The Great Vacation Debacle: Take 3

Posted on August 25, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Work Issues |

biz260

by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

A couple of years ago, after being somewhat frustrated with myself for my inability to disconnect from work during my family vacation, I published the following post. Now each summer I like to re-post it as a reminder of what a vacation is supposed to really mean:

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As a career professional, I spend lots of time discussing benefits packages with my clients. What I’ve discovered is that the type of benefits package offered by a company can often trump salary for many people (or at least be a strong deciding factor). And although health care is a main topic of concern, perhaps the next biggest issue is vacation time.

I have witnessed many clients use vacation time as a bargaining chip when negotiating a work contract. I have witnessed many clients brag about the generous vacation packages offered by this company or that. I have even witnessed some clients leave companies over lack of vacation time (yes, it’s true) or over demands that they “check in” while on vacation.

So without a doubt, vacation time matters…or so we say…

In a discussion on Twitter regarding Gen-Y work-related issues, participants were adamant that this next generation of workers will not stand for anything less than a proper work-life balance. Period. End of story. They are not caving in, so companies better beware! (It was all so very…romantic.)

To which, I say, “Phooey.”

That’s right. I don’t believe it.

And here’s why…

In today’s work environment, taking a true vacation (you know, one where you disconnect and actually hang out with family and friends instead of, well, working) is getting harder, not easier, to do.

And it has nothing to do with the amount of vacation time you receive, and even less to do with the company’s expectations that you “check in.”

The truth is that we live in an age that no longer has the ability to understand what it means to “disconnect” (I mean, after all, we seem to want to keep all those high-school friends we were so anxious to shed 20 years ago now that we have Facebook) and we secretly (or maybe not so secretly) have disdain for people who do achieve total “disconnection” (“I texted you.” “I e-mailed you.” “I messaged you on Facebook.” “And you took a week to respond to me!”). We’ve certainly lost touch with what a true emergency is. We just don’t want to wait. (Remember when people used to respect “dinner time” or “business hours”?) Frankly, we want people to be available to us 24×7 (not that we would say it like that, of course).

We also live in an age where people are clamoring to work for companies like Google that have turned their corporate compounds into playgrounds, complete with massage services and pool halls, not to mention fun activities for the rest of the family. I mean, it’s vacation everyday there, right? Hmmm, I’m pretty sure Google still expects you to work. (“Hey, we’ll let you relax; just don’t go too far away or disconnect from us while you’re doing it. See, we’ll even let your kids come and hang out! They’ll forget your working because they’ll be having so much fun.”)

For sure we don’t like our companies telling us what to do, like to check in during vacation, and we despise it when the office calls us during our cruise (“How dare they?” We get so indignant), but there we are willingly doing it on our own anyway, sending all kinds of mixed signals.

“It’s better if I clear out my e-mail before I go back. Otherwise, it will take the whole first day in the office to do it.”

“It’s no big deal if I just sit it on this one conference call.”

“I’m not working; I’m just checking e-mail.”

Now, I know, there are the true renegades out there. They are adamant that they are not available during their vacation or family time. But have you ever noticed how defiantly they have to state their case? “I’m on vacation, and I will NOT be disturbed!” The reason is because they know that even though everyone back at the office is going, “Oh Judy is on a well-deserved vacation, and she does not want to be disturbed,” they also are just waiting for some type of “emergency” to crop up so they can do just that, disturb Judy. After all, they each took phone calls and answered e-mails when they were out. I mean, just who does Judy think she is, after all? Who can’t respond to one little text?

As employees, we are a hot mess.

We demand our vacations and our family time, and then we let guilt or our sense of obligation (I mean, you did “promise” to see this project or that one all the way through, right?) linger during that precious time.

And companies know it.

(Why else do you think so many are so willing to offer up lots of vacation time and buy us shiny new iPhones? “What? You’re willing to work from home? You’re dedicated to sleeping with your iPhone? You’re going to take your laptop on your European vacation? Sure! Take all the time off you need!”)

Believe me, I am no better. I’ve caved more times than I can count, and although I have had some nice vacations, I have still worked through just about all of them…not really reaping the full benefit of what the vacation could offer me. I’ve never really disconnected. And although I have cried and moaned about why people won’t leave me alone while I am away, there I am “checking in” here and there, afraid someone might need me. (Ah, maybe that’s it! We need to be needed…)

So, no, I’m sorry, but achieving work-life balance is not likely for today’s or tomorrow’s young worker, especially a driven one, and neither is successfully disconnecting on vacation. It takes years of hard work and a thick skin to cultivate, and even then you’re still wondering whether it’s ever totally possible.

I mean, there really is something to be said for clearing out all those e-mails before you go back to work. 🙂

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Tired of the Social Media Job Search?

Posted on August 18, 2015. Filed under: Executive Job Search, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, social media |

social media job searchHad it up to here with social media and all the talk about it? If so, it’s understandable. Unless you’ve somehow managed to live under a rock the past couple years, the social media “experts” are everywhere and they’ve indoctrinated all your friends and family to believing they can’t live without it.

Around here we use a lot of social media (or SoMe as us “gurus” like to call it). And I can honestly say, a lot of what makes up SoMe is pretty silly. Even LinkedIn, as “professional” as it tries to make you believe, has some silliness to it, like the endorsements feature that has perfectly rational people playing its game.

Having said that, I do think today’s technical leaders need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Like it or not, social media is not going to go away, and it does (I promise) have some useful elements to it. If you’d like to hear more about it, I’ve put together the following post:

How Social Media Can Revolutionize Your Job Search

As always, feel free to share!

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Could This Be What Your Co-Workers Are Thinking?

Posted on August 11, 2015. Filed under: Work Issues |

company culture
A friend of mine knows how much I love office humor. After spending so many hours a day helping multiple professionals at a time maneuver through what I call corporate “goo”, from hiring to promotion to salary negotiation and performance review, the state of today’s internal corporate culture can be a bit, shall we say, over the top. So if I don’t find a way to laugh, I just might, well, cry.

Knowing that, my friend forwarded to me the above cartoon. I use a lot of Randy’s humor in developing our presentations, and I like the way he gets to the heart of things.

Perhaps you can relate…could this be what it’s like in your office? Could this be what your co-workers are going around thinking? Could it be what you’re thinking?

Since one of my co-workers is my wife, I have no doubt this is running through her mind. 🙂

Anyway, hopefully, it gives you something to chuckle at today. Feel free to share!

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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The Tech Startup Phenomenon: Where Do You Stand?

Posted on July 28, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, Job Market Trends, Work Issues |

startupsMy team and I produce a lot of online content for both of our sites (ITtechExec and NoddlePlace), from blog posts to podcasts to webinars, and we engage in many group discussions on LinkedIn and in Twitter chats.

Time and again one of the most popular topics among today’s technical leaders has to do with startups.

It seems everyone has some opinion about the general internal culture at startups and whether they are the better work environment.

So to get a better sense of where my network lies on this issue, we published the following blog post earlier this year, and I am looking for your comments.

What say you? Would you like to work for one? Have you worked for one, and if so, was it a good or bad experience? What are some key things to consider in choosing one?

We had a lively discussion on our ITtechExec Facebook page when the article first posted, much of which resulted in the majority of respondents stating that startups were “great, but be prepared to wear many, many hats.” Do you concur?

Add your comments here or at the link below. Any insight you can share would be great!

The Real Skinny: What It’s Really Like to Work at a Startup

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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No More Excuses! Today’s a New Work Day

Posted on July 21, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Interviews, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Personal Branding, Recruiting, Salary |

career changeIn my household, we have kind of a silly ritual. Whenever my wife or I or our daughter launches into a long list of reasons why we haven’t done something, or can’t do something, one of us says, “No more excuses. Today’s a new day.”

Although each of us cringes a little when we’re called out on our excuses, more often than not, the truth is that we have been hiding behind one or all of them. They’re comfortable. They help us rationalize why we have been putting this or that off. And sometimes it takes a little push to get us out of that cozy lull we’ve been in.

Does that describe you when it comes to your career progression? Do you have a list of excuses a mile long and several feet deep? I bet many of them are even very reasonable ones. The problem is, of course, that even if they are valid, they are still holding you back from progressing in your career. A valid excuse is not necessarily a good excuse to stay in that comfortable place. If you stay there too long, you might be in for a rude awakening.

So, no more excuses! Today’s a new day!

Not too long ago, my team and I introduced 4 “crash course” options. These are 4 great ways you can begin to work toward your career progression without getting in too deep, too fast. Think of them as baby steps, but key ones, because they will get you a solid primer of what to expect in today’s tech job market and a starting point for launching that career move you’ve been putting off.

SPECIAL 10-Day Promotion

To help give you a gentle nudge, we are even offering a 10-day promotion on each of our courses. From today, July 21, to Thursday, July 30, if you send me an email at Stephen@ittechexec.com with the subject line “Crash Course Promo”, we will send you a special promo code to give you $50 off each course. Our courses are normally $295 each, but for the next 10 days, you can get them for $245 each.

By the way, that’s $50 off each course, so if you reserve a spot in two, then you get $100 off!

Four Crash Course Offerings

All four of the courses outlined here are conducted by either myself or Sue, our concierge Job Search Agent. They are all one-on-one, don’t require too much of your time (usually 1-2 hours at most), and highly valuable because of how market relevant they are,

Instead of basic pre-recorded webinars that speak generally, we offer them as customized, 1-1 training.

You can learn more and reserve your spot in the personalized “course” today by clicking on the links with each course description. Don’t forget to email me at Stephen@ittechexec.com, though, for the $50 off promo code!

LinkedIn Crash Course: Because of the rising relevance of LinkedIn in not just the hiring process but also in ongoing career management, we find that many of our members are not really using it or are unaware of how best to use it for them. They know enough to dabble with it, and they know it is important, but they don’t have the time or energy to research how to become an “expert” at it. That’s where we come in!

Salary Negotiation Crash Course: Our most popular course, here we dive into the nuances of salary negotiation to look at how to “win” by focusing the discussion on value, not experience. Most people try to negotiate from a position of experience, thinking that should “sell” it. Instead we devise a strategy for how to shift the discussion to one of value.

Video Interviewing Crash Course:The higher up the corporate ladder you go, and especially if you are dealing with global companies, the more likely it is that you will face video interviewing. This course includes a mock video interview session with subsequent analysis. Even if you don’t end up having a video interview, you can still benefit from a third-party analysis of your interviewing strategy (notice I did not say “skills,” I said “strategy.”

Recruiter Engagement Crash Course: As you work with Sue on either obtaining our customized recruiter list or the full-service recruiter matching campaign (where Sue takes the list and makes the introductions on your behalf), or if you go about it on your own, you will begin to engage with recruiters who respond and show interest in you and your background. Sometimes it is great; other times it is a confusing world. When recruiters come to you, things can be good, but when you reach out to them, then things can get complicated. I have many recruiter connections, and admittedly, they will tell me that they often say one thing when they mean another. So it is wise to get educated on “recruiter speak.”

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Who Controls Your Personal Brand? You or Your Employer?

Posted on July 14, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Personal Branding |

personal brandThere’s an interesting phenomenon occurring these days when it comes to the idea of “employees as brand ambassadors.” With social becoming increasingly more important to most corporations, there is a lot of discussion about how to use employees and their personal social media accounts to help promote the company and its brand.

What often gets lost in all that discussion, because on the surface it sounds fairly harmless, is that if you as the employee are not careful, your own personal “brand” can get lost or sacrificed for that of the company.

On top of just the social media aspect, after many of my client members come on board with their new corporations, a lot of them are finding that these organizations have internal staff devoted to building their bios and to shaping how they are “introduced” to the global marketplace.

As a result, the company ends up shaping the personal brands of these employees, writing the bio, taking over their LinkedIn profiles, etc.

I can’t tell you how many LinkedIn profile summaries and job descriptions (or what are supposed to be job descriptions) I’ve come across that are really advertisements for the company, not the actual person whose profile it is that I am reading. So I walk away with very little knowledge of the person and annoyed by the “corporate speak.” (Honestly, it’s a bit like putting up a company billboard in your front lawn.)

Caution: Don’t hand over how you are presented and defined.

It may seem harmless enough at first, but with LinkedIn in particular playing a more prominent role in career progression, it’s important you don’t lose control over what makes you unique.

