Advice on Careers
Louise Fletcher is a professional resume writer. She founded her own company, Blue Sky Resumes in 2002 after a career as an HR executive in industries such as music, video games, fashion, and advertising. Louise is a word nerd at heart and loves to write. She developed the Blue Sky resume approach, has written two books and has been a featured expert for sites such as Monster, The Ladders and HR Guru. In 2004, she co-founded Career Hub, a leading careers blog with 20+ expert contributors from the US and Europe, and thousands of regular readers.
1. What sort of advice on careers do you provide through your blog?
I write mostly about the intersection of marketing and job search. I help job seekers understand how they can advance their careers using the principles marketers use to sell products. I want people to stop thinking of the job search as a demeaning process, where they face rejection every day, and start thinking of it as an empowering process, where they get to find the right employer for them. This means no more job boards. No more standard applications. Think like a marketer and find new approaches!
2. How often do people of the modern workplace change careers?
In our grandparents' day, you would stay with one employer for your whole career. Now it's not at all unusual to see people change jobs every couple of years, and this means that employees have to become much more savvy about managing their own careers.
3. What advice would you give people who seek to change careers mid way through their lives?
Actually, I just finished a long interview with an expert in this field. We covered much more than I could fit into this answer, but can find the article here: http://www.blueskyresumes.com/blog/quack-like-a-duck-and-other-secrets-of-successful-career-change/ Bottom line, it's perfectly possible to change careers mid-stream, but you have to be thoughtful, organized and 100% committed to the new path.
4. What sort of a plan should a person have about his or her career? How do you help people to come up with one?
I’m probably the wrong person to ask about this because
a) I'm not a job search coach; I'm a resume writer, and
b) I'm not a big believer in long-term planning. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." So my advice is not about developing a career plan, but rather about being open to opportunities and seizing them when they come.
I never planned to start my own resume writing business, but it was a natural outgrowth of my earlier HR career (which only came about accidentally because the retail company I was working for happened to have a junior HR vacancy way back in the mists of time). The key to career success I think is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and being brave enough to seize those opportunities that play to your strengths.
Someone more organized than me would probably have a very different answer, but that's what's worked for me!
5. What tips can you offer our readers in coming up with an employer-attracting resume? What should they do differently?
The biggest mistake people make is to think of their resume as a straightforward, factual history of where they have worked and what they were responsible for. That's not what your resume should be. Instead, it is a marketing brochure and just like a marketer, you must keep your focus on the audience at all times. Know what employers want from someone in your line of work, and then target every word of your resume to proving you can deliver that.
6. What tips can you give our readers on facing an interview?
Speaking as someone who has conducted hundreds of interviews, I know this for a fact the person interviewing you desperately wants you to be the one! He or she doesn't have time for interviewing and probably hates it. They want you to be the one, so they can cross an item off their to-do list and get on with something else. So don't be scared! You want to do well and they want you to do well. You're both on the same team.
Also, be prepared and be yourself; don't pretend to be someone else just to get the job. If you have to pretend, it's probably not the right job for you. I've been rejected in the past and been devastated, but looking back, I can see that I wasn¹t a good fit and the interviewer was right.
7. Please tell our readers something about personal branding?
I'm not a big fan of the personal branding craze because I think the idea of developing your personal brand is a very self-centered and inward-looking. But I do think that we are all increasingly living more and more open lives, and we can no longer hide things we've done or said.
I was doing some family history research recently and I found a scoundrel in my family. He moved from Ireland to New York in the 1800s and immediately started to con people, including scamming his wife out of her money and running away from the army. Despite having done these things, he got a really responsible job in the US Post Office, still in New York, and proceeded to use his post office to launder money. That couldn't happen now. A quick Google search would have stopped him getting that post office job.
So in the age of the Internet, managing your reputation is important. But I think the best way to do that is to live your life fully aware that what you say and do isn't private, and to work to add value, in whatever job you're doing. You just can't fake it anymore. If you work to add value every day, your "personal brand" will take care of itself.
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