Skills Based Approach, Doable

In suggesting a framework you might actually follow, it is must be accessible, actionable, not too tedious, and hopefully enjoyable; otherwise, you might read and understand the concepts but never do it. The skills based approach I have been discussing has these characteristics.

There are many books you read that guide you through a methodology and provide a table where you are supposed to pencil in your ideas;  personally, I cannot think of a time I actually filled out the table in a book and sometimes I have developed my own interpretation in an Excel spreadsheet. The integration of the skills based approach with a professional website allows for you to completely manage your skill set from within its administrative interface, so it is easily accessible in an intuitive interface. This integration includes a database driven table where you manage your skills, drag and drop interface to link them with your experiences, and a page where you can review your plans to obtain expertise with your skill set.

Sometimes you are presented with a framework that makes a lot of sense, however it is unclear how you can use it in your everyday life. The skills-based approach lays out a sequential path in developing a skill set and suggests specific, concrete actions at each stage. You can learn more about these actions by reviewing this infographic.

When you introduce something new to your life, you do not want to add something that is time-consuming and annoying – more clutter. Filling out long forms and/or paperwork can be bothersome to anyone. Managing your skill set is easy to do with a professional website.  Some of the suggested actions, such as taking a personality test, might seem tedious to you; though you can always find other ways to get the same results. The general premise of planning and tracking the development of no more than 15 skills in  your skill set should not be overbearing, however.

Thinking about what you want to accomplish in your career can be enlightening and exciting, planning exactly what you to commit to and the contribution you leave behind is very inspiring. The development of a skill set suggests a framework to help you formulate a plan to reach your career aspirations, so it should be an enjoyable experience for you.

Skills Based Approach Infographic

I have dedicated a website to promote a skills based approach: click here

Developing a skill set throughout a career should be the goal of every professional and can be accomplished in four stages: planning, building, presenting, and validating. This infographic shows what should be done at each stage.

Skills Based Infographic
Skills Based Infographic

A professional website has features to support this skill based approach at each stage. You can read more about this integration by following some of the previous blogs click here (scroll down to view previous blogs).

Pull Approach FAQ

I have written many blogs/articles about the idea of adding a “pull approach” to employment seeking – where you “pull” potential employers to your professional website. You can read more about this concept by clicking here (scroll down to see the blogs). I wanted to write a blog about some of the questions I have fielded along with my responses.

Push, Pull Approach Employment Seeking

How does a potential employer find out what type of career I am interested in?

There are a few ways to share your career aspirations through your professional website. First, you can write a mission or objective statement – something commonly found at the top of a resume – and make it a focal point on the home page of your professional website. Second, you can take advantage of the skill-based approach and present your skill set – something an employer can use to infer what career opportunities you would be interested in. Third, you can setup a SEO campaign to target career opportunities where you live; it takes time to be properly indexed in a search engine so this is more effective for a long-term employment search (or what we call “casual employment seeking”, i.e. when you are already employed but would be willing to explore other employment opportunities). Fourth, keep up a blog; potential employers can learn more about you on a personal level.

I would like to see the concept of a “pull approach” to become more popular, enough so that web service companies develop new technologies to make it more effective. I envision a search mechanism that indexes personal websites, for example.

How much should I rely on a “pull approach” to find employment?

I would take the same amount of time applying to jobs with the traditional approach (what we call a “push” approach), especially if you are early in your career. You can respond to job listings by sending not only the traditional PDF cover letter and resume, but also an email invitation to visit your professional website ; of course, you would prefer they follow the invitation because of the richer content and communication features of a professional website. LinkedIn and MonsterJobs have effective search mechanisms where employers can find you by searching through a skill set; I recommend linking your profiles to your professional website, so an employer winds up there.

Is there a way to tailor my website for a particular employment opportunity?

Yes. You can optimize your website by setting up the sections you want to make available, and within the section, turn “on” or “off” line-items. In addition, you can make a targeted cover letter available to a potential employer visiting your website from an email invitation. They follow a link from your invitation, log into your website, and are then taken to a page where the targeted cover letter appears.

How do I keep track of potential employers visiting my website?

You can incorporate Google Analytics with your professional website. This helps you keep track of how visitors are finding you, what content they are accessing, and how long they are on your website. There is also a feature where a potential employer can leave a message after visiting your website for an employment opportunity; this functions like a guestbook. They can leave a message about the opportunity, how to contact them, and what the next step might be.

