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I read a lot of blogs. A lot. I want to read even more, but it gets overwhelming when I see my Google Reader overflowing with unread blog posts. So, I got to thinking that if I did it for “research” it would actually be job related. Yes, I am justifying my blog reading addiction. But who cares.

I’m not a professional reviewer obviously, so I am just going to give my thoughts on the blog and how it helped me, or how it might help you. Some will be career-related and some not, because let’s face it, not every thing I read is career-related. Gasp!

You never know… my next review might be YOUR BLOG!

So, without further ado, I give you….

What Would Dad Say? by GL Hoffman        

What Would Dad Say was one of the first blogs I became addicted to when I was in my fast and furious ‘I love reading blogs’ mode. I still remember the first post I stumbled upon of his about Megan Joy, the American Idol contestant covered in tattoos.

It’s author, GL Hoffman, is the Chairman of  JobDig, a career search and employment guide. He also created and launched the incredibly successful LinkUp, a job search engine that search’s jobs from almost 22,000 company websites!

But it wasn’t only the useful sites to offer clients that interested me, but GL himself. As a veteran career expert, entrepreneur, and speaker, he offers a humorous take on all things career. The first sentence of his vision statement on his blog says it all, “I am having fun here…”. GL’s blog always promises a chuckle, some sarcasm, and a breath of fresh air.

He creates these pie chart funnies he calls, “Gruzzles” (graphs + puzzles) which have recently been featured in Fast Company. I love these. I don’t know any other way to explain them except to just go to this link and see for yourself. Clever and witty, they offer a break from the monotony of daily activities while giving you something to think about.

GL is quick to reply to your comments on his blog and knows how to keep a conversation going. BTW, his guest bloggers are interesting, too.

So, take time out of your hectic day to read GL’s blog or chuckle at his Gruzzles. You’ll be glad you did.

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Every once in a full moon a client will say to me, “I love this. I love how it sounds. I am so happy with this resume, I would hire me!” and then, “I told my brother-in-law’s friend’s boss’s wife that I would let her look at my resume when you finished it. She manages Applebee’s and she has seen a lot of resumes in her time.”

Okay.

I get that people want to show off their resume and hear what other’s say. I do. If a person tells me that someone they know is in HR and they want to send it to them, I understand. You want to show your friends. You want to hear their take on your resume. But not all friendly advice is good advice.

Case in point: I had a person call me up and ask me questions about my process and my resumes. She was referred to me by a senior level client of mine. This person was in IT (network analyst) and had 5 pages of experience and technical jargon as her current resume.

She said, “I don’t see any objective statements on your sample resumes”.

I said, “True. You won’t. I use a career summary and branding statements”. I then started to explain career summaries to her when she stopped me dead in my tracks and said, “I don’t want a career summary. I need an objective”. I asked her why she thought she needed an objective and she said because her friend’s aunt worked as an HR person for a small manufacturing company and she said that a resume was no good to her unless it had an objective. I had heard of this company, so I was surprised that the HR person had such strict, outdated, and ineffective rules regarding the types of resumes she wanted to see.

As I was trying to educate her about the power of branding and career summaries vs. objectives, she was pretty adamant that she wanted the objective statement. So we moved on to a couple of other things and I was surprised at her ‘demands’ which weren’t really demands, just antiquated resume ‘rules’. “I absolutely CANNOT have 2 pages” and “I have to list every application, hardware, device, etc” (even though most she said she hadn’t used in 10 years), and “It HAS to have the little ‘references upon request’ thingy at the bottom”, etc. because her friend’s aunt said so, and so on.

I think you get the gist of the conversation. Finally, I gently asked her, “Why don’t you have your friend’s aunt write your resume? Or at least you write it and have her add her two cents?” and she said, “But I was referred to YOU and I want YOU to write it!!”

I politely declined the job and vaguely suggested a few other sites that might appeal more to what she wanted. I’m sure she will find someone who will give her an objective and keep her 15 yrs IT experience to 1 page.

So my point is this– your friends/colleagues may have great intentions to help steer you in the right direction, but may not be doing it effectively. Their advice might actually hinder your efforts, not help. Better to leave it to those of us who are trained and have built careers around writing dynamic and effective resumes. Do your homework. Call around and talk to different writers until you find someone who you are comfortable with. Let them know what your expectations are and listen to what they have to say. Your friend’s aunt might be trying to help, but her help might stop you from getting the job.

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Wow! I just earned a nomination for the T.O.R.I. awards through Career Directors International.

Each year CDI hosts an international competition, Toast of the Resume Industry , that propels hundreds of resume writers to send in samples of their work to be evaluated by a panel of judges. The judges then determine whose work is the “best of the best”.

Recognition is based upon creativity, clarity, strategy, syntax and visual appeal in professional resume development with submissions judged by an international panel of professional resume writers.

