Wrote or contributed to articles in this section covering the following topics:
>Quoted in an article on HR & Talent Management.com/Yahoo.com -- "Snow Day, Flannel PJs, Hot
Chocolate, and Job Searches"
>Contributing author to a career industry journal
-- "Career Communication Tips for Job Seekers Returning to the Workforce"
>Featured in an article on Oprah.com -- "Job Search Hints for Baby Boomers"
>Quoted in an article in Crain's Chicago Business -- "Quitting a Job You Just Started"
>Featured in The Chicago Tribune Business Section -- "My Biggest Mistake" series
>Guest author for Splendid Torch newsletter -- "Where's the Greener Grass?"
"Snow Days, Flannel PJs, Hot Chocolate, and Job Searches" -- Quoted in an article by Terri
Williams on Yahoo.com / HR & Talent Management.com, February 9, 2015
As a Southerner who usually only sees snow on The Weather Channel, the phrase "snow days" invokes images
of house-bound residents lounging around and sipping warm beverages. However, recent search data from Monster.com may shatter
that picturesque image.
The last week in January, forecasters
predicted that Winter Storm Juno would dump several feet of snow on the East Coast, but such cities as New York and Philadelphia
escaped Old Man Winter's wrath. So what did these residents do with their unscheduled off day?
According to Monster.com, they were searching for new jobs. In New York City, Monster.com reports that job searches
were up 40%. In Philadelphia, job searches were up by 45%, and in White Plains, the numbers increased by 72%. Regarding spikes
in specific keywords, the word "teachers" jumped 173%, and searches for "remote" and "telecommute"
jumped 87% and 56% respectively.
Studies have revealed
that American workers tend to be overwhelmed with work to the extent that they usually leave vacation days on the table. In
light of this, why would these East Coast residents choose to use their snow day to search for jobs instead of enjoying their
unexpected time off?
A combination of HR and career
experts offered various theories on Winter Storm Juno job search spikes:
These numbers don't surprise me," says Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, who owns the HR consulting firm Work It Out.
According to Spraggins, who is based in Philadelphia, "A survey released by Jobvite last year revealed that 51% of employed
people are either seeking or open to new employment." And while it may be harder to get a job these days, she says, "it
is pretty easy to apply for one. No wonder people are taking every chance to look for something better."
According to Christine Dennison of Dennison Career Services, "The
increase in job search activity related to the Juno storm system was probably influenced by the New Year's resolution mentality
as much as the bonus day off of work. In the careers industry, we're also still seeing the aftereffects of the recession,
with so many people ready to leave a job they don't enjoy."
the HR & Talent Management website for the rest of the article...
"Career Communication Tips for Job Seekers Returning to the Workforce" -- Article published
in the quarterly Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, Summer 2014 edition focused on Career Communications. The
Journal is published by Dick Knowdell, world-renowned career industry expert and founder of the Career Planning & Adult
Development Network. This edition was guest-edited by Louise Kursmark and Wendy Enelow.
Returning to the Workforce After a Long Absence
The rules of engagement for job search have changed drastically in recent
years, presenting serious challenges for women and men returning to the workforce after a long absence. Any job seeker can
have many issues to wrestle, including confidence, communications, business etiquette, and branding, to name a few. If you
have a gap to explain, it can be very intimidating. Take heart, however, in knowing that this is the "new normal,"
and careers now run in chapters, with very interesting twists and turns. The best companies are sympathetic to the realities
of personal commitments and the positive effects of career path reinventions. Let's take a look at how to develop and present
Don't Follow the Pack
Into the Black Hole of the Internet
Don't worry about
trying to fit into the online application system - your job search should be centered on expanding your network and communicating
with those resources. Use the Internet to conduct research, find companies to target, study job postings to build your list
of key words and see what's in demand out there.
Find out all you can
about the background required for your target positions. Is there anything transferable from your experience? Talk to people
in the industry. Don't just ask about an entry-level path. Tell them what you have and dig for anything in your background
that might help you find a shortcut to your new position.
