More News for Humanities Graduates Exploring Tech

Hot on the heels of yesterday's news that Silicon Valley might be welcoming to humanities graduates comes this earlier published Forbes article: The 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket. 

As a musician, myself, this would have been awesome news fifteen years ago. For today's humanities graduates, especially those with advanced degrees, it's a watershed moment. 

If you're a recent or about to graduate humanities student, read the whole article, top to bottom. Then, if you're interested, start doing the research and the networking to make it happen. The way you think is valuable. 

Screenshot of Stewart Butterfield, Slack's CEO, in George Anders' recent Forbes.com article. Photo credit: Carlo Ricci.

Screenshot of Stewart Butterfield, Slack's CEO, in George Anders' recent Forbes.com article. Photo credit: Carlo Ricci.


Humanities Students & Graduates: You're Needed in Silicon Valley

Now here's a not-to-miss data report from LinkedIn for the PhD and MA students with whom I've been working at the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI). 

Turns out, the LinkedIn deep diving and keyword searching we discussed in San Diego might just pay off. And certainly Alice Ma's LinkedIn blog post, You Don't Need to Know How to Code to Make it in Silicon Valley, offers a glimpse into some of the job titles you'll want to consider. 

Important quote: "Liberal arts majors take on a wide range of roles." Of interest, fourth on the list is folks in project managers. When I reflect on the swath of project management professionals with whom I work up and down the west coast, a lot of them have degrees in the humanities. 

Article screenshot depicting Jared from the HBO series Silicon Valley from Alice Ma's recent LinkedIn blog post. 

When an MBA Isn't Enough: Learning From the Masters

My Twitter feed served up a great INC.com tweet yesterday: 19 CEOs That (sic) Will Teach You How to Run the World. 

From Ben Horowitz' "the hard thing about hard things is that they don't have a formula" to Jason Fried's coauthored startup book, 'Rework.' (If you missed it, be sure to catch my recent mention of Jason Fried's not-to-be-missed December 2012 blog post about the role mistakes play in our lives.)

Check out a snippet of INC's article below, then click over to read the full story. I just ordered two of the books and clipped the page to Evernote for future reading.

Article screenshot of INC.com's "19 Books by CEOs That Will Teach You How to Run the World."

Article screenshot of INC.com's "19 Books by CEOs That Will Teach You How to Run the World."

Fun Friday: Are You Half Extrovert, Half Introvert? You Might Be an Ambivert!

At last! My absolute comfort onstage and at parties with friends aligns with my need to visit a Bay Area trail every Monday to escape the madness.

I first learned about the new "ambivert" designation over lunch this week from a fellow apparent ambivert. Janet and I concurred that we've never felt right about identifying exclusively as introverts or extroverts, although both concepts have been attached to both of us, individually, depending on the environment.

In her August 12, 2015 CNN.com article, "Are you an ambivert?" Jessica Singal not only points to the newly emerging identification of this overdue concept, but also suggests a variety of famous faces who might share the trait.

Take a sneak peek below, then click the graphic to swing by Singal's illuminating article. 

Mistakes Are Part of the Human Experience

Oh, how I love the Internet. Way back in December of 2012, Basecamp.com co-founder Jason Fried posted A mistake is a moment in time on the project management app's Signal v. Noise blog. 

If you've ever blundered hard, and had a hard time forgiving yourself, Jason's article is a good reminder that mistakes aren't intentional. It's also an invitation to consider that mistakes might have an important place in the human experience. 

Here's an excerpt. Click the graphic to read Jason's short and insightful take on the sometimes painful matter. 


Global Executive Search Firm Opens Kimono on Secrets to Success for Executive Candidates

There's an awesome several-page list of candidate resources lurking on the Boyden Global Executive Search website. I often wonder how many people leverage it.

I estimate that maybe 3-5% of positions ever in the world run through executive search, so it might not be a Kardashian-worthy destination—at least in terms of volume—but it's highly worthwhile for the subset of executives who hope to be found as passive candidates or stealth job seekers. 

For those determined to ace executive-level interviews and beyond, this is how one of the world's most respected executive search firms differentiates itself online—by giving important insights into what it means to be an executive candidate.

   Screenshot from Boyden Global Executive Search website illustrating ways executive job seekers should prepare. 

 

Screenshot from Boyden Global Executive Search website illustrating ways executive job seekers should prepare. 

Is a Movement Afoot to Eliminate the Performance Review?

