Dr. Seuss, Career Advisor?

Not long ago, just before celebrating my daughters’ 2nd birthday, I came across a tattered copy of Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You!, and couldn’t help but smile as I thought back on pivotal moments in my life and career when Dr. Seuss’s wise words resonated. Since adopting this book back into my life for the benefit of my growing child, I have found myself stuck on the most famous line in the book, just as I was thirty-something years ago.

“Today you are you, this is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”

As a Professional Career Strategist, I pride myself on advising our clients by inspiring them to see the true value within themselves. Now that I am once again immersed back into Dr. Seuss’ work through my child’s eyes,

I couldn’t help but wonder – was Dr. Seuss the world’s best career coach disguised as a children’s book writer?

 

Let’s think about this for a minute. As children, we’re taught to be confident, believe in ourselves, do the right thing, and naturally, we’ll land amongst the stars. Then, reality happens as we grow up: we learn the agony of defeat and the sting of disappointment.  We face the harsh coldness of “Thank you for your application, but…”

Little by little, all of those wise words we clung to and repeated before bedtime while reading some of Seuss’ classics seem as useless as, well, a cold plate of Green Eggs and Ham.

If Dr. Seuss (2.0) stepped into the role of a career coach, here is how we reimagine the applicability of some of his more famous quotes when considering a job search.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

The way we see it, this is Dr. Seuss, Career Advisor, reminding you to simplify your job search. You will not be a great fit for every role out there and not every sector is going to be ideal. Moreover, not all career fairs, networking events, and speed interview sessions will be helpful. Hone-in, for simplicity purposes, on a few sectors and companies you want to learn more about and start going through your connections, both digital and real, to make inroads. The Cat in the Hat would be proud of That!

 

“So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve given this advice before, though perhaps with less of a rhyme scheme going on. Dr. Seuss is correct, though, as he is basically suggesting that you be thoughtful and strategic in your job search. So often, we hear the “quantity over quality” is what lands one a job. Applying to 200 jobs just because they have openings will not turn the odds in your favor for an interview or offer and could very well lead to MORE frustration when you don’t hear back.

Rather, focus on the companies and roles in which you are truly interested, even if that means only applying to 10 roles. From there, reach out to people at each company, follow-up, express interest in the role, and request time to learn more about the opportunity and overall organization. Basically, Dr. Seuss (the Career Advisor) is suggesting you balance out applying for quality roles with making essential connections at each organization, as this will significantly increase the likelihood that you actually land an interview.

 

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”

Your past is your past, and it is exactly what has led you to where you are in your life at this very moment. Most likely, you’ve learned a thing or two from your previous job experiences, good and bad. The purpose here, as Dr. Seuss has indicated, is to take that experience and focus on what your career can become – and lead with this in mind. Recognizing an abundance of responsibilities from your career to date is a decent start – but if you can’t speak to how this will apply to your future success, it’s time to recalibrate. Perhaps Dr. Seuss, Career Advisor, would ask you the following:

One fish, Two fish, At that role, What’d You Accomplish?

Don’t forget to note your achievements and make a plan; you can do all this eating green eggs and ham!

In all seriousness, we often lose sight of what we set out to do in the first place.  Unwanted advice, opinions, and poor career advice can negatively affect the direction in which we were hoping to steer ourselves. Losing trust in ourselves and the value we can bring to the career world would make Dr. Seuss a very unhappy career coach, er, writer.

On the anniversary of Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel’s Birthday, celebrate with an inherent call to the brains in your head, the feet in your shoes, and empower yourself to venture on in any direction you choose.

It’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Contributor: Michelle Dempsey, MS, CPRW

 

 

The Top 25 Jobs in America… Are Probably NOT for You

The “top job” in America has a median salary of over $116,000.

Sound good to you? Or does it sound like, with this salary, you’ll never even be close to paying off

your student loans/mortgage/business debt?

Either way – it shouldn’t matter.

Recently, Glassdoor.com put out this list, highlighting the Top 25 jobs in America. We’ll be honest with you, we scrolled the list, and were shocked to find that “Career Strategist” didn’t make the cut (Hey, we think it’s the best!).

The list was filled with many managerial positions, many more engineering positions, and many of those with decent salaries. All pretty comprehensive material if you’re on the hunt for a new – and better – career.

But what this list left off is critical. In fact, we think the one factor that should be considered, sometimes above all others – is what this job means for you, in terms of your own personal satisfaction.

Even the top-rated job in the world will not provide you with much if it is not aligned with who you are, what your background is, what your innate skills are, and – more than anything – what you need to be happy.

Life is stressful. Maintaining a meaningful and successful career path requires a lot of dedication and (wo)man-hours. We spend so much time focused on our jobs, or finding a better one, that it should undoubtedly be a job that fills our souls, and not just our pockets.

