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Be inspired. It's your career. It's your life.
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11/09/17
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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08/18/17
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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09/22/15
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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12/31/14
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:

http://www.jobbrander.com/blog/career/what-makes-you-different-jan-melnik

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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08/27/14
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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10/31/13
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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06/24/13
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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01/20/12
It’s Lonely at the Top: New Career Management Resource for C-level Executives
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 10:01 am

C-suite executives can often feel alone and ill-equipped
when it comes to managing their careers. As a Chief X Officer, who can they
trust? Who can help guide them through the myriad challenges in managing
high-profile career transitions? Who can assist them in leveraging the
intricacies of social media while effectively managing digital identities? Who
can help them build the right game plans for managing the next chapter of their
careers? C-level executives no longer need to go it alone: They can turn to the
experts at C-Suite Career Catalysts for support in handling all facets of
career management, job search, and positioning.

 

Combining the executive-coaching talents of five
industry-leading professionals, C-Suite Career Catalysts is a portal for
C-level and rising senior-level executives across all industry sectors (from
CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs to COOs, CMOs/CSOs, and CXOs). Executives will gain access
to expertise unique to their world from a professional who understands their
situation, knows the challenges they face, and who will work individually with
them to build a plan so that they are
fully in control.
From crafting customized documents for executives
(resumes, bios, LinkedIn profiles, one-page executive summaries, cover letters,
addenda) to strategizing game plans, facilitating recruiter contacts, and
providing executive coaching, the C-Suite Career Catalysts deliver the optimal
solutions a C-level executive must have to catapult to the top of their game.

 

The brainchild of CEO coach Deb Dib, the C-Suite site coalesces
the talents of Dib and four other C-suite experts: Kim Batson (CIO coach),
Cindy Kraft (CFO coach), Beverly Harvey (COO coach), and Jan Melnik (CMO
coach). Each coach also works with CXOs. C-level and rising executives are
invited to contact the coach in their specific area of expertise to discuss
confidentially their unique situation and explore appropriate career management
options.

 

These C-suite experts agree that “C-level executives must be
ready the next time a valued contact presents an interesting opportunity or
they are contacted by a headhunter or a board of directors about a high-stakes
interview.” They add that executives must feel confident that their career
documents, database of contacts, and digital identity are all in order if their
current engagement were to suddenly cease or if their position were eliminated.
“Better yet, savvy executives proactively plan for the next move in their
career. If they’re not preparing today, they’ll be scrambling tomorrow… and
that’s not their style.”

 

The C-Suite Career Catalysts are committed to creating value
and building client loyalty that extends well past the first service
engagement. They strive to create long-term partnerships with their clients.
Their mission is to support, empower, and celebrate each client’s unique
success story. They can be contacted individually through www.C-SuiteCareerCatalysts.com.

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

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01/06/12
Job Search at the C-suite and Exec Level: What Works?
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 3:14 pm

In a recent survey of C-suite and senior-level executives by C-Suite Career Catalysts, respondents were asked a wide range of queries related to their experiences in job search.

The methods of job search deemed most effective by C-suite and senior-level executives alike are, of no surprise, networking (between 51-58% of job seekers at this level) and leveraging former relationships (34-53% of those responding). Fourteen percent of senior-level candidates found use of recruiters and using LinkedIn to be equally effective, while just 7% of C-suite execs ranked LinkedIn as very effective. Interestingly, when compared with their senior-exec counterparts, 11% of C-suite executives found working with recruiters to be very effective as a job-search method; 14% of senior-level executives considered working with recruiters to be among their top three most-effective strategies. One revealing finding: more than 52% of C-suite executives found that making direct contact via phone was either “very effective” or “effective” in securing their next gig: 47% of senior-level execs considered this method in the same light.

What isn’t working for candidates at this level in job search? Nearly 95% of C-suite executives describe use of Facebook and Twitter to be ineffective in their job searches. Sixty percent describe mail campaigns to be ineffective as well. Among senior-level executives, 90% of them think Facebook is not going to produce the desired results. The number drops to 85% among this group finding Twitter to be ineffective, while 67% find mail campaigns do not work well.

Other methods of job search given some credit by C-suite executives include nearly 24% finding use of such $100K websites as Execunet, Bluesteps, Ladders, and Netshare to produce results (”very effective” or “effective”); this compares with no senior-level execs experiencing results this strong (50% find it “not effective” and 50% would state only “somewhat effective”).