Is a “pull approach” more effective for certain professions? Is a “pull approach” more effective at certain career stages?

I would expect that if you are seeking employment in IT, business, and communications, a “pull approach” might be more effective because of the direct influence of web media and the faster pace of hiring in these areas. I have experienced recruiters trying to fill a web designer job in a matter of hours.

Matching job seekers with potential employers is a long standing, well established system. There are certain professions, such as entry-level lawyers and doctors, where there is a courting and internship programs that will ultimately determine whether you get an offer. However, even if you do not effectively pull a potential employer to your website, a professional website is still an excellent way to represent you.

A “pull approach” can only be effective if employers actively seek employees, something we have discussed in previous blogs. The best evidence that this is happening is the success of LinkedIn’s flagship product Recruiter, where recruiters pay to access LinkedIn’s network to find potential candidates. The average age of a LinkedIn user is 42, which means they are established professionals.  So there is no clear indication how effective a pull approach would be for early career professionals, but some indication it could be effective for mid to late career professionals.

Let’s make this an open forum so we can develop this “pull approach” concept; please leave your questions as a comment.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides you with a your own professional website – the ideal platform to pull potential employers to.

Network Vs. Identity II

Five months ago I wrote a blog about providing a service with a network and an identity and the relationship between the two (read blog Network Vs. Identity). In the ensuing months, there have been of course some changes in the services offered by the social media giants LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn has made strides in developing a more in-depth profile and had a press release in mid-October to discuss the new features. On the network side, they added a new interface where your skills can be endorsed by your connections and their endorsements can be displayed as part of your profile. Facebook released company pages and their timeline application has hit mainstream.

Another interesting dimension is how users perceive these services as professional or personal in context. It is clear that LinkedIn is strictly for professional content; however, it is less clear with Facebook. The number of Facebook to LinkedIn users is about 6 to 1, so professionals use Facebook posts to effectively reach the masses (stat comes from numbers represented on the map). For example, if you wrote an article, you would want to create a Facebook Like and Share to get it out to the public.

I created a map to show how these different relationships interplay. I used my own interpretations in placing these different services; however, to get a better more accurate interpretation, I designed a survey where you can provide your own insights: Survey.

Network-Identity, Professional-Personal Map
Network-Identity, Professional-Personal Map

As we build our professional website service from an identity, we need to understand how our identity can be used by networks such as those built by LinkedIn and Facebook. Our approach is providing you with a personal website where you can brand yourself, and establish your professional identity across various networks. The same premise holds from the previous blog that it remains difficult to manage your identity across all these profiles and the best solution might be to link back to your professional website as a landing page for each of them. Of course, the profiles are getting better; but I would compare it to how companies use their company pages. Are companies going to abandon their own websites and branding for a company page on Facebook or LinkedIn? Probably not.

One other distinction with the placement of our service on the map is that we are not all the way professional (to the left). As we develop the concept of a professional website, we plan to explore ways to incorporate personal elements into our service – by perhaps creating a clear delineation such as a sub-domain or letting you use your discretion for what is appropriate on your professional website. An example of something personal you want to share on your website could be a gallery of images from a trip you went on recently.

Like An Email Address, You Should Have A Personal Website

Most individuals of a working age would benefit from having a professional website; this means anyone who is becoming educated in their field of interest up to those who are getting ready to retire from their career – in other words anyone aged between 17 and 65. And if someone is retiring but has left behind a “body of work” or wants to continue consulting or has left behind a valuable legacy may want to keep their professional website running after they retire.

I have argued the benefits in having a professional website in many of my previous blogs, including Top 10 Benefits in Having A Professional Website and What is An Online Identity (and there are countless other blogs that discuss benefits).

Often times I respond to individuals who say they do not need a professional website. Here are some of their comments and my responses:

  • I do not use a computer often. Whether or not you use a computer does not necessarily mean you cannot or should not have a professional website. It just means the interface you build one with must make sense and be easy to use.
  • I work in a profession where I am with people all day (such as a social worker or teacher). Many professions require specific education degrees and certifications, which you can share on a professional website. Let’s say you are a fourth grade teacher. A professional website could help you reach out to the parents of your students and share your credentials – such as your educational background and certifications. This can be very reassuring to a parent.
  • I am mid-career professional and in a long-term position, so I do not expect to make any career moves. There are many features of a professional website that make it useful when you are not seeking employment (read previous blog Employed, Why Have a Professional Website). Let’s say you are a project manager for a small-sized IT firm. There are two types of people that can use your professional website to get valuable information about you. The team of workers you manage and your current clients benefit by knowing your skill set and what technologies you are familiar with. Finally, with a professional website, you can help promote your company.
  • I do not have the time to create a professional website. Actually, it does not take much time to create a professional website. You can have the basic structure and content up in about 10 to 15 minutes. Yes, there is a learning curve to learn all the features (partly because of all the functionality), but it is possible to work on your professional website incrementally.
  • I am not sure how to write the content of a professional website. Writing content for a professional website (or resume) is a difficult process for anyone. You need to write succinct, results-oriented statements. Fortunately, you can use features to help you get feedback on what you have written (see blog GroupShare, Resume Review) and much of the content structure is already done for you.
  • I am not gainfully employed and have not been so for a long time. In this scenario, you may not want to share certain sections of your professional website that show you have not worked in awhile. However, if you plan to get back to work, you will need to have something to share with a potential employer – keep up a blog which demonstrates you have something to say. In addition, you can get valuable counseling to help you develop an action plan to get back to work (see blog GroupShare, Counsel Review). Otherwise, if you do not plan to get back to work, maintaining a blog might be a positive way to express yourself.

There are of course a few exceptions of individuals who may not need a professional website; for example, your work may require a security clearance and you cannot share details related to the nature of your work. However, for most individuals and professions, it is beneficial to have a professional website.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides a personal, professional website service.

First Generation of Apps, The Professional Website

One way we would like to differentiate our service from a standard resume or personal blog website service is by giving you the opportunity to present a highly functional, comprehensive application on your homepage; something that can act as the centerpiece of your whole website. The applications we have developed transform data collected from your experiences, attributes, communications, and body of works sections into an interactive program that fits onto a single page. You control what data is fed into the application, though it requires no further time or effort to get an application up and running. Currently we have three applications in production: a professional time-line, professional artifacts, and circle of professional influences.

Professional Timeline. This application presents professional experiences, a body of work, and communications over time. It is extremely versatile; content includes links to files and websites, descriptions, and images. As a visual representation of a professional’s influences over time, it is an effective way to view a professional’s career progression. However, it is of course less effective if you do not have many years of experience under your belt and you may not want to show any gaps in employment.

Sample of Timeline
This shows the basic timeline concept

Professional Artifacts. This application presents a collection of artifacts (as icons) representing professional experience, a body of work, attributes, and communications. You can drag-and-drop the icons to learn more about particular items. It is an interesting way to present everything onto a single web page. Unlike the time-line application, this one has an attributes section where you can display your IT experience and certifications – which might make it a better solution if these are required in your field of interest.

Artifacts Sample
Shows How The Artifacts App Works

Circle of Professional Influences. This application presents four sortable tables in a Microsoft Silverlight interface. You can choose what content you want to display in the tables. For example, you could choose to show employment and education experiences, IT skills, and their regular skills. It is a powerful way to present your most important professional influences.

Circle Of Professional Influences
Sample of Circle Of Influences

The benefits in using an application on your homepage include:

  • Highly functional. Has interactive features that allow for a user to find what they are looking for.
  • Comprehensive. Most of your professional information is summarized and accessible through the application interface, which fits on a single page.
  • More stylistically appealing. Takes advantage of web scripting software to deliver an advanced looking interface.
  • Effective delivery of information. There are intriguing advantages in presenting professional information over time, as an artifact, or in an interactive table.

 We expect to take full advantage of our data-centric approach and develop other types of applications in the near future.

Mobile Website, With Your Professional Website

I wanted to write a quick blog about the first implementation of a mobile website with our professional website service. The mobile website serves much of the same content as the professional website but in a smaller, less-memory intensive form and the stylistic appeal is much simpler. There are a few advantages in having your professional website accessible from mobile devices, including:

  • Being able to disseminate the crux of your professional website to anyone at anytime. The pace of hiring has become faster, and decision makers can be anyone in an organization – someone who may be in front of a computer or in an airport on a mobile device.
  • Making your references readily available. A feature with mobile devices is the ability to “click and call”, so when you provide a reference page, it is easy to call your references directly (it is your discretion which references you want to make available).
  • Making your skill set searchable at anytime. A team working together benefits if its members have access to each others skill set (via mobile devices).
  • Accessing files from your website. You can access the files from your professional website from your mobile device.

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