Just Awarded Reach Certified Online Identity Strategist

Managing your online identity has become so critical that I eagerly signed up for this certification program presented by William Arruda as  soon as I heard about it. While I try to keep up to date on new media, it’s an ever changing landscape with new applications continually emerging. The course was fascinating and covered a structured approach that included evaluating, diagnosing, planning, implementing and measuring.

Some of the stats provided included:

  • Microsoft, 2009 — 79% of US hiring managers and recruiters reviewed online information about job applicants.
  • Microsoft, 2009 —  70% rejected candidates based on what they found.
  • Hill & Knowlton — 87% believe the CEO’s reputation is an important part of a company’s reputation.

The online venues provide an opportunity for executives to position themselves as a thought leader. It’s also a critical tool for ongoing career marketing and management.

Howard Nestler, CEO of Executive Options states: “The greater the visibility enjoyed by an executive, the greater the value of his or her compensation…an executive can increase the amount of his or her compensation by increasing one statistic; the number of CEOs and decision-makers in a sector that are aware of the executive’s accomplishments. The typical executive sees himself or herself as an employee and not as a brand.”

I’ll be writing more about these topics in the weeks to come to help you increase your visibility.

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How to Improve Your Response Rate

In this highly competitive market, it’s critical that your resume and cover letter be specifically geared toward a specific opportunity. One size does not fit all! Customized marketing documents are crucial for senior-level executives.

Following are several areas that will need to be customized:

Function – It’s critical to target your resume to the functional role you’re pursuing. Recruiters are looking for a specific candidate. Portraying yourself too broadly sends a message that you are desperate. While broad and diverse functional experience across all phases of the business can be an asset, it is important to target your resume for the opportunity you are currently pursuing.

  • If you are pursuing multiple job titles (for example, COO, CFO, CIO, and/or general manager), you need more than one version of your resume. In this competitive environment, you need one resume for each function unless the position description specifically requires a combination of two functions (for example, CFO/COO). While you shouldn’t eliminate all the information about the other functional areas, you should emphasize one function more prevalently than the others.
  • If you have extensive experience in just one function, focus on the depth and breadth of your experience. Within your profile, position yourself as an expert in your function.

Industry – Executive search consultants and corporate recruiters look for candidates with industry experience. Within your profile, list your industry experience as it relates to a particular opportunity.

  • If you are changing industries, research each industry in which you have an interest and create a resume for each industry. Familiarize yourself with their lexicon of buzzwords, lingo, expressions and terminology, as well as their unique concerns, challenges and trends. Explore the industry’s trade associations, publications and conferences. Note the topics being addressed as these will be related to the challenges and concerns the industry is facing as well as the trends and direction in which the industry is headed. Translate your experience and qualifications to fit the target industry.
  • If you have industry experience, focus on depth and breadth of your experience.

Size of company – Executive search consultants and recruiters search for candidates who have worked in a company whose size compares to the size of the company they are representing. Make sure your resume includes the company size.

  • If you have worked in corporations that are significantly larger than the target corporation, consider omitting the size of the entire company and focus on the size of a division or business unit that would be more relevant to the size of the target corporation.
  • If you have worked in companies that are considerably smaller than the target company, perhaps you could focus on the size of the larger parent company, if applicable. If that’s not an option, you may want to focus more on their industry ranking, competitive intelligence, ground-breaking efforts, or other areas that may be appealing to the target company.

Profit & Loss or Budget Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have held financial responsibility similar to that of the position they are filling. If you have not defined the size of the profit and loss responsibility you have held or the size of the budget you have managed, consider adding that information.

  • If you have managed P&Ls and budgets much larger than the recruiter’s company, consider leaving out the size of the financials for the entire company and instead focus on the financial figures of a division, business unit, group or project in which you were involved.
  • If you have managed P&Ls and budgets smaller than the recruiter’s company, consider focusing on how the P&L and budget has grown during your tenure to demonstrate that you manage growth or consider focusing on your participation in the parent company’s budget, if applicable.

Staff Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have led and managed teams similar in size to the company they are representing.

  • If you have led and managed teams much larger than the company is requiring, you may want to mention your number of direct reports versus the total size of the team.
  • If you have not managed teams of a similar size, you could include the number of people impacted by your role or the number of people you influence despite the fact that they don’t directly report to you.

