Interview prep is one of the favorite aspects of my work as a career development coach. Few things make me happier than having a client reach out after an interview that we’ve prepped for and tell me how well it went, especially when they’ve been offered the job!
So what does it take to prepare well? The following is my recipe for interview success.
It’s well known that January and February are THE best months of the year to land a new job. After all, new budgets are freshly minted and everyone is coming back after the holidays. Common belief is that April and May are the second best, but I believe the second best time of year is September. Hiring managers and recruiters alike are back from Summer vacations and eager to get all those open slots filled so work can get back to normal. And that hiring window is short! It’s not long before the holidays arrive and things come to a crushing halt again.
You can find all sorts of data about how long a job search takes, but in honesty, how long your search takes depends on so many factors that are unique to you. Things like your profession, where you live, how the economy is doing, and so much more. But, from the hundreds of people I’ve worked with over the years, unless you are in a specific and in-high-demand position (like software developers), you can expect your search to take anywhere from 3 – 6 months.
So, given the time that you’re going to invest in your job search, don’t you want to do the best job preparing? Like anything, the more you prepare and the more you practice, the better you will perform. And ‘performing’ in the job search means landing that job.
Preparing means far more than brushing up your resume. It may mean rewriting your resume entirely as resumes have changed over the years. It DOES include your LinkedIn profile, a networking strategy to seek out those people who can help accelerate your search, and most assuredly, it includes interview prep. I know many people think they ace all their interviews. Well, the truth is, some do. But like everything else, interviews have changed over the years and you need to learn the new rules and how to master the experience.
All of this prep takes time to do it properly. The most popular program I offer to those who know the job they seek, is 3 months. Yes, 3 months of research, self-exploration, documentation of your unique value on the job, networking and interview practice. SO WHY ARE YOU WAITING? September is just 4 months away. If you want a new job before the end of the year, now is the time to start that preparation.
To entice those who are still holding back, I’ve been offering a Summer special throughout the month of May. Sign up for my Job Search Strategy or my Career Discovery program by May 31, 2017, and receive a deep discount on my regular program rate. You’ll save money, invest in your career AND be ready to say yes when you receive an offer in September! Just click HERE to schedule a complimentary 30 minute call with me to discuss your career goals.
I write often, providing tips about career strategy, be it seeking a new job, or developing your career so you’re ready for the next step. With so many successful stories in my coaching career, I thought I’d start sharing case studies that represent what many people experience throughout their careers in the hopes that you’ll see yourself in one of the stories and be inspired to take action for yourself. Today, I share the story of Sarah, a client from several years ago who is now flourishing in her new role.
Sarah had been at the same small, local business since the start of her career. With changes in the organization, and a somewhat toxic new boss, she decided it was time to seek new opportunities.
Sarah sought me out based on a recommendation from a friend and former client of mine. When we began working together, she had her sights set high, on large, international companies in the Seattle area.
She worked through my program diligently. We revamped her resume into a strong document that spoke boldly of her experience and accomplishments. We refreshed her LinkedIn profile to present a brand that accurately described her value. She did a great job of networking, getting out and meeting people.
And yet, this bright, skilled leader failed to succeed in her search....initially. As I watched her struggle, and get disheartened as so many job seekers do, I suggested to her that perhaps setting her sights on such large companies after a career at a small, local company was a bit of a stretch in their eyes. There was no question in my mind that she could succeed there, but one always has to be aware of the hiring organization’s perceptions. In many cases, there is an assumption that a long period of time working in a small organization doesn’t prepare you for the larger corporate experience.
So, we adjusted her strategy. Sarah began identifying mid-size companies that needed her skill set and would recognize her value. In no time, Sarah landed a great job. One year later, she was thrilled with her work and had even succeeded in earning a promotion.
There is much more to the job search than just a good resume. A resume will get you in the door, but targeting the right companies, and developing a strategy for your search will land you in your new job sooner. This week is International Coaching Week. If you want to learn more about coaching and how a career coach can help you reach the next level in your career, be it a new job or a promotion, contact me today for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. I’d love to help you reach YOUR next level!
I’ve seen an increased amount of activity from far away staffing agencies recently among my job search strategy clients. Several have reported receiving a high volume of random staffing agencies from all over the country approaching them for placement. Most report less than satisfactory interactions. So, when is it a good idea to work with a staffing agency and when is it NOT a good idea?
My rule of thumb for everything in the job search is to own control of your search. This goes for posting your resume to every possible site that asks for it (don’t do that), to working with random staffing agencies you’ve never heard of.
Being proactive in your job search is paramount, and this applies to working with agencies too. Seek out reputable agencies that have been referred to you and approach them, especially those local to where you seek employment. Chances are these agencies know the local landscape and have been sought out by the hiring employer, raising your chances of a good connection.
Once you’ve connected with an agency, you’ll meet with them and gain an understanding of what they offer and how they work. In turn, they’ll get to know you, your strengths and preferences, along with your experience and you will have a better experience. I’ve seen the agencies here in Seattle help people get into jobs they couldn’t land on their own.
