Tuesday, January 15, 2019

There's A Right Way -- and a Wrong Way -- to Leave Your Job (Part 3 in a Series)

This is the third part of a series focusing on leaving a job. In the first blog post, I talked about how to advise clients on what to do before they start their job search. The second blog post outlined tips for how to conduct a confidential job search.

In this blog post, I'll share how I tell clients to approach their supervisor to let them know they're leaving.

This one is often tricky for jobseekers. There’s rarely an “easy” way to let your current boss know that you’re leaving the company. This is especially true if you have been with the company a significant amount of time, or if you have a strong relationship with your supervisor. 

Here's what I tell my clients:
If you’ve had discussions with your supervisor in previous performance evaluations about your desire to move up, but these opportunities don’t exist within the company, your departure may not be a surprise. If your company was recently sold or acquired — or if your department has had a lot of recent turnover — that fact that you are leaving may not be unexpected. But if you are a key player, your resignation may be surprising, and may even cause big problems for the company. 

I advise jobseekers to let their current supervisor know as soon as they can. For most jobseekers, that means as soon as you’ve secured your new position (including getting the particulars of the new position in writing, if possible). 

Write a Letter of Resignation:
I also advise jobseekers to write a letter of resignation. Is that absolutely necessary? It depends. Many jobseekers simply tell their boss verbally that they are leaving — but there are several advantages to actually writing a resignation letter.
  • It can help start the conversation about you leaving the company. You can simply give it to your boss and say, “I’ve prepared this letter of resignation to let you know I’ve accepted another job.”
  • A resignation letter can provide you with an outline to discuss the issues related to your departure from the company (timing, unused vacation or sick leave, etc.
  • It can help you leave the job on the right foot — without burning bridges, and leaving the door open for future opportunities, should they arise.

Letters of resignation should be positive in tone. This is not the time to air grievances. The resignation letter will likely become a part of your permanent file, so choose your words carefully. If at all possible, hand-deliver (don’t email) your letter of resignation.

In the future, the person verifying your employment with the company might not be someone you worked with previously. They may review your file, and what you write in your letter of resignation might be important. A strong recommendation can be important — and it’s appropriate to reiterate your contributions in the resignation letter so that information is in your file. Just don’t go overboard; this is about you leaving the company, not angling for a raise or a promotion.

In your letter, be sure to thank your employer for the opportunities you had. You can also reiterate valued personal relationships in your resignation letter — acknowledging your work with your coworkers and supervisors. 

What to include in your letter of resignation:
  • The date you are leaving (if at all possible, give at least two week’s notice).
  • Include a forwarding address for mail and correspondence. Also include an email address where you can be reached.

A sample resignation letter might sound like this: 

Dear (Supervisor Name):

This letter is to inform you that I am resigning from my position as (job title) with (company name), effective (date). I am willing to stay on for two weeks — until (date) — in order to provide a seamless transition for my replacement.

I have appreciated the opportunity to learn from you and contribute to the company in this role. Being able to be a part of the team that launched the (name of project) that sparked the division to its highest revenues ever is something that I will always remember.

One of the most difficult things about moving on is the loss of your guidance. I have greatly benefited from your leadership and mentoring, and I would welcome the opportunity to keep in contact in the future, as I sincerely value your knowledge and experience.

We will need to work out my final work schedule as well as disposition of my accrued vacation/leave time and employee benefits; I will await your guidance on how to handle these issues.

Personal correspondence can be sent to me at my home address (list address), or via email at (personal e-mail address).

I wish you — and the company — all the best.


(Your Name) 

In the next blog post, I'll talk about the "etiquette" of departure — basically, some "dos" and "don'ts" surrounding a jobseeker leaving their company.

Monday, January 14, 2019

There's A Right Way -- and a Wrong Way -- to Leave Your Job (Part 2 in a Series)

In my previous blog post, I talked about some examples of people who left their jobs in dramatic fashion. While they make for exciting news headlines, it's not a great strategy for our jobseeking clients if they value their career.

