Jan's Blog
Be inspired. It's your career. It's your life.

October 2016
« Dec    
Job Search at the Holidays? YES!
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 2:32 pm

I see it already. With fewer than four weeks remaining until Christmas, clients are hitting the brakes on job search, deferring launch of their updated social media sites, and backing away from solid networking and outreach. Why? They are succumbing to an antiquated and incorrect myth that “nothing happens” from Thanksgiving until after the first of the year.

They couldn’t be more misinformed! If anything, now is the perfect time to accelerate a search, double-up on efforts to connect, and, in general, leverage all avenues of social—from the digital to the December Dash, from the Thanksgiving soup kitchen where you volunteer to the Christmas Crafts Fair at your local high school, from your company’s after-work holiday bash to a neighbor’s Hanukkah get-together, and from your civic group’s winter fest party to your community’s trim-a-tree sing-along. From now all the way till the last chords of Auld Lang Syne are sung, those eager to make a career move or land a new job are encouraged to pull out the stops.

Here’s why. First of all, the wheels of commerce don’t stop turning just because the calendar shows six weeks in which there are a few holidays between the end of November and the first of January. People still retire, relocate, are fired, move on. There is still growth within a number of areas and new positions need talent. Not all decisions are put on hold till after January first.

Secondly, because of the long-perpetuated myth about this time of the year being a lousy one for job search, many folks do, in fact, take a break in their job-search activities. What’s in it for you to persevere? Well, there will be far fewer candidates being considered for opportunities (published and in the hidden job market) against whom you’ll compete. It’s much easier to stand out.

And, finally, because of the merriment associated with most aspects of the weeks between Thanksgiving and January first, people are just generally in a great frame of mind, in the holiday spirit of whatever they might be celebrating. Take advantage of all that good will by following up on all of those informal “happy to introduce you to someone at ABC, George” and “Mary, I’d be pleased to make a few calls on your behalf.” You never know where it may lead you come the start of 2016.


About Jan Melnik — The author of “Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island” and Executive’s Pocket Guide to ROI Resumes and Job Search (as well as 6 other career/business start-up books), I have been crafting branded resumes and LinkedIn profiles for executives, rising professionals, and new graduates for many years. In addition to my role as the CMO coach through C-Suite Career Catalysts, I am passionate about coaching and teaching as a business professor at Bay Path University. I’d love to connect! Visit JanMelnik.com to learn more. You can also read about my newly released novel, “Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island,” at https://www.amazon.com/author/janmelnik.

(This article was originally written for LinkedIn Pulse, but I wanted to share it here on my blog as well as at C-SuiteCareerCatalysts.com for readers who may not be using LinkedIn as frequently.)

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Helping Millennials to Launch!
Filed under: General, Job Search, Resume
Posted by: site admin @ 12:21 pm

This past week, I co-presented the closing keynote address at the annual conference of the National Resume Writers’ Association in Charlotte, NC (Louise Kursmark was my co-presenter: We have been talking about career management and resume strategies across our industry and nation for more than 20 years).

While in the beautiful “Queen City” (and having an opportunity to see Vermont granite used at the Panthers’ lovely stadium), I took advantage of my week by spending time with some incredible career advisors on the campus of the University of North Carolina. A vibrant and active Career Services Center, these folks had lots of ideas to share and were equally interested in learning some of the best practices in networking, LinkedIn, and job search for new graduates and interns as they coach students in developing/polishing their resumes.

A few highlights of the take-aways (tips applicable to job seekers at nearly every level!):

• It’s all about differentiating candidacy in a way that can grab attention — in under 6 seconds!

• Articulating value proposition and drawing a match with the needs of the hiring manager = essential.

• Tell the right story — GPA (only those over 3.0 or, sometimes, over 3.5 should be listed … use GPA in major if its more favorable).

• Bridge gaps between interest and experience by showing transferable experiences, content from relevant coursework, and project highlights.

I’ll be providing many additional strategies as I continue research on my next book over the upcoming months (top job search strategies for new graduates and interns).

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW | President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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How’s Your Golf Game?
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 8:06 am

Want to improve your interviewing prowess? Want a real game changer in your job search? It actually doesn’t matter how good or bad your golf game is when it comes to job search. And if you’ve never played golf, that’s okay, too. But I would like to impress on any job seeker the importance of one particular concept from the game of golf: The Mulligan.

How is mulligan defined?

1. a stew made from odds and ends
2. (in informal golf) an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard

Obviously, I’m not talking about stew, of course, but the mulligan folks use in golf at the first tee. Note in the definition of mulligan: “not counted on the scorecard.” That’s the transferable concept to job search and interviewing. How so?

