound reopens. So I sit and wait, not too patiently or gracefully, I’m afraid. Healing takes time and God gives us refreshment and room to mend our broken hearts.
This leads to the fourth pole, which is the love of my fellow soldiers. Oh, how I need acceptance and touch. I feel so unworthy and rejected, and as I said, my wound is still sensitive. I’m very thankful for faithful friends who are willing to overlook my grouchiness and self-pity and don’t take it personally when I bark and wince. One precious lesson they’ve taught me is what comfort and compassion are. I used to think that people wanted answers for the questions asked in crisis: “Why me?”, “Why now?”, “Why this?” But grief doesn’t respond to pious platitudes, however true they may be, except as healing makes its long procession. Joseph Bayly in “A View from a Hearse” said, “Don’t try to “prove” anything to a survivor. An arm around the shoulder, a firm grip of the hand, a kiss: these are the proofs grief needs, not logical reasoning.”
Hebrews 11, Faiths Hall of Fame is full of stories about real people like you and me who have experienced and, best of all, survived suffering, fear, temptation, loss of friends, family and support, failure and yes; even death. Hebrews 11:13 says they were all “controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it form a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth.”
I may not belong in that famous group yet, but I have learned that there is certainly no one with a better offer than the grace of God through Jesus Christ (whom I lean on desperately). Therefore, with Job I say, “Why should I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my own hands: though He slay me, yet shall I trust Him”. Although sometimes discouraged, I echo Simon Peter, “To whom shall I go? You alone have the Words of eternal life, and I believe and am sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus Christ was offered to us not only as our Savior, but as a role model. Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:21). I think that must have been in the small print. If you are feeling that way now, you are not alone.
As C. S. Lewis said, “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket (safe, dark, motionless, airless) it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy or at least to the risk of tragedy is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
I believe that my needs were ignored, had a pity-party, questioned God, and blame-shifted. That didn’t bother my Commander-and-Chief at all; He wasn’t offended. Instead, He met me where I was and listened patiently. He spoke to me from His written Word and through fellow soldiers. He gave me room and time to adjust to the changes in my life. Like the man in the famous “Footprints” poem, I am so glad to say that when I have only seen one set of footprints in the sand of my life, I know that it is because He has carried me. I would not change the course He has for me because I trust my Savior with the life He has given me. Although still not thrilled with all my circumstances, my position on this Solid Rock is just fine.
What will the outcome of this situation be? Just what the Master promised in the beginning: first, there must be a crucifixion; then a resurrection. He first must bring His warriors to the place of realizing that we cannot accomplish this mission of salvation on our own… He does not share His glory with clay. A. W. Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
I want to encourage you not to waste your sorrows. Remember, above all, that God loves you and keeps His promises. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is there when the pain is too great for you to believe it. He will not even leave if you tell him to. “For He (god himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up, nor leave you without support [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you nor let [you] down, (relax my hold on you). Assuredly not! So, we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, I will not be seized with alarm; I will not fear or dread or be terrified. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5:6, Amplified)
© Copyright 2015 Chris Hammett
If you have made a New Year’s resolution for 2015, you are part of the estimated 40% of Americans who have done so. In comparison, roughly 1/3 of Americans watch the Super Bowl. So more Americans make resolutions each year than watch the Super Bowl. Yet despite the good intentions, research conducted by the University of Scranton shows a mere 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals.
Well…that’s a topic for another post.
But it might help to consider the most common New Year’s Resolutions. As documented by USA.gov, three of the most common resolutions among Americans are: losing weight, managing debt, and getting a better job.
If one of your New Year's resolutions is to find a job or earn a better position, let me help you become one of the elite 8% that actually achieves your 2015 goal.
Job seeking in the Digital Age requires you to discover, develop and deliver your personal brand to the world. Put simply, your personal brand is your unique promise of value. A strong personal brand can help you land your dream job, earn a promotion, or make a successful career transition. It is what allows you to stand out from all other candidates in the mind of the decision makers or those in your network.
While there is no shortage to personal branding tools to help you build your brand’s presence online and off, here are 3 of my favorite tools to help you build your personal brand in 2015.
