Weekly Cartoon: under new management?

This Cartoon came to me while having lunch with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants, Jason’s Deli, as we talked about Halloween. If it made you laugh, share it with a friend!

Why You Need To Keep Your Resume Updated

You may be very happy in your current job, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your resume updated. Especially considering job security is now considered an oxymoron. Most of us don’t enjoy spending time working on our resumes, but here are several reasons why we should.

Presenting yourself as an expert

To establish your personal brand and to grow professionally within your current role, you may decide to position yourself as an expert by speaking at conferences and other engagements, publishing articles, or providing quotes to the media. Event organizers, journal editors, and the media will expect you substantiate yourself as an expert in your field. Your resume is the way to do that.

Being nominated for an award

While it may not happen every day, occasionally you may be nominated for a civic or professional award. The judging panel will want to know why you’re so great. While some panels may rely solely on the write-up completed by your nominator, others may request an extensive list of your accomplishments. That’s where your updated resume comes in.

Freelancing

Even if you’re not looking for a full-time position, you might be interested in doing some freelance work on the side. You never know when a great opportunity may land in your lap. Don’t miss out by not having an updated resume ready to give a company that needs to make a quick hiring decision. Opportunities like this happen more than you think. Employers prefer to hire people who have proven themselves and freelancing is a great way to demonstrate your talents.

Headhunting

Just because you’re not interested in seeking employment elsewhere doesn’t mean that another employer isn’t interested in you. If a headhunter approaches you, you’ll be able to provide them with an updated, impressive resume. Who knows, they may make you an offer you can’t refuse. If nothing else, it’s worthwhile and a confidence boost knowing you have skills and experience that other employers want.

Applying for a promotion

When you’re ready to apply for a more senior position within your current company, you may need an updated resume. What better way to show the hiring manager you’re enthusiastic about this opportunity than to be one of the first to apply. Even if the hiring manager is your current manager, most likely a panel of managers will interview applicants and make the hiring decision. While your manager may know your work, others might not.

Identifying development areas

Your professional achievements and mistakes happened for a reason. Updating your resume will allow you to reflect on your strengths and identify areas that might be important to develop. I would recommend developing as many transferable skills as you can. If you ever encounter a career change, you’ll be better positioned to work for new company or industry.

Creating a roadmap for your future

Employers aren’t the only ones who get an overview of your career by reviewing your resume. You do too. This review will show you what binds all your career accomplishments together and give you insight into where you might head in the future. The one constant in this world is change, and it seems things change quicker and more dramatically each year. Reviewing your resume and comparing how your skills match up with your desired position can help guide you on what skills you need to add or develop.

Preparing for the worst

You never know when you might become the victim of a merger, downsizing or layoffs. Sadly, many employees who have experienced this didn’t do anything wrong and weren’t planning on being let go. Keeping your resume updated, even when times are good, will help you land on your feet if it happens to you. You can immediately begin looking for new work inside or outside your company.

Experts recommend updating your resume once a month. You can add new accomplishments while they’re fresh in your mind and craft a document that presents the best you to prospective employers.

If you liked this post, share it with a friend or share your thoughts in the comments below. What advice would you add?

Want To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile?

LinkedIn has become an essential social media platform to showcase your talents and successes. It’s a great place to network if you’re trying to get ahead in your job, change careers or promote your company. With over 467 million users, how do you make your profile stand out? Here are a few tips for boosting your LinkedIn presence.

Use a current profile picture

Profiles that feature pictures garner a 40% InMail response rate and are 11 times more likely to get viewed. In fact, a profile without a photo is considered unprofessional or SPAM and usually ignored. A profile picture is a must have. It’s best to use an up to date photo ideally taken by a professional. Your profile pic needs to fit 400 pixels (w) by 400 pixels (h) and should focus on your face.

Add a header image.

The header image can help visually tell more of your story. It can be virtually anything you want, but it should be professional in nature. Maybe it’s a picture of your company, the city you work, or an image that demonstrates your personality. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s of high quality, and you have the rights to use it. The header image measures 1584 pixels(w) by 396 pixels (h).

Include your contact information

Your contact information should include:

  • Email address.
  • Phone number
  • Twitter handle
  • Company or personal website.

*Keep in mind is that your connections have access to your contact information. This is why you should only connect with people you want to network with.

Create an engaging headline

Instead of using your current job title, craft a headline that serves as a mini value proposition or “elevator speech.” Your headline should explain what value you would bring to an employer. Use verbs and other active language that engages LinkedIn users. For example, my current title is VP, Member Engagement. The title doesn’t quite explain what I do. So, I rewrote my headline to summarize some of my key features.

