There is perhaps nothing worse than reaching the top of the ladder and discovering that you’re on the wrong wall.
When it comes to our careers, we often feel such a strong pull to do the responsible thing. We work hard, reaching out for the next rung. There are family expectations, cultural pressures, and just so many “shoulds” to answer to:
This video clip is a Moth story from a woman who was way up near the top of the wrong ladder. It’s from Trisha Rose Burt, and she makes a big career change when she finally realizes “I don’t want to do what other people want me to do, or think I should do anymore.” I think you’ll like it!
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
— Joseph Campbell
Work conceived of as a vocation, sometimes named a “calling,” is a way of seeing your career as a meaningful destiny. The word vocation, like the word vocal, links it to the concept of a voice—a voice that calls to us to turn toward our destiny. If we listen to the call, we gain for ourselves a sense of direction.
But does life speak to us in this way? Consider how most of us have a story about stumbling into a current or former job.
Most people agree that unpredictable events have played an important, sometimes huge, part in their careers. In fact, it is hard to believe that anyone would seriously claim that events they could not have planned had no influence on their career direction.
That this unpredictability is so prevalent, so common, seems to say that there is something natural about the way that life “speaks” to us and gives us hints and prods about which way to go.
Author Thomas Moore proposes in his book A Life at Work:
The question is not so much does the world give us a direction, but are we able to read the world for its information? We tend to look at the surface of events and deal with them practically. An alternative is to see events as symbols, images, and signs.
He explains how the material world can speak to us and we have only to listen and consider what the signs are indicating. We can use the signs to evaluate our work lives. He says:
For example, if you are failing in a particular line of work, your difficulty may not mean that you are lacking or at fault, but that you are in the wrong profession.
“Reading the world” then is the challenge. Could your unpredictable events be a sign for you? It is the imagination that we bring to our work lives that is so important to the quality of our lives and ability to hear the calling.
Love Podcasts? Then love WorkLife with Adam Grant. Adam is an organizational psychologist who studies how to make worklife "not suck." Organizations such as Google and the Gates Foundation hired him to make jobs more meaningful, teams more creative, and work cultures more collaborative. In this episode Adam asks "Are you an introvert ... or an extrovert? You might not know yourself as well as you think." He talks with "Quiet" author Susan Cain and visits a workplace where personality training starts even before job training...
GLinkedIn Groups are communities of professionals seeking to share ideas and network around a specific industry or interest. Group members can make business contacts, find answers, post and view jobs, share content, and establish themselves as industry experts.
Joining a Group has the following advantages:
To Find LinkedIn Groups to Join:
Still not getting a picture of LinkedIn groups?
Here are just two examples to check out:
With close to 1 million active members, Finance Club focuses on helping finance professionals grow their industry network, enhance their career and close more deals.
80,000 Hours: The group for doing good with your career
In this active, 10,000-member group you’ll find job postings, career questions, discussion, advice and professional networking opportunities.
Recruiters look for candidates online. They might write targeted search strings for Google, or they could pay for a LinkedIn recruiter account, to search for candidates based on their work history, job title, or college. It’s quicker, easier, and less expensive than in-person networking to find the right person with precisely the right qualifications. If a position was posted, in many cases, they can also search their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) database of candidates who applied, but frankly the online databases are better.
Of course there is a difference between the “passive” candidate found online who did not apply for a position and the “active” one who sent in an application for a posted job opening. But depending on the job market and type of expertise the work calls for, the passive candidate might be an ideal find that they can convert to an active candidate – after all, they don’t call them “recruiters” for nothing!
One of the easiest things you can do in a job search is to distribute your resume on several sites and increase your chances of finding your next opportunity. The more places your resume can be found, the more exposure you will have, which will increase your chances of getting found by an employer or recruiter. You may even be making yourself available for jobs that are never advertised, such as temporary or contract positions. And isn’t it nice that they reach out to you!
