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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.

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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The Lady Doth Protest Too Much

Kent Nolen

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

That line from Hamlet – now broadly used to express doubt based on someone’s over explaining – often comes to mind when a client is adamant that every detail of their background, no matter how old, must be included on their resume. The reasoning, per the client, is that each position contributes to the perception that they are the most qualified candidate for a job. I completely get that thinking, but – based on the consulting work I do with small and large companies – I know that it is not an effective strategy. I want you to be armed with the best information possible, so here is the unvarnished truth…

  1. Focusing on outdated or irrelevant positions in an attempt to bolster your qualifications is not effective. In fact, like that quote, many readers perceive this kind of “over sharing” as a sign of insecurity. It can send the message that you are not confident in your recent experience – in the impact you have made lately – and that you are trying to make up for that by throwing everything at the reader. 
  2. Readers don’t have time to be regaled with your entire career history. They want to know what you’ve done lately and what you can do for them right now. That experience from 15 years ago may be a powerful part of your career trajectory (nothing can change that), but unless you have put those skills to work recently, potential employers are just not going to care when reviewing your resume.
  3. To that last point, the reason most clients want to show older experience is because they want to capture something (a skill, a quality, an achievement) that they believe will pique readers’ interests. That makes perfect sense. But if you’ve not exercised that skill or achieved something as significant in, say, the last 10 years, then including that information on the resume could just frame your recent experience as "less valuable." 

Keep your resume current and have the courage to allow older positions to age off of the resume. Remember that there are other ways to honor older experience that you feel differentiates you (e.g., LinkedIn, during the interview process, a mention in the cover letter, etc.). Focus on what you’ve done recently and the potential impact you can have on an employer, not on aging experience that has little relevancy to readers today.

How to Find Your Passion

Kent Nolen

This post is part of my new Everyday Fulfillment series. This series focuses on tips for moving closer to – and embracing – fulfillment in all aspects of life. These posts address topics that frequently come up in my seminars and speaking engagements. They are also the topics that clients commonly want to dig into during Coaching sessions. I hope you find them helpful!

Many people feel a lack of passion in their lives. Social media, movies, and television often glamorize passion and make us feel feel as though it's something we're just, you know, meant to magically harness. As in, if you don't instinctively know what you're passionate about, something's wrong with you.

Well, that's an inaccurate way to model passion and is probably a significant contributor to the fact that so many people are confused about what passion actually is.

Passion is the hum that emerges when your strengths and values are put into action.

We all have glimpses of passion in life. You know what I'm talking about because you've felt it. But when passion is not grounded in self-awareness, it's fleeting. When passion is not rooted in knowledge of your strengths and values, it's impossible to sustain it and elevate it to the most constructive, fulfilling levels possible.

Some passion-fostering questions for you to consider:

Do you put yourself in environments and around people that inspire passion? It helps! If you have passion, putting yourself in these environments is a booster shot. If you're lacking true passion, the inspiration can conjure thoughts that will help you along your path. Sporting events, arts events, conferences, and special-interest clubs are all good places to start.

Do you mistake other things for passion? Just because you spend a lot of time doing something, doesn't mean it's a passion. This is a big problem in today's world with so many of us wasting time, for example, curating presences on social media that are often driven by presenting yourself in a certain way rather than in an accurate, authentic way.

Do you chip away at knowing your strengths and values? Knowing yourself – and in this case, your strengths and values – is something that no one can take away from you, boosts confidence, and unlocks doors. 

The Best Format for a Resume

Kent Nolen

Several weeks ago, I published a post about “Marissa Mayer’s resume” that got a lot of attention and spurred a lot of readers to send off questions about formatting. All of those questions can be essentially summarized as follows: “If this is an example of a badly formatted resume, then what is the best format for a resume?” 

Long term readers of this blog will immediately recognize the following statement as something I say a lot: there is no best format for a resume. However, there some things to consider that will help to ensure your resume is effective. And, really, effective is the ideal when developing a resume, isn’t it?

When it comes to formatting, we have to consider 3 things: automated screeners, human readers, and strategic use of space.

Automated Screening Systems: If your resume is not formatted to perform well with automated screening systems, then the other two points are irrelevant because your resume will never actually be seen. When it comes to automated screening systems, anything beyond basic formatting can spell trouble. These systems scan for keywords, which can be hindered by things like columns, icons, and other design elements.

Human Readers: If your resume flows through the automated screening process and into the hands of an actual person, it will likely be free of formatting. Generally speaking, screening systems strip away formatting to present human readers with a plain-text version of the resume. It is best to format your resume with the idea that the formatting may be removed altogether.

Strategic Use of Space: For a resume to be effective with either screeners or humans, the content has to be strong. If your format is placing more emphasis on the design and less on the quality and amount of actual content, you could be in trouble. Not only will that hinder your ability to make it through the automated screening process (remember: keywords), but human readers will not be seeing quality content that compels them to get in touch with you.

Let me be perfectly clear, your resume needs to be aesthetically pleasing. I am not advocating for formatting free resumes written in Times New Roman. But I would take a plain resume full of compelling content – strong achievements, clearly targeted branding elements, etc. – over a pretty resume with weak content any day.