Companies may be hiring more now in some sectors as the economy continues to recover but they are still running lean. People inside of organizations, happy to be employed, are working hard...very hard indeed just to keep their situation.
I delivered a webinar today to UCLA entitled Digital You. It was about using three key online tools that combined together would give any executive or professional an edge in the competition to be seen and heard.
Someone reminded me that five years ago I was passionate about being on Linkedin.com and now I was telling people to move on to other sites and tools. They asked, "Why was that?" I explained using the analogy of the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass telling Alice as they were running that in order to get anywhere they had to run twice as fast.
Technology is like that. What's new today will be used by everybody in 4 years or less. Everybody (reaching for 200M) is on Linkedin.com now and that's a good thing for networking but not for personal branding. Linkedin is a template-based site as is VisualCV and they have you fill in their blanks. You end up looking just like everybody else. I described it as an online MBA resume book. Good people look at it but you can get lost in the shuffle. You are running, so to speak, to stay in the same place.
Using new tools like personal profiles (flavors.me, about.me/pattiwilson ), personal presentations (sliderocket.com) and personal pages using website builders gets you moving twice as fast as others vying with you for visibility, eye-balls, and market share online. I personally use Weebly but there are others that are great too ( here is Wikipedia's list of top website builders).
Is this more work? Sure. Do you want your career to continue until you retire? Then run twice as fast to get somewhere and keep doing it. The good of all this is that once it is in place the only maintenance you do is blogging or updating when you change positions, write articles, are interviewed by Wall Street Journal or other notable events worth capturing ongoing.
There is a downside. One person asked at the end if this required that you have a very clear, defined, well-positioned brand, value proposition and career target. Yes, it does and that's is the most difficult part actually. Once you have clearly defined yourself the content, images, and look all falls into place. My mentor, Richard Bolles author of What Color is Your Parachute said, in describing this process, "this is the hard part. This is where you have to think, people"... and run faster.
The tendency to hire people we know is deeply embedded into our DNA. Man (and woman) has a tribal orientation inculcated into his system since the Pleistocene cave dwellers.
Tribes working cooperatively have been integrally to commerce from the surf system of the feudal middle ages, and the guilds of the Renaissance to modern day.
Fortunately our comfort with the size and number of our tribes has grown significantly beyond our nomadic/agrarian roots. Our DNA instinctual drive for belonging to the group is embedded in business processes today. In Reid Hoffman's new book, The Startup of You, he makes the point that our opportunities and business success comes from our networks e.g. tribes.
Networking inside or outside organizations requires meeting people you don't know and being able to talk about yourself and find out about them. I have executive clients with minimal footprint on Linkedin expect the perfect job posting to magically appear. Building a network is not learned behavior. Growing and advancing within a big company depends on who knows you and who gets to know and like you. Those whose networking fluency is weak or not a style fit for their company culture rail against the corporate "politics" they face when they should be getting better at networking.
Why is networking so hard? As much as we like to belong, we are hardwired in our DNA for a adrenal reaction of flight or fight that gives us a wariness, if not fear, of the new, the unknown, and change. Networking requires all of the above: we must change our behavior and reach out to unknown people to grow connections. It is an interesting DNA dynamic, we have move past our wariness of meeting new people in order to satisfy our drives to belong to a group (tribe).
I agree with Reid, that anyone who develops fluency in networking will up their success quotient in their careers because doors are opened by people you know.
The easiest first thing to do to grow your network is use Linkedin, Viadeo, and Xing to invite people to connect with you. It is a great start on instantly building your a base of hundreds if not thousands of contacts. The next easiest step is to start attending events: professional associations, conferences, trade shows and alumni groups to meet people.
Is it fear and loathing? Being a creature of habit and learned behaviors? A lack of imagination? Or do we just tend to just take the path of least resistance?
All of the above, depending on the individual.
What qualifies as low hanging fruit when it comes to job opportunities?
