Great Tips for Professionals Seeking a New Position in the New Year!
With 2018 right around the corner, many experienced professionals are thinking of making a career move. Opportunities for management and executive level roles are on the rise, so if advancement with your current employer is not in the cards within the near future, perhaps you should start exploring your options. While there are many things to consider when making a career change, and decisions around compensation, work environment, travel, time commitment, etc. are important, we will reserve that discussion for another time (and article). Instead, this article will primarily provide guidance for those individuals who have already decided to launch their search. Below are 18 tips (subdivided among 3 relevant sections) which may be just the info needed to help jumpstart your employment search in the New Year!
Tips 1 through 6 – Updating, Optimizing and Modernizing your Resume
Resumes have long existed as the backbone of an effective job search effort. However, most resume writers, recruiters and career coaches will tell you that the document has evolved significantly in recent years, with elements including style, formatting, content choice, length and other variables changing considerably in just the past year or two.
Pro Tip 1:
Focus your content on achievements, rather than just on your responsibilities. Presenting multiple accomplishments from current and past roles illustrates you have been successful and that you can achieve similar results in the future. Seeing as your accomplishments also provide insights into many of your daily responsibilities, you will (as the saying goes) kill two birds with one stone. For example, rather than stating that you were responsible for sales growth, incorporate an achievement which simultaneously demonstrates this. Most would agree that including “increased sales 32% in 2017” is much more impactful than blandly stating “accountable for increasing sales.”
Pro Tip 2:
Consider creating more than one variant of your resume. If you are pursuing different roles, your executive summary and other resume content should be adjusted and targeted appropriately. For instance, if pursuing a position in operations leadership, you may want to focus your summary around executive management wins and expertise. If also applying for sales leadership roles, make sure to enrich that version’s summary with attractive achievements such as revenue enhancement, sales capture, margin improvement, etc.
Pro Tip 3:
If creating multiple resume variants, consider building a “modular” resume. This involves creating sections of your resume which can quickly and easily be swapped in and out depending on your target audience. For instance, if you plan on applying online, a resume with a keyword-rich experience section is often a good idea. However, if you are sending your resume directly to a contact, you can sometimes pare down overly wordy sections and then augment your resume by adding easy to understand visuals (such as simple graphs or infographics). Having a resume constructed in a modular format can often save you time and effort in the long run.
Sage advice from Wendi Weiner, Esq., Career Branding Expert: “A job search for executives in 2018 requires a different process and a different approach. You can’t use the same LinkedIn profile or resume strategy from 2008 and expect to succeed with it in the digital age. You need a clear brand that communicates your value proposition, a defined job search target, and you need to build a network pipeline that propels your brand.” Learn more about Wendi via her website here!
Pro Tip 4:
Incorporate hard data wherever possible. Your resume becomes stronger once you begin incorporating either qualitative or quantitative information. Why? The information you are conveying is easily understood, it allows the reader to get a better sense for the impact you made, and you become more credible because you are sharing verifiable information. Data comes in many forms, but often consists of numerical facts, exact names (companies, awards, etc.), measurements and detailed descriptors. An example of this process could look like the following:
- Take this statement: “Improved profit margins in 2017.”
- Now, add quantitative data: “Improved profit margins 28% ($11.3M) in 2017.”
- Finally, add qualitative data: “Improved profit margins of Serum-Tech line 28% ($11.3M) in 2017 by automating product processing and fulfillment.”
Pro Tip 5:
Brand yourself with a tailored headline and key competencies. To help focus the reader, consider how you want yourself to be viewed and which of your skills are most pertinent in the roles you are targeting. By including this information in a clear and concise format towards the very top of your resume, you can help ensure that your experience will be interpreted correctly. Keep in mind your headline and skills can and should be edited to match the role you are applying for.
Sage advice from Virginia Franco, Executive Career Storyteller: “In today’s world where people are reading your resume and LinkedIn on screens and mobile devices rather than print, more words and many sentences don’t equate to a strong resume. Write for screen reading by avoiding long lists, long paragraphs and dense text.” Learn more about Virginia via her website here!
Pro Tip 6:
Be mindful of applicant tracking software (ATS) system requirements. Many executives who do not find a new position through traditional networking end up using recruiters or firms which utilize ATS systems. Online job search engines also utilize this type of software. If you believe you might apply through any type of automated system, build an online use variant of your resume. Utilizing appropriate keywords and phrases, assigning content appropriately throughout the various sections of your resume, and utilizing a format which is ATS compliant can mean the difference between securing an interview and being rejected before a human being ever lays eyes on your document.