When it comes to job interviews, rare is the individual who doesn’t say in the elevator after leaving an interview, “Why didn’t I tell them about my experience refocusing talent on a faltering project when they asked me about an example of leadership turnaround success?”

Or “how could I have been so foolish as to have gone completely blank when asked [that ridiculous question] ‘if you were a brand of cereal, what would you be’?”

Your secret sauce? The mulligan.

Simply put, it is your thank-you letter (sent same day via email). Seriously. There’s nothing from which you can’t recover in an interview if you properly execute the thank-you letter. This goes way beyond “thanks for the courtesies afforded me during the interview” (ho-hum) and “I enjoyed learning about the expectations for the selected candidate” (equally blah). Yes, of course you’ll want to thank everyone who interviewed you in a professionally courteous way. But before restating the next steps in the candidate selection process (naturally, that’s one of the questions you asked near the conclusion of the interview), use the blank space to recap, reiterate, and recover:

1) Restate your value proposition as it connects to the position, the challenges, the opportunities — and, importantly, the fit.

2) Connect expertise, background, training, and experience to what you learned in the interview wherever relevant.

3) Then segue to the brilliance of the mulligan strategy … this can be one or several paragraphs — each addressing the types of things described earlier.

“When you asked me about how I have handled an irate customer scenario within a high-profile, strategic account, I neglected to share with you a success strategy I put in place that resolved the issue, retained the valued customer relationship, and provided a key learning moment for our CSRs …”

OR: “Thinking further about the challenge you presented hypothetically, I’ve done a little research of what your customers are saying on Twitter and believe I could help influence …”

You can effectively recover from missteps as well as advance new thought leadership following the interview. The important thing to remember? Debrief, capturing every key thought you can (including any cringe-worthy moments) immediately after the interview to use in your thank-you letter.

4) Wrap up with a strong close, express enthusiasm and continued interest, and articulate the next steps in the process (as discussed at the end of the interview).

Warning: Use of this mulligan strategy in job interviewing has been known to give job seekers added confidence and incredible empowerment (and spurred second and third interviews and offers).

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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A New Job for 2015 this Year’s Resolution?
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 7:21 am

If you’re thinking of fine-tuning your career - or perhaps making a quantum change in your 9-to-5, check out some of the ideas in the article “What makes you different” (link below). I was interviewed for this article, which focuses on new graduates. But quite honestly? Most of the tips (tailored to where you are on the career spectrum) are applicable and strategic for job seekers at nearly every level.

It’s all about differentiating yourself - showing why you are the right candidate to hire. A quote from the article: “Probably the biggest ‘problem’ is the difficult challenge of defining one’s value proposition, really being able to pinpoint those differentiators that can make all the difference in branding, and in marketing one’s self as a solution in job search.”

Get ready for something new in 2015 … and read more at:


Wishing you a healthy, happy, and rewarding new year!

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage

Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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L-o-n-g-e-r Interview Cycles
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 2:32 pm

It is of no surprise that companies are weighing carefully their decisions to bring on new hires — cautiously vetting prospective candidates, testing rigorously, and drilling deeply into the backgrounds of those who escalate through the rounds of interviews to finalist. The wrong hiring decision can be agonizing and costly (both in human costs and dollars-and-cents) and create delays and roadblocks for any organization.

In a recent issue of Human Resource Executive, the editor, David Shadovitz, quoted a Glassdoor study that found “the average interviewing process for job candidates increased from 12 days in 2009 to 23 days in 2013.” At the senior-executive and C-suite level, most of my clients are finding this process has extended to several months (minimum) in the majority of cases.

Some strategies for preparing for this marathon instead of a sprint? Pay close attention to the tools-of-the-trade. Each point of contact, every follow-up email, phone call/voicemail, and text message matters. Be sure your points of connectedness are on brand and reflective of your keen attention to detail/professionalism that typifies everything else you do. Don’t let up on the search for a moment — even when you are in play for a coveted position and advancing through all steps in the process, “confident” you’ll be selected. Keep all the momentum going that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. And know (usually) that when your recruiter (or the hiring manager or CEO or board) says, “we’ll get back to you in a week,” it means several weeks… and when the decision is anticipated to be within the month, it’s two months… and when you’re told that “we hope the selected candidate will be on board by… Labor Day,” you can more safely presume Columbus Day.

Have the endurance and patience of a marathon runner: You’ll be all set to cross the finish line!

