Posts Tagged ‘career advice’

How to Get Over Imposter Syndrome

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Recently landed a new promotion? Finally got that manager position you’ve been working towards for years? Been recruited by some top companies for great new roles (maybe even that dream job you’ve been waiting for)? Feel like you don’t deserve any of it?

Yes? Welcome to the club! You’re experiencing the often crippling effects of “imposter syndrome.” It happens to the best of us, even the most famous and successful people out there.

Imposter syndrome occurs when we feel like a fraud—when we feel that our successes are undeserved. We convince ourselves they’re based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of embracing the fact that we’re actually responsible for having made those successes happen. Imposter syndrome makes us think irrationally about our aptitudes and performance: We don’t believe we’ve excelled, and we don’t believe we deserve the rewards that come along with our success.

The irony is that the further you go in your career, the more opportunities there are for imposter syndrome to rear its ugly head. You didn’t get that promotion because you earned it, you got it because you were lucky. You didn’t get to lead that project because you had the most experience on the team—you got it because timing worked out. That dream job wasn’t offered because of your stellar resume—maybe you’re just a diversity hire.

The bad news is: It’s not likely you’ll ever be able to fully rid yourself of imposter syndrome. But the good news is: There are ways to combat it! You can train yourself to quickly identify it, manage it, and live to rise again.

Identify What’s Shaking Your Confidence

Is it your new job title? Is it a certain senior-level meeting you’ve been invited to attend? Is it a high-stakes project you’ve been asked to lead? What is it that’s making you feel doubtful?

In most cases, the answer will be obvious: I don’t deserve to lead this project because so-and-so is more experienced than I am. I haven’t worked at the company long enough. I only aced my last project out of luck or good timing. That spot where you’re underselling yourself is likely the root of the problem.

Once You’ve Identified the Confidence Culprit, Tell Someone

Pick someone you trust to talk about your waning self-confidence. If it’s a work problem, make sure to confide in someone who isn’t your co-worker or manager. Choose someone who sees you outside of that environment: He or she can identify when those feelings of fear are irrational and remind you of your strengths.

Remind Yourself of All of Your Achievements

If you don’t have an accomplishments box, start now by recounting your most recent accomplishments (or even better, get those achievements on your resume). Take a look at everything you’ve achieved, and reflect on all the hard work you’ve put in to get to where you are now. Embrace the fact that you got yourself to where you are. You’ve earned your spot—your accomplishments are proof of that.

Remind Yourself That the People Who Got You Here Are Incredibly Competent and They Did Not Make a Mistake

You did not pull a fast one on anyone. Your boss or hiring manager—who you may believe didn’t see the many gaps in your resume—is not an idiot. Don’t doubt the intelligence of those who have promoted you, hired you, or offered you opportunities. They have made deliberate choices based on your experience and potential. You really do deserve to be there.

Take a Risk

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Write it down, say it out loud, tell someone else, and do it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work. So what? Do the work and keep going. Don’t let imposter syndrome derail you from what’s rightfully yours.

Take a Hard Look at Your Language and Update It

Do you say “I feel” a lot? How about using “I think” to start your sentences? Have you been pitching ideas prefaced with “It might just be me, but?” Rein in that doubt! Update your language with more confident, assertive phrases, and you’ll start to believe in what you’re saying. Assume your questions are valid, and that you’re probably not the only one to have them. Try: “I have a question—and I’m sure I’m not the only one.” Champion your ideas through more assertive language.

Reframe Your Story by Writing it Down

Imagine you’re speaking at a conference and that you have to provide an introductory bio for the panelist moderator. What would you say, and how would you say it? Would you tout your accomplishments or brush them off as if they were insignificant? Take an afternoon to write out your personal story. Who are you and how did you get to where you are? Let yourself shine on paper. Then, accept that it’s all true.

Try Mentoring

Guess what, imposter syndrome sufferer? You have expertise to share. Share it with someone who needs it. Not only will you realize how much knowledge you really do have, you’ll also likely uncover new strengths in the process. Mentoring can reveal skills you took for granted or mistakenly assumed came from luck. It’s empowering to know you are helping someone in their journey.

Take Solace in the Truth That Imposter Syndrome Is a Symptom of Success

Famous actors, authors, artists, CEOs—the most successful people are those most likely to have imposter syndrome. If you’re feeling like a fraud, believe it or not, you are doing something right. So play your pump up jams. Say your personal mantra. Do your power pose. You’ve got this.

No matter how successful someone is or has been, no one is free from lingering doubts regarding their own abilities. It’s easy to get sidelined by worry about your own competency, concerned that everything you have earned is due to luck, deception, or blindness on the part of managers, rather than your own talent. But whenever your confidence wanes, keep that list of accomplishments on your resume firmly in your mind… let the successes of the past serve as the foundation for your future success, not as excuses to fall short or reasons to doubt.

Good luck!

How to Banish Imposter Syndrome and Embrace Everything You Deserve | Ximena Vengoechea via The Muse.

