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Steps for Developing a Career Plan


Below are excerpts from Damian Birkle's book, Career Bounce-Back! Please use the links below to jump to your section of interest:

Take stock in your skills, interests and outlook.

The most important document of your career

Where to go and how to get the research you need.

What is itand how can you and potential employers use them?

There's no magic in looking for a job

It all comes down to developing an effective plan for re-employment.  As you have already experienced, it is hard work.  Creating a plan requires taking an honest look at yourself and asking key questions about your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.  The following steps will guide you in the process of creating an effective job search plan.


Know Where You’ve Been

Take the first step toward building your future by looking back.  No work experience, regardless of how painful it may have been, was in vain.  Throughout your career you learned what you were capable of doing, what you enjoyed doing, and what you hated doing but needed to do to get the job done.  Now that you have a built-in distance from your last job, take a look at your past work experience through a different looking glass.  Here is a starter list of questions to ask yourself:

  • What did I like best; least about my last job?

  • What were my most important and satisfying accomplishments?

  • What did I like best; least about the company?

  • What did I like best; least about the people for whom I worked?

  • What were my most significant failures?

  • What kind of negative feedback did I receive?

  • What was missing from my last job that I want to seek in a new position?


Ask these same questions about other positions (including volunteer jobs) you’ve held.  By honestly answering questions similar to those above, you are taking the first step toward achieving personal awareness and professional success.


Compare Work Experiences

Compare yourself at different stages of your work experience:

  • In which job(s) were you happiest - why?

  • In which job(s) were you most successful - why?

  • What management style was the best/worst you ever had - why?

  • Has your career growth been stunted by any barriers?

  • If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?


Finding Your Transferable Skills

Transferrable skills are abilities you enjoy doing and do well. They are natural talents and core abilities (often learned from life’s experiences).  To pinpoint these skills it is important you list at least 20 enjoyable talents from all parts of your life: work (from your early career to the present), volunteering, hobbies, education years.  It doesn’t matter how old you were or what other people thought; nor does it matter if you got paid.  Events from childhood can be important because they took place when you were not trying to please a boss.  The more important value is how you felt when you completed the task and could easily see a tangible benefit.

Capture your accomplishments in writing.  Describe the situation in as much detail as possible.  Relative to your accomplishments, ask questions like:

  • What was the purpose or goal?

  • What did you do? (step-by step)

  • How long did it last?

  • What was the outcome?

Share your stories (of accomplishment) with a family member or friend.  Ask them if they remember when you did it; and invite them to share with you their impression of the incident.  They may be able to share valuable feedback and help you remember times when you did a similar task.

Rank the 20 by Importance and Reduce to 7

The Enjoyable Accomplishment Approach (or “Seven Stories Approach”) is used by many out-placement organizations.  Bernard Haldane is credited with creating the outplacement method of telling stories to learn about an individual.  He originally moved in 1946 to New York City to be a doctor only to be told his British medical credentials were not acceptable in the United States and he would have to start over.  Instead and in efforts to help returning WWII veterans find jobs, he discovered many did not know how to market their potential skills.  So Haldane asked veterans about what they did well and developed their reputations by writing synopses of their strengths; personalizing their sales pitch – thus calling the concept “dependable strengths”. 


Know Your Dependable Strengths

Understanding your core skills helps to validate our working lives and creates a sense of personal stability.  Knowing your strengths allows you to enhance an established career path or encourages you to explore a new avenue toward employment satisfaction.  Knowing your strengths gives you flexibility.

You will find you are less worried about mistakes made in the past; instead, you begin to look at them as learning opportunities.  There is a great down loadable excerpt from "Targeting the Job You Want" by Kate Wendleton (The Five O'Clock Club, Inc.®) which provides more detail on the “Seven Stories” exercise.


The bottom line? Determining your reliable skills is the first step in career planning. Identifying past successes, current strengths, and personal preferences is an enormous step toward rebuilding you and your self-presentation.


Finding the Professional You

It’s easy to lose confidence and your perspective when you’ve recently been terminated.  But losing a job doesn’t make you any less a person.  It simply presents a challenge to overcome.  Take the opportunity to further ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I typically react to extreme stress and pressure?

  • What has been the most difficult kind(s) of work problems I have had to handle?

  • How do I typically react when I am being criticized?

