Posts Tagged ‘resume’

Translate Your Resume: Show How You Make a Difference

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

To all my scientist, engineering and IT people – your resume needs translation! Your CV needs to showcase how your work makes a difference! No longer will just a list of technical qualifications be enough.

If you want to take your passion to the next level, do you know what that next level is?  Is it a technical, management or policy path? Each of these requires a resume that showcases you for that purpose, not just a list of your technical knowledge.

Talk with people in the role you aspire to fill. Find out what their daily grind is like. Ask what they like most about it. Ask what they wish they knew in hindsight as well as any advice.  You can then fill out your resume with your relevant experience for that role.

Link the work you do to the larger goal or mission of your organization.  Briefly answer, “Why was this important?” Tell the problem you were solving and, if necessary why that problem mattered.  Include who benefited from your work. Rather than listing your activities or duties, connect the dots for how your knowledge and work is valuable to the new employer’s projects and initiatives.

In the day-to-day grind, its easy to forget the bigger picture of our work. I was talking with an engineer that designed and built fuel systems.  He didn’t think it was very important. But he had redesigned and worked with a team that built a system for a satellite which now collects climate data that is used by hundreds of organizations around the world.

Every job is created for a reason. Ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t do [fill in your work]?”  Many of us are a lynch pin for projects and can lose sight of our contributions. Describe how what you did and the way you did it accomplished a project or task.

Remember that your resume may be read by three entities – a software system, a layperson to your field (Human Resources) and hiring manager. Use the vocabulary and acronyms that are common to your field, but not just to your current employer.

What may be every1or2deerday work for you, may seem like magic to others!


Update Your References This Month

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Update Your References

A few months ago I posted some tips on the Care and Feeding of Your References and this month here are some more tips to get past your procrastination. May 4-8 is Update your References Week.

References are people that vouch for your work. Your boss is a key person, but not the only one. You work with many people who have valuable perspectives to help in your career.

Collect your references before you need them.  Keep a list of references in the same file as your resume.  It should include the person’s name, current title and contact information.  Write one sentence describing your relationship like this:  [Name] was my [manager, colleague, a vendor, etc.] at [where you knew them if different than their current place or if they are retired]. Don’t embellish, just the facts.

Keep your references up-to-date.  You most likely have references from work you’ve done in the past. Too often we lose track of where they are now – and they lose track of you!  Reach out via your social media of choice to stay in touch. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing and let them know in one sentence what you are now doing and looking to doing next.

Ask for 2-3 testimonials each year from a variety of potential references. You’ll see if you are branding yourself for your next career step. Timing is of the essence – ask just following getting a compliment or hearing that your efforts were appreciated. Tell them that you are gathering testimonials as part of your on-going career portfolio.  All you need is a short 1-2 sentence description of what they thought you did especially well and why it mattered.  It could be your technical prowess or quick responsiveness that enabled them to meet a deadline. This is much more helpful than a vague, “Jim was great to work with.”

Help them write it.  While it seems awkward to write it for them, you can ask them to write about a particular attribute you will need going forward. You can suggest your contribution to a recent project in terms of  your ability to collaborate, lead, influence, analyze and find unique opportunities, cost savings… you get the picture.  If you’ve just received some verbal kudos, rather than ask them to put it in writing, ask if you could draft it and if they would put their name on it.

How many of these four tips can you do this week?



3 Reasons + 5 tips to Update Your Resume

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Here are 3 reasons why September is a good time to update your resumeFall trees:

  1. Its nearly time for your annual performance review and you want to position yourself or a raise.
  2. One of your contacts approaches you with a great job opportunity and needs your resume, now!
  3. You learn that your job is in the re-organization, or you are on the RIF list.

What you should include:

  1. Your accomplishments since your last update: Did you initiate or work on a special project  (both work or volunteer)? Be specific and quantify your results as much as possible. Did you surpass goals? Save time and/or money? Go above and beyond? Who benefited from your efforts?
  2. Awards or recognition you’ve received. Recall both the verbal and e-mail props.
  3.  Gain new skills? List training, conferences you attended or certifications you earned.
  4. Have your career goals shifted?  If your focus changed since your last update, go through your entire resume to be sure everything is strategic and relevant.
  5. Is your contact information up-to-date? Be sure you have a professional email address (not your employee email) and a mobile phone number that only you answer. Check that outgoing message. Is it something you’d want a prospective boss to hear?

Keep you resume or CV up-to-date to be ready for your next turn in your career!


Cash or Cachet?

Friday, August 1st, 2014

You find a great job opportunity but discover the salary is lower than you expected.