How to Know if You’re Under-Qualified or Unqualified for a Job

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

At some point in your life, you’ve probably passed up the opportunity to apply for a job because you didn’t think you were an exact match. You’ve also, at one time or another, probably thrown your hat in the ring for a role that you thought you’d be able to learn on the clock, even though the qualifications were way above where you were in your career.

These are somewhat extreme examples, but both illustrate the challenge of knowing when you’re just a little under-qualified and when you should say, “This is great, but probably for someone else” because you are not at all qualified.

Here are a few signs to look for when you’re unsure if you should apply, to help clear things up:

You’re Probably Not Qualified at all if…

You Only Have One Qualification

Most of us have made this mistake plenty of times early on in our careers. You identify the one requirement on a job listing that you have and say to yourself, “Hey, this is perfect for me. I’m smart and can learn the rest as I go.” However, as much as employers understand that candidates won’t know everything there is to know about a role, there is an expectation that they’ll know a majority of the things they need to do it well. If you’re on the other side of the equation and don’t have experience in most of the bullet points of a description, roll up your sleeves and get the experience you need before getting your hopes up too high.

The Company Wants Someone to Hit the Ground Running

The truth is that sometimes, companies just need someone who is (mostly) qualified to do a job and hit the ground running. It’s not illegal to source this way, and when the need is intense enough, it’s perfectly understandable for a company not to be as willing to take on someone more junior. When I was recruiting, we’d make it clear when we just could not support someone who didn’t have the experience we needed. If you notice a job posting that’s very clear about this, don’t spend too much time debating whether or not to apply.

The Gig is a Senior Level Role in a New Field

I’m all for pursuing a career change. I’ve done in a handful of times, and it took a couple of tries to get it just right. However, let’s say you want to switch from a finance role to a marketing role. That’s great, especially if you’ve done your research and understand what that’ll take. However, if you’re in a manager-level finance position and are looking exclusively at manager-level marketing jobs, you’ll quickly discover that being a more senior person in one industry doesn’t automatically qualify you for the same level in another.


You Might Only be a Little Under-Qualified if…

There Are Only One or Two Qualifications You Don’t Have

I’d argue that you’d be hard-pressed to find a recruiter who only interviews candidates who check off every single bullet point on a job listing. If you find your dream job and notice that you don’t have experience in an obscure technology (that you’re sure you can learn), this is not something that should keep you from applying. In fact, a candidate who has just one missing qualification makes many recruiters say, “Oh thank goodness. This person’s learning curve will be incredibly small.” So, go ahead and submit an application.

The Company Prefers Lifelong Learners

All of the things that you should consider before applying for a job that you’re slightly under-qualified for still apply, but many companies make it a point to explicitly state that they support people who seek out learning opportunities. If you find a job that you aren’t an exact match for at a company that encourages perpetual learning, don’t be afraid to throw your hat in the ring. And when you do, make it clear in your cover letter that you’re up to the task of learning as much as necessary—plus some—starting on day one.

The Only Thing Holding You Back is You

At the end of the day, it’s impossible not to look at a job that sounds amazing and think, “No matter how many qualifications I have, I’m nothing but an impostor.” And sure, there will be jobs at every point in your career that you’re just not qualified for yet. But in a lot of cases, the only thing holding you back is you—and mostly because you’re just convinced that you’re not qualified to do any job. If you’ve looked at a handful of gigs that sound incredible, only to pass out of a fear of being rejected, take the leap and throw your hat in the ring.

Of course, no matter how explicit the job description is, or how much you know about the company and your own capabilities, it’s not possible to know for sure, in advance, where you stand with a stretch role. Sometimes you find what looks like your dream job, and when you do, it’s hard not to send your resume and cover letter immediately. However, it can also be deflating to get your hopes up, only to get no response from the company.

So be bold, but also be smart when you’re applying for jobs when you don’t check all the boxes. And as difficult as some of these points might be to hear now, you’ll eventually get the idea when you should go ahead and submit an application.

Good luck!

How to Know if You’re Under-Qualified or Unqualified for a Job (There’s a Difference) | Richard Moy via The Muse.

What To Do When You Think You’re Underpaid

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Sometimes your job search starts because of positives: a desire for a better role, looking for career advancement, or relocation to a new city. Other times, though, what initiates your search is something far less pleasant: retrenchment, a terrible boss, or, as in the case of our article today, being underpaid.

Finding out that you’re the lowest paid person on your team even though you do the same (or more!) work than your colleagues can be a pretty discouraging discovery. Before you decide to jump ship, of course, you should definitely bring the issue up to your manager. How you do it, however, is what makes the difference between getting a raise or getting fired. Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as it may seem.

If you’ve “discovered” that you’re underpaid, it’s likely either because someone else you work with let it slip, or because you did the research yourself at a site like Glassdoor and found that the average salary for your role at your company—or in the industry as a whole—is higher than what you’re making. Now it’s time to do a little homework.

