Tag Archives: job search

What Kind of Life Do YOU Want?

When choosing a career, most people consider these things: What they’re passionate about, how much money they’ll make, and what they’re good at. These are great starting points, but they are not the end of the career exploration journey. The following questions will help you determine not only what you’re good at or will get paid for, but what kind of LIFE you want.

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Questions to Consider When Choosing a Career:

  1. Where do you want to live?
    1. Close to family? In a rural setting? Somewhere international? Determining where you want to work geographically will help you determine what kind of work you want to do.
  2. What kind of people do you want to work with?
    1. Laid back? Introverted? Type A? People who joke around? People who take their work very, very seriously?
  3. What kind of supervisor do you want?
    1. Do you want a supervisor who doesn’t mind when you take a couple of hours for doctors’ appointments or your kid’s recital? Do you want a supervisor who is quick to praise? Do you want a supervisor who gives you honest feedback? A director who is very clear about expectations?
  4. What do the hiring trends for the careers you’re considering look like?
    1. Considering a PhD in 1840s British literature? Great. Will you have a job once you get that doctorate? Maybe not…
    2. Know how fast the jobs you’re considering are growing and what the education requirements will be in the future.
  5. People, things, or ideas?
    1. Meaning, do you want to help people? Come up with new ways to do things? Work with your hands or use machinery?
  6. What DO you want to do all day?
    1. Do you want to be behind a desk? Working outdoors? Networking with lots of people? Do you want a job that ends a 5pm?
  7. What do you really freaking like to do?
    1. Confession: I really like to sing. I have fun singing with my friends or just in the car by myself. Problem is, I’m not so great at it AND I don’t have the passion to devote to a singing career. We often think that, just because we like to do something, or just because we do something well, means that we should turn it into a career.  Hobbies are great—they provide a wonderful break from your 9-5 job. So maybe I’ll never be a famous rock star—I’ll always have my car radio…
  8. What are you really freaking good at?
    1. Like I said, I like to sing. Sadly, I’m pretty certain no one will ever pay me for it. Why? Because I’m no Christina Aguilera.  You can really love anything: soccer, psychiatry, mechanical engineering, but if you don’t have the talent for it, you should probably consider another career path.
    2. Speaking in public? Taking care of children? Conducting chemistry experiments? Racing motocross bikes?
  9. What kind of life do you want during the workday?
    1. Do you want to be outside most of the day? Are you perfectly happy sitting in front of a computer all morning? Do you want to attend daily meetings? Do physical work? Have close friendships with your colleagues? Never come out of your cubicle?
  10. What kind of life do you want, period?
    1. Do you want a big house, expensive vacations, and financial security? It’ll probably require working 80-90 hours a week as an investment banker or a surgical intern? If you don’t mind, then you may have found a great career path. Do you want 4 kids and plenty of time to take them to Little Gym? Perhaps you should find a company or career that provides more work/life balance. Are you a night owl who’d prefer to work 3rd shift? It’s important to understand yourself, your needs, and the needs of those you love when considering a new job or a career path.

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Filed under Career Tips, Life advice

How Social Media Can Advance Your Career

Job seekers are often told to safeguard their social media accounts to insure that they aren’t viewed during the job search.  While this can be wise advice, there is another side to the story:

Using social media to ADVANCE your job search (and your career).

With the majority of professionals (and people in general) on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. these days, being “unsearchable” via social media may be more trouble than it is worth.  When I can’t find someone through social media, I sometimes wonder why–are they making all accounts super private because of something inappropriate? What’s going on?

While it is a great idea to “clean up” your Facebook or Twitter accounts so that potential employers don’t get a negative impression, you can also use social media to your advantage.  I use my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts to post (publicly–so that “everyone” can see) any major accomplishments, such as receiving a promotion or presenting at a conference.  I also post information about events that my office organizes or articles relevant to my field.

I work in a field that offers great work/life balance but also a good integration of professional and personal life.  Many of my colleagues are Facebook “friends” so I post appropriate personal information as well, like recently buying a home, becoming engaged last year, and birthdays of my nephews and nieces.

I’ve had many Proactive Professional readers find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  I’ve also received emails from professionals who Googled me and found my website and Facebook page.  When this occurs, I am grateful that my public Facebook reflects positive things in my life, an interest in my field, and the work I’m doing in career counseling.

Consider going beyond protecting your Facebook from colleagues, supervisors, or potential employers.  Instead, use social media to your advantage by creating a “brand” for yourself online.  Using social media proactively may convince potential employers or current supervisors that you’d be a great fit within their company–or are ready for a promotion.

