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5 Tips on Résumé Writing

By Marquis Codjia

For a job applicant, résumé writing can be a powerful tool to obtain the dream job. For active workers, it serves as a way to build and maintain their professional brand name – in other words, it epitomizes how they portray and where they position themselves in the job market.

Due to this significance, extensive care should be exercised in drafting a résumé. Job seekers who understand the importance of a well-written résumé – but are unable to pen one – usually resort to professional résumé writers or occupational coaches.  Although these specialists can provide invaluable advice in the job search process and produce a high-quality work, job applicants can also author excellent résumé if they strictly follow some simple rules.

Use proper grammar

A résumé provides an account of the relevant work experience and education.  It introduces the job seeker to a potential employer; it is thus critical that the first impression – the résumé – be a good one. Employers rarely offer interviews to applicants with error-filled résumés, unless the job is in a field where proper English and good spelling are priorities. (Those jobs are rare). Applicants should write, proofread and edit their résumés until they’re satisfied with the quality. It is advised to have a second person – and even a third – proofread the résumé before sending it out to potential employers. Avoid common mistakes (e.g.: it’s vs. its, you’re vs. your, two vs. too vs. to, they’re vs. their); they reflect poorly on your work and your personality.

Write in a concise, professional manner

The résumé is a professional document that describes work accomplishments, among many things. As such, it should be written in a professional manner. It should also be concise, dealing directly with the relevant aspects of one’s career or academic life. Aspects of one’s private life that do not relate directly to – or are not pertinent to – the job sought should be avoided.

Be truthful

Integrity is the cornerstone of everyday’s life, whether in politics, business, or society. Voters rarely elect individuals perceived as lacking honesty; companies seldom partner with unreliable institutions or individuals. Consequently, it is absolutely important that the résumé be truthful in all its aspects because this affects one’s reputation. Warren Buffet once said:  ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it ‘.

Include only your major, relevant achievements

Sometimes it is tempting to include an exhaustive list of accomplishments on the résumé to impress a potential employer. However, this can be counter-productive because employers often have many résumés to sift through and won’t spend too much time on a lengthy, verbose résumé. It is more effective to include only the major achievements that relate to the position sought.

Use your résumé as a marketing tool

The résumé is your ultimate tool to manage your brand name, your professional positioning. At each stage in a career, the résumé can serve to differentiate top-caliber candidates from the rest of the pack. To stay in the top-caliber, it is critical to use all the tips already mentioned, but also maintain an extensive professional network where the résumé can be periodically exposed.

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Can Tiger Woods Come Back?

March 12, 2010 100 comments

By Marquis Codjia

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After his über-publicized apology ceremony a few weeks ago, many sport commentators and golf enthusiasts over the world were wondering what Tiger Woods would do next.

The legendary golf champion seemed genuinely remorseful for the immense tort he’d wrought upon his family and vowed to do everything in his power to reconnect the “trust dots” with his loved ones.

Although Woods clearly avouched that the sport wasn’t his immediate priority and that his career would be put on hold for a certain period, it makes sense to speculate that the golfer would certainly resume competition sooner rather than later.

That’s at least what traders believe at Intrade.com, an online prediction markets operator, with 80% of participants wagering that the golfer will play in a PGA Tour event before April 30th, 2010.

Understanding the dynamics, both external and internal, at work in Tiger Woods’ sport empire is crucial to corroborating such forecast.

First, the athlete possesses solid internal strengths stemming from his game and his family. He has a highly supportive mother, whose bonding grew even more intimate after her husband died a few years ago, and a loving (?) wife, Erin, who most likely will remain by her estranged husband once the sentimental pain dissipates.

Second, Woods is debatably the most popular athlete on earth. His popularity spans on and off golf courts since he’s also prominent in philanthropy via his foundation. Albeit his communication was deplorable at the onset of this conjugal melodrama, he has a solid organization to withstand the crisis.

Third, and most important, strength in Woods’ favor: us.

Fans constitute the biggest asset in the sportsman’s coffer. The public relishes offering a second chance to contrite celebrities who concede poor judgment and apologize for it. Cases vary from one individual to the other, but current and past headlines offer a plethora of stories involving politicians, religious leaders, sportsmen and other celebrities who regained prominence after an adulterous episode.

Fourth advantage to Woods: fellow golfers. Oddly, this group needs his quick comeback more than any other even if some rivals may secretly fancy his premature retirement to reach stardom. Some voiced outrage in the media after the infidelity surfaced back in December, but admittedly the industry as a whole has benefited tremendously from Woods’ clout.