Are You Really Underpaid, or Is It Perception?

The first thing you shouldn’t do with this information is assume that because you’re making less than your colleagues that you’re underpaid. You’ll need more evidence than that if you go to your manager, so before you get too angry or go off half-cocked, do a little digging. Glassdoor is a great resource for salaries, but it’s also a good resource for information on what different roles are like at various companies. Read the reviews there, and while some of them are undoubtedly people looking for a place to vent about their misgivings, the reviews can shed some light on what the day-to-day responsibilities are at a given company.

Head over to the company’s website and see if there are any open positions for the job you currently have. Usually a job description is included, and you’ll be able to see how similar another company’s “systems analyst,” for example, is to the same title where you work. It’s possible they’re very different, and have different required skills and responsibilities. Do the same digging with your current position—if you did find out something you weren’t intended to learn from a coworker, let them know you don’t want to talk money, but you do want to talk about your day-to-day. Bounce your daily responsibilities back and forth, and see if there are discrepancies that might account for the salary differential—your colleague may be working on special projects, or have skills you don’t. To be fair, the opposite may be true—you may discover they do less than you do, and get paid more. All of this is good evidence to help your case when you approach your manager.

2. Be Diplomatic

Armed with this information, hold a scheduled meeting with your manager to discuss your “career path,” in an informal—but private—discussion. Without tipping your hand that you learned from your coworkers that they’re making more money than you are and avoiding direct comparisons between you and your colleagues, instead present the evidence you’ve collected that proves that your boss should reconsider your salary.

Show them the Glassdoor salary numbers, and let them know that you’ve taken the time to investigate how your position differs from others in your industry. Let them know that you understand how your work differs from your colleagues and highlight some of the ways you’re indispensable to your coworkers, either because you have special skills that no one else has or because everyone comes to you for help or guidance. Point out some of the high-profile and critical projects and duties you have on your shoulders because you’re the best person for the job—or because no one else can do the work the way you can.

Finally, let your boss know that you’re open to understanding if there’s some reason why you’re paid less (a good feint, even if you’re really raging inside) by comparison even with all of this evidence on the table. Your manager may not be able to explain it right away, or they may not even have the power to set salaries in the first place—it’s possible there are other circumstances that have nothing to do with your work or your boss (for example, your other colleagues came from different departments, there’s something about their work history or education that tips the scales in their favor that’s confidential, etc,) but they should at least be willing to hear you out, especially since you’ve collected the evidence needed to make your case, and as long as you’re diplomatic about the way you present it. With luck, they may be able to make an adjustment to your salary to address the discrepancy. Even if it’s not as much as you hoped, it may be something.

3. Don’t Expect the World

A case study of how this strategy can pay off (for better or for worse):

“I’ve seen this method work—one of my best friends was an assistant to our old CIO, and when she discovered that she was underpaid by about 20% compared to other assistants that did less than she did, she wasn’t too happy about it. She collected personal stories, job descriptions, and even drew up a list of those ‘other duties as assigned’ she wound up getting that she never bargained for. When she put it all in front of him, he was taken aback, but he gave her a raise. The tradeoff was that her next scheduled raise would be off of her old base pay, but she got the money, and the recognition for the additional work she had been doing.”

This won’t work for everyone, and at the end of the day, if your manager isn’t receptive to this type of conversation, you may not want to bring it up in the first place—especially if you’re worried your company may use the conversation as a way to find out that you’ve been talking about your salary to other employees, which can be enough to get you fired in many places. You’ll have to make the call as to whether it’s worth bringing it up, or looking for one of those other positions with a higher average salary instead—but if you like your company and your job, or just don’t want to go to the hassle of leaving, a little negotiation may be worth a try before you do something drastic. It will be a difficult conversation, but it can be worthwhile.

4. Move On

After all of this, if your boss and your current company seem unwilling to offer a raise, then it might very well be time to move on to a new position. Of course, salary isn’t the only reason to work at a particular company but if you feel you’re being underpaid, it can be difficult to remain motivated at work. And unless your manager provides a solid reason behind it, you may be justified in assuming your value to the company is not appreciated.

But you’re already ahead of the game in regards to your job search because you’ve already researched salary information for your industry and roles at other companies. You’ve also done a thorough investigation of your own responsibilities and accomplishments so you can effectively update your resume to better reflect your background. Time to reach out to your network (which you’ve hopefully been cultivating) to see where the grass is greener.

Negotiating a raise can be nerve-wracking. Sometimes, it feels like your employer has all the power and fear of losing what you have can make you reticent to demand more. And if you already lack confidence, it can feel very much like Oliver Twist asking, “please sir, may I have some more?”

So it’s important to keep in mind those valuable contributions you’ve made – the objectives you clinched, those impossible deadlines you met, that money you saved the company – and remember your value. Even if your employer doesn’t appreciate those things, you should.

Good luck!

What To Do When You Think You’re Underpaid | Alan Henry via Lifehacker.

