The Best Time to Build Your Network

It’s all too easy to fall into the routine of going to work, completing your tasks, being passionate about it, but not thinking about the future. It’s great to live in the present, but when it comes to the job market and advancement opportunities, the best time to network and build your resume is when you don’t have to.

It’s in these moments of success within your career, that you should take a step back and evaluate the people in your network, the accomplishments you are creating, and the direction you want to go. All of this paves the way for you to plan ahead.

When it comes to building your network, seek to make meaningful connections with people in your industry. When you resonate with someone, who perhaps just happens to be well connected, do your part to cultivate a relationship with them now when you don’t need anything. This sets the stage for a genuine relationship to develop over time, and whether there ever comes a time when you need that person or not, at least you’ve done your part in establishing a relationship with them first. That in itself will create a platform for which you can leap off.

Your resume deserves the same attention. Most professionals stow away their resume until they need to find a job, besides who wants to dust off the resume when they aren’t currently looking? Despite feeling that it’s unnecessary, it’s actually the best time to update it. For starters, you are more clear headed about your accomplishments and successes because you aren’t displaced or severely unhappy. You could actually easily assess your day-to-day’s and analyze the skills that your contribute, making it easier to put together a results-based resume which gets more attention.

Where ever you are in your career or in your corporation, keep planning ahead and do these important, however, overlooked actions to ensure you keep trekking down the right path.

What is a “Focused” Resume and Why is it the #1 Priority for Job Search

These days you might hear the term “Focused Resume” or “Focused Job Search”.  It is a term that is full of meaning but unless you’ve had someone sit down and explain it to you, you might still be guessing.

The conditions that spawned this term have been the economic situation that has left hiring managers in the plush position of having any candidate they want.  What the hiring manager wants right now is an almost impossibly perfect fit for a candidate.  In fact, in some professions, there has been a debate as to whether or not anyone actually exists with some of the skills being outlined in some job descriptions.  Nevertheless, gone are the days when a degree or even some great transferable skills would open the door.  They don’t want to interpret whether or not a candidate could do a job.  They want the candidate to do two things on their resumes:

1 – Tell them only the skills that directly apply to the job

2- Demonstrate they can deliver on the promise by showing results and accomplishments

Knowing these two goals, that’s where “focused resume” comes in.  You must focus your job search and therefore your resume on 1 or maybe 2 position-types.  That means you must display only the key elements of your background that directly relate to that position.  For many job seekers, that sends a chill down their back because many people think that will limit their ability to get a job in any reasonable timeframe.  Many job seekers launch their job search with a generic resume which nicely spans all sorts of skills and results and seek “something” that sounds good.  That process will not work.

Here are the steps for Focusing your Job Search & Resume:

1- Identify the position you are seeking.  Job title is only somewhat irrelevant because people can call some jobs pretty much anything they want which means you are identifying a position based on job content.  Don’t do anything else in your job search until you’ve done this step.  If you do, you will be wasting your time.  If you are a person with a diverse background, this can be challenging.

2- Identify key skills.  Do your homework and study various job openings and the description of the job.  You will be able to start seeing specific job requirements repeated after you have looked at 3-5.  These skills need to be the center piece to your resume, assuming you have those skills to begin with.  If not, you are barking up the wrong tree.  Stop here and start over.

3- Identify a keyword list.  While you’re doing step 2, you should be developing a keyword list that may be words used to locate people in various Applicant Tracking Systems or on the internet.  Keywords are as much of an art as it is a science but want to inject keywords in your resume and Linked In Profile so you can be found during candidate searches.

4- Mold your resume and Linked profile.  Now that you know what position-type you are pursuing along with the keywords and skills, modify your resume to “focus” on those elements.  You certainly can have other skills in both your resume and LI profile to show your diversity but you have to understand that will only be considered interesting if the other key things are there.

5- Let your network know.  Your network will only be as good as the information you give it.  Now that you can clearly articulate the position you are going after, tell them in very specific terms.

6- Pursue those positions.  Now that you have your entire job search materials focused you can confidently pursue those positions knowing you are clearly communicating the most important things the hiring manager wants to see.

You can’t get by with just looking for anything.  It sounds like a contradiction to say you will open up more possibilities by Focusing your Resume and Job Search.  You will have more hiring managers and recruiters pay attention to you and that’s what matters.

This was a guest post, originally seen on Career Rocketeer and written by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, who is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services atNext Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

10 Resume Mistakes You Must Avoid

1. GENERIC OBJECTIVE: If your objective could be applied to a marketing resume as easily as one for finance, then it says nothing and will get you nowhere. An objective is not an exercise in job speak. It’s an actual and real description of your skills as they’re related to who you are and what you want. It should vary with the type of job for which you are applying.

