8 Smart Interview Strategies to Land Your Next Job

Early in my career, I had the worst interview of my life. Looking back, I was over-confident. As a new career professional, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing. After all, I teach this, right? I skipped the practice and made a mediocre attempt to research the company.

Big mistake. I walked away from the interview, embarrassed by how under-prepared I was. What I hadn’t factored in were my nerves.  In a normal situation, I would have been fine. But in the interview, I found myself at a loss, unable to articulate what I wanted to. 

What I learned is that I can push past the nerves when I am prepared.  Last year, I interviewed for a cool part-time contract job at a local university. (Read more about that here.) This time, I was ready. I reflected. I practiced. I researched. And it paid off when I was offered the position.  

If interviews are anxiety-provoking experiences for you, don’t give up. Interviewing is like building a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger you get.

Having worked with hundreds of clients, I have witnessed incredible interview transformations. Even the shyest job seeker can master interviews and land jobs through practice.

Here are my top eight tips for a successful interview experience.

1. Share your stories: Stories evidence how you have excelled in the past.

Even if it’s an open-ended question like “What is your strengths?” you can always add in a short story like, “I bring strong organizational skills. In my past role in teapot sales, I was known in the office for my Excel spreadsheets. I tracked everything – prospects, where they were in the sales funnel, and outcomes.” 

2. Make the employer feel special: Employers want to hire people who want to work for them. You may just want a job. But an employer wants someone who is as excited about their business as they are.  

3. Do your research: One of the critical questions I used to ask when I was a recruiter was, “What do you know about our company?”

Surprisingly, many job seekers struggled to answer this well. But don’t fall into the trap of memorizing the company website. Provide a thoughtful answer that clearly shows you did your research while also demonstrating your motivation, interest, and connection to the company and the job. 

4. Practice, practice, practice: Interviewing isn’t natural to most people. But I have seen clients improve significantly after working hard on their interview skills. Get interview coaching, build some interview question flashcards, or record yourself answering the questions. 

5. Speak naturally: Time and time again, I meet job seekers who are fabulous communicators and bring great energy when NOT interviewing. But as soon as we start practicing interview questions, they change their communication style. It becomes stilted and awkward.

Best advice to overcome this? Speak like you would normally. I often say to clients, “Let’s pretend we’re out for coffee and I ask you this question. How would you respond?”

6. Pause: After each question is asked, take a moment to gather your thoughts. Think about what the underlying skills or aptitudes the interviewer might be looking for and then make sure you address those. Also, if you launch straight into your response without a natural pause, it sounds too rehearsed.

7. Recover gracefully. You bomb a question. Don’t worry.  It happens - it’s not the end of the world. What’s important is how you recover. Employers are also assessing your soft skills like resiliency, problem-solving abilities and how you keep calm in a difficult situation.  

8. Prepare thoughtful questions for the employer: The point of asking questions at the end of your interview isn’t to look smart. These questions should help you in your decision-making process. What do you need to know so that you can make an informed decision?  

Some job seekers research obscure information from the company’s website and base their questions on that. Or they spend their time talking about logistics like vacation pay or benefits. Don’t do that. Instead use your valuable time to ask questions about things that would directly impact you such as the job structure, tasks, and company culture.  

Once you have done what you can to prepare, go to your interview, knowing that you have given it your best shot.

To your future career success, 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

#PressforProgress @ Work

I was delighted to contribute to an article on The Mighty Women for International Women's Day. The question was "How do you think women can best "press for progress" in their career?"

What a massive, important question!  And it was hard to answer as women do still face a number of obstacles to equality in the workplace, but I gave it my best shot.  You can read my response here. 

To your career success, 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

Your Guide to Answering Tough Technical Interview Questions

You know that your upcoming interview might include technical questions – often these questions can make or break your ability to successfully land the job.  

Don’t miss out on your next big opportunity. Make sure that you are fully prepared for even the toughest questions.

Read on to find out more about how you can effectively prepare.  

Critical Preparation Strategies

Know Your Resume. Anything you put on your resume is fair game for the employer to ask about. Make sure that you can articulately speak to your experiences and skills. Never put anything on your resume that you don’t feel comfortable explaining or talking about.

Research Terms from the Job Posting: Review the job posting carefully. Are there any terms or skills listed that you aren’t familiar with? Don’t just ignore those. Do the research to make sure that you have a solid understanding of what the posting is asking for.

Identify Your Related Skills: You may not have exactly what the employer is looking for. But you might have something similar. Take inventory of what technical skills the posting asks for and then figure out your closest equivalent skills and experience.

Practice, Practice, Practice:  Interviewing is like a muscle – the more you do it, the stronger you will become.  Google technical questions related to your field to create a question database. Create flashcards or book some interview coaching to hone your interview skills.

10 Tips for Mastering Technical Questions

1. Understand the question: Ask for clarifying information if necessary before answering.

2. Use examples: If you have related experience, use those stories in your answer. If you are new to the field, you can use examples from your courses, labs, volunteer, or personal. But, keep in mind that employers will weight work and education over other types of experience.

3. Demonstrate your thought process: Employers are evaluating your thought process, not just the final solution you present. Lay out any assumptions that you might make in your decision making. Outline possible alternatives. Talk about why you would choose the route that you did.

4. Get clarification: If you aren’t sure about something along the way, ask for more information.

5. Stay calm: Yes, you want to provide the right answer. However, the employer is also watching to see how you act under pressure. Stay focused, polite, and calm even if you feel flustered. I talk more about staying calm during interviews here.

6. Organize your thoughts: Employers appreciate candidates who can clearly articulate their ideas. Present your ideas logically and coherently.

7. Focus on soft skills, too: The interviewer wants to know if you can do the job, but they are also looking for other skills as well such as openness to learning, teamwork, communication, curiousity, safety, and problem-solving abilities.

