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Via Forbes : Later In Your Career? How To Make A Career Pivot

This older job seeker wants to make a career pivot:

I work in an industry that is dying (digital marketing, which is both becoming fully automated and being taken inhouse by clients) and am working on a career pivot. I’ve got lots of great skills but, as a woman over 45, feel like I am unemployable. How do I cut through the biases so people see me and my wealth of experience?

This question is really two questions

This job seeker wants to cut through the biases and convey her wealth of experience. These are two separate objectives and need to be handled differently. If your interviewer is biased against you for non-job related reasons, it won’t matter what your qualifications are. Your best strategy to cut through the bias is to find another interviewer – e.g., find another entry point into the company, or meet enough people in the hiring process that this interviewer’s view is neutralized.

If your objective is to convey your wealth of experience, then prepare to interview well. Since you have 20-plus years of experience to choose from, make sure you choose recent, relevant, and tangible examples of results. Don’t give a laundry list of everything you can do and all the qualities you are – this deluge of information will just confuse your interviewer. Point out specifically the skills and attributes of value to the company you are targeting.

Separate out bias from other job search issues so your search is not about bias

It’s important to keep the issues of bias and job search performance separate because to combine the two means you bring bias into every hiring situation . If you let the fear, anxiety, or anger that bias promotes affect you, then you’ll be less motivated to work on your job search – why bother when companies only hire the young? You’ll carry a chip on your shoulder and risk alienating even non-biased interviewers. You may be less likely to look at your own job search actions and how they might be improved.

Unfortunately, bias exists, and you may see reports in the media or hear anecdotal stories that reinforce your fear, anxiety or anger. Make a conscious effort to balance out the negative examples with positive ones. Review your network for people who have recently landed new jobs. Congratulate them on their moves–it’s a great way to network, and you may get a tip you can use for your search. If you can’t find anyone you know, read success stories like this 50-year-old legal professional who found a new career and promotion after a layoff, this rags-to-riches entrepreneur who lost his fortune multiple times before rebuilding again after 60, and this 50-something sales professional who made a change to real estate to shore up her retirement. I also used real estate, albeit international real estate to make a career change after 40.

Play up your natural advantages

Rather than assuming that employers will be biased against your age, play up the natural advantages that come with a longer work history. You have experienced up and down economies. When you talk about your results, make sure to emphasize if you have achieved wins in both growing and contracting markets. You have decades of experience, so there is a proven track record. Outline your career progress, and highlight year-over-year growth and consistency. Finally, you hopefully have a bigger network to choose from. Even if haven’t reconnected in a while, pull out that alumni directory, revisit your resume to remember colleagues at all of your former employers, and review your social media connections.

Be prepared to overcome objections (including your own)

Along with the advantages that experience brings, there are disadvantages to hiring experienced professionals. Check your salary expectations to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market, especially if you are changing careers from a higher-paying to a lower-paying industry. Check your title and level expectations because you may come in with a smaller team or no team, or you may be joining a flatter organization and need to relinquish a management title. Check your attitude because you may be working for someone younger than you, who has less total years of experience but may have more experience in the area you pivot to.

Do not treat your career pivot like a regular job search

A career pivot is not the same as a job search where you stay in the same role and industry. You know fewer people in the field, and fewer people know you. You don’t have exact experience. You don’t have insider expertise. So you already have disadvantages to overcome. Help recruiters and employers help you by telling a coherent career story. Be prepared to answer questions about why you’re pivoting. Many more companies ask for work samples or assign cases to complete. You don’t have a track record in this area, so treat these assignments seriously.

In a recent post, I answered a question from an early career professional also worried about career longevity. It seems that, young or old, knowing how to manage your career is challenging. You can absolutely make a career pivot later in your career. There are even natural advantages inherent in waiting till you have substantive experience. But the best time to make the change is when you’re sure you want to change, whether early, middle or later in your career.

Via Fast Company : How To Get More Comfortable With Change

Every career has a measure of change. Here’s how the change professionals manage it.

Whether you’re working for a promotion or trying to change jobs altogether, every career requires a measure of change. For those craving something new or different in their work lives, the people who manage change for a living can provide a few important insights. Change management professionals work with organizations to help plan, manage, and adapt to change. And some of the very strategies they use to help companies make their way forward through turbulent or uncertain times can apply to those who are working on moving their professional lives forward, too.

