Resume content that is concise, tight, yet influential

Recently I worked with a senior manager of operations and business intelligence employed by a large national company. I'll name him Ernesto.

98% of the time I partner with a client to build a resume from scratch, and support the resume with a strategic cover letter and LinkedIn profile.

Ernesto's project was unusual in that his existing resume was "decent" and he needed only a resume and for one purpose: to apply to an internal directorship at the urging of a VP, also Ernesto's former boss.

My client recognized that although he had been asked to apply, which although a good sign is no guarantee. In the VP's words "I cannot guarantee your selection as two other excellent candidates have applied."

Ernesto came to me to ensure that his submission was as strong as it could possibly be and to get some insight into interview strategies: he was determined to excel in each recruitment step.

Although I thought at first I would only be "tweaking" his resume, I did end up rewriting it, top to bottom. (The only section I did not change was the educational one.)

I wish I could show you precisely what I did! As I cannot, for confidentiality purposes of course, here are a few highlights:

- shortened it considerably - the original scrolled onto a third page and had tight margins. I expanded the margins and ensured the resume was two pages as another page was not needed or justifiable.

- rewrote the profile or summary - the original was 104 words on 10 consecutive lines, whereas my rewrite is 72 words presented in three, 2-line paragraphs. Although shorter, its impact is far stronger. Rather than focus on a synopsis of his roles, I created a branding statement. And by leveraging my own love of words, and inspired by Ernesto's description of his work (I sent him a list of specific questions to reply to), I found fresh language to replace several rather typical phrases.

- injected leadership language - for example: business-critical, reversed historically poor resutls, maximized resources, piloted shift and subsequently rolled out new method, and so on, which replaced ho-hum language such as "built, led, developed, delivered, prepared."

- shortened "additional interests" section - (which could also have been eliminated if space was needed), eliminating references to religion-affiliated volunteering as religion and politics are seldom required in a resume. (I have written resumes for clergy and for those whose careers revolve around a particular political party, where obvioulsy related details are needed!)

The final difference is that I created and supported a professional "brand." Ernesto has incredible analytical skills, far above the norm; he has the ability to gather information, listen to concerns, and serve as an objective mediator; and he reliably models and coaches not only skills but a collaborative spirit. The projects in which he is involved benefit greatly from his involvement.

I'm excited to see how Ernesto's career evolves; certainly he is now well poised to climb his preferred career ladder.

Tooting My Own Horn

There was a time when I worked evenings and weekends, rarely passing up the opportunity to land a new client. Part of the motivation was financial, as building a business has lots of ups and downs for what seems to be a long time, but part was simply because I have a bit of a competitive edge to me!

Today, however, I cannot land every person who reaches out to me as I am simply too busy and receive too many inquiries. I think that there are several reasons why I attract potential clients.

The first is my 10-year track record as a full-time career services provider. In this decade, I built a clientele of thousands and many return for resume updates and refer family, friends, and co-workers.

But lots of businesses do not survive past the first or second year.

I attribute a great deal of my success to the fact that I embrace a "high touch" customer service ethic.

Most clients work with me virtually: we never meet other than in emails or telephone calls. I feel it's important that they have confidence in me as a reliable, trust-worthy partner; hence, I reply to emails as quickly as I can and correspond generously.

Here is a list of what my clients can expect:

- I answer each and every email. If I don't, please email again. Occasionally folks provide me with an address that has a typo (email generated from my website) and I am unable to reply. Sometimes, rarely, but I am human, an email gets buried and I simply forget. Know that I want to be supportive and responsive, not avoidant.

- I also reply to voice mails, typically on the same day.

- I like to surprise repeat clients with a little something - a discount or the odd "freebie."

- I've yet to miss a deadline. If we agree to a date, you can bank on it. Now I did have a colleague for whom I took a last minute client when she ended up in the hospital. I don't promise I'll write from the hospital if this happens to me, but, like my colleague, I'll try to find a replacement! (Knock on wood, I am from hardy stock!)