Make sure that how you're viewed on social media is in alignment with who you are and how you want others to see you.

Make sure that how you’re viewed on social media is in alignment with who you are and how you want others to see you.

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Are You Making this MAJOR Job Search Mistake?

I work with a lot of great applicants who constantly submit resumes online, but are not getting interviews.  When this happens, I often ask, “Do you know what ATS is? Are you submitting ATS friendly resumes?”

Do you know what an ATS is? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! When you apply for a position online, your resume and application materials are probably getting through to a hiring manager.

If the answer is no, there’s still hope! This post will explain what an ATS is and why it’s SO important during your job search.

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System.  It is computer software that helps hiring managers, recruiters, and other Human Resources personnel sort through job candidates to find the best fit for their company.  Unfortunately, job seekers who are unfamiliar with ATS often submit their standard resumes online–often resulting in them being tossed out of the candidate pool.

So, how do you make YOUR resume ATS friendly? With these quick tips:

1. Do not create your resume using a template! Using a template you found on Microsoft Word may get your resume thrown out before any of the other tips can be utilized.  Though unseen by us, templates are often filled with characters that don’t jive well with ATS software.

2. Use keywords.  Go over the job description with a fine tooth comb and insert keywords from the description anywhere you can (and anywhere that makes sense!).  If the hiring managers are looking for candidates who have Java coding experience, are team players, and have 3 years’ experience, make sure to put your Java coding experience under a header such as “Skills” and create an objective statement in which you write something like “I am a team player with five years experience in the computer programming industry.”  Keywords are the language used in the job description and will be what an ATS is looking for when searching resumes.

3. Watch your formatting.  Often, I tell my students to create more “grown up” resumes by using terms like “Professional Experience” and “Community Involvement” instead of “Employment History” and “Volunteer Work.”  I believe this advice still holds up when handing out resumes at career fairs or job interviews.  For ATS purposes, however, use simple headings such as “Work Experience” and “Education.”  ATS software is designed to seek out keywords that are important to the position and look for simpler headings.  When submitting resumes online, use simple formatting with standard fonts such as Times New Roman.  Also, avoid using tables, charts, graphs or anything other than standard bullet points.

4. Always assume your resume is being reviewed by ATS software.  How will you know if a human being is going through resumes instead of ATS software? You won’t.  If you are submitting your resume online, it is always best to assume that your resume has to make it through ATS software before being seen by an actual person.

5. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Make your resume as easy to find as possible by saving it under a name such as “FirstName_LastName_JobTitle” instead of “Jill’s Res.”  Additionally, save your resume as a .doc instead of a .pdf.  .Docs are easily read by ATS software, whereas .pdf’s are often more difficult.

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A few easy resume tweaks may mean the difference between getting an interview or having your resume tossed in the (cyber) trash.

 

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Do’s and Don’ts of Dressing for a Job Interview for Women

A quick and painless guide to dressing appropriately for a job interview

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Do:

If wearing a skirt…

  • Wear a skirt that comes to your knees
  • Sit down (before the interview) to make sure the skirt doesn’t come more than two inches above your knees
  • Wear low heels (2-3 inches or less)

If wearing pants…

  • Wear pants that are hemmed and do not drag the ground when you walk
  • Wear pants that are not too tight on your waist or thighs–you should be able to pinch about an inch of fabric in any direction without a problem

If wearing a business suit…

  • Call me old-fashioned, but I believe it is best to wear a matching blazer and pants/skirt. However, if you prefer to mix and match, wear coordinating colors with the darkest shade on bottom (i.e., a black skirt and red blazer)
  • Wear a button down that does not gape open at your chest
  • Wear a button down that can be tucked in
  • Tuck in said button down

-OR-

  • Wear a nice, dressy top that is not low cut or embellished with bows, rhinestones, etc.

If wearing a dress…

  • Wear a dress that comes at least to your knees (preferably when sitting AND standing)
  • Wear a blazer or neutral color (black, navy, cream, etc.) cardigan

Regarding shoes…

  • Wear simple, low heels in a neutral color–no extra buckles, bows, etc.

