Professional Resume and Career Coaching Services by Barb Poole. I've been helping executives and professionals explore, find, get, and keep career dreams for more than 30 years. It would be my honor to help you!
The application process to land a job with the Federal government is more user-friendly than it was a few years ago, but you should still prepare a separate federal version for each job applied for in that sector. With the Federal resume and a private-sector resume, there are differences in amount of detail and length. Getting started is one of the toughest parts. Let’s start at beginnings and basics.
A Federal resume is one of three documents accepted as an official application for position vacancies within the Federal government. The other two are the OF-612 and the traditional SF-171. However, the SF-171 is considered obsolete and is no longer accepted by all agencies.
Brainstorm your career experience that that will be crucial to your next position. As reporters and investigators know, there are six key questions to be answered with any story – and with any position in the Federal job application process as well. They are the five Ws and one H.
Who did I work for?
Gather background information from each job experience. The Federal resume requires names and phone numbers of supervisors, agency names, the organization within the agency, address (at minimal, city, state, and zip code), starting and ending salaries (or GS series and ratings). If you have used Federal forms in the past, you can get much of your information there. If not, you should assemble this information – any omission of these elements can lead to rejection of your resume.
Where was the job?
List the main location of the position. Where was the office? This should be identified with each position. If your position involved a great deal of travel (more than one week a month) and the position that you are seeking requires travel, this factor should be included in the description. The mention of travel need not be extensive but it should convey the experience and willingness that the employer is seeking.
When did I do it?
The Federal resume requires dates of employment for at least the past ten years. The month and year associated with each position are the minimal information required. In nearly all instances, job experience (or other important qualifications) should be presented in reverse chronological order. The most recent experience (the highest degree, most recent professional training, etc.) should be first, with older or less significant education or training following, each in its own section.
There are some unique situations where it is beneficial to present relevant skills in a functional order rather than chronologically. However, anyone using a functional format should remember the questions that come to mind with hiring authorities screening your resume and application: “What is the candidate trying to convey?” and “When and where did they do it?”
What did I do?
Don’t take this lightly. This is a very slippery question. Too many applicants believe that people screening resumes need to know everything about the candidate’s background. They worry that omission of the slightest detail will provide an advantage to other applicants. This not so, and it’s risky!
A resume that takes up space with every function listed in a position description is not needed. What is most important to get across on your resume is the information that makes your qualification different from everyone else’s. Every budget analyst compiles budget justifications at some point in a career. Every systems programmer knows basic coding. Every flight mechanic knows the tools used and the planes’ control systems. Every administrative assistant maintains calendars or uses office software. These are the beginnings in a career. The critical skills are the ones that will be needed for the next job.
Effective presentations should attempt to describe your role in making a difference in the organization’s results. “Wrote budget justification to support a $550 million information technology acquisition,” says more than the initial version of saying you compiled budget justifications. “Developed and presented budget justification that secured a $550 million appropriation for computer system acquisition,” says even more.
Why did I do it?
Many economists will tell you there is one reason for all human interaction – money. Honestly, people are willing to pay money because they have a reason to want a good service, knowledge, skills, commitment to the public interest, or a host of other factors.
Money is the easiest way to convey those other interests in understandable terms. Even if your work is considered an unpopular job that no one scurries to have, it still contributes in some way to the mission of the agency or department. Since the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, Federal agencies have become increasingly aware of the ways in which each position contributes to the agency’s mission. These links of position duties to agency mission should surface in vacancy announcements.
How did I do it?
This is the piece that can be most important in conveying to your resume’s readers and evaluators your knowledge of the procedures to get the job done. Organize information on your actions and accomplishments in an order that the hiring authority recognizes and that resembles the order in which the work is performed. Job blocks on a Federal resume do not need to contain every detail of each position, but they do need to convey a sense of professional growth and accomplishment if you are to make it to the short list!
Yes, getting started is the hardest part. Keeping the 5 Ws and 1 H in mind can keep you on track as you work through the process!
I always love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below.
Originally people were hired for their ability to do the job. Then there was flexibility – those who moved to find work in newly established factories and offices. As work changed, we had sociability, with focus on teams and communications. Unsurprisingly, employers moved to selecting talent with the best work attributes, and then monitoring them to improve their performance. This led to the development of measures of skill and intelligence (or IQ), and then social skills and emotional intelligence (EQ).