Your headline is one of the few things that show up consistently when people see your profile such as in comments or updates. It’s precious real estate you need to maximize.

Optimize the blog/website anchor text

Since the anchor text is customizable, you may want to rename the standard URL “www.mywebsite.com” to something more attention-grabbing like “portfolio” or “blog.”

Include a compelling summary.

Your summary is a perfect opportunity to tell your story and connect with your reader. A good one is authentic, friendly and demonstrates what a potential employer or client can expect from you. Your summary can be long or short as long as it’s interesting and compelling.

Optimize for search engines

Employers utilize LinkedIn’s powerful search engine to locate talented people like you. Your profile will also be searchable on Google or Bing, so it’s vital that you use the right keywords and phrases that will help people find you. Imagine what terms your ideal employer would use for search and make sure these same keywords or key phrases are found sprinkled throughout your profile.

Emphasize your professional skills

You can add up to 50 professional skills to your profile. These skills work like tags when employers search for your particular skills. It’s a good idea to have people in your network endorse you for your skills whenever possible. Your LinkedIn profile is much more likely to get viewed when you include professional skills that have been verified (endorsed) by others.

Promote your projects

Highlight products, services, and projects in the Projects section of your profile. You can name a project and use a URL to lead the viewer to the project’s associated website. Show potential employers or clients the type of work that you do or have done.

Add publications

If you have written articles or there are articles written about you, add them to your profile. Publications demonstrate thought leadership and boost your credibility.

Join groups

LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 LinkedIn groups. Find groups related to your business and industry and join them. Choose two or three of them in which to be an active participant. The most effective part of being in a group is participating and adding value to ongoing conversations. If you consistently add value, people who share similar interests may want to connect with you expanding your network.

Publicize your interests

Adding your interests to your profile will optimize it for those searching keywords related to activities and hobbies. Highlight your volunteer experience and causes you care about According to LinkedIn, 42% of hiring managers say they equate volunteer experience with formal work experience. In addition, 20% have hired a candidate based on his or her volunteer experience.

Keep these tips in mind to optimize your profile and boost your presence on LinkedIn. Once you’ve created your ideal profile, put it to good use and become an active LinkedIn user. Post updates relevant to your industry, share great content, connect with colleagues and always add value.

If you found this post valuable, feel free to share it with a friend or share your comments below.

Want to Successfully Change Your Career?

Studies show the average person will change careers several times in his or her lifetime. There are several reasons people change careers from job loss to the lure of a new challenge. If you’re thinking about a career change, here are 10 steps for making a successful transition.

Determine what you like and don’t like
Many people change careers because they don’t like their current field. So, knowing what you dislike may be easy. Knowing what you like is another story. Think about the kinds of things that would interest and excite you. Let’s say money wasn’t an issue, but you still needed to work, what would you want to do every day? If you still have no idea, you may want to take an online career assessment. I recommend the Gallup Strengths Finder, it changed my life. Strengths Finder helps identify your natural traits by answering a series of questions. For each question, you only have 20 seconds to choose your answer. The short timeline reduces the ability to overthink your answers and encourages your intuitions to take over. It costs only $35 to get your top five traits, and I feel it’s worth every penny.

You may want to first buy the companion book, StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which comes with a code for a free assessment.

StrengthFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Get the book here:

Research new careers
Once you have an idea about potential new careers, explore them. Make an informed decision after researching job availability, average salary, and required skills. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET OnLine provides career information and a skills-matching service. Still have questions? These job sites offer valuable insight, guidance, and resources.

If you’re interested in some good books on the subject, I recommend these two:

The Career Guide For Creative and Unconventional People. Get it here.

What Color is Your Parachute? Get it here.

Leverage transferrable skills
Think about the skills you have that you can use in other careers. Leadership, communication, and organization are all skills you can use across careers. Even if your current job is very specific, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have transferable skills. Do you communicate well with co-workers? Are you good at time management? You may discover you already have most of the skills required for your new career. Take a moment to research open positions that are of interest to you. What skills or traits is the company looking for? If you don’t have them now, there’s no reason you can’t acquire them.

Train and educate yourself
Your new career may require knowledge and skills you don’t have. You may need to take courses or complete a certification program, which can be expensive. It’s possible potential employers will hire you and pay for the requisite training as long as you complete it in a specified period of time. If you’re looking for a much more affordable option, there are plenty of resources out there.

