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

April 2024
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Cheers to a Bright, New Decade!
Filed under: General, Job Search, Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 6:44 am

‘Tis the season—of well wishes and good cheer, auld lang syne and happy new year. On the brink of a new decade, consider how many times in our lives we get to experience this. Maybe eight, nine times? Ten, if we’re lucky? One of my dad’s brothers is beginning his 11th decade tomorrow, 12 if you count the one into which he was born (that’s right, he’s 105). Born before the Roaring ‘20s, he has certainly lived throughout a rapidly changing period in our history—from world wars, with the Great Depression sandwiched in the middle, to the cold war and man’s travel to the moon… from the earliest days of the Model T to the smart car… from no phone to ubiquitous Bakelite black phones to iPhones… and from looking things up in a library’s encyclopedia to Googling information on an iPad, there’s probably not been a period of more dynamic change than these last 100 years.

So what’s over the horizon as we welcome 2020? How are innovations rapidly coming our way projected to change our lives and, given my keen focus on career management, our jobs and job searches? Where will artificial intelligence and machine learning exact the greatest influence—for folks currently in the workplace, those edging toward retirement/Act 2 and beyond, our still-landing Gen Z “kids,” and Gen Alpha?

One of the greatest things about being in the careers industry is having brilliant, thoughtful colleagues willing to share and brainstorm strategies that can benefit many of those who seek our help. Every fall, for the past decade, Career Thought Leaders hold Career Jam, an event where some of the greatest thinkers and strategists in the field gather at various locations worldwide and virtually to share their projections, their ideas, and their experiences in helping to shape the now and the next for job seekers.

Career Jam 2019 wrapped up a month ago—and among the hottest topics thought leaders collaborated on were impacts of “the new retirement” (the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers not checking out of the work force at age 62), Gen Z’s contributions, diversity and bias in employment, remote work, and, yes, AI and its far-reaching effects across all facets of the world of work. These were just the tip of the iceberg and, in the months ahead, as CareerThoughtLeaders.com publishes an in-depth white paper of all of this year’s findings, I’ll share actionable tips for capitalizing on these trends in today’s job search.

So my eldest uncle—who takes some measure of pride noting that he has collected his pension from DuPont for many more years in retirement than he worked—would experience a far different employment landscape if he were entering the work force today. As I tell all of my students in an undergraduate financial literacy course I teach, you can’t begin too early to save for your future. Those lovely pensions of our grandparents’ and, possibly, parents’ eras are but a memory. Planning for today and for the future is entirely in our hands. And as we celebrate the close of this decade, let’s all take a cup of kindness to welcome the new year!


About Jan Melnik — The author of Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island, Executive’s Pocket Guide to ROI Resumes and Job Search, and Adventures in The Wooded Glen
(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
teaching as a business and English professor at the University of South
Florida and Bay Path University. I’d love to connect! Visit
JanMelnik.com to learn more. You can also read about my books at
https://www.amazon.com/author/janmelnik. Coming in 2020: Modernize Your Executive Job Search, co-authored with Louise Kursmark.

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Optimize Your LinkedIn Networking
Filed under: Job Search, Networking
Posted by: site admin @ 11:00 am

I recently shared my favorite LinkedIn Tip on LinkedIn (how appropriate), but want to include here for my clients in active job search: Your second-degree connections on LI can make all the difference in your job search. Even those of you with hundreds (and by that, I mean thousands) of first-degree connections often don’t take the time to mine the first-degree connections of your first-degree connections.

The benefit is that if there is anyone among those second-degree connections with whom you’d like to have an introduction, you have a ready referral source who can facilitate the contact. This significantly boosts the likelihood of a favorable response. And it enhances your ability to arrange a “talk shop” conversation. Plus, you grow your base of networking contacts exponentially.

Let’s say you are relatively new to LinkedIn—and you have reached out or accepted 100 invitations to connect. If each of those contacts has 100 first-degree connections, that’s 1,000 possibilities. If each of your 100 connections has just two first-degree contacts with whom you’d love to speak, that’s 200 higher-prospect contacts than you’d have simply doing cold-call outreach.

And if you are a super-user with more than 500 first-degree connections and each of those 500 (for simplicity’s sake) has 100 contacts, that’s 50,000. Whoa—that’s a huge number. And I’ll bet many of these folks top the 100-contacts mark easily.

