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

 

 

A Resume Writer’s Advice: When to Leave Your Resume Home

I am a resume writer (among crafting other career-related documents) and while the former is certainly a main focus of my business, I am the first to tell you that it’s not always necessary to use your resume to land a great role.

Emily, are you literally saying I can toss my resume* out the window forever? Sign me up! Also, how do I then get a job?

Hold your horses! Let’s talk this notion through first. There are a handful of companies out there that are adopting a new type of hiring strategy in order to “reveal true talent” and source employees based on their sector-specific skills, rather than their work history (i.e., a resume).

Blind-hiring, as it’s called, means that your resume serves no purpose and most likely won’t even get an initial glance.  It means that you’ll instead spend anywhere from 4-6 hours on the job at your prospective employer, performing a task similar to that of your potential job description.  It means that you won’t get paid for it, but if you do a really great job (no pressure!), you’ll be in the running to continue in the process and perhaps land yourself a good job.

Cool idea? Maybe, if you have a less-than-ideal work history for that role/sector or don’t meet initial requirements outlined in the job description. While the trend may be slowly growing – and can allow applicants with an innate skillset to stand out when they would not if resumes were the go-to – blind-hiring is not yet common enough to replace the more traditional career-search techniques.

Overall, the true talent it reveals in a person’s work ability leaves out the very important process of getting to know a person through conversation, giving an interviewee the chance to promote their background, and determining via interactions whether he or she has found a good fit or not.

Many people could flip a great burger, but if you can’t sell to all the cars in the drive-thru, can’t work the register and don’t work well with others – you may not be a great fit after all, catch my drift?

The bottom line here?  The no-brainer? The obvious, ugly truth? Yes, cool idea. But this trend is a lot like man-buns: it works well in some sectors, definitely not in others, and is likely to fall by the hiring trend wayside faster than you can say, “double soy cafe latte with extra whip and a drizzle of caramel” in your most hipster of voices.

The resume is where it’s at. Always has been, and by our calculations, will continue to be, even as hiring trends evolve.

The resume remains your most important piece of armor when entering the often-brutal world of the career search.  It is your protective shield that says “Yes, I have all of the qualifications, accomplishments, and skills necessary to take this job and exceed all expectations.”

It’s the proof in the pudding.

The ReFresh Your Step proof in the pudding, that is. An RYS resume and LinkedIn profile** will help you outline and communicate the very best of you, before you even make it in for an interview.  And it’s with the RYS interview strategies and tactics, that you’ll yourself the new gig, before ever having to perform pro-bono.

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

 

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*We still recommend always having an updated, strategic resume (and LinkedIn profile that is complementary to it). **LinkedIn is one job search component that has crossed from “trend” to “career mainstay.” We suggest making sure your resume and LinkedIn profile work in tandem but are not identical to one another!

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

The Power of Interns Part II

Having an internship is a must, and a very important part of any path you may follow after college. You gain real-world experience in your field of study­–I know I have–and perhaps even a potential job for the future. But you do have to land the internship first. What’s that differentiating factor that sets young professionals apart to get the internship they want? Our suggestion? Distinguish yourself from your competition. AJ Jacobs wrote a great piece on this topic.

Of course, being an intern is most likely not going to be the most glamorous job you’ll ever have. Depending on the field, most likely than not you’ll be doing the bits of work that makes your employer’s life easier. Even though you might not be handling big jobs, you will get exposure to the field of your interest. All of this experience that you’ll gain is perfect for building your resume. Of course, if you prove yourself, perhaps the employer will let you take on bigger–and more interesting–responsibilities.

Being an intern for a career advisor has already opened up my eyes to many things I didn’t expect. There are different fields that even though I might not be familiar with, I am given the opportunity to learn about them. It is a lot different to sit in a classroom reading text book after textbook as supposed to being out there in the workforce. I’m now able to utilize all the material that I’ve learned in the classroom, making that connection, and use it in real life. It is a very exciting time to take action and execute that knowledge in real life. The career-advising field is something that continuously grows with many advances especially through the openings of so many online jobs. Being an intern for a career advisor will open so many doors due to the fact that the experience gained from this kind of internship is welcomed in almost any business environment.

So what is it that one might expect from an internship? This is very personal, and might be different for every individual. The main gain from an internship is definitely experience. Internships will also provide insight of what is happening in the targeted industry. This is very helpful in terms of knowing what your next step might be or what path to follow. Lastly–and one of the most important gains–is expect to make contacts. Nowadays, you cannot go for your dream job without creating contacts and networking with people that will able to help you get it. People in a company are always looking for the right person for the job, which is why it is so important to make as many connections as possible. You never know, you might just be talking to your future employer.

How have internships benefitted you? Email us to let us know and, until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

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.

9 Steps to Your New Career Launch Part II

How’s your list coming? Let’s get back to work on the next steps for launching a successful career, post-college (again, to be fair, these steps can be easily tweaked for multiple points in one’s life).

