Posts Tagged ‘Transition’

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.

5 Things That Keep PhDs From Getting Jobs

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

So we’re venturing out into a bit of an esoteric topic this week, covering a rare but difficult job seeker, trapped halfway between academia and the real world: the PhD graduate looking to leverage their background into a career in business.

Starting a new career can be a confusing process for any professional, especially if you’re transferring into a new industry. The path is especially difficult for PhDs trying to transition into a career in business. This is because the worlds of academia and business are very different. It’s also because most Universities offer little or no career training for graduate students. As a result, newly minted PhDs who opt out of academia are tossed into the business world with no clue how to navigate it. They’re given a few networking tips and told to send out resumes over and over again. But nothing happens. In fact, the number of PhDs who will have a business job at or soon after graduation is below 40%. And the number of Life Sciences PhDs who will have a business job at graduation is below 20%. The truth is most PhDs will never get a job in business even though they’re doing all the right things. The problem is they’re doing the wrong things too. The key to starting a great career in business learning what not to do. Here are 5 things to avoid:

1. Networking with your competitors only.

Most PhDs network exclusively with other PhDs. That’s like dressing up as a needle and jumping into the middle of a haystack. You’re never going to be noticed at these events. You’ll never stand out. Everyone is just like you. Not only that, the people at these events want the exact same jobs as you. You’re not going to hear about any job opportunities because the other PhDs are going to keep those job opportunities to themselves. Now, consider going to a networking event outside of your direct field of interest. Let’s say you go to a meet-up for architects, lawyers, business executives, painters, real estate agents, etc. First, the people you meet are going to be impressed that you have a PhD. “Wow, a PhD, I haven’t met another doctor here before.” When’s the last time you heard that? You’ll never hear it in a crowd full of PhDs.

Second, because you’re different, you’ll be memorable. If someone at that event hears of a PhD-specific opportunity or knows of one already, they’re going to tell you. They have no reason not to tell you because their interests are different than your own. When networking, go to events where you’ll stand out and where you won’t be seen as a threat. As a side note, this is also one of the biggest reasons you should learn how to network in graduate school. When you’re student, no one sees you as a threat. But as soon as you enter the job market, you get a target put on your forehead. Now, no one wants to share information with you. Now, information comes at a price.

2. Inflating your title and your attitude.

A lot of PhDs think playing up certain things on their resume or CV will help them connect with people at networking events and get a job. But it won’t. It just turns people off. Besides, if you have a PhD, it’s not a lack of hard skills or credibility that will keep you from getting a job in business. It’s a lack of communication skills and a limited network that will keep you from getting a job. Instead of inflating your title or acting defensive about what you’ve accomplished, be real. Talk about the real people and companies you’ve worked with or the real learning experiences you’ve had. Then talk about what you really want and what you’re willing to do to get it.

3. Waiting for other people to contact you.

No one is going to chase you down to get a job. This might happen later on in your career but not when you’re in graduate school or doing a postdoc. The ball is always in your court. It’s up to you and you alone to drive the hiring process forward. No one will do it for you. Especially if you’re trying to transition from academia to business. The fact that you’re changing industries adds a new, extra-heavy layer of inertia to the process. This means you’ll have to follow up with people you meet at networking events, follow up with hiring managers before interviews, follow up with them afterwards, follow up, follow up, follow up. Following up is the only activity that people in business respect. And it’s the only activity that will remove the many barriers standing between you and the job you want.

4. Be an interviewee and not an interviewer.

Most PhDs prepare for interviews like they’re preparing for a test. They study up on potential questions they might get asked or they practice a short chalk talk, obsessing over formal inquiries they think they’ll get from the audience. The problem is that employers of top companies don’t care how you handle their questions as much as they care about how you handle yourself. No one is going to sit across from you with a big red buzzer waiting for you to give a wrong answer to some technical question. Employers don’t want to know if you can recite information, they want to know if you can you find problems, find solutions, and communicate them both effectively.

Getting an interview is an invitation to interview a company, not an invitation for you to be interviewed. The best way to show you can find the problems and solutions is to turn the tables on the interviewer. Don’t let them interview you. Interview them. Investigate them. Ask them about their company and the position you’re up for like you’re digging for gold. Seek out everything there is to know and really determine whether or not this job is right for you—not the other way around.

