CFA INSTITUTE EVENT: Diversity & Inclusion: Strategies for Success

Jared Redick is delighted to again join the CFA Institute in its ongoing commitment to the career success of its CFA charterholders.

Hosted by the CFA Society of San Francisco and sponsored by the CFA Institute Women in Investment Management Initiative, the "Diversity & Inclusion 2018: Strategies for Success" conference is scheduled for September 20-12, 2018 at The Westin St. Francisco on Union Square, San Francisco, CA, USA.

A former search consultant for two nationally retained search firms, Jared Redick first presented on résumé writing to CFA Society of San Francisco members in 2008, and soon after, at the CFA Society of Minnesota 2010 Professional & Career Development Conference. His ensuing work with the CFA Institute and regional / state chapters expanded into LinkedIn profile development alongside his work as one of the early LinkedIn ProFinder providers. In the summery of 2012, Jared presented two global webinars to CFA charterholders, including "Advanced Writing Strategies for Your LinkedIn Profile."

Visit the Institute's Career Development Sessions page to register for the event, and for information about Jared's upcoming "Reverse-Engineering Your Long-Term Career Goals" talk.

Presentation highlights:

  • Planning ahead for new jobs, promotions, and board appointments
  • Writing a game-changing résumé, LinkedIn profile, and executive bio
  • Cautiously tell your career story to your public and private audiences
  • Message your value without hyperbole or understatement

MORE ABOUT JARED REDICK

Jared’s career development ideas have appeared in articles and reprints presented by the American Bar Association, CFA Institute, Legal Career Journal; BusinessInsider.com; Dynamic Search Solutions, UK; Forbes Coaches Council; Mental Floss; National Association of Women Lawyers; The Times of India; and RD.com.

Recent conferences, symposia, corporate trainings, and webinars include Beyond Academia, CFA Institute, University of California, Moss Adams, LLP, National Resume Writers’ Association, and The Harvard Club of Washington, D.C.

In 2009, he published Jared Redick's Job Description Analysis, an insightful career discovery exercise that helps people evaluate and set realistic next steps using their own collection of ordinary job descriptions. His use of the tool with the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) inspired tutorials by the Modern Languages Association (MLA).

Connect with Jared at linkedin.com/in/jaredredick.

I can do that job! Why won't they hire me?

A well-pedigreed client recently returned for a résumé and LinkedIn update. She's a lot of fun and exploring a new direction in her career. 

Big Job Small Job.jpg

Part of our conversation turned toward a set of fictionalized addenda that I use to inspire new ideas and draw focus.

Her response to the examples (edited for clarity):

"Looking at the scope of work performed [in these stories], I find it sort of crazy that the work is all the same. It's just the size of the budgets handled that make something seem more executive in function. The exact same talent is getting poured into different sized initiatives."

She's right, of course, that at least similar talent is poured into difference sized initiatives. But that, perhaps, is exactly the rub, and it's a reality check conversation I frequently have with clients.

Here was my response:

"It's interesting right? I know from [retained executive] search that a key differentiator between "exact same talent" and their tasks is the size and type of the institution (public, private, NPO, government, regulated, etc.) and then the scope of professional oversight (team size and geography, budget size and complexity, requirements, etc.). 

I've come to learn that [a big part is] the amount of risk and [how the ideal candidate's] expertise mitigates that risk. It's a big reason why recruiters usually stick to a sure thing when recruiting a high profile role, and why it's important for someone who's a ways into their career—but not at a level they'd like to be—to have an advocate on the inside. In other words, someone who's willing to stick their neck out and vouch for them."

Size matters.

Indeed, the management of a $20M regional budget is very different than managing a $350M global P&L. Managing a 12-member local team is very different from managing a 200-person team on four continents. 

Contacts matter.

Another differentiator I neglected to mention in my note to my client is the contacts that a very senior, high profile person brings to a new role. A very senior person from a very large company who is sought by one of the Big 4 accounting firms is going to need a major book of business. So while the activities s/he performs may be "exactly the same" as someone at a small to mid-sized company, the Big 4 firm is going to prioritize the contacts that come with someone from a very large company. 

