The Professional Credential Section: Tell Me More about That, Please
Your professional resume and CV can either help you greatly increase your salary or hinder your career advancement. Here’s how to achieve the former with your resume. First, focus on the structure. An ideal structure consists of Name and Contact Information, Career Summary, Computer Skills, Professional Experience, Education, and Training.
Then, secondly, consider the length. For entry-level purchasing positions, a one-page resume is appropriate. However, if you have more than five to seven years of experience, then you want to have a two-page resume. Don’t submit a resume over three pages, and there are reasons for that resume-reality. That will be another blog entry later down the line.
Next, ensure that the Professional Experience section is done well. List experience from most recent to oldest. Within the Professional Experience section, have headings listing each company and the years you’ve worked for those companies. But an additional, commonly ignored item that employers and recruiters like to see, is a short description of those companies you worked at in the past.
“Who is this company? What do they do? I want the annual sales,” answer these company descriptions on the resume in good written form. Employers like to know the type of organization that candidates are coming from in their past. Underneath each company heading, you should include subheadings for each position you’ve held accompanied by dates you’ve held those positions. Under the position subheadings, include your responsibilities and achievements in bullet point or paragraph form. For responsibilities, indicates the following information helpful for the HR or Hiring Manager readers, your audience:
* The categories you’re responsible for buying...
* The annual spend you’re responsible for...
* The type of supply base you’ve dealt with...
* The number of team members you’ve supervised... * The purchasing organization’s structure...
For achievements, the first thing that they will look for is numbers such as “Improved delivery performance by 50%” and “Initiated structured cross-functional global sourcing process to accelerate $20 million of annual savings.”
As candidates, most importantly, include credentials such as the SPSM Certification or any form of credentials on your resume. It’s good to see it right under Education. In another way said: including a certification on a resume is really critical to show your ability and expertise to your future employer.
Here are some take-away’s on this week’s career blog:
+ Have your training and education close by to each other so that the reader can find your credentials easily.
+ Credentials? Put all of them on your professional resume.
+ Have well-written profile composed by a professional resume writer for best practices.
+ Maybe include all this information of your profile on your LinkedIn.com profile. It’s very very useful and good
marketing of your career.
by Jason Stauffacher; Twitter: @RazorResume
August 1, 2012
I have a great friend, a friend of over 10 years, who just got hired in a major multinational corporation in St. Paul, Minnesota and Minneapolis, proper. It took a few years to get where he is. It’s a better business card by far and the perfect job title than he had even 4 years ago in Anoka. (I must change names to keep things matter of fact, but let’s call him Peter.) Peter was working the whole time, not looking the past four years for work but only for a short time. He finally got his ideal job at this top-20 company in Minnesota which is respected worldwide.
Let’s go over how this happened for Peter, and me for that matter. I got a call one day a few years ago, and Peter asked me to re-write his resume, at least go over it, as he got displaced from a local engineering firm in the north metro that is not well-known, not a multinational. It was a big surprise for him and his family. Peter had a great post as an engineer, but was asked to leave one day with a 2-hour notice. Nice of them, but a very common practice these days from human resources and intermediate staff leaders.
Peter did not work for about 7 months, getting his state unemployment benefits, emotional accolades were sought by going to a support group at a local organization to talk and work through the issues in his mind. This helped but not the whole psychology of it all. Peter needed to get a job, and a job fast. Enters a temp-to-hire agency with possible permanent placements. One drawback. Change of job title. A significant move for anyone, in any field. Peter was given an opportunity to work for a subsidiary, a company partially owned and operated by the MAJOR CORPORATION I mentioned above. It was not a direct way in, but a sideways manner. So it was like a foot in the door, but not exactly. It was one foot in the door, and the other outside. And would it ever change? There was a high chance it would not change he was told. So Peter took the job hoping that a possible job would open up in a few years. He took that gamble and it worked.
