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It is important to assess or clarify exactly what you are looking for short term and where you want to be long term. Remember, when changing your career, it also affects your family life and your social life. So, don't forget to include these categories in your list. Here are 8 categories to help you analyze your next career change:

  • What is your objective
  • What type of organization
  • Supervisory or not
  • Salary
  • Type of employment
  • Location
  • New technologies
  • You and/or your family

WHAT IS YOUR OBJECTIVE

Are you looking to gain new skills?

Do you want to move into a leadership position?

What technologies do you like working with the most?

Where do you want to be in 5 years and what will help you get there?

WHAT TYPE OF ORGANIZATION

Is there a specific industry you are interested in, i.e. finance, manufacturing, health, government?

Would you be interested in a large national/international company where there is room for transfers to other locations?

How about a start-up? Do you have the skills that could take a start-up to the next level? Or do you just like the excitement of new and innovative environments?

Do you like bureaucracy or are you more comfortable in a family environment?

SUPERVISOR OR NOT

Some people are made to be in a supervisory position, other people find it very challenging. There is nothing wrong with either side. It is important for you to analyze yourself and decide if you like and want the extra challenges that go with supervising people.

Do you like a challenging puzzle? If you like getting involved in a puzzle, then supervising might not be for you.

Supervising means making time for people and their problems and idiosyncrasies.

You must be tough and soft and fair.

HOW IMPORTANT IS SALARY

Is money the most important thing in your life right now? No shame in admitting this. Money makes the world go ‘round and helps you buy a house, go on a vacation, or pay off a loan.

Is learning a new skill more important than the salary?

Is this a good time to add extra experience and education to your resume and not worry as much about the salary? Sometimes a long-term career path means not necessarily going for the big pay cheque.

CONTRACT OR PERMANENT

Do you like the security of a permanent position? These can include scheduled raises, health benefits, vacation time, possibility for advancement. Your job may be like your family.

OR

Are you more comfortable being a contractor and being your own boss? Like having control of your salary and where the write-offs go? The larger salary compensates for time off between jobs. Do you like the idea of being able to take a summer off or travel for 4 months? Do you find that new people, new systems, new companies enhance your work experience, or do they give you stress?

LOCATION – TO COMMUTE OR NOT

Commuting is a big deal breaker on my list.

Do you like to drive?

Are you and the company close to public transportation?

How about the expense of car, parking, public transportation?

How long does the commute take? Are you going to be happy with needing an extra 2 hours for transportation?

Don't forget to think about those long Canadian winters when you factor in commuting.

NEW AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

Are you comfortable with the technologies you are using, or do you want to train with the new technologies on the marketplace?

Keep up to date on new/emerging technologies and what companies/systems are using them.

What’s hot, what’s not? COBOL, Java, Hadoop. What companies offer training in the new technologies?

Read industry publications to keep up to date on emerging technologies.

Do you need to go back to school or take a course/certificate?

YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

Times change and so do you. Just graduated, no family ties – then long hours and travelling with your job are great. Add a family into the scenario or have an older parent you need to help with. Your needs change and so do theirs.

There is nothing more fun than coaching one of your kids at yours/their favourite sport. Will the new job provide the opportunity to get home early enough for that?

Does the new company have a day care centre?

Health Benefits can make a huge difference in your lifestyle.

Older parents, spouse’s career, are you at an age when you would like a little more time off. These are all factors that you have to analyze when you are looking for a new position.

WHAT FACTOR IS THE DEAL BREAKER FOR YOU?

Everyone has different needs. As you grow in your career your needs will change. It’s important to analyze each factor for each time in your life. Be honest! Changing careers and companies is a hard decision and not something you want to regret.

Start with these 8 factors and analyze each one.


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Do you have a LinkedIn account?  If not, you should make one right now! There are 11 million Canadian users. These are both employees and employers, which makes LinkedIn one of the best places to connect with like minded professionals. It is a great place to network and share experiences and look for a job or look for an employee. The LinkedIn Professional Profile allows you to highlight the key achievements of your professional life. It's like a resume on steroids. There isn't a future employer out there who doesn't check out your LinkedIn Profile after receiving your resume. Your resume is a 2 to 3-page document to catch the employers' eye. The LinkedIn Profile, if done correctly, will move you to the interview stage.