  • What are some of the rewards I expect from work?

  • What are my short range and long-term career objectives?

  • Have I ruled out any career alternatives I should now reconsider?

Other Transferable Skills – Leisure Time

If you’re like most people, you live for more than just work.  Many times the things you most enjoy doing and receive the greatest level of gratification from are non-work related.  Look to your leisure activities for transferable skills.  Perhaps you have instructed others, written, coached, collected, analyzed, programmed or managed.  The knowledge you’ve gained and the skills you’ve picked up while outside the work place might help to validate a different skill set required in a different career or add increased knowledge/value in an old one.


Outside the Box – Flight of Fancy

If you could indulge your hobbies and interests into a moneymaking venture, would you? Close your eyes for a few minutes and see yourself engaged in your dream job.  Alternatively you might imagine yourself doing what you like best or something you’ve done in the past that’s given you incredible satisfaction. Visualize (down to the smallest details) your environment, the people and objects around you, and what you’re doing.


Use all your senses - Hear the sounds, feel the textures, smell the aromas, and taste the tastes.  Imagine it’s happening now and take the time to fully experience it.  Then open your eyes, while holding the image, and consider:

  • What are the most appealing aspects of your fantasy?

  • What are the most realistic aspects?

  • What are the most absurd?

  • What goals would you have to achieve to make your fantasy come true?

  • What are the barriers to achieving those goals?

  • How can you overcome them?


Survey the Field

Even if you’ve worked in the same industry throughout your career, you don’t have to stay in it for the duration.  There’s no reason to feel stuck or to continue pursuing a career or future in a field you are no longer interested in.  Before you commit yourself to a job, do your homework – target industries where you would like to work; where you would be the “right fit”. Since you’re in the search mode, be more objective than you were in the past about what you want to do next.  Depending on your expertise and/or education, it might be a relatively simple transfer of skills and interests from one industry to another.


Ultimately you will gain a “reality check” in your field surveys and career direction by means of informational interviewing.  But before you discover the hidden job market through informational interviewing continue reading trade magazines, industry newsletters, and local and national business newspapers.  Attend trade shows and association meetings.  Assess the current state of your industry and the changes that are happening. Begin with the following questions:

  • How do industry experts rate the field’s health today?

  • What major changes are being predicted for the field?

  • What factors will help the industry during the next decade?

  • What are the biggest threats the industry will face in the decade ahead?

  • In what geographical areas will the field be the strongest?

  • What types of people and skills will be in the greatest demand?

  • What advantages and disadvantages to working in the field currently loom largest?


In addition, consider asking:

  • With the skills you have now, are you and the field still a good match?

  • Are there additional classes you must take to achieve longevity in the industry?

  • Over the long haul, would the industry be able to pay you enough to meet your financial needs?

  • Would you be able to stay close to home for the foreseeable future if you stayed in your field? If not, would you and your family be willing to relocate to the geographical areas where the industry is growing?

  • Are there other industries to which you could transfer your job skills and interests?

  • Would any of these be a better match for you?

Arm yourself with all the information you need to decide if a change of direction makes sense

for you.

Write a Plan

Writing a career plan creates personal direction and focus.  A written personal career plan is a tangible and measurable outcome and serves as a roadmap to job search success.  Now that you’ve given some thought to your career plans and conducted research into the economic realities, do the following exercise:

  • Write down ten industry and job description options and rank them from 1-10

  • Decide on the three best alternatives to your current course

  • Identify the action steps you’ll have to take to pursue them


Create a Career Summary

You’ve taken steps toward assessing your work and life experiences and contemplated where you would best fit in the workplace.  Now it’s time to design your career summary; to showcase you at your highest level of effectiveness.  A good script for developing a career summary begins by filling in the following:

  • Industry

  • Title

  • Areas of Experience (packed with key words relative to the industry)


Several samples are shown below:

  • “Finance Director with extensive experience in Financial Planning and Budgeting, Variance Analysis, Financial Reporting, Operational, Compliance and Financial Auditing.  An effective leader and communicator with strong business mindset, strengths include data analysis, process improvements, and customer relations.”

  •  “Senior Business Manager with progressive operational, customer service, accounting, finance and administrative experience.  A results oriented team player with proven leadership, management, process, negotiation and organizational skills combined with strong operational, analytical, financial, procedural and technical abilities.”