That being said, you cannot put a price on loving what you do.

Ever hear of the friend-of-a-friend that left his very high-paying (albeit high-stress), big-city, CEO job for the quiet streets of Nowhere, USA to relax and finally enjoy life a bit more? As Career Coaches, we’ve heard this tale first-hand, and we support it! The trick is to shift gears into the appropriate professional lane – and with ReFresh Your Step by your side, you too, can wind up with the #1 job in America – the #1 job, for you, that is!

It’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Thankful Thoughts For a Job Search

At ReFresh Your Step, we like to think that embarking on a career search, whether by choice or by circumstance, is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself and your future. You see, we like to focus on the positive, and with Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time to give the good ol’ job search the credit it deserves.

This year, we urge you, job seekers, to be THANKFUL for the search!

That’s right – we strongly feel that people in the search for a new career have it better than ever these days. With countless tools and opportunities to reach out, connect, investigate and research potential job opportunities, we have to be thankful for how much easier the search has become over the last few decades.

Here’s why…

Think back to the first job you ever applied for. You were likely in high school, hoping for that first job opportunity that would help you make a few bucks to start a spring break fund or save for a new car/college.

Well, if you’re part of the ReFresh Your Step team’s generation, you probably crafted a resume on a bulky desktop (or massive laptop), found opportunities via newspaper, word of mouth, or a career center, and did research on companies at the *gulp* library. In-person interview? Of course. Skype interview? This is NOT Back to the Future!

But now?

We’ve been able to gain control of the modern day job search!

You immediately access the web to start your job search. You most likely Google facts on companies, opportunities, job listings that interest you. You come across ReFresh Your Step’s website (or a similar firm) and are immediately turned on to all of our career advisory services. You set up a consultation, arrange for a new resume and cover letter and even meet via Skype to brush up on interview skills (without ever having to leave the comfort of your couch).

Think that’s good? Leave room on your thankful list – there’s more!

Now you’ve narrowed down your job search and made a list of contacts to reach out and connect with. With the click of a button, your documents are sent out into the world like a boomerang waiting to come back in for a landing with opportunity tied to its wings.   You can’t wait to let your future place of possible employment know just how eager and determined you are, so you let social media give you a little push. With your spiffy new LinkedIn profile you are able to confidently connect with the top players in your sector and let your accomplishments do the talking.

And of course, with all of the career advisory services that ReFresh Your Step provides…

We urge you to be thankful for your choice to allow RYS to help you climb to the next rung in your career ladder. In addition to resumes/cover letters, our services range from professional documents to networking techniques, interviewing strategies and strategic career consulting

It’s hard NOT to be thankful for the fact that you have all of the best tools at your disposal as you enter the job market.

Remember, a secret ingredient in the special sauce of career success is “enthusiasm” – not just a dash of it. On this Thanksgiving, maintain an open mind, a thankful spirit, and be grateful that you’ve taken to the opportunity to propel yourself towards success.

It’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Happy Thanksgiving and we wish you thankful thoughts and much career success!

 

The Top Ten NEW OddBall Interview Questions You Need to Know

In this new age of interviewing, savvy career searchers know to expect a “Huh?” question just as much as the standard “Tell me about yourself” inquiry. Google made its mark on interviewing forever several years ago with such quandaries as, “How many ping-pong balls do you need to fill a Boeing 747 plane?”

I’ll let you ponder that one for a few minutes.

I’ve been telling clients to expect these questions and training them on how to answer such queries. Tip 1: remember that it’s not about a precise number or response so much as talking out loud about how you would go about getting the answer. Tip 2: in addition to thinking out loud, ask questions of your interviewer to better formulate your response as opposed to panicking or appearing flustered by the question. Also, email me if you are interested in answers to this plane/ping-pong ball question.

As a tip of the hat to recently retired David Letterman, we bring to you a Top Ten List of NEW Oddball Interview Questions and are also providing tips on how to approach answering them.

1) Batman Vs Spiderman: Who Would Win? This is a “stop you in your tracks” question that came from Stanford University; how does one even approach answering a query such as this? What if comic book heroes – and their movie franchises – are not topics you even know much about? Here’s my thought, and I believe you can apply the logic to many similar questions.

  • Potential Response 1: If you are familiar with the characters and can reason an answer, go for it (I am quite familiar with both characters and do believe that Spiderman’s capabilities truly outweigh those of Batman and here’s why…).
  • Potential Response 2: If you are not familiar with the characters, answer the question without really doing so at all (Although comic book heroes are not my forté, I believe that both characters are good guys and fight the bad guys. As such, I believe they would not ever find themselves in a fight as they are both on the same side!).

