Hopefully you’ve been able to take advantage of the tips from NYE Resolution #1 “Getting Fit and watching what I eat” because this one is likely to take your professional career to new leaps and bounds! For those of you who know me about careers know that I’m almost ultra-annoying on this particular topic! Whether you’re one of my friends or mentee’s where I take an ‘oh too much focus’ on your careers and trying to take you to the next step(s) usually with a 5-10 year plan, or you’re someone I just met who’s out of a Job (RIF’s are a bitch!) and I just want to help – It’s total win-ville here, so let’s take advantage of not only staying relevant but driving things to the next step! As always my own personal disclaimer: This is not a resolution for me, this is PART of my life. I’m fortunate to OMFG love my job, have a great team I work with, have an amazing community and audience to evangelise to which is constantly growing every day. Do I take advantage of these steps I’ll be mentioning? I always stay aware of them and continually build up my own career as well, so you’ll be getting it from my own and the others I’ve worked with experiences! So let’s get started!
Finding a job
This is not always as harsh a situation as it seems, but the particular audience this speaks to are people who have been RIF’d, people who have never even had a formal job (re: college graduates or esteemed HS drop outs), or even people looking to change careers (such as going from a train engineer to being a systems engineer!) But where do I start?
I would be remiss if I did not highly advise you to read this amazing FREE book! (No registration required!) 100 Job Search Tips from Fortune 500 Recruiters read it, and then read it again as it will apply in all of these roles but will definitely give you the guidance you need to get yourself started and start getting organized. You’ll come across references to having a profile on social networks, and while many will be mentioned – the top three sites I HIGHLY advise you ensure you have a filled out profile on are LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter. And just so I can use some relevant examples of exactly Why?! Several years ago, I was found and recruited by someone who found me on LinkedIn. Most recently I was found via FaceBook which lead to my resume on my blog, and last and most importantly… I’ve helped numerous people get jobs which all started and ended with Twitter – So don’t dismiss the hype! I’ve met those guys, don’t be them!
The following area speaks directly to those who have been RIF’d and/or those who happen to have families.
- #1 – and this is important. Now is NOT the time to have some kind of stupid pride or EGO!
- DON’T go it alone – There are lots of people out there who CAN and WANT to help.
- DON’T bear this burden on your own.
- DO accept the charity of references and contacts with recruiters.
- DON’T default to ‘what I did in HS’ or something if you were a highly qualified, passionate and driven person, GET the contacts you need to get yourself employed again.
- DO file for unemployment. IMMEDIATELY actually. We are STILL in a recession, so expecting a job to manifest over night may not be practical unless you’re highly sought after and even then, those bills aren’t going to pay themselves nor will your table fill itself with food unless you have a horn of plenty (If so, let me know I need a vegan one :))
- DO ask for help, there’s never been a better time to not have any stigma associated with losing your job, again – people WANT to help their friends
Now, hopefully you’re not all in the same situation where you’ve been RIF’d and are instead just looking for a job or career change – we’ll call you hs/college graduate, or career changer.
So for you career changers or graduates, take the following words of wisdom with a grain of low sodium salt! (WTF?! :))
- Be current. Ensure that your Resume AND your online presence and profiles happen to reflect you, and especially in a positive light – Any recruiter who is serious WILL google you
- Be relevant. If you’re just out of HS or College – that 3 month internship with a business is relevant, but those 6 weeks working at McDonalds? Not so much
- You have to ask yourself – Will the information in my resume help me get this job? Do they care about this information.
- Even when changing careers, having a history of being a part-time house sitter isn’t going to get you the next big break in your career you’re looking for.
- If you have to ask “Is this really relevant to the job I’m looking for” then the answer is no, and leave it off.
- If you are an Eagle Scout, or similar long and arduous journey in your youth which you can share stories and experiences of? Leave it IN!