8. Be honest: If you don’t know, just say so. However, you might know something related so transition your answer to talking about what you do know. You could also mention your willingness to learn.

9. Write it out: If you are trying to explain something complex, it might make sense to draw diagrams or write out examples of your work. Also, if you have a portfolio, you could draw on tangible examples to illustrate your point.

10. Don’t get fancy: Go with the solution that is obvious – don’t try to come up with something brand new as you risk getting it wrong.

To your future career success, 

Kristin

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

A Resume Writer's Top-Kept Secret for Error-Free Resumes

In 2017, I did a survey of hiring managers (read more here, here, and here), asking them what their top resume turn-offs were. Their number one pet peeve was spelling or grammar errors. 

When I became a resume writer, I was terrified of having a spelling error on one of my resumes. Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon text-to-voice software so I can listen to my work.

Initially, I started using Siri on my phone and then eventually started using another free software program on my computer. It has saved me so many times! 

Recently, the Career Professionals of Canada published an article which highlighted my experience in using text-to-voice software in my business.  To read more, go here

To your future career success, 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

10 Essential Steps to Maximize Your Informational Interviews

If you love learning and like meeting interesting people, informational interviews are the way to go about building your career.

An intentional career-focused conversation can expand your ideas, help you identify new career possibilities, and provide a way to keep up-to-date on what’s happening in your target industry.

Many people arrange informational interviews only when making a career transition, but honestly, they should be an integral part of your investment in your career.

Back in 2015, I completed a counselling certificate. It was a good program that taught me decent practical skills. But I sometimes wonder where my career and business would be if I had invested those 3 hours a week into networking and informational interviews instead.

I talk about what questions you can ask here. There are no perfect questions – instead, ask about the things that interest you. One of the most meaningful questions I ever asked in an informational interview 10 years ago was “How do you see your work making a difference in the world?”  

But the questions aren’t the only thing you should pay attention to when doing informational interviews.

Today I want to focus on the other essential elements that occur before, during, and after the meeting that can help you make a good impression and improve the process overall.

1. Make a Good Impression Before the Meeting: When you initiate an informational interview, be mindful of your communication through the process of arranging the meeting.

Be prompt, enthusiastic, and thankful in all your interactions. And always double-check your spelling and grammar in emails.

2. Send a Reminder: You can send a reminder email the day before your meeting to confirm the time and location. 

3. Attitude: Go in with curiousity and a willingness to listen. People will be more impressed with an openness to learning than your intelligence. And do not try to convert the informational interview into a pitch for a job – this will do more harm than good.

4. Research: Do some research on the person you are meeting and where they have worked in the past.

5. Dress: Dress professionally, even if it's a coffee meeting. 

6. Time: Be early, but not too early. Arrive 10 minutes before your suggested meeting time.

Coming early is especially important if you are meeting at a coffee shop or restaurant. Get a table before the other person arrives so you don't waste time searching for a place to sit. 

If you committed to keeping the informational interview within a certain timeframe, then be sure to wrap up by the appointed time.

7.  Offer to Pay: Offer to buy the person's coffee or lunch. They may decline, but it's a nice gesture and a great investment in your future.

8. Prepare, but be Flexible: Put together thoughtful questions, but don’t put too much focus on the questions at the expense of building the relationship.

People love giving advice and talking about their careers. Be sincerely interested in the person and their journey. This is hopefully the start of a long-term relationship, not just a one-time meeting.

9. Send a Thank You Note: After your meeting, send an email to the person, thanking them for their time and identifying any information that you found particularly useful. 

10.  Stay Connected: Connect with the person on LinkedIn. Look for ways to help them when you can.  And let them know where you ended up, even if it was a while ago since you met up.

For me, informational interviews and networking meetings have turned into jobs, contracts, and client referrals. And as much as that’s awesome, what I really love about the process is the chance to connect with interesting people and build genuine, long-term relationships that benefit us both.  

To your future career success, 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

 

The Anatomy of a Resume that Gets Noticed

To find work in today’s labour market, it’s expected that you submit a well-written, polished resume which outlines your best skills, experience, training, and accomplishments. And as resume formats have evolved over time, it’s raised the bar on what’s expected by future employers.

Resumes are about YOU, but they are FOR HR and hiring decision makers. As you build your resume, you will get all kinds of advice. But what really matters is what the decision makers are saying.  

In 2017, we surveyed over 60 hiring experts including hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters across a wide range of industries. Here’s what we learned. 

1. Target your resume: Hiring managers want to see you made an effort. They want to hire someone who wants to work for them, not just someone who wants a job. For each position you apply to, be sure to adjust your resume to highlight your best skills, experience, and training.

2. Check your spelling and grammar: Spelling and grammar mistakes are the #1 turn-off for hiring managers. Be sure to check, double-check, and check again before sending out.

3. Be organized: Hiring managers scan your resume in 5-10 seconds. Make it as easy as possible for them to understand what you can do. 

4. Use a common font: Hiring managers don’t care which font – it just needs to be an easy-to-read font. Creative fonts don’t earn you extra points.

5. Limit the length of your resume: The average resume should be two pages. If you are at a senior level, it’s acceptable to have a longer resume. If you are junior, you may only need a one-page resume. Everyone else? Stick with two pages.

6. Utilize the correct date format: Use the month and year format for start and end dates in your employment history.

7. Limit your bullets per section: No one has time to read a dense list of bullets. Identify what is most important. Generally, 5 – 7 bullets per section is the golden rule.

8. Incorporate keywords: Use the job description to identify industry keywords and integrate those keywords throughout the resume.  

9. Use action words: When describing your work and accomplishments, always start your statements with a powerful action verb.

10. Explain your value: Instead of listing tasks, explain what you achieved. How did the company benefit from your performance? How do you do this job better than someone else might? Or what would get missed if you were away for an extended amount of time? 

