Archive for the ‘Resume’ Category

  • Pitch – Is Yours Perfect or Are You Tone Deaf?

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    Pitch is both a verb and a noun.

    Verb:  One can pitch an idea, a story, a song, a ball – one’s self.

    Noun:  The pitch is an idea, story, song – your self.

    They are two distinct art forms. One can have perfect pitch, as in singing the true sound of any note in a piece of music, and still not understand the song.

    Others can have a profound connection with a song and miss the true notes. If you’ve watched “The Voice” more than once on TV, you’ll have heard the ultimate criticism, “Pitchy!”   When one of the judges declares a singer’s voice “pitchy” – not true, nor flat nor sharp but all over the place, it’s the kiss of death.

    Don’t be tone deaf. When pitching yourself for a job you need to nail both the notes and the story. You must focus on your content, delivery, and above all – your value. The perfect pitch is so much more than what you know; it has to be about what you can do with what you know for the organization where you’d like to work. (See our earlier post on Leonardo Da Vinci’s radical working resumé.)

    Three tips to get you off on the right note:

    1. Create a compelling story: Put your best foot forward. The competition is fierce and you need to be able to demonstrate you are the best of the best.  Focus on what you have to offer and why it will be of value – what’s in it for the organization. You know all about using active verbs but do not forget the blockbuster nouns – key words – that capture you, your strengths and your industry savvy.

    2. Do your research: Know what problems/challenges your company-to-be needs to address and position yourself as key to delivering a distinctive, pro-active, sustainable solution.

    3. Data: Don’t forget to include real evidence: metrics to quantify your successes and specific examples to qualify your accomplishments. You want to demonstrate the impact – outcomes and not just outputs – you can achieve to make a real difference.

    It’s time to reclaim the positive aspects of pitching. You’re not a used car salesman trying to off-load a wreck. Nor are you a fickle, pie-in-the-sky visionary. As Yann Martel’s character, Pi, says in his book, Life of Pi,

    and the spectacular new movie, “I had to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.”

    Ludwig van Beethoven said, “Music is the soil in which the spirit lives, thinks, and invents.”

    Soooo, warm up your vocal chords and pitch the music of your life and work!

     

  • How to Frame Your Career So Your Resume Does Not Read Like an Obituary

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    Your resume is your story. To bring it to life you must maximize your focus, relevancy, particularity – and, as always, your authenticity. Keep in mind Ernest Hemingway’s wisdom: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.”

    I’ve recently read three unique pieces with key insights for this task.

    The first is NY Times‘ columnist, David Brooks’, The Power of the Particular.” Brooks describes a Bruce Springtseen concert he attended in Spain,

    “The oddest moment came mid-concert when I looked across the football stadium and saw 56,000 enraptured Spaniards, pumping their fists in the air in fervent unison and bellowing at the top of their lungs, ‘I was born in the U.S.A.! I was born in the U.S.A.!’”

    “My best theory,” Brooks says, “is this: When we are children, we invent these detailed imaginary worlds that the child psychologists call ‘paracosms.’ These landscapes, sometimes complete with imaginary beasts, heroes and laws, help us orient ourselves in reality. They are structured mental communities that help us understand the wider world.”

    “We carry this need for paracosms into adulthood. It’s a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes. Millions of people around the world are ferociously attached to Tupac Shakur’s version of Compton or J.K. Rowling’s version of a British boarding school or Downton Abbey’s or Brideshead Revisited’s version of an Edwardian estate… Millions of people know the contours of these remote landscapes, their typical characters, story lines, corruptions and challenges. If you build a passionate and highly localized moral landscape, people will come.”

    “It makes you appreciate the tremendous power of particularity. If your identity is formed by hard boundaries, if you come from a specific place, if you embody a distinct musical tradition, if your concerns are expressed through a specific paracosm, you are going to have more depth and definition than you are if you grew up in the far-flung networks of pluralism and eclecticism, surfing from one spot to the next, sampling one style then the next, your identity formed by soft boundaries, or none at all.”

    ***************************************************************

    “Shall I compare thee to a newscast spot?”

    This workshop on how to create one minute radio spots by Phyllis Fletcher and Robert Smith from New Public Radio helps us fine tune other aspects of our storytelling to achieve high impact particularity. You can tell a lot about yourself over a great deal of time, but if you need to capture someone’s attention quickly, you need to capture what counts in a minute.