Let me discuss that for a moment. You’re saying my years as a fry clerk at McBurgers isn’t relevant but my time spent collecting badges is? Honestly, Eagle scout and equivalent is the closest you get to saying someone if committed to a journey, they stick it out, they come prepared, they can get things done, and they understand steps in a process – equal to certification. Long ago I questioned this but Eagle scouts are like Green Beret’s or even Ninja’s – experts in their own right who have gone the test of time and can extol those virtues elsewhere in life.
And for you tech or even graphics folks here are relevant and non-relevant items (though if you can defend them in your case I will stand down :))
- Tech: Seriously? You’re putting MS DOS 5.0 on your resume? We all CLEARLY know that MS DOS 6.22 was the best and ONLY version worth mentioning. If you’re going to put EXTREMELY dated material on your resume to show longevity (which I respect) don’t show ignorance and choose the worst possible version since DOS 3.3 (which rocked mind you)
- Graphics: You want to show you’ve been doing this awhile, I get that. But Harvard Graphics? SERIOUSLY? Harvard Graphics? It’s not 1985, I don’t want to hire you 25 years ago!
- Tech: Random gibber jabber of versions and code really tells me nothing, unless you actually deliver your resume IN C# or something, don’t try and confuse me by telling me a bunch of keywords (Key words CAN and ARE important, but not 100% keyworded resumes) Instead, entice me with something we can engage in a story about!
- General: Keep it interesting. Draw me in somehow, not telling me that you like black and white movies, but a discreet line in there intended to make the interviewer laugh (in a field respective way) where they clearly know you meant a joke like “I know chmod” will help lighten the mood. I’d probably specifically want to talk to the candidate who gets resume humor :)
- General: Most importantly, if there is something you DO NOT want to have a job doing, DO NOT put it on your resume. I leave more off my resume than I put on, including voicemail systems, fax, pbx, Wireless, systems management, operations – I can do these things but I am an architect, a designer and above all an evangelist – let’s not stray from our paths :)
Going back to the points above, if I had three additional things to say and was limited to a word each I urge you to be Positive, Passionate, and be Professional and if I could slap one more into the fold which doesn’t start with P (that was sheer coincidence!) I cannot urge you enough to BE YOURSELF! You’ll be happier and more positive passionate and professional for it!
Be Honest, and Don’t lie
This deserves it’s own highlight and mention as this is something I would discuss with candidates I’ve mentored over the years. (I’ve had some initially argue the two mean the same thing, they don’t) When you’re looking for this newfound job regardless of the circumstance you need to be honest with yourself, honest with your resume and honest with the people you’re talking to. You don’t want to end up like Cisco Fatty who mind you was honest to a fault, but if they were honest with themselves they wouldn’t have been considering an improper fit driven only by $$.
Don’t lie. Falsifying a public document such as your resume is no way to get a job, as it will come back and bite you – and the truth is FAR easier to remember than a lie! Do not lie in an interview! If you don’t know something, say it, however also be honest that if it’s something you COULD know, you can certainly learn [be warned though depending upon the interview this could be perceived as not being prepared, so it’s a double edged sword.. it’s usually just better to know what they’re asking in the first place ;)] Also, don’t claim to have done something you never did. We once interviewed a guy who claimed he built out a whole series of systems – so during the [group] interview when one of our interviewers decided to ask the candidate details about this build he was unable to provide details, twisting and turning in the wind in a torrid rain of lies. Oh, why did the interviewer ask? He had actually built those systems when employed in the environment the candidate claimed to have done the work. I cannot stress it enough. Don’t lie. :)
Keeping and upgrading your job
I had excellent plans of breaking these two out into two separate sections, but seriously – they’re the exact same thing effectively! And frankly the people who are usually good at keeping their job are typically the types sought after to upgrade their job (whether within the company or moving to a whole new business!)
I am so fortunate that this very exact topic was covered by the smart and amazing Polly Pearson with "How To Get A Better Job?" A post for employees and job seekers alike. which if you read nothing more from this post – Be sure to read her post, it will change your perspective on career changes with real hard actionable information you can act on immediately!
Oh, and I would be remiss to not mention 100 Job Search Tips from Fortune 500 Recruiters again – you thought it was important finding a job? It’s even more relevant when it comes to upgrading or literally just keeping your job!