Several years ago, I was thrilled when I could tell people I worked for The Washington Post because I no longer had to explain who, where or what they did. Then I moved briefly to a very large organization that will unfortunately always be cited for some of the executives’ egregious business dealings. Now I get to work with rocket scientists and engineers and others that make space exploration and earth’s climate knowledge possible at NASA.

For many organizations, there is a “wow” factor that lasts far beyond the initial on-boarding. Whether this is a name-brand organization, or one that has special significance to you, you have a warm sense of pride when people ask, “Where do you work?”

Would you be proud to tell people what your employer produces? Whether it’s financial services, diapers, or food safety policy, can you take pride in being a part of that business?

There is also the resume-building factor of working for an organization that is held in high esteem. Consider the organization’s reputation: There is the public opinion developed by news and public relations, its financial progress, awards and contributions, stories of what it’s like to work there, leadership, its professional thought leaders and more. Would that be important for your future career opportunities?

So how much is that cachet worth to you?

When weighing all the factors of a job offer – salary, benefits, vacation, type of work, etc., we also consider the career enhancing aspects.  I once turned down a job offer with a 20% hike in salary in a public utility because I would not continue learning my profession as well as if I stayed in my current role in a bank. The extra year I stayed in the current job gave me knowledge and experience I used to this day in my consulting business. That was more valuable to me at that time in my career than working for a high profile company.

If you are faced with an enticing job and employer  but the salary is lower than you want, double-check your expectations.  Your previous salary may not be relevant in this business decision. Make sure you’ve done your homework and know the salary range for this role in your profession, in the industry and in the location as well as your unique expertise and experience. There are several websites that can get your started. Then in your networking conversations, ask people to verify or correct what you think the range is based on your research.

Salary is important both now and in your future as it is the basis for benefits and future increases. But it isn’t the only thing to negotiate. Factor in the intangibles that are important to you such as work-life flexibility arrangements. If you need money now,  such as for a mortgage payment, ask about a signing bonus. Another common strategy is to get agreement to revisit salary in 3-6 months when you’ve proven your stellar value to the organization.  But get it in writing from not only your current boss, but also HR, in case your boss has moved on.

What’s more important to you – a high starting salary or working with a high profile organization for a lower salary that meets your overall career and work-life needs?

Update Your References This Week

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The first week of May is a great time to re-connect with people and enhance your career.  You don’t need to be in a job search at the moment to touch base with key people in your work-life.  A key element of effective career management is that we don’t wait until we’re in job hunt mode to reach out to people. We move around so much its easy to lose touch with people who can speak highly of you and your reputation.

If you are in job search mode, check your list of professional references to make sure you have selected appropriate individuals to maximize your candidacy and that all contacts are up-to-date. This will ensure they will be easy to locate, should you find yourself in need of an employment reference. Be sure you let your references know what type of work you would like to do next.  Let them know the companies or location you are targeting so they can assist with your networking.

Generally this includes former bosses. It also includes former professors, other managers, team members, customers/clients or vendors with whom you had a good work relationship. You know other people who know you and can speak for your good reputation from your community activities.

Check in with them to learn what they are doing and let them know what projects and initiatives are keeping you engaged. Who knows? You might discover there is a new opportunity in your future!


A Crystal Ball – Skills for Now and the Future

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A research report from Apollo Research Institute gives us a crystal ball for looking towards 2020.  “Future Work Skills 2020”

I like the way this report takes the major global trends and matches them with the skills workers need to thrive now and going forward. Its very useful for  the many people needing to re-skill, re-career and generally upgrade their skills to get good jobs.   Its also useful for HR/OD professionals working on reducing the skills gaps in your organizations. It can add richness to your competencies buffet. More than technical skills, these are the abilities to think, analyze, empathize; the willingness to seek different perspectives, use logic meshed with creativity, and use a variety of means to communicate.

There are six categories from the report:

  • Transdisciplinarity: ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.
  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
  • Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings.
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcome

This is not only a great read, but full of food for thought.

Should You Make a Lateral Move?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Its not unusual for us to make horizontal career moves. They may be a good strategy for a variety of reasons, the best of which is to gain knowledge and skills that will lead to your upward goal.  If your company is in a slow growth mode and promotions are stagnant, then a lateral move might better position you for your next promotion.  Kelly Eggers has a good blog on risk and reward considerations for this decision.

A few of my considerations to start with are:

Does it help you reach your ultimate goal? (You do have one, right?)

Does it build your skill and competencies set?  Not only do we need to keep our tech skills up-to-date, but also broaden our biz and industry knowledge.  This contributes to our abilities to use sound judgment and make better decisions that affect not only our careers (company), but our families and communities.

