Today’s Technical Job Market: Rules of Engagement Have Changed

Posted on October 30, 2013. Filed under: Career Management, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips, Personal Branding, Resumes | Tags: , , |

Tecnical job searchWhether it is the technical résumé, promotion portfolio, or social media profile, techies need to articulate their “personal brand” message.

Increasingly, technical professionals must translate how their IT/technical skills and experience provide valuable solutions to business needs and deliver that personal brand message successfully across both traditional (résumé) and social (LinkedIn, etc.) media. Stephen Van Vreede, President of ITtechExec, a career services firm for IT/STEM professionals, says that “personal branding” often turns off many technical pros with its ties to product sales/marketing, but when done in an authentic way, it “should focus on offering solutions, the very thing employers look for.”

Van Vreede, a former telecom director who has been preparing résumés and promotion portfolios since 2001, has watched the demands of the job market evolve with the increasing influence of social media, especially LinkedIn. “Today, messaging is a key component in career advancement, whether you’re an active/passive job seeker or looking for internal promotion. Résumés still play an important role but in conjunction with your LinkedIn profile, web bio, and other social media engagement. You may want to avoid it, but doing so works against you.” As he points out, recruiters, employers, and colleagues use social media to vet their business contacts.

“Therefore, what you are communicating online is an important part of the current networking environment,” says Van Vreede. “And it is wise to prepare a strategy.” That is why ITtechExec, which caters exclusively to executive-level technical leaders, also hosts sister site NoddlePlace specifically for emerging IT/technical professionals. “Our goal at NoddlePlace is to help guide Gen-X/Y techies who until now haven’t given much thought to personal branding and online messaging, and to show them how it can be done in an authentic way.”

To do that, NoddlePlace showcases a writing team that specializes in IT infrastructure, network engineering, manufacturing, systems administration, telecommunications, programming/software development, and more. “Once the personal brand has been crafted, the next step is to build a résumé around that message and then carry that into the LinkedIn profile and beyond, like marketing briefs and personal website bios, creating a complete portfolio,” says Van Vreede, who has been quoted on industry sites like CIO.com, TechRepublic, and Dice. “Companies want to recruit top technical talent, and therefore, there is a ‘war’ for this talent. The winners in this battle will be those who can do what is often hard for techies: communicate well on ‘paper’ and ‘online.’ Get the messaging right, and opportunities are out there.”

About ITtechExec/NoddlePlace

NoddlePlace is a division of ITtechExec, a premier career services firm for technical professionals. With ITtechExec guiding the careers of technical executives, NoddlePlace focuses on the career advancement of emerging IT/STEM pros, customizing personal brand messaging for résumés/cover letters, LinkedIn profile optimization, web bios, personal marketing/project highlight briefs, and more. Both ITtechExec and NoddlePlace also assist with technical recruiter matching campaigns.

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Personal Branding Demystified

Posted on October 3, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips, Personal Branding | Tags: , , |


by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

I really do believe that sometimes we (meaning the collective human race in general and career pros in particular) just like to make things harder than they really are. And that is especially true when it comes to “personal branding.”

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of the word, but then again, I am not a big fan of most buzz words. (And when it comes to the career industry, much like many other professions, we love our buzz words!) The reason for my frustration with the phrase is that for all the good we think we are doing by bombarding job seekers with these terms, it more often backfires than it does produce real good.

Here’s what I mean. You end up with two kinds of job seekers:

1. Ones who are obsessed with trying to unlock the personal branding puzzle. (They’ve been hearing all about this “new” concept, and they don’t want to miss out.)

2. Ones who are sick of hearing about it and reject it outright as just a ploy to sell them on more career services.

In both cases, it is a pity really because the idea behind personal branding is important and should not be rejected, but it isn’t all that new and it certainly isn’t a great mystery. What you have is a classic case of overselling, where you either set people up for disappoint or turn them off completely. Either way, it is not a good reflection on the career services industry, especially when I know that most career pros really do want to add value to a job seeker’s experience. They just fail to present it realistically.

It also doesn’t help that many job seekers are only interested in hearing what’s flashy, such as how social media is their savior and how personal branding will transform them into every prospective employer’s dream.