So here are some tips from me which fall into the realm of both keeping and upgrading – ultimately staying relevant is what it comes down to:
The best example I’ve ever found of the illogical failure for people to get certified is this: Did you ever go to school for 4 years, get all of your credits and yet choose to fail to get your diploma because you feel “I have the experience, I really don’t need the piece of paper”. Any qualified person who chooses to not get certified because they ‘know it’ is like saying that the experience (while VERY important) trumps your college diploma. Now putting that to the side a moment and still comparing college. Did you know that for each Microsoft certification exam you complete, it could be worth 1-3 credit hours? Oh, and the PMP is worth even more. But wait, are you seriously telling me that the EMC Proven Professional Expert certification is worth 50% of the Masters of Information Technology at some schools? So put your ego aside a moment, and if you really DO know the knowledge prove it with an exam and you’ll make your resume ALL that more credible.
Certification shows that you not only know information, but it also proves that you invest in yourself, your employer and your future. It typically says to employers “Whoa, hey they likely stay up on their technology and perhaps even read a book and care about their job” Nothing says you care, like investing in yourself which turns around into better productivity!
I know I’ve said this one an infinite amount of times, but I still do have discount vouchers for Microsoft Exams – 10% for the entire world, and 20% for some places (USA, England, etc)
The first thing I say every morning when I wake up is “I’ve met enough people, my network is big enough, I don’t need to meet or know anyone else” which is usually followed by me telling myself that I obviously know everything and I don’t have to prove anything so I’ll never show anyone that. Yea… I don’t have that conversation, and anyone who does either needs a wake up call, or has actually ascended and hats off to them – Breaking from your physical form to go pure energy is harsh and definitely requires your dedication!
So what does this mean? How do I get networked? WTF IS NETWORKING, IM CONFUSED! err.. Whoa, hold on there! Let’s cover some real basics
- Use LinkedIn. And that doesn’t mean spend every waking hour staring at everything linkedin. But fill out your profile, add a picture (shows commitment) and connect with people you actually know. Chances are, people you know are on LinkedIn! And people you’ve known over the years, they’re probably out there too, so reconnect with them.
- It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you. That rule doesn’t always apply, but in order to be ‘introduced’ to someone, someone else has to know you, so the more of your associates, friends, colleagues and more that you’re connected to – the easier it will be for people to get to know you :)
- Use Facebook. I’m in no way saying you need to have a hybrid personal/professional FB Profile like I do. At the very least, HAVE a profile, put a picture, post things on occasion so people know what’s going on with you! This does default back to the ‘its not who you know but who knows you’ remember you can get a job off of Facebook :)
- Use Twitter. Do you know how many of your peers are out there twittering about their daily jobs? Even talking to others! Countless people use Twitter as a means to solve problems, learn new things and wait, what? Network with people! Not everyone in the world is on twitter, and the ones who are, are typically sharp and moving forward.. move with them :)
- Attend Trade shows, conferences, conventions. Whichever happens to apply to your circumstance. Is there a user group for whatever it is you do? Go attend a meeting! Meet your peers! Your peers strangely are NOT only the people you work with, you may find that something you or your business are doing could be done better – result, you’re the winner! :)
- Visit a Toastmasters club. Yea, I know you’re the best presenter in the world, would you mind delivering this keynote to 20,000 people? kthxbye! (Okay, I wouldn’t mind! Got a keynote, I’m there!) But if you find yourself not as comfortable presenting to large groups of people, OR you want to meet and watch others speak to improve Attend a toastmasters meeting in your area!
- Find a mentor, collaborate with a peer – Talk to others who are in the position you want or you see accelerating like you’d like to. Find out how they got to where they are today and what kinds of steps you might need to take in order to get there. You are in charge of your career not your manager or anyone else. Take charge.
I hope you’ve found these various steps useful in taking charge of your career with this new years resolution (feel free to mention what works well for you in the comments) these few steps alone can make a paramount difference in your career, family, future and well being for the rest of your life. I wish you the absolute best and let me know how I can help :)