Social media is not, I repeat, NOT a fad. Social media is not going away. Yes, the tools/ platforms of social media will change but the concept of connecting and building relationships online will never fade away. If Facebook falls, market demands will cultivate another platform to take its place. LinkedIn has managed to brand itself as THE professional social network in more than 200 countries. LinkedIn grew from 259 million users in Q3 2013 to 332 million users in Q3 2014. That is more than 28% growth in users in 1-year.
To help users develop personal brands on their social network, LinkedIn created the 9-a-Day tool. This tool makes creating your profile and building your network uber easy. It is designed to empower you by providing the insights and techniques to get ahead in your industry in just 9 minutes a day. You can customize your 9-a-day plan with the drag and drop features. Once you are satisfied, simply export your plan to your personal calendar (the tool is compatible with iCal, Outlook, and Google).
According to LinkedIn, they "consulted experts and professionals across the globe, and found that spending just 9 minutes a day, and no more, developing your ‘at work’ brand, could keep you better informed and make you better at what you do. 9-minutes can be slotted easily into your day, and it gives you complete focus."
Link to Tool: http://www.linkedin-9aday.com/
When making decisions, we use both rational and emotional thoughts, but research has shown that emotions play the primary role in final decisions. Antonio Damasio, M.D., heads the department of neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. Antonio’s studies found that, “pure thought untainted by emotion and other "lower" mental functions is less useful than commonly supposed. The brain often "decides" among alternatives by "marking" one alternative as more emotionally salient than another.”
Storytelling is the best way to touch the emotional triggers that inspire someone to make a decision in your favor. Sure you could share statistics, job duties and data points with hiring managers but telling them your story will leave a lasting impression; one that allows you to stand out from the other qualified candidates.
SlideShare partnered with LinkedIn to bring professionals a visual storytelling application guaranteed to give job seeker’s a leg up on the competition. This new app allows even the most technologically inept job seeker to create a visually stimulating version of their career journey with a single click!
Make sure to update your LinkedIn profile completely before creating your visual career journey. Add as much information and multimedia pieces as possible and then create your masterpiece!
Link to Tool: https://www.slideshare.net/professional-journey
Long before an employer meets you in person, they will meet you online. First impressions in the 21st century consist of what I call “digital handshakes”. This is when a potential employer searches for you online before they meet you for an interview or networking event. Therefore, however Google sees you is exactly how your potential employer or professional contact will see you.
Say you share the same name as a convicted felon. His/her mug shot is now representing your name (your personal brand) online. Granted, this is an extreme example but this does happen. If you don’t show up in a Google search, then you don’t exist. Sad but true. Think about it – how many times have you searched for local restaurants on Google and went to the most favorable option that appeared? How many times did you patronize the restaurants that did not appear? Just like a business, your target audience needs to first know you exist and second believe you can add value to their lives in some way.
The perfect tool to help you proactively manage your personal brand online is the Reach Online ID Calculator. It is free to use and within 5 minutes you have a report that tells you just how strong or weak your online personal brand really is. It even gives you suggestions as to how to improve your online identity, which is rated by your brand’s Volume, Relevance, Purity, Diversity, and Validation within search engine results pages.
Link to Tool: http://www.onlineidcalculator.com/index.php
Although the tools listed above are incredibly powerful and can certainly help you build your personal brand in 2015, habit forming will inevitably decide whether or not you are successful in achieving your new year’s resolutions. I’ve found the studies to be true that indicate it takes 21 days to form a new habit, which is why I am recommending you use this tool to form habits that strengthen your online presence in 2015.
21Habit is a digital motivational coach that emails you each day to remind you of the habit you are trying to form. The email reminders are interactive such that you answer YES or NO to if you completed the habit that day. The tool records your answers and provides a calendar at the conclusion of 21 days that shows how well you stuck to your plan.
If you are really committed to improving your personal brand in 2015, I recommend using the “Committed Mode”, which is a brilliant concept. According to 21Habit, “you invest $21 towards your 21-day challenge. Each day you succeed you get $1 back. Each day you fail or do not check in you forfeit $1 which 21Habit donates to one of several charities.” Now that’s motivation!
Link to Tool: http://www.21habit.com/
What’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2015? Keep us posted on your progress. To a productive year ahead!