For more strategies in recruitment and job search at the executive level, please visit other highlights of survey at C-SuiteCareerCatalysts.com.

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

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

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03/21/11
Jan Melnik Re-credentialed MRW!
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 8:25 am

I’m delighted to announce that I have been re-credentialed as a Master Resume Writer - one of just 28 MRWs in the world. I also hold the distinction of having been the second person globally to have earned this credential back in 2004. MRWs must submit to a rigorous re-credentialing process every two years to maintain this distinction, which is considered the industry’s gold standard in career document excellence!

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12/06/10
Uptick in Jobless Rate to 9.8%
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 8:28 am

The Feds reported that the jobless rate increased to 9.8% in November, the highest since April, as the latest data showed employers hiring at a slower pace and the number of long-term unemployed staying about constant. Some speculated that the November numbers didn’t reflect all of the holiday hiring that had been anticipated. Many economists had predicted the addition of nearly 150,000 jobs in November. But the report showed an addition of just 39,000, a sharp decline from the 172,000 jobs created in October. Retailers, factories, construction companies, financial firms, and the government all cut jobs during November.

There were 15.1 million people unemployed in November. Of those, 6.3 million fell in the long-term unemployed category (out of work for 27 weeks or more). Adding those unemployed people to others who are working part-time or underemployed in full-time jobs as well as those who have given up looking for work yields 17% of the labor force in the general category of underemployed (same stat as October).

Another factor reported: There was a record 1.3 million “discouraged” workers in November. These are people not currently looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available to them.

Source: http://fxn.ws/gfmaCS, courtesy CareerManagementAlliance.com “E-Bridge”

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

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

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11/08/10
What Recruiters Seek in Resumes
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 9:10 am

Despite the daunting figures from a recent survey, recruiters insist they try to carefully review most, if not all, of the resumes they receive. What’s the main thing that draws a recruiter’s attention? Proof that they can do the job! (And, for those who work with me and/or attend my programs/talks, you know this means the predictors-of-success you embed in your profile *and* the CAR stories that fill your accomplishment-oriented resume!)

A recent survey of human resources managers by CareerBuilder.com revealed that almost half of them typically review up to 25 applications per job, while spending just 30 to 60 seconds looking over each one. Yet some recruiters contend the number of applications they get is dramatically higher with hundreds of candidates vying for each position. Despite the daunting figures, recruiters insist they try to carefully review most, if not all, of the resumes they receive. Sourcing candidates is a high priority and companies don’t want to overlook a qualified applicant, they say.

What catches the eye of a recruiter varies from position to position, but they’re primarily looking for candidates with a proven track record, says David Anderson, HR manager at Irvine, California-based Vision Solutions Inc. “Candidates must show quantifiable results. ‘How?’ is the answer we want to get to,” says Anderson, who adds that he receives at least 100 resumes for every open position.

Technology tools can help ease the process of reviewing scores of resumes. Brenda Rigney, director of talent acquisition at Aritzia, has set up her Outlook inbox to filter and sort resumes. She receives 100 to 200 applications for each associate-level position for Aritzia, a women’s retail fashion brand based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Anderson says job descriptions should be specific but not overdone. “A lengthy list of requirements can discourage even qualified applicants and extend the application process,” he says.

“Before we even think about sourcing candidates, we sit down with the hiring manager to fill out a detailed job requisition form,” Rigney says. The form requests such information as why the role is needed, desired competencies, and potential future career paths for the successful candidate.

While cover letters may seem unnecessary, recruiters say they still offer relevant insight into the candidate. “Cover letters provide introductions and context,” Accenture’s Campagnino says, adding that he likes a short note demonstrating the candidate’s interest in Accenture.

Once a resume attracts his interest, Mike Spaulding, a corporate recruiter, says he vets candidates online. He checks their Twitter streams and blogs; Rigney looks at candidates’ Tumblr sites, a popular way to post creative portfolios. “Candidates have more opportunities than just their resumes to get in front of recruiters,” Spaulding says.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/37nf2lu and Career Management Alliance weekly digest

– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW - President, Absolute Advantage

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

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04/09/10
Power of Perseverance
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 3:59 pm

Yahoo! My blog has FINALLY been restored! For the past three months, my site’s blog has been ‘frozen,’ and I haven’t been able to access it for any kind of updating. I logged numerous trouble reports and complaints to no avail. So how did it get fixed? I’m not altogether certain, but on Monday of this week, I finally wrote a ‘real’ letter, printed it on actual company letterhead, and mailed it through the U.S. Postal Service to the president/CEO of Hostway (does anyone send real mail anymore?)… moments ago, I received an e-mail advising me that the “problem had been fixed.” Miracle of miracles!

