Many people dream of finding a better job, but they are paralyzed by fear or inertia. If you find yourself in one of these four situations, then the time is probably right to plan your next career move.Read More
When my client told me he was terminated from his job, I wondered why. He was an absolute star performer and had a track record of success that didn’t quit. In fact, he was actively being sought after by multiple companies.
Several things came to mind. Maybe he posted his resume on Monster. Maybe he told someone at work that he was looking for a job and that backfired on him. Maybe he left his resume in his printer.
No, not a chance in hell.
As the story goes, the recruiter he was working with on a job search happened to know the president of the company he was working for. The recruiter sent the president an email saying my client was searching for a new job, in addition to revealing other intimate details of my client’s frustration with his current company. Within the hour, my client was contacted by his boss and immediately fired.
Is there no sacred space or moral code that allows someone to conduct a job search without fear? How can a recruiter divulge confidential information in all good conscience? I understand how friendships work, but at some point, don’t we have to draw the line? My client trusted the recruiter implicitly that he would be conducting a confidential search.
As a former legal recruiter, I am amazed at the breech of confidentiality, lack of discretion and absence of moral code and ethics. How would that recruiter feel if someone disclosed to HIS boss that he was looking for a job?
Watch Your Back
Not only do job hunters have to assess the integrity of their recruiter, they also have to think about confidentiality with their peers at work.
Believe it or not, another client walked through my door last week and announced that he had learned a very hard lesson at work. I cringed, sensing another tragedy would unfold right before my eyes. I knew by the look on his face that something had run afoul. As the story goes, he worked for a company that lacked integrity on every level. The dishonest environment sickened him and he had to get out.
He also knew on an intellectual level that he had to make a smart choice and not let his emotions get the best of him. Transitioning his way out of the minefield was not going to be easy and he knew it. Some of the questions he asked himself were:
Do I quit now and look for the same job at a different company?
What are all of my options? Where do I fit into the market right now?
Should I risk entrepreneurship?
In fact, we had explored these ideas earlier in career counseling while identifying his top strengths. I assumed that he knew not to discuss his feelings with anyone at the office. To cut to the chase, my client had shared with a peer at work that he was actively searching for a new job and seeing a career counselor to determine his next steps.
At the end of the conversation with his “friend,” the peer simply said, “Based on what you just told me, I am going to have to report this to the leadership.” My client was quickly terminated.
I still cannot wrap my head around this scenario, can you?
Loose Lips Sink Ships
Confidentiality aside, there are many arguments for changing jobs every few years, many of them positive. As reported in Fast Company, “Workers who stay with a company longer than two years are said to get paid 50 percent less, and job hoppers are believed to have a higher learning curve, be higher performers, and even to be more loyal, because they care about making a good impression in the short amount of time they know they’ll stay with each employer.”
How does this apply to you? If you happen to fall into the job-hopping group that wants to get ahead and strives to be better, continuously learn, develop, and advance in your career, then you need to remember that confidentiality is a critical component of your job search on every level.
In summary, keep everything about your job hunt in the proverbial vault. This includes not discussing any conversation about your dissatisfaction on the job with your recruiter or coworkers. In crafting the next chapter of your career, you will want to make the move on your own terms and not the other way around.
All too often, I hear horror stories from job hunters because of my work as both a resume writer and career counselor. When they land on my lap, I often think about how my clients could have prevented such a tragedy from happening. Sometimes it’s their fault; other times, it’s not. I can still hear my dad, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot, espousing the idiom “Loose lips sink ships.”
Where does that leave this particular recruiter or peer who, more than likely, will be searching for a new position over the next year? If you believe in the law of karma, then you are probably hoping, like me, that the boomerang effect will get into play.
I don’t know whether you agree, but I think there is always a cost to leveraging your career in the workplace. I’m talking about the emotional, physical, spiritual, or just plain psychological toll that we pay when we push to achieve our career goals and delay gratification in other areas of our lives.
The answer to whether you are starving yourself on any these levels lies deep within you. You and I both know that, in many cases, there are no options when you’re trying to advance your career.
I meet single parents every day who are completely maxed out. I meet executives who are riding high, working 70-hour weeks, and then discover health and financial costs to their hard work. I meet college grads grappling with how they are going to pay back their student loans and still have pizza on Friday night and live in a decent neighborhood.