Local, National, International Experience – Recruiters scan your resume to see if you have worked at companies with a similar geographic focus.

  • If the recruiter is representing a regional or national company, you should tweak your resume to reflect the same type of geographical territory.
  • If your resume focuses heavily on international experience, you may want to tone down the international experience by eliminating a few references to other countries.

Other comparisons recruiters consider include the company’s customer classification, industry ranking, company culture, products and services.

The goal is to create a resume that aligns with as many of the company’s requirements as you can. In some instances you may need to tone down the resume so you don’t appear over qualified and in other instances you may need to up-scale your resume to match the requirements.

While this is a great deal of work, you will eventually develop a portfolio of targeted resumes that you can use repeatedly for similar types of positions.

The bottom line: It will increase your response rate.

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How to Position Being Fired When Interviewing

FiredGetting fired is one of the most stressful events that can occur in an executive’s career. It generally brings up a lot of negative emotions relating to one’s value and sense of their self worth. The first thing to do is evaluate the reason you were fired. Was this a matter of redundancy created by an acquisition/merger, incompatibility between you and someone in the company, corporate bureaucracy, or was this a result of your inability to do the job? If it was the former, there’s most likely nothing you can do about those matters, however if it was the latter, you may want to consider pursuing leadership coaching or a training program. It’s important to be clear about the reason before you start interviewing.

Give yourself some time to come to terms with the initial shock and regroup. The typical emotional cycle involves panic and fear, shock and disbelief, anger and depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance. Being aware of your emotional state can help you move through the process more quickly. If you find yourself stuck in one of these cycles, be sure to seek professional help.

A few questions you can ask yourself include: “How can I look at this in a positive light?” “What good can come of this?” “How could this be an opportunity for change and growth?” “In what way is this a blessing?” Write down the answers to these questions and review them frequently to help you regain and maintain a positive frame of mind.

When you interview, volunteer the fact that you were fired. Being proactive about the matter will demonstrate your integrity and fortitude. You’ll want to speak about it factualy, without any resentment or remorse. Honesty is the best policy. In this economic environment, you most likely won’t be grilled too harshly due to the severe cutbacks that have occurred.

Keep your explanation regarding why you were fired brief and to the point. Provide a high-level reason for your departure. Don’t go into a long, rambling story. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail. Keep your explanation positive and do not blame anyone or say anything negative about the company, your boss, or anyone in the company.

If the firing was a result of the company’s immoral or illegal activities that you refused to participate in, you might say: “There were some activities being endorsed that were incongruent with my values. I’ll provide more detail once we decide if this position is a good fit. At this point, I feel it would be inappropriate to share the company’s internal operating policies.

If the firing was your fault, provide a high-level explanation followed by what you learned from the incident and what you’ll do differently in the future. Being able to reflect on something that went wrong and learn from your mistakes is a sign of a true leader. If you’ve taken some steps to insure this incident won’t happen again or enrolled in a program to develop advanced skills, share this with the interviewer as well.

Crafting a strategy in advance and offering a compelling success story complete with a strong value proposition will help you conquer the glitch.

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8 Tips on Coping with Rejection

Whether you receive a rejection call, letter or email, or no response at all, it is important to remember that rejection is not a reflection of your self-worth. It may take many rejections before you win an offer.

Learning how to deal with rejection will keep you from sinking into a place of immobilizing despair that prevents forward motion.

Sigmund Freud said, “Sometimes when we are going through pains of rejection, it feels like a global conspiracy.” Those pains of rejection may include sadness, frustration, anger, uselessness and unworthiness. The main reason we see rejection as pain is because we see it as loss of control and most of us fear loss of control. Fortunately, there are things we can do that can help us handle rejection with dignity and purpose.

1. Be aware of your reaction to rejection. In an article on LifeScript.com, Liz Davis writes, “Being rejected can feel like an outright violation of our expectations, which is why many of us feel offended when we are rejected. When the rejection is very painful or unexpected, it can be scary, making us feel as though the world we live in is unsafe and malevolent. When things do not go the way we expect, we often feel devastated and powerless, especially if we are very attached to a particular outcome.”

