Editor’s Note: This blog is a modified excerpt from professional “headhunter” and bestselling job-hunting book author Skip Freeman’s next book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets series of job-hunting books, CAREER STALLED? How to Get Your Career Back in ‘High Gear’ and Land the Job You Deserve─Your Dream Job. Publication is scheduled for early 2013.
By the time this blog is posted 2012 will be all but over. As we enter 2013, how are you feeling about your career? Does each Sunday night bring feelings of positive anticipation for the upcoming week, when you can get back to the job you love? If so, great! If not, will 2013 be the year you (finally?) start to change things? Will it be the year you start making things happen in your career?
There are essentially THREE types of people in the World:
- Those who MAKE things happen;
- Those who WATCH what happens; and
- Those who WONDER what happened.
Which type of person are you? If you want to succeed in today’s job market you had better be a person who makes things happen! Unless you are among that select group of professionals who are highly sought after because of a unique skill set in huge demand and in very short supply, you simply cannot afford to take a “wait and see” approach to advancing your career. You literally have to start “shaking the bushes,” taking the initiative, doing those things that will brand you as being among the crème de la crème. In other words, you have to start making things happen for yourself and your career!
In this blog I am going to tell you how you can get started on making things happen for yourself and your career in the upcoming year by focusing, initially, on just two very basic, yet key elements comprising your professional brand—your résumé and your LinkedIn presence.
What Does Your Résumé Say About Your Professional Brand?
As you perhaps can imagine, as a professional “headhunter” I read (or I should say “scan” because I simply don’t have the time to read each and every résumé that pops up on my office computer) hundreds of résumés each and every business day. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of these résumés are rather mundane and very “run of the mill,” and as a result, most are hit with the DELETE key in rather short order.
The primary reason that these résumés don’t even make the first “cut” with me (and with most other hiring professionals) is this: While I can usually tell what the potential candidate currently does (or previously did) in his or her job, rarely is there any indication whatsoever as to how well he or she did the job or, even more important, any implication/indication as to the potential value the candidate can bring to the position I am attempting to fill for my hiring company client. (See Do You Have a Resume or a ‘Job Description’? for more information.)
It is probably safe to assume that virtually everyone reading this blog has a résumé. It is also probably safe to say, however, that many have merely been “recycling” the same résumé for quite some time. My professional advice? Take a fresh, new look at your current résumé, read it over very carefully, then throw it in the trash can and create a new, job-winning résumé that not only tells who you are professionally but also sells what you “bring to the table” for a prospective employer! Here is just one example of how to accomplish that:
- Using descriptive language, paint a “word picture” of your current (and previous) position(s). Then, quantify the achievements/accomplishments resulting from your performance in the position to give the reader some “cause for pause.”
Here is an example of how the majority of candidates represent their current and previous job experience on their résumés:
Manager, database systems – Responsible for maintenance of customer database systems in support of company marketing initiatives.
Consider how a SUPERSTAR candidate presents this same information in his/her résumé:
Manager, database systems – Led a team of 25 programmers charged with creating a dynamic redesign of customer database to enhance ongoing company marketing initiatives, resulting in a 10% increase in repeat sales during the first year of implementation and an overall increase in customer satisfaction of 15%.
See the significant difference between these two approaches? Which approach would immediately attract your attention if you were a hiring professional? This is the type of thing you need to start paying attention to in your own résumé, if you desire to start making things happen for yourself and your career in 2013. If you don’t feel you have the skills and talents to create a job-winning résumé, then seek professional assistance.
Having a LinkedIn Profile is NOT the Same as Being On LinkedIn!
I am also going to assume that most who are reading this blog have a LinkedIn profile, although you might be surprised to learn that there are still some professionals out there who genuinely desire to advance their careers but have yet to take this crucial step toward achieving that goal. Significant to note, however, is that merely having a LinkedIn profile is not the same thing as being on LinkedIn in any meaningful way. Simply having a profile on LinkedIn is similar to posting your résumé on the Internet and hoping that a hiring official might just “stumble” upon it some fine day and contact you about a career opportunity. Might happen, but I wouldn’t count on it!
One of the first orders of business to begin making things happen in your career in 2013 is to revisit LinkedIn and make sure that the professional brand you project on the site is the one you want and need to project. Here are some considerations:
- Is your profile 100% complete, or is it still merely a “skeleton” and therefore largely meaningless to hiring professionals?
- Do the headline on and the body copy within your profile contain the key words (and other information) that you know (or should know) will be included in candidate searches conducted by hiring professionals?
- Do you understand the tremendous power inherent in LinkedIn “connections,” as well as how to increase your number of connections and unleash that power?
There are a number of very useful, quite informative books on how to unleash the powerful professional networking capabilities of LinkedIn, but one of the best I’ve seen recently is by LinkedIn guru Greig Wells, LinkedIn Insider Secrets to Your Job Search, available on Amazon.com.
The ball, as they say, is in your court. If you feel that your career has “stalled,” that you’re not taking full advantage of the many career opportunities that may await you even in today’s very challenging job market, only you can really change things.
Are you ready to start making things happen in the New Year, or are you going to continue watching things happen and risk ending up wondering what happened?!
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.