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

 

 

Don’t Go it Alone! The Case For a Career Strategist

Ready for some cold, hard, truth? You’ve come to the right place

The truth is, embarking on a career search alone can be a tad, what’s the word? … Intimidating.

We’d love to tell you that your job search will be easy. That it’ll make you want to prance through fields of daisies while whistling Dixie and relishing in the joy of completing job applications. That you can go it alone, give it your best effort, and a slew of hiring managers will jump forth and offer you loads of money.

Certainly, you’ve acquired a great education, racked up some commendable experience, and have the utmost confidence in yourself. That helps… a bit.

It is an admirable feat in itself to come to the realization that it’s time for a new job. For whatever your reasons are for gearing up to make a change, we’d like to offer up a piece of free advice – the same advice we’d offer to the world’s most experienced CEO and to the world’s most inexperienced recent college grad:

Don’t go it alone.

Sure, you can attempt to reach the peak of Mt. Everest on your own. But with a Sherpa to guide you, you’ll have key advice on how to navigate the challenging terrain, AND someone to keep you company along the way. My point here? Two is better than one. Sometimes, a support team is better than even two.

The benefits of hiring a professional Career Strategist (or team of them!) during YOUR job search venture far outweigh the idea of taking it upon yourself to navigate the course solo. Among assisting in answering your most bewildering questions regarding your search, (Can you help me figure out what I’m even good at?!), we are here to listen. And in this world where everyone seems to have too much to say, a listening ear can ease even the most nervous of job seekers.

When you connect with a ReFresh Your Step professional, you won’t just be given the opportunity for superb documents to showcase your accomplishments, you’ll be given the ability to have a dedicated support system – a dedicated team player (or multiple ones, depending on your need) who will not only listen, but answer all of your career search needs.

“To listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will ear or what that will mean. In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”

Schedule your free consultation with a ReFresh Your Step professional today to get a glimpse into how the power of a partnership with a professional career strategist will change the way you view your career search – AND it’s outcome. We’re here to discuss your resume/cover letter, LinkedIn, job goals, interviewing, or a litany of related topics. We’re also here to listen, truly listen.

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

Looking to make a move? Partner with a career strategist to ensure a big win!

So Many Career Services!

Here at ReFresh Your Step, we continue to aim higher, and seek out more opportunities; all in an effort to help your organic growth. We love that you want to engage our services in more than just resume writing and for that we are grateful.  The roots we have built are certainly here to stay, and are the foundation of who, what, and how ReFresh Your Step matures each and every year. However, as the needs of our clients develop so to does our portfolio. The branches of our deep rooted tree have grown and will only continue to sprout to meet our clients where they are in their career journey.

To your expansion…

ReFresh Your Step  has its own core services, values, and strengths to help elevate our clients careers. As we know our client’s individual career paths are  not always a straight path, we have crafted a structural framework that absolutely works when tailored for each unique need.

First and foremost, connecting with each and every client is our top-priority moving together through your story, past and present, ultimately threading all the roots of where you are today in your career into a successful future. We know you know about our resume/cover letter writing services, but we thought it would be advantageous for you to become more familiar with the plethora of other career services our team can support you with in your journey.

To your career …

    • Resume & Cover Letters: This is our bread and butter. We believe every job applicant should start their professional job search with strategic, impactful documents.
    • Salary Negotiation: Walk into your interview with confidence prepared to ask for what you deserve.
    • Networking Techniques: Learn how to work smarter on your job search and grow your network to help grow your career.
    • Social Media Presence: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter…it’s a whole other world out there. Don’t get left behind as the job search continues around you. LinkedIn, specifically, is integral to your job search and growth (and for entrepreneurs/consultants!) so make sure to ask us about our Profile overhauls and Best Practices advisory!
    • Interview Strategies:  Honing in on your interview skills and learning best practices will be the key to landing your dream career.
    • Career Advisory:  Not quite sure the next step in your career? We can help get you there.
    • Re-Branding: Whether a large company or sole proprietor, your brand speaks volumes.   From web content to printed materials ReFresh Your Step will reignite your brand.
    • Job Proposals & 30/60/90 Day Start- Up Plans: Asked to craft your own job description or lay out a road-map of your performance expectations for the first 90 days of your job? We can certainly help you navigate your way through these strategic documents.
    • Professional Documents: From personal statements, thank you letters, resignation letters to admission materials your career growth is never over!