5. Undervaluing yourself.

If you don’t see yourself as valuable, why should anyone else see you as valuable? A lot of graduate students and postdocs go into interviews ready to accept anything that’s offered to them. This is a mistake. Employers can always tell if you’re desperate. They’re going to assume you’re desperate by default because you’ve been working for almost nothing in academia for years. It’s up to you to prove to them, and yourself, that you’re not desperate. You have to know your own value. Remember, you’re highly trained. You’re in the top 2% of the world in terms of education and academic training. The key is being confident in yourself and your worth without acting defensive or like you’re entitled to anything. This can be hard. Especially if you’ve been mistreated by your academic advisor or beat down by the academic system in anyway.

Put some time into understanding you’re worth and showing it in the right way. Start thinking and acting differently than most of the other PhDs who are trying to get a job in business. Go to networking events outside your field, follow up with people consistently, prepare for interviews as the interviewer—not the interviewee—and, most importantly, be yourself.

Good luck!

If You’re A PhD And Do This, You’ll Never Get A Job | Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D. via Cheeky Scientist.

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

“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.

rowe_jobs

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

Know When It’s Time to Quit

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

quit-job

Even in a stable job market, the idea of voluntarily leaving your job can be a bit scary. Compared to whatever horrors you are currently facing, the fear of the unknown often seems much worse and doubt can quickly seep in: will I be able to find a new job quickly and will that new job be even worse than what I have now?

Maybe you’re looking to take a step up the corporate ladder and your current company provides no options. Maybe you’re looking for better pay or benefits. Or maybe you finally want to go into another field entirely. If you stay in the same place forever, you stagnate. But if you move too many times or too often, ironically you won’t get anywhere at all.

So how do you know when it’s time to finally call it quits and move on to greener pastures? Here’s some advice to keep what can be a very emotional issue in perspective.

You’re consistently experiencing more frustration than reward. With any situation, you have take the bad with the good. But if your experience is overwhelmingly negative for a long period of time, you have to consider leaving or some radical change. One unmistakable sign: You breathe a sigh of relief and your life feels instantly better with the mere thought of quitting.

You can’t envision a possible solution or continuing this way. After trying to resolve the issues that have been dragging you down, you still have no confidence things will change. Maybe you’ve been promised a promotion (that’s always fallen through) for years; maybe you’re waiting on others to change their habits when it’s the last thing they want to do. For some situations, like when you’re stuck with a bad manager, you might not have any choice but to quit.

job-security

You’re staying for the wrong reasons. If your decision to stay is based more on fear than on faith, you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons. Are you afraid to hurt someone’s feelings? Staying solely out of a sense of responsibility? Afraid to admit you just made a bad choice or start over (e.g., a wrong career move and now you have to quit a job you just started)?

Don’t think of quitting as either good or bad in itself or a reflection of your self-worth. Many of us have a hard time quitting. For others, change is everything and quitting comes probably too easily. Don’t stay or quit just for the sake of it.

One thing that often holds people back is what economists call the “sunk-cost fallacy”: The belief that you can’t quit because of all the time or money you spent. Beware of falling victim to that kind of thinking.

Spending time on this keeps you from more rewarding endeavors or seriously damages your well-being. Ignore the fear of quitting and consider: Do you think you could achieve a better life for yourself if you quit? Is staying on with a project causing you to over-extend yourself?

Similarly, it’s a huge red flag if your current situation is taking a toll on your mental and/or physical health. Get out of toxic relationships where a partner, client, or boss doesn’t appreciate your value. (By the way, it’s not normal to lose all your hair or take up drinking at 10 am because of your job.)

Your friends and family keep telling you to quit. While the advice of others alone shouldn’t be what you base your decision on, your friends and family want the best for you and may see what you need to do more clearly than you do.

So now you’re probably gnashing at the bit to resign and move to something better. Well, before you do that, you might want to have a couple things in place first, like a new job, a back-up plan, or at least your resume all touched up and ready to go.

And you should also be certain you really understand what is making you unhappy about your job. If it’s the field, then just shifting to another job in the same industry probably won’t help and you’ll find yourself in the same position again in a few months. Or maybe it’s something outside of work, some other personal issue or commitment or just a couple of really bad days in row, that is actually what’s making work so difficult.

