5 Ways to Identify Your Strengths & Accomplishments

One of the hardest feats for many people to conquer is figuring out what their strengths are. I have seen countless resumes that are highly task based and when I try and pry for info about accomplishments and things that set them apart, it’s difficult to say the least. I often hear “ I don’t know what I am good at” or I can’t think of anything I accomplished at this job, I just did my job”. Most times these answers are highly unlikely since they may have been working at a place for years, they have many accomplishments, and just don’t know how to identify them. Here are a few tips to help with this daunting task.

1. Update Your Resume On A Regular Basis – If you make it a habit of updating your resume on a regular basis, it will force you to think of your strengths and accomplishments. If you don’t regularly update your document then it will be difficult to think of things you accomplished two or three years ago.

2. Ask Family, Friends, and Co-Workers– Self-examination can lead you to a few answers, but getting an outside opinion will help you either solidify your observations or can shatter a few illusions too. Be sure to choose people who will give you the truth and not sugarcoat things. It’s hard to think of the things you are good at. We are taught to be modest and not to boast about our skills and accomplishments. However, when you are conducting a job search or trying to form a brand, you will need to know what your strengths are and what you can bring to a potential employer. The people that we spend most of our time with can see strengths in us that we may not recognize. A popular tool that many people are using to find out their strengths is Reflected Best Self Exercise. This exercise allows you to request positive feedback from significant people in your life and then synthesize it into a cumulative portrait of your “best self.”

3. Review Yearly Employees Reviews- If you receive regular employee reviews don’t trash them, keep them in a file to review at a later day. This is a good exercise to do if you are finding it difficult to think of strengths and accomplishments. Chances are you will have some good feedback from current or former supervisors that you can use in various ways.

4. Do Some Self-Reflection- Have you taken the time to reflect and to do some self-exploration? Ask yourself what activities give you joy, what are your hobbies, what are some activities that you can’t go without, more than likely those are areas where you are most talented.

5. Be More Active – Getting involved in various activities is a great way to discover what your strengths are. You may even discover hidden talents and strengths that you never knew you had because you had never been exposed to a certain activity. Being more active can also help you to determine your interest as well. I didn’t discover that I wanted to pursue a career as a Career Counselor until I got involved in related activities. Before I got involved, I didn’t know my strengths and in the process I found my passion as well.

Thanks for reading my post! I am the owner of Career SkyRocket LLC a professional resume writing and career coaching service. I have also been published on CAREEREALISM as well. Follow my blog Career Thoughts. Let’s Connect! Follow me on Twitter, visit my Facebook page, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

 

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Why a Degree Isn’t Enough to Guarantee You a Job: Employers Want More

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Why a Degree Isn’t Enough to Guarantee You a Job: Employers Want More
I have worked in career services in Higher Education for about three years now. I have also had the opportunity to work with many college graduates through my professional resume writing and career coaching service, CareerSkyRocket LLC. There is a common misconception amongst many college graduates that a college degree guarantees a job, this issue comes up very often in my dealings with them. Yes employers value education, and having a college degree does make you more marketable. However, employers are also looking for a few other things as well.

1. Practical Experience – I get many job leads while at my day job as a Director of Career Services for a local college in Michigan. Nearly all the employers indicate they want someone with experience and the relevant education needed for the position. I had the mindset that all I needed was a degree to be successful. I worked hard to get really good grades but never focused on getting practical experience via internships, volunteering, part-time summer work in a related field, leadership experience, or involvement in student organizations. No one told me that I needed hands on experience; I assumed all I needed was a degree. I have worked with people who have graduate degrees without any practical experience as well. These people are under the impression that since they have a graduate degree they are guaranteed a job and a great salary, but they find it very hard to find work and often have to take entry-level jobs to gain experience.

2. Great Fit For Their Organization – Often times when interviewing employers are looking for candidates who will be a great fit for their organization and culture. You really can’t determine how well a person will perform on a job based on an interview, or simply because they have a degree. Some people are great interviewers but don’t perform well on their jobs. You have to show that you are a good fit for the organization as well.