We are here…

Just a click or phone call away to help you ripen your career dreams.  Your career growth means being able to catapult you, our clients, to the next level in your career.

Now, it’s your turn! We would love to hear from you: What does career growth mean to you? Please post your comment below.

Three Ways Your Job Search is Like Dating

This post was originally published on Scott Singer’s (Recruiter Extraordinaire) fantastic blog, No Charge For These.

I do not normally dole out dating advice, seeing as how I have been out of the dating scene for several years and my work revolves around doling out career advice. That said, I am keenly aware of how similar the two are and often draw comparisons when speaking with clients. Why? Simple: many people have some fear of both but can relate better to dating; in drawing a parallel between the two, I feel that it helps people better understand how to more effectively job hunt (though, if someone is a great job hunter but not so great in the dating department, the advice could go both ways!). Without further ado, here are three ways your job search is like dating.

 

1) Going With the First One that Comes Along Rarely Works Out Long Term: If you are out with friends one evening, how likely a scenario is it that you will meet “the one” within the first five minutes at a bar/club/concert/whatever you single people do these days (I am obviously taking dating into the real world here; I did just have a brilliant idea, though, of creating a Tinder for the job search…).

My Advice: Clearly, playing the field for a bit is in your best interest. Look around, talk to people, do some research to find out where you will find the best fit for your current situation and long-term goals. If a “dream job” comes along and sounds like it is too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, even if you REALLY feel connected to an opportunity one day, take your time to think, learn about it, and speak to others so you can make more of an educated decision (i.e., don’t accept on the first offer. How often does a one-night stand work out!).

 

2) Negotiation is Key for Future Happiness: Although I am off of the job and dating market, I know this for sure: dating and job searching both require a certain amount of negotiation (both up-front and over time). All too often, people fall into the trap of believing that he/she needs to say yes in order to move forward. While that may work initially, it becomes obvious within a few weeks that only taking into account the other side’s needs or requests results in a bad match. At that point, one can cut his/her losses or try to make it work but neither option is really ideal.

My advice: Remember that whether you are courting a job or a person, the process works best as a 2-way street. Yes, your needs are important too! Think now about what you prioritize in a job: a great office culture, the option for occasional tele-commuting, a superior benefits package, free on-site haircuts…Obviously, be realistic in what your needs are, especially for your given level and sector, but have some chosen points in mind and be prepared to discuss them when the time is right. This also might mean passing on opportunities that are not up to your standards but that’s what standards are for: waiting for Ms. or Right (Boss), not Right (Now).

 

3) Your Friends Can Help you Score: I’d like to rephrase the words to a popular song for you. “We all get jobs with a little help from our friends.” Here’s another song rephrase: “Applying online killed the job search.” Both are true and yield important lessons; turn to your friends, your actual (non-virtual) network of connections to help you find the right fit. Think about where people work, who they know, what they do, and if any of this information is relevant for you. The best opportunities are found not via applying online to countless roles but rather through leveraging your network to leverage theirs.

My Advice: Identify your Wingman/Wingwoman for the job search. No, this person is not the one who is most likely to speak to strangers in a bar and ask for a number; rather, it’s the person who knows a lot of people (in real life and has 500+ connections on LinkedIn), is willing to makes introductions for you, and can provide you with the advice you need to make an informed decision about a particular opportunity.

Here’s to much success in your job and love life…and that you find a job you love!

The Biggest Changes to Your Job Search

I was watching Back to the Future II the other day and noticed that “the future” on that infamous Delorean dashboard was 2015. 2015! Where are the hoverboards? Is anyone working on that? (actually, yes!) I find it hard to believe that we are in the year 2015 when 2005 feels like just yesterday.

In thinking of how quickly the last ten years have flown by, it dawned on me that this period has brought about some significant changes in handling a job search. As such, we present to you The Top Three Biggest Advancements in Job Searches, along with how to make some small changes to ensure these new developments work for you.