  •  “Versatile professional with extensive experience in manufacturing, product

development, and process improvement. Able to perform in a fast paced,

quality driven, team-based manufacturing environment. Proficient in delivering

cost effective solutions to meet customer needs.”

Remember - a career summary sets forth your “dependable strengths” and transferrable skills. These may change during the course of your job search; and for that reason, you may want to re-evaluate your career summary.


Your career summary will be the building foundation for your “30-second commercial”. The “30-second commercial” is an abbreviated, verbal delivery of the strengths and skills you have developed over the years to which you have become experienced and to which have become second nature to you.  This so-called “elevator speech” (because of its brevity) will become the first introduction you will have to telling friends, acquaintances, and potential employers what you can do for them. This term “elevator speech” comes from being able to delivery your summary, with confidence; between  the time the elevator door closes, travels between floors, and before the doors open again - you are done!

All Important Career Research

You have many research options available to help you find key information about particular industries, companies, decision makers, and job openings.  Although there are multiple research channels, there are only three types of research:

In-Person Networking

  • Conducting face to face networking through informational interviews

  • Attending professional association meetings

  • Job search support groups

  • College alumni get-togethers

  • Chambers of Commerce events

  • Job Fairs

  • Any other in-person event where you gather information about potential openings and target companies


Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons, tells job seekers “At least 70%, if not 80%, of jobs are not published; and yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80% of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”




This would include local resources including your closest unemployment office or any other community or church-based job search location.  Your local library is a great resource for access to the Internet, hard bound business journals directories, magazines, newspapers, and other specialized publications including:

  • Hoover’s Master List of Major US Corporations

  • Electronic databases, including EDGAR (which stands for, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval), help you with real time information on all companies, foreign and domestic, that are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms filed electronically through the EDGAR system for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (SEC).


  • Business Dateline provides the full text of major news and feature stories from 550 regional business publications from throughout the United States and Canada.



These and many other library resources are also available on line.  You may be able to access this information (and much more) on-site at the library through their public computers or directly through their password protected system from your computer.


Online Resources

  • Although it is tempting to sit home, day after day using only the Internet to find a job keep in mind that no more than 25% of all jobs are found using internet job boards, according to Right Management.  That’s also what CareerXroads’ annual Source of Hire survey found.


  • Be aware of the sheer number of websites - find your favorites and allocate your time accordingly. Although many of these sites are not research related, the sheer number of possibilities can be a major source of distraction while job searching.  Netcraft's March, 2012 website survey discovered 644,275,754 active websites.



Be sure to balance your time between networking and online job searching

Allocate your time based on the percentages of jobs found by each.  The Internet is one of the most potent tools for finding career opportunities and retrieving information on specific companies and industry trends.  Information can be obtained by:

  • Going directly to a company’s web site

  • Using search engines – Google, Yahoo

  • Job Aggregators -,

  • Social Networks - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace

  • Free Databases like (free database of technology companies

or (provides full-text articles).

  • The Book of Lists are available yearly from

  • Magazines - Each spring Fortune magazine publishes the Fortune 500 Directory of the largest industrial corporations and the top 1,000 companies. Magazines such as Inc., Business Week, Fast Company, and Forbes feature companies.

  • The Wall Street Journal (, and Wall Street Journal Index; and Barron’s (provides a yearly listing in alphabetical order of articles appearing in The Journal)

Trade/Professional Newsletter and Journals

Be sure to read your industry’s trade journals to identify key sources for jobs, contacts, and changes in your field.  Any change described could be a possible lead for you.  If someone is promoted or a new product is introduced, this information could prompt you to call with congratulations or to see a new need for your expertise and provide a reason to network, contact, and meet.


Company Blogs

Company blogs provide a voice for a company that educates and informs website visitors. Company blogs; Google blog are often supported by the company.  They tell potential employees about the company’s culture. There are also blogs written by employees and ex-employees. You can gain valuable insight into issues that the company may, or may not, want to share from company blogs.


Online Career Networking

Sites like LinkedIn, Monster, Bright Star, and a variety of other online career networking websites can help you get in touch with networkers at specific companies; with college affiliations; or with area companies in targeted geographic areas.  In addition, if you're a college graduate, your institute may have an alumni career network you can access.