To help with that, starting last year, we began offering several “Brand Ambassador” options, all of which are designed to help you stay on target with this phase of your career management, as well as in control of how you are shaping your career. Here are a few of them:

Your Brand Ambassadorship Is Yours to Define

Of course, you can also always take advantage of our free 15-minute phone/Skype consult with me. To book yours today, simply click on the calendar image below, and pick the date/time that works best for you in your time zone:

The point is to make your career management simple, targeted, and certain.

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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How to Create a Killer Tech Resume

Posted on July 7, 2015. Filed under: Personal Branding, Resumes |

Thank you to Rich Hein and the Executive Council at CIO.com for inviting me to participate in this webinar on July 15 at 2pm Eastern.

To listen to the hour-long discussion, simply click on the image below.

Also, in the meantime, take my simple, 8-question “How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume?” assessment. It’s free, completely anonymous, and only takes ~30 seconds to do. You might be surprised by what you find out!

 

tech resume

Listen to the Webinar by clicking on the image!

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Why You Need More Than Conventional Salary Negotiation Advice

Posted on June 23, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Executive Job Search, Interviews, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Salary, Work Issues |

There’s a lot of salary negotiation advice out there that on the surface is solid, such as “go online and look at various salary comparables.” But most of the advice only focuses on one side of the negotiation, building your argument.

To get the most out of any negotiation, however, you want to make sure you understand the other side’s position as well as your own. And that’s where most professionals go wrong.

The following presentation helps you go beyond the conventional to get the best number, not just a satisfactory number, from your next salary discussion:

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Where Technical Resumes Are Headed

Posted on June 10, 2015. Filed under: Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Resumes |

fam48Perhaps you can relate … you think:

  • Resumes are no big deal.
  • Resumes are a VERY big deal.
  • You have no idea what kind of deal resumes are anymore.

Here’s the real deal:

Resumes are one piece of the “career move” zoo. They still play a vital part out in that zoo, but other aspects are just as vital.

95% of professionals spend so much time either over- or underestimating the job market that they end up focusing on the wrong things.

So where are technical resumes headed? (In truth, they are already there; it’s just so few candidates that are actually doing it.)

Resume portfolios along with an industry-focused job search strategy are the most effective approach today.

This is not an opinion. It is proven time and again by today’s market.

Because we are so caught up in it, we often forget that the job market runs on supply-and-demand. So when you watch what companies do as part of their hiring today (and NOT listen to what they say or what “experts” say they say), you discover two interesting things:

1. Companies respond well when information is “dripped” to them. They want to be introduced to you, get a feel for you (a summary), talk to you, learn more about you, get to know you, and finally be reassured that you “fit in.” In other words, it’s a process.

2. Companies really want to believe you are one of them. And that goes way beyond the list of credentials they stuff job descriptions full of. (Again, they often say one thing and do another!)

So what is a “resume portfolio?” And why is it so effective?

Most people see the resume as a list of credentials and experience.

That’s what they are used to reading and that’s all they know. So they don’t want to give it much time. They just want to toss it together and hope it stands out from the crowd. Or, perhaps worse, they end up obsessing over every square inch of it, still missing the bigger picture.

Remember, we can all produce lists of credentials (feel free to read more about mine and those of Our Team). The question is, though, “how will you leverage them to benefit the one hiring you the most?”

Hiring is largely determined by benefits, not by features!!

The resume portfolio gives you more room to focus on the benefits. The more you do that, the more companies want to know about you.

To do that, we start with the traditional resume as your foundation with addenda or add-on pages that serve as reinforcements to build off the positioning of the resume.

We then use a form of “drip marketing” to present the material throughout your discussions with the prospective employer.

When you do this, leadership begins to pay a lot more attention to what you have to say.

(For more specifics on how this works, check out Move Over Resume, Hello Portfolio and Making the Most Out of Your Resume Portfolio.)

With up to a 74% reduction in job search time over the national average, our resume portfolio stats paint a convincing picture!

So what’s in a technical resume portfolio arsenal?

  • Resume
  • LinkedIn Profile
  • Cover Letter
  • Marketing Brief
  • Bio
  • Thank-You Template
  • Infographic Resume
  • Problems-Solutions-Results (PSR) Page
  • Innovation Page
  • Testimonials Page
  • Project Highlights Page

Now, no one needs to have ALL of these materials. But you should build your portfolio based off of your goals, target market demands, and specific situation. In other words, it should be customized to you.

Too many people are saying that “less is more,” but our experience with hundreds of technical leaders each year proves that it’s not less, it’s information provided in smaller chunks that makes more of an impact.

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!

 


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IT Resumes: How to Stick to the Pertinent Facts

Posted on May 28, 2015. Filed under: Resumes |

Oncresume_makeover_technology_executive-100586028-primary_idgee again, Sharon Florentine of CIO.com asked me to participate in its “IT Resume Makeover Series.” This time I had the privilege of working with David Thornurb-Gundlach, a leader in enterprise architecture, who was having a hard time sifting through the wealth of experience he had accumulated to slim his resume down to one that showcased his most marketable qualities in today’s market.

In the end, David remarked, “What surprised me most was how unexpectedly excited and motivated I was when I saw the revised version for the first time. Now, I have a great marketing platform that will do a much better job of presenting me, highlighting my strengths, and delivering my message to potential employers. A resume is a living document, and now I’ve made it past the ‘resurrection’ and am in a great position to be able to tweak and fine-tune it for different opportunities and markets.”

To see the end result of my work with David, and to learn more about the process we went through to tailor the resume to the “pertinent” facts, check out the full CIO article:

IT Resume Makeover: Just the facts (and only the pertinent ones)

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Why Testimonials Matter in Your Next Career Move

Posted on May 14, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding |

testimonials

testimonials

In my book, Uncommon, with business development guru Brian Tracy (released June 2015), my contribution has to do with what I call “becoming a corporate entrepreneur.” My premise is that in today’s world of work, tech included, with professionals likely to change jobs every 3 to 4 years, with job “security” at an all time low, and with contract work on a steady rise, there are a lot of important elements from entrepreneurship that today’s corporate professional should (really, “must”) adopt.

stephen van vreedeOne of them has to do with making more of testimonials. Every good small business owner learns this, and fast. You have to know what the market is saying about you because it is a powerful thing to have someone else promote you. It’s one reason LinkedIn added its recommendations and endorsements feature, and employers are increasingly looking for strong references.

But often we receive other testimonials that go untapped, such as via email, and we don’t do anything with them. I strongly encourage you to start storing these emails if you haven’t already. Then I encourage you to convert them into a testimonials page.

This page can be used during your next career move as part of your portfolio approach. It can be brought out at promotion and review time as a reminder to leadership of the value you have brought (believe it or not, but we as humans are forgetful and need such reminders). It can be used as an add-on to your LinkedIn profile recommendations. You can copy and paste portions of it onto your resume or cover letter. You can send it along with your follow-up thank-you note after the interview as a form of “drip” marketing.

In other words, the Testimonials page adds so much more than the resume alone could.

Things like the Testimonials page, the Innovation page, the Problem-Solutions-Results page, and the Marketing Brief are why we strongly encourage our technical leaders here at ITtechExec to focus on resume portfolios instead of putting so much pressure on the resume alone to “sell” you like 95% of candidates do. When executed properly, the portfolio approach speaks much louder about the type of value you bring, not just list of credentials or features.

And the Testimonials page is a great way to let your network of co-workers, corporate leaders, end users, and so forth showcase your value.

So either start saving these types of kudos now or go dig them up, and let your world of work do the talking.

(By the way, in case you think this is something just for a job search, it is wise to have one for review time, promotion options, and to go alongside a bio or introduction that you might use during the course of your day-to-day work [I’m thinking about all of you who are brought in to lead diverse project teams across several locations or must collaborate with global divisions of your company].)

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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How to Get a Salary Negotiation Crash Course

Posted on May 6, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Salary |

uncommon the book with stephen van vreede

I had someone tell me the other day that he was so far along in his career that he “didn’t need to learn anything more about finding a job.” His exact words were “if you don’t know how to land a new job after 20 years of industry experience, then there’s something wrong with you.”

Wow! That’s an interesting perspective, especially considering how much hiring practices have changed over last 5-10 years (particularly with social media, HR integration, and recruiting on the rise).

My team and I spend every day watching the IT and technical job market closely for my client members as a Technical RĂ©sumĂ© Writer and IT Job Search Specialist, as well as a Technical Career Adviser to several news/industry outlets, like TechRepublic, Dice, the Linux Foundation, and CIO.com. And I can confidently say that the market is a “zoo” and that corporate hiring and retention practices are full of “goo” (aka, a hot, sticky mess).

Plus, I’m not sure how 20 years of industry experience necessarily equates to being a job search expert (hopefully you’re spending more of your career doing the job, not looking for it, right?)

Anyway, I did my best to explain to my friend above that our purpose here at ITtechExec was twofold: 1) to provide support during what has become a “zoo”-like hiring process (on a good day) by being the eyes and ears in the industry and 2) to offer both certainty that your materials position you for this process and convenience in helping to make sure your job search has the best possible “launch” and that your ongoing career management stays on track.

Of course you can do all these things on your own; that’s how you probably did them in the past. The point is that you no longer have to go it alone and hope that you are doing everything right. Support structures that are backed by a strong team are the hallmark of any strong business model, and they should be the hallmark of today’s wisest “corporate entrepreneurs” (sorry, that’s a shameless plug for my book UNCOMMON with Brian Tracy, Summer 2015, where I talk about “corporate entrepreneurship”).

Salary Negotiation Crash Course

IT recruiters 5So with that said, we’ve devised some critical “crash courses” to support key areas in your job search efforts. Our most popular crash course is without question our Salary Negotiation Crash Course. Created and conducted by me with materials compiled by Sheree Van Vreede, my bride and our quality control and market watchdog (she’s the thought leader who keeps us on the cutting edge of our industry).

Because of the stiff competition in not just the hiring process but also in ongoing career management and advancement, we find that many of our client members struggle most when it comes to salary negotiation. And for good reason, most companies don’t make it easy to be straightforward and have a frank discussion about compensation.

If you’re like the majority of our members, it often feels like you work so hard just to get to that stage where salary is discussed, only to enter a whole new realm that can leave you wondering whether you really did your best and whether you should have become some type of negotiation expert first.

And, really, why should you? You’re busy, well, working and innovating and taking care of your family and (hopefully) sleeping and, well, you get the picture!

That’s where we come in! We offer a customized, 1-1 crash course with me that is guaranteed to (1) get you up to speed without taking too much of your time (1-2 hours tops), (2) give you a strategy tailored to your goals (new job or future career advancement), and (3) provide you with the certainty that you need to know only what you need to know and the convenience of not having to spend hours of free time doing the wrong things or reading up on all the latest salary negotiation hype.

“Salary negotiation. Ugh. Isn’t that supposed to be the fun part of the job search? I mean, after all the stress of searching and waiting for the offer, now you’re in the final stretch…only to find out the hardest part might just be beginning. The last thing you want is for the the whole thing to fall through, but you can’t leave money on the table either. That’s where I found myself. I actually had two offers, which meant two negotiations. It should have felt like an ideal situation, but it wasn’t easy and I had to admit that I needed help. Stephen walked me through the process, helped me craft my side of the argument, and gave me confidence that I walked away with the best deal. Not too bad for only $295. I’ve spent much more for less!” Tim J., Aerospace Engineer, Houston, TX

How It Works

If you have a current negotiation or upcoming one, we can tailor the course to that. Or we can provide a general salary negotiation session, where we discuss various strategies. Our crash course starts out with some preliminary information gathering that includes a few questions for you to answer and an assessment of the current state of your salary needs. We will then prepare a report for you that we will share during a 1-hour phone/Skype session with you that will go through how to maximize your salary negotiation efforts. We will also share course materials and provide follow-up to see how things are going after the course.

Sounds simple? It is!

Order Your Salary Negotiation Crash Course today for just $295.

Interested in Our Other Crash Courses?

In addition to the Salary Negotiation crash course, we have three other courses, all focused on key elements of today’s job search/career advancement. Like the Salary Negotiation Crash Course, they are all customized, 1-1 sessions with course material, require no more than 1-2 hours of your time, and are just $295 each.

