The holidays and the end of the year are already times that most of us consider more stressful than other seasons. But for some, the stress isn’t from finding the perfect gift — it’s from finding yourself unemployed.
Whether it is the result of end-of-year layoffs or you have been searching for a job for some time, this time of year is challenging when there isn’t a regular paycheck in the works. Dave Ramsey, the financial guy, just gave us 7 Practical Tips for Dealing With Job Loss at Christmas and his suggestions are actually practical any time of year:
- cut back your spending
- change your outlook
- stick to your routine
- find seasonal work
- get creative
- be open with your family
- put the holidays in perspective
Don’t Give Up
You can keep up the job hunt during the holidays and have a huge advantage because there are so many networking opportunities. Parties and gatherings are great ways to connect with people without making appointments. Temporary jobs can easily turn into full-time and if they don’t you still have that paycheck and more work experience. Many a temp worker becomes manager later on so don’t discount the lowly position.
The thing I like about Dave Ramsey’s tips is that they make sense. When you are looking for a job, you need to be doing all those things and not pretend that everything is the same. It isn’t the same — and that is good because it gives you an excellent opportunity to make things better. It’s like getting rid of the junk in your house so you can clean it and start over with the good things you decided to keep.
Okay, not all the CEOs in the 2014 September CEO Report at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. are going out the door because they are being booted out, but the report does highlight a rise in the planned CEO departures for September. The 124 CEOs who left their positions represent an increase of 4.2% over the 119 leaving in August.
Looking at this report, it is striking to see how many CEO changes there have been in the first nine months of 2014 — 1,009 turnovers were tracked, most of them in the health care industry. What does this mean for executives who hope to move into C-level positions?
Be Ready To Move When The Door Opens
If you are serious about being considered for a position like President, CEO, CIO, CFO, and all the rest of the senior/C-level jobs, you need to also be serious about your resume, your executive branding, and every detail that you are presenting to the world. It isn’t enough to collect the experiences that qualify you for the job, those experiences have to be presented convincingly to persuade people that you are the best candidate for that job.
- Monitor your online presence and deal with unprofessional lapses now.
- Look over your resume and make sure it is updated regularly.
- Consider your current level of expertise and actively seek to hone those skills.
- Present yourself in a competent, professional manner worthy of the level you seek to attain.
- Consider your current job an opportunity to show what you can do by doing it with excellence.
- Research and learn what will be needed to move into that new opening when it comes.
Many of the CEOs in the Challenger study were actively grooming their replacement. That means someone was getting ready to step into their shoes as soon as the position opened up. Other C-level openings were vacant while the company scrambled to find the replacement. Whether you do the groundwork yourself, or get professional services to help you, the best way to move up the executive ladder is by being prepared to act when the door opens.
Did you know that many businesses are looking for someone to be their Social Media Manager? It’s true — because social media is fast becoming an essential part of marketing and customer relations, companies need somebody to devote a lot of time to doing it right. Scarlett Wilson recently shared the Top 6 Skills Employers Look For In A Social Media Manager on B2C (Business 2 Community) and the list is worth considering:
- Experience in using social media tools — the more, the better.
- An analytical mind-set — the ability to use analytical tools to interpret data and explain what the numbers really mean.
- Ability to plan long-term social media strategies — understanding your particular market and trends, etc.
- Ability to write quality content — this is crucial because search engines increasingly look for relevancy, and people insist on it.
- Additional digital marketing skills — blog writing, keyword optimization, formatting, or anything in this category should be on your resume because they are in demand.
- Communication skills — because social media is all about communication. So is business, actually.
Social Media Skills Are Marketable
It used to be that things like LinkedIn Profile Development were considered to be a good networking device for an individual career and that was all. Most business owners didn’t think about their business social media development unless reputation management became an issue. But today the reality of internet marketing means social media has to be an integral consideration.
If your company doesn’t do any social media marketing, and you have these skills, you could be able to convince your boss that it would be good to let you start doing something in this field. If you are looking for a job, make sure that you have any social media skills listed in your resume and can explain why they are there.
An old-school employer may not understand why it’s important until they are shown some facts. Any employer who is at all concerned about the company’s internet presence will be very interested in what you have to offer.
If your resume is not getting the results you’d expect based on your skills and experience, maybe it needs to be evaluated. All the information could be perfect; perfectly bland. Here’s a fast way to evaluate your resume, and it’s based on the way it will be evaluated when it reaches that VIP looking for someone to fill a position:
Pick up your resume and scan it for 30 seconds, then cover it and write down what you remember.
Actually, thirty seconds might be longer than most HR people look at it, but they have developed serious speed reading skills. What do you remember about your resume? What stands out?
Now consider that your resume is something you are familiar with — and it was probably hard to remember what you said about yourself. Imagine what it’s like to read through hundreds of resumes in an attempt to find the best candidates to call in for interviews! These people don’t know you, and they do know what they need in the position.
