Here’s a fun way to keep your resume alive and your career mojo moving.
Late last year, I noticed people making “good things” jars. The idea is simple, write down the good things that happen to you throughout the year, decorate a jar (I am sure a vase will do in a pinch), and collect the stories.
So I decided to make one but instead of happenstance, happy moments that magically occur, I decided to record and collect career accomplishments and skills that I build throughout 2017.
It’s my “Accomplishments” jar and at the end of the year, it will be filled with career milestones, new skills that have been developed, and personal and professional achievements.
The lack of any of the above will provide me with insight on areas that need to be worked on.
I tell people that resumes are living, breathing documents that need to be visited on a regular basis. This statement is not new, but very few people are revising and updating their resumes on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis unless they are actively searching for new opportunities.
A few recommendations for maximizing the usefulness of your “Accomplishments” jar.
- Prominently place your accomplishment container
Put your jar in a space that is visible to not only you but to visitors to your home and office. It is a great way to start conversations with others about your goals. They may have opportunities or advice that can help you fill your jar with a few more accomplishments.
- Think about your language
We work hard to achieve and grow as professionals. Make sure every accomplishment you drop in the jar acknowledges your effort. No one gives us anything. We earn what we get and if you can not comfortably say that, there may be some things to rethink.
- It is not just a good idea or decoration
This fancy little jar provides a nice, sort of fun, way to track your career development on a regular basis. Just think of it as a creative way to keep that resume up to date.
- Separate accomplishments from skills
Be creative when documenting your growth throughout this year. Perhaps you can distinguish achievements from newly developed skills by using various paper colors. Making a distinction will provide an easy visual of where you are making progress and where gaps may be forming.
It is important to celebrate, document, and assess your career development. Doing all three while mixing in a creative, craft project is a win-win. Let the collecting begin!
Finally the ultimate no-no. If there was ever a career habit to break, it is this one.
5. Seeking jobs instead of building a career path
Kudos to you for firing off resumes one right after another. Have you stopped to think about what it is you actually want to do?
I know; you want to earn a check so that you can eat. Got it, please know that I do not think that it is a bad goal.
With all due respect to eating, however, be strategic about the positions you are applying for. Are they in your field of choice? Will they help you build a skill set that will serve you in the long run? Will the position help you make connections that will assist you in moving to the next level? Do you have a career path in mind or are you diving in head first and deciding to think about it later? Please don’t let the answer to that question be “yes”.
Think about this way, you typically decide where you are trying to go before you start your car. My car will not even allow me to set my navigation system when the car is in motion.
If my car is smart enough to know that there should be a plan for how we are getting to our destination before we take off, shouldn’t you be that smart? I know you are as savvy as my Hyundai.
Do some goal setting and develop at least a one to two-year plan and make sure that the positions you are applying for support your goals.
This is not a habit you need to break because it is out of date or simply annoying; proceeding with an unfocused job search is a waste of time. Successfully getting hired for a series of jobs does not build a career path.
Remember telephone books? When was the last time you used one? Today we all Google what we need and companies that can not easily be found in these search results typically don’t get as much patronage.
The same principle applies to you. It is important to have an appropriate, online presence.
4. Having no professional, digital presence
I reconnected with a former co-worker a couple of weeks ago and he said that he was not on Facebook. I immediately thought he was lying and probably trying to hide something.
I know that there really are people who don’t use social media but it’s weird. Many employers search for applicants online and having no digital presence can be just as harmful as having inappropriate search results.
Just to clarify, I am encouraging you to develop a professional digital presence. There are some simple ways to start:
- Sign up for LinkedIn
- Update the LinkedIn account you signed up for years ago
- Start a blog about issues pertaining to your area of expertise
Taking one of these suggestions provides another method of defining yourself as a professional. You can discuss accomplishments, demonstrate knowledge, and of course grow your network online.
Remember colored toilet tissue? It was odd, unnecessary, and probably a health risk. While including “references available upon request” may not cause a tumor, the other two adjectives fit. Much like that colored toilet paper, we have another customary resume declaration to leave in the past.
