Shifting Careers? Speak to Your Sweet Spot

chocolate truffleOn Saturday, a client and I were wrestling with her LinkedIn profile’s summary.

Sitting across my desk, she grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen.

With seventeen years of really interesting leadership experience in both startup and Fortune 10 companies, she was trying to quickly illustrate what she considers to be her sweet spot.

Turns out, she loves the startup life. To clarify, she loves startup life at roughly second round funding when she has the traction to innovate and really drill some smart roots from which a company can thrive while the team is still nimble enough to be led.

It took her being in a Fortune 10 company and a lot of self-reflection to reach this conclusion, by the way, which is always an authentic part of the journey as an engaged leader.

Ten seconds into her drawing, I could hardly keep my mouth shut, because she’d just sparked a major career development strategy.

You see, we’re in the process of building her boat — as I’ve called it since another client coined the term several years ago — so she’s ready to sail when the right opportunity comes along.

She’s tending to her career brand. She’s cultivating her reputation in the long term so she’s clearly known for what she loves, and by extension, what she does well.

I tried not to interrupt, but finally did: “So let’s tie your drawing back to something we talked about 30 minutes ago. Cultivating your reputation. Why not purposefully write articles and open yourself to speaking engagements that focus on that sweet spot. You’re at point X right now — a large company, steering a massive ship — so it’s not obvious that you prefer being in a startup. So why not use that authority to become a resource — an example — to startups with Series B funding who really need the intellectual and experience firepower you offer.”

I continued: “Title your articles and presentations strategically, so you not only speak to the audience at hand, but so the titles have a life beyond the moment. Then when you list them on your LinkedIn profile, in your executive bio, in your resume, you have this clear specialization — and in time, you open the door wider as a passive candidate. And odds are higher that you’ll be sought for just the right fit.”

Sure, you might be one of the folks we all admire who already knows this strategy. Forbes contributors do. HBR contributors do. They write to their brands, which brings to them even more enjoyable opportunity.

But for others of us, it’s the little tips like this that flip on a switch and we’re on our way. I have a feeling good things are on the horizon for her in a career that’s already pretty stellar.

Do you have a sweet spot that isn’t being fully utilized or realized? It can feel like a Titanic effort to redirect. But the tiniest rudder — the smallest strategic adjustment — will change one’s direction over time. And sooner than you know it, you’ll be in your ideal role looking in the rearview mirror, smiling back at what was once today.

Turn the wheel today. I’m serious. Make a decision and take a step forward, because if you’re like so many of our species, you’ll be the first to under-prioritize yourself.

Until next time!


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3 Questions You Should Ask Before Joining a Nonprofit Board

Questions to Ask Before Joining a Nonprofit BoardSo you’ve been asked to join the board of a nonprofit organization or professional association.

Feeling flattered?

You should.

It means you could make a real contribution to the greater good in your world.

Feeling uncertain?

Probably wise.

Here are three starter questions to ask yourself and the organization’s leadership before you commit.

Question #1: What’s the Structure?

“Is it a governing board or an administrative board?” Continue reading

How to Write a Great LinkedIn Recommendation

How to write a great LinkedIn recommendationEver been asked to write a LinkedIn recommendation for a friend or colleague?

It’s flattering, right? Until you realize how much work it can involve. How many questions it elicits when you finally sit down to write “what should be simple.”

As with all writing, developing a strategy before going in is an essential start. For this article I’ve lifted directly from my own LinkedIn profile.

Start With Who They Are

In the screenshot below, you’ll notice that I’ve recommended five people to date. Three show up as teaser lines, prompting you to click for more.

Writing LinkedIn recommendations

From My Own LinkedIn Profile

So what do you notice about the copy? Each leads with what the subject brings to the world, professionally.

Victoria Ekegren Ahlén (CEO of social media agency Awoque) and I went to school together. I’ve since admired her work from afar, but since we went to school together, I can’t speak directly about her work today.

However, I remember Victoria from college as a smart woman who cares deeply about things that matter, she is also a person of immense integrity. Her international perspective helped me see beyond my own backyard all those years ago.

So it took time to develop a strategy for Victoria’s recommendation, but I finally led with “even before she was a branding guru,” which gets who she is out the gate fast. By framing it this way, I acknowledged her now, in a way that lets me speak authentically about Victoria as I know her.

You’ll notice the same approach when I wrote recommendations for my virtual assistant, Kandace Friesen of Friesen Virtual Assistants and my graphic / web designer, Jennifer Quinton of Quinton Design Studio. In each example, the reader knows who the subject is without having to click for more. And perhaps it breathes a bit of life into the reader experience. Professional writing shouldn’t mean stale writing.

Be Honest

There are two ideas under the honesty category.

Continue reading

Do You Put “The Love” Into Your Work?

I caught Oprah’s Farewell Season episode profiling Ralph Lauren.

Lauren struck me, like so many entrepreneurs I’ve admired, when he said that the thing differentiating his first line of Bloomingdales ties from his competitor’s ties was “the love.”

I also smiled when he said that for forty years, a runway show can be nearly finished and instead of reveling in the victory, he’s already wondering how he’s going to top it the following year.

It made me wonder how many people love their work. More than that, how many people “put the love” in their work.

If I look at my own practice, the “love” is obsessing over a client’s introductory paragraph. Or asking the one question that finally unlocks a life’s unifying theme. Or settling on the perfect outline for an executive biography.

I write for 85-110 people a year, and can count on my fingers and toes the number of people who’ve shared that they “put the love” in their work.

Sure, many of them enjoy their careers, and they do fantastic jobs. I see the proof every day.

It makes me wonder: Is it possible to work in-house while still “putting the love” in? Or is it reserved for visionary company founders who can’t help going to their graves following their passion?

Until next time!

Jared Redick
Visit: The Resume
Follow: @TheResumeStudio
Call: 415-397-6640

3 Ways to Get More Job Search Attention

Job seekers twenty years ago made follow-up phone calls to potential employers after responding to advertised positions.

Do that today and you’re likely to be ignored.

A common job seeker frustration is not hearing back from a company you’re interested in, especially when it sounds like a perfect fit.

Improve your odds. Get a phone call by writing to the expectations of your reader. Take a moment to think about what the recipient wants to see on your résumé, then make their dreams come true. If your background is a fit, show them why and how.

Wondering how to get the attention of potential employers?  Continue reading