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

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

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

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

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

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

To your success!

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

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

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

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

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

Get out there — and good luck!

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

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

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Optimizing LinkedIn’s Features
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 5:44 am

It seems that the topic of virtually every speaking gig I’ve been tapped for lately has centered around the use of social media in job search–and LinkedIn, specifically. For the past six months or so, I’ve been straddling that fence and now about to jump fully into saying that a robust and branded, fully developed LI presence is just as important as an exceptional resume to successful job search.

Four, three, even as recently as two years ago, perhaps only 50% of my clients would accept my recommendation that we create a full LinkedIn profile while building a resume and other collaterals. Now? It’s nearly 100%–and certainly that level among those in the C-suite and senior-level executives in all disciplines. Most are over the stigma that a presence will label them as job-seeking or, worse (from their perspective only), out of work. People recognize the value this tool brings to networking and remember that it is just that, a tool to support effective ways of reaching out and maintaining connections (and, yes, job search).

If we accept, then, as a given that a LinkedIn presence is essential, what’s the next step? In coaching sessions, I’m frequently met with (virtual) blank stares. Without further prodding, many of my clients seem content to remain passive–”Okay, my LI is ‘up’ with well-developed, branded content consistent with my messaging, I’ve reached out to colleagues, clients, vendors, former managers, etc., and built a respectable group of connections, and I’ve even uploaded a recent professionally done headshot.” And that’s it (they think). While it is true that in ever-increasing numbers executive recruiters are trolling LI looking for talent and may/do reach out, those engaged in otherwise active job search are leaving a huge stone unturned by not using the valuable features LI provides.

When I point out the tabs-at-the-top of LinkedIn, I’m consistently surprised by the number of execs expressing surprise: they’ve not spent any time or even thought to ‘hit any of those buttons.’ The three I’ll spend the most time coaching on in a one-on-one LI training session: Groups, Jobs, and Companies. The biggest takeaway I impart is how to find and use the connections-in-common with each category of interest.

For this blog posting, I’ll focus on Groups (and handle the others in a separate article). For instance, if I’m working with a CMO whose industry background has been aerospace and defense, I’ll encourage her to use the search feature in Groups to identify possible organizations to ‘join.’ I stress the need to be discriminating. While LI (today, anyway) allows up to 50 ‘memberships,’ it’s impossible to monitor, actively contribute to, and demonstrate thought leadership on that many forums. Pick a handful of engaged groups that can bring value while allowing you to potentially help others. Examine a few key criteria: How may members in the group? How active is it (LI will tell you this)? How many people in your network already belong? Are these 1st or 2nd degree connections?

For this example, the group “Aviation & Aerospace Professionals” appears the most robust with more than 38,000 members, “very active” discussions (813 this month - as of May 4), and it might be a good place to spend some time. Then go to the thread for that group and read. Anything catching your interest? Do topics seem lively, well-developed, eliciting involvement? Lurk for a while, then dip your toe in by sharing an opinion or thought on a thread. Of course, a savvy job seeker *isn’t* going to announce that fact. Rather, as thought leadership is demonstrated through intelligent, thought-provoking posts, people will notice… and when they visit that person’s profile, it will open the door to a contact if there is interest/opportunity.

For this same aerospace CMO client, we find among the 1300+ possible associations/groups of interest another much smaller forum: Aerospace Marketing & Business Development. While there are only about 1400 members, the conversations in this portal are niche-specific. Probably another good place to check out. Use the connections you have within those groups to begin a separate dialogue by sending a message (or an invitation to connect if you haven’t already done so). Of course, it’s essential to personalize your message and not simply accept LI’s ubiquitous: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I’ll talk more about connecting the dots between Groups and the other two important areas on LinkedIn for networking, Jobs and Companies, in a future piece. Go leverage your LI power!

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

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

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Have You Googled Yourself Lately?
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 7:09 am

Even though “googling” oneself (using Google as a verb) is passe and being so-called blacklisted with other expressions from 2010 that are being eliminated from the lexicon (along with just sayin’ … my bad … bring it … starting every sentence with “So” … just do it …), I *do* highly recommend you Google yourself pretty regularly to see what your digital identity is saying - especially to those who might be vetting you as a candidate!

So just do it :)

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

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

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A New Year: A New Job?
Filed under: Job Search, Musings
Posted by: site admin @ 7:24 pm

1-1-11… Anyone remember Three Dog Night’s “One Is the Loneliest Number?”, Harry Nilsson’s song they made famous in 1969? Well, in 2011, the number one certainly will not be lonely. Whether it’s today - January 1 - or on January 11 - or on November 1 or November 11 - “one” will have lots of company! As should you if you’re engaged in an active job search or even thinking of exploring the possibilities as a New Year’s Resolution.

What are the easiest ways not to be alone? Of course, social networking should be your first go-to strategy; ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that you take advantage of the space there to communicate your unique value proposition - use the summary, specialties, and career history. Maximize your outreach, connecting with as many people as possible.

