Monday, March 24, 2008

Davidson Upsets Georgetown

For a little change of pace, I want to highlight my Davidson Wildcats and their huge victory over the Hoyas yesterday. Enjoy today's article, courtesy of the Charlotte Observer and Kevin Cary.

Closing Curry flurry netsSweet 16 finish for Davidson
Guard finds range in time as stirring rally sweetens Wildcats' tournament run

RALEIGH --Moments after Davidson's 74-70 win against Georgetown on Sunday, Stephen Curry and his mom Sonya shrugged at each other, smiled and said "What is this?"

This NCAA tournament win left Wildcats players mobbing each other on the court and Davidson fans hugging. Davidson, seeded 10th, had trailed the second-seeded Hoyas by 17 during the second half, but then Curry made a former Davidson coach look like a prophet.

The sophomore guard scored 25 of his 30 points after halftime, mixing in a flurry of drives with deep 3-point shots. It was the second straight spectacular performance for Curry, who had 40 Friday against seventh-seeded Gonzaga.

"I'm speechless about the kid," teammate Thomas Sander said. "What else can you say? You just want the ball in his hands."

Sunday, Lefty Driesell -- who coached the Wildcats to their last Sweet 16 appearance in 1969 -- sat 60 feet from where Curry made the decisive 3-pointer in Friday's 82-76 win.

"Any time you have someone like Curry, you have a chance," Driesell said before Sunday's game.

Few gave Davidson (28-6) a chance after the first half. Georgetown (28-6) had punished Davidson, and the Wildcats were fortunate to trail by only 11. The Hoyas were bigger and stronger, and shot 63 percent in the game.

Davidson looked doomed, until Curry caught fire. He made a four-point play to start closing the gap, before coach Bob McKillop took a halftime suggestion from assistant Matt Matheny.

Georgetown likes to slow the game, but Matheny recommended Davidson use a trapping, pressure defense to speed things up. The plan worked as the Hoyas scored only two points on their next 11 possessions. The 16-2 run got Davidson to within 50-48 with nine minutes left.

McKillop implored his team to have fun and to trust each other, but it took a little more Curry charisma to make this happen.

He scored 17 points during the final seven minutes, including a scoop shot underneath a defender that gave Davidson the lead for good, 62-60, with just under four minutes left.

"Is he ever off?" teammate Stephen Rossiter said of Curry. "He does something every game that makes you go `wow.' "

Curry added one more at the end. With a boisterous crowd screaming for the Wildcats on every possession, Curry added a 3-pointer between two defenders at the top of the key.

Baskets by Andrew Lovedale and Jason Richards kept Davidson in the lead, before Curry tried to seal Davidson's 24th straight win from the free-throw line.

Sonya Curry stood and swayed with all of her son's final shots. "C'mon baby, c'mon baby," she said, clasping her hands. She flexed her arms after one make, and then prayed to herself as Curry approached the line for a final attempt.

Davidson led 73-70, but after a rare miss, he had to make another free throw to seal the victory with nine seconds left.

He took a deep breath while his mom looked skyward. Curry then swished the final shot that allowed the Wildcats to chest bump their way to a Friday date in Detroit against third-seeded Wisconsin.

"We were a school no one knew about, and now we are going to a Sweet 16," Stephen Curry said. "This is just unbelievable."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Personal Branding

The article I chose to post today highlights that while we are in a struggling economy, companies are still hiring. So how do we go about differentiating our resumes from the flood of others hiring managers are receiving daily?

Thanks to and Cyrus Afzali, today's article provides a couple of strategies for making your resume, and yourself, rise to the top. So enjoy today's posting and make it a great week!

By Cyrus Afzali

It’s almost impossible to watch TV newscasts or read newspapers these days without lots of doom and gloom about the economy. While the ramifications of a slumping economy have many people worried for different reasons, job seekers are getting particularly rattled as they see their efforts stymied by a decreasing number of job ads and talk of additional layoffs. Although the mood about jobs at the moment is certainly dim, there are time–tested strategies one can take to improve their odds of landing the job they seek, regardless of the current market.

One important fact I’d note is that during turbulent economic times, it’s often tough to keep your mind focused on the things you can control, while not worrying so much about the things you can’t. The bottom line is that, while jobs may be harder to get this year than last, many companies – including those that are simultaneously trimming their work force in some areas – are also adding workers. The best way to become one of those additions is to be aggressively marketing yourself and your skills.

