You may have realized that I am a big fan of the summary statement on resumes. It really does give you the most bang for your resume real estate buck than just about anything else. I recently wrote an article on how to write a great summary statement for the popular career site Brazen Careerist. Check it out here.
By: Ibrahim Alamin
The ability to learn new skills is quickly becoming the determining factor between employed and sitting on your couch watching daytime TV. As quick as the marketplace moves, those that aren't able to refresh/renew their skill set will be left behind.
So how long do you really need to learn a new skill? Not to become an expert or master but just proficient enough to actually use it in a useful way. Josh Kaufmann, author of The Personal MBA, says just 20 hours of meaningful practice, and he makes a really valid argument.
Check out the video below.
By: Ibrahim Alamin
So you have a Bachelor's hanging on your wall but your career is at a dead end or you have no job to speak of. It's all good, nothing another degree won't fix... right?
The truth is earning another degree won't necessarily solve your career dilemmas and may actually add to them. The common thought is that an advanced degree may be the jolt needed to get a career back on track and is a great way to stand out in a crowded marketplace of talent, unfortunately this just isn't the case.
Here are some things you should consider before signing up for class:
There is no way around the fact that school is expensive, especially graduate programs. There is the actual cost of the program plus the interest you will owe on the loans plus the opportunity costs of dedicating a few years to earning another degree; all this with no guarantee of coming out and landing a job. The idea that school is an investment in your future so no cost is too great just isn't the case. "Investment" doesn't mean throw money at something and hope its worth more one day, it means making smart decisions about how to use your resources to grow them. There are often much better ways to spend your money and time than on another degree seeing that usually the only benefactors are the school and the lender.
It may be doubling down
If you are having a hard time finding a job with your current degree then what makes you think the advanced, more expensive option will change your luck? Unfortunately, this is the logic that many professionals have been fed. The idea of the "Master's is the new Bachelor's" is a dangerous one that has led to many people sinking time and money into something they did not need. The truth is a graduate degree may be helpful to advance your career once established but is very rarely the best option for people that can't find jobs to begin with. In fact, you may just be doubling down on the problem by further investing in a skill set that just isn't in demand.
There are better options
If you're looking to go back to school because you can't find a job or want to change fields then take a step back and think long and hard before taking out loans and losing years of your life. Most fields don't require a specialized degree to work in them, they just require skills that a degree supposedly bestows upon you. Many of these skills can be gained in ways that aren't as much of a financial or time burden as going back to school. It is completely possible to earn new skills without stepping foot into anyone's ivory tower. Consider earning a certificate, volunteering, interning or even just independent study.
If you're thinking of going back to school, it may be worth it to really consider what you're giving up and what other options you may have. Don't spend the time and money to earn a degree because common knowledge says that's the way to go.
Are you thinking of heading back to school? What's your reasoning?
(Image from Free Digital Photos)
By: Ibrahim Alamin
I got an email the other day asking why do I put a "by line" on my blog posts seeing that I'm currently the only contributor to this blog. The answer is personal SEO.
One of the reasons I took to blogging is to start understanding how to own my name on Google search results. Previously when I Googled myself, I didn't come up until page 3. Now, I'm on the first page above the fold. Search results for my name are still dominated by a reporter/editor for a publication called Al-Akhbar.
My goal is to take up the top couple of results when searching "Ibrahim Alamin," be it for my blog, LinkedIn account, twitter profile or articles I've written for various online publications. I want to control what people see when they search my name. This is something most professionals should strive for. The results for your name should be a curated list of what you want people to know about you, not other people or your drunken Facebook photos.
I'm tracking the changes I make to see how they affect my search rankings and will do a full blog post on this soon. For now, I'm still scheming on how to surpass Mr. ed
By: Ibrahim Alamin
How are you doing on your Resolutions?
February is almost over and the excitement of a new year is long gone. This is the point where gyms become empty and will power is a little weaker. Truth is, most people have long given up on the resolutions and goals they set for the new year.
Don't be one of those people.
Now is a great time to check your goals and determine how you're doing. A good place to start is identifying what you wanted to achieve and track your progress.