Recognize your thoughts and emotions and realize that it is what you do in response to these thoughts and emotions that determines how you feel about yourself and your job search. You need to acknowledge the rejection, harness your thoughts, and realize that this is part of the process and you’re going to receive several rejections before you win your next position.

2. Talk to people you trust. Feelings of rejection may cause you to want to isolate yourself from others to protect yourself from further pain and damage to your ego. However, this will only feed the negative emotions of rejection. So be sure to connect with others—perhaps your mentor, career coach, a job search group, a religious group or close friends.

3. Don’t take it personally. It’s business. In most cases rejection in a job search is more about the company than it is about you. Hiring managers fear making a mistake that will cost the company money and are being extremely cautious. They are rejecting candidates who don’t appear to be a perfect fit, in essentially every category. While you may feel you exceed the requirements posted in the job description, perhaps not all of the requirements were disclosed. Alternatively, there may have been an internal candidate that they wanted to promote into the position and posting the position was a requirement of the organization.

4. Ask the interviewer for constructive feedback. Ask him/her what qualifications, credentials or experience you were missing. If you feel you were 100 percent qualified, ask the interviewer what qualifications the selected candidate had that won him/her the position. While it’s too late to defend your candidacy if you have the qualifications mentioned, it may give you some insight into what qualifications you need to articulate more clearly in your next interview.

5. Avoid over thinking the rejection. Don’t beat yourself up. Realize you are not the perfect candidate for every position you may pursue and you may never know the reason why. Take a minute to reflect on the last time you hired someone: Did you spell out every single qualification and credential you wanted for the position? Most likely you only communicated the most important ones. Then, during the interview you drilled down on details and identified the perfect candidate while also considering if this candidate would be a good fit and if you could work with him/her.

6. Take action and get moving. Control the controllables. Increase and expand your network and job search activities. Understand that this is going to take aggressive action and you don’t have time to worry about recruiters and hiring managers who don’t understand the value you bring to the company or are too consumed with doubt and fear to make a decision.

Sylvester Stallone, the actor, stated, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.”

Earl G. Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, stated “We keep going back, stronger, not weaker, because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way.”

7. Develop stories to overcome any objections before they are raised. If you know there is an objection that employers will have, develop a way to present information that will overcome and dispel the objection before it comes up.

8. Take care of yourself. Get plenty of exercise to help you relieve stress. Write down all of your accomplishments and major contributions to every employer. Write down your greatest challenges and how you handled them. Write about a time when you were asked to take on a totally new role and how you handled it. Create a list of your talents and skill sets. Review and add to these entries frequently. This record will help you concentrate on your value and will most likely come in handy during an interview.

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How To Ensure You Achieve Your Goals

Planning and goal-setting are the keys to success in every aspect of your life, including your career. A Harvard study revealed that 83 percent of those surveyed had no goals; 14 percent had goals, but no written plan; and 3 percent had written goals.

The 14 percent with goals but no written plans earned three times more than those with no goals. The 3 percent with written goals earned ten times more than those with no goals!

Many experts have written about the process of effectively setting goals using the S.M.A.R.T. model. The acrostic S.M.A.R.T. has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting:

S – Specific
M – Measurable / Meaningful / Motivational
A – Attainable / Assignable / Achievable / Acceptable / Action-Oriented
R – Realistic / Rewarding / Relevant / Reasonable / Results-Oriented
T – Timely Time-Based /Tangible / Tangible / Trackable

SMART Goal Setting Process

1) Write down your goal in positive terms. Break it down, make it concrete and create an implementation intention (a statement defining when and where each specific activity will be performed).

When you actually write down a goal, it is as if you are programming it into your subconscious mind and activating a whole series of mental powers that will enable you to accomplish more than you dreamed. By writing it down, you intensify your desire for the goal and increase your belief that it is possible.

2) Identify why this goal is important to you. Write down why you want this goal and how it aligns with your values. Go deep into this exercise, don’t stop with one reason. Continue drilling down by asking yourself, “So, why do I want that”… and again, “So, why do I want that”. List at least 10 reasons “why” you want this goal. Then, visualize yourself having achieved your goal.

3) Set a deadline. If it’s a large goal, set a series of sub-deadlines. A deadline acts as a “forcing system” on your subconscious mind and begins to move you toward your goal rapidly.