Darius Harris is the owner of Career SkyRocket LLC a professional resume writing and career coaching service. Visit his website at http://www.careerskyrocket.com for more details about services. Feel free to contact him at 248.636.5303 or at dharris@careerskyrocket.com for assistance in your job search.

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7 Ways to Stay Relevant and Visible In Your Job Search

7 Ways to Stay Relevant and Visible In Your Job Search

In an economy where it’s now considered an “employers market” job seekers must find ways to stay relevant and interesting to potential employers. Employers are now searching for potential employees in non-traditional ways to cut down cost and time. More and more employers are using social media to find employees. Job seekers will have to adjust to the market and search for jobs in nontraditional ways as well, and they must be visible to potential employers. Here are a few ways to stay visible as a job seeker.

1. Utilize Social Media To Brand Yourself & As A Way To Contact Employers
Social Media is a great avenue to “Brand” yourself. What I mean by branding is we all want to leave employers with an idea of what skills and abilities that we will personally bring to their organization. You can use social media to get this message out to potential employers. Share pertinent information related to your field of choice, start discussions related to your field, share employment opportunities, if you are knowledgeable about your field offer sessions to answer questions from your connection, or share a daily tip; all of these things will become a part of your brand and your connections will see your passion for your field.

You can also connect with potential employers via social media. Almost all businesses have some form of presence in social media. Target companies that you are interested in working for and connect with employees. Connect with professionals who are in the same industry as they may be able to refer you for opportunities as well. Many employers and corporations have representatives that are responsible for interacting with the public via social media.

2. Blog
Blogging is a great way to show your knowledge in the field, and to attract potential employers. When you offer free information that is beneficial to readers, they are more willing to refer your resume for opportunities. You can share your blog entries via social media and on a personal website. If you are anything like me, you love learning new skills related to your field, and sharing this info with readers who find it beneficial can be very fun and satisfying.

3. Conduct Seminars
Have you ever heard of the saying “Pay It Forward”? Paying it forward means you do a good deed for someone else without the expectation of any reward in return, however, normally people will reward you because of your generosity. Conducting Seminars are a great way to teach others about the latest information in your field. Some people charge for seminars but when you do it for free it really shows your passion for your field and helping others. These seminars can be recorded, added to your LinkedIn Profile, included in your portfolio, and uploaded to a YouTube page for viewer consumption.

4. Speaking Engagements
If you possess the knowledge needed to conduct an in-person workshop or speaking engagement this can be a very good opportunity to not only build your brand, but also to meet professionals in your field. Face to face interactions are still very important and can be more memorable than online exchanges. If you are privileged enough to be asked to conduct a speaking engagement or workshop, the person asking knows that you possess the knowledge needed to be effective. You can let that person know that you are in search of employment, as well as when meeting the participants once the presentation has concluded, based on who approaches you; you can let them know as well that you are looking for opportunities in your field of study.

5. Attend Networking Events
Social Media is effective but in person interactions are even more memorable. You never know who you will meet at a networking event, and it’s possible that you may meet your next boss. When attending networking events be sure to not just seek out opportunities for others to do something for you, make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial.

6. YouTube Page
People don’t just want to hear about what you can do, they want to see it. The public’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and we are becoming more visual. If you don’t think it’s true check out these stats posted by YouTube:

• More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month
• Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for
every person on Earth
• 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

Get a YouTube channel and post informational videos, post your webinars and seminars, or create a video resume. There are many sites that will allow you to create a video resume including, visualcv.com, careerbuilder.com, sparkhire.com, jobster.com, you can include it on your own blog or professional website and you can always upload it to your YouTube Page.

7. Volunteer/Internships
Volunteering and searching for internships are still great ways to get a foot in the door at an organization as well as a way to stay visible. Your “Brand” is not only built through social media, it is built from in person encounters as well. If you begin volunteering or secure an internship at a place of business you will be building your brand by working hard and making a great impression on the professionals working for the organization. By interning you will gain access to professionals in the industry and if you do a good job they can refer you to colleagues who are looking for good workers.

