I Have a Degree…Now, How do I Find a Job?

Career Myths and Mysteries

Marti Benjamin, MBA

Professional Certified Coach | Certified Career Management Coach

Certified Professional Résumé Writer

Last weekend, as I enjoyed a latte on the patio of a coffee shop in a small college town, three students sat directly behind me discussing their plight—graduating soon and no clue about how to use with their newly acquired degree to find a position in their chosen career field.

These students candidly described their fears and concerns. One had been asked for a résumé and panicked at the request because he had no idea how to go about writing a persuasive document. Another empathized with the dilemma of navigating a job search, lamenting how unprepared she was to talk to people about hiring her.

Graduation season is upon us once again and the conversation I overhead is going on all across the country. The reality of finishing college and entering the work force has landed solidly in the midst of preparation for final exams, planning for graduation ceremonies and celebrations, and moving out of the dorms. For many graduates, this transition is overwhelming.

Here’s my recommendation for organizing your job search:

  1. Identify target positions and target employers. This first step will drive all of the others; everything that follows is a campaign to market your qualifications for two or three specific jobs. Research job postings to see which positions and employers appeal to you and match your skills and interests.

Job search is no longer a numbers game where you send as many résumés as you can and hope                 that a few hit the mark. It’s now a targeted marketing campaign.

  1. Identify the keywords in your targeted field. Your résumé and cover letter will need to capture the interest of a human being, only after it gets past a screening software tool called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This program searches for certain words in your résumé and places you as a candidate only if your language matches that of the position qualifications.

Review jobs posted on CareerBuilder or Indeed.com (or job boards specific to your field) and                     capture the words frequently used to describe the preferred qualifications and the duties of the                 job.

  1. Develop your résumé as a marketing communication. It doesn’t work to send a generic résumé to lots of posted jobs and wait to be noticed. It’s your job to convince the ATS and the hiring manager that you are the best qualified candidate for the position. Your message must tell your prospective employer what you’ve done in the past and how you can add value to their company in the future.

It’s challenging to design a winning résumé under these circumstances. Successful résumés land interview invitations so if your attempts aren’t getting you in to meet face-to-face with the hiring manager your communication tool isn’t working for you.

We’ll provide a free critique of your current résumé and tell you how we would improve it to land more interviews. Please visit the CareerFromHere.com contact page to forward your résumé.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her career coaching and résumé writing business. Enjoying the best possible job in the world for herself, she guides her clients to find the work that fits them perfectly. Her systems have led clients from fed-up and frustrated to fulfilled in their work-life. www.CareerFromHere.com

 

 

Changing Jobs Again

Career Myths and Mysteries

By Marti Benjamin, MBA, Professional Certified Coach

Professional Certified Résumé Writer

Champion for a Great Work-Life!

 For the past several years, the majority of workers have hunkered down and stayed with a job, even if it wasn’t the ideal position. As the Great Recession narrowed career opportunities, staying put was the most popular career management strategy. There are encouraging signs that this stagnation phase is ending.

A wider range of job possibilities is good news for employees. It’s time to define your “Great Job” not just one that generates enough money to live on.

  • What work would you most like to be doing every work day?
  • Where would you like to be working? Target some specific employers and learn everything you can about them—their culture, talent acquisition strategy, job tasks, compensation and benefits, management structure, support for job-related growth.
  • What industry speaks to your interests and personal values? For example, if the state of the environment is a personal concern, would the renewable energy industry appeal to you?
  • How do you want to be rewarded for outstanding contribution? Some people prefer flexibility over money; others are motivated by earning recognition. Still others prefer financial rewards. There are many right answers to the reward question; choose what matters most to you.
  • What strengths do you bring to the work place? Strengths are more than skills that you’ve learned. Strengths are innate characteristics that determine how you see the world. If you’re one who always sees the big picture, not just the short-term wins and losses, place yourself where that talent is valued and rewarded.
  • What energizes you: people, data, things, ideas, collaboration, balance, a lively exchange of ideas? Build your career options around your own preferences in order to find a position that suits you well and allows you to bring an abundance of energy to work.

Before searching for a position or connecting with a recruiter, develop a vivid image of your next great job. If your answers to the above questions don’t give you that vivid image, begin the following daily practice to gain greater clarity:

Notice when you are energized and feeling good throughout your work day. Make a note of what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with, if others are involved.