Meet adaptability quotient (AQ).
In the late 1990s, Daniel Goleman led the emotional intelligence boom, touted as the “people-side” of smart; and one of the most influential paradigms of the decade. We now have a triangle to include IQ, EQ, and AQ.
AQ is becoming increasingly important as more leaders talk about the constant change their organizations and industries are experiencing. Disruptive technologies add to the mix. As with IQ and EQ, Ability Quotient (AQ) can be developed to embrace and work with change.
The 3 quotients defined:
Intelligence Quotient or IQ: The intelligence, knowledge, and facts that one has.
Emotion Quotient or EQ: The emotional understanding one has of oneself and others to help with differing situations and people.
Adaptability Quotient or AQ: The ability to adapt to and thrive in an environment of change.
Why does AQ matter?
The behaviors we have honed for decades will be challenged as obsolete. The global intimacy of the workplace is a factor. Key also is that technology is changing at an exponential rate, forcing us to learn at a faster pace than ever before. Work vision, goals, strategies, action, structure and hierarchy may vastly differ from one year to the next.
A current model for AQ.
While there is a plethora of information on IQ and EQ, developing models and measurements for AQ are still in play. The authors of The Oz Principle created a 4-step model for developing AQ.
See it. Acknowledge change is needed. One must obtain the perspective of others by asking questions about the change needed, along with welcoming positive and constructive feedback about the change’s impact. Some may not want to hear the answers. It’s messy, but mandatory.
Own it. Though many resist change, this behavior can cause failure when needed change is ignored. As an individual it’s crucial to take accountability for overall needed change; and take commitment to push through the inevitable challenges (and failures) that will accompany the change.
Solve it. The key question while spotting solutions to facilitate adaption is, “What else can I (we) do?” It’s important to note that “what else” means “think differently” as opposed to “do more.” The question is powerful because it disrupts siloes between teams, motivates innovative solutions, and helps assess risks.
Do it. Execution is the final step and encompasses follow-through and accountability to your team. Transparency and trust are key in this phase of championing change.
Where are we headed with AQ?
According to the literature out there, we are likely to see three things happen in the workplace relative to AQ:
As a society, we will agree that adaptability is an important indicator of future success. We will also agree that a metric to measure it is needed – not fleshed out at this writing.
We will find new ways to both test our AQ and improve it over time.
A large industry will emerge to increase our AQ – from pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, to training and development, to media and games.
There are those who predict that IQ and EQ will take a back seat to AQ, which will become the primary indicator of success, tied to how we’re able to keep up with constant change. It’s going to be applicable to job search and career management. I would argue it already is a key factor.
I always love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below.
Over the course of my 30-plus years as a career coach – and with credit given to my mentor, Susan Whitcomb, here are 10 Cs for promotable people:
If you have these characteristics, kudos! There are two other factors though. Know your company’s situation. Is it in flux? Adding talent or laying off? What’s the industry’s health like?
Thirdly, as with all things career, it’s good to start with self-analysis. Why do you want to be promoted? What’s that look like to you?
Here are some questions to brainstorm to help frame your promotion target. Set them up in a Word document, giving yourself ample space to flesh out your answers.
What is the title of the position you are targeting?
What is the detailed job description of the new position?
What is the bottom-line impact and value you’d be delivering in this position?
What is your motivation for wanting this?
Where will this prometon take you long term?
Ideally, how long would you like to stay in this position?
What will this promotion bring to your life?
How will your life change because of this?
FLOAT INTO THE FUTURE
It’s one year from now, and you’re celebrating your anniversary of being hired for your new position. You’re settled into the new job and are delivering solid results. Describe a typical workday in detail, noting things like your level of confidence and self-esteem, the people with whom you regularly interact, the types of decisions you’re making, what you’re most proud of having accomplished this past year, and so on.
After allowing space to do the above, what thoughts and emotions come up for you as a result?
