To Lead or Not to Lead?

Previously written and published on TalentZoo by Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan. It can be found here.

A very common misconception amongst the professional community, and especially where very talented people have the chance to “shine,” is that showing any type of leadership ability through resume or interview is a big “no-no.”

Many equate the demonstration of leadership ability as something that should only be done if one seeks an executive role or a management position. The reality is that lack of leadership could be the one thing holding them back from that higher-paying senior position within the team atmosphere — or even barring them from an entry-level position within a company that requires self-starters in a fast-paced environment.

Not showing leadership ability will not only hinder chances to get in the door, but also those for continuous promotion and increases in pay scale. As a matter of fact, lack of leadership ability may be why many have tenured a position for ten or more years without pay increase and without promotion. They are hardworking, serving employees, but they aren’t taking initiative. While they work hard and go above and beyond to meet goals, they may only be performing duties within the expectations of upper management.

It is important to rise above expectations, take initiative, and pull the team to the top in showing growth for a company and/or department while ensuring that the department continues to excel, as a unit, and that no employee is left behind, fired, or laid off.

In the case of a resume, why would a future employer or hiring manager choose someone that has only done what was dictated to them when they can select someone who will own that position and turn it into a driving force within the company? After all, business is business; in the end, numbers, process improvement, and team development are all that will matter.

Selecting a professional that will be the best possible janitor they can be will assure client satisfaction in returning to the urinal for another “splash” without hesitation. It will ensure that the company gains a positive reputation in a world full of critiques; where the smallest variables lead to the largest deciding factor and biggest impact within the company structure.

When a candidate selects achievements over duty and turns duty into achievement within a resume draft, an employer will be anxious to hire that candidate — or at least meet them for a coffee. Showing ability and how one has made an impact, how they have made a difference, and why no one else is more qualified for a particular position will push executives to favor one candidate over another — even if another candidate was already in the running for hire.

In addition to leadership abilities, one should also show personality and charisma. Allowing future employees to realize personality and character, high energy, and a good-spirited nature will also impact hiring decisions. Showing good personality will tone down a misconceived ideal one and will lead decision makers to find pleasure in making acquaintance and especially doing business. One doesn’t have to lead a team to be successful, but leading from within will guarantee a job well done and a future most secure.

Are you ready to “WOW” your future boss and/or hiring manager? If so, get with us. Let us write for you!

Don’t Forget to Be a Lifelong Student

Previously written and published by Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan on TalentZoo.com. You can read the original article here.

When life takes the backseat and we spend more time in transit than preparing a meal, we often forget how important it is to continuously invent self, evolve, and stay ahead of trends. We often forget how to keep learning and adopting new skills; how to form educated opinions, backed by research and facts. And, most importantly, we forget how to breathe.

In a world run by technology, there are many executive professionals that remain computer illiterate. This is fine. Many of them can afford secretaries and administrative assistants to help them progress in an innovative direction. At the same time, they are restricting themselves, hindering growth, and spending time in areas that could be streamlined through technology. That time could be spent focused on taking their brands to the next level. In short, the business world isn’t progressing as rapidly as it could be, and the younger generation is looking to us for cues.

Mentorship is amazing because we can get shortcuts to decision-making methods, adopt specific processes, and learn things about our industries that we never knew we never knew. We learn details about business that are either kept “hush, hush” or just not shared amongst “newbies.”

We learn so much, but then we lose the need to go to our mentors other than for advice. We forget how valuable they continue to be to our growth. Sometimes, we even outgrow those mentors to where there is nothing that can really be learned from them.

So, let’s talk about innovation. For every hardware or software technology that you have ever learned and implemented into your daily workday, there have been upgrades…unless the company closed its doors to the public. Not upgrading software over the course of a few years can make a huge difference. Not upgrading from one version to the next can make a huge difference.

For example: Audio engineers who stayed true to their Focusrite devices and didn’t upgrade from 6.7 LE until version 8 or 9 came out were in for a big change. While many of the smart keys stayed the same, much of the system had been rearranged with a newly designed and more aesthetic interface. Now, in version 12, you can bet that buffers, plugins, and bugs have been upgraded or fixed and made more efficient.

