What is your next step?

Last week I handled several concerns along the same lines from both adult and student clients. Those concerns sounded something like these:

  • I know where I want to go, but not sure how to get there.
  • How do I know whether to take a job or not?
  • I am not quite sure what to do now, but ultimately I know where I want to be. What should I do?

The answer to these is easy: do something. Take a step in the general direction you are heading, any direction actually will work. Even if it is not in a straight line toward your goal does not mean you should rather stand still. Just taking a step will help. Just like Newton’s Law of Motion–once you are in motion, you will tend to stay in motion. But if you are simply standing still, chances are it will be easier to remain still and just thinking about your goal rather than moving toward it. Read the rest of this entry »


Just Launch It!

About 16 months ago, I had a difficult time, wondering if I was doing what I should be doing (you can read about it here). That is why I began blogging. I had high hopes of perhaps starting to do private career coaching. I tried a class last winter and had two people attend most of the sessions. It was a little frustrating, but I tried. After that, I wasn’t sure what to do.

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Online Applications

Job hunting over the last fifteen to twenty years has changed dramatically, as has many other things in the world, because of the internet. Today, it is easy to shoot off your resume to apply for a job that you found online. Unfortunately, people still do poorly when applying. Consider this recent comment from a friend who posted a preschool teaching position:

Just a note of advice to anyone who sends their resume out via email to apply for a job. Sending me a blank email, without a greeting, or an expression of interest in the job or a statement letting me know that you know what you are even applying for, with only an attachment entitled “resume”, doesn’t convince me that you are the right person for the job. Especially when the job post specifically requests a cover letter, resume and references.

Her comment brings up two great points when applying online for a job: first, always include a cover letter; and second, always follow directions. continue reading

Write to the Future

Back to the future timemachine

Back to the future timemachine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed a resume for a client. Technically, it was a great resume. It had everything it needed, was free of errors, was well-organized, and showed her experiences. But as I read it, I was underwhelmed–it had no punch. Here is part of the email I wrote to the client after reviewing the resume: Read the rest of this entry »

What to Ask in an Interview

The Latin word for interview means “to see about one another.” Unfortunately, many who go into interviews are only concerned about the company seeing about them. I often tell clients that the interview is a two-way conversation. Yes, the organization wants to lean more about what you have to bring to them. But don’t forget it is also your opportunity to learn more about the organization where you will be spending a significant portion of your time.

Having questions for the organization show that you are truly interested in the organization and took time to complete research to learn more. Many employers have told me when a candidate fails to ask questions, they will not be considered a serious candidate. Why? Because it tells the employer the candidate is simply seeking a job and that they are not truly interested in their organization.

So what should you ask in an interview? It depends on how much you already know about the company. The easy answer is to not ask about anything that can easily be answered from spending 15 minutes on their website or perusing their other promotional materials. This implies that you will need to do some of your own research on the organization. Consider the following sources of information:

  • Organization’s Website What is the organization’s mission? Their values and goals? If it is a public company, they likely have a recent annual report on their site. take a look at their pictures to get a sense of the organization’s culture.
  • Trade & Business Journals The company likely sends press releases to local business journals (try American City Business Journals) and industry specific magazines to promote their new products, highlight services, and generally showcase their organization. You can usually find some great recent information through these sources.
  • People who work there There is no greater source of information that people who already work for an organization. Take them to coffee or lunch and pick their brain about why they enjoy working for the organization, what the company is currently working on, and any issues they see. You will find that many people love to talk about their work. If you don’t already know anyone who works for the organization, use LinkedInto find second (mutual connections) or third (friends of friends) level connections

Once you have done some research on the organization, your questions should come quickly. You can ask your interviewer to:

  • expand on a new goal you found in the annual report
  • clarify how a stated organization value is lived out in the organization
  • explain progress on a recent acquisition or new product launch
  • describe the culture of the organization
  • share why they enjoy working at the organization

Because the interviewer will offer you the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview time, having great questions will leave a strong, lasting impression about you as a candidate. Without questions, it will also leave a strong, lasting impression–one of unpreparedness.

What are the best candidate questions you have asked or been asked?

What Should I Do With My Life?

the farmer in love - il contadino innamoratoRecently I had a woman ask, “Nick, my daughter is going to the college in the fall and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Can you help her? Don’t you have a test they can take to tell them what they should do?” they ask. Yes, I do. When I took that test it said I should be a farmer or a mortician. I took another assessment in high school that told me I would be good at sales and marketing, even though my passion was education. I went to college declared as a business major, spent two years studying business, and really did not enjoy much of it at all. I eventually changed my major late in my sophomore year back to the education field.

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Killer Cover Letters or Cover Letters that Kill

As a career coach, I am asked to review a lot of cover letters (although not as many as I do resumes). As an administrator, I have also been in the position of seeing a lot of cover letters from individuals seeking employment with my organization. I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of cover letters:

  • Killer cover letters that hit it out of the park. After reading these, I don’t even need to check out the resume, I know they are the perfect candidate.
  • Cover letters that kill the application. After reading these, I don’t want to waste my time looking at the resume.

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