Activate your future

Put Yourself First (Even if You Think You Can’t)

Take a moment and think about all the people in your life that you feel some sense of responsibility for. If you were be-selfishto map out a typical day, how much time would be spent doing things for yourself? Try to go beyond the nuts and bolts of adult responsibilities like bill paying and grocery shopping. I’m talking about experiencing moments where you feel fully alive. How often does this happen in your life?

Most of us spend a great deal of time in routine mode or reacting to situations as they happen. It’s not a huge surprise that people often find themselves with stalled out career mojo when such a small portion of their time is devoted to internal reflection and self-care. Continue reading “Put Yourself First (Even if You Think You Can’t)” »

Essentials for Job Search Success, Motivation for the Job Search, Psychological Barriers to the Job Search, self-assessment

Spring Cleaning for Your Job Search – 6 Tips

Growing up, on the first warm day of Spring my mother and I would start an epic cleaning regime that lasted nearly the whole day. I am sure that I wasn’t as helpful as I’d like to believe but, in my head, I was integral to this operation. Windows were opened wide and rugs shaken outside in the sun. There were buckets and furniture was moved away from the walls.  Music would blast and, of course, we had the occasional dance break. I have maintained this tradition in more ways than one. yellow-flower-in-snow-listed-as-public-domain-on-pixabay

Why am I sharing this with you? I invite you to apply these Spring clean rituals to your job search. Have your methods gathered cobwebs or become too routine? Spring is a great time to de-clutter your efforts and re-vamp your strategy.  Open the windows wide and get to work! Here are some tangible steps to get you started:

1. Your Network: Go through your contacts and think about who could benefit from knowing each other. Make some introductions.

2. Get Out There: Sign up for events or conferences. I signed up for a gardening class in a new town. Similar classes have yielded new clients in the past. Don’t limit your efforts to outright networking events but consider learning something you are generally interested in just to be around a new group.

3. Check in with LinkedIn: You’ve got contacts on LinkedIn that you have probably forgotten about. Comb through your list thoroughly and don’t let good connections go cold. Chime in on a blog post or toss out a question to a group.

4. Dust Off Your Resume: A resume is not a static document. It is an ever-evolving reflection of your skills and accomplishments.  If you’ve received a promotion, taken a course or added a role in your current position, put it on your resume.

5. Rate Yourself: List all of your efforts and take an objective look at how you use your time. What can you do differently?  For example, if you’re not currently working, has social media become more of a distraction than a strategic job search tool?

6. Keep Yourself in Good Spirits: You owe it to yourself to engage in a bit of fun. In order to project positivity, you really must make sure that you engage in things that keep you positive.

The Careerfolk team has done a bit of cleaning as well. We’ve just sifted through papers, policies and packages to see what makes the cut and what can be let go. We updated our services and methods so that we can meet the evolving needs of our clients. We’ve created a multi-media networking packet to help people stay accountable (and strategic) as they look to expand their contacts.  We have also began the early stages of a complete website re-design. It’s very satisfying to roll up our sleeves and make changes.

Channel your Spring motivation and see your efforts blossom (excuse the pun). As always, we’re here to help you along the way.  Shoot us an email at info@careerfolk.com anytime.

Essentials for Job Search Success, Linkedin, Motivation for the Job Search, Networking, self-assessment

Mind the Gap! Bridging the Gap Between Grads and Employers

College students and recent grads, you do not have it easy. The job market is competitive and some potential employers can give off that “you’re lucky to be considered for a job right out of school” attitude. Chances are everyone is asking what makes you different or what sets you apart from your competitors. The reality is, you’ve only just begun to accrue experiences beyond your education and that may leave you feeling unsure about what it is you can really showcase. I’m here to tell you, do not despair. Recent-graduate

Recent grads and potential employers need each other. The workforce relies on having people who are willing to work hard with a fresh set of skills to apply to their fields. But here’s where people can get into trouble. Employers want to know that you are capable of making decisions; not just any decisions – good ones! If you can demonstrate key ways in which your quick-thinking or decisiveness led to a positive outcome, this is an ace up your sleeve.

According to a recent survey, there continues to be a disconnect between what employers need and the readiness of many college seniors. The Association of American Colleges & Universities revealed that most students believed they possessed the skills needed in today’s job market but approximately 75% of employers did not agree.

