There is an initial transaction between someone applying for a position and their prospective employer, the company looking to fill a position. It involves something that many Gen Xers are uncomfortable with but exists in the job market -- and in their career climb. It is the need to know how to position and present yourself, or sell yourself. This is especially important in today's recession-wracked business environment.
The best way to sell yourself is by being prepared and, in many ways by doing this, it does the selling for you. It's self-promotion by preparation. And by doing it you start down a path to leading you toward what you want. This simple effort separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.
If you know the role you want, and you've looked at all that you have to do, or the experiences you need to have, and said, "That's too hard," "It will take too long," or "I don't want to do it," you just told yourself everything you need to know about yourself. You now know that you really don't want it bad enough. You want the trappings, you want the rewards, you want the glory, but you aren't prepared to do the work it takes to get there. And you know what? That's not a comfortable conversation for someone to have with themselves, but it's one of the most necessary conversations you will ever have in your career.
It's easier to get somewhere in life and career if you are brutally honest enough to understand who and where you are from the beginning. If you don't feel like you're ready or don't want to do all it would take to reach your aspirations, then don't do it. But more importantly, don't whine, cry, and moan to all who will listen when you don't get to that level, especially if you know deep down in your heart that you haven't done everything or are not willing to do everything it takes to succeed.
To reach executive management, we're not simply talking about entering a popularity contest. Yes, popularity and professional brand are important, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to the resume you place in front of the hiring manager and how you come across as the embodiment of those credentials on paper.
What about your resume stands out? What does your resume lack?
One goal I have for myself that I will share with you is this: I've always set myself up so that whenever my resume is put in the hands of a decision maker, for the position I know I am ready for, I never want them to think, "This guy would be perfect for us if he only had ____."
I've been obsessive in my work on taking care so that never happens. There is no "if only he had" to be found in reading my resume. Perhaps that strategy could work for you too. Ask for feedback on your resume from others; address any misses they find in your resume by filling them with either new experiences or learning where appropriate. I don't believe you can be overqualified.
Overqualified is not in my vocabulary. I prefer highly qualified. Highly qualified says I am versatile and have many transferable skills, whereas overqualified says I am at the end of the line in one job or career field.
I studied my resume long and hard, and then, I went shopping. I went online and found job descriptions for the roles I would want to have, and printed out the job descriptions. Everything I saw as a required or a recommended skill in those job descriptions, I put on a qualifications shopping list. When I had a full list of what I felt I needed to have, I went about getting those experiences, the correct level of education, and the most contemporary certifications. What do I need to have on my resume that is currently missing but is recommended or needed for the role I'm looking for with a good company? Better yet, what things should be on my resume that will make them think, "We have to talk to this this guy! His background and experience is perfect for this position."
I have worked in multiple industries at increasing levels of accountability and seniority, building my career step-by-step. I have been an entrepreneur and have built and sold a business. I have a doctorate in education, have worked for international companies and am certified in HR and project management. I have been a Vice-President and am a military veteran. I have an interesting story to tell and I am good at connecting with people.
In short, I worked hard to make myself into the perfect candidate. It's taken a lot of sacrifice, time, and plenty of money to be able to do that, but I believe that if you're going to compete for the top positions, you've got to be exemplary, you've got to be extraordinary, and a lot of hard work goes into that. This is not only required in establishing the strength of the resume and credentials but also in networking to make the right contacts that will help you in your career. I never lost site of the fact that the resume I have built is only to get me the interview. It is up to me, once I am in the interview, to sell myself so well that I get the job.
And I have been successful. I have been smart enough to never turn down a job interview and wise enough to not accept every job offer.
Follow Dr. Curtis L. Odom on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@curtisodom