What’s the best way to optimize this outreach? Start by prioritizing your first-degree connections into three groups. Your A group should include your very best professional contacts (“Great seeing you at the conference. As I mentioned, I’m reinvigorating my job-search campaign and would greatly appreciate an introduction to Sam Adams and anyone else you might recommend.”).

The B tier would still likely provide some good contacts, but perhaps those where your reach-out might require a little reminder (“It doesn’t seem possible that a year has passed since we were both working at ABC before they moved operations to the West Coast. Would love to connect and share search strategies. I’d also appreciate an intro to Sam Adams in your network…”).

Your C contacts would be “lowest likelihood of success” where you’d have to fully reintroduce yourself (“We were both at Cher’s retirement dinner, but didn’t have a chance to chat. I’m reinvigorating my job-search campaign and would greatly appreciate an introduction to Sam Adams in your network…”).

Finally, there are undoubtedly first-degree contacts in your LI network that you don’t know at all—or don’t remember accepting. If they have a great first-degree connection with someone you want to meet, though, go ahead and reach out. Just save this third group of folks for your lowest priority contacts.

In active search, be sure to methodically spend an hour or two a day in this networking effort. I believe you’ll be surprised at what the results may be!


About Jan Melnik — The author of Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island, Executive’s Pocket Guide to ROI Resumes and Job Search, and Adventures in The Wooded Glen (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 teaching as a business and English professor at the University of South Florida and Bay Path University. I’d love to connect! Visit me on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/janmelnik). You can also read about my books at https://www.amazon.com/author/janmelnik.

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How Do You Recharge?
Filed under: General, Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 8:56 am

No matter where you are in your adult life - a new graduate thrilled with the prospect of beginning a career … an early-stage millennial building a portfolio … a rising mid-tier professional … a C-suite executive transforming an organization … a post-retiree exploring return-to-work options in a rewarding Act 2 career - it’s essential to take five (or ten) to recharge and regroup.

One of the best ways to achieve a true fresh perspective is to carve out time for yourself. This can be a five-minute window of time at your desk to simply close your eyes and imagine a scene that is calming (or perhaps hear a tune in your head that always makes you smile). It might be an invigorating swim after work at the local Y where you work out a few times a week. It could be to take a restorative nap on a Saturday afternoon. Or it might be to gather up your closest “personal advisors” (best friends, respected colleagues) and sequester yourselves for a few days of camaraderie, business (or career) planning, and rejuvenation.

This is exactly what I’ve done for the last five years - hosted a professional retreat of colleagues who have (in some instances, over several decades) become some of my dearest and oldest friends - and, in one case, is actually my best friend. What’s the recipe for success?

A little planning, as with so many things in life, goes a long way toward ensuring that you achieve your goals.

* Identify and invite 3-5 people you genuinely like and admire who don’t think exactly like you
* Select a location that is beautiful and appealing (giving consideration to climate)
* Schedule dates far in advance
* Create a structure that is at once focused but flexible
* Complement deep-dive work and discussions with ample breaks (that could include beach walks, workouts, swims)
* Sprinkle in plenty of laughter, song, and downtime
* Add great dining experiences (”at home” and along the waterfront or tucked away in a charming venue)
* Relish the results!

Wrapping up this year’s professional collegial retreat, I am completely rejuvenated and eager to bring fresh job-search strategies to my clients!

About Jan Melnik — The author of Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island, Executive’s Pocket Guide to ROI Resumes and Job Search, and Adventures in The Wooded Glen (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 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, and children’s book, Adventures in The Wooded Glen, at https://www.amazon.com/author/janmelnik.

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Don’t Let the Dog Days of Summer Detract You
Filed under: General, Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 5:52 am

Long overdue ;-) With thanks to a prospective client yesterday (who inquired about my services/availability given my extreme tardiness on this blog), I am jumping on with an update! Over the past few years, I’ve engaged more actively on LinkedIn, both through published articles and posts as well as through individual exchanges with clients and thought leaders. I am busier than ever working collaboratively in a high-touch, one-on-one fashion with many talented professionals and executives across the country (as well as expats in Europe) — and I’d love to help you, too!

