Top 10 Tips for Grads Starting Their Career Search

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com
 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,
As a recent graduate with my bachelors, what are the top 10 tips you would suggest for me
starting out in my job search?
P.J.
Millburn

[Read more…]

Expert provides tips for dealing with age bias

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in The Star Ledger Guest Column “Hire Me” (www.nj.com) and in MillburnPatch.com
Q.
I have been consulting but have not been able to land a regular full time position. What
best approaches do you suggest for those of us in our mid-late 50’s who want full time
work? I truly believe that my age is a very real obstacle and many of my colleagues feel the
same way — we all have impressive resumes, successful track records, yet don’t seem to be
able to get anywhere. Your advice is appreciated.
— LF
Short Hills

 

How Do I Stop Self Doubting?

How to gain more confidence on the job.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I have been working for 6 months as a RN (Registered Nurse). I am always asking questions when I am not sure how to do something. Why do so many more experienced RNs doubt me by telling me how to do something even if I know how to perform the procedure? What should I do?

Thanks,
L.G., Millburn

 

You are in a field that has potentially life-threatening consequences if done wrong. The fact that you are aware enough to ask when unsure is a good thing. The biggest challenge for many new hires is knowing when to proceed and when to ask for help. In nursing school, there was probably a lot of instructional guidance given. It sounds like you are taking your work very seriously.

By asking repeatedly about a procedure, you may be undermining the staff’s confidence in you. Are you truly unsure or just not feeling confident enough to proceed? If you have done a procedure before successfully, ask yourself, “do I need to review the protocol?” If you are unsure, you may want to ask an experienced colleague to stand by if possible, while you perform the procedure. It will demonstrate your abilities and confirm your knowledge. If you are unable to complete the procedure, your experienced colleague will be there for assistance.

Respect your colleague’s time. When working in a team, understand that your co-workers have other responsibilities they are juggling. If you are asking for help, figure out how to return the favor by helping them in an area you are strong in.

Another option may be to create a study group with other RNs to practice procedures, review protocols and share best practices. Consider asking some of the more experienced RNs to honor this group by offering their expertise and mentoring. You may consider creating a social club for RNs, such as a book or movie discussion group that can meet in person or over a social media site. You may consider joining some professional associations for gaining additional knowledge and best practices.

Connecting with colleagues is important when building trust within relationships. Creating genuine caring relationships with your team members while balancing the workload is important. Self-awareness of one’s behavior is the key. The faster you can build the emotional intelligence through raising their self-awareness, the faster your team will integrate and the happier they will be to work together. A team consists of multiple styles and various experience levels. Respect for one another, understanding each other’s strengths and how to support one another is very important. New talent is important and necessary and the blend of wisdom gained from experience with new creative ideas usually yields the best and brightest options.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

How Do I Reinvent Myself?

What’s the best way to change your work life to fit with your current personal life?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am trying to reinvent myself so that I don’t have to work the long hours and can spend more time with my family. My question is about how to really go about doing this—what are my options? What fields could I transition into? I really feel that I am having a mid-life crisis and could use direction but I am not so sure where to turn or which way to go. And I am sure that I am not alone in this and that there are many women returning to the work force with similar concerns to mine.

Thanks, J.T. Millburn

 

Take time to reflect on your education, your work and life experience. How do these blend with your current interests? The key here is to leverage your past experiences with your future interests and passions. Evaluate your skills and abilities and think about what you do best. What do you enjoy doing? What do others tell you that you do well? This will give you a sense of your strengths to build on as you identify new possibilities.

Identify contacts within your network who can help introduce you to others in your target area of interest. Begin by networking within the industry you have identified.
Consider the following:

  • Attend seminars, webinars, and other related events to build up your knowledge of the industry “speak.” It will help you when speaking with hiring managers.
  • Network at related professional association meetings.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups and read the discussions to better understand what current trends, interests and priorities are in the new targeted industry.
  • Volunteer to learn new skills and expand your network.
  • Return to work through a staffing agency on a temporary basis. This will allow you to try a new work environment so you can determine the fit. As a company gets to know you, the better your chances are of negotiating a creative alternative work arrangement.