To recap, there are 10 characteristics of promotable people. Your company’s financial situation, business strategy, and growth goals will impact your promotional opportunities. Get clear on your promotion target, including the title, responsibilities, bottom-line impact on the organizations, what opportunities it might lead to long-term, how long you should envision staying in this role, what the new position means for your future, and what it will bring to your life.
Finally, make sure the position is a FIT: It allows you to use your preferred functional skills; it is in an industry you enjoy; it aligns with the things that matter to you (salary, life balance, geography, etc.); it brings you fulfillment; it is consistent with your identity and how you both see yourself and want others to see you; and it complements your personality type.
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
You’ve been through several rounds of interviews, and you want this job! Your gut tells you it’s right. It meets your “wants” and “non-negotiables.” You’ve had conversations to clarify the heart of the job and the company. And they seem to want you! They said so!
Finish line alert!
Remember: A job is not yours until you have it in writing, so keep your job search in full swing until you have a written job offer!
Don’t say yes, or quit your current job, until you have your job offer in writing.
It’s fine to accept an offer verbally, but let the hiring manager know it is an information acceptance until you get an offer letter. You must see everything in writing – job title, description of responsibilities, compensation, and benefits. For example, does your healthcare commence immediately, or do you have to wait several months? What about your 401K? When can you start contributing to that? What about bonuses, 30-, 60-, or 1-year expectations? What’s the start date?
Many folks accept jobs where the employer says, “We’ll figure that out when you’re here.” Don’t count on that!
You hold your most power at the time a job offer is extended, and the company is waiting for you to start. If you are given an offer from a small company that has never written a formal offer letter, be cautious regarding your situation – and helpful to them! Find a sample on the Internet and create it based upon what you understand the job to be. A formal job offer is an agreement to terms. Here’s a sample:
Dear [Applicant Name],
[Company Name] is excited to bring you on board as [job title].
We’re just a few formalities away from getting down to work. Please take the time to review our formal offer. It includes important details about your compensation, benefits and the terms and conditions of your anticipated employment with [Company Name].
[Company Name] is offering a [full time, part time, etc.] position for you as [job title], reporting to [immediate manager/supervisor] starting on [proposed start date] at [workplace location]. Expected hours of work are [days of week and hours of work].
In this position, [Company Name] is offering to start you at a pay rate of [dollar amount or annual base salary] per [year, hour, annual salary, etc.]. You will be paid on a [weekly, monthly, etc.] basis, starting [date of next pay period].
As part of your compensation, we’re also offering [If applicable, you’ll describe your bonus, profit sharing, commission structure, stock options, and compensation committee rules here].
As an employee of [Company Name] you will be eligible for [briefly name benefits, such as health insurance, stock plan, dental insurance, etc.].
Please indicate your agreement with these terms and accept this offer by signing and dating this agreement on or before [offer expiration date].
Sincerely, [Sender Name]
If asking for a formal letter means you lose the job, you don’t want to work for that company. If they don’t care enough about you now, they will care less about you once you are on board.
Navigate bonuses and/or commissions carefully.
If your sought-after job includes bonuses and/or commissions, ask to see the plan in writing before accepting an offer. Be sure you are crystal clear about what you need to get paid. Unless you have it in writing, you’ll lose your right to challenge a bonus you were told verbally would be X percent. I can’t tell you the times I’ve known candidates to move in good faith, to have it come back and bite them in the you-know-what!
This is so important! I see it happen all the time, with the best intentions. Job offers are extended. Then, hiring authorities move on to another place. Budgets get cut. People quit or get let go. Mergers and acquisitions put all hiring on hold or in question. Don’t be left wondering what happened to what was promised you when hired. Protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances.
A formal offer letter is not a guarantee that your job won’t change or dissolve. There are no guarantees. But it is a safeguard toward protecting your best interests.
I always love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below.
Once someone has agreed to talk, make it worthwhile, by making a good first impression and keeping their attention. You do this by delivering on what you promised, which is either:
A conversation that triggers questions and valuable input, which makes them feel helpful about talking with you or telling someone else about you.
An exploration between their needs and your qualifications.
Present yourself as someone with valuable skills, useful knowledge, beneficial experience, and enthusiasm.
Communicate with poised relevance.