I also outlined the three phases for jobseekers who are thinking about leaving a job. The first step talked about what they should do before you start their job search.

In this blog post, we'll talk about how to advise clients to conduct a job search while they are still employed.

Research shows it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, but there are special considerations jobseekers must take into account when conducting a job search while they are still employed.

Here's what I tell my clients:
The first is how they interact with a future/prospective employer. In correspondence with prospective employers or recruiters, mention that you are conducting a “confidential” job search. You can use a phrase such as “I am contacting you in confidence about this position.” However, keep in mind that prospective employers are under no obligation to respect your wishes. Also be careful when replying to blind advertisements (ones that do not provide a name for the prospective employer). More than one jobseeker has accidentally submitted a résumé to his or her current employer this way.

Don’t conduct your job search on the company’s time — or dime. Reserve your jobseeking activities to before work, on your lunch hour, or after work. If necessary, take personal leave (not sick time) to go on interviews. (You can simply say you have an appointment.) Don’t use your company computer (including accessing your personal email account) for your job search. Don’t take employment-related phone calls during your work time; allow these messages to go to your voice mail, and return the calls during breaks or before or after work. And don’t list your employer’s phone number or your business email address on your job search documents.

How you dress during your job search can also be tricky. If you work in a “casual” workplace, wearing “interview attire” to work can be a red flag that something is up. You may want to change into your more formal clothes before an interview (don’t change at work!) — or schedule job interviews on a day when you’re not working.

Providing job references is also likely to be an issue. Even if you’ve told the prospective employer that your current employer doesn’t know that you’re looking, you may still want to mention that you do not want the company to contact your current employer for a reference until they are ready to extend a job offer, so as not to jeopardize your current position. In this situation, you may need to provide several references outside of your company who can speak to your credentials and expertise.

Finally, put your LinkedIn profile up sooner rather than later. Developing a comprehensive LinkedIn profile — and building up your network of contacts — is something to do right away. If you create one before you start your job search, you can honestly say that you’re doing it to create a network of contacts to assist you in being more effective in your current position. Having a newly-minted LinkedIn profile (especially one that mentions you’re open to “new opportunities”) can tip off your supervisor (or co-workers) that you’re looking for a new position. Routinely updating an existing profile, however, is not as suspicious.

In my next blog post, I'll tell you what I advise my clients about when and how to let their supervisor know they're leaving a job (including a sample letter of resignation).

Read “There’s a RIght Way — and a Wrong Way — to Leave Your Job (Part 3)”

Friday, January 11, 2019

There's A Right Way -- and a Wrong Way -- to Leave Your Job (Part 1 in a Series)

With the new year comes the flood of jobseekers looking to have their resumes written, their LinkedIn profiles updated, and their interview skills burnished. As resume writers, we have a responsibility to do more than just prepare these career documents — we also need to prepare our clients.

One of the most important things we can prepare our clients to do is to leave a job gracefully.

Every few months, there's a viral example in the news media of someone who left their job in dramatic fashion. Examples include the JetBlue flight attendant who famously deployed the emergency chute on the runway, or the Goldman Sachs executive who wrote a “Why I Am Leaving” article in the New York Times.

These stories catch our attention because they showcase an over-the-top way to exit a company — but they are also cautionary tales for jobseekers. When at all possible, we need to remind clients not to burn bridges at your their employer. I tell my clients, "You never know when you’ll run across your co-workers — or current supervisors — in the future." It's an adjunct to my most-common saying — which is, "Omaha is a big small town." (Omaha, where I live, is a metropolitan area of 1 million+ people, but you'd be amazed at how "small" it can be when it comes to who you know.) The same is true in almost any industry — they are smaller than you think!

When someone is thinking of leaving their job, there are things to consider in three phases of the separation — things to think about before you even begin to apply for a new job, considerations to keep in mind as you look for a new job while you’re still employed, and how to leave your current job gracefully.

