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Professional Bio Writing Service.

Having a meaningful and memorable professional bio used to be common among authors and motivational speakers, but today professional bios are a near requirement.

  • Social media bio section: Professionals often need a longer bio for sites like LinkedIn and a shorter version for Twitter.
  • Job search: Employers routinely look at job seekers’ online bios.
  • Marketing materials: Proposals and quotes to customers. Startup pitch decks. About Us page of your personal or company website or blog.
  • Public speaking, presenting and/or training.
  • Publications: white papers, books, e-books, reports, professional documents and guest blog posts.

This is a 104-word professional bio written for a Director in Deloitte's Human Capital Consulting Practice. What is great about this bio is that it gives the reader insight into the types of big picture issues the client addresses through her work (organizational culture and employee morale) rather than just highlighting what she 'does' (e.g. employee career pathing etc.). The reader also gets a little insight into where Brooks' strengths lie (being action-orientated and a great listener). Finally there's a nod to the future and Brooks' shifting role (away from human capital engagements and towards strategic ones).

As a consultant in the human capital space, Brooks Nelson built her career helping clients from a wide array of industries (from renewable energy to finance) to design employee compensation strategies, articulate organizational job architecture schemes, and map employee career paths. A common misconception is that human capital engagement are merely tactical ones. Brooks has helped clients see how organizational culture, morale and ultimately the bottom line are fundamentally shaped by the way they address (or ignore) human capital issues. Action-orientated, but, first and foremost, an attentive listener, Brooks is currently a Director at Deloitte where her focus is shifting to high-impact, strategic consulting engagements.

Here's a rough, 102-word draft that Brooks wrote herself before reaching out to resumestory.builders for help from a professional writer.

Brooks Nelson leads Deloitte’s efforts in the sales compensation practice and works with clients to help align their rewards programs with their human capital priorities and business strategy. She has extensive experience in the assessment, design and communication of total rewards programs for different employee segments and has lived in and worked across Asia, Australia and North America. She has led global consulting teams, industry-focused surveys and published articles in compensation. Brooks was also the regional head of compensation and benefits for a large technology company and managed compensation programs for 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region with a budget of ~US$250m.


A/B Testing. Fake Resume, Real Results.*

Overview.
Step 1. Define your A/B test.
Step 2. Rewrite your resume.
Step 3. Create resume variations.
Step 4. Interview & mine HR for info.
Step 5. Analyze your results.
Step 6. Make a move.


Overview.

Resume A/B Testing involves sending out a fake version of your resume to get answers to your most critical questions like, 'Should I go back to school in order to switch career paths?' or 'If I take this job will it pigeonhole me down the line?' or 'If I accept the promotion to product manager will that help me transition to management consulting in a few years?'.

Let's look at the third question: 'If I accept the promotion to product manager will that help me transition to management consulting in a few years?' You can A/B test for this by backdating your resume by 2-3 years, adding the product manager role and then applying to management consulting jobs. In this fake version of your resume it looks like you've already been working as a product manager for two years. Are consulting firms emailing you to set up interviews? or not? Whatever the case, you now have an empirically validated answer to your original question.

When you have eliminated all that is impossible, whatever remains must be the truth, no matter how improbable.

- Sherlock Holmes

The idea for resume A/B testing was inspired by the development process that app designers and online marketers use. Before launching a new app or investing in a full-scale ad campaign, several ideas are A/B tested to ensure that time and money is invested in the most successful iteration. If marketers use A/B testing to decide on, say, a campaign slogan, why not use the same technique to substantiate your own career decisions.


Step 1. Define your A/B test.

Meet Tom. Tom is tired of working in project management at Merck, a big pharmaceutical company. He wants to work at a tech company like Amazon. Tom sent his current resume to Amazon two months ago and never heard back. Now he's not sure if a) his resume is the problem or if b) he needs an MBA to make the transition to tech.

As Tom sees it, his current options are:

  1. Look for a new job now.  Tom wonders how marketable he is right now. What sorts of jobs can he get with his current story and resume vs. what jobs could he get if he put his best foot forward by rewriting his resume and polishing up his interviewing skills?
  2. Look for a new job now or put work on hold for two years while pursuing a full-time MBA. Get a job at Amazon post-MBA.
  3. Land a Senior Project Manager role at his current company (Merck). Tom has a strong network within the company and is pretty sure he'll get the job if he applies. Tom wonders if getting that job at Merck now wouldn't open up just as many career opportunities for him in three years time as an MBA would.

At this juncture, 99% of people would try to answer Tom's questions by reaching out to their coworkers, network and friends to ask them what they thought. People's thoughts are nice, but Tom wants hard evidence to support his decision.

Each one of Tom's questions can bet A/B tested. Here's how Tom would set each test up:

  • A/B Test #1 - A) Current Resume vs. B) Rewritten Resume
  • A/B  Test #2 - A) Rewritten Resume (best) or Current Resume vs. B) Fake Resume (In this resume, Tom just finished up his MBA from Harvard Business School. The resume is backdated by two years.)
  • A/B Test #3 - A) Rewritten Resume (best) or Current Resume vs. B) Fake Resume (In this resume, Tom lands the Senior Project Manager role at Merck and stays in the role for the next two years. The resume is backdated by two years.