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW • President, Absolute Advantage • www.janmelnik.com

Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Got Game?
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 7:33 am

In recruitment, that is. While I’m reasonably sure that most of my C-suite clients aren’t delighted with this news (if they’ve even heard about it), late Gen Xers and definitely Gen Yers are likely to embrace this trend. What am I talking about? In the May 2014 issue of Human Resource Executive, the special focus feature spotlighted what’s happening in recruitment with respect to screening and assessment. And here’s what I learned:

Companies are tapping metrics-driven methodology and combining gaming and testing with big-data analytics to *try* to transform the recruiting space. Candidates literally play virtual games that theoretically give prospective employers a more strategic way to measure their fit in the workplace. Examples offered include a California company, Knack, and its “Wasabi Waiter” game: “… takes 10 minutes to play and casts players as waiters in a sushi restaurant. They must manage customers, dole out advice, and serve to the best of their ability. In every Knack game, each decision is recorded and transformed into data by special sensors that enable algorithms to process player behavior. Knack is then able to deliver accurate assessments of traits such as creativity, persistence/diligence and other characteristics hard to discern from a resume, college transcript, or interview.” Shell Oil reported that beta-testing did give an edge to 10 percent of new candidates chosen on the basis of innovative ideas. Another company, Stacked (a restaurant group with 400+ employees), used Knack’s pilot program for testing of both managers and hourly workers and found it to be “95% accurate.”

While HR has always been a ‘people profession,’ there’s no question that companies are recognizing the value of making all processes, including recruitment and hiring, as objective as possible, as fair as possible, and - as HRE notes - taps “the benefits of a more rigorous data approach… [embracing] big data and metrics.”

Careers futurist Gerry Crispin (Career XRoads - and one of my fellow speakers at the 2014 Career Thought Leaders conference in Baltimore a few months ago) is quoted as saying, “I don’t think the recruiting-game concept will work for most of the games and simulations that are bubbling up.” He points out, “Whatever data you collect through games… has to predict something downstream and then that prediction has to be tested. If [this methodology is] saying, ‘I can get you better candidates or employees,’ someone has got to prove that to me - showing me exactly how that collected data found a better employee. That is often what’s missing and without it, it’s just entertainment.”

As with all trends, stay tuned… if you saw Brad Pitt’s turn as the Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane in “Moneyball,” maybe we’ll see more mainstream adoption of analytics and metrics in the candidate recruitment process. Still, I contend: “People hire people” (eventually and at the critical stages of the employment process). And that’s not going to change.

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW … President, Absolute Advantage

Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Reinvent Yourself!
Filed under: Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 12:00 pm

I will admit to being a ‘magazine junkie,’ a ‘periodicals princess,’ a… you get the idea. From the time I consumed my parents’ Time, Saturday Evening Post, Yankee, Reader’s Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens magazines — starting when I was just a kid — I have always loved magazines (and the daily newspaper, in *print* format). My reading taste in periodicals has evolved (somewhat) and while Better Homes & Gardens, Time, and Yankee still come to my mailbox some 40 or more years later, along with half a dozen leisure-reading magazines (More, Real Simple, etc.), I add to the collection my current preferred business selections:

* Fast Company
* Inc.
* Money
* Success

For the most part, I try to allocate my business reading of magazines to one a week and it usually works out just about right. Unless, of course, one slips behind the recliner in my office, as was the case with the November 2013 issue of Darren Hardy’s Success magazine. Discovered just last week, I read anew the publisher’s letter (one of my favorite parts of any magazine — that, along with letters to the editor and the endnote/article). Hardy described five keys to reinventing yourself that I thought had merit — and would for most of my clients. With credits to Success magazine’s publisher/editor, here they are (edited) for your inspiration:

1. Leverage your strengths. We are all born with unique gifts, talents, and advantages. You do things that most people can’t do or can’t do as well as you. Identify these strengths, it’s the first, most important key to reinvention.

2. Identify what exhilarates you. What is your passion? It need not be grandiose, Earth-saving, life-changing, or even revolutionary. What are the subjects, products, markets, people, activities you really enjoy? What do you find interesting and stimulating? What fills you with energy just thinking about it? The answers - surprise! - will usually lead toward a rewarding profession/career.

3. Be willing to step back. To leap into a new field, you may need to take a step back to learn and study. Be willing to be an apprentice for a while. Find someone who has the success you aspire to and seek his or her mentorship and counsel. Be flexible, patient, and teachable. Nothing worthwhile comes without effort and paying the price of tuition.

4. Be wary of the naysayers. Family, friends, and peers have known you as you *have* been. Change frightens most people. To many, it is especially frightening to watch someone else have the courage to radically reinvent themselves and chase their dreams. Why? Because it eliminates their excuse for not doing so. It is much easier to try to talk you out of your reinvention rather than act on theirs.

5. Build your support team. Find models, mentors, and a peer group who share your ambition and will be allies in your new adventure. Indoctrinate yourself with supportive books, magazines (I shared my list here), audio programs, seminars, and conferences as you develop skills, attitudes, and knowledge in your new adventure.

