Are you one of those people who go on vacation by getting in the car and driving and then deciding where you are going? Not me. I need to know where we’re headed, what route we plan on taking, how long it should take to get there, and what we plan to do when we arrive. Personally, I don’t like to plan every minute, but I’m not enough of a free spirit to simply wing it.
If you like to figure things out as you go, I predict your job search will be difficult. While you need to be flexible and be able to follow up on leads and new ideas, you also need to have a sense of where you‘re headed. If you don’t know your target destination, you won’t be able tell people about it and they won’t be able to help you get there.
Let me suggest three techniques to help you achieve your dreams. You may have heard these before:
- Write them down,
- Tell someone else what you’ve written down, and
- Publicize your progress toward those goals.
These three techniques form the basis of your personal accountability and will greatly improve your likelihood of success. Writing down your goals forces you to clarify what might otherwise be disconnected thoughts. Sharing your goals with someone else will help you to own them. Then, telling others about your progress will garner you support and encouragement.
The other axiom that comes with goal setting and planning is – Plan the work and work the plan. An effective networking plan needs more than just a final goal. You need interim steps and measures to help keep you on track. Let me describe a level of activity that I encourage you to meet or exceed. Every week you should strive to:
- Identify 3-5 new target companies
- Have 5 networking meetings
- Contact 10 people to request networking meetings
- Read 3-5 blog posts and articles about job search (including this one)
- Read 1-2 articles about your field – stay fresh and current.
That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? My consistent advice is that you need to make finding a job your full time job. Spending an hour or two a day looking for a job won’t cut it. Keep yourself in your traditional work disciplines – get up every day, get dressed, and go to work looking for a job. Take a break for lunch then get back at it. Work until late afternoon and then break for the day. I’ve written before about discipline, and there is no better way to practice or exhibit discipline that in how you conduct your job search every day.
The economy is growing, the jobs are out there, and you need to go get one. Work on your goals and your work plan, and then practice the disciplines that come with hard work. You’ll be rewarded with the job you were looking for.
If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.
Many people list their former job responsibilities on their resume. I suggest in lieu of responsibilities, you list accountabilities. Unfortunately, that often causes quizzical looks.
I believe that the term accountability has gotten a bad rap. These days, about the only time you hear “accountable” is when something has gone wrong and there is a call to see who will be held accountable. In other words, who will be punished because they didn’t do their job right? Or, maybe they are the leader of an organization that was not successful and regardless of the circumstances, it was their fault. Accountability is used a bit like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland shouting “Off with their heads.” If being accountable means that if you fail you are punished, why would anyone want to be accountable?
According to Andy Wood and Bruce Winston, accountability is much more than that. Accountability is a combination of the individual’s willingness to accept the responsibility, her openness in relation to her actions, and the understanding that she will be answerable to her constituents. From an overall business perspective, there is much more to accountability than punishment for failure, but let’s take this back to your resume.
A responsibility statement only states what you were supposed to do. An accountability statement says what you did do. A person typically won’t be punished for managing a call center. A person might be held accountable for managing an outbound call center with 25 operators making 10,000 calls per week and generating $35 million in annual sales. The accountability statement combines the responsibility – managing the call center – with the expected (or even better yet, the actual) results. Now that responsibility has context and scope.
Here’s another example. A Restaurant Server might be responsible for taking customer’s orders. But, he might be accountable for taking order from 37 tables per shift with an average daily revenue of $4,400. This accountability statement says so much more about the amount of work that was completed, and about the person that completed it.
Update your resume and make sure you are not just talking about what you were supposed to do. Instead, proudly state what you were held accountable to do – because if you did that for another organization, you can do that for the next one too.
For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.
There are lots of resources on the Internet for making a resume with tips and templates galore. Out of all that, what is the most important? We’ll I’ve talked with some search pros and we’ve put together these suggestions for creating resume magic. Unfortunately I couldn’t get all of these tips in one post, here is part I – stay tuned for the remainder.
Let’s start with why you’re doing this at all. What is the purpose of your resume? Is it simply a written version of your career history? Is it your opportunity to tell others your goals and aspirations? Is it a chance to detail everything you know and highlight your incredible mastery and technical expertise? Well, yes … and no.
The purpose of your resume is to be your personal brochure and sales pitch indicating why someone should hire you. With a resume you’re not trying to meet your needs, you’re trying to meet the needs of the recruiter and hiring manager. You are attempting to show them that you are the perfect candidate for the job they are trying to fill.
Your resume is a paper representation of you. It should be a personal statement that reflects your technical skills, competencies, expertise, involvement, awards and accomplishments. While templates and sample resumes are great for giving you ideas, your resume needs to be distinctly you, not a template. As you expand your brand, make sure that your cover letter, reference page, thank you letters etc. all have the same look and feel. They need to consistently support your brand.
Here are some guidelines to remember:
- Choose the format that is best for you – Chronological vs. Functional (we absolutely prefer chronological). Use your career progression to support that you know what you know.
- Lead with your strengths. Start with a summary of why you are the best candidate. Add your accomplishments to support those statements. Show your career history as proof of your success and list your education as the foundation for it all.
- Be concise and keep it to no more than two pages – and one page is better. Remember, if you are lucky a recruiter will read the first half of the first page. If you haven’t caught their attention by then you are not going to get that job. If they have to wade through 4 pages of jobs, references and citations you have no hope.
- Customize each resume based on the position and/or company you are applying to. Research the company and tailor the resume to fit what they are looking for.
- Be industry specific, but here’s where some balance is needed. You should include industry buzz words so that companies who use computers to scan and evaluate resumes will find the keywords they are looking for. But, don’t include so much jargon that others can’t understand what you are talking about.
- Be truthful – enough said.
- Make it look good. Use a bright white paper and clean, simple font. Make sure you have sufficient white space so it doesn’t look cluttered. Use formatting to make it easy to read and to highlight the most important parts.
- Make it perfect. Use multiple proofreaders. Your spelling, grammar, and punctuation need to be perfect. Your formatting (bold, underline, italics, centering, line spacing, etc.) needs to be consistent. Your margins should match. Take the time to do it right.
A great resume won’t get you the job, but a bad resume will keep you from it. Stay tuned for some more tips and a focus on accomplishments, the real key to success.