Archive for June, 2008

Balance or Blend for Your Job Hunt – Which is Desirable?

Subtitle: Separate but Not Equal?

In a post in her Shifting Careers column last week, Marci Alboher links to a blog by Venkatesh Rao, Rao illustrates work-life balance vs. work-life blending:


This is a topic that is top-of-mind for many job seekers, some of whom are actually considering leaving their current jobs because they don’t have enough of a personal life. It is certainly a big topic for the Gen-Y crowd, notorious for seeking balance at work and refusing to put in the long hours needed to climb the corporate ladder set up by previous generations.

This is also an issue for many full-time job seekers – where do you draw the lines between your job hunt and the rest of your life? Can you make a distinction between “time to job hunt” and “time to relax?” Should you?

The idea of a “blended life,” where work and personal life co-exist seamlessly and intertwine in a zen-like state is tough to achieve. The alternatives, totally separating work and personal time (as in balance) or having no personal time at all (as in workaholic) can be equally difficult!

When “work” is actually a job hunt, the lines are further blurred!

I advise my clients who are job hunting full time to focus on a balance – make specific time to job hunt and specific time to remove yourself from the job hunt to relax.

Does that mean that while checking personal emails, a job seeker should NEVER respond to a great lead that pops into his or her “in” box? No, but it does mean that the job seeker shouldn’t regularly allow scheduled “down” time be eaten up by job hunting duties. If it seems reasonable to respond during “job hunting” hours to an inquiry that is not urgent, that is the preferable choice.

I think any job seeker knows that, with online searches and forums and blogs, the amount of time a job hunt can take is exponential. There is always another path to follow. Everything seems urgent, and some job hunters act as if down time is “wasted time.” They think, “If time is money, every minute not job hunting is wasted money.”

In fact, blending job hunting time into “living” time seems a sure path to burn-out and frustration. While you may pursue a job that fits into a blended work/life situation, you should consider balancing your job hunt. (See the picture above – job hunting time on one side, personal time on the other side. I don’t know that they need to always be equal, but they should be separate!)

One of my clients makes a point to relax in front of old movies, just to get his mind off of things. He does this, even when he has several leads to follow-up. He realizes, to his benefit, that he will have time to pursue the leads when he is well-rested and relaxed. This knowledge keeps his batteries charged and helps prevent burnout.

So, if you are looking for permission to relax and re-charge – here it is! Take some time to take care of yourself. You (and your search) will be better for it!

Need help getting balance in your job search? Keppie Careers can take the stress out of your job hunt. We’ll write your resume and tell you exactly how to get your search off the ground. Want help every step of the way? We can do that! Contact Keppie Careers:


Resume Key Words and a Great Visual Tool

Well-informed job seekers know that companies typically screen resumes using software that searches for key words. That’s why your resume should be targeted/personalized for each job. Re-writing even a little of your resume can help scanning software mark your resume as one to review further!

College Recruiter had a link to a fun tool called Wordle. It describes itself as:

“A toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.”

In other words, Wordle will create a visual representation of your resume, highlighting words that it senses as more important or prominent and downplaying the ones that don’t have much impact. If you are trying to highlight yourself as a highly technical team player and your visual representation doesn’t highlight those topics, you may want to consider re-working things! In any case, this looks like a fun tool to put some spice in your job search. Just think – you can make art out of your resume!

True confessions – I was not able to get Wordle to work for me. It looks like a great tool, though. Why don’t you try it and comment if it worked for you?

Keppie Careers – we do more than make art of your resume…We’ll write it to ideal specifications so you will get noticed!

Wordle resume by climbnh2003

Tips When Considering Jobs Beyond Your Qualifications

.reach for the stars.

Job applicants who spend a lot of time looking at ads often have the same question: Do I apply for this job if it seems like a reach? Am I wasting my time if I don’t have all of the qualifications?

First, a personal story. The last time I conducted a national job hunt for myself, there were many jobs that appealed to me that were technically beyond my experience level. If I had a strong interest and willingness to write a great cover letter, I applied anyway and stressed the qualifications I DID have for the job. Inevitably, the positions I thought I had no chance at invited me for an interview. Why? Maybe it was because I invested extra time and effort in my materials. Maybe it was because I made a good case and they thought I was worth an interview.

In the end, I was offered and accepted a job that wasn’t exactly a “reach,” but had a lot of growth potential before I had closure on all of the other interviews.

Some things to consider when you apply for jobs that seem beyond your experience:

Job ads are “best case scenarios,” sometimes considered “pie in the sky” descriptions.

In the old days, employers who advertised paid by the word or square inch for a newspaper or magazine ad. Today, with online ads, the sky is the limit. Linking and unlimited space offer employers the opportunity to list EVERY possible skill desired. Do they really expect to find someone who meets every qualification? Probably not.