Wait no longer: Reinvent yourself into the person you were always meant to be. Live the life of your grandest vision! It might just align perfectly (hmmm, it *should*) with your job-search plan :) Sounds to me like a solid strategy ;)

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Uptick in Confidence: Executive Search
Filed under: Employment
Posted by: site admin @ 11:36 am

According to an AESC survey for 2014 (conducted by BlueSteps.com with excerpts published in the March 2014 issue of “Career Thought Leaders E-Bridge Newsletter”), executives are displaying greater confidence with respect to job search in 2014.

Here are some interesting stats gleaned from the 500+ executives surveyed (my editorial comments annotate several of the more interesting revelations parenthetically):

* 51% of senior executives worldwide hold a positive outlook for the global executive job market for 2014, an increase of 15% compared to last year.

* 74% of executives are more willing to make a career move this year as compared with 2013.

* 87% of executives plan to look for a new role this year. (I found this statistic quite surprising!)

* 92% of executives in Canada feel positive about the executive job market this year, followed by executives in China (78% positive outlook) and Germany (70% positive outlook).

* 64% of retained search consultants feel positive about the industry for the first 6 months of 2014, compared to 29% at the same time last year and only 35% in July 2013. (That’s a big jump with only positive implications!)

The full Global Executive Outlook report can be reviewed at: http://bit.ly/1cdxrsm

Happy reading - it’s inspiring!

Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Over 50? *Thinking* of Retirement?
Filed under: Employment
Posted by: site admin @ 10:02 am

Then you might find this of particular interest: According to Nationwide Insurance from a recent survey of 800+ working Americans over the age of 50, 26 percent do not expect to ever retire… up from 22 percent in 2012.

Reported in Human Resource Executive (Jan./Feb. 2014 issue), baby boomers are not retiring. They are defining acts two, three, and more–reshaping what “work looks like” in those golden years. What are you planning to do? How can your story be recrafted to tell your *next* story?

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW; President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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One Month Into New Year: How’s that Search Going?
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 7:55 am

Without statistical basis for this, I nonetheless would posit that the three most common new year’s resolutions are:

1) Get fit
2) Lose weight
3) Find a rewarding new position

I’m not a personal trainer, nor am I a nutritionist. But I *am* a job-search coach, so I have lots to say about resolution #3. Finding a ‘new position’ isn’t an overnight, quick-fix process. Rather, for most professionals, it is a methodical, diligent, and time-consuming exercise. Here are some stats that may prove eye-opening. These were presented by a colleague (Diane Hudson Burns) in an article in one of my industry’s monthly newsletters, the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches’ Spotlight, following her attendance at the Recruiting Trends Conference.

♦ 60% of recruiters have open positions they cannot fill with qualified candidates.
♦ 77% of Americans are looking for a new job or at least open to new opportunities.
♦ 40% of job seekers search for jobs during their time at their present work (be careful).
♦ The average job seeker uses 16 different sources of information to search for and apply for one job (job
boards, company websites, Google searches, aggregators, job fairs, various social media platforms, etc.).
♦ Most job seekers will change their resume 40 times applying for one type of job.
♦ Most job seekers search for jobs on Mondays.
♦ LinkedIn has 238 million members worldwide.
♦ Including a picture on your LinkedIn profile makes members 40% more likely to respond to an InMail
♦ There are five generations in the workforce today.
♦ Mobile devices now outnumber PCs, and 70% of job seekers search for jobs on their mobile devices.*
♦ 50% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials by 2018.*

* These last two points were reported by SimplyHired.com

What are the implications for you and your search? Be flexible and nimble in your search - customize and tailor your career collaterals to your audience, network extensively, and be certain you are optimizing your visibility on the web, especially LinkedIn (and, yes, that professional headshot photo is an imperative!).

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Crystal Ball on Social Media Trends for 2014
Filed under: Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 8:11 pm

No matter where you fall on the career spectrum, there is no ignoring social media and its impact on everything from building your brand and leveraging your visibility to garnering interest from recruiters and hiring authorities. Forbes magazine featured in its September “Entrepreneurs” column an article by Jayson DeMers that calls out what we should be anticipating in 2014 (his full article/contact info below). Buckle your seat belts, things are changing rapidly!

Recapped in the Nov. 4 issue of the Career Thought Leaders E-Bridge newsletter, www.careerthoughtleaders.com, here are DeMers picks for what to expect on the social media horizon next year:

1) Social Media: A Necessity (not a luxury)

The needle will move from “should have” to “must have” in 2014. Just as businesses have come to terms with the need to integrate social media efforts with content strategy and branding, so, too, have career strategists and savvy job seekers.

