In this interview series, we caught up with Adrienne Tom from Career Impressions who shares her expertise and insights about job search, career change,etc.in today’s marketplace.
Tell us a little bit about your company
For over a decade Career Impressions has been providing executive resume writing, LinkedIn profile creation, and job search strategies to top professionals and executives across North America – helping astute business leaders level up, land faster, and increase their earning power!
How did you get started?
I always wanted to be a writer.
When I graduated from University I thought I would pursue a role in copywriting or technical writing but there weren’t a lot of opportunities in my city at that time.
Fortunately I ended up working in career services helping students with resumes and job search.
After recognizing a gap in the local market for high touch resume assistance and job search support I launched Career Impressions in 2008 and haven’t looked back. It quickly expanded from being a local resume writing provider to a national and then international executive resume writing firm.
Full circle: I’m a writer.
More specifically I’m a career storyteller who writes kick-butt resumes and LinkedIn profiles for some of the world’s biggest and brightest business minds.
The career files I’ve written have helped top professionals differentiate themselves from the competition to land higher-level positions and secure increased compensation.
Is this something you decided early on in your career?
When I first graduated from University, being an entrepreneur, or working in the career services industry, never crossed my mind. I was focused on a traditional job path.
However, I soon realized that I needed more flexibility in my work schedule after the birth of my first child. After recognizing a gap in the market for resume writing and job search support, I decided to take a leap and open my own company. This allowed me to manage my own schedule while focusing on a service I was passionate about.
It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
What is the best Career Advice you’ve ever received?
The best career advice I’ve ever received was encouragement to follow my own path and not get overwhelmed with the details – simply give things a try.
Trying is learning. When I first considered branching off on my own and launching my own company there were a few very key individuals who said ‘give it a try’.
Over the years when I was faced with difficult choices or new opportunities that scared me, these same people said ‘give it a try’. Trying always resulted in learning and more often than not led to some amazing results.
What is the most exciting part of working in this industry?
It is extremely validating to guide a client through the extraction of their unique career stories.
I am honoured when business leaders turn to me for support with unearthing their value and positioning themselves strategically ‘on paper’ to make their next big career move.
After our work together, I commonly hear from clients that the greatest benefit they received in our work together wasn’t just the end result or product, but the process it took to create it.
Helping business leaders take a long, hard look at their value and understand the importance of their skills in relation to their career goals is what makes me proudest. When they read their resume and get to see their amazing offerings compiled in one space and they say “wow!” – that feels good.
How do to stay abreast of the industry as an expert?
Continuous learning is critical for all career levels and job types. I am no different. I approach my work with a goal to invest in ongoing professional development and learning as often as possible to ensure I am providing the best possible services and support to my clients.
For me, learning includes:
- Involvement with professional associations. I am a member in good standing with 3 major associations and an active volunteer, certification assessor, and advisory board member with Career Professionals of Canada.
- Reading books. I am currently reading Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters and The Motivation Myth – with a stack of other books on my desk waiting to be read.
- Remaining active on social media (especially LinkedIn) where I read information daily about the industry and engage consistently and actively with industry peers. People in the industry can teach you so much, so relationship building and maintenance is key.
- Participating in workshops, seminars, or courses. I recently completed a course on Ethical Case Note Writing and enjoy exploring new ideas to support both my work and my business operations.
- Ongoing certifications or certification management. Some of my certifications require regular renewal, ensuring I demonstrate ongoing expertise on the topic.
- Finally, attending industry conferences or participating in mastermind groups are other ways I’ve bolstered my knowledge, ensuring I keep a ‘finger on the pulse’ of hiring, recruiting, job search and resume writing trends.
What are some of the things that you see job seekers struggle with the most?
The way people look for, and secure work, has changed a lot over recent years. Often clients approach me overwhelmed or frustrated.
People know they are skilled, but demonstrating career achievement quickly and succinctly with modern tools can be a challenge.
They also don’t always understand the best way to organize a modern search strategy.
What are the common mistakes that you see them do?
Often, people put too many eggs in one basket’, thinking that *just* a resume is needed for success, or *just* searching for jobs online will yield results. It rarely does.
A multifaceted strategy is required and there needs to be less focus on online job trolling and more focus on relationship building and networking.
At the end of the day people hire people so work to identify who those people are and get connected with them.