Peter did take a decent sized pay-cut taking the initial job at the distant subsidiary. That job title cut from Engineer to Technician from the temp-to-hire agency in New Brighton, Minnesota was an even harder blow too, emotionally. That’s like going from lawyer to paralegal in one fell swoop. Will Peter ever get a job as an engineer, again? Will someone hire me with my degrees with technician on the CV/resume ever? And it had to happen that way since the job was that, a technical spot. Peter took the plunge, jumped in happily, and felt like the opportunity from the agency from New Brighton would be more likely to move towards that Fortune 500 arena. It had to work, he felt. It was distantly-owned by the multinational, yet was still part of the larger organization. There was that connection and it had to work somehow.
Here is another amazing fact: this multinational company has an on-going hiring freeze, currently. Peter got hired on and was part of the company all along. At least from HR’s perspective, it was an internal post offered to an internal employee. It just looked like a bad situation at the get-go for Peter. It was not. Peter came in the side entryway with a bad job title, back to his original one, Engineer, and got with the mothership. He had to face a few ghosts along the way to get to that multinational spot, but at the end of the day, he got his career back on track with a far better job than the one he had 4 years previously in Anoka.
Here are some Twitter like takeaways from this urban job hunting story that happens to be very true for Peter (and maybe you in the future)!
+ Look for companies you would LOVE to work for. Find subsidiary organizations within the structure that have far-off relationships in your town.
+ Take a gamble at a company even if it is a title change. It is worth it. You never know. Temp-to-hire is not that bad.
+ Listen to your gut for a change. If Peter took the obvious advice, he would have never had the chance to be hired on by the larger organization.
+ Bypass hiring freezes by working for the smaller distant-off company subsidiaries.
+ Research, research, research the smaller distant-off company subsidiary’s mothership. You might be very surprised at who owns who.
Human Resource Departments Mimic Vicious Ant Colonies
Dear Job Hunter, I need to confess to you, I have felt this way for years, HR Departments really function as an ant colony, as a vicious killer ant colony. The bad ones from Africa I’ve seen on NatGeo. What do I mean? Human Resources and their supporting staff eat their own, devour wooing applicants up and, will step all over other staff members in other departments in the organization. I’ll begin this mental journey, to explain why, with a true story of a job seminar I gave some time back.
I was doing a short talk at a church in Minnetonka, Minnesota about how resumes and career profiles should be written in a tight job market, and had some success with my talking points. As well, the hosting career coach opened a question and open comment time for everyone, as I was her guest speaker that evening. To my surprise an HR Director got up, who was displaced herself, said, “I want to apologize in how rude HR Departments are, as I have now seen what it was like being on the other end. They can be the some of the rudest people in the whole organization. And I am sorry for that.“
I was very shocked why she was so terse in her confession, the same way I felt about HR for years. They don’t send rejection letters. If you are fired, they give you three minutes to prep your desk to leave. I could go on and on, and I’m sure you, the reader, could probably add your own horror story. This behavior needs to stop. It needs to stop immediately. We need to point out how rude and very disrespectful they have always been, and it needs to cease with informative essays like this one. We demand respect and tolerance they give themselves.
I’ve been working with a local fresh grad paralegal on her resume marketing package, and need to note to you that from my experience over the years, and with her, the only organization that still may have a ‘Pollyanna’ view of people, meaning, be nice to your neighbor, is the law firm. Law firms still send out rejection letters (or emails) and thank you cards for inquiries into employment of the firm. HR Directors need to learn from these law firms that you are required to be nice to people by telling them at least you got the application, if the firm is not interested, send a letter stating why the position was recently filled or the position has been closed. Treat your applicants like you are writing your grandmother from summer camp. Don’t be rude; see them as a real live person and tell them what’s going on this week.
Finally, I’ll tell you what ant colonies do. When in war with another ant colony, going over a water stream or something like that in a desert in Africa, the dead ones in the water are walked all over by the warrior ant.
HR Managers and the like, please treat resumes and applicants as the best document or work history they can produce at this point. It is. Don’t walk over (reject) the applicant IF there is one spelling error. Functionally, it is the work history represented in the submitted documents that shows some kind of accomplishment. I am sure, even an HR Director, does not write an email in grammar-perfect English everyday or may have a questionable work history. Why shouldn’t you expect the same? Don’t kill the resume or application over one little error or a perceived job gap. Are you a queen ant dictator that gives no grace and mercy, killing all workers with even the slightest deviation? I would hope HR would prove to be human and not a vicious ant-eating killer ant colony.