I should note that this isn't a positive or a negative on its own. It's simply a career planning tool. Awareness is a critical step to making the right, realistic plans.  

Networks matter.

It's for these reasons that so many people in the career development world harp on the power of networking. (See my recent post, "Networking: Essential or Overrated?") And not only networking, but networking authentically. You know ... making and keeping friends in business.

It's too late to start networking when you suddenly need a job. 

Planning matters.

Also, when suddenly looking for a job, many people think they are going to be every recruiter's dream candidate. And why not? Recruiters find ideal candidates, right? I'm suddenly available, so of course they're going to pine over me! Who else would they turn to? 

Unfortunately, too many otherwise brilliant minds default to this line of thinking, and it really couldn't be farther from the truth. Legitimate recruiters are, in fact, all different (retained versus contingency) except in one way: recruiters are hired by companies to find ideal candidates. They are looking externally for a specific blend of skills, and it doesn't matter how perfect you might be, it's all about the blend of that perfection (experience and skills) compared to what is being sought.

At this level, they're not looking to take a chance on what is possible. They're looking for proven leadership.   

Nothing of note happens overnight. 

Whether it's fine wines, cheeses, or executives. It's all careful cultivation and months to years of nurturing. 

As such, my quick takeaways for executives interested in cultivating a long-term career strategy are:

  1. Learn what you're dealing with. What are the pros and cons in terms of where you are (who you are, what you offer) and where you want to go. I happen to have a "Job Description Analysis" tool for that. Just last night a client emailed me, saying this: "This was a very meaningful exercise. It gave me more clarity into how I see my career progressing.")
  2. Develop and cultivate your network authentically so when the time comes, your "ask" isn't only genuine, but also heard and cared about. 
  3. Take a long view and develop your LinkedIn profile so you're not only using it for business, but also visible when a search firm is retained to look for someone just like you. 

For more, check out my LinkedIn Post article 6 Career Positioning Metrics Every Management Professional Should Cite.

Networking: Essential or Overrated?

A client recently asked early in her Career Planner / Changer Program whether I could point her to some good resources about how to begin networking for a new job.  

My question was: how quickly do you need to move? 

A major component of networking, as classically defined in the career development world, is realizing that networking is a long-term investmenta concept that Shauna Bryce speaks eloquently about in our joint Eye on the C-suite presentations.

Indeed, networking is about developing real and authentic (to overuse that word) relationships that don't hinge on the singular hope that those real and authentic relationships will necessarily lead to a new job.

I recently concluded a multi-year coaching, in fact, during which the client and I talked at least once a month, developing and executing an incremental networking plan based on each month's efforts. His real and authentic activities and relationships ultimately turned into a role that he and I couldn't have predicted. 

So networking as a concept has its champions, realists, skeptics, and naysayers, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. As so often happens, when you find yourself thinking a lot about a topic, it's soon all you can see.

Two stood out recently, coming from pretty different perspectives, both of which I respect immensely.

First up, Nick Corcodilos, who publishes the only newsletter I read every time it shows up in my inbox. In his article, Please! Stop Networking!, Nick boils the networking conundrum down to its essence. Here's a screen snip of Nick's on-point thinking. Click through the article link for the whole article.

The second came from BlueSteps, which is a product (or is it a service?) of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). Using the Twitter hashtag #ExecCareer, BlueSteps crowd sourced from executive search consultants the dos and dont's of networking. Here's a snippet, with the rest available in the article and presumably available by searching the #ExecCareer hashtag.

Here's what I think: 

Too many people come to the "I need to network" realization when they're recently or soon to be out of a job. This is perhaps a reason why networking gets such a bad rap, because networking should actually just be building and cultivating friendships, and you can't falsely build real friendships just because you need something from people. The friendships already have to exist. 

Odds are high that you'll switch jobs sometime in the next few years. Why not start building your network of friends now? 