Driving hard and losing yourself in your career can take you off course on many levels. While listening to a program on Oprah’s “Spiritual Sunday,” I learned about a new concept called emotional anorexia. According to Dr. Robin Smith, author of Hungry, The Truth About Being Full many women and men starve themselves emotionally. Metaphorically speaking, Smith calls this “eating crumbs” in their personal and professional life. This starvation involves not feeding your spirit and not getting what YOU need, and then lying to everyone including yourself.
Maintain this behavior throughout your adult life and you can become emotionally bankrupt. That’s exactly what happened to Dr. Robin Smith, a well-known therapist and psychologist who has appeared on Oprah more than 35 times.
Sometimes, tragedies such as layoffs, terminations, personal setbacks, and relationship issues can help us grow. Transitioning during these phases helps you become more of who you are and brings you from an unstable period to a more healthy and stable stage of your life.
In fact, Oprah espouses that adulthood allows us to finish the unfinished business of childhood. A flood, an unexpected illness, a death, or a terrible car accident are examples of things that can wake us up to what’s most important. Ask any cancer survivor about what they learned while undergoing surgery, chemo, and radiation, and you will witness a superb expose on the value of “NOW.”
Settling for emotional crumbs in a relationship or in a job doesn’t really allow us to develop and learn about family, our friends, and ourselves, but it’s up to us to read between the lines. Hardships can bring us to an awakening. The question remains, will you be kind to yourself after you experience the trauma of being terminated or ending a romantic relationship? Being gentler with ourselves helps us mend what is broken and heal what seems impossible.
Through therapy, meditation, and exercise, many people achieve an extraordinary transition to the “other side.” What becomes clear is that understanding, compassion, and kindness are requisites for becoming content with who we are.
Much of the difficulty lies in the meaning of identity. What does it mean to not understand your identity? You may find yourself asking, “Who am I without my job, my money, my spouse, or my children?”
Tying ourselves to external things and running towards the prize is not always the right choice. I understand this more clearly every day that I work in my career counseling practice. I hear more often than not that people don’t want to repeat their parents’ behavior. They are desperately searching for balance, because they have seen firsthand what it feels like to not have it.
Being out of a job or sticking it out in relationship that only leaves us “crumbs ” is a surefire way to ensure emotional anorexia. The lack of identity and shame such a deficit causes ultimately becomes a monumental issue.
Though striving for success and driving towards self-sufficiency is a natural impulse, what would happen if we worked on reducing the power of our egos and minimizing the drive for personal power in the workplace? Would we have fewer problems? In contemplating your next career move, perhaps you should consider whether it will express your deepest values and give you the emotional nourishment you so desperately need.
Wasted Talent. Sadly, I see it every day in the business I’m in.
When I hear about how troubling the workplace has become, and specifically the toxic cultures and environments some people work in, I get knots in my stomach. As a resume writer and career counselor, I often find myself serving as a trusted confidante and advisor. Many times that translates to hearing the dirty secrets about the abhorrent lack of leadership, the narcissistic, egomaniac supervisor, and inept managerial incompetence in the workplace.
It’s simply part of the territory that comes up when you meet new clients and ask, “Why are you job hunting?” After all, there’s always a reason for leaving, right? Moreover, that statement that needs to be crafted just right for the recruiters and future employers that will be screening you. I’m sure you catch my drift . . .
More often than not, people simply want to throw it all away and start fresh. I hear comments like “I need to get out of this job,” or “I can’t stand this industry, the boss, or the leadership,” or even “I want to do something completely different.”
About half of the time, it’s not the job or the industry. Rather, it boils down to a company’s leadership, a manager or company culture. What if you could take the same job functions and responsibilities and work in a supportive environment? Might you be happier? I’m not saying it’s a simple fix, but sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes.
Sadly, some people jump ship before they do a complete and thorough evaluation of their situation. Without any insight into what went wrong, they end up jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Right now, I’m working with many clients who jumped ship or want to jump ship. One moved on because he thought there was no possibility of advancement at one of the largest Fortune 500 companies out there, because he got turned down for several internal jobs. Another took a $20K raise at a smaller organization and ran with it, only to find that no one even says good morning when she walks through the door at 8:00 a.m. Yet another client now finds herself working 60+ hours a week for what she thought was her dream company, but according to management, that’s not enough time spent doing the job. Now she fears for her job every day, even though she’s a top performer.