Step 2. Rewrite your resume.

Ideally Tom should perform a quality control test on his resume by A/B testing his current resume against a rewritten, story-based version. In my experience, more than 90% of the time when people aren't getting the momentum they want from the job market, it's because their professional story is a mess (and so is their resume).  Before Tom starts A/B testing questions like 'Should I get an MBA' or 'Should I take the Senior Project Manager role?' Tom gets a story-based resume written.

Here's what Penelope Trunk writes about working with a professional resume writer:

It’s very hard to write your own resume because a resume is a macro view of your life, but you live your life at the micro level, obsessing about daily details that have no bearing on your resume. So I recommend to a lot of people that they hire someone to help them. After all, spending money on a resume writer is one of the few expenditures that will have good return right away.

But some of you will be able to do a decent job rewriting your resume on your own. The first thing you’ll have to do is make some mental shifts. You need to rethink the goals of a resume, and rethink the rules of a resume in order to approach the project like professional resume writer would.
- Penelope Trunk


Step 3. Create Resume Variations.

We're going to run A/B Test #2 - Look for a new job now or put work on hold for two years while pursuing a full-time MBA. Get a job at Amazon post-MBA. Tom decided to get his resume rewritten so resume R1 is a new and improved version of his original resume.

  • Resume Variation R1: Look for a new job now. Resume 1 is Tom's rewritten resume. In this scenario Tom looks for another project management job now - both in pharma and in tech. We're trying to get an idea of where Tom stands in the job market at present. We're particularly interested in how much response Tom get's from tech companies because initially he felt he needed an MBA to get traction with them.
  • Resume Variation R2: Complete a full-time, 2-year MBA program at Chicago Booth. In this scenario we modify Resume 1 so that it looks like Tom began his MBA program at Booth two years ago and is now back in the job market. Tom uses his R2 resume to apply for project management jobs in pharma and in tech. We're particularly interested in the impact a 2-year MBA will have on Tom's ability to land a job in tech.
Resume Variation R1
Resume Version R1

Tom's Real Resume

Resume Variation R2
Resume Version R2

MBA resume, backdated 2 years

Note: In resume R1 we're using Tom's real name and real contact info. If a great opportunity comes up, Tom might want to take it. In resume R2 we're using a fake name and fake contact info.

To ensure additional anonymity, you can modify your current and past employers or schools. If you do that, make sure you look for equivalent firms and schools. For example if you attended a state university...don't skew your results by replacing it with Yale or Harvard. Whatever changes you make, implement them consistently across all resume variations.

Alias: Choose a new name. Create a new gmail account. Get a new phone number. Try Google Voice (free) or a SkypeIn numbers (about $7/month in the U.S.). The cool thing is that you can pick whatever area code you want (646 for NYC, 415 for San Francisco etc.). That's very handy if you're A/B testing to see how marketable you are in a new location or if you're contemplating a move back to the U.S. or across country.

Ok now let's run A/B Test #3 - If Tom goes after a promotion to senior project manger at Merck would that give him an edge in applying to tech companies two years from now? Tom decided to get his resume rewritten so resume R1 is a new and improved version of his original resume.

  • Resume Variation R1: Look for a new job now. Resume 1 is Tom's rewritten resume. In this scenario Tom looks for another project management job now - both in pharma and in tech. We're trying to get an idea of where Tom stands in the job market at present. We're particularly interested in how much response Tom get's from tech companies because initially he felt he needed an MBA to get traction with them.
  • Resume Variation R3: Secure a promotion to senior project manager at Merck. Stay in the role for two years. Then apply to tech companies. As you can see, we've backdated the resume 2 years.
Resume Variation R1
Resume Version R1

Tom's Real Resume

Resume Variation R3
Resume Version R3

Promotion to senior project manager at Merck

Step 4. Interview & Mine HR for info.

Tip: When you do land a phone interview, you'll want to know which resume the recruiter has in front of him, so create a log in excel with your three resume variations and the roles you applied to.

People often ask, 'What if I get a phone interview for a fake resume?'. My answer, 'Take the call'.

In fact, I'd suggest moving through as much of the recruiting process as possible. For most people that will mean stopping short of meeting in person.  If you're lucky you'll be able to take a string of phone interviews from HR, the line manager and possibly team members.

Other reasons to take the interview:

  • Practice makes perfect. An interview now is always good practice for a better interview down the line.
  • Your ego will thank you. Receiving attention from recruiters is uplifting. A lot of the people who reach out to me are unhappy in their current role or company. Being unhappy brings you down and when you're down your ability to envision the future is hampered. It's a vicious circle. By interviewing you get to reach out and touch the future and suddenly the future becomes both real and realizable.

