Tag Archives: accomplishments

3 things to keep in mind when answering, “Tell me about yourself”

The directive from the interviewer, “Tell me about yourself,” strikes fear in the hearts of even the most confident job candidates. That’s because they haven’t given serious consideration to how they’ll answer this directive.

elevatorpitch

It’s also because they haven’t taken time to construct a persuasive elevator pitch, which is one of the most important tools in your job search toolbox. There are three components necessary to answer, “Tell me about yourself.”

1. Keep it relevant. You must be aware of what the employer wants from their employees, which requires from you not only researching the job but also the company.

Let’s say, as a trainer, you’re aware of the employer’s need for satisfying people of cultural differences. You’ll begin your elevator speech by addressing this need.

You’ll begin your elevator pitch with something on the lines of:

Along with my highly rated presentation skills, I’ve had particular success with designing presentations that meet the needs of diverse populations.

Then you’ll follow it with an accomplishment, as accomplishments are memorable.

For example, the company for which I last worked employed Khmer and Spanish-speaking people. I translated our presentations into both languages so that my colleagues could deliver their presentations with ease and effectiveness. This was work I did on my own time, but I realized how important it was to the company. I received accolades from the CEO of the company; and I enjoyed the process very much.

Finally, you’ll close your elevator pitch with some of the strong personality skills for which you’ve been acknowledge. In this case, your innovation, assertiveness, and commitment to the company would be appropriate to mention. But don’t simply list your personality skills. Show them.

My managers have often told me that I’m innovative, which I understand you’re looking for in your next trainer. If I’m hired for this position, I’ll be committed to helping you meet your goals, whatever they may be.

2. Be on your toes. Being prepared is essential to job seekers who need to say the right thing at the right time to a prospective employer. This is where your research on the company comes into play—the more you know about said company, the better you can recite your elevator pitch.

One way to answer, “Why should we hire you?” is by using your elevator pitch. Throughout the interview, you’ve paid careful attention to what the employer has been saying regarding the challenges the company is facing.

They need a manager who can develop excellent rapport with a younger staff, while also enforcing rules that have been broken. Based on your new-found knowledge, you realize you’ll have to answer this question with a variation on your rehearsed pitch. You’ll open instead with:

I am a manager who understands the need to maintain an easy-going, professional approach as well as to discipline my employees when necessary. As this is one of your concerns, I can assure you that I will deliver on my promise, as well as exceed other expectations you have for this position.

Then you’ll follow with an example of what you asserted.

If I may give you a specific example of my claim, on many occasions I had to apply the right amount of discipline in various ways. There was one employee who was always late for work and would often return from break or lunch late, as well.

I realized that she required a gentler touch than the others, so I called her to my office and explained the effect she had on the rest of the team when she wasn’t where she was supposed to be. I then explained to her the consequences her tardiness would have on her. (Slight smile.) I don’t think she had been spoken to in such a straightforward manner by her other managers. I treated her with respect.

From that day forward, she was never late. In fact, she earned a dependability award. There are other examples. Would you like to hear them?

3. The purpose of your elevator speech. When employers listen to your elevator pitch, they should recognize skills and accomplishments that set you apart from the rest of the candidates.

Tell your elevator pitch in a concise manner that illustrates these skills; don’t simply provide a list of skills you think are required for the position. Remember that accomplishments are memorable and show your value added, especially if they’re relevant to your audience, e.g., an employer.

Above All Else, Your Elevator Pitch Must Show Value! The value you bring to the employer. As in the example above in which the candidate understands the needs of the employer to be building rapport with young workers, while also enforcing rules; you must know the employers pain points.

Once you’ve got a full grasp on the employer’s pain points, you’ll know which content to include in your elevator pitch and how to deliver. it.

Whether you use your elevator pitch to answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself,” or the question, “Why should I hire you?” there are enough reasons to develop one that is relevant and shows you can think on your feet.


Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“What is your greatest weakness?”

5 steps to take when you can’t tailor your résumé to a particular position

ResumeWhen I tell job seekers they should tailor their résumés to every position, their eyes widen. Some protest that this is too much work and one or two even become angry and profusely refuse to put in this hard work.

The reason I tell my customers to make the effort is because they need to speak to the needs of the employer. Further, this will impress the employer with their research of the position and demonstrate how they can solve problems the company is facing.

But let’s be realistic; this is not possible for every résumé you write, particularly if:

  • you’re posting your résumé on a job board where it will be stored in a résumé bank among millions of other résumés;
  • you don’t have a descriptive job ad and/or;
  • there’s no one to network with to find the real deal about the job for which you’re applying.

So what’s the solution?