We are creatures of habit and learned behaviors so if you got recruited out of college and search people "placed" you in all your jobs, then we assume the past predicts the future. It doesn't in career advancement. As we climb to the top, there are fewer jobs and the competition is fierce. We don't just get "placed" as easily. And as we age, there is younger, less expensive talent competing for the same opportunities. Your business sector may become commoditized and there is no room to grown professionally.
We don't realize that the best fruit can be harder to find, be at the top of the tree or hidden under leaves and branches.
Often our mentors, bosses and colleagues can be our undoing. They may as they move on bring you with them but that may not be the best option for you. I have seen professionals in a beleaguered companies and business units actively solicit their colleagues to join them. Did misery need company? Did they want to be rescued from their drowning struggles? Were you misled or did you just not even expend the effort to find out about the mess you were getting into?
When we buy fruit at a stand or market it is often green and unripe, or bruised in the picking.
Today, the savvy professional, especially if not having conducted a search in the past 5 years, must:
Despite four years since the global crash and 9+ since Linkedin was born, many executives and professionals haven't grasped the full impact of a reset economy and the Internet on a job hunt.
Here are some the most common ill conceived notions that I hear:
1. Being on Linkedin will bring job opportunities to you.
There is a common belief that if you build your profile, then the recruiters will flock to you. Well, most likely, your Linkedin profile will give you a boost on Google ranking in a name search.
Solution: The big value of Linkedin is the access you get to networking in 50 groups and 50 subgroups. Rather than waiting to be found, build your Linkedin connections into thousands for ongoing leverage.
2. I customize my resume for every position and opening.
Good luck with this one because they will all have to synch your one Linkedin profile. For that matter, all your profiles on Viadeo, Xing, Linkedin, Orkut, etc should all deliver the same message about you.
Solution: Focus your search target on one or two overlapping business domains. Gear all your branding and positioning of yourself around those sectors.
3. The search firms don't get back to me or they have nothing for me.
Search firms more than ever are working to find the perfect fit for their client companies. Given that their business is down by more than half since the crash, the demand of top talent continues to exceed supply. Unless you exactly fit their requirements, you will find no opportunities forthcoming from them.
Solution: Using search consultants and headhunters as a source of information about market trends and companies hiring would provide more fruitful results.
4. My continued outreach to my network is wearing out my welcome with them.
Don't use up your direct network by continuous asking for introductions to job openings. When those turn up empty, or as dead ends... and they mostly do... then your network is exhausted.
Solution: Double or triple your network by using your existing connections for introductions into their network. This grows a relevant source of contacts in your field without much effort.
5. My employer will suspect that I am looking if I am highly visible on the Internet.
I am still surprised by how much that concerns people when millions are on social networks now. Just do an advanced people search on Linkedin by your company and competitors. You will find more than you expect.
Solution: Get on the Internet with gusto because you only have to do it once. Put up profiles. Build a website and blog. Become visibly well branded and be done with it. Once you are on it, that becomes old news.
6. Since I am not willing to relocate, I am looking only at local employers.
The market place for talent is now global and your competition can come from anywhere thanks in part to the Internet and to the willingness of professionals outside the USA to seek opportunities anywhere.
Solution: Search globally and work locally. You cannot determine who or where your next employer will be. You can negotiate the details like location when they make an offer.
7. I don't need to be visible online as my job is secure and I am happy in my current situation.
Nowadays all marketing is online. Look at every Superbowl ad for its references to product websites. Professional advancement, and career promotion are done equally outside your organization as within.
Solution: The professional status you build for yourself outside your company reflects positively on you and your organization. Making a name for yourself is most easily done online.
In a recent BlueSteps study of over 100 senior executives working in China, seventy percent stated that executive pay had become more competitive over the last 5 years, and 89% indicated their intent to stay in China for over 3 years. The majority of respondents were expats working in China (77%), in general management roles including CEO/COO (63.4%), earning over USD $150k (74%).