6. Brainstorm careers
Now it is time to mind map all of the information that you have gathered so far to see what it is that you want to do. In this step, it is time to ask some hard-hitting questions. For example, what do you want to get out of a job? Do you even want to work for someone, or is it clear that you have more of an entrepreneur and perhaps start something for yourself? What type of work feel do you enjoy best (e.g., flexible hours, set hours, relaxed environment, working under pressure)? What do you want to get out of you dream job (e.g., financial security, more free time, status, helping others)? If you do want to work in a set company, what kind of corporate culture do you prefer (for more info on this, please email Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW).

7. Connect with the right people 
This step is key when it comes to getting your foot in the door and getting to know the culture of the industry. In today’s professional world you need to be able to connect well with people, both on-line and in-person. You need to do your research about the company and the people that work there. Once you do that you can connect with those people, and really get a good perspective on the job that they do. One great question to ask is “If you could do it all over again, would you take the same path?” Once you have made your connections, you have just started your network. You can ask those connections to help you to make more connections so you can keep expending your network. LinkedIn is an ESSENTIAL tool these days so don’t forget to set up a powerful, compelling profile before you start utilizing the platform for connection purposes. Don’t forget to connect with Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW!

8. Test the waters
This is one of the most important steps of all. You must always first get experience in the field that you are interested in. Many times people have this idea of how a certain job or sector might REALLY be, and they may even romanticize the idea. This is why it is important to go and find out the truth behind your dream job. Once you get your feet wet and really get a sense of what it would be  like to work in the role/industry, you can truly evaluate if this is really what you’re looking for without wasting any time or money. Look for an upcoming post  about how to successfully “shadow” someone in a chosen field!

9. Launch Your Career!
Now you are ready to make your move.  Changes in life might not always be the easy to deal with, but I promise you, the feeling of regret that you might have missed your opportunity to do what you love is way worse. The biggest point I can make here is knowing that planning for the change, being strategic in how you approach this, and feeling confident in implementing the plan are all essential for career success.

The next four steps are absolutely integral to launching a successful career path so check back early next week to view them. Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

Article Source: 9 Step to Launch Your New Career

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern

9 Steps to Your New Career Launch Part I

Fresh out of college, ready to take on the world, but where do I start? This is a question that many recent graduates ask themselves, not to mention, countless 25-60 year-olds. The thought of stepping into this ocean of careers options, and a world filled with opportunities, might be overwhelming. The key to a successful career launch is to find a job that best fits your life goals and makes you happy. In order to find that job, there are a few key steps you can follow. This 9-step process will shine a light on what your goals really are, and how to utilize them to find the right career path; we’re posting the first several steps today and the remaining ones next week so check back!

1. Recognize the change 
Many graduates struggle with the transition from being in school to finding a job. Some might take some time off while others want to go straight into the workforce. Either way, you need to recognize that there is a change to be made in order to get to the next step. Going through this change might seem scary but it’s an important step that requires time and dedication. When you’re ready to make that change, you know you’re ready to lay out all the steps necessary to start your journey successfully.

2. Create a plan 
Creating your plan is a necessity, and a very helpful tool. Create your plan by asking yourself specific questions. For example, if you want to be a lawyer. What does that involve? What are the educational requirements? Are there any costs attached to that? An important part of your plan is that even though you are planning for your future, your current situation is also very important. Make sure you’re financially secure while planning, and don’t rush in or out of things. Finding and securing your dream job takes time. Always review your plan, discuss with family, especially if they are helping out financially, and make updates along the way.

3. Focus on meaning, not money
It is important to really think about your personal opinion on meaning vs. money. Having a meaningful job might not always pay out the big bucks, but the fulfillment you get makes the financial gain less important. If money weren’t a factor, what would your job be? It is also important to keep in mind that money tends to follow you in a career; if you find something you love but the money is not there initially, consider sticking with it for a few years as you will likely reach the dream: a thriving career and good income.

4. Determine your signature strength

As a truly unique individual, you have something special to offer. It is very important to know what you’re good at in order to link it to the right job for you. Knowing your strengths is also very empowering in the sense that you know what sets you aside from the next person. If you’re having a hard time recognizing your strengths you can take the VIA (Values in Action) Signature Strength questionnaire; this free tool assists in determining your strengths and helping you to plan for future career steps. Our Head Career Strategist, Emily Kapit, MS, CPRW, ACRW, also recommends taking assessments from eCareerFit.com; they are more in-depth and absolutely helpful! Using your strengths will give you a better understanding on who you are and what makes you so unique.

5. Create “The List” 
Now it is time to revisit your plan, combine that with your strengths, and take things to the next level. You need to create “The List.” On this list you need to write down all the things that you loved to do when you were younger; the things in which you’ve always excelled and, really, can see yourself doing. You can also add the powerful qualities that you discovered while you were in college that adds value. This one-of-a-kind list is very personal but do ask friends and loved ones for their perspective as well. Once you review the list, you’ll see points that have consistently made you feel fulfilled and happy thus far. This list can help you discover your niche for an optimal career fit.

The next four steps are absolutely integral to launching a successful career path so check back early next week to view them. Until then, it’s YOUR career: ReFresh. Revive. Renew.

 

By Sarah van Windt – Communications & Business Development Intern