The question you have to ask yourself is, How long can you run on this treadmill? How can you possibly sort through the chaos when you are working 50 to 60+ hours per week, drained, exhausted, and depressed about where you are working?
The good news is that there are wonderful career counselors and coaches out there just waiting to help you move on to your next adventure. Most counselors and coaches provide counseling sessions by phone, over Skype, or in person.
A good counselor or coach can offer a third-party perspective and provide a supportive environment where you can freely talk about your issues. They help prioritize your personal and career issues and make you think about your timing. They can also get you out of your circular pattern of getting nowhere. Counselors and coaching can provide validation on your strengths and development needs as well as give you feedback and support when you’re getting “beat up” on the job. Where do you find these coaches? The International Coaching Federation has a fantastic website and plenty of resources for you to get started.
Bottom line: everyone has barriers to work through, but trying to do it alone can be extremely painful. Take action and control of your career planning by getting some career counseling and career confidence. It could be the difference between waking up and looking forward to your life or feeling as if you’re wasting your talent.
Seriously? Another article about resume writing? How many do we need to read on this topic? How much more is there to know about writing a resume?
Perhaps these are a few of your thoughts. But, in this chaotic world of navigating a job search and countless posts that make you want to scream, I ‘m pretty certain that you may not have heard of these tricks and tips.
1. Including a Hotmail or Yahoo email address on a resume is still holding people back from landing an interview. Believe it, because it’s true. Yes, there is discrimination relating to the domain name of your email provider that you are using. Six years ago when I was a legal recruiter, I remember my boss saying to me, “Oh, and by the way, if someone has a Yahoo or Hotmail address, they are not up with the times, so don’t bother.” I was horrified. Years later I started to read articles on this same subject. Some of the research is showing that if you’re in the technology sector, your chances of getting passed up are significant. If it’s happening in the legal and technology sectors, I think you’ll agree it’s not worth taking a chance. I’ve included a link to an article about this topic so you can see what I am talking about. Get with it and use a Gmail address (it even looks cooler!) and, above all, make sure you’re able to retrieve your messages through your smartphone.
2. Be sure to include multiple contact options on your resume to make it easy for a recruiter to get in touch with you. Include your Gmail address, your LinkedIn profile address, which should be hyperlinked to your profile, and your cell phone number. Additionally, with the issue over privacy concerns, I typically recommend including only your city, state, and zip code as your address information on your resume. Also, if you happen to see an unknown telephone number coming in on your phone, I would highly recommend letting those calls go to your voicemail. You certainly don’t want to get blindsided by a recruiter’s call when you are out to lunch, shopping, or sitting at your desk.
3. Use your LinkedIn hyperlinked address on your resume. A huge tip to ensuring you are completely doing what’s considered state-of-the-art LinkedIn etiquette is to customize your profile address. Showcasing your name on your resume with a bunch of numbers and dashes next to it really shouts out that you haven’t a clue about the nuts and bolts of LinkedIn.
Here’s an example of what you want to avoid: http//www.linkedin.com/mindythomasasjb1234t.
This is an example of what your link should look like: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mindythomas/
4. If someone writes your resume and cover letter for you, such as a professional resume writer, friend, or family member, be sure to change the authorship on each document. How do you do this? Simple. Go to “File,” then go to “Properties” and insert your name in the appropriate field. “Save” this as your final document. My feeling has always been that you do not need to advertise that you got help. However, with that being said, if your recruiter asks if you wrote your resume, be honest and tell them you absolutely had help. Hey, let me clue you in about HR folks. They are also investing in professional resume writing services along with marketing, sales, and social media specialists to stay ahead of the pack. How do I know this? I routinely get hired by these pros.
