How to Protect What You’ve Built

Stephen Van Vreede

Silly me. I thought an MBA mixed with hard work was my ticket…

When I first started my career, generally I didn’t know anyone who actually paid to have their resume (or résumé, for the purists among us) written, much less for “career services.”

Let’s be real. It used to be pretty cut-and-dry. You put a basic 1-page (or maybe 2-page) resume (or résumé) together, worked a few connections or answered a few “classifieds,” and felt pretty certain the right opportunity would come along. Then if you worked hard (got the right certs) and didn’t burn too many bridges, you most likely had a pretty secure career path ahead of you perhaps even with the same company.

stephen van vreede

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And at first, throughout most of the early part of my corporate life, that was generally how things went. I moved from internal position to internal position without the need to invest in resume or other career services, eventually landing a director-level role with a large GE Capital, multi-site inbound call center serving the logistics industry.

But then the job market began to change, my priorities shifted, and job security was, well, less secure.

So I decided to go back for my MBA and obtain some other credentials (sound familiar?), which cost me thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars (just ask my lovely bride who helped pay for them!). I even clawed my way through the Six Sigma process to become a Black Belt.

It was a great experience, but after two years of working full time and taking night classes, when I graduated, the job market wasn’t much better, competition for internal promotions was greater, and I wasn’t the only one with an MBA, a Black Belt, etc.

That’s when I was introduced to resume design and career services.

I came to recognize that the time and resources I had already spent on my career were worth protecting. The market was too uncertain and changing too rapidly for me to continue to go it alone.

At this point, I had already invested in someone to handle my retirement, another someone to do my taxes, and another someone to find me the right home. It wasn’t such a stretch to think that my career mattered as much, if not more, than these other things. After all, without it, then I couldn’t afford the retirement or the house (and yes even the taxes).

I began to see where resume/career services could play an integral part…in not only helping people to secure jobs but also in building in protections to the careers we’ve all worked so hard to achieve.

Eventually, my wife, Sheree, and I began our own firm called “No Stone Unturned” in 2001. Initially, we had a small office where we hosted seminars and workshops, wrote resumes, and served a cross section of professionals and backgrounds.

But we still wanted to do better. We knew we could. And we do.

Our followers on Twitter know us as @ITtechExec and @rezlady, but IRL (in real life), we are Stephen and Sheree Van Vreede.

Thanks to my background in IT/telecom management for the supply chain/logistics industry and to Sheree’s experience serving as an editor to the scientific/engineering community in the publishing world, we soon realized that we were best suited to serve the technical professional trying to maneuver through what by that point (2008) had become a complex and exhausting job market. (Let’s face it…it’s a bit of a zoo out there!)

Not only that, we noticed that other resume writers were avoiding technical clients, unsure of how best to position their specialized skills.

Therefore, it wasn’t long before we began to work exclusively with IT and technical or “STEM” clientele, professionals who have devoted themselves to some of the most innovative and rewarding fields in today’s industries, from engineering to healthcare IT to scientific exploration to big data and cloud services to project/program management.

7c05542f13dcf084193c9129897c468fThat’s when ITtechExec was born…

Silly me. I thought we could just write resumes…

Then, before we knew it, unemployment skyrocketed and the tech market began waging its war for sophisticated tech talent.

And on top of all that, social media recruiting burst onto the scene, and the landscape became pretty messy, pretty fast. Soon, hiring folks were claiming they were no longer reading resumes (even though they continued to ask for them), and the job market became such a zoo that candidates found themselves focused on a document that everyone says they won’t look at for more than 6 seconds but it better not have any typos in it!

That’s when we realized that we could no longer just write a resume and send our clients on their way. They needed better preparation and lasting protections. They needed strategies and tools that, well, worked.

We knew then that we had to become a full-service career advancement and protection firm, not just another resume-writing firm.

So we asked ourselves, if you know the market is a zoo, that resumes aren’t likely to be read, and that obstacles like age or experience are more pronounced than ever, why would you (a) keep approaching it from the same angle over and over or (b) sit back and do nothing? Why wouldn’t you instead focus on where the real value lies?