2) In what ways are you lucky? This is an interesting alternative to the “Tell me about yourself” question; Airbnb asks it and given their penchant for upbeat employees, it makes sense. What this question is really asking is, “How do you see yourself?” and is therefore a behavioral interview question. The key here is to be thoughtful without being too revealing (please avoid such responses as, “I’m really lucky to even be here after escaping from prison last week…”). We also suggest keeping your answer somewhat career-focused.

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The Power of Interns Part I

When ReFresh Your Step quietly launched an intern program last spring, our goal was simple: provide college students with a chance to get some real world marketing, business development, and project management experience (and, of course, a professionally written resume á la one of our writers). We specifically wanted college students in majors that would coincide with our needs, as that would benefit all involved; additionally, we traditionally look for students who are truly interested in working independently but are aggressive, creative, and productive.

It also occurred to us that applying to work at a career advisory firm (with minimal experience in the sector) could be, shall we say, daunting?

So, they write resumes…and know exactly what to look for…could I hire them to write my resume and then apply for the role?

Um, how do you interview with a professional interview advisor?

Is being on LinkedIn a requirement? What if they are on Facebook and can see my pictures? What if they JUDGE me by my pictures? Where are those security settings?

To answer those questions in order:

1) We are absolutely extra-critical of applicants’ resumes but are aware that college students are not the MOST up-to-date of today’s resumes standards (and investing in a new resume with us before applying for the position is actually pretty brilliant).

2) Just practice; I may know how to interview really well but don’t (often) bite; and

3) LinkedIn is not a requirement ahead of time but is by the time you’re done with the role. Also, I’ve been on Facebook a lot longer than you have, my friends post worse things than you do, and I was in college too (for the record, Mark Zuckerberg and I are contemporaries. We also both like to wear hoodie sweatshirts to work). I do advise putting your security settings on high anyway; ask me how to do that if you need to help.

Of course, if you happened to mention that you are a big fan of AJ Jacobs’ work, I’d probably just hand you the job, as this would indicate you appreciate excellent writing, humor, and the occasional bit of crazy. We’ll get along just fine.

I am a huge fan of AJ’s work and am thrilled he has started writing columns for LinkedIn; recently, he wrote about how he hires interns and it just made me think about our own process. This internship is not about getting me coffee or walking my dog; rather, as career advisors, we are KEENLY aware of how incredibly important it is to provide not just resume-building opportunities but to actually educate and groom our interns on gearing up for a job search as well as how to best prepare for the real world.

Our last intern did amazing work in terms of advancing key projects, writing excellent blog posts, and helping with major marketing initiatives. This semester, our intern is already churning out some excellent blog posts (9 Steps to a Successful Career Launch Part I and Part II, as well as her own perspective on AJ’s article); additionally, she will be essential to our business development maintenance and long-term growth, especially as I transition into a new role shortly (more on that later).

We look to our interns for real-world work and are happy to provide them transferable, high-level opportunities. We also like to give them an insider’s education on how this whole “job search” thing works; our hope is that this role with a career advising firm can truly pave the way for a fulfilling career.

If you are interested in a future internship position, please email Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW to see the job description. Until then, it’s YOUR Career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Top Five Reasons to Hire a Resume Writer

Your resume – usually the first thing a potential employer sees  – is often a key determinant in whether you’ll be offered a job or even an interview. While it’s tempting to think that writing your own resume is the cheaper, easier option, it may end up costing you in the long run. Consider this: with so much riding on one document, using a professional resume writing service is a wise investment for jobseekers. There are many reasons to employ a professional resume writer – and it’s tax deductible (a BONUS reason)!

1. The experts agree! Some interesting statistics – according to www.theladders.com, a professionally written resume can make you 38% more likely to be contacted by recruiters, 31% more likely to land the interview and 40% more likely to land the job. With stats like that and an 8% unemployment rate (at least),  not using a professional resume writer can truly be hurting your chance at finding your next job.

2. You’ll Get to Recruiters Faster. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are widely used by employers and can work against you before your resume even reaches a hiring manager’s desk. With each job, there are certain keywords the tracking systems look for – with an 80% match of the right words, your resume will be sent directly to a hiring manager. A 60%-79%% word match may or may not be enough for your resume to move past the application process, and anything less than a 60% match will send your resume into the black hole of forgotten applicants. A professional resume writer will know exactly what keywords employers are looking for and can help your resume bypass the tracking system. Strongly accredited writers will even teach you how to quickly and effectively tailor your resume’s key words for individual job descriptions. Choose wisely!

3. Resume Trends Evolve: A professional resume writer is a trained expert and truly knows what employers are really looking for in a resume. Do you know what kind of accomplishments you should pull out of your experience and put onto paper? Are you aware of how your skills should be presented in order to show your potential to employers? Have you considered building in a strategy for how you want your document to be viewed by hiring managers? Resume writers aren’t inventing any of your experiences or abilities, but they know how to present them in a way to place you in the best light possible – and to show employers how valuable you are–and will be to them.