How is this good news? It’s good news because you know what to play up. You know that it’s a potential concern so you can address it head on with examples of innovative thinking. It is always to your advantage to understand the general perception so that you can disprove what doesn’t serve you and emphasize what does.

Here’s a good way to think about your experiences whether you plan to put them on a resume, talk about them during an interview, or reference them in a cover letter.

Think about the last dilemma you faced and how you got out of it. What qualities did you have to draw from in order to resolve the situation (doesn’t necessarily need to be work-related)?

How would co-workers or classmates describe your style if you had to collaborate on a project?

When was the last time you took a risk? How did you decide it was a worthwhile risk and what steps did you take to ensure it was the right choice?

What steps can you take today if you’re a little low on accomplishments to demonstrate your creativity and job readiness?

Need a little help? You do not have to go it alone.

About Tava  Tava Auslan is a career counselor,  resume writer and dancer. After earning her BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase and an MSEd in Counseling from Fordham University, she began her career with Donna at The New School Career Services Center in 2002. There she worked with students and graduates pursuing a variety of careers.  She later went on to serve as the Assistant Director of Disability Services.  This background has shaped her foundation for working with college students, recent grads and individuals with disabilities.  A skilled counselor, she is compassionate, insightful and delivers the right amount of “push” to motivate her clients.  She is known for her ability to help people assess their challenges, determine where they are stuck and offer tangible solutions to get them back on track. An astute writer, Tava translates this into crafting resumes that tell a compelling story for job seekers of all ages and stages.

College Grads Job Search, Essentials for Job Search Success, Motivation for the Job Search, Psychological Barriers to the Job Search

Don’t Let Your Distraction Lead to Inaction – Part I

Our lives today are chaotic and filled with distractions, whether you have an ADD/ADHD diagnosis or not. We are receiving more and more calls from clients with these diagnoses, but we have found that, in general, people in career transition have a very hard time maintaining their focus.  Navigating a job search can be challenging enough without ADHD adding its “special sauce” to the pot. A successful search or career transition requires long-term goal setting, focus and copious amounts of organization. So, how can we make this process more digestible for you when you’re already working twice as hard at avoiding distraction? Unknown

Truth be told, there is no one size fits all solution.  When I worked in disability services, I would  strategize with  students on how to develop time management skills.  Some responded great to “self-talk” when they felt themselves losing focus.  Others felt silly doing that and preferred the noise canceling headphones distraction-free environment approach.  The strategies below are just ideas for you to consider and try on. There’s no need to feel a loss of hope if these strategies aren’t cutting it for you, there are plenty of other “tricks” out there.  And, by the way, this is good stuff for any job-seeker because even without ADD/ADHD, it’s hard to figure out how to make bite size pieces out of this.

Let’s start with a common symptom for ADHD: Impulsivity

How might impulsivity manifest itself in a job search?

– You might be tempted to interrupt during conversations with people at networking events or informational interviews.

– You might develop a great weekly strategy and then abandon it to develop 3 more without gaining momentum on either of them.

Pulling the trigger on certain things before you have adequately prepared is another way impulsivity can impact your job search.

If that sounds like you, here are some things you can try that specifically address impulsivity.

1. Interruption: Practice makes perfect.  Grab a friend that you can easily start a conversation with. At the end of the conversation ask yourself to summarize what your friend has shared with you.  Getting in the habit of summarizing conversations can help to develop your active listening skills.  Also, this one may be challenging but if you’re up for it, it’s very helpful.  Record your conversations with friends (obviously, make sure your friend is ok with this).  It’s helpful to have the visual cue to get some feedback about how often you spoke vs. listened, how much of what your friend said that you may have missed the first time around, how often you interrupted, etc.  One student I worked with was able to identify his pre-interuption cues and we found that consciously swallowing when he wanted to speak was a good strategy for him.  As I said, there’s no one size fits all.  Experiment!

2. Accountability to Your Strategy: You’ve made a plan but you have trouble sticking to it because making plans is far more enticing than carrying them out.  Here’s where you’ve got to put your creativity to work.  Sticking with a plan can feel sort of suffocating if you’ve got ADHD.  How can you make it fun, or at least tolerable?  Block out a regular time of day and set a reminder on your phone to devote a certain amount of time to your plan.  Build in small rewards for your accomplishments.  (Not shopping spree size rewards, but small and practical things that make you feel-good. Maybe it means dancing around to your favorite song, having a piece of dark chocolate or calling a friend to say hello).