RELEASE YOUR ATTACHMENT

If you’re going to truly be open to change and its possibilities, you’ve got to release some of the comfortable ways of doing things. “We start our careers with high hopes and expectations, and we want to conquer the world. What happens too often is that eventually you get comfortable in a process or role or with a piece of technology we master,” says Lior Arussy, CEO and president of international consultancy Strativity Group and author of Next is Now: 5 Steps for Embracing Change – Building a Business that Thrives into the Future. That shifts us into the role of process operator. We stick with what we know and we’re reluctant to do things differently.

The number one challenge in change management is not the adoption of new tools or processes—it’s the assumption that change is a negative judgment on people’s past performance, Arussy says. When people feel threatened in that way, it’s difficult to see other opportunities. If you work in a bank as a cashier, for example, what does it mean when the bank transitions to automated cashiers? In your career, this complacency or attachment to the way things were can make you reluctant to stretch, try new things, and anticipate what the future holds, which can be dangerous to your career, he says.

Instead, work on understanding your “core cause,” or your true purpose in your job. For example, if you work in banking, and believe your core cause is being in charge of compliance with a policy, then you’re going to stick to the process. “And, so, I’m pretty much alienating a lot of people in the process, but maybe not keeping in mind, How do I make it impactful for the bank from a customer’s standpoint? Do I make customers happier or more upset? Do I enable them to reach their goals or, do I restrict them from reaching their goals?” he says.

If you look at your core cause as how to fulfill your responsibilities but do so in a way that helps the organization achieve its goals, too, you’re going to be more flexible in adapting to changes in process and tools, which will help you in your career, as well.

DEFINE THE OUTCOME

Whether you’re working to create change in your career willingly or you’re dealing with the results of a layoff or reorganization, you’ve got to be clear about the outcome you want to achieve, says Julita Haber, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of organizational behavior at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. Ideally, where do you want to go in your career and how does that match your core values? Just as organizations align their change management strategies with organizational goals, “you want to actually come up with your purpose in life and how the change will help you fulfill your ultimate goals,” she says.

KNOW YOUR STYLE

Your personal leadership style will have an impact on how you navigate change. Haber says there are two types of leaders who typically drive change: the transformational leader and the transactional leader.

The transformational leader is focused on large-scale changes—reorganizing the company or changing the culture. They have big-picture ideas and operate on a grand scale. Transactional leaders take on change in a more methodical and step-by-step manner. Both can be effective, but one may help you feel more adept at managing change than the other. While a transformational leader may be comfortable saying, “I’m done with this career,” and simply move on, the transactional leader will likely want to have some sort of game plan in place, first.

BECOME CHANGE RESILIENT

Whether you just got a huge promotion or were let go in a layoff, change and determining the next best steps can be stressful, says Jessica Lueck, practice manager in career transition and change management at BPI Group, a leadership and talent advisory firm based in Chicago. “There’s a piece of [change management] that’s very technical and it’s about planning and clarity and precision,” Lueck says. “Then, there’s the messy, more organic side of managing change that’s all about the human piece of it, the emotions that come with it,” she says.

Arussy recommends that people work on becoming change resilient, improving the speed and scope in which people adapt to change. “The new skill set that we are recommending for people to start thinking about is how do I build a better change resilience so I can explore, experiment, accelerate change within the organization and within my own life,” he says.
Again, he says this relates to understanding your core cause. “Define yourself through the impact you make on people. Then, you can endure a lot of things,” he says.

Via The New York Times : How to Plan for a Major Career Change

I’m in a job that I really don’t like. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and not one bit motivated to get out of the bed in the morning. I’m sick of being trapped behind a desk for nearly 50 hours a week. Ideally, I’d love a job that would allow me to travel more.

I was wondering if you have any advice for people mired in a career that they no longer feel inspired by? Should I quit? Is freelancing a good option? Is traveling while working all that it is made out to be? It would be amazing if you could address these questions.

ANONYMOUS

First, I assume you already know that you should probably quit. Work is a major part of life. If your job makes you miserable, and if you can find something you like better, there’s no reason to stay.

Second, you certainly should know that the trick is all in the phrase “if you can find something you like better.” These aggressively vague questions about freelancing and travel suggest you haven’t faced up to that. (Freelancing is good for some people but not for others. Work-related travel might be fabulous if you’re Anthony Bourdain, or it might be a chore if it means endless sales calls to cities that you don’t care about. It really depends.)

What you need to do is spend serious time investigating options, and weighing them against your personality, needs and other factors that only you can really understand.

One route: talk to people who actually do the sorts of jobs you might be interested in — or, rather, listen to them. This may sound suspiciously like “networking,” a concept that many people justifiably find icky. But there are other ways to think about it. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans offer one in their book “Designing Your Life,” which is based on a famously popular class at Stanford University. They instruct students trying to figure out the mystery of a calling to practice “life design prototyping.”