I'm not one for hand-wringing about the latest people management or career development fad. For instance, I couldn't disagree more with bloggers who say a résumé—even a CEO résumé—shouldn't exceed one page. I've never used the word poppycock, but to them I say: poppycock!

But one of the people management ideas emerging recently is that of basically nixing the annual performance review. And let's admit it; annual performance reviews are a headache for everyone involved. Sometimes (often?) overdue or overlooked. 

Three days ago, I caught Liz Wright's less than subtle Fortune.com article: "Five Stupid Rules That Drive Great Employees Away." Rule #2 on Liz' list: insulting performance review processes. Follow Liz on Forbes or LinkedIn, if you don't already. Her ideas are worth consideration.

Here's a snippet of her recent Forbes article:

Forbes contributor Liz Wright suggests that the performance review process is passé.

Forbes contributor Liz Wright suggests that the performance review process is passé.

Then yesterday, a member of the SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) list on LinkedIn posed this question: 

LinkedIn Groups question to SHRM members about the relevance of performance reviews.

LinkedIn Groups question to SHRM members about the relevance of performance reviews.

Evidence of this question abounds with just a few Google searches. Indeed, Lisa Quast—another Forbes.com contributor—penned "How to Make Performance Reviews Relevant" in 2013, in which she wrote: 

Forbes contributor Lisa Quast reveals a possible harbinger on the topic in a January 2013 article. 

Forbes contributor Lisa Quast reveals a possible harbinger on the topic in a January 2013 article. 

Interesting: when I reached this point in this post, I googled "organizations ditching performance reviews," and folks, we may have a movement afoot. 

Facing a Search Committee Interview? Here's How to Prepare

The simplicity of this article about preparing for a search committee interview is deceptive. (And wonderful.) And I'm not saying it just because I used to work for The Alexander Group.

Jane Howze shares "How to Ace a Search Committee Interview" in Taglines Magazine.

Jane Howze shares "How to Ace a Search Committee Interview" in Taglines Magazine.

If you've never faced a search committee interview, but might do so in the next few years, take Jane's wisdom in Acing a Search Committee Interview to heart.

Learn it, practice it. You'll be glad you prepared.

New York Times Reports on LinkedIn Development for Tomorrow's Leaders

If eighty percent of jobs are found through one's network—and we recently saw that even board seats follow the same 80/20 rule—then it stands to reason that one should start thinking about networking early.

For tomorrow's leaders still in school, it's not too soon to build a great LinkedIn profile, and the July 31 New York Times article Finding a Career in LinkedIn Profiles is a good start.

I can only imagine how rich and deep those networks will be in 10-20 years. Many of my own friends cite their college relationships as being the foundation for many of the career moves they've made over the past 20 years. 

A screenshot of LinkedIn.edu. Massive content and data.

A screenshot of LinkedIn.edu. Massive content and data.


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! 

Must Read: Heidrick & Struggles' CEO Report for 2015

Heidrick & Struggles tweeted this morning a link to their 2015 CEO Report: Embracing the Paradoxes of Leadership and the Power of Doubt.

If you're a CEO, or well on your way, this quite simply is one not to miss. 

An excerpt from Heidrick & Struggles' 36-page The CEO Report, downloadable at no cost.

An excerpt from Heidrick & Struggles' 36-page The CEO Report, downloadable at no cost.


6 Career Positioning Metrics Every Management Professional Should Cite

I field two to four new business calls every day, mostly from executive to mid-career professionals looking to quietly work through what their futures might hold if they nosed around a bit.

In nearly every instance, they express embarrassment about their out-of-date résumés. Understandable, since they've been busy doing the work—not nursing a piece of paper.

Nearly to a head, they overlook the telling of six core details for which they'll be sought and measured by a recruiter or a new company.

1. Company size. A Chief Executive Officer building a startup is often cut from different cloth than a CEO leading a $150B public company. By merely placing the size of companies on your résumé you quickly tell a huge part of your story.

Caveat: Don't place company / revenue size if the data isn't publicly known.

2. Team size. A Chief Technology Officer managing a team of three has a busy job, no doubt. But managing a matrixed team of 450+ engineers, developers, creatives, product managers, and marketers across 10 global locations is another ballgame entirely.

Tip: Showing team size as "up to 20" or "ranging from X to Y" can help you strategically position yourself.

3. Geographic scope. A Chief Risk Officer managing a team and its productivity from a New York City loft is tough work, but a CRO navigating the risks and implications of international law and culture on three continents runs an entirely different ship.