If you’re on Facebook, use this forum for more casual connections with people you know and want to know. Ensure your posts reflect the ‘you’ others would want to refer!

Consider (strongly) tweeting - establish a Twitter account and have something to say! Offer information, volunteer contacts, and feel free to ask others about connections they may have.

Explore job-leads clubs and other in-person networking activities in your professional industry and in your neighborhood and surrounding communities. Be active, be visible, be known.

Take advantage of the turn in the calendar to rejuvenate a sluggish search or start a new job search: Put in place an aggressive plan to make things happen!

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

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

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Job Seeking? Amp up Your Efforts!
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 8:35 am

It may seem counterintuitive to put your foot on the job-search accelerator between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, but this is exactly the advice I’ve been delivering to clients and job-seekers who attend my workshops for the past few months–*and* for the past decade or more!

A recent News Tribune article, courtesy of CareerManagementAlliance.com, captures some of the key points I recommend:

* It’s a mistake to lose your momentum by taking a break.
* Because so many job-seekers *think* it’s a poor time to hunt, you’ll be competing with
far fewer candidates.
* Employers are still at work, and in the quieter time before the holiday, it may be more convenient, and they may have more time to speak with a job seeker.
* A number of organizations will want to be making new hires come the first of the year… you will already be in play, on their radar.
* Many offices limit the time staff can take off, making it a good time to call on an employer.
* Offer to invite the employer/decision maker to coffee for a warm meeting.

* Send holiday notes to thank people who have helped with your professional life this year.

* Send a holiday greeting to establish a warm connection with someone you don’t know…it may just open the door you need.
* Make holiday parties a time to build relationships with people who may be valuable in your network.
* Connect with family, the often forgotten connections in a job search. They have jobs and may know companies in the community that may be on the move or in a transition, and need your talent to fit a particular spot.
* Set regular business hours for your job search, and build in time for fun, to keep your life balanced.
* If you are unemployed for the first time in years, take a little extra time to enjoy family and festivities while devoting those regular hours to job search.
* If you have decided to take a few weeks off from the search entirely at the end of the year, put in place a plan that will allow you to jump out of the gates the first of the year. Then relax.
* Remember that the job search is temporary–a blip in the scheme of things–that will eventually end with a good result. Remain positive!

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

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

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Find-A-Career & Networking Strategies
Filed under: Job Search, Networking, Resume
Posted by: site admin @ 2:30 pm

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, I’ll be presenting a highly
interactive workshop at the Schmoozers’ Job Network for today’s job seekers right here in Connecticut.
This free event will be held in Kessler Hall at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford, and begins with registration, networking, and schmoozing — plus complimentary coffee — at 8 a.m. The program will start promptly at 9 a.m. Please enter through the double-glass door entrance.

In addition to strategies for working with recruiters, I’ll also share the most effective techniques for leveraging the power of the Internet, social media, and networking in a job search. These best-in-class strategies are designed to help job seekers open doors and focus on two key elements: presenting your distinctive brand and differentiating attributes in the “CAR” stories that appear on your resume and using expert strategies for networking, interviewing, and securing critical job connections.

Through its Jewish Employment Transition Services, the Jewish Family Services presents this free workshop to all members of the community searching for work. For reservations or additional information, contact Lynn Preminger, program manager, at jets@jfshartford.org or call 860-236-127, ext. 37; the program facilitator is Judy Rosenthal. For further details, visit http://tinyurl.com/3xzdcpu

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

“Be Inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.”

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A Quantum Shift in Networking
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 2:17 pm

“If you want a job and you’re not LinkedIn, you’re nowhere.” This according to an article in the March 25, 2010, issue of Fortune magazine. What else about social media and networking has changed staying connected and job search? Consider the following stats, gleaned from colleague Jay Block (www.jayblock.com) and www.socialnomics.com:

♦50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old and 86% have joined a social network
♦Facebook just hit 500 million; and added 200 million people in less than a year
♦60 million status updates are made on Facebook every day
♦If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest country on the planet; third only to India and China
♦The fastest growing segment on Facebook are women age 55-65
♦Social media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the web
♦It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users; TV 13 years; the Internet 4 years, and iPods 3 years; iPod application downloads hit 1 billion in nine months
♦A 2010 US Department of Education study stunningly revealed that online students out-performed those receiving a traditional face-to-face education?
♦Generation Y and Z consider email passé?
♦Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Panama, Israel, and Ireland?
♦YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world?
♦While you read this article, more than 200 hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube?
♦“Wiki” is a Hawaiian term that means “quick” and that Wikipedia has over 15 million articles where experts agree that they are as accurate as those of the Encyclopedia Britannica? (and 78% of the articles are NOT in English).
♦There are over 200 MILLION blogs; and growing?
♦78% of consumers trust peer recommendations whereas only 14% trust advertisements? In fact, up to 90% of the people who watch television skip ads via TiVo/DVR.
♦Last Christmas, Kindle eBooks outsold paper books?
♦24 of the largest 25 newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation and most people are getting the news delivered to them via their Smartphones and computers? (for someone who loves her print newspapers, this makes me sad)
♦80% of companies use social media for recruitment; 95% of which use LinkedIn