 

3) LinkedIn: It goes without saying that LinkedIn is one of the job search landscape’s biggest changes in recent years. While some regard it as the “professional Facebook” (not true!) and the profile as “just an online resume,” (also not true!) there is so much more to this significant career platform.

Scary Part: Not everyone loves LinkedIn and many more have just a very basic presence on there, believing they have fulfilled the LinkedIn requirement. Think again! People will look for you on LinkedIn and either not showing up or appearing like you don’t understand it can very easily work against you.

Make it Work for You: We suggest that you, regardless of level or sector, have a presence on LinkedIn and learn at least the basics of how it works, how hiring managers and recruiters use it, as well as a few “best practices” for effective LinkedIn profiles and messaging.

 

2) Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Not sure what an ATS is? Have you ever applied for a job on-line? If so (and that is the case for most at this point), your resume ­– and whole application – was automatically scanned by a computer program and scored based on how many key words in your application matched the key words for the job description. That score determines if your resume is sent to a hiring manger.

Scary Part: While you may be an excellent fit for a specific role, if your key words don’t match up, you are unlikely to move forward in the process (at least, if you only apply online).

Make it Work for You: Online job searches are great for researching what companies are hiring and you may have to apply online to at least be in their system. Take a second and tweak your resume to reflect their keywords before submitting it; small changes can have a big impact.

Additionally, and this is huge, go beyond applying online and connect with people directly at the organization to learn more about the role and company that can be helpful during an interview should you progress to that part of the process. The mini-goal? Start a conversation ­­– via email or LinkedIn – with an internal source; once you have an “in,” the ATS results won’t matter!

 

1) Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter are now just the basics; Instagram, Vine, and Tumblr are all the rage and who knows what social media platform will be knocking on your digital door tomorrow? Some clients find that knowledge of these platforms are helpful for their job search and others find it to be either a hindrance or not really a source for leads…or is it that they don’t know where to look?

Scary Part: Social media can work for most in terms of finding opportunities (see “Make it Work for You” below) but everyone, everyone needs to put their profile privacy settings on high (for each profile you have) and think twice about what you post. What seems like a good idea in the moment can work against you if you forget that not all of your connections care to see what you did last weekend or are interested in your political leanings.

Make it Work For You: If you are in a sector where knowledge of social media should be on your profile (i.e., advertising, digital marketing, etc.) or are applying to a social media company (a role at Facebook or Twitter, for example), make sure to include knowledge of social platforms on your resume as well as start using said platform more frequently. Companies can track these things and do like to see organic, true familiarity with the platforms themselves.

For everyone else, source leads by identifying some companies you wish to target for your job search and start following them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (at least). Interact with the companies and see with whom you can directly connect. Social media is a beautiful thing if you actually use it for digitally – and strategically – socializing!

 

Bonus! Smart Phones & Tablets: Ah, my iPhone; I don’t leave home without. Know the feeling? So do most hiring managers and recruiters; hiring work is often done on the fly these days, and that includes reviewing resumes for open roles. How does that impact you? See below:

Scary Part: Most “before” resumes that come my way need formatting work in addition to content overhauls. Poor formats are tough enough to read on a regular computer or laptop; add a smaller screen to the mix and your resume will likely head to the “trash” box in a matter of seconds.

Make it Work for You: If you know your resume format is a bit lacking, make some minor modifications to ensure it is visually appealing while still conservative. Some easy changes include updating the font to a sans serif (Calibri and Arial are easy on the eyes), selectively bolding a few key words or phrases that indicate your effectiveness or accomplishments, and using darker, muted colored bullet points (like dark blue or green) can jazz up even the most boring of resumes. Don’t forget to always send a PDF­­ ­­– Word documents can look different from device to device but PDFs are frozen!

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to find a Kickstarter campaign for some of the other Back to the Future inventions that we NEED; who’s in to fund some self-tying shoes? They would look great on a hoverboard!

 

Please note that a version of this post was featured on the Job Hero blog.

 

LinkedIn Series – Expert Power

Career advancement is what we all strive for. Using LinkedIn can be a very helpful tool to show how you’re an expert in your field. Staying current is necessary for both currently employed professionals and individuals searching for employment. That brings us to a very important question:  Actually, have you ever even noticed it?

