How to Explain a Sabbatical If You Were Taking Care of an Ailing Parent or Loved One

October 16th, 2014

Last week I was doing a LinkedIn consultation with a professional who had taken time (a couple of years?) off to care for her father. She has had a fantastic, awesome career, but didn’t know how to explain her years off.  She asked me how to explain this, and I reached out to career professionals in the Career Directors LinkedIn Group for advice.  The experience these professionals have is broad and deep, which is why I like getting input from different professionals.  Below is what I learned. I hope this can help you if you are in this situation:

don_goodman_headshotDon Goodman, Certified Resume Writer, GotTheJob.com, and reseller of my video course: LinkedIn for Job Seekers

I would say,

Sabbatical (Date) – Attended to urgent family matters now fully resolved,

or

Sabbatical (Date) – Attended to needs of ailing parent now fully resolved,

It is perfectly OK to help family members in need and all the employer needs to know is that it is completed.

mary_schumacher_headshotMary Schumacher, Writer and Coach, CareerFrames.com 

Hi Jason – I would also use a sabbatical statement such as the ones Don provided. I also might just insert a statement such as:

“Took two-year leave to serve as caretaker for parent. Stayed current on industry trends and learning to remain fully prepared for next corporate challenge.”

Employers want to know that your knowledge is up-to-date as far as their needs, and that your skills aren’t rusty. There are plenty of free online courses to help even those very immersed in their caretaker roles.

irene_marshall_headshotIrene Marshall, Executive Resume Writer and LinkedIn Profile Writer, ToolsForTransition.com

Jason — I don’t think it requires a big explanation. I would either put “Family sabbatical,” “Personal Sabbatical” or “Professional Sabbatical” without adding anything else in either resume or cover letter. It just accounts for the time. And I only use years, not months/years.

There are millions and millions of Baby Boomers taking care of parents (myself included). And over the past several years I have worked with many people who have relocated, quit their jobs or took part-time work to handle what their parents need.

It is very common now and nothing your client should be nervous about. You never know that maybe the person reading would have given their eye teeth to be able to take time off work rather than feeling guilty that their job was keeping them from doing it..

I moved my mother with Alzheimer’s into assisted living in January. I was at part-time work until about the end of July because none of her affairs were in order. And I’m still dealing with two attorneys, etc. even though I’m close to full time work now. I would have had to quit a corporate job.

But in the first half of the year there was absolutely no way I could have been doing anything related to my work for keeping up with my industry or anything else. I was up to 3 am, 5 am and more trying to sell my mother’s home and everything else. I would not have been able to even think about online coursework because it frankly was not my top priority and I was exhausted.

And I wouldn’t include “fully resolved” because I think it then puts the reader in a slightly awkward position of assuming that mom or dad actually died.

christine_robinson_headshotChristine Robinson, CPRW, ChristineRobinsonCPRW.com

Jason, I try to be as straightforward as possible, composing a quote based on the client’s circumstance. Also, I usually refer to it as a “professional leave” or “career break” because I feel the word “sabbatical” has some nuances that don’t necessarily apply to every situation.

I place the quote under the Professional Experience heading.

2012 to Oct. 2014: “I took a professional leave to attend to my terminally ill brother; following his passing, I engaged in a variety of professional development opportunities to maintain credentials and volunteer roles to keep abreast of industry trends.”

You get the gist. It may be wordy and it may be slightly shocking, but on the other hand, it leaves nothing to the imagination of the reader. Plus, the dates will (ideally) be captured by ATS.

Thanks to Don, Mary, Irene and Christine for sharing their thoughts – if you have a different idea, please share it in the comments below!

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What Are Your Guiding Principles?

October 3rd, 2014

david_safeer_headshotI get David Safeer’s newsletters, and this was had an idea that was too good to not share. David is a management and leadership consultant – read about him on the front page of his site.  He’s done a very nice job communicating who he is and why he is relevant to his right audience.

In his most recent newsletter he shares his “business principles,” which are business principles “to achieve outstanding performance.”  It made me wonder, what are my business (or life, or marriage, or father, or entrepreneur, or CEO, or product manager, etc.) principles?

He says he wrote these almost ten years ago, and that reviewing them now, there are NO changes to make.  To me that indicates they are indeed principles instead of tactics, which can and usually should change over time.  Go check out his list – it really reads like a short book on how to do better in business.

