- Every year or so, take a few hours to review your career. Are you happy? Are you learning? Do you still enjoy what you do? Is it time to make a change? Is it time to focus on a new career?
- If needed, have tough conversations and stop avoiding them. Meet with a colleague or a boss, ask for their perspective, provide some of your insights, and then together develop a plan to move forward.
- Take time to reconnect with a few interesting people in your network. Reach out and arrange a coffee or lunch meeting. No hidden agenda, just being present with the person.
- Compare your job responsibilities and salary with similar positions in other organizations. Are there skills you may want to increase? Salary gaps that need to be addressed? Or confirmation that you are doing well compared to other professionals?
- Consider joining associations or taking some training to gain new skills. Prepare for your next career move now, not when the opening is announced.
- Make this the year you are open to criticism or “feedback” and then use the information to become better at what you do. Gather the teachable nuggets and use them to your advantage.
- In the chaos, there can be an opportunity. Many professionals experience a career acceleration by taking on a mess and creating a positive difference.
Understand what issue(s) the hiring manager wants the new hire to fix
There’s a job opening for a reason. What challenges has the manager experienced and how will the employee in the position either solve it or develop a solution? Understanding this perspective can help you prepare for the interview, strategically answer questions, and uncover expectations and responsibilities.
Have an engaging conversation, not just quick answers
It’s common to be nervous during an interview. By focusing and listening to questions during the interview—instead of mentally thinking about what to say while the person is still asking the question—you can respond in a way that is thorough, honest, and succinct. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions to avoid wrong assumptions.
“Do you have any questions for me?” does not mean the meeting is over
This is a very important part of the interview. Unprepared candidates will fail by saying they don’t have any questions. Use this opportunity to learn more about the position.
- What were some ways previous employees succeeded in the role?
- How will results be measured?
- What are 1-2 key initiatives the team is focused on this year?
- Is the company culture supportive of teamwork or individual contributors?
Show interest in the position and organization using strategic questions that reflect your interest and knowledge about the job.
Lifelong learning and curiosity
Many hiring managers have told me that formal education is less important than an employee’s demonstrated interest and aptitude for learning. Express that you are willing to learn by mentioning interests, discussing training, and talking about learning opportunities that support the company focus.
After the interview, it’s important to send a thoughtful thank-you note. Many employers notice when candidates skip this step, so be sure to create a good impression. Job offers are typically the result of being prepared, taking time and putting in the effort.
Looking for assistance with interview preparation? Contact me and we can discuss your project.
Is your professional marketing document (aka résumé) failing to secure interviews? Résumés fail because of missing sections and poor content. A targeted résumé is effective when it includes the following sections and content:
Start the résumé with your first and last name, telephone number, and an email address. Some professional résumés also include additional contact information such as a location (city and state), LinkedIn URL, or other social media profile details.
Avoid incomplete, hard to read contact information. Another issue is placing contact information in a header section of the document because some applicant tracking systems (ATS) are unable to scan header and footer content, which means the document could be denied due to lack of contact information. Text boxes should also be avoided for the same reason.
Job Goal, Introduction, and Keywords
Under the contact information, include the job name of the position you are trying to secure to create an ATS match.
Modern introduction sections provide a few bulleted career achievements proving your valuable contributions. Be sure to include the organization name with the achievement, so readers understand how and where you contributed.
Keywords aligned with specific knowledge are great to include, again for ATS matching. For example, “Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification” for some job opportunities will be a differentiator and key information.
Avoid general phrases such as “successful team member” or “strong work ethic” because these phrases say nothing unique about the professional and are overused. Avoid using an objective statement – it’s self-serving and states the obvious.
Work history is usually the most robust résumé section, listing relevant work in chronological order. Not all work needs to be included in the résumé. Previous career contributions that are irrelevant to a job goal can be deemphasized or omitted.
Avoid a job obituary listing general responsibilities.
Education & Training
The education section placement on a résumé depends on the education relevance to the job goal. For recent graduates, the education section is usually listed higher on the résumé – under the introduction section. Career changers who have continued education or training to support a new job aim can list education and training under the introduction section to highlight new knowledge and credentials.
Professionals who have two or more years of experience related to the job goal will place the education section under the experience section because hiring managers are more interested in learning about the experience and accomplishments than the education. That is why seasoned professional résumés typically have an education and training section toward the end of the document.
Only attended college for a few classes? Include that education information and the number of credits completed, even if a degree was not awarded. Training and certifications relevant to the job goal are also good to include.
Avoid education disclaimers or statements explaining why a degree was abandoned or not earned. Personal education philosophy statements do not need to be included. Employers don’t want to read excuses and if they want to know your philosophy they will ask.
Volunteer, Board Member, and Other Interests
This section can be a differentiator from other qualified candidates. Serving the community as a volunteer or board member can be included in a résumé to showcase leadership skills and contributions. Providing one to two sentences about hobbies and interests can spur discussions with future employers.
Avoid religious, political, or other controversial statements and views.
Make sure your career document is communicating effectively by checking your content.