Tag: career transition


How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For

I have several clients who think if they don’t check off all the boxes of requirements on a job ad, they can’t apply for the job. But let me tell you a little story…

You never know what can happen

…When I was just coming out of grad school, I applied for a director’s level position without any full-time professional experience. I knew I was unqualified for the director’s position. But I was interested in it and applied anyway to see what would happen.

Of course I was rejected. But then the company called me because the assistant director position had also just come open. They wanted to know if I was interested in it.

I was much more qualified for this role and was indeed very interested. They offered me the job a few days after my interview! I was so excited because it was my first “real job” out of school.

I say all this to show you never know what can happen. You have nothing to lose but the time it takes to apply.

The truth about the job ad

Most job ads read more like the hiring manager’s “wish list” instead of a realistic request. It’s highly unlikely one person will have all the desired qualifications from the job ad.

As a result, if they aren’t getting the qualified candidate pool they’d hoped for, they’ll likely re-write the job description to reflect a more realistic expectation of qualifications.

When to apply for the job

My recommendation is, if you have at least 65-75% of the qualifications they’re looking for, go ahead and apply and see what happens. Especially if you have any of the preferred qualifications in addition to some of the required qualifications.

But only do so if you have a genuine interest in the job. Never apply for a job you have no intentions of taking just to gain interview practice. This is unethical.

What to do while you wait for a response

While you’re waiting to hear back, see if there is a way for you to learn some of the requirements you’re lacking through a online tutorials or MOOCs. (See the list of educational alternatives in my recent post “How to Know If You Should Go Back to School“.)

Be understanding if they decide they don’t want you, and don’t let the rejection get to you. Instead, be open if they contact you for a job that’s a step-down and is more in line with your current qualifications.

Then in your interview, ask if there are opportunities for future advancement after being with the company for a certain period of time.

Conclusion

I recommend being selective when using the approach above.

If you don’t feel comfortable applying for a job you’re not qualified for, then perhaps you’d be more comfortable doing an informational interview to learn more about what it takes to end up in such a job. (To learn more about informational interviews, check out the on-demand program, The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively.)

At the very least you’ll become more aware of the hidden job market and the skills you need to develop.

Related posts

job

How to Know If You Should Go Back to School

One question I often get from my mid-career clients wanting to make a career change is,

“Should I go back to school?”

You might expect someone who previously worked in higher education and who’s a huge fan of lifelong learning to enthusiastically respond with, “Yes!” However, this is not my typical response.

Instead, I respond with,

“Is it necessary for your career goal?”

If you don’t know your career goal yet, then you can’t answer this question. Therefore, my first order of business is to help you figure out what’s next for you.

Once you know what you want to do, then we need to determine if taking the plunge into a new degree program is necessary for your goal.

Are the educational qualifications required, or just preferred?

Does the job you’re now targeting require a degree or coursework you don’t have? Make sure you read the job description carefully. Don’t confuse the word “required” with “preferred.”

For example, if the majority of the job ads for the type of job you’re targeting typically requires a 4-year degree but prefers a master’s, you probably don’t need to rush back to school for the master’s and get yourself in more debt.

If you already have the required 4-year degree along with a substantial amount of experience (at least 5-10 years), you’re likely a qualified candidate. Especially if the master’s is about the only thing you’re lacking from the listed qualifications.

Employers typically put more stock into your experience and skills than they do your education. Think about it. If you’re mid-career, when was the last time someone asked you in an interview what your college GPA was? But they probably asked you about your skills and experience instead, right?

And if there are still a couple skills you’re lacking from the job ad, determine if those are skills you could learn quickly and easily through some online courses or tutorials.

However, if the job ad says an advanced degree is required, then you will need to go back to school.

Educational alternatives

Certification programs and boot camps

Let’s assume you’re making a career change and you’re going to have to learn some new skills. Before committing to a lengthy and expensive degree program, find out if the educational requirement can be satisfied with a short-term intensive certification program.