    Their tips to achieve compelling brevity are:

    • Focus on one subject [in this case it's you].
    • Use vivid language and concrete examples.
    • And if you can get away with it, make sure there’s a turn in the piece. (Poets call it the volta, a little shift in tone. A question is answered. A problem is solved. Perfect for news [of what you can do as demonstrated by what you have done].

    Now we know that particularity and brevity are important, but they are meaningless without authenticity and relevance.

    ***************************************************************

    Martin Zwilling writes in Forbes about John B. Montgomery’s new book, “Great From the Start,” which highlights Mark Zawacki’s  five rules of relevancy.  Zawacki’s rules, while focused on business startups are equally apt for the startup of your new life:

    1. A startup needs to be relevant and stay relevant.
    2. A startup needs to find a voice relevant to its ecosystem.
    3. A startup must gain traction.
    4. A startup must form partnerships and alliances within its ecosystem. 
    5. A startup must maintain a laser focus.

     

    You’re not ready for a tombstone yet, so chuck that old resume and create a dynamic and vital new blueprint for the next stage of your life.

     

     

  • Beware When Your Resumé Looks Like Your Passport: the Date Stamps Cover Where You’ve Been But Not Where You Want to Go or Why?

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    Courtesy of Mark Ashley at www.upgradetravelbetter.com

    Resumés do a great job telling people where you worked and what you have accomplished.  Like passports, they play a role as you venture forward. In some jobs where the HR department rules, they are required. But – and this is a big BUT – they are all about your past. One career consultant, Joshua Waldman, even calls them “obituaries!”

    As we’ve discussed before, traditional resumés need to be replaced by “working resumés.” You need to create a document that captures the value you bring to the future. How will you solve the organization’s problems in ways that are unique, innovative, practical and sustainable?

    Employers – just look at BP, for example – are not looking for a temporary fix. Equally important to how is the why you wish to solve the problem.  Perfection without passion is not going to get you very far. Again, using BP as an example, Tony Hayward, CEO at the time of rig explosion and subsequent horrific oil leak had stellar credentials. His past accomplishments looked great on paper but a critical component was missing: compassion.  Without a sense of empathy for the victims or the environment, all his skills came to naught. His replacement, Bob Dudley, is equally talented and has that extra dose of compassion that allows him to express not only how he is going to solve the problem but why and that makes him far more valuable to BP today than the former CEO.

    But passion is also a critical factor in non-Fortune 500 boardrooms. Last month, Alastair Macaulay published a dance review in the NY Times in which he  critiqued Canadian choreographer-dancer Paul-André Fortier ‘s 30-minute solo, “30 x 30,” performed at noon each day for 30 consecutive days in the open air at 1 New York Plaza.

    Macaulay writes,

    “His dancing is site-specific and multidirectional. He faces, by turns, up past the surrounding buildings to the sky, across to New York Harbor on the horizon, down to the ground, and out to the more immediate vicinity, which now and then includes members of the audience, with whom he makes brief eye contact.

    “There’s a constant contrast between the sleek lines of the shapes and lines he demonstrates and the gaunt, severe tension of his face and hands. His energy is always contained; he performs with the distanced air of a mime artist or a teacher; and there’s no particular pleasure to be had from his physical tone.

    “Coolly he shows us one movement idea after another. Most of them are fairly interesting or agreeable. …Frequently he implies some kind of mime content, so that I found myself labeling one section ‘Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses,’ which made the next passage, in which he seemed to hurl a few curses at the financial district, slightly more interesting. But the carefully measured tone of Mr. Fortier’s movements stopped any of this from having any force or from being absorbing. His quality of teacherly reserve places a curious distance between his solo and himself. It’s as if he were presenting something in which he didn’t quite believe but feels ought to impress us anyway.”

    That last line, “presenting something in which he didn’t quite believe but feels ought to impress us anyway,” is devastating!  According to this trusted dance critic, Fortier has the skill required but not the passion necessary to transport audiences to other realms – real and imaginary. Does this sound like your resumé? We hope not.

    Meshing our work and our passions is key to making our lives works of art.