As I read his list I had three thoughts:

  1. His list is about people and relationships, not about numbers.  He says: “I am convinced that people are THE key to a successful organization, so my thoughts about business principles turn often to the people side of things.”  Where do your thoughts about your principles turn?
  2. Can you create your own list of principles?  This could be like a personal business plan, or map, that helps you make decisions and be true to yourself.  What would be on your list?
  3. Once you have a list, this is a great way for you to stay relevant. How?  Read on…

Being relevant is an interesting concept.  When I started JibberJobber I thought people would talk about me and JibberJobber for a long time. I got interest and buzz at first, but then things died down, and I found I had to continually put something interesting and/or new in front of people.  I wrote a book on LinkedIn, and that did it (for a while).  But then 40 other people wrote books on LinkedIn, and I wasn’t THE expert anymore. I was losing relevance.  I had to do other things, which I did. I still do other things to stay in front of people and try to stay relevant.

Why do you think LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook make so many changes to their systems? Some are good and needed, others are simply to get press.

When David put his guiding principles in front of me, he shot back up to “relevant.”

Think about this for YOU.  What can you do to remain relevant with your audience?

Don’t get me wrong, this is not just a branding/networking thing. I think having guiding principles is AWESOME.  I encourage you to work on your own.  And, use what you come up with as a reason to get back in front of your network contacts and create a bit of buzz or conversation.

 

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An Interview with Jeff Browning (Austin Ventures) and Liz Handlin (Ultimate Resumes)

October 1st, 2014

I get Liz Handlin’s newsletter.  She gave me permission to post this from her newsletter… I thought it was interesting. Liz says these are her questions and his answers over coffee (learn more about Jeff Browning here):

Do you read profiles on resumes?No. Most of them are not useful to me. I want to know about specific domain experience, scope of job, and your accomplishments. Metrics matter. Add metrics to your resume.  I also want to see some information about your employers because I haven’t heard of every company in the world. What does the company do? How large is it? Is it public or private?

When someone sends you a resume how long do you look at it to determine if you are interested in reading more of it?

About 5 seconds.

What are you looking for in resumes that are submitted to Austin Ventures for jobs in your portfolio companies?

Well first you have to understand that most of our job descriptions are VERY granular and specific.  Domain (industry) experience is the most important thing I look for so if you don’t have the domain experience we are looking for at the moment you may not be a fit for the immediate need we have, but could be at a later time.

We also look for individuals who have actually worked in early-stage start ups before. We want someone has seen this movie before and knows how it goes because we need our executives to be able to hit the ground running.  If you have never worked in an early stage start up before you just don’t know what you don’t know. Individuals who have spent an entire career in large corporations sometimes think they could easily make the jump to early stage start-ups but it’s just not usually the case.

Do you think that someone who has spent their entire career in Fortune 500 companies could be successful at an early-stage start up?

Well anything is possible and large company executives have many talents and valuable experiences. It also depends on the stage of the company. But, generally speaking, we find that executives who are the most successful in leading start-ups have previously been employed by other start-up companies.

What advice do you have for big-company executives who want to switch gears and work in a start-up environment?

If you are an executive at a large company like, say, IBM, and you want to work in an early-stage start-up, my advice is to take it in steps.  The analogy I use is diving. You learn to snorkel first and then you slowly learn to dive deeper and deeper.  The same can be said of the start-up world. If you are a big-company executive you might try transitioning to a mid-sized company before diving into the world of early-stage companies.  Start ups and large corporations are totally different professional experiences.

What DON’T you want to see in a resume?

I don’t like to read functional resumes because they are confusing.  I want the resume to be simple, straightforward, and to the point.  No graphs. No charts. No hard-to-find dates or metrics.  Think about how to make the resume easy for me to get the information I need to decide whether or not to call you. Don’t make it confusing or colorful because it’s distracting and I don’t have time to try to decipher confusing resumes.

What surprises you about the job seekers to whom you talk?

I am surprised at how many people contact me about jobs and when I tell them that I don’t have a position for them currently and don’t really have any ideas for them about job openings they have no other questions for me. They don’t ask me about the Austin marketplace which I know well. They don’t come prepared with questions other than “do you know of any job openings.”  I enjoy executives that have done their homework and come prepared with thoughtful questions.  It’s also really nice when they end the conversation with “is there anything I can do to help you?”

Liz says “Jeff may see more resumes than any other recruiter in Texas so his perspective on what a resume should say and how it should look is crucial information for job seekers.”

Thanks for sharing Liz and Jeff!

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Your Email Address Might Be The Reason You Aren’t Getting Interviews

September 22nd, 2014

Not sure if that title is a real sentence, but the message is REAL.

Last week on Facebook a friend of mine who has done a lot of hiring since I’ve known him made a snarky comment about people who use a hotmail email address when they apply for a job at his company.

It reminded me of my own snarky blog post from August of 2006 (JibberJobber was just a few months old at that time… this was eight years ago!) titled: jason@DontHireMe.com – does it matter?