Focus Your Resume

There are several different ways to do this and methods differ, partly based on the type of job you’re seeking, and partly based on the success an applicant may have found using a certain method in the past. Of course, the most common of those methods is a resume listing recent jobs, responsibilities and skills. While many approach putting together a resume as a formulaic task, the best strategy is to customize a resume and cover letter for the specific opportunity for which you’re vying. Highlight specific duties under each job that are relevant to the job you’re after and any skills you might have that differentiate you from competitors.

While you want to do the best job possible to make yourself and your skills shine on a resume, be cognizant of the fact that, in all likelihood, whoever reviews it is only going to spend a few minutes with it. Given that, don’t make them hunt for the relevant information they’re looking for; make it stand out. Use the resume to highlight knowledge of specific software applications or commonly used tools that would be routinely used in the job. Also, if you’ve got foreign language skills or experience working abroad, for example, highlight that too, as it would be especially attractive to a company with operations in multiple countries.

Target Your Cover Letter

In terms of the cover letter – the most overlooked element in a job hunt in many cases – use it to expound on your skills and accomplishments and elaborate on how they’ve helped you prepare for the job you’re seeking. When at all possible, include metrics that give insight into your accomplishments; for example, a salesperson might highlight how their efforts increased revenue at a firm, while a Web editor might accentuate page–view growth. This may sound like common sense advice, but by all means, never go generic with a cover letter. Recruiters and hiring managers can almost always tell when someone’s merely done a “cut and paste” of a previous letter for reuse. Not only does this tactic fail to give you a key venue to let your skills shine, it’s also in many cases a great way to get your information tossed in the proverbial “round file.”

Stand Out From the Crowd

Another key way to stand out from the crowd is by effectively using your network of contacts. Sites like LinkedIn make it a snap to see if anyone you know or a close contact knows has an “in” at a company for which you’d like to work. If you do know someone who’d be beneficial, don’t hesitate to ask them to be an advocate for you and point out the connection in your correspondence with the company. This may sound decidedly old fashioned, but it’s important to remember that many times new jobs are landed with the help of friends and former co–workers.
Speaking of LinkedIn and other Internet venues, another good way to get more information about your skills across is putting URLs to any relevant online profiles or sites containing work samples. A simple URL can convey a wealth of information you might not have time to present otherwise. Another great thing about this approach is that it gives the recruiter or executive the option to seek out the information rather than being overwhelmed with it in a resume or cover letter. Of course, applicants to any kind of Web–related job would also be well advised to include these, as recruiters often see mastery of these platforms as another “feather in your cap.”

Old Fashioned Follow–Up

However, as great as these Web venues might be, there are still occasions where tried and true methods worked best – and perhaps that’s especially true for a follow–up letter. These are short “thank–you” letters sent to managers you’ve met with within a day or two following an interview. While their main purpose is to keep your name in front of the hiring manager and reinforce your desire for the job, they also give you a way to quickly mention a key skill or accomplishment you might have forgotten about during the interview or failed to include on your resume or cover letter. The mere fact of sending one will often put you ahead in the applicant pool, since so many never bother with them and they remain a very popular token of appreciation with managers.

Finally, don’t overlook the value of industry organizations. Getting involved in a volunteer capacity with the leading organization in your industry is not only a great way to keep abreast of new developments, but also to network and increase your visibility within your industry. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t use these to blatantly sell yourself, as nothing turns off a potentially valuable contact than being swarmed with job seekers at organizational events. It’s much better to take a long–term approach that involves such things as volunteering on key committees and offering to donate your services and/or key skills to the group in some way. Doing this will raise your profile greatly; since job hunting, at the end of the day, is really another form of brand building, this approach can pay big dividends over time.

Cyrus Afzali is president of Astoria Communications, a suburban New York City-based PR consultancy serving clients in financial/professional services, technology and real estate. His clients include law firms, legal organizations, technology companies and several non-profit organizations. Before opening his PR consultancy in 2004, Afzali worked at several New York agencies as an editor and as a writer at several media outlets, ranging from small, daily newspapers to CNN Financial News.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Your Online Job Search

As a recruiter, I am inundated with resumes weekly. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining; but the speed and efficiency of the Internet allows job-seekers to blast out resumes with relative ease. This means that more and more qualified applicants are vying for positions daily. Thanks to and Abby Locke, today's article explores a couple of techniques for mastering your online job search.

On an aside, for those of you actively seeking out new employment opportunities, let me encourage you to get on LinkedIn to make yourself more available to recruiters and hiring authorities. LinkedIn is the buzz tool of 2008 and I am finding more and more recruiters utilizing it to identify great individuals for their searches. I personally utilize it daily and know many here in the office that are using it heavily. Please feel free to visit my LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn

Without further adieu, enjoy today's posting!