LinkedIn Crash Course: Because of the rising relevance of LinkedIn in not just the hiring process but also in ongoing career management, we find that many of our members are not really using it or are unaware of how best to use it for them. They know enough to dabble with it, and they know it is important, but they don’t have the time or energy to research how to become an “expert” at it. That’s where we come in!

Video Interviewing Crash Course: The higher up the corporate ladder you go, and especially if you are dealing with global companies, the more likely it is that you will face video interviewing. This course includes a mock video interview session with subsequent analysis. Even if you don’t end up having a video interview, you can still benefit from a third-party analysis of your interviewing strategy (notice I did not say “skills,” I said “strategy”).

Recruiter Engagement Crash Course: As you either work with Sue on obtaining our customized recruiter list or the full-service recruiter matching campaign (where Sue takes the list and makes the introductions on your behalf) or pursue recruiters on your own, you will begin to engage with recruiters who respond and show interest in you and your background. Sometimes it is great; other times it is a confusing world. When recruiters come to you, things can be good, but when you reach out to them, then things can get complicated. I have many recruiter connections, and admittedly, they will tell me that they often say one thing when they mean another. So it is wise to get educated on “recruiter speak.”

Bundled Savings Options:

If you’re interested in more than one of our courses, we offer some bundled savings options:

Any 2 Crash Courses for $549

4 Crash Courses for $995

Best regards,

Stephen

P.S.: If you want to speak with me, feel free to email me at stephen@ittechexec.com or book a 30-minute free phone/Skype consult with me via my Calendar tool.

P.S.S.: Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn too: View Stephen Van Vreede's profile on LinkedIn

Also, don’t miss our Directory of 1350+ U.S. Technical Recruiters for only $39.

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!

 


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Determining Cultural Fit Before You Accept the Job Offer

Posted on April 14, 2015. Filed under: Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Women in IT, Work Issues |

team80In 2014, we were inundated with reports, blog articles, and LinkedIn group and Twitter chats all driving home the notion that cultural fit was the #1 issue in hiring today. Poll after poll and study after study made it clear that cultural fit was what both candidates and employers were after.

Yet, when I spoke with technical professionals throughout the year, what I discovered is that despite a desire for a better cultural fit, very few of them knew how to make that part of the job search process.

In other words, they were willing to hop out of one bad fit into another, hoping the grass was greener because, well, it just had to be!

I was recently interviewed by Rich Hein of CIO.com on this topic, and his article “How to Tell If a Company’s Culture Is Right for You” is the result of our discussion.

You may or may not love social media, but one thing that it can do for us is provide a wealth of information and quickly. LinkedIn, in particular, now gives us direct access to people inside corporations, stats, brand awareness, and more, all things that were difficult to obtain in the past.

You may never be able to know with 100% certainty what it is like to work inside a company until you’re there, but you can do more than just hope for greener pastures.

Start putting today’s tools to work for you, and use networking to its fullest.

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Salary Negotiation 411

Posted on April 7, 2015. Filed under: CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Interviews, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Salary |

You might be moving into the salary negotiation phase of your job search soon. This area is a big one as we all want to come out of these negotiations feeling that we set ourselves up for a fair wage (after all, we worked so hard just to get to this point!).

Below are attached some infographics on salary negotiation that you might find useful to you. As always, feel free to share them with friends, colleagues, or across social media:

  • Fool-Proof Salary Negotiation TipsNegotiating higher salaryMy main advice when it comes to salary negotiation is simple:

Know what the market says your worth. Too many people walk into a salary negotiation unaware of this, but it’s the main ingredient. We’d all like to think we can “name our price,” but the market really does that (so capitalistic, I know!). So do your research and build your salary range off of that.

Never offer your lowest number. If your lowest salary expectation is $100K, then your range should be something like $105K-$120K. Chances are you will end up somewhere around $110K, but even if you do end up at $105K, you are still above your bottom number. Of course, there are other factors involved, like benefits and vacation time, and you should weigh them in the offer, but companies know that candidates are willing to make sacrifices in salary for these benefits, so they use it to get you to agree to less money, which means you have to work your way up (here and at the next company) from a lower base.

Desperation never “sells.” Sorry, but like it or not, you are selling something here…your services. We can call it by any other name, if it makes you more comfortable, but what you really need is a good understanding of sales 101: Desperation is a vibe we carry (even if we think we don’t). So work hard to keep a level head. The best way I know is to focus on the benefits, not features, you bring to the employer. What problem are you going to solve for them? Don’t just say you are good and worth it because you have X. Instead, tell them how you will leverage X to make the employer’s life better. Believe it or not, you still have to connect the dots! Ultimately, you want to “win” the offer at a rate you desire, but the company gets a bigger win: an answer to a problem it has because you are going to provide it. (And you want this, by the way. You want the other side of the negotiation to feel like it got a great deal, not because you came cheap but because you offered a great benefit. Your working relationship will start out much better this way.)

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Your Next Career Move Will Be All About That Presentation

Posted on March 31, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Interviews, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Resumes |

career moveIn today’s marketplace, you might often be thinking: “Good help is becoming increasingly hard to find. Whom do I trust?”

Just like you, this is exactly what employers are wondering when you approach them in the job search process. And just like you, they want more certainty. It’s why the hiring and promotion process is such a zoo.

They’re convinced they need you; they’re just not persuaded to take the chance. After all, like all of us, they too have made poor choices in the past, choices that have cost hundreds of thousands in salary and benefits.

So what do they do? Nothing…or worse, look for cheaper alternatives.

It’s why presentation in today’s market has taken on so much importance, and it’s why it takes more than experience, certs, and strong connections to close an offer.

Presentation dictates response.

When many think of “presentation,” they think of 4-color artwork, a fancy brochure, a flashy website, or a 5-star multimedia campaign. But the presentation I am referring to is more than that because really what makes a presentation so effective has to do with two things: 1) a strategic, well-positioned story that 2) speaks to how it solves the problems of its target market.

In today’s tech market, employers are saying they can’t find good talent, both in leadership and in tech knowledge, but I meet top candidates everyday who fit this bill. The problem? Presentation.

Candidates won’t invest in getting that right, and hiring leaders are too busy to help them connect the dots. Thus, they both end up confused and frustrated, settling for less than they deserve.

That’s why you need to connect the dots.

Don’t just get another resume; instead, understand how to carry that through to your job search strategy and interview. Make sure you really know what’s going on in the hiring world, specifically your hiring world.

It’s not like it used to be out there. That’s for sure. But the biggest risk is doing all the right things, working hard, producing good results, getting the right credentials, and making good connections, only to bomb the presentation.

So make sure you have everything in place to ace it, to protect everything you’ve worked so hard to build. This way, when companies consider you for a role, they’ll be persuaded you’re more than worth the investment.

 

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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Women in Tech: Should You Learn to Code?

Posted on March 24, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Software Development, Technology, Women in IT, Work Issues |

computer codeIn the March issue of MORE, a magazine dedicated to “women of style and substance,” I was interviewed by Laura Shin as part of a discussion that asked “Should You Learn to Code?”

It’s a great topic because as more women break through barriers in the STEM arena and compete for the 1.4 million IT jobs expected by 2020, they are going to have to consider the role they will play in the market.

Coding has already been cited as a top skill for the industry, and a strong knowledgebase is a good asset for those looking to move into management roles. Why? Because tech leaders will need to be able to identify top developers to hire and the skills they should have to complete projects.

To get a copy of the March issue and read more on this topic, click here or purchase a copy at your local Barnes & Noble or newsstand.

Thanks, Laura, for including me in this discussion!

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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IT Project & Program Management Recruiters: Where Are They?

Posted on March 17, 2015. Filed under: Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Recruiting |

project managementI know what you might be thinking: How hard is it to find recruiters who place for IT project and program management?

The issue isn’t so much that they don’t exist; the issue is how to sift through the vast field of technical recruiting to find the ones who specifically place in the project/program management realm.

Typically, most candidates will not do that. Or they will start out trying to do that and then give up in frustration. (There are only so many hours you can devote to proper LinkedIn searches and so many hours you can devote to calling/e-mailing recruiter after recruiter to see whether he or she is a good fit.)

Furthermore, most candidates still believe that locality is the #1 factor in picking a recruiter. So they just look for ones close to their home and start calling.

The truth is, though, that recruiting is not as local as it used to be.

And all recruiters don’t recruit for all types of positions.

The most common scenario we find is that candidates spend a lot of time calling around or doing online searches, eating away a lot of their job search time, only to find out they weren’t using the right parameters to identify the recruiter in the first place.

Even worse, they end up engaging with a recruiter who might sound good on the surface but doesn’t really place in their field of interest (or at their salary range).

So, yes, there are lots of recruiters out there who place for IT project and program management; the question is how much time do you need to devote to finding them?

OK, so now you might be thinking, “Well, I only need one or two and I’m good.”

That’s true if you luck out and find ones who need you right now. (Maybe that is how it used to go. They came to you, or when you went to them, it was so simple.)

Chances are, though, in today’s job market, you will need to reach out to several recruiters before you find one who fits your parameters and who has a viable position for you. (Watch out…some might engage with you but not really have what you are looking for right now; instead, they might see you as a fit for something else, something you aren’t going for; you can waste a lot of time on this!)

So, here’s the deal: Save yourself hours of frustration and research. Don’t exhaust it on trying to find the recruiters. Instead spend the time engaging with the right ones.

Too much precious job search time is spent on the administrative details when there are options out there to alleviate that.

Plus, they cost much less than several months of LinkedIn Premium subscriptions!

My advice: Get a specialized directory of IT project/program manager contacts and be done with it! Or take it a step further and have a customized list created by a job search specialist just for you!

In an instant, you’ll be ready to get started and you can focus your time on more valuable things, like proper engagement with this recruiters once you do reach out to them.

Doesn’t that sound like a better plan?

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (check out his exclusive offer). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?

 

 

 


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The Rise of the Corporate Entrepreneur

Posted on February 24, 2015. Filed under: Big Data, Career Management, CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, Interviews, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Manufacturing, Personal Branding, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Recruiting, Resumes, Retirement, Salary, social media, Software Development, STEM, Technical Infographics, Technical Sales, Technology, Women in IT, Work Issues |

In my newly released book UNCOMMON with Brian Tracy, I wanted to focus on the concept of “corporate entrepreneur.” Thanks to feedback from my social media connections, I was able to gather some great data and comments on what corporate entrepreneurship means to today’s professional.

Below is an excerpt from the book. If you’d like to download the entire chapter, click on the cover graphic and I will send it to you! OR if you’d like to order a signed copy of the book, check out my exclusive offer.

stephen van vreede

Click on cover photo to receive rest of chapter!

 ______________________________

THE RISE OF THE CORPORATE “ENTREPRENEUR”

Let’s face it. The world of “work” is more uncertain than ever. It penalizes you for things you often can’t control … for being too “old,” too experienced, too qualified, too “educated,” too “expensive.” It might not reward you for this certification or that title. On top of that, corporate hiring processes are a sophisticated mess (to put it mildly), internal cultural and multigenerational conflict is commonplace, and many companies are struggling with how to retain their top talent.

As a result, professionals now make an external career move every 3 to 4 years. That means the average 30-year-old with 35 years (or more!) left in the marketplace can expect 10 or more company changes before he or she retires. Even if this professional were to beat the odds with an internal promotion or two, by say double, he or she could still be out in the market every 6 to 8 years.

If all that corporate “goo” isn’t bad enough, then there’s the job market “zoo” to contend with.

BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT IT’S NOT ALL BAD NEWS!

Each day I work with professionals across the globe dedicated to building in career protection, and they are achieving tremendous results. Just like the rest of us, they face many of the same limitations: age, gender, level of experience, geographic restrictions, lack of credentials, market instability, and so on. The difference is in how they approach these limitations and build in their protection from the storm.

IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING AS CAREER “PROTECTION”?

People tell me that “job security” is a myth today or that if you work for someone else, such as a corporation, you can’t really control your fate.

And I understand what they mean.

IT SEEMS LIKE SOMEONE ELSE IS HOLDING ALL THE CARDS.

 (For the rest of the story, click on the graphic above!)

Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!


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How to Get a Whole Lot More Than Just Another IT Resume

Posted on February 17, 2015. Filed under: CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Healthcare IT, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Programming, Project management, Resumes, Software Development, Women in IT |

When it comes to the hiring process, 95% of professionals spend their time worrying about, and focusing on, credentials. Not surprisingly, then, they end up creating, or looking for writers who will create, resumes focused on showcasing lists of credentials backed by experience.

