Category Archives: career change

And for my next act….

Because December 25th falls on a Friday this year, most of us will have not much time off before Christmas and quite a bit of time around the new year.  That’s when people typically lie around thinking about what they will change.

For a lot of people, the number one thing they want to get or change is their job.  On second thought, perhaps this will be second to losing weight – that always seems to be a hot resolution. (I’ve heard.)

Go ahead and dream but try to be realistic.

Just because your uncle is a doctor, does not mean you can be a medical device account manager.

Plumbing your own laundry room sink, does not qualify you to be a piping designer.

Planning office parties is not a prequel to becoming a project manager.

Don’t assume your neighbour can get you a job just because he works in a big company.

I’m not even going to comment about people who like karaoke…..

I don’t want to be a downer before 2021 has even started, but try not to stray too far off the path.  Try this:  mention your next career goal to your dog.  If he looks at you funny, you have definitely gone too far.

Run it by a good friend.  If they seem kind of puzzled but supportive, then you may be on to something.

Finally, talk to someone in the field and see what they say.  If they seem to think that the transition is plausible, then sit down and make a plan.

Change is afoot!

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Hiring Does Not Stop for the Holidays

Every year, I remind people that hiring does not stop for the holidays.  It’s a perceived notion that no one makes hiring decisions after Dec 10th.  This is not true most years and it will not be true this year.

The thing that typically gets in the way of hiring in December is decision maker’s travel and vacation itineraries and  frankly, holiday obligations.  Wining, dining and corporate parties all take time on the calendar.  This year, there will still be holiday parties but they will be shorter and require no travel time.  They also will probably not induce the same kinds of hangovers as the usual in person soirees.

As leaders recognize that our current work patterns will continue into next year, hiring decisions that they have been putting off, are going to become more pressing. 

There are quite a few industries that are hiring vigrourously – you just have to look for them.

  • Software companies that provide anything to do with office communications
  • Online Retailers like Amazon and Wayfair
  • Food manufacturing and grocers
  • Home exercise equipment and online exercise classes and nutrition coaching
  • Household products that clean and beautify
  • Gaming/Streaming/Online Entertainment

As the companies in theses spaces grow, they need people in all areas of the business.  Grocers don’t just hire cashiers.  They also need people in product development, distribution, finance, HR and all the other departments. 

Don’t assume that because you are not a gamer or an engineer, that there would not be a place for you in a gaming organization.  I am sure there are plenty of people who can’t drive who work at Uber and overweight people who work at Peleton.

These can be great places to take your career right now.  The skills and experiences you gain in a fast growth company are amazing and often come with lucrative pay, perks and bonuses.

So, if you need or want a new role to be in your future, roll up your sleeves and take off the blinders.  There is lots going on.  You just have to find it.

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Resume Refresh Tips

We need good resumes now more than ever.  If you have not refreshed your resume for more than six months, you should find it this weekend and take a look.  Here are five tips to keep in mind.

Save it as a pdf.  This is one of the options when you choose where to print your document.  A pdf can’t be altered by anyone (unless they have very expensive software) and if there are any words that Microsoft does not recognize, no can tell.  Pdfs don’t have funny red squiggles under any words to distract the reader.

Use a plain font.  It can be more modern or spacious, but keep it clean.  Avoid those tiny tails on the letters– it’s just too hard to read on the screen. And remember, Comic Sans is only for comic artists, not for anything corporate.

A resume can be two OR three pages.  If you graduated less than 15 years ago, two pages is fine.  If you have more experience than that, go ahead and use three pages.  There is no law against that.  It’s the first half of the first page that determines if the reader turns to the second page let alone the third page.

The first page has to have a lot of impact.  It needs to include what you do, where you do it, where you are geographically and how to get in touch with you.  Make certain you have covered those items and then fill in the rest of the details. 

Don’t succumb to the narrow margin trick.  If you have that much to say, then take it to the next page.  Don’t make the reader suffer and squint.  But make sure every word is important and necessary.  Resumes are not for blathering.  They are meant to tease the reader so that they want to call you up for more details.

Finally, always make sure someone who is not a relative or married to you does the final proof read.  You need someone who is not invested in your career success to give it the hairy eyeball and make sure there are no mistakes.

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How External Recruiters Help with Diversity

One of the best ways to change up your work groups and increase the diversity of your company is to use external recruiters and I am not just saying that because I am an external recruiter.
When you work with someone outside your company, you focused on describing what the new person is going to do and where they fit into the greater scheme of things.
You talk about the activities, responsibilities and leadership style, their technical knowledge and priorities.