In his Knock ‘Em Dead series, Knock ‘Em DeadSecrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, Martin Yate offers his Target Job Deconstruction (TJD) method as the next best thing to a tailor-made résumé. His method makes sense to me, so I teach it in my workshops.

“Your résumé,” he writes, “will obviously be most effective when it starts with a clear focus and understanding of a specific job target. TJD allows you to analyze exactly how employers prioritize their needs for your target job and the words used to express those needs, resulting in a detailed template for the story your résumé needs to tell.”

There are eight steps Martin describes when writing your TJD (they can be found in his book), but I’ll talk about the most immediate steps for creating your résumé template.

1. The first task in creating your résumé template is to collect approximately six job ads for a position you’re seeking. Use websites like Indeed.com. They use spider technology pulling from other job boards and deliver a plethora of positions from which to choose. The locations of the jobs matter not.

2. From there, you’ll note a requirement (skill, deliverable) most common for all six positions. Next, identify a common requirement for five of the six positions, a common requirement for four of the six positions, and so on, until you have a list of the most common requirements in descending order.

This will give you a good understanding of how employers think when they determine who they’d like to hire. It will also give you a foundation to write a résumé template, which you can modify whenever you send your résumé to a particular company.

Let’s look at a Marketing Specialist position in the Boston area. I managed to find six job descriptions by using Indeed.com. Listed below are the six most common requirements for this position.

  1. Common to all six companies is writing copy for web content, as well as creating a social media campaign.
  2. Common to five of the companies is managing relations with appropriate departments.
  3. Common to four of the companies is coordinating projects with outside vendors.
  4. Common to three of the companies is researching competitors’ websites and reporting activity.
  5. Common to two of the companies is coordinating trade shows.
  6. Another notable duty is Photo shoots/animation development, which drew my attention, as I enjoy, but have limited experience in photography.

3. Now write your résumé. Given the above information, your new résumé should first verify in the Professional Profile your qualifications for the most common requirements listed. Your Performance Profile could read as follows based on the general requirements:

Produced compelling content for website and social media distribution ~ Manage communications between engineering, production, and sales ~ Develop and nurture vendor relationships ~ Direct trade shows from planning to completion ~ Acknowledged by CEO for cost reduction.

4. You will next extract all the key words that apply to you and create a Competencies section including those key words, as your résumé might be scanned by large and even midsize companies. Don’t forget the strong transferable skills you possess.

5. Finally, you will prove in your Employment History what you have asserted in your Professional profile. Try to prove your assertions with accomplishment statements that are quantified. For example, the following accomplishment addresses the first statement from the Performance Profile above:

Produced persuasive content which was distributed via the company’s website and major social media platforms. During this time, revenue increased by 56%.

Final Note: I continue to insist that, when at all possible, my customers tailor their résumés to each job they apply, as it demonstrates their knowledge of the position and effectively demonstrates their qualifications to meet the position’s requirements. This is ideal when you have a list of your top 20-30 companies, the companies for which you want to show your love.

5 tips for promoting yourself in the job search

baseball

When I made our town’s Little League All-Star team, I ran to my neighbor’s house where my father was helping him fix a lawnmower. I burst into the garage and told my father with pride that I’d made the team. Instead of sharing my excitement, he told me not to brag and turned to finish working on our neighbor’s lawnmower.

I’ve thought for a long time that that day my father taught me an important lesson about humility. Now I’m not so sure it was such an important lesson. Some believe that our inability to promote ourselves is due to being told as children not to brag. To brag is inappropriate; to be humble is honorable.

This inability to self-promote often rears its ugly head in my workshops when my customers declare they cannot “brag.” I assume, like me, they were told not to brag as children.

I also understand that their confidence is shattered; and when you’ve been kicked in the gut, it’s hard to muster up the ability to talk about yourself in a positive, yet objective way—which is to say, not brag. Here are five tips on how to promote yourself during the job search.