Join a Discussion

Vault's company specific message boards will help you get the inside scoop on career fields and employers that interest you.  You will be able to research a specific job or the company hiring process about:blank.  For example, if you were looking at going into financial planning, you may be able to find a discussion on what you can expect to be paid as a financial advisor, what type of background check will be conducted if you're offered the job, along with a variety of other topics relevant to employment with the company.


Professional Associations

If you belong to a professional association, attend a meeting or check the website to see what networking opportunities are available.  If you aren’t a current member, consider joining a professional association in your field.  Research what information and/or services they can provide you before you join.


Read, Read, and Read

If you're interested in employment close to home, local business newspapers and the business section of your local newspaper are an ideal way to keep up-to-date on local happenings. Information on new companies and updates on local businesses are published on a regular basis as well as on their website.  If you're interested in a specific company, set up news alerts to send you news as soon as it becomes available.

It takes time to research a company or a job opportunity.  But if you don’t thoroughly do your research, you won’t have the critical information you needed to make good decisions. Finding the right job for you is an investment in your future.  There is nothing worse, or more time consuming than having to start all over again because the job didn't work out.

Personality Testing

The dictionary defines personality testing as “any of several tests consisting of standardized tasks designed to determine various aspects of the personality or the emotional status of the individual examined. Source:


A recent poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management recently showed over 23% of surveyed organizations used “online minimum qualification screening questionnaires - questions that may knock candidates out of the recruiting process.” 


Experts estimate that pre-hire testing of potential employees has grown as much as 20% annually and high turnover industries like retail, hospitality, and food service use these tests the most.  


What role do they play in the hiring process?

Employers do not like to make mistakes when hiring potential candidates.  In addition to your resume, work history, experience, education, and performance skills, personality testing continues to grow as a part of the hiring process.  Standardized personality tests allow employers to predict your cultural fit and potential success (as it applies to the job you applied for).  In many cases, you will find a mandatory personality test will need to be completed before your online application is accepted.

Is this legal?

Personality tests are legal, but the law is different in every state.  As long as the test meets professional standards, it can be a mandatory part of the application process.  In addition, there are no laws entitling the job seeker to view the results of the test. 

I discovered this first hand when I applied for a national department store chain. In addition to having six interviews in six hours, I was sent to a psychologist's office for personality testing and conversation.  I was astonished when I found out that results of this test were the property of the chain and that the results would not be shared with me.

Although you can always refuse to take a personality test, do so at your own risk.  You may never be told you didn't get the job because you did not take the test.  Keep in mind, however, your refusal could raise an automatic “flag” and become a barrier to moving forward within the company (if even hired).


What are the most common personality tests used by companies during the hiring process?

You are most likely to encounter one of the four most frequently used tests during the hiring process.  Many of these tests have been verified over the life of the personality instrument.


These tests include:

  • The 16 PF  (16 Personality Factor Questionnaire)

This test measures 16 normal – range personality traits identified by psychologist Raymond B. Cattell and others. Traits include: warmth, reasoning, emotional stability, social boldness, sensitivity, vigilance, openness to change, self-reliance, perfectionism, dominance, liveliness, rule consciousness, abstractedness, privacy, perfectionism, and tension.

  • The DISC Assessment (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness)

The inventory is based on four primary behavioral styles - each with a very distinct and predictable pattern of observable behavior. The understanding of DISC patterns are utilized in the hiring process and by those who are in workplace, leadership, management, sales, hiring, or employee development. All DISC assessments have been researched, developed, and validated by Inscape Publishing, with the Everything DISC assessment model being most recently updated June, 2012.


  • Caliper Profile Index

The Caliper Profile Index (CPI) measures an individual’s characteristics, potential, and motivation. This personality test measures twenty-three personality attributes which are analyzed in a variety of combinations to determine how someone will perform in a specific role. 


The CPI is scored over 18 scales which look at different aspects of the patient’s lifestyle and personality. These scales are grouped into the following classes: poise, ascendancy, self-assurance and interpersonal adequacy, socialization, responsibility, intrapersonal values and character, achievement potential, and intellectual efficiency, intellectual modes, and interest modes.



Are there other personality tests?