In today's blog post, we'll look at the first part: The Preparation

Here's what I tell my clients:

Before You Start Your Job Search
When you decide to start looking for another position, take the time to review your old files and make a list of your accomplishments in the position. If you haven’t been collecting accomplishments all along, now is the time to start. This information will be useful in developing your résumé as well as in interviews. Make copies of documents that support your accomplishments (unless company policy prohibits it). You may not have access to this information once you submit your resignation. (I've had clients who told their boss they were quitting and were immediately escorted off the premises.)

The first thing to consider when you’re ready to resign is whether your company has a policy or guideline about how much notice you should provide. You should also check your employee handbook and any employment agreement you have with the company. If you’ve worked at the company for any length of time, you should have some idea of how resignations are handled. Does your boss ask the resigning employee to leave immediately, or do they generally ask him or her to stay on until a replacement is found? How much time is it customary to offer to stay? You should always offer to stay two weeks, but have a contingency plan in place if you’re asked to leave immediately.

Before you notify your supervisor of your resignation, make sure you are prepared to leave. You don’t want to tip anyone off that you’re leaving — things like taking your photos off your desk or boxing up personal items on your bookshelf are noticeable — but you can quietly clean out your desk and files. 

This includes cleaning off your work computer. If you have personal documents on your computer, save them to a jump drive or CD, and then delete the originals from your computer. You can forward any personal email messages you want to save to your non-work email address, and then delete the originals. (Be sure to delete messages in your “sent mail” folder from your work account too.) If you have online accounts that use your business email address for the log-in, change the accounts over to your personal email. If you downloaded software to your computer that isn’t related to your job, be sure to uninstall it. And, finally, learn how to delete your computer’s browsing history, cookies, and saved passwords from your Internet browser.

When cleaning out your desk and files, shred or trash old files that won’t be needed by your successor. 

If you bring home a few personal items at a time, it won’t be as noticeable. The goal is to be able to easily bring home all of your personal belongings in one or two boxes — and, to be able to leave your job without leaving behind any personal information.

In the next blog post, I'll share my advice for jobseekers on the second phase of jobseeking while employed.

Read “There’s A Right Way — and a Wrong Way — to Leave Your Job (Part 2)”

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Feed Your Need for Blog Post Content

If you have a blog, you know that you constantly have to feed it. I've had this blog since 2007 and one of the constant challenges is creating a continuous stream of engaging, interesting blog content.

For those of you who are new to blogging — or even those long-time bloggers like me — here are some ideas to help keep the content flowing!
  • Repurpose What You Have. Look at your most popular content according to your analytics and engagement. Turn this content into different forms, and expand the content by adding case studies and additional data. Turn a 10-point blog post into 10 more in-depth blog posts about each point. Create video content and embed that on your blog. 
  • Read Group Discussions. Check out jobseeker-targeted groups on LinkedIn and see what your target audience is talking about. Read the active discussions. The ones where people ask questions and people offer a lot of different answers are the best places to get ideas. Every question can be a blog post and the discussions can help you come up with more ideas.
  • Take Notes. Keep a notepad near you or use your smartphone to take notes about conversations, questions, and other information as you see it and hear it. You'll often get ideas while driving your car, taking a jog, or listening to other people talk. Keeping notes and writing it all down will help. I keep my idea lists in Evernote.
  • Create a Calendar. Create a content calendar that is designed to inform, educate, engage, and activate your audience. You can use a source like the National Day Calendar to look for ideas for content.
  • Create Trending Content. Outside your calendar, you'll want to keep your blog exciting by adding in trending, newsworthy content that's all about what's happening right now. Can you tie in something from current events into your blog — like when this JetBlue flight attendant quit his job in spectacular fashion?
  • Use Pass-Along Materials Content. A great way to get content that you can use for your blog is to use Pass-Along Materials content. This done-for-you content can help you come up with ideas, act as research, and be used "as is" or with few changes.

