How to get started on your job search – bias toward action
Making the most of a networking event with Caitlin Hooks – the tips hold true even for virtual events -Caitlin told us to • Step 1: Research thoroughly• Step 2: Engage pointedly• Step 3: Follow up strategically
Basically – figure out who’s going to be there and who you want to meet, show up early, be prepared, do some research so you know what you want to talk about with people, and then afterward follow up with people you met to solidify the connection and keep the relationship going. BTW, much of this advice still applies to virtual events. That was episode 2.
Episode 3 was all about Joining a job search group and my guest was my friend Ellen Dalbo. Did you know that people who took part in “job search work teams” got employed 20% faster than those using traditional methods? This is according to the book “Team Up!” by Orville Pierson. Churches run groups, there are MeetUps for every kind of interest and job field and if you’re local to the Raleigh area, join Back to Business. Back to Business – the growth of a community is a big goal of Back to Business, and we have been able to connect women returning to work after a career break with each other, and with employers. Joining a job search group is a point reinforced by Dr. Dawn Graham in episode 33 who said that a job search is a social event and we should talk about what we’re looking for so others can help us. I love it when it all comes together like that!
And speaking of asking for help with your job search, this is a theme that Steve Dalton, author of The 2 Hour Job Search and I spent some time discussing. I love Steve’s take on why we have to get comfortable asking other people for help. The 2 Hour I asked Steve if The 2 Hour Job Search process still holds even in our covid-affected environment of 2020.
Preparing for an interview with Al Dea was episode #4. Al says that before you walk into an interview, you should Craft Your Story. You should take the insights you get from your research about what this company is looking for in candidates, and come up with the narrative that you want to tell about why you are the best person for the job. He even says to think of yourself as a product on amazon.com – and be ready to sell yourself as a solution that the company needs.
Jeremy Schifeling from Break into Tech describes the different tech roles – I love how he makes this so easy to digest and understand. Take a listen, this is masterful as he takes us through everything from business operations to Corporate development to Product management!
Sometimes you need professional help to get your most important job-seeking assets in great shape. That’s when you’d call my friend Mir Garvy from Job Market Solutions – she’s an expert resume writer and LinkedIn profile writer. I called on Mir to take us through the process of working with a professional LinkedIn/resume writer in episode 7. Here’s Mir talking about how she helps clients develop a resume that will get past that Applicant Tracking System.
Mir came back for an encore in episode 10 to provide us with some great Linkedin tips. Here are my 2 favorite tips for LinkedIn: (1) Have a compelling opening statement for your About section and be sure it’s keyword optimized. And (2) Tell the story behind your resume in your Linkedin profile and share a heartfelt reason why you do what you do.
Glassdoor is a good source for company ratings and in E8 I talked to my niece Ellen Dunn who was an Account Executive there about how to make the most of Glassdoor in your job search. Ellen’s best tips: Use Glassdoor to prep for interviews because people share on that site the interview questions they were asked. Also, use Glassdoor to make sure you know your worth when you are negotiating an offer. If you’re going to convince someone to give you more money, you’ll need good data to back up your claim, and you can get that on Glassdoor.
Now, in addition to negotiating, one thing you simply must be able to do as a job-seeker is talk about your strengths in a confident manner. So I spent some time with Damien Zikakis, a career coach based in Michigan, to talk about the StrengthsFinder assessment. Damien shared in episode 9 that we can make greater strides in our self-development when we focus our resources on developing our stronger talents into strengths as compared to focusing on fixing weaknesses or trying to develop lesser talents. If you’re interviewing for a job, Damien says that your ability to describe your Strengths and how you capitalize on them, both individually and as part of a team, will set you apart from other candidates. And that just might be the edge you need in an interview. So take the CliftonStrengths assessment and then lean into your strengths.
Companies have been putting more effort into hiring more diverse teams, and I wanted to understand how this works for candidates. Danielle Pavlil, a Sr. Diversity & Inclusion Manager at SAS, and I spoke in episode 11 about leveraging uniqueness in your job search. I loved that title, which Danielle suggested. I also loved some of the information she shared which helped me understand the importance of being a voice for others to ensure that people with diverse gifts are recognized and appreciated in the workplace.
In episode 12 I spoke with a technical recruiter named Dina Schweitschal about succeeding at technical interviews. Technical interviews aren’t something that every job seeker will encounter, but if you’re interviewing for a position as a software developer, you will definitely be put through a technical interview. Dina shared that candidates should be asking questions during a technical interview, rather than pretending they know everything. And for job seekers in general, you might be interested to know that only 5 or 10 % of people bother to write thank you notes after an interview and only about 15% write a cover letter. And, guess what? She actually reads cover letters and that can set a candidate apart if it’s done well. Now that’s info you can use in your job search right now. We talk with Dina about some ideas about writing thank you notes.
