Want to get ahead in your career by landing that dream job or promotion? Figuring out your superpower sets you apart from your peers and competition. Read on to learn about 3 different assessments that will help you.
I love assessments. I love everything about them and do them every chance that I get. Some may think it is a little weird but I get lots of valuable insights from them, insights on how I deal with people, how I make decisions or seek out information, and what are the underlying factors that motivate to succeed.
I believe that the knowledge we gain through doing assessments gives us the confidence and the tools to pursue our dreams and to figuring out our superpowers and how we can use them to our advantage.
Think about all of those strengths questions you get in an interview and think about using the results of the assessments – it will give your answer so much oomph and depth. Think about selling yourself, your superpower is key to ensuring you stand out from the crowd!
My superpower is being able to get to the core of a person, often within minutes and even over the phone. This is something that I’ve always known and it wasn’t until university and taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that I learned this is common as an INFJ. This is a superpower that I use every day as a career coach and recruiter. But also, knowing this gave me the confidence to make the leap into this career!
There are so many assessments out there and many provide a lot of valuable information. I wanted to discuss three that I love most. By doing these assessments you will get a full picture of what motivates you, what you bring to the table and the environment that will support your growth.
1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most famous personality assessments and is used widely throughout the world in education and business.
After completing the assessment you will be assigned one of 16 different personality types based on a combination of preferences regarding 4 factors:
Where we get our energy from: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)
How we take in information: Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
How we make decisions: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
How we approach the world: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
What I love about it: I love how researched it is which means the information is valid and reliable. I love how it paints a picture of what I need to be the best of me. As an I, I need lot of time to myself. As a J, structure is like a blanket – so comforting! It also has given me an awareness of how others work best – for those that are P (structure suffocates them), I know not to overwhelm them with plans, for those that are T (make objective decisions using facts and their heads), I know how to present them the information that they need to make the decision that is best for them.
Me: INFJ, this is a rare personality type. An INFJ is an idealist with a strong sense of morality. They are dreamers but the J allows them to make the plans and take the steps to fulfill their dreams. INFJs create strong connections with people which requires them to take a lot of time by themselves to recharge and tend to leave a lasting positive impact.
Test Link: www.16personalities.com (free!)
2. StrengthsFinder 2.0 (now CliftonStrengths)
I have heard a lot about StrengthsFinder over the past two years and its “scary accurate” results, so of course I had to take it. It looks at a person’s “talent themes” see to what skills they can develop relatively easily and which types of roles lead to success.
I haven’t found a good free assessment, so I can only recommend the paid version. It is a 177 questions (30-40 minutes), each question is a pair of statements and you have to say which is most like you in a specified amount of time and will give you your 5 Strengths (out of 34).
What I love about it: I love how it is specific to the workplace which means it can really provide great information for career changes or determining how to navigate your current company. It also provides information on how you can leverage your strengths to be successful.
Me: My five are:
1. Input – craving to know more, an information gatherer (also a classic INFJ characteristic).
2. Intellection – known for their intellect.
3. Connectedness – believe that there are no such thing as coincidences.
4. Learner – continuous improver and lover of learning
5. Empathy – great at putting themselves in other’s shoes.
Test Link: www.gallupstrengthscenter.com
3. Enneagram Test
This is the newest assessment that I’ve seen making the rounds. The Enneagram has 9 different types (each represented by a number) focusing on how we think, feel and act in with the world, people and themselves – really getting at the core of our motivations.
What I love about it: Motivations are tricky for people to truly understand and I love how this assessment gives us that information. This allows us to understand why we make certain choices, how we may react and what may be holding us back giving us what we need to make that crucial first step!
Me: 2, Considerate Helper and 6, Loyalist and 7, Enthusiast
Twos desire to be liked and appreciated. Sixes are fiercely loyal, and trustworthy. Sevens are energetic and optimistic, they feel like they are useful to the world.
Test Link: https://enneagramtest.net (free!)
Have you ever done an assessment that you have found illuminating and “scary accurate”? I would love to hear some of your types and numbers, so if you do one of these tests please let me know!
Want to learn more about how to take this information to get noticed, create connections and find your way to a fulfilling career – email me and let’s set up a Discover Your Career Strategy call.