Perhaps you can satisfy the educational requirement with a 12 to 24-week certification program or a 10-month boot camp. These alternatives are sometimes offered online and part-time so you can continue working your current full-time job while attending. There are numerous options like this which serve as an alternative to going back to school full-time.

Beware though when you begin searching for certification programs. There are a lot of certification programs out there that are just money-makers. The only value they add is giving you another line on your resume or more letters behind your name, but aren’t really necessary for compliance in your chosen field. You’ll want to make sure the certification is necessary for the type of job you want. Otherwise, you probably don’t want to spend your money on it.

Also, look for certification programs with a good reputation (like those offered by accredited universities). And look to see if they offer some type of career placement assistance. Before registering, talk to others who’ve completed the program. Get their thoughts of it and see if it has significantly boosted their careers. They will be able to tell you if it’s worth the time and money.

A few of my clients have made a successful career change to the field of coding by investing time and money in a reputable coding boot camp. One such client had no previous experience at all in coding. She landed a job a week before her graduation from the boot camp with a well-known company she’d always wanted to work for.

MOOCs

Another great alternative to a traditional degree program is MOOCs which stands for massive open online courses. They’re taught by professors from highly reputable universities such as Stanford, Princeton, and Duke. Others are taught by professionals from companies like Google and IBM.

These courses are delivered online and vary in costs. Some are free if you’re just wanting to learn something new for personal interest. Others have affordable rates allowing you to learn a new skill, prepare for a career change, or even earn a certificate or degree.

One of the best MOOCs sites is www.coursera.org. They offer over 4,000 courses in subjects such as business, computer science, arts & humanities, engineering, social sciences, and even personal development. I’ve taken a few interest courses myself on this site and really enjoyed the flexibility of it. Once I completed each course a badge was added to my LinkedIn profile.

Reading and Listening

Finally, you can still learn the old fashioned way through books. It’s been said that reading at least five books on one subject can bring you up to near-expert level on the subject.

If you don’t like to read, there’s no excuse! Many books are now available to listen to on Audible or other audio platforms. There are also numerous podcasts available for you to listen to and learn about new subjects.

Improve your job search skills

Sometimes going back to school isn’t the answer. Sometimes the answer is to get help in improving your job search skills.

I recently had a new client come to me thinking he needed to go back to school to get another degree in something else. He assumed this because he wasn’t having any luck with his job search in his current field.

I asked him if he was having trouble finding jobs to apply for. He said he’d applied for several but wasn’t getting many interviews. And when he did get interviews, he wasn’t getting any offers.

Since there were jobs available to apply for, the problem wasn’t a lack of demand. It was his approach to the job search, specifically his resume and interview skills.

Spending A LOT of money on another degree instead of a little money on some career coaching didn’t make sense. So he hired me to help him improve his job search skills.

I spent time giving him new and fresh approaches to networking, helping him tweak his resume, revealing his blind spots in his interview skills, and coaching him on how to improve in future interviews. It’s now up to him to apply what he’s learned from the coaching.

If he’d just gone back to school full-time for another degree program requiring two additional years of studies like he’d originally planned, he would not only be out the money he spent on tuition but also out the money he could’ve earned in those two years. Plus he’d be two years behind in salary increases.

Is going back to school worth it?

So is going back to school really worth it? Definitely not in the example described above. But you have to determine based on your own career goals if it’s worth it or not.

Make sure you take into consideration the following factors:

  • Is it required or necessary to achieve your career goal?
  • How much will it set you back in both time and money?

Also, consider how higher education has changed since you last attended college. Tuition has gone up while the quality of the programs have been watered down.

One client hired me after having started a master’s degree in a new field because she was extremely frustrated and disappointed with the lack of challenge from her classes. The rigor did not equal the amount she was paying in tuition. Therefore, she felt she wasn’t getting her money’s worth and wanted to find out what other options she had.

School vs. lifelong learning

The main reason to go back to school is if it’s absolutely necessary for your career goals. And you don’t want to go back to school simply because you don’t know what to do next.