11. Write accomplishment statements: Under your work history, write accomplishment statements using the PAR (problem – action – result) method.

12. Quantify results: Find tangible examples of what you have done and use numbers and percentages to describe how you made a difference.

13. Explain gaps or short-term employment: Gaps or short-term employment causes concern for hiring managers. If you have a recent employment gap on your resume, address it briefly.

14. Design matters: Hiring managers appreciate a nice-looking resume. In particular, they like the use of bold font to draw attention to important information.

15. Show personality: Reviewing resumes can be tedious, especially when job seekers use generic phrasing or unnecessary jargon. Be unique and memorable in your wording.

16. Send it in PDF: Most hiring managers want your resume submitted in PDF, but always follow the instructions, first and foremost. 

All the best in landing your next opportunity. If you want to read more about our survey, you can download our exclusive guide here. 

All the best in landing your next opportunity. 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

Five Amazing (and Free) 2018 Planners You Should Download Now

With the New Year here, I'm spending some time to get myself organized and focused for 2018. 

As I'm working through this process, I found a few resources that I have found helpful: 

I'm currently working on Claire Buswell's An Illuminated Life reflective planner. It's so good. I'm not done yet, but it's forcing me to think about what worked well in the past year and what I envision for my 2018. 

I've been following Anna Runyan's work at Classy Career Girl for a while. She has put together a free 90-day Planner that is both beautiful and functional. It also includes thought-provoking questions to help you get clarity on your goals for 2018.  

And my network highly recommended Danielle Laporte's The Desire Map which looks pretty awesome. Lots of good food for thought surrounding your goals and desires. 

If you are looking for a household planner, I like this one from The Organized Dream or Home Printables Blog

Happy planning, 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

 

How to Write a Cover Letter Hiring Managers Want to Read

Every once in a while, the cover letter debate surfaces.

Are cover letters still necessary? 

Do Cover Letters Still Matter_.png

According to my friends who hire, many job seekers don’t send a cover letter with their applications. And with most people using online job boards for applications, there isn't always an option to include a cover letter. 

But MOST hiring managers expect to see a cover letter.

When I conducted a survey of 60 hiring managers and HR professionals in 2017 (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here), I found that 81% of hiring managers said that a cover letter was an essential part of the application package. 

You can stand out by submitting a well-written cover letter with your application that:

  • Showcases your most important skills, experience, and training related to the open position
  • Builds connection with the reviewer by showing personality and motivation
  • Reduces red flags for hiring managers by addressing any potential concerns
  • Demonstrates genuine interest in the company and position

Common Cover Letter Mistakes

Job seekers often make these two mistakes when it comes to their cover letters:

  • They make it about themselves, not the company or position.
  • They use a generic cover letter template that reads like a boring form letter.  

Employers spend hours on their recruitment process, trying to attract the right candidate. By putting effort into your cover letter, you show respect for their time. And you make the reviewer’s job as easy as possible by including good information.

Writing Your Cover Letter

When writing your cover letter, start by carefully reviewing the job posting. Then do some research on the company.

Now answer these questions:

  • Why do you want to work at THIS company?  Employers want to know what draws you to this specific job at their company. You need to make them feel that they are your first choice.
  • What are the 2-3 key skill areas that the employer is looking for?  What specific skills, experience, or education do you have that would match what they require?
  • Is there anything on my resume that might cause a red flag? If so, find a tactful way to address it in your cover letter. This is also your opportunity to share information that is not highly visible on your resume.
  • What is your motivation? What excites or interests you the most about this position or company? Beyond getting a job, what drives you to apply?

Cover Letter Tips

When completing your cover letter, here are some of my tried-and-tested tips to make sure that your future cover letter stands out. 

  • Use a proper business letter format including a header with your address and contact information, date, company address, salutation, and closing.
  • Use the same formatting in your cover letter as your resume. You want it to look like a complete package.
  • Keep your paragraphs short to improve readability. I suggest about three lines per paragraph.
  • Use bullets to highlight your most important skills, experience, or training. You want to highlight your “best of” rather than trying to talk about everything.
  • Share stories of success using a personable, professional tone.
  • Use names where you can in the salutation (e.g. Dear Ms. Smith) or if you have been referred to the job by someone. (e.g. When Marie Reddy told me about this position as a Home Stager, I was immediately interested because...)
  • Show enthusiasm and interest. You want to show that not only can you do the job, you could do it best!

All my best, 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

How to Find Your Dream Job in 2018

If you are at a point in your career where you feel stuck or stagnant, 2018 could be your year.

Land Your Dream Job in 2018.png

The year when you take control of your career and make choices that bring you more career satisfaction and fulfillment. 

The year when you walk away from that toxic work environment and start taking better care of your own mental and emotional well-being. 

The year when you step out and start courageously pursuing your dreams. 

The year when you channel that ambition and get serious about moving along in your career. 

No matter where you are at, there's always a chance for a new beginning and a fresh start. And the opportunities are endless.

The time is now. Don’t wait until things aren’t working to improve your job search. By taking a proactive approach early on, you will save yourself time and headache in the long run.

18 Ways to Land Your New Job 

Ready to land a new job? 

Here are my top 18 suggestions for how to transition to a new job this year. 

First of all, make sure that you have a clear focus on the work you want or type of company that you want to be employed with. If identifying that is your struggle, consider investing in some career coaching to gain the clarity you need. 

Secondly, diversify how you look for work. Most job seekers spend their time applying to online job postings, but this method is only about 30% effective. 

In a survey I conducted of 60 hiring managers, I found that hiring managers sourced new candidates through multiple methods including their company website, job boards, LinkedIn, online resume banks, and networking. (Read the rest of the survey results here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). 

Get Prepared

Preparation is key to making a good impression on a future employer. 