They say to Never Say Never. Well I’m saying never to these 7 things that people do in interviews which leads me and hiring managers to say NO. Want to make sure you don’t fall victim? Read on and I’ll help you get a YES.
As a recruiter who has interviewed thousands of individuals over my 15 years, I have truly seen it all. I know what it takes to make a great impression. I also know what it takes to ensure you NEVER get the job and I want to help you to avoid the mistakes that I have seen time and time again.
1. Never Go in Unprepared but Never Over Prepare.
Honestly there is nothing more uncomfortable in an interview then someone who either didn’t prepare or who prepared too much, it becomes real awkward real fast.
Have you ever shown up for an interview thinking you could just wing it? Time for some real talk – what were you thinking? Why are you wasting your own time by even going in for the interview because I guarantee you won’t get the job. So if you aren’t going to prepare then just decline the interview.
The basic prep for an interview only takes 10-20 minutes tops. It all starts with some research – research the company, the job and yourself. Figure out why you want to work at this company, why you want this particular job and how you would be a great match (skills, knowledge and experience). Obviously a bit more prep is better but if you are strapped for time or produce your best answers/work under some pressure then just do the above!
Have you prepared for hours but go in and have a melt down? I have seen it happen. The interviewee freezes, they can’t think of the best answer. Or they talk too much, just long answers that ramble on and on. They get stuck in their own head and just can’t get out! My recommendation – if you are actively looking for a new job do a lot of interview prep before you even get an interview. Then just spend 30-60 minutes tops tweaking your prep for this particular job and company. The night before make sure you get some time to relax in and maybe in the morning glance at your notes but again focus more on being relaxed.
Moral of the Story: Prepare, not too little, not too much but just enough!
2. Never get cagey but never tell elaborate stories when discussing why you left a job
When I’m interviewing people it is really important to go through the reasons for why they left each job – a line of questioning classified as “motivation questions”. My main purpose for asking these questions is to determine someone’s motivations – what is important to them in a career, company and job. I’m not looking to trap people. But, honestly, I am looking for red flags. And red flags come from people who get really cagey or who go into too much detail.
By cagey, I mean they are evasive – avoiding answering the question at all costs. I make assumptions from this kind of behavior – I assume that they got fired due to poor performance. The thing is that probably isn’t the case! Don’t make an interviewer think you have something to hide – be honest with them.
BUT the interviewer doesn’t need an essay on why you left either. When someone goes into a long elaborate story it same raises those same red flags. I think that you are overcompensating for something bad. Which again, probably isn’t true. You are probably just nervous, was shocked or hurt if you were let go and the long explanation has been a way that you have personally handled it. Which is great. But as an interviewer, I don’t need it.
Moral of the Story: Short and sweet is the way to go. If you were laid off, that is all you need to say!
3. Never show up late but never show up too early
Honestly, nothing angers me more than a person sauntering in late to an interview. Like the people who don’t prepare, I get the impression that they just don’t care or are interested. Not the right first impression to make that is for sure!
I get it, there are times where being late can’t be avoided, like an accident on the highway. If that happens to you, pull over and call the interviewer to let them know. Better to take that 5 minutes and update them.
On the flip side you would think to avoid that you would show up early. But the problem with that is that sitting in the lobby waiting for the interviewer will just make you more nervous and increases the likelihood of you having a meltdown in the interview (similar to over preparing). If you do get there early – go grab a coffee, read in the car, go for a walk.
Moral of the Story: Show up 5-10 minutes early.
4. Never be to modest but also never get too braggy.
It is hard to sell yourself, I totally get that. But remember the whole point of the interview is to determine whether you have the skills, experience and knowledge to do the job so you must talk about your accomplishments so that they walk away knowing that you are the perfect fit. Hiding them by undermining yourself or by sharing the win (using “we”) won’t get you the job. If you need help with this, check out my article Selling Yourself, I’ll give you 4 tips/reminders on how to sell yourself without feeling icky.
There is a fine line though. I can’t stand the people who walk in and feel like they own the place. That is a trigger for me and the whole interview is me knocking them off the pedestal – it isn’t pretty! But it is more than the arrogance. It also showcases a lack of self-awareness, meaning can this person identify and correct any obstacles (internal or external) that may get in the way of their success. This is a skill that is becoming more and more important in this world – most managers just do not have time to provide hands-on management and they need people who can essentially manage themselves. A person who is cocky and arrogant comes across as someone who can’t recognize their own shortcomings. In order to own your strengths, you also have to own your weaknesses.