Tips 7 through 12 – Networking and Utilizing Professional Social Media Platforms (LinkedIn):
Networking has always been central to a successful job search effort, especially for those seeking leadership positions. A few decades ago, most individuals had a relatively limited professional network. Nowadays, with the mainstreaming of professionally oriented social media (i.e. LinkedIn), job seekers have access to a vast network of recruiters, HR personnel, and others in their field who are willing to help by providing a well-timed introduction. Though statistics vary, most career professionals would tell you that effective networking will speed-up your job search and help you gain exposure to higher-quality opportunities.
Pro Tip 7:
- Ensure your social media activity represents you in a positive light. According to “What Recruiters Look for on Your LinkedIn Profile” (as seen in Fast Company), most hiring personnel want to see a candidate who engages their network, shares valuable content, and generally interacts on the platform in a professional manner. Recruiters will view your profile to see if you are active and to determine the nature of that activity. That rude comment or inappropriate article you shared? Upon discovering it, they will likely stray away for fear that you will be a workplace liability. It is relatively simple – remain active and share workplace-acceptable content.
Pro Tip 8:
- Use your LinkedIn headline as a branding statement that communicates more than just your current job title. The headline makes up the majority of viewable text when you show up in a search, and is one of the very first things recruiters will notice when viewing your profile. Be sure your headline draws people onto your page or motivates them to continue reading.
Sage advice from Michelle Robin, NCRW, CPRW: “With the unemployment rate being low and the number of employers hiring increasing in 2018, the job market is going to get even more competitive. While there may be more opportunities, that means more people will be vying for these positions. For the job seeker it means that distinguishing yourself and building your personal brand is more critical than ever. I think we are going to see more personal websites, videos and consistent use of social media platforms especially with professionals in the marketing and sales industries.” Learn more about Michelle via her website here!
Pro Tip 9:
A perfect LinkedIn profile is not everything, active use is key! Many executives now hire professional profile writers to develop perfectly optimized content for LinkedIn, and then expect instantaneous results. While it is true that a well-crafted profile will drive page views and generate increased employer and recruiter interest, this is only half of the equation. Make sure to continuously add relevant connections, interact with others on your network, like and share articles, and consider writing your own article using LinkedIn’s publishing tool. Completing some or all of these steps on a weekly basis can dramatically increase your exposure and will help drive interested parties to contact you.
Pro Tip 10:
Use your LinkedIn profile to tell your professional story and communicate your personality. Resumes are often written in language that is not particularly warm or personable, but your profile does not have to be! Take the opportunity to really tell your story in an intriguing, fun and easy-to-read format. Doing so will provide hiring managers with a different perspective and additional information beyond what was presented on your resume. Most importantly, it should inspire them to reach out to you in order to learn more.
Pro Tip 11:
Networking does not always have to take place digitally. Yes, in the age of social media we have all been lectured on the advantages of reaching out via electronic means, but there is still a place for person-to-person networking. There is still power in connecting face-to-face, and human interaction has the potential to hasten relationship building. In just a few minutes at a networking event we can establish stronger bonds than if we spent months communicating in online forums. After-hours professional networking events or career fairs targeted at executives are a great place to start and can be found through a quick and easy Google search.
Pro Tip 12:
Tap your existing network of contacts. Many job search engines such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter and even LinkedIn would love for us to solely rely on their technology. While these are valuable tools, speaking directly to friends, professional acquaintances and recruiters can speed up a career search and lead to quicker results. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to inquire about opportunities or have someone put in a good word!
Tips 13 through 18 – General (Yet Relevant) Job Search Tips:
You have a great resume and a top-notch LinkedIn profile, so you are good to go, right? Well, having these tools are good, but a job search that produces ideal results may take a bit more. Applying these tools correctly and tightening up other key areas may make the difference between generating fast results and resigning yourself to a protracted effort.
Pro Tip 13:
Develop success oriented interview responses. While many sales and operations executives are comfortable with expressing results through quantifiable or qualitative means, others who do not regularly express accomplishments with hard figures can struggle to demonstrate the positive impact they have had in previous roles. If this sounds like you, consider talking about key projects, initiatives, improvements in efficiency and workflows, or other innovative contributions you have made which have garnered results. Be prepared to talk about these in a straightforward fashion when interviewing.