What are the implications to job seekers today? Reread the last statistic above: If you aren’t getting in touch and staying connected, it’s truly at your own peril. Networking has been the #1 means by which people find their next jobs - to an overwhelming extent - for more than 25 years. What *has* changed is the *way* people network and stay in touch. I’ll share tips about what should (and shouldn’t) go into your LinkedIn profile in a future article. Meanwhile, Google yourself and check out what others are seeing.

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

“Be Inspired. It’s your career. It’s your life.”

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A Baker’s Dozen to Job Search
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 11:41 am

There are lots of quotes about history repeating itself, those forgetting history being doomed to repeat it, and so forth. So in that light, I decided to reach back to the past — 1977, specifically — and share a “recipe for personal development [job search] that produces a baker’s dozen to enhance your potential.” (I was doing some start-of-the year file purging, cleaning out some old files, and this was culled from The Administrators’ Co-op Newsletter (for educators, principals, etc.)

Funny how some things don’t really change ;)

1.  Know the position you seek.
2.  Look the part.
3.  Act the part.
4.  Be prepared.
5.  Obtain outstanding references.
6.  Stand on a record of accomplishment and success.
7.  Become visible.
8.  Practice.
9.  Seek feedback.
10. Actively engage in professional growth.
11. Actively assume positions of responsibility.
12. Target your job search.
13. Become associated with like-minded professionals.

There’s not one “ingredient” in this “recipe” that I don’t give to job-seekers today! What do you think?

– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW; President, Absolute Advantage
Career Management Expert with CareerThoughtLeaders.com

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New Year: New You!
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 6:24 pm

If you’re among the 10% of folks unemployed, the 40% or so unhappily employed/underemployed, those who’ve not yet landed a job following graduation from college in 2009 (or 2008), or even those well-employed who are ready to take on a new challenge in a fresh environment, the new year provides the classic opportunity to actuate a brand-new game plan and achieve the career goals you’ve set for yourself.

The problem is–that’s what nearly everyone who falls in the above categories is thinking. So, you’re competing with probably the single largest pool of potential candidates as you will at any time of the year for any given opportunity that’s out there. Bottom-line, what does this mean? You must differentiate yourself. There’s the old saying, “the cream always rises to the top.” While that can often be true, don’t leave it to chance. Your go-to market campaign (networking approach, executive resume/one-page resume summary, cover letter, resume, even follow-up letters, thank-yous, and 90- and 180-day business plans) must distinguish what you can deliver and position you ahead of the competition in a concise, authentic, and validated manner. There’s no room for just-okay or mediocre in how you present yourself. To break through the clutter, you’ve got to break out of the tedium and that’s-the-way-I’ve-always-written-my-resume to ensure you get not only a second look, but a chance to prove what you can really deliver.

Over the weeks and months ahead, I’ll blog some of the most effective strategies you can implement to stand out the way your job search requires. Stay tuned! (and happy new year)

–Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW; President, Absolute Advantage; Career Management Expert, www.careerthoughtleaders.com

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Networking Still Trumps Everything Else
Filed under: Job Search
Posted by: site admin @ 6:28 am

In job search, it remains the number one way that folks find their next jobs. I’ve been preaching this to clients for years (decades!). And here’s some new backup data: “According to the 2009 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, executives are more likely to have updated their profile on a public networking site (71%) than updated their resume in the last three months (60%). However, when asked to identify the most effective activities for creating and identifying career opportunities, posting a resume in an online database and maintaining an online profile trailed networking by a wide market.”

Here’s how the stats break out for each of the top five job-search activities used at the middle- and executive-level tiers:

#1 - Networking (70%)
#2 - Responding to Online Job Postings (14%)
#3 - Posting Resume in Online Database (5%)
#4 - Maintaining an Online Profile (4%)
#5 - Researching Target Companies / Cold Calling (3%)

So if you’re actively job seeking and currently unemployed, you should be spending at least 28 of your 40-hour ‘job-search work week’ in active networking (not passively sitting at your computer posting to the job boards).

Sources: Career Management Alliance E-Bridge #475 (8/10/09 Newsletter) and https://www.myresumeagent.com/tipsandtactics_article.php?ch=20090723_ECSNMRA

– Jan Melnik, MRW, CCM, CPRW, President, Absolute Advantage, and Career Management Expert, Career Thought Leaders Consortium #ctls
– LinkedIn/Facebook: JanMelnik
– Twitter: @janmelnik

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