If you’re an audio engineer, you understand exactly what this means. If you’re not, this idea is definitely transferable to multiple platforms in technology. As a matter of fact, I am still upset that Safari seems to have removed the “activity” window in its most recent upgrade. I relied on that for quickly locating files that were in use on a web page at that particular moment.

Changing technologies force us into quickly learning and adopting new ways of doing things, based on immediate need. What would happen if we simply learned for the sake of learning? How much more results-oriented would we be when implementing our new technologies or adopting them for the benefits that they could bring? Technology aside, why aren’t we consistently picking up soft skills that will add to our value in the marketplace? Why aren’t we finding ways to combine our knowledge of one subject with the next in creating something interesting?

I’m sure your answer was that you have no time. Am I right? Consider this: While you are in the car, the most cliché thing you can do is listen to an audiotape. Why don’t you do it?

Today, you don’t need to rely on tapes. You can find videos or audio on just about any subject through your mobile device. You can even download audiobook players that will keep you occupied for hours and return you right back to where you left off, no matter which device you are accessing the information from. While this is so easy to do, there are many that would rather not know about something to have the excuse that they “don’t know how.” The same goes for basic software and programming skills. If you’re a hands-on person, learn management. If you’re a supervisor, learn something technical.

If you work in marketing, content creation, or design strategies, you probably have seen where your chances of getting a particular job or client would be heightened if only you knew how to do minor coding, use some unknown software program, or work with WordPress. While you are a superstar in marketing, you hate showing numbers for fear that you present them wrong. After all, you can read them and understand them, but explaining numbers is just not your forte. You need to change this quickly!

It’s time you stop letting these fears get the best of you. Just go for it. Immersing yourself in learning is the best way to gain new skills. In addition to audiobooks, ebooks, tutorials, and user-generated classes, there are free mobile apps available to help you evolve through interactive quizzes and games. They can be fun, and many reward you with official certifications that always appeal to your clients and bosses.

Any seasoned professional agrees that while rebranding isn’t a great option, reinventing yourself every so many years is almost inevitable. You must evolve to meet technology advances. In order to be ahead of the game, you become an early adopter. This will keep you ahead of industry trends and ensure that you will impact the revenue of your company for the better.

As markets saturate, and the less evolved you become, the less business you will continue to keep. If you want to maximize your value and salary, do whatever it takes to make business happen for you. Take risks. Network.

Or don’t. The choice is yours — Whatever you do, don’t forget to be a lifelong student of progress.

Are you ready to “WOW” your future boss and/or hiring manager? If so, get with us. Let us write for you!

Career Development at Any Level

Previously written and published by Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan on TalentZoo.com. Click here to see the original article.

As humans, it is in our innate nature to want to evolve and become “better.” There are those that will be followers, and there are those who are natural-born leaders.

Then there is that fine line in between — those who are in a cocoon, just waiting for their incubation into the next stage of the lifecycle of progress. They are waiting to be led, but are taking notes on how they can lead.

Leaders, it is on you to take the reigns. It is on you to influence and inspire. Why lead followers when you can lead leaders who can help you influence those followers?

When we talk about career development, we generally think about our college days and how we met with campus professionals in crafting now-obsolete resumes and following up with leads willing to take entry-level students under their wing. As professionals, we have surpassed those “good ol’ days” and have moved on to the real world. We aren’t competing with other students. We are competing with senior, seasoned, and tenured experts in our chosen industry. When we’re up against the pioneers, how do we measure up?

Career development is often called “professional development” in our “refined” age. Still, we rarely talk about it! We speak about mandatory training classes, many of which serve only the purpose of compliance for the company as it relates to regulations and guidelines for operation. Who really stays awake during those, anyway? Well, you should! Here’s why:

Whether you really care about the subject matter or not, you have a lot to learn in watching the interaction between the instructor and your colleagues. You learn what makes for good interaction, and you learn what the instructor could have done a lot better. You learn what engaged the classroom and what made them fall half to their graves. The interaction and sociology behind the teaching style you experience will guide you to your own. We naturally compare variables and will assess our own abilities. We strive to improve.