Agribusiness Intern opportunity at Padilla, Minneapolis.
Padilla Speer Beardsley is
looking for a full-time public relations intern to work on a wide
variety of projects with our agribusiness and environmental science
We are looking for recent grads who are available to start immediately. This is a paid, three-month internship.
Responsibilities may include:
• Writing news, product and personnel releases.
• Providing research.
• Supporting onsite events.
• Coordinating vendors.
• Creating and editing media lists.
• Making media-verification calls.
• Organizing clips.
• Tracking incoming trade publications.
Candidates must have excellent writing skills and media relations experience, as well as one or two previous internships or volunteer experiences in public relations, journalism or marketing communications.
What to say when giving hiring manager my resume when I walk it in...
by Jason Stauffacher
Q: Okay, I applied online at this store but I'm going to turn in my resume tomorrow morning. What should I say to the hiring manager when I take my resume and CV in? Should I ask for an interview or just give it to her and leave?
A: This is a great opportunity to do for a walk-talking interview without setting a proper interview time with HR. And that may lead to a fast job offer than the other route of waiting for the response email or call on the phone. Your are putting your body in front of the potential employeer and showing your stuff.
I like to call this a ‘baby-step interview,’ and you need to dress and submit your resume like you are going to a REAL interview, mind you. You are not just dropping off your resume, and maybe something will happen. First of all, you don't know who will be there, if the hiring manager will be in or the HR Director had a bad day and just wants to get this job filled ASAP. That would be to your benefit. So it's just not going in and dropping it off your nicely printed off resume. You need to ask to speak to someone who is related to the job. Most, I would say up to 90% of applications are done by email now. You need to do this and fast, as others are sending in their resumes and emails as fast as I am typing this Q&A response. Ultimately, you really are short-listing yourself and making the process far easier for HR and putting the show on for yourself. And this is a great way of getting things done in your career.
Here is a Twitter way of saying this: @RazorResume Dropping your rez off gets you in the door faster than just an email. Who knows who’s watching when you walk in that door.
This Is How to get A Federal Job
First of all you have to know where the jobs are. In a recent survey it was found in a survey by www.indeed.com that the top city for jobs in the entire United States is Washington D.C. Here are the top ten in order listed with how many jobs are available per 1000 residents:
1. Washington, DC - 133 (postings per 1,000 people)
2. Baltimore, MD - 90
3. San Jose, CA - 80
4. Austin, TX - 56
5. Hartford, CT - 54
6. Seattle, WA - 53
7. Salt Lake City, UT - 52
8. Denver, CO - 50
9. Boston, MA - 49
10. Las Vegas, NV - 49
(Charlotte, NC, also with 49 postings per 1,000 residents, takes the eleventh spot on the list.)
So the first step, if you will do anything to get a Federal job, is to look in these areas for employment. This doesn't mean there aren't jobs in other cities, it only means these are the cities with the most jobs. Step two: visit the governments website http://ww.usajobs.gov Here you will find every job (well almost every job) open in the federal government. There are other places to look but this is the website that lists the vast majority of the positions available.
When you see a position you qualify for study the announcement very closely, if there is something you do not quite understand, you can call one our great specialists at RazorResume.com at 1-800-818-1355.
Now Pick 1 or 2 or 3 positions you would like to apply for. Once you have decided which positions you will apply for it is time to get your federal resume in order and supplemental documents written and submitted.
I will be frank with you here, you can try to wrestle through this process yourself, and believe me the preparation of a Federal government application package is difficult and tediously detailed work. Or you can have a professional resume writer do it for you. Try your hand at it and see if you can do it, or if you need a professional’s hand at it as well.
That ultimately is your decision, but I strongly suggest that you hire a professional to bounce ideas and concerns off of. The main reason is that these positions are very competitive, hundreds of people apply for them and you have to do all you can to make sure that you are one of the ones that gets called in for the all important interview.