LinkedIn truly is like the professional Facebook (but so help me G-d if they introduce a chat function); there is now a newsfeed-esque component that you see right when you log in to LinkedIn and that is fed by what goes into your Activity feed and those of your Connections. Go to your profile and look at your Activity feed–we’ll wait.

See it? My guess is that the feed is mostly full of, “You are connected to so-and-so” and the occasional, “You are not following xyz company.” Yawn. That filters directly into the Newsfeed of all your connections and they are likely skipping right over it. Why not REALLY utilize this section and indicate your sector knowledge in the process? Post relevant articles!

You might find it a challenge, being that there are already not enough hours in the day, to post a bazillion articles. Good news: it’s quality over quantity. All you need is a minimum of five minutes per WEEK to utilize LinkedIn for posting relevant news articles and trends that are emerging in your sector. Why would you do this? Three letters: SME. To be a Subject Matter Expert, and to communicate that expertise via LinkedIn is a subtle–but strategic–opportunity to broadcast just how knowledgeable you are of your particular industry.

If you are currently employed it’s not a suggestion but a necessity to know current and future trends. It isn’t only important for you–the professional–but also for your company. Your expert power will speak volumes to your commitment with the company/sector and it will more likely than not give you a better understanding of how your sector is evolving.

If you are not employed, LinkedIn serves as a platform allowing you to connect with the professional world without having to step into an office. Right from home, while your search for a job continues, you can boost your LinkedIn presence by posting relevant articles to your LinkedIn profile. Others will be able to view them and get an understanding of your expert power within a given industry.

In doing so, you are still demonstrating your SME-ness via LinkedIn and that can work wonders for your job search. Hiring managers and recruiters will see this about you and that, alone, can increase the likelihood that they will reach out to connect. The main idea is to continue to grow professionally regardless if you’re employed or not.  Every time you post something on LinkedIn, you are upping the ante on just how savvy you are and the powers that be will respond in kind.

Now that you are up-to-speed on how post sector-specific newsworthy info to your LinkedIn profile, let’s move on to why you want Siskel & Ebert to give your profile two thumbs up!

Until next time, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Profile Basics & Your Resume

You have your basic LinkedIn profile set up and have included (please) a snazzy headshot, but how do you work in your resume? Should your profile and resume match? Although your resume is an important part of your LinkedIn profile, they’re not the same thing. In fact, the two are more like supportive siblings than identical twins: they should complement one another but not match (exception: your basic contact and job info should always be consistent between the two!).

While completing your LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that it should be a good self-representation of where you want to go with your career while indicating that you have the foundation for it (again, similar to your resume…but not identical). Your profile should be straight to the point, but unique at the same time. Remember that others will be viewing your profile. It is a good idea for someone else (who knows you and your work) to review it and provide constructive feedback to ensure you are on the right track. View your LinkedIn profile as your image. Build it accordingly to create a powerful reflection.

Once you have the work/education basics in place, it is time to flesh it out with details. Concentrate on your accomplishments for each role and provide context if that would suit your needs. Additionally, indicate your Core Competencies in the Summary section (though they will be referenced again in the Skills/Expertise section; more on that later!).  Remember to read our post on Resume Don’ts (parts I and II); though it’s true that the two should not be identical, many of our guidelines here still ring true for LinkedIn!

We have much to cover regarding LinkedIn profiles–today’s post barely scratches the surface on how to handle the basic profile. Next up:

  • Creating a strong summary and how to obtain a unique URL.

Other upcoming profile topics include:

  • The importance of outside validation and strategies for obtaining it.
  • Why projects matter and how to work them in to your profile.
  • An overview on increasing your “Subject Matter Expert” presence and why you want to do that at all.

After we cover the profile, we’ll move into the amazing features built into LinkedIn and discuss how to maximize your usage of each one. Until then, remember, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

LinkedIn Series – Resource For Success

If there is a heaven on earth for HR managers and recruiters, it is definitely LinkedIn. Over the last several years LinkedIn has quietly moprhed into a vibrant resource for job-seeking and networking professionals.