Regarding make up and jewelry…

  • Remove any body piercings
  • Wear small pieces of jewelry–stud earrings, simple necklaces, etc.
  • Wear neutral make up–go for a “no make up” look

Don’ts

  • Do not wear anything sleeveless
  • Do not have an unnatural hair color
  • Do not wear anything that shows any part of your underwear–bra straps, panty lines, etc.
  • Do not wear more than 4 pieces of jewelry (i.e., stud earrings, watch, simple ring–that is four as earrings count as two)
  • Do not wear any color other than white/cream, black, brown, gray, or navy
  • Do not wear tights as pants
  • Do not wear tights or panty hose with a pattern–including fishnet
  • Do not wear a shorter skirt because you are wearing dark tights–even if you are wearing dark tights, your skirt must come to your knees
  • Do not wait until the day of the interview to try on everything to see how it looks–try on everything–shoes, jewelry, hosiery, etc.–to make sure that it all looks appropriate and goes with your outfit choice
  • Do not wear shoes that hurt or pinch your feet–it will distract you and you will regret it

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Know Your Values and Satisfaction Will Follow

My life has been pretty hectic for the past month, so I haven’t had much time (or inspiration) to write.  That being said, I met with someone recently who said to me, “I know I’m supposed to be looking for a job that will make me happy, but Candace, I really don’t want to be poor.”  We’ve probably all heard the saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” but that’s simply not always the case.  New York City sanitation workers can make more money in one year than I make in two, but do all NYC trash collectors love their jobs? Probably not.  In my opinion, a better saying would be “Know your values and satisfaction will follow.”  If, for example, you greatly value being able to work at your own pace and have lots of time to spend with your family, ER surgeon might not be the right job for you.  Figuring out the best fit career for you isn’t always an easy or straightforward task.  Not only must you take into account your personality, your actual interests, and what skills or talents you have, but you also have to figure out what you value most.  It can be messy, and it rarely happens overnight.  So, how do you figure out what you value most?  Start by taking this quiz on values: http://stewartcoopercoon.com/jobsearch/career-values/index.phtml.

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Hopefully, I’ll be back to updating a few times a week very soon.  In the meantime, have a great weekend. :)

 

 

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Top 5 Mistakes Seniors Make During the Job Search

As a university career counselor, I often meet with seniors to discuss their job search process. As such, I’ve begun keeping a record of the most common job mistakes I see students make as they look for their first professional position. Don’t let these unfortunate blunders happen to you!

Being desperate.

With graduation (and student loan repayment) looming, it can be difficult not to take the first job—any job!—that is offered. However, accepting a job that doesn’t align with your interests, or working in an office culture you don’t enjoy, can quickly lead to bitterness and burnout. Take time and consider how each job lines up with your values, interests, skills, and personality before accepting an offer.

Not utilizing their university’s career services.

The career services department of your university is there to help you with resumes, cover letters, and interviewing—and most of these services are free to students, so why not use them? Make an appointment at the career center to have someone help you practice interviewing or assist you with resume edits. This may be the only time in your life that you have a staff of career counselors on hand to help you figure out what to do with your life—take advantage!

Having one resume for every job.

I believe in having a master resume that contains all of your work history, volunteer experience, education, etc. However, that resume should be edited for each job. Even if you apply for three positions that are similar in nature and responsibilities, you are probably applying at different companies (or at least different departments). Tailor each resume to the job for which you are applying—this means copying and pasting from that master resume to make sure that you’re including the most relevant experiences for each position.

Failing to research the organization.

When you interview for a position, there are two main ideas you want to illustrate: why you’re the best person for this job, and why you want to work for this company. In almost every interview, you’ll be asked the question, “Why do you want to work for us?” It’s important that you know major details about the organization—what they do, their mission and vision, the primary players—and be able to articulate these details in the interview.

Failing to use basic etiquette.

Thank you letters. A firm handshake. Looking someone in the eye. These are all basic rules of etiquette that we should be adhering to all the time, but that we absolutely must do during a job interview. Failing to send a thank you letter after a job interview can mean the difference between an offer or a rejection letter. Treating the administrative assistant rudely before you interview could kill your chances before you’ve ever said a word to the hiring committee. Manners matter—especially during an interview.

Are you prepared for your next interview? Is your resume job ready?

 

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To some, this says “I’m a go getter!” To others, it says “Maybe I don’t know how the job search process works…”

 

(Originally appeared on Levo League)

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Life and Career Inspiration of the Week

I’ve been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks, but a huge THANK YOU is in order! Last month, I had the highest number of page views AND unique visitors of my blog’s history! Some people thought I was crazy for starting a blog with a career development theme, but I’ve loved every minute of it.  Helping people to understand how their careers affect every area of their lives, giving practical tips and advice for the job search process, and using metaphors and analogies to discuss career exploration are among my favorite things to do and I’m so glad I get to do them in such a creative medium.  So, thank you.  Seriously. 