Players can’t refute that Woods’ presence in the game has helped fatten their individual paychecks and endorsement deals owing to the increased audience the golf genius drew to a sport previously touted as elitist.

Last but not least, sponsors and major news outlets, especially visual media (TV and internet), stand to lose billions of dollars if the athlete pauses or halts his career. The golf industry has experienced a momentous sales growth in the last decade and no firm wants that manna to evaporate. This is especially true for key players such as Nike and Adidas, or small apparel dealers and internet portals devoted to the sport.

It becomes then pretty clear that external factors favor a Woods’ return but the question now remains whether he will use this difficult period to solidify his morale and come back or sink into oblivion. Wait and see!

Geriatric Economics – Why Valuing Our Seniors Enhances Social Welfare

March 10, 2010 41 comments

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by Marquis Codjia

For the past 12 months, the Obama administration has grappled with healthcare reform, a thorny issue that became the poster child of infecund partisan musings in Washington.

Both sides of the argument agree nonetheless on one premise: healthcare reform, like all other entitlement revamps, is pivotal to lessen the specter of a potential US bankruptcy in case benefits paid within the program outgrow cash receipts. .

At the moment, officials are slighting an important area that is indissolubly tied to the ongoing debate: the nation’s overall “geriatric policy”.

Geriatrics is the medical branch that focuses on health care of the elderly while gerontology reviews the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing.

Geriatric policy, in this context, refers to the corpus of government programs used to enhance elders’ welfare and reduce medical care.

Improving our geriatric policy can be economically profitable and fiscally palatable to taxpayers.

At this point, two myths on human seniority need be debunked in the collective psyche.

First, there’s no age limit set by medical doctors beyond which individuals must retire. Humans are diverse and health specialists concur that specific factors may affect a worker’s ability to perform their duties, but as long as they possess cognitive and physical function capacities, they may work at any age. Government-enforced retirement age has to do more with politics than biology.

The second point offers some empirical truth about the first.

Many elected officials, corporate executives, prominent social activists and renowned sports leaders usually have some gray hair.

For instance, the US Senate has the highest concentration of democratically elected political seniority in the developed world. The median age of a US Senator is 63 years, roughly the retirement mark for most workers.

Robert Byrd, 92 years old from West Virginia, is the most senior member of that chamber, followed by New Jersey’s 86 year-old Frank Lautenberg.

If the country consents to being governed by aged people, then it becomes facile to argue that seniors possess an invaluable, albeit currently untapped, wealth of experience.

In the west, the gradual surge in life expectancy correlated positively with medical costs over the years because living longer understandably infers higher health care.

Regrettably, our post-modern society is filled with ageism and thus tolerates seniors being ostracized because of their alleged lack of economic productivity or social utility.

This social stance is flawed because we’re squandering a substantial portion of GDP previously invested in formal education, corporate training, medical insurance and other entitlement benefits necessary for a productive workforce.,

In the case of the US, that investment runs in billions of dollars.

Prominent gerontologists JW Rowe and RL Kahn found that an important pillar of successful ageing is an active engagement in life, which in turn ups cognitive capability and diminishes the probability of disease or disability.

Four distinct approaches can help maximize elderly welfare, reduce costs and increase social well-being. For efficiency sake, applicable departments at the state and federal levels (health, social affairs, elder services, etc.) can be horizontally integrated to create an ad-hoc agency, similar to what was achieved in the US intelligence community.

The Government must devise in tandem with the private sector an online database to track skill availability in seniors; if executed well, that website can even generate revenue once popularity drives high traffic.

The 4 programs are as follows:

1) Retired workers helping former companies

Newly retired workers register to the site, indicating their skillset, industry and activity preference. Companies will then call upon former employees (or workers with similar know-how) for insight on specific projects such as IT integration, organizational structuring, staff training, etc. This model benefits the firm twice because former staff are substantially cheaper than external consultants and arguably know more about the company or the industry.

2) Seniors in nursing homes nurturing kids

Elders can be employed in various pre- and after-school programs, from kindergarten to high school. They can even teach based on their “lifetime achievement” experience. Various “exchange programs” can be organized between, say, nursing homes and academic institutions to foster inter-generational bonding.

3) Seniors nurturing  youth and coaching organizations

Elders’ experiences may help assuage difficult youths and satisfy other coaching needs. In this field, aged inmates who have demonstrated good behavior and strong potential for social re-integration may, under certain circumstances, be allowed to advise and mentor others.

