8 Benefits of Career Coaching

8 Benefits of Career Coaching

8 Benefits of Career Coaching

Stacy Jackson

By Stacy Jackson | 2020

Are you feeling “stuck” in a professional rut right now? Maybe you want to transition to a new industry, a different functional role or leadership position, but you could use a little help finding your way to your dream job.

Unfortunately, the job search and career planning processes are often solitary endeavors. That’s not to say you can’t enlist the help of those in your network. Ask your peers, friends, past managers, and direct reports for feedback. They may help you gain perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. But just keep in mind that those closest to you may not always give you candid and unbiased feedback. 

If the idea of navigating the job market alone leaves you feeling a little overwhelmed, maybe it’s time to consider hiring a career coach.

What Is a Career Coach?

A career coach is a professional, usually someone with several years of experience in recruiting or human resources, who can help you develop a plan to reach your long-term goals and help you with career development. 

Some specific things a coach can help job seekers do to get their career paths heading in the right direction include:

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Career counseling for those considering a career transition or going back to school

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Help to identify your strengths and weaknesses

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Collaboration on development plans for leadership skills and soft skills

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Help with job interview preparations and negotiations

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Assessment of your LinkedIn profile and other personal branding

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And more

benefits of career coaching

If you’re feeling stuck, unhappy, or like you need some guidance, coaching may be right for you. Here are eight benefits of good career coaching that you can experience.

career coach relationship

1. An outside perspective

Whether you’re a college student looking for your first job or someone considering a career change for better upward mobility, you can benefit from an outside perspective.

Even when you ask your friends, colleagues, bosses, and direct reports for honest feedback, you may not get it. They all have relationships with you, and they may not want to jeopardize that relationship by sharing something they think you will not want to hear.

A career coach, on the other hand, works with you as a client. You are paying this person to help you get results. Coaches will give you honest, constructive feedback — even when it’s something you may not want to hear– because they want you to succeed. They need you to succeed — it’s a reflection on their reputation as a career coach.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I’ve got a mentor. I don’t need a career coach.” The mentor-mentee relationship can be amazing. However, there’s still a level of personal investment and connection there. You don’t want to let your mentor down, so you may not share your true concerns or weaknesses. Your mentor likely doesn’t want to discourage you, so he or she may hold back on certain feedback.

2. Up-to-date job market analysis

When you’re preparing to make significant career decisions, access to up-to-date job market analysis works to your advantage. A coach can leverage this type of information when helping you find a new job or transition into a new role or industry. After all, you don’t want to jump into a waning sector or fall into a position destined for automation.

Remember: Coaches have access to a network of active job seekers who candidly share the details of their experiences. An active coach with a deep client pool may be able to give their clients the inside scoop on specific companies’ hiring and interview processes or working culture, and informed guidance for the current job market based on anecdotal evidence.

3. Help you understand your actual market value

Sometimes it’s hard for people to assess themselves accurately, and it can be uncomfortable for some to put a dollar amount on their professional worth. A career coach can help you evaluate your worth objectively.

Your coach will look at your experience, skills, and abilities to help you understand your worth. Imagine how amazing it would be to walk into a salary negotiation with a potential employer armed with the information you need to get a fair salary.

4. Expert advice for taking your career to the next level

Your coaching sessions will provide you with the advice you need to tackle your next role and get one step closer to your dream job.

Your coach may advise you to get additional training in specific areas or work with you on interview preparation. You may get personal branding consultation with tips about improving your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Remember: they’re experts at mapping out successful career steps. Listen to the advice and embrace the process.

5. Identification of skill gaps

New technologies and innovative methodologies enter the modern workplace at a rapid pace. So your ability to meet these new challenges is vital. A career coach will help you determine what skills you need to sharpen (or add) to stay competitive.

But it’s not all about certifications and training on hard skills.

Your career coach can work with you to identify any blind spots you may have. Plus, your coach can also help you develop the soft skills that are so important in the work environment. Conflict resolution, mentorship, strategic planning, project management, delegation, and emotional intelligence are examples of soft skills that your coach may focus on with you.

Skill gaps.