5. Give yourself permission to add job titles when your job title is generic or doesn’t make sense. Don’t be afraid to make appropriate changes because when a recruiter reads your resume (or the ATS does, for that matter), having a title that makes sense or one that is almost identical to the job posting will absolutely strengthen your candidacy. Use the title that the employer is using on the posting and put it in parentheses next to your given title at your company. You know that resumes are marketing and sales documents, so you want to be sure to grab this opportunity to boost your SEO and connect your background to the job posting. Often times what your company has designated as your title cannot do the heavy lifting of connecting the dots.
Resume writing in today’s world is full of slippery slopes, so don’t underestimate how even the smallest nuance can raise a red flag or boost your marketability to getting you to the next step in the job search process.
When my boomer buddy, a global SVP, informed me that he landed a new job in less than 60 days after getting laid off from his company after 20 years, I shouted with joy. With over 3 million baby boomers currently unemployed, we all know how tough it is.
I asked him, “Do you realize that you just shattered your own myth about not being hireable because you are ‘over the hill’, have grey hair and are 64 years old?”
I will not deceive you.
I will not tell you he had a small rolodex.
In fact, from years in the corporate world, he did amass a significant network of contacts and he knew how to capitalize on his relationships cultivated over the years. And….aaah, yes, he most certainly had a presence on LinkedIn.
When we sat down to review his “Go-To” plan for nailing down a job with one of the largest consulting firms in the world, within a 60-day time period, my friend relayed to me a few of his effective strategies.
1. Upon deep reflection, he realized that his skills were well-honed and stronger than ever, even though the job market had changed dramatically. He also realized that he was light years smarter now and had an undeniable amount of energy and a true commitment to excellence. Of course, his positive attitude and high degree of energy were not present immediately. But he came to the realization that he had to get out of this quick sand fast.
So, what did he do?
He took a well-deserved vacation and escaped the noise of the world. My friend took time for himself to clear his head, assess the situation and develop a success strategy.
2. He very carefully crafted the “Reason for Leaving” message. Yes, my friend had worked in start-ups for most of his career. When the company swiftly changed its direction after a number of years, he was caught off guard for sure. We talked about his ‘reason for leaving’ and discussed what he would say and how he would say it. Not an ounce of anger or hostility was part of that equation. He kept his story short and sweet.
Let me give you an example of how you might craft a reason for leaving statement: “Like many IT [plug in your industry here] companies, my firm went through a major restructuring. Due to a recent merger, all IT [_______] functions were consolidated, which affected many positions, including mine. While I had been with the company for more than 20 years, I am looking at this next opportunity to use my strengths and experience in a new setting.”
Rule of Thumb: Don’t use negatively-charged words like ‘unfortunately’ or ‘downsizing.’ Keep it vanilla. Be cool, calm and collected about the bombshell that was just dropped even though you are sweating bullets.
3. R&R: Refresh the resume and reconnect with friends and colleagues. My buddy pulled out his network of contacts and made his call list. Next, he established the purpose of each call. He prepared an opening statement that consisted of three parts (identifying himself, acknowledging the value of his contact’s time and using clear language to state why he was calling). Obtaining information and a commitment to set up a meeting, another chat or date and time for a follow up helped to increase the chance that something might result from this call. Yes, he immediately followed up with an email.
4. Become guerilla-like in managing your job search. My buddy created a daily plan and followed it. He wrote well-thought-out and effective letters and followed up on opportunities. Yes, he did look at Ladders for $100K+ jobs, but decided to target specific companies instead. Leveraging his contact and knowledge base, he reached out to his industry contacts and also attended industry events. On top of that, his reputation for trustworthiness, deep technical expertise and intelligence in his industry was well known.
5. Finally, it’s important to change your approach until you get results. Like motivational speaker and life coach Anthony Robbins, my friend continued to modify his approach until he got what he wanted. First, and foremost, he knew what he wanted in terms of industry targets and companies. He was clear about the role he was best suited for and what experience and skills he could bring to the role.
Furthermore, he knew how to capitalize on business relationships. This was the real key for him and proved that his career contact network, along with a professional resume, was vital in his job campaign.
According to a recent survey by Jobvite, which conducts the most comprehensive Social Recruiting Survey of its kind, “An astounding 94 percent of recruiters used or planned to use social media in their recruitment efforts last year. That’s an increase of 16 percent since 2008. And 78 percent of recruiters made a hire through social media in 2013.”
