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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.”

via Fast CompanyOne LinkedIn employee’s insider tips for job searching on the sly


Job Search 

You’ve just activated LinkedIn’s new “Open Candidates” feature. Now what?

There are a few things in life that bring about extreme levels of stress, and looking for a job typically makes the list—which also includes moving, wedding planning, and way at the top, having a new child. Those are all things about which friends, family, and coworkers all usually have lots of advice to share. But since I work at LinkedIn, I’m asked for job-hunting tips more often than any others.

And since these days, more people than ever appear to be conducting job searches more casually than ever, my advice usually starts with a no-brainer: Activate the “Open Candidates” feature we launched last year. It’s the simplest way to let recruiters know you’re open to hearing about new opportunities—this way they’ll come to you—without having to publicize that fact to your whole network. And we’ve found that the millions of LinkedIn users who have done so double their chances of being contacted by a recruiter.

So let’s say you’ve already done that—now what? Here are a few additional steps to take to make sure sure you’re putting yourself in the right place, at the right time, for the right job.

1. UPDATE YOUR PROFILE (OR AT LEAST THESE THREE PARTS OF IT)

The first thing someone does when they meet you is Google your name. They want to know as much as they can about you without having to ask. So update your LinkedIn profile with an eye to what recruiters are looking for. Even if you don’t have time for a top-to-bottom makeover, these are three boxes you should be able to tick after a quick spit-polish:

It’s simple. Our data shows that having a standard job title on your profile (e.g. “software engineer”) rather than a cleverer one (e.g., “coding ninja warrior”), makes you 45% more likely to be messaged by a recruiter. Some experts suggest writing a more compelling profile headline, but it’s not necessarily an either/or; you can add something more personal as long as you’ve already covered your bases with a job title that’s likely to be found in a keyword search.
You’ve included your headshot. Having a professional headshot is key to getting noticed, even after you’ve identified to recruiters that you’re open. LinkedIn members with a photo are 10 times more likely to receive an inMail message than those without one.
Your skills are easy to find. Those few sentences in the headline and summary fields at the top of your profile make you six times more likely to receive inMail than those who haven’t bothered to fill them out—but don’t stop there. Take a few moments to list your main skills on your profile, and you’ll be 20 times more likely to get noticed.

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WARM LEADS

I’m a part of the small yet powerful alumni network for my alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, a women’s liberal arts college outside Philadelphia. About a year and a half ago, a then undergraduate at Bryn Mawr contacted me on LinkedIn. She was considering an associate product manager role and wanted advice on the hiring process. I was more than happy to chat with her, and she’s now happily employed at LinkedIn and crushing it on our product management team.

That’s the premise of “warm leads”—leveraging your network to get an “in” at your next company. This isn’t the same as securing a referral (that undergrad didn’t shoot me a note asking me point-blank to recommend her for the job), but it can often lead to them. According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends, almost 50% of companies say their top source for quality hires is employee referrals. So once you’ve checked the open feature and polished up your profile, your next step is to take advantage of your network and find things in common with your connections. Then start asking questions—about the company culture, what it’s like to work there, the hiring process, you name it.

3. GET ACTIVE, AND STAY THAT WAY

One of the most common mistakes people make is frontloading all their effort in kicking off their job searches, only to lapse shortly afterward. Job hunting takes time, and you need to stay relevant throughout the entire process. Sharing content and adding (the right) connections on LinkedIn is often all it takes. The point is simply to signal to a recruiter that you haven’t just created a profile years ago and let it lie dormant—recruiters want to know that there’s a good chance you’ll respond so they’re not wasting their time reaching out to you.

So consider occasionally publishing a quick post or update every now and then, sharing your professional point of view on industry matters—and not just on LinkedIn. Take to Twitter or Facebook to do the same, wherever it’s appropriate. This also helps you stay up to date on what your connections are doing and thinking about, whether they’re celebrating a job anniversary, or just started a new job, and so on.

If recruiters can find clear evidence that you’re active in your industry, they’re more likely to contact you, whether you’ve been at your job for five months or five years. Today, letting them (and the rest of your network) know that you’re open to considering new opportunities doesn’t actually take much heavy lifting, and it doesn’t have to compromise your current situation, either. Taking just these three steps can help you stay ahead of the competition—even if you’re wary about letting people know you’re competing in the first place.

