It can sneak up on you and happen when you least expect it. Yes, you’re stuck. In all aspects of your life, you find yourself stuck at times. You’ve been looking for a new job, but not making any progress. In a job, in a poor performance, or with a difficult boss. Or maybe you’re wondering if you’re in the right career at all. These are all situations I love to help people with. There are many qualified people to help you through the more sticky life situations, but when it comes to career situations, it calls for someone who can relate, having been in most of these situations, but also someone who has made a career out of helping other people love their career.
Did you stop networking once you landed that new job? Most of the clients I’ve worked with over the years answer ‘Yes’ to that question. Even though Networking is the most important aspect of the job search, it’s the first thing people stop doing once they successfully land a new job. Big mistake! You see, keeping your network active and growing is critical to your career. Yes, it’s important to the job search, but it’s also a powerful tool in your career advancement. Whether you are seeking a new job in another company or wanting to advance in your current employer, networking is the most direct path to get you there.
While qualifications, alone, should ‘get’ you a new job or a promotion, we all know that familiarity is a more powerful tool for that goal. People like to work with people they know and like. Few of us like to ask for help, and even fewer like to have someone we’ve not spoken to in a long time suddenly reach out for help. So, it’s important to keep relationships fresh. And I get it, you’re busy. You have a job that takes up most of your week and, if you’re lucky, you have a family or personal obligations. You don’t want to use the precious little time you have to ‘network’. Well, I like to use a more holistic approach to networking, and 30 years of building and maintaining relationships has given me this insight. I have moved from one coast to the other 4 times since 1983, and yet I have strong relationships with people everywhere I’ve lived and worked. On any given day, I might chat with a former colleague in England, New York, Washington, DC or Seattle. My friendships and connections are everything to me. The people that have entered my life are wonderful and supportive and inspiring. Why would I want to let those relationships go cold? Now you might be thinking, “Andrea must spend all day online and on the phone”. Well, I don’t. Here’s what I do and how I’ve maintained strong connections, and yes friendships, across the miles and years.
All of this helps make ‘networking’ something other than a dirty word. It just becomes a way of life. When it’s time for an ‘ask’, it will be so much easier because you’ll have been engaged with people. It’s less ‘networking’ and more just staying in touch. And don’t forget that you can help others too. Don’t make this a one-way street.
What questions do you have about networking? Drop them in the comments. I’ll share my thoughts.
I’ve been working with job seekers for several years now, and I think I’ve probably heard every question out there. I’ve noticed there are four questions that are frequently asked, so I thought I would share my favorite answers.
Question: I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs online and I’m not having any success.
Answer: Sorry, but you’re not going about your job search the right way. Only 10% of online applications make it through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and reach the eyes of a recruiter. There are two key changes you need to make. 1) Create a short list of target companies that have the culture, work ethic, and other key criteria you seek in a company. Then pursue those companies. Don’t be chasing squirrels by just looking for jobs already posted on websites. 2) NETWORK. Yes, you may think that’s scary, but in many cases, it’s simply reaching out to people you already know. Literally everyone you know has a job, knows people who have jobs, and frequently know people who work at those companies on your short list. And, if you can’t find a contact within a company, see Question 4.
Question: I’ve created my short list of target companies, but I don’t have a contact at my top company.
Answer: Ok, so you don’t already know someone at the target company and can’t find someone else who may know someone there. Well, make a new connection at that company! Go into LinkedIn, look up people who do what you do at your target company and reach out to speak with them. Trust me. They’ll be receptive. Ask them about their work. Ask them about working there. Ask them how they got there or what advice they would give you. Not only will you learn something and meet someone new, but you might just become a top candidate for a job at your dream company!
Question: I’ve been with my company for 15+ years. I feel stale and wonder if anyone will be interested in me.
Answer: I both love and hate this question. I hate it because it speaks to the issue of ageism that is so rampant now. I love it because it gives me an opportunity to point out all the knowledge and experience they bring to the table and can start boosting confidence. As to being ‘stale’, take a refresher class or earn a certification that can be evidence that your knowledge and skills are fresh.