Moral of the Story: Be ready and willing to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly.
5. Never act desperate but never play hard to get
I know if you are actively searching for a job and really need one to pay the bills that it is hard not to have that seep into an interview. I get it, the pressure is on and these people need to hire you and you want to make sure they know that! But when you are desperate you tend to forget to sell yourself since the focus becomes “I need this job!” instead of “I would do amazing at this job!” If this sounds familiar then you need to spend some time focusing before an interview. Instead of focusing on how you need this job, focus on who you are, what accomplishments you bring to the table and how you could benefit this company and team. Be careful though not to swing the other way though and start playing hard to get!
If you aren’t actively searching for a job and a recruiter reaches out to you, it is common to play hard to get. I come across these candidates all the time – they want to be wooed. The thing is though in most cases that backfires because it comes across as disinterested and people want to hire people who want to work with them. Now, I’m not saying you can’t be picky – in fact I want you to be picky about making any career moves – but I want you to have options. And if you act disinterested you may never even get the chance to make a choice, you are taking away that option.
Moral of the Story: Be excited about the opportunity and about what you bring to the opportunity.
6. Never forget to follow up but never become a stage 5 clinger
The easiest thing you can do is to send a Thank You email as a follow up including a quick summary of why you are a great fit and how interested you are. It shows off your professionalism, your level of interest and reminds them of your skill set. But I am amazed at how few people actually do this! They are missing out on such an easy opportunity to shine.
Then there are those that become too clingy – sending constant follow up emails and/or phone calls. I know you really want this job, but this shows a potential manager that you don’t deal well with uncertainty and that you need your hand held during tough times. Instead of making a hiring manager want to hire you this makes them want to decline you!
Moral of the Story: Send a thank you email. And then maybe just ONE more to follow up. That’s it.
7. Never act too uptight but never be too casual.
Hiring Managers don’t just want to know that you can do the job. They also want to be able to see themselves working with you which means that they have to like you. If you walk into the interview treating it like it is a funeral – meaning you are tense and uptight – it is really hard to create a connection. Relax a little. Before the interview, do some raspberries or a couple of jumps or a full body shake. Anything that loosens you up!
Hiring managers do want to be respected. So don’t walk in like you are walking into your friend’s house. This is still a professional workplace. And by too casual, I mean don’t tell stories that seem to go on forever. Don’t go into too much detail about your personal life. And, please I beg of you – DO NOT SWEAR! The interview is a business meeting so treat it as such, like a business professional.
Moral of the Story: Be relaxed but professional.
Have you fallen victim to the above and need more than an article? Or are you still not getting an offer even when you don’t do these? Let’s work together to help you CREATE CONNECTIONS by mastering the interview.
Are you getting in your own way of your success? Learning how to sell yourself is a key aspect of getting forward in your career – whether it is landing that new dream job or getting that coveted promotion.
For most of us selling ourselves doesn’t come naturally. I know I always feel really awkward and weird. It is really hard. It doesn’t help that I’m a female Canadian – two identifying factors that encourage, actually DEMAND humility. But a long time ago I learned that I can be proud of what I have to offer and still be humble. Okay, who is kidding who here, this is something I continue to work on. Though, I did learn how vital it is to my success to use the following four reminders to help me sell myself effectively.
These four reminders work, they get me in the right mindset and act as prompts to encourage me to focus on what I bring to the table and how to get my message across without sounding like a used car salesman or getting all socially awkward!
1. You are the product.
When I’m interviewing new coaching clients and candidates I hear a lot of “buts”, I noticed a problem and I came up with a solution BUT I was really lucky to have noticed it.
I also hear a lot of “we”. We managed or we implemented or we were involved.
When you are dealing with ANYONE that has the future of your career in your hands forget about the normal you – the person who maybe was really lucky to have stumbled across the perfect solution – and focus on the SUPERYOU, the incredibly observant, innovative and intelligent person who came across the perfect solution.
Think about advertisers. Do they tell us how delicious that Big Mac is BUT that it can cause weight gain? Nope! Or those battery commercials, do they say all batteries are the best? No way, they say THEY are the best.