Here are a three to get you started:

  • Lynda.com (now owned by LinkedIn) You can subscribe directly, or as part of a premium LinkedIn profile, you’ll have access to a huge library of courses in all sorts of categories. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn here.
  • Udemy.com allows you to purchase courses you’re interested in instead of subscribing to a service.
  • CreativeLive.com is similar to Udemy and Lynda.com, but that appeals more to creative people.

Network
Networking is one of the keys to successfully transitioning to a new career. Those in your network can give you job leads and advice. In fact, many now say that more people are finding their dream job through their network instead of job listings. If you don’t think you have an effective network, join a professional organization. Another way to broaden your network is to contact alumni from your college or high school working in your new field. Make sure you’re engaging on LinkedIn and nurturing your network. If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, get started! LinkedIn is absolutely an essential tool for your career. I’ll be posting more about LinkedIn in future posts.

Gain experience
Paying your dues before getting a full-time job in your new field may be necessary. That could mean working part-time or even volunteering to get the required experience. There’s nothing wrong with volunteering — especially if it will provide you with the necessary skills needed for your next career move. Think of it as free training while doing good. You may consider freelance work, contract work or remote work opportunities. These will give an opportunity to test out your field of interest before leaving your existing employer. If you didn’t enjoy it, you might reconsider your options. However, if you liked the work, you’ll have a better idea of what to pursue.

Look for a mentor
It’s likely you’ll encounter rough patches during your career change. You may even feel overwhelmed and reconsider your decision. A mentor can help you through the rough spots. Your mentor may be instrumental in helping you find your first job as he or she opens up his or her network to you. Think back to previous bosses — especially those who saw something special in you. Reach out to them for advice.

Look at opportunities within your current company
Changing careers doesn’t always mean changing employers. Your company may work with you to transition you to a new field, especially if you’re a dedicated, hard-working employee. Companies prefer to hire from within because current employees are already familiar with the culture and policies. A bonus to becoming a well-rounded employee at the company is you will become more of an asset.

Refresh yourself on job-hunting basics
Job-hunting tools and skills change over time. If it’s been a while since you were in the job market, you may want to take some time to learn about current job-hunting techniques. Things have changed over the years and submitting a resume, and cover letter may not have the same impact it once had. You’ll need to put in some work to stand out from the crowd. TheMuse.com has a lot of great advice on the topic.

Be flexible
Don’t let setbacks get you down as you strive to achieve your goals. Being flexible is the best way to avoid or work through those setbacks. You may have to accept relocation or a lower salary to pursue your new career. This situation could be only temporary though. Once you’ve worked there a while, you may be qualified for a promotion or another opening within the company.

Changing careers can be scary and intimidating, but it can also be exciting and rejuvenating. Especially if you focus on finding work that fulfills your life instead of just your bank account. If you embark on a new career path, do your homework, be patient, and broaden your network to enjoy success.

If you found this post valuable, feel free to share it with a friend or share your comments below. Good luck on your journey!

Want To Successfully Move Your Career Forward?

No matter which industry you find yourself working in, one thing likely remains true: you’re always looking for ways to move upward and onward in your career. Especially since the world moves so fast these days and you never know what kind of opportunities lie right around the corner. Consistently striving for success is a great way to remain fulfilled and motivated, but challenges along the way can leave even the best workers discouraged.

In the world of work today, each of us should consider employment like running our own business…”You.inc”. As technology continues to disrupt the status quo, job security is virtually all but gone. However, you can keep yourself on-track to reach your goals by investing in yourself and following a few career-building tips, no matter where, or how, you work!

Maintain A Positive Attitude

The right attitude can make a huge difference; if you go into your job every day with a negative outlook, it’s going to be difficult to perform at your best. Remain as optimistic as possible and focus on excelling in your area of responsibility. When you achieve results in your own area, you’ll build self-confidence and improve your professional reputation which will ultimately help maintain a positive attitude.

Help Out Fellow Co-Workers

When attempting to advance your career, don’t get so focused on yourself that you ignore helping others. Being kind and helpful to your coworkers will not only keep you humble but will likely be recognized by superiors. Strong teamwork is a common ingredient to success. Supervisors and managers look for team players when they scope out workers for promotions, so be sure to keep this in mind.

Take on New Projects

You’ll never realize your full potential by staying “safe” in your comfort zone. Take the initiative to work on new projects, resist the urge to say “no” to an opportunity because of uncertainty or fear. Sometimes, the biggest successes in our lives begin with taking risks and trying new things. At the very least, you’ll gain new knowledge and experience that adds to your value.