Pro Tip 14:
Maintain an accurate and unified online presence across LinkedIn, other social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), job search sites, and on the internet in general. There are few things more detrimental than having false information posted in public view (i.e. much of the internet). At best it can be confusing, and it has the potential to make you look less than honest. If you share information on one platform make sure it jives with data that can be found elsewhere. For example, if you say you were employed at XYZ Company from 2000 to 2005, but a simple Google search reveals the company has been closed since 2003, you need to correct inaccuracies and synchronize the information.
Sage advice from Jessica Sweet, LICSW, Career Coach: “I talk to a ton of people with a lot of career success who decide for various reasons that they’re ready for a career change, but they aren’t sure which direction to go. One place to start to find direction is to ask: “What are your goals in making this change?” It’s a simple but powerful question. You may realize you’re looking for more money, more meaning… You are being pulled towards something. Or you may be being pushed away from your previous work… Whatever it is, it gives you a clue about where to go next and what your new goals might be. You may realize you need more work life balance and to find more meaning in whatever is next. That gives you some criteria to judge your next opportunity by.” Learn more about Jess via her website here!
Pro Tip 15:
Execute a well-rounded job search. Many executives make the mistake of devoting all their time to one aspect of job search when it is important to attack from all angles. Leverage your network to track down leads. Hit up friends and connections to grab a coffee and chat with you about your career goals. Identify desirable positions online and complete online applications when applicable. Follow up on opportunities directly and do not just hope for the phone to ring. At the end of the day, it is never a good idea to put all your job search eggs in one basket.
Pro Tip 16:
Prepare for interviews by reviewing answers to questions you may be asked, but also by proactively organizing a list of questions you want to pose to the interviewer. Keep in mind that the interview also serves as a mechanism for you to feel out the employer and working environment. Assemble a list of at least 5 intelligent, thoughtful, and position/company focused questions and strategize about how you will incorporate these important queries into the conversation.
Pro Tip 17:
Invest in professional assistance and in yourself. While needs differ among professionals, many executives simply do not have the time to learn about hiring trends, application requirements, and resume or profile optimization. Services from resume writers, career coaches, search consultants and others may not be cheap, but the return on investment can be astounding. Here are two ways of looking at it:
- If you expect to earn a salary of $200,000.00 per year, every month not working costs you $16,667.00 (or $3,846.00 per week). Highly experienced executive resume writers and career coaches can help their clients shave 2 to 3 months off a job search, saving their clients thousands of dollars.
- Alternatively, consider this real-world example: a mediocre resume was generating interviews, but only for positions paying around $75,000.00 per year. After this individual invested in a resume and LinkedIn profile rebuild, he quickly received interviews and a job offer which paid nearly $200,000.00 annually. That is a $125,000.00 return on investment!
Pro Tip 18:
Construct a complete (yet flexible) job search strategy, then give it the time it deserves. Whether you are going at it on your own or hiring professionals to help you assemble the tools needed for success, you should plan on scheduling time and dedicating effort to your job search. Many job seekers fail to do so properly, then drop the ball when it comes to application follow up, responding to messages or emails, interview preparation, and lead identification. Your job search does not have to be life consuming, but you should devote time daily to attend to the various activities which comprise your effort.
You owe it to yourself to get jump start on your career goals in 2018. An updated and optimized resume and LinkedIn profile, when used in conjunction with effective networking, professional guidance and a well-designed job seeking strategy, can open doors and generate exciting opportunities.
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About the Authors:
Adam Zajac, NCRW is Chief Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer and Executive Career Strategist for Vocamotive, Inc. He is 1 of only 54 Nationally Certified Résumé Writers in North America and is an expert career development professional with over 12 years of industry experience. As a proud member of the National Résumé Writers’ Association and leader of the career development team at Vocamotive, he has successfully assisted thousands of job seekers, career changers, and business executives achieve their professional goals throughout the world.
Follow Adam on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/adamzajac
Contact Adam via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brittney Beck, NCRW, CCELW is a Senior Associate Résumé and LinkedIn Profile Writer and Recruitment Strategist for Vocamotive, Inc. She has an education in strategic communications, as well as considerable experience in writing, career development, and personal branding. Brittney is highly talented in assisting clients achieve their professional goals and materials she creates quickly result in interviews.
Follow Brittney on LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/beckbrittney/
Contact Brittney via email at: email@example.com
Obtain professional Résumé and LinkedIn profile writing assistance by visiting Vocamotive’s website or by calling (630) 789-2519 to schedule a free consultation.