So what are the best things about you? Get any objections out of your head. And own those things, don’t share them with anyone else!
2. You are different.
If you are looking for a job you have a lot of competition since each job posting sees about 250 resumes. If you are hoping for a promotion, look around you – there is your competition.
Chances are most of that competition are qualified to do the job, they have nice and friendly personalities and have a good work ethic. And most of those people probably try to sell themselves by focusing on 1 of those 3 things. That gets pretty boring, pretty quick!
You need to stand out. How are you the unicorn, what is your superpower that differentiates you from the masses? Figure that out and lead with that. Make sure it is highlighted in your LinkedIn, your cover letter, your resume and elevator speech. At work, showcase that power every chance you get (where it makes sense) and smoothly make sure the decision makers know about it.
3. You have potential.
Studies show that you are more likely to get hired or get the promotion/raise if you have the potential for greatness. The crazy thing is if you take a candidate who has potential versus someone with actual experience, it is the former one that stands a better chance of getting hired!
The thinking is that those who have potential makes the decision maker spend more time thinking about them which leads to an unconscious favourable view as long as there is evidence backing up the potential.
How do you make this work for you? Especially if you do offer a ton of great experience. It is all in the spin. Tell the decision makers about your future and how what you have accomplished in the past will benefit and translate to a great things to come for you and therefore them.
4. You are persistent.
I don’t think it comes as a surprise but I love all forms of networking (events, informational interviews) and to me networking is key to a successful career.
As a recruiter, I get asked a lot – “do you know anyone who could be a fit for…”? Well let me tell you something – recency bias is for real. It is usually the people I’ve spoken with in the past month or so that I recommend. That is not to say you need to send weekly update emails to people in your network, you want to be persistent not annoying.
If you want to be considered for new opportunities than I would recommend connecting with the key people in your network about once every 3-6 months – just a quick email is good and don’t worry if they don’t email back! Also be active where they are active. If they tend to be on LinkedIn or Twitter, engage them by liking and commenting on their posts. If they attend regular association events, show up too – an in person meeting is more memorable anyway. On Social Media, I recommend sharing relevant articles, updating your status or writing new articles. Keeping your name on their radar will go a long way.
If you want to be considered for any upcoming promotions, make sure management and HR are aware and remind them during any performance reviews or conversations. Ask about job shadowing and training opportunities and ensure they know once you have completed those activities. When you have had a win find a natural way to bring it up to them.
I don’t know about you but a lot of the above can seem at first to be very icky. I certainly don’t want to have to schmooze my way into a new job or promotion, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. In fact, I hate those people who seem to spend more time schmoozing and scheming than working. But you know what is worse than not getting the job or promotion? Is when THOSE people do! And they do, all the time, I’ve seen it happen time and time again. And trust me the goal of this article is not for you to become one of those people.
I want you to be AMAZING at what you do but also learn to be AMAZING at selling yourself so that it is YOU, someone who so deserves it who gets the job or promotion!
And obviously if this whole marketing yourself seems too much, that is what I’m here for! Reach out and let me know how I can help.
Does your job search have you feeling down? Don't give up! I've got 9 tips and tricks to stay inspired during a tough job search! Scroll to the bottom for a handy infographic to refer back to!
Searching for a new job (whether you are in a job or not) is a necessary evil.
You either need a job because you aren’t working or you need one because the one you are in isn’t working. The challenge is that it is a process of constantly putting yourself out there only to be rejected multiple times which makes it tough to keep up a positive attitude.
When you are out of a job, the stress and pressure mounts with each passing day. You find reasons to blame others for you not getting a job – a natural self-defense mechanism that unfortunately doesn’t really help.
Or you start beating yourself up and your self-confidence begins to plummet. What compounds matters is if you had a surprising lay off or termination, and honestly how many aren’t hurtful or surprising!
When you are in a job that you aren’t satisfied in, you start questioning whether this is even worth it! Maybe this job you hate isn’t so bad after all and you go back into stagnation mode because after all it is easier than constantly putting yourself out there. Besides the fact that the job search takes up time you just don’t really have!
It is easy to get into these negative thought patterns and even easier to stay there. What is harder is to break them. It is crucial to your success that you snap out of it.
It may seem hard right now but TRUST ME it is worth it in the end. Don’t forget the goal – to find a fulfilling career, a job that challenges you, an organization that values you and a work/life balance that brings you more freedom to enjoy life outside of the workplace!
