Monday, January 25, 2010

Proofing Your Resume

The resume that you send out, whether in print or electronically, is the first impression that you will make on a potential employer. For that reason, you want to make a good impression, and that’s one reason that I am trying to get people to manage their brand and present a great “modern resume.”
You definitely need a resume or CV to summarize your efforts and display your brand, but at the same time you need to be sure that you are projecting the image that you want to project.
With that in mind, I would recommend that you have two reviews done of your resume using the following criteria:
  • Use someone in your career field
  • Use someone outside of your career field that is a good writer
Why use two? There’s a couple examples I can give you, mainly from the technology business. I think they’re applicable to all areas, and I would like to hear back from you if you use them.
Someone in your field will understand the language, jargon, and terms being used to describe what you do. They can give you an idea of what image you are presenting of you accomplishments and skills. I saw a resume that listed Windows 2004 awhile back, which is a non-existent product. A non-technical person would not have known that, and I might have missed it on proof myself. However that is a glaring error to someone that is in the field.
Note that someone must be in your specific field, so a database person if you work with databases, a orthopedist if that’s you’re field, or a contract lawyer if you do that work. Using someone that’s a criminal attorney or urologist might not get you the same level of review.
However people that are specialists and talented in their fields often don’t present themselves well to laymen. Who are the laymen I worry about?
I despise human resources as a term, but not as a department, and they often sift through the stacks of resumes (or emails in this age) and reject or accept them. This is with an eye on the job criteria, so they are matching up skills (hence the technical review), but they often make their own decisions, especially as the number of candidates matching the criteria grows.
Having someone that’s a good writer review your resume and help you punch it up to read better, make more sense, flow, can make a difference when you have someone reviewing your work that sees 200 of them a day.
Do yourself a favor, when you open your resume and make a chance, send it to two people that will give you confidential, critical reviews from two points of view.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Should You Achieve All Your Goals?

So many people wrote posts at the end of 2009 analyzing their goals and what they achieved. I did the same thing, and it was a great exercise. It allowed me to look back at what I’d planned on, and see how well I’d done over the year. I’ve known about the power of goals for a long time, ever since I saw the founder of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, speak at a corporate event. It was inspiring, and it’s stuck with me for years.

But should all your goals for the year be achievable?

I would argue that they should not. If you have actually accomplished all of your goals, or exceeded them, you probably did not do a good job of setting the bar high enough. Especially as you look across a year. Your interests will change, you will enjoy some things more than others, and likely you will exceed some goals and not attain others.

That’s OK, and as long as you have made some effort and improved yourself, it was a good exercise. I failed miserably at one of my goals in 2009. It was on my mind, but I kept putting it off, and by November I didn’t have the time, energy, or desire to focus on it. And I didn’t want to half-ass it just to check some box. However I exceeded a few other goals, and that made me feel that it was a successful year in terms of goals overall.

As you set your goals for 2010, and it’s certainly not too late, be sure that you pick some things that will make you work. Things that will stretch you, and things that you want to accomplish in your life. You might not achieve them, and you can analyze that next Christmas, but keep them in mind, and as long as you are moving forward, you’ll be accomplishing something.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goals for 2010

Most people set their New Year resolutions for the new year at this time. We know from history that many people don’t stick to those resolutions, often failing to get in better shape, eat better, or other similar personal changes. I think the average person has bailed on their efforts by Feb 1.

I think some of this is precisely because they’re not goals that are specifically written down and committed to. It’s easy to say you want to make some grand change, but the reality is that you need to focus on one small goal at a time and make a concentrated effort to achieve it.’

Many of the Microsoft MVPs and active, successful community people I know create goals. They list a series of things that they want to accomplish in the new year. Some of them are big goals (publish once a month), and some are small (take a test, attend an event), but they are a list of measurable goals for the new year.

And most of them then look back at the previous year as they’re getting ready. I did my goals for 2009, a series of updates through out the year, and then a final look back. I had written a way to measure my success (or failure), which is something I’d recommend as well. I did all of this before writing goals for 2010, using my thoughts on 2009 to look forward to 2010.

Here’s what I’d suggest, since it’s not too late:

  1. Think of some goals for 2010 that you want to accomplish. They can be big or small
  2. Write them down, along with a way to decide if you’ve succeeded or failed.
  3. Set a quarterly reminder to revisit your goals and see how you are doing.
  4. Analyze how you did between Christmas and New Years next year.
  5. Repeat.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is it a problem if I don’t blog?

I’ve had a few people ask me this question. It’s the new year, many people are making New Year’s resolutions, and in the technical world I know a lot of people have said they’ll start blogging, or blogging more.

Let me say that a lack of a blog is not a negative.

I don’t think it counts against you in an HR search, an employer doesn’t look down on you, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not a good potential employee, just because you don’t blog. From the questions I’ve asked of many people, it doesn’t hurt you to not blog. I know, double negative, but I wanted to make the point.


The power of a blog is that it enhances your reputation. Ultimately you have to impress a potential employer with your work. You have to demonstrate the knowledge in the interview, so why not do a little of it ahead of time? Put some of that knowledge in a blog and show them ahead of time that you’re someone they might want to hire.

A blog makes you stand out, it gets you moving up the Long Tail. That’s what you want, to stand out a bit, to increase the chances that your resume stands out among all the other ones.