    Courtesy of z_zozole

  • Resumé Dates or No Dates? and Are There REALLY Jobs for Seniors on the Horizon or Is That Just a Mirage??

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    Today, a trusted friend and HR Guru, sat me down, drilled into my brain via my eyeballs and said: “Take those dates off your resumé!”

    I immediately started stuttering, “But, but isn’t that deceitful? Or, at the very least dissembling? And won’t that be a shock when I waltz my 60+ year-old self into the interview?”

    The Guru answered, “You know we HR folk are not as dumb as some people like to think we are. We can tell how long you’ve been working by simply reading your work history, experience and accomplishments. Clearly, you’re not just fresh out of college.”

    “That being said,” she continued, “in today’s job market we are inundated with resumés for each job we post. Hence, we are desperately seeking ways to winnow them down to a reasonable number. Sadly, your dates might prove an easy fix. Not that any self-respecting hiring manager would ever admit age bias but…”

    “On the other hand, if you have a brilliant, innovative working resumé – with no dates to shut us off at the first pass – by the time we finish reading and realize you are most probably a bit long in the tooth we really don’t see it as a barrier.”

    *************

    Now to those jobs on the horizon… US News and World Report actually published an article this week, titled Retired Workers Will Be Wooed to Return [to Work] by Philip Moeller.

    Wooed to Return??? Perhaps, it’s been so long since I’ve been wooed that I no longer grasp the meaning of the word, but I do question the veracity of this prediction. Then, too, I do not like to think myself a skeptic, so please read this bit of sunshine and let us know what you think.

  • What Do Job Boards and Black Holes Have in Common?

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    Too much I fear. There’s a reason they have names like “Monster.”

    I cannot imagine any scenario where a Job Board would be of value today. If that’s the way you choose to search for a job, you might as well print out 1000 copies of a generic resumé, hire a helium balloon, drift out over Nebraska and pitch them over the side of the gondola.

    Finding a job should not be like playing “Wheel of Fortune,” where you let the fates take control of your spin. Finding a job is very much under your control. It is proactive and involves a lot of highly focused research and preparation. To be precise, you need to figure 95% of your time for research and prep and 5% for the actual interview where you secure the job.

    First, you need to decide (in your head and heart – not some job board) what you would like to do. Second, brand what you do so others will recognize it. Third,  identify those organizations where you’d like to work and why they need someone like you. Fourth, find the individual in that organization who will best understand the value you bring. Finally, write to that enlightened person to tell them what you can do to optimize their organization’s success.

    Make no mistake, we are talking about a sales pitch. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. If you were an employer looking for an individual with an office cleaning service, for example, which of the following would grab your attention?

    1.  Owner of Acme Office Cleaners submits a traditional resumé:

    • Objective: We are looking for more offices to add to our portfolio of satisfied clients
    • Education: Certified in all Whamo products
    • Chronology: History of the business, beginning with first client’s one room office to current 10 clients with average of 2500 square feet each
    • References: Supplied upon request

    2.  Owner of Turbo Cleaners submits a sales pitch:

    Acme Cleaners has never had a dissatisfied customer. No space is too large or too small; no soil too tough for our team of crack professionals. We are speedy and extremely efficient. Call us today and we will have a team at your office within 24-hours. If you’re not satisfied with the results, we will come back at no additional charge. Acme is a certified and fully insured cleaning enterprise, and we guarantee to meet the quotes of any competitors delivering equal service.

    Turbo wins hands down in my book!

    You can create the same captivating sales pitch for any business or organization with whom you’d like to work. Today, especially, no one has the time to pore over traditional resumés to try to determine if that person does or does not have what it takes to move their company forward. After you’ve done your due diligence to learn what an organization needs, you can show them what and how you can deliver. It takes time and care but it does produce results. While those other resumés are still floating over Nebraska, you will be walking into an interview, where the employer is eager to convince you that this company and this job are the ones for which you’ve been waiting.

    Does this mean you do not need a resumé? Absolutely not. Think of the resumé as a blueprint for your sales pitch. You need to ground the pitch in real details and data to document who you are and what you have accomplished and to articulate that history and those credentials (all part of your brand) so your potential is clear – to you as well as others.