  • Understand your audience. Know what interests potential networkers and employers. If you have the “stage,” this makes self-promotion all that much easier. This gives you free reign to highlight your accomplishments and related experience, as long as they apply to the job search and eventually the position for which you’re applying. If, however, you’re in the company of people who have no interest in what you’ve achieved, save touting your accomplishments for the proper audience.
  • Back up your accomplishments. As a jobseeker, your accomplishments will seem more authentic if you have evidence to back them up, perhaps in the form of recommendations, awards, or outstanding references. As well, if you can quantify your accomplishments with percentages and dollars, they will carry more weight. What others say about you, I tell my customers, carries more weight then what you say about yourself. And always be truthful; never lie about your achievements. Lies will come back to bite you in the ass.
  • Be relevant. Any self-promotion has to have relevance. If the employer is looking for someone who has demonstrated superb written communications, you should not talk about the numerous presentations you gave before packed houses; you will come across as a round peg for the employer’s square whole. Think back to the times when you wrote the company newsletter and got published in trade magazines.
  • Don’t overdo it. Avoid using words like “great,” “outstanding,” “the best,” etc. It is far better to provide facts than conjecture. For example, “I was the best counselor on the staff“comes across as bragging without any substance. Better put would be, “Among my colleagues, I was given the highest-level customers on a regular basis. I was trusted by management to give them the service they needed.” Yes, you were the best.
  • Give credit where credit is due. I often tell my customers that they should talk about their accomplishments, because that’s what employers want to know; what they’ve accomplished. But when they’ve worked with a team that achieved a common goal, this needs to be expressed. No one likes a smoking gun who takes all the credit.

The simple fact is that you as a jobseeker must promote yourself, because you can’t rely on others to be there by your side in your job search. We’ve been taught not to brag, like the time I rushed to my father proud of making the town’s Little League All-Star team, but we have to realize that promoting ourselves at the right moment isn’t bragging.

Photo, Flickr, Roiz, Roiz, Play Baseball

Don’t leave “I” out of your interview answers: Use a 4-step process to answer the questions

When I ask my workshop attendees to answer an interview question, some of them refuse to talk about their role in a past assignment. An article on Recruiting Blogs details this problem job seekers have, the unwillingness, or inability to describe their role in a situation.

interview with woman

For example, I ask my workshop attendees a question like, “Tell me about a time when your diligence paid off in completing a project on time.” An incorrect answer sounds like this: “We were responsible for putting out the quarterly report that described the success of our training program. We worked diligently gathering the information, writing the report, and sending it to the Department of Labor. We met our deadline and were commended for our efforts.”

Here’s the problem: there’s nothing about the job seeker’s role in the situation. I don’t want to hear about what the team accomplished, nor will employers. I want to hear about a candidate’s contribution to the overall effort.

Note: when appropriate, job candidates need to mention the contributions of those who helped in the process. It is not only about the candidate.

This answer, using the STAR formula, is more satisfying, as it describes the candidate’s specific contribution.

The Situation

As part of a five-member team, we were charged with writing a report necessary to continue funding for an outside program.

My task

I was given the task of gathering information pertaining to participant placement in jobs and then writing a synopsis of their training and jobs they secured.

My actions

I started with noting how I recruited 20 participants for the training program, a number I’m happy to say exceeded previous expectations of 10 participants. This required outreach to junior colleges, vocational schools, and career centers where people desiring training were engaged.

Step two involved writing detailed descriptions of their computer training, which included Lean Six Sigma and Project Management. Then explaining how this training would help them secure employment in their targeted careers. I collaborated with the trainers to get accurate descriptions of the two training programs.

Next, I interviewed each participant to determine their learning level and satisfaction with the program. All but one was extremely satisfied. The person who was not satisfied felt the training was too difficult but wanted to repeat the training. She noted she was very happy with the expertise of our trainer.

As well, I tracked each participant over a period of four months to determine their job placement. Jobs were hard to come by, so at times I approached hiring managers at various manufacturing companies in the area in order to speed up the process. I was responsible for directly finding jobs for four of the twelve people, even though it wasn’t my responsibility.

Finally I took the lead on writing a five-page report on what the members of the team and I had accomplished in the course of  three months. Other members of the team were of great help in making sure all the “is” were dotted and “ts” were crossed and that the report was delivered on time to Boston.

The result

The result was that we delivered the report with time to spare and were able to keep funding for the project for another year. I worked hard and was integral to proving to the DOL that the project was successful, but it took a lot of collaboration to bring project all together.

Certainly there are times when employees don’t work alone and require the assistance of others, but they always have a specific role in the situation.  Prospective employers want to hear about the candidates’ role in the situation, not the teams’ overall role. It is best to answer the question using the STAR formula, which demonstrates the situation, task (your), action, and result.

Allow me to quote directly from the article:  “…after an hour I still don’t quite understand what this person’s involvement was on any of their most recent projects even though they were all delivered successfully, on time and under budget.

“What I did understand involved a whole lot of we, us, and the team, which leaves me to wonder whether they’re a good team player or just a player on a good team.  I don’t have a spot on my team for the latter…”

Photo: Flickr, Renee Bertrand

10 reasons why recruiters and hiring managers dread reading a résumé

Here’s a fact: very few people like reading résumés, especially those who read hundreds of them a week. Ask any recruiter or hiring manager (HM). I critique and write résumés as part of my job. I’ve read hundreds of them, but I’ve got nothing over recruiters and HMs.

bored woman

The only bright spot in this whole process is reading a résumé that doesn’t give me a sharp pain between my eyes, one that is relatively sound. A résumé that is outstanding—now, that’s a WOW moment.

