Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

How to Pitch Yourself in 20 Seconds!

You’ve heard the saying “a man is only as good as his tools” and your pitch is a tool you will use time and time again in your job search.  You’ll use it:

  • As an introduction during networking events (mostly business, but some personal as well);
  • As the first response to a favorite interview question:  “tell me about yourself”;
  • An intro when you first speak on the phone with someone.

Because your networking pitch can “grab” someone’s attention and really make that strong first impression,  make sure you do the following:

  1. type it out until it’s exactly what you want to say in the words you want to use;
  2. make sure your pitch proves how you can “ease the pain” of your employer;
  3. time yourself and ensure you can say it in about 20 seconds;
  4. practice it about 20 – 30 times before saying it to your dream employer.  You should be so well rehearsed that someone can shake you out of a dead sleep at 3:00 AM and you’ll still say it flawlessly!

Read more tips about how to fine tune this very critical skill.  It’s well worth your time and effort!


Filed under: career coaching, life coaching, Uncategorized, , ,

Reader Questions on Resumes

Recently Vault.com and SixFigureStart teamed up to host an Ask Anything teleclass.  We received over 200 questions!  Here are some on resumes:

Amanda asks:  …do employers like to see an objective/profile on a resume?

Some employers like it and some don’t.  This is true, not just of the objective or of resume issues but most everything in the job search.  The reality is, there is no one way, and employers and recruiters will not agree 100%.  What employers/ recruiters can agree on, however, is that succinct is best, and everything on the resume should count.  So if you decide to go with an objective, make sure it’s clear and positions you effectively.

The major benefit of an objective:  it states clearly what you are looking for and therefore the resume reader knows what to consider you for.

The major downside of an objective:  it states clearly what you are looking for so the reader will consider you just for that, rather than a possibly similar but not quite matching job that is available.

John asks:  Could you also give a bit of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the resume management software that larger corporations typically use to filter and prioritize resumes using keywords? 

Companies use different things, including no filter or software.  I have recruited for large, global, Fortune 500 firms that did not use any type of software.  However, in places that didn’t have a technology filter in place, I would often manually filter resumes looking for certain keywords.  These words would vary based on the search. 

And therein lies the answer for the jobseeker for firms that use automatic or even manual filters:  your resume should have the keywords that are relevant for your skills, qualifications and interests.  Make sure to list specific technical skills, industry buzzwords and jargon that are searchable, and any credentials/ certificates/ training spelled out.  You may not know exactly how the companies are searching, but they are searching, so include those searchable terms in your resume.

Adam asks:  How can I really make my resume stand out and get a call? What are recruiters looking for when combing through resumes? Basically, how do I increase my chances of getting an interview? 

Less than 20% of jobs are filled from job postings.  So the best way to increase your chances is to move beyond answering job ads and hoping recruiters will call.  Network, get introductions, contact decision-makers directly.  The resumes that stand out and get called fit the job requirements exactly.  If you are doing the exact same job for a key competitor, you will likely be called in for an interview.  If you are crossing industries, coming back from time off, currently unemployed, you have red flags on your resume.  This doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an interview or won’t get one.  It just means you are less likely to get one from the strength of your resume alone.  So get off your computer and meet with people and access the 80%+ jobs that are filled outside of postings.

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Book Review: Googled By Ken Auletta

If you like business stories, you’ll like Googled by Ken Auletta.  It’s a year-by-year story of Google’s rise from inception to powerhouse.  Auletta asks the requisite provocative questions on privacy, copyright, and censorship, while also highlighting Google’s great achievements to date.  It’s a fast read, yet comprehensive.

As a coach, I was struck by Google’s employment policy of giving its engineers and some of its non-engineering staff 20% of their work time for personal projects.  This engenders loyalty to management and raises the creativity of the staff, a  win-win for company and staff.  How could we adopt the 20% policy in our own life and work?

Can we take a day of the week or 2 hours per day to step back from the day-to-day grind and reset, recharge, and refresh by refocusing on something different?