Question: I’ve recently started a new job, but it isn’t ‘as described’ or ‘my dream job just opened up’.
Answer: Sometimes, you’ve taken a job and learn in short order it’s not all it was advertised to be. You may have been misled by those interviewing you, intentionally or not. In the other most common scenario, you took the job after a long job search and simply needed a job and this looked good. But several months later, you have an opportunity for a job that is your dream job. People feel guilty and awkward looking for a job so quickly. It’s never too soon to look for a job and it’s never wrong to pursue your dream job. How you go about this, both in talking to the prospective employer and if you leave your current employer depends on how you communicate this. To the prospective employer, simply telling them this is your dream job, and while you regret how soon you might be leaving your current position, you know you couldn’t let this opportunity pass you by. To your current employer, pretty much the same message. Trust me. Nearly everyone has had this experience. I remember passing this opportunity up once. After starting a new job, I received a call from a company I had really wanted to work with. I declined being interviewed, soon learned the job I was in was toxic, and have always regretted the choice to decline. So, go ahead. Pursue that dream job. Nothing may come of it, but on the other hand, you could end up in your dream job!
What are your biggest questions around the job search? Enter them in the Comments and I’ll answer them.
As a career and retirement coach, I’m trained to help people make life’s transitions. One that I enjoy is helping people transition to retirement. You may think this is an easy transition, after all those years of anticipation, but in fact, many fail to successfully make the transition. After years of waking early, meeting deadlines and commitments, and having tight schedules, suddenly waking up and ‘doing nothing’ is a shock to the system…and the head!
Many people successfully make the transition. I have friends with vibrant social lives, and some with busy volunteer schedules. They are fully enjoying their retirement days. Others struggle. I made an attempt to retire myself recently, and found it extremely unsatisfying, lonely and I missed having a purpose.
Some observations I’ve made about why people ‘fail’ at retirement are:
Helping people avoid retirement failure is so rewarding and such fun! I believe everyone deserves the retirement of their dreams – whatever that means to them. Beginning with an assessment, we identify roadblocks to YOUR happy retirement, then develop a strategy to break through them, helping to ensure you have a happy and meaningful retirement. I’ve had a few clients take sabbaticals that allowed them to see how they would fill their days without work. The lessons learned from those experiences, helped them make adjustments to their plan.
Some strategies people have used include:
Everyone can have a happy retirement. It may just take some planning and redirecting your goals.
I've been thinking about the term 'giving up' this morning, and how it freezes so many people into inaction.
“I give up”. You’ve said it. You’ve heard countless people say it. In our society, “I give up” has a negative connotation. It’s looked at as a failure. I think it’s time we put a different spin on it. Let’s think of it as changing your mind or making a different choice, not giving up. Giving up sounds reactive and weak, when in truth, changing the course of your life takes courage.
Sometimes people find themselves in a situation that isn’t optimal for them. Maybe you’re at a job that has become toxic. Or perhaps you’re in a relationship that is no longer good for either partner. Maybe you just made a choice that turns out not to be as optimal as you thought it would be. I’ve been in all of these situations.
When I’m there, I see two choices. I can just stick with it, miserable, stressed out, knowing my life could be better, but embarrassed to acknowledge the situation. Or, I can be brave, know what is best for me, discount any naysayers’ opinions, and make a positive step in my life.
Yes, I’ve quit the job that became toxic. Yes, I’ve left a relationship that was not good for either me or my partner. And yes, I’ve made decisions that turned out not to work. But every time, I overcame the fear of ‘giving up’, and had the courage to make a choice that was best for me. I took control of my life, rather than letting my life run me. And, each time I took the risk, I came out stronger, more confident, and happier.
We have just one life to live. It is our responsibility to live it to the fullest, being the best us we can be. It’s never easy to do, but it is so worth it. Think of the time you spend being unhappy, thinking about your situation, wishing things were different. These are terrible wastes of your time and your life!
I believe we all have the answers we need within ourselves. So, how do we bring them to the surface? Be brave. Write things down. Face your fears. I always like to think, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” Then I make a plan to avoid that happening. Talk to people. Hire a therapist who’s impartial. You don’t have to go it alone. Just pick the right people, those who will support you rather than judge you. You CAN do it.
