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Seattle, WA 98116

(206) 201-2181

Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.

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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Happy Holidays and Thanks

Kent Nolen

I find a great deal of fulfillment every day in working with best-in-class companies and talented, hard-working individuals who are striving to build fulfilling careers and lives. I find joy in learning about the work my clients do, often quietly, to make things better for their organizations, their customers, and – most importantly – themselves and their families.

Again this year, as I celebrate the holidays and toast the new year, I will be thinking about how grateful I am to work with such incredible people and how fulfilled I am in helping people make positive steps forward in their career. 

Thank you and happy holidays!

Here are three questions to consider as you reflect and prepare for the year ahead:

  1. What did I like/dislike about my career in 2018?

  2. Do I have a vision for what I want my career to look like in 2019?

  3. Have I outlined steps and actions to make progress toward that vision?

Do I Need to Send a Cover Letter with my Resume?

Kent Nolen

There is one question that I get from almost every person I work with.

“Do I need to send a cover letter with my resume?”

I’ve written about cover letters more times than I can count, but there are clearly factors – likely misinformation on the web and outlier hiring practices being promoted as standard practice – that are confusing readers and prompting this question. So, let me definitively answer it (again): Unless a job posting specifically requests that you not send a cover letter (a very rare occurrence), a cover letter is both expected and important. Here’s why:

Protocol – I know from my experience “on the other side of the table” – both as an HR professional and the current consulting I do with business clients – that the cover letter is (in most cases) still a key part of the candidate selection process. 

Perspective – Many clients share that they wish hiring managers knew more about them than what is just on the resume. The good news is that hiring managers want to know more too, and the cover letter is designed to provide that additional perspective. Take advantage of the opportunity to share more about yourself – your skills, your passion, your interest in the specific role – and help decision makers understand what differentiates you from other candidates.

Process – Selecting job candidates is typically a multi-stage process of whittling down qualified applicants. Throughout those conversations and series of decisions, information you provide in a cover letter can make all the difference. Simply put, the cover letter will become meaningful in different ways as your application makes it through the multi-stage selection process.

When applying for a position, don’t eschew standard practices or pass up the opportunity to share more about why you are an ideal candidate. Send a cover letter.  

Why Tandem Powered is Right for You

Kent Nolen

Ready to move forward in 2019? Change starts here!

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a professional resume writer and career development professional. Below, you’ll learn a bit about my philosophy & approach, and you’ll gain insight into what differentiates Tandem Powered. I hope I have the chance to partner with you. Don't hesitate to click the button below to get in touch and learn more.

Why change, and why with Tandem Powered….

1. Because you are your best investment.

Career development services are not a gadget that will be obsolete in a year or two. Rather, career development is a solid investment – perhaps the best investment you can make – because it’s an investment in yourself and in your future. You’ll walk away from our time together with a new understanding of your professional strengths, a clear grasp of the value you represent, and tools that will serve you for a lifetime.

2. Because you need help organizing your life / work story.

If you’re like many people, you’ve let your career development languish. Many of my clients come to me with no idea of how to begin to organize their job history and the way they present themselves. My process gets things in order and leaves you in good shape to continue the momentum. 

3. Because you care about your professional and personal growth. 

So does Tandem. I am the first to say that powerful job search documents are a small part of a successful career management plan. That is why I place so much emphasis on the entire process; I want you to walk away with a success orientation and the kind of bolstered confidence that can change your career trajectory. This is about a lot more than a new resume, and that’s why I love what I do.

4. Because you understand the value of a deep process. 

I want you to be able to bring all of you, and so I bring all of me. I draw on my entire skills portfolio – education, professional certifications, extensive experience, and a background working with hundreds of professionals across almost every conceivable field – to provide the deepest and most enriching process possible. Get ready; we’ll get right down to the very details that will make you shine.

5. Because you want to see yourself in a new light. 

I am passionate about empowering you to see yourself and your career in the best light possible by directing your focus to your unique accomplishments and the value you represent. Just imagine the possibilities when you have a new success “language” that makes it easy for you to clearly speak to your past and, more importantly, your potential impact.

6. Because you value the best tools and tips.

As someone with deep experience in Business, Human Resources, and Career Development, I pride myself on staying current in my field and employing cutting-edge and best-in-class tactics on every project. I'm an expert on both sides of the table, and I enthusiastically bring that mastery.

7. Because you are welcome here. Always.

Tandem Powered is committed to the #OpenToAll campaign. No matter your race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, veteran status, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or any other characteristic, you are wholeheartedly welcome here. I know – from my experience in work and life – that our differences as humans do in fact make our work places and communities stronger.

Let's make 2019 our best year yet!