The interview is your opportunity to mine the recruiter for any information that will give you an advantage down the line when you're recruiting for a similar role using your real resume and name. In particular, find out about the salary range on offer as well as company culture. If you're on the fence about getting a MBA, Part-time MBA, EMBA, CFA or PMP ask the recruiter about the company's stance on these qualifications. Find out if the company frequently promotes high performing employees without such qualifications. If the recruiter says they prefer promoting internally, ask them for the name of one or two employees who've been promoted internally in a similar manner. It's easy for the recruiter to hand you whatever line is convenient for them. If they're being truthful, they'll be able to supply you with verifiable evidence.

Most people don't get enough practice interviewing and interviewing is a skill you develop, a muscle you build through repetition. Some people have virtually no interviewing skills at all because they've been promoted internally for a number of years. Get help perfecting your interviewing skills. You have options: a friend, a colleague, people from your university's career office or a professional career coach. Use the interviews as a way to put the feedback you received during mock interviews into practice in the same way that an actor uses rehearsals to perfect his delivery.

This is your opportunity to experiment in an environment where a job isn't really on the line. Be sure to close every interview with 'I really love this role because ___. Could you share any reservations you have about my fit/about hiring me for this role?' That's pretty ballsy right? Actually that's something that should already be part of your interviewing repertoire but I'd wager that 99% of you have never tried it. That's because it's scary. The interviewer might actually have hard reservations that you can't overcome (like needing a degree in statistics when you got yours in English literature). But you have nothing to lose. You need to risk hearing those reservations because it's better to be aware of them than to be ignorant of them. If the interviewer has soft reservations (like having some experience in project management but not as much as the company is looking for) then you need to counter those reservations one by one with pertinent and convincing stories. The recruiter will be impressed. So impressed that they're going to be really excited about getting you a call with the line-manager.

Maybe you're thinking, 'I feel bad about wasting HR people's time in fake interviews'. My answer, 'Don't'.

So you aren't going to accept a job offer from any of these companies at the moment. You're just window shopping. That's good for you because the pressure is off, but obviously it's a big waste of time for the recruiter. Luckily the recruiter doesn't know this. If it helps you feel better - recruiters constantly waste candidate's time. They regularly bring people in to interview to a) make themselves or their department look busy and b) keep an ongoing 'pipeline' of candidates. 'Pipeline' job postings are basically roles that don't have any openings at the moment. Recruiters need candidates at the ready in case someone quits. So they bring people in, interview them, keep them in the 'pipeline' for three months and then toss their resumes. 95% of the time a pipeline interview won't result in an actual job.


Step 5. Analyze Your Results.

This step is pretty self-evident. We ran two A/B tests. In Tom's case he wanted to find out if he should V1) Look for a new job now, V2) Quit working for two years and pursue a full-time MBA or V3) Take the Senior Project Manager role at Merck. All three of Tom's resumes resulted in phone interviews and he got a good sense of which path could most easily lead him to a role in Tech.

Here are Tom's results:

  • A/B Test #1 We tested Tom's original resume against his rewritten resume. The rewritten resume produced the best results. Several mid-size tech companies reached out to Tom for project manager roles. These roles could serve as a stepping stone on the path to a project manager role at a blue-chip tech company like Amazon. Tom asked the recruiters how their company would envisage his career path with or without an MBA. Some said that they prefer to promote people internally based on performance and didn't place particular importance on an MBA. Tom realizes that he could forego an MBA by taking one of the project manager roles and advancing organically.
  • A/B  Test #2 We tested Tom's rewritten resume against his fake 'take two years off work and get an MBA' resume. The MBA resume was well received and he was interviewed for a number of post-MBA roles at places like Amazon and Uber. Tom felt that the Harvard MBA certainly 'opened doors' for him - getting him in front of a number of recruiters from desirable companies. But he still had to work hard in interview to convince them that he was the right candidate. Tom learned an old lesson: a resume gets you an interview and how you perform in interview determines whether you get the job. Tom was happy with the outcome but the idea of foregoing two years of salary $140k and spending about $150k for the degree added up to $290k - a figured that weighed on his mind.
  • A/B Test #3 We tested Tom's rewritten resume against his fake 'stay at Merck and take a Sr. Project Manager role' resume. Tom found that the advantage of taking a senior PM role was offset by the fact that he was still working in the pharmaceutical industry. Recruiters followed up with Tom for roles in Biotech and Healthcare (which is an industry Tom wants to move out of). He did get some response from some tech startups - but Tom didn't feel the compensation packages they offered would be worth his while.

Step 6. Make a Move.

Tom leveraged his newly edited resume to go ahead and submit some MBA applications while actively looking for a new job. If the right role comes along before he get's admitted to an MBA program he plans to drop the idea of doing an MBA, invest the $150k in real estate and take the job.


Is an EMBA or Part-time MBA worth it?*

Overview.
Career advancement is a sales job.
Due diligence & planning.
Step 1. Define your short-term goal & pinpoint your next role.
Step 2. Verify that you need an MBA to secure your next role.
Step 3. Leverage your EMBA or Part-time MBA.
Step 4. Target EMBA programs.