Author: Ryan Mickley, Career Advisor at DeVry University
Called to cultivate servant leaders, Ryan helps young professionals discover, define and deliver their gifts to the world. He is 1 of 20 Master Certified Personal Branding Strategists worldwide and is the youngest person to ever earn this status. Educational institutions have asked Ryan to speak on topics pertaining to professional development and content marketing, most notably DeVry University, Full Sail University, University of Central Florida and the Drop Back In Academy. With extensive experience in producing informative programs, Ryan has been practicing content marketing for over 5 years. Clients have expressed appreciation for his welcoming demeanor and ability to simplify and explain complex issues, which he attributes to the years he spent in the hospitality industry.
In 2014, Ryan joined the Career Services Team at DeVry University in Orlando, Florida. He serves students and graduates from the College of Business & Management and the College of Media Arts & Technology.
By Scott Vedder - #1 Best-Selling Author and Résumé Expert
April 13th marks the 271st birthday of Thomas Jefferson. Often called the "Father of the Declaration of Independence," Jefferson gave some fatherly advice to his granddaughter including the famous quote, "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." That's also great advice for job seekers. The best time to start writing a résumé is today.
Don't put off writing your résumé until you see your dream job posted tomorrow... or the next day, or next week! Today is the best day to start writing a résumé full of !@#$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé:
! - Any part of your experience that was “amazing!”
@ - Defining points, places, dates and things in your career
# - Numbers that quantify and prove your past successes
$ - The dollar value of your contributions
% - Figures that easily show growth and results
It is critical that you customize your résumé for each job application. However, you can start writing your résumé today, beginning with your core skills and most significant accomplishments. Then you can customize it to directly align to the qualifications listed in each job posting.
For example, Thomas Jefferson may have started writing his Summary of Qualifications by highlighting his outstanding written and verbal communication skills. We hold the truth that he was a great communicator to be self-evident. And in addition to writing the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s résumé would surely include the fact that he spoke four or five languages!
If TJ started writing a résumé to apply for a leadership role in government land acquisition, he’d likely describe one of his most significant accomplishments, the Louisiana Purchase, using !@#$%, the Signs of a Great Résumé. Perhaps he’d write:
"Increased the size of the continental United States by nearly 100% through the $15 million purchase of 828,000 square miles of land."
That’s certainly an “amazing!” achievement which is explained and quantified with lots of !@#$%. If Jefferson applied for a position where the job posting also required experience negotiating international treaties he could customize the statement on his résumé to match the posting:
"Negotiated an international treaty to increase the size of the continental United States by nearly 100% through the $15 million purchase of 828,000 square miles of land."
By customizing his résumé based on the job posting and using !@#$%, Thomas Jefferson would be writing a résumé that speaks for itself.
From the early days of the militia that won the American Revolution to today's modern military, Americans have enjoyed life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness thanks in large part to the brave military men and women who have proudly served our country. I'm sure Thomas Jefferson and all of our Founding Fathers would encourage you to support our nation's veterans. Jefferson did his part to prepare and support our service members when he signed the Military Peace Establishment Act to create the United States Military Academy at West Point. One way you can support our nation's military veterans today is to join our Indiegogo campaign to help 2,000 veterans, transitioning service member and military spouses get to work. You can send deserving veterans a copy of Signs of a Great Résumé: Veterans Edition and help them find a great new job in the civilian sector. Don’t put it off until tomorrow, contribute today.
Jefferson loved to read. In a letter written in 1809, Jefferson said "I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books." I'm grateful that the Central Florida Employment Council has identified a few "well chosen" books to help job seekers and has recognized Signs of a Great Résumé and Signs of a Great Résumé: Veterans Edition as recommended reading.
In an 1815 letter to John Adams, Jefferson said "I cannot live without books." When you write a résumé that's full of !@#$%, you'll wonder how your résumé ever lived without at least one book... Signs of a Great Résumé.
Scott Vedder is a Fortune 100 recruiter and author of the #1 best-selling book, Signs of a Great Résumé and Signs of a Great Résumé: Veterans Edition. Scott has been recognized by the White House and Pentagon as an expert on veteran résumés. He’s taught thousands job seekers in résumé workshops at colleges, universities, conferences, veteran service organizations, military installations and non-profits across the country. Scott has been featured as a career expert in national and international media. For free résumé and interview tips, visit http://www.authorscottvedder.com/free-stuff-.html.