Click on the green box below to receive Tandem's Tips and Special Offers. I'll also send you answers to the seven most common resume questions I receive.

How to Handle Video Interviews

Kent Nolen

If you read this blog regularly, you know I take on a lot of business consulting projects around the globe. The trend of video interviews is becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately, many candidates are handling them miserably, so I want to share a few key pointers so that you can nail it when / if you have a video interview in your future.

  1. Keep your answers brief. Video interviewing is uncertain (and new!) territory for most candidates. When something is uncertain, it’s human nature to either freeze up or blab. Video interviewees know they can’t choke, so most tend to go on and on (and on). The majority of video interview platforms do not allow for second chances. Go in thinking: Direct. Succinct. On topic.

  2. Position yourself in good light. Rearrange lamps, move your table, open blinds. Position yourself in strong light with no shadows. You’ll look better, and it completely changes the psychology of how the hiring panel will view you.

  3. Smile. It’s very disheartening to see a video interviewee looking sad and scared. Because this is uncertain territory for so many people, it’s tough to not look sad and scared. Organizations don’t want to hire people that look terrified. I hear a lot of “If they can’t handle this confidently, how are they going to handle leading a team?” sorts of things. Breathe. Sit up straight. Smile as though you see a friend in the distance (not like a crazy person).

Get a Jump on Preparing for an Incredible 2019

Kent Nolen

As people begin to think about the year ahead, it's fitting that interest in one of my most popular service offerings, Tandem's Toolkit, is picking up.

What makes Tandem's Toolkit special? YouFinder.

YouFinder – an easy to complete, 20-minute assessment – opens the door to an entirely new way of looking at yourself and your career by bringing to light details of your Type – your strengths, your natural talents, and your preferred way of moving through life and work. Beyond providing general information about their Type (based on YouFinder results), I provide Tandem's Toolkit clients with an enhanced written analysis that includes individualized tips and areas for exploration.

In addition to the career-boosting benefits of YouFinder, Tandem's Toolkit clients receive the suite of job-search documents that make up Tandem's Essentials:

  • A powerful resume that's fully aligned with resume best practices.

  • A cover letter template that's individualized, compelling, and ready to be targeted for each opportunity of interest.

  • A resume follow-up letter template that will allow you to professionally reassert your interest in positions you've applied for.

  • A LinkedIn-ready companion to your resume that's primed for posting on LinkedIn or other boards of interest.

One of the hallmarks of my service – what I believe is a huge differentiator – is a commitment to creating a “best in class” experience. That means, in addition to staying on top of what’s going on in the world of Human Resources and Career Development, I want to ensure that I am always providing the highest quality, most relevant services and tools.

Over the years that has meant regularly refining my approach to HR consulting – striving to offer tools and advice that can help make organizations the best employers they can be. On the Career Development / Resume Writing side, it has meant continually tweaking my process so that it provides the most value for individuals on a quest to find and maintain fulfilling careers. It’s about a lot more than a new resume, and clients love it.

Clients routinely report that Tandem's Toolkit leaves them feeling well prepared and more confident as they embark on their next career endeavors.

Ready to make 2019 your best year yet? Get in touch for further details about Tandem's Toolkit and other service offerings that might meet your needs. 

Realistic Expectations

Kent Nolen

Recently I received an email from a client who is in a highly-specialized field. In that email, he shared that – despite feeling very confident about his qualifications and job search documents – he was feeling really distressed about his overall job search.

I shared some tips with him, outlined below, that I think others will likely find helpful, even readers who are not in highly-specialized fields.

Keep your expectations realistic: Stress is a common response to being in the job market. Even when it goes well, it is just not a fun process. However, that stress can be compounded by unrealistic expectations. First, When you are in an exceptionally specialized field and / or have a lot of clarity around the kind of role and work environment that will suit you (i.e., you are being picky), you are naturally limiting your options. That’s not a bad thing, but you must be prepared for a more protracted job search. Also, keep in mind that the lifecycle for organizations to source candidates and fill positions is – in most cases – quite lengthy. Don’t hit the panic button if you aren’t contacted within a couple weeks of submitting.

Consider a headhunter: Having someone working the field on your behalf can be a smart idea. She or he may have unique insights into opportunities that just aren’t going to show up on, say, Indeed. I strongly encourage you to use your existing network to find a trusted resource with specific expertise in your field. Needless to say, old fashioned networking should be a priority regardless of whether or not you work with a headhunter.

Broaden your scope: Start to think about ways in which your specialized skillset could add value to different organizations. Pick an organization that interests you and challenge yourself to think about the unique value you could offer. You may find that you’ve been narrow-scoping and what you identify might just surprise you.