Be Open-Minded to Learning

Be open-minded and eager to learn new things. Don’t hesitate to ask supervisors and managers to show you how to complete new tasks — and always look for ways to better yourself even outside the workplace. Taking classes or attending workshops related to your industry on your own time is easier than ever before. There’s an abundance of resources for affordable training such as:

Some of the costs associated with the classes or workshops you want to participate in may be covered by your employer. Check with your manager to see if they’ll cover the costs. After all, skilled employees tend to deliver better results.

These are just a few ideas for ensuring success and upward advancement in your career. Whatever your goals may be, following these actionable tips will help you get there faster. What advice has worked best for you?

Weekly Cartoon: It’s always about results.

Who cares about results when everyone already worships me?!1

Don’t be this kind of CEO.  There’s already too many of them out there.

What you should know before investing

Let me first start by saying that I am by no means a financial advisor and pay someone else to handle my taxes. What I want to share in this post is my experience with investing. If you want solid advice about investing or taxes make sure to speak with a professional. With that said, here’s my story.

I was tired of earning less than one percent on my savings and CD accounts. I was always curious about investing in the stock market, but it was intimidating, and the thought of throwing large sums of money at something I didn’t understand seemed pretty stupid. So I set out to learn about investing in the stock market without risking my main retirement funds.

I decided to start small ($1,000) with funds I had accumulated from a former employer’s 401k plan. When I switched jobs, I had to roll it over into an IRA, and it was just sitting there earning nothing for years. Why not invest it in the stock market instead? Here’s what I learned.

There are tax advantages (yay!)

If you buy stock in a qualified small business and don’t sell the stock for five years or more, you don’t have to pay tax on the capital gains when you sell it. I also learned to the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. In simple terms, a traditional IRA is pre-tax funds, and the Roth is post tax. In other words, once you retire and begin taking withdrawals you’ll pay taxes on the traditional IRA but not the Roth. I chose a Roth IRA, so I won’t have to pay on any gains later on.

It takes time

Be prepared to lock your money away for at least five to ten years. Since you’re tying up your money for a long period of time, link your investments to your long-term financial goals, such as saving for your child’s education or your retirement. You’ll need to learn to be patient. The value of your investment savings will rise and fall. When I first started, I watched the stocks daily, and every time it dipped, I thought of selling. I had to stop looking at the performance so often because I was going crazy. I began checking them every other week and to my surprise started to see real gains. I had to accept that the market fluctuates often and a down day doesn’t mean much in the long run.

Don’t be overly cautious

Choosing a stock can be difficult – especially if you over analyze it. I decided to take the Warren Buffet approach and invest in things I understood or used. This turned out to be great advice. As a consumer, I was able to get an idea of how the company was performing where it counts. For example, I was always a fan of Southwest Airlines, and when I learned they would be flying out of Atlanta, home of the busiest airport in the world, I decided to buy some of their stock (ticker symbol: LUV). At the time, the stock was trading at $14/share. As of this writing, it’s trading around $56/share. The gamble paid off.

Diversify, diversify, diversify

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you put all your money in one investment and that company or market fails, you’ll lose all your money. There isn’t a better example than the unfortunate people who trusted Bernie Madoff unknowingly invested in his Ponzi scheme.

You should diversify your investment portfolio and spread portions across various companies and asset classes. Put some money in lower risk investments, such as government or corporate bonds, and some money in higher risk investments, such as equities or real estate.

Invest regularly

Not everyone, including myself, has large sums of money available to buy chunks of stocks when the timing is right. Instead, I keep an eye on some of my favorites, and when I can afford to, I buy a handful at a time. Another way is to look for investments, such as mutual funds, that allow you to contribute on a monthly basis rather than investing in one lump sum. Doing so allows you to minimize your losses when the market is down. It also allows you to buy more shares at lower prices if the market is falling.

Consider investing through a fund

It’s a good idea for beginners to invest their money in mutual funds. Mutual funds are managed by fund managers who use their knowledge and expertise to buy and sell shares or bonds that maximize contributors’ returns. Buying directly, instead of through a fund, can be expensive and especially risky for beginners who don’t know the market. The majority of my retirement is through mutual funds, and I’ve learned to appreciate the value of professional management.

You don’t have to be a high roller to be a successful investor. It’s easier than ever to buy your own stocks and gain experience in the process. Be patient and invest for the long haul. Here are some of the most popular firms to use:

For me, I’ve gained a much better understanding of how investing works and I now have more informed conversations with my financial and tax advisors.

Weekly Cartoon: The Blockchain

Could it be the blockchain

For those of you who may be saying “I don’t get it” – the blockchain is new technology on the internet.  It shows incredible promise and many people are beginning to use the word “blockchain” to make them look smarter when they don’t really know how it works (hence the cartoon).  Check out this site to learn more.

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