Focus on what
you have done - don't feel that you have to start from scratch. Take your experience apart and figure out what it means generically.
What kinds of problems have you solved, what kinds of people have you dealt with, what skills have you developed?
A huge difference from the typical job search is to focus on companies,
not listed openings - catch them when they're starting to feel the need but haven't formulated an opening...or get them thinking
about the person in their company who's just not working out but it's been easier to keep the status quo...until your letter
and resume show up on their desk.
It is hard to feel
like the search is getting anywhere at the beginning. Put most of your time into the effort to simply talk to people (anywhere,
and at any level) to gather intelligence about possibilities. Then you'll go after the decision-makers and catch them when
they begin to have a need but before they put up the listing. You want to spark the idea that you'd be a valuable business-building
or business-retaining person to have on board. Never (well, rarely) ask the blatant question of whether they're hiring. Instead,
have conversations about how their business works and what they're struggling with. Be naturally curious, listen, learn...then,
the conversation can turn to the possibility of hiring you into an existing position or creating a position that allows you
to solve a problem or fill a need.
You may be tempted to create a functional resume to rearrange your strengths into categories,
but that style of resume is not well received in the job market. Recruiters and hiring managers don't like to work at sorting
them out, and the automated tracking software (ATS) systems don't "read" them well. There's an assumption that you
must be hiding a negative story. A better approach is to use the Summary section to present your strengths briefly, include
your key words, and open the reader's brain in the direction you want them to go.
Usually, a resume provides details going back about eight to ten years and then includes a very brief description
of career accomplishments that go farther back than that. If you need to showcase older-but-relevant accomplishments, you
can use the Summary to do that without specifying the dates.
are a job seeker who has taken time to focus on childcare and/or eldercare, you may be looking for ways to hide the gap or
create a clever title such as "Household Manager" or "Senior Care Administrator," but the stronger approach
is to be straightforward and describe the commitment briefly. Don't try to turn those personal experiences into a job description.
Not everyone has the time or inclination to volunteer - perhaps all of your time and
energy was required to handle an eldercare situation. Then the best tactic is to use a simple statement at the beginning of
the Professional Experience section, such as...
focused on eldercare responsibilities. Now ready to bring my extensive customer service management skills and experience to
...and then continue with your accomplishment-focused
chronology of work history.
If you do have volunteer experience that
includes transferable skills, it is worth some space on the resume. Include a quote or two from leaders in your volunteer
life, if possible. Here's an example from a client who had been out of the workforce for 12 years:
Summary of Qualifications
- Extensive organization leadership
and program development experience in business and nonprofit environments
written and verbal communication skills gained as a proposal/grant writer, project manager, team leader, and trainer
- Thirteen years of association management and recreation management experience
was a key part of the successful transition of the PTO as we sought ways to offset school budget cuts with strong cultural,
arts, and educational programs. She has an amazing ability to establish an effective flow of communication in complex organizational
settings, recruit talent, coordinate many projects simultaneously, and connect the schools with community resources."
-Xxxx Xxxxx, District Xxxx School Superintendent
"_____ is an asset to any organization lucky enough to have her around. The
Park Board relies almost entirely on volunteers, and her energy, enthusiasm, and ability to work with everyone across the
community is unmatched." -Xxxx Xxxxxxx, Xxxxx Village Trustee
Professional Experience and Volunteer Leadership
2001, focused on family responsibilities and community leadership. Now ready to bring my extensive program development and
administration skills to your organization.
of leadership in the PTO of a K-8 district with three schools:
Publicity & Newsletter Chair - developed effective liaison between the PTO and a newly-established
District-wide monthly publication
- Cultural Arts Chair - identified high-quality
sources of new programs to bring into the schools; coordinated and contracted for 20 programs annually
Theater Arts Development Committee - established priorities, identified resources and programming ideas
for this new committee
with her previous career highlights...]