Keep this daily log for two to four weeks to get a clear picture of what fuels you.

Research the occupations and positions that allow you to do more of what you do best, that which fuels your enthusiasm and taps into your strengths.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her business and career coaching practice. She describes professional coaching as, “The best possible job in the world for me.” Since she began coaching in 2004, her systems have led fed-up professionals from frustration to fulfillment in their work-life. www.CareerFromHere.com  

 

Informational Interviews: What Should I Ask?

Career Myths and Mysteries

By Marti Benjamin, MBA

Professional Certified Coach | Certified Career Management Coach

Certified Professional Résumé Writer

One of the best ways to learn about an industry, position or company is to talk with someone on the inside. The purpose of this conversation is not to ask for a job, but to learn about the role, industry or company from the viewpoint of a person in that particular job.

Even though you won’t be asking for a job in this conversation, it’s crucial that you approach this as a career-enhancing interview. Be prepared.

  • Do your homework. Research the company: know what they produce or sell, how they differentiate themselves in a competitive landscape, their major initiatives or contracts, what they claim to stand for (i.e., their values and culture).
  • Look the part. Dress for an interview, even if your meeting is taking place in a coffee shop. Sit and stand tall and project confidence (not arrogance) and friendliness.
  • Use your interview time well. Most people are busy and have more on their to-do list than they can ever hope to complete. After about 30 minutes, check with the interviewer to see if they need to conclude the meeting or if they are free to spend more time with you. Watch for clues that they’re ready to end the conversation, things like fidgeting, checking the time or being distracted.
  • Create your list of questions beforehand. Don’t rely on the person you’re interviewing to tell you what you need to know.

Below are sample informational interview questions to get the conversation started and add to your knowledge about a potential career direction. Modify these questions to fit your own voice, but keep them open-ended (requiring more than a yes or no response).

  1. How do you measure success in this field? Is it on the basis of projects, education, certification or training completed, years of experience or something else?
  2. How did you break into this industry (or company, or position)?
  3. How are most positions in this field filled—through networking or through the company’s formal hiring process? Where should I concentrate my attention?
  4. What are the ‘must follow’ websites, professional groups and industry leaders that I should be monitoring to learn about developments in the industry (or company)?
  5. Are there particular LinkedIn discussion groups or professional Facebook pages I should join to monitor the industry (or company)? Which have you found to be most useful?
  6. What are some tips or suggestions you can offer, given the skills I have today and the career targets I’ve set?
  7. Which of my current skills will serve me well in this field?
  8. How do you see this industry (or position, or company) changing over the next five years?
  9. Given my background, what would be a reasonable salary expectation for me as I transition into this field/industry?
  10. What work or volunteer experience should I gain to more easily transition into this field (or company)?

Like a traditional job interview, it’s important to follow an informational meeting with a thank-you note, expressing gratitude for the time, support and useful information shared. Send your note within 24 hours by either snail mail or email.

You can also invite the person you’ve interviewed to connect with you on LinkedIn or other professional social media. Build the relationship through regular contact and serving as a resource.  Keep it professional, always.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her career and business coaching practice. While enjoying the best possible job in the world for herself, she guides her clients to find the work that fits them perfectly. Her systems have led clients from fed-up and frustrated to fulfilled in their work-life. www.CareerFromHere.com, www.BusinessEnergetix.com.

 

Test New Careers

Career Myths and Mysteries

By Marti Benjamin MBA

Professional Certified Coach

Certified Career Management Coach | Certified Professional Resume Writer

Where do I even begin to make a career change?” I hear that question frequently from career transitioners. Many people recognize they want to do something different but what they want to do is not always as easy to identify.

Rule out what you don’t want

One place to start a career re-design is to list the jobs and work conditions you don’t want. Think about the components of your current (or past) position(s) that have drained your energy and left you frustrated. Those are clues that you weren’t playing to your innate talents, regardless of the skills you used.

Perhaps it’s the  time in your career  you want to be home to help your children with their homework, rather than traveling for business every week. If your priority is family time and your work doesn’t accommodate that life style, you’ll be unhappy with your choice, regardless of how interesting and rewarding the position might be. Include in your “don’t want” list those conditions and requirements that you want to avoid in your next career.

 Reliable and objective assessments

The Internet is full of surveys and assessments that will provide you with some analysis of your personality or preferences. Buyer beware! Avoid assessments where the vendor is unwilling or unable to describe their statistical reliability and validity measures.