There is no substitute for a real experienced writer you can have at your finger-tips, but read the full Federal announcement, and see what I am talking about. It’s a lot of information to do and perform.
The professional writer knows the correct words to use they know the correct forms to use, they know and are very familiar with all the procedures and rules associated with the federal application process.
your application requirements and if you are serious about this process, you
can start the work and see what the extent of the work can and will be. Then again you can try it on your own.
But when you don't get called do not "fool yourself" and make up some
reason that you didn't get called, there are only 2 reasons:
a. Someone actually read through your entire resume package, the supplemental documents KSA's or ECQ's or PTQ's and then determined that you weren't qualified. That doesn't usually happen because most people apply for jobs they are not qualified for. That’s a basic idea. Too many apply for a job they are not really qualified for.
b. The hiring committee never saw your resume in the first place because it never made it through the initial steps to get to the step where a real person actually got to see the documents. In other words your package wasn't written correctly because it did not have all the right key words on it!
Having a well-written resume is vital in any job market. It can make the difference between getting an interview or not. With so much competition for openings, you need a resume that sets you apart from the other candidates. Below are some terms that can help you achieve that goal.
Reverse Chronological Resume – Outlines a person’s job history, starting from the current or latest position and working backwards. The flaw in this type is that it is easy to spot long periods of unemployment.
Functional Resume – This type is arranged by job function instead of by year. This allows potential employers to focus on the skills you have aquired throughout the years.
Template – Many people write their own resume and cover letter. A template can help you achieve a professional-looking resume. This is an example of how a resume should be designed. These samples can be found online and are often specialized for specific positions. It is important to remember that some templates are only examples, not outlines. To make the most of your resume, the samples should be tweaked to fit you personally.
Cover Letter – This is usually a mandatory addition to a resume, especially when you apply for higher level employment. This essay basically introduces you to the HR manager who is in charge of filling the open position. In it, you can include why you want the job and what unique skills or advantage you will bring to the company.
Curriculum Vitae – Latin for “course of life,” this is sometimes requested by companies as an alternative to a resume, mostly for the academic and medical industries. A curriculum vitae is more comprehensive in a lot of ways. It includes your education, job history, special skills, all in a greater depth that you would find in most resumes.
There are lots of jobs in Computer Science all over the globe. You can work remotely in places as you can see that it is on your computer screen! (Thanks to IBM’s new business mode)! Other areas are hardware and software development. You need to ask yourself a few good questions. Even the guys who made Angry Birds were guys who have a sense about software and technology.
iPhone and iPad apps are up and coming. Look into that~! Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself about what areas of Computer Science jobs do you want or think in this venue.
1) What am I good at?
2) Do I want to work for a big company or not? Small are good.
3) Work on iPhone apps or classical software firms?
4) Where will you get an advanced degree? (i.e. as more advanced degrees come with CS majors, jobs and career-tracking towards management.)
I hope that helps you!
Looking for a Research Analyst, temporary part-time assistance at Padilla...
Padilla Speer Beardsley is
looking for an analyst to join its in-house communication research team
and work three to four days a week for one to two months. Projects
include large-scale opinion and attitude surveys, qualitative studies to
develop messages and campaigns, and marketing research work for brand
and product development.
The analyst will participate in planning and executing projects, including the selection of research and analytical methods; the writing of questionnaires; the preparation of tables and charts; and the writing of final reports. The analyst will also assist with writing research proposals; managing projects and budgets; providing day-to-day oversight and client contact on research projects.
To be considered the candidate must have a minimum of five-to-seven years experience in a research-related field and a Master’s or Doctorate degree with research thesis in a social science or related field. The analyst needs a working knowledge of descriptive and multivariate statistical techniques and experience with analytical software such as SPSS and Excel. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication, writing and relationship-building skills. The analyst also must be experienced in conducting library research with online databases and synthesizing results into written reports.
Job Searching in 2012
Tenet 1: show off yourself. Tell them what you've done, and don't be shy.
