“Brag” About It–Employers Need to Know Your Accomplishments

This is not my typical blog post, but I wanted to prompt you to think about letting the “world” (potential employers) know about your professional accomplishments and career success record, in an appropriate way.

My new “‘Brag’ About It” document:

“Our memories are short. Can you remember all the details of the project you worked on last week? How about last month? What about a year ago?

One of the best ways to prepare for a time when you will need to share your accomplishments is to collect details of your achievements as you go along — and there’s no better time than now to start! Accomplishments demonstrate your skills and experience. It’s one thing to claim you can do something — it’s another to prove you’ve done it.”

Important note: The full (13-page) accomplishment-gathering document–including numerous questions to ask yourself to get the information flowing–is available to you at no cost between now and January 2, 2013. Just send your request by email to success@ablueribbonresume.com. I will be happy to send you the document ASAP.

No blog posts between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2

Here’s wishing you happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, or whatever greeting is most appropriate to your personal situation! I am going to take a short “vacation” from blogging to enjoy the holidays, regroup and recharge, and get ready for a dynamite 2013. I hope you are able to do the same.


Career Success, Not a Failure

I once read this saying: “You never fail until you stop trying.” That pretty much sums up my outlook and fits well into the article that inspired today’s blog post. Most of us have no idea how to predict the future–even if some of you can make fairly good educated guesses–so we have no idea what might lie around the next bend in the road, either in life or in our career. Yet you might find yourself feeling like a failure because you missed achieving a goal on your job or made a career decision that did not work out the way you expected.

Take heart. Unless you willfully screwed up, considering yourself a failure is probably too harsh a judgment and premature besides.

Can You Embrace Failure and See Success Later?

According to an article on failure and success that I just read by James Price, the answer to that question is yes. Price states that “failure is a picture in time, as is success….Failure is an event that does not define you unless it becomes you.” He further notes that it’s important to take responsibility if you made a mistake but don’t let that stop you in your tracks. Instead, fix it if you can and move on. Of course, if you make mistakes you could and should have avoided with even minimal care, that’s another matter. Hopefully, that’s not the case.

Career Success in the New Year

You might need to correct some actions you’ve taken this year or, in some cases, take steps you should have taken this year but didn’t. Along with that, if you’ve made mistakes you can learn from–and avoid repeating in 2013–make sure you plan what you need to do to accomplish that. That in itself could increase your odds of career success in the new year.

For example, what did you do in your work situation that didn’t turn out well? Were you the one responsible for that “failure” or was it someone else outside your control? Maybe it was a combination of factors or circumstances, some of which you could have changed and some you couldn’t. You’re not a failure if you make a commitment to do better going forward.

Remember that things won’t change for the better in 2013–that is, you can’t transform apparent failure into future success–until you take charge of what needs to change. If you label yourself, or allow others to label you, as a failure, you will stay stuck. Change that scenario, and you change the future to a more promising one. To quote Price again: “The only setback would be apathy. As long as you are pushing forward toward a goal, the pragmatic result is you will gain some ground.” Price’s article also quotes Henry Ford, who said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Career success isn’t like a lottery. There don’t need to be losers in order for you to win. What’s more, you can revisit an apparent failure and “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat,” which according to Wiktionary means to “succeed in an endeavor through reversal of fortune, skill, effort, or good judgment.” That’s career success, not a failure.

No College Degree? Job Search Tip

If you currently lack a college degree and are finding your job search a challenge as a result, you are probably not alone. You might also not find that fact particularly comforting! “Misery loves company” is a well-known saying, but its usefulness in your job search is zero. Knowing you are not alone in a sinking boat won’t improve your odds of surviving, much less thriving.

Job Search Tip for Determined Job Seekers

In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I never had the courage when I was looking for a job to try the advice that Ask the Headhunter’s Nick Corcodilos repeatedly gives. I pretty much did things by the conservative book, and he wasn’t writing that one! However, he’s not the only person who advocates something similar, so I think it’s worthwhile to offer the idea for your consideration–if you haven’t already discovered and tried it for yourself.

Basically, Corcodilos maintains that to succeed in your quest for a new and/or better job, you need to give potential employers a strong sense of what you can do that they can essentially take to the bank. In response to a question from a reader of his blog, he said, “The way it normally works, you provide your credentials and they decide whether to talk to you. If your keywords (that is, college degrees) don’t match, they tell you to go pound salt. But there is another way to approach this that can get you past the college requirement. Learn to talk shop before ‘credentials’ dominate the transaction.” In other words, convince them of your unique value to their organization before you submit a resume that clearly doesn’t have a college degree on it.

What does that mean to you? Here’s what Corcodilos says about the fact that employers rely on degrees, which aren’t always a good indicator of performance on the job: “…understanding why they rely on degrees in the selection process should help you address what they really want: Proof you can do the work and proof that you have the sophistication to grow in the job.”

Job Search Tip for the Less Bold Seeker

So you can’t quite see yourself being as out-there as Corcodilos advocates. Does that mean you’re doomed? Maybe not. One possible tactic is to get to know someone on the inside of companies you want to work for and develop a trust-based relationship with the individual that will let you do at least a couple of things: (1) Potentially learn about upcoming or existing job opportunities that aren’t public knowledge yet and figure out how you could be a valuable fit for those opportunities. (2) Build up your “referral potential.” That is, increase the number and quality of people who will happily refer you for employment opportunities.

One additional point, based not only on Corcodilos’ advice but also on personal experience: Consider taking a job that’s at a slightly lower level than you’re ultimately aiming for, as long as you can add value and can see potential for future growth. It’s often easier to go higher once you’re on the inside.