Of course, being without access to the blog for three months was unacceptable - but it’s nice to know when you do go to the top, someone generally *will* listen, take action, and respond.

Thank you!

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

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11/30/09
Career Thought Leaders Launches!
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 8:31 pm

Hello Colleagues!

This past summer, 10 career industry thought leaders joined Executive Director Wendy Enelow at Glen Springs Entrepreneurial Center, her 35-acre farm in southwestern Virginia. The mission? To create a think tank to share innovations, trends, best practices, and other key resources and information in every area of the careers and employment field. It was during that remarkable weekend that the Career Thought Leaders Consortium was born - www.CareerThoughtLeaders.com.

Our Career Thought Leader (CTL) goals are straightforward:

* To create, innovate, and share best practices that work today
* To identify, forecast, and share trends that will work tomorrow
* To share articles, blogs, and other intellectual capital through our library postings
* To establish industry-wide standards for performance across all career-industry disciplines
* To collaborate with our peers on thought leader projects around the globe

At our initial planning meeting, we envisioned a dynamic, content-rich website of best-in-class careers information. And in just a few short weeks, our vision has sprung to life!

As such, I am excited to introduce you to CareerThoughtLeaders.com, where you’ll find a wealth of information:

* Best Practices in 10 distinct areas of career management. Each Best Practice compilation is brought to you by a recognized Thought Leader in that particular field–Jan Melnik on Career Management, Susan Whitcomb on Coaching, Sheila Curran on College/University Career Centers, Beverly Harvey on Job Search, Cindy Kraft on Networking and Niche Marketing, Donna Moniot on Outplacement, Deb Dib on Branding, Louise Kursmark on Resumes and Career Marketing Communications, Chandlee Bryan on Social Media, Elisabeth Sanders-Park on Tough Career Transitions, and Wendy Enelow on the Best Practices in Entrepreneurship!

* Dozens of articles and blog postings from all of the Career Thought Leaders providing insightful advice.

Already rich with 100+ pages of content, CareerThoughtLeaders.com will continue to expand as we add and constantly evolve industry trends, resources, programs, and events.

The Career Thought Leaders Consortium is NOT a professional association or membership organization. It is simply a gathering of like-minded professionals who are passionate about advancing the state of our profession and the success of our colleagues and clients. All Thought Leaders continue to operate our own professional practices and remain “in the trenches” with our clients. As such, our knowledge will continue to evolve–and we’ll be sure to share what we find through CareerThoughtLeaders.com.

Check out the website, use the resources, read the articles, study the best practices, and watch for more information, programs, and events. And let us know what you’re thinking about the state of our industry and the services and information that can best help our clients and colleagues. Also, if you’re interested, be sure to join our LinkedIn Group, open to all career professionals. Just visit the group page on LinkedIn and search for Career Thought Leaders.

Through active collaboration, we all become stronger, better informed, and more capable. Not to mention, we create a community that will benefit us all!

– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage
@janmelnik
on Twitter

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06/10/09
That Slippery Beast: Time Management
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 7:45 am

Just read a well-written and succinct article on the evergreen topic of time management that included three workable strategies. You might find it useful, too: “Three Critical Time Management Techniques You Shouldn’t Forget,” by Ali Hale (http://tiny.cc/VlgrL). The article was on the curiously named site ‘Dumb Little Man Tips for Life,’ which was shared with me by “AndyinNaples” on Twitter (kudos to you, Andy).

For people who don’t have time to read the article (ha!), the takeaways?

1) Schedule the ‘big rocks,’ let the small stuff flow
2) Do the worst task first
3) Don’t overcommit yourself

Sounds easy, right? As always, it’s (consistent) implementation that’s the key… now, take on the day!

– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage
– Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter: JanMelnik

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07/06/08
Working Too Hard?
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 8:41 am

According to CNNmoney.com, "U.S. workers produce an average $63,885 of wealth per person per year, making them the world’s most productive. Longer hours are part of the reason (no surprise, right?). Americans work an average of 1,804 hours a year–compared to 1,564 for the French (viva la France!) and a mere 1,407 for Norwegians."

Norway, anyone?