 

Yes, I Loathe the Term "Elevator Pitch"

Rajat Taneja's recent LinkedIn post, Rethinking the Elevator Pitch. Rajat is EVP of Technology at Visa, and his post illustrates what so many executives seem to think about the elevator pitch.

A highlight for me was this from Rajat: "I don't believe there is anything a candidate or even [an] existing employee can say in 60 seconds that would compel me to offer them a job or new position immediately."

Is it important to be able to talk about yourself at a high level? Yes. That's the purpose of developing an aggregate understanding about yourself and your career, which is really what an "elevator pitch" is. But that should lead to an in-depth conversation, in which you should be equally skilled. 

It's a short, worthwhile post, and it struck a chord. Look at all those likes and comments! Click the link above or the screen-snip below to read Rajat's original post.

Giving Up On Writing a Friend's LinkedIn Recommendation? Try These Ideas First!

Let's face it. Writing a LinkedIn recommendation—even a really good one—isn't going to win you any literary awards. In fact, your beautifully crafted copy will these days be cemented to the absolute bottom of your subject's LinkedIn profile. No fame for you today.

So why try to write a great LinkedIn recommendation? Why not just dash off a few lines of well-trodden, risk-free copy used by so many others? Examples (stifle your yawns):

  • John is a proven leader who is passionate about his work."
  • Jane is a go-getter who gets things done."

Yeah. Basically, this kind of copy tells us zilch about John and Jane. 

Sure, a recommendation like the above bullets and their ilk will technically add one more recommendation to your subject's recommendation pile. LinkedIn likes high recommendation counts, according to a Bay Area LinkedIn pilot of which I'm a part right now.

In spite of the profile basement location of today's LinkedIn recommendation, I still think it's worth writing copy that feels more like a human being and less like a beaten up job description.

So, What to Do

Theoretically, writing a LinkedIn recommendation should be a simple enough task. More privilege than chore.

Unfortunately, many—myself included—struggle with uncertainty and utter blankness when finally sitting down to write one.

In this post, I try to unravel a few of my own approaches so the next Sunday morning you're sitting at your laptop wondering what the heck to say publicly about your nearest and dearest, you'll have a few ideas to jump start the effort. 

Start With Who They Are

Several of the (wonderful, amazing, worthy) people I've recommended show up in the below screenshot. Notice how each starts with a teaser, hopefully prompting the reader to click for more. But I like to think there's actually a bit more behind each opening line.

Have a gander....

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

I'll explain the trickiest as an example.

Victoria Ahlén and I went to school together. I’ve admired her work from afar, but since we've never officially worked together, I can’t speak directly about her work today.

However, I remember Victoria from school as a smart woman with deep core values. She cares intensely about things that matter to her. She's also a person of immense integrity. Born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, Victoria's international perspective helped me see beyond my own backyard all those years ago.

So it took time to develop a strategy for Victoria’s LinkedIn 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 knew her.

While closer chronologically to my life today than Victoria, you’ll notice the same approach when I wrote recommendations for my colleagues / friends, Shauna Bryce of Bryce Legal and Jennifer Quinton of Quinton Design Studio. In each example, the reader knows who the subject is without having to click for more.

And perhaps that approach breathes a bit of life into the reader experience. After all, professional writing doesn't mean stale writing.

Be Honest

There are two ideas under the honesty category.

First, be honest when asked to write a recommendation: 

  • If a friend or colleague asks you for a recommendation—and it’s easy to say yes—by all means, do it. If you’re less than eager, or uncomfortable, say it! Evaluate why and take a bit of care in explaining why you might not be the right person to make a recommendation. It can be especially tricky if the person has written a recommendation for you. But in this case, it doesn’t have to be quid pro quo. It must be genuine.
  • If you’re at all concerned, be resolute. Say no thank you now, nicely, before you write a recommendation out of obligation and proceed to live with something the world can read for the rest of time. Being honest with yourself and your contact—no matter how awkward—is always better in the long run.