In order to do that, you need to focus on staying inspired throughout the job search. You need a plan in place for what that job search looks like and you need a plan in place to enjoy things too.
You need to take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing so that you have the energy and confidence to wake up every day and put yourself out there.
If you aren’t working, you also need to make sure you get out of the house and connect with people. Isolating doesn’t help, no matter how introverted you are!
I know what you are thinking, Sara the last thing I need right now is more work! I get it. Most of the “Life Hacks” I’m going to suggest are easy. Most won’t take much time at all. In fact some will save you time! And others will give you more energy to put into the search.
Here is my list of 9 tips and tricks that you can do RIGHT NOW that will keep you inspired to stay positive and to keep at the job search!
STAY INSPIRED BY BEING HEALTHY:
1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to give you energy.
2. Move Your Body. Every. Single. Day. Improve your mood, reduce stress, increase your energy!
3. Eat a balanced diet. Junk food doesn’t leave you feeling your best am I right?
STAY INSPIRED BY BEING PREPARED
4. Write a Foundational Resume and Cover Letter. These are so easy to tweak and will save you hours in your job search.
5. Plan your week by booking Job Search Time in your calendar. 1-2 hours/day MAX. Don’t forget to book in Networking!
6. ENGAGE with people! Do your job search at a coffee shop, go to networking events or career fairs. Get out of the house!
STAY INSPIRED BY BEING HAPPY
7. Start a Gratitude Practice – what 3 things are you thankful for each day.
8. Find Joy. Every. Single. Day. Do something you LOVE. Bake a cake, garden, go for a hike, anything!
9. Focus on YOU. Think about all the great things you have accomplished and done and all the great things you bring table. Give yourself a high five, every day!
Feeling really at the end of your rope with the job search and want a Pep Talk? That's what I'm here for! Email me at email@example.com to set up a time to chat and we'll figure out ways to get out of this rut!
Your resume worked and you got an interview. You are a little bit excited and a lot nervous. You go into the room and are anticipating that first crucial question.
“So, why don’t you tell me a little more about yourself?”
You freeze. Running through your head is a jumble of thoughts. What do they want to know? Should I tell them where I grew up? What I’m doing now at work? What I ate for breakfast?
You open your mouth and a flood of words come out, a rambling, run on sentence kind of answer. You don’t know what to do, do you shut up or do you try and dig yourself out of the hole? You keep talking trying to salvage the answer before finally stopping in the middle of a thought.
Does this sound familiar to you? I wouldn’t be surprised since as a recruiter I see the above all the time! I have also had interviewees go on for 10 minutes, describing every little detail of every job. I have had interviewees give a 1 sentence answers, giving me no clarity as to who they are. Honestly, I have seen it all. But sadly the one thing I don’t see too often is a great answer to this seemingly simple question!
The “Tell me about yourself” is a classic ice breaker question, it is a great way to open up an interview allowing a recruiter or hiring manager to get a sense of who you are and evaluate your fit.
Having a great, thought out answer to this question gives an excellent first impression to the interviewer and really sets you up for success in the rest of the interview so investing a short amount of time is worth it in the long run.
The key to success in answering this question is to go from the scattered mess answer you may normally give to a structured and organized answer. Having a good plan guarantees this and my 3 step plan is an easy one to follow.
Step 1: Where you are right now
Tell them a little bit of who you are and what you are doing currently, or in your most recent job. If the role is in the same field highlight your job title and relevant industry related experiences. If you are in the midst of a career change, highlight your skills that are relevant to this job.
Do not get into your life history, focus only on your current/most recent role to start with.
Step 2: What You Have Done
Outline how your mix of experience, skills and education will bring value to this job. Like I wrote about in The Secrets to an Engaging Cover Letter, be sure to summarize talking about patterns of successes with some highlights of hard data (ie my ability to analyze data, recognize inefficiencies and create new process improvements has led to a cost savings of $100k at this job and $500k at this job) rather than listing a ton of accomplishments. If there are 1-2 accomplishments that really line up with this job then definitely highlight them without going into details (the rest of the interview will allow you to do that).