Overview.

Is an EMBA or Part-time MBA worth my while? How can I leverage an MBA into tangible advancement in my career? In this article, I'm going to cover both of those questions in this article. Know that, while general advice applies to the 'average' situation, no individual case is 'average'. Each is unique. Reach out for a free consultation if you'd like to chat.

Before we get into my take on things, let's look at some advice that's typical of what you'll find online:

EMBA degrees can position you for a promotion, especially for careers in finance, marketing and accounting. And although a well-regarded and rigorous EMBA program will sharpen your skills and look good on your resume, it’s not a guarantee that new doors will open for you.  That’s a critically important factor to consider, because an EMBA isn’t cheap and employers reimburse for less than they once did.

If your goal is to switch careers—not just advance in your current career—you might be better off in a full-time MBA program rather than an EMBA program.  But if you’ve got several years experience in one career and want to move your career to the next level, an EMBA program is a better choice.
- Forbes

The first paragraph offers solid advice, although I would add that knowing that an EMBA can position you for a promotion doesn't really help you figure out if it will in your case. The second paragraph is misinformed. Forbes suggests that that people who are in their 30's or 40's should consider a traditional 2-year MBA - which makes no sense at all, as they'll have already aged out of such programs. Read my article Am I too old for a full-time, 2-year MBA?


Career advancement is a sales job.

Oftentimes when people begin seriously considering a part-time MBA or EMBA, it's because they've come to a crossroad in their career. While an MBA can help you move your career forward or make a reasonable career pivot, it won't magically transform your career on its own. An MBA can help your career when  you combine the degree with a) due diligence, b) planning and c) proactive career management.

While a two-year MBA offers people with 2-6 years of work experience the opportunity to completely pivot their career thanks to on-campus recruiting, part-time and EMBAs programs don't offer on-campus recruiting. That is the big difference and it's a difference that impacts job outcomes.

An MBA isn't going to compensate for the fact that advancing professionally is a sales job. Many people enroll in EMBA/Part-time MBA programs thinking that the school will provide the career guidance, coaching, resume rewriting and mock interview support necessary to effectuate change in their careers.

I am back to work full-time in largely the same role as pre-EMBA - but I am not the same. The program’s biggest fault was that it didn’t totally prepare me for this awkward transition with my employer. I think the degree is a catalyst for professional change, whether originally intended or not. I wish I’d known that earlier.

The problem here isn't with the EMBA program, it's with the candidate's expectations of the program and his failure to take an active role in managing his career. Just as your current career progression is entirely down to your ability to identify the right roles and successfully sell yourself into those positions - your post-MBA career progression post-MBA will still require the same effort.


Due diligence & planning.

While most people are interested in the MBA experience (both academic and social) their goal is usually to leverage the degree to translate their career goals into reality. For these people, an EMBA/Part-time MBA is an investment. Because it's an investment, a preliminary due diligence process is advised.

Unfortunately, many people gloss over the due diligence process. To me that's strange, because if those same people were to invest $100k+ in real estate they'd take an evidence-based approach - visiting the property, paying to have it inspected etc.

So let's walk through some steps you can take to ensure that your decision making is well-informed and clear-sighted.


Step 1. Define your short-term goal & pinpoint your next role.

Take some time to reflect on where would you like to see yourself one year, three years and six+ years from now? Are you looking for a career change or career advancement?

Advancement: I'd like to continue advancing on my current career path (typically that would mean staying with your current company or industry).

It will be a fairly easy to research advancement options by speaking with people (from your network, superiors/colleagues, HR) or by researching the career paths of other professionals in a similar role/industry using LinkedIn.

Change: I'd like to transition to a new functional role or I'd like to continue on in my functional role but transition to a new industry or I'd like to do both.

If your  transition is from one industry to another, I'd suggest looking for a similar functional role to the one you have now. If you'd like to transition from one functional area to another, I'd suggest staying in the same industry while looking for roles that meet the 60/40 criteria. 60% of the role should leverage on skills or strengths you have either demonstrated or can convince others you posses. The other 40% of the role can center on an area that interests you/that may be new to you. By pinpointing roles that meet the 60/40 criteria, you're effectively with the employer by bringing something to the bargaining table (the 60%) while gaining something in return.

Change is always possible, but, as we transition from being a novice in our early 20's to a more seasoned professional in our 30's and 40's, career change becomes a little tricky. It's often at the mid-career mark that professionals look to rekindle the enthusiasm they had for their work early on in their career. 

If you'd like to do some self-exploration, you should look into the CareerLeader Assessment. CareerLeader is an assessment that delivers personalized suggestions about roles and working environments that would best suit your interests and personality. It's used by all the major MBA programs and many fortune-500 companies.

Pinpoint Roles: Whichever category you fall in (Advancement or Change), you'll need to pinpoint specific roles. Simply saying, 'I'm a senior manager and I'd like to be a V.P.', is too vague. Instead, look for specific opportunities - current job postings online (LinkedIn and Indeed.com), within your company's intranet or through your network/the grapevine. More than once I've spoken with clients who formed a mental model of their ideal role and set about applying to grad school without first verifying that such a role actually existed.

