Feature: Look Like a Work in Progress
Most of us try to tie ourselves up into a nice, complete package on our resume. We list all of our degrees and certifications, all of the employers for which we’ve worked, and all of the positions we’ve held. We describe all of our skills, all of our accomplishments, and all of our experience. We include everything we can squeeze onto two sheets of paper because we believe that the more finished we look for any given opening, the stronger our prospects of landing the job. And, when we do, we overlook one of the very best ways to set ourselves apart with a recruiter. What’s that? Looking unfinished.
Today’s world of work is a rapidly changing place. Knowledge is being created and information is being dispersed at the fastest pace in human history. As a consequence, the half life of our professional expertise is now down to 3-5 years in many occupations. In other words, if you graduated from college or earned a technical certification this year, you will be obsolete-a buggy whip or carbon paper-by 2015. And, obsolescence, of course, is the one sure ticket to unemployment.
But, that’s not the only change impacting our career fitness. (For an explanation of my Career Fitness concept, please click here to see the archive of my previous newsletters.) The marketplaces in which our employers compete and the products and services that they sell into those markets are also mutating at an extraordinary pace. Like the crunch of tectonic plates, these shifts are disrupting long established career paths and forming entirely new passages to success.
In such a volatile environment, looking finished can be misperceived. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to document your entire work history. Completeness on your resume is good, but it should not be confused with looking complete as an employment prospect. Describing yourself as done, whether you do so consciously or not, is the fastest way to be done in the workplace.
From the recruiter’s perspective, you look like an ostrich with your head firmly planted in the ground. “Change,” you seem to be saying. “What do I care about change? I am who I am and who I have always been. And, I ain’t budging from that position. It was good enough in the past so it should be just fine for the future.” Given the fierce competition for good jobs these days, that kind of message almost always generates the same, single response from employers. “You’re not the kind of person we want to hire.”
How can you avoid such a misstep? Look like a work in progress on your resume. Use the Education section of your resume to highlight the training programs you are taking, the academic courses in which you’re enrolled, the classes you’re completing-any developmental experience that is adding to your expertise and ability to contribute on-the-job. For example, you might include one (or more) of the following entries:
Of course, to look like a work in progress on paper, you must be unfinished in your career. You must recognize that, in today’s world of work, all of us hold a second job-we are our own personal improvement agent. That’s a synonym for self-helper. The more improvements we make in our own expertise and knowledge, the greater the boost to our own career prospects. Said another way, we help ourselves by constantly refinishing our capabilities in the workplace.
Those improvements can (and should) be pursued in all of the following areas:
Ironically, it is possible to overdo your self development-to spend so much time improving yourself that you forget about or actually undermine the reason for the education in the first place. Yes, of course, the most important goal of self development is personal; it is to add to our own workaday capabilities and thereby enhance the satisfaction and the paycheck we bring home from work each day. A second and not unimportant reason for this development, however, is the contribution it enables us to make on-the-job. We must work at our second job, to be sure, but we must always remember our primary job, as well. What we do there-the performance we deliver to our employer-is also a vital measure of our career fitness and, ultimately, a key determinant of our success.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. June is Random Act of Kindness Month. Do something nice and totally unexpected for a colleague. Tell them about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll remember your kindness in June and every time they read the newsletter in the months that follow.
Section Two: Site News You Can Use
Business and Professional Women/USA released a sobering set of statistics that detail the advancement (or not) of women in the workplace. Take a look at the percentage of women’s wages compared to those of men in the following categories:
Tally this disparity up and the “average” woman loses $500,000 of income that she deserved to earn over the course of her career. How can you avoid such a loss? Don’t rely on female friends and colleagues for guidance when negotiating your salary with a new employer-they are probably experiencing this pay disparity themselves. Instead, check salary surveys at your professional association or trade organization and at such sites as Salary.com to determine the salary norms for those in your field with your level of experience in your industry and location. Then, use that information to negotiate your compensation.
Korn/Ferry International announced the results of a survey of the retirement plans of 2,000 global executives. It found that almost half (44%) expect to work past the age of 64, and 15% expect to work past 70. Most of the respondents acknowledged that this tenure in the workplace was longer than they had planned just three years ago and attributed the change to their realization that their employer’s retirement benefits would be inadequate to sustain the lifestyle they wanted. They also assume that they will be able to implement their work plans without any interference from employers. And, there’s the rub. Age discrimination is on the rise as the Baby Boom generation moves inexorably beyond the 50 year mark. Often times, the discriminatory behavior is camouflaged as a reduction in force, but its real purpose is to replace more expensive senior level talent with cheaper younger talent. What’s the best defense against this kind of activity? Be at the state-of-the-art in your profession, craft or trade. Experience does not trump the latest knowledge in your field, but experience with that knowledge-being wise and well informed-trumps even the cheapest of labor.
TheLadders.com took a look at the state of fatherhood in corporate America. It found … well, a little schizophrenia, at least among the $100K+ respondents to its survey. Representing the ying side of the poll was the majority of men (62%) who said they would put their careers on hold to become stay-at-home dads. On the yang site were the one-third (31%) of the respondents who said they would skip a child’s soccer game to give a speech at a convention. There has been much written about the pressures of juggling family and work, particularly for career women, and, without a doubt, this challenge still looms over the workplace. This survey, however, suggests that these pressures have an impact on career men as well as career women and that any solution-to be truly effective-must be applicable and helpful to both.
Manpower published the latest results of its quarterly survey of 16,000 employers. It found that more organizations plan to hire employees than to lay them off, but that the majority of organizations plan to hold pat. According to the poll, 30% of employers plan to hire in the second quarter of this year, 7% expect to downsize, and 56% plan to make no change at all. While the figures are stronger than a year ago in seven of the ten industries included in the poll, the overall results are similar to the hiring picture back in the less-than-flush times of early 2001. If you’re actively looking for a new job, therefore, you should manage your expectations and those of your spouse and family-your job search may take longer than you expected, and you will probably have to work much harder than you expected for your search to be successful.
The Robotic Industries Association launched a new job board called the Robotics Online Career Center. It is designed to connect employers and recruiters with the association’s members. Membership is open to robotics automation professionals who have experience in sales, manufacturing, design and application engineering and who annually commit to “uphold the highest standards of professional conduct.”
Section Three: Site Profiles
Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?
1. You’re an experienced corporate communications manager looking for a new opportunity. Which of the following sites would provide the information you need to be successful?
2. You can’t get along with your current boss so you’ve decided to look for another job. As a veteran parts inventory manager, you can count on which of the following sites to supply the right kind of opportunities?
3. You’re a seasoned clinical psychologist searching for a staff position with a hospital in your area. Which of the following sites would shrink your prospects of success?
Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories
Post full time jobs: Yes
Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All
Distribution of jobs: National – USA
Number of jobs: 560
Salary levels of jobs: $76-100K/yr
Offer a job agent: No
Resume database: Yes
How long are resumes stored: 12 months
Restrictions on who can post: None
Other services for job seekers: Assessment instruments on-site, Career information, Links to other sites with additional information/resources
Answers to Site Insite
1. All but GreatCommunicators.com, the site of a company that provides training in public speaking.
2. Only NAPM.org, the Web-site of the Institute for Supply Management; PartsPeople.com is the site of an online inventory management company, TalentSupply.com is the site of a talent agency, and SmartParts.com is the site of a paintball supply company.
3. PsychOnline.com, the site of an online mental health clinic.