In a comparison of six nations, senior executives ranked China as the fourth highest paying country, ahead of other emerging markets, Brazil (5th) and India (6th), yet behind developed nations Germany (3rd), UK (2nd) and USA (1st). 70 percent of respondents indicated that compensation in China has moderately or significantly increased in competiveness in the last 5 years.
"BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC (Association of Executive Search Consultants) that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in over 74 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at BlueSteps. "
As a career consultant for BlueSteps, I can offer you a 20% discount on the one-time membership fee. BlueSteps, a resource for senior executives, provides a wealth of resources in addition to access to the top search consultants worldwide.
To join BlueSteps and receive the 20% discount, just click on the this registration link https://www.bluesteps.com/Registration/Default.aspx .
When you get to the purchase page, input the following code: PattiWilson20. Your membership fee will be discounted by 20%. BlueSteps is well worth the one-time fee and you can receive a free consult from me as part of the package.
Why are professionals so easily convinced that if they add on one more certification or degree they will somehow be more employable or desirable? My field is among the biggest offenders and first initiators of this practice that includes the breadth of services consulting: management, projects, counseling, coaching, IT, financial, etc.
I don't mean certifications in technical, scientific tools and methodologies. I am speaking to certifications that fluff up one's perceived expertise, importance and value to the marketplace.
Just to name a few in my field as it's so easy to find them, but I am sure you can find them in yours as well:
Master Career Counselor (MCC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), National Certified Career Counselor (NCCC), Master Personal Branding Strategist, Board Certified Coach (BCC), Career Management Fellow Practitioner (CMF), Career Development Facilitator Instructor (CDFI), Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC), Master Resume Writer (MRW), Credentialed Career Master (CCM), Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP), Certified Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC)
Let's take my favorite the Distance Credentialed Counselor. Since I work with clients all over the planet, I use a phone, SKYPE, a web-cam, web meeting sites, and file sharing tools. Does that require a certification? Really? Or do you just need a good IT person to set you up and provide tech support?
Here is how the certificate is described:
A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling. Distance Counseling is a counseling approach that takes the best practices of traditional counseling as well as some of its own unique advantages and adapts them for delivery to clients via electronic means in order to maximize the use of technology-assisted counseling techniques. The technology-assisted methods may include telecounseling (telephone), secure email communication, chat, videoconferencing or computerized stand-alone software programs.
Those unique advantages are further described as flexibility, convenience and asynchronous communications. Okay, but do you really need a certificate?
The phenomena is epidemic in professional services today because enterprising people in an industry discovered that the best way to make money is to sell certifications, products and tools to other professionals.
Industry trade associations and Universities extension program certifications have blossomed into a hundred million dollar cash flow based on revenues from tuition and their profits help underwrite programs within the organization and the university. At least, we can know that there is an academic, knowledge-based foundation to these programs with the organization or university's brand at stake.
However, all this has been been eclipsed by enterprising professionals who leverage a certificate out of their business and books...often not even that much. For example, a business colleague extended his consulting practice on product management to tools, online training, books and now a certification. The degrees
Competing for a piece of one pie leads all of us to try and get an advantage, but branding differentiation is not best done solely by degrees (or certificates)...no pun intended.
_Being unemployed at the C-level can be the kiss of death. Of course, I have been accused of exaggeration and hyperbole, but not in this case nor by executives in that situation. They tend to confirm that finding a new similar position can be seemingly an insurmountable challenge.
I am not referring to the nose-bleed section of CEOs that collect a king's ransom in severance after they are let go such as the CEO's of HP, Burger King and New Yorks Bank Mellon. They can afford to retire or buy their own company. The early (50 something or younger) CEO or c-level executive is usually not in that position. The serial CEO, CIO, CMO needs the next opportunity as much as wants it.
How do you continue to look viable after losing a C-level job and better position yourself for a new opportunity? It depends on your net worth and network. Some of the ideas suggested here require significant capital while others rely on a substantial Outlook database of connections. Your age and geographic location can be a determining factor as well.