Pay particular attention to what is written in the job description. Usually responsibilities towards the beginning of the job description indicate what you'll spend the majority of your time focused on. If online job description are available, I'd suggest saving postings into a Word document for reference. These will come in handy in the future - either for self-reflection purposes or as a point of reference if you decide to work with a career consultant or resume writer.

When pinpointing roles, be sure to focus on positions you'd be thrilled to have rather than limiting yourself to only those jobs you think you can get. 

Broaden Your Search: Casting a wide net is a good idea. So often, people limit the scope of their job search to job titles they're familiar with. If performing an online job search, using search terms other than the job title will help you find results that get you thinking outside the box.

Recently I spoke with someone in private wealth management who said he'd either like to find a new career path. He thought he could either leverage his knowledge of investment vehicles OR go into management consulting. Why? Because, as it turned out, he'd had a positive experience collaborating with outside consultants at his current employer. While those were two reasonable options, I suggested he widen his search to include some of the experiences and intrinsic qualities he had (but hadn't given much thought to).

He had extensive experience in private wealth management which translated into more general skills like: sales and good interpersonal communication. In addition he'd worked as a special assistant to a high-ranking person in his organization. In that role he had managed teams, managed special projects, overseen internal issue management and been in charge of hiring and evaluating employees. In addition he was bilingual in English and Japanese.

I'd suggest creating a table similar to the one you see below.

  • Skills & Strengths: skills (e.g. sales) and intrinsic strengths (e.g. strong communication skills)
  • Keywords: terms that describe the type of environment you'd like to find yourself in (entrepreneurial, collaborative, fast-paced, international, close-knit etc.) or what you'd like to do in that environment (strategy, customer relationship management, outreach etc.)
  • Limiting Factors: criteria that will help you narrow your results - for example, the role must be in the L.A. area and pay more than $100k

Search examples: 'sales + strategic' or 'project management + collaborative' or 'investment vehicle + Japanese + international'

LinkedIn: Once you've pinpointed some roles, use LinkedIn to find people in similar roles to the one you'd like to transition to. Every LinkedIn profile tells a career trajectory story. You can glean insights by examining what others have done. You might even consider reaching out to someone whose profile is of particular interest. Ask for 15 minutes of their time to learn more about what they do and how they they've managed their career. Not everyone will agree to chat with you, but some people will. LinkedIn's search filters are quite useful - allowing you to refine results by a number of variables (industry, current/past company, schools, location etc.).

Shortlist: Consider the roles you've found and shortlist those that most appeal to you. 


Step 2. Verify that you need an MBA to secure your next role.

Now that you've got a shortlist of roles in hand you'll want to verify whether or not you need an MBA to secure your next role. You can do this by a) making a genuine effort to land a role on your shortlist now (without an MBA) and/or b) speaking with people to understand whether an MBA would make you a much more desirable candidate for the roles on your shortlist.

'I applied for the role at a few places and didn't hear back. I need an MBA.' Generally speaking, when a candidate doesn't hear back from a recruiter it's not because their profile is fundamentally lacking in something (like an MBA). Rather, it's because their resume is not conveying the right stories. These people have a marketing problem that they think an MBA will solve. That's just not true. When this person graduates from an EMBA program he'll have two things: a new MBA AND his old marketing problem.

If you'll be applying for roles as part of your due diligence process, you may want have your current resume reviewed, updated or rewritten. This will allow you to put your best foot forward and obtain accurate results from the job market. If you decide to move forward with EMBA/Part-time MBA applications - a fresh resume will be an asset for the application process.

Apply: Apply for the role(s) you shortlisted in Step 2. There are a couple of ways to go about this.

  • Apply to roles you'd genuinely consider accepting
  • Using the A/B Testing Method to send out A) resumes with an MBA and B) resumes without one. If you only get responses to the MBA resume - that supports the hypothesis that an MBA may be a critical next step. If neither resume generates interest you either need a better resume or you need to question whether the roles you're applying to are too much of a reach at this juncture.

Recruiters: Reach out to executive recruiters and headhunters. Share your resume with them as well as your short-term goals. These professionals will be able to provide you with industry-specific feedback. In addition, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. When recruiters reach out to you, be sure to follow up. Put forward the fact that you're considering an EMBA/Part-time MBA to get their perspective.

HR: Reach out to HR and decision makers within your current organization. Ask them about the possibility of transitioning to a new role now or in the future. Mention that you're considering an MBA and find out whether the degree would bolster your candidacy.

Resume Builders: Work isn't just what you get paid to do. You can diversify the professional experience section of your resume by offering to lend a hand (pro bono) to nonprofits and startups. Additionally you can network within your current company and volunteer to work on special projects that you wouldn't otherwise have a chance to be involved in.

Step 3. Leverage your EMBA or part-time MBA.