If you’re returning to work after taking time off to stay home with kids, here are a few gems specifically for you:
If you’re deciding if you should take the first job that comes along as you return to work, here are a few things to consider from episode 6. First, it depends on your motivation, so take stock of what’s compelling you to rejoin the workforce. Second, since every big choice we make involves a trade-off, be really clear about the trade-off involved in taking the job so you can make a good decision about if it’s the right job for you. Consider the positives and the negatives. And third, decide if this job might be the stepping stone to get you to your ultimate career goal, and if so, take it!
In episode 13, my guest was coach Farnoosh Brock. Farnoosh is so smart and if you’re not following her on LinkedIn, I suggest you do so that you can benefit from all the great content about career success that she is sharing. Farnoosh and I talked about determining where the right place might be for you to re-enter the workforce if you haven’t had a paying job in a while. She gave a tip that has really stayed with me: in addition to taking an inventory of what you are good at, you have to consider if those particular skills you possess are skills you actually want to use. Yup. Just because you have skills in one area doesn’t mean that using them will make you happy. Good stuff, right?! Because we all know we’ll be better at something and more highly motivated to do a good job if we enjoy what we’re doing.
And if you’re returning to work amid a divorce, please check out episode 18. This is my conversation with Sarah Hink, an attorney at New Direction Family Law in Raleigh NC. I know there are many women out there who are in a position of having to get a job as you go through a divorce. Sarah and I tackle the question of how getting a job before your divorce is final will impact your settlement, what happens if one spouse has been unfaithful and how to carve out money to use to upskill in preparation for returning to work.
In March, when covid shifted how we work, live, learn, and look for work, I did an episode about adapting your job search to our new virtual-only world. 9 months later, it’s clear this is a shift that will impact hiring and the future of work permanently. Interviews became virtual-only and those in-person meetups and coffee chats that I’ve always felt were important for job-seekers disappeared. My best advice for finding a job in our current environment: continue to the network by requesting meetings / informational interviews with anyone who knows anything about the job you want to get. Also, get savvy on social media and build an online presence as a professional in your field. This will help you get those networking meetings that may lead you to that person who can advocate for you for the right job opportunity.
If you’re wondering how on earth to reach out to people you don’t know to talk about career choices, and I know you are, take a few clues from my friend Nishant Motwani. Nishant was an MBA student that I met when I was working at UNC-Chapel Hill. He came to the US from India to pursue his MBA and didn’t know a single person in this country. His story is really inspirational because he needed a network and he set about building one. He was so good at it, he works at Google today. Well done, Nishant. That was episode 17 called How to Build a Network from Scratch.
And for a different perspective of networking, I talked to my friend Adam Connors. He talked about the value of rekindling older connections with people from earlier in life. “There’s no better time,” he says. Corona has reminded us that our relationships are the most important things we have and encouraged us to continue to cultivate relationships. Sending someone a note that says “I’m thinking about you and here’s why” is a great way to get started.
And if you want specific tips on doing video interviews or putting together a video resume, check out my conversation in episode 16 with Ryan Carey from BetterOn. Ryan let me in on a secret that your energy comes across differently on video and you should know how your energy translates on video: Record yourself doing a practice interview and notice how you feel as you do it. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 for the level of energy you feel you are putting out. Then watch it back and rate it as an audience member. Ryan says you should push yourself to be an 11 on a 1-10 scale! Research shows that people won’t remember your message so much as they will remember how they felt talking to you. Your positive energy can leave them with a great impression. So take that tip from Ryan Carey and bring the energy!
Job seekers: Be sure to look for your state’s free job-searching resources. If you’re in North Carolina, check out ncworks.gov for a job board, access to career coaches, and other resources. In episode 22, I spoke with Michelle Muir, the Regional Operations Director for the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She pointed us to career exploration tools, resume assistance, and job search assistance, including a job board and even scholarships that are available for retraining. I want you to find every resource out there, so if you’re in North Carolina, ncworks.gov is a good place to look for job search support.
If you’re considering a career change or a return to work, I hope you’ll be as inspired as I am by Annie Francheschi. Annie joined me for episode 23 to talk about her book Permission To Try. If you’ve ever worried about what other people might think about your choices, you’ll want to hear Annie’s take on how much you should pay attention to other people’s advice.
As covid wore on, I sought the help of recruiter Will Barfield to talk about finding opportunities in a tough job market. Will shared some great advice that he gave to a job-seeker who needed to pivot from a job in meetings and events to a new field.
