My Friday Post: Career Advice from Entourage’s Ari Gold

EntourageHBO’s Entourage is one of the best shows on television. Well written, well produced, and well acted. Kudos to HBO for putting quality entertainment on for us.

This Sunday’s episode #69, “One Car, Two, Red Car, Blue Car” was another great episode. In this episode, superagent Ari Gold stood out for giving advice to the Entourage boys. He seemed almost fatherly dispensing wisdom. Unlike his usual obnoxious, abrasive self. Are we seeing a change in Ari Gold? Let’s hope not. 🙂

In one particular scene, Ari gives Turtle some career advice. Short and to the point in typical Ari fashion. No b##s## here.

Here are some great lines from Ari and how it can be applied to real life:

“Do you know what it takes to make something of yourself?”  [TRANSLATION: Do you know who you are and how to get there? Only you can answer that question.]

“That is what he is willing to put in for his own success. He is paying his dues.” [TRANSLATION: Success comes only with hard work and determination.]

“Great Ideas are one thing, can you execute it?” [TRANSLATION: Having an idea is 20% of the process, executing is 80% of the process. Can you successfully execute?]

“In this life, no one is going to invest because you think you can. Do you have a business plan?” [TRANSLATION: You have to have a plan. It is that simple.]

“At what point, can your investors see some profit?” [TRANSLATION: Life is all about ROI. What is the point of doing it if there is no benefit?]

Let’s see this Sunday what other words of wisdom we can get from the boys of Entourage… 😉

Turning a Corner? A CIO’s Job Search

For those of you that read my blog regularly know that I have been out of work since September. I have been looking but there have been very few opportunities since the October financial meltdown. In fact, it has been dead. I liken it to being in sailboat with no wind-aimlessly drifting in a void.

That is until this week. There have been at least a dozen job postings for senior level IT people in the New York area. What has happened in the last few weeks? Is the economy turning a corner? Are firms beginning to hire? Who knows?

I got two interesting phone calls this week. One was from a recruiter, “Hello. I have a client that is looking to expand IT operations into the northeast. What do they need to accomplish this task?” Now you must be chuckling to yourself. Is this recruiter serious? Before I could even begin to answer this question, I had to ask for more details. Any good executive would. Of course, the recruiter could not provide much in the way of any useful details. In fact, I gave her a list of questions to ask her client. I said before you begin calling executives you should have a clearer understanding of what exactly the client is trying to accomplish. The talent pool in the NYC arena is large but you have to know what to ask. If not you would embarrass yourself and your client.

The second phone call was from a HR person. We all know HR people are more clueless than anyone on the face of the planet. So any HR person that calls me I am always weary. This was no exception. “We have a small IT shop and we had to let some people go, which caused service levels to deteriorate and now business is suffering and we need to bring service levels back up to acceptable standards. Where should we focus our efforts?”

I asked both the recruiter and HR person that if their client/company wants help to answer these questions and help guide them I am more than willing to come in even on a consultant basis to help. Of course I got the “We are just in an exploration phase and not ready to bring people in at this time” answer.

Am I disappointed? No. I am actually happy to see that the job market is starting to have a pulse. Even though it seems to be a very slight pulse it is a pulse none-the-less. Things are not totally dead and maybe things will continue to improve for everyone. So I am still keeping my fingers crossed….

Résumés – Are You Lost? Here Are Some Clues

As a follow up to my post “Resumes-Are You Lost?” I received some great comments. When I wrote the post it was more of a humorous look at resumes and the confusion around them.

Being confused about resume is part of looking for a job. There is no magic bullet when it comes to resume writing.

Chris Osborn wrote the following:

Does the advice help tell your story? For instance, does the advice relate to something significant in your background or qualifications that might help market you for the sort of role you seek? If the answer is “yes”, then I suggest following the advice. If the advice is more about format or the style of the resume, I suggest polite listening, and then take only the advice that makes intuitive sense to YOU.

It is your resume, so you need to own it. After all, you are the person who has to deliver the goods in an interview or networking meeting.

So – my advice (and take only what you want!) is to:

1. Tell your story. Make sure the resume makes the statement you want to make about your qualifications for the targeted opportunity.
2. Make sure your resume shows how and what sort of value you can add in your next role.
3. Use the stories you would most want to tell during an interview as guides for accomplishments.

Lui Sieh wrote the following:

The lesson(s) is that “our story” is complicated and so we’ll need to have different versions of it. I frequently had 2-3 resumes depending on the audience and my target role. For headhunters, it’s about the “key words” – because that’s how the HR system works. For personal networking with potential hiring managers, it was more about the experience and the story should fit more to how they would like to know/read about your story. Sometimes, I had to ‘dumb down’ my resume as well – just to get in the door.

To summarize…Resumes are about your “Brand”. Focus on what your strengths are and try to create a story about yourself. With this approach, your accomplishments, capabilities, and talents yield a resume that is very focused and direct. In today’s job market, that is extremely important because of the exact and specific requirements of the jobs available.

Good luck…

Résumés – Are You Lost?

Wikipedia DefinitionA résumé is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education. The résumé or CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment.

A Curriculum Vitae (loosely translated as course of life) provides an overview of a person’s life and qualifications. It differs from a résumé in that it is appropriate for academic or medical careers and is far more comprehensive. A CV elaborates on education to a greater degree than a résumé. A résumé is tailor-made according to the post applied for. It is job-oriented and goal specific. One of the key characteristics of a proper résumé is conciseness. 

(Definitions pulled from Wikipedia)

Those of you that read my blog know that I have been out of work since September 2008. During this time I have met with or consulted with a variety of professionals: large scale recruiters, boutique recruiters, career coaches, life coaches, outplacement counselors, professional résumé writers, human resource professionals, etc. It is interesting to hear each professional’s take on what the resume format should be.