Case in point, I recently wrote a job description for a client hiring a key team member. Believe me, this ad left no stone unturned; the client wanted to list his dream candidate’s qualifications. He figured it was worth shooting for the moon with the expectation of landing in the stars! If a less qualified but enthusiastic, skilled applicant impressed him, I assure you specific skills would not have been the deciding factor.

If you only apply for jobs you actually qualify to do, your career will never accelerate.

Most employers hope to fill jobs with people who have already done exactly what they need someone to do! No learning curve means less training and less trouble for the new employer. However, if you only apply for jobs that list skills you’ve already accomplished ad naseum, how will you advance your career?

At the very least, you should be reading ads beyond your reach to learn what skills you might want to try your hand at developing in your current job.

Make a point to understand your skills and qualifications. Know your limitations and where you have potential to successfully stretch.

A little self-assessment can go a long way. You must know yourself to sell your skills. If you apply for an interview for a position that is a stretch, be prepared to sell yourself and defend your ability to get the job done. Know what transferable skills you possess that will make you successful. You can apply for “reach” jobs until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t know how to convince the employer that you CAN do the job, even if you haven’t ALREADY done it, you’re going to be looking for a long time.

Keppie Careers – we write your resume, teach you how to apply for the right jobs and encourage, enlighten and empower you for success!

photo by for the love of photography

Tim Russert’s Lesson to Job Seekers

To some, it may seem like old news. Anyone who is plugged in knows that Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet the Press and influential political commentator died suddenly of a heart attack while at work. The fact that he died so young (at 58), right before Father’s Day, leaving a son who just graduated college and his own father as well as his wife is so sad…Having lost my own mom right before Mother’s Day two years ago, the timing of his death was especially poignant for me. All of this by way of saying that I’ve thought a lot about Tim Russert and his family, considering that I don’t know them personally.

Since I try to only write about my niche – job hunting topics with the occasional foray into general career issues, in the day or two after his death, I didn’t immediately see a connection in this story that I wanted to share in my blog. Today, with some distance, I realized that there is a critical career related lesson I’d like to mention.

As I watched and read coverage of Tim Russert’s death, everyone who worked with him pointed out his generosity of spirit and willingness to mentor colleagues. In fact, the quote on one of the memorial programs for Tim Russert reads, “No exercise is better for the human heart than reaching down to lift up another person.” I heard him described as someone who pulled others up and then held them there, nurturing and celebrating their successes.

My sense from the tributes memorializing him is that this quality, along with Russert’s reported love of family, work and life, may have contributed as much to his success as his tenatious questioning of political figures.

Yesterday, I wrote about being a “connector” and what a great aspiration it is to become a networker who networks generously and links people for their advantage. Similarly, this is a great time to think about the value of a mentor. Being a mentor can raise your career aspirations. People who see your kindness and generousity of spirit will help lift YOU to higher career heights. How much easier will it be to find people to offer recommendations and references if you are a strong mentor? How much more will you enjoy your work life if you really care about the people who work with you?

For young people entering the working world for the first time, the lesson is to seek a mentor and to someday aspire to be one. Get to know the people who work with you. Care about their lives, their children, their sports teams. Connect because you care and people will respond. Your career and your life will be the better for it!

Keppie Careers hopes to encourage, enlighten and empower you for success.

Networking – Something You Do or Something You ARE?

Earlier today, one of my Twitter friends, life/brand strategist Walter Akana tweeted an intriguing question. He asked: How do you keep your networking skills continually refreshed?

My answer: I try to think of networking as a way of BEING instead of something to DO.

Another Twitter friend, Megan Fitzgerald, an expat career and entrepreneur coach, replied: I think networking is about giving (form of doing?) Using your brand to help others. You could say BEing of service.

I love the synergies Megan creates between doing and being…I think these are terrific ways to think about networking for job seekers.

Of course, I advise my clients to network. We talk about “netweaving” – the fact that networking is about relationships. We talk about how to practice to work a room and the fact that everyone is a great networking connection, because you never know what you may be able to offer a new contact and what he or she may be able to offer you!

I think the most successful networkers are those who aren’t necessarily looking for something, but are focused on the fact that networking is something you can try to become…Become a connector, someone who likes linking people together for their advantage.

In his book, The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell defined connectors as “people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances.” In our digital, Web 2.0 world, success will depend more and more on our ability to broaden our professional circles and to reach out to a diverse socio-economic group of people representing a mix of opinions and beliefs. Professionals who habitually introduce people who otherwise may not meet earn goodwill and reputations as valuable resources and colleagues.

In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi says, “…Community and alliances will rule in the twenty-first century…[success is] dependent on whom you know and how you work with them (291).” He asserts that living a truly connected life is a prerequisite to success. For example, Ferrazzi mentions that Crain’s 40 Under 40, a list of rising stars in an array of fields, aren’t necessarily the best businesspeople. Instead, he suggests that they are probably the best connected businesspeople.

