Career Makeover: Mike C. Baker

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Mike Baker has been working in information technology, or IT, for more than 26 years.

Career goals

Mike is a professional-level job seeker with a specialty in project management. With a strong professional career, Mike describes himself as a “COBOL wizard in a Java world.”

Mike has spent the past eight years consulting on various projects, but his real desire is to land a stable, interesting, permanent position with opportunities for analysis, coding and customer interface.

Mike C. Baker

Profile: Mike Baker has been working in information technology, or IT, for more than 26 years.
The problem: Mike’s approach has been reactive and passive — going after already-posted jobs with the same resume.
The plan: Mike should consider getting additional certification or training to adapt to changes in his field.


Mike’s resume reads like a technical manual, yet he has used it as an introduction of him and his skills.

Recruiters and human resources professionals spend about 10 seconds reading a resume — that is, if a human reads it. If your resume doesn’t introduce you well within the first half of the first page, you are out of the running.

The gap is between Mike’s experience, education, and skills, and the job requirements. As he stated in his self-description, he’s a COBOL guy in a Java world. This, along with an increasing requirement for project management certification, seems to keep him out of the running.

Because he gladly accepts consulting gigs and his resume is static, recruiters may not understand the true value of his brand.

Mike’s approach has been reactive and passive, going after already-posted jobs with the same resume. And the ambivalence, or unstated conflict, between the two goals seems to telegraph as uncertainty or disinterest.

Prepared by Linda Dominguez, master executive coach, CEO of Executive Coaching and Resource Network and author of “How to Shine at Work” and “The Manager’s Step-by-Step Guide to Outsourcing.”

Next: The plan.

The plan

Mike needs a new job search strategy. Since 80 percent of the jobs that are found come about through word-of-mouth, Mike needs to change his approach to finding opportunities while still accepting consulting gigs to fill his time — and bank account.

The following points will help Mike get on track and move forward into the world of interviews and job offers.

Step 1: Determine a professional objective

If Mike wants a permanent project management position and those positions require additional certification or education, then he needs to go get it. He could state on his resume that his certification is in progress, which will also demonstrate his commitment to learning.

If Mike does not want to get the certification or additional education, then he should stick with seeking jobs that won’t require it. However, it is important for him to consider the trade-offs: lower salary and lower-level positions.

Career help in 6 steps
  1. Determine a professional objective.
  2. Rewrite resume and adjust for every opportunity.
  3. Target specific companies and network.
  4. Get out and meet people.
  5. Be a valuable 50.
  6. Get 3 interviews a week.

Tip: For each position applied for, tailor your resume to the job.

Step 2: Rewrite resume and adjust for every opportunity

Mike needs to rewrite his resume, or better yet, have it professionally rewritten, and be prepared to adjust it for each opportunity. It serves as the introduction of Mike and his skills, and it must capture the reader’s attention in the first half of the first page. It must reflect a sense of his skills, but also of his style. Both are critical components of a job search today.

Keeping Mike’s consulting resume separate from his permanent job resume is important. Each seeks a different outcome, so each must be distinguishable from each other.

Step 3: Target specific companies and network

First, Mike needs to target his preferred work location. Next, he should target specific companies he would enjoy working for within that geographic location. Then he should seek out people he knows who can get him more information on the needs, priorities and culture of these organizations.

To do this well, Mike needs to network. Networking is not about asking for job leads. It’s about developing relationships with people who have similar interests and who are willing to introduce you to people they know.

It’s much easier to network with someone and say, “Hi Bill, I’m doing some research on company A, B and C this month, and I was wondering if you have any information you could share,” rather than, “Hi Bill, I’m looking for a job at company A, B and C — do you know of any job leads?”

Step 4: Get out and meet people

Mike also needs to get out there. He should set a goal to network and talk with at least 20 to 30 people each week. In-person still beats online by a mile, so he should connect with people online, but network with them in person.

Step 5: Be a valuable 50

Mike must use his age and the wisdom that is only gained through chronology as an advantage. A 30-something can’t possibly know what Mike has learned with an extra 20 years on the job. However, Mike shouldn’t let the energy, flexibility and up-to-date skills of the younger set be his downfall, either.

He doesn’t need to be 30; he needs to be a valuable 50. Mike needs to be prepared to demonstrate this.

Step 6: Get 3 interviews a week

Mike’s focus should be on getting interviews and offers, with a goal of at least three interviews per week. He should make sure that he wins those telephone interviews by being prepared to speak with gatekeepers in a language and style they understand (no jargon!) so he can move forward.

The economy these days is what it is. People are being hired. Candidates who know what they want, know how good they are, those who are flexible, optimistic, energetic and committed to continually learning — they are picked first.

Mike is in control of his career, so he needs to make it happen.

Linda Dominguez

Prepared by Linda Dominguez, master executive coach and author of “How to Shine at Work,” and “Manager’s Step-by-Step Guide to Outsourcing.”

Next: Career makeover: Diane Herman