Obviously the ideal scenario is a job lost due to an M&A or buyout with no negativity that trails after you. The biggest pitfall with that scenario is that it happens often in a sector where acquisitions are driven by industry commoditization. Thus, executive career options are limited going forward as the positions are correspondingly eliminated as well.
And you can't count exclusively on executive search firms despite prior placements through them. Many executives report that search consultants unfortunately cannot consider them or do so as a last resort because typically their clients are expecting that the position be filled by a candidate who ideally matches all requirements, including current employment.
However, if you still want skin in the game and crave the next challenge of running an organization, then here are potential strategies to pro-actively, and as triage, mitigate the damage of a lost C-level position to your career.
Be on Boards
You can't do this soon enough in your career. Start early and at lower levels to work your way up while you pick up valuable networking contacts along the way. Don't wait to be CEO to entertain the idea of a board-level appointment. Many start-ups, and small companies seek out top executives across multiple business sectors to fill their board positions. Typically, these are paid in stock vs stipend or salary.
Board positions are worthy to assume a greater role at the top of your CV to fill in for a current lack of employment. The network derived from it will help open doors for your next opportunity as a board member or executive.
Found Your Own Company or be a Serial CEO
Serial CEOs actually are plentiful in the world today. The magic ingredients to making that happen are an outstanding network of colleagues who help to open doors. There must be available doors to open which requires a growing not contracting sector. Lacking that, the ability to expand beyond your original sector and move into adjacent industries is crucial.
A key to staying relevant, current and therefore, employable is your willingness to expand beyond a sector comfort zone to take on challenges in affinity and tangential sectors. The other piece is the ability to build a case and sell yourself into that sector when you don't have the luxury to buy your way in.
Running for office or actively working to elect a successful candidate can provide new career stability. You may luck out get elected and be on a secure career track for at least the duration of the elected term.
At the minimum, the visibility and connections you will have gained from the effort may enable a government appointment at the state or federal level to head up a commission, committee, or even be a diplomatic envoy. Once any kind of government experience is secured by appointment or election, leveraging that back to the business world is an easy step. Think Al Gore.
Start an NGO
During the dot.com crash, a top executive founded a weekly lunch group for fellow unemployed executives to keep him company. Attendance grew with a corresponding website, e-groups, corporate sponsorship and incorporation. He is now the salaried executive director of this well-established NGO. Of course it is not the money he had before but it fits his situation in life now. Another colleague readily tells the story of how she founded a women's professional association during the downturn that gave her a great network, and helped keep her niche search firm going.
Become a Philanthropist
If you leave with a small golden nest egg, then setting up a little foundation as a replica to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be in order. Beginning with your own money can be a small capitalization when you reach out to the likes of a Warren Buffet-types to support the endeavor. This would not only do good in the world but provide job security indefinitely for you as the head of the foundation.
Be an Author
You don't actually have to write the book as ghost writers have a purpose in life. But, authoring a topic that both is timely, attention-getting, and paves the way for a new opportunity is a good way to spend time during a search. Book tours have an amazing effect on leveraging your network, creating visibility and building credibility. You become an instant thought leader and can at least raise substantial consulting and presentation fees.
There is no easy panacea to unemployment at the C-level. The search for a new opportunity is long, very long, with available openings less abundant, and the competition fierce. It demands of you the openness and flexibility to try new strategies and tactics, and the willingness to sometimes put aside your ego to think beyond titles.
Most of all it requires taking stock of your dreams, goals and track record to envision a new future. If you are ready and willing to make a serious career move and not look back to the C-suite, then some of these ideas will suit you well.
_I speak heresy here as "transferable skills" have been the mantra of career changers since Dick Bolles wrote What Color is You Parachute in 1972. But they just don't completely work anymore.
They are supposed to convince an employer that you can do his job though you have experience in a different function or a different industry or both. This has worked through at least 3 decades and 3 recessions up to the dot.com bust and 2001 recession. Then the game started changing.