We never realize how bad we once were at something until we actually progress. We embark on a journey thinking we are the sh…sugar snaps and realize that we were actually very inexperienced. As a matter of fact, when we are enthusiastically embarking on a mission, we are absorbing so much that we didn’t know we never knew it. And we wish we “knew back then what we do now.”

As professionals, it is important to absorb random things and to master a few of them. There was a recent article published on the net that spoke about how the new generation of young professionals has very little soft skills and how important it is to have an expertise, a specialization, and a skillset, ultimately leading to uniqueness. They explained how not having a skillset was damaging to our new generation.

Most recently, it has been becoming a trend that we enroll in online courses. Some learn a new skill in order to figure out how to save a couple of dollars. Others just want to be better at something they once knew how to do. Then there are the leaders that just want to learn something new and automatically figure out how to apply it to their own lifestyle.

What they don’t know is that six months from now, that special skill is what will leverage them above their competition. It’s that special skill that has set them apart from the rest and will have made their specialization just a little bit more special. Instead of being a Social Media Coordinator, for example, they have become a Social Media Specialist Coordinator. They are coordinating coordinators of content. They are leading the leaders. And it happened so naturally.

The higher up you go, the less you need specialized skillsets, right? After all, you are the VP of Marketing. You know it all. Wrong! In a growing global marketplace, new countries are joining the rest of the modernized world and new technologies are being created daily.

Everyone’s position is at risk. Mergers and acquisitions can lead to your replacement or a struggle to remain at the top. Not learning new technologies can keep you in the dark during a golden era. Not understanding the language can lead to a gap in the language barrier and an inability to communicate with project teams. When that happens, your ability to lead them with influence is quite obsolete.

Are you ready to “WOW” your future boss and/or hiring manager? If so, get with us. Let us write for you!

 

Marketing Through Resume: Achievements Over Duty

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This article was previously featured on TalentZoo.com. Click here to see the original article by Jessica N. Abraham-Hogan.

Aside from the new standards of quality that have been instituted into the new resume requirements for getting past Applicant Tracking Systems, we have to realize that, for most of our lives, we have been writing the resume wrong. Professional resume writers are often baffled at how some of the top professionals at Fortune 500 companies have included so few achievements within their resumes, but have listed many duties!

For the most part, employers already know what your job duties entail. As a matter of fact, it is actually the duty of Human Resources or Administration personnel to know this while recruiting and screening talent.

So, what is it that you achieved with this talent? This is what they are most interested in. They want to know what impact you can bring to their company. They want to know that you can make a difference.

Oftentimes, applicants are worried about the wrong things. For those that have not created financial impact, they may have made a difference through leadership or process improvements. They may have contributed to a process that made things easier for upper management to make a difference. They don’t realize that a little bit of elaboration and powerful wording can really make what they did a great achievement.

Everyone picks on the janitor, so I will pick on the plumber. Let’s say the plumber put on his resume:

  • Plunged toilets and ran chemicals down the drain.

ASK YOURSELF: What would have made this line more impactful?

  • Cleared drains and sewer pipes, plunging and snaking residue from clogged drains, while ensuring sanitation through clean flow of water wastes and avoidance of overflow in living and working areas.

Believe it or not, this method will not only impress employers and hiring managers, but it will also feed ATS with more keywords that will ensure your position at your dream job.

With the standard being set to inclusion of only the last 10 years of work experience, this will help make up for all those great positions and companies that you were only allowed to “make mention of” within your resume. A little elaboration will go a long way.

Are you ready to “WOW” your future boss and/or hiring manager? If so, get with us. Let us write for you!

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Marketing Through Resume: Position Yourself for Greatness

As a professional in an ever-evolving world of technology, it is absolutely important to keep abreast of changes that occur within the standard operations of society and hiring processes.