On the surface, this makes sense, especially when you do what most rational people would do, and that is listen to what companies are saying when it comes to their ideal candidates. After all, they say they want someone with X experience and X credentials, so why wouldn’t you produce documents that tell them you have exactly that, right?

Well, how many times have you or someone you know applied for positions that you were 100% qualified for and did not get the job, maybe not even a call or an interview?

It happens all the time. The reason?

Because companies are human too! And us humans have a habit of saying one thing and doing another.

And when you look at what companies do in regard to hiring, what you find is that they respond more to benefits than they do to features. In other words, while they like all the credentials and experience you list out on your resume, those things are most often not what persuades them to hire you.

Instead, they are looking for how all those credentials and skills can be leveraged to make their lives better. And they don’t want to have to connect the dots.

That’s where your IT resume comes in…it must begin the process of connecting the dots. Then it must be reinforced by additional content (what we refer to as a portfolio) and a holistic job search strategy that completes the connection.
The result? You get a whole lot more than “just” another IT resume. You get an approach that is proving to be much more effective.

To find out more about the IT resume portfolio approach we take, and why we take it, feel free to request:

Technical Resume Portfolio Sample.p.1

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?


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Your Job Interview Is Personal

Posted on February 12, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

interviewI get a lot of requests to work with clients on their interview skills. They want to know the “secret” formula to performing well at them, and they are pretty sure, because they heard it from someone somewhere, that it rests on how well you present your credentials and on how savvy a negotiator you are. So they put a lot of effort into preparing factual responses and reading up on negotiating skills.

It makes sense that they think this because, well, that is pretty much what every HR and corporate hiring guru says: Have these credentials and impress us with your “brand”. Be prepared for every possible question we might throw your way.

The truth is, though, that when you really dissect what makes for the best interview, it comes down to how well all the people in the room, not just you, the candidate, interact. In other words, the people part is really what makes or breaks the deal even if no one involved with the process likes to admit it.

I’ve witnessed “no” turn to “yes” more times than I can count simply because of the personal side of interviewing. In the same token, I’ve witnessed perfectly credentialed candidates with well-prepared responses to every question and scenario be passed over without hesitation.

So it is clearly not just a question of credentials.

Now, some might argue, “Of course not. Cultural fit matters too. Candidates have to appear highly personable so they will seem like a good fit” (to which all the introverts on the planet collectively groan).

Although cultural fit is an issue of importance for both the hiring group and the candidate, it’s not really it either.

The truth is you are having a discussion with either one other person or a group of other people and there are a lot of personal things going on, some of which may or may not have anything to do with you. For instance, depending on what time of day your interview is, the interviewer may be having one heck of a bad day (or a good one) or home life issues could be at play for both you and them. In other words, attitudes and distractions and feelings are all invisibly in the mix whenever we have any discussion, much less a job interview.

The ones I’ve seen do best in interviews are the ones who understand this human element, and they use it to build a connection and launch point for a valuable discussion.

Sure, they still present their credentials and their “brand.” Sure, they still prepare logical responses to situational-type questions. Sure, they still discuss their “first 30-day initiatives.” The difference is that they do it after getting a good pulse of attitudes and the type of day it is, using it to make a human connection, and bringing that into finding out what the real interests of the other party are.

Here are some tips on doing that:

  • Show your interest in them as people, not as a means to an end. People sense desperation and when they are being used. Authenticity is hard to fake, and a good interviewer knows that. This is where a lot of perfectly credentialed people fall flat, handing the job over to someone less qualified.
  • Find a common enemy. Believe it or not, but common enemies are much more powerful connectors than shared interests. Maybe you both groan over the cold weather or the terrible traffic or the constant runny nose your kids have. Whatever it is, establishing a common enemy is a great way to “bond” quickly.
  • Talk benefits, not features. This approach is common in sales, but it applies in the interview (as well as many other scenarios). We have a tendency to list off all of our wonderful features as though they alone are benefits, but that is not necessarily true. OK, so you went to Harvard. Exactly how will that benefit the company, though? You can either say, “I went to Harvard” or you can say, “I will leverage my alumni connections at Harvard to build a strong team here.” The latter focuses on how your attending Harvard benefits the company. THAT is differentiation because someone else went to Harvard too, but they can’t explain how that does a darn thing for the company except that it can say it has hired someone from Harvard.

So when preparing for your next interview, be careful not to be too formulaic, too “rational”. Be sure to consider how to make those connections.

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?

 


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Why You Should Update Your Resume (Especially When You’re Not Looking for a New Job)

Posted on February 5, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Personal Branding, Resumes |

fam48There’s nothing that gets as many groans of despair as updating a really old resume. If you’ve let yours sit in an old computer file untouched for a year or more, it can be a harrowing experience to try to update it — especially if you’re in a time crunch. But there are many reasons to keep your resume up-to-date besides looking for a new job. Here’s why:

An Updated Resume Empowers You

These days, it’s imperative to keep on your toes when it comes to your career. If your job isn’t exactly stable, you still can be by keeping a knockout resume at the ready.

An Updated Resume Shows Off Your Successes

Promotions don’t always come to those who deserve them — they come to those who know they deserve them. When you make a habit of updating your resume with all of your career wins, it’s proof to you and your boss that you’re doing a great job.

An Updated Resume Helps You Understand Your Career

Frequently updating your resume means you’ll start seeing patterns in your career — what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how you’ve best been able to make use of your skills and experience. When you understand what makes you happiest at work and what you do best, you’re better prepared to make a smart next move that will land you a job you love.

Haven’t updated your resume in ages? Don’t know where to start? Give us a call. We love helping people with their resumes — in fact, it’s one of our specialties!


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Hacker-Proof: How Next Big IT Push Relates to Your Next Job

Posted on February 3, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Programming, Software Development |

security25In TechCrunch’s New Year’s Eve post on projected IT trends in 2015, venture capitalist Steve Herrod wrote “there will be hacks.” As we witnessed in 2014 with the major cyber attacks of the likes of eBay, Target, JPMorgan, and Sony, even the biggest companies are not immune to hacks. And, when you’re an IT professional, you aren’t immune from understanding how hacking happens and how to prevent it if you want to compete for the best jobs out there.

Whether data safety falls into your job duties or not, employers this year will be paying special attention to keeping their information hacker-free. Here is how you can leverage this information on the job market.

Know Your History

Are you staying up-to-date on current events in tech and IT? Show your future employer that you understand your field of expertise by staying up-to-date. Do your homework and contribute to the conversation online, with colleagues, or at networking events.

Know What You’d Have Done Differently

A great way of making an impression on potential employers is to take an example problem and walk them through your problem-solving process. Even if you don’t specialize in data security, use your skills and experience to create a solution to the problem — it shows not only your commitment to a hacker-free workplace, but a high level of investment in your field.

Know How to Relate Data Security to Your Job

Hacking creates an environment of fear wherein a company’s most valuable assets are no longer safe. Think of the problems that arise in your specific field that parallel this pain point. If you can relate how you would solve them, you’re speaking to one of your potential employer’s most deeply rooted concerns, which will separate you out from the crowd.


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Job Boards: When to Use Them, When to Lose Them

Posted on January 29, 2015. Filed under: Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips |

hr56Answer truthfully: Have you ever gotten a great job via a job board? Do you know anybody who has in the past 5 years?

If your answer to these questions is “no,” or “just one or two,” then you already know for yourself that the job board has faded as the job seeker’s best career-finding tool. The job hunt, like most other things these days, has been dramatically changed by technology. And — we know the truth may hurt here — the job board just isn’t up to par anymore.

Does this mean that you should throw job boards out the window?

No, but neither should you lean heavily on them if you’re serious about finding a job.

Studies show that 87 percent of Baby Boomers flock to job boards as their first course of action when finding a job, but that only between 2 and 12 percent of them actually find employment that way. This isn’t exactly what we’d call a favorable outcome. Why is this?

With major job boards, the number of applicants to any single posting can easily top 100 per day. As qualified as you may be for the position, the odds are simply stacked against you when there’s so much competition out there. Niche job boards like Dice.com tend to work a little better, but your resume can still get lost in the mix when it comes to the really great opportunities.

So what should you do when you really need to find a new job? Diversify your search.

The 3-Pronged Approach

Perhaps the easiest way of recalibrating your job search is to take the 3-pronged approach: job boards, networking, and recruiters.

Job Boards

Job boards should be what you spend the least time and effort on. It’s a baseline approach that has the benefit of working for you 24/7 — but that’s only if it works at all.

Use Job Boards When:

  • You have a solid resume that uses the right keywords for your job —remember, human eyes don’t usually look at your resume until they’ve been filtered through by machines
  • You’ve found a niche job board that targets your specific specialty
  • You are already using at least one other job search method concurrently

Lose Job Boards When:

  • You know you’re overly dependent on them
  • They are your first course of action in your job search
  • They haven’t worked for you in the past

Networking & Recruiters

Allocate the bulk of your job hunt resources to networking and speaking with recruiters. These days, you can network and connect with recruiters online as easily as you can apply to a job on a job board. Try leveraging LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to see how you can connect with real people who have decision-making power when it comes to jobs.

You don’t have to let go of the job board completely, but if you want to find a job, you need to cast a wider net. While it may seem like more effort to network and connect with recruiters, oftentimes, it’s less work than you’d spend sending resume after resume into the void.

Give the 3-pronged approach a try. And if you need help getting started, give us a call. We’d love to help!

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (June 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?


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Kick In the Pants: How to Navigate Workplace Politics

Posted on January 27, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, CIO, Women in IT, Work Issues |

toon476No matter how hard we try to get away from the drama of IT and tech office politics, they have a way of sneaking up on us. Whether you’re just starting a new job or you’re working your way up the ladder, it’s essential to know how to handle your specific workplace environment. No two companies handle their politics the same way. Fortunately, there are a number of best practices that can help you keep your head above water no matter where you work — the important part is to put them into play and avoid letting drama get the better of you.

Neutrality, Above All Else

The more important the topic at hand, the more things seem to devolve into an “us versus them” mentality. Your coworkers will want you to take a side and join them in their crusade. As enticing as this may seem — especially if you really do favor one side over the other — don’t give in. Sometimes staying neutral can strain certain relationships; as long as you feel confident that it won’t break them, stick to your guns. Make it clear to everyone that you understand where both sides are coming from.

**Of course, this doesn’t mean you lack the ability to be passionate or “fight” for what you believe in. The point here is to make sure you pick the battles worth fighting, and more often than not, the corporate “goo” is not the right battle.**

Do Your Recon Work

When you’re new to a job, one of the first things you should do is understand the workplace politics landscape. What topics, behaviors, and opinions are off-limits? A great way to crack this nut is by simply observing. Keep a close eye on what is causing stress or discomfort in your office, and take note if you see a pattern emerging. More often than not, a week or two of observation will give you plenty of information to go on.

Pinpoint Your Office Advocates & Adversaries

Everybody has them: your work friends and work foes. It pays to sort out who is who early on. The same way we have professional networks outside of our jobs, we have networks inside, too. Building strong relationships with your coworkers is a given. Pay attention to the people you’re unable to relate to on a personal or professional level, especially if you observe them involved in your workplace drama. Unfortunately, some people are naturally more drawn to chaos, and you will want to stay out of their path as best you can.

Be Forthright and Open

Mistakes happen. If you find that you’ve committed a blunder at your workplace, own up to it and make amends. Likewise, ask directly if there are any keys to preventing future gaffs. Show that you’re willing to learn from your mistakes and “play nice” in your office politics game.

Never Take It Personally

It can be a challenge to separate yourself from your job, and office politics do feel awfully personal at times. Remember that politics are most often the result of people wanting to do the best job they can, and that you’re all working toward the same goals. Even when it feels personal, remember that it’s your role — not you — in question.

When it comes to politics in the workplace, do your homework and choose to be the better person, and you’ll be on the right track for this and future jobs.