However, this doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning! You always want to invest in yourself and stay relevant with lifelong learning. Start with some of the more affordable alternatives listed above. Doing so can help you better determine what you want to do next in your career, which will help you know if going back to school for another degree is really the answer.

Related posts

school

How to Go From Military Hero to Civilian Employee

When I first started out in career coaching, I worked as the director of a career center at a college located next to the largest military installation in the world. Many of our students were U.S. service men and women earning their degrees on the G.I. Bill and looking to make the transition from the military to a civilian job. I salute them for their service in celebration of Veterans Day this week!

But making the transition from the military to a civilian career path was not easy for most of them. I had to help several of them understand how their military skills transferred to civilian work. I also helped them re-word their résumés to use more civilian-friendly terminology to make them more marketable to potential employers.

It was an honor to work with such fine men and women and to help them use their skills to serve their communities in new and different ways.

Jamie’s story

There are numerous companies who want to hire veterans. But just being wanted doesn’t guarantee you a job. And listing your military service on your resume doesn’t even guarantee you an interview. You still have to know and understand the do’s and don’ts of the job search.

For example, I once had a client named Jamie who came to me because for two and a half years since leaving the military she had not had any luck in her job search. Despite being a veteran and applying with companies known for hiring veterans, she couldn’t even land an interview.

Jamie was in her late 20s to early 30s, had proudly served her country, and was honorably discharged. In the two and a half years since she’d left the military she’d started her own animal rescue non-profit and earned an MBA while also conducting her job search. She had mad skills!

When she first came to me she said,

“Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is. Maybe you can show me.”

She knew there was something she was missing. She just didn’t know what it was. After all this time she finally recognized her need for someone to point out her blind spots and show her the way.

Jamie’s transition into a civilian employee

When I began working with Jamie, it quickly became apparent to me she needed to make some small tweaks on her resume and learn some new interview skills she’d never previously learned.

There were some things she’d included on her resume she thought were assets. However, hiring managers instead viewed them as liabilities. I had her remove those from her resume immediately.

Just a couple days later Jamie got a call for an interview. I spent a few sessions preparing her for the interview. I taught her the interview skills she lacked and did mock interviews with her while providing feedback on how to improve.

Jamie said:

“I had no idea until now what I’ve been doing wrong all this time!”

A week later, Jamie got the job offer. In fact, the gentleman who offered her the job commented,

“By the way, you gave a really good interview. I have a family member who has a job interview coming up. Do you think you could help her prepare for it?”

How to make the transition to civilian employment

If you’re a veteran making the transition into civilian employment, here are some tips to help you better market your past experience for civilian opportunities.

1. Get help

First, if the trauma from your military experience has resulted in PTSD or any other problems that could negatively affect your future work performance, get help! Take advantage of any and all resources and support offered by the military and the VA.

If these problems are not addressed early and appropriately, it could lead to poor work performance. And if you get fired from your first civilian job, it will be even more difficult to find your next civilian job.

2. Build a civilian network

Next, build a civilian network by starting with the people you already know, including fellow service men and women. They have civilian friends and family who probably know someone to connect you with.

Then, take time to learn new networking etiquette tips and networking skills. You can do this through my e-book Secrets to Networking With Ease (available on Amazon), and also through my on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively. If you need more in depth assistance, I offer military discounts on my one-on-one coaching services to those who are active duty.

3. Assess your skills

Take some time to list out all the skills you used in your military service. Then, go back and determine which of those skills could transfer to civilian opportunities. It’s helpful to look at the skill requirements in different job ads to better understand how your skills might transfer.

Then, re-word those skills on your resume using some of the same terminology used in the job ads. You can also look at LinkedIn profiles of other former military personnel to see how they’ve worded their job descriptions. Choosing a one-on-one coaching package can also provide you with personalized assistance in assessing your skills and marketing them to potential employers.

4. Tell your stories

In just about every job interview, you’re going to have to answer behavioral interview questions that begin with “Tell me about a time when…”

It may be difficult to relive some of your experiences from your military service. But, your stories are what make you marketable and unique. You must be able to tell your stories in a way that exhibits the skills you’ve developed while dealing with challenging situations.