Designers love the prototyping metaphor, but here it boils down to having conversations — essentially interviewing people doing things that interest you to get “the personal story of how that person got to be doing that thing,” and what it’s really like to do it, Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans write. Remember that you’re there to learn, so don’t launch into a soliloquy about your dream life. You might try to come up with “prototype experiences” — volunteering, shadowing someone for a day, whatever.

Cast a wide net. Plumb your contacts, and their contacts. Even a slight connection is always better than a cold email, but “Designing Your Life” mentions a student who had 200 such conversations, half of which she found through LinkedIn or other online sources. Sure, this is a lot of work and is likely to involve people saying “no.” But deciding what to do with your life is worth the effort.

Moving on From a Mentor

I resigned from an earlier job to pursue a different professional direction. I’d lost the passion I had for my industry and felt it was time to move on.

Then a mentor and former employer of mine offered me a position at a really good company — in the same industry. I decided to take it because I thought it would better position me in the job market over all. I’d learn some great skills, be around smart people and rekindle my interest in the industry.

Fast forward almost a year and I’m ready to leave. It’s a great place, but my interest in the industry is not there. I don’t expect work to be fun, but I expect to want to come to the office. It’s time to move on.

Any words on how to best exit without insulting my mentor, and avoid having the company view me in a negative light?

MICHELLE, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

It sounds like you made a mistake, but your motives were pure. So I don’t think your mentor, or the company, should feel too insulted or negative about this — or at least, they should get over it quickly. You might offer to stay on longer than the standard two-weeks’ notice to ease the replacement process, but I’m not sure even that is necessary. What’s more important is making sure you strike the right tone.

You’re doing it here: You appreciated the opportunity, liked the company, respect your mentor and all the rest. You believed this would be a great fit. Turns out it wasn’t, but all your positive feelings remain and you are grateful for the opportunity. I would de-emphasize the degree to which you had concluded, well before taking the job, that you wanted out of the industry: This makes it sound like you should have known better. (And maybe you should have. But that’s not the impression to leave.)

Beyond that, just don’t overthink it. People leave jobs all the time, and everyone should understand that you have to do what’s best for you.

Via Entrepreneur : How to Build a Career, Not Just Find a Job

Developing your professional network will be far more valuable than uploading your resume to every listing site on the internet.

Headlines abound whenever Facebook or Google introduce a new feature or product. Recently, both rolled out similar services for job seekers, but don’t expect these tools to take all the work out of landing your dream job.

Here’s what the two Silicon Valley giants are offering. Google will aggregate listings from five major job sites to display in search results. On Facebook, companies can post jobs and contact and track applicants. The social media site will also push relevant jobs into users’ news feeds.

Both companies want to keep people on their websites longer and serve paying customers (i.e., advertisers and businesses). For the individual job seeker, these launches tout added convenience — but to what purpose? Being able to blast out resumes to more companies from a single site may feel better quantitatively, but it’s potentially worse from a qualitative standpoint.

If you want to build your career and not just find a job, developing your professional network will be far more valuable than uploading your resume to every listing site on the internet.

Where to start

Just do it: Put yourself out there, don’t dismiss anyone as unhelpful and be gracious to everyone you meet. You never know who may connect you to a great opportunity. Rather than view your network as a bunch of people you may eventually be able to “use,” approach it as a chance to meet interesting, diverse people who will expand your world and introduce you to new experiences, whether they be jobs or not. Don’t limit yourself to the short-term goal of finding a job; invest in relationships that you can carry with you for years to come.

Certainly, networking can be daunting when you’re early in your career and don’t have a lot to show for yourself. And especially if you’re shy, it may be even harder to initiate conversations with people you barely know who are older and more experienced. The truth, however, is that many of us genuinely enjoy using our successes to help someone else who shows promise and ambition. I encourage my peers to become mentors all the time, so they can see how rewarding it is to get a youthful perspective and use their experience to further someone else’s career.

How to grow it

LinkedIn is a great place to connect with potential mentors as well as people who might be looking to hire. You can also visit the pages of companies that interest you and find names of people in the department where you’d like to work. But just like blindly sharing your resume won’t guarantee results, you need to do more than send strangers invitations to connect online. Craft a personalized message to each person explaining your goals, why you consider this person a role model, and why you deserve a half-hour of their time.

You’re also going to have to approach people in the real world. Step outside your comfort zone, attend industry functions and meetups, and request informational interviews with people in roles to which you aspire. The worst that can happen is they say “no, thanks” or don’t respond. I’m in my college’s alumni database and have indicated I’m open to hearing from recent grads seeking advice. Your school very likely has a similar network for finding established professionals in your target field.