Each year in May, CDI selects up to five nominees in various categories who represent the top echelon of resume writing worldwide.

This is the third year I have entered the competition and each year I am nominated! To be chosen for a category with some of the world’s greatest resume writers is a thrill and an honor. I’m still a little dazed by it!

We find out the winners at the CDI conference in October. Frankly, I don’t care if I win or not… being nominated is wonderful enough! :)

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FishiStock

If you aren’t living under a rock, you have been hearing lots of buzz about “branding“. So, what exactly IS branding and how will it help my executive resume? What will it do for me?

With the tight job market today, and thousands of qualified senior level candidates, employers can afford to be picky. How do you get to the top of the pile? How are you going to stand out? Your brand.

Your personal brand is the promise of the value you bring to the company. Your unique-ness. What makes you, you.

Think “Heinz”. When I say that, what immediately comes to mind? Ketchup. You know exactly what it will look like, taste like, smell like, etc. Heinz’ brand offers the promise of tomatoe-y goodness on a french fry or hot dog, right?

It’s more about action, rather than words. What you can do for the company? I talk to my clients about that all the time. In promoting your executive brand on your resume, you are stating to the company, “This is who I am, these are what my strengths are, and this is what I can do for you.” You have to uncover your assets and cultivate them in order to drive credibility and increase your professional/executive presence.

There is so much to be gained from branding your executive resume for the job search. One of the main reasons I like branding resumes is because there is no guesswork involved in what the person does, what their strengths are, and what they are recognized for. Any recruiter out there would agree– there is nothing worse than getting a resume that has no identifiable statements at first glance of what they do– you have to read line by line halfway down the page to figure out, “Ohhhhh, they are Senior VP at the firm, OK.”

I will get more into executive branding in future posts– how it can help you: increase your visibility and online presence, differentiate you from your peers, help you achieve professional success, realize how people will be drawn to you, want to follow/listen to you, and more.

So, in the mean time, dig deep, discover what makes you tick– your strengths, drive, and interests– and start building your brand.

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4people-jumpingHave you ever worked with someone who just seemed to have everything go her way? Her projects are successful; she gets one promotion after the other, and she’s just plain happy. So, why is she so successful?

Turns out being happy not only feels good but can also be an important part to achieving job success.

In an article from “Psychology Today” Sonja Lyubomirsky, a social psychologist at the University of California, Riverside writes the following:

“The most persuasive data regarding the effects of happiness on positive work outcomes come from longitudinal studies – that is, investigations that track the same participants over a long period of time. These studies are great. For example, people who report that they are happy at age 18 achieve greater financial independence, higher occupational attainment and greater work autonomy by age 26. Furthermore, the happier a person is, the more likely she will get a job offer, keep her job, and get a new job if she ever loses it. Finally, one fascinating study showed that people who express more positive emotions on the job receive more favorable evaluations from their supervisors 3.5 years later.”

Wow, that’s great news if you’re a naturally happy person, but what if you find being happy a challenge? In Kathryn Britton’s article, Six Tips for Taking Positive Psychology to Work she sites a study by R. Emmons and M.E. McCullough that found that people who focused on increasing their feelings of gratitude are healthier and feel better about their lives. So how do we increase our level of gratitude? Britton offers these suggestions:

  1. Pay attention to good things, large and small. This often requires intentional thought because bad things are more salient to us than good things. For example, I have a friend in his 80’s with arthritis in his hands. He becomes aware of it whenever he knocks something over or has trouble picking something up. I suggested that whenever he finds himself saying, “My poor crippled hands,” that he follow it with “My magnificent legs that let me walk every day without cane or walker.” That does not mean ignoring the painful or disabled. It means balancing it with occasional thoughts of how lucky we are to have so many working parts! We have to work a little to give the positive thoughts space in our brains.
  2. Pay attention to bad things that are avoided. I recently tripped over a small stump and fell flat on my face during a practice hike to get ready for our trip to the mountains. When I picked myself up, I was very grateful to have only a deep bruise on my thigh, no broken bones. It will take a while for the gorgeous 8 inch bruise to go away, but I can still hike. Thank goodness!
  3. Practice downward comparisons. That means thinking about how things could be worse, or were worse, or are worse for someone else. I don’t particularly like the idea of making myself feel more grateful by thinking of others who are worse off than I am. But it doesn’t have to be interpersonal. You can use downward comparison by remembering your own times of adversity or being aware of adversity avoided. The poet, Robert Pollock, said it thus: “Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy.” Here’s a work example. I have two friends who recently moved into the same department in the same company. One is relieved and happy because the situation seems so much better than before. The other is dissatisfied because the teamwork characterizing the old job is no longer there. The first has an easy time with downward contrast. The second will have to work a little harder to find reasons to be grateful.
  4. Establish regular times to focus on being grateful. Gratitude is a character strength that can be enhanced with practice. So practice. Marty Seligman describes two exercises in Authentic Happiness, the Gratitude Visit and a form of keeping a gratitude journal.
  5. When facing a loss or a difficult task or situation, remind yourself to be grateful both for what you haven’t lost and for the strengths and opportunities that arise from facing difficulties. Negative moods are catching, but positive ones can be as well. The character, Pollyanna, helped other people see the benefits in their situations by teaching them the Glad Game. Sometimes, having someone else see what is good in your own life makes it visible to you.
  6. Elicit and reinforce gratitude in the people around you. Tennen and Affleck found that benefit-seeking and benefit-remembering are linked to psychological and physical health. Benefit finding involves choosing to focus on the positive aspects of the situation and avoiding the feeling of being a victim.

So now you know her secret. Sure she may be talented too, but she’s happy and that is her competitive edge. Find ways to increase your own happiness: focus on gratitude, celebrate little victories, look for the positive in every situation, what ever works for you and get ready to experience your own career success.

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Ed. Note: Nick Varner is a recent graduate of Central Michigan University and is going on for his Masters in Educational Leadership. As part of Generation Y, Nick wanted to share some Gen Y insight and set the record straight on a few misconceptions…

iStock photos

Flip-flops, iPods, and e-Meetings are arriving in the workplace, and arriving in numbers. This change in workplace decorum seems outrageous to those who are experienced members of the workforce, but for those just arriving, this is standard. These changes have been heralded by the next generation of employees, Generation Y.

Generation Y typically refers to people born between 1977 and 1995 that are now entering the workforce. As this generation arrives, so do all the myths concerning them. Generation Y is often thought of as lazy, laid-back, and self-serving individuals who don’t understand the meaning of hard work and commitment. This view only allows Generation Y to be a liability, while ignoring the aspects of the next generation that makes them assets.

One big generational difference is the concept of ‘putting in the hours’. The previous generations conceptualize hard work as maintaining a 40 hour work-week and working steadily through the week. Generation Y does not accept this model; they focus more on workplace efficiency than the hours spent in the workplace. They strive to find the most efficient methods of accomplishing tasks, not because they are lazy, but so they can spend their time more wisely.

Another big misconception between the generations is the idea of commitment. The baby boomers believed that they would find a job, work for thirty years, and then retire from that same company.  This is not the case for Gen-Y. Whereas the previous generation looked for a workplace, Gen-Y looks for workplace opportunities. They will work at a company for 3-5 years in order to gain a specific skill set and knowledge base, but then move their talents to another company.  However, where Baby Boomers might see this as a lack of commitment, Gen-Y sees this as a quest for knowledge. They strive to increase their knowledge base and the way to do this post-academia is through varied work experience.

Finally, there is the charge that they are lazy.  This is often promoted due to a new mindset held by the members of Gen-Y: they work to live, not live to work. This is a drastic change between the generations; whereas Baby Boomers were defined by where they worked and what they did, Gen-Y refuses to hold such titles. They define who they are by what they do outside of the workplace. This is not an attempt to be lazy and ignore work, but an attempt to live a well-rounded life in which their contributions at home gain as much recognition as their contributions in the workplace.

Generation Y has arrived. They are sporting tattoos, wearing flip-flops and have a new mindset, but this is not the end of the world. Rather than dismissing an entire generation, focus on what they can bring to the table and how their addition can truly help your organization.

Nick Varner can be reached for comment at n.j.varner@gmail.com

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This was from a call I took yesterday. The conversation went something like this:

Caller: “Hi, um, my name is Bob.  I want to know about your resume service and when you can finish it. Because I need it soon.”

Me: “Hi Bob. Well, let’s skip to your most important question. How quickly do you need it?”

Bob: “I need it by tomorrow. I saw a job position I want to apply for at Johnson & Johnson and the position closes tomorrow.”

Me: “Oh! Tomorrow. Has the position been open a while or did you hear about it from someone?”

Bob: “I heard about it through a buddy of mine who works there. It’s for Regional Sales Management position– my dream job with my dream company. He told me about it awhile ago, but I didn’t really think about it much until last night when we met for a beer and he reminded me it was still open. But it closes tomorrow. He said to send my resume in to the HR person sometime in the morning.”

Me: “Well, it’s 4:30 in the afternoon and I leave my office in an hour and a half. I won’t be able to do it in that amount of time…”

We talked for a little bit more and Bob even emailed me his resume. It was pretty bad (think Microsoft Word’s basic resume template… lots of white space, left-aligned, bullet-ridden and worse, hadn’t been updated since 2001).

The thing that got me was that he had known about the position for a month, assumed he’d have time to fix up his resume, then consequently forgot about the position, and was now in an all-out panic. We’ve all done it with one thing or another–putting off something we really shouldn’t have, and then regretting it later.