Step 3: Where Are You Going
In your final section of this answer, you want to outline how where you are right now and what you have done has lead you to this job, this team and this company. Focus on what you are moving towards with this role instead of leaving behind (bad boss, long commute, etc) and showcase your enthusiasm and excitement!
Depending the company and the interviewer, you may want to throw in at the end – “in my spare time…” As a recruiter, I like to see someone who has a whole life, not just a work life. Especially if some of your side hobbies are relevant to the job at hand.
The “Tell me about yourself’ is generally considered to be one of two dreaded questions – dreaded because they are almost always asked. The other one is “Why do you want to work here?” – if you have an interview coming up read that article and you will WOW the interviewer within the first couple of questions giving them a great first impression.
Have an interview coming up but not sure if you can create the connection you need to get that job? I can help with that with my customized Master the Interview coaching.
If you were a hiring manager and read your cover letter, would you want to interview you? Read on for my secrets to engaging cover letters guaranteed to get you noticed!
Most people assume that cover letters aren’t read which means they either don’t include one, they write a boring monotonous one or they write it for the wrong audience.
Let me tell you a secret, you are right but also oh so wrong. Recruiters most of the time do not read cover letters – we just do not have the time. We receive on average 250 applicants per job posting (I’ve had up to 1000 before!) so we need to focus on the hard skills – do you have what it takes to do the job.
BUT, and this is a big but, a lot of hiring managers read the cover letter. They typically only see the top 10-25 candidates and they not only want to see if you could do the job but also do they think you have what it takes to be a member of their team. So if you are going to take the time to write a cover letter make it engaging and dynamic!
And even if the hiring manager doesn’t read it, just having one shows that you are willing to go above and beyond for this job so even for those industries where the likelihood of it being read is slim, I still recommend sending one in. It doesn’t hurt to spend an extra 10-15 minutes on a job you really want does it?
Most cover letters that I have read throughout my 15 years of experience are boring and monotonous that is essentially a sentence based regurgitation of the candidate’s resume. I don’t learn anything new about the individual.
When I write cover letters for my clients I have two main focuses: get their personality in it and summarize who they are and what they bring. Today I am going to share with you the ideal format of the cover letter with the secrets of how to get a hiring manager really excited to meet with you.
To start, the cover letter should be addressed to someone! Look at the posting, is there any instruction or a name included? If so, use that. If not, we want to address it to the Hiring Manager – do some digging and LinkedIn research to try and find out who that is! It also wouldn’t hurt to engage with them some way.
This paragraph’s focus is on Who You Are and Why You Are Applying. It is your hook, we want the reader (the hiring manager) to be intrigued with you and looking forward to reading more. This should be tailored to their needs as outlined in the job posting but you can lean on work you have already done in your Modern Resume and your LinkedIn profile by examining your resume objective, your LinkedIn Headline and Summary which all comes from your personal brand as developed through my free email course, the Job Search Roadmap.
Some things that this paragraph must include are:
The focus on this paragraph is Why this Job and Company and How you would benefit. This is a great place to compliment the company, ideally the hiring manager if you can. Talk about their reputation, what they have done right, some recent wins or future projects. Show that you have done your work and that this isn’t just some throw away job application for you.
Then move into what you bring to the table, how you would benefit the company, team and hiring manager in this role. There are a few things you can include in this section. You can talk about your story, or your call to action to this career and job. I always include a summary of how a client can benefit instead of specifics. This is done by taking a look at your accomplishments and seeing a common thread or pattern. For example, do you have a history of analyzing data, noticing areas for improvement and coming up with new processes that makes a team more efficient or productive? If so, write that!
This paragraph could/should include are:
Then move into some specific examples of accomplishments and results that you want to highlight. Ideally these will provide examples to the benefits you listed above. This can be formatted in a three different ways (I use all three depending on who my client is and what they are applying for).
My typical go to is the Bullet Points, what I like about it is that if someone is going to skim over your cover letter they will probably read your opening sentence and your bullet points and the closing sentence so by having the accomplishments that you are most proud of and of great relevance to the hiring manager highlighted then they will definitely pick those up.
I recommend three accomplishments with an added Education bullet point if the job, company and/or industry value education, training and certifications.
I lean on the table format for roles that are heavily skilled based – IT, Engineering, etc. Roles that require a lot of technology. Especially since hiring managers in these industries don’t typically read cover letters and if they do then chances are they are skimming it, so having a table making it clear that you are a perfect fit in terms of your technical skill set is key.