How to Overcome a Job-Hopping History

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Maybe you’ve had to move around a lot for your spouse’s career. Maybe you just can’t seem to find a company or a job title or a career that suits you. Or maybe your career so far has been one long “series of unfortunate events”, enduring economic downturns, companies going bankrupt, and massive layoffs.

However you explain it, if your resume seems to show you moving around quite a bit, that is usually seen as a red flag by hiring managers and HR. If a company is trying to invest in the long-term, bringing on someone who seems to leave their job every few months is certainly not going to meet those hiring KPIs instituted by management.

So how do you overcome the stigma attached to you and your resume, with a career you cannot simply undo or pretend didn’t happen? There are several tactics you can use, depending on the reasons for your moves, your industry, and your discipline.

quickjob

You have an unstable work history, having held several jobs in a relatively short period. How can you try to prevent potential employers from holding your job-hopping past against you?

You can minimize the appearance of job-hopping by focusing your resume on your career history rather than your job history.

The biggest hurdle is getting noticed because recruiters usually screen out people with a choppy employment past.

It is easier to overcome a choppy history if you are young and just starting out. It’s more acceptable for those under 30 to move around, so I don’t think they need to address it, unless there are big gaps in their resume.

And, of course, you will have an easier time if your recent departures resulted from mass layoffs at previous employers. You can emphasize this point in your cover letter or add a few parenthetical words about it on your resume, such as “(one of 700 employees downsized 11/01)” or “(company acquired by ACME in 1/09)” after the job title or company name.

How should a resume deal with short periods of employment?

The dates of those jobs don’t have to jump off the page. They can go in parentheses after the job title, the company name or at the very end of the job description. You can also use years only, rather than months and years.

It’s also fine to eliminate one or two jobs from your resume. For example, if you took a position and two months later decided that it wasn’t for you, it’s probably best not to include it. It’s not that you’re ashamed of it, but it’s not the most relevant information you need to share in your resume.

If you do keep a job off your resume, be prepared in the interview to explain why. As long as you’re being truthful, you can answer that the job didn’t add a lot of value and you wanted to include more meaningful experiences and accomplishments.

Use a cover letter to explain your reasons for switching jobs — something that is difficult to do in a resume. But first, tell the employer why you are an exceptional candidate, summarizing your background — including the number of years you have been in the industry — and the results of your work.

After that, acknowledge that you have held several jobs in a short period and address each with a line of explanation. Keep the explanations short. Remember, you are selling yourself, not defending your candidacy.

Aren’t there some industries where moving around often is expected?

If you work with start-up companies, frequent job changes are almost de rigueur, because start-ups often fail or are acquired by other companies. Especially in the biotech and technology industries where there are many start-ups, it’s O.K. to move around. If you do consulting work on a project basis, it is expected that you would be switching jobs fairly often.

For certain technology positions, like computer programmer and software developer, the length of time at each job is almost irrelevant. The breadth of experience is far more important.

dilbert-hopper

How should you handle questions about your job history during an interview?

Focus on your accomplishments and stress your years of experience. Managers value accomplishments that have been repeated. If a person can demonstrate they have had repeated success in their jobs, they may be more attractive than a person with years of experience at only one organization.

If you were fired from a job, discuss it in a way that shows you have come to terms with it. Don’t be defensive about it. If you were at fault, acknowledge it, and discuss what you could have done differently.

If you cannot persuade hiring managers to look past your job history, are there other potential ways to get an interview?

This is especially hard at the executive and senior levels of employment. A pattern of short jobs is a show-stopper. No amount of resume editing will help — there is simply no way to dress it up.

Instead of answering ads, focus on networking because a personal connection is more likely to persuade an employer to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your network includes friends, family, current and former co-workers and former supervisors.

You need someone who will give you a break. That’s usually someone who knows you and your work and has a reason to take a leap of faith.

So you’re not doomed if you’ve moved around a lot, though it will definitely be a struggle to get past the stigma associated with being labeled a job-hopper. By being honest, addressing the reasons directly in interviews and on your resume, and understanding the nature of your chosen industry and discipline, you can overcome it and perhaps even portray it as an asset rather than a liability.

Good luck!

How to Overcome a Job-Hopping History | Eilene Zimmerman via the New York Times

Escape a Miserable Career in a Bad Job Market

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

As a recruiter, I’ve heard it hundreds of times over the years: You’re tired of your job, your boss is a nightmare, no raises or bonuses in forever, you feel totally under-appreciated, and you’re really, really ready to move on.

Friends and colleagues, and so-called “industry experts”, however, will likely caution you that it’s really not the best time to make a career change; “wait until the job market stabilizes,” they’ll say, just in case you end up without a job at all.

The problem is, how long does it pay to remain unhappy out of fear? Maybe the market will never be “perfect” again… maybe our whole understanding of employment is transforming (and not for the better). Maybe now is the best time… you can’t know until you try.