Upon reading this, I reached out to my network and interviewed an HR Talent Acquisition Director in the Gaming and Entertainment Industry, who actually specializes in building infrastructures utilizing ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems). She’s 100% convinced that these automated screening systems will become even more prevalent and sophisticated as the years march onward.
In fact, due to EEOC compliance standards, companies are required to capture specific employment information, and what better way to obtain this data than to gather it from an online candidate application. Job hunters may or may not be aware of the increase in social media sites, like LinkedIn, interlinking with ATS, enabling companies to ramp up hiring practices to attract best-in-class talent.
Just a few months ago, Bullhorn, a global recruiting software company, announced the integration of its applicant tracking system and customer relationship management system (ATS/CRM) with LinkedIn Recruiter. The integration offers system users the ability to seamlessly utilize both Bullhorn and LinkedIn’s systems together. For example, recruiters can now access both Bullhorn and LinkedIn data sets, which offer the most up-to-date central repository of information on a client or candidate.
If you are wondering how often recruiters use LinkedIn, take a look at these latest stats:
- Recruiters using LinkedIn to search for candidates (96%)
- Recruiters contacting job candidates through LinkedIn (94%)
- Recruiters keeping tabs on potential candidates (93%)
- Recruiters that are vetting candidates pre-interview (92%)
- Recruiters posting jobs on LinkedIn (91%)
Clearly, LinkedIn is a go-to candidate source for the recruiter. Keeping these statistics and overall job search issues in mind, I’ve listed 5 Top Tips for job seekers to consider:
- Attracting the best possible talent through the use of social media is on the uptick. Not only that, it’s also a very slippery slope. The ability to quickly apply for jobs via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can be tricky because the transparency that is created using a social profile may give recruiters much more information than you want. On top of that, if your social profile doesn’t provide a stellar representation, you could actually negatively affect your chances of being selected.
- Job Applications that are not filled out in their entirety will almost always be discarded. Completing every field and taking your time to do so shows that you are thorough in executing a simple job application, which translates to your ability to be thorough in the position.
- LinkedIn profiles do make a difference to recruiters when evaluating your candidacy. Not having a presence on LinkedIn simply raises the question “Why doesn’t this person have their pulse on technology?” Everyone else does. It also reflects the strength of your network by showcasing the number of connections you have.
- The War for Talent has not subsided. Using keywords that align with the job description is essential. Perfectly strong candidates who are well qualified will not make it to the table unless they incorporate the keywords and skill sets that are required for the job. Some job hunters use a trick of typing keywords in white into their resume and cover letters. The ATS may or may not pick up these “matches” and rank you higher against competing candidates. Ultimately, everyone needs to identify the key words in the job posting by closely reading the description or using a software that can help identify those words.
- Gaps in employment are still frowned upon. Although some recruiters understand that the economy has produced fragmented career backgrounds, other recruiters still look at a candidate with two-year stints as too “jumpy” and therefore not a good fit. If you have an extremely “hit or miss” employment background, include a bullet, if applicable, to state that the company closed or there was a layoff. Be sure to add volunteer work to let prospective employers know that you are still involved in your field.
Perception in the job market — whether you’re a financial analyst, a recent graduate, or a VP of Sales — is everything. Whether you like it or not, technology is the new boss in town. With an endless number of online resources and books on the market, there is no reason to shy away from learning how to successfully navigate the complexities of ATS to enhance your job search.
I get knots in my stomach when I hear about how twisted this job market is becoming. Frankly, the stories are never ending. From nurses at Penn who are completely skilled in their profession but have new educational mandates to complete by a certain date (or else!), to recent college graduates who are overwrought with confusion about what to do next, to baby boomers who are pressured to take severance packages before the ax hits, it’s no wonder that we’re all losing it.
No matter how you look at things, it’s a battle when it comes to sorting out career issues. On top of that, the larger world crises are looming over us. Sometimes I wonder how we can get so mired in our own microcosms when there are so many travesties around the world. But, for right now . . . let’s not digress.
When my 28-year old client finally landed her dream job as a writer for a medical magazine (after six long years, in addition to sinking thousands of dollars into a master’s degree), I asked her what it took to keep from sliding down the slippery slope. She actually admitted that she slid right down to the bottom. She quickly reminded me about her mantra: “The second you give up is the moment you need to keep trying.”