Here's a clip
from the resume of a very successful telecommunications sales executive who took a buyout in the economic meltdown of 2001
and decided to pursue a few low-key entrepreneurial projects to be able to spend more time with his young family...ten years
flew by and he realized he needed a "real" job. He met a local business owner at his health club and they had enjoyed
a series of conversations...the next thing he knew, he was in need of a resume, ASAP:
Summary of Qualifications
-Sales and Operations Executive-
Strong combination of entrepreneurial and Fortune 500 business knowledge, known for ability to achieve
multi-million-dollar B2B sales goals in highly competitive markets and challenging economic cycles. In-depth experience with
tangible products and intangible services, big ticket systems and smaller, high-volume items.
- Attack complex business problems with an analytical mind, moving quickly to formulate practical game plans
leading to double-digit gains. Whether "wearing all the hats" or leading a team, maintain focus on time and budget
constraints to reach aggressive goals.
- Established reputation as a sales and
operations manager across a long tenure with the [major telecom] organization in the midst of constantly evolving corporate
structures and priorities. Built high-performance teams, generated consistent top sales results, and managed profitable branch
- Developed key account relationships with senior executives, business
owners and dealers across numerous vertical markets, including wholesale, healthcare, communications, securities, industrial,
professional services, and manufacturing.
[His investment LLC]
- Xxxxxx, XX
2002 to Present
Established a profitable residential real estate investment and management company
that afforded the flexibility needed to balance professional and family obligations. Now ready to bring a dedicated business
operations and sales development skillset to your organization.
[major telecom company] - Xxxxx, XX
1988 to 2001
the organization as an Account Executive on the non-regulated business side, selling a broad range of network, voice, video
and data products to mid-to-large sized companies. Earned a series of promotions through the sales organization as a leader
in revenue production, customer retention, new branch development, product rollouts and corporate restructures. [followed
by accomplishment details...]
Cover Letter Strategies
Make it easy for the hiring manager to read your cover letter quickly. What about "canned"
letters? Of course, you'll create a general framework, but then be sure to personalize each letter at least slightly. It's
worth the time to find the names of specific people and proper titles whenever possible. A lot of job seekers use a "Dear
Hiring Manager" letter so they can get massive quantities out quickly - not very impressive to any hiring manager.
Focus on the company and/or the person you're targeting first - mention something that
you've discovered in your research. The cover letter can say something like, "I see that you've just returned from giving
the keynote speech at the ______ convention, talking about ____....In my job search, I'm talking to organizations that
can use my experience in building strong connections between the company and the customer...". The cover letter must
be specific to them and take advantage of the chance to tell a part of your story.
A cover letter also reflects your writing skills and personality. Strike a balance between formal and informal. You
don't want the style to be stuffy and old-fashioned, nor do you want to come across as eccentric or quirky. Forget the hype.
Many people write what I call the "leaps tall buildings in a single bound" letter, telling the company all the wonderful
things you will do when they hire you. Enthusiasm is fine, but don't tell them what to think - let the reader draw his or
her own conclusions about you based on your track record.
and cover letter should not list personality traits (hardworking, intelligent, etc.) but you can use the cover letter to subtly
reflect some of your values by telling a short story or two. Instead of writing "I'm a quick study and possess strong
communication skills"...try something like "I thrive in situations where I have the chance to learn new concepts
and then present that information to colleagues or customers..."...or..."One of my proudest moments at XYZ Company
was when I successfully met a project deadline that was shortened by 3 months and still managed to meet a very ambitious set
of goals." Have someone you trust review your letter to give you an objective assessment of flavor and content.
Here's a sample cover letter for a client with a 12-year gap who took a retail (but
related) job to segue back into the market:
When I saw the posting for the Part-time Youth Department Early Literacy Librarian position, I knew that I wanted to find
out more about it. I'm pursuing a return to my Librarian career after taking some time to focus on raising a family, and have
targeted organizations in need of a professional with my experience in developing early literacy programs.