So here are some tips for successfully leaving your job and finding a new one:

escapekey

Get closer to the industry you’re interested in.

The first thing to ask yourself when considering a career change is: what feeds your soul? What interests you? In what sort of environment and in which field do you think you would flourish? Sites like CareerQA can give you overviews of different fields and tell you what kind of experience and education you’ll need to break in.

Finding a part-time position in a business related to where you’d eventually like to wind up full-time is the perfect transition. Say you want to become a dental hygienist. Securing a part-time job working the front office for a dentist would be a great choice. Part-time front office work will help pay the bills as you’re taking dental hygienist classes and working towards your certification.

Being in the environment in which you’d eventually like to find yourself will do wonders for your self esteem, not to mention keeping you in the loop for possible full-time employment down the line.

Use downtime and grouping.

If you absolutely must keep your current job during the transition to another career, you’re probably going to end up doing a decent amount of job-searching while at work. That means you need to be quick and efficient to avoid angering your current employers. Sign up for notifications from job sites that have positions you want so that you don’t have to constantly search.

Job hunting on weekends isn’t out of the question, either. If you want to get into the restaurant or hotel business, for example, nearly all restaurants and hotels are open Saturdays and Sundays, and there are usually people in upper management positions there to meet with you. Also, more and more businesses are accepting applications online, where you can apply 24/7/365.

If, while still working at your current job, you apply for a new position and prospective employers can only see you during the week, try to group as many interviews in a single day as possible, then take a vacation day (or a sick day) at work. This will afford you the opportunity of meeting with new potential employers without sneaking off for mid-day interviews.

Once you’ve found a position you like and you’re offered the job, it’s time to leave your old place of employment. No matter how bad the situation was, don’t burn any bridges! Whether it’s for a reference or a legal matter that arises later on, your old employer may come in handy in the future, so you don’t want there to be any bad blood.

quit-job

Go it alone.

Don’t have the qualifications to land a job in your chosen career field? Make your own employment opportunity: freelance on the weekends. It’s not an option for all fields, but you can find opportunities for everything from web design to marketing online.

Or you can start your own business. Depending on the amount of money required for start-up costs, you may need to save up, get a loan, or find an investor. You should also make sure you have 6 months to a year of living expenses, since many businesses take a long time to earn a profit.

Ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship? Don’t do so unarmed. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your chosen field.

Quitting your job may be one of the most important (and possibly best) decisions you’ll ever make. You deserve to be happy! Don’t let necessity and fear stagnate your career and your life.

Good luck!

How to Get out of a Miserable Career in a Bad Job Market | Juliana Weiss-Roessler via Lifehack

Creative Things Job Seekers Have Done To Get Noticed

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Following up on our article from last year, where we explored some of the wacky things people have done to get a job, I thought we’d return to the whimsical this week by exploring some more “job seekers behaving badly” to see what other bizarre strategies people have employed to get employed.

From over the top resumes to publicity stunts to some rather creepy (borderline stalking) methods… you get the picture.

A few years ago, Careerbuilder conducted a survey of several thousand hiring managers and HR professionals nationwide to share the most memorable methods job candidates have used to stand out from the competition, and whether their creativity got them hired or cost them the opportunity.

And while a number of rather kooky options did result in a job, some of the others were not so successful. Taking a creative approach to the job application and interview process can be risky, in other words. But like some macabre, train wreck exhibit in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, here are a few of the more unusual ones that respondents recalled.

job-hunt

10 creative techniques that worked:

1. Candidate contracted a billboard outside of employer’s office.

2. Candidate gave a resume on a chocolate bar.

3. Candidate showed up in a suit with a red T-shirt underneath a white shirt. The red T-shirt had a message – “Hire me, I work hard.”

4. Candidate asked to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his skills.

5. Candidate crafted the cover letter like an invitation to hire her rather than a request (similar to a wedding invitation).

6. Candidate climbed on a roof the employer was repairing and asked for a job.

7. Candidate performed a musical number on the guitar about why he was the best candidate.

8. Candidate volunteered to help out with making copies when he saw interviewer’s assistant was getting frazzled.

9. Candidate repaired a piece of company’s equipment during the first interview.

10. Candidate sent a message in a bottle.



helicopter-resume

10 creative techniques that didn’t work:

1. Candidate back-flipped into the room.

2. Candidate brought items from interviewer’s online shopping wish list.

3. Candidate sent a large fruit basket to interviewer’s home address, which the interviewer had not given her.

4. Candidate did a tarot reading for the interviewer.

5. Candidate dressed as a clown.

6. Candidate sent interviewer some beef stew with a note saying “Eat hearty and hire me J.”

7. Candidate placed a timer on interviewer’s desk, started it, and told interviewer he would explain in 3 minutes why he was the perfect candidate.