6. Confidence building

Depending on your career search thus far, you may be feeling uncertain or doubtful about yourself and your prospects. A coach can help you strip away any unfounded self-doubt and get you focused on all of your positive attributes. You may find that a coach reinvigorates your confidence or helps you gain more than you ever had before.

Sometimes, a coach will also encourage you to move out of your comfort zone, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, you’re embarking on a journey to change your professional (and possibly your personal) life. 

Your coach is going to work with you to build on your existing strengths while helping you identify areas that need work. Together, you’re establishing a foundation that will leave you feeling confident and ready for the next big step.

Think about your career coach similar to the way an elite athlete thinks of a coach. A coach is there to help you get stronger and better –– to beat the competition. Your coach has your best interests in mind and is your partner to realizing your professional goals.

7. A career plan for reaching your goals

When you think about your ultimate dream career, you probably have a specific role and industry in mind — a CMO in a SaaS company, for example. Do you know the best way to achieve that goal?

A career coach can help you develop a plan complete with short and long-term objectives to help you evolve and grow into the best darn CMO candidate in the SaaS industry.

8. Guidance for evaluating your career trajectory

When thinking about your career trajectory, you may get caught up in the “tyranny of the should.”  

“I should become an executive.” “I should apply for the manager position.” “I should find a job making more money.”

Think about your “shoulds.” Should you become a manager, really? Do you want to be an executive, or do you prefer being a rock star contributor or subject matter expert? Do you need to make more money, or do you feel judged for not making what other people think you should make?

Your career coach can help you explore:

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what you’re passionate about

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what you’re good at

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what you can make money doing

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your work-life balance concerns

You may discover that your ideal career trajectory is not what you previously expected.

Are you ready to hire a career coach?

As you can see from the benefits listed above, involvement in a career coaching program can help you make informed decisions and advance your career. However, you have to be ready and willing to put in the work.

A coach isn’t a magician who will pull a career out a top hat for you. You have a role to play in the relationship if you want to reap these benefits to their fullest.

Did we leave anything out, or do you have any questions? Comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

Stacy Jackson

Stacy Jackson, co-founder of Jackson Marketing, Inc., is a content marketing professional who helps businesses and individuals optimize their online presence. She’s an editor and writer, and a regular contributor to various marketing blogs. She also co-hosts The B2B Mix Show podcast with her sister Alanna.

11 Tips to Make Networking Easier For Introverts

11 Tips to Make Networking Easier For Introverts

11 Tips to Make Networking Easier For Introverts

Networking, whether in person or on social media is a critical part of the modern sales process. If you are a sales leader, you have probably realized that while your sales team is primarily staffed with extroverts who are energized by any opportunity to engage, they aren’t the only ones who need to be out networking.

Everyone on your team can benefit from our Connecting Your Way to New Business eBook as it provides some great strategies and tactics for better networking. BUT, for the introverts on your team, here are my top 11 tips to make networking a little less painful and a lot more effective.

1. Do your homework.

Find out what to expect and who will be there. The more you know about the situation before you arrive, the easier it is to navigate. Is it a sit-down meal? Will there be a presentation? Will you be expected to introduce yourself?

Look at pictures of prior events. How are people dressed? You will feel more comfortable if you are appropriately dressed for the group you are meeting. Don’t show up in a suite if they will be in jeans.

It might even be worth taking the time to research the board and members on LinkedIn and find out who they are. If there is someone you want to meet, send them a connection request with a note that lets them know you will be there and are looking forward to meeting them. They may actually come looking for you.

Anything you can do to make the experience more comfortable, the better.

2. Contact the organization’s leadership before you arrive.

In the Networking eBook, Alice suggests that if you have never been to the event, and you are not a natural networker, it is a good idea to ask someone to introduce you to others. That might seem like an uncomfortable thing to do, but you will be surprised at how happy people are to do it—if you ask ahead. You may not get such a positive response if you just show up and expect someone to show you around. So, take the time to make the call before the event. While that call may seem uncomfortable, it will be less uncomfortable than showing up to a room full of strangers.

3. Create a plan.

Introverts can usually network more successfully if they have specific people to talk to and tasks to complete. If you create a list of people you want to meet, it is more like a scavenger hunt than a free-for-all. Pick two or three people who you would like to meet and then make a point of finding them. Again, researching them and connecting with them on LinkedIn before the event might make that process easier.