With tech professionals changing jobs every 3 to 4 years, consulting/contracting on the rise, and fierce competition for promotions, it’s time to try something that is based on how the market is actually working now, not 10, 15, even 5 years ago.

95% of technical leaders obsess over the resume even though they don’t believe it has much value.

It’s why we’ve made a radical shift to a more portfolio-driven approach instead of just a resume-based one.

Yes, the resume is part of it, but let’s get more from your investment.

You still need a solid chronological resume (no matter what you may hear) geared toward a very specific audience, but when done properly, having addenda to go along with the resume can be much more effective (and much more likely to be read!), not to mention the significance of the LinkedIn profile, which will continue to grow over the next few years.

Portfolios can help build in flexibility and prepare you to face different hiring scenarios. But you need to know which tools are best for your situation. Although there is a lot out there you can do (or buy), you don’t need to do everything (that’s the good news!).

So whether you are an external job seeker looking for a new full-time role, a consultant going for the next contract, or an internal leader seeking promotion or just retention (such as during an acquisition), because we are following the tech job market closely, the real investment is in knowing which tools are right for you and how to properly use them. (To learn more about why we recommend a portfolio-driven approach, check out our presentations: and

No one can predict for certain what the market will do, but we can make sure that you are prepared for whatever comes.

Building the messaging AND the strategic vision for your job search that lead to solutions.

The portfolio is great, the branding is wonderful, but now what are you going to do with it? Is it going to give you experience you don’t have, turn you into something you’re not, take away the gray in your hair? Of course not. But when done right, it can do something that the 95% of technical professionals keep missing: It can speak to the needs of your target audience ONCE you get it into their hands.

And that is ultimately why we do what we do. We equip you to face obstacles in the market, and we position you for the best chances of success.

We began developing this approach in late 2011 when we started to realize that our client “members” needed more than just a resume and basic messaging; they needed a strategic vision.

NoddlePlacelogoThat’s how NoddlePlace came to be…

To best provide this strategic visioning, we needed to differentiate our solutions even further! This meant tailoring some to meet the needs of the more experienced tech pro, the leader with 15+ years of experience who was now wondering how to face this market that seemed to penalize them often for things they can’t control, like age, experience, and high salaries. For them, it isn’t so much about climbing ladders as it is about protecting what they’ve built so far and staying relevant to the marketplace.

So we customized ITtechExec to meet the needs of this type of client.

Then we introduced NoddlePlace in 2013. Here we focus on the “emerging” technical professional with 5 to 15 years of experience who knows another 25 years or more in the tech job market means 8+ more career moves, statistically speaking, and wants to keep advancing in the market but now has a lot of other demands on his or her time.

In either case, though, they are both looking for real solutions…

BUT they recognize that we are in a market that rewards those who come prepared. And that a job search is tougher and tougher to navigate.

So they come to us to get prepared, to design their resumes and portfolios, and to help them launch their search. Then they put the onus on us to keep their materials up to date and to keep them ready for the next opportunity when it comes along. It’s peace of mind amidst an ever-changing landscape.

Your livelihood matters. So protecting careers protects families.

Too many times we think of our careers in terms of climbing the ladder of ambition and in having it all “figured out.”

And although there’s nothing wrong with having ambition, there’s much more to our livelihoods than that. There are people depending on us, and no matter where we stand on the corporate ladder, we all have something to protect.

And that protection requires preparation. (If you want to toss in ambition, great!) It doesn’t necessarily mean you have your whole life mapped out or that the obstacles you face aren’t real. It does mean, though, that you aren’t going to keep letting corporate whims and job market trends toss you around with no regard for you and your family.

That’s why we’ve asked ourselves: What is the cost of doing nothing?

In response, we’ve developed our solutions, not to be so much an investment in a “resume” as an investment in proper positioning and solutions to the market.

Call it holistic. Call it different. We like to think of it in terms of allowing us to track results and ROI.

