Category Archives: career planning
Candidate throwing their resume at every job post-to see if it sticks. If you weren’t already aware, most companies these days use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to receive, organize, review, and search the resume that everyone sends in for consideration. This means that if their ATS software cannot detect how you match the basic qualifications of the position, you are simply lost in the mix. Your resume and information will NOT appear in search results because it does NOT match any of the key-words. Once a resume makes it into a company’s ATS, a Hiring Manager can request all the resumes of people with a certain skill/background. They do this by setting up a search for only those resumes that contain the key-words they want. It is completely a game of words, numbers and statistics and it’s totally acceptable to try to play it like a game. Your challenge is to learn the key words a Hiring Manager might use to find someone with your background, and then to make sure your resume includes them. The resumes of the unqualified clog the system. Only apply for positions where you meet 90% or more of the basic qualifications of the position. Being qualified for the positions you are applying for already gives you a big advantage over the competition. On average…85% of the applicants aren’t a fit for the job they apply for. Taking the time to read the job description and tailoring your resume to make sure it’s perfect will give you even more of boost over the other candidates.
Resumes that are more than one page long. Your resume has less than 15 seconds to capture a Hiring Manager’s attention according to a national survey published in the book, “Winning Resumes” by Robin Ryan. If you can’t whittle it down to a page or two at max, I will not read it. Remember, when looking at your resume, think like the person reading it. Trim off anything that would be useless to them. Write it like a reader, and try not to use the same resume for every job you apply for—consider your resume a template you should tweak for each job you really want. It’s tempting to throw the same resume at each job posting, but you’ll get better results for your time spent if you take the time to customize it each time.
Vague, general resumes. Accomplishments get attention. State the action you performed and then note the achieved results. Include details about what you increased or decreased. Use numbers to reflect, how much, how many, and percentage of gain or reduction. Stress money earned or time savings. For example: “Managed project implementing a new order tracking system that resulted in a 17% decrease in customer complaints, saving the business $80,000 annually in customer call center operations.”
Lack of Interpersonal Communication Skills. The purpose of an interview is to assess an individual’s expertise, experience, and cultural fit within the organization. Being able to have a dialogue about your fit within the organization is critical. So, don’t just tell the Hiring Manager what you think they want to hear or what you perceive is the “correct” answer. It’s rare to find somebody who has that combination of really good technical skills and really good verbal communication skills. You will be head and shoulders above other applicants if you can combine those two. Provide honest insight into your strengths, weaknesses, etc. so the Hiring Manager can make the best decision possible for the organization – and you can decide whether the opportunity is right for you, as well. The experts say that the only way to hone verbal communication skills is to use them, especially if it involves taking you out of your comfort zone. Take a public speaking class or consider becoming a member of your local Toastmasters Club at which members hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere. The capability of speaking and communicating well is invaluable to your career path.
Arrogance. When a candidate is overly confident, Hiring Managers find them to have a sense of entitlement, which is the last thing a Hiring Manager wants to deal with. Remember to be gracious to anyone you meet during the job search process. Being humble will get you farther than being conceited.
The job market is a moving target…with businesses acting like a significant other who isn’t ready to commit. Instead of marrying themselves to permanent employees, companies are speed dating and hiring more project-based workers. Businesses use this strategy when they are unsure of what the market will do. That trend has employment agencies seeing an overall upswing in demand over what we saw in the previous 24 months, primarily in the Secondary (Manufacturing), Tertiary (Services), and Quaternary (Knowledge-Based) Economic Sectors.
It sounds crazy with the unemployment rates we have, but here in the Midwest we don’t have enough skill talent to go around. Businesses are hiring more executive-level and middle-management for project-base jobs; we’re seeing those project-base jobs in manufacturing engineering (new product design and development), computer-aided technologies (CAx), numerical analysis, accounting, and technology for modern healthcare.
We are also seeing a demand for multi-lingual project-base jobs. Multinational businesses headquartered in Latin America,Germany,China, and Sweden have jobs in their US offices for bilingual workers who speak English plus German, Chinese, Swedish or Spanish.