As a parent of 2 college-age kids, I spent a lot of time in 2020 thinking about the best way for them to approach college given the limitations Covid was forcing upon us. Taking a gap year began to look like a smart idea and using that time to learn software development skills at a code school and then working until fall 2021 made it an even smarter idea. So I recorded episode 24 with Jessica Mitsch, CEO of Momentum code school in Durham, NC, Mason Whitaker who is a graduate of the immersive software development program at momentum, and college admissions advisor Abby Bittler. Mason has had a stellar start to his career and it was fun to hear how learning the software development skill set and having a college degree has fast-tracked him to a leadership position. By the way, it’s not too late to join us at Momentum for a January start to this 16-week software development program if you’re a college student looking to take a semester off college until things on campus get back to normal. There aren’t that many meaningful things you can do with a semester off in 2020 given covid, but learning to code can be done virtually, so it’s a great option. Mason Whitaker tells his story and the role that his code school education has played in his success.
If you’re a career switcher, I’ve got some great stuff for you! This is such a hot topic and so many job-seekers fall into this category that I did two episodes on this. The first was with Karen Weeks, SVP of People at OrderGroove. In episode 27, Karen gave some great advice for showcasing your transferable skills on your resume and talked a lot about the value of immersing yourself in the new field you’re making a change into.
Dr. Dawn Graham weighed in with advice for career switchers too in episode 33. Dawn hosts the Sirius XM show “ Dr. Dawn on Careers” and is the author of Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers & Seize Success. Dawn had so much great advice that you’ll just have to listen to it! But in the meantime, Listen Dawn talking about approaching your career as a social activity.
And for all you working moms out there, don’t’ miss my conversation with Christine Michele Carter. She’s an advocate for working moms and advises companies on how to hire and retain working moms. Christine shared the need to be constantly reframing the set of circumstances working moms are facing this year in order to survive. And, she told me it was OK that my kids’ screen time approaches 11 ½ hours, so I loved that. Christine is awesome! She’s pushing for paid leave, flexibility at work, and other policies that will help working moms do everything we do.
Austin Belcak was another amazing guest. He has tons of great ideas for job seekers and advocates that you reach out to 10-15 contacts at each company you’re applying to. Yes, 10-15 people per company! Here he is talking about why it’s more efficient to target contacts on the team you want to work on rather than targeting recruiters.
There’s such a need for companies to be flexible with their employees right now, as people are juggling their kids’ virtual schooling in many cases with their own work and an elevated stress level. When I saw the recent data about the huge numbers of women leaving the workforce, I reached out to journalist Sarah Green Carmichael to talk through the data with me. In episode 34, Sarah sheds light on these disturbing statistics and shares ideas about how companies can keep the women they have. Interestingly, Sarah Carmichael and Christine Michele Carter both cited a lack of childcare subsidies and the need for more flexibility as key factors for retaining women. We’ve got to solve this one. We need more, not less, women in the executive suites at our great American companies and if we can’t keep women in the workforce, we’ll never be able to increase our numbers in leadership positions. I feel so strongly about this: I started Back to Business to help women return to work after taking a career break because I want to see women with career options that fit our complex lives and acknowledge the importance of our role as mothers. Being a mother is perfectly compatible with being a successful professional.
I have met so many interesting people doing season 1 of the Get A Job, here’s How podcast. It was a thrill to finish the season out with a truly inspirational conversation with Jamie Valvano. Jamie has such an eloquent way of talking about how she pulled herself out of a prolonged, difficult period of her life. She’s the daughter of famed basketball coach Jim Valvano and she really embodies his “never give up” spirit that we all fell in love with. My conversation with Jamie left me feeling fired up to articulate my vision and get busy making it a reality. Seriously, folks, take a listen. It’s episode 34 and it’s a good one.
Thanks for a successful first year of the Get a Job, Here’s How podcast. We’ve all had to make adjustments in 2020 to how we do things and for me, it’s been a year of trying new things, like this podcast. I’m so glad you’ve been along for this ride with me and I hope you’ll continue to listen.
The best way to stay in touch with everything going on here is to join the mailing list at Back to business. You’ll find it at www.backtobusinessconference.com Please also subscribe to the podcast and keep listening. I appreciate you!
My plan for 2021 involves publishing a series of digital courses to help women returning to work after taking a career break. I’m excited to get them into your hands because I know that as our economy turns around we’ll want to be ready to seize the opportunities.
Did you know after the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, we had the Roaring 20’s! As we near the end of 2020 and look forward to an end to the coronavirus pandemic, I’m believing for some Roaring 2020s! I can’t wait!
Merry Christmas, y’all!