Not many realize that with the evolution of information systems, most hiring processes are initiated, if not fully executed, Online. Therefore, Hiring Managers and Executive Decision Makers are eliminating the number of resumes that they are scouring each week in order to streamline processes and maximize productivity in the job space, while keeping staffing down to a minimum.

Let’s take a deeper look into this science and discover how to get passed all systems filters to, at least, be considered for the position that many are applying for.

Did you know, that as this World of Technology evolves, so does the way the business world approaches Talent Acquisitions and Recruiting?

Professionals aren’t just sitting back behind a desk glancing over resumes on a day-to-day basis. Time is valuable and successful corporations are always looking for ways to cut back on unnecessary spending. As earlier mentioned, many recruiters are more than likely sitting in front of a computer and pounding away at their keyboards, seeking out potential candidates that meet the specific needs of an employer.

Whether it is a proprietary system, hosted on internal servers, or through a major job search platform, hiring personnel are able to search out the perfect candidate based on keywords searches. Often, more time is placed in discovering which keywords directly meet those needs of an employer than sifting through a plethora of candidates that do not meet them.

As many job search sites and resume writing services will point out, there is an algorithm in tact that allows recruiters to search for who they want and to avoid those that they do not. This system is dubbed “ATS,” a shortened version of “Applicant Tracking System;” and it is what will make or break a candidate’s forge to the top of the figurative totem pole.

You see, per position a company seeks to fulfill, an average of 250 to 300 candidates are competing to be seen and invited for interview. Unfortunately for most, they will never be seen. The “select few” will be invited to join the hiring process and asked to report for interview. Believe it or not, but many of the top professionals applying per position will actually be overlooked. Hence, these awesome candidates might never have their chance at a dream position and will remain in their current until they finally “hack” the system.

So, how do you hack this system? How do you rise to the top and become recognized as “cream of the crop?”

This is simple. Treat your career path as a brand, while showcasing brandYOU through the use of Internet Marketing techniques to enhance your presence in tracking systems. While ATS works slightly differently than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the core concepts are totally the same!

Similar to SEO, ATS seeks out applicants based on specific keywords. The more keywords to match word-for-word, the better! The applicant will score a higher position within this algorithm. Unlike SEO, these keywords must be presented exactly as described by qualifying terms, as opposed to being strategized for conversational, organic placement and tone. Industry-specific terminology is highly encouraged.

Resumes are expected to be matter of fact, while engaging readers in a professional and narrative description of an applicant’s work history. This means that a phrase, such as “preparation of slideshows” would hold little weight, if any, to “slideshow preparation.” It gets even more complex.

Because ATS seeks applicant achievement over duty, it would be wise to include the latter preceded by a strong action verb and a powerful adjective. Whereas one may include, “Engaged in slideshow preparation” on their resume, another may include “Developed and executed highly professional slideshow preparations.” Not only did the second choice include powerful descriptors, but it also showed process, ability and to what quality. It also showed that it happened on more than one occasion; and therefore, it was not a fluke!

While both verbiages may find themselves ranking higher within ATS than those without optimization, the achievement-based resume will soar much higher. Once these resumes reach the hands of the talent recruiters, which do you think will receive further consideration?

Keeping your language brief within a resume writing is the objective, but the manner in which this is done, is also important. In marketing yourself, you have to sell your achievements by showing how even your performance of duties have made a difference.

Your resume must flow smoothly in keeping a reader engaged. As a matter of fact, your resume must flow smoothly, because your resume will merely be skimmed the first few times that it is read. Keeping content mapped out and consistent, the layout must reflect what the body is trying to convey to your future employer.

Structure is equally important to the Applicant Tracking System. Professional profiles may or may not be read with the ATS (The depends on the complexity of the engine being used.), but they must be present when distributing your resume to employers that do get to see your resume.

Within each resume, it is highly recommended that one includes a “Competencies Section,” with word choices that must completely be spelled out, at least once prior to abbreviation throughout the resume. This section also acts as a meta tagged “keywords” section within SEO to enhance your resumes overall potential. While many include these keywords into a section described as “Areas of Expertise,” one merely should feel comfortable in their ability to complete duties found within.