Using LinkedIn but Keeping Your Job Search Private

Kent Nolen

How do you use social tools that broadcast your intentions while keeping those intentions under wraps? That is a paradox my clients face all the time when they are deciding whether or not to use LinkedIn. 

The good news is that you can still leverage the power of LinkedIn, a tool that – despite some of my skepticism of social media and general concern for privacy – I recommend all of my clients use. Here are some quick tips for using LinkedIn without making it clear to everyone that you are looking for a new position or simply keeping your options open.

Always use LinkedIn – The simplest way to keep people "off your scent" is to simply regularly be using LinkedIn. Consistent updates to your profile send the message that you are staying on top of your professional brand and minimizes the potential for the “wow, she just redid her LinkedIn… What’s she up to?” suspicions.

Shut off profile-edit notifications – Speaking of alerting people when you update your profile… You can turn those notifications off altogether. So, your boss might notice you revamped your profile if she is checking on it frequently, but she is not going to be alerted every time you make an update. And let’s be honest, who in your network really wants to get a notification every time you change your profile?

Hit up recruiters on the DL – LinkedIn has a feature that enables you to privately let recruiters know that you are on the market. The great thing about this feature is that it only alerts recruiters who are part of LinkedIn’s official recruiting product and it hides your information from users within your company.

Confidence is Key

Kent Nolen

Here on the blog, I get into a lot of "don't do that!" kinds of advice. Posts that take that approach are nearly always prompted by the work I do on the other side of the table providing Business / HR consulting for organizations of all sizes.

I've had a lot of positive feedback regarding a post I recently wrote that gave tips counter to the way many job seekers think. In an attempt to use the basis of the post for a talk I am giving, I realized that so much of what I say in that post (and otherwise) really boils down to confidence.

A person's confidence – or lack of confidence – is something that shines through loud and clear when a hiring panel is reviewing job candidates for positions.

  • You think your 20 or 30 year-old experience is impressive (and it was!) because you got your start with impressive companies. But why would a search committee want to see entry-level experiences on your resume for an executive position. If your last 10-15 years are impressive, they'll certainly know that what you did 30 years ago is impressive as well.
  • You think your experience with now-dated technology is impressive (and it was!) because it tells your story and shows how you've grown. But why would a search committee want to see your experience mastering outmoded technology. If what you've done with technology in the last 10 years is impressive, they'll certainly know that what you did prior is impressive as well.

You get the idea! As job candidates, we can get so lost in our wide-ranging experience, and in our insecurity, and in our unedited story that we forget one of my key mantras: 

Your resume is about you but for them. Always consider what they want and need to see on your resume – not what your ego feels they need to see.

Confidence is key as you embark on any new endeavor. Stay out of the weeds, and let succinct, powerful, well-crafted job search documents be your first best step forward.

You Are Not a Perfect Fit

Kent Nolen

Every once in a while, a client will say to me: “Here is the job I want. I'm a perfect fit, but I don't have experience in______.”

As long as you are setting yourself up for long-term success, I am all for punching above your weight and taking big leaps. I help clients with this kind of change all the time. But understand that not meeting some of the qualifications means you are not a perfect fit. Instead, you are an underdog and you have some hurdles on the track that other candidates – some of whom might actually be “perfect fits” – don’t have to jump.

Being realistic about how others are going to perceive your fit is critical. This allows you to tackle those things head on and provide the evidence that you offer other skills that you believe compensate for your missing qualifications. You’ve got some selling to do, and acting like you are a perfect fit, when you’re not, is not going to do you any good. Here are 5 tips for making a big career leap or transition:

  1. Be realistic about the qualifications your are lacking and be prepared to explain why that doesn’t disqualify you. 
  2. Be the most prepared candidate. Know everything you can about the opportunity (and the organization) and how you are going to make an immediate impact in your new role.
  3. Know the unique value you represent and how to influence decision makers to recognize it.
  4. Be ready to hear “no.” You may believe you are an ideal candidate, and you may be, but not everyone will see it that way.
  5. Be ready to hear “yes.” It is easy to focus so much on getting a dream position that you forget to build a strategy for succeeding one you’ve landed the gig.

5 Tips For Communicating Complex Information on Your Resume

Kent Nolen

As our roles become more technical and specialized, it is becoming more and more difficult to create a personal marketing piece (resume / LinkedIn / bio) that speaks to a broad audience. While this is an issue that effects a broad range of roles, it is especially true for professionals in IT and those transitioning from military / government roles into the “civilian” sector. If you stick to the following guidelines, you should be able to come up with a resume that is more readable, engaging and effective.

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