- I support my clients with loads of additional info - white papers or "how to's" on all kinds of job search topics. Many of these have helped my clients distinguish themselves from the competition and land great jobs, overcoming obstacles like ageism, no Canadian experience, no relevant experience, a gap due to maternity or paternity leave, and more.

- I won't argue with my client. If I disagree, I will share my knowledge and recommend a "best practice" option, and then I, of course, allow my client to make the final decision. After all, the documents do belong to the client who must share them in full confidence. If something doesn't feel right to the client, then by all means, s/he has the right to proceed as s/he prefers.

I often say that I have the best clients. In 10 years few have elected to not pay, perhaps five, and hundreds have sent referrals. I've "fired" only one client out of more than a thousand.

I'm grateful for my clients - for what I've learned, for what they've shared, for how I've been able to be helpful. My job is rewarding and sustaining.

Mark your calendars

Yesterday I devoted some time to listening to Career Professionals of Canada's incredibly generous presentations, recorded in celebration of this Canadian leader's 10th anniversary to coincide with Canadian Career Week 2014.

As one of the presenters, I got a sneak preview. And I was blown away by how comprehensive, generous, and useful the many presentations are!

From career management to job hunting to the job market scene, there are six broad categories in all with several presentations within each that develop the different aspects of the topic.

The three recordings in which I participated include:

Different People, Different Challenges - Stephanie Clark: Dealing with Barriers in the Resume

Generational Career Intelligence - Stephanie Clark: How New Grads Can Stand Out

The Resume that You Need Today - Stephanie Clark: How to Showcase Transferable Skills

These recordings will be available - free of charge - for the week of November 3rd.

Mark your calendars now! This link will provide you with more information:

http://careerprocanada.ca/summit/

"See" you there!

Canada Career Week

In November, Career Professionals of Canada (CPC) will be celebrating Canada Career Week, joining activities across Canada. This year also happens to be CPC's 10th Anniversary and to mark this auspicious milestone, our Executive Director, Sharon Graham, has led a series of recordings of career related topics for Canadian job hunters' benefit, which will be posted during Canada's Career Week.

What a wonderful way to support Canadians in career transition: sharing our collective expertise! I am grateful to be a part of this effort, and today completed the third recording session (and learned how nerve wracking it can be to participate in a formal recording!).

Watch my blog as November nears for information on accessing the recordings. My topics include: How to Showcase Transferable Skills, Dealing with Barriers in the Resume, and How New Grads Can Stand Out. And there are many more, presented by esteemed colleagues, for example:

How to Navigate the Hidden Job Market

How to Find Balance in Social Networking

The Impact of Labour Market Trends

Trends in Resume Writing

Handling Disclosure in the Job Search

Generations Working Together

There are 20 in all! So stay tuned!

Recruitment Crusader

Recently I have replied to several questions or informational postings on LinkedIn that had to do with the recruitment process.

In the "good old days," humans read and reviewed resumes. They likely gave critical thought to the information and they perhaps had time to read between the lines to discern what skills the applicant was offering.

Today, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) "read" resumes, parsing information looking for key words and phrases that often don't seem to stick to job search related definitions of key phrases at all! Relying on algorithms, these key phrases often span two phrases in the job posting, and require quite a gift for writing to incorporate into a resume in a way that doesn't stand out as nonsensical!

The first quote below is from a colleague and the second is my response. I honestly believe that recruitment needs if not an overhaul at least some updating!

Any job hunter who treats job searching as a game is destined for a long search.

Stephanie, many HR personnel have no idea how their parsing software works. There are over 100 ATS software providers each doing their own thing. Some have built-in parsing software, some require the purchase of 3rd party written parsing software and some companies even have IT staffs create their own home-grown variety of parsing.

Fat chance your valid points will get resolved anytime soon!

My reply:


If the recruitment system isn't broken, it's certainly dysfunctional if HR personnel don't have any idea of how their company's parsing software works! "Recruitment" needs a crusader to lead a major upgrade and shake-down to replace a no longer valid legacy system, if you will, with something that makes some sense! Any takers for this role of crusader? It likely comes with no salary, recognition from some and disdain from others, but a feeling of great satisfaction in revitalizing a demoralized system!