Can we encourage our teams (whether we are a manager or not) to take time to step back and work differently?

Is 20% enough or too much?  What is the right frequency — every day, once a week, or monthly?  How do we best spend that time?

Filed under: book review, career coaching, life coaching, , , , ,

From Abraham Lincoln

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is

more important than any other thing. - Abraham Lincoln

How resolved are you to get that new job, make the career change, or advance to the next level?

Why aren’t you moving on the actions you know you need to make?

What support can you give yourself so you can get moving towards these goals?  It’s not helpful to beat yourself up over inaction or to regret that you haven’t started sooner.  Just get the support you need and move forward now.

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If you could ask a recruiter anything about the job search, what would you ask?

Post your question as a comment to this blog.  We’d love to answer it in our upcoming blog posts and Ask SixFigureStart teleseminars.  Thanks so much!

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Tips For The Employed But Underutilized

Recently an experienced entrepreneur turned employee asked me for advice about a new job where there was a lot of down time.

She already asked for more to do but wasn’t assigned anything.

Now what?

Read my advice in my latest post for CNBC.com:  http://www.cnbc.com/id/35985417

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When Networking Doesn’t Lead To The Hidden Job Market

I often hear from people who think that networking means spending lots of time discussing their job search with family and friends.  Then when they have exhausted their contacts’ patience and still don’t have a job, they wonder why they haven’t been able to crack this hidden job market everybody alludes to.

The hidden job market does exist and is significant since 80% or more of jobs are filled outside of job postings and recruiters.  But the hidden job market is not about employers hiring friends and family.  Your BFF’s won’t get you a job.  The reality is that the winning leads are more likely to be 3 or 4 connections removed.  So when you network, in order to tap that hidden market, you need to move out from your comfort zone.  If your friends could help you, they would have already.  For career changers, friends are especially dangerous b/c they probably have a set way of seeing who you are and what you do and therefore wouldn’t be able to help, however well-intentioned. 

Instead, focus on strangers and build rapport by getting to know their companies, their business problems and how you can solve them.  In this way, it’s still very much about who and what you know.  The best candidates, especially in competitive markets, get to know the decision-makers and are perceived as experts and problem-solvers.

So do this quick check-up on your networking:

Are the people in your immediate network actually hiring for jobs you want? 

If so, keep deepening these connections.  If not, get to the hiring managers;

Do you know what you want specifically enough (company, department, job title) that you can find the hiring managers and can research the issues they care about? 

If so, approach them.  If not, do this research;

Are you meeting wit hiring managers on a regular basis – 5 or more meetings per week for a full-time search? 

Job search is a numbers game and if you’re not matching quality with quantity your search will lag or stall;

If you are not doing this level of targeted, high-impact networking, what is stopping you? 

Get a job search buddy, a mentor or a coach, depending on the level of support you need, but get the help that will move you forward.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters.  Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and others) of the upcoming “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” due out March 2010; Bascom Hill Books.  Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others.  Caroline is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, a life coach (www.thinkasinc.com) and a columnist for CNBC.com, Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com, Vault.com, Wetfeet.com and TheGlassHammer.com.

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Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd. – I Ching

When have you been willing to stand out in order to do something extraordinary?

What were you willing to do that some people thought was a mistake but ended up working out just fine or even spectacularly?

Remember those examples of greatness.  Identify that frame of mind, support and belief system, and inspiration that enabled you to accomplish these.  Repeat as necessary.

Filed under: life coaching, ,

The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want. — Ben Stein

Do you know what you want?  Before you worry about how to get it, whether or not you can get it, or when you will get it, do you know what IT is?  Do you know why you want it?  Often the why is the most powerful motivator.

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SixFigureStart in Bnet On Advice for Rookie Managers

“If I were managing a colleague I once hung out with, I’d stop doing it,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of Six Figure Start, a career coaching and consulting firm in New York City.

See this and other advice for new managers in Elaine Pofeldt and Adriana Gardella’s new piece, “The Rookie Manager’s Guide to Office Politics” on Bnet:


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