Let's take a look at the LinkedIn Summary, it is just one small part of your Profile page, but it can pack a big punch if done right.

The LinkedIn Summary - The 2000-word Elevator Speech

Next to your picture, this is the first thing everyone sees. It's like a "Coles notes" of your professional life. You are allowed to write 2000 words - all about you. Make them count.

Start off with an upbeat opening paragraph. Be personal. Your resume is a list of dates, positions, companies and point form notes. The Summary is the story of your professional life, make it interesting. You want to let people know who you are, not just be a list of duties and responsibilities.

You have 2000 words. That's a lot of talking about yourself! 2000 words using a 10 pt font is almost 6 pages. If you are going to use all 2000 words, then make sure you make it interesting. Break it up into different paragraphs, highlight some key points or skills. Watch out for run on sentences and paragraphs and be careful about using too much "I did", “I do", “I am", specifically when starting new sentences. Yes, this summary is all about you, but there are more entertaining ways to talk about yourself than "I I I I I". After you write it go back and edit it, if there are too many I's then try to replace them with "my" or reorganize your sentence so that the I is in the middle of the sentence rather than at the beginning. This is your first impression, proofread it just like that final philosophy exam you took to get your degree.

List your Achievements. 

This is not the time to talk about your job duties and responsibilities. Talk about your achievements. Highlight your promotions, surpassing sales quotas, improving a reporting system - how did you make a difference and improved the operation of your company?

Highlight your Leadership Skills. 

Taking your valuable hands-on skills to the next level and adding in your mentoring and leadership skills show an all-around employee. Maybe your job right now doesn't give you the opportunity to do that, then add in your volunteer work. "During the past year I organized a team of 10 people to participate in the Walk for Cancer and helped raise $10,000 through different fundraising events". Coaching, Girl Guide Leader, on a Board of Directors for a Volunteer Organization - all of these show a part of your character that doesn't come across in your resume.

Don't use overused sayings in your Summary. You know what they are, if you have a craving to put in comments like: self motivated, hard working, team player, can work independently - don't. Use some of the other 1 million words in the English language.

Remember, this is a Professional Summary. Your ultimate goal on LinkedIn is to further your career, whether that is finding the next career move or finding that star employee to bring on board. When writing your summary, keep in mind who your target audience is. Is it a Recruiter, is it in a specific industry? Try and highlight times in your professional life that will promote your chances of being noticed by the right audience. You want to get back into the financial industry but haven't been working in it for a while, you can still put down "Over 5 years financial services industry experience working in .....".

Specialties. 

A successful end to your Summary is to list your specialties. This can be done as a list: Content Marketing, managing and hosting webinars, team leadership, email campaigns, building communities, Java, HTML.

LinkedIn is a wonderful way to advance your career, to increase sales, and to network. It is a professional community, use it wisely and you may get some great tips, form some lasting relationships and receive some great career advice!


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Your resume Professional Experience is the most important part of your resume. This is the section where you can shine and show off all your talents and experience.  

1.  LAYOUT

Keep the layout simple and easy to read. No Logos, No Boxes. Emoticons and clipart are not needed on your resume, they’re just clutter. If you are a graphic designer, then put those in your portfolio. Dates, Company Name, Location, Title, Detail. Repeat.

2.  SECTION TITLE

It's your PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. You are a professional at what you do. Name the section that way. It's not "work experience".

3.  COMPANY NAME

You want people to know who you work or worked for. Putting down MGS will only be helpful for people who work in the government. If you want to use initials, then put in the name as well "MGS - Ministry of Government Services". TD - Toronto Dominion Bank. IBM is okay as IBM. Hiring Managers, Recruiters and ATS systems search on specific words. Those words may relate to a specific company, like banks, ministries, etc. Use Title Structure for your company name - i.e. capitalize each word and underline. If the company is obscure or in a different country, then putting in a 2 line write up is very helpful. 2 lines explaining what the company does, specifically industry:

"A telecom company, employing 15,000 people specializing in _____”

Start Date and Company Name are on the first line.