There are good resume writers out there. But they can’t/don’t/won’t do anything more than write the resume and send you on your way. And the resume alone isn’t really addressing the main issue: your age, lack of experience (too much experience), family or geographic restrictions, job hopping, you name it.

Having the right messaging is good; having the right messaging with the right strategic vision is better.

Then Along Came Recruiter Matching

Our first foray into offering job search solutions in addition to the messaging we do was recruiter matching. Our members were telling us how time consuming and frustrating it was to figure out the best recruiters for them to engage (geographic location no longer has much to do with it; most technical recruiters fill positions out of their state/country). So we looked into solutions that would make this process easier and more effective.

In 2013, we partnered with a research firm to offer what we callrecruiter matching campaigns.”

Based on parameters that are specific to you and your situation, we determine which recruiters are best matched with you. We even prepare and launch a campaign to introduce you to these recruiters. Then we provide you with tools to maximize your engagement with these recruiters that builds more than just a “what can you do for me right now” conversation. It’s all part of preparing and protecting our clients.

new logo

Then we met Sue, our NoNonsense Job Search Agent2015-01-05 11.02.21

If ever there were an answer to prayer, music to our ears, or a sight for sore eyes (you get the drift), Sue was it. Blending a unique background in managing both IT and telecom day-to-day operations with extensive hiring and recruitment experience for small/mid-sized organizations as well as for a prominent Fortune 1000 company, Sue has been up close and personal with HR, and has had to wade through layoffs, acquisitions, and corporate restructuring. (That means she’s a veteran of the job market zoo and has been so deep in corporate goo that nothing surprises her anymore!)

Together, we devised both a three-phase “NoNonsense” employer profiling solution that gives members another alternative to the job board “rat race” and, the best part of all, provides personal job search support, so that each member has their very own job search “agent” helping them to zero in on and find contacts at prime employers best suited for them. I know this is something truly unique!

Sue also helps conduct our 45-minute introductory strategic visioning consult calls that get our members moving from the messaging stage into the execution stage. She helps get you moving toward a strategy for your search and provides advice on how to enhance on the standby methods you typically use.

Last but NOT Least: Don’t Get Stuck in the Muck with the 95%

We kept seeing clients come to us, put a lot of energy into the latest career move, and then fade away for 3 to 4 years until panic returned and they realized it was time to go through the job search again.

They often got stuck in that period of time where work and life take over, and the last thing they wanted to do is keep their resume, much less a portfolio, updated.

But Proper Maintenance Is the Key to the Whole Thing!

Why not build your portfolio/LI profile once and then put a little effort into keeping it maintained on a regular basis? Also, why not have annual assessments to adjust your strategic vision to life/market changes?

And when I say “maintained,” I don’t just mean adding job descriptions. I am referring to adjusting your materials to the adjusting tech job market.

It changes and fluctuates. Your brand messaging and your career strategies should move with it. That’s how our Career Maintenance & Protection Subscription Solution came to be.

And that’s another thing the 95% won’t do.

Our clients say it all…

  • We develop proven strategies: “[NoddlePlace] help[ed] me cohesively package my diverse work and skill set, which allowed me to show my value to potential employers and organizations.” Steven O. (Healthcare Ops Exec, Los Angeles)
  • We get results: “I finally had the luxury of choosing from 3 separate offers.” D. Gradin (GM, Los Angeles)
  • We attract the right recruiters to you: “I went from a contact or two every couple of weeks to more than a dozen contacts/phone interviews with recruiters this past week” Eric S. (Information Security Director, Denver, CO)

ITtechExecNot only that, we do it by keeping it real. And that is what makes it simple…we break it down to the strategies and methods that will work for YOU in your situation.

After all, we’re all real people looking for real jobs with real companies run by other real people who just want real solutions to their very real problems.

To learn more about us and all our swanky credentials, check out our sites ITtechExec and NoddlePlace or e-mail Stephen directly at today. (You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and just about everywhere else too [we have lots of “neat” pins on Pinterest!].

BUT even better than all of that…Come try us out and see. Take advantage of our Free Prospectus & Proposal.


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