  • Mind the Gap – in Your Resumé That Is, Not the London Underground

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    “Mind,” as in pay attention! Be proactive. Reclaim that territory – don’t avoid it like a failed relationship. Every point, or lack thereof, in your resumé is connected and has a purpose. A jazz musician would describe it as the music played between the notes.

    Take time to think. Don’t just jump from one job to the next. Reflect on what has worked for you and what has not. A blog I have mentioned before, Zen Habits, has boiled this reflection and action process down to Four Laws of Simplicity that you can use on your resumé, any area of your life and, in fact, your life as a whole:

    1. Collect everything in one place.
    2. Choose the essential.
    3. Eliminate the rest.
    4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly and nicely.

    Your experience and your thinking are assets. It’s your story. Share those assets with your future employer, after all you were not just sitting home eating bon bons. Truth be said, maybe you were powering up with chocolate, but the enlightenment at the end of the munch is what counts. If you’ve filled the “gap” testing new opportunities, launching entrepreneurial start-ups, acquiring more formal education, learning new skills, working in the trenches, building your network or mentoring others, tell those stories and highlight the ways in which that “gap” experience makes you an even more credible candidate for the job. Any employer worth his or her salt should be thrilled to learn you’re not going to flip out prematurely or abandon ship because you did not take the time to get your act together before stepping into a new environment.

    Pay attention to the gaps, capture the music between the notes and remember: the London Underground only looks like a labyrinth to those without a map!

  • Resumé Blasphemy

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    Nick Corcodilos, in his Ask the Headhunter blog, shares what he calls his “blasphemous resumé” philosophy.

    The idea, he says, is to create a “working resumé, where you provide the employer with just what he or she is looking for: proof of your understanding of the work that needs to be done, proof that you can do the work, do it the way the employer wants it done, and proof that you can do it profitably.”

    Prescient as that might be, I find the real piéce de résistance in Corcodilos’ blog is this extraordinary “working resumé” from Leonardo Da Vinci. One of Corcodilos’ readers, Phil Hey, at Briar Cliff College, Sioux City, Iowa, sent him Leonardo’s 1481, job-seeking letter:

    Leonardo DaVinci’s letter to Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, applying for a job in 1481:

    Having, most illustrious lord, seen and considered the experiments of all those who pose as masters in the art of inventing instruments of war, and finding that their inventions differ in no way from those in common use, I am emboldened, without prejudice to anyone, to solicit an appointment of acquainting your Excellency with certain of my secrets.

    1. I can construct bridges which are very light and strong and very portable, with which to pursue and defeat the enemy; and others more solid, which resist fire or assault, yet are easily removed and placed in position; and I can also burn and destroy those of the enemy.

    2. In case of a siege I can cut off water from the trenches and make pontoons and scaling ladders and other similar contrivances.

    3. If by reason of the elevation or the strength of its position a place cannot be bombarded, I can demolish every fortress if its foundations have not been set on stone.

    4. I can also make a kind of cannon which is light and easy of transport, with which to hurl small stones like hail, and of which the smoke causes great terror to the enemy, so that they suffer heavy loss and confusion.

    5. I can noiselessly construct to any prescribed point subterranean passages either straight or winding, passing if necessary underneath trenches or a river.

    6. I can make armoured wagons carrying artillery, which shall break through the most serried ranks of the enemy, and so open a safe passage for his infantry.

    7. If occasion should arise, I can construct cannon and mortars and light ordnance in shape both ornamental and useful and different from those in common use.

    8. When it is impossible to use cannon I can supply in their stead catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other instruments of admirable efficiency not in general use — In short, as the occasion requires I can supply infinite means of attack and defense.

    9. And if the fight should take place upon the sea I can construct many engines most suitable either for attack or defense and ships which can resist the fire of the heaviest cannon, and powders or weapons.

    10. In time of peace, I believe that I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another.

    I can further execute sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, also in painting I can do as much as anyone else, whoever he may be.

    Moreover, I would undertake the commission of the bronze horse, which shall endue with immortal glory and eternal honour the auspicious memory of your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

    And if any of the aforesaid things should seem to anyone impossible or impracticable, I offer myself as ready to make trial of them in your park or in whatever place shall please your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.

    Leonardo Da Vinci

    At last, we know the reason behind that enigmatic smile!


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