2) Google: A Major Factor

Facebook is #1 with respect to number of active monthly users (1.15B and growing), but Google+ has gained momentum, moving into 2nd place for highest number of monthly users (343M). It is expected that businesses will increasingly turn to Google+ as the closest contender for being a ‘one size fits all’ social network. With skyrocketing growth projected for Google+ (both business and personal use), DeMers recommends checking out Google+’s “How to Breathe Life Into Your Google+ Profile” (you can Google it :).

3) Pictures, Anyone?

Image-centric networks will see huge growth — with ever-growing importance of such sites as Pinterest, Slideshare, Tumblr, Path, and Mobli. These are opportunities to share image and video rather than text-based content. Businesses are paying attention to these portals; job seekers shouldn’t ignore them.

4) Micro-Video

Shorter attention spans and even 140-character tweets/3-minute videos becoming too tedious have led to micro-videos. To the forefront have come Twitter’s Vine and Instagram’s video-sharing feature — new ways to share instantly via Smartphones.

5) Decline of Foursquare

As other more popular social media networks include location-based features, it’s anticipated Foursquare will diminish in usage.

6) MySpace: Reinvigorated!

Many thought this site was dead — but DeMers describes a radical makeover and re-branding leading to a second wind that includes an iPhone app and reemerging popularity, especially among bands and music-lovers. Stay tuned…

7) LinkedIn: Incredibly Important

Of no surprise, LinkedIn will be “a major player for B2B business growth,” according to DeMers. The #1 social networking site for 238M professionals (including job seekers), LI continues to innovate with its influencers program and one of the largest sources of content creation/curation for professionals. The advantages of being connected via LI will continue to grow among B2B marketers, DeMers predicts. Read his full article at: http://onforb.es/1iFEeYR.

From my vantage point as a career coach and resume writer, more and more hiring managers and recruiters are sourcing candidates via LI, *then* reaching out with a contact that includes a request for the resume. Smart job seekers *must* have a strong, optimized, branded LI presence coupled with the ability to provide a cohesive, complementary, differentiating resume.

My take is that no job seeker can be without an integrated, branded strategy reflected in all career collaterals — and the critical three continue to be an accomplishment-rich resume, a targeted marketing cover letter precision-tailored to the opportunity of focus, and a well-branded, keyword-rich, SEO optimized LinkedIn profile. Where do you think 2014 will take us — and how can social media help propel interest in your candidacy?

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage

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Googled Yourself Lately?
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 3:24 pm

We all know we are *supposed* to do that - especially those in job search - because we know every hiring manager, recruiter/headhunter, and even HR professional is doing exactly that. What should you be looking for?

In a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Allison Vaillancourt boiled it down to five key areas that you should pay close attention to:

1) Are you there? A serious question. If nothing comes up when someone searches for you, Ms. Vaillancourt speculates, accurately, “are you too boring and unaccomplished to have any presence on the web?” The remedy? I recommend participation in appropriate forums on LinkedIn; lurk first, get a feel for the right sites where you can add thought leadership and demonstrate your subject matter expertise.

2) On the contrary, is there too much out there - of the wrong variety? Ms. Vaillancourt states that if your social media settings are too open, you may give the appearance of being “reckless or clueless.” The fix? Most of my senior-level execs aren’t even dabbling on Facebook (though a few savvy folks have made connections back to old college friends [could have found them through LinkedIn or even their alumni networks just as easily] and leveraged a job contact); but if you are, play with discretion.

3) What is your online presence saying about your brand? Overdone? Too much “infomercial?” That’s a potential problem, says Ms. Vaillancourt. Understate not overstate, always my motto.

4) Back in high school, did you have to get everyone’s signature in your yearbook, even the ‘kids’ you didn’t hang with? Some folks do the same thing on LinkedIn and Twitter, building to hundreds and thousands of connections that can appear somewhat disingenuous. I concur with Ms. Vaillancourt’s recommendation: “Show a more cohesive community of connections linked by discipline, industry, organization, or geography.”

5) Too visible? Overexposed? As Ms. Vaillancourt asks, are you “sending ranting letters to the editor and random, vitriolic blog entries, on social media all hours of day and night?” Better to scale back and ensure that your digital footprint presents the right impression - something I know all my clients are doing!

– Jan Melnik, MA, MRW, CCM, CPRW … President, Absolute Advantage

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Happy “Labor Day” Weekend!
Filed under: Employment
Posted by: site admin @ 6:48 pm

Summer is in its waning moments - technically about three weeks left. As September arrives tomorrow, I thought I’d share a few little data points from Human Resource Executive: The average American worker left 9.2 unused vacation days in 2012 - up from an average of 6.2 days in 2011*. Consider, also, that 4 out of 5 Americans over the age of 55 are still working - the highest proportion of 55-plus people in the workforce in more than half a century**.