In this eight-year-old blog post, I give my opinion (read: OPINION) about what your email provider says about you.  I talk about gmail, juno, aol, hotmail, mac, your employer, and your own private domain name.

1. What do you use?

2. What do you think?  Are people really judging others based on the email address – the part after the @ symbol – and perhaps discounting you as someone who is obviously behind-the-times?

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Substantiate Yourself (again)

September 16th, 2014

william_arruda_headshotOne of the most powerful concepts I’ve learned since I lost my job is that it’s more powerful to substantiate yourself (and your claims) than to just say what your claims are.

Show, not tell.

I wrote about this here: Substantiate Yourself

My first real job offer was after I started JibberJobber.  No interview, no application, just an OFFER.

Check out William Arruda’s blog post: Don’t Tell People Who You Are, Show Them What You Are About

I love this line:

“As you can imagine, I am now her biggest supporter.  She sits at the top of my list of coaches I recommend to my clients.”

This is so powerful.

What are you doing to back up your claims (said differently, how are you substantiating yourself)?

 

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Want a Job? Build Your Portfolio!

August 21st, 2014

In my email signature I have a link to the new Video Game Design and Entrepreneur class I’m starting in a couple of weeks.  It’s going to be awesome, and a lot of fun.  (by the way, the youngest student is 7, the oldest is in his 60s… it might be just the class for you, too)

Today I was on a call with a business associate who noticed the line in my signature.  Her son will be in college soon and is looking at graphic arts programs…. she asked for any advise I had on breaking into the video game world (not programming, but with graphics).  This is actually a great question, and we had a fun conversation.

The gist of the conversation was this: to get into that space, or any space, really, you should build a portfolio.

How powerful would it be to go to a potential employer and have the same credentials as the other people on the shortlist: a degree, a portfolio from school, etc., but also have a portfolio of video games that are on the market and available for download?  If you want to get into a video game design firm, and you have at least one game that you have designed, and people have downloaded it (and even rated it), isn’t that a great way to show your passion and skill level?

She mentioned that he didn’t want to do programming, his passion was in design.  I suggested that going through the course would give him an additional breadth that would help him break down walls with programmers.  I know a lot of programmers who don’t like working with graphics artists because of the way the two roles work.

Think about this with your own career and job search.   What have you done so that a company you are interested in can understand your skills and professional passion?

Artists have known this for years… having a portfolio is just the way it is.

Can accountants (who are in transition) have a portfolio?

How can you substantiate, or allow others to visualize, your skill set?  What do you got that is more impressive than a list of credentials?

(I think I know the answer for any profession, but what do you think?)

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LinkedIn Videos update: 4 new videos on writing “Posts” (aka, articles)

July 30th, 2014

I just sent the message below to members of my JibberJobber group on LinkedIn.  If you are not a member, click here to join.  (this is slightly edited for this blog post)

Today I finished creating and editing four new videos to help you understand the (fairly) new Posts feature in LinkedIn. This used to be the “influencer” privilege, which very few people had access to. I think everyone has the feature now, though…. hence the addition to the LinkedIn for Job Seekers streaming video series.These four videos are a part of the LinkedIn for Job Seekers Fourth Edition series… if you have any questions about LinkedIn, go to this page and see what the videos.  The new video clips are:

  • Posts: Introduction (and writing your first post)
  • Posts: Rich text and formatting to your articles
  • Posts: Two important tips to have better articles
  • Posts: Conclusion and wrap-up

If you have a request for additional videos for this series, let me know.

The series is priced at $50. To get access, first get a JibberJobber account, then go here, and you’ll be able to purchase the streaming version.

If you want $11 off, get the one year upgrade on JibberJobber (only $60), and then add the LinkedIn videos for only $39 more.

IF YOU ARE A COACH, work in outplacement, or at a career center, and you are licensing this series already, your clients should have access to them. (if you, or they, have problems, refer them to the Contact Us page, or to Liz)

If you want information on bulk purchasing, and you are a coach, resume writer, in outplacement, a recruiter, etc, please use the Contact form to ask for more information.

Thank you, and have a great day!

Jason Alba
CEO – www.JibberJobber.com
Author – I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???

Let us know if you have any questions!

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The Real Hidden Job Market Exists: Valerie Gonyea’s Experience

July 29th, 2014

Valerie Gonyea is one of my favorite people… she recently posted this on Facebook:

valerie_gonyea_headshotSo, lemme tell ya a little story about the hidden job market. It does, in fact, exist. You just have to believe…and not in that airy fairy kinda way…more like in the clap-your-hands kinda way. Because it does take action on your part…you do have to reach out and network and ask and offer in return, etc.I can’t get into why (it doesn’t really matter), but I have chosen to move on from one of my clients. But before I did that, I wanted to be able to make up for the loss of billable hours. I reached out to only and exactly TWO people in my network. One of them talked to the CEO of the company about me and…whaddya know…the CEO and the CFO had just started to come to the conclusion that they needed some help. Someone exactly like me…and not full time…maybe just 1-2 days per week…which just so happens to be exactly the amount of time I was going to give up.