All of these options allow you to develop new relationships, learn and update your skills. To further evaluate your skills, you may consider working with a certified career coach to complete a formal skills assessment and help guide you in new career directions specific to your strengths.

A study about work-family issues conducted by the Pew Research Center and reported by Reuters, indicated “most people thought women should work, with 75 percent rejecting the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Although women account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce, many feel conflicted about the competing roles at work and at home, feeling guilt about how they are balancing work and children. But despite these pressures and conflicts, working moms, overall, are as likely as at-home moms and working dads to say they’re happy with their lives,” the researchers said in a statement. They found “36 percent of working mothers were very happy with their lives—the same as at-home mothers.”

Success is individually defined based on your own value system and needs. Most working moms juggle their priorities and are constantly rebalancing to make it work!

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Networking is a skill that needs to mastered, but always tactfully

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in The Star Ledger Guest Column “Hire Me” (www.nj.com)

 

As you know, I believe networking is a year-round activity. We are always networking — formally or informally — and I often reference two types of networks, the “cultivated” and the “fly by” network contact.

When you think of an insect that flies around your head or buzzes in your ear, it is annoying. This flying insect is one that you tend to swat away. When you encounter an individual who is not respectful of your personal space or in your face too soon, then this individual is more annoying than valuable. This networker for the receiver is a “fly by” contact that is not typically maintained.

On the other hand, the cultivated networker understands that relationships take time to develop. They will engage someone and continue to bring a value proposition to the table.

There is typically a value exchange between the networker and the receiver. There is a solid reason to come back together and reconnect over and over again.

Why bother networking? In this tight job market, your reputation will precede you if you have worked in an industry or field for some time. So think about your reputation — who are you, what consistencies does your story have, how do people perceive you based on your history of interactions with them?
[Read more…]

How Do I Network?

The advice is to network to get a new job, but how do you do that?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

Everyone says I need to network to find a job. As a recent graduate, I am applying to multiple jobs online and not getting responses. How do I network?

MP
Short Hills

 

Job hunting takes persistence and resilience. In the past, job hunting consisted of submitting resumes along with a cover letter either by mail, fax, email or online. Some job seekers like to post their resumes on selected job search sites for employers to view.

In the last few years, many job seekers are using social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and job sites where the site is doing the preliminary matching for you. Many of these matching sites request a membership fee. Since there are so many free job site resources available, I am not a proponent of online job sites that require payment for memberships.

The Warren Township Library and I conduct quarterly workshops (for free) on the tools available through your public library and how to work with these tools to develop your job search strategy.

One approach is to set up job alerts by selecting key words that solicit job matches from numerous job boards. Selecting the job sites you want to search will take a bit of research once you refine what you are looking for. Once you determine certain areas of interests, then determine the best key words to target your job search criteria. Determining the key words may take a few trails but is worth the time to get it to your liking.

Ryan Derousseau of Mediabistro explains in “Can You Reach the Right People While Schmoozing on LinkedIn?,” “online schmoozing has become the norm… but are you really reaching the people that will help your career while networking online?… The answer is yes. Hubspot confirms that 28 percent of LinkedIn users are senior executives… and of all the users, 67 percent are between the ages of 25 and 54… 80 percent of recruiters say they use the site to find applicants.”

So, how does one network in today’s market? In person, through social and professional meetings, through meetup.com, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, your ability to generate conversation is essential to turn your online relationship into a cultivated longer term relationship that will last beyond this job search period.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Graduate Job Seeker

The writer isn’t graduating until May, but how should he handle his job search now?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics in May 2011. I applied for corporate graduate training programs in financial services firms so I would have a job upon graduating. They seem to be all filled. I have been advised to wait until I’m near graduation and then see what entry level positions are available. I’m worried with the state of the economy whether that is a good idea. What would you recommend?

JS
Short Hills

 

Corporate Graduate Training Programs in many of the financial services firms have reduced the number of graduates in their program. These programs are very competitive and typically require a high GPA and previous internship experience. Involvement in some related student activity or clubs and having someone inside the firm recommend you is very helpful.