Give yourself practical and useful goals. Don’t focus on collecting dozens of business cards. Focus on having a few meaningful conversations and getting introductions to other people or planning follow-up coffee with people that you want to continue the conversation with.

4. Brainstorm questions.

Think about what you would like to know about the people who are at the event. Start by thinking about the people you have decided you want to meet. Having some questions planned will make the conversation easier.

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What do you know about them?

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Why do you want to meet them?

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What would you like to know about them or their business?

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What do they see for their business or career in the next 5 years?

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What do they do when they aren’t working?

I know I am often at a loss for words when meeting new people, but having questions such as those makes the interaction easier.

5. Go with a fellow introvert.

Hate going alone? Then don’t! Find someone else who is uncomfortable with networking and go together. Share your goals for the event, and make sure you plan how you will work together to accomplish those goals. Help each other to interact with new people. Take the opportunity to introduce your partner to people at the event you already know. Using each other as support while networking with others is great, but don’t fall into the trap of using each other as an excuse not to interact with new people.

6. Look for people who are standing alone.

There are usually at least a few people who are as uncomfortable networking as I am. If someone is standing alone, I walk up to them and introduce myself. Sometimes it’s their first time, other times they are regulars, but just aren’t good at mingling. Chances are they are uncomfortable networking as well. In these kinds of situations, it would be a good time to use that list of questions you prewrote to start a conversation.

If they are regulars, they will usually be happy to introduce you to the people you want to meet. It gives them something to do. If not, maybe they will want to walk around with you and meet some other people.

7. Find an empty chair.

Rather than looking for people you might know, look for an empty chair where others are gathered. I always ask, “Maybe I join you?” People are quick to say “yes” and then include me in the conversation. Be sure to introduce yourself and ask each person about themselves and about their business. Once in a while, you may sit next to people who are so absorbed in their own conversations that they don’t notice you are there. It’s OK to get up and walk away at that point. They probably won’t notice, and someone else will surely be more welcoming.

8. Put something on your card that opens a conversation.

Business cards rarely help to start a conversation. Usually, the writing is too small to read, the company name doesn’t tell you what the company does and some have a missing or unhelpful title.

Make your card a conversation starter!

Consider a question that will get them talking or a tagline that gets them to ask a question. If the only thing they can think to say when they see your card is “What does your company do?” Then you need to add something more. I have a picture of myself on my card. Since I am not a realtor, people are interested and often comment on the photo.

9. When you meet new people, make an effort to look at them.

For an introvert, making eye contact can be difficult. After a while, I feel like I cannot look into one more person’s eyes. So, what else can you do? See if they are wearing something that you could comment about such as unique jewelry, a Rotary pin or perhaps a favorite sports team t-shirt (OK, not likely at most business functions). See if there is something that will open the conversation.

Be careful though, I have two embarrassing situations where I was really impressed by a sweater and a dress and didn’t look up to notice that I knew the person. Yes, introverts really do these things.

10. Think about topics to talk about.

What happens when you run out of things to say? For an extrovert, keeping a conversation going is easy. They are truly interested in the people around them: what they do, where they are from and their hobbies. Extroverts have a natural way of finding connections between themselves and others. Think about what interests you might share with others. Maybe you know common people or belong to common clubs. Maybe you both ski, or paint or love wine. Have a few topics handy that you feel comfortable sharing with others.

Below are some ideas for conversations:

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Did you go to such and such event?

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Have you read such and such book?

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Do you know so and so?

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What did you think of...?

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Are you going to attend...?

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Could you tell me a little more about this group?

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What do you like most about it?

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How long have you been in...?

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What’s it like to...?

11. Make space for someone new.

People are funny about networking. They are there to meet new people, but they often get into groups with people they know and talk about things they already have in common. Breaking into a conversation like that can be difficult. When I am talking to someone, I try to make sure I leave space for someone to join us. If you make space, someone will take the opportunity. If your circle is closed, people can feel it.

Even though networking may not be an activity we introverts look forward to, we can still be very effective at it if we plan. Try a few of these ideas next time you have to go to a holiday party, conference or fundraiser. You may be surprised at how easy it is to meet new people and build relationships.