If you wanted to lose weight, take a note of how much you have actually lost at this point. If you are on track to meet and beat your original goal more power to you. If not, then take this time to identify what progress you've made, if any, and what you need to be doing better.
The beautiful thing about falling off is that you can pick yourself up and get right back on.
A personal goal of mine was to be published in the Huffington Post by March 1. It doesn't look like I will make that date but my work is going to be published on a pretty significant career blog (link coming soon). That means I'm a step closer than I was on January 1st.
No matter where you are with your goal remember that everyday is a chance to improve, there is no need to wait until New Year 2015 to
I want to talk about money.
Maybe because income inequality and minimum wages have been all over the headlines but most likely because I just finished filing my taxes. Either way, I'm thinking about the culinary arts; bread, cheese and dough. (Outkast reference)
The discussion of money for some reason has become a taboo. We are told those that talk about money are greedy and money can't buy happiness. Somehow the concept has expanded to suggest that even in our careers we should enjoy what we do so much that money doesn't matter.
Funny how in a capitalist society "the thing we don't speak of" is the very thing that drives capitalism. We are actually at a point where many adults are not achieving any sort of financial literacy which can surely partially be traced back to the fact that people are aren't talking money.
Its time to start talking.
One of the best things you can do for your career and life is start getting comfortable discussing money and a good place to start is by talking about your worth
To be clear, how much money you earn is not indicative of your worth as a person. It is, however, one of the ways to measure the value of your work. If you aren't comfortable talking about money then you certainly won't be comfortable when its time to negotiate what you will be paid for your talents.
This is one of the reasons women are underpaid for the same work as men.
The conversations held about money is very different between men and women. Men are more likely to ask what they deserve to be paid because they are taught to negotiate and how to talk about money fairly early on whereas women aren't taught these same lessons until much later, if at all. In fact, girls are taught that asking for more money just isn't lady like.
Professional men and women alike could benefit from honest and real conversations about what their work is worth, even if its just to themselves. If you can't convince yourself that your work is valuable and demands a certain amount then you surely won't be able to convince anyone else.
The only way to get good at most things is by doing it, talking money is no different.
Talk about it to your friends, family and peers. Start confidently telling people what your time, energy and work is worth and when a future client, customer or employer comes in below that amount you can confidently look them in the eye and say...
By: Ibrahim Alamin
MLK was the man.
No, really. We all have a basic understanding of what he achieved but listen to some folks that lived during the times of segregation and you'll get another perspective of the legacy Martin Luther King left behind. The days of Jim Crow laws seem far removed in 2014 but the iconic "I have a dream" just celebrated its 50th anniversary this past August and similar laws still existed in South Africa when I was in kindergarten.
I don't want to turn this into a cheesy post with a weak tie in to the holiday but I absolutely feel obligated to acknowledge an amazing person on their day (especially one that is an alumni of my college). The thing about great people is that not only is the legacy they build deserving of our acknowledgement and praise but the methods they used to achieve them are necessary to study; and there is a lot we can learn from Martin Luther King.
Below are 4 lessons from MLK I feel any of us could apply to our lives:
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Of course as a preacher King drew a lot of inspiration from his in faith. It doesn't take a degree in divinity to understand the importance of faith in taking those first actions in making a major change in your life. If you're looking for a new job or creating a business your faith in yourself and your mission will be what keeps you going even if you don't immediately see the result.
~Power of thinking
"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
Making career moves often takes taking a step back and doing some real thinking and asking the hard questions. There usually aren't any easy ways to attaining the things we want in life and those willing to tackle the difficult are often the ones that come out ahead.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
When things get a little rough, are you one to give up and look for the easy way out or to roll up your sleeves and get it done? Let's take it from the guy that literally stared down the barrel of more than a few guns and kept fighting for his vision that we can work through a few hardships to achieve what we're aiming for.
~Using time wisely
“We must use time creatively - and forever realize that the time is always hope to do great things.”
The beautiful thing about time is that as long as we have it we a chance to correct course. I can personally attest to wasting time repeatedly doing things that don't work instead of actively seeking the things that do. I can also attest to trying to do everything instead of one thing well. I learned the hard way that opportunity costs are real.