Be Brave. Go for it.
Have you been looking for a new job and find yourself surprised and frustrated that it’s taking so long? Well, let’s start with – IT’S NOT YOU! That’s right. I know after several attempts to land that next job and not receiving an offer is hard. It’s demoralizing. You start questioning yourself, your skills, your personality, well pretty much everything. The good news is it really isn’t you! In my experience, those jobs you missed out on weren’t the right jobs for you anyway. You’ve likely dodged a bullet. The company ghosted you after an interview? Or they were really difficult to interview with? Or they kept changing the schedule on you? Well, if they treat you this way during the interview, do you really think they are going to be better to work with? Likely not.
Let me give you two of the longest job searches I’ve witnessed. Both of these people successfully landed extraordinary jobs. It took FAR longer than they hoped or expected, but in the end, are grateful that they were patient.
Let’s call him Hugh. Hugh had very specific requirements for his next employer. He wanted to work for a particular type of culture, keep his casual attire and appearance, and sought a position for which he had experience, but not education. For his particular career, this was a difficult task. Yet, while it took him over a year, he finally did land in exactly the right job for him. He loves his company, the work he gets to do and is completely happy, despite the time it took. The right job just hadn’t been there at the start of his search.
Esther was in a dead-end job that wasn’t in line with her education. On top of that, it was the most toxic environment I’ve ever heard of. She was under paid, abused in many ways by her employer, and was desperate to move to a job that was in line with her education, feed her passion, and help her thrive. Yes, it took 3 long years – that’s far too long, but she made it. The morning I opened my email and read her news, I literally jumped for joy. She had worked hard, never given up, kept believing in herself and kept trying creative ways to land a new role. Now, most people don’t have to wait 3 years, but this is such a great story in not losing hope and keeping the job search going even when it might feel hopeless.
I always tell clients that the right job WILL be there at the right time. This is the mystical part of the job search. There is no rhyme or reason, no way you can change it, but there are steps you can take to keep the search active and moving forward.
I've just had my first experience raising monarch butterflies. Just like the caterpillar who transforms into a chrysalis and finally a beautiful monarch butterfly, we each go through transformations in our life. We come out of each phase a different version of our original selves.
I like to think of retirement this way. We never stop being who and what we've been. We simply find different ways of being.
I recently realized quite suddenly that I was tired after working for more than 40 years. While I've been through numerous transformations in my life, I've always been working. It just feels like time to step away from the grind. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my work. I LOVE seeing people find happiness, whether it be a new job or a happy, meaningful retirement. So I will continue working with individuals, particularly helping them transition from full time work into whatever their version of retirement looks like. Making the transition myself, helps me understand what my clients are going through. I've felt the paralysis, the fear, the unknown of what retirement might look like. Now I'm on the other side of that and fully enjoying this next phase. I can be more selective about who I work with and what hours I work. Meanwhile, I can spend more time on the hobbies that always took a back seat. Raising monarchs was a surprise that just fell in my lap. I was in awe of nature's amazing miracle. Each day, I'd visit my caterpillars and watch their journey as they grew from barely visible, to a nearly 3 inch caterpillar. They instinctively knew when it was time to crawl to the top of their cage and turn into a chrysalis. 14 days later, I was stunned to watch each monarch come out of it's chrysalis. Our transformations can be just as stunning, yet natural.
I'm excited for this next phase and would love to help you feel the same joy that awaits you!
When it comes to the job search, nothing gives a person more angst than the negotiation phase. By the time you’ve applied for countless jobs, interviewed or been ghosted, and waited for things to fall into place, it’s difficult NOT to jump when an offer is received. I have one word for anyone in this place – PAUSE.
Yes, PAUSE. Don’t accept on the spot. Give yourself time to consider all the implications of this offer.
Here is a rundown of all you should do and consider BEFORE accepting an offer.
As a career coach, I get asked a lot of questions about the job search – a LOT! I woke up thinking about them and thought I would share those most frequently asked.
Q: I’ve always gotten every job I’ve applied for. That doesn’t happen anymore. Why?