But should you post your resume online? Potential concerns to consider carefully:
I attended a professional meeting of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) a few years back and was offered a permanent position in a completely new field for me after only TWO meetings.
Yep, it’s true.
I had left my position in banking and was ready to embark on a new path in human resources. I turned up at a SHRM special-interest group meeting for recruiters, which was FREE and took place at a snazzy location downtown. I had no idea what to expect, zero experience with recruiting and little exposure to the human resources field per se. Yet there at this association meeting I found myself sitting with experienced personnel from top-notch organizations. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I stammered out a bit about my intention to become a recruiter, and at the end of my second bi-weekly meeting, I was approached by one of those experienced attendees and asked if I would be interested in a position! She hadn’t yet posted the job because her budget wouldn’t be approved for two weeks, but she thought I would be a good fit.
Professional associations are typically non-profit organizations with a mission of furthering the advancement of a particular profession or industry. Many of these are national or international organizations with area chapters, such as the Association for Women in Communications, and others are strictly local such as Young Professionals of Seattle.
Even when membership dues are charged, you can often attend a meeting once or twice for free, or pay just for a one-time visit. It’s a great way to check out a field of interest. Say you are wondering if working in affordable housing is right for you. Show up at the Housing Development Consortium to hear about day-to-day issues faced in the workplace, find out what skills and qualities are needed to do the work, and gain insight into what life is like in that career. Enthralled with website SEO and hankering after a possible career in search engine marketing? Try out Seattle Search Network’s community of digital marketing experts.
If you attend meetings on a regular basis, you are likely to learn about industry trends and become more knowledgeable in the field. Just by being interested enough in the topic to show up, you will find there will be opportunities to develop strong professional relationships. Face to face introductions for networking that did not have to be requested or arranged – what could be easier!
Many of you interested in finding a job or changing your work have heard me talk about not spending too much of your time applying to positions posted online. As little as 20% of all hiring comes from job seekers applying to jobs that are advertised or published online. However it can still be a useful part of a solid overall and diverse strategy.
In most cases when you apply, you will be required to upload a resume in addition to completing the application. Most large employers use an Applicant Tracking System to assist them in their review process. These are software programs that filter applications automatically based on given criteria such as keywords, skills, years of experience, etc. The software mathematically scores for relevance and sends only the most qualified ones through for human review.
There is help for ensuring your resume can get past these robots. First, keep the formatting very simple (no fancy font, shading, logo) and use Word rather than a PDF. Next, make sure to include the key phrases and skills as written in the job description. This is where it’s important to have a Qualifications Summary section rather than a Career Objective statement on your resume—you can stuff in more keywords in a summary paragraph. And then the last step is the super-secret sauce on top—run it through a scan before you send it.
JobScan is a tool that gives you an instant analysis of how well your resume is tailored to a particular job. Cut and paste both your resume and the job description in their software, and it will give you a thorough analysis and suggestions for better optimization. Keep in mind that you will not likely be able to make all the changes they suggest and still maintain the integrity of your resume’s content. However this site can help you see if there are large areas you have missed addressing in your resume. And the best news is that it’s free! You can get a few free scans before being asked to create an account. Create an account, and you are allowed five scans a month, still at no cost.
My own story can help illustrate how important it is to make a vigorous effort when applying online. I was working as a temporary contractor at an environmental consulting firm, when a permanent position came open. I was invited to apply and did so quickly, knowing that I was a shoe-in to get the job. When my application did not show up in the Human Resource Applicant Tracking System queue, it had to be tracked down and it was learned that instead of checking the “advanced” box for Excel skills, I had checked the “intermediate” box. That was enough for the robots to prevent me from getting to the humans, and a whole new job posting had to be created for me to re-apply to!
If you are going to use your valuable job search time by applying online, do it thoughtfully and thoroughly, and try JobScan to give yourself the best possible chance of coming to the attention of a hiring manager.