Once you understand that recruiters and HMs are not dying to read your résumé, you can focus your attention on writing one that pleasantly surprises them, one that prompts them to recommend you for an interview.

To entice them into inviting you in for an interview, you must avoid making the following mistakes:

1. An apathetic approach to writing your résumé. Don’t let your apathy show in the quality of your product, which shouts, “I’m not into writing a résumé because I’ve got better things to do.” This results in typos, spelling errors, and grammatical mistakes.

This sentiment comes across loud and clear from people who feel this way. They resent having to write a résumé and would prefer others to do it for them. Do not rely on others to write your résumé; it’s your responsibility.

Note: if you simply can’t write your own résumé, be sure that you hire someone who will take adequate time to interview you and get to know what you’ve accomplished in your career.

2. Your résumé is a tome. It’s a five-page document consisting of every duty you performed within the past 25-years; and it’s so dense that the person reading it puts it in the “don’t read” pile simply because it’s nearly impossible to read.

I recently glanced at a résumé that resembled what I’ve just described. I made no false pretense and simply put it down after two seconds saying, “I can’t read this.” My customer nodded with understanding.

3. And it’s hard to read. Make your résumé easy to read by writing short paragraphs, no more than three or four lines. Shorter paragraphs allow the reader to grasp important information easier. I’m also a fan of using bold text to make words for phrases stand out.

Remember that recruiters take approximately 6-10 seconds to glance at your résumé to determine if they will read the rest of it. Thus your résumé must grab their attention quickly. Make sure they see the accomplishments within those six seconds.

4. It lacks accomplishments. I know, you’ve heard this a thousand times. But it’s worth repeating because you want to stand out from the rest. Recruiters and employers relate to quantified results with dollars, numbers, and percentages. Many people mistakenly think accomplishments should only be highlighted in the Experience section or under Career Highlights.

One or two of your accomplishments should be stated in the Performance Profile. Develop processes that improve operations and result in double-digit revenue growth.”  A statement like this is meant to grab the reader’s attention. This assertion must then be backed up in the Experience section with explicit examples and dollar amounts.

5. It includes clichés or unsubstantiated adaptive skills. The rule is to show rather than tell. Yes, you may be innovative; but what makes you innovative? Did you develop a program for inner-city youth that promoted a cooperative environment, reducing violent crime by 50%? If so, state it in your profile as such.

Recruiters and hiring managers can see fluff a mile away. They’re turned off by words like “dynamic,” “results-oriented,” “Outstanding,” “driven,” and other clichés.

6. Failing to show recruiters and employers what you’ll do for them. Recruiters and employers don’t want to know what you did; they want to know what you can do. You’re probably thinking, “If my work history is in the past. That’s what I did. How do I show employers what I can do?”

It’s what we in the field call prioritizing your statements, or targeting your résumé to each company to which you apply. In other words, illustrate how your qualifications and accomplishments match the employers’ requirements in order of importance.

7. You don’t know what recruiters and employers want. Many people don’t take the time to dissect the job ad to discover the most important skills and experience the employer wants to see on your résumé. If the ad is skimpy, go to the company’s career section on its website.

Better yet, if you know someone at the company or know someone who knows someone at the company, call him/her and ask more about the position. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding influential people at companies. The bottom line is that you can’t write a targeted résumé if you don’t understand the requirements of the job.

8. You lack keywords and phrases. As CareerBuilder.com points out, keywords are the skills applicant tracking systems (ATS) search for to determine if your résumé will be the first of many to be read by recruiters and employers.

Your branding headline, much like the headline on your LinkedIn profile, is the first place on your résumé where you’ll utilize keywords. Then you will make sure they’re peppered throughout the rest of your résumé.

9. Your resume isn’t smart phone friendly. For you Millennials this should be no problem, as you go nowhere without your iPhone or Android. (I’m the same way, even as a Boomer.)

The job search is increasingly used more on the go, rather than at a computer, so your résumé (stored in Dropbox) must be legible to recruiters and hiring managers. Recruiters and HMs want your résumé fast, so don’t disappoint them.

10. You apply for a job for which you’re not qualified. I know the urge to find a job, any job, is great; but don’t waste the time of a recruiter, employer, and you by applying for a job for which you’re not qualified.

You may think there’s an inkling of hope that you’ll get an interview. But if you have only five of the 10 requirements necessary to do the job, there really is no hope. And this can be determined within the first 10 seconds of reading the résumé.