Tenet 2: connect creatively with HR and managers. Think outside the HR
box. It has to be done in this modern web 2.0 day-and-age.
Tenet 3: echo your skills. Tell others about what you are good at. It
might lead to a job via a simple conversations over drinks.
The Professional Experience Section: Tell me more about that.....
Your resume (or CV) can either help you greatly increase your salary or hinder your career advancement. Here’s how to achieve the former with your resume.
First, focus on the structure. An ideal structure consists of Name and Contact Information, Career Summary, Computer Skills, Professional Experience, Education.
Then, consider the length. For entry-level purchasing positions, a one-page resume is appropriate. However, “If you have more than five to seven years of experience, then you want to have a two-page resume,” according to Tonia Deal, President of Tonia Deal Consulting, a leading supply chain recruiting firm. “I will not submit a resume over three pages.”
Next, ensure that the Professional Experience section is done well. List experience from most recent to oldest.
Within the Professional Experience section, have headings listing each company and the years you’ve worked for those companies. But an additional commonly ignored item that employers and recruiters like to see is a short description of those companies.
“Who is this company? What do they do? I want the annual sales,” says Deal of company descriptions on the resume. She explains that employers like to “know the type of organization that [candidates] are coming from.”
Underneath each company heading, you should include subheadings for each position you’ve held accompanied by dates you’ve held those positions. Under the position subheadings, include your responsibilities and achievements in bullet point or paragraph form. For responsibilities, Deal indicates that she finds the following information helpful:
* The categories you’re responsible for buying
* The annual spend you’re responsible for
* The type of supply base you’ve dealt with
* The number of team members you’ve supervised
* The purchasing organization’s structure (e.g., centralized), particularly if “the individual [has] been part of restructuring the company,” she says.
For achievements, Deal admits “The first thing that I will look for is numbers,” such as “Improved delivery performance by 50%” and “Initiated structured cross-functional global sourcing process to accelerate $20 million of annual savings.”
“I love it,” Deal exclaims when asked about a candidate including credentials such as the SPSM Certification on a resume. “I like to see it right under Education.”
Including a certification on a resume “is really critical,” in Deal’s opinion. “I really want to see that because that should be highlighted.”
Q: Where do you find a very good job webpage resource when you want to submit your resume when you have very few contacts at a particular company?
A: MANY of my clients have used www.indeed.com for a good place to start.
Interview Tips 101
Well, its that time again. Time to prepare
yourself for the journey that lies ahead. It can be a little
scary, but with the proper preparation you will do much better.
Below are some general tips to get your focus on
track. With a few interviews you'll be on your way!
Interview Tip 1: Plan Ahead - Do a little homework! Research the company and the position if possible, as well, the people you will meet with at the interview. Review your work experiences. Be ready to support past career accomplishments with specific information targeted toward the companies needs. Have your facts ready!
Interview Tip 2: Role Play - Once you have finished studying, begin role playing (rehearsing). Use the general questions provided below in the Interview Preparation Area. Write down answers if it helps to make your presentation more concise. Try to keep your answers to the information your new employer will want to know.xx
Here’s are some Twitter-like suggestions (short, pithy sayings as advice):
+ Never just email send your resume and leave it at that.
+ If they’re not available, just leave it with the receptionist. Would that be OK?
+ Say this: I’d like to stop by and drop it off. When I do, I’ll ask for you. If you’re available, I can introduce myself and personally give you my resume.
+ It will give you a huge advantage over other candidates who simply mail or email their resumes.
+ Getting a mini-job interview at the same time is SWEET!
Would You Hire Yourself?
While many of us think highly of our
backgrounds and what we can bring to a potential employer, at the end of
the day, would you really hire yourself if the decision was in your
To answer that question honestly, it is important for job seekers to take a few moments and reassess what exactly they can offer a potential employer.
Among the things to look at include:
- What sets you apart from the competition and how would you convey that message during an interview?
- Am I ready to take on this job in the event I am hired or am I just sending out resumes blindly, not really prepared for this job should I get the call?
