Ready to begin that search? You sure? (2nd in a series)

March 16, 2009

Now that you have your resume complete, you’re ready to begin your job search in earnest, right?

The answer to that question depends on several things. Ultimately, are you ready to start searching for a job? The search for a new position is very much a job in itself and you have to treat it as such for the best chances of success. The various job websites would have you believe it is as simple as posting your resume, but much like the picture of a juicy hamburger on a restaurant menu that somehow doesn’t arrive at your table with the cheese and fixings neatly hanging off the side, the job boards’ claims are a misrepresentation of reality.

In order to really be ready for the job search, you need to know a lot about yourself and what your objectives are, not to mention your limits. In a difficult economy and job market, those employers who are hiring, are more selective than usual and have a bigger pool of candidates to choose from. You have to remember that not every job is going to be right for you. Easy for me to say as I have a job I love. And for anyone currently unemployed, the prospect of a paycheck makes almost any job look good. But pull up the covers and take a really good look at yourself.

There are countless factors you have to consider in self-preparation:
> What am I good at?
> What do I want to do? What don’t I want to do?
> What will I do? What won’t I do?
> How far am I willing to commute?
> Will I relocate? Will I travel?
> How stable is the company?
> Is the compensation in line with my needs?

The list goes on and on. Granted, many of these questions will have to be answered (partially or in full) during an interview process, but you need to decide, before you begin searching for jobs, what the acceptable answers are to yourself. If not, you will spend a tremendous amount of time applying to jobs that ultimately are not right for you and will only further exasperate the situation you are in.

Let’s take a closer look at the hot topic issue right now – compensation. What you are paid is clearly the biggest question for candidates and employers alike. But each and every one of us is in a different financial situation and therefore your answer to yourself will be completely different and unique from anyone else. Many of your colleagues are openly dismissing many of the questions I pose above and even negotiating to take less pay than in the past, just to get back to work. Is that the right strategy for you? What if the offered salary of a position is the same as you are making now, but the commute is twice as far? What range of salary is acceptable to you?

Maybe the biggest question regarding compensation you need to ask yourself is if your expected pay is realistic right now? You may very well be worth $100/hour, but if equally qualified candidates will gladly take $75/hour right now, how flexible are you?

I can’t answer that question or any of these questions for you – and I will not even attempt to do so because these are deeply personal issues that you need to decide on. But decide you must and as you seek out a new job, know what your flexibility limits are when it comes to pay and every other possible variable. Once you have given ample thought to these questions, and you have a clear vision of what will and will not work for you, the real work of searching for a job begins.

In the next article of the series, we will discuss the job search itself. From websites to recruiters to networking, I will help you navigate the crowded roads on your search for a new job.

Are you looking for an IT job? Visit Axis Technical Group to learn more.
Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com

(See previous post “Looking for a job? You’re not alone…really you’re not”)


Looking for a job? You’re not alone…really, you’re not (1st in a series)

March 9, 2009

Read the news online any day and you are bombarded with stories about unemployment levels in the United States reaching and surpassing record numbers. I venture to say most of us whose jobs have not been directly affected by the economy at least know someone who has lost their job due. Many people still employed are nonetheless dipping their job search toes in the water as they worry about their current employers’ viability.

On a daily basis I am introduced through my network to numerous technology professionals who are amongst the jobless, each seeking some silver lining in what is clearly a stormy job market. What I offer each of them is the plain, un-coated truth of what they can expect and what they need to do to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. Often, this is not what they want to hear, but understanding what you are facing in this job market is important if you are going to be successful in navigating through it.

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will share some of that plain truth with you, and offer some of the tools, information and tips that will help you pilot your own successful job search. The series will be geared towards the Information Technology (IT) industry and job market, but really can apply to any job search. The perception in the IT segment of the market is that there are no jobs out there. The reality is quite the opposite as there are still numerous opportunities in IT, but they call for specific skills and expertise, not to mention offer lower salaries and the chance to compete with a stampede of candidates  vying for the same position. Every candidate is facing increasingly stiff competition from other highly qualified individuals and it is those people who are best prepared for the job search that will ultimately find success.

For truly the first time in a depressed market, technology jobs and spending is not the first to go on the chopping block. Clearly budgets have been slashed, and people have lost their jobs. But when you look at the IT marketplace, you see companies realizing that in order to make money now and in the future, technology is the force that is driving improvements in daily workflow, process, and productivity. Therefore, organizations that are cutting back across the board are looking to their technology team last and with a less severe cut than other areas.