A woman in HR recently related this story to me, “I received a résumé in a USPS photo envelope (heavy duty mailer) certified mail.  The résumé is on lovely cream-colored card stock, beautifully formatted. The problem, she is applying for the Assistant Town Accountant position and for the last 10 years she has been a dog groomer.”


These are but 10 faux pas you must avoid if you want to write a powerful résumé that is enjoyable to read and gets you a spot in the hot seat. Once you’re at the interview, you’re one step closer to a job offer.

Photo: Flickr, ssunnymorgann

Self-promotion is necessary in childhood and adulthood

kidz playing basketballI’m not worried about my son.

My son is in his second year of playing basketball. He’s quite good, for someone who just started playing, and talks a lot of trash. He’s usually the shortest kid on the court, but he’s fast and dives on the ground like Larry Bird used to.

All the parents get a kick out of watching him play. (One parent once asked me before a game how many times I thought he’d fall to the floor.)

The thing that makes going to his games fun for me is the conversations he and I have driving to and from the games. “Dad,” he’ll say, “how many buckets do you think I’ll get?”

“Four,” I’ll pick a number out of the air.

“How many steals and assists?”

“Four each.”

Wouldn’t you know it, he scores 10 points; steals a ton of balls from the slower, less interested kids; and passes the ball to four of his teammates who don’t know what to do with the a basketball.

I’m worried about my daughter.

My daughter is an excellent soccer player. She plays in the backfield and loves stripping the soccer ball from oncoming forwards. And she’ll take out anyone who comes near her, despite her rail-thin body type. I’ve witnessed her lay a tackle on girls twice her size, the collisions reminiscent of a train wreck.

The conversation she and I will have before a game is quiet like two hummingbirds. Occasionally she’ll ask me after a game what I thought of her performance, and I’ll use the old sandwich technique—compliment her on a crushing tackle, criticize her for letting a girl slip behind her, and finish by telling her she passed the ball well. These are great conversations between a dad and his daughter.

My daughter has been reserved and humble since she first started playing soccer. When she first stepped on the field, she was about the age my son is now, so I can gauge the differences between the two fairly accurately. It’s fair to say that my son promotes his skills more than my daughter does. Now, I didn’t say better. I said more.

It would be shallow of me to worry about who is the better athlete, my son or my daughter—and I’d be a fool to declare whom I think holds the title. No, I’m worried about my daughter’s ability to promote her accomplishments, particularly later in life when it really matters.

I also worry about my customers.

In the job search it’s all about marketing yourself—on your résumé and in your cover letter, while you’re networking, on the phone, and at the interview. It’s all about accomplishments and it’s all about using them in context. The written and verbal communications skills have to be in place—one is not exclusive of the other.

Recently a customer related a story at one of my Personal Commercial workshops about how she had mobilized nearly a whole city to promote the arrival of a professional wrestler. She had no budget with which to work, yet she was able to barter with a marble sign company to create a welcome sign for Cold Stone Austin; and she persuaded the city to rename a street for “Cold Stone.”

The event, as she described it, was a smashing success. Her enthusiasm in describing the event was similar to how my son talks about his basketball prowess; not how my daughter reluctantly talks about her soccer game.

My customer succeeded on the verbal front but not in her written campaign. Following the workshop, she asked me to review her revised résumé. I expected to read about her coordination, management, persuasion, creativity, and a whole slew of other skills that made the Steve Austin event an outstanding accomplishment.

While the story she told at my workshop was captivating and her enthusiasm was contagious, her résumé didn’t hint to any of her strong skills. She was unable to tie her strong verbal and written communications skills into the full package necessary to market herself effectively.

I would tell you about the time my customer had to coordinate the flushing of an entire sports center’s toilets, but that would be too long a story.

Will my daughter be able to promote herself in her written and verbal communications, or will she wait for someone to drag all of her strong accomplishments out of her? Will she express her accomplishments, or fail to express her accomplishments, in the whole package? Perhaps I worry too much.

4 reasons why you need a strong LinkedIn Summary

I still remain perplexed that some LinkedIn members put little effort into their Summary section, or don’t have one at all.

LinkedIn Flag

Would you go to an interview or business meeting without shoes? Of course not. So I wonder why people feel that a Summary statement on their LinkedIn profile is unnecessary. Having viewed hundreds profiles, I’ve seen many  that simply begin with the Experience section and have no Summary.

The absence of this section of your profile can greatly hurt your potential of capturing the attention of visitors, e.g., potential employers, networkers, and business associates.