- From past job interviews, what can I do better this time around to enhance the chances I get the job I want?
The above-mentioned are just three areas to look at as you search for
another job while employed or are out of the job market altogether and
looking to get back in.
Can You Sell Yourself?
There is little doubt that being able to sell yourself is key to increasing the odds of obtaining any job, be it a part-time gig or a potential full-time dream job. If you go into the interview process with some nervousness, that is fine; going in with doubts about yourself and your abilities can be the kiss of death.
As part of the pre-interview process, look at the following from an employer’s point of view:
- What would you be seeking from this candidate?
- Would the candidate’s education and work history play equal roles or would one overshadow the other?
- How much stock would you put in what the candidate does outside their work responsibilities? If a candidate told you they were a couch potato outside of the job, would that lessen your interest in them coming to work for you?
- Would how a job candidate dresses, talks, etc. be important to you or are results the only thing guiding you in your decision?
As part of the post-interview process, look at the following from a candidate’s point of view:
- What did you want to accomplish in this interview and were your goals met?
- If there is one thing you would have liked to be able to do over again from the interview, what would it be?
- What did you learn from this interview that will influence you on your next one?
- Was I more substance or more flash?
Each interview you go on is different from the previous one and will not be the same as the next one.
Keep in mind that employers doing the interviewing have different ways about how they conduct such meetings. Some are aggressive and to the point, while others are more laid back.
What you want from an interview is the ability to sell yourself, plain and simple.
If you go into the interview, make your points on why you’re the best candidate for the job and why a company is wise to select you. If you’ve done that, you’ve done your job.
In the event you don’t get the job, you have wasted nothing. Look at each interview as a learning experience, one that will assist you today, tomorrow, the next day and so on.
Most importantly, remember, finding a job is a full-time job in and of itself.
Research and determination are the keys to success, whether you’re 25 or 65
When Wendell Hall was asked to relocate for the 13th time in 31 years, he realized how demanding and unfulfilling his corporate life had become.
As a vice president of operations for General Motors Acceptance Corp., he oversaw lending activities among GM dealers throughout the Western U.S. The job required lots of travel and, at age 55, another transfer, this time from northern New Jersey to Detroit.
“I wasn’t willing to do that again, so I left,” he says.
Mr. Hall accepted an early retirement offer, then wasted little time before launching what he considered career #2. “During all those moves, I always liked buying and selling homes,” he explains. “It’s a hell of an interesting business, so I decided to give it a try.”
After completing a real-estate course and earning a license in less than a month, Mr. Hall signed on with a local realtor as a sales associate. When asked why he thought he could make such a major change — from corporate bigwig to lowly sales associate — Mr. Hall says that taking a complete inventory of his strengths and having a strong motivation to succeed were key ingredients. Mr. Hall eventually owned a multi-site brokerage firm in Oakland, N.J. that employed dozens of associates, before deciding to retire and move to central New Jersey with his wife.
“I enjoy working with people, and that’s the greatest similarity between the two careers. In both, it’s important to build trust and mutual respect with others, which I like doing,” he explains, adding that if he were an engineer or scientist who enjoyed working alone, “real estate wouldn’t be a good career choice.”
The biggest difference between Mr. Hall’s two careers reflects the source of his motivation. “In a corporation, you’re paid a salary whether you have a good year of not, so some people lay back on the oars if they want to. In real estate, everything is on commission, so you’ve got a real incentive to do well. If you’re not a self-starter, you won’t earn any income.”
To be sure, there are trade-offs. “What I really miss most about corporate life is that I have to do my own photocopying,” Mr. Hall adds with a laugh.
The New Trend
Everyone is changing careers these days. Teachers become financial planners. Airline pilots buy fast-food franchises. Middle managers learn to write software programs and sell them at trade shows. The list is endless, and for good reason. There’s no excuse for sticking with a career that you no longer enjoy, aren’t good at anymore or has been taken away from you.