And my "valid points":

What I don't get is this: why are companies not educating applicants on how to structure and compose a resume in order to give every applicant a level playing field? Few job hunters actually give any thought to the ATS and thus even great candidates may not stand a chance. From the employer's point of view that makes no sense to me! Are they after top talent or not?
But as for the game playing and tactics - I'm not a fan of this at all. I like the feel and sound of authentic communications so much more than stilted, potentially phony resume content.
As I have said before, methinks that the recruitment process needs some tweaking! (If not a complete overhaul!)

 

Your thoughts?

The power of networking

The book I recently read and reviewed, "Networking is Dead" was a great read. I'm now collecting names for a draw (enter by Friday, July 12 at 5pm ET by emailing your name and if you like, a short paragraph about your biggest networking challenge) as the publisher generously offered a free copy to a lucky reader!

The title doesn't end with that statement; it continues with "Making Connections that Matter." And that's the key to networking. Throw out your outdated or erroneous networking ideas and embrace this robust formula as presented in the book. It's a great read and you'll find a few previous blogs on its content in my journal entries. (Search Career Management or scroll through the last page or two.)

Every once in a while I get a client who really gets it. A person who understands that most people enjoy being included, asked, thought of, mentioned ... it makes us feel good, like we matter, and like our knowledge is respected and needed. That's really what networking "feels" like. Connection. Validation. Communication. These clients find jobs super fast and some use their New Leaf resume only when they reach the salary negotiation stage.)

The power begins when connections are made; it grows as knowledge is transferred; it is solidified as mutual benefits are exchanged.

It is not one-sided, it isn't a tit-for-tat formula and it isn't always linear and obvious.

Success in networking does involve some strategic thinking but it's mostly about honest and erstwhile human interactions that are not focused on "what can I get out of this" but focused on mutual gain.

Enter the draw! You'll want to read it and integrate this organic networking into your life. It's powerful stuff!

- always working toward YOUR career's success, Stephanie

Global Citizenship

Today I accompanied a friend to hear her speak about her experience with a subject matter that few of us have any experience with beyond a news report. A former Police Sargeant with the Waterloo Regional Police Service, she also travelled to Kosovo, Rwanda and Darfur as an investigator of war crimes with the United Nations and other groups gathering information to stop atrocities or put the insitgators and perpetrators behind bars.

Debbie Bodkin (google her name and you can watch her interview with George Strombolopoulos, visit her webpage and read more about her work) was transformed by her experiences and after overcoming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression now speaks to groups to further her goal of making a difference, one person at a time.

We met at a local high school where she addressed a group of students as a presenter to their Global History class. I'd not heard Debbie speak before, and was pleased that she invited me. I was riveted.

Atrocities of the "humanity against itself" version are distressing, but the scale on which these war crimes occured are particularly disturbing. In fact there isn't a word in the English language that can convey the horror, lack of humanity, and unbelievable absence of compassion that Debbie witnessed.

I could scarce imagine surviving Debbie's experience of gathering information by listening to survivors, often lone survivors of an entire, extended family, recount their experiences. Actually living through the deliberate obliteration of an ethnic group or destruction of an entire village, characterized by a level of brutality that is so foreign to those of us who are lucky enough to be born in a country that at the moment is peaceful, is truly inconceivable.

As Debbie said, it takes just one person being allowed to spread an evil message of hatred, often fueled by greed or personal gain, to begin a process of abominal proportions that establishes a regime that will become a shameful blemish in humanity's history. Just one person who rather than find commonality spreads division; rather than engender compassion fuels hatred; rather than spearhead a movement of common good holds a spear that kills. Or rather, finds others to hold the spears.

Many of the perpetrators are children, boy soldiers who are tortured, brainwashed and forced into raping, torturing, pillaging, killing, and destroying.

Darfur continues to be a genocide not yet relegated to history. How our government can ignore this situation is beyond comprehension.

It reminds me of something I learned about positive vs. negative. One negative comment takes 100 positive reinforcements to erase. Thousands of dead war crime victims, it seems, require tens of thousands of what? petition signers? protesters? other?