By Abby Locke

Ten years ago the Internet was a relatively new phenomenon. It was a gold mine for finding and securing great job opportunities. Sending an application only took a few minutes and more times than not, you got a response quickly. Even when everyone starting jumping on the bandwagon, you still had a pretty good chance of finding your dream job just by surfing the Internet.

Fast forward to today. Candidates get lost in a maze of job search boards, company databases, and online recruiting. With technology advancing at the speed of light, the Internet and its capabilities keep evolving. It is a medium you simply cannot ignore as a job seeker.

Here are seven strategies to increase your online job search success.
  • 1. Avoid Generalization: It’s impossible to stand out with a one–size–fits–all marketing document. Develop an executive resume that has a tailored title header, a strong executive summary with specific areas of expertise, and highly–targeted keywords throughout the document.
  • 2. Create Multiple Formats: To effectively compete, you need more than a Word document. To meet online compatibility standards, your resume portfolio should include a Word document, a Portable Document Printing (PDF), an ASCII (text), and HTML (web–based) versions. Follow application instructions carefully, paying close attention to the employer’s requested format.
  • 3. Watch Out For “Bad Words”: The overwhelming responses to online postings have forced recruiters and human resources managers to aggressively screen out candidates. In some cases, seemingly innocent words can divert your email to the trash folder. Commonly used words like “magna cum laude”, “winner” and “free” scream SPAM for many email systems. Use Lyris Content Checker to review and scan your resume before completing an email blast.
  • 4. Use Niche Boards & Specialty Sites: Huge commercial career sites have hundreds of thousands of candidates in their database. These are usually geared towards entry–level and mid–management positions. To avoid frustration, subscribe to specialized online job boards that focus on a particular occupation or industry.
  • 5. Work with Specialty Recruiters: Similar to niche job boards, executive recruiters and search firms specialize by industry and job function. Sources like provide online databases for recruiters that may specialize in your area.
  • 6. Limit Widespread Resume Distribution: Due to the overwhelming amount of time and commitment that a job search requires, it is very tempting to take what appears to be a time–saving route. Remember to tread lightly with mass correspondences. Resume distribution services blast your resume to hundreds of recruiters and companies but the drawbacks are significant. With limited customization, blind distribution and a lack of search privacy, you’ll give up more than you get back.

To have a competitive advantage in today’s job market, continually employ creative techniques to get in front of key decision makers. Diversify resume formats to maximize your success rate and use the Internet to charge your job search. This said, never underestimate the power of in–person and online networks. While it is critical to engage in online searches, they should only be a portion of your job search strategy.

Abby Locke, Executive Director of Premier Writing Solutions, is a Nationally Certified Resume–Writer and Personal Brand Strategist who helps senior–level professionals and C–level executives achieve personal success with customized, branded executive resumes and career marketing documents. Her resume samples have been published in Nail the Resume! Great Tips for Creating Dynamic Resumes, Same–Day Resumes, and Quick Resume and Cover Letter Handbook.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Disappearing Job Market

Employers slash jobs by most in 5 years
AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON --Employers slashed jobs by 63,000 in February, the most in five years, the starkest sign yet the country is heading dangerously toward recession or is in one already.

The Labor Department's report, released Friday, also showed that the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people - perhaps discouraged by their prospects - left the civilian labor force. The jobless rate was 4.9 percent in January.

Job losses were widespread, with hefty cuts coming from construction, manufacturing, retailing and a variety of professional and business services. Those losses swamped gains elsewhere including education and health care, leisure and hospitality, and the government.

The latest snapshot of the nation's employment climate underscored the heavy toll of the housing and credit crises on companies, jobseekers and the overall economy.

The report also showed that the job losses suffered in January were worse than the government first reported. Employers cut 22,000 jobs, versus 17,000.

It was the first monthly back-to-back job losses since May and June 2003, when the job market was still struggling to recover from the blows of the 2001 recession.

The health of the nation's job market is a critical factor shaping how the overall economy fares. If companies continue to cut back on hiring, that will spell even more trouble.

Friday's report was much weaker than economists were expecting. They were forecasting employers to boost payrolls by around 25,000. However, they were expecting the jobless rate to edge up to 5 percent. The reason why the jobless rate went down, rather than up, is because so many people stopped looking for work and left the labor force.

Workers with jobs, however, saw modest wage gains.

Average hourly earnings for jobholders rose to $17.80 in February, a 0.3 percent increase from the previous month. That was on target with economists' forecasts. Over the last 12 months, wages were up 3.7 percent. With high energy and food prices, though, workers may feel squeezed and feel like their paychecks aren't stretching that far.

With the economy losing momentum, fears have grown that the country in on the brink of its first recession since 2001 or is in one already.