4) List the obstacles you will have to overcome. Think of everything that might stand in your way and decide what you can do about each obstacle. Develop a plan to reduce the influence of each obstacle and increase the chances that you will be successful in reaching your goal.

5) Make a comprehensive list of all the resources you will need to reach your goal. This may include a coach, consultant, expert, or group of people. It may include organizations, events, books, equipment, support staff, etc.

6) Share your goal with another person for accountability, help and support. However, do not share your goal with anyone who might sabotage your goal or even shed a shadow of a doubt on your initiative and goal.

7) Get into action. Pay attention to your goals and monitor your activity. The “Momentum Principle,” articulated by Sir Isaac Newton, states, “a body in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.” Never let a day go by without engaging in some action that helps you move another step in the direction of what you really want in life.

8) Define a reward for achieving the goal as well as a reward for achieving the intermediary milestones required to get there.

Here’s a witty 5-minute video by Zig Ziglar where he explains his goal setting process.
http://www.nightingale.com/offers/goals.html

Roadblocks To Watch Out For

Fear of Failure – While trial and error is usually the primary means of solving life’s problems, many people are afraid to embark on the trial because they’re afraid of experiencing the error. They believe that error is wrong and detrimental, when most of it is both helpful and essential. Error supplies the feedback that paves the way to success. The Law of Feedback states: there is no failure; there is only feedback.

Fear of Success — Fear of success can be just as paralyzing as fear of failure. Some people fear success because it tests their limits and puts them at risk in new situations. Success can expose weaknesses and force people to deal with their imperfections. Success can be scary because it involves change. Some people fear success because they’re afraid they don’t have what it takes to rise to the challenge.

Analysis Paralysis -– Analysis paralysis is where you fail to take action because you’re over thinking the details and continually running “what if” scenarios. It is a potent killer to reaching your goals. While you need to plan and do some analysis, monitor the process to see if the preparation and analysis add real value and provide the framework for action — or are they just stalling your action.

Having Too Many Goals –- While it is okay to have more than one goal, prioritize your goals and focus on just one goal at a time. When one goal is completed, you can move on to the next.

Lack of Motivation to Change — Change and goal attainment only happen when you’re ready to break the barriers and you decide you truly want something better in life. Wanting to do something and motivating yourself to actually do it are two different things. Self-motivation is the force that keeps pushing us to go on – it’s our internal drive to achieve, produce, develop, and keep moving forward. So be sure that your goals feel motivating to you … otherwise you most likely won’t be successful in achieving them.

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16 Tips for Video & Webcam Interviewing

Video interviewing is a cost effective alternative employers can use to meet with prospective candidates, particularly in our current economic situation. A good quality video interview can be as effective as an in-person interview and there are several benefits to conducting interviews via video conferencing. In addition to saving travel expenses, the company will also be able to share the candidate’s responses with other decision makers and will be able to replay the interview to review key points that may have slipped his/her mind.

In addition to your typical process for preparing for an interview, you will want to prepare for the video session as well. Following are some tips in preparing yourself and your location for a video interview:

Video Conference Interview

  1. If you’ll be going to a business center for the interview, visit the facility where it will be taking place and ask for a tour of the video conferencing area.
  2. Ask for a demonstration of the equipment so you can gain an understanding of the equipment and process. Ask the technician what type of mike she will use and how she will mike you.
  3. Ask the business center for a tip sheet on video conferencing nuisances.
  4. While there will most likely be a screen where you can see the interviewers, you will want to speak directly to the camera so that it appears you are speaking to the interviewer.
  5. When touring the facility, consider privacy issues as you will most likely be asked some confidential or personal questions. Ask the operators how this will be handled.
  6. Also consider potential distracting background noise such as printers, copiers, fax machines and such and ask if and how this might be controlled.
  7. Position your materials in close proximity to the camera so that when you glance at your notes, you will not appear to be looking away from the camera. Some video conferencing rooms are set up much like a TV studio with teleprompters for your notes, however some are not nearly as sophisticated.
  8. Dress professionally. Although it is likely that you will only be seen from the waist up, you should be dressed as you would for an in-person interview.