4. Quantifiable outcomes. A Chief Marketing Officer who demonstrates measured success, whether by presenting real numbers or percentages, will sail ahead of the competition every time. Whether that success reflects gains in market share, revenue, clicks, eyeballs, or productivity—or cuts in overhead, time, resources, or some other measurement of success—most candidates have great metrics to include, but never do.

Warning: Never list proprietary information on your résumé. Yes, you'll miss out on some important metrics. Them's the breaks, sadly. Also, be careful not to reveal publicly unflattering or potentially competitive metrics on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is not a "cut-and-paste from your résumé" job.

5. Reporting relationships. It's often hard to tell whether an organization is flat, hierarchical, or somewhere in between. Listing reporting relationships on your résumé adds a layer of context for a seasoned hiring decision maker.

Aside: In cases where reporting relationships confuse or don't boost the overall picture, leave them out. Just know that you may be asked.

6. Industry-specific metrics. Part of a Chief Nursing Officer's aptitude centers around the number of facilities s/he manages, and the number of beds at each hospital. Part of a Chief Investment Officer's aptitude matrix revolves around market cap and portfolio size. Be sure to include the differentiating metrics that tie you to your industry.

Tip: If you're changing industries, write your first résumé draft with industry information intact. It'll be easier to write. When you're done, scrub out most industry-specific language, and write transferable skills in the language of your inbound industry. (As long as it's not false or entirely opposing. Development means very different things in varying industries, for examples. Do this task carefully.)

BlueSteps: A Shortcut for Executive Stealth Job Seekers?

File this one at the front of the stack. 

I recently mentioned to an EVP client an online tool called BlueSteps—a service of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). I haven't been a paid user, myself, so I haven't had visibility into how it works.

Then this morning, I stumbled upon Boyden Global Executive Search's "Candidate Resources" page, and voila! The left sidebar has a great list of BlueSteps member benefits, top among them being the most critical piece: confidentiality.

If you've used BlueSteps, I'd be interested to know offline about your experience. You can reach my office at info@theresumestudio.com.  

Meanwhile, the page contains additional tips for executive job seekers. 

 

Career Planning Usually Involves a Bit of Risk

Legal careers advisor Shauna Bryce yesterday posted to her LinkedIn page this interesting article by Shannon Schuyler, leader of corporate responsibility at PwC: "Your fear of risk is jeopardizing your career."

Schuyler reflects on flubbing a student government stump speech in college, while admitting that public speaking is today "one of the most exciting and satisfying parts of [her] job."

As evidenced by the article's photograph, Schuyler clearly soared beyond her initial public speaking fears. But she uses the point to make a great case for taking risks, saying: "Whether we win slowly or fail fast, we become better for the experience." 

Quick read and worthwhile reminder for passive and stealth job seekers. Taking calculated risks is part of the game.

  

Spencer Stuart Dishes on "Making the Best [Career] Transition"

If retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart is saying it, then it must be true, right?

Seriously though, preparing ahead of time, deciding the direction you want to go, understanding who and where you fit in the world, and translating your skill set and experience into a new role is fundamental to making a career transition.

It's not rocket science, but it is a lot of intention, preparation, and cross-platform career messaging clarity. 

Here's a sneak peek from the search firm's August 2015 "Career Advice" column, demonstrating that good planning is particularly helpful for the stealth job seeker: 

And don't miss Spencer Stuart's offer to register at the end of the article. Is executive search is opening up the inbound résumé channel?

 

Is Apple's Famously Flat Structure Really Flat? And What Can That Mean for Smart Startups?

An INC Magazine article I read last night about the virtues of flat organizational structures (good stuff: loyalty, engagement) reminded me about the mystery of Apple's famously flat hierarchy.

For no reason but curiosity, I googled "apple flat," which auto-completed into "apple flat hierarchy." Exactly what I was looking for.

Top of the search result heap was a 2011 Financial Times article by Philip Delves Broughton worth re-reading for tech company founders, VCs, product developers, and supply chain leaders: "How Jobs made Apple fit for the future."

Most of my clients in the four professions listed above tell very different hierarchical stories from their own experiences, but they might find inspiration, even from Broughton's opening line: 

"The group is really three lashed together," he says.

And the article's citation of Reed Hastings' "talent density" principle is a nice nugget for recruiters and stealth job seekers / passive job seekers to noodle on when it comes to their efforts.

If everyone in my network hasn't already read this short article, they should. In case you're not convinced, here's Broughton's closing paragraph:

New Data from Heidrick & Struggles for C-suite Members Considering a Fortune 500 Board Directorship

C-level clients sometimes ask how to get on a board of directors. Like it's an easy thing. And yes, there are differences between executive résumés and board director résumés.