When you talk about yourself, don’t bring up every detail, because not everything is relevant. The relevancy depends on what you want to do next! Relevance. It’s an important word here! It’s the key to marketing yourself in your new career. Too much information overwhelms people. Relevant information helps you influence people in how you want them to see you.
Whether you are sitting down for coffee with someone to pick their brain, or are in an interview and asked, “Tell me about yourself,” the person across from you wants to know six things:
Are you an honorable person I can trust and would want to hire or refer to people I know?
Why are you in this circumstance, wanting a job in whatever role or field?
What were you doing before this?
What do you know about and what have you done to prepare yourself for this career?
What are your key strengths or most enjoyable skills?
What do you want to do now, and how committed are you?
Converse human to human.
You want to have a conversation that does not sound memorized or rehearsed. Don’t write it out word for word. If you do, you’ll be focused on remembering. And depending on who you’re talking to, you’ll need to adapt content. Filling what you say with relevant (that word again) information that’s dowsed with your desire for why you want this career is your priority here.
My client, Jim, was an information technology project manager who was networking for a job with a coffee chain. In the first ten minutes of his meeting with a franchise owner in that business, he said, “I have no coffee shop experience, but I have more fire, a better work ethic, and more desire than anyone you’ll meet!” He got the chance to explain more, but “fire” is what hooked the coffee-business contact.
Create an outline that includes pieces of information you plug in or leave out; and that lets you elaborate, depending on the circumstances. The pieces might include any of the above six points.
Get a bit emotional.
You might have the credentials, education, and competence for your next career, but if you can’t unleash a little passion, it will be tougher to convince people to help you along the way or, eventually, offer you a job. Don’t be afraid to express your eagerness, through your words and enthusiasm for what you want to do next and why you want to do it.
Use emotional language. It’s okay to look someone in the eye and say, “I love helping children learn” or “I’m moved to want to give back” or “I feel so strongly about making this change, I’ve dedicated the next year of my life toward completing certification and earning hands-on experience.”
In my next post, I’ll share ways in which to deliver on the six pieces mentioned in this post!
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
You’re still not crystal clear on what your next career or job is called. In fact, you’re still fuzzy! You want to gather information by talking to folks. Don’t just talk to anyone. Be strategic and extract value out of your time spent.
What to do and who to target
Even if you don’t know exactly what your “label” of career is, I’m going to assume that you have some sense of the industry (or types of industries). Write them down. What related industries work in tandem with your target industry? Write them down too.
For example, if you’re interested in healthcare, your related industries or companies might include ambulatory health care services, manufacturers, medical practices, health insurance companies, or home health care services.
Looking at your lists, develop a roster of companies that fit within those industries. If you’re focused on a specific geographical area, which are the companies and organizations located there? You might find them through the chamber of commerce in that area, your local library, through local business news articles, through online searches, or by talking to people. Some online sources for company information are Brint.com, Hoovers.com, Wetfeet.com, Vault.com, LibrarySpot.com, and Bizweb.com. To view annual reports, go to annualReports.com, reportgallery.com or prars.com.
From there, you can target people in those industries and companies. Dig up their names from directories or online search, through news releases written about the company, through information on the company’s website, or by asking other people. If all else fails, call up the company, find a live human being and ask, “Can you tell me who oversees sales?” (or whatever area you’re focusing on).
You can also find companies by buying lists. For example, if you go to ZapData.com, you can buy lists that will name companies by location, industry and size.
So, in a nutshell, here’s your basic strategy:
Start broad, by looking at industries.
Narrow your target by listing companies in those industries.
Then focus on people in those companies or other organizations who can help you.
Why you are targeting these people
You want at a minimum, to talk by telephone and get information. You want to introduce yourself, tell them about your new career objective (as succinctly as it is at this point), and ask for their advice on how someone with your background and interest might fit into the industry.
Why? Because you’re fuzzy and what they know can help you get clearer. They know:
Trends in the industry
Problems and “pains” of the industry and in specific companies
Other people in the industry
Roadblocks you might run into
What qualifications you need
Who’s leaving a job or about to be asked to leave
Positions that might be created in specific companies
New business coming to town
Ways to contact decision-makers
You can ask them about the best way to find a job in this industry or a specific company. In that conversation, they may tell you about openings they’ve heard about, or be willing to refer you to someone they know in your targeted industry.