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Protecting the Tech Career You’ve Built

Posted on January 22, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

We get a lot of questions about what we mean when we say “protecting” or refer to “career protection.” The following presentation tells the story of how this idea of protection took root and how it has evolved into everything we do at ITtechExec and NoddlePlace. It is our sincere belief that in today’s market, whether you’ve been around a bit like our ITtechExec members have, or are just starting to climb the ladder, like our NoddlePlace members, that you do more than just toss out resumes and scour job boards. It’s time to protect what you’ve built so far:


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“UNcommon!” Book Will Support Entrepreneur’s International Foundation

Posted on January 20, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

web--141112-274A few months ago, I announced that I will be co-authoring a book with business development expert Brian Tracy called Uncommon. The complete title is UNcommon: Common Sense but Uncommon Knowledge from ​Today’s ​Leading ​Entrepreneurs and ​P​rofessionals to ​Help ​You ​L​ead an ​Extraordinary ​Life of ​Health, ​Wealth and ​Success.

I am now proud to report that a portion of the royalties earned from UNcommon! will be donated to the Entrepreneur’s International Foundation, a not for profit organization dedicated to creating unique launch campaigns to raise money and awareness for charitable causes.

To learn more about the EIF and the book, check out the following release: http://www.pressnewsroom.com/index.php/2015/01/15/i-t-expert-stephen-van-vreede-signs-publishing-deal-with-celebritypress-to-co-author-new-book/

The book is expected to be out in Summer 2015 and will be available at all major book retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.


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The Real Skinny on Ageism

Posted on January 15, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Resumes |

ageismAge discrimination is a delicate subject, but not talking about it won’t solve the problem. One of the lesser-known truths about it is that — yes — there is something you can do about it.

Today the tech and IT worlds are more youth-obsessed than ever, largely because younger workers tend to be cheap, smart, and “fresh.” On the other hand, age discrimination also exists for people perceived as too young to work certain types of jobs. If being too young is problematic and being over 40 merits legal protection against ageism, does that mean there are only 15-odd years to have a career between college and middle age?

Of course not.

Experience matters. Age discrimination is illegal and should absolutely be reported, and there are many unfortunate examples of employees being frozen out of their careers while they are still in their prime. And because it’s so difficult to prove ageism, reporting it won’t always solve the problem. Yet older workers have an edge — years of real-world experience — and nobody can take that away.

So how can you leverage your experience to prove you’re the best one for the job?

First, stay at the top of your game. Settling into your job is never an option, no matter how old you are. Do you read industry publications and regularly brush up on professional skills? If not, start now. Second, focus on your company or potential employer’s pain points. Are you actively working to solve problems? Regardless of age, companies want the person who can exceed their expectations. And finally, take a good look at your company to see how they treat employees your age and older. If you don’t like what you see, plan a career move well ahead of time. Look for small to midsize companies with a good track record of senior-level employees, and tell them exactly how you can contribute to their business.

The final step? Speak up. Use your experience to make the working world a more fair and just place by reporting instances of age discrimination. Focus on being the best employee you possibly can be — not your age — and don’t let other people’s prejudice mar your career.

For more on this subject, check out Retiring from Retirement.


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How Many Certifications Do You Really Need?

Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Software Development, Technical Sales, Technology, Women in IT, Work Issues |

certificationsJob-changers and entry-level job-seekers alike all seem to have the same question: Should I spruce up my resume with extra certifications? And if so, how many do I need to get the job of my dreams?

The answer? It depends.

Of course, showing off your skills and education is a good thing — but so is real-world work experience. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of certification-collecting rather than working towards the skills that will actually move your professional life where you want it to go. And because you don’t have infinite time, you need to prioritize the ways you develop professionally.

(You also want to be careful that you haven’t fallen into the Career Credential Addiction that seems to be pervasive these days.)

So, before you start raking in certification after certification, follow these three steps: take a reality check, do your research, and strategize.

Reality Check

What certifications do you actually need for your job? Don’t get waylaid by job ads that ask for lots of certs — oftentimes, they are in the “nice to have” category and not the “need to have.” Always consult your hiring manager before jumping right into a new cert just to apply to a few jobs. Be aware that lower-level certs are usually worth less to employers than high-level ones, so don’t accumulate the basics just to have a few letters after your name.

Remember: Unless you are in a profession that legally mandates certification before you can practice your craft, there’s often some wiggle room in getting hired for jobs that ask for them.

Research

Here’s a tip that will save you time, money, and headaches: Research the people who have the job that you want on LinkedIn. What certifications do they have? Don’t stop at just one or two  — look for multiple people across the country who have the job title you seek, and keep a record of what certifications they have to their name. But don’t stop your research there. Scan as many job ads and company websites as you can to see where the common ground is. Chances are, if you see the same certs popping up over and over again, they are worth your time.

Strategize

Once you have the lay of the land, it’s time to come up with a plan. Will your current employer pay for certifications? Find out. Do you need to join a professional organization before you can get the cert you need? Ask. Boil down your plan to just the essentials, and ask yourself if it’s worth it. Never forget that relevant work experience is almost always considered more valuable than certifications, so factor that into your plan. Can you take on a new project at work, or volunteer your skills to an organization in need? Be creative in your approach.

Remember, it’s the quality of certifications — not the quantity — that matters in your job search. There’s no magic number. Certifications are shorthand for knowledge, but they aren’t the only way to prove your skills to potential employers.

Get comfortable communicating about what you do, and use your certifications as evidence to back-up your claims — not the other way around.


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The Real Skinny on Prepping for the 2015 Job Market

Posted on January 8, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, Interviews, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Manufacturing, Personal Branding, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Recruiting, Software Development, Technical Sales |

2015 job marketGreat news: Bloomberg reports that after November’s remarkable hiring surge, the job market is expected to grow in 2015. If you’ve been stuck in a non-ideal or part-time job and are looking to make a strategic career move, now is the best time to do it. The way we hire and work is changing now more than ever, and there are many exciting opportunities for IT and other technical professionals. But what do you do if you haven’t been on the job hunt in a while and don’t know the new rules of interviewing and hiring?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

  1. Expect a different hiring process

More and more companies are realizing that how they hire reflects well (or poorly) upon their brand. Today’s recruiters and hiring managers are aiming to make the process more human and relatable. Use this friendlier recruitment process to showcase your soft skills, but always keep it professional.

  1. Build a portfolio

Whether or not you have something physical to show for the work you’ve done, hiring managers will want to see examples of your work before you get the interview. Write case studies for projects you’ve worked on to broadcast your skills and back up your claims of success.

  1. Go beyond LinkedIn

If you haven’t spruced up your LinkedIn lately, now’s the time — but don’t stop there! Develop a social media presence that shows off your skills and interest in your profession.

  1. Ask the right questions

A report from LinkedIn says that many qualified job candidates don’t get hired because the interviewers don’t know the best questions to ask them. Learn the “forced-choice question” method — asking what the main objectives for the job are, and then using examples to show how you can achieve them — to help improve your odds.

  1. Anticipate a 3-5 year tenure

Perhaps the biggest change of all, many companies now realize that job seekers will only stay at the company for a handful of years. Know this when going into the interview, and stress what a difference you can make in a short time frame. Be sure to think of this job as the stepping stone to what’s next, not the position you’ll be in for the next several decades.


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Waiting Out a Corporate Acquisition

Posted on January 6, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Executive Job Search, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Work Issues |

diet152Here’s a snippet of a typical conversation I have with professionals whose companies are experiencing a merger or acquisition:

Pro: “My company was just acquired. I’m not sure what this means for me.”

ME: “OK, so knowing that, what do you think your strategy should be?”

Pro: “I should sit tight and see what happens.”

ME: “How long should you do that for?”

Pro: “Until I’m either told I’m OK or laid off.”

ME: “What are some things you could do in the meantime?”

Pro: “Well, I don’t want to do anything rash.”

Maybe you can relate with this interaction. After all, corporate acquisitions and mergers are one of the most uncertain times a professional can face as everything hangs in the balance and staff await their fate.

And although it’s true that you can’t control or even accurately predict what will happen, you don’t have to be powerless.

Let me say that again:

You don’t have to be powerless.

Understandably, however, it’s how we feel. We feel like we have no other choice but than to sit tight and see what happens.

But here are two things to keep in mind:

1. Demotivation is a trap. Whenever something significant happens to us in our careers, especially something we didn’t or couldn’t see coming, demotivation is a natural reaction. Maybe you don’t recognize it at first, but usually it comes in the form of false positivity (“I’m sure it will all be fine. Just wait and see.”) followed by a strong aversion to even thinking about the possibility of a job search followed by clinging to every word leadership says (“They said it’s looking good for our department.”) followed by a worry that doing anything before you know something for certain would appear rash, and you don’t want to appear rash!

It’s not that there isn’t some truth to what we are telling ourselves; in fact, it could all be true. It could all work out fine, and leadership could really mean what they are saying. The problem is that we are leaving ourselves vulnerable. While corporate is doing what corporate does, we aren’t doing anything to at least try and protect ourselves…just in case.

2. Haste does NOT always make waste. Harnessing the power of negative preparation (preparing for the worst), putting feelers out there, and developing strategic contacts is not “rash”; it’s wise, and it’s especially wise to do while you are doing all this “waiting.” It will help you build leverage even if your current company decides to keep you because you will already have things in motion, opportunity pipelines in the works, that you might be able to assess against the offer your “new” current company is extending (especially now that you’ve seen what the market has to offer).

We often forget that just because we didn’t go through an official job search during the merger or acquisition doesn’t mean that we aren’t essentially being hired all over again by the “new” entity. Many times professionals are caught off guard by the fact that they might have to interview to keep their job or justify the value they bring to the organization. These things require preparation as well!

So you don’t have to jump ship necessarily, but you do have to recognize that the ship might be sinking and develop a strategy for survival. If you don’t, then you really are powerless.

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (June 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?

 


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A Career Without Regrets? What’s That? Revisited

Posted on December 30, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

career regrets

In early 2013, I published the following post on the issue of regret. As we enter into another new year, it’s usually there, lingering about in the corners of our mind…this idea that we might have regret or that we have to live with regret.

As a technical career strategist, much of what I hear professionals saying to me throughout the year, but especially when it comes to their career management, is that they are afraid of “regret” or that they are constantly being plagued by “regret,” which now has them gun shy, afraid to make any other poor decisions when it comes to their careers.

So I wrote this post for them and for those of you really struggling with regret. I can’t speak to all the personal regrets we might accumulate over a lifetime, but I can speak to the professional ones.

It’s time to give ourselves a break.

———————————————————————————————————————

January 2013

I was listening to the typical end-of-year, New Year’s-type speech the other day, which is meant to make us take stock of our lives and realize that time is tick, tick, ticking away so we better get moving and go after those goals. As is also typical in this type of motivational speech, the speaker was discussing regrets and how we don’t want to wake up when we are 92 with regrets.

Overall, it was a rousing speech that certainly did make me think about all the things that I still have left to do in life, much less in my career, but the whole issue of regret did give me some pause.

Now, before I state my position, let me just say that I get what he meant. It’s what every Hallmark, Pinterest, life-affirming quote always means. Carpe diem! Go for it! Charge ahead with your goals before it’s too late!

I mean, after all, it’s probably the most noncontroversial thing you can say to someone: Live with no regrets! Who doesn’t want that?

The problem, in my mind anyway, is that it is a pretty unrealistic goal. No regrets, none, really?

I understand that certain things might be easier to ascertain than others…certain moral standards, etc. (If I do X illegal thing, then I will likely go to jail and regret it, comes to mind.) But when it comes to many things in our lives, careers being one of them, it is not always easy to know which decisions will and will not cause you to have regret.

And, let’s face it, you are bound to make mistakes.

So to me, it’s somewhat unavoidable.

First of all, whenever we have to make a decision between two things, it is easy to wonder afterward whether we made the right choice, no matter which path we followed. So we just might have to spend the rest of our lives wondering “what if?” we hadn’t made this decision. But had we chosen the opposite way, then we probably would be doing the same thing anyway (wondering…)! So what did we gain?

Sigh. We’re left, at 92, with “what if?” either way!

If you think about it, this whole thing about regret implies you have some insight into the future, that you can predict outcomes and other people’s behaviors, and that you even know how you are going to look at life when you’re older (say 92). Also, it assumes that everything you want right now (Carpe Diem!) is, well, right for you.

Also, is all regret bad?

Some of my biggest mistakes (career and otherwise) have been my biggest learning curves. So in that sense, although I regret them, I’m also a bit grateful for them…how sticky is that?