4) Seniors in national sporting events

Keeping with the same logic of active engagement, authorities should encourage national sporting events for seniors. Even though the idea of a “Senior Olympic Games” may be far-fetched at present, an interstate competition is a more likely and potentially profitable option in light of the numerous baby-boomers who are nearing retirement. 

The Minutiae of Personal Branding: Say Who You Are and Get What You Want!

February 28, 2010 78 comments

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By Marquis Codjia

In today’s corporate world, workers need to relentlessly seek new ways to shape not only their careers but also how fast and dynamic their professional evolution shifts. They need to differentiate themselves while also appearing to be interested in the effectiveness of collective labor. Put simply, they can’t be remarked as individualists within the corporate world even though every tad of social pressure outside their workplace incentivizes them to act individualistically.

Clearly, they need to position themselves, in the strictest sense of the marketing verbiage.

In marketing, positioning a product or a brand refers to the ways and the means that a business enterprise utilizes to create an identity of that product or brand in the minds of a target market. In other words, effective positioning allows firms to make their clientele believe what they would like them to believe. Simple as that.

There exists at the moment an abundant literature in the fields of psychology, communication, social leadership and personal branding, among other social sciences, which deals at length with the advantages of effective personal positioning. Politicians, celebrities and corporate executives routinely learn the nuts and bolts of sophisticated positioning techniques to give a big forward-leap to their careers and improve markedly their social standing.

What we’re attempting to analyze here relates to how best an individual can comport him/her-self to seize most opportunities in life and in their socio-professional journeys. We do not posit that not actively engaging in branding diminishes one’s chances; sometimes, “staying put”, not doing anything may turn out to be the best thing to do!

Interestingly, the best positioning technique for individuals turns out to be actually deep-seated in the much acclaimed marketing mix concept developed in 1960 by prominent American marketer E. Jerome McCarthy, which revolved around the 4 P classification: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

Combining these four precepts with a certain degree of shrewdness and competence will get the determined individual in you most of what you want if you know how to say who you are.

Know who you are

A very famous and old European proverb read cucullus non facit monachum, the cowl does not make the monk. This literally means that individuals cannot be judged or regarded a certain way because of the quality of their garments. Or rather should not. Though this medieval sage saying may have been veridical in specific circumstances at a certain time, history and social experience teach us that the cowl you wearing actually tells a great deal about what kind of monk you are.

Hence you still need to wear a certain type of cowl to position yourself adequately.

The first step in crafting your personal positioning vis-à-vis others is to know intimately your intrinsic pros and cons. In other words, your strengths and your weaknesses. This step is crucial because it helps you take the veil off your own limits while understanding your core qualities. Having a solid understanding and a firm grasp of one’s qualities shields us from being (negatively) surprised when others describe our human traits in less flattering terms. Also, this exercise helps identify and correct the ‘weakest links’ in our personalities and accentuate the forte.

Set your price tag

One thing you must gauge in your interactions with fellow workers or friends is how much you value yourself. How cheaply or expensively you value yourself is closely tied to how you’d like other folks to judge you. Think about this process in terms of education, family upbringing, and professional affiliations.

This step is equally pertinent because it is positively correlated to our external perception; employers routinely will set compensation levels based on your academic background, among other factors. Thus, get the necessary knowledge in the fields that are important to you so as to raise your “price tag” or salary expectations.

Be at the right place at the right time

Defining yourself a certain way and acquiring the necessary know-how to heighten your salary expectations and social status goes hand in hand with maintaining a certain lifestyle. You must thoroughly pick your acquaintances and the areas know where you are seen.

Know where you hang out. Depending on your industry, you should know where you are. That entails what networking abilities you should develop and what professional or social organizations you should belong to.

Promote yourself

Promotion within the corporate landscape refers to the communication systems and styles you use on a daily basis. It’s ingrained in your verbal and non-verbal abilities; it’s your communication style. Personal communication also involves your reputation.

It encompasses how you spread information about yourself, be it in your regular everyday life or online, especially in social portals or forums like Facebook. You must strive to talk the same jargon as the individual you’re attempting to create in you. Simply stated, the industry you’re trying to enter has to have the same language as you.

Leveraging neural brainstorming to cost-effectively launch new products

February 23, 2010 20 comments

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By Marquis Codjia

Launching new products nowadays should no longer be a strategic corvée for corporate boardrooms. Contrary to current consensus among many marketing managers and advertising specialists, erstwhile methods used in designing, testing and launching new products appear either outdated, pricey or lagging when compared with the dynamics which govern contemporary global markets.

