Monday, May 24, 2010

College Graduation

My godchild Kelly graduated from Marist College on Saturday. We sat on the lawn overlooking the Hudson River, a beautiful setting for learning and preparing for the future. At the end of the commencement, Kelly’s future became her present as she and thousands of other college grads across the country crossed that invisible line from student to adult. As so begins the career journeys that they spent the past four years preparing for.

I wrote her resume, and I am convinced that she will be among the very best Special Education teachers any school has turned out. I attribute that not only to the excellent academic standards of Marist College but also, and perhaps more importantly, to her parents, Tom and Cindy, who were her first teachers.

So what advice could I give as her godmother who happens to also be a career specialist? What profound message can I share that she will remember? Kelly graduated summa cum laude, with distinction, and a 3.97 GPA. She worked hard, applied herself, and made the sacrifices that accompany success. She already knows the success formula. What wisdom can I share that's different from the standard “follow your dreams” thing?

Here's what I learned from the mentors who crossed my path along the way:

To make a difference you have to be different.
Opportunity knocks; it doesn’t bang your door down.
Be kind.
Always be on time.
Never step on anyone as you climb the ladder of success.
Praise in public; reprimand in private.
Play the hand you’re dealt.

And finally, some words from Edith Wharton:
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Shine on, Kelly!
Love, Aunt Cheryl

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Long Island Career Fair

Sending a shout-out to those readers whom I met at yesterday’s Long Island Career Fair at the Melville Marriott. Thank you for emailing to let me know you appreciated the resume reviews and learned new and valuable things about resume writing, job search, and the importance of positioning yourself for the job you want next.

A few follow-up thoughts about resumes:

Write to the future: Your work history is just that – history. It tells your reader where you’ve worked, for whom you worked, and in what capacity. Potential employers like to see where you got your experience and how long you’ve spent learning your craft. Those are the basics. Now take that history and tell your story by writing accomplishment driven bullets that tell the reader what talents you brought to the task and how your skills distinguish you from everyone else out there doing the same kind of work.

Tell your story. Show the results you achieved. This is your opportunity to show your stuff; the stuff that makes you an attractive candidate to future employers. My blog post entitled Branding - Why It's Important (June 2009) shows this concept in action.

Here’s a bullet from the original resume a client sent me:
• Managed Portfolio of High Net Worth Clients.

One bullet with seven words that don’t tell the reader a whole lot about you. We don’t know how large the portfolio is, is it -- $100K, $500K, $5M? We don't know what products the portfolio contains, so we can’t know the scope of this person’s knowledge or skill. After interviewing the client and asking lots of questions to get to the information I needed, here’s what I wrote:

• Grew client portfolio from $50 million to $110 million selling deposit, credit, and investment products to the affluent market. Received award for building strong partnerships with clients and colleagues and for performing in the top 20% of the region.

So, what’s your story? Can your reader “see” who you are and what talents you bring with you?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Words for 2010

Words are powerful!
I earn my living with words and absolutlely love them!

Came across these "P" words in an article, a website, or in an email -- can't remember where exactly, but they struck a chord with me. I figure there must be a reason they keep surfacing in my mind. I've decided to adopt them as my mantra for 2010:
Pray -- for guidance and direction
Prepare -- tenaciously and purposefully
Proceed -- with confidence

What are your three words for 2010?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It’s Party Time!

Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza: You can’t turn on your electronics without someone inviting you to spend your money. Everyone is gearing up for the holidays, albeit in a more reserved way. Despite the economy and high unemployment numbers, Americans will put on a happy face and smile through the celebratory gatherings and office holiday parties.

Attending an office party may be the very last thing you feel like doing. Not too much to celebrate these days, but I say — go! First of all, it’s an opportunity to get in front of people who are — dare I say it — working! And guess who the first people will be to hear about employment opportunities within their organizations? Yup, you guessed it. Secondly, people will ask you what you do and you will have an opportunity to tell them. Is your pitch ready? Is it current? Do you like how it sounds?

For those who are working but “looking” or “open to hearing what’s out there,” (which includes just about everyone) it’s a chance to connect with folks in similar jobs or jobs that have a high level of transition opportunity for you to move into. Get out there. This is networking folks!

The holidays are a great time to job search. Hiring managers and senior executives trim their travel schedules big-time in December. Everyone wants to stay close to home this month. Connecting with co-workers, former co-workers, relatives, and friends to celebrate the season is networking at its best. Don’t be among those who say “Yup, I’m going to start things off right in 2010.” “I’m going to really get serious about making a change once the holidays are behind us.” Remember, those who network in December are among those who get hired in January. So get out your tie with the Santas on it and dig up those earrings with the little bells and get ready to PAR-TEE!
(If the pitch needs a little polish — call me!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You Know Someone

Here’s why the President is speaking Thursday:
Tune in to the Job Summit on December 3 to hear what he has to say. Call your friends -- tell them to watch. It's important.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Learning From Life

A friend called this week to tell me she got laid off. Her tone, her words, all told me that she was among the newly wounded; still looking in the rear view mirror of job loss. "Maybe if I had started that new project", "made the boss shine more", "stayed later every day" . . . a difficult place to be.

At one time or another I think we’ve all said: “You don’t understand.” “You don’t know what it’s like to have this happen to you.” Truth be told though, whether it’s a job loss, a family loss, a lost opportunity, the loss of a friendship, a lost puppy or lost luggage, we can’t get too far in life without experiencing loss.

Loss always teaches us something though, there’s always that “take-away.” Something the mind stores away. . for next time. Here’s what I’ve learned about loss: I learned that it’s really not about loss — it’s about life. Anyone out there that’s never experienced loss, please step forward.

Life is all about preparing for loss, isn’t it? It's the reason we have Wills, life insurance, car insurance and life jackets. It’s why I talk with clients about having a “Plan B” for their careers even though I can see that even the thought of a "Plan B" makes the hair stand up on the back of their necks. Just like having a will and insurance — you’re going to need it — one day.
By the way--do you wear a seat belt when you drive? Just wondering.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Continuous Learning

I just returned from Orlando, FL where I attended the Career Empowerment Summit hosted by Career Directors International of which I am a proud member. The conference was like a "immersion” course for professional coaches and resume writers. Smart people talking about the most important issues of the day in the career business. Topics like: where the jobs are, new trends in social networking, managing your on-line identity, writing outstanding LinkedIn profiles, and new trends in employment compensation.

I listened, took copious notes, networked, made new friends, and added to my own professional growth as a writer and coach. I don’t think there’s a topic related to jobs, careers, or resumes that I couldn’t have an answer for or expert I couldn’t reach out to or refer a client to in 15 minutes!

Today’s take-away: Research the professional associations for your industry, join them, and most importantly, attend the meetings and conferences. Talk about ROI – this will be one of the best investments you could make in your career and professional development!