Be Memorable and Consistent
The keywords that need to be there are the words used in the job ad, because that’s what they are looking for. But you are offering a unique spin on that because of your individuality. Build on that uniqueness by presenting yourself with synonyms of those keywords where it’s appropriate and keep a consistency throughout your resume by answering the question in their mind:
Why should I hire you?
Another way to say the same thing is, “who are you and what do you bring to this position?” If the answer to the question in their mind isn’t obvious, then you need to work on your resume until it can answer that question with fast and clear.
You want your resume to stand out, right? But not when it stands out as a shining example of what not to do on a resume. While there are many ways to make mistakes on a resume, one of the most ubiquitous is the plethora of unnecessary verbiage that accompanies attempts to impress.
That was an example of “Resume Speak“, or in more words, the fine art of “utilizing synergies and leveraging paradigms” seen at a popular Tumblr site of the same name. This site is just a steady stream of things said simply then translated into the kind of business-speak that makes communication bog down. And it is funny. In fact, if you work in the writing field and have anything to do with resumes, it’s hilarious.
Your Words Are Important
The language we use on a resume is more than a vehicle to transmit information. Our choice of words can alert an applicant screening system that we are a potential candidate by using the keywords it is searching for. The way we put our words together can confuse or clarify what we say about our qualifications — and using buzzwords or resume speak is not going to have the effect you are hoping for.
Even the highest level of executive resume writing has to be careful to avoid resume speak because it’s so easy to do. Business and industry have their own vocabularies and phrases. Some of that language comes pretty close to what you’ll see on that Tumblr site because Resume Speak began as a response to the overblown sentences seen far too often in the attempt to impress. As the site says, it’s useless. Don’t do this on your resume.
“Party ’til you puke” is NOT a good career strategy.
It can be challenging, though, if you only equate drinking at social gatherings with getting drunk in order to have a good time. It should be obvious that losing control of your actions is going to have repercussions the following week when you are working with these people, but let’s go over the reason for office parties before I share this great way to control your alcohol intake.
The Purpose of Office Parties
Businesses will provide opportunities for coworkers to get together in a less-business setting because it’s good for morale. Everybody can relax a bit, the divisions between boss and worker are softened, and people will be more productive when there are some friendships going on. These are networking events, to be honest. This is the time you can talk to the CEO without an appointment, or discover a shared interest with your manager. It’s also a relaxed time to know you are appreciated, since most gatherings are hosted by the company.
But the business gathering is still a business gathering and unprofessional behavior will cost you big time since it affects the way you are perceived. You need to know your etiquette for office holiday parties, and a big part of that is not over drinking. How do you keep from drinking too much?
Choose A Drink That Isn’t Your Favorite
If you are delighted that your favorite cocktail is being served for free, the natural reaction is to get one! And another one! And more! Why? Because it’s your favorite drink and you will just suck it down lovingly and want more. This is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, save the favorite drinks for when you are with friends who don’t care what you act like when you drink.
Choosing a drink that isn’t your favorite means you will drink it slowly. You’ll also be reminded that this is a business function and you have more important things to do than drink.
Of course, I am not suggesting you choose a drink you hate, because then your facial expressions would distract everybody. Pick one you think is okay, just not your favorite. No grimaces, no gulps, just sips and conversation. You’ll have this office party thing down as a success.
There are some areas of life where perfection is not what you want. Friendships don’t need perfection to be good, right? In fact, the people who pretend to be perfect rarely have a lot of friends because perfectionists keep others at arm’s length so the world doesn’t find out they aren’t perfect, after all.
Relationships are stable because we give each other room to fail and correct our mistakes. We don’t need to be perfect in order to be loved or liked. We do need to be able to admit when we are wrong and be willing to fix it.
Some Things Must Be Perfect
As endearing as a mistake can be in a friend, there are times you don’t get a do-over.
Resumes are a perfect example of this, because there isn’t a relationship established yet. Spelling errors aren’t going to get you much more than a ribbing from your grammar-Nazi friend, but that same error will get your resume cast aside by the HR person assigned to fill the position. The HR person is going on a quick first impression based on your resume, but your friend is looking at your mistakes in context of your friendship.
Make Sure Your Resume Meets Professional Standards
If your resume isn’t resulting in job interviews, ask that grammar-Nazi friend to help by giving you a resume critique. People who have professional standards for writing got there by making lots of mistakes and correcting them, over and over again. The problem isn’t that your resume is imperfect. It’s that you haven’t dealt with the imperfections yet.
Resumes need to meet professional standards that cover more than spelling. Polishing your resume so it shines with perfection is a perfect way to prove you are worth considering for a position. Once you are at your new job, you can share some imperfections with your new friends.