Let’s go back to healthcare. People who work in a healthcare facility, for example, know what’s happening in a related industry or business because they deal with people there. They know people who sell medical devices or who work in health-related professional organizations. They know colleagues through professional associations.
This is important! Because you’re uncertain, your main goal is to get more information that will help you learn about the needs of your industry and what kinds of jobs exist that meet your career objective. Since you also want to discover positions (once you’re clearer), your other goal is to make a good impression. Then folks will be more inclined to offer you names of people in the industry or companies where they suggest you look. If they don’t like you, they won’t refer you to others.
Though it’s legwork, this type of strategy – talking to people – should help you get clearer!
In my next post, I’ll share ways to make that good impression!
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
The traditional career ladder is no more. Job roles can change drastically within a few years, which is also the average time that employees stay with one employer. So, we need a new way to think about job transitions.
I like the term “career pivot”. The traditional definition of a verb is used in basketball:
To keep one foot in place while holding the ball and moving the other foot one step in any direction.
Google career guru and author of Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, Jenny Blake, describes a career pivot in a recent interview with SHRM’s HR Magazine:
“A purposeful shift in a new, related direction that one makes by doubling down on what is already working. Typically, ‘pivot’ refers to a strategy shift, moving from Plan A to Plan B to save a business from dwindling profits or a dismal forecast. But when it comes to our careers, learning to pivot – within our roles and job paths—is the new Plan A.”
If you are considering a career move, here are some thoughts to ponder!
Adjust your thinking about today’s career transitions.
Pivoting is the new normal and in fact, career plateaus are a good thing. They indicate a desire to make a greater impact. Instead of thinking that there’s a crisis point, reframe your thinking to it being an opportunity to be grasped! Celebrate it, because it means that you are wanting to make greater contributions to your workplace and your community!
Know when to make a change.
That career plateau is the sweet spot, according to Blake. That’s the point where you feel work is “okay,” but you know there’s room for enhancement in terms of tapping your strengths on the job to learn and innovate within your role.
Recognize those plateaus, because it can mean the difference between you choosing to change – or change choosing you! We see this often in the sense of burnout and stress. In some cases, people get pivoted – companies get acquired, reorganize and send people on their way. Even in these latter situations, you can still act as a pivoter. Review what was working best in your previous role? How does that knowledge help you in your next position?
Test the waters.
Pivoting is all about small steps. Blake calls them “career pilots” – low-risk experiments to explore your hypothesis about your best next move. A good pilot should help determine what she calls the Three E’s”
Enjoyment. Do I like working on this new focus area?
Expertise. Can I become an expert at it, and do I want to?
Expansion. Is there more opportunity within the market (or the company) for me to dedicate my efforts more fully in this direction?
Beware of pivot pitfalls.
What often holds people back is waiting for that next perfect move or targeting too far outside what is working now and existing strengths, connections, interests, or experiences.
Also, avoid that roadblock imposed when you don’t have a vision for your career a year from now. Even if you don’t know specifically, think about what makes you happy in work, and where your greatest contributions lie. Blake likens it to having a navigation app you can plug into. Without this one-year concept, you may focus too much on what you don’t want. Conversation and movement can get stuck.
Listen to your gut.
Gut instinct is critical in knowing when to pivot. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness practices are all helpful for tapping into your expert and wise advisor – your own instincts and intuition. Certainly, there will be other indicators of a right move – salary, job role, location, or company culture. But overall, most pivoters know when they land the right fit! It feels aligned with their values, strengths, and one-year vision for success!
And Blake says to think of decisions as data. One can only pose questions for so long; then it’s important to have action.
Not every pivot works out as planned. That doesn’t mean that pivot wasn’t successful! Think of pivots in terms of taking smart risks and stretching into unknown territory. Feeling alive and invigorated. Learning. Gaining clarity that helps navigate change. Every single pivot enlightens the next. Sometimes larger pivots necessitate a series of several smaller rotations. Remember those small steps!
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
If you follow me, you know that I love to devour the latest tidbits from psychology experts; and apply them to work and life! Here are a few I recently liked! All pertain to advice on navigating your daily life, with enhanced “place of mind”. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Bounce back from a snub.