Liz Heiman

You can follow Liz on:

A strategic thinker, sales strategist, Japanist, and Rotarian, Liz is a coach, trainer, and prolific speaker on the topics of sales and sales leadership. Liz loves sales, and enjoys working with sales leaders to create strategies and processes that make sense AND bring in results.

Changing Careers During a Pandemic

Changing Careers During a Pandemic

Changing Careers During a Pandemic

Stacy Jackson

By Stacy Jackson | September 4, 2020

Making a career change has always been a decision tinged with a modicum of anxiety. After all, you don’t really know what the new job will be like until you’re in it. However, the opportunity to forge a new path is often exciting and brings with it financial and intangible rewards.

Now, consider making a career move during trying times—like a pandemic—and your anxiety around that decision will probably spike. Why would you leave your current job that you’re lucky to have when so many other workers have lost their livelihoods? 

The unfortunate truth is that you don’t know what the future holds regarding job security with your current employer. Even if you’re not in a hard-hit industry, your company may eventually feel the impact of the financial crisis caused by the pandemic. The reality is that layoffs can happen at any time, for any reason, pandemic or not.  

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have begun to reassess what’s important to you. Instead of staying with a company or on a career path that’s no longer fulfilling, use some of your “safer at home” time for some career planning that can lead you to your dream job. 

Let’s run through a few career switch tips that can help you find your new role, even during a pandemic.

Re-evaluate Your Wants and Needs

The first step in a successful career transition is to take stock of your wants and needs, and the right time to understand your motivations is now. Which of these six drivers is prompting you to contemplate a new role?
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Survival:

If you’ve been laid off or work in an industry that’s shrinking, you may need to transition to survive.
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Change:

Maybe a new profession or a different industry excites you. What do you need to do and who can help you?
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Career Progression:

You’re motivated by the idea of advancement in your chosen vocation. Ask for feedback from your peers, bosses, and direct reports. Study past performance reviews. Use this information to plan your next steps.
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Location:

Do you want to be closer to aging parents? Maybe you want to work from home or move somewhere with a lower cost of living. Would you be willing to take a job with a salary reduction to live in your ideal location?
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Compensation:

Do you know your value? How much money do you need to make to achieve or maintain your desired lifestyle?
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Quality of Life Benefits:

Beyond salary, what do you need from an employer to live your best life? Flextime, promotion opportunities, company culture?
Be honest about why you want to make this change so that you get your new career path on the right course.

Reach Out to Your Network

The middle of a pandemic may seem like a less-than-ideal time for switching careers. After all, the market is scarce and competitive. However, you don’t have to go it alone. Leverage your network to make your next career move.
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Reconnect with past colleagues

A network is only useful when you nurture it—check-in with people you’ve done business within the past. Take an active interest in what they’re doing, and let them know you’re looking for new work.
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Gather performance feedback

Talk to your connections about your performance. Ask for honest feedback that can help you assess your next steps to change careers.
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Ask for leads

If you’ve built a strong network, you will find your contacts are happy to share information regarding job opportunities.
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Be human

LinkedIn is a terrific place to start, but don’t underestimate the power of a phone conversation (or video chat). A one-on-one human connection allows you to build stronger relationships and keeps you top of mind the next time that person hears about a job that may be perfect for you.

Enhance Your Personal Brand

In a crowded job market, you need to capture the attention of potential employers. An outstanding personal brand can help you outshine your competition.Let’s examine four areas where you can dramatically improve your brand.

1. LinkedIn

In recent years, LinkedIn has become the go-to professional network for hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals to find potential candidates. If your LinkedIn profile is outdated or devoid of relevant information, you’re making the wrong (or no) impression.Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand’s landing page. Think like a marketing or PR professional as you build it.
Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash
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Use a professional headshot.

Consider your profile picture the logo for your personal brand. What do you want it to convey about you?
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Write a headline that shows where you're going, not where you've been.

Your headline is your personal brand promise.

Don’t merely default to listing your current or most recent job title there. Tell employers what to expect from you. Look at these examples. Which person would you want to interview in these scenarios?

“Fundraising Executive, ABC Nonprofit” OR “Successful fundraising professional who exceeds donation goals year over year.”

