Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Transition - Part Two

Cover Letter
Use good quality paper
Mention the job you are interested in up front
Be brief
Include the same contact information as on your resume
Check and re-check your grammar and spelling - have someone else proof read it
Use a clear font - Arial and Times New Roman are often recommended
Sign your name

Send copies
Use the same letter for different employers
Use slang or uncommon terms
Send a letter without a resume

Do what you can to find out the name and title of the person that will be receiving the application. You can usually find that out by calling the company and asking who your letter should be addressed to if it's not listed in the posting.

Use Ms. or Mr (Smith or whatever) in your salutation. Refer to the job, where you heard about it and when first. Then demonstrate with your words how your experience and background match the position's requirements. Since you've not done that particular job and possibly not been in that particular industry before, you may want to say that you can see they are looking for someone who has strong communication skills and you have proven excellence. You must give that evidence briefly in the letter. Pick the top qualities they are looking for and give them information that demonstrates you fulfill their requirements.

Let them know that you look forward to meeting with them to learn more about what their needs are. You are excited about the possibility of contributing to their success. Here's where you can be reached. If you haven't heard from them by next week, you will call them to set up a mutually convenient appointment. Thank them for their consideration. Sincerely, your name

Contact information
Enclosure: Resume

This is the opportunity to promote yourself, your writing, your special abilities - and to leave them with the thought that they "must" meet with you. Make sure you use powerful descriptive words, action words. Make sure when they read the letter they can see that you have what they want and more.

If you have specific questions, please send them to me at: infor@committedtoyou.org

The last part will be on Interviewing Skills. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Question & Answer Regarding Transition

Question: I am in a career transition. After working for the same company, in the same position, doing the same job for the past 10 years, I decided to embark on a new career in a different field I know very well and have some training in. It's just that I've never been employed or paid to do this. Do you have any tips on how to present myself on a resume, cover letter, and in a job interview?

Answer: This is a huge question. I will respond in three separate parts. Before even beginning part one let me say that there are many people in this very situation. For some it's just time to change careers. For others they are forced to change careers due to downsizing or layoff, and yet others have found that they must go back to work due to the economy and haven't been in the workforce for many years. I assure all of those people that their circumstances don't have to be related to as a problem, but merely an opportunity for a new adventure. The gift that they uniquely provide is the gift of enthusiasm, passion, and a willingness to get the job done.

Part one will address the creation of a resume. If you are needing to apply for a job that has been posted somewhere, you will likely be looking at the description of the job and the requirements of the ideal candidate. If you absolutely don't have the ability to get the job done, don't apply. The last thing you want is to be hired by a company because you misrepresented yourself and then have to deal with the pain that comes with failure.

From here on I will be assuming that in looking at what you have accomplished in your life to date, you have some qualities that are transferable to the position even though the industry is different. regardless of the position. Before you begin the process of creating a resume identify (make a list) what you excel at and what you are uniquely qualified to do (nobody could do it like you do), what you are passionate about and the kind of results you can be counted on to produce. Each job has results attached to it.

Your resume is your Marketing Tool.

Look carefully at the job description and the qualifications required. If you can deliver what they require, start your resume by heading it up and give it a title. If the job is to head up a training department it could be TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST.

Under that title a sentence that describes what you do so well (again it should relate to the job). For a training job perhaps: 10+ years providing indispensable support to CEO's, Presidents and Managers. Never say 25+ even if it's true. You don't want to be elimnated because someone thinks you're too old before you have a chance to enrol them in the value of your wisdom. (wisdom only comes with years)

If you haven't worked in years, and have been a stay at home Mom, you are a Project Management Specialist and you have had 10+ years providing structure and support that allowed those you worked with to excel. If I'm not being clear let me know. Send me a request for clarification at info@committedtoyou.org.

The resume is your marketing tool. It can tell the employer why they should hire you and validates who you are and what you have to offer. In transition I recommend a functional resume which begins by highlighting your competencies (of course the ones that are most valuable for the job you apply for). The first section of that resume is: Areas of Strength. In two columns list 10 or 12 strengths that would quickly have the employer "know" that you're perfect for the job that's being offered. You can change those strengths for each job you choose to apply for. Just be honest. Don't list strengths which you don't actually have.

Next: Highlights of Experience. Give some examples that demonstrate those strengths with measurables, always with measurables.

Professional Employment History

For someone in transition there are always competencies that allowed you to be successful in the career you're leaving. If moving into a new industry perhaps you love to learn and learn quickly, so even if you lack the skills (for instance you've never been in the printing business) - you may have the very qualities that that industry requires.

I just coached someone who was looking for a new employee for the printing business. She was replacing the old employee because he had lots of experience, had his own business in the past and had brought with him a lot of "but that's not how I did it, that's not how it's done". His experience made it difficicult for him to take direction and learn new ways. What this manager wanted was someone with the values that the company embraced and a passion for learning, an ability to multi-task, a lover of teamwork, and particularly someone who knew that quality and speed had to be important.

The person she was considering had come from a totally different industry and had no experience in printing at all.

Next part will address the cover letter. If you have specific questions, contact me at info@committedtoyou.org

Friday, August 6, 2010

Question and Answer

Question: I have been a consultant for small businesses for nearly 25 years. I'm very confident and comfortable when pitching my services to someone new, and love what I do so much that it really shows in my enthusiasm. However, when it comes to talk about cost of services, this is where I crash and burn. I know my fees are reasonable, but why do I lose my nerve when it comes to quoting a price? i always lows ball myself and end up doing the job for much less than my competition.

Answer: There is nothing wrong with charging less than the competition if that's your choice and that's how you have decided to go to market. However, from your question, it sounds as though you'd much prefer to get more for your services. You may be fearful that you will not get the business if you don't lower your price - I call that a survival act - an act generated from fear.

I will assume that you really do provide a very valuable service. Ask yourself what your value proposition is - what I mean is how much of a long-term return will the client really get for their investment in your services? What is the worth of that offering to them? What does it cost you to spend an hour with them and how much do you have to get for your services to actually "be in business"? When you have "chosen" a fee for service, stick to it. Trust that there are enough people who can afford your services and some "will" find you too expensive. The way to relate to that is "those people who can't afford my services will have to find someone who is less qualified". Remember that often people really do believe they get what they pay for. Take a stand for your value and design your fees accordingly. If you want to contribute to charity - write a check or do volunteer work - but we're talking about your business. Alan Weiss wrote a book Value-Based Fee. While he's talking about training consultants (coaches), it addresses this very issue. Check it out.