It's tough to know and accept that even proof gathered by competent, recognized investigators is not enough to stop war crimes in their tracks.

It makes me wonder - what might it take to turn Canada into a Darfur? Could it be possible that one day a so-called civilized western country could succumb to a despotic leader who fuels fear and hatred against a group of its citizens? Food for thought.

History or political science teachers or instructors in search of a speaker, or those planning events for a related fundraiser, do contact Debbie Bodkin. Her presentation is plain-spoken and raw, but always delivered with sensitivity. Her message is simple but powerful and communicated respectfully.

- Stephanie

 

Wonderful News to Share!

 

 

I am proud to announce that just today I was informed that my submission to Career Thought Leaders, in application for the title of Master Resume Writer, was successful!

After almost seven years in full-time service, providing global clients with an ever-expanding assortment of career management documents, it feels awesome to be so recognized!

Here is an excerpt from the Career Thought Leaders website that defines the MRW:

The MRW is the world’s most elite resume writing credential, clearly signifying that an individual has mastered the art and science of resume writing – strategic approach, content development, formatting and design, English language and grammar, and other key elements of resume development. There are stringent requirements for both writing talent and years of experience to qualify for the MRW.

I am grateful for this recognition, and know that it was my own hard work, an innate talent for writing, as well as a passion for helping people build careers that earned me the right to call myself a Master Resume Writer.

No time to rest on my laurels, I will continue to pursue relevant training, and serve clients with an ever-increasing level of expertise. Onward!

- living my motto "Everyone deserves meaningful work," Stephanie

Writing a Resume to Land Your First Management-level Position

I recall a client for whom I wrote a resume. She was working with a recruiter to land a supervisor's position with one of the best employers there is - a global player who has its choice of many eager applicants.

After interviewing this young woman, it was clear that she was a productive hard worker. We sourced great info and guess what? She landed an interview!

Although she'd not held a supervisor's position yet, the content of her new resume, selected with strategy, written strategically, conveyed the work ethic, characteristics, and skills this company demanded.

Did I use magic? Not at all! I'll let you in on a few trade secrets: here are a few methods to source info that aligns you with management level credentials:

  • identify your contributions as a team leader or interim supervisor - add context such as how often, for which projects, and share whether you volunteered or were asked (both are great!)
  • mention any self-study or formal study of management principles and skills related to scheduling, staff management (discipline, performance management, mentoring, encouraging), budgeting and so on
  • relate your contributions to committees, staff meetings, and other group activities. If you volunteered to lead a sub-group, all the better!
  • share your ideas for improving efficiency or productivity, ideas that saved time or money, or other revenue-saving or revenue-generating ideas that you contributed
  • don't rely on showing off your knowledge of the tasks, but do challenge yourself to show how your deep knowledge led to great problem solving!
  • demonstrate your leadership skills - negotiating, mediating, making tough decisions, championing, mentoring, learning, delegating - whatever fits your role, your working style, your industry

Woah, I got a bit carried away! That's a lot of info! A combo of two or three will kick your resume up a notch or two. If you don't have the above, might I suggest that your desire to enter management might be premature? You must earn your place. Even a great resume writer cannot spin gold out of nothing!

So what happened to the young lady's dreams of management? She totally flunked out of the interview. Apparently she used inappropriate language at the interview ... now that's a topic for another day!

- Working to YOUR career's success, Stephanie

Executive Job Search

The other day I received a referral from an executive level client with whom I've worked on and off for several years now. Her colleague wrote:

"I have experience with one company only - am worried that this will scare potential employers away. Looking for some sound advice!"

It's not the first time I have been asked this question, and I replied to her with these words:

You mention worrying about scaring employers, and this leads to a valuable bit of insight into job search psychology: convey that worry and you've made it so! It's like that little train that chugs "I know I can." Were he to chug "I can't," he of course wouldn't!