The highest growth rate goes to Executive Assistant/Office Managers (who have experience supporting CEOs and other company leaders.) Especially candidates with Associate’s Degrees in Business Management, or 3+ years of experience without degree. The “Assistant” role within the office environment has evolved drastically with the ever-increasing reliance on technology. Assistants are now asked to perform a variety of tasks that were once reserved for managerial and professional staff. While the basic duties still stand—taking messages, arranging conference calls, and scheduling meetings—executive assistants are also often put in charge of supervising other staff, reviewing incoming information/data, and even conducting research and preparing statistical reports. In short, it’s the Executive Assistant’s job to make sure the top branches of the company run smoothly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 12.6 percent employment growth for executive assistants between 2012 and 2020. An additional 156,000 jobs will need to be filled within that time period.
We also have been engaged to fill a number of in-house legal positions. Some are in smaller privately-owned companies seeking to start or expand their in-house capability, and others are established institutions continuing their significant in-house legal functions. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) 2011 Census Report showed that, over the last five years, there was a growing tendency of law departments to handle their legal issues internally. This trend is consistent with the overall efforts of corporations to cut costs and rely less on outside counsel.
In this current employer market, businesses can afford to be extremely selective in their hiring practices, particularly those in the upper echelons of prestige and profitability. Candidates must have the right balance of both hard and soft skills to be considered for any job opening. You must PROVE to that Hiring Manager that you are; technologically savvy, understand the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), possess the characteristics of a lifelong learner…that you are believable, dependable, and confident, show an understanding of management accounting, and a great communicator with integrity, and consistency.
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses in an employers-market can help you present yourself in a positive light, which may give you the edge. Present yourself differently to each Hiring Manager…highly how your skills-set matches what they are looking for.
A big part of the solution to the jobless recovery is to better align our educational training programs with the technical needs of today’s employers to be globally competitive. Employers need employees with more skills, not more education, and there is a subtle but important difference between skills and education. Creativity, once a trait avoided by employers, is now prized among employers who are trying to create the empowered, high-performance workforce needed for competitiveness in today’s marketplace.
The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/04/job_polarization_report.html
Hottest Sectors & In Demand Job Skills in the Top 10 Job Markets [INFOGRAPHIC]http://infographiclist.com/2011/10/03/hottest-sectors-in-demand-job-skills-in-the-top-10-job-markets-infographic/
So, here’s my advice: Be proactive about your career. What do you plan to do in 2012 to ensure you are growing as a professional?
Whether or not you hold the official title of Project Manager (PM), chances are you’ll be called upon to lead some sort of project at some time in any job. A definition of project management would be the planning, organizing and then management of the resources required to complete a specific task. Build a solid foundation of project management knowledge, techniques, and tools as you proactively manage your career.
Hiring Demand for Project Management Skills in the US – 4 Year Hiring Trend: http://www.wantedanalytics.com/insight/channel/labor-market-dynamics/hiring-demand-indicators/
The tough economy means many recent college graduates are forced to wait tables, until they land a job in their chosen field of study. But others are taking a different route, cobbling together freelance gigs/designing their dream job.
While your resume, credentials and interview skills, can get you an interview, your job references can secure the position. Unfortunately, many fail to create a powerful reference sheet, and they can make or break a successful job search. The purpose of a reference sheet is to have a list of people who can verify and elaborate on how your skills and experience meet the requirements of the job. Typically, employers request three professional and three personal references. Past employers, professors, advisors, or a customer with whom you had a good working relationship are the best professional references to have.
Keep in mind that your references should be on one single piece of paper. Make sure you don’t put “references available on request” on your resume. Mainly because it’s unnecessary and because employers will assume you have references and they will ask you when they are getting close to making you a job offer.
Avoid offering your references to a potential employer in an interview unless they ask for them. It is rare that an employer will ask for references in a first interview, but it is possible which is why you want to have them with you. If they do ask for your references, then give them your references sheet along with any letters of recommendation that you may have.
Plan ahead and get your references in order, before you need them. It will save time scrambling to put together a list at the last minute. Be aware that some employers will not provide references. Due to concerns about litigation, they will only provide job title, and dates of employment. If that’s the case, be creative and try to find alternative reference writers who are willing to speak to your qualifications.
Sample Reference Sheet