Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Career Planning

Recently, I got an invitation to meet someone via LinkedIn, a networking website. It was an HR person (recruiter) from a local insurance company. To date, I used LinkedIn to keep up with friends and totally forgot about the job opportunities and other career pieces of it. While I was not interested in the position, it did remind me that my resume was out of date. Not just in content but style too.

Reading online and some recent Business Week articles showed me a good direction. My old resume talked about what I specifically did at those jobs. Not good. A prospective employer doesn’t want to know what you did at other jobs and what you did at 4:30p each day. A prospective employer wants to understand how you can add value to their company. I revised the content of my resume, taking this into account. I also tried to remove industry specific contexts to highlight transferable skills and results. I focused on successes/accomplishments and the complexity involved. I gave these as examples of what I could accomplish at their company. I also showcased areas where I am the leader or champion for my organization.

Prospective employers want to understand transferable skills. How are you at negotiating, collaboration, and other competencies. I took notes of these so I can promote them in the resume or cover letter for the specific position. Don’t under-estimate the cover letter. You can use the cover letter to elaborate and highlight pieces on the resume – use the cover letter strategically. This can help provide that traditional 1 page resume while still emphasizing what you want.

Now I have a generic resume ready. I’m not looking for a new position. I like my current position and employer. However if an opportunity arise inside or outside the organization, I want to be ready.

TAKE-AWAYS: You never know when a career opportunity might arise. Be prepared. Keep your resume up-to-date, reviewing it at least twice a year. Focus your resume on how you can add value for a prospective employer. And don’t under-estimate the power of the cover letter.

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