So, as a job seeker, what can you do to get the right job for you? Let’s start with your resume.

The Resume

Your resume is your business card; it is your introduction to prospective employers, and certainly should not be your autobiography. It is meant to be representative of who YOU are and there are countless services out there who will prey on your belief that you have to have the world’s greatest resume. They will charge you an arm and a leg, and sometimes your first born child only to produce something for you that looks and reads great, but isn’t you. DON’T WASTE THE MONEY!

Writing and updating your resume is a deeply personal journey that anyone seeking a job must undertake, as it will help you better understand who you are professionally and what you offer prospective employers. What you find out about yourself in this process is also typically the answer to the “tell me about you” question in interviews. Plus, read on and you’ll learn how you can have multiple professionals critique and sometimes help edit your resume for FREE!

Format

What should the resume look like? There are plenty of templates available on the web, or ask a friend or colleague to see their resume as an example. There are many different formats that work well so find one that you are comfortable with. I highly recommend you do not use templates that are built with spreadsheet-like cells and tables. Many companies, and most of the online job boards, use automated software for uploading your resume to internal systems and most can’t recognize tables and sections.

When printing out your resume, use normal plain white paper. You don’t need fancy paper or colors to get someone’s attention. Maybe back in the day of stamping an envelope and mailing your profile to a company this worked, but now I look at such resumes and see someone fluffing and trying to draw attention away from their actual skills and experience. Choose one font (Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana all work well) and do not mix & match different fonts in the resume. You can utilize font sizes to subtly distinguish between different sections of your resume if you choose, but this also can be accomplished through the use of bold and underlined lettering.

Content

The resume has essentially 3 sections: Summary, Experience, and Education/etc.

The “Summary” section is a brief description (2-3 sentences) of who you are professionally, followed by a list of your technical skills and abilities. This entire section really should be no more than a half page.

Next is your “Professional Experience.” Trust me, no hiring manager or recruiter wants to see 4 long narrative paragraphs about each job and/or project you have worked on. It might very well be interesting reading, but no one has the time to read through it in detail and if we wanted to read a novel, we would go to a library. Instead, briefly describe your role and responsibilities and what your employer does/makes/sells/etc. (2-4 sentences). Then bullet-point your specific accomplishments and achievements (I recommend no more than about 5 such items). If you worked with specific technical skills on a project or projects, you can then list that technical environment as well.

Following professional experience, highlight your “Education,” including college and any other programs/courses that would be of specific help in the job you are seeking. Also, list certifications and other accomplishments outside the realm of your work experience that would be an added benefit to prospective employers.

Lastly, your contact information at the top of your resume is extremely important. DUH! But many people make the mistake of over or under doing it. List your home address (at least city of residence), along with the best number to reach you at (don’t list multiple phone numbers) and one email address. That email address should be something simple that includes your name. If your email address is something like fridaynitepartier@anymail.com, you might want to get a new email address for your job search.

The Review

After you have a draft of your resume, go back and re-read it. Then do it one more time and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. Nothing turns an employer off faster than someone who couldn’t be bothered to spell-check their resume before submitting it. It also tells the employer you are not someone who pays attention to detail.

Once you are satisfied with your resume draft, ask friends or family to review and edit it – you’ll be cross-eyed from looking at it yourself so many times that a fresh set of eyes will notice any grammatical or other errors you and your computer missed.

Now you have your resume but would like a professional to look at it. Go ahead and post it on a few job boards, and in no time, you’ll have recruiters contacting you. We will talk all about recruiters in a later posting here, but recruiters work with resumes every day so who better to know what does and doesn’t work? Pick a recruiter or two that you trust (better yet, get a referral for a good recruiter from a friend or colleague) and most of the good ones will review your resume and offer you strong constructive feedback. In some cases, recruiters and headhunters will actually offer to rewrite your resume for free!

Check back soon as we discuss marketing yourself in a jungle of job seekers, recruiters and websites all promising to get you that great new job.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


A little face time

February 26, 2009

Today is the 2nd day of my Northern California trip to visit clients. When our plane touched down at SFO, I saw a United Airlines plane at a nearby gate, and thought of a commercial for the airline I had seen years earlier. It’s a commercial that has had a profound effect on me in a business sense, and I have often shared it with my team.

After my client meetings yesterday, and as I drove from San Francisco to Sacramento, I thought about just how valuable a little face time with people is. In a day and age where we have seemingly unlimited technology tools to increase communication between clients, friends, colleagues, and loved ones, everyone seems to have less time to sit down and have an old fashion face-to-face meeting. But it is those meetings, and the time and effort spent in getting them sent up, that pay big dividends now AND in the future.