If the results of the due diligence process point to the fact that a part-time MBA or EMBA is a good option for you, you'll want to have a 5-year career plan in place before you begin applying to programs. I recommend that you not wait until you complete your MBA degree before beginning to leverage it. The moment you're accepted into a program, you can add the MBA to your resume. Rather than making one big career leap after you finish an MBA, look to make two smaller leaps: one at the beginning of your MBA program and another 2-3 years later.

Your 5-year career plan should detail the next two roles you plan to go after (one in the next year and another 2-3 years from now). This plan will help you better direct your networking efforts while at school. In addition, it will help you convey a broad vision for your career to HR people and line managers during interviews. This is extremely important because line managers often form an idea of whether or not a candidate has potential for advancement during preliminary meetings. Voicing your interest/intention to advance along a specific path sets expectations early on.


Step 4. Target EMBA programs.

In my experience, people don't differentiate between EMBA and part-time MBA programs - both appear as 'MBA' on your resume and both formats will provide the same amount of professional leverage. Choosing the right format boils down to a) how much exposure a candidate has had to management/high level decision making and b) personal preferences (part-time programs require you to attend class on a weekly basis; EMBA programs usually meet twice monthly).

People in different industries tend to have different ideas about which business schools are 'best'. For example, an EMBA from Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan or Cornell Johnson might be a better fit for someone from the IT industry because of the strong engineering departments at these three schools. For someone in banking, schools like Wharton, Kellogg or Booth might be preferable. Ask around (in your industry or target industry) or use the A/B testing method to experiment with different business schools on your resume can be useful.

If you'd like to discuss potentially undertaking an MBA or EMBA, feel free to reach out for a free consultation at fxMBAconsulting.com

I offer MBA and EMBA admissions consulting services through my other website, fxMBAconsulting.com Feel free to reach out for a free consultation to discuss your case and career needs.


Always Be Closing. The job interview.*

Overview.
The close. Part 1.
The close. Part 2.
The close. Part 3.
Summary.


Overview.

What's more reviled than wet socks, bad wifi or Mondays - it's going for the close in a job interview. By going for the close I mean actually asking for the job. Most people are reluctant to do that or, worse yet, have never even considered doing that. The problem is that if you don't say that you want the job, your chances of getting the offer drop by between 20% and 100%.

That's because nobody likes to be rejected. Job seekers don't want to be rejected so they avoid asking for the job and instead settle for expressing indirect interest in it. Hiring managers don't like rejection either, so they try to make offers only to those candidates who are most likely to accept. So the hiring manager might make an offer to the second-best candidate and 'waitlist' her favorite candidate if she thinks the best candidate is likely to take a better offer from another company.

The questions isn't should you ask for the job (you must ask for the job), but how to ask for the job in a way that makes you feel comfortable and not 'pushy'. Most people don't get enough practice interviewing, let alone closing. That's bad because interviewing is a skill you develop, a muscle you build through repetition. The people who are least likely to have good interviewing skills are usually (and ironically) the A-list employees - the ones who've been retained by their employer and promoted internally for a number of years. Some of them have only interviewed once - during their senior year of college. Whether you need help perfecting your interviewing skills or working on the close - get help from a friend, a colleague, people from your university's career office or a professional career coach. Leverage the feedback you receive during mock interviews to revise your answers the same way that an actor uses rehearsals to perfect his delivery.

Now let's fast forward to the close. Every interview winds down the same way. After asking you a lot of questions the interviewer says, 'So, do you have any questions for me?'.

'No' or 'No, I did but I think we covered all my questions during the interview' indicate that you aren't interested, you just want to get this interview over with. You're interested in the job so, you ask a couple of questions. Then the interviewer says, 'Any more questions?'. And here you come to a fork in the road. Which direction you go in will influence whether the interviewer puts you on her candidate waitlist or offers you the job.

'Well, I'm just wondering what the next steps in the interview process are and what the timing looks like.' This type of close leaves the hiring manager wondering if you have other interviews lined up or are possibly waiting to hear back from a final-round interview at another company. Of course the hiring manger knows you're interested in the job (or you wouldn't have shown up to the interview) but they doubt this job would be your first choice.

The close. Part 1.

'First of all, thanks for taking the time to discuss my two questions. I don't have any more for now, but I want to say that prior to meeting with you, I was already very interested in this role and in Amazon's logistics group. Now that we've spoken I'm convinced this role would be a great fit and working with your team would be a great opportunity to _____________. I'd really like to have this job and would definitely accept an offer if one were extended.' Just by saying that, you bumped up your chances. But you can do even better.

The close. Part 2.

You can further improve your close by giving the hiring manager one or two reasons why you think the role, environment or organizational mission are a good fit.

'I know that my strongest interests are A and B (and then relate that to the role, environment or mission). OR I know that I'm most motivated by C and D (and then relate that to the role, environment or mission). I gravitate towards a organizational cultures which are E and F (and then relate that to the team or organizational environment at the company in question).