To learn the right way to answer behavioral interview questions, see my blog post entitled “The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions.”

From Deployment to Employment

I’d like to thank all U.S. veterans for their service! I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you make the transition into civilian employment. For additional resources, please check out the info graph below.

civilian

civilian

How to Know if Your Burnout Is Killing You

For the past week and a half, the words “rest” and “burnout” keep coming up. Every conversation I’ve had this week has included the discussion of burnout and the need for rest from it. And just about every article I’ve read has mentioned the importance of rest and avoiding burnout.

Perhaps this theme is circulating because it’s now summer time (my favorite season!). Summer is typically thought of as a season of down time and rest.

But perhaps it’s circulating because so many of us have been working so hard we’re starting to experience the effects of burnout.

I have several new clients coming to me because they’re experiencing burnout in their current jobs and recognize a need for a change. I also can easily experience burnout if I don’t take time to rest.

And just last month, the World Health Organization redefined burnout as an actual syndrome linked to unmanageable chronic workplace stress. There’s been a lot of buzz about this new medical classification of burnout since it was announced. Perhaps this is also the reason the topic of rest keeps coming up.

Hidden Signs of Burnout You Shouldn’t Ignore

The syndrome for burnout includes several physical, emotional, and cognitive warning signs:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling like you’re constantly failing
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Re-upping a bad habit (i.e. if you previously quit smoking but started up again due to the stress from your job)
  • Dizziness and headaches

Do any of these things describe how you’ve been feeling lately? If so, first, do what you can to find the time needed to get some rest! Second, you might need to consult a physician. Then, you might want to consult a career coach to help you make some changes either in your current job or to a new job.

Quote: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” Unknown

Burnout is Toxic

In fact, if you want to live longer, a recent article says one of the 30 things you can do to live longer is to establish more balanced work hours.

The article criticizes the fact that our current work culture has made it acceptable to work over 40 hours a week, to work through lunch and breaks, and to come in early and leave late.

Another article states if management has little or no concern for work-life balance on a daily basis, this is one of  eight signs your workplace is extremely toxic.

This means you feel like you have to sacrifice your personal life and family for your job on a regular basis. Which is evidenced by more hours per week, little to no vacation time, and 24/7 availability for work communication.

How to Reduce Burnout by Making Good Decisions

This lack of balance has become our “new normal,” and it needs to return to the “old normal” if we want to be productive both in our jobs and our personal lives.

Of course this is easier said than done. It will require a culture shift in the world of work. While the shift has begun, it still has a long way to go before the pendulum will swing back to what’s considered realistic.

But there are things you can do as an individual to start making this shift in your own personal and professional life.

This includes learning how to negotiate win-win scenarios with your current supervisor when asked to take on additional responsibilities. This is something I help several of my clients with. In fact, I’m currently working with a client on this very thing.

It also includes learning to make good decisions when seeking new opportunities. Always choose those opportunities that support your personal mission statement and turn down those that don’t.

Think about what you value above a just the monetary return on an opportunity.

Quote: “There are four types of wealth:

  1. Financial wealth (money)
  2. Social wealth (status)
  3. Time wealth (freedom)
  4. Physical wealth (health)

Be wary of jobs that lure you in with 1 and 2, but rob you of 3 and 4.” @entrepreneursquote

It’s Okay to Rest and Do Nothing

It’s okay and necessary to do what it takes to recover from your burnout. This means getting the rest you need, and also spending some time just doing nothing.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to just do nothing. But The New York Times published an article by Bonnie Tsui which assures us we’re doing something important when we aren’t doing anything at all. Tsui says,

“We need to rest, read, and reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.”

I had the opportunity to do so a week and a half ago. Every summer I take a weekend to myself to drive up to Kentucky to the Abbey of Gethsemani for a silent retreat. I spend a weekend in silence reflecting on the first half of the year, reading, and thinking about how to be more intentional in the remaining half of the year.

