Archive for September, 2009

The Uniqueness of the Federal Job Search

September 27, 2009

If there is one thing all federal workers, both former and current, have in common, it is this: they all got their job in the face of that daunting process. Do you want to be in their number?

When officials at the Office of Personnel Management agree that the process needs simplifying, and they agree to do it, many of us have learned to be just a bit cynical.  Remember the written civil service test?  The dreaded SF-171? The next step was the federal resume, creating an industry which supported it, defined it, and for a price, would write you one.

The complication of the federal job search is not an urban myth.  It really is that challenging, with its unique requirements. Just ask an expert.  I did.  She’s Karol Taylor, co-author of Guide to America’s Federal Jobs (Jist, 2009).  Taylor says it is complicated because there is a unique body of regulations for these competitive service jobs, managed by OPM.  If you are serious about applying for one of the thousands of openings in the federal workforce, this is a book you must have.

According to Taylor and her colleague, Janet Ruck, you will need a resume, several essays, and any additional supplemental information the hiring agency may require.  Daunting?  Definitely.  Impossible?  Not at all.

With the help of this wonderful book, you can prepare your application tools effectively and stand a good chance of surviving the screening process.  If you need additional support, or have questions the book doesn’t address about your unique situation, you can reach Karol Taylor ( )

I invite any federal employee to share strategies that might help someone’s application stand out from the pack.

The LinkedIn Status Update

September 21, 2009

If LinkedIn is your new online resume, then I hope you are taking full advantage of the status update box. Think of it as your chance to practice, and update, a professional answer to “what’s new?”

Remembering that anything you change in your LinkedIn profile will be transmitted to your connections, you might think of it as running into any of those people and exchanging chitchat about what is new in your life.  To your colleagues, you might mention a conference you’re planning to attend, an article you just read, a new website, or a professional challenge in your life.

The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can change this box easily, as often as you have something new to say.  If you are going to  a trade show, you can mention it, adding (space permitting!) that you are looking forward to seeing friends there.  If you are taking a course, it would be interesting to see what kind of response you might get by mentioning it.  If you are reading a book in yuor subject area, you might mention it in addition to listing it in the book section of the profile.  If you are considering a career change, you can find a way to showcase your exploration, being mindful that your boss may be reading this (discretion advised!).  Please note that if your status update includes a specific event, you absolutely must change the status update by the next day at the latest.

Status updates that will not enhance your professional reputation are those items about parties, vacations, pets, kids, and your favorite tv shows.  They are fun, but perhaps better suited to another web site.

I always read the status updates of my colleagues.  It’s a great way to stay in touch, and also a path to further communication if it is appropriate.  At this point, I must go an update my status update – I’ve just written a blog post about it!

The lessons of that first job…

September 19, 2009

Think for a moment about your first job.  It affected you for the rest of your life.  It may have been the most tedious thing you ever did, or it might have been a really productive step into adulthood.

In my case, it was both.  I was a summer clerical worker in a small insurance/real estate office in Tampa.  I liked answering the phone, felt important when I handed out messages to people, prepared bills, made coffee.  My role model had been Della Street from the Perry Mason show, and this job, at $1 an hour, made me feel important.

The downside was the tedium of the real estate contract.  I knew how to type, but oh, those maddening little lines on contracts to fill in!  I never got it right the first time, and I loathed that part of the job.  It was an inspiration to go back to college and prepare to do something – anything – other than typing home sale documents.

And what do young people think about it?  I recently talked with 20-year-old Danny Karbeling, who has spent time in the workforce as a camp counselor and as an assistant in a graphics reproduction business.  Danny has learned a few things:

  • managing time by prioritizing,
  • meeting very nice people, both as colleagues and as customers,
  • getting a paycheck, which ends up not going as far he thought it would,
  • just doing the job without waiting for a lot of instruction.

If you have the opportunity to be working with a young person, remember these few points and be that encouraging supervisor or colleague.  You might be creating a positive memory that will last a lifetime.

Welcome to the blog’hood, Maureen!

September 7, 2009

A new resource has been added to the blog world, one that is long overdue.  If you are a fan of and/or its weekly Saturday radio show (if not, you should be!), you’ll rejoice that Maureen Anderson has begun to carry her upbeat career messages into the creative field of blogging.

If you blog, you know the constant pressure to be thinking of something new to say, or communicate an old message in a new way.  It is a real commitment to your readers, clients, customers, or other supporters.  And busy people can be forgiven for being loath to take on yet another marketing tool.  But Maureen is an experienced author, and the readers of her blog will be rewarded for taking the effort to read her polished prose and refreshing content.

Run, don’t walk, to and hit the blog button. You’ll see what I mean.