Here is a short list items that have been said to me – in no particular order:

  1. Keep your resume to 1 page
  2. Keep your resume to 2 pages
  3. Senior executives should summarize on their resume
  4. Use details to convey your accomplishments
  5. Use bullets points
  6. Don’t use bullet points
  7. Use dates sparingly
  8. Use dates where you can
  9. Have a summary statement that is eye catching
  10. Don’t use a summary statement it is out dated
  11. Use tag words to pop up on searches
  12. Don’t use too many buzz words
  13. Quantify and qualify your work experience and its impact to business
  14. Use hard numbers
  15. Don’t use specific numbers
  16. Use more business jargon
  17. Your experiences should be painted in broad strokes
  18. Be creative
  19. Take chances
  20. Resumes should convey “Shock and Awe” (This is my favorite)

See what I mean? It is confusing. I have revamped (totally overhauled) my resume several times based on the advice I was given. Honestly, while I have been around for sometime and have years of experience under my belt there are only so many ways to say something.

With millions of Americans out of work and the only thing to represent you is an 8-1/2 x 11 piece of papyrus, what should the resume format and message be? If the professionals cannot come to a consensus, how is the average Joe/Jane suppose to know?

Is the resume out-dated in these times?

Networking 101 – Tips To Work A Room

So I have been attending various networking events around the tri-state area-events that specifically cater to senior IT executives.

I was a little apprehensive to attend functions like this because I really did not see the value for myself. Can a room full of other out-of-work IT executives provide any good leads? We are all looking for the same type of job. If anything, this is my competition. Why would anyone help the competition? But I digress….

People would come up to me and recite their resume – their elevator pitch. I have to be honest, I am not good with names and I am definitely not good remembering the intricacies of your last job. I am, however, good at remembering trivial details about a person. I think most people are good at that.

Here are a couple of points to consider when you are planning to attend a networking event:

  1. What are you trying to get out of the event? Is it knowledge transfer, critique of you resume, making contacts? Go in with a game plan.
  2. Don’t regurgitate your résumé to people. Honestly, the people I remembered the most were the ones that just talked about themselves, not the ones that spoke about managing a global ERP implementation. It makes it easier to remember you in a room full of other people that have also done ERP implementations. Know your audience.
  3. Be yourself. Not your last job.
  4. Be happy. You are in a room with other people out-of-work. It makes no sense to cry about your situation. Everyone is going through similar or worst ordeals in this economy.
  5. Carry some business cards. Go to Kinkos (or FedEx Office – whatever they are calling themselves these days) and make 100 business cards for $30 and put your information on it and hand them out to people as you talk to them. A business card still goes a long way. Have fun with it be a little creative. And do not forget to add your LinkedIn profile address and blog.

I would like to hear stories from you about the networking events you attend and any tips you may have.

Happy networking…

Belief in Yourself

sunI am not one for motivational ideologies but I read and interesting discussion on LinkedIn today. The discussion turned more towards the frustrations people are facing in their job hunt.

It lead me to start thinking about people and what impetuous carries us through tough times.  You read about how people turn to their faith and family to get them through ordeals.  We turn to things that are stronger in our lives to help us move forward.

Over the last several months, I have read and met people that have been out of work or will soon be out of work. It is frustrating to say the least, especially if you have been working for a long-time and had seniority and a career. All that is gone. And you are like 12 million other people out of work.

It is important to believe in yourself first. It is only you that will get you through these times. In a year or two when the economy recovers and chugging along and we are all working again, we will look back and say we made it. We are stronger, wiser, and better people for it.

That which does not kill us only makes use stronger…

Today Was Not A Good Day – But It Is Friday

I am not sure if this is good or bad. But I do feel a bit disappointed today.

I got three phone calls from three different recruiters for three different positions.

The first was for a director of infrastructure. The position came to me through an IT organization I belong to. I was a little suspect of the recruiter but decided to send my resume in. To my surprise I got a phone call immediately there after. He wanted me to “tweak” my resume, send back to him and follow up. I did and the next day I followed up. I called and emailed but no response. I was able to get him on the phone. He did not remember me or the position. I spent a few minutes explaining everything again. He said he will send my resume in a follow up with me in a fee days. It has been a few days, I called and left messages and email but no response.

I got another call from a recruiter that I had linked with this week. He said he got a position that was right for me and sent me the job description. It was great. Everything I was looking for: good location, good salary, good description that fit my background. The recruiter will follow up with me the next day. I was a little weary based on my previous experience but I wanted to not come across desperate. So I waited and to my surprise I got a phone call the next day. The message was short but I felt something was wrong. So I called back. The firm wants a “hands on” person–very hands on; Cisco engineer, windows admin, dba, dmz, CIO experience — literally a jack of all trades. The job description and my research on the firm hinted that this was a large firm. Not a good idea to have one guy doing everything. I told the recruiter that I was hands on but with the sophistication of enterprise architecture, my skill set is not at that level anymore. I am more management with an understanding of how things work in an enterprise environment. The recruiter apologized for not having all the facts about the position. He will keep me in mind for other positions.

Last, I got another call for a VP of technology. The recruiter called me and asked how me how many people did I support in my last or any position. I told him the amount and said this position required someone who had supported 500+ users. It would have been easy for me to lie but my professionalism took over. Yet another position which I was not right for. I don’t understand if you support 50 or 5000 people it is the not quantity but the quality of the support you provide.

So I did not get an interview this week but I was called 3 times from recruiters. Are things picking up? If so great, I can wait for the right position to come along.