This is an aside, but one reason I like the CareerLeader professional interest assessment is that it gives candidates a lot of material they can use in interview. It is especially handy in tackling the above script. The assessment covers:

  • interests (like influencing others, creative production, coaching and mentoring)
  • motivators (like recognition, autonomy, altruism)
  • skills (like teamwork, ability to teach, comfort with differences)
  • culture (what type of organizational culture to look for and what to avoid)

The Close. Part 3.

Here's what you're going to say. 'I was hoping you could you share the reservations you have about my fit with this role or about hiring me for this role?' That's pretty ballsy right? That's because it's scary. And it's scary because it invites rejection (and we're back to the beginning of this article).

The truth is that the interviewer might actually have hard reservations that you can't overcome (like needing a degree in statistics when you got yours in English literature). But you have nothing to lose. You need to risk hearing those reservations because it's better to be aware of them than to be ignorant of them. If the interviewer has soft reservations (like the fact that you don't have as much experience in project management as the company is looking for) then you need to counter that reservation (and any others) with pertinent and convincing stories. (This is where having gone through the experience of having a story-based resume written for you or doing behavioral mock interviews comes in super handy). If you do this, the hiring manager will be impressed. So impressed that they're going to be really excited about getting you a meeting with the next decision maker in the hiring process.

Notice that you asked the hiring manger to share the reservations she has rather than if she has any reservations. You don't want to leave the door open for the hiring manager to clam up on you by turning this into a yes or no question: 'Oh I can't think of anything'. You want to force the hiring manager to share at least one reservation - even if it's a small one. Why? Because in doing so, the hiring manager won't be able to stew over her reservations later on (when you won't be there to speak up for yourself obviously). Cognitive dissonance will come into play. If later on, the hiring manager has reservations that she failed to share with you when asked, she'll blame herself for not asking, rather than blaming you for possessing those shortcomings.

Summary.

Let's review what you've accomplished during your close. You said that you want the job and in doing so, assured the hiring manager that an offer to me will not be wasted. You explained why you want it--and you backed up your assertion by connecting self-knowledge to the role, environment or mission of the company. You asked the hiring manager to share her reservations with you - giving you a wonderful opportunity to counter those reservations through storytelling.


How to find a new job or career path.*

Overview.
Step 1. Define your goal.
Step 2. Pinpoint Roles.
Step 3. Broaden your search.


Overview.

Having a great career is a sales job. By that I mean that your career progression is entirely down to your ability to identify the right roles and successfully sell yourself into those positions. Even though you might be focused on landing your next role, consider developing a 5-year career plan now. That will help you frame your next move (job #1) and the one after that (job #2) within a long-term story line. In particular, if you’re looking to change career paths, you may need to spread that change out over the course of two moves rather than one.


Step 1. Define your goal.

Take some time to reflect on where would you like to see yourself one year, three years and six+ years from now? Are you looking for a career change or career advancement?

Advancement: I'd like to continue advancing on my current career path (typically that would mean staying with your current company or industry).

It will be a fairly easy to research advancement options by speaking with people (from your network, superiors/colleagues, HR) or by researching the career paths of other professionals in a similar role/industry using LinkedIn.

Change: I'd like to transition to a new functional role or I'd like to continue on in my functional role but transition to a new industry or I'd like to do both.

If your  transition is from one industry to another, I'd suggest looking for a similar functional role to the one you have now. If you'd like to transition from one functional area to another, I'd suggest staying in the same industry while looking for roles that meet the 60/40 criteria. 60% of the role should leverage on skills or strengths you have either demonstrated or can convince others you posses. The other 40% of the role can center on an area that interests you/that may be new to you. By pinpointing roles that meet the 60/40 criteria, you're effectively with the employer by bringing something to the bargaining table (the 60%) while gaining something in return.


Stay in current industry
Stay in current role
Stay on current career path
Most likely, you're familiar with the next role/promotion on your current career path (job #1) as well as the role after that (job #2).

Make sure that you are packaging your story (in your resume and during interview) with a view to landing job #2 (not job #1). Hiring managers often ask themselves the following question during the initial interview: 'What sort of potential does this person have?' You want the answer to be 'Job #2 and beyond'. People often make the mistake of thinking that hiring managers will continually evaluate their potential for job #2 AFTER they're hired and employed in job #1 - false.

You're never a prophet in your own country. In other words, people in your current place of employment are already taking you for granted. Consider changing organizations to benefit from a more substantial salary increase.
Transition to a new role
Switch career paths
Look for roles that meet the 60/40 criteria.

60% of the role should leverage on skills or inherent strengths you can convince others you have. (hint: the 60% isn't just about hard skills but also about who you are).

40% of the role can center on responsibilities/skills that you're very interested in. By pinpointing roles that meet the 60/40 criteria, you're bringing something to the bargaining table: offering the employer something she needs (the 60%) and also gaining exposure to something new to you (the 40%).

Connect the dots: Your cover letter will be important in this scenario because it provides a narrative explaining how your past experience and enthusiasm for the role make you someone the line manager will want to chat with.