So the simple solution? Those of us over 55 who are in the 80% group of folks “still working” (and happily doing so, by the way!) must simply vacation more - now that’s the way to achieve balance! What do you think?

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW — President, Absolute Advantage

* Hotwire.com
** Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Counter-offers from Employer Perspective
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 1:52 pm

Most savvy folks know that it’s never a good idea to accept a counter-offer from the current employer — once a methodical search and careful decision have resulted in tendering resignation so as to move on to the next chapter. The reasons, of course, include that you’ve now labeled yourself as not only looking but already out the door, dissatisfied in some way that allowed another opportunity to be enticing … and if you were to accept the counter-offer, there’d always be the second-guessing that accompanies it: are they going to worry I’ll still be looking? [yes] … would I be first to be cut in a WFR? [yes] … is my loyalty now going to be questioned? [quite possibly]. But how about from the viewpoint of the employer? Why shouldn’t a counter-offer be extended in the first place?

A study conducted by Communicate Recruitment Solutions (London; published in July/Aug. issue of Human Resource Executive) found what we know to be true: counter-offers are typically nothing more than last-ditch attempts to keep someone within a business. Instead, employers should learn the truth about why someone is resigning when they claim it’s about the compensation (most people don’t leave for more money; generally, they’re unhappy with the organization and/or may have received an offer that simply couldn’t be refused). The CEO of Communicate, James Lock, said, “employers must resist the urge to react impulsively to a star employee’s announcement. When considering a counter-offer, ask yourself whether you would be offering the employee a pay raise … if they hadn’t resigned.” He adds, “Bringing someone with new ideas and different qualities on board can be an exciting prospect, particularly when you can dictate a remuneration package you can afford.”

Have you ever been tempted to accept a generous-sounding counter-offer? Any angst that followed accepting one? Have you been tempted to retain a top employee with a strong counter-offer? All food for thought …

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage

Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Going Anywhere Anytime Soon? Latest Stats on Executive Mobility
Filed under: Job Search, Employment
Posted by: site admin @ 8:24 am

Nearly 33% of executives see more opportunities for senior-level roles than they did 5 years ago. This according to a May 2013 survey by BlueSteps and the Association of Executive Search Consultants. The number of respondents participating was fairly robust: more than 900, with 48% of respondents in the Americas, 37% EMEA, and 15% Asia Pacific.

Some of the more interesting details:

* One-third of senior execs worldwide anticipate transitioning to new industries in the next 3 years
* 67% of those senior execs are willing to change jobs immediately for the right new opportunity
* 44% report that they expect to be at their current career level for 5+ years
* 55% report that they have worked for 2-3 organizations at the executive management level; 34% have worked for 4 or more organizations at the executive level
* 39% report that they have been at their current organization for 2 to 5 years

A bit sobering: 44% report that they have *fewer* opportunities for senior-level positions than they had 5 years ago, while 19% report about the same number of opportunities as they had 5 years ago. Where are you presently? What steps are you taking to demonstrate thought leadership, continue to build your brand and visibility, and ensure optimal positioning if it’s your desire to make a move?

Data extracted from Career Thought Leaders E-bridge Newsletter (#29, Aug. 1, 2013), www.careerthoughtleaders.com, of which I’m an advisory board member.

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage

Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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LinkedIn Matters!
Filed under: General, Networking, Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 12:10 pm

At nearly every forum I’ve been in during the past few months (both professional and personal), someone inevitably talks about social media and asks about LinkedIn.com. Eight or so years ago, people were very concerned that if they had a profile on LI, it would scream, “I’m looking for a job” and there was worry that a present employer would see the posting. Today, fortunately, those concerns should no longer exist. Regardless of field of employment or level, everyone should be on LinkedIn - and with a well-branded, carefully developed profile. Think of it as your own professional website. Some key strategies to consider:

#1) Ignore LI’s “recommendation” that you bring your profile up to 100% completeness “by uploading your resume.” Resist the urge and, instead, capture the scope of each of your positions in one or two concise lines and share a top accomplishment/value-add per position… but don’t put all the content of your resume on LI. You want to cultivate interest and have a reason to bring the discussion off line as quickly as possible with an interested party (”I like what I see here on LI, can you share your resume with me?”).

#2) Spend the lion’s share of your effort in creating a personable, compelling, carefully branded summary section. Let your professional personality shine! Use first-person narrative (UNLIKE a resume).