Second, be honest when writing a recommendation:

  • Choose something you know for certain about your subject. Don’t invent anything and don't be vague. Don’t misrepresent anything because you’ll have to live with it.
  • Write something interesting and meaningful from your unique perspective as a friend or colleague. Be appropriate and make it interesting. It’s a recommendation after all, not an obituary. Nor is it a vapid job description. Put some joy into it!

Be Strategic

Go ahead and talk about strategy with your subject before you get started. It makes everyone’s job easier.

If there’s something your subject would like you to focus on, you’re in a unique position to write something s/he alone can’t say without sounding braggadocios or goofy.

For instance, a client recently said he stays calm amidst chaos and that he always sees the big picture. These are important things for me to know as an executive résumé writer. They’re important traits for most professional positions, in fact. Certainly executive roles. But they’re overused in résumé writing and can lose their impact. They begin feeling like filler unless backed up in some way.

But a third-party perspective can change everything. As a peer, former boss, employee, or board member, you can speak about calm-in-a-storm, big picture viewpoint and other over-arching strengths in a way that your subject can’t. Especially if you tie in a strong example or two.

Let’s say your friend wants to stress the international part of his or her career. Consider starting with something like, “John is no stranger to the international arena.” Get it out there. “John is a citizen of the world” is a great opener when it’s true, genuine, and written from a third party.

Say your friend wants to emphasize her start-up experience. How about, “Susan’s start-up growth strategies are unmatched,” and build from there.

Build a great recommendation from a strong strategy. Have fun with it!

Be Specific (And Genuine)

So many businesses and product lines enjoy success because they serve a niche audience. By definition, niching means that some people will be drawn in and others will walk away. That’s called being real about what you bring to the table. Borrow the niching concept when writing about your subject. Be specific. Your colleague or friend doesn’t have to be all things to all people, and your recommendation doesn’t have to be either.

You’re not obligated to write “Everything I ever knew about Jack.” Focus on one or two things you know about Jack and get it out there. Keep it short. A terse, genuine, lively, well-written recommendation stands a better chance of being read. A big, fat block of unfocused copy will be overlooked.

In all things, brevity.

Which is a great signal to wrap this article. What do you think about writing recommendations? Do you squirm a little? Do you excel? Have you struggled through them, but discovered a principle that might help others? Please, do share!

●●●●●

San Francisco-based corporate copywriter, executive résumé writer, and career transition coach, Jared Redick, works with senior leaders at Fortune 50 companies and beyond. He draws on early experience in retained executive search and nearly two decades of résumé writing to help stealth job seekers re-imagine the marketable intersection between their background, interests, audience expectations, and career goals.

Jared's strategic “purpose, content, design” approach to writing helps companies and executives understand their value, develop their unique professional brand, and position themselves online and on paper.

Reach him at info@theresumestudio.com or 415-397-6640. Follow @TheResumeStudio.

The Only Networking Question You May Ever Need to Break the Awkwardness

Okay, this one requires a thousand crying-laughing emojis. 

A résumé writer colleague, Irene Marshall, who has become a dear friend over the years, has a talent for meeting people. During a casual conversation last night, she shared a story that I believe contributes majorly to her success as an executive résumé writer and career coach.

When she finds herself in a first-time encounter, she finds a moment to ask: "So why did you become [insert job title].?" (Notice the "why," not the "how.")

The beauty of the question is in the answer. Isn't it always?

Irene says she's learned all sorts of things about people over the years. From the physical therapist who broke her back as a child after a diving accident and dedicated her life to healing others to the tutor who started his life with a learning disorder.  

But the story that takes the absolute cake is Irene's dermatologist.

Irene: "So why did you become a dermatologist?"

Dermatologist: "Well, I wanted a job in medicine where I could talk to my patients."

Irene (thinking:) "That makes sense, I'm sitting here talking to you."

Dermatologist: "But my husband is also a doctor and he wanted a job where he doesn't have to talk to patients.

Irene: "What does he do?"

Dermatologist: "He's an anesthesiologist."

I mean. For real?

Ah yes, friends. Tuck that question away for the next time you find yourself in a slightly (or entirely) awkward social situation. 

You might just end up splitting your pants with laughter!