If you’re going to have a resume…

March 22, 2007

So, I recently went off about how your resume is junk mail. But I understand that many people still believe in job hunting the “old-fashioned way” (i.e. by sending their resume to every job posting on Craigslist). And it makes some sense.

But, if you’re going to send out your resume, there are a few things you probably shouldn’t do. And, while I was going to write up a full post on this one myself, this amazing rant from Best-Of Craigslist said nearly everything that I could have. And far, far snarkier. From the post:

Stop throwing in complete bullshit just to make it sound fancy.
The following is a list of why you should never throw words together if you don’t know
what they mean (the long-winded objective from above could also be put in this category).

“My ability to learn quickly is a key essential.”
“My numerous areas of expertise and professional work related skills are highly superior
in many office related skills.”
“Being so detailed and goal oriented provides me with the ability to have outstanding
organizational skills which enthusiastically allows me to succeed well within all goals
set.”
“My background and my education are the met qualifications in this job description.”

The rest of the rant is equally scathing. And equally true. Worth a perusal, and worth going through your own resume one more time to make sure you haven’t made any of those mistakes.

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It’s Gobsmacking…

March 20, 2007

I have to confess something here. I’m an addict. I’m addicted to PBS. I can’t stop watching it on the weekends. Even though I went on a Steve Pavlina-inspired TV diet, I just can’t stop watching PBS.

So, over the weekend, I found myself sucked in entirely to Marcus Buckingham’s program about figuring out your strengths. And he talked in the show about writing statements (called “Strength Statements”) that describe those things that make you feel most alive, most challenged, and inspiring the most growth and success in your week.

Marcus showed one of his, and said:

When you see [my strength statements], it might bore you to tears. But when I read it, it’s gobsmacking. It kind of rocks my world.

It reminded me of one of the games in Forget the Parachute, Let Me Fly the Plane – that of describing your mission and vision for your life. Most self-help books talk about creating a mission and vision, but, in my experience, they end up sounding more like corporate pablum (“I am a strong, dedicated person who helps those around me be better than they are“) than they are things that are “gobsmacking”.

I put my own mission and vision statements in the book. And you may feel somewhat bored by them when you read them. Or that they’re sappy, or cheesy, or something else. But for me, they’re absolutely gobsmacking. I get chills when I think of living them out. And they fire me up.

A question: what mission, vision and strengths that you have get you fired up? What rocks your world about what you do on a daily basis?

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Your Resume is Junk Mail

March 4, 2007

This is an assertion that I made in Forget The Parachute, Let Me Fly the Plane. In the world we live in, your resume is pretty much useless in the traditional way that we have always used the resume.

It seems I’m not the only one who thinks this. In her Fast Company blog, Jory Desjardins makes the point that resumes will become obsolete. From the article:

When I was a college graduate in 1994… getting a job was a different proposition. Sure, it was still about whom you knew; in the end, that’s how I found my first “real” job. But I also sent out reams of resumes, attempting to convince people who didn’t know, care, or need me that my experience as Features Editor of my college paper meant that I was especially qualified to answer phones. Finding work that pertained to my limited background was besides the point, I thought. I’ll just take what I can get and work my way toward the ultimate job.

This is the traditional way of using a resume, and, as Jory points out, the rise of job boards (like Monster and Craigslist have provided a wonderful market for sending out those reams of resumes. And, because of that, resumes have become almost useless for opening the door into a new job.

Anyone who has ever been a hiring manager with an unrestricted flow from the resumes sent in for a job they’re hiring for understands this after the first couple of days. When you post a job as a manager, hundreds or even thousands of resumes flood in to your inbox in the first few days. And, generally, it gets to the point where you can’t possibly read them all.

So, if you’re not sending a resume, how do you do it? (I could just stop here and say read my book) Really, it comes down to two skills, which are the opposite sides of the same coin:

1. Build a personal brand: as Jory says in the article, use social media, blogs, podcasts, industry groups, articles, etc. to get known.

2. Meet people who are looking for people like you and find alignment between their needs and yours. This is really the key that leads most people to say that networking is an important job skill. If you know enough people (and enough people know you), you’ll be top of mind when it’s time to hire someone.

This is how most “successful” (defined by me as “people who are doing what they want to do”) people are getting their best jobs.

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“How do you define a whore?”

March 3, 2007

That was a question asked by Anne in a recent post on Enthusiasm. In context, Anne stated:

So it all comes down to this: how do you define a whore. I guess you define one as somebody who sells themselves more cheaply than you’d be willing to sell yourself. And where you draw the line depends on the opportunities before you. So those that have tons of opportunities look at those that have only a few and think: “they are whoring themselves” because they’d never sell themselves for so little.

Obvious Anna Nicole Smith jokes aside, the actual post is really quite an interesting read, and speaks a lot about the difficulty bridging the gap between the monetary economy and the non-monetary one. And she really makes a simple point: there’s no easy answer to valuing what a single person is willing and able to contribute within a less structured economy.

And that got me to thinking about the way that the world is changing: we’re seeing disintermediation in all facets of the world these days. Bands (like my brother’s) are going straight to their customers through MySpace. People (like me) are selling their own books online. As the publishers and record industry becomes less and less important, I’m reminded of the old Marx concept that control in a society is related to who controls the means of production.

In that case, it seems to make sense that the act of selling oneself is really that of transferring control of your means of production and losing control. Which is what we’ve been doing for the past 100 years – selling our means of production (at a generally bargain price) to large corporations for “job security”. However, as we are able to more easily control the means of production, the necessity of “whoring” oneself to some entity (whether a boss, a publisher, a record company, etc.) decreases significantly.

Unfortunately, the disintermediation, as Anne points out, is causing a difficulty in valuing that sale. I recently went through that problem in trying to price Forget the Parachute. $27.95 was really a guess on what the market would bear, but I found e-books priced all the way from $4.95 to $97. And everyone I asked had a different thought on pricing – but, most interestingly, most of the advice I got came down somewhere above $40. And some of those people would undoubtedly think I’m selling myself for too little (i.e. Anne’s definition of a “whore”).

It’s an interesting problem: pricing oneself is a combination of what the market will bear against what you, yourself value your work as. While most people overestimate the first, we often significantly underestimate the second (because we’re experts in it). And, lacking the structure of intermediaries and “pimps” (the bosses, publishers, and record companies who would tell us how much to charge), pricing is one of the most difficult things in the new world of work.

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