1. Get your marketing materials in order: Invest in developing a resume, cover letter, and possibly business cards that clearly outline the work that you can do.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn is the standard when it comes to a professional online presence. Make sure your profile speaks to the work you can do. Start connecting with people in your industry or at the companies you want to work for.

3. Evaluate and clean up your social media presence. In my survey, I found that 74% of hiring managers will always or often (over 50% of the time) check out a job seeker’s social media presence. Tighten up your privacy settings if you have content you don’t want employers to see.

4. Assess your skills. As you review job postings and talk to people, determine if your skills are still competitive. If you need more training or skill development, start working on closing the skills gap as soon as possible.

5. Browse job boards regularly to identify jobs you might want to apply to. Also use these boards to do market research on the types of positions, qualifications, and skills that employers are looking for.

6. Post your resume to job banks: You can post your resume online on sites like Indeed, Monster, or CareerBuilder. (Tip: Don’t include your entire address for privacy reasons – just the city and province is fine)

7. Start preparing for interviews: You never know when you might get a call for an interview. Begin reviewing common questions and thinking about your responses.

8. Practice talking about yourself: It’s not easy for most people to talk about themselves. Put together an introduction script that you can use in casual or networking situations.

Get Focused

Many people feel helpless in the process of finding work. They wait for an employer to post their perfect position. But the best way to go is to lay the groundwork BEFORE the position is posted. 

9. Decide what companies you want to work for: Don’t wait for a job posting to come up. Make a list of 40 companies that you are interested in working for.

10. Regularly check company websites for postings: Once you have your target companies, go directly to their websites on a weekly basis to keep tabs on any upcoming positions.

Make 2018 Your Year (1).png

11. Follow companies on social media: One of the easiest ways to stay up-to-date on company news or new positions is to follow companies on social media. I personally use LinkedIn and Facebook for this. 

12. Send an introduction email: Many companies want people who want to work for them. If you are interested in a particular company, reach out to someone at the company and introduce yourself.  

13. Demonstrate your professional expertise. Build up evidence of your professional expertise.  You can blog, comment on online industry groups, or publish to LinkedIn, just as a few examples. 

Get Connected

People hire people. Though employers source candidates in a variety of ways, networking does still play an important part in the recruitment process. 

14. Tap into your network: Networking continues to be critical in landing work. Start talking to the people you know and tell them what you are looking for.

15. Talk to your references: Let your references know that you are looking for work and that they could expect a call. Don’t forget to ask them if they know of any opportunities, too.

16. Develop new relationships: Look for ways to meet new people through social media or face-to-face. Attend events such as workshops, parties, networking mixers, or community groups.

17. Get information: Conduct informational interviews with your network. But don’t stop there. Identify who else you want to talk to and reach out to start a conversation.    

18. Connect with your professional association, union, or sector council: Ask for advice on how to connect with employers and if there are any events or programs you should attend.  

Don't spend another year at work that is not right for you. Make 2018 the year that you step out and take control of your career direction. 

All my best, 

Kristin 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

Resume Trends: What Do Hiring Managers Really Think?

This is Part 3 of our series on What Hiring Managers Want in a Resume, based on a survey of 60 hiring managers I conducted with Lisa Stephen in October 2017. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here. 

In the past few years, we have seen emerging trends such as more visual infographic resumes, integration of video, and personal websites/ portfolio sites. 

So what do hiring managers think of these approaches? 

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Infographic Resumes

There's no doubt, a well-done infographic resume is stunning. But is it enough to capture the attention of a hiring manager? 

Positives:

Captures attention: 61%

Good networking tool: 30%

Concerns:

Not enough info on experience and skills: 20%

Won’t get through the online application system: 12%

Possible discrimination: 42%

Feedback:

Some of our survey respondents found the information overwhelming and they didn't find the graphs very useful. Though it's visually appealing, a few found it difficult to scan to find useful information. This type of format works well for creative, marketing, or design positions. 

Video Resumes

We were curious to see if video resumes would be the next up-and-coming resume format.  We asked if a video resume could be used instead of a standard resume in an application. 

The hiring managers said NO! They need to be able to scan information quickly. The rule of thumb is 5-10 seconds to see if a candidate is viable. Clicking and watching a short video is way too much work for them. 

Then we asked, "Could a video resume be used to enhance a standard resume?"

And yes, 41% would look at a video resume but also want to see a standard resume first. The key here is that your standard resume needs to capture attention first. Only then will a hiring manager be willing to invest time in watching a video. 

Portfolio Sites

A friend of mine was doing some hiring and she noticed that a number of candidates had portfolio sites, showcasing their work. We commonly see this for creative positions, but these positions were administratively-based. 

So we asked, "Would you look at a portfolio site if a client included a link in their resume?"

And we found that 50% of hiring managers would be open to that. 39% said it depends and only 7% said no. 

Again, like the video resume, employers are open to looking at a portfolio site, but first, your resume needs to be good enough for them to consider you a viable candidate.

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

 

8 Productivity Tips for Busy Professionals and Business Owners

People often tell me that I’m lucky as I run a business from home. But at times, I find it hard to maintain productivity – sometimes I would rather be at an office, away from my messy kitchen or the piles of laundry that our family produces.

Early in my business start up, I made a commitment to myself that I’d treat my work-from-home job with as much professionalism as an office job. Each morning, I get up early and get dressed (no working in my pajamas) before heading down to my office. 

Now two years into my business, I've found some ways to streamline my workflow and improve my productivity. Here are some of my tips along some amazing nuggets of advice from a few other professionals and business owners. 

1. Get Focused on Your Important Tasks: This is critical. My friend, Cathy Kuzel from The Connected Woman puts together a clear schedule of business actions each day. It's easy to get caught up in "busy work," but not accomplish those big items that will help you move forward in your career or business. 