The restructuring of corporate America has hastened this trend. Entire layers of management — as well as whole departments — are being eliminated willy-nilly, tossing long-tenured employees at all levels into the volatile job market. Some of these folks are so eager to find new corporate homes, they’re squeezing themselves into restrictive job requirements just to earn paychecks. But many more are putting a positive spin on the situation. They see this as a chance to launch more meaningful, exciting and potentially challenging careers.
Yet choosing which careers to try next is rarely easy, whether you’re 25 or 65. Some folks have second jobs that can be expanded to fill their now-available time. But most are at loose ends. Fortunately, selecting a new career direction isn’t difficult once you understand the process.
“If you’re conducting a fundamental career reappraisal, you must pay attention to three distinct areas of inquiry,” says Douglas B. Richardson, a leadership, communication and career management consultant in Narberth, Pa. They are:
- What am I capable of doing?
- What am I temperamentally suited to do?
- What will the world let me do, given what I’ve done before?
“This last point often is ignored by idealistic or highly motivated career changers,” says Mr. Richardson, who has worn many occupational hats thus far in his career, including lawyer, headhunter and outplacement executive. “They overlook the fact that their future career options are dramatically limited by past choices.”
Overcoming other people’s stereotypes of what you’re capable of achieving will probably be the biggest obstacle you’ll face as you attempt to change careers, Mr. Richardson says. It’s easy for potential employers to hire known quantities: a tax accountant at an automobile dealership can probably handle the taxes for a nursing home without much difficulty. But would he succeed as an emergency medical technician? And would any ambulance company give him a chance to try?
Perhaps the best way to boost your odds in a new career field is to research it so thoroughly before making your entry that you know as much about it as people who have been in the field forever. That approach worked well for Gary Blum, a financial planner in Los Angeles. A lawyer by training who spent four years trading options on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Mr. Blum saw an opportunity to enter a new career just as demand was growing.
“I could see lots of people gathering lots of wealth at young ages, but not knowing what to do with that money. They needed financial counseling, especially in regard to tax issues,” he explains.
Not knowing anything about the financial-consulting and estate-planning fields, Mr. Blum recreated his law-school days and started cramming. He attended multiple seminars and read every book he could find on both subjects. Then he did lots of networking, which included several informational interviews (defined as meeting with people primarily to pick their brains on a specific career field, as well as gather names of others who can help).
Complicating Mr. Blum’s career shift was his decision to move to California from the Midwest with his wife and infant child without having a job lined up. But it wasn’t long before he convinced a financial-planning firm to take a chance on using him to handle legal duties, with the understanding that he’d quickly move into estate planning, which he did. After two years, Mr. Blum rounded up a group of clients and went solo, and taught a course in estate planning in addition to his consulting practice.
“It’s important to keep your eyes open to all possibilities and expect the unexpected,” he says. “Determine what potential problems are out there, and what you can do to help solve them. Then you’ll create a career based on consumer demand for your services.”
Researching the market is critical at this stage, and there’s no better source for help than your local public or university library. In fact, reference librarians there earn their livings and generate their greatest satisfaction from helping career changers explore new job possibilities.
But while researching potential new careers and employers is critical, it’s even more important to make sure the career is a natural match with your personality. Most of us would like to be famous entrepreneurs, but few have the ability to take risks and live with uncertainty without looking back. A job as CEO of a major company might sound ideal, but what if that position requires constant travel, separating you from your family for weeks on end? Would you still be willing to make this commitment, even if the money and benefits are great?
There are many ways to determine whether you have the right personality for a particular job. Some people spend time in the position on a part-time or temporary basis just to develop a feel for its pace. Others complete career-assessment tests that measure personality traits and match them against job classifications (with the help of a career counselor). Many simply have a gut feel for what they enjoy doing based on duties they’ve enjoyed handling in the past.
That was the case for Mark Evans, who has made two significant career changes in the past 15 years. He started his working life as an eighth-grade social-studies teacher in upstate Bergen, New York, a job in which he “didn’t have a happy day in two years.” Desperate to find a career better suited to his skills, he completed a free series of skills and personality assessment tests at a local community college and, according to the results, found that he would make a great librarian. Mr. Evans enrolled in a one-year master’s degree program in the field, which was followed by two and a half years as a library director in a nearby town.