It's all in how you frame it and how you refocus attention away from "one long-time employer" to the many different projects and  committee work to which you have contributed, or a variety of accountabilities and titles ? Lots of ways to emphasize what we want people to perceive about us.
Perception can be influenced, steered away from the perception of a "lack" of diversity to a background rich in experience. Along with the above, my now new client worked at local, regional and national levels with this one, but very large, employer, and held progressively senior roles. We will find more richness of diversity as our work continues.
As for what distinguishes her employment record? I've yet to determine this critical piece. The resume she shared was more of a position description, rather than an accomplishment-based resume. We shall see what her particular "brand," or "sweet spot" might be - what skills and talents intersect with market needs and make her a highly desireable employee!
Working to YOUR career's success, Stephanie

How violence impacts the bottom line

An article in Saturday's Globe and Mail, in the Globe Careers section, held me spellbound. It was not about dream careers or stories of career transformations. Rather, it dealt with the recent events in India, where a 23 year old female student was attacked by a gang and then perished from her wounds.

The event made it to international consciousness after The New York Times ran an article ... but my heavy heart wonders how often this kind of story is buried and forgotten. Nonetheless, public outrage from women and men, and ongoing discussion, generated by journalists such as Leah Eichler, one of The Globe's career contributors, is keeping the topic alive.

My thoughts never wandered beyond feeling empathy for immediate family, but of course co-workers or fellow students - these women also suffer. Obviously friends will greave their friend's death and the unthinkable acts that caused her passing. But even if they didn't know the woman herself, other women suffer from fear. This fear impacts not only their private lives, but also their productivity at work or school.

Ms. Eichler cites a few statistics in her article, which I'll share here. It's estimated that the cost of violence against women in Canada costs approximately $4.2Billion annually. Staggering, isn't it? This is calculated on health care, criminal justice, social services, and costs of lost wages and productivity.

The article, "When violence hits the bottom line," includes a call to action. She wrote:

"I believe private industry can also do more, starting with resisting marketing campaigns that protray women as sex objects." and goes on to write "Yes, violence against women is a human rights issue. but if that doesn't inspire business leaders to take a stand, then perhaps the hidden economic impact will."

If your place of work is looking for a deserving group to which to contribute funds or services, perhaps one related to violence against women would be appropriate?

Recruitment Avenger!

 I have been reading a lot of criticism aimed at recruitment processes lately. And from what I hear from my clients, it is largely true and deserved. Today I heard from a client who decided to push back, and she suggested the topic may make a good blog. I absolutely agree!

Here's her story. (Be sure to read the post script too!)

A skilled sales, marketing and operational leader, with experience in exactly the industry to which she applied, she received a call to an interview. She arrived several minutes early, as is proper, and found three people staffing the reception desk. This was in the location of a business where most of the people who walk through the door are potential business-building, revenue-generating customers. Not one looked up to acknowledge her. Mistake number one.

After ten minutes or so (she read two magazines), one of the three greeted her and asked her to have a seat, and told her that the interviewer would be with her shortly. The interviewer was one of the three on the phone, and continued to ignore her. No smile, no notice taken. Mistake number two.

Once off the phone, she asked my client if she could help her. Mistake number three. She didn't recall the interview nor did she recall or even ask my client's name. Mistakes, what? Four and five?

She asked my client to continue waiting while she went to "dig out her resume." (Unorganized, perhaps?) My client watched her through a window as she made another call, went and gave instructions to staff, and disappeared ...  to dig I imagine.

My client continued waiting. By this time, put off by being ignored, given the impression her interview was of little interest or consequence, and concerned by the serious lack of customer service, she elected to leave as she knew she wouldn't interview well and wouldn't like working for a person who doesn't lead by example. Here is the rest in her words, taken from the email she sent to the head office after leaving (I was given permission to share):

I made this decision [to leave] because I felt I had 2 options. #1 was stay, wait, and proceed  to not interview as well as I normally would because of my growing frustration at the customer service I received.  (I do believe I have a lot to offer the right employer. I consistently raise sales & build long lasting relationships), or #2 do something a bit ballsy and leave with some self respect, hopefully giving the interviewer something to think about in the way that she treats the next person who comes in for an interview.

I am writing this because maybe there's a possibility that you are losing the opportunity to bring good, qualified, solid team players to your service because of this kind of treatment. I must say, after this experience I would be hesitant to not only join, but even recommend this location to anyone.