2. Keep Your To-Do List Full: When I’m swamped, I hustle. Where I struggle is when things get slower. In times like that, I make a long “to-do” list of all the lower priority items that I had been meaning to get to. I need at least 15 things on my list to feel motivated. Maren Hanson, Regional HR Manager at Whole Foods, suggests using the Outlook Task section to keep organized. 

3. Find an Accountability Partner: I work better under pressure. When I find myself procrastinating, I find an accountability partner, often someone in my field, with whom I can share my goals for the week. Usually, we’ll check in at the beginning and at the end of the week.

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4. Use a KanBan Board: My husband introduced me to the idea of a KanBan board and I love it! Using a whiteboard, you write down your tasks on sticky notes. Then you set up your board with the following categories: To Do, In-Progress, and Done.

As you start and complete tasks, you move the sticky notes across the board. I love the satisfaction of watching my Done section fill up with sticky notes!

5. Tidy Your Working Space: My work space gets chaotic, quickly.  Sometimes, to improve my productivity, I need to take 10 minutes to organize and clean. It truly makes a difference in clearing my head.

6. Use Technology: Knowing that I only have a certain amount of time makes me more focused. I use the timer on my phone to get into a more focused work mode when I have a specific task to complete. Business Development Coach, Lisa van Reeuwyk suggests using the Focus Keeper or Pomodoro app. 

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7. Get Rid of Distractions: Turn off your social media while working and clean up your inbox. Recently, I unsubscribed to a variety of advertising emails. It wasn’t adding any value to my life and my head feels clearer without those distractions.

8. Use Outlook Signatures as Templates: My friend, Sharon Graham, shared this amazing tip which I use all the time. You can set up template emails in Outlook, using the signature feature. Now to populate an email, I simply click on the appropriate signature.

If you have any other productivity tips that work for you, let me know in the comments.

All the best. You got this.

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

Hiring Manager Resume Pet Peeves, Must-Haves, and Red Flags

What do hiring managers look for in a resume? 

We asked and they answered.

In October 2016, Lisa Stephen and I conducted a survey of 60 hiring managers across a variety of sectors, asking them about what their pet peeves, must-haves, and red flags were when it came to resumes. 

Pet Peeves

What do employers find most frustrating about the resumes that come across their desk?

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Spelling and grammatical mistakes topped the list. One employer shared that communication skills are critical in any job. The resume is the first indicator of whether a candidate has those vital communication skills. It’s also about respect – employers want to see that the candidate has put in an effort.

Secondly, our survey respondents wanted to see resumes that were specifically targeted to the job they were applying for.  Resist the temptation to simply apply to everything without changing your resume!

And third, organization is key - content needs to be easy to understand and get through.

We have such a short time to make a good impression. Employers are often scanning resumes for about 5-10 seconds. If we can capture their attention – show the connection to the work they are hiring for, they will take more time to dig into the content. If your resume is too hard to get through, it will get chucked.

The Rise of the Indeed Resume

Do you use Indeed to apply for jobs? On the Indeed platform, users can upload their resumes and when they see a position they like, they can simply apply with the click of a button. The problem with this approach is:

  1. Resumes are not tailored to positions – which is one of HR’s pet peeves.  Inundating HR with resumes that don’t show how you fit their role, is simply spamming. 

  2. They all look the same. The Indeed format strips away formatting and design that can help you stand out.

  3. Indeed doesn’t give the option of using a targeted cover letter which is an important element in the application process.

Instead of applying through Indeed, try alternative methods of applying like through the company’s website or via email.

Red Flags

What causes the most amount of concerns for hiring managers?

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59% of the employers we surveyed were most concerned when someone had a pattern of short-term employment.

If that is you, it would be wise to indicate why.  Perhaps companies closed, or the positions were contract positions. Anticipate what concerns the reviewer might have about your past work history and then ensure you address those in your application package.  

Because resume targeting is so important, it makes sense that 49% of employers get worried when they see unrelated experience to the job that you are applying for. You may have your reasons for applying to this position, but you need to clearly evidence why you are a good fit for the job.

Gaps in employment or no recent employment are less of a concern than many people think. If you can provide a rationale, many employers are willing to still consider you as a viable candidate. You can put a short note on your resume and then also address it in your cover letter.

Standout Elements

What, then, is the key to an amazing resume? Having a beautifully designed resume can make a difference, but what do employers really want to see?

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Evidence of past work experience related to the job!  No big surprise here.

Your resume needs strong content MORE than it needs a sleek design or layout.  Consider using bold font to help important information stand out.

Resume Advice

Other important insights from our employers regarding resume content and design.

  • Show personality!  People hire people they like. “Let me see your personality shine through - don't just provide technical details.”
  • Including keywords is key! “Include keywords from the job posting when relevant to experience.”
  • Design and readability do matter (though not as much as content.) “Add a splash of color and leave blank space”

 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

What Hiring Managers Want in a Resume: Survey Results

Resumes ARE the backbone of a strong job search.  A well-crafted resume can greatly energize your job search and generate the opportunities that you truly deserve. 

Resumes are about YOU, but they are FOR HR and hiring decision makers. As you build your resume, you will get all kinds of advice. But what really matters is what the decision makers are saying.  

In October 2017, I partnered with Lisa Stephen to put together a survey of over 60 hiring authorities including hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters across a wide range of industries. 

We wanted to know what most employers wanted to see when it comes to resume mechanics. Do they care about page length, font, file format or length of experience represented? It turns out that they do... 

A Reasonable Page Length

Google “resume page length” and you’ll find a variety of opinions. Our hiring managers had a clear preference for a 2-page resume. That being said, 30% of respondents say that it depends on the type and level of the job.