When my 48-year old baby boomer client abruptly left a position in higher education following a change in leadership after 20 years, and beat himself up repeatedly for this career mistake — he came to grips about many things. Shooting from the hip did cost him on all fronts, but in the end he learned from every opportunity and never gave up. It took him four years until he transitioned to his dream job as a director of a nonprofit organization that embraced a mission with values he could believe in.
Another story I am reminded of involves a 38-year old IT Implementation Analyst who was MADE for nursing. He underwent career counseling to finally put this crazy thought about becoming a nurse to “bed,” which only absolutely affirmed his desire to switch careers and go for it. Not only did he go on to obtain his BSN, but he’s beginning graduate work at Penn. There’s no turning back now.
Another Generation Y, IT Specialist who worked for QVC got laid off. Within a month, he packed his bags for North Carolina and landed his dream job at Channel Advisor. In fact, when he walked into his new company and saw a statue of Luke Skywalker in the lobby, he knew he had arrived.
Funny thing. I once sat in a therapist’s office and as I gazed across her end table there sat a large stone with an engraving that simply said, “Nothing is in stone.” When I read that message, I felt such a sigh of relief. What a concept. What a wonderful way to look at things . . . the belief that there’s nothing that can’t be changed, that nothing is permanent, and that you can change your life path. Ultimately, it’s your decision whether or not to adopt these beliefs.
Today, there are massive amounts of people who are in a tailspin with their career. When you decide to take action to invest in yourself, whether it’s career counseling, purchasing a few resource books, taking a course, obtaining a certification, updating your resume, and/or networking into a new association, you will set into action a new course. Believing that “nothing is in stone” is far more empowering a thought and will undoubtedly help you to pull yourself up and fly out of that tailspin.
It seems like everywhere you look, people are thinking and talking about making career changes. They’re unfulfilled in their job or don’t get along with either their boss or their toxic co-workers. Or, even worse, the company leadership is so darn weak or even non-existent that they are going nowhere in their careers. What does it take to make a radical career change today and how do you begin what may seem like a daunting process?
Step #1: Acceptance – This is the first step in getting to the next chapter of your career. Although the paradigm may have shifted from work hard and you’ll be successful to nothing feels safe anymore, you need to reach and embrace this place of accepting the very reality of where you are today. Whether it’s being laid off, collecting unemployment, or simply not loving the place you are in, step number one is accepting your current situation. Examine very closely what the problem IS with where you are right now.
Step #2: Examine Your Rulebook – This involves taking a long, hard look at what your beliefs are about yourself, your capabilities, and your future aspirations. Are you operating under faulty assumptions such as “I’ll never get another position. I’m too old. I’m over 50?” or “It’s too darn late to make a change?” Who says that you can’t change careers at 50? Having started a business at the age of 53, I am living proof that you can be happily employed and sustain a new business in the last half of your life.
Step #3: Name This False Belief – Critical to your change is to identify what’s holding you back. Naming your challenges and obstacles helps you to empower yourself in moving forward. Unless you name it to change it, you end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Scared of moving forward? Heck, everyone is fearful of change, but let’s drill down on exactly what kind of faulty thinking is holding you back from your next steps.
Step #4: The Next Chapter– Everything you need to get to the next chapter is centered around your acceptance and belief that it is possible to win. Changing the energy and attitude that you are operating under is essential in turning your career around. You’ll need to perform due diligence and research your next steps while maintaining an overriding belief that your next move is possible and that it will happen. You might consider investing in career counseling to uncover viable options, one of which just might end up being your next move.
There is no question that radical career changes are tough in this market. Understanding your strengths as well as your weaknesses are important steps.
But, also understanding that if you drag that ball and chain (and the mentality that your past equals your future), you will unconsciously close the door for facilitating a radical career change. Have a meaningful conversation with a friend, counselor, or trusted confidante now, so you can determine whether you are prepared to take the risk. I can assure you that it’s well worth the time and effort. After all, sometimes opportunity does knock only once.
Mindy Thomas shares the story of someone who forged a successful career despite numerous setbacks.Read More