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Things to Take On a Job Interview That Will Leave a Lasting Impression

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We all have been on job interviews at some point our lives. Job interviews tend to make people feel nervous and uneasy. They worry about what to expect, what to wear, what to say, and what they should they take with them. We have all heard the basics of what to take on a job interview, resumes, a pen, and a note-pad, but I will suggest some uncommon things that can leave a good impression on the interviewer.

 

1. Recommendations – Take a copy of recommendations that you have received on LinkedIn or have a few of your current or former co-workers write you a letter of recommendation. This is sure to leave a good impression especially if what was written about you coincide with your brand or highlight things that may not have been discussed during the interview.

2. Copy of Employee Reviews – Nothing more shows you in a positive manner than a former or current supervisor giving you glowing ratings and remarks on an employee review. Be sure to review the entire document to make sure that there is nothing there that may show you in a negative manner. If there are some things included that show areas that you need to improve omit these areas, and just show the positive things said about you.

3. Samples of Your Work – If you are in a design field then you will need to have a mini portfolio and “leave behinds” to leave the interviewer with something that they can view after the interview is over. If possible take a tablet to show some of your work. Even if you are not in the design area you should still be prepared to show some samples of your work. For example, if you are responsible for conducting workshops or teaching, you could bring a hard copy of your PowerPoint presentation or sample lesson plans.

 4. Awards & Recognition – If you received any company related awards or any recognition related to your field of choice, take a few with you. If what you received is big and bulky maybe take a picture of it and add it to your things to show the interviewer.

5. Excellent Prepared Questions – When the interviewer asks if you have any questions this is a good time to turn the interview in your favor. Have some prepared questions ready and written down before you arrive for the interview. The questions can be related to the job or the company. You can ask questions about what the company is looking for in candidates for the position, problems that the company is experiencing related to the position, and about your interview. For example if you ask the questions “Can you tell me about a former or current employee in this position that has performed the job exceptionally”? or “Do you see anything in me based on the interview that would hinder you from moving forward with me”? It gives you a chance to show why you would be perfect for the position, how you would solve a problem for the organization, and gives you a chance to clear up any thing that may be hindering them from moving forward as well as things to change in the next interview.  

 

Don’t arrive to the interview as if you are packing for a move—carrying too much stuff. Be selective about the things you take with you to the interview and only take the things that will highlight you in the most professional manner. If possible, fit all the supplemental things inside of the portfolio folder that you take with you, and if you are taking a tablet bring the carrying bag. These supplemental items can leave a positive lasting impression on the interviewer and can be the thing that sets you apart from other job seekers. For more career related questions contact me at dharris@careerskyrocket.com.

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Tips for Introverts to Overcome the Fear of Networking

I have the pleasure of working with clients from a multitude of industries, all with their own unique personality types. Some of my clients have expressed to me that they are naturally introverted and believe that when they are interviewing, networking, or contacting employers, they come across as shy or not as confident as they would like.  Some of my clients have even gone so far as to refrain from aggressively seeking opportunities because they were in fact too shy and afraid to leave their comfort zone. Even if you are qualified for a position, if you don’t know when to turn on what I call “the switch” and let the employer know how you will personally bring value to their organization, it will be difficult to obtain your dream job.

One of the most important things a person must know when conducting a job search is what they personally bring to an organization—and they must convey this to the potential employer. If you know what skills you possess and practice telling others about your brand, it will make it easier when the opportunity presents itself with an employer.  This topic is one that is personal to me since I once struggled with networking and knowing how to sale myself.  Naturally, I shy away from the spotlight, but I have learned that inhibition won’t lead to obtaining employment. Being too reserved can come across as a lack of confidence, and that’s the last message you want to send in an interview—so practice is crucial. Go over your self-selling skills with a professional if possible, or rehearse with a friend.

Here are a few tips that helped me overcome my fear of networking, and building key relationships related to obtaining employment.