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A Useful Date Format

We asked if employers wanted dates with only the year OR in the month/year format. We found that most employers (77%) wanted dates in the month/year format. If only the year is included, it is difficult for an employer to know if the applicant worked one day or 12 months in a specific role.

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Enough (But Not Too Much) Experience Represented

How many years of experience should you include on your resume? We found that 49% of employers want to see up to 10 years of experience while another 21% look for about 10- 15 years of experience. Very few wanted to see more than 15 years or all of a person’s work history.

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The Correct File Format

Then, what’s the preferred format to get a resume in? 79% of our respondents preferred PDF while only 5% strongly preferred Word.

The most important piece of advice is that you need to follow the instructions on the job posting!

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The Right Font

Most of our respondents didn’t care, though it seemed that sans serif fonts were preferred over serif fonts. The key here is that it’s easy to read!

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 of this series. 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She is passionate about supporting her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

When a Career Coach Goes to an Interview

I advise clients on interview strategies, often with very positive outcomes. But talking about something and doing something yourself can be two very different things.

So, what happens when a career coach finds themselves on the other side of the table?

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This past summer, a professional acquaintance of mine posted a part-time, contract career advising position up at a local university. Having heard about the progressive work this careers centre was doing, I decided to apply.

As any good job seeker would do, I created a targeted resume and cover letter. I then messaged my contact on LinkedIn to let him know that I had applied.

I didn’t hear anything for a while. Just at the point when I wasn’t sure that I was going to get a callback, I got one. Whoo hoo!

Interview Preparation

My next task was interview preparation. I know that stress can mess with my mind and reactions during interviews, thus making preparation critical for me.

1. Question Brainstorming:  I brainstormed as many interview questions as I could think of including this critical question. I knew this team valued theory and practice so I created some questions for that. I then wrote out responses for each answer.

2. Practice: I had to take my own advice – I advocate for clients to record themselves answering interview questions.  So as awkward as it was, I video-recorded my responses. I then listened to my answers to ensure they were complete while also catching any annoying verbal habits (Apparently, I often start my answers with "So" or make this weird clicking sound) or poor ways of explaining information. 

3. Research: I did as much research as I could about the department. I looked through the website and their blog. I reached out to current employees.

My Interview Day 

1. Logistics: I researched where to park ahead of time and I knew which building I had to go to. It took longer to get to the building than I expected so I was glad that I gave myself lots of extra time.

2. Timing: In the past, I have shown up ridiculously early to interviews. This time, I practiced restraint. I waited in another part of the university until closer to my interview time and arrived in the Career Centre only 10 minutes ahead of the interview time. (Tip: Employers don’t always know what to do with candidates who arrive extra early.)

My interviewers, Tony and Deanne, made me feel comfortable. They cracked a few jokes which broke the ice. As Tony and Deanne asked me the interview questions, I felt mostly prepared. But for two questions, I felt that I could have had stronger answers.

One of the questions was related to what career theories and student development theories I use in my work. Initially, I panicked as I didn’t know anything about student development theory. But I took a deep breath and realized that I could focus on what I did know instead.

I bit back my honest tendency to point out my deficiencies (can anyone else relate to that?) and instead spoke about all the career theory that I integrate into my work.

Secondly, I was asked to share about a time that I facilitated a workshop. Launching into my explanation, I forgot to clearly wrap up my story with what the outcome or result was. Thankfully, Deanne was gracious enough to prompt me by asking a clarifying question.

I prepared several of my own questions for the end of the interview, but only asked two. In previous interview settings, I had gone overboard with asking questions so I wanted to ensure that I got good information without over-burdening the interviewers.

After the Interview

My goal for the interview was to provide great responses but to show up as my authentic self. I wanted to ensure that if I was offered the job, I would be a fit within the team.

After the interview, I reflected on my responses, wishing that I had added this or not said that. But there was nothing so egregious that I felt that I needed to offer additional clarification.

Within 24-hours, I sent a thank you email, outlining my enthusiasm for the work along with my references.

Then I waited. Tony was great at keeping me in the loop regarding their progress. My references also kept me updated on when they received reference calls. (Tip: Ask your references to let you know when they get a call.)

Finally, I got the call, offering me the position! Working as a Career Educator for the past few months, I’m delighted with my decision to join this team.

Best of luck with your next interview. To find out about my interview preparation coaching, click here. 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. Kristin is passionate about supporting her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with her at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

 

 

I Don't Know What To Do With My Degree In...

Got a degree, but don't know what to do with it? 

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If you are like 90% of students at any given university, you went to school to better your career options and improve your ability to find work. However, come graduation, it can be difficult to determine the direct correlation between a degree in Geography or Arts & Humanities with the jobs that are out there.

If you need a little help brainstorming career possibilities, I want to share two of my favorite resources. 

Based on the Canadian National Household Survey, researchers in Ontario looked at survey participant's education and occupation. From this, they created an interactive graph that maps out people's education and identifies which industries people now work in. With the exclusion of Health Sciences and Education, participants were widely dispersed throughout various industries, regardless of their education.

My second brainstorming recommendation is using LinkedIn's alumni finding function.  Simply head over to your alma mater's page on LinkedIn and click See Alumni. From there, you can type in your degree and LinkedIn will provide information on industries and top employers who hire people with your type of degree. 

Don't get stuck thinking that you only have a few career options. There's a whole wide world out there, waiting for you to explore. 

To find out more about our story-based career coaching, please click here

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. Kristin is passionate about supporting her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with her at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

 

4 Essential Elements of a Captivating Resume Profile

Many resumes open with a profile or summary section, outlining the key attributes, qualifications, experience, and skills that the job seeker brings to the position they are applying for.

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Some of the most common wording that I see in profile sections are:  

Works well independently as well as in a team

Motivated self-starter

Personal attributes like: reliable, analytical, responsible, resourceful

Able to multi-task or work in a demanding environment

Though this may accurately describe the applicant, hiring managers have seen this type of wording so many times before that they may just skip right over the profile.