Thank you for taking the time to read & consider this, and I hope it helps bring positive change to anything that may need it.


When job hunters are treated with less than stellar behaviour at job interviews (where supposedly everyone is on best behaviour, including the hiring company), how will they be treated after the hire? And what are employers thinking? Those who study the job market are warning employers  that as "baby boomers" begin retiring en masse in the next few years the fight for skilled employees will intensify! Why are they not proactively recruiting and holding onto the best employees right now?

It makes little business sense. I'd love to hear your recruitment story ... send me an email if you need to vent!

P.S. Shortly after sending her email, my client received a phone call from the Regional Manager. To the manager's credit she thanked my client sincerely for the feedback, offered her an apology and asked to come to an interview next week, all of which my client accepted. When a suggestion/complaint/concern is offered with good intent, rather than fall on deaf ears it may be heard. I'll let you know what comes of this!

P.P.S. My client has been offered the position. Who knew that speaking out could lead to employment? Might be another idea to add to your job search toolbox!

Is Everything on the Internet Free for the Taking?

Every once in a while I run a little test with some of my new articles or blog posts. Surprisingly some have turned up on other websites. I've been lucky though, as the websites have been those that target job hunters and I've been given credit. But I have colleagues who were disappointed to find their work stolen.

Yes, colleagues have discovered their websites copied word-for-word on someone else's site. Or their LinkedIn profile "borrowed" by another "professional." And some colleagues report that their clients who paid them to write a LinkedIn profile discovered that another LinkedIn user stole their profile!

What is a person to do?

In the case of the LinkedIn issue, there is a recourse for action. Within LinkedIn's agreements this is of course seen as theft and if the original owner registers a complaint, the thief will lose his or her right to a LinkedIn presence. Don't doubt that LinkedIn can access who wrote what first!

No, not everything on the internet is free to use, borrow, copy or appropriate. That is theft pure and simple.

Do you need a degree?

Recently I read an article on what a few famous people think of degrees. Is a degree, they muse, essential to becoming a "C" level executive?

Bill Gates doesn't have one, and Warren Buffet's kids don't have degrees. And I have plenty of successful clients who don't have degrees or specific accreditations. What they do have is an appreciation for natural talents in music, technology, writing, business, sales etc., as well as a belief in their abilities.

They do not allow naysayers to deter their commitment and they find employers who value ability and success on the job rather than struggle with employers who confuse credentials with real ability. Come on, we all know someone who is a teacher, fully credentialed and who can't teach, doesn't like kids, thwarts learning, or an IT support person who has to check a manual because he or she has no intuitive sense of IT problem solving.

Some people get stuck doing something they don't like and can't seem to see their way out of that. So they bumble along, unhappy, not terribly good at what they do, getting by by performing under the radar (not attracting positive attention, but not negative either) ... when who knows? Maybe they could have been the next degree-less "C" level executive!

Is what you're reading reliable?

The internet has rendered encyclopedias, that once lined a bookshelf in every home, obsolete. It is a rich repository of amazing facts, ideas, advice, information of all kinds. But, it is also a repository rich in nonsense. How do you know that what you are reading is reliable, trust-worthy, effective?

The world of career management, as likely every category of knowledge, contains both. From truly basic info that most reasonable people know, to cutting edge advice on how to use technology to help your job search, to truly silly advice that would never pass an editor's scrutiny, it is all there.

Obviously there is no easy rule to follow in determining credibility, especially if you're a novice! How would you know? The best advice that I can give is that you must consider the source. Is the person credentialed? Is the person active on the internet, and with credible sites and affiliations? (To check, take the name + the person's title, i.e. resume writer, interview coach, career advisor, and "google!)

Here's an article - link below - that takes the guesswork out of the process. From onlinecollege.org, it lists the top 25 leadership blogs. Learn about leadership and workplace strategies from the best! I've signed up for a few myself. Working to your career success, Stephanie

http://www.onlinecollege.org/2012/06/21/the-25-best-leadership-bloggers/

Winning Career Management Tactic

Is your career humming along as you thought it would? Are you getting recognition, being offered great interim positions that will certainly help when a next-step position becomes open? Have you been noticed by HR for succession planning or by the CAO for a special assignment?

