Archive for the ‘Career Coaching’ Category

Scholarship strategies: have we seen them before?

March 14, 2015

The art of applying for scholarships begins to look familiar to me. A family member is approaching college application time, and I’m gaining some early experience in applying for aid.  I had never considered how the process resembles job applications.  I’m referring here to the paperwork. Like a resume, the application and essay should

  • be absolutely perfect in grammar, spelling, and format,
  • address the question straight on,
  • be specific in relating one’s own experience,
  • be honest to the max,
  • include a work sample as attachment if appropriate,
  • reference links to online presence (after making sure one’s postings are something to be proud of!),
  • contain a dose of creativity.

And oh yes, get it in on time or a bit early. What do you think?  You who are experienced in the college application process, do you think it parallels writing an effective resume?  Care to share any secrets of success?

The Essential Cure for Exaggeration

February 8, 2015

First, I love Brian Williams.  I believe in him.  I watch his newscast whenever possible.

And I hurt for him in these difficult days.

He exaggerated in his narrative and he has been found out.

Has it happened to you?

  • When asked about an extracurricular activity in school, have you enhanced your role?
  • Have you stretched your importance on a work team?
  • Have you minimized your role in an losing campaign?

I think there are two steps you can take while seeking redemption:  you can take on a large dose of humility and you can correct the mistake immediately.  If you are job-hunting, stop right now.  Get out that resume and read it again.  Check it for total truth.  You might feel better and more confident that you don’t have to conceal a truth any longer.

It’s also a potentially great interview question. Have you ever stretched the truth about your performance on a job?  

I think the answer might be – Yes!  I was advised to stretch my role in a reorganization in order to keep my job.  I was so uncomfortable with that process that I vowed never to do it again.  And I haven’t.

Would anyone asking that question believe a no?  I don’t think so.  There’s something appealing and refreshing about a candidate who tells the truth about him/herself while showing emotional growth.

The colorful resume … literally!

January 21, 2015

What color is your resume?  If you are thinking I mean that metaphorically, sorry, that’s for another posting. Today it’s about color.  I could have named this post The Black and Blue Resume, but I think that’s a bit weird. Whether online or on a printed page, the all-black type on white background has a look of yesteryear about it.  You need a touch of blue. Blue as in hyperlinks. Blue that can lead the reader to a work sample, a photo, a positive review, press coverage, or any other aspect of your portfolio. Blue can guide one to your LinkedIn profile, your website, your blog, or your product. When I see a resume with no links at all, I worry that the writer isn’t connected to much.  Show us!  Lead us to your work and prove what you are saying about yourself. Reveal at least a touch of blue.

Why are you in this job?

October 27, 2014

See this lovely young woman baking biscuits over a coal fire?  No, she is not a Vermeer figure come to life.  Her name is Rhianna and she is a historical reenacter at the Beamish Museum in Northumbria, UK.  I visited the Beamish recently.  Imagine – it’s a cold, windy, sometimes-rainy day, you step into Rhianna’s kingdom, you smell the warmth and scent of a coal fire along with fresh biscuits. And you get a friendly greeting.

We got into a conversation.  I asked if she is studying history or acting – just how did she get this job?  And what appealed to her?  (And yes, these are nosy questions, which I justified by saying that I’m a career counselor and am always on the lookout for a good story.)

Rhianna said she is very shy and sought a job that forced her to interact with people, so here she is, explaining about biscuits, flour, copper polishing, and coal fires. all day long.

Yes, she is less shy than she used to be.

Rhianna, congratulations on making such a courageous and productive choice!  I loved our chat and indeed, all of the nice people in Beamish, who explain life and work in different times.

Beamish 2

Resume Review – a reminder

September 29, 2014

As the fall job search season gets underway, I know you are re-thinking your interview outfit.  Switching from linen to wool, light colors to darker, is part of your challenge.

Another challenge is to make sure your resume is as current as can be.  If you have not seriously updated your new elements  document in a few years, this neglect will be obvious to all who read it.

What to do?  Get some help!  You really need such elements as hyperlinks and evidence of your involvement in social media (your choice which venue to use).

And please allow me to propose (humbly) that you check out my e-publication, Reflections on Resumes: Taking a Second Look. You can learn about little tips and tricks that will give you the confidence that you are as current as can be,  and that you are displaying your accomplishments to best advantage.  You can be reading this small guide on your computer, tablet, or e-reader within a minute or so.

I’m Career Counselor Anne Headley and I approve this message!

The Interview Outfit: what’s that new accessory?

September 26, 2014

This morning, while entering data into my fitbit app, I got to wondering about the impact of wearing a fitbit bracelet on a job interview.

The fitbit is that almost-ubiquitous plain bracelet that you see in all kinds of basic colors.  My doctor has one.  My hairdresser has one. My swimming buddy has one. I have one!  There’s a pedometer and a heartrate monitor tucked inside the bracelet, logging one’s fitness level as well as sleep effectiveness.

So I picture the interview.  If the interviewer is noting your grooming, your outfit, shoes, watch, and shoes, why wouldn’t he or she notice this bracelet?  And what conclusions might one draw?

  • She’s commited to fitness – good for her!
  • Perhaps she’s a goal-setter.
  • She has embraced technology.
  • Interesting – I’ll ask her about it.  I’ve been thinking of getting one.

These are points in the applicant’s favor.

And those assumptions are at least partly true.  Committed to fitness?  Well, when wearing the bracelet, I’m on the lookout for ways to attain that daily goal and to log a few minutes into the more active category.  And yes, I had to install an app and then use it.  Techie, right?