The resume profile section is a lost opportunity for many job seekers.  A well-written and designed profile can draw attention to your best attributes, building intrigue for the hiring manager to read more.

 Here’s an example of a  Before  profile.

Here’s an example of a Before profile.

As you can see, the job seeker lists multiple personal attributes. And based on what I know of this person, they are all true!  But I wanted to make him stand out so here’s how I transformed his profile section.

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Sample of the profile transformation

  1. I did a keyword analysis on the job posting and incorporated them throughout the profile as well as in the Key Skills section. These are the skills he possesses that best match the work he is applying for.
  2. I used a bold font to highlight the most important information. This helps the reader easily skim over the content. We did a survey of hiring managers and this was one of their recommendations. 
  3. I recommend no more than three lines of text per paragraph. Keep it short and sweet, yet loaded with information on the value you provide.
  4. Demonstrate you have the qualifications that the job posting asks for. Hiring managers want to see that you have identified your "best match" skills, qualifications, experience, and education in alignment with the job posting. 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. Kristin is passionate about supporting her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with her at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox. 

10 Easy Ways to Kick Your LinkedIn Profile into Shape

Is updating your LinkedIn profile part of your “To-Do” List? If so, here is your checklist to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is looking good! 

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Profile Picture. Make sure you have a professional, up-to-date profile picture. It needs to be crisp with a non-distracting background. Add a professional background picture.

Professional, Personable Tone. Write your profile in the first person, using a professional, yet personable tone. Do not copy your resume to your LinkedIn profile.

Completed Profile. Fill out all the relevant sections as incomplete profiles receive less credibility. Build up content in your Summary and your most recent job as this is viewed first.

Keyword Optimization. Know what keywords you want to be found for and integrate into your LinkedIn profile content. Look at your Skills & Endorsement section. This section should be representative of your key skills.

Make It Mobile Friendly: Make sure that the first 80 characters (spaces included) of your Summary states the work that you can do. This is all that is visible to mobile users without having to expand your Summary section.

Projects Sections. Use Projects to fill in additional information under your Experience.

Evidence-Based. Provide evidence of the work that you can do with both words and media samples. Stay away from generic descriptions and filler words.

Tangible Skills. Focus on hard skills as opposed to soft skills. It is more likely that a hiring manager or recruiter will search for a skill like “data analytics” or “cost accounting” than “relationship management” or “communication skills.”

Readability Matters. Organize the information in your summary and experience so it is easy to read. Always use proper spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Insert enough spacing to make it skimmable.

Keep It Concise: Quantity is not better than quality. Be concise and focused in your message. It is OK to be way under the 2000-character limit if you are doing a good job of communicating the work you can do.

If you can check off each of these items for your LinkedIn profile, congratulations!  If your LinkedIn is still not where you want it to be, find out more about how I can help. 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

What You Need for an Exceptional LinkedIn Profile

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Your LinkedIn profile is your professional web presence. Though you may have a portfolio site, website, or virtual resume, your LinkedIn profile has the highest probability of being seen due to search engine optimization.

You need a LinkedIn profile that clearly communicates the work you can do.

What do you do best?  What do you want to be found for?

Think of yourself as a “business of one.” A good business is crystal clear on the services and products that it offers. You need that same clarity in your profile. (And stay away from those tempting, yet meaningless filler words.)

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Don’t start writing until you identify your primary and secondary audiences.

One of the challenges that you may run into is writing your profile in a way that speaks to ALL your audiences. This could be prospective employers, current or future clients, colleagues, or networking connections.

You need to decide what you want to use LinkedIn for. Are you looking for work? Are you building a business or prospecting for clients?

Once you know your purpose, the hard work begins.

Research keywords that you want to be found for.  Look at your Skills and Endorsements section – are the skills you have listed the ones that you want to be found for?

Look at LinkedIn profiles of people in similar roles. What do you like or not like about their profiles?  Review websites of companies who do similar work to what you do. What words or phrases grab you?

Write it all down.

Now, what’s your unique value proposition?

Chances are that other people can do what you do.

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What makes you different?  How are you better? How can you solve the problem that your potential employer or prospective client faces? 

Try to distill your value proposition into a simple phrase that you can use in your headline.

Struggling to figure out your value proposition?  At Career Story, we specialize in helping you uncover and communicate your value.

But be careful. Here’s what most people miss out on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is about relationships. A good networker connects with people in a meaningful, thoughtful, and friendly manner.

But most profiles on LinkedIn, a networking platform? Bland. Generic. Sterile.

Imagine going to a party where someone talks about themselves in formal language for the entire evening. No thanks!

All that to say that it’s important to build your LinkedIn profile in a friendly, professional way while still precisely capturing the depth of your skills, experience, and training.  

Integrate stories as evidence of competence.

The best LinkedIn profiles include micro stories that demonstrate personality, motivation, and skills. Let people get to know you.

In an increasingly competitive market, you will be up against others with similar skill sets. In the end, employers will choose the person who fits best within their company culture.

Again, it’s about building the relationship with your audience. Your content on LinkedIn is your ticket to fostering this relationship.

Want to be taken seriously? Take your appearance into consideration. 

You need a good profile picture. No ifs or buts.

It doesn’t need to be a professional picture, but it should be a head-and-shoulders shot with a non-distracting background.  No wedding photos, vacation shots, or poorly cropped pictures. 

Just a high-resolution picture of YOU looking happy. (Remember you want to make friends here.)

And add a background picture. Pixabay has a wide range of “no attribution necessary” pictures you could use.

Lastly, write your profile for readability.

One of my writing rules for LinkedIn is no paragraphs over three lines.  Make it easy for anyone scanning your profile. Use spacing and icons to organize information.