Continuing education is another avenue for meetings others involved in your industry — both teachers and fellow students. Ask where others have worked, how they found their jobs and whether they’d be willing to make introductions for you. Connect online to see who else they know.

And, while you don’t want to turn every fun activity into a professional networking session, keep your eyes and ears open when you’re socializing too. There might be someone in your book club, church or spin class who knows someone at your dream company. As long as you’re respectful and not overbearing, it can’t hurt to let people know you’re looking for career help.

How to use it

Above all, remember you are asking people to give you something: their time, their advice, their support. You’re asking for a favor, so be gracious, patient and receptive, whether they’re in a position to offer you work or not.

Listen more than you talk. Be curious, open-minded and flexible, rather than having a fixed agenda and set of expectations. If you’ve had a good first meeting but aren’t sure where to go from there, ask if you can continue to check in with them occasionally and seek their guidance when you’re prepping for important interviews. See if they’ll keep you in mind for an internship or even a freelance project.

Walking away from a networking meeting or informational interview without a promise is not a failure. You’re building relationships and your career, not job hunting. This is the beginning of a conversation that could last for years if it holds value for both of you.

via Time : What your cover letter should look like in 2017

Cover letters are a tough and tricky business.

Striking the right balance between formal and conversational—while differentiating yourself from every other job seeker on the market—is no small feat. And the monotony of filling out online applications can make the task downright exhausting.

But make no mistake: a stellar cover letter is still a job search must-have, and it could be key to catching a hiring manager’s attention. 

1. Personalize

Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the job you’re applying for — just like your resume. Study the job posting carefully, and make a quick list of any essential qualifications.
“Job seekers really struggle with what to say on a cover letter,” says Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, President and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. “Taking a second to think about why you’re applying, and why you’re a good fit for the company, makes the process a lot easier.”

If you’re adding a cover letter to an online application, use a business letter format with a header and contact information. If you’re sending an email, it’s OK to leave out the header, but be sure to provide a phone number (and an attached resume, of course). Make sure you’re clear about the position you’re applying for.

Avoid nameless salutations — it might take a little Google research, and some LinkedIn outreach, but finding the actual name of the position’s hiring manager will score you major brownie points. “Do not start a cover letter with, ‘to whom it may concern,’” Holbrook Hernandez says. “It concerns no one.”

2. Tell a Story

To grab a recruiter’s attention, a good narrative—with a killer opening line—is everything.

“The cover letter is a story,” says Satjot Sawhney, a resume and career strategist with Loft Resumes. “What is the most interesting thing you’re doing that’s relevant to this job?” Use that to guide your letter.

Ideally, the story that drives your resume will focus on a need at the company you’re applying for. If you’re a PR professional, maybe you have a list of clients in an industry the team wants to break into. If you’re in marketing, a successful promotional campaign might be the ticket in. “A hiring manager wants to see results-driven accomplishments with a past employer,” says Holbrook Hernandez. “If you’ve done it before, you can deliver it again.”

If you have a career gap or are switching industries, address it upfront. “If there’s anything unique in your career history, call that out in the beginning,” says professional resume writer Brooke Shipbaugh.

3. Use Bullet Points to Show Impact

Hiring managers are usually slammed with applications, so short, quick cover letters are preferable to bloated ones, says Paul Wolfe, Senior Vice President of human resources at job site Indeed.

“Make your cover letter a brief, bright reference tool,” he says. “The easier you can make it on the recruiter the better.”

Bullet points are a good tool for pulling out numbers-driven results. Job seekers in creative fields like art and design can use bullets to break down their most successful project. Those in more traditional roles (like the one in the template), can hammer off two or three of their most impressive accomplishments.

4. Highlight Culture Fit

It’s often overlooked, but a major function of the cover letter is to show a company how well you’d mesh with the culture.

As you research a potential employer, look for culture cues on the company website, social media, and review sites like Glassdoor. Oftentimes, employers will nod to culture in a job posting. If the ad mentions a “team environment,” it might be good to play up a recent, successful collaboration. If the company wants a “self-starter,” consider including an achievement that proves you don’t need to be micromanaged.

The tone of your letter can also play to culture. “The cover letter is a great place to show [an employer] how you fit into their world,” Shipbaugh says. “Show some personality.”

5. End with an Ask

The goal of a cover letter is to convince the person reading it to make the next move in the hiring process — with a phone call, interview, or otherwise. Ending on a question opens that door without groveling for it.

“You have to approach this with a non-beggar mentality,” Sawhney says. “Having an ‘ask’ levels the playing field.”

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