For the past
seven months, I have had the opportunity to bring my Librarian approach to running the storytime and outreach programs in
the Children's Department at [major bookstore chain]. I'm proud of the improvements I've been able to institute, and thoroughly
enjoy being back in a literary environment. I'm constantly reminded that the reason I obtained my MLIS degree and pursued
this career was to be able to instill a love of reading and learning in young children as well as the adults in their lives.
In my current
position as well as in my earlier Librarian positions in the youth services department at the [local public library], I have
always enjoyed being able to contribute to the quality of the services, materials, physical environment, communications, and
smooth operation of the department. My managers have also appreciated my ability to develop warm relationships and become
a trusted resource for our patrons.
I look forward to the opportunity to discuss your plans for the Youth Department. Thank you for your time and consideration.
"But I Don't Know Anybody" - The Wonders of LinkedIn
For a job seeker with a dusty Rolodex, the thought of networking can be very overwhelming.
The Internet offers many resources to help you build your network, and LinkedIn in particular can be a goldmine. There are
many seminars, blogs, and educational resources to help you understand the basics of LinkedIn, and it's well worth your time
to learn. Here are some tips on how to use LinkedIn when you've been out of the market for a while:
The Headline is that phrase that shows up in the box with your name. The default phrasing that the
LinkedIn system puts into that box is your title from the most recent job in your profile. That may not be your strongest
and clearest "branding" message - you can replace the default title with your own strategic phrasing. You may notice
that a lot of job seekers put something like "Seeking xxxxxx." I recommend positioning yourself instead as the expert
in whatever it is that you do - rather than someone begging for a job. Skip the hype but do include your key words.
As someone returning to the workforce, you're not as likely to attract the attention
of recruiters, so you will want to focus on using the LinkedIn system as a database of people and companies. As you create
a list of target companies, you can use LinkedIn to study the profiles of people who work there, and then begin to reach out
to them to "talk shop."
When you send Invitations to build
your network, change the phrasing at least slightly from the default sentence - don't miss the opportunity to personalize
it. The default phrasing is well known and can look like spam. Build your network thoughtfully - 25 is a minimum to gain traction,
50 is a reasonable goal - and continue to build it. You can upload your email address book and then pick and choose people
to invite into your LI network - don't send out a mass invitation to your entire list. You can also search through past employers
and affiliate groups and find people your know from those sources.
the people on your reference list to submit a recommendation to your LinkedIn profile. For those who have already written
a recommendation in the past for you, you can make it easy for them by emailing a key paragraph or two for them to paste into
the LI box. Continue to request new recommendations as needed from your network. The good news is that it's easy for recruiters
and decision-makers to see them on your profile - people will frequently check out your profile even before they've contacted
you. There's a newer feature called Endorsements, related to the Skills section - these are somewhat useful, but recommendations
are much more powerful.
Join Groups to extend your network and increase
your search results. Take a look at alumni groups, industry groups (your previous industry and your targeted industry), and
professional associations. Become active in the Discussions - a great way to "meet" people and increase your online
visibility. Don't use the Discussions to make your job search pitch - that's considered bad form.
A job search is one of the most challenging projects you will ever tackle. Do everything you can to spend time with positive,
supportive people. Break it down into small chunks of manageable tasks - create a schedule and track the details. Take care
of yourself - make sure that your schedule includes time to exercise and relax. Keep your mind open and your antennae up -
the best job leads come from surprising corners!
Featured in an article on Oprah.com – “Money / Career” section
Job search hints for Baby Boomers...
Résumé and Cover Letter Tips to Stand Out From The Crowd
By Bradford Dworak
Christine Dennison, a job search coach and owner of Dennison Career Services has been
helping job seekers for more than 20 years. With the national unemployment rate above 9 percent, Christine says she's busier
than ever. Many of the calls she's receiving are from baby boomers ready to start their first job searches in decades.
So, boomers, it's time to get that résumé and cover letter updated. Learn how you can get ready
to face the "new media" market.