Back story first. What are transferable skills? They are a list of action verbs that best describe your abilities. Google it or look in Wikipedia. You will find lists galore or better still buy Parachute as it is the absolute best source. It really helps to be able to pinpoint exactly which skills are your best ones that you love and excel at using. It used to be that well a articulated set of skills were enough to convince an employer in an interview and on a resume that you were a good fit for the position. Or at least worth consideration.
Fast forward to 2008 and the Great Recession. With an abundance of talent to choose from, employers now demand that a potential employee have a unique set of transferable skills and have used them specifically in their particular industry or field. They have a list qualifications they want and they check it off with every candidate's resume or profile they see. At the top of the list is knowledge/experience in the industry or field.
The stakes are raised, the options are narrowed, the doors are closing. Or are they? Not if you lead with the relationship and not the resume. People hire people they like or get to like by meeting them informally not in an interview situation. If you approach your job search in that fashion then your resume won't end up in some recruiter's file 13 (trash bin).
That means you don't bare your soul and entire resume on social networking profiles like Linkedin.com, but rather use the sites to exhibit a well crafted and branded advertisement about who you are instead. People expect you to have profiles online so manage the message and talk about yourself in a way that minimizes the transition or career change you are trying to make. When you lead with the relationship then you can speak to your knowledge about the sector.
You can demonstrate your experience by being able to "talk shop" about the sector and industry. That means you do in-depth research to be able to demonstrate your knowledgeable competency. Being able to drop names, mention studies, refer to articles, speak about key products and talk about trends makes you "one of the group". The effort it takes to explain and justify how your skills transfer doesn't measure up in comparison to the impression you can make just "talking shop".
I have seen professionals hired without ever providing a resume. They finally filled out the employment application during the interview process. Leading with the relationship allows you to talk about your accomplishments and the sector you are trying to break into in a way that makes the impression that you can do the job. It is the best tactic to use to skip past your lack of actual experience in a specific industry.
__A professional website's purpose is to raise your name search to the top of Google, provide a controlled, managed platform to deliver well branded information about you compared to Linkedin's cookie-cutter template. It utilizes great photography, graphic imagery and well-done content to paint the most flattering portrait of you, your talents, your background, and your value proposition.
It is interesting how actual web development for individuals and small businesses is now a commodity and many template driven sites offer a both a platform and hosting to build to build a professional website not just a blog.
I use the term professional website instead of the cutsy word online portfolio because that is what it is. I believe every professional needs one now to control their brand, Google ranking, and the message and image they project. A website will do that for you. Unless you are a big ecommerce site or online data repository, having a custom built website long-term costly as keep on paying with charges for every update and change. Use the free template-based sites provided by Google, Yahoo, GoDaddy, Yola, Wix and Wenode.
What really matters now is content: both visual and written. And that makes photographers, web/graphic designers and expert content writers the key value contributors for websites. The ability to write great marketing and branding copy for beautifully photographed and illustrated products, services, and people is now king.
What are the key things to consider when building a professional website and blog?
It's never too late to make a great first impression online with your own professional website!
If you want to learn more about putting together a well-branded website, contact me for a free consult on my website http://www.pattiwilson.com
_Maybe I should just leave this blog post to the title and leave it at that. Everybody gets it or do they? My mantra to my clients has been, "the key to standing out and getting ahead is to create a clear message about who you are and what you have to offer".
I am just finishing up processing about 30 requests to join a linkedin.com group I founded awhile back. I have been amazed with the self-descriptions on the linkedin.com profiles and headlines that I reviewed. They were either job titles or a vague gushing exuberance of descriptive prose that could possibly define many professional including me.
Here are some examples:
"visionary leader and motivator of teams"
"deadline driven project manager"
"builds, transforms and leads global operations for technology companies"
"premier relationship manager"
You get idea. What surprises me, in the age personal branding banter that seems to be happening in chats, forums, and posts online, is that working professionals have not learned how to express their key attributes, and abilities in a clear, specific, and unique style. Many seem to resort to fluff and buff descriptions that lack substance and worthwhile information.