The external recruiter does not know that people in your organization all went to Stanford and all play broom ball.

So the recruiter hits the candidate marketplace and starts talking about your company and the great things that are happening and within a few weeks, you have a fresh, new group of candidates who would not have applied to your posting or been a part of your employees’ networks.

There is going to be some new thinking in that group. It can be a pretty interesting experience to interview someone who understands the role but is from a different environment.

Those candidates have credibility but none of the baggage. This can be a tremendous help with innovation based roles or where a group has become a bit complacent.

The key is to keep an open mind when you are interviewing. Review your questions before hand. Be sure to spell out company specific acronyms or processes so the candidates have a fair chance to answer within the right context.

When you find the gem and hire them, make sure you have a very inclusive, comprehensive on-boarding process. Hiring managers and peers alike sometimes need to be reminded that even though someone can’t play broom ball, they can still contribute some great ideas.

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Filed under career change, Interview, Job Search, recruiter, Uncategorized

Anxiety About the Future of Work

I have been reading a lot about job trends and what our work lives will be like in the future.  This is, as you would expect, something I have always done but it all has a new tone now.  Nothing like a pamdemic to speed up innovation tenfold.  It is fascinating to see the broad spectrum of opinion about this.  Some people think that robots and AI will eliminate all work as we know it.  Others think that robots and technology will enhance what we humans can do on our own and therefore make work better.

When I think back on my career in recruiting, I have the seen many of the benefits of technology.  I no longer have to stand beside  fax machine watching the pages pass through to make sure they don’t jam. I don’t have to flip through pages and pages of resumes in file folders  (that  were  never  in  the  right  order).  

Now, I can sit at a computer anywhere and have access to anything.  I can send information to a client or a candidate with the mere click of a button.

In the end, the process of what I do remains the same regardless of the state of technology.  I listen to what my client needs and then talk with lots of people until I find the right person with the right skills to fit the bill and find happiness.

Technology is  great enabler.  LinkedIn, Twitter and fancy databases provide easy access to all kinds of information but I still need critical thinking, writing and listening skills to do my job well.  Those cannot be replaced by any kind of AI.

When Apple and Microsoft first came out with programs like Word and Draw, we were suddenly able to make our work look totally professional.  My words looked like a manuscript. It was so cool.  It was a real come-down to realize that just because it looked like it had been published, did not make it publish-able.  It was still just words on a page by a budding recruiter.

The lesson here, is for all of us to continue to use our critical thinking skills to question how we use technology and to figure out to implement the new tools in the best way possible.

 

 

 

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Career Portfolio – Interview Secret Sauce

I have a friend who is a self-employed consultant.  A few years ago, over coffee, she complained that she would not have a clue as to where to start if she wanted to get a “real job”.

I suggested that she create a portfolio.  She thought portfolios were only for artists or other creative types.  Not so.

A portfolio (fancy binder with plastic sleeves and dividers) is an excellent vehicle for organizing and presenting your experience.  It can have sections that show your work, education and other credentials, volunteer activities, hobbies, thank you notes, awards and really, anything else that is relevant to the way that you do what you do.

Just the act of gathering the information together and putting it all in one place can be a pretty powerful exercise.  It’s something that you can do over a couple of weekends and then add/change revise every year.

My friend took that suggestion to heart and created what she called a career scrapbook. She had it in her car for a while and then it took up its place on a shelf in her office.

Last week she applied for an actual job and found herself staring down the barrel of an interview.  Not just any interview but a panel interview in a formal, government type organization.  She dusted off her portfolio, added a couple of items, reviewed the rest of the material and then focused on her outfit.  She felt confident and ready.  (I should point out that she was eminently qualified for the job.)

At the end of the interview, she was asked if she had any questions.  All of hers had been covered in the discussion but she told the panel members that she had brought her portfolio and asked if there was anything they would like to see.  The senior person raised her eyebrows and came over to have a look.

She looked at the table of contents, saw the “Thank You” section and flipped right to that part.   She nodded and smiled as she read the cards, notes and emails.  It turns out that the adjudicator actually knew two of the people who had sent notes and that lead to a much less formal conversation where my friend got one more opportunity to show what she knows and why she has been so successful.

She left the interview, with her portfolio tucked under her arm, feeling very good about herself and her experience.  No offer yet……..but I’ll keep you posted.