Alexis Baird is a senior product manager at LinkedIn.

via devex : How to conduct a strategic job search

A common complaint from jobseekers is, “I’ve applied to over 100 jobs but I’m still not getting anywhere. What am I doing wrong?” Conducting a successful job search takes more than reading job boards and sending out resumes. When it comes to a job search, quantity is definitely not better than quality. And it’s not just about “who you know” either — although that does help.

Finding a new job requires a strategic approach, particularly in the uber competitive world of global development. Here are three ingredients to conducting a job search the right way.

1. Brand and optimize your expertise.

Before a company puts a product on the market, they need to know what they are selling and why people should buy it. The job market works the same way. Often, jobseekers are more focused on what a new job could offer them without first thinking about what they can offer the job.

From your CV to your online profiles to your elevator pitch, you need to tell the story of who you are and what value you can add to an organization. Your message needs to be easily understood by both experts in your field and those who may not be as familiar — for example, junior level recruiters who often do a first round of applicant screening. Just as major brands are consistent in their messaging across platforms, how you present yourself in your CV, on social media, and in online profiles should be consistent.

Being intentional about your personal brand is a good exercise to identify, understand and communicate your core strengths. It also helps you focus on the employers and jobs that best suit your expertise and makes it easier for them to find you. Because, recruiters don’t always post jobs for various reasons — for example, they are under a time crunch, or they don’t want to signal to a competitor they are bidding on a specific project. So many recruiters will do a proactive search of candidates before making their opportunity public.

Many recruiters also have a bias toward what are commonly referred to as “passive candidates,” meaning potential hires who are not actively seeking a new job. The thinking is, the very top candidates are currently high performers, well rewarded in their current position. They don’t need to seek out new opportunities; opportunities find them.

So, you want to make sure you are visible in the places recruiters look for passive candidates. For example, thousands of global development recruiters search the Devex people database to help find talent. Optimize your profile by using the right keywords and completing fields recruiters will use to filter candidates. Some of the most popular search filters recruiters use are years of experience, level of education, current location, nationality and languages. If you don’t fill out these areas of your profile, they may not be able to find you to offer you that dream job that isn’t yet posted anywhere.

2. Identify jobs and employers.

Once you have your marketing assets in place — a well written CV, online profiles, and a plan to clearly articulate your strengths and value — you can start seeking out specific jobs and employers.

This, however, doesn’t mean applying to every job you see posted. A good rule of thumb for deciding which jobs to apply to is the 80 percent rule. If you meet at least 80 percent of the stated requirements for the job, go ahead and apply. If you don’t, chances are you will not be competitive, and your efforts will be better spent focusing on the jobs where you are a closer match.

Scanning job boards everyday can be tedious. Instead, set up job alerts for the kinds of positions you are seeking. On Devex, you can set up daily or weekly email alerts based on keywords, location, career level, employer name and more. This way, you get the right jobs delivered to your inbox each day, saving you precious time wading through a lot of irrelevant ones. You can also save common job searches so you can quickly see the latest opportunities at any time.

However, since not all jobs get posted, you should also seek out relevant employers. Devex has profiles on over 18,000 global development organizations worldwide, including many small groups you may not be aware of yet. You can search by organization type, where they have offices, the countries they tend to recruit in, as well as those currently hiring. The organization’s profile will share useful insights, including their recruitment volume and activity, common skills of the people they hire, and any relevant industry news.

This is a great resource for building an outreach list of organizations to contact in your search and to get a deeper understanding of how they operate to prep for an interview.

3. Focus and tailor your outreach.

After researching the jobs and employers that most closely match your skills and career goals, the next step is to take a tailored approach to how you pursue each.

The number one complaint we hear from recruiters about job applicants is they do not tailor their application to their jobs and organization. A majority of jobseekers don’t, so if you take the time, it will automatically put you ahead.

If you are applying to specific opportunities, tailor your resume and cover letter to the specifics of the job. You can use this CV guide as a resource for how to craft and tailor your CV. If you discover an employer you think is a great fit, but they aren’t currently hiring, don’t give up just yet. See if you know someone who works there, or someone who can refer you to a current employee, and let them know you are interested or request an informational interview.

Again, many positions never get advertised and applicants who have an internal connection are often prioritized. Being known by an organization before they have a hiring need is a great way to make sure you are at the top of their list. Attend events hosted by your dream employers or where you know they will be in attendance, including the upcoming Devex Career Forum in D.C., to further build your connections.

By focusing on the jobs and employers where you are most interested — and truly qualified — instead of spending time sending your resume out to 100+ jobs a day, you can spend that time strategically applying to those top few, increasing your chances of landing the job.

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