And remember, more is not better.  The goal is clear and concise communication, written in a friendly, professional way.

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

Build a Compelling Resume in 7 Steps

Your resume is your gateway to a new job opportunity. It is your first introduction to a recruiter or potential employer. So, what you put on your resume will determine whether you get called for an interview.

If you are applying for work, but not getting interviews, your resume needs a revision.

I recently worked with a client whose resume was not getting responses from employers. After six months of job search, she was demoralized. I rewrote her resume to highlight her relevant, marketable skills and experience.  Within a few weeks of applying with her new resume, she accepted a job offer.

A good resume markets you for the work you want.

My client already had excellent skills and experience. The key to her success was a powerful resume that made those skills and experience stand out. Here's how to ensure your resume will land interviews. 

1. Do your research so you can target your resume.  A solid resume contains the right mix of information and history to prove to the employer that you are the right candidate. Without this research, creating a precise resume is near to impossible.

Your biggest clue is the job posting. What are the top 2 – 3 skills or qualifications that employers are looking for?  How do you match? Then ask yourself, “How can I best show this on my resume?” 

a targeted resume is not a list of job duties.

2. Share your stories of success. Most job seekers use their resume to list their past job duties. Instead use the valuable space to highlight the ways that you have contributed and added value in the past. Your resume needs to share your stories of success.

For each of your past jobs, ask yourself, What did I do, how did I do it, and what was the result?” Add numbers, percentages, and stories to show outcomes. You may not think you have accomplishments to share, but you do.

3. Highlight strategic information. Hiring managers and recruiters scan your resume within 10 – 30 seconds, which is a short time to make a good impression. Make sure that the most important information is highlighted in

More or fancy is not always best.

4. Readability is key. Design and format your resume to ensure information appears organized and tidy. Make it easy for someone to get the information they need. Use clear headings and a modern font such as Calibri, Cambria, Verdana, or Garamond.

You control the career story that you share.

5. Tell the right story through your resume. If your employment history is complicated, you are not alone. Many people struggle to know how to communicate why they have gaps, abrupt career transitions, or demotions. But no matter how complex your situation, you choose how you want to address it. With careful thought and strategic design, you can provide selective context, ensuring that your application will not raise any red flags for a potential employer.

Look Beyond the Resume.

6. Make sure you have also considered these critical aspects of a job search. Beyond your resume, you need the other pieces necessary to stand out in a crowded labour market. Before sending out your resume, make sure that you have:

·   Does your cover letter highlight your personality and provide the right context?   

·  Do you have a professional web presence on LinkedIn?  A potential employer will certainly look you up.

·  If you land the interview, can you confidently speak to your skills and experience in relation to the job?

·  Do you have a consistent personal brand across your job search marketing documentation and online presence?

7. Communicate your unique value proposition.

You bring a special mix of skills, abilities, training, and personality. Are employers getting a true sense of you through your resume?  Take some time to reflect on what makes you different from your competition.

If identifying your unique value proposition is a struggle, let’s chat. Writing about yourself is difficult for many people. But I can help you build a clearly written resume that resonates with employers.  

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.

 

6 Secrets to Moving Into Freelance or Flexible Employment

Want to set yourself up for future career success?

Then you should get comfortable with finding contract, independent, or freelance work. In a study conducted by Intuit, research suggested that 40% of the workforce will work in some type of on-demand or freelance work by 2020.

For some, this concept is exciting. A chance for continual learning and varied work duties. For others, moving into flexible forms of employment can be daunting. Regardless of where you are at, you can start to take some steps to prepare.

Think of Yourself as a Business of One. One of the first steps is to stop thinking about yourself as an employee, but rather as a business of one. Like a business needs to be clear on what it offers, you need to be clear on what you bring and who you can help. Know what your brand is.

Career coach, Rebecca Beaton, says that when her clients can't articulate the value they bring, it translates into a struggle to find work. The ambiguity makes it difficult to build up a targeted resume, create a website, or even network.

Know Where to Look: Finding on-going work opportunities is often a challenge. Fortunately, several freelance sites exist, such as UpWork and Freelancer. But you will have the most success finding the sites specialized towards specific industries. For example, TalentMarketplace facilitates the recruitment process for project managers, analysts and coordinators.

Network Your Way There: But Beaton suggests that networking still is the #1 way to land new contracts. At the heart of it, people want to work with people they know and trust. So, spending the time to get to know others in a genuine way is key. Go for coffee, initiate a phone call, engage over social media, or attend networking events.

Build Professional Credibility: Building up visibility of your expertise is critical. LinkedIn is the ideal tool to showcase your professional background - think about it as being your “business of one” website. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is rock solid. It should include a professional profile picture and clear content. Depending on your industry, you may also want to put together a separate portfolio site. If you are new to freelance or contract work, share your expertise through writing or speaking.

Keep Your Skills Current: To stay competitive as a freelancer, you must drive your on-going skill development. Conduct regular skills audits. You can do this by reviewing LinkedIn profiles of people in your industry or scanning job postings to identify what qualifications employers look for. But most importantly, talk to people. This will give you the most insight into market requirements.

Start Properly, but Quickly: But before stepping into contract work, Steven Ruggles, co-founder of TalentMarketplace, suggests talking to a lawyer or accountant to get your business infrastructure in place. He also recommends taking a “lean start-up” approach. Using this approach, you quickly launch your product or service into the market. Then as you get feedback, you adjust your offering until it aligns with what employers or customers want.

Even if you are happy with your current employment, you can serve yourself well by getting some of these building blocks in place to ensure your long-term career success.

Best of luck. You got this. 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story where she has helped hundreds of her clients successfully transition to work they love. She supports her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace. 

Connect with Kristin at kristin@careerstory.ca or sign up to get her monthly career and job search tips straight to your inbox.