By Kenneth Hitchner
Today, Bob Casar is a proud graduate of the Professional Service Group of Central New Jersey (PSGCNJ) in Somerville.
After 18 months of searching for his next full-time opportunity, he recently landed a project management position at an early-stage start-up that is developing a drug-device combination that may someday help improve the quality of life for diabetics.
His journey might have been much longer if not for several key lessons that he learned along the way. “Fortune favors the prepared mind,” says Bob, paraphrasing French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur.
Consider Bob’s five key lessons that led to his landing:
- Play to your strengths. As a career project manager, Bob’s strengths include organizational and planning skills. He has extensive experience at moving products and teams of people from Point A to Point B. But his job search improved when he realized that those skills were still an asset. “What made you a successful professional will make you a successful job-seeker,” Bob says, “but only if you bring the same initiative to the effort.”
- Change your life? Change your mind. When Bob first started listening to the speakers at PSG’s Monday morning meetings, he thought that he had heard it all before. Then, he opened his mind and learned how to write a resume, update his LinkedIn profile and make a networking phone call. He even submitted his original resume to the PSG committee, which offered valuable advice about how to portray himself on paper.
- Sell high. When you find yourself in the marketplace, you must accentuate the positive. Bob crafted his Challenge-Action-Result (CAR) stories, and then he boiled them down into one sentence, called “Power Statements” to succinctly communicate his value. “Once the hiring manager and I were in contact, it was the power statements that sealed the deal,” Bob says.
- Networking is not linear. So you are targeting hiring managers in your industry, right? Well, don’t discount everyone else. Here’s Bob’s play-by-play: One day he had lunch with a former boss (Contact #1), who told Bob to call another person (Contact #2), who forwarded Bob’s resume – after several months – to an IT consultant (Contact #3), who called the manager (Contact #4) who eventually hired Bob.
- Be accountable to yourself. Bob’s turning point came when he joined PSG’s Transition Management Team (TMT), which helps you determine your strengths, preparation and goals. And then, peer support ensures that you stick to your own program. “The TMT was the spark that I needed to put my “skin” in the game,” Bob says. “I started to apply all the skills I had learned in industry, and through the PSG and networking. When my networking brought me an opportunity, I was ready to take advantage.”
What you can do:
- Attend the General Membership PSG meetings at First United Methodist Church (Basement Meeting Hall), 48 West High Street, Somerville NJ 08876 on Mondays at 10:30 AM. To find the list of speakers, go to http://www.psgcnj.org and click the “Professional” button at the top of the page (current list of speakers included in this newsletter). Then, click on the “Newsletter” button in the left column.
- Attend PSGCNJ’s “Power Networking” activity that begins at 9:15 AM, right before the 10:30 AM general meeting. This gives you a terrific opportunity to share your elevator pitch with other members, find out if they know anyone in your target company list and exchange business cards.
- Sign-up for the DoL’s job-search workshops, Career Beacons, which cover topics ranging from networking, resume writing and self- management skills. For more information, contact the Somerville One- Stop Center at (908) 704-3000.
- Email your current resume to PSGCNJ_advresume@yahoo.com if you want your peers to offer feedback. The Career Training Committee, which meets at the DoL Building in Somerville, will schedule a one-on-one meeting to review your resume.
- Join the Transition Management Team (TMT) to support your job search. Contact the PSG Facilitator from the DoL for more info on this topic.