1.       How Bad Do You Want It?

You must develop a “whatever I want, I will get” attitude. By this I don’t mean doing anything illegal or shady, but you have to have determination; I have always been determined to reach the goals that I set for myself. I quickly learned that being afraid to approach others and reluctant to step outside of my comfort zone would only lead to not reaching my career goals or my full potential. I began to understand that many interviews were obtained through referrals and that meant expanding my network. Even if an interview is secured using traditional methods, it still requires you to tell the employer why you are the ideal candidate. Being an introvert isn’t a negative, it simply means that you draw energy from within. Once you understand who you are and exactly what you offer, with practice, even the most introverted individual can turn on their “switch”. So it goes back to my original question: how bad do you want it?  We all know that it is an employer’s market, hone the characteristics that will set you apart. Relentlessly go after your goals and don’t allow set-backs or misconceived personality traits to stagnate your progress. 

Practice

Getting to know what I was good at and realizing the skills I possessed that would bring value to an organization did not come over night. For me, it took years of working for various organizations before I really knew what I wanted to do. However, this allowed me a lot of time to get better at my craft and to practice networking and interviewing. I practiced with friends, family, professionals, and even on actual interviews. The more I practiced and actually took the time to understand what I had to offer and what companies were looking for in potential employees, I grew better at marketing myself and became more comfortable speaking with employers. Many people will tell you to develop an elevator pitch which can be useful when telling people about yourself. However, I tend to stick with knowing the basics of who I am as well as what I have to offer so I don’t sound boring or programmed. In all things, I prefer to be natural and authentic. Just because you are an introvert does not mean you are not confident. If you are not naturally an outgoing person, you need to distinguish your brand and practice telling others about what you have to offer so that when the occasion arises you will be more than ready.

 

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6 Characteristics of Resumes That Get Results

There has been much written on resumes and what is needed to have an effective one. I wanted to write a different synopsis from the standpoint of a career coach. From my experience as a job seeker as well as a career coach I see six basic characteristics of resumes that get results. Results in the since of securing interviews, informational sessions, invites to visit an organization, lunch meetings, or any kind of direct contact with a prospective employer.  So let’s review the 6 characteristics.

1.      Well Written & Organized Strategically

Your document must have correct grammar, no spelling errors and organized in a way that will get the reader’s attention immediately. There must also be clear distinctions between the various areas on your resume. We all know that resumes are scanned quickly by employers and recruiters, so it’s imperative to strategically place information in a way that will grab their attention and encourage them to read further.

 

2.      Targeted To Each Position

There is no such thing as a “general” resume that you send to each job that you apply for. With companies utilizing applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for key words and relevant information, you must target your resume for each position that you apply for. You can accomplish this by first going to the “required qualifications” section within the job description you are interested in applying for and strategically adding the required info throughout your resume. Don’t just add the info so it can get around the applicant tracking system, but make sure you are qualified for the job. You should not apply for jobs where you don’t possess most of the required qualifications chances are you won’t receive a call. Be sure to include relevant industry related skills you have as well, preferably at the top of your document under your career profile, so it’s easy for the reader to spot. I know it’s a lot easier to send out a “general” resume, but if you take the time to make sure that your document is targeted to each position, you will see more results.

 

3.      Branded- What Do You Personally Bring To An Organization

Your resume must include your “brand”. When writing your resume you must start with a clear idea of the skills that you want to highlight to prospective employers. The employer should get a really good understanding of what you will personally bring to their organization after reviewing your resume. Think about the skills you believe that you are really good at and highlight them throughout your resume. This “brand” should be clear everywhere rather in person, on your resume, or social media. The goal is for people rather to associate you with the “brand” that you have created.

 

4.      Include Practical Experience

It’s not enough to just have the required education to obtain employment. Employers want to see practical relevant experience on resumes. I have worked with many clients who believed that since they had completed their education, they were somehow assured employment in their field of choice. Include internships, apprenticeship programs, personal and freelance experience, related projects, and organizations you are active in that are relevant to the particular job you are applying to. This will show the reader that you are passionate about your field of choice and that you are actively engaged. It also shows that you have real world experience that is valuable to any organization.