Take the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez yesterday… while no deal is done, the big news was the Dodgers and Manny’s representatives met face-to-face and by all accounts, a deal is now near. Yet since last October, there have been no reported in-person meetings and where has it gotten the Dodgers, Manny or more importantly, the fans? There is a different tone, a different seriousness, a different reality, when you are seeing and talking to someone while you look across at each other.

While nothing specific may come out of my client meetings on this trip, it is the time we get to look at one another across a table or desk, and make that personal connection that truly does matter in the end. Such meetings make people “real” and not just a cyber-personality or a voice on a phone. I believe it shows my clients that we care and are serious about working for them. How can anyone offer that sincerity if all communication is by phone or online?

As we all look for ways to make it through this economy and all of its challenges, we must LOOK at our clients, our employees, and our colleagues, in their eyes and make that connection. Those that make the extra effort and don’t rely simply on a quick email or a quick note on FaceBook or LinkedIn, are the ones who will excel now, and even more so when the economic climate warms up. The company in that United Airlines commercial may be make-believe, and the ad, originally shown in 1989 may seem dates, but the message behind it couldn’t be any more true today.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


looking for a job?

February 18, 2009

Interesting article today on Yahoo. Like so many other similar articles, data continues to show that software engineer remains one of the most plentiful jobs in the US, but more importantly, of the 10 plentiful jobs listed, ranks #2 in terms of average annual salary.

read more at:

http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-wanted_you_10_jobs_where_employers_come_looking_for_you-668

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


for Valentine’s Day: Business Dating

February 13, 2009

Dating isn’t just for lovers. It’s for business too. In my job and in the Professional Services industry, dating is essentially what we do on a daily basis. It’s Business Dating. We seek out prospective clients, we get to know them, and hopefully we engage with them to provide our expertise. OK, not exactly like dating, but you get the picture.

Our world used to be full of large Networking events. It seemed every company put one on in their local territory, and larger companies threw lavish 3-day long events that often meant an airplane trip and hotel stay. But much like the rage of Internet Dating in certain years, Business Dating is now all the rage. It has come on so quickly, in relative terms, that any company who is not already engaged in Business Dating over the Internet needs to ask themselves, why not?

What is Business Dating? It is the incorporation of the tools and communication power that Social and Business Networking sites provide to everyone, whether it’s to make new friends, meet new prospective clients, find someone to hire, or in turn, find someone to hire you. In today’s challenging economic climate, there is a huge increase in companies exploring Social Networking strategies to increase revenue, or at least opportunities for revenue. I personally have successfully used LinkedIn and FaceBook to both secure warm introductions from colleagues to prospective clients, and also to reach out to new pools of top technical talent eager for the next opportunity.

To invest in Business Dating means to invest a lot of time, just as with traditional networking, sometimes more. It’s not as easy as logging on to a dating website, picking a couple of attractive people and sending off a brief, clever note to introduce yourself. But it’s not that far away either. Like searching through countless profiles of possible mates, for Business Dating you have to spend a great deal of time mining existing contacts, and researching out names of people you want to be introduced to, and then the people in your network who can make that connection. The work is worth it, and unlike the seedy bar where you spend $10 on a watered-down drink and pick up the guy or girl you can’t bring home to your folks, most of the tools on these networking sites are free.

However, just like the seedy bar, or the conversation with the girl you met through Match.com that leads to a first date, you still have to ask a friend or colleague for that introduction, and that, for some, is the biggest hurdle to overcome.

With so many people out of work, and so many companies desperately seeking a sale, it seems everyone has been thrust in to some quasi sales role to seek out these introductions. On some sites, people are focused only on the number of contacts they can connect boast on their profile. Such a strategy may work for some, but to me, it completely undermines the real value of these sites. Instead, I connect with people and colleagues I know and work with. I regularly turn down contact requests from people I don’t know trying to tap in to my connections. Accepting those invitations would be a disservice to those people I am connected with and would likely usher in a new wave of people cold-calling on my connections. Who wants that?

Ultimately, I believe that Business and Social Networking will be one of the vehicles that help turn our economy around. Their adoption as a part of everyday business is expanding exponentially. I’d love to hear how you are using these avenues of cyber-networking to improve your own business situation or email me to learn more about how you can use tools like LinkedIn and FaceBook to your advantage.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com