Expanding upon the ideal that layouts and consistencies are important for ATS and in mapping out your career, layouts keep resumes organized, experiences highlighted and abilities grouped. It also helps ATS differentiate the content you are submitting, especially in the case of extracting information to a separate database. In a more traditional format, it leaves your resume more visually appealing, balancing out white and negative spacing, and allows your resume to be properly scanned over in the second round of the hiring process, therefore passing the “30-second test.”

In physical hiring processes, a hiring manager is opt to starting at the expertise section, scan through previous employers, read your full education level and then check out the rest of the resume. Sometimes, they go directly to education, skipping experience, altogether, and continue at your affiliations and technical proficiencies. If they are intrigued, they will return to your biography, and then they will read to see if you are worthy of the position they are moved to interview you for.

You want to draw eyes to each section of your resume and encourage them to actually read what is written there. Avoid typos and formatting errors. They aren’t read by ATS and can negatively sway the hiring manager to dropping your resume into the garbage bin.

Speaking of garbage bin, industry rules have changed. You do not need to have a references section in your resume. You can drop that in the trash. Because many people lie about references and have others lie for them, it has become an unnecessary part of the resume process. It also takes up space that you can be using for something more valuable. It is wise, however, to keep a resume sheet on hand if your future employer requests one. This also goes for project sheets, which outline project histories, portfolio pieces and publications, unless you have a Curriculum Vitae (CV) resume type.

In creating proper spacing, keeping your resume to a proper link and utilizing negative space, one must consider level of hierarchy. While in ATS, there is no limit to how much space is being used. Understand, if you make it through the computerized process, a warm-blooded soul will be holding your resume in their hands. Length must be made appropriate to your level of hierarchy on the corporate ladder.

It is commonplace that professionals who have held tenure at a job site, entry-level personnel and students may only detail their resume to one page. However, there are some entry level personnel who hold hands with professionals of all industries that will find two-pages tells a clearer story of who they are, whether they have summarized this or are providing quality content in enhancing their resume to meet specific job descriptions. Hiring managers find it acceptable for medical personnel, executives and IT professionals to submit resumes at three to four pages.

Military personnel, medical doctors and professionals in the scientific community are expected to have four or more pages of resume material. This is where special resumes are created, distinctly prepared by federal standards and in CV-structured layouts.

Most resumes only include the last 10-12 years to compensate for age-stereotyping hindrances in the hiring process. An undated summary statement may be italicized below to show evidence of a career journey and previous experience in correlation to older-yet-relevant positions held. Remember to present yourself how you want to be perceived. This is Branding 101.

While most resumes are lacking a graphic appeal, many new designs have found ways to give resumes a persona. After all, when looking at a resume, one becomes familiarized with the person that they are potentially hiring. Your layout will tell a hiring manager your level of expertise within the corporate machine.

Graphic elements can hint at an “out-of-the-box” or innovative personality, highlighting your ability for creativity. The problem, however, is that ATS often has a hard time reading graphic resumes. And, while there are ways to get around this issue, most creative resumes suffer because some element or another is lacking in the process. Only a select few within the resume-writing world know how to get around this problem and can optimize your resume for discover in ATS engines.

Finally, in marketing yourself through a resume design, one must be aware of engine capabilities. While .doc extensions aren’t often looked at as a “finished project” in a world, where creating a .pdf document helps corporations protect against security and fraud while accepted as official and polished, .doc extensions are the most acceptable form of submission in this day. This document type provides ATS with an easier means of extracting your personal information than does .pdf, .rtf, .txt and even .docx.

Being mindful of your audience, keep both .pdf documents and .doc on hand at all times. After all, you may be submitting your resume directly to a decision maker and should plot to appear as polished as possible. In the end, it all comes down to one thing… BrandYOU.

How are you marketing yourself? What observation of your character would you like them to experience?

Stay mindful of ATS when submitting resumes to corporate engines and job search sites; and remember, I am only a messenger of what experts have analyzed over the years and through experience. Good luck!

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