Amp Up Your Résumé
"A résumé is an important tool for your
job search, serving as a concise presentation of your experience, skills, knowledge, credentials, education and attitude,"
These tips have helped her clients land new jobs:
Get Rid of the Pitch
You know what this is: the opening line on your resume. For example, "Seeking accounting manager position with
a progressive, dynamic organization which will use my CPA credentials and offer rapid career advancement." It's all clichéd,
meaningless and overdone. Instead, try filling that space with your target position title or area of expertise.
"Include a brief bullet-point presentation of your skills, expertise, credentials and accomplishments," Christine
says. "Your objective is conveyed by what you choose to include in the summary, which can be changed to fit different
Bottom line: Tailor your résumé to each industry you are applying for, be different
and really highlight your skills.
Make Your Case Through Examples
Don't tell employers
what to think about you. Instead, lead them to make the right conclusions by explaining how you get things done. It's important
to demonstrate that you can adapt to any work environment. "Show you can handle change and that you're not set in your
ways," Christine says.
Prove You Never Stop Learning
Christine recommends putting
an emphasis in your continuing education—whether that's through seminars, workshops, courses or self-study. Sure, advanced
degrees help, but you don't necessarily have to have every degree under the sun to prove you're capable of learning. Put those
weekend work seminars you attended on your résumé…you were there and you probably learned something that
can help you. Or, include a class you took at a community college. Even if it's that once-a-week cooking class, it shows you
have the drive and motivation to learn something new.
Don't Include Everything
One of the biggest résumé trends Christine has seen with baby boomers is that they list every piece
of experience they have. Instead of trying to fit everything on your résumé, focus on your past 10 years or
so of experience.
"[Add] a very short reference to [your] early career path," Christine says. "[These]
are ways to make yourself look current."
Instead of putting the old
phrase, "References provided upon request," on your résumé, Christine says it's assumed you'll come
in for an interview armed with this information.
Create a business card version of your résumé and
keep it with you. Include your contact information and a brief description of your qualifications. You never know who you
will run into, and you don't want to miss the golden opportunity.
Reconsider Regular Mail
If you're trying to send your résumé to someone you don't know, Christine says to forget e-mail and
try regular mail.
"Unsolicited e-mail doesn't get read," she says. "At least an employee is going
to open up the mail, so there is a better chance that it's going to land on somebody's desk."
advises spending less time on the job boards. She says that less than 5 percent of job seekers find employment through them.
Instead, she emphasizes the importance of networking and meeting people. Although she says it's hard and can be very intimidating,
people need to get past these barricades if they want to have a chance at finding employment.
Write Stronger Cover Letters
Cover letters are another great self-marketing tool. When there
are vast numbers of people applying for a single job, a good cover letter can take you from lowly applicant to potential candidate.
"The résumé certainly shows your qualification and track record, but the cover letter gives
you a chance to speak to the company a little more," Christine says. "Most people miss an opportunity with the cover
Do I Even Need One?
Yes…the answer is yes! You need a cover letter
to tell a company who you are and why you're interested in working there. It's important to keep them short and concise, but
don't skimp on your research.
"Find out what's going on with [the company] and connect your qualifications
to that." Christine says. "If you show that you've done a little extra digging, you'll definitely stand out from
Tell a Personal Story
Since a cover letter showcases your writing
skills and personality, make it a reflection of you. Christine says to keep it balanced between the formal and informal because
while you don't want to sound stuffy or old-fashioned, you certainly don't want to come across as eccentric and weird. At
the same time, figure out how to intertwine a personal story or two to illustrate your qualifications. Show, don't tell.
Don't Rewrite Your Résumé
A résumé and cover letter are two separate documents—please
keep them that way. While it is okay to put the most relevant points of your résumé, don't rehash it.
Christine says you have to have hope that they will actually read your résumé. "Emphasize your availability
for interviews, flexibility on relocation, if appropriate, and indicate if you plan to call to follow up," she says.