I would suggest whenever you write self-descriptions or personal marketing that you ask yourself if the wording is so vague, generic and superficial that is could define your competition. If that's the case, then work with someone to draw out and make note of your unique contributions through accomplishment stories that you tell them. It's an age old practice, the doing of accomplishment stories but it really works.
I have never subscribed to the hire-a-resume-writer/brander who takes your 4 page filled out personal data form, goes away and writes a flourishing description of you. The trouble with that is that you don't own it and will not be able to easily to speak to those statements with greater detail and depth.
Tell stories, take notes, get friends to listen and provide feedback and input. You will be pleased with the results that will translate into a resume, an elevator pitch and social profile.
_Lou Adler, the consummate "recruiter's recruiter" has identified the top keys to hire the Passive Candidate. Are you a Passive Candidate? Read the article below and check out his website.
By definition you must be not looking for a job, you are currently working, and, of course, doing the exact work that the recruiter is hiring. That is just the way of it and it has been for a long time regardless of offline or online hiring.
I work assiduously with my clients to get past this roadblock and it is exactly that. Who is to say that someone unemployed, working but actively looking, or is qualified but not in the exact function could not be an exemplary hire for a position? My goal with my clients then is to look the part: doing project work, acting like you are not looking for a job, and re-branding qualifications to align with the position.
Is this being disingenuous? No, of course not. It is an appropriate response to a fallacious construct of parameters for hiring that exist only to ensure recruiters can command their fees. Unfortunately, hiring discrimination against the unemployed is not, yet, illegal as it is with women and minorities.
Self-marketing and effective branding, with a deep and broadly developed network is the only successful response to recruiting search discrimination.
The Key Tipping Points for Recruiting Passive Candidates – aka “The 6Cs”
Compelling: you must be able to capture the candidate’s intrinsic motivator on first contact. If you don’t know what this is, don’t bother connecting.
Control: make sure your opening questions require the prospect to tell you about him or herself before you tell the person about the job. If you drop the ball here, you’ll need to make 5-10X as many calls to get one sendout.
Career: during your first call you must be able to convert your open position into a career opportunity on the fly.
Connect: The best passive candidates are typically only one degree of separation from your current candidate. Tapping into your candidates’ connections represents the future of sourcing.
Conviction: Persistence is key. You must understand your job opening, why it offers a career opportunity and you must not take “no” for an answer.
Close: You’ll never have enough money in the budget to pay the best prospects what they want. You can minimize the blow here by selling and closing on the career opportunity your position offers, not the compensation it pays.
For more on this topic and to attend Lou's Webinar on it go here.
Passion is a funny, quirky emotion that comes and goes. But sometimes, in love and life, when you do passion right it has staying power. Scott wanted more than anything to ski everyday all winter long. He left before the last crash burst to follow his passion. An banking executive by trade, he made the big jump to a large, high-profile Canadian ski resort as a financial consultant in order to satisfy his passion for the slopes. He reasoned that going to a dead-end, boring job that would earn a small living as a worthwhile trade-off for a great skiing opportunity.
He is now the IT manager, supervising 2 reports, and managing a whole system upgrade with new software installations to manage ski-lift ticketing and lift operations. It turned out to be the best of all worlds as he loves his job, and is well-paid and pursues his passion. Why is it that some people land a job within record time while others seem to linger in a search limbo, languishing without really looking?
Yes, there are obvious external factors that impact the length of an job search: age discrimination, requirements of an industry, heavily impacted functions and a few regions in deep recession. However, external factors do not account for everyone in search limbo.
Seems that your degree of passion and engagement helps to determine the ease and ability to be out there and involved in that business and to be known and connected. They are just driven to do it and will continue to turn over rocks, go down paths and do whatever it takes to be in the game no matter how rusty or inept at networking they are.
Passion can be the crucial ingredient to future success when one is in a transition phase between employment, consulting engagements or startup opportunities. Passion generates the motivation and drive to act and to do with the requisite intensity and persistence in the face of adversity, obstacles and daily doses of bad news reports.