I felt bad for Bob because I knew his chances of getting the job with the old resume were slim to none. Worse, when he started talking about his experience and his excellent accomplishments I thought he would have probably had the chance. He said he was going to work on it himself and hope for the best.

So, the moral of the story is UPDATE YOUR RESUME TODAY. Don’t wait until your dream opportunity passes you by.

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I read a lot of blogs. A lot. I want to read even more, but it gets overwhelming when I see my Google Reader overflowing with unread blog posts. So, I got to thinking that if I did it for “research” it would actually be job related. Yes, I am justifying my blog reading addiction. But who cares.

I’m not a professional reviewer obviously, so I am just going to give my thoughts on the blog and how it helped me, how it might help you, or just why I liked it. Some will be career related and some not, because let’s face it, not every thing I read is career related. Gasp!

You never know… my next review might be YOUR BLOG!

So, without further ado, I give you….

HealthcareITCentral.com by Gwen Darling

Gwen Darlingcphoto4

There are so many reasons why I love this blog. But first, a little background on the company and Gwen herself.

Having met and gotten to know Gwen through a mutual connection and eventually a collaboration,  I have watched HealthcareITCentral.com grow and expand its reach in just the short period of time that I’ve followed it.

Gwen is a matchmaker. Professional matchmaker that is. Her company successfully pairs the perfect candidate to the perfect company. HealthcareITCentral.com finds and offers job openings, places for candidates to upload their resumes, search engine to perform company research, networking, articles, and more. It is chock full of resources to help any Healthcare IT job seeker find what they need. What’s more, the other side of the website is for employers LOOKING for candidates. They are able to peruse the database to see who matches which position. Everything a Healthcare IT professional needs in one interesting site.

Gwen’s blog is housed under the Healthcare Informatics site, the #1 trade industry publication for the Healthcare Informatics industry. Her blog goes from delightfully funny, “When it comes to your Resume, are you a Flasher, a Streaker, or an All-Out Nudist?” or “I’m talking to you Mr. Pimp Daddy CIO” to thoughtful “What Job Seekers can learn from Farrah” . Her clever blend of useful information and feisty humor makes her blog an entertaining read and one of the top on the site. Job seekers outside of the Healthcare IT industry can benefit from her posts as well, as they do not all relate to the healthcare industry. Many of her posts are stories or things that she has encountered and we can all relate to (think “When limp becomes memorable”), and that shared connection is what keeps me coming back for more.

I look forward to every one of Gwen’s posts. Always insightful, never boring. If you want to read, laugh and learn, check out Gwen Darling’s blog. You won’t be disappointed.

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I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this post from Resume Bear, “20 Things Job Seekers Shouldn’t Say on Twitter”. From “I just smoked pot at work” to “I slept with the boss last night” to “I lied on my application, suckkkkkas!”, the list goes on.

Not sure what people are thinking these days, but one thing is crystal clear to me, they will be polishing off their resumes soon. Do they think that no one in their company is on Twitter or Facebook? That no one else has any online savvy? Sheesh! People are listening. We hear stories of people getting fired all the time for what they write on social networking sites. Maybe some are saying it as a joke, or to impress friends, but whatever the reason, their boss is FOR SURE going to find it and reprimand them (embarrassing!) or fire them (good luck!).

So, even if you have heard it time and again from friends, colleagues, the news, whatever, you better think twice before you post how you stole from the company, are still hungover from last night, or are reading your boss’ mail. Because it’s not going to have a happy ending.

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I have several resumes a day emailed to me for review. Some are just not good. However, I do come across some that aren’t that bad. They need work, but the basic bones of it is there. It just needs some optimizing.

What do I mean?

When writing your resume keep in mind that you are writing for someone else. Someone who does not know what you did at your last job. They don’t know the challenges you faced in the last position, or how you increased productivity or revenue.

Sometimes I get to talking with clients and am awed at what they did during a particularly challenging phase and am shocked it isn’t found on the resume. The best way to optimize your resume is to talk about your accomplishments and be detailed about it.

Don’t just say, “Added $700 million in funding over a 3-year period”

Instead say,  Secured over $700 million in funding over a 3-year period after thorough analysis and assessment on LAN and WAN connectivity for the nation’s largest telecommunication facility”.

See the difference? Which sounds better to you?

Optimizing your resume really means adding more detail, highlighting your accomplishments, and solidifying your value. Add more detail, talk about what you did, get the reader interested in what you have to say. No one wants to read short little bullet points. Boring. Keep “how did I do this?” in your mind when writing because that is what the reader is thinking, “Hmmm, how did he/she do this?” and then of course, “Can they do this for our company?”.

It may require a little bit of digging into your accomplishments to bring out the little gems of information, but it will be very worth it in the end–when you are called in to interview.

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