Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2011 New Year's Career Search Resolutions

I will use December to get “into gear” regarding my career search with these resolutions:

1) I will ensure that my resume is current, two pages in length, proof-read, with a two-three line powerful summary statement at the top of the first page. I will ensure that my bio is current, interesting to read and would cause someone to want to meet me.

3) I will ensure my 60-second "elevator speech" is current and as interesting as my bio. I will practice delivering it until it is second-nature.

4) I will re-contact my references (three supervisors, three peers, three subordinates) to update them on my search status, remind them of my key strengths and thank them for being willing to act as a reference. I will avoid over-using my references and thank them when I “land”.

5) I will create or re-energize my support network and meet them and new contacts on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

6) I will create a CRM program (www.freecrm.com) and keep a careful record of all contacts that I have ever met that are pertinent to my search. I will follow-up on all opportunities with alacrity and energy.

7) I will consider working with an executive career coach and taking some assessments to sharpen my sense of my professional profile, interests, skills, and needs. This step will help me clarify my search objectives and create an effective and vital search action plan that will result in the right position for me (I will "look for work, not just a job").

8) I will draw a 40-mile circle around my home and identify all the companies in that circle where I would like to work. I will learn all that I can via the internet and contacts about how their business could benefit from my expertise, skills and interests. I will contact the most likely executives, including board members, to establish relationships that might lead to consulting or employment.

9) I will consider obtaining presentation skills and interviewing training to sharpen my presence and confidence in interviews. I will prepare for the wide range of questions that I will be asked. I will be expert in how to interview effectively by phone and in person.

10) I will dedicate a specific amount of time each week, ideally the same days and times, to my search. I will treat my search as seriously as I do (did) my job.

11) If I am not working, I will find a part-time job that keeps me feeling active, pays something and is consistent in some way with my career objectives if possible.

12) I will keep my family, friends and support group current regarding my search and I will enlist their support and love to keep me energized and focused.

13) Once I land that next consulting or full-time employment, I will keep doing all of the above to be well-prepared for the next “work interruption”.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why Not Call Board Members in Your Career Search?

No One Ever Calls Board Members!!

In your career search, consider contacting BOARD MEMBERS. Think about it. They are not contacted by job seekers because people don't think to do so, or they are intimidated from doing so.

Board Members are people too! They like to hear from smart, experienced executives like you who might be a solution to a problem or need that they have for their company. Board members have skin in the game and may be disgruntled with current executives or may be responsible for a major company initiative for which they may need your help.

Check the board members of companies where you want to work and deserve to work based upon your skills, background and interests. Email them and call them, offer to meet to chat about the company and how you might be able to help. A hint as to what may be high on their minds could be found in the "Press" section of the company website. See if current projects, introductions, acquisistions or other news is right in your wheelhouse.

Contact board members. It could be a fast means of connecting with your target companyies' key opportunities.

Good luck and happy hunting!

The Best Career Tool- Your Communications Platform

Your Communications Platform

A simple document I call "Your Communications Platform" is very useful as a means of organizing all your communications including your resume selling line, bio, 60 elevator speech, LinkedIn page, and other communications to ensure you are speaking clearly and with "one voice" to people who matter in your career search.

The first section is the "Key Selling Statement". It concisely describes your primary professional focus (senior IT executive) and your key support value (adept at building effective teams across the company).

The second section is your "Target Audience". You have to know to whom you are speaking in order to create strong communications messages.

The third section is your "Unique Selling Point". This is the special quality that sets you apart from other professionals in your field.

The fourth section is your "Key Support Points". This includes your education, major employment highlights, professional strengths, and other factors that add credibility to your Key Selling Statement.

The fifth section consists of 3-4 brief stories that illustrate, in bright prose, all of the above information.

You should write all of this down, refine it with some close associates and then PRACTICE and USE IT in all of your communications.

Good luck and good hunting!

"Helping" for Career Success

The Career-Building Power of “Helping”

One of the most common complaints that I hear from job-seekers, especially those over 45, is that “the company where I was interviewing said I was overqualified for the job”.

I have come to believe that this is “company-speak” for several serious concerns on the part of hiring executives including “I don’t think I could work with this person”, “I am afraid he/she would take over my job”, “I really felt that the candidate was thinking about him/’herself and not our company in the interview process” and other similar negative conclusions.

The point is that companies are not actually concerned that the senior candidate is “over-qualified”. They want highly qualified people.
They are really saying they are worried that they will not be able to manage the experienced senior candidate because they are too taken with themselves and their success, and as a result, represent a threat to the hiring manager and perhaps, the company.