Mr. Evans thrived in his new career, so much so that he was soon tapped to become director of the public library system for two neighboring counties. Throughout the 13 years that followed, he excelled in the public relations aspects of his job, devising unique PR campaigns and developing new customer services and revenue sources. He loved staffing a booth at state library conventions, and finding new products to sell as fundraisers. Yet a lack of revenues to maintain his system proved too much for Mr. Evans to endure.
“We were swimming upstream against declining funding from the state, which made my job impossible,” he says. When his office was eventually merged with another 50 miles away, “I decided that I didn’t want to move or commute that far each day, so I gave notice.” Mr. Evans considered joining another library system, but limited funding statewide made it clear that he’d “have to do the work of three people just to earn one salary.”
Not sure of which direction to head next, Mr. Evans had a conversation with a good friend in Houston that opened his eyes to a new career direction. “My friend had recently bought an advertising-specialty company, and he asked if I’d like to be his New York state sales representative. I realized that it would involve all the aspects of my former job that I really enjoyed, so I agreed.”
Mr. Evans spent a year establishing a local office and learning how to manage a promotional products business. But when sales volume wasn’t enough to justify his full-time position, he jumped at the chance to become regional sales manager of ad specialties for a local printing and publishing company.
“This career was a natural transition for me, because I was able to build on my strong points, such as customer relations and putting out brushfires,” Mr. Evans says. “It was also important to me that I wasn’t becoming just an order-taker, but someone who matches products to client needs. I also enjoy the creative end of devising slogans and ad campaign ideas.”
Mr. Evans admits that he couldn’t have accomplished such major career changes — either financially or emotionally — without the help of his wife, who provided moral support and a steady income as a librarian herself. “It was great to have her salary to count on while I was experimenting,” he says.
In retrospect, Mr. Evans says the vocational tests and counseling he’d received 18 years ago were important to his successful transitions. “I remember the counselor saying that I should find a career where I could work closely with others, and that stuck with me.”
Identifying the psychological ingredients that ensure career success isn’t hard. It’s applying those traits consistently that’s demanding. Eugene Raudsepp, a consultant and president of Princeton Creative Research in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death noted eight traits as being most critical to succeeding in whatever jobs you try. They include:
1. Self Confidence – It’s the feeling that you can cope with problems, master challenges and overcome obstacles and barriers.
2. Personal Esteem – What we believe we can do directly influences our actions and determines the outcomes of our plans. “A person who’s convinced that he’s attained his career limits will stop striving,” said Dr. Raudsepp.
3. Persistence and Perseverance – Having staying power in the face of failure is critical. In fact, it’s frequently even more important than talent or special skills, he says.
4. Enthusiasm – When you’re enthusiastic, your perception of the number of available opportunities is much greater, as is your ability to pursue them.
5. Good Luck – “Luck is essentially a readiness to perceive opportunities, coupled with a willingness to take advantage of them,” he said. While there’s no accounting for a string of misfortunes, continuing to see the bright side will help pave the way for Lady Luck to return.
6. Your Response to Failure – If you see problems as temporary setbacks that must be overcome, you’ll greatly enhance the odds that failure won’t occur again soon. And if you use failure as a chance to analyze what you did wrong, you can learn from the experience.
7. Be Concerned, Not Worried – Worry creates a sense of fear that stops you from achieving your goals. Concern, on the other hand, is a realistic expectation that a problem may arise, which prompts you to prepare to handle that problem now, before it can become serious.
8. Flexibility – In today’s volatile job market, knowing how to shift gears quickly is a critical attribute. By welcoming change, you’ll stand out from the crowd of job hunters and company managers who grasp at the status quo in hope of maintaining what they’ve already built for themselves. Yet what today’s workplace needs and rewards are people who can embrace the latest developments and make hay with them.
Once you’ve adopted most of these traits, you can effectively target jobs you’d enjoy tackling. You’ll also be able to convince hiring managers that you’re well-suited to handle the position, even if you’ve never before performed its required functions.