The value of connectedness is never more heightened than during uncertain economic times. Anyone who has been reading the recent “how to recession proof your job” articles and blogs will realize that they inevitably share one common piece of advice: Network for career success.

When networking becomes you and inspires you to act on behalf of others, you’ll know that you are achieving true networking success.

We can get you on the road to true networking success by teaching you how to approach networking, writing your resume and helping you every step of the way!

photo by cascadefoto

A Comedy of Errors and the Job Hunt

photo by GotMeAMuse

Sometimes, even the best laid plans don’t go as planned…

Case in point, a new client of mine whose job search is in full swing. His resume is top-notch, cover letters targeted and linkedin profile updated. He has started being invited for a lot of interviews, which is very exciting (for him and for me!)

Having worked in one place for his entire (lengthy) career, the interview is a stress point, and we have discussed and prepared to face this very important bridge between the opportunity for a job and actually getting a job!

He knows what to do to prepare. Sometimes it just doesn’t go as planned. For example, a recent interview:

  • The shirt he was planning to wear didn’t fit. Luckily, he had an extra one handy.
  • His well-thought out portfolio was waiting on the kitchen table. Unfortunately, he forgot it there and only realized it when he reached his interview destination.
  • His GPS didn’t have the company’s address in its system, so locating the interview spot was a bit tricky.
  • Sitting down for the interview, his phone rang. Forgetting the cardinal rule about not answering your phone during an interview, he answered it. Who was calling? A very high-profile recruiting firm asking him to schedule an interview!

There are several lessons to be learned from this story, but the most important lesson is the one I haven’t shared with you – this client’s reaction to the whole mess:

I was not angry with myself…Have a giggle with me not at me, all I can see is the funny side of what happened today.

You can’t buy a great attitude like that! Next time, he’ll triple-check that he has his portfolio and he’ll NEVER answer his phone in an interview. All of these are lessons that are easily learned. The ability to see the humor in a comedy of errors isn’t something you can teach. It’s a “soft” skill that will serve him well in his job hunt and as an employee for the lucky employer who hires him!

Further proving this client is a true math guy – he estimates the statistical probablility of all of these things happening at once: 10 trillion to one. So, don’t worry too much that your interview experience will be similar!

Keppie Careers can help you navigate all the ups and downs of your job search:

Pin Credit and Blame – Accountability and Your Job Hunt

Pin Cushion
photo by Wade from Oklahoma


Wikipedia defines it (in part):

Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as answerability, enforcement, responsibility, blameworthiness, liability and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in both the public and private (corporation) worlds.

Ultimately, focusing on accountability pins both credit and blame where it is due.

What does it have to do with your job hunt?

When you are in the workforce, typically you are accountable to someone. There is a supervisor or board of directors overseeing what you are doing and offering guidance, constructive criticism and an incentive to get the job done.

A lot of people
need to be
to someone (else)
in order to be successful.

This (in part) is why some people are not well suited to striking it out on their own in a business or may not be successful working at home. Without someone to oversee their work on a daily basis, they are not as successful. In a job search, most of the time, you are only accountable to yourself.

Here are 5 tips to help you hold yourself accountable in your job hunt.

And 1 tip if you’d rather not.

1. Set achievable goals. Clarify your expectations. Look at your job search in the context of your life. If you are job searching full time without other responsibilities, you should be able to set the bar higher for what you can realistically achieve. If you are still working or responsible for your children full time, your goals should reflect that reality. Decide how much time you can spend on your hunt and focus most of that time on networking (in person and online).

2. Track your progress. Hold yourself accountable to your goals. Personally, I love a check-off list; make a list of things to do and check them off as you go.

3. Give yourself incentives. We all work best when we have incentives. You went to that “work the room” event that you knew you’d hate? You even talked to three people (your goal number)? Give yourself the afternoon off the next day!

4. Consider getting a job search buddy. This can be an in-person contact who goes to networking events with you or an online contact to commiserate about how long it takes to hear back from employers. Consider joining Secrets of the Job Hunt Network, a social network for career professionals and job seekers. You can message other job seekers and also view posts by career professionals. (I’m a regular contributor.)

5. Note your successes and less than stellar performances. I have a client who charts his performance in interviews in order to learn from his mistakes and repeat his successes. Focusing on what you are doing well and learning from your mistakes will help keep you accountable to yourself and keep your job search moving forward.

So, you’d rather not hold yourself accountable?

One tip for you – hire a coach to guide you through every step of the way! You don’t want to update your resume for each job? Cover letters bore you? You’re not sure what you have to offer or even where to start with your search? I am here to help encourage, enlighten and empower you for success in your job hunt. Contact me at

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June 2008
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