Certainly money is a key motivator, but people leave substantial incomes every day because they were simply miserable going into work every day.
Organizations change over time, new management teams are formed that may not be compatible. Haven’t you seen people more consumed by their philanthropic work than their current position? That they pursue the former with more zeal than the latter can be a guidepost to other possible futures.
They frequently come to realize that it is possible to make the avocation into the main career passion. Certainly, it is often too easy to be discouraged and dissuaded from making that kind of transition because passions seem to present themselves as financial and career risks.
Sometimes it is not an obvious route to monetize a passion but we tend to foreclose options by pre-deciding against them. A woman had a passion for gourmet food, cooking, and great restaurants. Fortunately she lived in San Francisco so they all were in abundance. After years of working in public relations in consumer brands, she segued into the hospitality industry.
She started with small steps: writing articles, attending food events to network and doing some public relations pro bono work for a small ethnic restaurant in to promote their unique cuisine. She is now with an executive in a San Francisco public relations firm in their food vertical.
Yes, there are trade-offs to consider, priorities to rearrange and terms to come to but sorting out your values and options to put meaning, and passion back into their work lives will be worth the effort.
I subscribe to multiple global recruiting blogs and online recruitment and HR newsletters. Usually they tend to talk about how to find the A-players (see earlier blog) or using social media and other technologies. But sometimes an article will catch my attention as new and different that needs a response or strategy. This one in the June 15th issue of Recruiter Week grabbed my attention: Rise of the Micro-resume.
The article refered to a website and social service in China, Sina Weibo. This site in China will have more than 200M members soon and it is a cross between Twitter and Facebook.
Here is an excerpt:
On June 13, 2011, CNNgo.com reported that thanks to a massive February 2011 push by Sina Corp, China’s largest Internet portal, through the company’s “micro-blogging” site, Sina weibo—which means “Sina micro-blogging”, the Chinese are taking to 140-character “micro-resumes” like Peking ducks to water. (Visit Sina Corp’s English-language report.)
Aside from the Groupon-type overly sardonic and cutesy metaphor, this was real news and a significant trend in the worldwide employment marketplace. Is this a precursor of things to come? Of course it is. Should you follow suit and reduce yourself to 140 character summary of accomplishments, skills, and abilities? Well, folks, I think its a beyond difficult to try to brand yourself in a one-line tag and not come out sounding like a slogan, but you have to try, at least.
The better part of valor would be to follow the advice that is now nearly 4 decades old. Since the rise of the corporate man (or woman) the advice has been to identify and reach out to the hiring manager. I would say that this advice is even more relevant today. It's not enough to build a distinctive brand online with multiple social profiles globally, a website and blog. What is crucial is who sees it?
To a recruiter you are a transaction until they decide you are the best fit for the job. But to a business friend and colleague, social media contact, or alumni that you have a relationship with then you are a real person that they know, and can vouch for. To a hiring manager you are tangible in the form of a resume or executive summary.
What would give you the best chances of getting visible, heard, and interviewed: a 140 character summary or a fully branded online presence combined with a personal introduction? I build online branded presences for my clients all the time. They work.
Whenever M&As happen everyone always speculates on the manpower outcomes. Who will stay and who will go. Often a smaller acquired company is left to be a wholly owned subsidiary with its management intact until something goes wrong or changes dramatically. That's what happened to a company where my client is interviewing for the CEO role. It was geographically distant from the parent company. Further, it was bought for both the technology and the talent who could deliver it.
It's a small unique engineering company located in central California. The founder sold it to a well-known company in Kansas and stayed for 4 years to ensure a successful transition. Now the search is on for a new CEO.
Here are the search challenges:
There are moments when retained search firms earn every dollar they charge. This was one of them. Several candidates were put forward and rejected prior to my client. My client and I prepped for the in-person interview with the search firm.