“VP of Sales, Seeking New Opportunities” OR “Driven sales leader with experience managing global sales teams generating over $XXX million per year.”

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Complete the About section with a brief overview.

Keep it concise and focused on you as a professional. You want to capture someone’s interest in the first few lines. This is the place to get to the point, not wax poetic.

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Use the Experience section wisely.

If you’re a seasoned veteran in your field, don’t list your high school job at Starbucks. Want a job that’s one rung up on the job ladder? Change your title (check with former employers first) or generalize your leadership aptitude.

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List your skills in the Skills section and ask for endorsements.

You should also delete outdated skills or ones that don’t make sense for the role you are seeking.

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Ask for Recommendations.

Aim for getting at least two recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.

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Be active.

You want to get the word out about who you are and what you have to offer. You have to show up and add value. Demonstrate that you have insights and opinions that will bring value to an organization.

2. Your Resume

Your resume needs to be concise, yet make an impact. As you’re creating this document, remember that it is not just a summary of your experience: It’s your “sell sheet.”

Keep the following tips in mind when it comes to creating your resume:

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Stick to one-or-two full pages that demonstrate how your experience and education have prepared you for the job you want

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Don't list more than the past 15 to 20 years of experience (ageism is real)

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Don't include any information that isn't 100% relevant to getting the job you're applying for; don't even list references

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Keep things simple when it comes to design elements so that your resume complies with a company’s application tracking system (ATS)

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Create a flattened PDF format file that's clearly labeled as firstname_lastname_resume.pdf

3. Personalized Cover Letters

Take time to create personal cover letters for the jobs you apply for. Your cover letter gives you a place to share things that may be too specific for your resume and lets you explain why you’re the right choice.

4. A Personal, Yet Professional, Website or Blog

Creating your own website or blog isn’t 100% necessary for everyone seeking a new career. However, it can give you the edge over other candidates.

We’re not talking about sharing your Lord of the Rings fanfiction blog. Focus on creating your work portfolio or a blog that shares your industry or niche expertise.

Resume Template

5. Expand Your Skill Set or Further Your Education

During a pandemic (or any other crisis with widespread impact), a job search will take longer. 

You can use this time to focus on career development. If you’re entering a new industry or looking to advance in your current field, you may need to sharpen some skills or attain new ones. Here are some options to consider:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
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Take some online courses or consider a fast-track certification program.

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Start a side hustle that helps you build new skills.

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Get involved with clubs or organizations that help you improve in areas where you may have weaknesses.

Ready to Discover Your New Career Path?

Maybe a pandemic isn’t the “perfect time” for changing careers, but there’s never a “perfect time” for most life choices. While a full-time job is nice, wouldn’t a fulfilling career be even better?

Did we leave anything out? Do you have any questions about transitioning to a new job or profession during a pandemic? We’d love to hear from you on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Stacy Jackson

Stacy Jackson, co-founder of Jackson Marketing, Inc., is a content marketing professional who helps businesses and individuals optimize their online presence. She’s an editor and writer, and a regular contributor to various marketing blogs. She also co-hosts The B2B Mix Show podcast with her sister Alanna.

8 Ways to Find a Great Job

8 Ways to Find a Great Job

8 Ways to Find a Great Job

By Mark Earnest | June 8, 2020

What a crazy job market we are currently living in. Unemployment is at one of its lowest ebbs in recent memory, which means that certain jobs are hard to find even for the most skilled employee. And, if you want a lower-paying job than you are used to, they are quite plentiful because there aren’t enough workers looking for work to take the menial ones on.

If you are either job seeking right now, or you are looking for a boost to your career, there are some techniques to quell these weird Catch-22s. A little research on the web shows a lot of advice on how to find a great job – and that’s not just any work. Something more fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding is what you really want.

Here are some quick ideas on how to find a great job in a marketplace such as this. A lot of it comes down to who you know (and not just people at the top), finding the right tools, and not being shy about putting yourself on the market for some positive change.

1. Pin down what you really want

This first step is more philosophy than action, but it’s essential. When you are at a career crossroads, it’s best to do some soul searching and smart research to figure out your next step. 