But the question is a good one, because every journey begins with a single step.

If you're thinking what a Fortune 500 board directorship might look like, Heidrick & Struggles yesterday released their Four Boardroom Trends to Watch. The downloadable publication presents an interesting breakdown including new seats filled, average age of directors, percentage of directors who are current or former CEOs and CFOs, and more.

Here's a preview:

From Heidrick & Struggles Board Monitor: "How the Most recent cohort of Fortune 500 board appointments is shifting the landscape in board composition, diversity, and talent."

From Heidrick & Struggles Board Monitor: "How the Most recent cohort of Fortune 500 board appointments is shifting the landscape in board composition, diversity, and talent."

If you're quietly considering whether the future might hold a board directorship—two, five, or even ten years down the road—this is a laser-focused resource for those considering a board directorship. 

 

Want to Shape a Career Change? Speak to Your Sweet Spot

Toward the end of last year, a client and I were wrestling with writing her LinkedIn profile's executive summary.

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

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

Turns out, she loves startup life.

To clarify, she loves startup life when the startup has received its second round of funding. When she has the traction to innovate and really drill some smart roots from which the company can grow and thrive, but while team are still nimble enough to be led.

It took her leadership 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 career development 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 were in the process of building her boat—as I've called the work since another client coined that term several years ago—so she was ready to sail when the right opportunity came along. (Incidentally, it did.) 

She was just starting to understand the importance of tending to her career brand ... cultivating her reputation in the long term so she would be clearly known for what she loves and 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 what you love? 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. Why not use that big company authority to become a resource for startups with Series B funding who really need the intellectual firepower and experience you offer today."
I continued: "Tailor your articles and presentations strategically, so you not only speak to the audience at hand, but so the article titles have a life beyond the moment. Then when you list them on your LinkedIn profile, in your executive bio, in your executive resume, etc., you have this clear specialization. In time, you'll open the door wider to being found as a passive candidate. And odds are higher that you'll be sought for just the right fit." 

So you as the reader of this article might already be one of the folks we all admire who uses this forward-thinking strategy. Forbes contributors do. HBR contributors do. They write to their brands, which ultimately brings them even more enjoyable opportunities. Keep it up.

If not, however, it's one of those little tips that can flip the switch and fuel your career. Because when you reach senior levels in your career, it takes a long time to shape the right career shift. 

When I originally posted this article to my own blog, I said, "I have a feeling good things are on the horizon for this client's career. A career that's already pretty stellar." 

Well, it came true. She architected a long-term career shift, and last I heard, was happily in a leadership role of her choosing.

Do you have a sweet spot that's not being fully realized?

It can feel like a Titanic effort to reshape or redirect a career fifteen or twenty years in the making. But the tiniest rudder—the smallest strategic adjustment—will change your direction over time. And sooner than you know it, you'll be in your ideal role looking in the rear-view mirror, smiling back at what was once today.

But you have to act. Make this week your inflection point. Take tangible steps forward, because if you're like so many of our species, you'll be the first to under-prioritize yourself and you'll still be in the same spot a year from now.

●●●●●


San Francisco-based executive resume 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 resume 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 résumé writing helps executives and professionals understand their value, develop their unique professional brand, and position themselves safely online and on paper.

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

Your LinkedIn Profile Might Be Giving Away Trade Secrets

Last week, a behemoth Silicon Valley darling required one of my clients to upload his LinkedIn profile instead of submitting a résumé for an open position.

The problem with this method of recruiting is that LinkedIn is a public document. As such, the smartest and most successful candidates won't list certain confidential content on their profiles.

They will not list all of the many (and important, and rampant) quantitative metrics so important to today's best résumés.

In a perfect world, a résumé will be inherently richer in detail than its companion LinkedIn profile.

Don't believe me? Let's examine what people are placing on their LinkedIn profiles.

For this article, I conducted a simple search for "enterprise sales executive" from my own LinkedIn profile.

One of the first profiles listed reads like this (details scrambled and fictionalized for confidentiality):

  • ABC Company, President’s Club, 2012: (Top 1% of 5,000 Sales Reps, 400% achievement)
  • XYZ Company, Excellence Club, 2011: (Achieved 325% against $8.7 million quota)

That all sounds great, doesn't it? (And no, I'm not entirely clear what "400% achievement" means, but bear with me.) It sounds good enough to at least reach out to that person. Stat!