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Also, I thought I’d share a little career (and life) inspiration, courtesy of Mr. Mark Twain:

 

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My #1 Piece of Advice for Job Interviews

There is a ton of advice in the world (and online) about how to succeed in job interviews–be there 15 minutes early, send a thank you letter, shake hands firmly, etc. etc. etc.  I absolutely agree with all of that and all of it matters to some extent.  But there is one piece of advice that is going to get you the job: Don’t just be yourself, be the solution to their problem. Some job search experts say don’t be yourself at all during a job interview.  I don’t think this is 100% accurate because there are good reasons to show your personality. In my opinion, some of the main reasons to show your personality are as follows:

1. They want to know that you’re passionate about the work and really interested in the company so that there’s less fear of you jumping ship later.

2. They’re human–they want to know that you’ll be a good personality fit for their office.

3. If you’re going to be working with people at all, you owe it to them and yourself to give a fair representation of how you’ll be when you’re working with people.

But ultimately–

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They have a problem and they need a solution.  Maybe their problem is that their sales have decreased in the last year and they need an outgoing salesperson to turn it around.  Maybe you’re applying to be a high school Math teacher at a school with low standardized testing scores–you’ve got to show how you’ll contribute to turning it around.  Any open position is a problem for a company–they need somebody to put together machinery, to raise funds for a new roof, to answer the phones in the afternoons–whatever the case may be, it is a problem and it needs a solution. So when you’re researching a position and organization before a job interview, always ask yourself “What is their problem and how can I solve it?”

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Getting a Job–Hollywood Style

Getting a Job--Hollywood Style

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April 24, 2013 · 4:52 pm

What Came First-the Work or the Egg?

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As regular readers know, I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In lately.  In the book, Sandberg states that women shouldn’t turn down career opportunities or “tune out” of their jobs because they think or hope or plan to start families in the near (or distant) future.  Sandberg says that women who turn down leadership roles or increased responsibility because they worry about future children or work/life balance are actually doing themselves a disservice.  By saying yes to opportunities that interest them and taking on roles based on their current lives, they set themselves up to be more satisfied at work and thus, happier and more productive at home.

This really hit home for me, as I have tons of female friends who worry about moving for a job opportunity because they eventually want to settle down in their hometowns, or are afraid to put themselves in the running for promotions or projects because it will leave them less time for a potential partner or family.  In my post, Why Can’t a Woman Be LESS Like a Man?, I advocated for all women being able to make decisions based on their individual needs, wants, and situations.  I am not trying to contradict myself, but am simply stating that women shouldn’t limit their opportunities because they are unsure of their futures.

Around the time that I received my masters degree, I was also struggling with endometriosis, a chronic health condition.  My doctor and I discussed a surgery that would remove the painful lesions that endometriosis was producing in my body.  As I was almost twenty-nine at the time, we also discussed the potential need for me to have children sooner rather than later, post surgery.  (For those readers who are not familiar with endometriosis, it is an extremely painful condition in which the lining of the uterus attaches in other places, creating scar tissue.  Some of those places include the fallopian tubes, making conception and pregnancy more difficult.  The lesions can be removed, but typically grow back in a matter of months or a few years.)

I was job searching at the same time this occurred and, to be honest, these thoughts were in my head as I looked for a professional position. I work in an industry that often necessitates moving for job opportunities, but I did not want to leave my partner in the event that we decided to have a baby.  I also began considering positions that were related to my chosen career field, but would possibly be more conducive to starting (and raising) a family.  Although I was worried that I needed to make these choices quickly, I am somewhat regretful that I made decisions based on hypothetical situations instead of my own desires.  In this aspect, I agree with Sandberg’s statements.  I took a job that felt like a good fit for someone wishing to begin a family, but quickly realized that it wasn’t the best fit for me.  Had I begun trying to have a family during that time, I can only imagine that I would’ve been stressed and unhappy because I was in a position that wasn’t right for me.

Now, I try to look at, and take in, all factors when making career choices.  My family and friends are important to me, as is planning my future, but I know that I’m at my best when I’m working in an environment where I’m happy and feel like I fit in with the company culture.  Ultimately, I think this makes me a better employee and also provides me with a better work/life balance.

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April 19, 2013 · 1:14 pm