Although many of the graduate program selections are typically made between year end and February, there are usually some last minute fall out that occurs within these programs as previously committed graduates change their decision to accept. With the economy being tight, there will probably be less drop-outs than previous years. I would suggest you send holiday wishes (can be holiday cards or via email or LinkedIn) to all of the professionals you interviewed with and to all previous internship connections letting them know that you are searching for an opportunity upon graduation in May 2011. Offer to meet with them in the new year on an exploratory basis. As they respond, set up appointments.

Using LinkedIn allows you to connect and invite them into your network for the future. Your LinkedIn profile needs to be ready to present as this is your social online resumé and presence. Obtain a few recommendations from previous internships and from professors. When you are in active search mode, “post and update” often with either an article you have read and want to share with your audience (LinkedIn connection) or reminding your contacts that you are graduating and seeking an opportunity.

Use this time to gain informational knowledge. Engage others in a conversation about careers. Ask them about their job, their industry and what they see for future career development. You will learn more about various companies, and most people enjoy speaking about what they do and many will enjoy the privilege of informally mentoring you. Ask your parents, family members, friends of your parents, with your parent’s permission of course, and neighbors about potential individuals they can recommend you contact for exploratory or informational meetings.

Networking is the key in this job market. Do you know any previous graduates in the training programs you have applied for that you can connect with? Ask them about the program and see if there are additional programs you may not have applied for. Speak with your University Career Center. Get to know them and let them know who you are. Ask about other companies coming on campus and contacts they may have in the field you want. Ask them to help you set up some exploratory and informational interviews. Ask about alumni at various firms that you can contact. The alumni meetings may be a great way for you to learn more and gain inside contacts so when a position opens, you may be considered.

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This is the time to explore career options. I recommend you broaden your search to include finance opportunities rather than just financial services firms.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Getting Your Resume Through the Door

How do you overcome the technology or screening process for resumes?

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

What value has technology brought to the recruitment process? How do you work around the technology screening to get an interview?

F.T. Millburn

 

For larger companies, technology has played a significant role in changing how applicants are selected. The technology, referred to as Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS, is used to screen candidates for qualifications based on matching terminology (key words) on one’s resume relative to the job requirements. It allows the corporate recruiter to see only the candidates that are a match based on the programmed criteria.

Many of the programming criteria for job boards prevent the resume from being viewed by the receiving company if it doesn’t match enough of the job specific criteria. Most of these job boards do not inform you that you have been denied the privilege of being viewed. This is when your network is critical.

If your resume is not getting noticed, then change it. Review job postings and look for consistent key words. Integrate these words into your resume. Using these words is the key to getting through the ATS screen. Most people update their resume by adding their last position. When you begin to look for a job, you need to review your resume for formatting and proper use of terms that will meet the ATS matching criteria. I would suggest looking at your resume with a critical eye. Seek others’ opinions from friends, recruiters or a career coach.

The way to work around the ATS is through your network contacts. These contacts are individuals that care about you and truly want to help you. Having your contact introduce your resume to their company’s recruiter or hiring manager is usually very helpful. Even if they introduce you to someone that knows someone inside can be helpful. Informing your friends and family about companies that you are targeting will help them determine if they can help you. If the introducer is respected and known for delivering value, then the introduced resume, or you, will typically be granted a phone screen and possibly an interview. It is important that you keep your contact informed of your job search status with the potential employer. This allows the introducer to follow up naturally with their inside contact as well.

The question for the hiring organization is to ask if they hiring for a specific position or hiring for potential to help grow their company. What most successful hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals do is to hire talent based on critical skills, matched values and potential. Any hiring manager who understands this blend when hiring will drive success.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.  

Getting Noticed

How to differentiate yourself from the other candidates who submit their resume.

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

How do you get your resume noticed? I have sent out many resumes after graduating from school last May and have not gotten many interviews yet.

S.S.
Short Hills

 

This is a great follow up question to last week’s column on Getting Your Resume through the Door. Although technology has played a significant role in changing how applicants are selected, the key to getting noticed is to networking your way into an organization.