Alas. On LinkedIn, this ubiquitous and beloved misconception has some unintended consequences.

First, our subject is letting competitors speculate that at least 5,000 sales reps have a sales quota of $8 million, so they can extrapolate the company's sales goals. Okay, maybe not eight million each, but even at half of that calculation (5,000 reps x $8 million), it gives information that our subject's company might not be fond of releasing to a competitor.

Second, notice that our subject stopped listing their stratospheric accomplishments in 2012. It's a good time to note that they're still, remarkably perhaps, working at the same company in 2015.

It begs the question: are they now failing? Furthermore, are their potential and/or repeat clients arriving at the negotiating table armed to the teeth because they had the pre-meeting foresight to review our subject's LinkedIn profile? Realizing that our super successful subject is a selling shark?

I mean, if I were a potential enterprise client exploring this company's expensive widgets—and I knew this enterprise sales executive was in the top one percent of five thousand sales reps, and not only that, but they effortlessly exceeded their multimillion-dollar quotas for the past five years—I'd arrive at the table ready for battle.

By all that is publishable, this super-duper enterprise sales executive isn't going to get one by me!

My recommendation.

Okay, so I have to preface my recommendation by saying that I am a major, premium-paying LinkedIn fan. If you're not a premium member, I believe you should be.

That said, I often swim upstream on this point. I've even presented with recruiters with whom I share a mutual fondness and respect, and we openly disagree.

A recruiter recently said, "I agree with Jared on all points. Except the one about redacting certain quantitative details from your LinkedIn profile. I need to see your value." (You'll see this repeated all over the interwebs.)

To which I always reply: "Make the recruiter do their job." I was once a recruiter, so I can say this with conviction. I believe recruiting is an art as much as it is a science, and recruiting first respects everyone's confidentiality.

I continued and drove home my point to the audience: "You, dear audience members, are ultimately responsible for your own stories. If that unwittingly involves giving away trade secrets—and giving away your secret sauce and professional prowess in a public forum—then you've only shot yourself in the foot."

Again. Recruiters are paid to do a job. Make them do their jobs.

So, all of those caveats and exceptions stated, here are my recommendations:

  • Don’t list confidential information on your résumé. That's a given. But take it further by not listing details that, when compared alongside other pieces of online / published information, might be amassed to make competitive assumptions about your company. Other companies are busily scraping the web and selling aggregated information. Don't be a part of it.
  • Refrain from using résumé speak and listing potentially confidential metrics or trade secrets on LinkedIn. Scrub the information and carefully write your LinkedIn profile for public consumption.
  • If you've done either of these things, fix immediately. Don't let another week go by. Sure, web crawlers may have already scraped, archived, and exploited the information you presented unknowingly to the world. But now you know, so begin making amends.
  • If you're in a supervisory role, audit your employees' LinkedIn profiles. If they've unwittingly revealed confidential, proprietary, or potentially competitive information, don't blame them. Yet. They knew not what they did. Instead, explain why they need to scrub the heck out of that content, and why. Indeed, the LinkedIn profiles I write that really make me sweat are for companies with strict social media policies. For example, Apple, Inc. employees are basically allowed to say nothing about what they do. Apple again leads the pack, knowing that loose lips sink ships. (Speaking of technology, broadly, not Apple, you can't imagine the information product developers reveal in LinkedIn groups ... bellyaching away and giving away all manner of secret sauce.)

Will you miss out on potential opportunities? Probably. But it's up to you to understand this incredibly important nuance. LinkedIn is a tool for doing business, and the humble résumé bears the confidential weight of telling your story within the finite realm of job searching. Even then, you don't want to ever reveal proprietary information about your company. Past, present, or future.

If you're a recruiter and you're using "LinkedIn only" as a sole recruiting tool, stop. You're potentially missing out on the brightest candidates who, indeed, know better than to treat LinkedIn like an online résumé. Respected institutions are apparently starting to miss out on this big picture privacy issue. Don't be one of them.

Repeat after me:

  • Just because LinkedIn says I can, doesn't mean I should.
  • LinkedIn is not my online résumé.
  • LinkedIn is a professional platform to do business and communicate my professional (and very public) brand.
  • If a recruiter finds me and thinks they want to talk to me, I will make peace that they must do their job and learn more by calling and/or asking for my résumé.
  • My résumé is the place to self-market myself to a discrete audience.

●●●●●

San Francisco-based executive resume 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 resume 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 résumé writing helps executives and professionals understand their value, develop their unique professional brand, and position themselves safely online and on paper.

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