8. Candidate sent interviewer a lotto ticket.

9. Candidate wore a fluorescent suit.

10. Candidate sent in a shoe to “get their foot in the door.”

So the bottom line is that some hiring managers will appreciate a more unconventional approach to applying and interviewing for a job, others may not. It often comes down to knowing your audience. For example, a clever technique that may help you land a job at an advertising firm may not necessarily work for a more conservative law firm.

If you’re planning to do something unconventional, first ask yourself, ‘Does this help to exemplify my skills and experience?’ If the answer is no, then don’t. Whatever you say or do in an interview should be relevant to the position at hand. You want the interviewer to remember you for the right reasons, not just because you stood on your head the whole time.

An even better way to stand out: come in with ideas. It shows vision and initiative. Many candidates don’t do this, so you’ll immediately stand out. Focus on specific ways you have contributed to other organizations, so the employer sees what you can do for them.

And remember, for every memorable stunt that landed a job, there is one that forever marked a job seeker as either desperate or a little bit crazy… these stories get around so rather than being a good laugh at the water cooler, shoot for being remembered as an articulate candidate with good ideas.

Good luck!

20 Creative Things Job Seekers Have Done To Get Noticed | Jacquelyn Smith via Forbes

“Follow Your Passion” May Leave You Poor and Regretful

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

fishing

Unless you’re independently wealthy, “following your passion” can be costly

One of the most popular career adages given to young people as they are preparing for college and their career is the simple message: follow your passion.

It may be proposed as a solution to figuring out what you want to study, or what job you should take, or even where you should live. It appears regularly during graduation speeches, job training seminars, and even on the lips of your parents and friends when you ask them for advice. And oftentimes, it is emphasized over more practical concerns, like ability, skill, or viability.

And it certainly sounds great… who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their life devoted to what gives them the greatest joy and satisfaction?

But many experts, not to mention people who have tried to live this advice, say that doing this can be tricky when it comes to your career. To be blunt, as Mike Rowe, host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs,” put it, “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

Here are three reasons you might want to think twice about running after your passions:

A passion for the topic doesn’t mean you’ll like working in that field

After a snorkeling trip to Hawaii during high school, San Diego resident Deborah Fox became fascinated with marine biology, which she subsequently majored in. So when she landed a job at a fish farm upon graduation, she was thrilled — but not for long.

“I was throwing fish chow into the tanks and the fish were going crazy, splashing around and soaking me. Here I am a social person and I’m alone all day with these fish who just splash me with water. What am I doing?” she asked herself. “I found out that having a passion for a certain type of study or interest does not necessarily translate into finding passion for the day-to-day work in that area,” she says.

Career coaches often say the same: You may be passionate about the idea of a career, not the career itself. And, like Fox did, you may find that your personality traits — in her case, a love of people — don’t fit in with the traits needed to do your job.

That’s one reason that before you pursue a certain line of work you think you’re passionate about, you should ask people who have worked in the field a long time about what the job is like, and its pros and cons. You might even shadow someone who does the job you want so you have some real life experience to base your decision on.

You may not be good at what you are passionate about

Many an out-of-tune “American Idol” contestant has learned this message the hard way.

Indeed, there is often a gap between our passions and our skills, experts say. You may love art and dream about being an artist, but if you’re not good at it, that passion won’t translate into a career for you.

Or you may be good at certain parts of the job you’re passionate about, but not others — a fact that Southern California resident Jasmine Powers found out the hard way. Fed up with her administrative job, nine years ago Powers struck out on her own to pursue her passion of becoming a freelance events specialist.

But she soon realized that, while she was great at the events side of her business, she struggled with how to sell her services to clients. “I love working with other small businesses doing consulting and event marketing, but with a crowded marketplace of digital marketing experts and savvy founders, I struggled to prove my value and turn significant profits,” she says.

Those looking to pursue a passion career should do a reality check and be honest with yourself about your abilities before moving forward.

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You may not be able to support yourself on your passion

Many people are passionate about career paths that simply won’t pay their bills, experts say. For example, while tens of thousands of Americans are passionate about crafting, it’s hard to make a living doing it. Indeed, there are few jobs — just over 50,000, about half of which are self-employed people — in the crafting and fine arts arena, and median pay isn’t great at just over $21 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You might enjoy making hats, but a little research will show you that milliners do not have a bright future in the U.S.

What’s more, you may be passionate about a dying field. And that means that while it may pay the bills now, there may not be a future in it for you.

So, unless you’re independently wealthy or have a pile of savings, you likely need to consider whether your passion can pay. Make sure to research your planned career in advance, talk with people who already work in the field, and recognize that if the pay or the future of the career isn’t great, you may find yourself with a second job just to support the first one.

This isn’t meant, of course, to destroy any hope you have of following your dream career. After all, it’s not all about money or ability… there are many other potential reasons to follow your passion, whether it’s personal fulfillment, happiness, or peace of mind.

It’s just important to be realistic and realize that it may not work out, and that even if it does, it may not be as lucrative or as fulfilling as you’d hope.

Good Luck!