If you plan on spending the MLK holiday volunteering or just catching up on some needed rest, take a second to think about its namesake. What are some of your favorite quotations from MLK?
(I added the quotation to the image with pinwords)
I'm excited to announce that my resume course is LIVE!
Yes, I do mean LIVE in the slang way of saying "it is amazing" as well as it is actually live and now available on Udemy.
This has been 3 months in the making and is the first time I've taken on anything like this. I decided to tackle creating a resume course because I understand how vital the document is to the job hunt. I understand first hand what its like to apply and apply and not ever hear anything back. Not because you're under qualified but because you just didn't understand how to write a resume.
Fact is, the majority of what people know about the job hunt is based on old information and the goal of this course is to provide a very modern, up-to-date guide for how resume writing and the job hunt REALLY works. This is based on information that comes directly from recruiters as well as my own experiences writing my own resumes and helping people with theirs.
Resume Hacking is all about saving time, energy and effort on your job hunt by getting down to the bones of how to write great resumes that will actually make it to human eyes. This information is FRESH, up to date and relevant for how the job hunt works today. Now, this course isn't for everyone. If you're just fine with the methods you're currently using than by all means continue. However, if you want to learn how the job hunt works in the 2014 than by all means check this course out.
As a special offer, I'm giving anyone that signs up for my list this week an to get this course for 75% off! Thats $6 for an investment in your career and financial future. Sign up below and I'll send over a code.
By: Ibrahim Alamin
What can Michael Bay's speech at this year's CES convention teach you about how to be a competent professional? Exactly how not to do it.
Perhaps I am a little too happy to see the guy that ruined so many memories of my favorite toys from childhood (Transformers and soon Ninja Turtles) but in everything there is a teachable moment. It just so happens Michael Bay's embarrassing walk of shame off Samsung's stage is a very big one. Check out the video below:
Painful, isn't it? The word "epic" far too overused buy is the perfect adjective to describe this meltdown. Fortunately, Michael Bay's poor performance provides us with first hand experience of the term "second hand embarrassment" as well as 2 lessons to apply to our own professional lives.
1. The importance of being able to talk about yourself (even without a teleprompter)
The thing here that is the most surprising is that he stumbled on a question that many people will be asked in any networking event, job interview or any place where two people are in the same room; "Tell me about yourself..."
This question may appear as "tell me what do you do" or "tell me what inspires you" and a variety of other forms but the question is essentially the same and being prepared to answer it intelligently is required. You should be able to answer this question on the spot in any given situation. This is your chance to talk about you and how you're great at what you do. If you can't answer even this basic question about your profession on an than it is hard to take you seriously as a professional.
Ok, I'm having a moment here... bare with me...
How can you not answer a question about what you do? I mean, seriously... where they do that at? Apparently at large tech/gadget expos in Las Vegas, thats where
2. The importance of preparation
It is very obvious here that he did not spend even 1. minute preparing for his big moment on stage. The fact that the teleprompter going out COMPLETELY threw him off of his game speaks more to his lack of preparation than the faulty teleprompters and their incompetent operators. Avoid any such melt down by thorough preparation. If you're going on a job interview than you're going to need to know your resume, everything you can find on the position/company you're interviewing for and your field. If you're going to a conference or a networking event know something about the speakers there and the topics that will be discussed. If you're giving a speech, know something about your audience and the environment you'll be speaking. Preparation is the difference between looking like a pro and having to make that walk of shame to your nearest exit.
What other lessons are there in Michael Bay's CES meltdown?
By: Ibrahim ALamin
Fast company recently did an interesting article on the promises of "hacker schools" to turn programming novices into bonafide, app developing programmers 8-12 week courses. Essentially, schools offer people the chance to become a developer and land high paying jobs once they pay the fee for the course(ranging from around 9k up to 18) and make it through. The article is critical of the schools suggesting that many of them are making promises that they just can't keep
The way I see it, these schools are making the same promise to students as any other school which is "Get through our program and your life will be better." Sure, graduates of "hacker schools" may not land the high paying position at graduation, but how is that any different from graduates of other institutions that find themselves unemployed once they have degree in hand? The difference is, a hacker school is far cheaper and much less of a time investment.
What are your thoughts?