None of this should really come as a surprise as we find a similar issue with the terms “marketing” and “social media marketing,” in particular. As a small business owner, I am well aware of how obsessed you can become with these terms. We build these concepts up so much that we either chase after anyone who seems to grasp the mysteries behind them or run fleeing in the opposite direction just hoping our businesses will market themselves. And just like with “personal branding,” everybody loses (except the chosen few selling the online gimmicks).

Alas, however, like most things, once these buzz words enter the marketplace, they pull us all in. And they can’t be ignored because they do have some merit. The trick is in understanding just how much of the hype to believe and how much to throw out. That’s why I like to advise our clients to “keep it real.” We’re not looking for gimmicks but for real methods.

After all, we’re real people looking for real jobs with real companies run by other real people.

And although it might sound trite, that is really what personal branding is. It is understanding your place in that equation and articulating how you fit into it.

The best way to do that is good old-fashioned problem solving. Yes, problem solving.

The tools might be new (like LinkedIn or Twitter), the culture might be different (remote office, global teams), and the processes might be tedious (resume parsing systems), but the concept is still the same.

We hire people who can solve our problems.

That is exactly what an employer is looking for when he or she scans your resume. It’s not so much credentials (although they play a part); it’s whether you can solve the problem.

If you can anticipate and articulate that, then you understand your personal brand.

Likeability, background, cultural fit, age, and so on…for all our talk/worry about these issues…become less of an obstacle if you can convince an employer that you understand and know how to solve the problems he or she has.

Honestly, that’s all personal branding really is, and that is all that it will ever be. Polish or no polish. Introvert or extrovert.

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4 IT Resume Tips for IT Project Managers and Program Managers

Posted on April 19, 2012. Filed under: Project management, Resumes | Tags: , , , , , , , |

project managementBy Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

IT Resumes for Project Managers

As I speak with IT project managers, IT program managers, and even PMO directors, I am amazed by how many think or know they do a great job but are unable to communicate it effectively. This is true with their resume, on their LinkedIn profile, in their cover letter, and in their face-to-face interviewing skills. Why is it such a struggle for PMs to talk about their successes?

Personal Branding for the IT Project Manager

The main reason that most PMs are unable to articulate why a company should hire them is that they lack a focused brand message. Wait! I know what you’re probably thinking now. And, no, this doesn’t need to be some highly complex process in which you need to do focus groups or polls to gain “customer insights.” Creating a personal brand is relatively simple when approached with the proper mindset.


Think Business Value

What you want to do is consider how your actions as an IT project manager impact the business. Obviously, the specific projects that you lead are intended to benefit the company in some way. So you’ve got to describe those projects on your IT resume. However, the focus of the discussion is not the project itself or the technology solution deployed. The key element has to be about value.

What do I mean by value? Think benefit. If the company did not benefit in some way by the project you led, what was the point? Benefits come in many different forms, including:

  • cost savings
  • revenue growth
  • process improvements
  • system or application enhancements

So you want to connect the dots on your resume so that the reader can equate benefits like these directly to your involvement in a project.

How to Achieve Distinction

Listing these benefits is a great start, but they may be things that any project manager could have contributed to. To truly differentiate yourself in the job market, you’ve also got to communicate how you are distinct from other project managers…and not just because you have the PMP. Lots of project managers and program managers have the PMP certification. The real focus here should be on how you lead teams, transform projects, streamline project delivery, and get things done where others could not. Gearing your information in this manner will communicate the unique you and help you to avoid becoming just a commodity.

Creating a PM Package

The final step is in creating a clear, consistent, and compelling message across all the job search forums. This includes the resume, the LinkedIn profile, the cover letter, your bio, your Twitter profile, Google+, and any other forum in which a prospective employer may find your information. Just use some caution here, as you don’t want to simply paste the information from your resume into these other platforms. The style in which you communicate on LinkedIn is different than on Twitter or Google+.

Stephen is the ITtechExec, a “Go To” Personal Branding Strategist for IT, engineering, manufacturing, telecommunications, call center, medical device, and other STEM/technical specialty professionals. By translating technical activities and leadership achievements into a clear, consistent message that’s meaningful to business executives and recruiters, Stephen generates at least a 5x return on investment. The ITtechExec offers a proprietary career lifecycle management approach that includes resumes, cover letters, online profiles and bios, interviewing preparation, job search strategy development, and online brand management. Contact Stephen today at (866) 755-9800, http://www.ittechexec.com, or stephen@ittechexec.com.

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