Yes. In some cases you may not find these utilized by companies during the hiring process, but they can help you figure out what type of personality you have and which industries are the greatest likelihood to match your natural personality strengths.  Another way to think about it is - it helps you understand how you are personally “hard wired.”  It offers potential matches to industries or positions you may never have considered before and could potentially thrive in given your personality type. 

Some of these personality tests include:

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Assessment is a questionnaire based on the theories of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung and developed by a mother/daughter team, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.  Developed using Jung’s theory “to enable individuals to grow through an understanding and appreciation of individual differences in healthy personality and to enhance harmony and productivity among diverse groups.”

The MBTI indicates how people perceive the world and make decisions. Many Fortune 500 companies have used the MBTI® instrument as part of their management development programs. The MBTI sorts personality preferences in the following ways:

  • Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I): differentiating people who direct their energy primarily outward toward other people and events from people who direct their energy

inward toward inner environment, thoughts, and experiences.

  • Sensing (S) and Intuition (N): differentiating people who take in information primarily through the five senses and immediate experience from people who take in information primarily through hunches and impressions and are more interested in future possibilities.

  • Thinking (T) and Feeling (F): differentiating people who make decisions primarily based on logic and objectivity from people who make decisions based on personal values and the effects their decisions will have on others. 

  • Judging (J) and Perceiving (P): differentiating people who prefer structure, plans, and achieving closure quickly from those who prefer flexibility, spontaneity, and keeping their options open.

  • The Strong Interest Inventory® (Strong) assessment measures career and leisure interests. It is based on the work of E. K. Strong Jr., who originally published his inventory on the measurement of interests in 1927.  The assessment is often used to aid people in making educational and career decisions.  The Strong assessment measures interests in four main categories of scales: General Occupational Themes (GOTs), Basic Interest Scales (BISs), Personal Style Scales (PSSs), and Occupational Scales (OSs)


  • The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation–Behavior™ (FIRO-B) was created in the late 1950s by William Schutz, PhD.  Schutz developed the FIRO-B theory to aid in the understanding and predicting of how high-performance military teams would work together.  The FIRO-B instrument measures behaviors driven by interactive needs in three areas—Inclusion, Control, and Affection—and addresses how such behaviors can affect one’s interactions with others (Hammer & Schnell, 2000).  The FIRO-B model is based on the theory that fulfillment of these interpersonal needs serves as motivation in people’s daily functioning.



I would also recommend you read:  Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, Revised and Updated Edition Featuring E-Careers for the 21st Century, written by Paul D Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger, available at book stores everywhere.


Are there ways to beat these types of personality tests?

There is no effective way to cheat on a personality test.  Remember, the reliability of these tests have been proven time and time again and there is sophisticated information embedded in the questions.  The best thing to do is be yourself.  Follow your instinct.  Respond to the question with the first answer that comes to mind.  It is important to be honest when you're taking these tests so that you don't end up in a job that you hate.  Inconsistent answers to similar questions that are posed several times during each test may also disqualify you from going any farther in the hiring process.


Be True to Yourself

Don't try to over analyze the questions being asked or try to anticipate the right answer. Providing real answers to the hypothetical situations posed on these tests is a true indication of how you respond to the real situation on the job.  Once you realize that you cannot beat the test, you can relax and answer the questions as they are posed.  Trying to interpret what they are looking for is almost always going to be wrong.  Your personality results will ring hollow and the inconsistencies will stick out like a sore thumb.

Although you really can't really study effectively for personality test, you can practice by using sample tests available online.  There is very little downside in taking sample tests. You may be able to find similar free versions of the test by searching online the term “free + the name of the report.

The Bottom Line

Currently, employers have thousands of candidates for positions they post.  There is little, if any, bargaining power when it comes to taking a personality test.  

My advice? Be yourself, relax, take the test, and if you do not get the position, it probably was not right for you in the first place. Stand tall, be proud, and move on to the next opportunity. 

Quickly test yourself to get an overview of where your personal values rank when looking for the right fit in a working environment.

Your Personal Marketing Plan

Your personal marketing plan is a two page strategy that summarizes your job search. The Personal Marketing Plan (PMP) you will create will provide an overview of your strategy detailing how you are going to market yourself in the job market. It is a flexible document to be adjusted over time reflecting the things you have learned throughout your job search.  Your PMP (sample here) will serve as a road map to reemployment. It is a document I recommend you read twice each day: once at the start and again at the end of your job search day. Your PMP provides focus and will help eliminate distractions; it will reinforce the key aspects and goals of your job search.