5,647 was the number of applications I had submitted online, or at least that is how many it felt like. Fresh out of college and ready to start my career, I was in a new city and felt like I was banging my head against the wall searching for a job. Surely my spray and pray application method would pay off eventually, right? I did have a college degree after all. After several months of job searching without much traction, I stumbled upon the silver bullet of the job search: the informational interview. Whether you are just starting your career, like I was, are considering a new field, or are just seeking out a job, the informational interview is a great step to succeeding in your search.
My strategy for conducting the informational interview was four-fold. First, have a compelling reason for meeting with the person you contact. I was a recent college graduate who had just moved to the area and was interested in learning more about the local nonprofit sector. Your situation may be different than mine, but that does not mean you do not have a unique reason as to why someone should sit down with you. Maybe you are interested in learning more about a specific field or want to find out what it takes to be in your new contact’s position. Whatever it is, do not make it about the fact that you are job searching. Let that fact come out naturally. Mentioning it before you have even sat down will tie the person’s hands and make it tough to get appointments with people.
Second, keep it short. Only ask for 15 to 20 minutes of their time and was sure to keep that promise during the meeting. If the meeting goes longer, make sure it is on their terms and not because you forgot to keep an eye on the time. People are busy, so asking for only 15 to 20 minutes of their time makes it more manageable for them and more likely that they will meet with you.
Third, ask questions about them. Do not make it about yourself. You are there to find out more about them, their background, and the field they are in. Listening is an excellent skill to develop and communicates that you are genuinely interested in the person across from you. Plus, most people love to talk about themselves. Your ability to ask the right questions and actually listen to the answers will speak volumes about yourself without saying a word.
Finally, do not get out of that chair until the person you are meeting with has given you 2 to 3 more people with which to meet. In order to keep the ball rolling, you need to continually meet new people. In addition, with their permission, you can use their name as your compelling reason for meeting with your next contact, saying, “I recently met with John to learn more about the field, and he recommended I meet with you. Can I have 15 to 20 minutes of your time this week?”
Conducting informational interviews will expand your network and help you to learn about the community and industry you are pursuing. Not to mention getting out and meeting new people will boost your morale tremendously after sitting on the couch endlessly churning out applications to no avail. But how does it help you find a job? The people you meet with will have a pulse on the local job market and will likely know of openings in the field. If not, they will know somebody who does. Even though your meetings are not about the fact that you are job searching, it will likely come up organically. Even if it does not, you can reach out to your contacts later if you see they are connected to a position you are interested in for a reference or advice on your application.
If you are stuck in your job search, connect with people through the informational interview. Consider it a useful tool to add to your toolbox of job search skills. In my experience, limited as it may be, landing the right job really is all about who you know. The informational interview is a great way to quickly expand your network and gain some traction in what can be a difficult and discouraging job search.
CFEC Guest Blogger for Job Seekers in Central Florida:
"Do you have vague, childhood memories of milk being delivered to your door? Can you recall when your Mom would bring your shoes to be fixed at the shoe maker on Main Street and you might get a Root Beer float at the counter at Woolworth’s afterward? Was your older sister learning to type on an IBM Selectric so she could get that great job after she graduated high school?
Did you think when you choose your career as a young adult that you would work in that field until you retired and are now finding out that’s not quite true? As a job-seeker over 45 years of age, loaded with experience and wisdom, are you finding it hard to get a good-paying job (or any job)? Are you discouraged? Then this segment is for you (honestly, it’s for everyone).
Our time together will be fun and productive. We will explore what it takes to overcome your obstacles, how you can present your added value to a potential employer and how to effectively position yourself for a good paying job in a difficult job market through branding. Laugh if you must, but let me ask you this: ”What brand of bottled water do you buy?” You think about that until we meet together."
To find out more about this great topic by Tracy E. Trimblett, Consultant join us Thursday evening, April 3, 2014 from 6-9pm for our Re-Charge and Re-Energize Your Job Search Seminar© in the fellowship hall at College Park Baptist Church 1914 Edgewater Dr., Orlando, FL 32804.
Guest Blogger for Job Seekers:
Tracy E. Trimblett, Consultant