Read: Create a kick-ass LinkedIn Summary

I have three theories why people don’t include a Summary: 1) they don’t have the time or energy to write one; 2) they don’t know what to write; and 3) they follow advice of those who say, “Recruiters don’t read a Summary statement. You don’t need one.”

I can understand the first two reasons, although I don’t condone them, but the third one escapes me. Many pundits, recruiters included, say a Summary is necessary, as long as it adds value to the profile. So if you don’t have a Summary because you lack the energy or don’t know what to include, consider 4 reasons why the Summary is important:

It gives you a voice. You’re given more freedom of expression on LinkedIn than you have with your résumé; so use it! Be creative and make the employer want to read on. Your voice contributes to effective branding. It should be some of your best writing and can be written in first person voice or even third person.

Most pundits lean toward first person, as it expresses a more personal side of you. A Summary written in first person invites others into your life. Not many people pull off the third-person voice well; it can sound stilted. But if done right, it can also make a powerful branding impact. People who are established as leaders in their industry warrant a third-person Summary.

It tells a story. Perhaps you want people who would consider connecting with to know you on a more personal level. You have aspirations or philosophies to share; and it’s not about impressing people with your accomplishments in marketing in the nonprofit sector, for example, as much as the positive impact your work has had on the population you serve. You want people to connect because of a share common bond.

The Summary is also a clear example of how LinkedIn differentiates itself from the résumé. It’s a known fact that the majority of hiring authorities don’t enjoy reading a résumé, which is due, in part, because of its Summary. The Linked profile is more creative because it tells your story, your aspirations, and philosophies.

You can make an immediate impact. Stating accomplishment statements with quantified results are a real attention grabber. If a visitor is going to scan one section of your profile to determine if he’ll read on, make it be your Summary, and leave him with a positive image of you.

Here’s part of a Summary from Doug Caldwell, who calls himself a Facilitator Extraordinaire. (I told you I read a lot of profiles.)

MANUFACTURING COMPANY

✯ Improving unit output by 2,200% over a five-year period.
✯ Reduced manufacturing cycle time by 30%.
✯ Achieved cost saving in excess of $25,000 annually.

Read the rest of his Summary to feel it’s power and excitement.

It’s another place to include keywords. Keywords are the skills employers are looking for, and the more you have the closer you’ll be to the top of the first page. So don’t think “less is better.”  In this case, the more of the 2,000 characters you’re allotted, the more you should use. Please don’t use your Summary as a dumping ground for your keywords, though.

I tell my Advanced LinkedIn workshop attendees that excluding their profile Summary is like neglecting favorite pet. You shouldn’t do it. Find the energy to write one, figure out your story or unique selling proposition, and get to work writing an attention-grabbing Summary. By all means, don’t listen to naysayers who don’t believe in this very important part of your LinkedIn profile.

Next read: 5 reasons why you can’t ignore your Experience section.

13 activities to do after losing your job

Number 13

I was once asked, “When you get laid off which is more important, to start networking or spend a week writing your résumé?” I thought this was a great question but believe jobseekers need to think of other important activities after they’ve lost their job.

Below are some of the must do’s for people who are starting their job search. You’ll note that dusting off your résumé and networking are far down the list of priorities.

1. Take time to regroup. This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do when starting your job search. It’s also something people neglect to, instead jumping right into the hunt the same day they’re laid off.

Conversely, some people wait too long to begin the search, considering this a time to take a “vacation.” You may see losing your job during the summer to take that vacation you never took during the year. Don’t. Take a week to group at most.

2. Evaluate your frame of mind. Understand that unemployment can play emotional havoc on your psyche and may require seeking professional help. Many of my customers have shared with me their despondency and even depression after being laid off or let go.

These feelings are not unusual, but if they persist, seek the help of a professional. No, commiserating with a former colleague doesn’t help. Surround yourself with positive people, not negative ones.

3. Think about what you want to do. Now is the time to think about what you really want to do, not what you feel comfortable doing. People may advise you to jump back into marketing, or finance, or nursing; but if it isn’t what you want to do, don’t pursue an occupation you no longer enjoy.

When I was laid off, I realized that I wanted to change my career. Deciding what I wanted to do was one of my top priorities. I had direction. Without direction, you’re like aimlessly driving a car driving around with no destination. Your job search will be longer.

4. Develop a plan. You have direction, know what you want to do. Now you need to determine what you have to do to reach that goal. Start with small steps, such as conducting one job-search activity a day, and build up to three a day.

Eventually you’ll start planning out each day to include job-search activities like networking, engaging on LinkedIn, contacting recruiters, following up on your networking meetings, using the Internet (sparingly), contacting your alumni association, etc.