3. Pause Before Action: I worked with a fashion student who created a brilliant online portfolio and he immediately sent it out to everyone in his network – his professors, mentors and even the Dean of his school.  Well he pulled the trigger too quickly and sent it out with a lot of errors.  Fortunately for him, he was able to use his creativity and address his errors with a lighthearted charm by offering some insight into his ADHD enthusiasm. The moral of the story, before you hit that send button, go through your checklist:

– Check for errors on your resume, portfolio, cover letter, LinkedIn summary or any other communication.

– Give it another set of eyes…or ears.  Don’t rely on yourself to catch what’s missing.

– Sleep on it.  If it’s that good, chances are it will be even better when you wake up in the morning with a fresh perspective and fine-tune it further.

I hope these strategies can offer some help along the way to landing a new job or advancing your career.  Feel free to register for a 15-minute consultation if you are curious about working with us to make this even more digestible. Both Donna and Tava are experienced counselors with a background in college Disability Services in addition to our career coaching expertise. We offer 5 and 10 hour packages – as well as individual sessions if you need help setting manageable goals.

So, whether you have a formal diagnosis or not, what are the strategies that you use to counter all the distractions when it comes to job search?  What are the greatest challenges you face?  We’d love to hear from you.


Clinical Career Counseling, Essentials for Job Search Success, Motivation for the Job Search, Psychological Barriers to the Job Search

Extreme Makeover: Resume Edition

Confusion over how to promote your expertise in this “new economy” continues to mystify most. While everyone still needs a resume, what that resume looks like has changed dramatically, hence the Extreme Makeover Edition. Much of what I said a few years ago remains true (read below), however some fundamentals of the job search process have changed. What constitutes a RESUME is what has changed. Tell me what you think! Is the paper resume as important as it was two, three, five years ago?

Fashion is not the only thing that suffers from the ebs and flows of economics. There are resume trends too, and the resume has a whole new look.  The rules & tools of the job search have changed and that includes the resume.  For many job seekers thrust into the hunt after a long time of steady employment, these trends are not obvious. And, there is always that familiar refrain, “…but I was told to do it this way.” Confusion reigns and  it’s hard to keep up with all the changes.  This is apparent from the hundreds of “old-school” cookie-cutter resumes I continue to see.  While the traditional format may have worked in the pre-recession economy, don’t expect too much traction with it today. That is, unless you have a unique skill set that is well highlighted through out the document and is the EXACT match for what the hiring manager, your resume alone is most likely not going to bring you the attention you want.

When I get calls from job seekers wanting help with their resume, the first thing I ask them is about their “Online Resume.” What does Google say about you? That is where your credibility lies. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the resume is dead, there is still a strong desire for it, but the fact is that they have slipped a few ranks in importance.  In addition, how they should look is also different. So, if you think its time for a new resume, I think it’s time to call it an “Extreme Makeover.”  Lets see what’s in and out of vogue for marketing your expertise going forward.

1. OUT: Objective IN: Clear and compelling Positioning Statement / Value Proposition/ Job Title

The top ¼ of your resume (on LinkedIn, your professional headline) is the most prime resume real estate. I see too many resumes squander the opportunity to catch the attention of the person perusing/ skimming/ eyeballing your document or LinkedIn profile. Telling a recruiter “what you want” by way of the ubiquitous Objective does nothing for your cause and the statement became obsolete at least one recession ago.  A recruiter or HR professional is going to spend approx 5-10 seconds scanning your resume for all the right keywords. Not only do they need to be up front and center, but so does your immediate value proposition.  How will the recruiter be compelled to place your resume over all others onto the “call” pile? It doesn’t matter what you name this top section, what does matter is that it includes ideal job titles you identify with and your value proposition. Going for the old cliched statements don’t work any more either. This Positioning Statement has to be unique to you, and convey exactly why you are so well suited for the position.

2. OUT: One style fits all IN: A style that’s appropriate to you, your career history, your industry

The days of the traditional and boilerplate chronological resume are no longer. This format does not lend itself to presenting your most valuable skills or experiences in the most convincing or strategic way.  Today, I mix and match various formats and sections to highlight each individual’s attributes, accomplishments and experiences that are relevant to the position they are seeking. While there are many pre-determined sections of a resume, every job seeker does not fit into the same mold, neither should the resume. Even at the C-suite level, candidates do not need to include everything they have ever done. Follow the “Blackberry model”, and make sure you document is clear, concise and catchy. Your essential info must be brief and compelling and readily accessible on a smart phone!

