Wednesday, March 13, 2013


We all wrote our own resumes when we were coming out of college, right? It’s part of the Career Planning and Placement process. You pick up some tips from the Placement Office, maybe a template and a few examples. If you’re interviewing with companies recruiting on campus, there may be a format you’re required to follow, so that everyone’s presented to the recruiters on a level playing field.

Now it’s 10 years later, you’ve got a few years of experience under your belt, maybe you’ve been with a couple of different companies and have shown some good career progression. You’re ready to move to the next level in your career – ready to transition to a leadership, executive or management role – and suddenly that old resume format isn’t working so well. You’re not getting the response you want. Why? And what’s the right strategy?

The reality is – it’s NOT all about the resume any more. Once you begin to target executive-level roles, you need a comprehensive search strategy and a tactical execution plan that encompasses all facets of the job search. The resume is still a critical piece of the puzzle, but the game has changed dramatically in the last few years.  

You have to know how to position yourself for where you want to go – not where you’ve been. Your resume has got to articulate the significance and impact of your work and the value you’ve brought to organizations. 

You’ve got to include examples of critical initiatives, cross-functional leadership, influencing perspectives, and what those things meant to the top and bottom line at your company. Take a look at your recent performance evaluations – many times they provide perspective on initiatives that were important to your management team.

Your LinkedIn profile has become another HUGE part of the search process. You need a great profile with a professional-looking picture – you don’t need a formal portrait, but you should look friendly and approachable - and no dogs, no booze and no vacation pictures. 

The percentage of recruiters and companies using LinkedIn to source candidates has skyrocketed in the last couple of years – more than 90% and growing every day. You have some great opportunities in LinkedIn to keyword load and create a profile that will help potential employers and top recruiters find you.

You need a strategy to get your resume to the right people at the right companies. How do you ensure your resume gets into the hands of the decision-makers at the companies you’ve targeted? Applicant Tracking Systems have changed the game – once you’ve uploaded your resume, it can sit in a database and never see the light of day.  So once you’ve uploaded your resume to a company’s website for the role you’ve selected, what do you do? If you’re waiting to hear from someone at the company, you could have a very long wait. Proactively use LinkedIn’s search function to find people at the company with whom you have things in common – LinkedIn groups, past employers, alumni connections – introduce yourself to them, connect with them and begin building and leveraging your network. Don’t be a stalker – but people are usually very willing to help someone if they can.

Competing in today’s job market is tougher than ever before in history. We often tell clients that we probably “could” roof our own house if we had to, but hiring a trained, experienced professional makes much more sense. Creating a comprehensive search strategy that encompasses preparation, developing the resume, effective use of LinkedIn, targeted resources, and a strong, focused plan will help you compete, move up – and win the job search race. Don’t get left in the dust!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Searching for a job in today’s market is more competitive than ever before.  So what can you do to stand out in today’s very tough job market? How do you differentiate yourself from a crowded field of qualified candidates? What are the things that constitute a great search strategy ?  How do you stay ahead of the game and manage your career?  Here are the Top 10 steps to managing a career, making the right career move and conducting a passive or aggressive search.

1) Have a stand out resume. Update it annually, whether you think you need it or not. Evaluate market conditions, because they play into resume content and how to position yourself  to be a stand out, competitive candidate. 

2) Develop a comprehensive LinkedIn profile.

3) Join 20-40 LinkedIn groups that are at the appropriate level for your next career move. It varies if your goal is entry level, CEO, Consultant, Startup, Turnaround, or International.  A very targeted search and career move can be developed if you are focused appropriately.

4) It’s critical to know how to use LinkedIn most effectively.  For example, one of the most underutilized features is LinkedIn’s “Company Search" feature on LinkedIn. It should be used as a way to get your foot in the door, build your network for down the road and reach out to folks a step or two above your desired organizational level.

5) Create a target list of companies that focuses on a variety of types and sizes of companies. The big players are obvious, but small and medium companies offer a lot of career growth opportunities. A Fortune 500 might be a great fit, but a smaller company could give you  the chance to expand your skill set, wear a couple of hats, or prepare you for a career inside a big company.

6) Create a target list of contacts that includes managers, employees, recruiters and executives.  Remember, recruiters do not work for you. Their clients are the companies that retain them. Be certain your background fits the profile of the candidate the recruiter is placing.

7) Expand your LinkedIn network. Add 25-50 new people to your network per month. Use the LinkedIn company search function to connect with the decision makers in your target company list. A minimum of 88% of employers are using LinkedIn exclusively to find candidates (even at the executive level).

8) Attend networking events, conferences and trade shows - 2 per quarter at a minimum.

9) Stay in touch with contacts at least 4 times a year.

10) Stay connected to retained search firms. If unemployed, reach out weekly via email and phone.

These are all things that should be done regardless of employment status. The bottom line is, do not wait until you have concerns to have a plan in place. Always be a step ahead of the game.  If you become unemployed it could be a very costly mistake.

Many of the 2013 projections are looking much more positive than in the last 18-24 months. There will be some industries and geographic areas that are better than others, and now is a great time to commit to your career and career planning. Things don’t often happen randomly. Granted, some folks get lucky in their searches. But maybe that job you took was just a job and not the best opportunity that was out there. How will you know you've made the best career move if you have not really created a search strategy

Imagine the possibilities if you have a strategy and a comprehensive approach to your job search. Follow these 5 steps to a successful search and stay ahead of the game.

1.) Create a high-impact, competitive resume.
2.) Match LinkedIn profile and summary with resume content.
3.) Join LinkedIn Groups. Max out your 50 free groups.
4.) Use LinkedIn company search function as a way to connect directly with decision makers in the companies of interest.
5.) Reach out to recruiters that are a match for your background.

Remember, until steps 1-3 are complete you should not engage in a search. This is the most competitive job market in decades. Have a winning and competitive strategy and make 2013 your best year yet!

Sue Sarkesian/Elaine Basham
Co-Founders, The Resume Group