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Explore the Unexplored – Find the Best Careers

I am at a conference in Ottawa this week.  Not just any conference but the annual meeting of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

When I tell that to people, I get a blank look in return.  Completely blank.

This is a not small meeting.  There are 900 delegates from across Canada and likely more post graduate degrees per square inch than anywhere outside a university campus.

These people are not just involved in generating power but also mining, food processing, nuclear medicine and more.  And it’s not just engineers.  The nuclear industry directly employs 80,000 people in Canada.  They are responsible for powering many of your laptops and proving the isotopes for your MRIs.

Yesterday was student day and we presented a resume workshop to more than 100 students from across Canada.  Many of them had to compete for a spot on the team that came from their university.  They came to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers in the industry. They have a very bright future.

So, here is an industry that is responsible for putting five billion dollars (yes, billion) into our economy and yet people don’t consider it as a career possibility.

How many other industries are out there under people’s radar?

If you are looking for something new to do, you have to stretch your horizon.  It may be lovely to work for a Fortune 500 company but there are so many other interesting, stable, well-paying options.

How do you find these out about these industries?  Stop where you are right now.  Identify six things that are in your immediate area.  Where do they come from?  Who made them?  Where did they get developed?  That’s a good way to start.

For example, there is a banana beside my computer.  It took a bunch of people involved in farming, logistics, transportation, export, inspection and distribution to get it to me.

Could I work in one of those industries?  I don’t know but I think it’s time to find out.

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Networking 101- Know What you Want

Last week was super interesting. I met a bunch of new people and went to some neat events.  I learned a lot of new information and while it was fun (and just a bit glamorous), I am not sure anything else will come of it.

I am at a point in my life where, if I am doing a “business” thing, it had better result in some value.  I am not expecting every lunch to bring me a million dollars but it should at least give me a new connection or gem of info that I can leverage into something of value.

My lunch date on Thursday helped me understand this.  He said that he is often approached to help out someone from his alma mater or a former colleague.  His door is always open but he finds it frustrating when people are not clear what they want or need from him.

He said that if he is going invest time, then there needs to be something he can actually do for the person. He said these encounters are best when the person says “Thanks for spending some time with me.  I am here at point A and in order to get to point B, I need an introduction to this person who is between me and point B. Can you help with that?”

That direction allows him to agree to the intro and to put some context and advice around it.  Everyone walks away feeling good.

See?  No commercial value there but there is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped in a concrete fashion.

That lightning bolt made me realize that I need to spend time planning what I want from an event/conversation/meeting.  This week, I have prepared for each of my meetings by using his formula.

I am at point A and I want to get to point B.  You can help me by doing this and/or this.

Of course, the conversation covers more ground, but I am work hard to keep my goal/outcome in mind as we meander through the civilities and humour and interruptions.

What strategies do you use to get what you need?

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How to Talk Compensation with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It can become a game of who goes first and the real objective can get lost.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you are way below the salary range, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious pay cut to have it on your resume. Sometimes this can work (and might be necessary) when you are taking a sharp turn on your career path. If you are a corporate lawyer and you want to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have are driving home after a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will start to question your decision and that could have a negative impact on your work and life.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle knowing that one of their team members made a lot more money in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic, be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It is the only way they can be counted.

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The Myth of the Forever Job

Let me just put this out there:  there is no such thing as a forever job.  Too many people, candidates and hiring managers alike keep talking about this idea.

Candidates tell me that they are looking for their last job until they retire.  They want to settle in and have stability.

Hiring managers are rejecting candidates because they might not stay in a role for five or more years.

Get your head out of the sand, people.

The world is changing and so is work.  The Canadian work landscape changed dramatically just last week and there is more change ahead. Can we predict it?  Not really.

In realistic terms, we should not be looking for a job or an employee for life. We are looking for a role where we can learn, grow, develop and contribute while we earn a living.  That’s about what it boils down to.

When you are examining your job prospects, these are the factors to consider:

  • Is there room for you to expand your skills?
  • Are there opportunities to move into other roles?
  • Will your contribution add value to the company?
  • Will that value be a point of pride for you?

Hiring a managers need to consider the same factors.

  • Can this person grow beyond the role they are hired for?
  • Will they add value on day one, day thirty and day ninety?
  • Will you be proud to take the credit for hiring them?

We need to stop looking at five to ten year employment windows. Think about what you were doing ten years ago. Could you have predicted that people would be earning tons of money developing ipad apps in their basements?  Or blogging about their dogs?

Keep your eyes on the horizon and your resume ready because you never know what’s around the corner.

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