Be Ready to Act When Opportunity Knocks

 “Can you make the connection for me? I would love to get an opportunity with them based on this article.”

The other email read, “Could you send a copy of my resume over to her and tell her to ‘Help a brother out?’”

Friday is a day for me to connect back to the US, responding to these type requests, following-up, and meeting new people. But sometimes I get a little perturbed with the level of request and the cluelessness. Granted I do know a lot of people and I am always willing to share with my network. The problem is that sometime the requestors do not realize that this is major league ball. This career conundrum is serious business.

Are you really prepared?

That sports metaphor means that every day you have to compete and, as it’s said, somebody is constantly trying to take either your job or someone else’s. If you are competing for a major league job you HAVE to be prepared.

A resume half done or a note that shows no value will not cut it today. You can’t expect that someone would refer your resume or you to someone if you do not take the job seriously. By seriously I mean: Did you read the job description? Did you craft the cover letter that reflects your ability to sync with the job description? Did you submit a marketing document that shows your major accomplishments?

Yes, it is that serious.

Half-way is no way

But there is not a week that goes by that I don’t get a request like the two above, wanting me to work wonders. This is how I operate when I recommend someone: “I am going to send over a resume and other documentation of a person that I think you should talk to about the role you have listed.” That is it. One sentence is my so-called seal of approval. After that, the document must stand on its own.

The narrative that you develop has to stand on its own. The two writers quote above got a negative reply to say the least. I recommended one to a resume writer and the other got a tongue lashing.

You have to build it

Careers today have to be built. It could be a total rehab or minor updating but remember all the rules have changed. In discussing a deal that I was working on a month ago, the respondent on the other end mentioned they would love to work for this particular organization. Because I had worked with him before, I knew he was top notch.

“Fine, I said, “Send me over your paper and whatever you have and I will pass it along.”

I was totally shocked that it took one month for me to get his documents. When I checked my email the other night before bed, I saw the email with all the drivel about rewrite, no time, etc. I had to put the phone down and deal with this the next day.

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When we got a chance to talk two days later, I told him that I could not do this now. My reason was that I told them a month ago how great you were, they were excited and wanted to meet. Now I go back a month later…

When the opportunity arises, pounce

This is my rule of thumb. If someone called you in the morning and asked, “Can you get a copy of your resume over to this person before end of day because they fly out this afternoon,” could you do it? The vast majority of people – and most of you are HR professionals — that are reading this, sadly could not. It is what I call being prepared when the opportunity arises.

My other pet peeve is the new resume platform, LinkedIn. For people that read my work, you know I am a huge fan of this platform. To all you Facebook users, if you spent as much time on LinkedIn as you do on Facebook you would have no career worries.

Last week I secured two speaking engagements, one in Dubai and the other in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where I now live. As soon as the links went live, my resume was updated, LinkedIn profile was updated as well as Facebook, in that order.

Yes, folks it is that serious. You have to train like an athlete because when the opportunity arises, you want to make the most of it.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.