Think about it. Most of us look at the interviewing process as a chance to prove ourselves, “strut our stuff” and impress the people conducting the interview. We are taught to “sell ourselves” and cite specific achievements and successes. In short, we are taught to “bowl ‘em over”.

This may be true in the early stages of your career where you needed to impress the company with your educational record and personal dynamism. That’s because you hadn’t accomplished much yet.

However, once you are twenty or more years into your career, your resume and your bio (hope you have one) will tell your story and clearly illustrate your expertise.
What you really need to do in the interviewing process is “get them to like you”.
You don’t succeed at getting them to like you and want you to join them by over-whelming them and over-impressing them with facts, figures, and other fireworks.
You will succeed at getting them to like you and want to hire you if you use this approach::

- “I am an experienced (your professional focus) who has succeeded and is
dedicated to first and foremost, helping my fellow employees, company and clients succeed. My primary role is to help others. And that is what I would like to do at your company.”

Importantly, this takes the focus off of you and places the spotlight of your energy on THEM and their challenges. By the age of 45 or so, you are now an expert, someone who knows how to get the work done. Your resume and bio explain all of this.

But more importantly, you are someone who knows how to work with and through people to achieve those goals. So, make sure you convince, first yourself, and then others that your primary mission is not to take responsibility for achieving all sorts of goals and objectives. Your mission is, instead, to portray a sincere interest in others and in helping others.

Yes, you will have to do accomplish all those important goals and objectives, but the way you want people to believe that you do it is through helping, aiding and supporting others to get the work done.

Think about this and try it out. In fact, try it out with your family and friends, and watch them begin to look at you differently.

I hope this “perspective adjustment” makes sense to you, and helps you obtain the kind of work (not just a job) that is perfect for you. You deserve it.

Good luck.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Re-Build Your Professional Network-Now!!

So, How Do I Re-build My Network?
By Peter Engler, www.englercareergroup.com
In my fifteen years of executive coaching, part of which was as a partner at a San Francisco retained search firm specializing in C-level searches for emerging dot-coms, I am often asked “how do I get my network re-built?”
People are so busy working to expand or keep their job that they have neglected their most valuable career-building tool, their network.
So here are some steps to get your network back up and running:
• Using Linked-In, spend a couple of late evenings or Saturday mornings connecting with everyone who comes to mind with whom you ever worked or studied. Obtain a list of your college and grad school classmates, and significant professors, and do the same thing. Connect with all the people with whom you ever did business, especially people who used to “sell” to you in your prior jobs. Ask them to join your LinkedIn network. Respond to their “agreement message” with a brief personal update and add them to your database (see below).
• Make sure your LinkedIn page includes your picture, bio, and LinkedIn Groups. Your LinkedIn page is a primary networking tool and should be impressive and complete.
• Next, Go to the websites of companies you respect, want to work at or are simply interested in; note the management team and board members with whom you have synergy.
• Contact them via email based on their highest potential for value to you. Reach out to 5-10 folks each week. Make this a weekly activity. Create a brief email format to use; first paragraph- tell them why you want to connect/meet them; second paragraph- why it is in their interest to know/meet you; third paragraph- state you will call at a specific date/time to set a phone or live meeting, and do it!. Include your bio, NOT your resume. Follow-up with “non-responders” with a brief voice-mail containing the same information in 2-3 weeks and re-send the initial email/bio.
• Note the authors of articles of interest to you in the WSJ, Forbes or other publications, and contact them with a brief note offering to be a source in the future (they need smart sources and will appreciate the offer). Reach out to influential industry leaders who might help you over time (don’t be shy).
• Keep track of all contacts through a CRM program (e.g. freecrm.com).
• Get to the point where you are adding/connecting with 5-6 prospective networking contacts weekly. Maintain your database.
• Every 4-6 months, send your “high-potential/high value” contacts (even “non-responders”) something of interest (WSJ article, etc), and a message of a personal nature (“hope that new product is doing well”, “let’s have coffee when you are in town next time”, etc).
• Begin to identify your “core network” of people who are of real interest and value to you and increase the frequency of contacts to keep them aware of you.
• Be sure to adopt a “helping” approach- avoid asking them for favors or specific help unless you are confident of their support. They will “get the joke” as to your intentions with this networking program, appreciate your consistent outreach, and refer you to opportunities in the spirit of networking.

At first, doing this will be irksome and time-consuming. But, you will begin to feel good about it because being proactive and reaching out to people is good for your soul and your career.

Good luck!