2. Adding “References Available Upon Request”
This habit is probably the most maddening. I want to shake clients who use it and automatically toss resumes that include it. It is a space waster and a simply ridiculous statement.
As a hiring manager, I realize that if I ask you for references you will give them to me. I would love to once, run into a candidate who says “no, I will not give you references”. It would make for a great story and make me wrong about this useless statement.
Instead of taking the time to append this awkward statement to the bottom of your resume, put your energy toward:
- Reaching out to your references and letting them know that you are searching for a new role.
- Asking new contacts if you can use them as a reference
- Making sure you have correct and up to date contact information for them
- Sharing job descriptions with them in order to make their reference targeted and informed
- Asking them to write LinkedIn recommendations for you (those carry more weight than the canned endorsements that LinkedIn prompts from members of your networks)
Please, avoid the ire of hiring managers by removing this anti-climactic statement from the bottom of your resume. It serves no purpose and sticks out the same way a roll of blue toilet tissue sticks out in a modern twenty-first-century bathroom.
We are officially 23 days into the new year and most of you have scrapped or at least modified your resolutions for the year. It’s okay, we can resolve to leave resolutions in 2016 and turn our attention to making changes that can actually help you move your career forward.
Every day this week, I will provide one common, career related mistake that you can definitely leave in the past.
1. Including an objective statement on your resume
Please believe me when I say everyone is over objective statements. Very few give insight on who you are as a professional, they take up space on your resume, and are a complete and total insult to people reviewing your resume.
Do you really need to use space on your resume to say that your goal is to get a job with the company? Submitting your resume makes that clear.
Instead of including an objective statement, put your energy into:
- Crafting accomplishment statements for roles that you have held in the past. Focus on telling the hiring manager what you have accomplished, not just what was prescribed by a job description.
- Highlighting skills specific to your industry. Do some research and make sure the language you use to describe your skills and experience is up to date and relevant.
- Writing a cover letter that explains your skill set, accomplishments, and of course why you will be a “value add” to the company and department.
In 2017, quit it with the objective statements. If your objective is to get hired, they do not help!
Don’t let the #holiday season put the bah humbug in your #career progression. Use the cheer that the holiday season brings to infuse your efforts with life! #jobsearch
Whether you are preparing for, enjoying, or recovering from the holidays, it is safe to say that your career goals will not be top of the mind for the next few weeks. Believe it or not, it is fairly simple to leverage the holidays to help with your career progression.
Tip 3: Break the ice with a little holiday chit chat
Use the holiday season as an icebreaker during interviews or networking opportunities. Despite religious affiliation or background, the holidays bring about some very common experiences that allow us to make small talk with strangers.
No matter how uncomfortable the situation (i.e. awkward networking event or job interview) almost everyone can participate in chit-chat crowded stores, their love or hate of the prominent smells of nutmeg and cinnamon, and of course feelings of excitement and anxiety about spending time with family.
Whether it is the commercial aspect or the spirit of the season, there are common experiences that help us connect to one another. Leverage this time of year to expand and re-engage your network by easing some of the pressure you feel about networking. If you missed any of my previous tips, check them out here: https://takeishascareeradvice.wordpress.com/.
Tip 2: Ask Santa for help for with your career
There is still time to respond to the question “what do you want for Christmas” with a request for career-related items. Whether it is clothing, technology, software, or simply business cards Santa has room in his bag for a variety of gifts. Instead of receiving that countertop growing garden, ask someone to gift you an annual membership to a professional association. Decline the chia pet and request 100 business cards.
While everything goes on sale during this time of year, people are also more giving of their time. Our friends and family have talents that can be very beneficial to our career progression. A novel idea would be to ask a friend to design your logo or give you one or two lessons in a particular software that they have mastered instead of buying you an actual gift.
This approach is a great way to keep your career goals at the forefront during the holiday season while making sure that your network knows what you are working on.
If you missed tip one posted earlier, check it out here: http://bit.ly/2gYTyXX.