5. Be dedicated to your job search. Determining your direction could take some contemplation, especially if you’re changing your career. Once you’ve decided on path you want to take, dedicate all you effort to getting there.

Is it necessary to spend 40+ hours on your job search I ask my workshop attendees. I don’t thing so. More like 25-30 hours of smart job seeking is more like it. And remember, you’re looking for work seven days a week.

6. Assess your greatest skillsThis is tough for many people, especially those who have a hard time promoting themselves, so solicit the help of others with whom you worked or know in your daily life.

Create a list of your strongest skills and accomplishments. These will make good fodder for your new and improved résumé. As well, you’ll be able to talk about them with ease, naturally.

7. Begin telling everyone you know—everyone. That’s right, everyone. You may think your sister in New York would never know of opportunities in Boston, but you never know who she may know who knows someone in Boston.

Don’t focus only on the people with whom you worked; you’re limiting your reach. Start attending networking events if you feel comfortable; it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s important that others know about your situation, so they can help you in your job search.

8. Dust off the résumé. Ideally you should have been updating your résumé  while working, but we know how work demands leave little time to do this, and when we return from a hard day of work we have little if any energy to work on our résumé.

Now that you’ve done your labor market research: have an idea what you want to do, the projected growth of the industry in which you want to join, where the jobs will exist; it’s time to ramp up your résumé big time.

9. Get on LinkedIn. With all the articles written about the effectiveness of LinkedIn, you should know by now that most employers—approximately 95%—are culling talent on LinkedIn.

Take the time to do it right, though. Create a powerful profile and be active by updating often, joining and participating in groups, sending invites, etc. I advise my customers to use LinkedIn’s publishing feature as a way to show their expertise and become a thought leader.

10. Get out of the house. Your style might lean more toward attending networking groups, professional affiliations, volunteering, or using your local library’s computers (even if you have your own). Don’t forget your local One-Stop career center that offers you resources and training and education.

Please don’t sit behind your computer six hours a day sending out resumes through job boards. Go where people are, even if it’s to just sit near them. Isolation can be a terrible thing. Get out of the house!

11. Step up your exercising or begin exercising. Nothing is better for the mind than improving your physical condition. You don’t have to join a club. Simply walk every morning or do yoga. Make sure you get up at the same time you rose from bed when you were working. Do not let your routine slip.

When I was unemployed, I increased my walking from 45 minutes to 90 or more. It helped me to clear my mind and release frustration. It was also cheaper than joining a gym.

12. Develop your company list. You’re now in a good position to figure out what type of companies for which you’d like to work. Identifying the companies can help you with your research on them and career possibilities.

Your list will also come in handy when networking with jobseeker groups and informational contacts. People need to know where you’d like to work in order to help you.

13. Start knocking on companies’ doors. Use your company list to be proactive by approaching growing companies either by sending an approach letter introducing yourself to them or literally visiting your companies.

Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute, asserts that your chance of getting a job is 47% if you use this method alone.

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The list of must do’s could be endless, but it’s important to keep in mind the important actions needed to properly start your job search. If you are having difficulty getting motivated, speak to close friends, relatives, or trained job-search professionals who can help you with this serious problem. Motivation is required in order to put our plan into action.

Photo: Andreas Gessl, Flickr

5 reasons to let your boss know about your accomplishments

Sell YourselfA woman I work with whispered to me that one of her customers wrote her an email complimenting her on a job well done. I congratulated her on her accomplishment and told her to tell our boss.

“No way,” my colleague said. “I don’t need to show her what I’ve done. She knows.”

I argued my case for a brief moment and then realized that convincing my colleague to promote herself was a lost cause. She’s just not that kind of person. She would rather have people see her great work—she does great work—than point it out to them. She doesn’t like to “brag,” in her words.

If you’re like my colleague and don’t feel it’s necessary to promote yourself, consider the following points.

1. The philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” comes to mind in the instance with my colleague. I reason if your manager isn’t around to hear or read of your accomplishments, she won’t hear it; there’ll be no sound. All the good work you’ve done may go unnoticed and unrewarded.

So bring your boss into the forest so she can hear the tree fall. Of course a tree makes a sound when it falls, but the sound doesn’t reach human ears. Only when human ears hear the tree will they believe it made a sound.

2. It’s okay to promote yourself in a tactful way. The wrong way to self-promote would be to announce during a meeting that your customer said you’re the best thing since sliced bread. This will cause your colleagues to turn to each other and mouth, “What a braggart.”

The correct way would be catching your boss alone and making her aware of the flattering email you received, without going into detail ad nauseum. If you are more introverted, simply forwarding the email to your boss would be fine (it also creates a paper trail for future recall.)