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

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12/17/07
What\’s Driving You?
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 10:04 am


The following "food-for-thought" derives originally from an article by Susan Whitcomb (Career Masters Alliance) … enjoy, as you ponder the possibilities for 2008:

What’s next on the horizon for your career? Are you looking for greener pastures? It often pays to start by looking in your own back yard! A full-scale job search is a serious undertaking that, when done right, requires a great deal of work and a certain amount of risk. What many fail to recognize is that those greener pastures are often located in their own back yard … with their current employer. In other words, you have the power to create greener pastures by watering your own back yard!

As a career-minded professional, you know how to set goals. You know the "why" behind the goal, and the "how to’s" of execution. Have you considered the "why’s" and "how to’s" of winning an internal promotion? When it comes to getting promoted, there’s a tendency to focus on the how to’s. Some of those how to’s include deepening trust with key players in the organization, managing internal politics, proposing ideas and strategies that will boost net profit, and living out a clear value proposition 24/7.

It’s also important to understand the "why" behind your drive to be promoted. When you’re clear on why you want something and what it will mean to your life, you’ll have more focus and energy to go after it. It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of business and forget why you’re working. In general, the why’s for wanting a promotion typically point to three primal motivations:

1. Money: The desire for financial reward is a serious motivator for many, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A healthy desire for personal financial reward often goes hand-in-hand with an ability to make money for your company, and that’s a good thing. Profit keeps the company in business and you paid well. When it comes to your salary, however, just be sure to have answers to questions such as, "how much is enough" and "what do I expect my dream salary to do for me." A handsome salary will afford you the luxury of the latest toys and a lifestyle of ease, but it won’t reduce stress or improve your relationships with friends or family members.

Tip: When discussing a raise, leave any personal financial woes out of the picture. Your boss doesn’t care that you’ve got to pay off student loans for that new Executive MBA you just finished, or that your kid has chosen to go to an expensive college, or that you have alimony payments to make, or that you need to help pay for an aging parent’s move into assisted living! Salary negotiations must always be based on the value you provide to the company, not your financial needs.

2. Ego: Many people have a healthy, well-balanced sense of confidence and self-esteem, including a desire to be recognized for their contributions. At the far end of the spectrum, however, are those who lean toward egoism, with an excessive concern about themselves and an overzealous desire to impress others—their primary motivation for making decisions is whether other people will think favorably about them.

Chris, a senior executive for a major pharmaceutical company, has made hundreds of hiring and promotion decisions over the years. He offered an interesting insight on this topic: "When it comes to wanting a promotion, I see ego, and not money, as the primary push for most people. Salary increases are often minimal with internal promotions. The prestige of the title means more to them than the paycheck." A survey by JobFox, reported in a recent SHRM newsletter, reveals that advancement opportunities top the list of what candidates most often seek. The complete results are listed here:

  • An opportunity to advance, cited by 55 percent.
  • More leadership responsibility, 41 percent.
  • Work/life balance, 38 percent.
  • Leadership that is respected and admired, 36 percent.
  • A sense of accomplishment, 36 percent.
  • A higher salary, 28 percent.
  • 401(k) matching, 28 percent.
  • A flexible schedule, 27 percent.
  • A collaborative environment, 22 percent.
  • Performance bonuses, 20 percent.

As with the first motivator listed earlier (money), a healthy sense of ego isn’t a bad thing. It will serve you best when balanced with a commitment to growing your career and contributing value, which brings us to motivator number three.

3. Itch: Itch is the desire to be more, learn more, and do more. It’s the urge to stretch and grow … the hunger to create something new … the drive to contribute more significantly or leave a bigger mark on your corner of the world. Motivator #3, the itch, is the motivator that the "powers that be" will be most impressed with. Why? Because it answers your CEO’s or manager’s critical question of "what’s in it for me." The "itch" shows that you’re interested in the company’s overall success and not just your own. This builds trust and will go far with your team. It tells them that you’re going to make decisions and act in a manner that will be best for the company.

There will be plenty of obstacles on the road to promotion—politics to navigate, misperceptions of you that will need to turned around, pundits to be persuaded. The higher your drive for itch, the more momentum you will have to overcome any roadblocks to promotion.

Tip: Employers have good reason to put people into roles that satisfy their itch! The Gallup organization, in a survey on the impact of employee attitudes on business outcomes, noted that organizations where employees have above-average attitudes toward their work had 38% higher customer satisfaction scores, 22% higher productivity, and 27% higher profits.

So what’s driving you? Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not at all true for me and 10 being very true for me) for each item—money, ego, itch. Did you score higher in money and/or ego than you did in the itch category? If so, what would it take for you to make a shift, where the focus is less on you and more on the company? Your boss is far more likely to grant you greater power when you’re itching to make a contribution!