Beware of agencies that are miles and miles away, even across the country. While I’ve heard of a few that worked out, this is not common. Check them out, perhaps even ask for some references of people they’ve previously worked with. Do your due diligence. Most will ask you to sign an agreement with them very early on, and this could have a negative impact on your search. In some cases, once you sign, you cannot apply directly to that employer. Imagine being contacted by an agency about a job with your dream company and signing the agreement, only to have that person disappear. Yes, it has happened! Then you see that perfect job posted at the dream employer and boom! You can’t apply because you signed that agreement. Own your search!
So, what do you do? First, if you haven’t heard it already. Take control of your job search and own it. Seek out agencies and recruiters who have good reputations and with whom people have had good experiences and results. Approach them. Meet with them. Ask questions. Find out any restrictions that might arise from signing agreements. Work with more than one vetted agency to raise your chances.
Recruiters and staffing agencies can be your best friend in your search for employment, but do it wisely and choose carefully. For more tips on working with staffing agencies, click HERE.
Own your search, be curious and you will land your next great role.
As a coach, my goal is to guide people so they learn how to execute a job search, and successfully land that next new job. In my years of coaching individuals, I’ve noticed a 5 key things that people struggle with when trying to go it alone in the job search.
Interested in learning more about my job search strategies program? Go to www.colecoach.com to read more about my services and book a complimentary 30 minute consultation to discuss your goals. Register for my complete package my May 31, 2017, and receive a 20% discount on the package price.
Changing jobs is no longer taboo as it once was. In fact, according to Gallup, 35% of us have changed jobs in the past 3 years. For many, changing jobs is the best means of advancement. So, how do you ensure you’re ready for the change/advancement when the time comes? Stay aware of your career and keep making progress.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re advancing is to look at job postings for the next logical career move. What are the requirements listed? Is there anything listed that presents a gap in your experience? Now is the time to begin filling that gap. There are many ways to fill that gap. My favorites are:
1. Ask for additional assignments in your current role that will allow you to learn something new.Many organizations will allow you to stretch in your current role. And who knows, it may open a new door for you at your current employer.
2. Take a course.Online courses abound. Lynda.com, Coursera and many more exist. They are very accessible and available in your favorite medium.
3. Read a book.Yes, all knowledge is contained in books. Whether you read online, electronically or good old paper, you can learn almost anything by reading. You can even listen to an audio book in some cases.
4. Earn a certification. Many jobs require, or at least prefer, certain certifications. What’s missing on your resume? Find where that certification is offered (community college, online) and earn that new credential.
5. Volunteer somewhere and practice the new skill.Non-profit and community organizations gladly accept volunteer help. If you know something of this new skill and need a place to practice, this is a perfect opportunity. Or if it’s a skill like coaching, offer to coach people you know for free, or a minimal cost.
The point is, you shouldn’t wait until you’re in the job hunt for that next great role to start identifying the necessary skills. I’ve seen far too many people stressed, demoralized and at a loss because their dream job is out of reach due to a lack of necessary credentials. Start now, keep moving your career forward, so when that great next step avails itself, you’re ready and able to successfully compete for it.
As a career development coach, I’m open to working with anyone who’s interested in building their career, from the college grad just starting out, to the mid-career professional ready to launch their own business. Narrowing that demographic was never anything I set out to do. But you know how life is, sometimes you’re pulled along a path you never expected.
Recently, at every turn, I’m reminded or introduced to the issues of women in tech. I used to be one of those women. I began working at Microsoft in the mid-90s. A male colleague and I, both new to the company, were having lunch one day with a senior member of another accounting team that we both hoped to work in. This was at the start of my accounting career (yes, I have made a career transition!). As we sat there, both keenly interested in this other department, I was told point blank, “You’ll never achieve the same level of success here that your colleague here will because you are a woman”. Yes, it was that blatant. The fact that I wasn’t appalled still surprises me, but it did stick vividly in my memory. It’s shocking to know that 20 years later, little has changed.
I still see women having this same experience. Perhaps they are not told that outright, but jump online any day and you’ll find a new article about the issue of equity for women in tech. It’s shocking to me that this is still an issue. Luckily, there are many people fighting for this cause, from Dr. Telle Whitney of the Anita Borg Institute, to a group of female employees at DialogTech, to Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, it’s an issue.
And there is more good news. There are many organizations doing something about. I recently became involved with ReBoot Seattle, an accelerator helping women prepare to re-enter the workforce and confront the immense amount of objection they receive. Seattle Women in Technology is another such organization advancing the cause of women in tech. Yes, organizations and programs abound to help the cause.
More and more of my client base are women in tech who are seeking answers to their professional questions. From finding a new job because they’re being ‘pushed out’, to feeling unwelcome in the ‘boys’ club’ to wanting to chuck regular full time employment in favor of being an entrepreneur, these bright, capable, educated and dedicated women are seeking fulfillment in their work that pays them their worth and gives them the power and freedom to do their best work.
So, while I left tech several years ago, it remains an industry I love, believe in and am inspired by. Helping more women achieve success in a field they, too, are passionate about, has become my passion. The thrill of meeting with a client who has successfully negotiated her desired pay for a new job, or watched another launch a business she previously only dreamed of is the stuff my life dreams are made of. I hope it’s not another 20 years before we see equity for ALL in tech, and everywhere else.