Web Cam Interviewing

  1. If asked to interview using a web cam, prepare your surrounding area. Choose an area with a neutral background and adjust the lighting in the room. Make sure the areas in front of, around you and behind you are clear, and that the entire room is clean and orderly.
  2. Remove all potentially distracting noises. The microphone on a webcam can magnify the slightest sound, so turn off your mobile phone and unplug any other phones. While you will need to have your computer speakers turned on, be sure you don’t have any webpages or programs open that emit sounds or play audio.
  3. Prior to the interview, close your office windows to prevent exterior noise, and let people know you are not to be disturbed.
  4. Check that the chair you are sitting in does not squeak. If it is a swivel chair, do not swivel during the interview and sit upright at all times.
  5. If using a laptop, make sure your battery is fully charged.
  6. If using Skype, you may experience some time-lag when you’re talking. Make sure you talk clearly so your voice will be easily picked up by the microphone.
  7. Test your equipment and practice using your webcam before the interview. Schedule a time a day or two before the interview with the company’s technical specialist to test connectivity with the company’s equipment. Be sure to ask the person scheduling the interview to schedule this appointment as well.
  8. View yourself from different angles and decide on the best angle to appear on camera. Practice speaking calmly and clearly. It’s a good idea to have someone critique your practice video.

It’s important to remember that a video or webcam interview is a “real” interview. Your answers will be weighed and selection decisions will be made based on your answers and your on-camera presence. So be sure to practice. Practice using the technology AND practice your introduction, your responses, your value proposition statements, and your accomplishment stories.

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7 Fast & Easy Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Network

Both Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone and Harvey McKay, author of Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty recommend that you build your network before you need it and keep in touch with your network on an ongoing basis. They also recommend that you periodically connect with each of your contacts to keep abreast of their initiatives and share yours.

To do this efficiently and effortlessly, you will want to enter or import your contacts into an electronic database. You might want to use a professional contact management system like JibberJobber or a professional customer relationship management system like ACT! or Goldmine. You want to have the capability to enter contact information, miscellaneous notes and dates that are important to you and your contacts. You will also want the ability to schedule alerts to remind you when to reach out to your contacts.

Following are a few ideas you may want to embrace to keep in touch with your network.

1) Send out a newsletter through your email client that tells people what you’re up to. If your contacts don’t hear from you on a regular basis they will assume that you no longer need their help… or that you’re no longer interested in helping them. Your newsletter doesn’t need to be a fancy HTML version like this one, just a basic text format that you send out through your email client is fine. Of course, if you have hundreds in your network you might want to consider using an e-news service provider such as AWeber.com, ConstantContact.com, Emma or a similar newsletter distribution program. They charge a small monthly fee depending on the size of your list. If you have a website or blog you might want to consider PHPLIST, an open-source (f’re’e) newsletter manager that runs on your web server.

2) Invite your contacts to join you on LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter. Between newsletters, use these sites to broadcast a brief, 140-character message regarding your status. Your newsletter will allow you to communicate your thoughts and status in detail and the 140-character postings will allow you to keep people up to date on a more frequent basis.

3) Send a link to your contact when you see their name mentioned on the Internet. This may be an article or press release that quotes or features them. It might be an announcement for an award they received, a speaking engagement, a tournament they won, or a charitable contribution.

To make this easy, you can set up a Google alert for each of your contact’s names. Google will send you an email with a link to where your contact’s name has recently been posted on the Internet. Then you can email the link to your contact with a few comments.

4) Send links to information your contact would enjoy reading about or information that would be valuable to them.

To help you effortlessly find this type of information, set up a Google alert for key words or phrases. Google will send you an email daily with new information that has been posted on the Internet that includes the key words you choose. Then all you need to do is copy and paste the link into an email and send it to your contact.

5) Send greeting cards for important business and personal dates in their lives. These might be employment anniversaries, graduation dates, certification dates, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, children’s birthdays, etc.

SendOutCards.com has made this really easy. You can log into the site, pick a card, write a  message, and send a printed greeting card with your personal message. They print it, stuff it, and mail it for you. All you need to do is set up your contact management system to alert you to the dates.