When you understand who your audience is and what your goal is with the content you're publishing, it will be a lot easier to come up with ideas that are fantastic, thought-provoking, fresh, and effective in meeting the needs of your audience.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Resume Writers: Engage Your Audience

One of the best ways of attracting and retaining resume clients is through content.

True audience engagement is essential. Engagement includes getting responses to your social media posts, with real conversations happening. That leads to a relationship with the audience that gets them to do what you want them to, and remain committed afterwards. But that doesn't happen by itself — it happens by design.

Here are some things you should consider:

1. Grow Brand Awareness
The reason you want to grow your brand's awareness is that it will help more people know about you and your offerings. The more people who know, the more chances you have to make them part of your audience. The more audience members you have, the more opportunities you have for audience engagement. 

To grow brand awareness, youíll want to create content such as white papers, webinars, blog posts and other content that is designed with the goal of brand awareness in mind.

2. Build an Active Community 
The best way to grow and improve engagement is to have more people to engage with in a community environment. When you build an active and vibrant community, engagement will happen more easily because they feel special and part of a group or tribe. 

A great way to build an active community today is through Facebook Groups. You'll need content for your community too, such as memes, challenges, infographics, and more. (Bronze members of BeAResumeWriter, check out the 100 More Social Media Conversation Starters on the download page.)

3. Drive Traffic to Your Website
You'll want to work on driving traffic to your website because the point of engagement is to get traffic to your website, and then get your visitors and hungry buyers to sign up for your email list so that you can engage with them in new ways. You can use your community and the content that you use to build brand awareness to help you drive traffic to your site. 

4. Generate Leads and Sales
As you grow brand awareness, build an active community, and drive traffic to your site, part of the point of engagement is to generate leads and sales. You can then have engagement with your prospects and customers. 

When you set these four goals, remember that they're only goals. You will also need to develop a strategy that allows you to approach these goals, with measurable objectives and tactics that increase your chances of succeeding. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Goal-Setting (Part III): How Do You Get There?

In yesterday's blog post, I talked about how to decide where you're going — setting the goal or goals you want to achieve.

Once you know where you want to go, you can chart the course for how to get there.

So the next step after setting a goal is to create a series of steps you need to take to accomplish the goal. 

There’s that saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When I get stuck on how to approach a goal, I make a list of all the tasks I need to take to get it done. Then I work on one. If I’m really stuck, I set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes, and I commit to working on a task until the timer goes off. Sometimes that’s enough to get me out of inaction.

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, it is a really important part of the process to actually write things down. It requires a lot of effort and energy to try to remember what you need to do. You also have to spend time thinking about what you need to do next. When you write things down, it makes it easier to figure out where to spend your time. Also prioritize the list. Designate what to do first, and next, and next. That will help you move from task to task quickly, because you know what’s next on your list.

The other important piece is the “T” in “SMART” — putting a deadline on your goal. To turn a goal into reality, you need to know what you have to do on a monthly, weekly — or even daily — basis to make it happen. And you can’t do that unless you have a time frame for when you want to accomplish your goal. You start at the end, and figure out what it will take to get there.

One of the goals I gave as an example yesterday was "I will pay off $6,000 in credit card debt by Dec. 31, 2019."

That means you need to pay off $500 a month in principal to wipe out your entire credit card debt over the course of a year. Making a $500 payment each month sounds more manageable than tackling an entire sum.

But you can break it down even further. Five hundred dollars a month is $115 a week, or $16.50 a day. Once you have a goal and a timeline, you can take the appropriate action to make it happen. 

You could pick up a little extra work each month to make your $500 a month goal. Or cut your expenses by $16.50 a day and allocate the savings to debt reduction. 