4.  LOCATION

City, Province, or City, State is all that is necessary. If your jobs are not in Canada or the US then you can just put down the country, i.e. United Kingdom, India, etc. 

End date and Location are on the 2nd line.

5.  TITLE

The all important "what are you" title. ALL CAPS so that it stands out. Your title should be an industry appropriate name.
Make it find-able for search strings and ATS systems. SENIOR PROGRAMMER ANALYST will tell everyone what you are, HEAD JEDI is a cute funky name, and within a company can be fun but will not be found doing a search.

6.  DESCRIPTION

Duties and Responsibilities are the same thing. The key is to make sure you aren't copying down the job description. You want to put in point form the details of what you actually do on a day to day basis. The important ones, not every little detail. Start every point off with an action word, "Updated, Implemented, Created". Don't start sentences off with an "I", instead you should be using the action word. Don't put in the heading "Duties or Responsibilities" just start off with the points (or if needed the 2-sentence company introduction as mentioned above followed by your points). Don't overdo the points, 5 to 10 at the most.  

Follow the duties/responsibilities with your actual ACHIEVEMENTS. Put a heading down for your achievements after your last point. Then list your achievements. 

 "Designed and implemented the company's new webpage on schedule using ____".

7.  DATES

Start date and end date, use actual month not the number, i.e. January 2000. I put the start date on the same line as the Company name with the end date on the same line as the company location. This way the job title stands out by itself. 

8. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE HAD MORE THAN ONE POSITION IN A COMPANY?

Your first heading shows your original start and end dates. This allows the hiring manager/recruiter to see your length of service with the company. Beside your title put your service dates for each position. The first position should be your most recent position.  

For each following position instead of putting down the company name use "Same Company". Again this helps to show longevity within the company.  

 

9.  SELF EMPLOYED VS PERMANENT POSITIONS

If you are a professional contractor then we group all your clients, projects, companies under a blanket heading of Self-Employed. Contractors can have a ton of short engagements, if they are all listed with dates down the side, first glance can make you look like you change jobs a lot. As you can see in the example below grouping them leaves no room for judgement. You are a professional contractor.

 

10.  BE ACCURATE

Don't embellish, exaggerate or LIE. When your references are called, they will be asked details from your resume. Did he/she do this? The last thing you want is your reference being put in a position to lie about what you did.  


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Twitter is one of our favourite social media platforms. Keep up to date, look for jobs, engage with like minded people. But be careful, your tweet could cost you your job. 

All social media platforms should be treated with kid gloves when you are job hunting. Companies will check your social networks out before they hire you. And after you are hired, if you are too offensive be prepared to be fired or reprimanded. LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that you control, not only in your posts but also in who you let see your information. Facebook is used for more personal posts - announcements, things you like, things you don't like, etc. It again is safer because you have to allow people to connect with you. Unless someone else tags you and then voila! - you are open to their list of friends. Most Twitter accounts on the other hand are open to everyone on the worldwide web. 

When things happen on Twitter, they happen fast. Sometimes "trending" can be a bad thing. 

What types of things should you never tweet about on Twitter or post on any social media platform?

  • Your current company in a negative light

  • Your current boss, make that even your previous boss either in a negative or funny light. OK maybe he was really drunk at the Company Golf Tournament, and you took a picture - don't post it, ever!  
  • Getting a little too cosy with the boss' wife could be a deal breaker too. Just to be careful leave your phone in your purse at company functions. What seems funny at the time, might not be 24 hours later.  
  • Racist comments are always a big NO/NEVER
    • Justine Sacco a PR Exec with only 200 followers was fired over comments made on her personal account. (DailyMailUK)
  • Sexist comments.  
    • 2 Toronto Firefighters were fired over sexist comments on their personal twitter accounts. (National Post Story)  
    • Ted Bishop, a very well respected PGA of America President, until he sent what he thought was a harmless tweet. (Golf.com)
  • Accidentally posting on a company website, not only was the employee fired but Chrysler cancelled their contract with the agency where he worked. Huffington Post)


  • Don't rant on Twitter - rants should be done in the privacy of your own home, preferably when no one is around.  
  • Don't joke about bombing or hurting someone.  
  • Watch out for tweets that could be breaking your company's confidentiality rules, this could not only result in you being fired but also in a court case. 