But if you’ve finally hit your limit, or better yet decided to take your career by the horns and direct it instead of letting it direct you, then hopefully you’ll now be able to move forward in confidence to whatever is next.

Good Luck!

How to Know When It’s Time to Quit | Melanie Pinola via Lifehacker

Your Resume – Summary vs. Objective

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The days of writing a career objective are long over. The objective was traditionally reserved for recent graduates or professionals changing fields or industries to indicate to hiring managers the kind of position they wanted, as this might not be immediately apparent from their resume since it would either have little experience or unrelated experience. It soon became fashionable for everyone to write a career objective at the beginning of their resume. However, most recruiters rightly point out that hiring managers don’t want to know what a job seeker wants from an employer but what the job seeker can offer to the employer.

It is now standard procedure to include a brief summary rather than an objective. The summary is designed to provide the employer a quick snapshot of what you have done and for how long, outlining your strengths, skills, and expertise (especially intangibles).

Summary or Objective of a Resume

It is important to know what a summary statement should include, as there is no set format and templates should be avoided. Some of the key ingredients are:

– Mention your industry, your work experience in years, and the kinds of companies you have worked for.

e.g., Financial Services, 20 years, private and public sector, Fortune 500, etc.

– Include important functional and vertical skills or expertise you demonstrate.

e.g., back office, service delivery, music composition, lyricist, accounting, software specialist, etc.

It is also important to include keywords from the description of the job that you are applying for. Otherwise, while the human element (HR) might be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you have some possible relevance to the job, the Application Tracking Software surely won’t and you’ll be filtered out before they even see your resume.

– An executive summary should not attempt to confuse or deceive the reader. It must be honest and consistent with the rest of the resume. Be concise and avoid generalizations. Think of it as a quick road map to what the hiring manager will be reading further below.

– The summary should be just that: a summary. It should summarize the details and the breadth of your career and resume. And it should be able to convey your background in less than 20 seconds.

Problems occasionally arise, however, when a professional is attempting to move into an adjacent profession, such as when a musician wants to be a lyricist or a teacher is applying for math tutoring near me or applying for role as a personal trainer. The goal then is to make the employer understand that you have transferable skills that are applicable to the role for which you are applying, even though you don’t have any or much direct experience. The summary can be an excellent place to accomplish this, as it will explain the situation immediately to the hiring manager and provide the lenses through which the hiring manager should read the rest of your resume.

Making a Career Change – What to do and what to avoid

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Change, it is said, is the only constant in the universe, and the same goes for your personal life and for your career.

Sometimes, we are forced to adapt to change abruptly and at other times we have the luxury to plan for it in advance. Though a career change, especially a major one, can be a challenging process, it can also be extremely rewarding, if it is conducted properly and with the right attitude. It can be as complex as moving from accounting to lion taming or perhaps just to banking. Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you plan:

  • The first step towards your goal is to steel your resolve to pursue an alternative career option. You may be giving up a lot (money, job security, a wonderful work environment, etc.). But having made the decision, it is important to start winding down and disengaging from your current role as soon as possible in order to start the process of transitioning to your new field. You should begin researching and reading about relevant topics, joining industry forums, shadowing people who work in the field, participating in networking events, and so forth. Engage with your new career as deeply as you did your old.

  • Timing of a career change is also important. Sometimes the trigger to change does not happen at the most opportune time. Sometimes it may coincide with financial difficulties, the birth of a first child, or caring for sick family members. All of these could demand your time, energy, and money. Think carefully about what you can do to make the best of your circumstances and you might have to delay, if you have that option, until your situation improves.

  • You need to know what you want to do, have a grasp of what skills you have that are applicable to your new field, and determine what gaps need to be filled in before you move ahead. You’ll often need to acquire additional tools, resources, qualifications, and certifications in order to compete with other candidates, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Do your best to obtain these necessary items before leaving your current job, if possible. Be patient with yourself, as in many ways you are starting from scratch.

  • Finally, a career change can take longer than planned and it will likely take even longer to achieve the kind of success that you had in mind when you started (or that you had in your old job). Don’t get discouraged! You made this decision because you felt strongly that it was in your best interests and best served your long-term career and personal goals. Stay focused, keep making progress, and plan ahead as much as possible, and no matter your age or your goal, your career change is obtainable.