Furthermore, the whole concept could be either pretty paralyzing or pretty damaging. If regret is your motivator, you will either be more afraid than ever to make a decision (even though it is meant to have the opposite effect) or end up charging out into the world with reckless abandon because it is all about you and your fear of regrets. (How many parents make sacrifices for their kids that might cause them to miss out on some important things? Sure, they regret they didn’t get to do such and such, but sometimes we make sacrifices for the ones we love even if it means we have some regret about what we missed. We can make the “right” decision and still have regret, after all.)

I know. I know. I’m crushing the Hallmark, Pinterest, life-affirming image! (It sounds so good!)

I have a friend who says she has no regrets, but what she really means is that she just chooses not to acknowledge her mistakes or missed opportunities as regrets. Some people call this healthy. I call it her way of coping. Either way, she still has things in her life she wished had turned out differently, some she could control and some she couldn’t. She just isn’t beating herself up over them…at least not yet…who knows how she’ll feel when she’s 92 and has more time to sit around and think about them!

My point is that although we like to have goals that we actually meet and bucket lists that we actually fulfill, we need to be careful about being motivated solely by the fear of future regret. Fear can be a powerful igniter, but it rarely sustains us in any positive way (certainly in any way that keeps us rational). To me, necessity is the best motivator, not fear or guilt.

I’m going to be 40 this year. Of course, I would like to limit the number of regrets I have (now and when I’m 92) as much as the next person. But I also know my mind likes to play tricks on me. It likes to make me sit around and stew on this or that regret and wonder what future ones I will certainly have. As I embark on 2013, though, I would rather think about what is and is not necessary in my life/career, how to live/move with a necessary purpose, and how to think more about leaving a necessary legacy that doesn’t get bogged down in the minutiae. After all, time is tick, tick, ticking!

I want to focus on the necessity of leaving my mark,

no matter how small, not because it is something I might regret not doing later on but because it is something I need to do (not just for me but for those around me) right now. And I don’t want to be consumed about all the things I have yet to do right; instead, I want to be OK with my inevitable imperfection. I mean, there are just so many things about me I cannot seem to fix!

And most of all, I really don’t want to think about being 92; gosh, it’s hard enough to contemplate turning 40. 🙂

 

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (June 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?


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Want a New Job in 2015? Maybe You First Need A Kick in the Pants

Posted on December 23, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Work Issues |

careerWelcome to our new “Kick in the Pants” series! (Let’s face it: We all need one once in a while, especially when it comes to our careers!)

Contrary to popular opinion, December is an excellent time to ramp up your job search. Don’t believe it? Chew on this: What if you had an abundance of amazing networking opportunities and virtually no competition?

Exactly. Welcome to your holiday job search.

The truth of the matter is that hiring managers are always on the lookout for great talent, and the end of the year is no exception. This is why it’s imperative not to backslide into the distracting vacation mindset that starts happening as soon as Thanksgiving’s over. Companies are looking to hire, and you need to be looking, too.

Here’s how you can turn the end of the year dead-time into your most fruitful job search ever:

Leverage Networking Opportunities

Holiday Parties

If December isn’t already your most social month, make sure it is this year. Now is the perfect time to accept invitations to all kinds of social events, the more closely tied to your profession, the better. But remember, you don’t have to be at a “networking event” to make valuable connections. Just talk yourself up to the people you meet and put your best foot forward. Use the good cheer and holiday spirit to get to know partygoers better and form valuable connections for your career.

Greeting Cards

Has it been a while since you communicated with your professional contacts? Send a holiday card their way to let them know how much you value your relationship. Ideally, you’d keep in contact all year long, but the holidays are the perfect time to pick up the conversation where you left off.

Reaching Out

When it comes to your most valuable contacts — former and potential employers, especially — use a more personal touch than just a holiday card. Invite your VIP contacts out for lunch, send them a thoughtful gift, or invite them to your holiday party. Do whatever it takes to let them know how important they are to you during this time of year.

Defeat the Competition

Aside from the abundance of networking opportunities, the best reason to double down on your holiday job search is because other people aren’t. Think about it —when most job seekers close their laptops and head out on vacation, there’s a much smaller pool of candidates for any given job. Bringing your A-game to the job search now shows diligence and responsibility, and it gives you the perfect opportunity to showcase how you stand out from the crowd.

Hit the Ground Running

Think about that empty job requisition from the hiring manager’s perspective — they have to fill it by Q1, which is just around the corner. The person who gets the job needs to get up to speed and start producing as fast as humanly possible. Seal the deal in your interview by stressing how you can hit the ground running and prove yourself as a great hire.

If you’re committed to finding a new job in 2015, the time to start is now. Remember: Getting distracted with the holidays won’t help you come January — but don’t forget to bring a joyful attitude to your December job search.

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (June 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?

 


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Don’t Miss the Promotion Train

Posted on December 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

toon699There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the promotion process. Candidates, because these are internal moves, tend to look at the promotion much differently than their leadership does. As a result, there is often a disconnect that occurs along the way that ultimately hurts all parties in the process.

Over the last year or so, I have been writing my “Road to Promotion” series to address some of this disconnect. Now I’ve finally compiled much of it into one report called Don’t Miss the Promotion Train that you may download for free.

If a promotion is in your future, then make sure you understand what’s really going on and the role you should be playing in it.


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People Hire People, But They Have a Funny Way of Doing It

Posted on December 16, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Work Issues |

hr75In today’s job search market generally, and especially in the technical arena, there is a lot broken when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. In a recent post I published on LinkedIn in regard to recruiters, from some of the comments, it was evident just how frustrated most professionals have become with this broken system.

Yet HR and recruiting gurus will generally tell you that things are getting better.

Nevertheless, in working in the actual trenches with technical professionals, not just in designing their resume and personal brand messaging but in offering concierge job search solutions as well, I can tell you without a doubt things are NOT getting better.

Wishing it were so does not make it true.

What HR and other hiring “experts” really mean when they say it’s better is that they have developed hiring into a more theoretical domain now. They’ve analyzed it. They’ve philosophized over it. They know what it should be. They’re all about people and talent and…

Theory, theory, theory

In other words, there’s a better sense of what hiring should be.

The question is, though, “how do we get there?”

The main problem, as I see it, stems from an effort to try and appease too many goals: hire great talent yet make it as automated as possible and as inexpensive as possible while creating as many layers and barriers as possible between the potential candidates and the hiring managers. In other words, while making hiring as formulaic as possible (I call it “assembly line” hiring), somehow they are also supposed to show that they “care” about choosing the best talent and treating candidates with proper respect.

People hire people, right?

I hear a lot about the “humanizing” of companies, the attempt to appear more empathetic and concerned with the well-being of candidates and employees. (I saw an HR specialist the other day even advocate for more”hugging” at the office [certainly not something I have ever heard my tech members complain about: “I just wish more people would hug me at the office!” Ah no, I’ve yet to hear that one].)

There are conferences and conventions and Google+ hangouts and Twitter chats all on the subject of how to show you “care”…all while instituting practices that are demoralizing.

But what’s a company to do? When it posts an opening, it gets hundreds of responses, and it must sift through them somehow, right? So why not automate things? Why not protect its hiring managers and their time?

The problem is that you have to prioritize. What is your main goal, and how is that best accomplished? You can’t say one thing and then do another.

But that’s exactly what the job market is like right now and most likely will be for a while because the word and the deed don’t match.

You want the best talent? Well, you have a funny way of showing it.

My advice to corporate professionals is simple: If you’re going to stay in that environment, then become what I call a “corporate entrepreneur.”

Don’t just add more credentials and stack up experience and think it will speak for itself. Learn how to apply basic business development techniques to your career management strategy (yes, you need a strategy!). Learn how to watch and read the market. Understand that your career is not just one job hop to another job hop with however many years in between, hoping your salary and level of responsibility increase with it.

In today’s market, there has to be more mindfulness of what’s really going on around you even when you’re quite happy where you currently are.

Good intentions don’t mean much.

I’m afraid at the moment there isn’t a whole lot we can do about the current state of hiring practices. It is what it is … full of good intentions littered with chaos and confusion.

But we can take a different look at the corporate environment and apply some entrepreneurial concepts to build in protections amidst all the chaos (or “corporate goo” as I like to call it). Doing so will help to realign the balance of power into more of a partnership arrangement than a master-slave one.

 

 


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Technical Job Market Survival Guide

Posted on December 11, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips |

technical job marketAKA: “14 Ways to Avoid Becoming Part of the 95%”

If you’ve followed my posts or read through any of our reports at NoddlePlace or ITtechExec, you will know that I talk a lot about the “95%”, those professionals continuing to approach today’s job market with yesterday’s mindset, especially today’s technical job market.

And this mindset has very little to do with age. In fact, I meet many younger professionals who are stuck in it as well (which tells me there is some poor advice out there).

As a result, these 95% approach their careers and each job search with a misunderstanding of what it takes to not just succeed but survive (and thrive) in the world of work.

To really delve into this issue, my staff and I have put together our annual “survival guide” that is chocked full of resources and tips on how to approach the market as we head into 2015.

If you’d like to move from the 95% into the 5%, download your complimentary copy: Technical Job Market Survival Guide.

 

 

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (June 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?


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Results of Corporate Entrepreneur Poll

Posted on December 9, 2014. Filed under: Big Data, Career Management, CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Manufacturing, Personal Branding, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Software Development, STEM, Technical Sales, Women in IT |

Last week I put out a call for responses to a poll asking our audience what the phrase “corporate entrepreneur” meant to them. This topic of corporate entrepreneurship will encompass my contribution to my upcoming book Uncommon with Brian Tracy (Spring 2015), and I wanted to get a sense of what professionals out there thought when they heard the phrase.

The largest response at 23% was that a corporate entrepreneur was “a strategist”. A three-way tie for second at 15% each included:

  • Someone who’s business savvy but probably more suited for self-employment.
  • Someone who sees what’s coming in the corporate realm and prepares for it.
  • A professional who knows how to apply certain elements of self-employment within the corporate structure.

If you’d like to participate in the poll, please feel free to do so. I’ve included it below and will keep it open a couple more weeks.

At that time, I will post the results and give an excerpt from the book discussing this issue. As a technical career strategist following the world of work closely, I am convinced that corporate entrepreneurship is going to be a “must” (yes, a must) for anyone looking to maintain their careers, particularly as we move through the next decade.

The shifting of corporate culture, the convoluted hiring practices, the mixed-generational workforce, and most importantly, the global market outlook are all bringing together a perfect storm that will forever change what it means to be in corporate. What we’ve seen so far is just the beginning.


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Most Desirable Employers: Really Better Than All the Rest?

Posted on December 4, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Resumes, Technical Infographics |

Business Insider released the following infographic citing the top 100 employers based off of stats from LinkedIn. As a technical career strategist, this list is anything but surprising.

And as someone who’s worked with candidates to get into many of these employers, what’s also not surprising is that the more desirable these companies become, the more rigorous, and even borderline ridiculous, their hiring practices become.

Here’s the real skinny: The best way to get these employers to even look at you twice is to make them come to you (rather than the other way around), and that requires a willingness to do things completely differently than most people do. It requires resisting the normal job board black hole and HR hoop-jumping channels, and it takes a stiff spine to refrain from handing over any leverage you might have to them.

It’s the only way to separate yourself from the masses applying in droves to these employers. Credentials alone will not cut it. Tossing out a resume and hoping it passes some test will most likely not do it. Begging a recruiter to try and place you might work, but you will likely find it the most frustrating and confusing time of your life (smile).

Strategy, strategy, strategy is the name of this game.

The 100 Most Desirable Employers #infographic


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Are You a Corporate Entrepreneur?

Posted on December 2, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In preparing my content for my upcoming book with Brian Tracy called Uncommon, I’ve been thinking a lot about “corporate entrepreneurship” in today’s world of work. For several years now, I’ve been incorporating elements of this concept into our solutions at ITtechExec and NoddlePlace with the intent of moving away from the short-term job-hop to job-hop mentality that life has a tendency to suck us into toward the much more effective strategy of long-term career advancement and protection.

With an external job move happening every 3 to 4 years for most technical professionals these days, it’s time to think beyond just getting out of your current situation into another one. It’s time to think about how to prepare for a career filled with potential moves.

So how do you do that? That’s what my contribution to Uncommon will focus on.

Today, I’d like to hear what your thoughts are on “corporate entrepreneurship.” What does it mean to you?