#3) Ensure you have a great, professional-looking headshot. You should definitely “dress to impress” in your best interview look, paying close attention to your selection of shirt/blouse and suit jacket color to be most flattering. Then be certain the background does not compete (no trees or lamps growing out of the back of your head). And photograph ONLY you in this headshot (not from a party you attended, not holding a child or pet).

#4) Collect recommendations, ideally from previous managers. Depending on field, vendors and clients/customers can also be contacted. Try to avoid peer recommendations.

#5) Do not “worry about” endorsements… they carry nowhere near the weight of the recommendations.

#6) Connect broadly and widely! For your network to be valuable, it needs to be robust (for someone brand-new to LI, I advise a minimum of 125 quality connections: people you know and/or with whom you’ve been solidly connected and introduced).

– Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage

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So, you want to be a writer?
Filed under: Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 12:51 pm

As more than a few clients have asked, “Jan, how is that novel of yours doing?” - I thought I’d share where things stand today.

Actually, I already did that, in a guest blog for a respected writer, Sandi Kahn Shelton. With the NCAA basketball tournament in full gear at the time, that became the theme for my blog.

Quick update: I completed “Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island” some months ago, have spent sporadic time editing, and was encouraged to enter my first work of fiction (seven published books already, but all nonfiction) in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest back in January. To my surprise, I have continued to make each month’s cut… winnowing the pool of possible candidates from 10,000 down to… 100 as of today ;)

If you’re curious, you can visit Amazon for a free download of the excerpt … http://tinyurl.com/c4n5cwn

Here’s the synopsis (pitch) that got me through the first gate back in January:

Telling Tales: On Merlin’s island (Jan LaFountain Melnik)

As she rounded the corner behind the woodpile still buried beneath last night’s snowfall, she could hear Jeff speaking sternly to someone. There was an urgency to his tone and she realized he was on the phone. Her pace slowed and she found herself almost catatonic as she heard, “I told you not to call after 6, ever. I’ll see you tonight.” The perfect world she believed she’d been living in was suddenly a snow globe turned upside down.

* * * * *

At 31, Nicole Ferris Kemper finds her happily-ever-after dissolving when she is betrayed by her husband. She decides to start over by leaving the Boston suburbs and moving with her standard poodle, Molly, to her family’s cottage on Merlin’s Island. An elementary school teacher, Nicole lands a job at one of Maine’s few island schools. There she connects with folks from her childhood summers as well as someone from her grandfather’s past when she discovers letters from the final year of World War II in the attic of what was originally her grandparents’ cottage. Hidden among the many missives her grandfather had written to his mother during the war were letters of a different sort: Love letters from a woman who was not her grandmother.

Unable to resist her penchant for bad boys, Nicole tries to purge the taste of her soured marriage through a series of flings in what would become a carnal journey. She is surprised, though, to find herself attracted to a caring, considerate man—someone unlike the guys to which she was typically drawn. At the same time, she grapples with the death of her overly controlling mother and their unresolved issues all while trying to adjust to living alone and settling into a new job. Sifting through her grandfather’s letters, Nicole becomes mesmerized by a one-sided account of what clearly had been a passionate love. She works to uncover the mystery and in doing so recognizes that lust and love are not mutually exclusive.

Then there’s the book’s description (sort of the why-did-you-decide-to-write-this-novel that got me through another contest hurdle):

Description: A fictional island in the middle of Sebago Lake, Maine, Merlin’s Island is patterned loosely on Frye Island, but with a year-round population and a small K-12 school (similar to several island schools off Maine’s coast).

The story line follows a school year (September–June) and takes place in 2009–2010. A secondary story line alternates between the present day and the final year of World War II, 1945 (90% of the novel is in the present and just 10% is in 1945).

An underlying catalyst for this novel were letters written by my father, a WWII vet, who is now 88 years old. These letters had been saved by his mother/my grandmother and served as a rich source of authentic material for the flashback chapters. Those chapters expand considerably beyond the letters with action/narrative both in the European theatre of WWII as well as ‘back home’ in a rural Vermont village.

With my dad’s permission, I use approximately half a dozen of these colorful letters in the novel (my dad was—and is—a talented and interesting storyteller, writer, and orator), altering only the names of people. While I have nearly 75 letters available, this novel is not a collection of letters; rather, select letters are shared to advance a fictional plot that began 60 years earlier. They provide a historically accurate and vivid backdrop to the stage on which a purely fictional story line develops.

I began work on this novel more than four years ago, with the idea that Nicole’s journey would speak primarily to today’s female audience. However, the elements of erotica in the novel bring a dimension to her character that is relevant and timely given the broad popularity of novels such as the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

And if you’re interested in how the whole contest has unfolded (and what’s at stake), these are the details!