Ergo, new techniques must supersede or be added to existing schemes for metamorphosing a budding product idea fresh out of the mind of an entry-level engineer into a finished good palatable to customers.

The internet, with its increasing ubiquity and digital omnipotence, should be at the epicenter of these techniques if business enterprises are to remain competitive.

Traditionally, firms relied on an impressive and sophisticated panoply of frameworks and departments to administer their innovation and R&D process. Depending on the industry and the product cycle, among other factors, entire armies of scientists populating R&D departments may partner with marketing and advertising agencies to find that perfect new product.

In the same vein, employees are often invited to share their insights via brainstorming sessions whereas customers’ opinions are actively collected and studied through written or online surveys, telemarketing procedures, trade fairs, or customer service encounters.

Four relatively cheap and fairly accessible sources of neural brainstorming are available to most companies at the moment. These sources rely heavily on global internet data to construct a body of artificial intelligence that can be analyzed and computer-simulated to presage potential future trends of customer wants and needs.

Depending on the size of the company and its financial might, sophisticated analytical tools or simple spreadsheets can be employed to extract invaluable statistics.

Company website

Firms can leverage their own internet portals more efficiently by creating or revamping their e-commerce platforms and ameliorating website ergonomics. Merely collecting purchase data when patrons enquire about products or place orders is no longer sufficient; they must devise an astute tactic for drawing higher client responsiveness. An example of cheap survey tactic is to adjoin 2 or 3 “forward-looking” questions at the end of the purchase process (e.g.: what would make product X better? Are you more likely to buy product Y if we add new features?). Another idea is to offer free items when customers rate current or ready-to-launch products.

Google and other search engines

When used efficiently, Google can be a powerful quantitative tool to use as organizations attempt to tap into the global collective psyche and unearth good ideas that will be precursors to upcoming bestsellers.

Best of all, it’s free. Aside from the customary “Google Search” bar and functionalities, other features are readily available at Google Trends. That’s where the magic resides. Firms or even entrepreneurs can harness that “digital bounty” and use data-simulation as well as other sophisticated computing utensils to analyze that information based on their industries, geographical zones or customer characteristics. The same is true for other major search engines such as Yahoo! Buzz and Microsoft’s Bing Xrank.

Online forums or discussion groups

Companies can utilize the strategic advantage of anonymity to test new product potential in online forums or discussion groups that relate to their target niche. Given the plethoric number of such sites, it can be extremely fruitful to interested companies if they can ably zero in on their specific group of interest and exploit the past and current general mood of such a constituency. One simply idea to gauge that morale is to start a discussion on a topic closely related to the company, its products or a specific industry in general.

Facebook and other social portals

Finally, Facebook and other social portals of analogous popularity and magnitude offer a number of interesting, user-friendly features that firms can harness to augment their market visibility and collect useful data from current and potential clientele. On Facebook specifically, firms can open an Organization Page, a regular page and various discussion groups to promote their brand and ultimately use those conduits as data-gathering means.

5 Tips To Ace Any Job Interview

February 17, 2010 51 comments

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Maintaining a blog is akin to filling one’s own diary because it’s meant not only to share insights on important, often odd, ramblings about one’s existence but it also serves as a reservoir for little secrets. And I decided today to share with you a little secret about how to surpass the inestimable prospect of a job interview and by the same token vastly increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Tips I’m offering here are ones I’ve devised, experienced and used fruitfully in my own (ongoing) career so far. Most of the material in this article comes from personal practice and observations in the job market, the field of psychology, and the political sphere.

Strange mix, isn’t it?

Not so strange if you realize that most of us living in modern megalopolises have to satisfy basic physiological needs (e.g.: eating), make daily choices that will impact the rest of our lives and participate, willingly or involuntarily, in the affairs of the community in which we live.

Stated differently, we need to work, make personal decisions and elect government officials.

Without a doubt, I’ve learned over the years that, due to the very nature of their job, politicians are both the best job applicants and interviewers.

Makes sense? Not yet. Ok, let me elaborate a tad. Elected officials are customarily “interviewed” by their constituents (via the media) in public settings. Put in context, that’s an incredible amount of pressure for someone to answer queries before an entire populace. A good illustration is the large number of debates that US presidential hopefuls have to “endure” at the party level and on national stage.

Think, for instance, about your local senatorial election or US Congress confirmation hearings for Cabinet appointees. Or that time when you had to field questions in front of your team or family members.

Regular citizens, in contrast, often go to one-on-one interviews in private settings. Even senior roles may require a group interview (board of directors) but not a larger jury.

