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Why are you waiting to update your resume? Are you thinking you are stable at your job? That can only update your resume right before you send it out? Are you waiting to practice interviewing until you have an interview time on your calendar?

If so, you are too late!

Let me explain...

If you wait until you are laid off or actively seeking a job, you are selling yourself short in a variety of ways. First, you are not adding valuable information to your resume in real time, thereby forgetting important details, such as the topic you presented, the old and new software you worked with, and the training you completed. You are missing portions of valuable work experience which set you apart from other employees. A company knows what your general job description looks like. Yet, they have no idea how you have made the position yours, by adding the personal touches only you provide to personalize your role. Secondly, you are not tapping into the hidden job market, networking, thereby passing up what could be your dream job. Everyone is always in the market, unless you own your own company. Even then, there could be enough of an offer to potentially interest you. You cannot explore opportunities if you are not refreshing on paper, thereby reinforcing, your strengths to yourself. Think about it.

Like anything else, interview practice takes time. It takes a lot of effort, rehearsal, and practice. You won't get the luxury of time, if you are scrambling to meet with a job coach the day before your interview. You are already going to be nervous, and are not going to be focused enough to absorb all the information about the company, the position, and how to most effectively answer questions.

I have seen people from entry level to C-level make the same mistake, time and time again.

The last minute is too late! If you wait until the car is empty to fill up with gas, you're going to be pushing it to the nearest gas station. And where I'm sitting, in South Florida in July, that just doesn't seem pleasant. Refuel. Give yourself a little bit of time. Stop scrambling. You will make a better impression!

 
 
Being that I have been redesigning my garden in the Florida summer heat, I was thinking of how the garden applies to networking. Networking is about growing and cultivating relationships!
 
In networking, you need to begin planting a seed: what do you and the person have in common? How can you work together towards a common goal? Or perhaps you are planting a small plant and waiting for it to grow (maybe you met someone through a mutual connection and some roots have already formed.)

Without sunshine and water, a plant will quickly waste away and die. Have you “watered” your professional relationships through email, phone, or a meeting? Have you “fertilized” your relationship by sharing something that the recipient may enjoy?

Networking is not about what you need, but what the recipient is interested in. Just like you are not going to drink Miracle Gro or feed your gardenia filet mignon, you need to identify what is desired by your network. It’s not about focusing on what others are able to do for you.

Once the garden is planted, watered, and cared for, it will provide you with years of fruit, flowers, and shade. As your network is tended to, people will reach out to you to assist you when there is something they can do to help you!

And if you are as crazy as I am to garden in 100 degree and humid weather, please drink lots of cold water and wear sunscreen and a hat!

 
 
I am amazed when I see how small many of our local chamber of commerce and personal networking groups are! I do not understand with how “rough the economy is for job seekers and new graduates”, why there aren’t many more power players involved in local events, many of which do not cost a great deal of money!

Take a $10 or $20 investment and go talk face to face with the business decision makers within the local community. Have a meal or a drink with the owner of a small business, or the COO of a local hospital. Look at the membership directory of your local Chamber of Commerce or professional association and see how you can have a 2-way conversation in a social setting with someone who is able to review your resume and make a business decision about you. Instead of submitting your resume to the “internet black hole”, meet people. Lots of them. Speak with them and ask them who they know. Get to know them as more than what they are able to do for you. Then, you will have many more opportunities to increase your target audience for employment.

 
 
Let’s talk www.linkedin.com for a moment. Joining groups, adding people you meet at networking events, and offering valuable shared information in discussions and articles relevant to your field can establish your credibility as a subject matter expert! Joining groups that fit with your ultimate goal, and remaining active in these groups when you are employed increases your visibility in areas beneficial to your continued employability and ability to become promoted. Most importantly, I have made it a habit to add a contact to LinkedIn right after meeting him/her. That way, we can remain in contact and remember one another. You never know when there will be a need to reach out to another professional contact. Don’t just use people to get a job. Work with them to offer what you have, whether resources or other value-added components.

I am amazed at how many people tell me that they would find their references, except they moved/changed jobs/etc. Searching LinkedIn is a 30 second way to rekindle contact with someone with whom you had a great professional relationship. Who knows, their company may be hiring and looking for someone like…you!

Finally, ask for recommendations! You won’t believe how many people will give you a positive reference on the web…if you are a great employee and you ask them!

 
 
I met a young soon-to-be college graduate through a referral as a recruiter. I was assisting a close friend by giving this entry level gentleman some advice. He was about to complete an internship at the company for which my friend works, and was referred to me to share with him some tips and tricks at how to break into a great opportunity.


This intern came into my office looking groomed enough to be a future CEO, CFO, or COO. He was well spoken, polished, professional, and confident. He had prepared a list of questions to be answered, and had taken the time to research my credentials as a recruiter as well as the organization with which he was interviewing. The gentleman had a firm, dry handshake, a can-do attitude, and a smile. The fact that he was wearing a crisp suit/tie/shirt did not go unnoticed. He dressed better than many people who work at the corporate level, especially in South Florida, where it is notoriously hot and humid outside.

His preparation for the interview, ability to converse both as a person and about his field of study, and the attitude of being able to make things happen if given the chance, without coming across as cocky or arrogant, makes me wonder why others are not taking a page from his book! I knew when meeting him that he would go far in whatever area he chose to pursue in business.

 

Fast forward 5 years: the same gentleman and I remain in touch. He recently reached out to me to assist him in hiring his own employees! He remains in contact with the network he made while interning, and goes to lunch with his colleagues when he returns to town. He is incredibly well liked, and has been very successful both in industry and in starting his own business.

As an entry level employee, this young superstar never acted with an expectation of more than he was capable of. He never came across as entitled. He simply showcased his capabilities, and leveraged his network as a professional who was beginning his career.

Congratulations on your success (you know who you are) and you are an exemplary example of starting your career the right way!