Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Selling yourself, the brand in you!

It's over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That's not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It's full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

As you scope out the path your "career" will take, remember: the last thing you want to do is become a manager. Like "résumé," "manager" is an obsolete term. It's practically synonymous with "dead end job." What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects. When you look at the progression of a career constructed out of projects, directionality is not only hard to track -- Which way is up? -- but it's also totally irrelevant.

Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me Inc. What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as a technical wizard? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market? What's your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love? However you answer these questions, search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement. And review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.

No matter what you're doing today, there are four things you've got to measure yourself against. First, you've got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you've got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you've got to be a broad-gauged visionary -- a leader, a teacher, a farsighted "imagineer." Fourth, you've got to be a businessperson -- you've got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.

It's this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Career Planning

What is Career Planning?

Career planning is a lifelong process, which includes choosing an occupation, getting a job, growing in our job, possibly changing careers, and eventually retiring. The Career Planning Site offers coverage of all these areas. This article will focus on career choice and the process one goes through in selecting an occupation. This may happen once in our lifetimes, but it is more likely to happen several times as we first define and then redefine ourselves and our goals.

Career Planning: A Four Step Process

The career planning process is comprised of four steps. One might seek the services of a career development professional to help facilitate his or her journey through this process. Whether or not you choose to work with a professional, or work through the process on your own is less important than the amount of thought and energy you put into choosing a career.

Gather information about yourself (self assessment)

-Preferred Environments
-Developmental Needs
-Your realities

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Good Answer for Job Hopper

Answer: Well, at ABC Corporation, I was hired as an entry level salesman with the promise of rapid promotion to management within one year. After a year and a half, I realized that I wasn't going to be promoted as promised and took a position elsewhere because I could not support my family without the commissions that were promised. At Acme, I was told that the job was very challenging and exciting with significant opportunities for advancement within one year, but this did not materialize. The job was very unchallenging and the company seemed to be failing. I felt like I was capable of doing much more than sitting around with little to do, so I left. I admit that my resume shows some job hopping of late, but this is why I am so interested in the position with your company. I feel certain that this position offers very challenging and interesting work, as well as opportunities for advancement for those willing to work hard. Your company is very profitable and stable and has a good reputation in the industry. I know that this will be a position I will stay with a very long time."

Tell me about yourself?

This is usually the first question asked because it is a good ice-breaker. You shouldn't use this open-ended question to offer useless information about your hobbies and home life. Many people will make the mistake of saying, "I'm 32 years old, married, and mother of three children aged 5, 7 and 9. My hobbies are knitting, cycling, reading and . . blah blah blah." This is not a good answer.

A good answer to this question is about two minutes long and focuses on work-related skills and accomplishments. Tell the interviewer why you think your work-related skills and accomplishments would be an asset to the company. Describe your education and work history (be brief). Then mention one or two personal character traits and tell the interviewer how the traits helped you accomplish a task at school or work. Do not describe yourself with tired old clichés such as "I am a team player," "I have excellent communication skills," unless you can prove it with an illustration. For example: "I would describe myself as a self-starter. At Acme Corporation, there was a problem with . . . . . so I created a new inventory system (give details) that reduced expenses 30 percent."

For example, someone with a new degree in an IT field might answer this question as follows: "I have enjoyed working with computers since I was nine years old and have always been adept as using them. Throughout junior high and high school, friends and relatives were always asking me for help with their computer problems, so no one was surprised when I chose to major in computers." His answer could go on to explain how in college, he discovered he wanted to concentrate his studies on a specific IT field; how his internships or work experience influenced him or led him in a certain direction; and how he has come to decide that he wants to work for this particular company and why he would be an asset to this company.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Good Resume Promise Good Result

Putting together a resume is very serious business. Often it is the first impression you will make on a prospective employer. Hopefully, after looking over your resume, the employer will grant you the opportunity to make a second impression.

If we look at the job search as a marketing campaign, we can then look at the resume as a print advertisement or a marketing brochure. If you take a look through a magazine you will see many ads. Try to find one that tells you to buy a product because the company needs to increase its profits. You will be hard pressed to find such a beast. The ads you see tell you what the manufacturer's product can do for you — make your smile bright, your hair shiny, or simply make your life better.

When putting together your resume, evaluate the needs of the employer and then determine how you can fill those needs. If you have access to a computer (which you do if you are reading this article) and a quality printer, you can design a targeted resume for every job for which you apply. If you have to mass produce your resume, you will have to do a little guesswork to come up with one that will impress everyone.

Choosing a Resume Format

Next you must determine what type of resume format to use. There are three basic types: chronological, functional, and a combination of the two. The following sections will explain what each of these types are and when to choose one type over another.

Chronological Resume

The chronological resume is probably the one with which most people are familiar. On it, work experience is listed in reverse chronological order (most recent job first). The period of time during which you were employed is listed first, followed by the name of the employer and then the employer's location. A description for each job is also included. Following work history is a section on education. If you are trying to show career growth, a chronological resume may be the way to go. If your most recent job is store manager, while the one before that is department manager, and the one before that is sales clerk, you can show a history of promotion. However, if your work history has been spotty or if it has been stagnant you shouldn't use a chronological resume. If you are changing careers, a chronological resume is not for you either.

Functional Resume

A functional resume categorizes skills by function, emphasizing your abilities. This is useful if you are changing careers and want to show how you can transfer your skills. As stated previously, it is important to show prospective employers what you can offer them. A functional resume does just that. A functional job objective is given first, followed by several paragraphs, each discussing a different job function. Examples of functions are: Supervision and Management, Accounting, and Writing and Editing. Begin with the one you want to emphasize most. If you are customizing your resume for different employers, you can change your functional job objective as well as the order in which you list the functions. However, if you don't list your previous jobs, the person reviewing your resume may be suspicious.

Combination Resume

A combination resume is exactly what it sounds like — it combines a functional resume with a chronological one. An objective is listed at the top, after your name and address, of course. Following that are paragraphs describing job functions. A section titled "Employment Experience" comes next. That is where the chronological part of the resume comes in. List employers and dates in this section. Do not offer further descriptions here as you have already described your abilities in the functional part of this resume. This is a useful format if you are changing careers but have a solid employment history. I also find it useful if your job duties on a single job were very diverse and you want to stress your various abilities. If you spent a long time at one job but moved up through the company, you might want to use a combination resume.