Glassdoor points out some good tips to find work, such as making a list of the important things you want from a new role as an important step. Think about a larger managerial role or your first time in management. Think about how much money you want, and that you are willing to take depending on the offer. Think about the quality of work and the work-life balance, as well as the culture of the workplace you want.  

It’s good to figure all of this out so you aren’t just taking any old job once you are stressed about finding employment.

2. Freshen up your calling cards

By that, I mean the electronic ones (although some decent business cards are never a bad thing). Updating your LinkedIn and tooling up your resume are keys to success in finding the right type of work for you.

Some more fresh advice from Glassdoor concerns that LinkedIn profile.

You have up to 50 skills that you can add, but make them as specific as possible so you can be ultra-searchable by hiring managers.

Either way, make sure it exudes leadership skills and doesn’t just parrot all your day-to-day duties for your entire career.

3. Bug your pals

It’s entirely possible that a friend, current or former co-worker, or even a boss from the past might have some great leads on a new job (hey, the latter is even how I found this job – true story!).

Forbes magazine recently gave some advice on how to find a great job, and they start with a great research tool that anyone can use – a top 25 most influential list from your own social networks, whether that’s electronic or from your corporeal work past. After that, get in contact with three people from that list, especially ones who you haven’t spoken with in at least a year or more. 

The idea is to take advantage of a network that’s distinctive to you, and that knows your skills and what you want, instead of just relying on internet searching to find that perfect next fit.

4. Be true to your school

One easy way to make a connection with folks is by finding alumni from your university, or getting back in contact with those old school pals if you haven’t in years. As Forbes points out, people generally like to be friends with those who have something in common, so why not the alma mater?

A career website called The Muse also brings up this idea: alumni usually have great connections with each other, especially if you are in the town where you earned that degree. Getting in touch through LinkedIn or your alumni office can make this process easier if you want to find some new connections that can help with your next career goal.

5. Check out the electronic classifieds

This is one of the easier things to do, and everyone does it. The disadvantage is, of course, that everyone does it. 

Sites like Indeed, LinkedIn’s jobs section, and Glassdoor all feature hundreds of jobs in your area. The trick, though, is to find the right one for you. The Reviews website recently updated its list of what it calls The Best Job Sites, which it rates by most listings, best company profiles, and best for certain types of industries. 

It’s important, though, to refine and narrow your search to save time. Make sure you are using all the parameters of a particular board – whether by salary or job type or location – to hone in on the jobs that have been posted that are truly right for you.

6. Go straight to the company you want

If you already have a company in mind that you want to work for, there’s nothing wrong with checking them out at the direct source. Many companies, especially larger ones, post jobs on their own sites, and sometimes they are posted there before they end up on those big e-boards. 

Investopedia is another site that is offering some job advice, and a great first-step they suggest is to create a list of who you want to target for your dream job, and then schedule some regular time to check their own job boards. 

It’s also a good chance to get an advance look at what kind of culture a company has before you take the plunge and send that resume, according to The Muse. If you aren’t sure of a specific company, one thing you can do is search for “Best Places to Work” in your industry or region and see what you come up with.

7. Be seen

Being huddled over a computer constantly looking for jobs shouldn’t be Plan A and B. You should also consider some face-to-face networking. There are likely regular networking events available for your type of industry – just do a search for your city and “business networking events” to see what you can find. 

Still, as The Muse points out, there are ways to network beyond just association events (sometimes with indigestible lunches, let’s be honest). Consider happy hours, hobby meetups, volunteer work, or really any type of meet-and-greet gathering as a place to score some job leads, while also hopefully having some fun in the process. 

8. You may get some professional help

One way to get a great job is, unfortunately, something that has to happen to you more than you can control.

As Investopedia writes in their article, some companies go through recruiters first to find the best and brightest and streamline the process. They may also use head hunters, who find people to work at a specific role. While you don’t personally hire the recruiter, it’s good to have all of your resume and LinkedIn ducks in a row (see way No. 2) to make sure you stand out in the big job-hunting crowd.  

It’s clear that there’s no magic pill to get the job you want. It takes time, effort and even the occasional elevator speech to strive for your best career. With some research and perseverance, you can feel more fulfilled in your career and strive for a new level of happiness. It’s not unobtainable.