Other suggestions: Look for professional meetups, events or conferences related to the role/functional area you'd like to transition to (marketing? IT? Business Development? Sales?). This will help you grow your network and familiarize yourself with new trends. Get in touch with a startup and offer to help them with something in exchange for the exposure (great resume builder). See if a nonprofit needs help in the functional area/role you'd like to transition to - offer your services pro bono.

Change industry
Stay in current role
Stay on current career path
Depending on your functional role, changing industries can be relatively easy (example: Accountants) or a little more challenging (example: Marketing professionals). Regardless, changing industry is all about selling your story to an employer. Demonstrating passion and broad (or deep) knowledge of the industry is a must. Having even the slightest bit of exposure to the industry can also give you a leg up on the competition.

Demonstrate passion and knowledge: Having a great cover letter will help a lot. If it's well written and insightful it will prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are a smart person who has already conquered a portion of the learning curve.

Other suggestions: Start a blog or publish thought leadership articles on LinkedIn. Attend industry events and conferences. Get in touch with a startup and offer to help them with something in exchange for the exposure (great resume builder).
Transition to a new role
Switch career paths
This is usually a two-step process. You need to choose between one of the following scenarios.

Scenario A
Step #1: Stay in your current role and switch industries
Step #2: Transition to a new role in your new industry

Scenario B
Step #1: Transition to a new role in your current industry
Step #2: Stay in your new role and switch industries

Switching roles first (Scenario B) is usually preferable because the younger you are, the easier it is.

Finally, it is possible to switch roles and industries at the same time. You'll just need to go the extra mile in packaging your story (in your resume and during interview).

Change is always possible, but, as we transition from being a novice in our early 20's to a more seasoned professional in our 30's and 40's, career change becomes a little tricky. It's often at the mid-career mark that professionals look to rekindle the enthusiasm they had for their work early on in their career. 

If you'd like to do some self-exploration, you should look into the CareerLeader Assessment. CareerLeader is an assessment that delivers personalized suggestions about roles and working environments that would best suit your interests and personality. It's used by all the major MBA programs and many fortune-500 companies.

Step 2. Pinpoint Roles.

Pinpoint Roles: Whichever category you fall in (Advancement or Change), you'll need to pinpoint specific roles. Simply saying, 'I'm a senior manager and I'd like to be a V.P.', is too vague. Instead, look for specific opportunities - current job postings online (LinkedIn and Indeed.com), within your company's intranet or through your network/the grapevine. More than once I've spoken with clients who formed a mental model of their ideal role and set about applying to grad school without first verifying that such a role actually existed.

Pay particular attention to what is written in the job description. Usually responsibilities towards the beginning of the job description indicate what you'll spend the majority of your time focused on. If online job description are available, I'd suggest saving postings into a Word document for reference. These will come in handy in the future - either for self-reflection purposes or as a point of reference if you decide to work with a career consultant or resume writer.

When pinpointing roles, be sure to focus on positions you'd be thrilled to have rather than limiting yourself to only those jobs you think you can get. 


Step 3. Broaden your search.

Broaden Your Search: Casting a wide net is a good idea. So often, people limit the scope of their job search to job titles they're familiar with. If performing an online job search, using search terms other than the job title will help you find results that get you thinking outside the box.

Recently I spoke with someone in private wealth management who said he'd either like to find a new career path. He thought he could either leverage his knowledge of investment vehicles OR go into management consulting. Why? Because, as it turned out, he'd had a positive experience collaborating with outside consultants at his current employer. While those were two reasonable options, I suggested he widen his search to include some of the experiences and intrinsic qualities he had (but hadn't given much thought to).

He had extensive experience in private wealth management which translated into more general skills like: sales and good interpersonal communication. In addition he'd worked as a special assistant to a high-ranking person in his organization. In that role he had managed teams, managed special projects, overseen internal issue management and been in charge of hiring and evaluating employees. In addition he was bilingual in English and Japanese.

I'd suggest creating a table similar to the one you see below.

  • Skills & Strengths: skills (e.g. sales) and intrinsic strengths (e.g. strong communication skills)
  • Keywords: terms that describe the type of environment you'd like to find yourself in (entrepreneurial, collaborative, fast-paced, international, close-knit etc.) or what you'd like to do in that environment (strategy, customer relationship management, outreach etc.)
  • Limiting Factors: criteria that will help you narrow your results - for example, the role must be in the L.A. area and pay more than $100k

Search examples: 'sales + strategic' or 'project management + collaborative' or 'investment vehicle + Japanese + international'

LinkedIn: Once you've pinpointed some roles, use LinkedIn to find people in similar roles to the one you'd like to transition to. Every LinkedIn profile tells a career trajectory story. You can glean insights by examining what others have done. You might even consider reaching out to someone whose profile is of particular interest. Ask for 15 minutes of their time to learn more about what they do and how they they've managed their career. Not everyone will agree to chat with you, but some people will. LinkedIn's search filters are quite useful - allowing you to refine results by a number of variables (industry, current/past company, schools, location etc.).

Shortlist: Consider the roles you've found and shortlist those that most appeal to you.