6) For your contacts who publish a blog, post a few sentences on their blog occasionally. While this is a public forum where you will not want to post personal information, it allows you to remain top of mind with your contact and his network. To make it easy, you can sign up for an RSS feed that will deliver their blog postings to your email in-box so you don’t have to visit their site daily.

7) Pick up the phone and call your contacts at least every three to four months.

And a few that are not as easy, but are very effective:

8) Attend association meetings and trade shows where you can connect with hundreds of your contacts in a condensed time frame.

9) Before leaving on a on business trip, send an email to your contacts to see who you might want to meet with at your destination. Keith Ferrazzi recommends that you should never eat alone. Even if you can only carve out 45 minutes in your schedule, see who you might connect with.

10) Create a blog and invite all of your contacts to sign up for your feeds and post comments.

Harvey McKay states, “Network as if your life depended on it, because it does.” While I’m not so sure your “life” depends on it, your “career” certainly does.

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How 55+ Year-Olds Can Compete in Today’s Job Market

Given that the recession has caused many executives to continue working longer than they had originally planned and countless early retirees to return to the workforce, I’m frequently asked questions about how to thwart age discrimination. Following are a few recommendations on your voice and attitude, appearance, health, technology and your resume to help you overcome the barrier.

Voice & Attitude

Be cognizant of your voice during a telephone interview. Is it monotone, dull and lifeless or do you sound like you are full or energy and enthusiasm. Practice infusing your voice with more liveliness, energy and passion.

Be cognizant of your attitude. If you are feeling sarcastic, angry or resentful about a recent lay off, others will pick up on your negative attitude and avoid you. You might want to consider meeting with a counselor, therapist, religious leader or someone who can help you process your emotions. Be sure to get yourself into a positive state of mind before an interview (telephone or live).

Watch your step. Do you mope along and drag your feet or do you have some bounce and lightness in your step. Your walk says a lot about your attitude, demeanor, energy level, determination, enthusiasm and optimism.

Appearance

Prepare for interviewing by investing in a high-quality suit as well as a new stylish shirt/blouse, quality shoes, leather belt and briefcase. Make sure your suit fits well because wearing a suit that is either too small or too big defeats the purpose. Men should purchase a conservatively stylish tie. Women should invest in a quality handbag that compliments their briefcase. Purchase items that give you a sense of self-confidence, value and power. It will do wonders for your interview presentation.

Grooming is critical. Check your hairstyle and color. Gray or white hair adds years to your appearance. Women and men alike may want to consider a non-permanent color applied by a professional stylist. Male pattern baldness also adds years to a man’s appearance. Balding men might want to consider keeping their hair very short to minimize the contrast or completely shaving their head. Mature men need to trim their eyebrows, ear and nose hair. Fingernails are an important part of grooming. Both men and women should have well manicured nails.

Health

Watch your weight. Studies show that weight-based discrimination exists and that overweight people, particularly women, are perceived to be less intelligent, less productive, and less of a leader. Companies are also aware that overweight people are more of a health risk and cost the company more. According to a 2008 report by The Conference Board, a nonprofit business membership and research organization, “Obese employees cost U.S. private companies an estimated $45 billion annually in medical expenditures and work loss.” Joining a weight loss group might help you lose weight and expand your network.

Check you fitness level. A physical fitness plan can help you look and feel younger. Consider joining a health club or hiring a personal fitness trainer to get you in shape.

Get enough sleep so that you don’t have black circles or bags under your eyes. There are preparations and remedies to help you with this issue but generally the best medicine is sleep.

Technology

Establish an online presence. Create a LinkedIn profile complete with a picture, your contacts, recommendations and membership in a few groups. Set up a Facebook account and invite a few professional friends. Set up a Twitter account and follow a few authors, business leaders, or your favorite sports champion.

Make reference to your use of mobile commuting and portable digital devices such as a BlackBerry, PDA, iPod, iphone, palm prē, MP3 players, Kindle as well as Internet phone services such as IM, Skype. If you’re not using any of these tools, consider hanging out at your local electronics store and asking the sales representative for demonstrations. You might want to take one of your kids or grandkids with you so they can ask questions that might not occur to you. Maybe their enthusiasm will wear off on you. Maybe you can get them to show you a few things.

Resume

Check your resume to see if a recruiter can determine your age from your resume. Consider some of the following ways to eliminate that calculation.

