job search

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Sample of the profile transformation

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.

How Targeted Cover Letters Get Interviews

Every Christmas, my family gets a Christmas card from one of my extended family members. It is always nice to know someone is thinking of us though often he just signs it without a personal message. One year, he didn’t even sign it. He just inserted his business card.

This makes me think of cover letters. Cover letters are an expected part of your job application. But how you write that cover letter makes the difference! 

If you write a bland, templated cover letter, you risk having the reader treat it like a generic Christmas card. Stereotypical and disposable. The sentiments don’t ring true and your seeming lack of effort could actually be a turn-off.

I appreciate that our family member makes an effort to mail a Christmas card.  But how much more meaningful would it be to include a few personalized lines? Sending cards at Christmas are culturally expected. But why go through the motions if it comes across as a formality?  

Let’s tie that back to your cover letter. 

Employers want to know that you want to work for them.  They will not find value in a cover letter that reads like a form letter.

Now imagine that your cover letter was clearly targeted it to the company you are applying to!  It showed that you had researched the company and were familiar with the job posting. In your cover letter, you shared about how you could fulfill the job responsibilities.  Your personality shone through and revealed your motivation to do the job.

That’s a cover letter that I would want to read!  

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.

Four Essential Ways You Can Prep for Your Next Career Transition

Recently, a friend told me that she felt pressure to make a “big move” in her career.  She initially started gearing up to look for a new job. But over the next few weeks, she started to have second thoughts and decided to pause her job search. Her friends seemed disappointed that she had not taken more dramatic action. 

But making a big move isn't always the best path. Sometimes, it making a dramatic move can actually cause more harm than good. There is something to be said for a patient, thoughtful approach to making a career move. 

I shared this analogy with my friend.

I sometimes drive by the construction site for a new mall near my place. For months and months, all I see is this huge pit as they build the foundation. It seems that nothing is happening, but the reality is that a lot is happening. I just can't see it. A solid foundation is critical! Once the foundation is done, the framing will go up quickly. This is the exciting part - seeing the building suddenly take shape.  

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When we think about our careers, it's often wise to focus on our foundation before making "big moves." It may take time, but once you make the move, you know you will have a solid foundation to support you. 

Here are a few ways that you can build your solid career foundation. 

Get Work Experience: You need to get some solid work experience behind you to be credible to a future employer. If you hop from job to job, employers may feel that they cannot trust you. (That being said, you also need to know when to move on. )

If you feel that you are getting stagnant at your current role, look for ways to broaden your experience. Perhaps, the company would be open to an expansion of your role or to you taking on a special project.

Improve Your Skills: Pay attention to the skills necessary to do your job well. Do not rely on your employer to build those skills for you. Instead take responsibility and start to look to develop your skills yourself. 

There are plenty of low-cost ways you can develop skills. Perhaps it's through a volunteer job, a course, or online training. 

Update Your Training: I'm seeing a creep towards higher and higher levels of certification required for jobs.  If you are missing training or certification to move ahead in your career such as a Bachelor or Masters degree, start working on it now. You want to make sure that you have what it takes to land your next job. 

Build Your Network: Career expert, Jayne Barron, says, "You need to build your network before you need it." One of the easiest times to network is when you are working, not unemployed.  If you build a strong network now, you are helping yourself out in the future. 

So what are you doing to build your career foundation these days? 

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. Kristin is passionate about supporting her clients to uncover their strengths and communicate to get what they want in the workplace.  

How Your Email Address Might Be Impacting Your Job Search

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You need a professional email address for job search - that's a given.  The email address that might have been cute or funny at one point is not appropriate for your resume. Think something like babygirl54@hotmail.com or legallyblonde_marcia@yahoo.com. 

Generally, the standard of a professional email includes some type of configuration of your first and last name.

Let's say that you do have an appropriate professional email address.  Here are a few other aspects of your email address that might be impacting how an employer perceives you.

Using an Outdated Email Provider

Email providers such as Hotmail and Yahoo email have the reputation of being out-dated. They were popular 15 years ago, but now Gmail has much more functionality and usability. If you are still using a Hotmail or Yahoo account, you may seem out-of-touch with technology. Also, internet service provider email addresses (e.g. Telus or Shaw emails) are not commonly used by younger generations.

Using Someone Else’s Email Address

If you are sending out resumes, you need to include an email address that is your own. If your name as Karen Smith, but you send a resume with the email address, fredsmith@gmail.com, you may get screened out. The employer reviewing your resume may assume one of two things. 

First, they may think that you are not technically savvy enough to manage a basic email address. For most jobs, this is a huge red flag! 

Secondly, they may think that you do not have enough motivation to do your own job search.  Even if someone is helping you with your job search, still use your own email address on your resume!

Including Part of Your Birthday

Let's say that your email address is carrie_standford67@gmail.com. An employer might wonder if the 67 refers to 1967, the year you were born. If your email address does contain part of your birth year, you should consider changing it. Don't give employers any reason to discriminate against you based on your age.

Not Checking Your Email Regularly

If you are looking for work, you need to check your email at least once a day. Even if you do not use email on a regular basis, it is a preferred method of communication in the business world. If an employer contacts you for an interview, you need to respond promptly. If an employer does not hear back from you within in 24 hours, they will most likely move onto other candidates. 

This is especially important if you created a separate email address for job search. It can be easy to forget to check this email address. And regularly check your junk mail folder as it is easy for emails from employers to land here.

All the best with your job search!

 

 

 

Kristin Vandegriend is the founder of Career Story. She loves working with clients to help them successfully transition to good work. She believes that no one should dread going to work in the morning. Her focus is supporting her clients to increase their confidence and learn how to communicate to get what they want. Connect with her at kristin@careerstory.ca to start a conversation.