YOU Are a Person and a Product

To be competitive in the marketplace, recognize (in the eyes of employers) that you are both a person and a product with unique talents and abilities.  Every product, even the finest ones, won’t succeed without a strong marketing strategy.  Your personal marketing plan begins with an over-all, yet flexible, design; understanding your target audience in the marketplace; and focusing on types of employers who are looking for someone with your qualifications.  Ask yourself, “Are my target companies all within one industry or are there multiple industries that would hire employees with my skills and background?


In creating an effective personal marketing plan, key elements will include the following:

  • Bridge Statement

  • Career Summary

  • 30-Second Commercial – Quick, Informative, and Short

  • Personalized Stationery with Letterhead

  • Business Cards

  • Your Unique, Differential Advantages

  • Sources and Resources  - Available locate potential employers

  • List of Target Companies

  • LinkedIn Profile  - See: Social Networking


What is a Bridge Statement?

A bridge statement is a non-emotional statement of what happened when you lost your job.  This statement creates a "bridge" from job loss to where you are right now; leads into your current status right now; and then the direction you are heading next. Think of it as the answer to the question - "what really happened”?


You build a bridge statement around of the facts.  If you were let go, for whatever reason (personality conflict, new management, downsizing…), it is perfectly correct to use terms like “there was a reorganization and I was affected.”  Here are some examples of effective bridge statements:

  • “My new boss and I were like oil and water.  This has never happened to me before, and I hope it never happens again.”  You may not know it, but it is very common to have a personality conflict at least once in a career.

  •  “As you may have a read in the paper, my former company announced a downsizing of over 2,500 employees.  I was one of those affected by the company’s reorganization.”  Note that this statement talks in a believable, non-emotional way.  By sharing the fact that over 2,500 employees were affected by the downsizing, you reinforce that you were a part of an overall reorganization and did nothing wrong.  This also demonstrates that your job loss was not related in any way to your performance or ability to get things done.

  • "You may not be aware that the ABC Plant is closing. Senior Management made the decision to move all operations to Mexico.  Only 10 people are moving and the rest of us are looking for jobs.  It was a great position, the company was terrific, and we were all sad to see them leave."  A bridging statement like this demonstrates the realities of the economy. Sadly plant closings (because of mergers, consolidations, and outsourcing) demonstrate the fact that manufacturing is quickly becoming obsolete in America - a trend you have no control over.  Your bridge statement, however, presents the facts: you were part of a production plant closing.


Career Summary

Your Career Summary is a strategic series of sentences providing an overall view of who you are professionally.  It is a forward looking document which summarizes who you are, what you have accomplished, and where you are targeting yourself to go next.  Your summary should be packed with key words to ensure your resume gets read by another human being.  Think of it as a positioning statement – your career summary sets the platform for your job search campaign.


Developing a Career Summary

When I am working with a member at Professionals In Transition®, I recommend developing a career summary using the following format:

  • Title (insert a career title: Analyst, Sales Manager, Operations Professional, Chemical Engineer - whatever your position or career direction may be)

  • With extensive experience in:  _____________, _____________, ____________,

and _________________.

Sample: Extensive experiences in specific strategic marketing plans across multiple types of businesses including: Service, Retail, Financial, Real Estate, Restaurant, and Not-for-Profit; or Experienced in direct mail, web-based e-mail advertising, proofing, color correcting, retouching, printing, and development of corporate promotional materials.

  • FUNCTIONAL SKILLS - These are the things you did every day. 

Sample: Functional skills include customer database marketing, social media, newspaper, and trade advertising). Note: This is optional and may not be needed based on your job.

  • OTHER SKILLS in ___________, ___________, and __________.

Sample: Additional skills in problem solving and cost control; dedicated and dependable professional who motivates others and produces quality work on time or ahead of schedule.​


Sample: Methodical and adaptive worker with strong communication and organization skills, able to achieve project success in team or individual assignments.


What is a 30 Second Commercial?

As a subset of your Career Summary, your 30-Second Commercial (sample here) condenses your career information into the most important of the important. You can determine how much needs to be abridged by reading your Career Summary out load and timing yourself.  When you read it, slow down, because those who will hear your 30-second commercial will need a few seconds to process the information.

