Career Resources

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Looking for a Job? Read my Eight Tips to Stay Motivated

A major part of my job as a college career coach is to keep my students motivated in the job search. During a recent appointment with an MBA student, I asked her if she had any last questions. “Yes,” she said, “how do I maintain my confidence level in the job search?” Good question!

The job search can be tough – no doubt about it – especially in competitive career fields and job markets. The ultimate key to success in landing a job is not your experience, not your expertise and not your networking prowess. Pure and simple, it is your perseverance. As an unknown author once said, “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.”
With graduation fast approaching, I’m finding that many of my meetings with students involve some kind of pep talk to keep them motivated in their job search. But college students aren’t the only ones who need motivational coaching to persevere. The tips below apply to anyone and everyone in job search mode.

Expect to Fail
At first glance, this tip seems negative, but it isn’t. If you go into the job search with realistic expectations, you’ll be less likely to feel defeated so easily. No team wins every game and no one gets every job they apply to. The sooner you accept this reality, the better. Approach your job search with the understanding that chances are you won’t get the first job you apply to, or the second, or the third and remember that the average job search can take three to six months, or longer.

Get Back in the Saddle
Repeat after me, “Not getting a job, does not necessarily mean I’m not a strong candidate or that I’m not qualified,” and make this your daily mantra. Not getting a job often means that you weren’t quite the right fit for that particular position at that particular point in time. Just because a company doesn’t think you were a good match for Position A, doesn’t mean you won’t be the perfect fit for Position B. Job success will eventually be yours if you continue to dust yourself off and get back in the saddle.

Don’t Dwell on the Past
Recently, I was meeting with a student who shared with me how poorly she thought she performed at the last networking event she had attended. Without hesitation, I responded, “That was then, this is now,” regarding the upcoming career fair should she would be attending. If you performed less than optimally at some points during your job search, learn from your mistakes and move on.

Have a Support System
Who do you know that wholeheartedly believes in you and your abilities? Perhaps it’s a trusted mentor, or close friend or relative. If you can’t think of anyone in your own circle, find a career or life coach who can encourage and motivate you. Make a point of speaking to this person often during your job search to express your frustrations and get the confidence and ego boost you need.

Consider joining networking and job search support groups. The Riley Guideprovides links to many resources on this topic, and you can also find support groups on Meetup.

Quit Taking it Personally (Q-TIP)
Many people beat up on themselves if they don’t get the job. They believe that they didn’t get it because of something they did wrong. This isn’t necessarily the case. You can do everything right and still not get the job. Why? Because someone else was just slightly more qualified, or had a networking connection, or was an internal candidate, etc., etc. Remember: It wasn’t necessarily about you.

Have a Sense of Purpose
Yes, you need to spend a part of your day searching and applying for jobs and, yes, you need to spend a percentage of your week in networking activities. Beyond that, however, you should find things to do that keep you active and engaged and boost your confidence. Consider getting involved with a community organization, taking a class or learning a new hobby.

Celebrate Success
Every time you get an interview, consider it a success and celebrate it! The fact that you got an interview tells you that your resume is strong and presents you as a well-qualified candidate. Plus, you made the cut out of many other applicants. Even if you don’t get the job, at least you got the interview and a chance to network with professionals in your field.

Avoid the Naysayers

Everyone you meet is going to have some horror story about their job search or their friend’s job search. Don’t pay attention to them. Their story is not your story. People will readily share grim statistics about the job market in general or your career field in particular. A very good friend of mine recently proved the naysayers wrong. As a woman of a “certain age,” she landed the job of her dreams – and it was the very first one she applied to! Had she listened to the naysayers about the inability to find jobs at her age, she never would be where she is today.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Your Resume Should be as Unique as a Snowflake

Right now we’re buried with snow here in Boston so I figured a snow analogy would be in order in this blog post. Just as no two snowflakes are alike out of the gazillions that have fallen in the Boston area over the last three weeks, no two resumes should ever be alike. That’s why any article entitled “The Top 10 Resume Tips” or the like should always be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Unlike some products where “one size fits all,” there is no resume advice that fits everyone. Each person’s resume should be unique and targeted to their specific career field. That’s why the best resume advice is “it depends.”
Granted, there are definitely resume “do’s and don’ts” that should be adhered to in order to avoid having your resume placed in the “no” pile, but my concern is that some people, particularly college students just starting out in their career, may take resume advice too literally. For example, I read a resume advice article recently that said you should never put your GPA on your resume. While this may be true for someone in mid-career, it is certainly not true for college students since GPA is one of the top criteria employers use to assess students’ candidacy.
When I meet with students to discuss their resumes, they often ask me if a certain experience should go on their resume – things like a volunteer experience, a part-time job that seems irrelevant, or a student club activity. I always say “it depends.” I advise them to keep a master resume which includes everything on it (paid and non-paid work experiences, volunteer/community service, student club activities, leadership roles, etc.) and to extract from this master resume anything that is relevant to the job they’re applying to. Contrary to what they think, an experience doesn’t necessarily have to be paid in order to be relevant.
This point may be particularly important for those who are seeking to transition from one career to another. For example, I was recently working with an alumna who wanted to transition from a career in accounting to a career in real estate. After some discussion, I discovered that she was president of her condo association so we decided to put that at the top under her “Experience” section. We also decided to highlight the fact that she was currently taking a real estate course, something she hadn’t thought to include on her resume.
If you’re unsure about what to include on your resume, it would be a great idea to meet with a career coach who can help you create a resume that is as unique as you are and presents you as a highly qualified candidate.