If not, it could be that no one really notices your stellar work. And like it or not, it's up to you to make sure people notice. Don't count on your boss - you might be a threat! Don't count on HR - you're one of many! Count only on yourself by tracking your work in a file usually referred to as the "me file," or "accomplishment file."

An excellent way to do this is to track your work, ready to share at an annual performance review, to throw into a casual impromptu conversation with the CAO, or to slide into a discussion at a committee meeting. (Something akin to "You know, I did a project like this last year and I'd love to lead this one" builds your credibility and doesn't sound boastful.) Again, like it or not, if you don't promote yourself, it isn't likely to happen.

Things to Track

• How you've contributed. If you have specific annual goals, make sure you track your progress in achieving these. And, if you've come up with ideas to improve a process, save time, cut out steps, incorporate technology to automate a time-consuming regularly recurring procedure - keep track not only of what you did, but how much money your idea saved, how you wrote about it for the corporate newsletter, and how that led to another department expressing interest in your idea.

• How you've helped out. Ad-hoc teams, committee assignments, special projects - keep a list of where you've participated, how often, and the role or research you contributed.

• What your goals are. Jot down a few of your own career goals as they relate to the company, what training you've identified that you need to get there, and how this would positively impact the company.

• What makes sense for your  next year's goals. Pull in training that might help in a long-term project or committee, in succession planning, in tackling industry problems that loom on the horizon.

Actively tracking means these things are top of mind, ready to pull out of your memory banks at an appropriate time. And having these ready means you won't be losing any sleep at all as your annual review comes up.

For you go-getters out there, here's how to kick it up a notch: create a PowerPoint presentation to share in your annual performance review. With that much demonstrated dedication to your career and to the corporate bottom-line, your performance can hardly be ignored.

Guest Blog on Leadership Traits

I recall an office manager who was unpredictably reactive. She would fly off into a rage filled rant at some unknown provocation. In the summer I worked in that special events office every one of the staff left, replaced by new hapless souls who wondered what the heck they'd landed in! Thank goodness that was a seasonal student job.

Today's blog is courtesy Ken Blanchard, author or co-author of 50 books. His newest book, referenced below, should arrive in the mail any day, and I'll refer to it in future blogs. Leadership is a topic that never loses an audience, and this book, dealing with self-evalution, might have helped my manager from the special events department. Enjoy this sneak preview.

 

How to Evaluate Your Leadership Style
By Ken Blanchard,
Co-author of Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life

Today, I'm going to give a short, one-question quiz. Here's the question: How do you rate as a leader?

I don't ask this question flippantly. It is a question I've asked countless people at the leadership seminars we conduct.

As leaders, most people rank themselves as being very close to a minor deity or at least Mr. or Ms. Human Relations. Seldom do leaders give themselves low marks. Strangely enough, when the tables are turned and people are asked to rank their boss's leadership style, we often find many supervisors graded as being adequate, merely OK, or at worst, office autocrats who depend heavily on the often-referenced "seagull management" technique as their sole line of attack -- they leave their people alone until something goes wrong, and then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump all over everyone, and fly out.

More often than not, we find that leaders lull themselves into thinking they are top-flight leaders because they think they use a supportive or coaching style, which someone told them are "good" leadership styles. Not too surprisingly, this isn't the way they are seen by those in their department, office or store.

To get a true and accurate answer about the question above, it is necessary for you as a supervisor to honestly determine how your employees perceive your leadership style. These are the folks who know you best. They have first-hand experience with your leadership style and operate on their own perceptions about it. They are the best judges of your managerial effectiveness. However, getting an employee or subordinate to give his or her honest feedback on your leadership style is difficult. People fear being the messenger who will get shot for bearing bad news. Hence, they are naturally reluctant to be totally candid.