This popular career advice may leave you poor and regretful | Catey Hill via Market Watch

Common Millennial Resume Mistakes

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

As you probably already know, the market for entry-level work is especially competitive. Each national posting for an entry-level or mid-level position in a popular field can easily attract dozens of resumes within an hour, and hundreds in a single day.

If you’re a job seeker in this age category, this information should energize, not discourage you. And here’s why: Because 99 percent of these applicants also lack work experience. And 99 percent of them will quickly remove themselves from the running by making simple resume mistakes.

The common slip-ups listed below can actually help you—as long as other applicants make them and not you. Avoid these errors, and you’ll vastly increase your odds of becoming a final contender.

1. Too much nonsense. Before even reading a word, most hiring managers will reject a resume that contains clip art, photos, moving GIFs, more than two colors, or file formats that can’t be downloaded on the simplest and most primitive devices. If you think you’re being clever or tech savvy by sending your resume in a text or file format other than the latest three versions of Word, think again.

2. Smugness. You’re probably well aware of this by now, but there are many gatekeepers over the age of 30 who resent members of your generation for reasons based on silly assumptions. Avoid some of this stereotyping by using a professional tone in your resume. Stay straightforward (skip the jokes and irony), and never exaggerate your accomplishments, even in ways that can’t possibly be cross-checked. Skeptical employers can spot millennial buzzwords, exaggerations, and overstatements from a mile away.

3. Common language errors. Know the difference between “you’re” and “your,” “they’re” and “their,” and “then” and “than.” If you don’t know these differences, look them up now. And if you don’t know how a semi-colon works and what it’s for, just don’t use it at all.

4. GPAs. Don’t include your GPA on your resume after you’ve been out of school for three years or more. If you’ve graduated within three years, you can include your GPA, but only if it’s over a 3.0.

5. Self-centered summaries. Use your summary statement to emphasize what you can do for the company and the kinds of skills and services you’re able to provide. Don’t emphasize your own goals and desires. This was a common practice a generation ago, but it’s fallen out of favor for now.

6. App-dependence. While you may live your entire life through your phone, don’t be caught staring slack-jawed at a manager who asks you to provide a printed copy of your resume. Yes, you have five different apps you could use to instantly transmit your file, but if these methods are unwelcome, always be ready to simply attach a Word file to an email and click send.

4 Ways To Make Your Job Search Suck Less

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

OK, I know what you’re thinking—it’s impossible to make the job search process suck less. After all, job searching is not a traditionally “fun” process. In fact, words that more likely come to mind are stressful, tedious and hard-to-predict.

And I’ll admit that some parts of the job search process are pure torture (cough, waiting to hear back, cough). But, there are many ways to balance it out with memorable experiences. In the same way you have learned to make other “unenjoyable” activities like, say, exercise or networking less-dreaded; applying for a new position can also be energizing and impactful.

Here are four ways to make looking for a new job more fun—or, at the very least, less awful.

1. Be Open To Anything

Whether your search is focused on a single dream job or a specific industry, giving yourself space to look around may uncover interesting positions you had never considered. So, instead of brushing that intriguing listing off, take the time to consider it.

Imagine that you were initially focused on jobs at larger corporations because you love benefits and paid holidays, but then you stumbled upon a couple of exciting startups that could support your goals and fit with your qualifications. So, you take the time to explore this route by simply reaching out to someone at the company and learning more about the position.

Worst case scenario: It’s a networking disaster and you don’t even finish your coffee. More likely scenario: You’ve made a new connection, gotten away from your computer screen, learned about a new opportunity and hopefully made your search less stressful by realizing that there isn’t just one job out there for you.

2. Use Tools You Enjoy

Every person brings unique skills to his or her job search. Maybe you have incredible people skills or maybe you’re an amazing writer. These talents can help you, but too often people think applying to a job has to be a mind-numbing process.

Think about it this way: When a people person is stuck behind a computer screen punching out resumes and sending emails, she can easily resent the experience. However, if the same person were to get her name out there by attending networking events and local workshops, her interest level would immediately increase. The same goes for the talented designer who loathes mingling but could create a truly unique application.

So, use the tools for job searching that match your strengths and interests. If you enjoy one-on-one conversations, set up informational interviews. If you love tech and innovation, build a personal website that shows off your background. Utilizing skills you enjoy will make the process more fun—and help you make the most of your time.

3. Re-Invent Yourself

Maybe you’ve been taking the approach of doing what you know best and you haven’t tracked down any new leads. Well, now is the time to shake things up. Re-invention is one of the more exciting parts of any change—career or otherwise.

Just as exercise can transform you physically and mentally, the job search can similarly challenge people to become the best version of themselves. Speaking to strangers, marketing yourself and writing persuasive emails are all chances to embody a more confident demeanor and communicate at a higher level.

If the job search is starting to discourage you, mix things up by re-inventing yourself. For example, you could change your LinkedIn profile or resume to present your story in a different way. Or, you could watch top speakers and emulate their tone and delivery to become more comfortable at networking events.