Economic growth slowed to a near standstill of just a 0.6 percent pace in the final quarter of last year. Many economists predict growth in the January-to-March quarter will be worse - around a 0.4 percent pace. Some believe the economy is shrinking now.

Spreading fallout from the housing and credit debacles are the main factors behind the economic slowdown. People and businesses alike are feeling the strains and have turned cautious. Adding to the stresses on pocketbooks, budgets and the economy: skyrocketing energy prices. Oil prices have set a string of record highs in recent days. Gasoline prices have marched higher, too.

To help shore up the economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled last week that the central bank is prepared to lower interest rates again. Economists predict another cut on March 18, the Fed's next meeting. The Fed, which has been slicing the rate since September, recently turned more forceful. It slashed the rate by 1.25 percentage points in the course of just eight days in January - the biggest one-month reduction in a quarter century.

The White House and Congress, meanwhile, speedily enacted an economic relief package, including tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses. That - along with the Fed's rate cuts - should help give a lift to the economy in the second half of this year, says Bernanke.

Still, unemployment is expected to move higher this year. The Federal Reserve predict the jobless rate will rise to as high as 5.3 percent in 2008. Last year, the unemployment rate averaged 4.6 percent.

All the economy's troubles are putting people in a gloomy mood.

According to the RBC Cash Index, confidence sank to a mark of 33.1 in early March, the worst reading since the index began in 2002.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Winning Resume

A colleague and friend, Dean Tracy, recently wrote an incredible article on writing a winning resume and I thought I should share this with all of you. Both Dean and I would enjoy hearing your feedback, so please let us know your thoughts on this insightful and targeted article.

As always, make it a great day!

Roadmap to a Winning Resume
By Dean Tracy

As a recruiter, I have seen thousands of resumes from very qualified and capable candidates across the globe. They have come from nearly every industry and market segment and have represented administrative professionals as well as corporate executives.

While I review each resume, my role is to carefully read between the lines and try to get a sense of who the candidate is and how they are wired. In doing this, I’m associating their skills against my client’s needs. My intent is to determine if the candidate capabilities will drive a degree of success in a particular capacity.

On the other hand, it’s been stated that a typical hiring manager or recruiter will only look at your resume for approximately 10 to 15 seconds! In this brief period of time, that hiring manager or recruiter will decide on how to proceed with your resume. Their decision to file your resume or push it forward in the process will hinge on three attributes – identity, uniqueness and value to the company. These three elements are essential to developing and delivering a winning resume.

Identity – Build Your Brand

This is the only opportunity that you have to make a first impression. The top–third portion of your resume must clearly represent you and your professional identity. The next hiring manager to read your resume must be able to immediately tie you to a department or open position within their company.

The format, conciseness, and clarity of your resume will also reflect many of your professional traits and will demonstrate how well you will fit into the company and its culture. Your resume must be easy to read, captivating, grammatically perfect, and free of spelling errors. It needs to have a sense of continuity, be detailed but not boring, be content rich but not busy, and most of all, it must be organized.

Your resume should not be overstuffed with keywords just for the sake of keywords. If you effectively manage your professional network, then your resume should never see scanning software on the first pass in penetrating your target company. Don’t worry about capitalizing on the hits when a company does a system driven search. Instead, focus on developing your resume as a piece of marketing collateral with you as the product. Remember that everything you send out is a direct reflection of your professional traits.

Uniqueness – Differentiate Yourself

Write an effective yet brief profile of your background and experience, not an objective stating the obvious. For example, every candidate wants to “utilize their skills to engage with a winning company in driving revenue and increasing profits.” This is not unique and does not set you apart from anyone.

In writing a profile, you will briefly encapsulate your background while highlighting your capabilities and accomplishments. This is a great place to capture their attention while demonstrating your overall strengths and value to the company.

Value – Quantify Results

For every position in the workforce, there is always an impact on revenue, profits and productivity. You must author your resume to represent your accomplishments for every task. As you reflect on your roles and responsibilities, think in terms of numbers, and don’t be afraid to toot your own horn! Your next employer is looking for people with confidence and leadership qualities that will drive their company to new heights. You can do it!

If you take the initiative to embrace these three simple elements in defining your background, you will recognize greater results in your search efforts and it will become easy for you to open new doors of opportunity towards landing the job of your dreams!

Dean Tracy is a Professional Recruiter, Public Speaker and Career Coach based in Northern California with an emphasis on Placing and Coaching IT Professionals at a National Level. He also serves on the Leadership Team for Job Connections, which is recognized as one of Northern California’s largest and most reputable Professional Networking Groups.