Given we are deep in the muggy dog days of August, I thought I’d share this post from my LinkedIn site with you:

Don’t Let the Dog Days of Summer Detract You

… from your job search
… from purposeful networking
… from building a new skill
… from taking time to smell the roses (or taking another walk on the beach)

Yes, you read that last one correctly. If you are immersed in a diligent job search, you’ll find yourself reinvigorated if you take a little time to chill this summer. You may know that the dog days of summer have nothing to do with hot summer dogs (or summer hotdogs?), per se. Rather, the phrase derives from astronomy and the Greek star Sirius. But popular culture for many, many years has adopted the expression to describe that oppressive heat of summer where the humidity penetrates everything.

I often think of the beautifully visual simile about teacakes Harper Lee penned in To Kill a Mockingbird when she wrote of the sultry heat of an Alabama summer day: “Somehow, it was hotter then: A black dog suffered on a summer’s day… Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.” Isn’t that a simply delightful turn of phrase?

So here we are in August. And if you’re like many of my clients, you may be thinking of tabling the whole notion of active networking and searching till after the Labor Day holiday. You may be correct that some recruiters are vacationing for a week or two. Likewise, there are certainly some hiring managers off to cooler climes or Disney mayhem with their families. And perhaps many of the folks you may be tapping for the inside scoop, introductions, and side-door passes are, in fact, away on holiday.

But here’s the secret: Because so many job seekers and bustling networkers think this to be so, many take their feet off the accelerator… creating tremendous opportunity for you to step up your search activities.

Here’s a summer smattering of must-dos to help you boost your success as you double-down on your search efforts:

• Be sure your LinkedIn profile (all of it) is optimized for best results. Pay special attention to:

- Your headline. Make it powerful and descriptive. Make it NOT be what your present title is.

- Your summary. Tell your story. With impact. Make it interesting. And especially make the first 235± characters and spaces pack a real punch and draw the reader in (that’s what’s visible when someone first visits your page).

- Your picture. It must be a professional-looking headshot. Of just you in the frame (not you-with-your-dog, unless you are a vet or groomer… not you-with-significant-other at a wedding or a barbecue or on a boat with a glass of wine… not you-looking-like-you-just-got-arrested—as in a mug shot against a grisly white background with horrible lighting and shadows… you get the idea).

- Your top couple of strategic highlights/contributions for each of your recent roles (in the experience section).

• Customize your LinkedIn URL and include it at the bottom of every email and at the top of every resume. It looks very professional and separates you from the amateurs. It’s easy—go to LinkedIn’s Help Center if you are unsure how to do this from your profile page. Takes literally seconds.

• Remember your manners. You knew it back in grammar school (when’s the last time you heard someone call it that… your Grampa, maybe?). Always thank those who help you—whether it’s a hot job lead, an introduction, a contact name or email, information about a company’s culture, you-name-it. A quick email will suffice—be timely, though, and be sincere.

• Equally important: When a lead or contact pays off (you get a phone call, a meeting, an offer!), be sure to apprise everyone who helped you. Circling back is important. You never know when you might need help again—or perhaps when you can extend help to someone in your network.

• And when it comes to interviews, the importance of an amplified thank-you can’t be stressed enough. Same day is ideal… email is preferred (for immediacy). While a lovely typed note on monarch stationery can be a nice touch, you don’t want to lose valuable days while a decision might be being made on who to bring back for another round of interviews or even extended an offer.

• I speak to job seekers and interviewing candidates a lot—and love the golfing analogy of a mulligan (you can read all the details in a separate article here on LinkedIn that I wrote back in 2015). Briefly, no matter what occurs in an interview (the nervous missteps, the forgot-to-tell-them a key story), your mulligan is your redo (as in a sloppy ball at the first tee that you can retake without penalty). Your thank-you letter after the interview can incorporate everything you mighta-shoulda-coulda said and still can!

So kick those dog days of summer to the curb and refocus your networking and job-seeking efforts. You’ve got about a month till the cooler breezes post-Labor Day settle in. Who knows? Your efforts may very well pay off so that you might be gearing up to start an exciting new gig for the fourth quarter of the year!

About Jan Melnik — The author of Telling Tales: On Merlin’s Island, Executive’s Pocket Guide to ROI Resumes and Job Search, and Adventures in The Wooded Glen (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 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, and children’s book, Adventures in The Wooded Glen, at https://www.amazon.com/author/janmelnik.

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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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