Follow these "Rules of Thumb" when thinking about posting something:  

  • Don't post when you are intoxicated.
  • Be careful posting late at night, it is harder to call something back if you are heading into bed. Do you really want to wake up and find out you have gone viral?
  • The "24 hour" rule. If something is really bugging you, wait 24 hours to see if you calm down.
  • Funny - maybe not when you look at it later. Funny comments in the privacy of your own home stay there. If you offend someone they can mention it right then. Funny comments on Twitter will probably be found offensive by someone so be careful.  
  • If you start to write something and have doubts about how it will be perceived. then delete it.  
  • Use the "Mom Test". If it won't pass Mom, then don't post it.  

In this day and age is there anything truly private anymore? Have a little fun at your birthday party - *click* someone takes a picture. A conversation around the dining room table - someone tapes it. It isn't just affecting the rich and famous anymore. Everyone is under scrutiny. And this is especially true when job hunting. Keep your social media clean and your tweets scandal free!


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"Employment references are professionals who can comment on your personal character, work ethic, past work experiences and abilities to perform specific duties."

It's important to have your references prepped and ready to go as you move into the job hunting, career change stage of your life. Being given a job offer and then scampering around trying to find appropriate references and their contact information won't give a good impression to your new bosses. You don't have to hand in your references until you are asked for them which is usually at the verbal job offer stage, but they should be all ready to go.  

"Almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants. " - monster.com

Who to Use for Your Professional Reference?

The first choice would always be your current supervisor. This is an easy choice if your partner has just been transferred to another city and you are relocating. A little more difficult if you are looking for a new job because you want a change, specifically of boss. Your reference doesn't have to be a "manager", it could be a more "senior" co-worker who is working with you on your current project. If your reference is from a previous position then a supervisor/manager would be the best choice.  

Start off by making a list of people you have worked with in the past and had a good relationship with. List the projects you worked on that were completed successfully and who your supervisor and co-workers were. Check out your previous performance reviews, which supervisors were complimentary towards you. If there are individuals on this list who can also relate to the new position you are applying for - great.  

Get Back in Touch

Thank goodness for LinkedIn, it has made keeping in touch with previous co-workers much easier. But finding them on LinkedIn isn't enough. You need to actually call these individuals and ask them if they remember you and if they will give you a reference. If you have lost touch, you want to reconnect and build your relationship back up.  

When you are talking to them explain the position you are applying for. Reconnect about old projects you worked on together. Give them a heads up when you get to the job offer stage, so they can be expecting the call. We all deal with telemarketers and the last thing you want is your reference thinking your potential employer is a telemarketer and hanging up on them.  

Include on your list their name, company, position and a day and night time contact number. Ask them if there is a time preference for receiving a phone call. This list should look professional, a white clean 8 x 11 piece of paper, not names on little post-its.

Prepare Your References with What Information Can Be Provided About You 

References will be called so make sure they are prepared. Large companies use reference services to do their reference checks. Companies who use Recruiters will sometimes have the recruiting company do the reference checks or the actual hiring managers will call. Either way there are only certain things they can ask in a reference check. Make sure your reference is going to give you glowing comments about the following questions:

  • Length of employment?
  • Previous job title?
  • Brief details of responsibility?
  • Overall performance?
  • Time-keeping and attendance?
  • Reason for leaving?
  • Would you re-hire this employee?
  • Keep in Touch

Follow up with your references after you start your job with a big thank you and remember to stay in touch. You never know when you may need a reference again. Or you may want to go and work for them in the future.  

Keep Your Reference List Up to Date

New references from your most current jobs, volunteer or community experience should keep getting added to your reference list with up-to-date contact information. But that doesn't mean you lose track of your older references. Network, Network, Network! You never know when you may be able to help someone from your past or they may be able to help you.