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Job Search: Ready, Set, G–Whoa!!
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 7:15 am

Happy New Year! May 2013 be healthy, prosperous, and bright for you and your families. Now, to the serious matter of job search–whether you are happily employed, unhappily working, or out-on-the-market ready for an exciting engagement, smart job search isn’t a matter of ready, set, go anymore.

Since the first of the year, I have had more than a handful of inquiries that included comments along the lines of “I just need to get a resume ‘thrown together,’ I don’t need a cover letter, and I’m not going to worry about using LinkedIn, that doesn’t work anyway…” These are from accomplished, senior-level folks (both gainfully employed and a few who have been looking for some time). Big mistake. Big. Huge.

Without preaching, suffice it to say that a well-developed, concise, highly targeted, accomplishment-rich, branded resume is the cornerstone of successful career management and job search. An equally well-written, laser-focused cover letter *can* be the portal for introduction when *your* contact passes along your resume to the decision maker (YOUR contact may know exactly what you are proposing/wanting–but will THEIR critical contact inherently know your value proposition? how you can immediately contribute?). And anyone who dismisses the incredible networking power of LinkedIn today in passive or active job search truly is going to miss the boat on so many opportunities for engagement, visibility, thought leadership, and connection.

Whether you’ve just learned you’ll be idled in a week, a month, or the end of Q2… or you are already out there on the market… or you are thinking of exploring new opportunities in 2013, please-please take a few extra weeks to properly build the right tools to advance your candidacy. Resume+letter+LI are the foundational documents in your career toolkit–and they must be exceptional and 100% authentically you to do the job for you!

To your success!

–Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage
Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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It’s beginning to look…
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 7:52 am

a familiar theme this time of year! A blanket of snow yesterday in my part of New England really helps to evoke the spirit of the holidays ahead. And for most job seekers, it seems to signal a relaxation in their search efforts. I’ve heard it all over the years: “No one hires during the holidays” “I can’t reach anyone, so why bother?” “I’ll start up again right after the first of the year.”

While it may be true in some sectors that actual hiring *decisions* won’t be made until after January 1, candidate vetting, selection, interviewing, and preliminary decisions most definitely *are* being made in many organizations and companies at this time of year. It is precisely because of the myth (that Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s is the worst time of year to look for a job) that you should double-up on your search efforts right now!

So many folks buy into the erroneous theories about this being a poor time of year for job search that you’ll find yourself the beneficiary: You’ll likely compete with far fewer people in garnering the attention you desperately seek! Add to this the festive mood that can prevail and you may find folks more willing and available to take your calls. Your quest for informational meetings may be met more positively. And for actual openings you source and for which you become a candidate (always through the side door — a warm introduction wherever possible — use that LinkedIn network to leverage a connection!), you’ll find yourself competing with far fewer candidates these weeks between Thanksgiving and January 1, 2013.

Get out there — and good luck!

Jan Melnik, M.A., MRW, CCM, CPRW | President, Absolute Advantage | www.janmelnik.com

Be inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.

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Back from Hiatus… CCM Renewal
Filed under: Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 8:18 am

After a break from blogging of a few months, I’m happy to report (a) I have finally completed my first novel, “Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island” (stay tuned for details of availability on Amazon.com) and (b) I’ve recently earned renewal of my CCM: Credentialed Career Manager designation. I’m one of a group of just 30 CCMs worldwide.

Individuals who hold the CCM intersect a wide range of the career services industry and include career coaches, career counselors, resume writers, outplacement professionals, college and university career services professionals, military and government career transition specialists, human resources and organizational development professionals, staffing and workforce management professionals, recruiters, executive coaches, and others who work in the careers industry.

To earn the CCM renewal, I submitted a portfolio documenting my professional credentials, more than 30 hours of continuing professional development (this included completion of my Master of Arts degree in May 2011 from Wesleyan University), and a demonstrated commitment to sharing time, talents, knowledge, and expertise through industry leadership, publications, presentations, and pro bono work. I’ve held the CCM for the past decade (renewed every two years). To stay competitive, my clients need to know the latest strategies, trends, and best practices in career management. The CCM credential not only reflects my mastery in these areas, it allows me to ‘give back’ through volunteerism, public speaking, and other avenues.

The Career Thought Leaders Consortium, the credentialing body for this designation, is a think-tank of career industry leaders working collaboratively to support both colleagues and job seekers worldwide by providing expert leadership and innovation throughout all phases of career development, job search/resume writing, long-term career management, and career fulfillment. Founded and directed by industry leader and multi-published author Wendy Enelow, the Career Thought Leaders Consortium is recognized as a catalyst for the now, the new, and the next in careers.

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