It is so tranquil and renewing to my mind and soul. I always come back rested and refreshed. (Click here to read more about what a silent retreat looks like and how to sign up for one yourself).

Since tomorrow is a holiday (and not a stressful one like the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays), I encourage you to spend this holiday and this weekend getting some quiet time and some rest, both alone and with your family.

Doing so will give you the clarity and energy you need to make some necessary changes moving forward in your career. Whether it’s learning to manage your manager, carving out some work-life balance, or making a career change to something healthier. Let me know how I can help!

Related Posts:

burnout

How to Tell If a Company Is a Good Fit for You

You know your current job is not a good fit for you. You feel stuck, so you went looking for something else.

After sending out countless resumes and enduring grueling interviews you now have an offer on the table for a new job with a different company.

You have a pen in hand ready to sign the offer letter.

STOP!

Don’t sign it yet!

At least not until you know the company is a good fit for you. First ask yourself the following questions.

“Good Fit” Questions to Ask Yourself

Do my personal values match up with the company’s core values?

By now you’re probably already familiar with the company’s core values. Especially after having researched the company in preparation for your interview.

But are you 100% clear on your own values? If not, you’ll want to spend some time in reflection on what’s most important to you in your life.

Sub-questions of “Do my personal values match with the company’s core values?”

If you are clear on your own values, do they match up with the company’s core values?

Or are you just so ready to get out of your current job you didn’t even consider this?

Or do you think it’s not really a big deal if there’s no real alignment in values?

If you’re so ready to jump ship from you’re current job you’re willing to overlook incompatible values, you’ll likely find yourself feeling stuck in your new job. Do you really want to go through another job search again next year?

Also, what may not seem like a big deal now, will soon become a real issue. An example to illustrate this is in marriage. When you’re in love and excited about getting married, opposing mindsets on things like money and child-rearing may not seem like a real problem. But when you’re eventually and inevitably faced with a financial crisis or a disciplinary issue with a child during your marriage, real problems will arise.

If you don’t share the same mindset in values as the company making the offer, don’t sign anything! Instead, keep looking for a company whose culture is more compatible.

And this time in your interviews, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions about a company’s culture and values. (Yes, you can and should ask questions of them since interviewing is a two-way street!). Challenge them to give examples of how they “live out” their core values.

Can I be my authentic self at this company?

This question is a good piggy-back on the previous question. If your values don’t match, then you’ll be forced to pretend to be someone you’re not. This isn’t something you can keep up for very long without feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.

Instead, you want to make sure you’re saying “yes” to an offer that supports your personal mission statement and “no” to those that don’t.

Still don’t have a personal mission statement written out? What are you waiting for? A personal mission statement is imperative in helping you make good decisions in life, like what job offers to accept.

To learn how to write your own mission statement, check out my blog post “How to Make Your Big Decisions More Simple” or purchase my latest book Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

Does the company provide products or services I find meaningful?

If you don’t believe in the company’s products or services, you’ll have a difficult time in your new job. Even if you’re not in sales.

While you may have been able to feign enthusiasm for the product during the interview, you won’t be able to keep this up on a daily basis.

Your lack of enthusiasm will not only make you feel stuck in the wrong job once again. It will also become obvious to your colleagues and supervisors. When this happens, you risk being let go. Then you’ll find yourself once again in another job search.

Look for a company who provides a product or service you can get excited about!

Is the work in the role I’m best suited for meaningful to me?

Even if you’re good at a particular job, this doesn’t mean you may like it.

There are a handful of things I’m good at but hate doing.

Before accepting any offer, make sure at least 60% of the job duties are meaningful to you. This refers to not just a match with your values and skills, but also your interests.

In addition, you know a job will be meaningful if it supports your personal mission and goals. This is why I can’t stress enough the importance of having a personal mission statement.

Don’t settle!

Be honest with yourself in the questions above. In doing so, you’ll get unstuck and find a job with a company that’s a good fit for you.

Don’t settle for anything less!

Posts related to “How to Tell If a Company Is a Good Fit for You”:

good fit