Politicians thus have become adept at interviews and maintain a high level of quality in their discourse. Consequently, they must have the support of a competent entourage, and this explains their qualitative exigencies when it comes to hiring staff.

I call “R-E-A-D-Y” the 5-step interview process and, although I cannot guarantee that it is always effective, I can at least attest to its usefulness in reducing pre-interview stress in my own career.

Roll the drums. Here we go with the big 5.

Reputation

Esteem

Ability

Directness

Yearning

REPUTATION

Your reputation defines you; it’s your brand. People will judge you based on your reputation first and foremost. Prejudices and clichés, at the societal level, are mostly ingrained in reputation, rumor, or hearsay. I recently wrote about companies’ reputational risk but I must admit the same applies to individuals. First, you need to take good care of your “brand name” in professional and social networks.

Ever wonder if you’d vote for a politician with a bad reputation?

More importantly in this internet-driven world, you must heed what I call your “digital deportment”, that is, how you behave online, especially on social websites and forums. Digital data can always be retrieved even if previously deleted so watch those derogatory comments (the “big killer” is critiquing your current or former company or boss) or offensive pictures you post online. Don’t be fired for Facebook!

Again, the question you need to ask: would you elect an ill-reputed politician? How many politicians are out there who ended their career after a reputational issue? Or, more intimately, would you advise a kin to marry someone disreputable? Obviously not. So don’t expect a recruiter to extend you a favor you wouldn’t reciprocate if you were in their shoes.

ESTEEM

You must have a high esteem of yourself; in other words, your self-esteem has to command your posture and discourse before and after the interview.

Ever wonder why politicians are famed for outsized ego?

Esteem comes with respect. You need to respect the interviewer because he or she must have had enough reverence to call you for an interview. You must be at all times courteous, quiet, confident and articulate.

Respecting yourself and the interviewer will enhance your reputation. By esteem, or respect, I mean punctuality at the interview, civility in the discourse and avoiding any bad joke or derogatory, offensive comment. Avoid the usual ‘hot button issues’ of religion and politics; try to evade them or stay vague but polite when the interviewer brings those questions. Sometimes, avoiding the question is the best answer.

Remember: first impression is always correct.

ABILITY

Your ability is your skillset, your core competencies. What makes you a unique candidate. You must be good (at least on paper), that’s why the recruiter wanted to interview you in the first place. The very thought of you being competent must boost your self-confidence. Now make sure your “theoretical” know-how ascribed in the resume matches your actual wit in your professional field.

You’ll get interviewed for sure by your future boss before a hiring decision is made. Tell yourself your potential boss knows as much as, if not more than, you in your field so if you don’t sound too convincing during the interview, you’ll never land that dream job at that company.

A notorious political case of professional competence was highlighted amidst Hurricane Katrina’s recovery program under the headship of former FEMA director Michael Brown.

DIRECTNESS

Directness refers to your integrity. You must be absolutely honest in all your dealings, especially on your resume and in your answers. Recruiting managers are very shrewd and experienced nowadays, and some will ask you the same questions in different terms to seek response consistency.

If you care enough about your reputation and respect the interviewer, then you must be truthful. This is especially important because sooner or later the company will unearth the fallacy and terminate your employment.

Remember the political analogy: would you, as a voter, elect or reelect a public figure who was found guilty of gross lie?

YEARNING

Yearning relates to preparation, the degree of commitment you’re willing to exert in your job search and prior to the interview. Do you really want to work for that particular company? If you give an affirmative nod to this question, then you must prepare yourself.

Do your homework and do it well.

You need to know the firm you’re prospecting at a high level of intimacy, its inner workings. Its nuts and bolts. This is especially easy if that firm is publicly listed or/and has a website. Read, read more, and read all about them.

You may also use social and professional websites (e.g.: Linkedin) or ask acquaintances to increase your wit about the firm and even the interviewer. Having this invaluable knowledge will aid your understanding of the firm’s mission and objectives, corporate culture and main strategic moves of the moment.

Think about the extensive debate preparation politicians usually go through.

Now tell me: are you R-E-A-D-Y?

What I’m reading these days…

February 16, 2010 21 comments
  • Alternate Kristie Moore, 30, is 5-1/2 months pregnant, making her just the second athlete ever known to be with child during Olympic competition. >>> read more

  • JFK’s Love Letters Revealed. The former president’s letters to his Swedish lover are offered for auction. Watch this video and analyze it in the larger trend of politicians cheating. >>>read more
  • Is socialism the winning ethos in banking? Read how a North Dakota bank remained profitable amid the current economic crisis.