3. If you don’t promote yourself no one will. Do you think your colleagues who are eyeing a promotion that is suitable for both of you is going to promote your greatness, instead of his? Hell no. Additionally, he might make it clear that he is the best person for the job by touting his accomplishments any time he can (even when it’s not warranted).

You are the captain of your ship, so don’t let anyone else steer it. By no means am I saying to look for opportunities to self-promote. No, promote yourself when the time warrants it.

4. Your chances of advancing at work will be greater if you promote yourself. My colleague believes her results speak louder than words, and this may be true; but the spoken word can better reinforce her results than if she were to say nothing…or not send an email.

Advancement comes to those whose performance are recognized. You may be equally strong, or stronger, than one of your colleagues; but if your colleague tactfully promotes himself, he will probably get the nod when it comes time for advancement at work.

5. You will feel good. Especially if you receive positive feedback from your superior. I know this because when I promote myself, via email mostly, I receive an email from her congratulating me for my success. I could care less if she is annoyed by my self-promotion.

If my boss tells me to stop, I’ll cease my self-promotion. But I’ve never been told to stop sending her emails or telling her about my success, nor do I expect her to cease my self-promotion. If or when I do, I’ll simply tell her, “I’m practicing what I preach.

You may feel the same way my colleague does about self-promotion. You may be a person who believes self-promotion is bragging. Read this article from Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution: Success without Self-Promotion.

But ask yourself this: will I kick myself for not at least forwarding an email to my boss? Is it possible that she would appreciate knowing about my accomplishment? If the answer to these questions is yes, promote yourself in a way you’re comfortable with.

Flickr: Phoenix Tso

6 sources of accomplishments for your résumé

The other day one of my résumé writing workshop attendees told the group she couldn’t think of any accomplishments from her last job. As I’m known to do, I told her she wasn’t thinking hard enough. Silence.

She’s an administrative assistant and, like we’ve all heard before, she was just doing her job. I began by asking, “Did you reduce your boss’ stress?”

“Yeah,” she said. “He told me I organized his life. He’d be lost….”

“Do you have that in writing?” I interrupted.

She smiled. “He sent me e-mails saying this. They were really great to read.”

“Did you keep them? Forward them to your personal e-mail? Did you keep a brag e-mail folder?”

No she hadn’t. I’m not one to harp on past mistakes; but this was a mistake, and a good lesson for the rest of the group. I didn’t need to say more; the lesson was learned.

Normally we think of quantified accomplishments as the only ones that matter—they matter a great deal—but what others write and say about you also matters. Take the following accomplishment for an administrative assistant:

Created an electronic filing system that reduced paperwork and increased productivity, prompting the following statement from the VP of operations, “You’ve made this office much more efficient.”

There are very talented people who don’t have access to dollar amounts or percentages to quantify their results. This is where what their boss said can be used as an accomplishment. If this is the case with you, consider the following sources of accomplishments for your résumé:

  1. E-mail is fair game. If you’ve received e-mail from you supervisor that touts your accomplishments, hold on to it and store it in a safe place, like a brag e-mail folder. I do this when I get e-mails from my customers thanking me for the help I’ve given them.
  2. Voice-mail can be used, as well. If your boss compliments you, consider using it on your résumé and other written communication. You might want to get your boss’ approval before you use her words in a public forum; it’s only courteous.
  3. Performance reviews are an obvious source of fodder for your résumé. These are professional documents that are often placed in your employee folder, used to justify promotions and raises if your performance is consistently good. Receiving outstanding marks on your performance reviews are certainly reason to tout them on your résumé.
  4. Verbal comments from your former boss can also be used on your résumé as quotes. “Director of marketing commented, ‘Josh, your ability to build and foster relationships has helped Company X achieve the financial success we’ve striven for.'” It’s especially important that you’re both on board with this, just in case she’s questioned about it during a reference check.
  5. Thank you cards from customers/clients speak to your customer service and other skills you’d like to highlight on your résumé. Have you received cards that thank you for your help and caring nature, or assistance in closing a large deal? If so, ask the sender if you can quote him on your résumé.
  6. LinkedIn recommendations have been used by my customers as fodder for their résumé. Not all employers will see your LinkedIn recommendation, either because they’re not on LinkedIn, or aren’t Internet savvy; so take advantage of what your connections have written about you.

Given that it’s difficult to think about accomplishments that are quantified using numbers, dollars, or percentages; don’t discount what your supervisors and manages have written or even said about you. You may want to set them apart as quotes or integrate them with accomplishment statements. Keep in mind that some industries, particularly high tech, may not fond of quotes. To others, quotes carry a lot of weight.