A: The market and technology have changed. First, thanks to automated application systems, there are more people competing with you for those jobs. It’s no longer just a local market. Second, companies have gotten very impersonal in their searching methods; seeking out key words and qualifications. While they may end up with a great candidate, this process systemically eliminates other great candidates.
Q: I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs online, but rarely hear anything back.
A: Ah! This is my pet peeve. Thanks again to the Automated Tracking Systems (ATS), machines are now scanning resumes in search of key words. Do they appear? In what order do they appear? How recently do they appear? You can never know exactly how a company has set up their ATS, so it’s difficult to beat the system. Your chances of getting selected are slim. The highest number of successful applicants I’ve ever found is 25%. So, your chance of ‘getting through’ are extremely low. There are hundreds of suggestions on how to beat the system out there, but I don’t see the numbers changing much.
Q: So, if my chances are so low with an ATS, how do I get noticed?
A: As much as people don’t want to hear this, the answer is Networking. The good news though, is that this doesn’t mean going out to events with hundreds of people and trying to get noticed. You can network one on one with people you already know. Reach out. Let people know you’re looking.
Q: How do I increase my chances?
A: The one thing I recommend that surprises people, and actually makes them uncomfortable, is to narrow your search. Do your research and identify the top 10-20 companies that offer jobs in your field, meet your values and personality, and provide the requirements you seek. Not only will you land a job sooner, but you’ll waste less time going after jobs that don’t meet your criteria. Why apply to jobs that pay too little, or don’t have the work/life balance you seek? Taking the time to land at the RIGHT company, will help ensure you are happy with your work.
Q: Will a company withdraw an offer if I counter?
A: No. I always encourage my clients to negotiate and I’ve never seen a company withdraw an offer, especially when it’s done professionally. Counter multiple times, or with unreasonable demands, and yes, they may walk, but not the first time.
I hope these will help you in your search. Be confident, do your research, and go out there and land that next great job!
Do I, or do I not, pay someone to write my resume for me? This is a question many professionals that I have encountered ask. My short answer is no, do not hire someone to write your resume for you. Hire someone to help you craft a resume that tells your story in YOUR voice. My approach when working with clients is to have them tell their stories first. We then take those stories and craft strong, action-oriented bullets on the resume. The result? A resume that sounds like you, in your voice, telling your stories.
I’ll share a story from my own history. About 10 years ago, I paid what I feel is an exorbitant fee, $900, to have someone write my resume. After just one meeting and completing an extensive information sheet, well sheets, I received a resume that looked AMAZING! Yes, amazing. The problem was, I didn’t recognize the person in the resume. It didn’t look, feel or sound like me. The person in this resume was an executive seeking an executive position. Neither of these applied to me. At the time, I was a leadership development educator seeking program manager roles; a far cry from the Chief Learning Officer that jumped off the page of this resume.
This story has become an underlying purpose for my work. When you are in job search mode, YOU are the product and salesperson. It’s true. And, like any salesperson, you have to believe the story you tell. The best way to have a story you can believe in and tell, is to tell it in your own words. Only then does your authentic self come through. Try and be someone else, and you’ll ultimately fail in your pursuit of the right job. Either the employer will sense a mismatch between you and your story, or you will end up being hired into the wrong company that doesn’t share the same values as you.
So, ok, I understand. Not everyone enjoys writing, and fewer enjoy ‘bragging’ on themselves. That’s where I come in. My approach is to help you tell your stories, then work WITH you to craft resume bullets that you can relate to; that represent the YOU who is applying for that job. Let them see YOU. If you resonate with them, they will hire you and you’ll be happy. Try and be someone you’re not, and you may still get hired, but will you be happy? I believe in helping my clients land jobs that share their values; that provide the work environment where they will thrive.
So, let me ask you. If you were in front of the one person in the world who you’d like to impress, would you leave telling YOUR story to someone else? I think not. Still not convinced? Ok, spend the big bucks and let someone else write your resume. But when that resume doesn’t get the results you’re seeking, call me. I’ll help you tell YOUR story in YOUR words. The authentic you that will spend 40+ hours a week working with these people will thank me….and you!
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.