Remove dates from your education unless you received your degree in the last 5-10 years.

Focus only on positions you’ve held in last 15 years. Summarize your earlier career experience into one paragraph and do not include the dates. Caution: If you continue with the same format for the company name and your title and only delete the dates, the recruiter will know exactly why you left off the dates. Therefore, I recommend that you summarize all of the company names and your titles into a sentence/paragraph. Caution: Do not simply delete older positions from your resume. During an interview your past experience will most likely come up and the interviewer may view this omission as a form of deception.

Do not include “20+ years of experience” or “over 25 years of experience” in your summary if you’re pursuing a director-level or vice president-level position. Replace the phrase with the word “extensive.” If you’re pursuing a C-level position it may be okay to mention 20+ years of experience, however I do not recommend using 25 or 30 years of experience. It just sounds archaic. Focus on your value proposition and you’ll hit their hot buttons.

Do not include 10 years of experience in operations plus 12 years of experience in supply chain plus 15 years in experience in finance, etc. This can be detracting and disastrous because the recruiter doesn’t know if these are overlapping or not. If he adds up the years it may appear that you have more than your actual years of experience.

Do not use the word “seasoned” or “veteran” as it has an old connotation.

Include only recent publication dates, awards dates, etc.

Use a contemporary format. If you’re still using the format you used when you graduated from college, you are dating yourself.

Use a contemporary presentation. Today’s resume is a branded marketing piece versus the old historical chronology.

Include links to your online presence (LinkedIn, VisualCV, web portfolio, blog, video resume, etc.).

Include brief information regarding recent athletic or competitive sports accomplishments. Caution: Some employers might think that your athletic pursuits will get in the way of your job.

The bottom line … if a company is overly concerned about age … it’s probably not a place you’d want to work.

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Are Your Job Offers On Hold?

Does it look like the perfect job offer is imminent? Do you have two or three offers pending? Great … but don’t halt the job search just yet.

One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is to stop their job search activities when it looks like the perfect job offer is imminent. However, even if you have multiple pending offers on the table, do not turn off the job search engine, put away your files, and end your job search just yet. The job search isn’t over until you have received, signed and returned the offer letter and you’ve spent a week or two on the new job.

I’ve heard stories of job seekers who have multiple job offers pending with the caveat of “as soon as I get approval from the boss” or “as soon as the economy turns around” or “as soon as the Board reviews the quarterly figures and approves our request.” These “as soon as” clauses seldom have a specific date attached to them and oftentimes they’re suspended for months for one reason or another and then eventually evaporate. Therefore, you need to keep your job search momentum going until the deal is signed, sealed and delivered!

Many employers continue to advertise so that they can identify and keep a database on the best talent in the market. And what better time is there then now, with so many people unemployed and looking for their next opportunity. The employers’ goal is to keep their pipeline full so that when the economy turns around, they will be able to bring top talent on board quickly. Likewise, you must identify the very best companies to work for and build a relationship with them so that when things turn around, you’ll have your pick from your prime target companies.

While everyone anxiously waits for the economy to turnaround and the job market to return to normal, employers would like to hire some of the good talent they’ve found, but their current restricted budget just doesn’t warrant it. As a result, many recruiters are bringing their candidates in for interviews with different people in the company on an intermittent basis to keep the candidate interested so that when the economic situation turns around they are ready to move forward rapidly.

So, while you may have two, three or even four offers on the table, you cannot afford to let up on your job search no matter how confident you are that an offer is forthcoming. Situations and times change; the company’s goals and objectives may change by the time the economy turns around and perhaps they’ll no longer need that particular position in their company. At the rate companies are being acquired and merged, there’s no telling what positions will still be open in the future. So until you have a firm offer, you must proceed as if you don’t, because ultimately you can only control your side of the search.

When interviewing, be sure to ask questions to uncover these potential scenarios. Ask questions like: How soon will you be filling this position? What is your time frame for filling this position? What are the objectives for this position? What would you expect me to be able to complete in the next three months? How will my performance be measured in the next three months? How long has this position been open? Why is this position open? Was the person who had this position, let go? What is the next step? These questions will help you get at the root of the reason for the opening and perhaps how soon the company realistically expects to fill the position. If the interviewer can’t answer this type of question, then you know it may be a very long time before you receive an offer letter.