Applying for a position online is not enough. You need to determine if you know anyone at the company or if someone you know knows someone in the organization. With all of the online tools, the ability to search for connections is at our fingertips.

The key is how you introduce yourself to a new connection and then how you develop this network connection. There is protocol to requesting a connection pass on LinkedIn. You write a note to your direct connection asking them to connect you to their connection. The in-mail should clearly explain the value of connecting you with their contact. When you do this, you want to think about how to engage this once removed connection further to cultivate a new relationship. You also want to keep your initial direct connection informed of your activity on this matter.

Think of social media as one conduit to connecting but the real connection comes in the relationship that is established over time. Think of your personal relationships. You speak with your friends and family often. You will need to engage with your business contacts that have common interests or where you can complement each other on a steady basis. It helps to build the relationship and create a value proposition between you.

There will be times when you are asking and there should be times when you are giving. It will not always be an even exchange depending on what projects and learning stages you and your contact are in. Asking your connections their opinion is great way to obtain some guidance and also provide them with an unspoken message that you value their thoughts.

Getting your resume introduced to the company’s recruiter or hiring manager is incredibly helpful to getting noticed. Let others in your network know what you are looking for and know what they are seeking. If they are working, offer to help them with some research possibly for a project they are working on. This will build your knowledge and you will be adding value to your connection. Get noticed by engaging others in building relationships over time.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice. 

Effective Job Search Strategies

Keep to a schedule and network in real life, advises the coach

By Lisa Chenofsky Singer
As appeared in “Ask the Career Coach” Column on MillburnPatch.com

 

Dear Career Coach Lisa,

I am in transition and find I am so busy attending meeting after meeting that I only go online after dinner. How do I figure out what is most effective for my job search and how long should this search last?

SC
Short Hills

 

When you are in transition, the first thing to do is create a weekly schedule for yourself. The hardest part of transitioning is typically the lack of routine that follows the job loss. Your schedule needs to be based on your goals.

As you think about your goals, determine what your short term and what your long term goals are. Check to see if your goals are realistic based on your current skills or do you need to refresh your knowledge or learn new skills? Your short term goal may include finding a similar position as your last one and your long term goal may involve retraining for a new industry or new career.

If your goal is to find a similar position in the same industry, then you are conducting a targeted job search. A targeted job search is focused and may require some research and much networking. Using your local library, you can use on line databases. One is ReferenceUSA (http://www.referenceusa.com) to search the industry and identify all of the possible companies within a certain geographical territory. There are many additional resources that your Research Librarian should be able to help you with.

Once you identify the targeted companies, you will need to see who is in your network that can help you tap into them. Your network consists of your family, friends, former co-workers, vendors you have worked with in the past, your church, temple and other associations and affiliations, plus on line communities you are involved with – LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

To be an effective networker, it is helpful to create openings through the online communities but the true value comes with the follow up conversation over the phone or face to face networking! When you meet someone, your persona and competence coupled with your communication style is what builds the relationship. Relationships take time to develop so see this networking activity as a long term strategy!

If your goal is twofold, find a similar role so you can pay your bills while transitioning to a new career, then you may want to conduct the targeted job search while researching other career options. One site, O’NET is created for the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration (http://online.onetcenter.org). This site allows you to explore various skills sets and determine job possibilities. It also can provide you with the market range for salaries based on jobs identified within the database.

What is most effective for your job search will depend on your goals. Speaking with family or friends may help you set the goals. If not, a trained professional can help you set your goals. The weekly schedule will evolve over time. Initially, it may allocate a heavier allotment of time devoted to research. This will gradually shift to networking meetings within selected associations to help you build your networks within your current or new functional area or industry. You may choose to identify retraining options, researching scholarships or grants that may be available. This too can be research at your library. Personally, I am a huge fan of libraries and they are free!

During your job search, make sure you are out connecting with the world around you on a daily basis. It may mean a walk around the block or to the library or a networking meeting or a lecture on a topic that interest you. It is too easy to remain behind your computer for hours.

 

About this column:

“Ask the Career Coach” is a column dedicated to those who may be in transition or wrestling with a career dilemma by providing a forum for advice.