But having a goal and action steps in place makes it much more likely that you will reach your goal than hoping that there is extra money at the end of each month to throw towards your credit card. And, if you have a plan for your money, you’re more likely to reach your goal of paying off your credit card because you know exactly what you want to do with that extra money you earned, or saved, or both.

So take a few minutes right now and write down the series of action steps you need to take for each of the goals you defined from yesterday's "homework" assignment.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Goal-Setting (Part II): Where Are You Going?

In hockey, it's easy to measure your accomplishments. The scoreboard reflects your success.
Photo credit: UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections

In yesterday's blog post, I talked about the importance of reflection in goal-setting.

Today, we're going to talk about intentions, which are a critical component in setting goals. 

Goals give us focus and direction. A goal is a statement of intention — about what you want, what you plan to focus on, and what you intend to accomplish. Choosing a goal gives you a destination to choose a path for. Only when you know where you are going can you decide how to get there. Goals get you into action, keep you on track, and allow you to measure your progress.

You're probably already familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. system for goal-setting. 

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for:

When creating your S.M.A.R.T. goals, use the present tense. See yourself achieving the goal. 

"I will create and launch a new signature system for jobseekers by January 31, 2019."
"I will earn $96,000 in revenue in 2019."
"I will pay off $6,000 in credit card debt by December 31, 2019."

Beyond setting the goals is making them a reality. It's one thing to write down a goal. It's another to look back a year from now and see what you've accomplished.

But writing down the goal is important. You're 42% (or 47%) more likely to achieve a goal that you write down. (I found both numbers in my research — either way, that's a lot!)

So take a few minutes — RIGHT NOW — and write down between two and four S.M.A.R.T. goals you hope to accomplish this year.

Read Part 3 here: “Goal-Setting (Part III): How Do You Get There?”

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Goal-Setting (Part I): Where Have You Been?

Goal-setting is one of the most important activities you can do to be successful. The start of a new year is a natural time to stop and take stock of where you want to go. To start 2019, I'm going to create a series of blog posts that will give you an opportunity to look back at the past year, figure out where you are now, and also determine your direction for the new year.

Today's post is about REFLECTION.

Goal setting isn't just about looking forward. It's also about learning.

In 2018, what was your biggest disappointment or regret? This one might take a minute to come up with — or it may spring right to your mind. Was there a project you didn’t finish? Something you wanted to get done in your business that you didn’t? Or how you handled a particular client or opportunity?

Did you have plans for yourself in 2018 that weren't realized?

Were there things that you wanted to accomplish this year that you didn’t get one? What was the reason — or reasons — you didn’t get it done?

Did other priorities and activities distract you?
Did you forget to work on it? 
Did you give up because it was too difficult to accomplish?
Was your “WHY” not big enough?

That last one is important. Your motivation for wanting to accomplish something is vital to you achieving your goal. This is sometimes called “Your Big Why.” Do you remember why you wanted to do this? If you don’t know that, you’re going to have a hard time achieving your goal because your motivation needs to be big enough to overcome the resistance that you’re going to face as you work toward your goal.

Change can be great — but it’s also intimidating (even scary!) and difficult. If you don’t have a big enough why driving you, it’s easy to do the stuff that’s more familiar and predictable. It can be very useful to look at why you didn’t achieve your goals — and figure out what you can do differently.

For example, if you want to stop smoking, you may have a great WHY behind the goal, but you probably also have a reason that you’ve been unsuccessful in achieving this goal previously. Maybe you have friends — or a spouse — who still smokes. Or maybe you’re afraid about gaining weight if you give up smoking. Recognizing the obstacles that have stopped you before will help you be more successful this time around.

But I don’t want to get too caught up in the past. This is about creating the future you want, becoming the person you want to be, and finishing things you’ve never been able to finish before. But the more motivated you are to achieve your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them — because motivation gives a lot of fuel to the fire.

That's step one.

Happy New Year!

Read part two here: “Goal-Setting (Part II): Where Are You Going?”