While waiting for the position to open up, be sure to keep in touch with the interviewers. This is your opportunity to learn more about the company and the industry and strengthen your relationships. If you have any gaps in experience or knowledge of the company or industry, this is your opportunity to fill in those gaps so that when the position does open up and you re-interview, you’ll appear even more qualified. In the meantime, continue to read about the industry and send the interviewers articles with your comments, opinions and solutions. You may want to share how you can solve the industry’s problems based on problems you’ve solved for other companies and industries. You never know when you’ll strike a chord, gain their interest, and cause them to find the budget to bring you in immediately.

Even if the offer never comes to fruition, bear in mind that you have made some new contacts and expanded your network. You never know what the future holds.

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Are You Customizing EVERY Resume You Send Out?

You should be. Even if you’ve had your resume professionally written, one size does not fit all in this extremely competitive job search market. You need to address each position you pursue specifically. This is relevant whether you’re targeting unadvertised opportunities or advertised positions. Here are a few areas that will need to be tailored:

Function – While broad and diverse functional experience across all phases of the business is great, you need to target each resume for the opportunity you are pursuing. If you’re pursuing multiple job titles (for example, president, chief financial officer, chief information or technology officer, or chief operations executive), you need more than one version of your resume. In these competitive times, you actually need one resume for each function. Recruiters are looking for a very specific candidate and presenting yourself too broadly may be confusing, inundating or intimidating. This is not to say that you should eliminate all the information about the other functional areas, it’s saying that you need to showcase one function more prevalently than the others. The analogy I like to use is that of a balance scale – you need to add enough weight to one side of the scale so that it tips the scale. You do not want a perfectly balanced scale. You’ll still want to include all of your functional areas of your expertise … you’ll just focus each resume on one specific functional area.

Industry – Nearly every industry has their own set of buzzwords, jargon and language. They also have unique challenges and trends. You should research each industry in which you’ll be pursuing a position by digging into the industry’s trade associations. Look for conferences being held and study the topics the speakers will be covering. The topics will always be related to the challenges and issues the industry is facing and the trends and direction in which they’re headed.

While many of you have told me that your functional expertise crosses numerous different industries, you have also stated that when you are hiring, you look for someone with industry experience! As such, if you don’t have industry experience, you need to be able to present a compelling case regarding how your experience will transfer and deliver a return on investment.

Size of Company – Recruiters look for candidates who have worked in a company comparable to the size of their company or the company they’re representing. If you have not clearly defined how the companies you have worked for compare to the size of the company with the opportunity, than consider adding or revising that information. If you’ve worked in companies that are considerably larger than the target company, consider omitting the size of the entire company and focus more on a division or business unit that would be more relevant to the target company.

Profit & Loss or Budget Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have held financial responsibility similar to that of the position they’re filling. If you have not defined the size of the profit and loss responsibility you have held or the size of the budget you have managed, consider adding that information. If you have managed P&Ls and budgets much larger than the recruiter is requiring, consider omitting the size of the financials for the entire company and instead focus on the financials of a division, business unit, group or project.

Team Size – Recruiters look for candidates who have led and managed teams similar to that of their open position. Make sure your resume contains the size of the team you managed. If you’ve led and managed teams much larger then the company is requiring, than you may just want to mention your number of direct reports. If you haven’t managed teams of a similar size, you might want to include the number of people impacted by your role or the number of people you influence despite the fact that they don’t directly report to you. This can be an even greater demonstration of your leadership skills.

Local, National, International Experience – Recruiters look at the companies you’ve worked for to see if you have similar geographical experience. If the recruiter is representing a regional or national company, you may need to adjust your resume to reflect the same type of geographical situation. If your resume references international experience frequently, you may want to eliminate a few of those references, unless of course, you know for a fact that the company is looking to expand into the international arena.

Other similarities recruiters look for include, the company’s business model, industry ranking, products and services, and company culture.

The goal is to align your resume with as many of these points as you can. In some cases you may need to tone down the resume so you don’t appear over qualified and in other cases you may need to up-level your resume to fit the requirements.

While this is a lot of work, you will soon develop a portfolio of resumes that you can use repeatedly for similar types of positions.

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