If the assessment leads you to a site that sells classes or other products, be skeptical of the results. For example, if you’re asked to draw a figure to see if you have talent for art school and you’re then accepted into an art program for several thousand dollars in tuition, it’s likely that the assessment was meant to encourage your enrollment and has little or nothing to do with your future career success.

Professional career coaches use assessments with strong validity and reliability features and that stand separate from any specific vocational service. (Contact me for more information.) I avoid surveys that dictate specific, narrow occupations because I know that the same assessment results can lead to many different career options.

 Assess your interests

Beyond the specific job role or industry, your personal interests play into your career satisfaction as well. Identify what you value the most in your career: money, status, working with facts, aesthetics, achievement, teamwork, adventure, efficiency, routine, imagination, change and variety, social interaction, contribution.

One reliable, no-cost interest survey is available at onetonline.org, under the heading, “I want to be …”

Talk to those doing the work

Use your network to identify people who are actually doing the job(s) you’re considering. Arrange an introduction and request an informational interview. Learn about the position from the perspective that only someone performing it can offer.

Prepare for this interview; develop questions about the growth forecast for the occupation, the critical success factors, qualifications for entering the field, best route for growth and promotion and typical tasks, duties, responsibilities, work conditions, challenges and rewards.

Try on the job

If possible, find a volunteer opportunity that allows you to perform the same or similar work so you can truly see what it would be like for you in that job.

You might also consider a temporary position to try on a job role.

What’s next?

If you’re ready to explore your career options, don’t miss this Career From Here special offer! During February 2014 only, the Jump-Start Career Package—including two career assessments and two hours of career coaching—is discounted for readers of this blog. Normally $490.00, for February only, the price is $425.00 when you request, “Jump-Start 0214”. Contact me for additional information.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her career and business coaching practice. While enjoying the best possible job in the world for herself, she guides her clients to find the work that fits them perfectly. Her systems have led clients from fed-up and frustrated to fulfilled in their work-life. www.CareerFromHere.com

 

Using Social Media to Manage Your Career

By: Marti Benjamin, MBA

Professional Certified Coach

Certified Career Management Coach

Professional Certified Résumé Writer

Champions for a great work-life!

Using social media may be one of the most confusing topics in the field of career management. Those who have used more traditional job search and networking strategies successfully often consider these new tools to be a fad or insignificant part of their career management strategy.

If you are still denying the importance of social media, it’s time to get on board. “Social media and digital marketing are becoming the new norm in how we recruit,” according to a survey of more than 4,000 talent acquisition professionals (also known as ‘recruiters’) worldwide. The recruiting industry predicts that 2015 will see an increase in the use of social media to pursue top talent.

When you can’t be located on social media, you’re likely to miss opportunities that are well-suited to your talents and career aspirations. Recruiters have more positions to fill than they have had for the past four years, and they are relying on social media to find suitable candidates for these openings. Social professional networks, like LinkedIn, make it easier than ever for them to find the right talent, without posting an open position and culling through hundreds of unsuitable résumés.

The LinkedIn Talent Solutions survey of 2015 recruiting trends reports that 72% of US companies recruit passive talent, meaning they’re looking for candidates who are not actively seeking a new position. Passive candidates account for 75% of professionals globally, candidates who are satisfied with their current position but manage their career by continually reaching out to their personal network and being available to talk with a recruiter.

At a minimum, a professional—whether actively or passively a candidate—must be findable on social media. That means a 100% complete LinkedIn profile, with 100 or more connections and the keywords relevant to a particular industry and role. I recommend that professionals on LinkedIn also join pertinent discussion groups and actively engage in the conversation, adding value to the discussion and showcasing their talent.

Beyond LinkedIn, social media is a good tool for building your professional network, monitoring industry trends and learning of available opportunities. Many companies use Facebook to advertise vacant positions and many individuals share posts they receive about job openings. More importantly, social media is the place to network and be recognized for your expertise, the key to successful career management.

If you need help with your LinkedIn profile and other social media career tools, contact us to learn how we can help you stand out in the crowded talent field.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her career and business coaching practice. While enjoying the best possible job in the world for herself, she guides her clients to find the work that fits them perfectly. Her systems have led clients from fed-up and frustrated to fulfilled in their work-life.  www.CareerFromHere.com 

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