 

5.      Results Oriented

Often times I review resumes that I consider being “task oriented”. Under each experience there are usually lists that outline general tasks that any person in that position would normally do. Using words like “responsible for” or “assisted”, don’t tell the reader that you can produce results. Instead choose to display results and accomplishments, this will display to the reader that you are a high achiever as opposed to an employee who does the bare minimum on the job. Bold your accomplishments and achievements so it’s easy for the employer to see it. Display that you can produce positive measureable results and you will be more marketable to an organization.

 

6.      Gets In Front Of Hiring Managers

You can have a well written and organized resume that highlights your skills and perfectly, but if it does not get in front of a hiring manager then it serves no purpose. Your resume works in concert with your actions. You must be visible and active in order to get your document reviewed by those responsible for hiring. Networking must become a regular part of your activities even when you are not looking for a job. Contact people in your personal network, join organizations, become active on LinkedIn and social media, and network as much as you can in order to get your document in the hands of the person responsible for hiring.

 

 

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Job Security in Professional Sports & How It Relates To Everyday Job Seekers

 

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Job Security in Professional Sports & How It Relates To Everyday Job Seekers

I am a sports fanatic, and I especially follow all Detroit sports teams. With the announcement that the Detroit Lions have hired a new coach for the 2014 season and four other teams hiring head coaches, it made me wonder how I could relate job security and job searching in the NFL to ordinary job seekers. We will focus specifically on the Detroit Lions coaching search for this piece. The average tenure for NFL head coaches is 4 years. This may seem like a short time but you would probably be shocked to know that the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Let’s take a look at the characteristics that allow coaches to keep their jobs and also make them attractive candidates for open coaching positions as it relates to everyday job seekers.

What Characteristics Allow Coaches to Keep Their Jobs?

  1. Winning (Results) – The coaches that win keep their jobs. Coaches like Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Tom Coughlin, and Mike Tomlin are among coaches who have long tenures at head coach because they win football games. We can relate this to everyday workers. Those workers who produce results are valuable to their prospective organizations. More than likely they have job security. If you want to be attractive to a prospective organization you must highlight positive results.

What Makes Them Attractive Candidates For Open Positions?

  1. The Right Fit- During the Detroit Lions coaching search the thing I heard the most was that the targeted candidate Ken Whisenhunt was mentioned as “the right fit” for the Lions organization. Coming off a season where the Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a disappointing season, throwing 19 interceptions and only completing 58% of his passes, the team felt it needed a coach who had a track record of making quarterbacks better. Whisenhunt fit that bill since he had worked with previous quarterbacks who had been struggling and made them better. He had also taken the Arizona Cardinals to the Superbowl. The Cardinals are similar to the Lions in the sense they had never been to a Superbowl in the past. He presumably solved a problem that the organization wanted fixed immediately. The Lions also wanted to find someone that demanded respect from the players and who would hold players accountable for their actions. The previous coach Jim Schwartz had been widely criticized for not holding players accountable. Whisenhunt was presumed to be the coach of the Lions, but they eventually hired another candidate Jim Caldwell for their open coaching position. Even though Whisenhunt was considered the popular choice Caldwell was “the right fit” for the Lions organization. Businesses want employees who are a good fit for their organization and are able to solve problems that they face. One of the things that can set you apart from other candidates during your job search is if you can show how you are a good fit for the organization as well as how you can solve problems.
  2. Winning (Results) – Winning has become a part of the brand of those coaches who are candidates for open positions. Often times we hear professionals talking about “branding” and letting employers know what skills you have that can benefit their organization. As it relates to the Lions coaching search, Ken Whisenhunt didn’t have to contact them, they were interested in interviewing him, and they initialized the contact. He got interest from reportedly three other NFL teams. He as well as the chosen candidate Jim Caldwell had become synonymous with winning and producing positive results.

 If you want to ensure that you have job security then you must take pride in your work and produce positive measureable results for your organization. Those employees who produce have job security and are promoted within the organization. It is easier to get a referral or recommendation from a supervisor or co-worker since they will be more likely to speak well of your work. When looking for employment it is important to display to a hiring manager your interest in working for their organization and why you would be a great fit for their business. If possible show how you would be the candidate to help to solve problems.

 

 

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