Forget the Hype
"Many people write what I call the 'leaps tall buildings in a
single bound' letter," Christine says. "That's when you tell the company all the wonderful things you will do when
they hire you."
Enthusiasm is great, but let's not overdo it. You need to allow the reader to draw his or her own
conclusions about you based on your track record.
Also, don't throw all your wonderful personality traits into
a long list. Look for ways to present them indirectly…again show, don't tell.
Christine says that while
you could have the perfect background and everything an employer is looking for, you might not get an acknowledgment from
every application you fill out.
"People get frustrated and can't figure out how to get past that," she
Just remember to keep thinking positively. You can do this. You will get back on your feet again.
- Oprah.com –
Copyright 2009 -
in an article in Crain’s Chicago Business
By Shia Kapos and Rita Pyrillis
QUITTING A JOB
YOU JUST STARTED
New hires weigh sinking feeling that it's all wrong against sense of obligation, dread of
Justin Ahrens knew as soon as the elevator doors opened
at his new job that he had made a mistake in leaving his own business to work for someone else.
"I thought I was
going to vomit. Nothing felt right. People were saying, 'How are you? How's it going?' and 'Glad to see you.' What do you
say to that? 'Hate to see you?' " recalls the graphic designer, who had landed at a design firm after facing financial
troubles running his own company.
To make matters worse, Mr. Ahrens was guest of honor at a welcome reception with co-workers
that first day. "I had a doughnut, went to my office and closed the door. I put my head on the desk and thought, 'What
have I done?' "
Mr. Ahrens, who prides himself on keeping commitments, felt he owed it to his wife and four children
and the friend who recommended him to stick it out on the job. But after 30 days, he knew it would never be right.
realized I was beyond the position and that I needed to slug it out to make things work in my own company," says Mr.
It took two more weeks to get up the nerve to tell the company's vice-president. As he expected, it didn't
go well. "It was a horrible experience," he says. "They thought I was a flake."
Mr. Ahrens is among
the legions of "quick quits," employees who decide to leave a job soon after beginning it. For the employee, the
quick quit has ramifications beyond the short time spent on the job.
In the long term, it can be a catalyst for finding
a career that brings happiness. Mr. Ahrens went on to buck up his struggling company, Geneva-based design firm Rule 29. "Looking
back, I think it was one of the greatest things that could have happened," he says. "I re-did the way I run my own
company. . . . We're doing better work and are more stable than we've ever been."
In the short term, though, it
can wreak havoc on a psyche. Employees are often distraught over making the wrong decision and stressed out about searching
for the "right" job — again. The experience is seldom discussed with friends or family because there's a sense
of failure. And it's almost never revealed on a résumé or in a future job interview.
more than you'd think," says Anna Marie Buchmann, a consultant with RHR International Co., a Wood Dale-based management
psychology firm that works with companies in improving people skills. But it's difficult to say how often, because people
usually don't talk about it.
"It's embarrassing," she says, "because you thought you were making an intelligent
It's not unusual for someone to quit quickly once in their career, Ms. Buchmann
and other career counselors say. If it's a pattern, however, then there are likely other issues.
"You can make
one mistake, but if it happens again, you have to examine your sources of satisfaction and feelings of confidence. It also
means you have to do your homework on a company and get a better sense of its culture" before accepting a job, she says.
Sometimes, you simply can't see the whole picture
during the interview, says Christine Dennison, a Chicago job-search coach. "Companies put their best face on, but not
until you're there do you realize your boss is psychotic or something else is wrong. You can look for other opportunities
in the company, but usually that doesn't happen.
"People feel trapped because it was most likely a tough job search
to begin with, and now they feel they have no choice but to stay."
Career counselors recommend that job
candidates talk to would-be peers, or to direct reports if it's a management job, to get a better sense of the culture. And
they recommend candidates take a lesson from interviewers and come prepared with a list of their own questions, such as "Why
is the position available?" "What are the short-term expectations vs. the long-term expectations?" and "What
are the priorities of the job?"