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

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09/29/07
College Admissions
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 10:18 am

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my newest book, "One-Hour College Application Essay" (JIST, Indianapolis). I’m tempted to say birth as this really was a labor of love. The timing echoed the experience of my twins in their college application endeavors, so there were a number of similarities.

Two of the very best things about researching this book were the relationships I developed with some exceptional admissions deans at schools around the country — and the chance to "meet" some talented college underclassmen, so generous in sharing their stories. Perhaps most exciting of all is the fact that my youngest son (now a high school senior) gets to mine all the incredible information these experts provided as he tackles the college admissions process.

Incidentally — it is NOT possible, nor even recommended, to try to write a complete college application essay in just one hour. But what I do impart is a method for developing a concrete draft, which is the foundation of a solid essay. The technique is as ideal for procrastinating students as it is for those who just don’t know where to begin!

One-Hour College Application Essay 

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

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04/24/07
Close Your Interviews with Impact
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 7:10 am

Part of preparing to interview effectively includes developing three or four exceptional questions for the conclusion of the interview based on your research. It is perfectly acceptable to jot these down at the top of a legal pad in the portfolio you bring to the interview. Obviously (but you’d be surprised the number of times I hear from hiring authorities how often this advice is disregarded), pay attention throughout the interview—you may already have gotten answers to some of the questions you’ve crafted; to ask them again near the close of the interview is a sure nail in the coffin of your candidacy.

As the interview begins to wrap up, you’ll undoubtedly be asked if you have any additional questions. Should the interviewer announce the conclusion of the interview by standing up without this question, you most certainly want to take control by quickly interjecting something along the lines of, “Before we wrap up, Dana, I did have a few additional questions.” Then segue into your best-of-best, previously researched questions.

Consider including the following as additional questions for the very end of the company-specific queries you’ve previously formulated from your due diligence: • How does my candidacy stack up against your expectations and the competition? • What would you expect me to be doing to earn a rave of “excellent job” 90 days into the position? • Or, worded another way: How will you measure my success in this role 90 days, 180 days, and one year from now? • Are there any questions you may still have that keep you from knowing I’m absolutely the most qualified candidate for this opportunity? • What are the next steps in the interview process? Who should I anticipate meeting with next? • When do you expect to make a decision?

Whether it’s your first interview with this company for a coveted position—or the fourth: Remember to immediately prepare and send formal thanks for the interview opportunity to everyone who spent time with you. Go beyond the courtesy thanks to reflect on several key points from each exchange. Use the thank you as a platform for strengthening any replies you felt were weak. Likewise, use the note to bring forward additional information you may have overlooked (but, of course, remembered in the elevator after the interview). Asking strong closing questions helps to cement your candidacy in the mind of the interviewer. When interspersed among several very specific questions you’ve carefully researched, this will also create a positive, lasting impression.

Finally, as mom would say, remember your manners, thank the interviewer, reiterate (with enthusiasm) your interest about coming on board, and offer a big smile with that handshake.

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

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10/23/06
What Makes Entrepreneurs Tick?
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 5:43 am

In this week’s E-Bridge, the newsletter of Career Masters Institute (www.cminstitute.com), members were provided with results of a fascinating survey by Northeastern University’s School of Technological Entrepreneurship of 200+ U.S.-based entrepreneurs. The majority (62%) of entrepreneurs surveyed state their number one motivator in beginning their own businesses was innate drive. Here are some other interesting stats:

• One percent identified “higher education” as the primary motivator for starting a business

• Other motivators given were work experience and the success of entrepreneurial peers within the industry

The survey also provides a profile of the characteristics common to today’s entrepreneurs:

• Most claimed they do not have a family member who is an entrepreneur

• 37% identify family members as the biggest inspiration in their lives

• Many launched their first venture in childhood, through a lemonade stand or paper route (sound familiar?)

• 88% of today’s entrepreneurs consider themselves to be risk takers

• 44% of entrepreneurs claim they are somewhat cautious when faced with major decisions

Source: Business Examiner Daily, Puget Sound , WA - October 20, 2006 … as compiled by Kathy Bitschenauer of New Pathways Career Coaching for Career Masters Institute.

- Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage … Don’t forget to check out http://careerhub.typepad.com for the best in career search advice from the career industry’s top experts and http://careers.beyond.com for valuable career management expertise

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