I’ve put together the following short poll as a way of gathering some data we can use in the book. Check all the answers that you think apply:

 


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6 Tips for Sticking Out Your Holiday Job Search

Posted on November 25, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips |

holiday job searchIt’s that time of year again. That time when mixed emotions, nostalgia, sentimentality, joy, anxiety, regret, and depression, all float around us for 6 weeks like some deranged version of the Nutcracker.

And if you’re in career move mode or job search mode, it’s an even more confusing dance.

For on top of the typical feelings that come with the end of one year and the beginning of another, you have the emotional baggage that comes with any type of career move (internal or external).

If that isn’t bad enough, everyone, everywhere seems to have an opinion on what it’s like to go through a job search during the holidays that range from complete despair to unfounded optimism.

This year, to help curb some of the mixed signals you might be getting as you wade through the job market zoo during the holidays, I’ve put together a no-nonsense report called “6 Tips for Sticking Out Your Holiday Job Search.”

(I’m probably one of the few who thinks that the holidays can be a positive time for the job seeker if you’re willing to think and act a little differently than most!)

 

Click to download the free report: 6 Tips for Sticking Out Your Holiday Job Search

 

 


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You’ve Earned the New IT Certification, Now What?

Posted on November 20, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Cyber Security, IT networking, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Personal Branding, Resumes, Software Development, Technology, Women in IT |

toon-1061Recently I was interviewed by Susan Hall for a Linux.com article, The Best Ways to Flaunt Your New IT Certification.

Here is an excerpt:

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right? You’ve worked hard for that Linux certification, and you want everyone to know about it.

At the same time, you don’t want to come off as a brainless braggart, so the best advice is to call attention to the experience you gained while earning the certification – and how you’ve put it to use doing real work, experts say.

“One of the biggest things that people will probably neglect is leveraging people who have gone through a similar certification – reaching out to them through LinkedIn or whatever means they have available, to make connections and market themselves through other, what should be, like-minded people who are going to value that certification,” says

Stephen Van Vreede, a Rochester, N.Y.-based resume writer and career strategist at ITTechExec.com.”

Read the full article here


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Significant Other Tech Career Move Survival Guide: Part II

Posted on November 13, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting |

toon-2097In Part I, we talked about the fine line between becoming the #1 supporter of our significant other’s career or the #1 impediment. It’s not something talked about openly in the career services field too often, but it is a big factor in how we progress in our careers because, like it or not, there is so much emotion/stress surrounding our personal relationships that plays into our career advancement/management.

In the tech career arena, it is especially important to understand because it is now such a competitive landscape.

These are fields where not that long ago many candidates didn’t even need a resume because they were often recruited from one opportunity right into another.

So to continue on from the first 8 ways you can both survive this next technical career move, I am now going to provide 8 more.

  1. Even introverts can be comfortable with personal branding. If your technical loved one happens to be more on the introverted side of things, even he or she can embrace personal branding, which should present him or her in an authentic, real way. We won’t shine them up into something that makes them uncomfortable. In fact, our goal is to focus less on them and more on what their target audience is looking for. After all, audience is the key to any type of effective messaging. The most successful job search works with the candidate’s personality, not against it.
  2. It takes more than just a good attitude to succeed in today’s technical job market. Sometimes we might think that our significant others’ attitude will be enough to get him or her where they need to go. And although optimism and good karma are nice things to have, the market is not that certain. This isn’t a pessimistic view, and it isn’t a defeatist view. Our goal is to have a good attitude AND be properly prepared AND do what works.
  3. It takes more than good connections to succeed in today’s technical job market. As a significant other, you might tend to think that because your technical leader has always risen through the ranks with relative ease before or because he or she is well connected that making this next career move will be simple, no matter what type of resume he or she tosses out there. But the truth is that although networking is still very effective, the great referral doesn’t necessarily carry all the weight it once did. And it can be a dangerous thing to take the “wait and see” approach, hoping so-and-so comes through.
  4. Technical career paths are rarely linear. We sometimes expect that a career should always be on a path up the proverbial corporate ladder, but tech is different in that way. Sometimes “advancement” is sideways, and sometimes it means taking risks with smaller startups. Sometimes it also means bucking the Fortune 500 system or changing divisions to round out experience. We need to be careful to set a strategy for each possibility and to make sure we aren’t trapping ourselves (or our loved one) into one type of environment.
  5. The 5% who thrive in today’s technical job market do so by creating pipelines. Besides building a resume portfolio solution and maintaining it, those who are succeeding in today’s market understand the importance of “pipelines.” This means they build network connections and recruiter/employer connections, and they invest in them to keep opportunities coming to them, well after this next career move.
  6. Corporate struggles to recognize and retain good tech talent. Although companies are trying to get better at their retention practices, generally, they are still pretty terrible at retaining tech talent, much less even really recognizing it when it is staring them in the face each and every day. So tech leaders sometimes need to work a little harder for that recognition.
  7. Career progression and protection has a short-term cost with long-term benefits. When it comes to other parts of our lives, we build in protections to help weather the various storms we face (or might possibly face), such as retirement, car insurance, our finances, etc., but when it comes to our careers and the job search process, we often go it alone with very little to help prepare and protect us along the way. Your technical leader has worked hard, and deserves experts to come alongside him or her to help build in some protections.
  8. Protecting careers protects families. We all bear a special burden for those who love us and depend on us, and our livelihood plays a part in that. Therefore, we all want to feel like we are doing the best we can to protect the careers we’ve built and to prepare for the market we are facing.

By doing your best to take some time to understand the market your loved one is facing and how you can best support him or her through it, you’ll find that you can come together more as a team with a clear strategy. All those other outside stressors might still be there, but at least you will both be moving in the same direction and can encourage your loved one to stay on track.

It’s no secret to us at ITtechExec and NoddlePlace that those with the strongest support systems get the best results from their carere moves primarily because they are not pulled off course by the extra stress and emotional burden that comes when a significant other is not part of (or supportive of) your career move strategy. So work together to build your “team” today!


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“Uncommmon” Book Launch: Co-authoring with Brian Tracy

Posted on November 11, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Brian TracyPublishing a book on the approach we take at ITtechExec and NoddlePlace has long been a goal of mine. But I didn’t want to just “write a book,” I wanted to find someone to partner with who would be a natural fit for the type of philosophy we take here.

Thanks to my agent at CelebrityPress, that goal is now complete!

I’m happy to announce that in Spring 2015, I will be co-authoring a book with best-selling author, entrepreneur, and self-development leader Brian Tracy that will be part of his UNcommon series. For my part, I will be examining how tech leaders today are “protecting” the careers they’ve built and maneuvering through the tech job market zoo.

It’s an exciting time, and I am looking forward to seeing the book listed on Amazon and B&N. So stay tuned!!


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Significant Other Tech Career Move Survival Guide: Part I

Posted on November 6, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips |

retirementHow You Both Survive This Upcoming Technical Career Move

Don’t take this the wrong way, but…

 The #1 impediment to career progression is often a significant other. (Yikes!)

The good news, though, is that on the flip side, our significant other can also be the #1 supporter of our career!

The line between becoming an impediment versus a supporter is often a fine one.

We don’t intend to impede our loved one’s career, of course. But unwittingly, we often transfer our own fears, concerns, perspectives, issues about money and success, experiences, and worry for our home and children onto our loved one’s shoulders, which can create an emotional barrier for him or her.

Today’s technical job market is a zoo, to put it lightly.

Protecting and advancing a career in this market is not so cut-and-dry as it might have been once. Simply having the talent and experience and waiting for someone to notice rarely works anymore. A lot of investment has to go into maintaining the certifications and nurturing the skill sets, and even then they don’t sell themselves as competition is strong at any level.

So to help you and your significant other as you prepare to face the market realities, I’ve put together this “survival guide” as a way to come together to make sure you become the #1 supporter throughout this process. Below are the first 8 ways you both survive this upcoming technical career move. (In Part II, we will look at 8 more.)

You Both Need to Recognize That:

  1. Tech is different. For someone with a technical background or who works in a tech-related industry, the market is a bit different. Some things might look the same, or sound the same, but the requirements are not necessarily the same. Therefore, the way other professionals (such as yourself) might conduct a job search might be somewhat different from what your technical significant other needs.
  2. Competition is strong. Whether it is an internal promotion or external move, the technical job market has strong competition. This means that your tech leader needs a differentiator to stand out from the masses who are all vying for the same jobs with similar qualifications. Even though he or she might have great certifications and advanced degrees, these things don’t “sell” themselves like they might in other industries. In technical markets, they are more often expected, which means a lot of people are getting them too. Now you have to compete against all the other candidates who also have that cert and who also feel it should just automatically open doors.
  3. Your significant other deserves more than just a resume. Because tech is different and competition is strong, the personal branding of our technical leaders takes time to develop, and it is important that it is done correctly by those who do understand the tech market and its demands. The #1 resume we fix at both ITtechExec and NoddlePlace is the one written by a significant other for the technical job market. Ouch! It’s true. Furthermore, it’s important that you don’t miss out on the portfolio approach that is proving to be so effective for technical candidates. Other industries might still be able to get away with the old school resume concept. Tech is different.
  4. These careers need to be maintained. If you’ve been through grad school or various certification programs with your technical significant other, then you already know what he or she goes through to stay relevant to the market. As we mentioned, these programs, however, only provide credentials. They don’t take those credentials and translate them specifically into the tech job market. So often obtaining a certification or advanced degree, while great, is only half the battle. There must be a strategy other than hoping for the best to make that investment in the learning pay off.
  5. Today’s job search can take 1 month for every $10-20K in salary. And that’s when the job search is a full-time gig! This means that for our level of client, they could be facing 6, 8, 10, or more months in job search mode. (It’s why we measure the results our members receive.) We knew we could do better for our clients, and with our resume portfolio AND job search “launch” solutions, we do. For the past year, our clients have been averaging 2.4 months and recovering ~169 hours of time that would have been lost!
  6. Promotions are a job search too. All too often, we have a tendency to think that because our loved one might be up for promotion that he or she will just get it because they “deserve” it or have been waiting in the wings for it. The truth is the internal promotion is just as important to prepare for as the external one (perhaps even more so because it is a higher stakes process). Corporate politics, forgetfulness, and other kinds of hiring/retention practices (what we call “goo”) can and often do get in the way. Plus, we believe that technical pros should always know their worth in the marketplace and have leverage with their current organizations.
  7. Tech pros are changing jobs every 3-4 years. Even if your significant other is beating these odds, change is still inevitable. That’s probably true in all fields these days, but it is especially true in technical fields. One reason is because of the high demand for outside contracting/consulting. Therefore, it is important that he or she keeps their materials up to date and ready to go. It’s also why we advocate for a “corporate entrepreneur” mindset that creates peace of mind through preparation. Less stress is a very good thing!
  8. Resumes aren’t dead, but they’re ailing. It used to be that the tech candidate barely even needed a resume, but today a resume is no longer enough. LinkedIn profiles are becoming more and more important in the job search process, and addenda to the resume that enhance on the soft skills and leadership experience of your technical leader go a long way. We also have infographic resumes and marketing briefs at our disposal. You don’t have to do them all, which is why we believe in first setting a strategy and then building customized solutions to meet that strategy. We never just toss resumes and LI profiles out there and hope something sticks!

(Stay tuned for Part II.)


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Before You Toss That Recruiter Out the Window…

Posted on November 4, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Recruiting |

We’ve written pretty extensively about the strained relations that often go on between recruiters and job seekers. (See That Recruiter Is Just Not That Into You and Tired of Recruiter Mismatch on LinkedIn?) It’s certainly no secret that the two groups often find themselves on different planets. To reiterate this point, I recently came across this infographic by MedReps.com that sums up the situation quite nicely.

The typical response I’ve been hearing lately by many job seekers is that they find recruiters just too frustrating to deal with, so understandably their reaction is to give up trying.

But before you toss that recruiter out the window…

The problem is that social recruiting is on the rise. Big time. This means that avoiding recruiters altogether could be a hindrance in your career progression simply because you are cutting off a viable job search method (I advocate for a diverse job search approach that uses several different methods to create “pipelines”). Furthermore, recruiters can be a great pipeline, particularly when you aren’t in active job search mode as they can bring opportunities to you.