3: OUT: One Dimensional   IN: Multi-Dimensional

Today, the web is your resume!   If you want to be easily found, a recruiter should be able to Google your name and find your story.  With social media tools, you can create a dynamic and branded online message conveying who you are.   Social networks such as Linkedin, VisualCV, or Facebook, not only allow you to outline your experience, but also easily highlight other dimensions of who you are: What you read, how you write, what type of questions you ask, and your level of engagement in online professional communities. If you are proud of a PowerPoint you created, articles your have written, or a blog, it should be up on LinkedIn at the very least. The quality of your recommendations and, in some fields, the extent of your network, go far in aiding you to become a more viable, visible and credible potential candidate. One recruiter calls it the “Social Media Recruitment Test”. Do you pass it?

4. OUT: Traditional personal contact info only   IN: Linkedin/ VisualCV/Website/ Blog URL/ Twitter handle, etc.

If you only have your traditional contact info, i.e.  the good ol’e telephone, mailing address etc. and email, you may want to add more.  Including your LinkedIn/ Website/ Blog URL or Twitter handle, gives the person reviewing your resume the opportunity to get a broader picture of your expertise and brand.

5. OUT: Only paid work is legitimate experience    IN: All experience (including unpaid, volunteer, and internships) that is relevant can convey value.

I’m constantly amazed by the interesting things people do and yet they don’t consider including it on their resume because it doesn’t fall within their traditional notion of “work experience”. What about the time since you lost your job? Is there a gaping void? One of the most important questions your next employer has is “What have you been doing since you lost your job? I am afraid, the worst thing you can say is “job searching”. Hopefully, you have been active in a range of activities that have been time well spent, and if articulated well, such information can and should be strategically blended into the resume.  Not only to demonstrate a job seekers depth of capability but also to highlight their unique experiences.

6. OUT: Black font only     IN: Careful use of color

The use of color on a resume was once only the purview of artists and designers. But the need to help your resume stand out trumps that idea. A subtle use of color to help your document catch someone’s attention (and brand you as someone who is willing to take a risk) can be very compelling.

7. OUT: List of responsibilities    IN: Accomplishment-based statements

No recruiter is going to get excited about reading a job description regurgitated back to them on a resume. Accomplishment-based resumes are the foundation of your Value Proposition and help set you apart from your competition. Creating a value-packed resume requires an assessment of how you made a difference in any/all experiences you deem relevant, and the outcomes accomplished, hence the name.

8. OUT: Paragraphs    IN: Bullets

Bulleted statements have been around for a long time, but it seems that some may have missed the memo. If you want someone to actually read your resume, spend time carefully constructing accomplishment-based, bulleted statements under each job title. Round, black bullets serve a critical function in leading the eye to each sentence. They make a resume easier and quicker to read.

9. OUT: “References available by request.”    IN: Personal testimonies

Definitely obsolete in the 21st century resume. It’s a given today that you will provide references if asked. Space on your resume is at a premium, so you want to make every word count. Instead, give the recruiter a chance to have direct access to your personal testimonials, (recommendations) on LinkedIn (and you should have a minimum of three) by including your LinkedIn URL in your contact section. In addition, there is no reason why you cannot add a short quote or two from a previous superior or colleague who sings your praises. No doubt, formatting, length and placement is key.

10. Out: One general resume    IN: Multiple resumes to target different roles.

With the unequivocal demand for resumes to be highly focused and a direct match to the job requirements, there is little room for ambiguity surrounding your skills, experience or career goals. Since most professionals have a range of transferable skills that can be reconfigured for a host of different positions, creating individualized resumes, each with a clear and distinct focus is essential to be considered for a position today.

Creating the right documents that will get you noticed in today’s job market is no simple feat.    While there are some steadfast rules regarding resumes, it is important to follow these important new rules, so that you can get noticed, because no matter how good you are, if your resume is not making it through the ATS (Applicant Tracking System), and you don’t think of Web 2.0 as your new resume, don’t expect a phone call any time soon.

Do you have the right resume and online branding strategy to get you noticed? Contact Careerfolk for some constructive feedback, and don’t let your resume get caught out by the Resume police! Email me Donna (at) careerfolk.com

If you read my previous post on updating your resume, you’ll see that you can gain a lot more insight out of the process than you realize. Let me help you would like to bring your resume  into the 21st century!

Essentials for Job Search Success