How should job seekers approach job search today?
Although a job search strategy can be different for each person, I advise job seekers to start with a clear goal and plan. Build a roadmap and be open to diversified approaches.
Meaning, know where you want to go and how you are going to get there and don’t put too many eggs in one basket’.
If you aren’t sure how your plan should be compiled, seek assistance. There are many professionals available in the industry who know exactly how to build a customized job search strategy and help you execute it.
Unemployment is at the lowest levels, why do you think that is?
Likely just the current state of the economy and an uptick in hiring in different industries.
As nice as this is we all know things can shift and change at any time so everyone should have their career management plan in place – regardless of the type of job they hold or how secure they currently feel. Being prepared is no longer an option.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that job seekers will face in the next 2-3 years?
The future of work and employment projections stress the importance of continuous learning, upskilling, and reskilling in order to keep up with workplace reshaping and rapid transformation.
Every 2-3 years out job seekers will need to demonstrate that they are able to meet the demands of changing workplaces.
Skills development, upgrading, and ongoing learning should be a regular part of career goals so that if you find yourself suddenly out of work, or wanting to make a change, you are armed to position yourself as the best candidate.
Those that don’t prepare won’t be able to compete in a job search at the same level.
What is one advice you would give someone just out of college today?
Start building your network and never stop. It can be challenging for new grads to even think about networking but this skill is proving vital in today’s job search process.
Create a robust LinkedIn profile and start strategically connecting with people of interest, or people who work in your industry. Attend events.
Reach out to decision makers to learn more about their companies or hiring processes. Ask good questions. Build relationships.
What is one advice you would give someone who is switching careers?
The same strategy I mentioned for new grads can apply to career changers. Build and leverage your network to support a transition.
In addition, research your targeted industry and audience and learn how to align your unique offerings with their requirements. Decision makers need career changers to clearly connect the dots for them.
They need very specific skills and abilities, so how does your seemingly unrelated background relate to their needs?
Cut out anything unrelated in your communications and zero in on demonstrating return on investment.
How should job seekers get the most out of LinkedIn?
My top LinkedIn tip is to write your profile with a future-focused approach.
Most people write their profile as a summary, looking back at all of the things they’ve done throughout their career. Instead, flip the script and compose profile content focused on where you want to take your career. Identify that next level role and create a robust profile that demonstrates alignment of skills and abilities in relation to that role’s requirements.
A future-focused approach accomplishes two things.
- First, it raises visibility on the site by ensuring SEO and keywords are properly formulated for desired roles, helping the right people (recruiters/hiring managers) find you on the site. It acts like a beacon, signaling fit for target jobs.
- Second, it makes it easy for readers who land on the profile to understand your value and the ROI they would get from hiring you. It speaks their language, sparks their interest, and keeps them engaged.
What is the biggest trend(s) you see that hiring managers will face in the next 2-3 years?
I think social recruiting will continue to rise and hiring personnel will continue to research and vet candidates through a variety of platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. This means that job seekers need to have a strong, well-managed online presence.
One of the hiring trends that I hope starts to gain more traction is hiring for potential versus hiring ‘ready made’. As the world of work continues to evolve, employers need to as well.
More employers need to invest in the provision of competency-based training to develop potential talent and have them grow with the company, versus looking for an elusive perfect fit at the start.
Adrienne, what are your currently working on?
Even after being in business for over a decade I still regularly revisit my offerings and business model to make adjustments and improvements.
Currently, I am working on a complete website overhaul. When it launches this summer I will also be releasing a new workbook series for both executive-level and professional-level job seekers who prefer a do-it-yourself resume writing resource.
What are the best resources you recommend to job seekers?
First and foremost, being active on LinkedIn is recommended. Build a strong, future-focused profile and engage on the site frequently! LinkedIn is a gold mine of information and opportunities.
The book Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry has good modern strategies to consider and leverage.
In addition, a great podcast is: Resume Storytelling with Virginia Franco
Finally, my own blog where I enjoy writing and sharing posts on a variety of executive resume writing and job search topics each week.
What is the best way for our audience to reach you?
Email – [email protected]
Connect with/Follow Adrienne Tom on Social Media:
Adrienne Tom and Career Impressions have also been featured in our recent compilation of the most resourceful career experts and career blogs – Top Career Advice Websites.