Resume writers, career counselors, and loved ones are killing dreams every day.
To paraphrase Tony Robbins, if a friend accidentally puts cyanide in your coffee, it will still kill you. Your friend’s (or counselor’s) good intentions do not lessen the negative effect of the poison.
Today, I heard from yet another potential client who was told he could not be a CFO because he wasn’t a CPA. I’ve heard various versions of this. You can’t be a project manager, you don’t have a PMP credential. You’ll never be considered at a top pharma lab because you only have a master’s, not a PhD.
I’m here to tell you right now that 90% of this advice is bullcrap.
Pardon my language, but it really makes me angry. People who are looking for work are already in a vulnerable position. Every powerful person I’ve worked with—whether a celebrity, CEO, or successful entrepreneur—has had a moment or more of feeling like a fraud or like they are not good enough to achieve their next, heart-felt career goal. It’s challenging enough for job seekers to quiet the nay-saying voices in their heads. As resume writers and coaches, we are here to encourage and to help them increase their chances of success.
The average chance of getting a CFO job without a CPA might be 10%. But we don’t know what any particular individual’s chances are. If they are smart and a hustler, their chances could be close to 100%. I don’t mean to pull out the rainbows and unicorns and live in total fantasy. It’s our job to be realistic with them, but then to get to work with all our heart and soul to tip the scales in their favor.
People beat the odds all the time!
Stephen Spielberg got his first gig at Universal by jumping off the tour tram and setting up in an office. He just pretended he belonged, and soon enough he did.
My friend Tiffany Brooks was working as an administrator in my children’s school last year, trying hard to get her interior design firm off the ground. Now she has her own show on HGTV. She has no degree in design, just a damn good eye and the confidence to put 100% of her spirit into sharing it with the world.
A couple of months ago I worked with a CFO of a state agency. Did he have a CPA? No! He didn’t even have a bachelor’s degree. And after our work together, he got the job he was after, CFO of a federal agency. And we’re talking government here—they are known for not going outside of the box in terms of qualifications requirements. He had worked his way up from the role of executive assistant.
I could go on (and on, and on—really there are so many examples), but I think you get my point. Are there times when you need to be realistic? Sure. If you’re 80, it might not be the time to pursue your astronaut career. If you want to be a doctor, you should gear up for medical school.
Take a realistic look at your prospects. But once your decision is made, throw realism out the window. Being “realistic” is often code for a defeatist, pessimistic mentality. You don’t have time or energy for that if you’re going to shift paradigms and beat the odds.
Guard your coffee, and replace negative thoughts with positive ones that involve all the senses.
Whether it’s a close family member or well intentioned career coach, do not let anyone hijack your dream. Envision what you want for your career, create statements that support that. These targeted statements will add momentum to your goal and crowd out the negative input. Take some time to write out statements like:
“I see myself in my new role as _______. I love my desk, the view from my window, the people I work with. I am well compensated. I am amazed and grateful for the seemingly coincidental happenings that got me here. The company I work for feels very lucky to have me—and they are! I’m so happy I can telecommute when I want. This is just the flexibility and autonomy I need to be fulfilled and productive. Oh, and they have really good coffee in the break room!”
Visualize yourself a year from now, telling a good friend about your career journey. See the restaurant you’ll be in. Decide what you’ll eat, how it will taste. What is the view? Is there a live band? What kind of music?
You might also try guided visualization/mediation, if that’s your cup of coffe. It does wonders. You can get a free guided meditation on trust (i.e. having faith that God/the universe will always provide for you in abundance) here.
Along with a positive attitude, you’ll need to put some strategy and action into place. If you have a question you’d like me to answer on this blog, contact me. You can find out more about working with me one-on-one right here.
After all, my dream is to help you fulfill yours!
Never put this on your resume: Something an online article told you to put on your resume–unless you’ve thought it through first.
The same goes for leaving something off your resume.
There is a proliferation of “Top-5-Things” kinds of articles which are great for generating traffic, but not so good at discussing important nuances. Many articles about resume writing are saying things like:
“Don’t list ‘knowledge of Spanish.’ Either you know it or you don’t.”
“Leave off outdated items like the Y2K bug issue you solved.”
“There’s no need to tell everyone that you volunteer at an animal shelter. It will not win you any favors in the HR office.”
While I agree with the sentiment of these articles–include only the most relevant information on your resume–I disagree with their sweeping assessments of what the most relevant things may or may not be.
If you’re a return-to-work parent, the award you got for solving the Y2K problem might be a needed feather in your cap. Just be smart. Switch out Y2K for “massive system-wide bug that put $2M revenue stream at risk” or something. Can a savvy hiring manager see through this? Perhaps. But at least they’ll see that you are smart enough to know it’s outdated and that you know how to make the most out of what you’ve got.
Why not put that you volunteer with animals? It just takes up one line, makes you human, and offers an entry-point for small talk. We all know, small talk = connection = opportunity.
Hiring decisions, like all buying decisions, are emotional. That means that there can be no comprehensive list of what should or should not ever appear on a resume. Each case is different. Look at your resume with your goal in mind and make good decisions. Or, better yet, get help from an experienced professional whose primary credentials should be the results their clients are seeing in the real world.
Want to have a significantly greater chance of a positive outcome at your job interview or board presentation? This video is a must watch for the simple, powerful body language tools you need to impress yourself and enter any situation with confidence.
It is also Harvard professor Amy Cuddy being so open, vulnerable, and inspiring that she made me cry.
Here’s my response (she happens to have had only one job so far, but even a seasoned professional can tweak this to his or her needs):
Avoid giving out your salary information in any case. It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is your skill set, your distinctive approach to your work, and what those are worth on the open market.
Just because I buy a Picasso at a yard sale for $1K doesn’t mean I won’t sell it for what it’s worth.
If the issue is forced, you can just say that you are grateful to have had a job right out of college that allowed you to learn so much about X, Y, and Z (whatever is most important for the role you are applying to). Of course, now that I have these skills, you expect your salary will be in line with the market.
[Then shift conversation to the job fit...]
Say something like, “It’s natural that you’d want to feel me out about salary before going any further. I can assure you that I just want fair market compensation. The most important thing for me is not salary, but knowing that I’m a good fit with your company and vice versa. Once we establish that, I’m sure we can agree on something that is fair for both parties.”
Also, remember to use websites like Salary.com to prepare for negotiations. You can learn more about my approach in this Movin’ On Up Resumes Salary Negotiations ebook, my gift to you!
To really dig deep on the topic of salary negotiations, I highly recommend the work of Jack Chapman.
This video shows how to get contact information for hiring managers that hold the key to the 80% of jobs that are never advertised. It was made by Mark Hovind who was a true innovator in job search.
My library doesn’t connect with Dun and Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Database, but they have a similar one. Your reference librarian should be able to help, and it is worth it!
Thanks to Mary Elizabeth Bradford for introducing me to this approach!