But once a mistake has been made, career coaches and hiring executives say life
is too short to stress yourself out and try to slog through.
Ms. Dennison recalls a co-worker from her days
in the financial services industry.
"She took a position that seemed fabulous — great company and great pay.
But the month she started, a (company) scandal hit the media and she had to decide whether to ride it out. She tiptoed away
and never put it on her résumé," Ms. Dennison says. "For most situations, there's an unofficial grace
period of a couple of months where you can pretend it didn't happen."
experience doesn't always disappear from an employee's track record.
"In a lot of fields, it's a small world —
everyone knows everyone else. In Chicago, it's one degree of separation," Ms. Buchmann says. If questions arise about
the short job experience, it may be best to face it head on.
"Say it wasn't a good match," she says. "But
it's critical not to cast aspersions. People are more understanding than you'd think."
Sometimes companies share
the blame, especially if they drop the ball as soon as new employees walk through the door. After the initial round of handshakes
and welcomes, they may forget to stay engaged with the new hire, says Keith Swenson, managing partner of Capital H Group in
Chicago, a consulting firm that helps companies figure out how to avoid employee turnover.
"It can be discouraging
for a new employee," he says. "When you bring people in, do you 'onboard' them in a way that makes them feel comfortable?
Or do you plop them in a desk and say, 'Hey, figure it out'?"
Ms. Buchmann recalls a company that hired a college
graduate into a program that offered experience in three areas of the company before sending them on to graduate school. The
company sent the new candidate overseas, but then he quit within weeks.
"The company didn't know that when this
man was in school, he went home every weekend," she says. "He had a strong support system and couldn't work in an
environment where he didn't have that support. So he quit."
Sarah Wortman, marketing
vice-president at VOA Associates Inc., a Chicago architecture firm, quit a job fast after a confluence of personal events.
About 12 years ago, she took a producer job at a radio production company, doing media tours and setting up client interviews
with radio personalities. The position paid straight commission and offered no insurance, but that didn't matter to Ms. Wortman.
She was excited to land the job, and her husband already had insurance that covered them both.
But two weeks after she
started, her husband learned he would have to quit his full-time job to finish his psychotherapy degree. And Ms. Wortman was
offered a position by a company she had interviewed with earlier — and this job had insurance.
"I went to
the employer who hired me and said, 'I'm very sorry, but this unusual chain of events happened and I wanted to tell you as
soon as I could so you could look at other candidates,' " says Ms. Wortman, 49.
"They were obviously a little
irritated and disappointed," and she felt she had put the friend who recommended her in a bad position. "I had led
them to believe I wanted to work there, and it was true at the time," she says. "But my priorities had changed."
Fast forward to 2007, and it was Ms. Wortman on the other side of the desk hearing her new marketing communications
assistant say the job wasn't right for her.
Ms. Wortman was surprised and "a bit put out." But she also found
herself reliving the stress she had felt when she had to quit suddenly.
"It was interesting talking to her when
she was telling me she was leaving. She was surprised that I understood," Ms. Wortman says. "But I knew how hard
it was for her to tell me because I'd had to do it, too."
©2007 by Crain Communications Inc.
The Chicago Tribune, Business Section
Career Services featured in the "My Biggest Mistake" series
"I failed to tell them what they would be receiving"When you’re ready to start your job search
. . .
Fifteen years ago I decided
to take my corporate experience and apply it to a resume-writing and job-search coaching business.
the previous eight years working with corporate clients as a headhunter (and reading thousands of resumes), I knew the ins
and outs of career-path choices and the hiring process. Before being a headhunter, I had worked in business operations, training,
marketing and promotions. I've always been interested in organizational dynamics and structure, and I was confident that I
would be very successful.
When I decided to set up my own business, my strategy was to have resume-writing as the
core service that would lead to selling other services. Although people could use my services for just the resume, my hope
was they would like those services so much that they would hire me to help coach them through the rest of the job-search process.