When you challenge yourself to master new techniques and capture the boldest and most charismatic parts of your personality, the job search becomes much more than looking for a job. It becomes about personal and professional growth.

4. Treat Yourself

Ultimately, searching for a new position can open the door to new opportunities, friends and choices. So, accept the highs and lows of the process and focus on progress at each stage, including vulnerabilities you’ve challenged and uncomfortable situations you’ve survived.

Make it more rewarding by treating yourself in small ways for staying on track. For example, take a break after an intensive round of interviews, make time for a hobby after a full day of applying or see your favorite band at the end of the month. These mini-celebrations will pace the journey and provide things to look forward to when things aren’t going your way.

The ultimate reward, of course, is landing a thrilling job at a company that is equally as excited to have you. When you do, the new opportunity will be well worth the grueling process.

Finding a new job is usually a challenging process, but it can also present opportunities for memorable stories, discovery and personal and professional growth. And the fun is there, too—if you dig a little deeper.

Original from The Daily Muse.

Resume Fraud: How Lying On Your Resume Will Get You In Trouble

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Today’s job market is competitive. Those who are in need of work undoubtedly know how difficult it can be to compete for the top jobs. This competitive environment has led some unscrupulous job seekers to embellish or exaggerate their experience in order to improve their chances of obtaining jobs.

So what are some of the most common lies from professionals and what are the consequences for the employee who has embellished on his or her resume if he or she gets caught?

What Constitutes a Lie
A lie doesn’t necessarily have to be an outright false statement. Omissions can be just as dishonest as an out-and-out lie. It’s suggested that the education section of the resume is where embellishments are most frequent. This often comes in the form of an individual claiming that he or she has completed an educational program that he or she may have only started. Embellished titles, exaggerated job duties, altered dates of employment and even false references are also common. Job seekers have also provided fictitious information during the recruitment process, such as reasons for leaving previous positions. Though it may be tempting to assume that only a small amount of the population would be guilty of this sort of unscrupulous behavior, some studies have suggested that up to 50% of the population has at least a small amount of misleading or inflated content in their resumes.

Lies to Cover Lies
As almost everyone learns at some point, lies can get out of hand quickly. You have to create more lies to cover the initial lie. Just think of how one lie on a resume can balloon in the workplace as coworkers ask questions about your background and you have to perpetuate the false information.

Inability to Complete Job Duties
If someone were to make a false statement on his or her resume regarding his or her job duties or skills in past positions, there is a chance he or she would have difficulty in meeting the expectations set out in the new position. As suspicions arise from the inability to complete job duties, employers have been known to seek out more information and dig deeper into their employees’ job histories. Even if this information was not discovered in the initial employment references, this doesn’t mean that employers won’t seek out more information at a later date, especially if an employer feels that its employee is not meeting expectations.

Goodbye Job
Once an employee has been found to have lied on his or her resume, the employer has the right to terminate the employment contract. The employee/employer relationship is one that’s built upon trust. Finding out that the job was granted based on fictitious information causes this trust to be breached. It may seem like a little white lie when someone covers up the reason he or she left a previous job, or says he or she graduated from college even though he or she left a semester shy of graduating. From an employer’s point of view, however, this lie is seen as a serious character flaw. If an employee lied about something small, what else is he or she willing to lie about?

Damage to Your Reputation
You can pretty much kiss your employment references goodbye if you’re found to have provided false information on your resume. Even if your employer doesn’t terminate the employment relationship for the fraudulent information, you’ll still have to suffer the embarrassment of having your employer know you lied. Additionally, our digital-age lives make it easier and easier for us to network with other professionals in similar industries. In fields that are small or specialized, word can travel pretty quickly. If someone lost a job due to dishonesty, there’s a good chance the word will get out. Some recruiters have even been known to flag candidates who have been found to have fraudulent information on their resumes. A simple lie could have career-long consequences.

Possible Legal Action
Generally speaking, employees who have lied on their resumes have no legal recourse against their former employers. This can also impact a former employee’s ability to seek legal recourse for an employer’s actions which may have been legitimately illegal. This is known as the “after-acquired evidence” theory. If the employment relationship was found to be based upon fraudulent information to start with, illegal acts which occurred during the employment relationship may not be actionable by law. It’s sad to think that employees could lose what limited rights they do have in employment relationships as a result of unethical decisions made during recruitment.

The Bottom Line
Given the relative ease of digging up the truth, and the unpleasant potential outcomes of lying to a new employer, it’s hard to believe that anyone would risk putting false information in a resume. However, we’ve all heard the phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures.” It’s true that tough economic times make some people resort to risky behavior. However, this creates an unfair advantage over honest, legitimate candidates who aren’t lying on their resumes. For those who are considering providing false information to a potential employer, consider how much an employer might appreciate the honest approach. There are honest ways to deal with absences from the workplace, incomplete degrees or even dismissals from previous jobs that won’t hurt your chances of getting a new job.