In my years of coaching in Seattle, I've noticed a few phenomenon about the job search. I'm sharing them now because NOW is the time to get started if you want a new job by the end of the year. Wait? It's only April. What's the rush? Well, let me share my thoughts.
So, don't delay. Updating a resume and LinkedIn profile, networking, identifying target companies, all takes time. Use those summer months to get ready. Then come September when things get hopping again, you're ready!
REGISTER FOR ONE OF ANDREA'S COACHING PROGRAMS BELOW BEFORE MAY 31, MENTION THIS SPECIAL, AND RECEIVE 20% OFF THE FULL PROGRAM PRICE.
Throughout your career, you’re going to experience setbacks. They come in many forms, from that first job rejection, to someone else getting that promotion you were working so hard at, to being laid off, or being pushed out because of age or seniority. Any time you’re confronted with something like this, it’s normal to feel devastated, deflated and tempted to give up. Don’t! Use this experience to learn, and there is plenty to learn from.
Let’s start with the job search. Ok, you weren’t selected for that dream job. Well, in my experience, if they didn’t choose you, you’re probably just as well off. You see, if they saw a reason someone else was a better candidate, they are probably right. When this happened to me, I would first allow myself a day to ‘wallow’ in my misery. Sure, go ahead. It’s ok. Allow yourself a short period of time to mourn the loss, especially when you were super excited about the job. Then, take a step, a new step, even a baby step forward to look elsewhere. I always recommend my clients work toward several different jobs at the same time. Keeping options open helps you stay positive when bad news arrives. After all, if that dream job didn’t happen, it’s time to look for the next one. And it WILL come! I have never seen someone I’ve worked with fail to eventually win a job. It doesn’t always happen on our schedule, and we’ll never know why, but it WILL eventually happen. Just trust that when they say “No”, there is a good reason and that job wasn’t the perfect fit you thought it was.
Now, let’s look at that promotion you didn’t get. If someone else was selected over you, it’s time to have a good heart-to-heart with yourself. Yes, it’s true, the other person may have been a ‘favorite’ of the boss, but in general, people are promoted based on merit. So, if you were overlooked, look at yourself. I’ve been there. I was confronted with the very real fact that I had some things to work on in my professional presence. It was a very painful, but extremely valuable lesson to learn. It helped me grow and develop a professional presence that I can be proud of. Or perhaps your skills weren’t quite up to snuff compared to someone else. Much of the work I do with clients who want to advance in their careers, is to keep their eye on the prize. What is the job you aspire to? What skills or knowledge does it require? Are there any gaps in your experience that you need to fill? Create your own professional development plan and work it. Make sure the next time you’re up for a new job or promotion, they have no choice but to select you!
Being laid off is a very real possibility in today’s business world. Layoffs happen all the time due to mergers or downsizing. There isn’t much you can do to avoid it. But there is a lot you can do to ensure you’re marketable if this ever happens to you. Just like the professional who wants to advance, you need to keep your eye on your professional development. It’s all too easy to get complacent and stop trying to develop your skills. But today’s world changes at warp speed and you need to keep up.
I see the last scenario play out all the time, especially with baby boomers. Boomers, even in their 50s and 60s still have a desire to work and plenty of knowledge and skills to support it. Sadly, many companies are so youth oriented, they fail to see the value, and worth, of keeping ‘older’ workers. And these boomers have another trait that should be held in high esteem by companies – work ethic. They know what it is to work hard, to make things right, to collaborate. Again, we all age so we can’t avoid being seen as an older worker. My recommendation to clients in this scenario: keep an open mind, keep current on what’s happening in the world, and your profession in particular. Spend time with younger people and learn from them. They have much to teach. And, if you still get pushed out, do what many of my clients do – take those skills and years of experience and start your own business! Consult, create a start-up, or hang up a shingle. With 80% of the workforce projected to be self-employed by 2020, you’ll be ahead of the curve and in high demand.
Yes, setbacks will happen to all of us. Like the saying goes, “You’re not defined by what happens to you, but to how you respond”. Be prepared, keep learning, and you’ll overcome those setbacks.
Spring has sprung! The signs are all around us. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding out, people are starting to spend more time outside. One thing that should be happening, but you can’t see, is time is running out to start that job search.
Admittedly, the best time for looking for that new job is January and February, Spring is the next best time and it’s sandwiched between the best and worst times of year. Companies have now completed that first rush of hiring in the new year. Once June rolls around, hiring slows down significantly with Summer vacations. So, right now, in between, companies are looking to fill those needed positions before the big Summer slowdown.
The average time for a job search is several months, in general. This can vary widely based on your career. I’ve seen people laid off one day and employed within a week. Others languish from a combination of open positions in their chosen career and motivation to dedicate the time it takes. It’s up to you.
But here we are, late March, with June just 11 weeks away. If you’re serious about finding that next great job, get started now. Sit down, lay out a plan, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and get out networking. With time and commitment, you can get that new job offer in time for Summer.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking life and career changes, she will coach you to success.