Job Search Tools–Waste of Time or Worthwhile?

It makes good sense to keep an eye out for new job search tools that could help you manage your job search–even your ongoing career–more effectively. In other words, tools that save you time, effort, frustration, and so on. We live in a technology age, so it stands to reason technology in one form or another should offer you very useful tools for your job search, right? Maybe…maybe not.

Job Search Tools that Fail to Fulfill Potential

Numerous companies have come up with and/or promoted the use of certain services as having an exciting role in job searching–whether to employers who will pay to use them to source candidates or to job seekers who hope the services will give them a leg-up on the competition. However, as you might expect if you think seriously about it, the likelihood that all of them or even most of them will actually prove valuable to many job seekers is not guaranteed great. What’s sad is, if you put too much faith in these and spend a lot of time and energy trying to use them to jump-start your job search, you might not only be disappointed at the results (or lack thereof) but also have cost yourself valuable time you could have spent more productively.

I just read a “roundup” item on ERE.net by John Zappe and Todd Raphael, called “Not Just a Spanking but a Hard Spanking,” that references a post on Talent HQ by Jason Buss, titled “The Top 7 Recruit Fails of 2012.” Zappe and Raphael questioned a couple of Buss’s choices for failed recruiting methods, but presumably not the others. Here’s the list, in brief, with the worst “failure” in #1 position:

  1. Facebook
  2. BranchOut
  3. Talent Communities
  4. Social Recruiting
  5. Taleo Acquisition
  6. Mobile Recruiting
  7. Recruiting with Pinterest

Of course, this was put together from the perspective of employers/recruiters, but it’s one of those topics that should still interest you as a job seeker or potential job seeker. The more you know about what’s working for employers and what’s not, the better armed you are to conduct a well-thought-out job search campaign.

What is a Worthwhile Job Search Tool?

If you’re looking for tools that will do most of the work for you in a job search, you’re probably wasting time. I have yet to see any of the promoted tools ranked high enough to do that. Any that provide verifiable benefits seem to expect you to do some actual work yourself! If the tools and techniques you’ve been using recently aren’t producing good results, maybe it’s time to reexamine what you’re using and check out others that you haven’t gotten to yet. Just don’t jump on the bandwagon and ride it happily along without evaluating the time you spend on the tool against the payoff you receive from it.

Researching companies, making a case for your value even where there are no advertised openings, becoming visibly active in your field/industry, establishing a strong and professional online presence…these are the kinds of tools that so far have been widely acknowledged as a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.

So What About LinkedIn?

While I have some concerns about the course LinkedIn seems to be taking lately (I’m still not a fan of the new “Endorsements” provision, for example), I still believe it’s a potentially valuable online networking and job search tool, if you use it wisely. For example, establish some real relationships with key people in your LinkedIn network, rather than just making it a numbers game. (“I have 500 connections.” “Well, I can beat your 500–I have 1,000!”) I don’t believe LinkedIn is going away any time soon, which I do think is a good thing. The trick will be to find out how to make it work well for you.

Caring about Career Success–Yours and Others

Today I am borrowing a question from Jon Gordon, whose weekly newsletter often contains thought-provoking messages that make me examine what I am doing or not doing that really matters–personally (with family and good friends) and professionally (for my business and the people I want to serve). Jon’s question is: “Do You Care?”

Caring about Success Goes Beyond Yourself

As Jon’s weekly newsletter article says: “In today’s economy where businesses and people are always looking for the latest and greatest ways to grow their business, build their brand and garner attention, I believe one word embodies how we can stand out and be noticed for our work.
The word is CARE and I’d like to share two simple ways you can put care into action. First, you care about the work you do. I know this may sound like common sense, yet in reality most people don’t care. That’s why the people who do care stand out.

“Steve Jobs is a great example of caring in action. In Water Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, Steve shares a story about helping his father build a fence when he was a young boy. His father told him he must care about crafting the back of the fence as much as the front. When Steve asked why the back mattered since no one will see how it was crafted his father said, “But you will know.”….

“The second way to put care into action is to show your customers you care about them. I’m convinced that the most successful people and businesses show they care in their own unique way.”

I can safely say that I care deeply about the well-being and success of my clients, and that’s one of the main reasons I do what I do. But like many people, I’m a work-in-progress and don’t always achieve the level or quality of caring that I aim for. That’s okay, though, because I’ll keep working at it and won’t give up until I achieve it. That’s an important part of how I measure my success in both the near and distant future.

Caring as an Employee or Manager of Employees

If all you do is show up to work every day and put in your time in order to collect your paycheck, the concept of caring about career success not only for yourself but for others wouldn’t mean much. I’m betting that if you’re bothering to read this blog, you care more than that about the quality of the work you do and others do with your guidance.

Yes, it’s great–and important to your sustainability–to receive a good paycheck periodically, but that’s not the only reason (maybe not even #1 for some of you) for doing whatever it is you do in your work. If you really want to be successful and help others achieve success, you care about what you do, even when no one’s watching or keeping track.

Maybe it’s a bit early yet to set your goals for 2013, but you might want to at least start thinking about them in terms of career success based on caring. If you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve achieved in 2012, part of the answer could lie in shifting your focus for 2013.

Did your progress in 2012 reflect a strong commitment to caring about success for yourself, your team, your company, your company’s customers…? If it didn’t, what can you change that would make a positive difference? How can you be more effective–make a greater impact in a constructive way–in the year ahead?