In the past, it didn’t take much effort to cultivate these pipelines with recruiters, particularly in the technical arena where jobs were aplenty and many professionals were recruited away from one company to another without even really needing a resume. Today, however, the field is much more chaotic and, frankly, confusing (at ITtechExec, we call it a “zoo”).

The biggest issue I find has to do with misalignment or mismatching of the job seeker with external recruiters. It’s no longer about talking to a recruiter who is located near you or near the area you want to move to. You need to know the areas he or she specializes in, the typical companies he or she recruits for, and the geographic regions. (Executive recruiting isn’t all that local anymore.)

Recruiter matching is important to starting the relationship off right…

It’s one reason why we’ve been encouraging our technical members to use Recruiter Matching. By building an extensive network of technical recruiters, our concierge Job Search Agent can vet the ones she sees as most valuable to our member and his or her goals. She can also help our members set up longer term communications with the recruiters who are most responsive to our member.

So be careful not to toss them all out just yet…

Make sure you have been properly matched or aligned first, and then build engagements with the ones who seem the most interested in keeping the dialogue going.

Recruiters Mars


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See, Techies, Strong Writing Skills Can Lead to Better Pay

Posted on October 30, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Salary, Work Issues |

I’ve harped on this before, and for good reason. Our writing skills matter perhaps more than ever in today’s “remote” working age, and they are especially important for the technical professional. This infographic from Grammarly shows how writing skills can equate to your bottomline: your salary.

Having worked with IT, engineering, manufacturing, telecom, medical device, pharma, project management, and just about every science/technology candidate there is, I can tell you that writing skills are in high demand. The one on the team who can write well (or at least better than the rest) always finds a seat at the table. Period. End of story.

Sadly, the reason is because for too long the sciences/tech fields have pushed off writing skills as a low priority, forgetting that much of the results that are produced from their development efforts must be documented and well written in order to be understood properly.

So while you are busy running around paying for that next fancy cert or advanced degree, be careful not to forget good old-fashioned writing skills in the mix. It might just be more of a salary driver than you think.

technical writing


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Don’t Skip Out on Your Upcoming Career Move “Prep” Session

Posted on October 28, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Resumes |

resumeFor years we kept telling our technical resume/job search members they needed to get properly prepared before they rushed out into full-blown job search mode, even “passive” job search mode. We kept saying that those members who do see much better results, particularly in dramatically reducing the length of their job search time and the effectiveness of their resumes.

But it just wasn’t sexy enough…apparently. 🙂

[Or we weren’t convincing enough, I guess.]

Because we kept seeing heads nod in agreement but members rush out anyway into job board land and recruiter chaos (and attend network mixer after network mixer) without much of a “plan” other than trying a lot of things. (Or, worse, they marched into the promotion process, the highest stakes “career move” there is, without any leverage.)

So this year after introducing our concierge job search “launch” solutions to our resume portfolio offerings, we began tracking and publishing the results our members were receiving.

(We decided that if we wanted our members to invest in what we were saying, then we needed to prove it!)

And, not surprisingly, the stats are overwhelmingly in favor of implementing some type of “prep” session into your upcoming career move efforts. Overall, our members beat the national average for job search length by 4 months (a 67% improvement; 169 hours recovered for the member) and the resume response rate (# of resumes sent before receiving first call/response) by 100% with 90% of our members cutting the response time in half or better. (See our Latest Member ROI.)

But out of those stats, the members repeatedly driving down our averages were the ones that thought strategy first, execution second. (They averaged an 85% improvement over the national average in job search length, another 18% of time recovered over our other members.)

Why all the fuss?

Here’s the deal: Today’s technical job search, whether you are currently employed, unemployed, going for a promotion, or a consultant is more of a “zoo” than it used to be, and all that corporate “goo” that makes up most hiring and retention practices is, well, a bit sticky. Not to mention the fact that the job search is an emotional, often reactionary, process.

So the days of whipping up a resume and tossing it out to see what sticks “should” be over.

That is, if you value your time and your career AND want to reduce the stress that comes with a career move. And who doesn’t, really?

But I know: What we should do and what we actually do are typically not the same things.

That’s why, to make the mind shift easier, when I talk about a “Prep” Session, I am referring to a simple, low-commitment session with a big return that is conducted before you do anything else, NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF JOB SEARCH YOU ARE CONDUCTING.

The idea is to get you up to speed on where the market is today, how well you are positioned for the market you are targeting, and the steps that will get you better prepared for making that next move.

There’s no doubt that if you read all the trend reports, soul-search until the cows come home, and obsess over your resume, you’ll end up more confused than prepared.

So don’t short-change yourself.

Take an hour, get a Prep Session (even if you’re not looking to make that move until 6 months from now), and get some peace of mind that you have an authentic perspective going forward. (It doesn’t have to be expensive or exhaustive. It’s a “prep” session, after all.)

The idea is that you start off on the right foot. And if you’ve worked as hard as I know you do, then you deserve at least that.

(I believe in it so much that it is now a mandatory part of our membership!)

Listen. If you want to get good results, you do what works. Why do anything else?


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When You’re Not Sure What’s Next in Your Career

Posted on October 23, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Product Development, Work Issues |

One of our newest offerings at ITtechExec are our What’s Next? solutions. They came out of several years of working with tech/IT/engineering professionals (and those who serve with them) and observing all the things they were doing to try and figure out what’s next for them. The following Slideshare presentation details 11 ways we’ve identified NOT to figure out what’s next in your career.

Be careful…they just might surprise you.


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Executive Job Search Strategies for CIOs and CTOs

Posted on October 16, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

On Tuesday, October 14, at 12pm Eastern, I had the opportunity to participate in a TweetChat hosted by @BlueSteps called #ExecCareer. This week the topic turned to CIO and CTO candidates. You can view the questions and my responses regarding job search strategies at the following link through Storify:


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Getting Around “TUIT”

Posted on October 14, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding |

career managementI encountered Zig Ziglar ~15 years ago at a leadership conference I attended in Lancaster, PA. Shockingly, and sadly, at the time, I really didn’t know who he was. I was young, supposedly well “educated,” ambitious but green, very green. And so when he came up to me and shook my hand, I had no idea who this guy with the interesting name was other than the main speaker at our conference.

It wasn’t until sometime later, after he had passed away, when I was in desperate need of learning how to grow and develop my own business, that in getting more “educated” I came across Zig Ziglar quote after Zig Ziglar quote and realized just how influential he was from a sales standpoint but more importantly from a character and leadership standpoint.

He came to mind the other day when I was speaking with a client who was telling me that he was “going to get around to it” in regard to some career management issues we were discussing. It reminded me of Zig, that leadership conference, and his “round TUIT” (too-it) cards.

He used to give out these circle cards with the letters “TUIT” on them whenever someone told him they were going to get “around to it” sooner or later. He would then say something like, “Great! It just so happens I have a round TUIT right here. Now you can get going.”

In other words, he was letting the person know in a humorous way that saying that you are going to “get around” to something is basically a silly excuse. He was “freeing” them from all those good intentions.

As a business owner, it’s been a great challenge for me. One I ask myself regularly,

“Well, are you going to do it, or aren’t you?”

When it comes to our careers, 95% of us seem to manage them based on the “round TUIT” principle. We start off with grand ideas, get beaten down a little by the corporate “goo,” hope for greener pastures, get tired out from our personal lives, and pray for a savior (but only one that will make it all so much simpler for us). In other words, we want it all (or at least better than what we have now), but we don’t really intend to do much about it until we’re forced to.

That’s the career management strategy we know and, well, apparently love because that’s what we do. (Myself included at times.)

Also, there’s a segment of the 95% who believes they must have everything figured out all the time or else suffer the consequences of a “rash” decision. (This group loves the “getting around to it” syndrome because it is so comforting.) Little do they realize, however, that in the marketplace “haste does NOT make waste,” stalling does.

The more you stall, the more you lose.

Ouch. That hurts. But it’s true.

Corporate “goo” has a way of clouding over the realities of the marketplace. It makes its professionals forget that they are part of the supply-and-demand cycle (so…capitalistic, I know!). It makes them think that things move along slowly and that time is meant to be tied up in a lot of activity (not necessarily accomplishment). It makes them (you, me) forget that they really can be “proactive” with their careers (beyond paying thousands and thousands for more education for little ROI).

It does all that until…

POW!

One day the world drops out, the company sells/changes management/lays you off/fires you/pigeonholes you into a role you don’t want….

Whatever it is…when it comes, it comes. And there’s no more getting “round TUIT.”

At both ITtechExec and NoddlePlace, we’ve made a conscious effort to focus on the 5% who understand, like Jack Welch, that “speed is imperative.” Not because they want to take uncalculated risks or do something foolish, in fact they come to us to ensure that doesn’t happen, but because they want to do whatever they can to take back control of their careers and build in protections.

In other words, they’re tired of waiting to see what happens and hoping they will get around to it. They’re willing to do it “afraid” or maybe even a little bit unprepared!

Are you?

 

 


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Two Roads Diverged in Your Career Path Wood…And You?

Posted on September 30, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Resumes |

career pathAnd you?

And you?

If you’re like many professionals, you know it’s time to make another career move. The writing is on the wall, so to speak. You’ve either been in your current role for a bit longer than you intended, the corporate culture around you is shifting in a direction that you don’t seem to fit into, or you just feel the itch. Whatever it is, it’s time.

So you’re thinking you should get your resume together.

But as soon as you start talking to resume writers or reading through the latest career trends, you keep hearing the same mantra:

“Your resume should be focused, focused, focused. The more focused, the more effective it will be.”

And then you start to panic. You might even think, “Oh no, do I really want to push myself into such a corner? What if I want to pursue two options? How come I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up?”

For older workers, it might even be more frightening. Maybe you thought you’d be retired by now or certainly within the next 5 years. So if the idea of making the career move isn’t daunting enough, now you have to marry yourself to either your current role or break out into a new one at what feels like the exact wrong moment.

Or maybe you’re like me and middle age is upon you. You’ve always done the “safe” thing or whatever you had to do. It would be nice to take more of a risk or at least find something you really enjoy doing.

Whatever the situation may be. The good news is that you’re not alone…

Robert Frost wrote about something very similar in 1920 in his famous poem The Road Not Taken when he was about 46 years old:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;      
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,  
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.  
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.   

Now if you studied this poem in school or are just an avid fan of Frost or poetry in general, you’ve inevitably heard many commentaries wax philosophical on this poem.

The popular way to read it is to think that the road “less traveled” that the narrator took “made all the difference.” That the soul searching, life-affirming, man-in-touch-with-the universe sentiment is the key here. That the narrator walking through this “yellow wood” (in tune with nature) saw two different paths, and the decision of one over the other was what “made all the difference” now looking back on his life. In other words, the courage to go a different way saved him or her from the dreaded “regret.”

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? It’s certainly sold a lot of Hallmark cards.

But what if Frost were doing what Frost often did…what if he were being a bit facetious, a little tongue in cheek, if you will?

I won’t go into too many details for sake of time, but I think you could make as strong an argument that Frost was in jest when he said this decision “made all the difference” as you can that he was dead serious: e.g., the use of exclamation point and all caps, the somewhat melodramatic tone (“I shall be telling this with a sigh”), the awkward rhyming with “difference” at the end. In other words, the poem can be read in two different ways, much like the two different paths.

So what does that mean, particularly in regard to choosing between two career paths?

For one, I think it means we need to give ourselves a break, that although the decision might be significant to us at the moment, looking back in life, it might not make “all the difference.”

For another, and this is a topic I want to keep “for another day,” sometimes when we are faced with what to do in our careers, we’ve bought a little too much into the idea of “soul searching” and not enough into the understanding of “market indicators” (not very sexy, I know…and so, well, capitalistic).

Robert Frost was a great poet, one of the few who actually knew “fame” from his writing during his lifetime. He was also a mediocre farmer (and that’s somewhat generous). Neither of those things, however, really made him money. Instead, he became a prominent speaker who spent a lot of time doing the college circuit and writer conferences, where he capitalized on the fame from his writing and stayed on the road (why he wasn’t such a good farmer).

So although we can wax poetical or philosophical about our career decisions, more often than not, like Frost, sometimes we have to do what we have to do “knowing how way leads on to way.”


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  • Meet Stephen Van Vreede

    Career Coaching Specialist with MBA, CPRW, and ACRW credentials

    Co-founder of ITtechExec & NoddlePlace, offering one-of-a kind resume and job search solutions.

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