Employees are sharp observers. In the past, they may have gone to their leader and made an honest suggestion such as, "Ken, I think our Thursday afternoon meetings are a waste of time." If the supervisor answers with an outburst by saying, "What do you mean a waste of time? Are you kidding? Those meetings are important," it doesn't take a genius to figure out that one thing the leader doesn't want to hear is the truth.

It is important to remember that when people you supervise tell you what they honestly think about your style of leadership, they're really giving you a gift. When someone gives you a gift, what is the first thing you should say? "Thank you," of course! Then it's a very good idea to follow up by saying, "Is there anything else you think I should know?" When a person learns that you won't become defensive or hostile when he or she gives you an honest evaluation about your style, you'll find that you'll be given many nuggets of truth which are extremely valuable. My advice would be to encourage people to give (feedback) at the office, and to give often!

Just remember, what you think about your own leadership style really doesn't matter. In addition, there is no one correct style, nor is there a "good" or a "bad" style. Rather, style is judged by those immediately influenced by it. It's your people's response to your style that matters. If you are getting the right response consistently -- high productivity and morale -- then you're doing just fine. If not, then perhaps it's your style that needs changing, not your employees.

As originally published on "How We Lead"

© 2012 Ken Blanchard, co-author of Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life

Author Bio
Ken Blanchard, co-author of Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life, is cofounder and chief spiritual officer of the Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the author or coauthor of 50 books that have sold more than 20 million copies, including the iconic One Minute Manager®.

Seth Godin said it so well

Today's journal entry is straight from Seth Godin. He says it so well I cannot improve upon it! He is speaking about career management, a topic that I promote with passion by helping people create the foundational documents to proactive career management, the resume and cover letter. Over to Seth:

Can I see your body of work?

Are you leaving behind an easily found trail of accomplishment?

Few people are interested in your resume any more. Plenty are interested in what you've done.

The second thing you'll need to do is regularly note what you produce in a log or find some other way to keep track.

The first thing is more difficult: If the work you do isn't worth collating and highlighting, you probably need to be doing better work.

For those of you who want to know how to track accomplishments, sign up for my free newsletter, and I'll email you my report, "Best Kept Secrets of Successful People," which outlines how you go about this very thing, keeping a log of what you've done - in a meaningful way, perfect for building your next resume update.

On Leadership

I enjoy posting my thoughts to another's question on LinkedIn. This post is my response to a question on what constitutes leadership. Given that each one of us must demonstrate leadership traits, to greater or lesser degrees according to our positions, it is indeed a topic that touches each of us. Here it is:

An effective, respected leader's character must balance intelligence with common sense, learned facts with "street smarts," must be confident of decisions, choices, must embrace others' input, leverage others' strengths. He or she must behave with utmost integrity as he or she will be evaluated perhaps more stringently than others.

I agree that although leadership qualities/traits/attributes can be learned, the ability to actually lead others (achieve their support, earn their trust, gain their "following," reap rewards and benefits as a result) is not something that I can imagine someone learning. One is either born or nurtured early on to lead others, or not.

Oftentimes leaders have that elusive element of charisma, that "je ne sais quoi" quality that, in smaller to larger quantities, electrifies, rivets, captures people's desire to allow that person to lead a company, corporation, state/province or country.

But as for the question of a hierarchy of demand, I am not sure if one could generalize. Each position will hold different challenges at different times; hence, a full spectrum of abilities (and these are curiously mostly "soft skills" that speak to character, personality, intelligence) will serve the would-be leader best.

Communicating Your Value as an Employee

The one critical aspect of the job hunt that I find people have very little knowledge of, skill or experience in, is communicating their value.

The job hunt's timely success is highly dependent on self-marketing. This means not simply stating your education, experience, and skills, but relating those to what you achieved on the job.

For example, rather than simply stating "I am PMP certified and have five years' experience" add context that shares accomplishments, as so:

"As a PMP certified professional, with 10 years' experience in the exacting environment of banking and insurance, I've rescued failing projects worth several millions, solutioned a proof of concept that was crucial to privacy and security concerns, and met my projects' milestone deadlines. My teams tell me that they enjoy working with me as I challenge them, and trust them to deliver."

Therein lies to key to an influential resume, a dynamic interview, and a pending job offer!