4. Accountability & Preparedness: Hiring a professional resume writer can also be a great way to reinvigorate your job search or achieve clarity and preparedness when looking for a new position. The fact that using a resume writer makes you 40% more likely to land an interview means that job seekers with professionally written resumes are landing interviews more often and thus have more experience putting their best foot forward with potential employers. Getting more interview opportunities will allow you to feel more confident and capable of finding a new job. Not to mention, seeing your new resume with all of your useful skills and abilities can enable you to communicate what makes you special to employers.

5. The Investment Often Pays off VERY Quickly. Although some may be reluctant to shell out money for writing something they could technically do themselves, hiring a professional resume writer may actually save you money in the long run. If you are between jobs or a new college graduate, you’re losing money the longer you remain unemployed – spending a few hundred dollars now can pay off when you land a job faster than had you written your own resume.

There are many more reasons to hire a professional resume writer – peace of mind that your resume is in the best hands, getting expert advice or even not having to stress out about whether or not you should have included your first job as a camp counselor. With statistics showing how beneficial a resume writer can be, the only question left is: when can I start using my new resume?

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Interviews: Prep It Now, Nail It Later (A Lesson From Yo-Yo Ma)

Many of life’s stressful moments require days, weeks or even months of practice. Whether you’re a professional athlete, a world-class musician or applying for a job, preparation is often the key to success. Although many think the final moments leading up to the big interview or football game require squeezing in the last few minutes of intense practice, this article from The Talent Code site offers a new way of thinking about the big moment.

The author uses cellist Yo-Yo Ma and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana to illustrate the benefits of relaxing before a big concert or game. Yo-Yo Ma uses the time before his performances to mellow out, while Montana was once so relaxed during a Super Bowl that he noticed John Candy in the stands – even though the 49ers were down by three points with three minutes left!

The point of practicing for big events in life is to concentrate, make mistakes, and fix those mistakes. Then you practice over and over again until you get it right. Practice pays off in the performance, and by being as relaxed as possible, you’ll be able to stay calm and let all of that preparation shine through. As the acting coach Constantin Stanislavakin said, “The rehearsals are the work, the performance is the relaxation.”

While this approach may seem counterintuitive in today’s society, it makes sense. By relaxing before high-pressure situations, we can get in the right mindset to do our best. This of course applies to interviews and stressful hiring processes for jobs as well as concerts or sporting events. Being an excellent interviewee is a skill, and just like Montana couldn’t have been a star QB without spending hours honing his abilities, being a proficient interviewee doesn’t happen overnight.

The best way to prepare for a job opportunity is practice, practice, practice – and what better way to get ready than by using ReFresh Your Steps’ Interviewing Skills services? With our help, you’ll be prepared to shine in an interview without the panicked moments beforehand.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

10 Job Questions You’d Better Ask Your Boss – Or Interviewer!

­­­In today’s stressful job market, many key components of hiring’s former life have fallen to the wayside. Being able to pick and choose among job offers is a thing of the past for most people, so it’s not surprising that the main focus of a job search is what’s available and not which job is the best fit. This Forbes article discusses some questions you could rework into a job interview to help determine if a position is right for you.

Although it seems strange for the interviewee to become the interviewer, never forget that you also deserve to get the information you need to determine whether this job is a good fit – because the interviewer is doing the same thing! While the questions in the article are written in the context of a boss-employee relationship, it’s easy to change some of the questions to fit into an interview situation.

Some possible job questions that can be used in an interview are, “How long have you been with Company XYZ?”  This can alert the interviewee to clues about how the company makes hiring decisions – are outside hires often selected to fill positions or is there a larger emphasis on promoting from within?

Another question that can reveal a good amount of information about a position is “What are your thoughts about professional development courses?” The answer to this will A) alert an interviewee as to whether the company is open to helping employees further their careers and B) let the interviewee see if the interviewer has similar views on the subject. If not, maybe it’s not the best fit.

Also consider asking about the interviewer’s career to date: “How did you select this particular field and what has been your career path thus far?” A response to this question can honestly reveal a great deal about the hiring manager–including whether or not he/she is truly passionate about the field and what type of manager he/she would be if you were to join the team. It can also open up the conversation to different topics that are more memorable than standard interview fare. For example, if in the response, the hiring manager reveals a more personal detail and you can in some way identify with that point, run with it! You will have formed an important bond with the interviewer and few people will be able to accomplish the same feat.

When considering any career move, it’s important to think about how a job will fit in with your personal and professional goals. If you need a refresher on your interview skills or want to learn how to get more out of meeting with a potential employer, ReFresh Your Step is here to help! With our Interviewing Strategies and Strategic Career Consulting services, you’ll be able to walk into any interview with confidence.

–Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern