Like your resume, you should update your reference list more frequently than only when you are actively looking for a job. The last thing you want is a reference to make this face and act confused when a potential employer calls them. The killer combination is to have references that 1) can vouch for how talented and capable you are in a work setting, 2) feel like they are important to you beyond being on your reference list. It’s not very tough to maintain this level of enthusiasm from your reference list if you follow these tips for maintaining your relationships.
If you follow these six steps, you will always have a reference list that feels connected to you, is relevant to your current endeavors and is eager to tell potential employers how amazing you are.
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Are you thinking about updating your resume or submitting it as part of an application for a job opportunity of interest to you? Make sure you ask yourself these 10 questions and adjust accordingly before you share your resume. If you are unsure about your ability to measure the quality of your resume, reach out to someone with experience in reviewing resumes (like me!) that will give you honest feedback and concrete suggestions for improvement.
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The Closing Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games are over, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to pen the closing post to this Olympics Blogging Blitz I started nearly three weeks ago. It was a great exercise to post something daily, incorporating the drama of the Olympics into fresh material that translated into professional development lessons, but it was very challenging to post daily, and I'm very happy to go back to two or three new posts per week.
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Be a positive contribution to the story of your profession. When each athlete qualified for the Olympic Games, he or she was invited to contribute to the legacy of the Games and their sport. Some contributed positively through breaking world records, winning a medal, becoming the stories that capture our hearts and simply playing by the rules and giving the competition everything they could. Others contributed negatively through connections to doping, poor sportsmanship or straight up debauchery.
When we enter a profession, we too are accepting to be a part of that profession's legacy, and we have a responsibility to contribute to the story positively with strong work ethic and values. Some of us rise to the occasion and make the profession better because of our small contributions (or big splashes!) that reinforce the integrity of the profession. Others take away from the integrity of the profession through poor customer service, questionable ethics or blatant criminal behavior. We must remember this burden and do our best to make the profession stronger because of our hard work and good ethics.
How will you contribute to the story of your profession?
Photo by Andrew Evans
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Aim to surpass a goal, not just meet it.
The USA women's relay team are some of the latest athletes to break a world record at these Olympic Games. None of these athletes talked about hopes to "come close" to an existing world record or tying a world record. They came with the ambition to break a world record, and many have succeeded. That's got to be an amazing feeling.
I encourage you to take any metrics or goals you are expected to meet at work, and instead of planning to meet the goal or come close to the goal, aim to surpass it. You won't do it every time, but it will feel great when you do, and you will begin to establish yourself as someone who not only meets goals but goes beyond them. That's the type of person that companies want in their ranks.
Records are made to be broken. Goals are made to be surpassed. Are you in? What's a goal/target expected of you at work that you can take to the next level by aiming even higher?
Photo by Dan Mumford
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Don't let a hurdle define you; let how you handle the hurdle define you.
17 posts into this Olympics Blog Blitz, and it finally comes to me to use the hurdle analogy. Better late than never! The thought was inspired the story of Olympian Lashinda Demus from the USA who earned a silver in 400m Hurdles, only a half-stride behind the winner. From Demus' perspective, her hurdle is failing to win the gold this Olympics, but she's not letting it define her. Her goal is to come back in 2016 and try again, and that goal is what defines her in this moment.
Belgian Olympian Gijs Van Hoecke has a different hurdle to overcome. He was photographed 101 sheets to the wind outside a London bar and removed from the Games by officials. He now has to decide if the hurdle is going to define him or if how he handles it will define him.
We all have a few hurdles in our professional lives. Perhaps we've fallen short with a professional goal or said/done something incredibly stupid in a moment of lapsed judgement. Don't let it define you. Show your peers, your employer, your community and anyone else who's watching that you know how to handle hurdles with determination, good judgement and humility. You can choose to handle the hurdle in a way that reinforces the hurdle or shows that you've cleared the hurdle. It's up to you.
Photo by botosynthetic
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Sometimes the ultimate payoff comes after years and years of hard work, but it will be worth it!
Allyson Felix won the silver medal in women's 200m in 2008 and 2004, and at last, she won the gold in the event yesterday. In 2004, she was happy to make it to the podium, but in 2008, there was definitely disappointment when she didn't grab the gold. And now, four years later, she did it! Can you imagine how great that feels?
Eight years is a long time to wait for that sort of victory, and Felix waited even longer if you include her pre-Olympics career. As professionals, many of us also have goals that will take a long time and lots of hard work to achieve. Very few of us graduate from college one day and are CEO of a Fortune-500 firm the next. Many of our goals require years of experience and life-long learning opportunities to prepare us for the responsibilities associated with our ultimate career goals. It may take a long time to get to where you want to be, but remember that when you are finally there (and you will be there if you work hard!), the feelings of accomplishment will be worth the wait. Just ask Felix.
What career goals do you have that will take a long time to achieve?
Photo by Charlott_L
Today’s Olympic Nugget: World-class athletes are so amazing because they possess the discipline to train extremely hard.
We've all heard about the different training schedules for many athletes in the Olympics, and if their performances don't tell you how hard they work, their muscles and body definition definitely do! It takes extreme discipline to get to the level they have achieved. I don't doubt many of them grumble about getting up early, doing one more workout, or saying no to friends that want to go out late.
Luckily for most of us, the discipline required to advance our careers doesn't have to take over our lives like training does for most world-class athletes. However, we could learn a thing or two from their discipline. Having a plan to follow helps measure progress and brings a sense of accomplishment. Also, the discipline to make professional development a priority isn't always fun, but it will pay off in the long run.
A simple plan to address one area of professional development a day with a short task/exercise is a great way to introduce discipline into your career development. Discipline will ensure you see results and feel good about the progress you are making!
How does discipline factor into your professional development?
Photo by chrisjohnbeckett
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Be aware of the skills, talents, and strengths of your peers.
World-class athletes spend time being the best they can be through training and competition, but they also must spend time learning about their competition and their strengths and strategies. It's important to know what one is up against to inform training, strategy and performance.
In the workplace, this is no different. It is very important to know the strengths of your peers and what they have or are working on to be the best professional they can be. This isn't so you can "beat" them necessarily, but it helps to measure yourself against others with similar goals and aspirations to see if you are on track or if you need to adjust your goals to make sure you are focusing on what is relevant in your field. Perhaps a peer is working on a certification you haven't considered or is spending a lot of time networking with a certain group. It doesn't mean those actions are best for you, but the information should help inform your choices and planning.
Photo by syromania
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Know when it's not meant to be and live to fight another day.
American Desi Davila did not finish the women's Marathon on Sunday. She knew very early on that it wasn't going to go well, so she decided not to risk injury and call it a day. Some may call that quitting. I call that knowing yourself and your limits and making an informed choice after taking the temperature of the whole situation. There are times when it's not worth the risk, and only you get to make the call.
When we are pursuing professional goals, that pesky thing called life can get in the way in lots of different forms: health issues (you or a loved one), unplanned occurrences (job loss, a new baby), other responsibilities eat up more time than you think, etc. Sometimes we, like athletes, need to take a look at the whole situation and decide if we're going to take the risk and drive through or slow down and take a detour.
Sometimes we need permission to take the detour. For example, if you've invested time and money into a certification and know you're not ready to sit for the exam and can save the money for another shot in a few months, it's OK to change your plans. You're not chickening out or taking the less valuable path. You are assessing the situation and risk and making the choice that is best for you. There's nothing wrong with that! Desi Davila will live to race another day, and so will you! Use your head to make the right decisions for you when things start feeling off.
Have you had to make a tough professional call lately because life happened? How did you make your choice?
Photo by saroy
Today’s Olympic Nugget: Be glad the world isn't judging your professional performance!
I just checked the results of the women's Marathon. The top two Americans finished 10th and 11th. My heart fell. Then I realized how unfair I was to those two amazing athletes! Shalane Flanagan finished 26.2 frickin' miles in just under 2 hours and 26 minutes. That is about how long it took me to run 15 miles this morning, and my marathon goal is to break 4 hours someday soon. I have no business being disappointed in those world-class athletes who just did an amazing job representing the USA!
Not only am I very glad that no one is counting on me to represent my country in athletics, I'm also glad that my career ambitions don't involve doing something amazing on such a public stage that involves a narrow definition of "success" and harsh judgement from lots of people I'll never know! For many of us, our goals are on a much smaller scale. This doesn't mean they are any less, but it's nice to remember the benefits of the smaller stage when we see others being judged for their choices or performances on national and world stages.
Other things related to my small stage career for which I am grateful:
What are you grateful for? How does a small stage career work for you?
Photo by saroy
Cecilia is a professional in the non-profit world that makes professional development part of her daily routine, just like brushing teeth, preparing a meal, or walking the dog. She knows what she wants out of her career and takes small steps daily to realize her goals. Follow Cecilia and learn how to see professional development as an ongoing process that you can work on a few minutes every day so you can be ready for desired opportunities at a moment’s notice. Updating your resume is not a chore with the Resume Reviver!