A VERY cool company, run by VERY cool people…everything is setup as online as possible. I am thrilled!

So, if you’re looking to move on someday, make sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and a strong network infrastructure and then go WORK IT!

In the comment thread, she continued:

Oh, and another follow up to the story…instead of just following up with a normal thank you note, I followed up with a LinkedIn invitation thank you note…they both accepted…and it gave me the opportunity to bring them to my profile that had all of my recommendations on it :)

The hidden job market has been defined as job opportunities that exist but aren’t posted for the public to know about them.  In other words, once it’s online, or on a job board, it is not “hidden.” In this example, this opporunity came when “the CEO and the CFO had just started to come to the conclusion that they needed some help.”  Who knew about it?  NO ONE.  It was “hidden.”   No one could have known about it because the to CxOs had just started to come to the conclusion… this was far from being posted online, and far away from them going to a recruiter to find talent.

Valerie “tapped into the hidden job market” (which is what we all want to do) by, as she said, working it.  She reached out, and I’m sure she let the two people she reached out to know who she was (what kind of work she does) and what she was looking for.  She did it in a clear enough way that they could communicate that to their network… and it worked.

Will you talk to only and exactly two people?  Probably not… some people talk to two hundred plus people…. but talking is where it is at.  Valerie probably had NO competition in the decision-making phase… contrast that with the idea of being one of hundreds of resumes submitted online.

Think differently about where you spend your time.  This concept would have changed the way my job search went entirely.

 

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Finding a Personal Relationship Manager (You’ve Found It!)

June 23rd, 2014

I’ve had people say they looked on google for a personal relationship manager and JibberJobber didn’t come up… “why is that?” they ask.

Without going into the technicalities of how search works (Google owns the entire space, and makes changes at will that can (do) bring a company to their knees), let’s go into what it means to have a personal relationship manager.

In the olden days, the late 1900′s, someone figured out that salespeople could use a software system to help them manage and organize relationships with prospects and customers.  This system would help them stay focused on what they needed to do to close more deals (and make more money).  The system would allow them to search for their contacts, get reminders of when they needed to follow-up with them, etc.

A few weeks into my job search, in 2006, I realized that I, as a job seeker, needed a similar system.  I was applying to a lot of companies and it was really frustrating trying to keep track of that with a spreadsheet. I was finally starting to “network,” and meeting new people just added to the level of complexity.  A job seeker should be one of the busiest salespeople around… and they really need an industrial strength system to help them keep track of everything, especially when they need to (or have an opportunity to) follow-up.

This need eventually became JibberJobber, and for more than eight years, as we’ve continued to work on the system and learn about your needs, I’ve come to realize that JibberJobber is not a job search organizer.  It is much more than that.  It is a system to help you manage and organize any of your relationships.  I use JibberJobber to:

  • organize and manage my jobs (I do contract work, speaking, selling stuff, etc.), and I need to follow-up and keep track of where those opportunities are, as well as push reminders in front of me.  This is what a job seeker needs, and is exactly what a contractor/freelancer needs.
  • organize my personal stuff, like rotating the tires on the car, making house or car or credit card payments, keeping track of the garage door and appliance repairman numbers, dates of service, costs, and maintenance coming up.
  • keep track of personal relationships, including family and extended family, and things like birthdays, important dates to them, important conversations, etc.

I’m not keeping track of EVERYTHING in JibberJobber.  Very personal things are not getting logged (use a journal (book) for that)… mundane or normal conversations are not getting logged, unless there is an important follow-up date I need to be aware of.

JibberJobber starts as a job search organizer for a lot of people, but then becomes a tool to help them with their life management.

No, of course you don’t NEED something like this… but it sure helps take the stress off of trying to remember everything.

Not in a job search?  As long as you are alive, I bet you could benefit from a JibberJobber account.  It can easily be your own personal relationship manager!

 

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Keyword Tips For Resumes (cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, etc.)

June 13th, 2014

chris_russell_headshotChris Russell is a job seeker’s advocate. I met him before I started JibberJobber, and in a way, he introduced JibberJobber to the world (in a blog interview he did back in 2006).

He has a great LinkedIn article/post titled Keyword Tips for Every Job Posting.

His first and last tips are my favorite… are you optimizing your marketing material so it is seen by others?

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