Perhaps a friend excluded you from a get-together without explanation. Or maybe it was a workplace meeting. Why weren’t you in on it? Research says to reach out and hold someone’s hand! If appropriate, get a hug! Scientific Reports conducted a study where subjects were randomly shunned during a game, then exposed to different types of touch from strangers, ranging from a quick brush to a kind caress. Those who received affectionate touches reported less emotional distress than their counterparts, as the gesture bolstered their sense of connectedness and belonging.
2. Push through a midday slump.
It’s the middle of a busy day at work, and you’ve been multitasking what feels like a dozen things. The last thing you feel you should do is whip out your phone for a game, a chat, or review of the latest events. But according to the scientific journal, Human Factors, it may exactly what you should do. After working on a computer, subjects in their study took a five-minute break to do nothing, perform a relaxation exercise, or play a digital game. The findings showed that only the gamers had an uptick in mood and concentration, as their minds were reenergized by the activity’s stimulating content.
3. Sharpen your social smarts.
When you’re wrestling to understand how a friend or co-worker is feeling after she comes to you for support (Angry? Disappointed? Anxious?), concentrate less on her facial expressions and more on listening to her tone and word choice. When a Yale University scientist analyzed more than 1,800 conversations, he found that those who focused on what they heard (the speaker’s emotional inflection and phrasing) pinned down feelings more accurately than those who focused on what they saw (body language). Why? Our face can mask our feelings but listening attentively eliminates misleading distractions from the relevant or important issues.
4. Sometimes it’s not about collaboration.
Sometimes when you need to make a tough decision, it’s better to rely on your instincts rather than asking others. When scientists at the University of Essex in England asked people to answer a question with little data to go on, those who worked in groups made 50 percent more mistakes than people who worked alone. The investigators explain that conflicting ideas and interpretations caused people to doubt their gut, leading to second-guessing, overthinking, analysis paralysis, more inaccuracies, and overall stress.
5. Spur your creativity.
Writing about your dreams – especially those that don’t make sense – can boost your inventiveness in waking life, say researchers reporting in the Journal of Creative Behavior. They tested subjects’ creativity, then tracked them for about a month as the subjects maintained a daily log of their dreams or memorable happenings from the prior day. Follow-up scores on the creativity test revealed a rise in imaginative thinking for dream diarists but not their counterparts. Why? The researchers explain revisiting nonsensical dream imagery loosens people’s thinking, allowing them to more readily think outside the box and make new associations.
Do you have ideas to ease daily “place of mind”? I always love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Many folks have great expectations of their resumes. And indeed, a good resume is a must-have tool in your job-search toolkit!
That said, the main thing to keep in mind about a resume is what it doesn’t do. Regardless of how elegantly it’s designed, or how brilliantly it’s written, a resume in and of itself isn’t going to induce anyone to stop what he or she is doing, jump up and down, and say, “This is the person I absolutely want to hire!” That’s not what the resume was meant to do.
What a resume is meant to do, is to get you past the initial screening so that you have an opportunity to be interviewed by someone who has the power to hire you.
Not that getting past this screening is easy to do. A typical posting for an attractive job opening in any major city can draw hundreds if not thousands of responses, each one containing a resume. Someone – not necessarily the person who does the actual hiring – must go through that vast mountain of résumés and select from it those candidates who mostly closely meet the basic qualifications of the position. The higher the mountain of resumes, the less time the person is likely to spend on each one. And today, applicant tracking systems complicate your chances if that resume is not tailored to the position.
How screening works.
Here’s what happens. People who screen resumes typically do so by dividing them into different groupings. These groupings are based roughly on whether a candidate is considered a “definite” (someone who clearly deserves to be interviewed), a “possible” (someone who might be worth an interview), or a “definitely not” (someone whose background is clearly wrong for the job in question). The time a screener spends on each resume at this initial stage is often very brief – only a handful of seconds for each resume. Whether that resume makes it to the “definite” pile or the “definitely not” pile depends on the specific criteria the screener is looking for.