Mark Earnest is from Reno, Nevada, and he loves words. He loves them so much that he’s made them his career, first as a sports and entertainment journalist and then as a specialist in paid advertising and corporate communications. He even loves words set to really loud music, as he is the frontman for several rock bands in his hometown.

Create the Perfect Cover Letter: How to Connect in 1 Page or Less

Create the Perfect Cover Letter: How to Connect in 1 Page or Less

Create the Perfect Cover Letter: How to Connect in 1 Page or Less

By Discover Podium | June 8, 2020

The cover letter has become a point of contention in the most recent decade. It can be a tricky piece of your application to get right, and there’s evidence that most hiring managers today don’t even read them. According to the 2017 edition of Jobvite’s Job Seeker Nation Study, only 26% of recruiters consider the cover letter an important part of the hiring process. 

Putting it another way, though, that means that 1 in 4 people on the other side of your applications will expect a cover letter to go along with it. For the remaining 74%, a cover letter could be your chance to separate yourself from the pack. A cover letter is the best way to prepare yourself and the hiring manager for the interview process, an opportunity to describe yourself in your own terms and create the beginnings of a working relationship. 

Put simply, the best cover letters answer the question every recruiter wants to know: why are you the best person for the job?

Your Opening Address

That’s right: you haven’t even begun talking about yourself yet, and you’re already being scrutinized. How you open your letter and address the people reading it is an important part of the cover letter and is the first way to make a great first impression. 

When addressing a cover letter, you want to be as specific as possible. In an ideal world, you would address your letter directly to the hiring manager by name (“Dear Jane Doe…”). This information isn’t always readily available, so taking the time to do your research and identify the correct person to speak to shows initiative and a commitment to securing the job at hand. This is where your professional network can come in handy. Reach out to colleagues who might have connections to the company you’re applying for, or search around on LinkedIn to see if you can gather any information. 

If, after your research, you still don’t know who the hiring manager is, you can address the department of the role you’re applying for. Try to be as specific as possible.

Your Opening Paragraph

This part of your cover letter is likely the one that will change the most, depending on the position you’re applying for. The information you want to communicate includes:

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The title of the job you’re applying for

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The skills you have that are necessary for the role, and

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An aspect of the job that’s interesting to you

The way you organize this information can change depending on what kind of company you’re applying for. Whether you’re applying for a job in an established, professional environment or a more casual, down-to-earth start-up, jump right in and let the hiring manager know why you’re the best fit.

The Body Paragraph

In your next paragraph, you should discuss your most recent full-time position and how that has prepared you for the role you’re applying for. The best way to do this is to pick a specific project you’ve worked on in the recent past and discuss not only the skills you used to complete it, but how the company benefited as a result. 

A good strategy is to think of a challenge you had to overcome during the process. Maybe some last-minute obstacles appeared to hamper progress, or your team came across a unique roadblock that they’d never been tested against. You have the chance in a cover letter to showcase a brief, specific example of how you approach and overcome conflict, as well as the positive results of your actions. Be detailed, but not overly so. Ideally you’re saying just enough to make the reader curious and ask further questions in an interview setting.

The Second Body Paragraph

You won’t always need this paragraph, but if you’d like to showcase another aspect of your work or leadership style, or discuss an achievement from earlier in your career, you may do so here. The same rules as the previous paragraph apply. If the job you’re applying for requires that you’re proficient in a number of tools or technologies, you can also create a brief bulleted list to draw the hiring manager’s eye and assure them that you have the basic knowledge required for the role.

The Conclusion

Your sign-off should be confident and to-the-point, briefly reiterating why you’re a good fit for the role. Thank the hiring manager for their time, and express an interest in a formal interview.  

Ultimately, the most important part of a cover letter is that you’re framing your accomplishments in a way that sounds natural to you. Certain companies may be more comfortable with casual language than others, and a good way to gauge this is by reading the job description. A company that’s asking for an “organizational ninja” might be put off if you sound too formal, and a corporate company might dismiss you if you start cracking jokes. Do as much research as you can on the company beforehand, and use the extra space the cover letter provides to let them know why you should work together. 

Remember: at its best, a cover letter is all about making a connection.