Times have changed in the job seeking and career advancement world. Remember the days of typewriters and copy paper? Or the reverse chronology resumé? Now it’s a hybrid, multi-media or e-resumé!
Even if you are not actively seeking a job, you will want to have a variety of tools available so you will be ready for every just-in-case situation, whether it’s an unexpected next job opportunity, an invitation to speak, or a leadership position you’re considering. Below are seven of the “tools” you’ll want to have at the ready to move forward in your career:
Two page documents are standard today, almost without exception. One page makes you look inexperienced and doesn’t adequately convey your professional “story.” Some exceptions to this rule are networking events and other non-job-seeking events, but make it clear it’s a shortened document by naming it “Career Highlights” or “Select Professional Achievements.”
“Hybrid” format is considered most common now, which is a merging of reverse chronology and functional resumé formats. Google “hybrid resumés” and you will see the basic outline of what the Hybrid version contains.
Currently, the most effective resumé formats contain a descriptive section at the top called a Career Profile and/or Qualifications Summary. This section will provide enough information about your excellent traits and skills that the reader understands who you are without reading further. Place your most important information—your best traits and skills, your accomplishments and awards, highlights of key projects—on the first page.
My recommended fonts are Helvetica for contemporary resumé layouts and Book Antiqua for more traditional layouts. Those two fonts are easily read and provide a bit of “pop” off the page. Arial and Times New Roman tend to be overused on resumés.
You will also want to have a few different versions of your resumé, geared towards different uses and audiences.
2) LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is even more relevant today than it was five years ago. It is the professional Facebook and represents your best professional self to the professional world.
Content should be geared to “brand” you in a similar fashion as your resumé, but reader attention spans are even shorter when reading LinkedIn profile information. Most readers spend four to five seconds on your profile. Bear that in mind and only include short overviews and best accomplishments/career highlights. Like the Profile section of your resumé, try to include enough information that the reader understands your “story.”
Explore some of the features of LinkedIn including groups that are relevant to your profession and the Jobs portal. Both offer great resources and outlets to build your “brand.”
3) Brag Book
Collect and organize things that feature your best professional self, including reviews, press, project samples, and letters from satisfied clients or customers. Bring those samples that represent the best you to interviews. This tool can often give you a “leg up” on the competition and also serves as a nice collection on the days when you’re not feeling your professional best. If you are in a more progressive field, IT for example, you can present your brag book digitally, online, or as a website.
4) Professional Biography
You never know when you will be asked to speak on a topic, present a workshop, or be nominated for an award, and you want to be ready. Be prepared with long (one to one and a half pages) and short (two to three paragraphs) versions of your professional biography.
There are a variety of ways you can present your history but the two most common are organized chronologically or by theme.
Some opportunities will appear suddenly. It’s always in your best interest to have three to four people ready to be references on your behalf. I recommend asking a former supervisor or two, a client (former or current), and a project partner if you work on projects collaboratively with internal or external teams.
It is so very important to have someone who can give you subjective advice and feedback while still knowing your personality. Ideally, this person will be ahead of you on his or her career path and understand your goals; take time to build a meaningful relationship with this person and the payoff will be big!
7) A Champion
This person is a peer, colleague or acquaintance who is out in the community saying good things about the good work you do, especially when you’re not there. She or he is your best promoter. This relationship can’t be manufactured, but comes from the time you spend out in your professional community networking and building authentic relationships. Pay it forward by talking about the people whose work you believe in!
Having these seven “tools” lined up will prepare you well for your next professional opportunity!
Career Toolbox Checklist
Use the checklist below to make sure that you have each of these “tools” at the ready for every professional situation.
This article was written by Cathy Posner of Transition Consulting and Coaching.