That’s where things get challenging for your resume. The more resumes a screener has to go through, the more specific become the criteria used to differentiate the “definites” from the “possibles” from the “definitely nots”. In a nutshell, this is why developing more than one resume frequently makes strategic sense. The more targeted your resume is to a particular job or company, the more likely the resume will make a favorable impression on the screener.
What employers look for in resumes.
Research shows that other than skills and experience, other factors important to employers and hiring managers (in order of preference) is
Something to keep in mind is that the people who screen resumes are usually more inclined to rule out people than they are to keep adding to the “definite” list – especially when the pile of “definites” begins to mount. So, little things like typos and misspellings can often keep you out of the running, even though these little things may have nothing whatsoever to do with your ability to handle the job for which you’re applying.
Keep in mind too, that the process of putting together a resume is often as valuable to you as the result of that process. The story you tell in that resume is a story you’re going to have to tell – and tell persuasively – to many people in many different situations. The more familiar and comfortable you are with that story and the more confident you are that it accurately reflects who you are what you can offer, the easier it will be to tell the story in any number of different situations.
I always love to hear from you! Please comment below.
Much of job-search communications involve articulating vocally and in writing what makes you great – bragging rights.
It’s equally important to reflect on your not-so-great moments – those where you would have liked a do-over. We all make mistakes, but for many folks, these mistakes are tough to talk about. Practice, because during the interview process, you will likely be asked to talk about an oops or mistake you’ve made at work.
There are two reasons to go through the process of knowing and articulating your mistakes:
Sometime during the hiring process, you likely will be asked, “Tell me about your least proud career moment,” or “Tell me about the biggest mistake you have made in your career.”It will serve you well to have internalized some specific examples, as it can be hard to come up with a failure when you are in the middle of a job interview.
This type of brainstorming will likely point to tasks you do not want to be doing. Often, your biggest career bloopers involved activities you do not like, and therefore, aren’t as good at. This is important. Don’t be afraid of this question. It’s an opportunity for you to solidify what you do not want in your next job.
When people ask this question, they want to know that you’re aware of your mistakes and that you learned from them! They want to know specifics, so don’t talk in general terms.
Leo’s mistake story:
In his third round of interviews with one employer, Leo was asked, “Tell me about your biggest career mistake.”
“I was at XYZ Company as a Business Analyst. I was given a project by a SVP of another division. This SVP was known as a difficult, demanding guy, and I said, “yes” immediately. But I knew I should have first okayed it with my direct manager. And when my boss found out, he was quite angry with me. ‘Why are you working with him without consulting with me,’ and ‘Do you know you just messed up another system by doing this?’ were questions he threw my way. He added that my current project with him was more high profile than the one I’d accepted with the SVP. Both my boss and I were made to look bad.”
What he did to fix it:
“I apologized profusely, promised my boss I would not do that again, and asked what I could do to fix it. He told me to take the new release out of operation immediately. I did that, and then I walked into the office of the SVP and told him what had happened. I took accountability, told him that I should have stopped and asked the right questions. I told him I would work with the Senior Architect to create a solution. Then I went to the Senior Architect to beg forgiveness and asked for help. I asked him for ideas on how we could give the SVP what he wanted without jeopardizing the other systems. Once we worked out a plan, and couple of options, I called a meeting with the SVP, my boss, and the Senior Architect to walk through the new options.”
What Leo learned from this experience:
“I learned to trust my gut. Follow procedure and etiquette. If something does not feel right, I need to stop and start asking questions, no matter how the person making the request reacts. It’s much easier to handle confrontation when problems are small. It was much harder to sit down with that SVP afterwards and tell him that I was taking his project off the table.”
I reiterate that it is OKAY to have made a big mistake. It can show the interviewer that you are insightful and are interested in learning and preventing bloopers in the future. It shows that you are someone who will stand up and be accountable, and work collaboratively to fix things. Your career history is not benefitted by burying mistakes. Here are questions to help you prepare for the “mistake” questions!
YOUR LEAST PROUD CAREER MEMORIES
What are those times in your career you wish you could do over again?
Mistake #1 (write down as many as you can think of, answering the same questions)
What was your job or role?
What was the mistake?
Did you “own” it at the time, or try to hide it?
Did you try to fix it, and did you succeed?
What did you learn from it, and what would you do differently next time?
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