Here are the interview issues we addressed:
The interview is not about the product and service of the company. It is not about how skilled and experienced the potential candidate may be. It is about corporate culture, values, and emotional intelligence. All soft stuff, very hard to probe within the context of an interview. Better to spend time the company and candidate together to get to know each other over lunch, dinner, group meetings and on-site trips.
It is a career derailer to take a position that is not the best fit for you at this level. Nor should a company hire at this juncture a CEO that doesn't have a 90% chance of success. It is a crucial transition in the acquisition process when the old management steps aside. The entire success of the company can hang in the balance: wittness the fiasco of the MacDonalds - Boston Market acquistion.
Finding and hiring the best talent is always a challenge but a Merger & Acquisition situation makes it especially a deal-breaker.
All companies look for a bundle of skills attached to a set of experiences embedded in a specific sector or market vertical. They will make exceptions during good times when talent is hard to lure away from other companies.
But with so many people out looking and unemployed they want the perfect fit. This means that the :
skill/talents+experience/credentials+sector/market vertical fit = perfect candidate.
What is depressing is that so many people with talent and ability go begging for jobs because they don't have sector experience. I have seen people continue to try to break through that barrier with little success.
One solution is to do pro-bono work in a new sector and put it on your resume to move you across the sector chasm.
Last year my client conducted a very successful job search. He moved up from Director to Vice President and into a company that was a much better fit for him.
I have to laugh at his complaining about the efforts his search entailed. Given he took less than 4 months to land a new position while the average executive search is at least six months.
Here are some of his experiences that I can pass on to you.
Because we built a great website for him, because he blogged religiously, because he was well-branded and visible online, he was well-received in advance of an interview by hiring decision-makers.
I still keep thinking about the elegant and simple solution one of my clients had for the customer service backlog challenge they faced in a new position: Start from Where You Are.
Since he told me, I have found so many examples in my business and personal life where I have not done that and it has taken me years to get caught up and in some cases I have yet to do so.
The epiphany I had today was with my client database. I have spent years trying to catch up on my client database starting at the beginning to bring it current so that I can keep in touch with them.
That’s when the light bulb went on today. I need to just work on the database of current clients and then back-fill year by year going backwards to catch up with previous clients.
Obviously, I have never caught up. In fact, I kept falling farther behind and I never will because of the nature of the escalating cycle. But I can be current now and go forward from here. Do you realize what a satisfying relief that is?
There is nothing worse in business and careers to be in a self-fulfilling feeling of failure because of a mission impossible. How many companies continually set their employees up for the same demoralizing never-catch up cycle with every reorganization, merger and acquisition or new process?
No wonder the change over to a different IT system, business process or cloud program is resisted. Whenever change happens people fall behind in their work unless it is handled properly. How many managers have the innate common sense that my client used?
Start Where You Are Now. Certainly when making a career transition into a new industry or sector we struggle with starting with where we are now? We seem unwilling to leave our previous history behind.
I seen professionals want to keep things on their resumes from 20, or even 30 years ago. They fail to realize that prospective employers Start with Where You are Now and they don't go back very far in your history to see how good a match you are with them.
I heard a saying a long time ago that now in the context of this model makes perfect sense: Stop driving with the rear-view mirror. If you combined that with: Start Where You Are, then you have the ingredients of a dynamic forward moving life and career.
Christopher Penn had a great job working for an online academic services website until he got laid off. He also did a lot of blogging, tweeting, and online networking. He put the word out to all his avenues of communication and landed a new position in less than 3 months.
The average search is taking anywhere from 3 to 6 months depending on level and position. Christopher did well and I attribute that to his use of social media and social networking.
After finding a new position, he let everyone in his network know where he landed. But more than that, he offered help to others in the same boat. He has continued to make good on that offer in his blog http://is.gd/eO1ue and newsletter.
He offers to forward to his network of 5000+ connections on linkedin.com any job postings. He also will post jobs on his Marketing Over Coffee forum, http://is.gd/eO2fA .
I call that paying it forward. All the people he helps now will be of even greater help to him at a later date.
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