You don't want to overwhelm your audience with too much information. Instead you want them to remember you.  Make it easy by giving them a business card with your career summary restated and your contact information.

Personalized Stationery

Personal stationery is a copy and paste stroke that sets your contact information as your formal letterhead similar to that of your resume. Simply highlight the personal information from the top of your resume and copy it to a clean Word™ document. Paste this information at the top and format, centered on page. For eye attention, it is recommended your name be larger than your mailing address, telephone number, and email addresses – 14-16 pitch (Times Roman or Arial) - Bolded. Also recommended for quick identification, is to include your LinkedIn and email addresses in your stationery heading. By adding this extra touch, your written communications are business-like, consistent with your resume and present the professional image you have adopted in your job search.

Business Cards

The easiest and most cost effective way to creating a business card is by designing and buying them online. I have had great success making my own business cards at sites to consider include:,,, and many more.  All you need to do is a general search for business cards.  Each site offers easy to use business card templates. 

Be Cautious of "Free" Business Cards

Be sure to read the fine print carefully.  In many cases there is a hefty postage & handling fee as well as other fees to customize and consider.  However, it is still lower in cost (in most cases) than having them printed. 

Make Your Own Business Cards

You can also make your own business cards using Microsoft ord or ublisher; and printing them yourself. Available at any of the office supply stores, you can utilize templates and business card stock provided by Avery. Learn more at:


Understanding Your Unique Differential Advantage

Your unique differential advantage can be defined as those unique strategic benefits and experience that only you can provide.  Understanding and marketing your unique edge is the key to standing above the crowd and out from the crowd.  It strengthens and positions you in a competitive business environment.


Market your strengths by utilizing your exclusive abilities.  These skills allow you to create a unique platform based on your individual expertise.  Focusing your job search around your unique differential advantage allows you to eliminate 95% of the positions you do not qualify for thus allowing you to concentrate on the 5% of jobs that do require your unique set of skills or talents.


Concentrating on your unique skills will create momentum as you move forward in your job search.  It will reduce frustration, save time, energy, and will help to quickly eliminate dead ends.  By investing the time to figure out your differential advantage, you will save hours of time and reduce the over-all length of being out of work.


Target List - Companies

It is important to create a list of companies you want to target for job opportunities.  Once you have determined those companies which meet your search criteria, your goal is to get to the inside of those companies through your existing network or future networking contacts.  Your aim is to meet the hiring managers, NOT Human Resources.  There will be plenty of time to meet Human Resources.


This is opposite to what most job-seekers do.  Creating a target company list requires you to invest the time and have “pinpoint focus” on what types of organizations you most want to join.  Start with a wide selection of industry categories where your skills, experiences, and interests would be a good fit.  Examples would include manufacturing, sales, operations, or consumer products.  Gather as much material on your targeted companies as you can and start the process of networking your way in.  Your list should contain 35 to 50 company names segmented into distinct categories or industries.  The sooner you aim at specific employers the sooner you’ll get to meet decision makers at these firms.


As you make contact within your network of potential information sources, “jog the memory” of that person so he or she will give you names and contact information of people they know within your targeted companies.  This means you’ll have “warm referrals” in your targeted companies rather than having to rely on “cold calls.”



Resources to begin researching your target companies include:  

  • Friends, family, colleagues, neighbors who might know the “inside scoop” at some of your target companies

  • Networking to find current or past employees at your target companies

  • Hearing personally what the organization is like from the inside out

  • Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Great Places to Work in America


  • Local editions of  the Business Journal  See:

  • Business articles in your local daily newspaper’s business section

  • Social networking web sites that connect professionals and offer company information See: LinkedIn

  • Your local Chambers of Commerce and trade associations; or industry organizations where your target company may be a member

  • Websites and down-loadable annual reports of your target companies

  • Utilize Google to do a search on the company and its executives and see what kinds of articles and stories come-up

  • Databases that are fee-based (but may be free at local public library) include Hoover’s Master List of Major U.S. Corporations, Dun & Bradstreet’s Million Dollar Directory,,,, etc.


The mere fact you have invested the time to create a target company list demonstrates you are professional and organized. You’ve “done your homework.”  It also distinguishes you from other job-seekers because you have developed your personal marketing plan (PMP).

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