A big mistake early on in my business was to assume that my clients would automatically understand (and love) the
results that I produced. Instead, although my clients liked my writing, they were concerned that their resumes didn't look
like all the other long-winded, detailed ones they had seen.
The reason I started my business was that I knew how
much everyone struggles to translate their experience into a winning resume. Resume technique, like everything else in business,
has changed over the years. What many people learned early in their career about what you should and shouldn't have in a resume
no longer applies.
When clients came to me for that first meeting, I was focused on their history -- finding out
what I needed to know about their background to help craft a resume that would effectively tell their career story. I would
probe their career history and their current situation, digging for accomplishments and how they made a difference.
What I failed to do was to tell them the details about the product they would be receiving. Instead of explaining that a
good resume is a snapshot, not a detailed report, I assumed they knew. It was a huge error. My clients thought they were buying
one product, and I was selling them something else.
When the clients returned to go over their resume, instead
of being thrilled, their reaction was, "This is great, but ... uh, it's so short."
These new resumes
showed their skills, career progression and results but almost no job description information. I then had the challenge of
educating them in the new techniques of resume writing -- changing their assumptions -- instead of talking to an eager client
about using more of my services.
When I changed my process and took the time to explain what their resume would
look like and what information it would contain, I found that I was getting almost 100 percent acceptance of the work. It
became much easier for us to put our heads together to finalize the resume.
My original business plan now worked.
Within a year, I tripled the number of resume clients who stayed with me for job search coaching services.
learned that assuming people understand your service can be a costly error. Getting a client to "buy into" what
you're doing is critical to building any business relationship -- an important lesson learned.
Where's the Greener Grass?
Guest Writer & Career Coach, Christine Dennison
Ideas can come from anywhere
– your industry journals, general interest magazines, the newspapers (don’t overlook the small local papers),
Crain’s Chicago Business, friends, clubs. Keep your mind open to identifying interesting people and companies to target.
Don't limit yourself to what's "hot" at the moment. There are always people and companies that are running
counter to the trends. Great careers can still be found in traditional departments and mature industries. Also, companies
that are basically strong but having some current turmoil can be a good place to make your mark.
There's no such
thing as job security anymore. Nowadays, all you can do is be ready to make your moves on your terms. If you keep looking
for the "perfect company" to spend the rest of your working life in, you'll find yourself unemployed. Instead, look
for a company that's a good match for your style and speed, and make the most of your time there.
Scan the classifieds
and the Internet. Yes, I know it's boring and frustrating, but it will also give you ideas. Don't feel it's a complete waste
of time to respond to ads -- some people do actually get jobs that way. Don't spend a lot of time on it, but also look at
the ads beyond just your category. Look for company information that sounds intriguing. The important point is to make this
a part of your search, not all of it.
Use the Internet as a great source of information, but remember that your
search isn't going to be successful until you're talking to human beings -- if you just post your résumé and
wait for the phone to ring, you're not going to get very far.
Networking. Amazingly enough, our greatest success
is achieved through relationships with others, and networking is the path to creating the relationships that will help most
in your job search. Networking is a scary, misunderstood concept, but if you realize that it’s nothing more than the
exchange of information or services between individuals, groups or institutions, you can make it work for you. Most people
think of networking as asking for help or favors or business from others. If, instead, you put your focus on offering information
or help to others, you will find your network to be incredibly productive for you as well.
Get names. It's worth
the time to dig so you can direct your résumé to specific people and proper titles whenever possible. Get names
from articles, from company information, from directories, from everywhere, and then check them by calling the company. Send
multiple copies of your résumé to the same company, hitting the Human Resource Department and other departments
Isn't HR a waste of time? No more or less than any other department. Take it from someone who's worked
both sides -- there are HR people who are helpful, and there are those who get in the way, but don't ever treat them like
they're something to get around. One point to keep in mind is that most HR departments are busy trying to fill current openings.
If you get your résumé in front of other managers, too, you might inspire them to create a position or replace
---Copyright 2003 Splendid Torch, Inc.---