2. BLAND DETAILS: “Responsibilities included overseeing construction of four hotels in Tri-City area, each 50 floors high.” So what? Did they go up on schedule? Did you bring them in under budget?  Did you take all four from site work up or did you pick up two of them mid-project?   If you don’t tell the hiring company why you’re the best choice, how will they know?

3. ANOTHER JOB, ANOTHER PARAGRAPH: Don’t keep adding on to your resume job after job, year after year. By the time you’re in your 40s, you need to have weeded out your earlier, unrelated jobs.  Drop your college activities, and leave your degree. You don’t need all 5 bullets for your entry-level positions.

4. REFERENCES: Shouldn’t be listed on your resume. “References available on request” is the proper phrase. Present them separately when they’re requested. This isn’t about protocol. This is about protecting your references so they aren’t called until you and the company are serious about each other.

5. IT’S NOT A STORY!: Don’t write your resume in the third person and no personal pronouns
such as “I”

6. SKIP THE PERSONAL INFO: You might think your baseball coaching or church choir participation shows you’re a well-rounded person, but they’re irrelevant. If the interviewer wants to know who you are aside from your qualifications, he’ll ask.

7. DEGREE DATE: No matter how old you are, don’t leave the date of when you were graduated off your resume. It looks like you’re hiding something (well, you are, aren’t you?), and then everyone does the math to figure out how old you are. If you’re trying to hide your age by not stating the date, what else might you not be forthcoming about?

8. SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK: Spell checking visually by you and someone else, any fewer than three times, isn’t enough. And don’t forget to check your punctuation.

9. GETTING IT OUT THERE – part one: If it’s an ad, you probably have instructions as to how to send it. If it says email, cut and paste it in the form, and attach it. You don’t know what it will look like on the other end because of the variety of settings available to each user. Quite frankly, you’re better off not emailing it at all, but unfortunately – besides not sending it – sometimes that’s your only choice. Emailing your resume takes any option for further participation right out of your hands, because often there’s no name given for a follow up contact. You’ve no other option than to wait and wonder.

10. GETTING IT OUT THERE – part two: If you know the name of the company, call and ask if they prefer email, fax, or snail mail. I know a recruiter whose email was listed in The Kennedy Guide to Executive Recruiters.  He received hundreds of resumes emailed to him cold (so not pro-active!) and simply mass deleted them every morning. I’ll bet less than 10% of those people bothered to follow up to see if it was received (this isn’t a numbers game)!  Candidates he contacted for a specific search received an entirely different email address. How about that?

You are the product, and your resume is the brochure. To find your perfect job you must differentiate yourself from the others who are also vying for attention.

Your resume must be specific, individualized, easy to skim to invite a closer reading, and focused on the accomplishments you’ve achieved with – and for – each previous employer. This tells the hiring company what you can do for them – and it is about the hiring company, not you.

The resume is what gets you in the door. If it’s poorly written, looks sloppy, is difficult to read, is cryptic, or necessitates being slogged through, you’ll be tossed aside and forgotten. And how can you decide if you want the company, when they’ve already decided they don’t want you?

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This post was originally seen on Career Rocketeer and was written by Judi Perkins. Judi Perkins, the How-To Career Coach, was a recruiter for 22 years and worked with hundreds of hiring authorities on entry level through CEO. She set up over 15,000 interviews, and has seen over half a million resumes. Her clients often find jobs 8 – 12 weeks because she brings them sequence, structure and focus, and shows why typical strategies often fail. She’s been on PBS’s Frontline, Good Morning Connecticut, in Smart Money magazine, CareerBuilder, MSN Careers, Yahoo Hot Jobs, New York Times, New York Daily News, multiple radio shows including a regular Thursday morning gig, and quoted in numerous career books. Sign up for her free newsletter at www.FindthePerfectJob.com.

What’s Really in a Resume?

When putting together a resume we often remember the basics such as job history, dates of employment, objective, or qualifications summary. But is this really what employers are looking for?

Typically individuals have no problem rehashing their work history, the tasks they completed, and their daily operations; however, what is this really saying about you, the applicant?

Sometimes we forget that these skills can be taught and while a company may write “requirements” that specify all of these things are indeed needed for the job, what they are really looking for is value.

What do you bring to the table that is unique, different, outstanding and will inherently increase the company’s overall worth, culture, or sales?

Take a good look at your resume and see if your resume alludes to your personal value or if it simply retells the tasks that you are skilled in.  Companies want to know “what can you do for us?”

Here are some examples:

“Increased productivity by 5% through uncovering and implementing new systems adopted by internal departments in less than six months”

“Tripled sales revenue at both 90 and 120 days of new product launch, currently averaging an increase of  5% in sales goals every month.”

“Trained and facilitated team members in new procedures that lead to lower turnover and increased morale”

You can see the difference besides just rattling off your skill set  and rehasing your role, instead tell your future employer what it is you’ll REALLY be doing for them!