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Drop The Objective!

Although I’ve written about this in other articles, I think the topic deserves further attention.

Much of the resume advice that’s still out there promotes, and a great many job seekers still utilize an “Objective” statement at the top of their resume.

While, in general, resumes are very subjective, and there is a great deal of conflicting advice where both sides can have valid points… there is a greater consensus these days that an Objective statement is outdated in today’s job market, and can be a negative when presenting a resume for opportunities.

Consider these comparisons…

 

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

 

Objective: To find a dynamic company where I can apply my 15 years of Software Development skills to reach my career potential.

VS.

 

Software Professional

Software Developer with 15 years experience in designing and creating effective applications within allotted time frames and budgets. Specific skills include:

                     Java Web Development                          Agile Methodologies 
                     Team Lead                                          SPRING Frameworks 
                     Business Analysis                                  Testing

 

 

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

OR…

 

Objective

To apply my Project Management skills in an environment that enables me to achieve to the highest of my abilities and gain further experience for the benefit of the organization.

 

VS.

PROJECT MANAGER

Successful Project Leader bringing proven experience in delivering projects on-time, under budget, meeting milestones, and communicating effectively. Notable qualifications include:

                       PMP Certified                                         SCRUM Master 
                       Requirements Gathering                          JAD Facilitator 
                       Expert VISIO Proficiency                          Vendor Management

 

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

 

Contrasts can be seen in each of these comparisons. The “Objectives” which are typical examples that job seekers use, are primarily about what the job seeker hopes to find. While any company would ideally like to find someone who’s goals match the open position, their primary focus is to hire someone that brings the skills and culture fit to effectively fulfill the job requirements and achieve the company’s goals. The individuals own goals are secondary, and is up to the candidate to evaluate the fit with the opportunity.

Using a header that states your field of expertise helps the employer immediately know whether they are looking at a resume of someone in the right ballpark or not. Using columns of words or short phrases can communicate several key points in a quick glance. Giving the employer the ability to digest more information quickly is the best route to getting them to see the match to a particular position.

Short sentences, keywords, and phrases are always more effective at communicating a lot of information quickly than run-on sentences or paragraphs. Never sacrifice substance to gain brevity! Spend the time to figure out what is most important to convey and say it in as few words as you can.

In today’s job market, if you want to create a resume that will be most effective… Drop the Objective!


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Are You Referable?

One aspect of unemployment that people sometimes welcome is that they no longer have to dress for work each day. They like the idea of being able to just wear sweats or jeans and a T-shirt rather than having to get ready and look appropriate for a job.

While it’s understandable, it’s important to think about the effect that may have on your job search.

After having this discussion in one of my job search classes, one of the women realized she may not be conveying the most professional image to people she’s been networking with. She had regularly ‘run to the store’ in her sweats, or met a friend for coffee in dressed-down shorts and a T-shirt. She had gotten into discussions about the types of jobs she was looking for and contacts she needs… without much success.

While there certainly may be other factors to consider, the impression she makes can definitely have an influence on the reaction she gets. Even your best friend will look at you with a different set of eyes when they begin thinking about referring you to their best business contacts. They may love talking about all the issues of life over a cup of coffee or at the neighborhood barbeque, however, may question whether you would present yourself professionally and competently to the VP of HR they know at a company you’re interested in pursuing. Even family, who know you best, may have reservations about introducing you to professional contacts they know if their impression of you is only as a ‘slob’ they see at family reunions.

In order to get the most referrals, it’s important to present an image that people have no concerns about referring. If they can see you as a professional, that’s competent, and sharp, they are much more likely to be willing to refer you to their best connections. While it may seem superficial to primarily consider appearance when making those judgments, the reality is that’s exactly what people do.

In networking groups I lead, I consistently see sharply dressed people get more credibility among the other people there. It’s not necessary to wear a suit… however, ‘business casual’ is far more assuring to someone considering sharing a contact than jeans and a T-shirt.

The woman from my class let me know a couple of weeks later that she believed her appearance made a big difference in a chance meeting she had. She was wearing sweats around the house that day, however, needed to go to the grocery store to pick up a few items. She decided to change into some nicer casual slacks and sweater. When she got to the store, she ran into an ex-coworker from several years ago. As they chatted and she was able to tell about her job search, the ex-coworker gave her a job lead at the company where she now worked and gave her the name and contact information of the hiring manager.

She was convinced that if she had shown up in her sweats and T-shirt that day, the other person would never have been so helpful.

In your job search, you never know when and where you’ll run into your best connections. Be prepared, and always look referable!


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Paint Some Pictures!

4-2-paint-brush-png-imageOne of the challenges many people face in their job search networking is helping other people understand the objective and how they can help. One of the most effective ways to help them do that… is to paint some mental pictures!

Generally, when someone begins discussing their job search, a networking contact automatically assumes they’re looking for job openings and leads. While that is the ideal, the fact is that people aren’t walking job boards! They usually don’t even know what kinds of positions might be open at their own companies. Without any further prompting, the conversation usually stalls there and often becomes awkward.

The objective with every networking contact, should not be primarily focused on specific openings, but rather on additional contacts that they can recommend. Once they understand that you’re looking for a job, they will certainly let you know of leads they know of without you even asking. So don’t ask!

Instead, focus on helping them grasp your interest in more contacts. Describe the networking process in terms that help them understand how they can help you!

You could say something like…

While I’m in my job search, my focus is following a trail of bread crumbs from one person to another and to another until I land on one that might know of the right opportunity for me. It would be very helpful to me if you could refer a couple of other people that would be worthwhile to talk to. Those additional breadcrumbs help keep me moving forward!

Or, something like…

My job during my search is to talk to as many people as I can, adding links to the chain of my connections. The more links I have, adding new people along the way, will eventually lead me to someone that might know of an opportunity for me. I’d be grateful for any additional links you think might be good connections for me to keep adding to the chain!

Through mental illustrations, people ‘get it’ faster, and your networking efforts become far more effective. Don’t just tell them you are looking for referrals, however, paint them a picture to help them understand why!


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Don’t wait for the ducks!

It’s not unusual for job seekers to postpone following up on leads or connecting with people referred to them because they feel like they need to get “all their ducks in a row” before they do.

While it’s certainly a good idea to do some preparation, waiting until you have everything figured out delays the process and excludes opportunities to learn from others to help find some of the answers you need.

This was made apparent to me as one job seeker told me about a networking meeting she had with an ex-coworker. She was excited that the meeting was so productive. She learned a great deal about potential career areas she had not considered, she learned about companies that might be great targets, and she got names of additional contacts that could help. The meeting was immensely helpful to her in defining what she would pursue and who she would reach out to.

Yet… she came to a conclusion that she needed to stop networking for a while to “get her ducks in a row”.

While the meeting she had was so worthwhile, she is moving forward on an assumption that effectively says future meetings won’t be as helpful. The meeting she had helped shape her focus, helped to identify companies and other people she needed. The same potential benefits are likely to happen with future meetings.

The networking and focus processes often work best simultaneously and hand-in-hand. Each meeting provides additional information and ideas to help narrow and sharpen your focus. Each meeting provides much needed practice in a “live fire” situation to make you better for each subsequent meeting. And each meeting is an opportunity to get one step closer to the right position.

Be able to articulate your background, be able to communicate the general focus you have so far, but don’t try to get everything worked out before connecting with your next referral!


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