Anyway, I think fitness apparel is a great way to support the traits you have already submitted on your resume.  It is a fantastic conversation starter, and also a great way to combat age discrimination.

What has been your experience with wearing a fitbit or comparable activity monitor?

The job of jobhunting (4)

September 9, 2014

The fourth element of the jobhunter’s day is one which can draw on the activities of the three previously-discussed realms.  I refer to your social activities.

Social needs no definition.  It is that people stuff.  Networking.  You are supposed to do it, many of you love it, most of you fight it.

This is the realm of truth-in-cliche: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

You can become better connected, starting today.  Improving your people quotient really must be part of every job seeker’s day.

Go where the interesting people are.  That might be in a class, at a coffee shop, at a clean-up-the-park day, at the gym.  Or at the pool or your back alley.  Meet someone new or reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in some time.  Just once a day.  

Actually, social activities can permeate the entire day of the successful job seeker.  As you are reading up on happenings in your field, you could be reminded of someone you know who would like to read this article.  Contact that person now!

As you are filling out a job application, you might think of that casual acquaintance who works at that firm.  You could contact him or her and ask a question.

There is little room for depression or inactivity in the life of a job seeker.  You’re so busy preparing for the new opportunity (yet to be determined, I know), that after all that conventional activity, the academic research, the creative projects and the socializing, that you will realize that you have taken steps on the structured path toward tomorrow.  Your knowledge, your availability, your involvement and your network will support you and make you a keen candidate for that next opportunity.

Here’s a final thought from Harper Lee:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.

So how are you spending today?

 

 

 

 

The job of jobhunting (3) – what’s new?

September 2, 2014

I’ve been thinking about how a jobhunter can spend the day being effective and positive.  I’ve previously written about being conventional and academic, meaning doing obvious things like posting on job boards, responding to ads, and keeping up one’s skills and knowledge.

So what else is needed?

Creativity now comes into play – every single day.  I suspect that this part of the job search is the primary reason people seek career counseling.  Without it, you will get what you have always had, and you probably don’t want that.

Creativity means – following impulsive thoughts, paying attention to your dreams, reading something different, doing something really unusual in your community, acknowledging your intuition.  Here’s where you allow those scary thoughts about what you’ve always wanted to do.

Do you see the connection between what you seek professionally and random ideas?  Probably not, but – please trust me – a connection may come to you.

Here’s an example of the randomness (and effectiveness) of creative thinking:

Yesterday I listened to a story by a friend.  She goes to an exercise program for women, and there she heard a story about an acquaintance (age late 50s) who recently lost her job and was facing a long, difficult search.  The next day my friend heard another tale of woe from someone in a private school who needed to hire a new (……… – it doesn’t really matter).  Lightbulb flash!  Same field, two different stories, two workouts at the gym.  If my friend had not gone to work out that day, if those two acquaintances had not also gone to the gym … the magic would not have happened.

Yes!  My friend, a wonderful networker, connected the dots, put one person in touch with the other, and magic happened.  The job seeker went to the school, applied for the job, and was promptly hired.

Moral of the story:  Go where the people are.  Share your creativity.  Don’t confront anyone with your need, but rather share it.  Most of all, get out of the house, get out of the doldrums, and let creativity lead you into unexpected connections.

The job of jobhunting (2)

August 30, 2014

How do you spend your time when you are unemployed?  In a previous post,  I reviewed the conventional techniques (job listings, online bulletin boards, classified ads, a resume honed to perfection) that should occupy a portion of your day.

What about the academic tasks that can nudge you on your way to a more successful outcome than you have had before?

Please don’t make that immediate link between academic and going back to school.  I’m all for keeping your education current.  Finishing (or starting) that degree is great, but not a guaranteed ticket to success.

I’m thinking of academic in the sense of reading/studying/learning more about your chosen path.  Here are a few options:

  • websites of companies or associations you are drawn to,
  • YouTube segments of presentations by leaders you admire,
  • newspaper or journal articles,
  • books written by superstars in your field,
  • TV specials or documentaries about your area of interest.

Does academic suggest that you take notes?  I hope so!  You will need to remember a few impressive points you gleaned from your research. You could dedicate a special notebook or a file on your laptop to this targeted note-taking.

You will need these fresh ideas and facts to make sure your resume is relevant to the positions you seek.  And you will have wonderful nuggets to share in interviews.  Let your conversations reflect your learning.

An hour a day on academics will keep you informed and inspired as you go about your job search.  I invite any reader who has gained knowledge through research to share a suggestion or two about keeping up to date.

 

The Job of Jobhunting

August 29, 2014

If you are looking for work, what does your current workday look like?  How do you spend your time?

I want to suggest something I’ve learned after listening to hundreds of people who were searching.

Think about a combination of conventional, academiccreative, and social approaches.

 

What is the conventional element of the job search?

It is what you already know.  Job listings, employment services, headhunters, classified ads.  These conventional techniques have worked for a long time and they will continue to be effective.  Most people will acknowledge that they have gotten at least one job this way.  I know I have.  Find an ad that sort-of-kind-of matches your experience, submit a resume, and wait for a phone call. Sometimes it works.  So please continue to put some time into conventional job search techniques.  I’d suggest an hour or two a day at the most.

But wait!  It doesn’t always work, and it doesn’t always produce a great work opportunity for you.  I’ll be exploring other elements of the job search in the next few postings, so stay tuned.