Why is LinkedIn such a powerful tool in today’s job world? For almost every professional at any level and within (arguably) most every sector, LinkedIn is largely considered the best online professional networking tool out there. It allows you to create a powerful profile in which, if filled out correctly, will display your strengths and experiences as well as best position you for your target audience. Additionally, the platform allows for extensive research into sectors, companies, and people on top of its key messaging system, job board options, and additional perks just for being a member of the site (and a non-paying one at that).

The question remains, though: are you maximizing LinkedIn for your professional development purposes? Moreover, is your profile truly effective? Have you learned effective messaging techniques to utilize in connecting with people? Do you even know what those Skills/Expertise Endorsements are used for and how important they are to recruiters? LinkedIn is more than just a profile platform and it is in your best interest to know how to best utilize it for your future needs.

Stayed tuned and check back to our LinkedIn Series for some key tips essential for your success story using LinkedIn. We will be discussing a range of related topics that will be vital to your ongoing career success; some of our topics will include how to strategically improve your profile, understanding the logic behind your Skills/Expertise (and the endorsements that come with those), the most effective techniques out there for connecting with people, and so much more!

Of course, don’t forget to connect with us on, what else, LinkedIn! Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

Yahoo!’s Big Gamble: The Workplace Flexibility Conundrum

With more and more companies offering workplace flexibility, it came as a shock that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer issued a memo late last month explaining that the company would require all of its employees to come into the office instead of working from home. This decision has received plenty of heat, with some calling the policy change “short-sighted”, “going backwards” and an “epic fail”. After all, 24% of Americans reported working from home at least a few hours per week and 63% of employers reported they allowed employees to work remotely.

Even though allowing workers to telecommute may save the company money in a sluggish economy, some firms are noticing definite drawbacks to having an emptier office. Studies have indicated that employees who work from home are more productive but less innovative – apparently, employees interacting with one another can lead to more new ideas and faster decision making. For a struggling company like Yahoo, having employees in the same place could mean the difference between growth and stagnation.

Job applicants shouldn’t always assume their future workplace will embrace workplace flexibility. It may be an attractive option to work from your couch all day, but it may not be the best decision for your career. Often, employees who primarily work from home miss out on crucial decisions and also may be passed over for promotions or special opportunities partly because they are much less visible in the office environment.

Recent college graduates and young professionals may be searching for jobs with greater opportunities to work from home, but Mayer may have started a trend with more companies focusing on keeping people in the workplace. Workplace flexibility must be kept in balance with other job aspects – how important is it to you to work at home compared to the possibility of job security or career growth? Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important, but no job will be perfect and in this economy, sacrificing working from home just might be necessary.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern

Proven App: Can You Trust It?

It seems like there’s an app for everything recently – with the help of your smart phone or tablet, you can order Chipotle, check the weekly coupons for Publix and find the nearest ATM. Now you can even find a job on the go with the new Proven application.

Users can browse Craigslist job postings, upload their resume and cover letter and apply right from their computer or iPhone. So far, Proven has received great reviews from users for being easy to use and the numbers speak for themselves – 18K users downloaded Proven in January. Proven received 5 out of 5 stars from users on the iTunes store and the updated version allows users to sync accounts on their phone and computer.

While using the Proven app may seem like the new frontier in finding a job, it also has its limitations. Although the app makes it easy to send resumes and cover letters to potential employers, it also is restricted to positions posted on Craigslist. Not all job postings on the site are exactly what they seem and there is often a larger concentration in service industry job postings. This may require more in-depth searches to find a legitimate posting that is well-suited for an employee. Jobs on Craigslist also represent only a fraction of available jobs, so Proven is not a one-stop-shop in finding your next job.

With other job search apps like JobMo, Job Aware and Ultimate Job Search gaining in popularity, it seems like thousands of people are taking advantage of the convenience of applying for jobs on the go. As so many aspects of our lives are virtual nowadays, it makes sense that we would use technology to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that your online presence should also be kept up to date to best utilize the Internet in your job search. With RYS’ Social Media services, we can help you put your best foot forward in your online job search.

 

– Emma Ambler, Marketing & Communications Intern