Does it help balance your work/life quality?

Does it make sense on your resume by adding breadth of knowledge and skills, as well as contributing to your accomplishment portfolio?

Will it expand your professional network? Never underestimate the value of the network; it’s not just for job hunting.  We reach out to people with different viewpoints to gain clarity and information in our daily work.

Many people have successfully used lateral moves to re-energize their careers. Some make a geographical (even global) move that has enriched their lives.  So it helps to look at all facets of a lateral option, and not make a snap decision based on the emotion of the moment.

Plan B – 5 things to do if your office temporarily shuts down

Friday, April 1st, 2011

What are you doing as federal employees and all the contractors and others dependent on federal agencies anxiously await Congress to approve a budget?

I hear many are doing nothing at all; business as usual. Some don’t think it really will shut down. Others believe if they don’t plan for it, it won’t happen. And for some, their work isn’t the kind that can be adjusted.

If Leadership is in denial, then you can only plan  for yourself and your own career health. You can use the time for relaxation and rejuvenation. Some will get a few “honey-do’s” done.  But it’s also a prime opportunity to make some in-roads into managing your career.

Be aware (especially Teleworkers) if you find yourself with unplanned time off, you will not be able to use your work computer… for anything. The IT folks will be able to track your footprint.

1) Before you leave, print out your resume to refresh and  update so it’s ready when/if you should need it.

2) Participate a professional meeting that you might not have otherwise been able to attend

3) Take some free webinars or tutorials

4) Set up some coffee dates to maintain and expand your network

5)  GovLoop is encouraging and helping to coordinate a massive volunteering effort

So if there there isn’t a shut-down, stick to Plan A.  But if there is, don’t get caught empty-handed.

I Just Want A Job – Part 3 of 6 – Translation, please

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I have experience and skills – why can’t they see that and just hire me?

Think of yourself as a shoe.  Are you a running shoe, a fashion boot or a rugged sandal?  What size are you? Employers see resumes and candidates and they have to have a way to determine if they are the right “fit” for the organizations.  How often do the shoes you order online fit well if you’ve never worn them before?  Why should an employer pick you off the shelf?  We have to let the employer know why we are the best “fit” for their organization.

The basic need is for us to be able to tell a potential employer why they should hire us.  We need to turn around what we want (“opportunity to use my experience and skills,” salary and benefits, “challenge”) and concentrate on what we can do for them.  Your resume and conversations need to clearly show how your skills, knowledge and experience is a benefit for them.  Don’t make them try to guess.

Organizations, professions and fields have their own internal language for job titles and roles.  We have to translate our accomplishments and expertise into a way that they can easily see what a great asset we will be for them.  Too often opportunities are missed because we weren’t speaking the same language, especially when it comes to job titles and responsibilities. This is a big challenge for folks making military to civilian transitions, private to public sector changes, and across industries. You don’t need to ‘dumb down’ your resume or descriptions, just be ready with examples. There are some helpful websites starting with and Then look at the niche (profession) website job descriptions and begin to match your knowledge and skills with their terms.

If you want them to hire you (buy you) you have to show you are a good fit.

I Just Want a Job! Part 2

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

In this series, I’m tackling some of the  frustrations of job seekers I hear.

“I don’t want to call strangers and ask for a job.”

That’s right. You don’t call strangers. Even effective “cold calling” begins with having something or someone in common with the person you are contacting.  When we hear the name of someone we know and like or respect, it gets our attention in a positive way.  So you’ll get an extra second of someone’s attention if you can say, “Jane Smith, my cousin’s boss, suggested that I contact you.”  They’ll immediately want to know why and perhaps if you’ve actually talked with Jane (which is a darn good idea to get the referral in the first place).

And you don’t ask for a job. Bluntly asking, “Are there any job openings?” puts them in an uncomfortable spot. First, it’s easy for them to say ‘no’ especially if there aren’t any openings in their area.  But they may not be aware of openings in other area of their organizations, or in your field. There is a better way to find out.

Do not email a resume to your friends and say, “Do you know of any jobs?” It’s too easy for them to say “no” or, at best, just forward your resume to the mountain of resumes in HR.

When you have targeted of the type of work you want and your location preferences, its easier to tap people you know with a few easy-to-answer questions. Contact your friends with specific questions that will help you find the people who have hiring authority.   Ask if they know someone who does similar work you do in their company. Ask for a few minutes to ask 2-3 questions about their organization/profession/current issues and to let them know what you offer a potential employer.  Don’t get stuck on out-of-date job titles. Translate what you can do into how it can help the organization.

Translation tips coming up next, in Part 3.