I use the paragraph format sparingly. I do love to use it when writing is a key part of a job since the cover letter is a great place to showcase your writing ability. It also works for roles where you may not have accomplishments that can be backed up by hard data.
Third Paragraph summary:
This is your lasting impression, keep it short and sweet with about two sentences. Open with the three reasons why they need you on their team. Close with a call to action – meeting with them, interviewing for the job, discussing your fit – be confident! Then sign off with your name.
Must haves for the closing paragraph:
The last thing I want you to do is go through your cover letter – is it conversational and does it showcase your personality? Pick word choices and sentence structure that gets a little bit of you in there. We want the Hiring Manager to finish reading this knowing three things
So now you have the knowledge of how to write a great cover letter, well you need a great resume to go with it don’t you? Download my resume checklist to help guide you writing one and if you need more register for The Ultimate Resume Workshop to learn all the ins and outs to writing a resume that gets you noticed!
Have you exhausted all the traditional ways to finding a new job? Today is the day to step out of the box with these 2 game changing ways to find your next job!
I’ve written about ways to GET NOTICED on LinkedIn and with your Resume, how to get past those pesky Resume Reading Bots and how to CREATE CONNECTIONS through the different ways of networking.
Well, what I’m going to write about today is game changing. It will introduce two completely new ways to network and engage with hiring managers using two of the most popular social media channels - LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn is obviously a great way to reconnect, engage and build your network. But this article really changed the way I thought about how to leverage this social media site.
When a new job is posted or comes available it is very common for recruiters and hiring managers to share it on LinkedIn and the premise of the above article is to use that information to your advantage! Meaning, use those posts as a way to get your name in front on the decision makers using the tips below.
In the search bar at the top of LinkedIn put in your ideal job title, for example “Business Development Manager”. Followed by AND hiring AND location (ie “Toronto”) and hit enter/search. The key is to click on CONTENT then you will only get the posts and you won’t have to wade through thousands of people! Don’t forget to change things up to – different job titles that could be used (ie Territory Manager, Outside Sales Rep for this example), other words for hiring (seeking, looking). If there are certain companies you are looking at you can include the company name as well.
Next you engage with them. You can comment on the post or send them a connection request with a note attached. The note should highlight why you are interested (why this company) and one way that you would provide value.
As a recruiter, whenever I post that I’m looking to hire someone I love the influx of connection requests with notes! I check out their LinkedIn and if interested I’ll email them back asking for their resume and setting up a time to talk.
For you, this way allows you to bypass the tedious application process or at least increases the likelihood of your application being read with a careful eye.
When I say social media strategy for Job Search, most people immediately and only think of LinkedIn. They may think about making their other sites more job search friendly but that is generally about it. Adding Twitter to your strategy makes sense for multiple reasons but since your “competition” is most likely not using it, it means you will stand out more.
In my email course, The Job Search Roadmap, I talk about the importance of creating a personal brand and twitter is a great place to showcase that. Create a professional twitter account with a handle that showcases who you are and what you can bring to the table. If you have any content of your own to share, then share it and use relevant hashtags so that it can be easily found.
Start following twitter accounts that help you in your job search. Begin with your list of your top companies that you want to work for, business leaders, job forums and professional associations. For professional associations, keep an eye out for any Networking Events coming up that would make sense for you.
Next begin engaging; retweet, comment and/or like articles not only posted by your top companies and business leaders but also share articles and tweets that showcase your knowledge and interest in your field.
The LinkedIn search I mentioned above? You can also do that on Twitter! Search “Business Development Manager” and “hiring” and “Toronto” and see what pops up. Engage in the same way as above by replying to a tweet or Direct Messaging them.
When applying traditionally to a job, I always recommend finding the Hiring Manager on LinkedIn, well I would add Twitter to that. If they are on Twitter engage there – follow them, retweet or reply to a couple of tweets, and DM them letting them know you applied. Not many people follow a job application up with a note but those that do tend to use email or LinkedIn. So the fact that you are doing so on Twitter means that you are standing out from the crowd even more!
The way we job search is constantly evolving and with everyone being so busy it is hard to stay abreast of all the different ways to find a new job. To me, the best thing about being a Career Coach is the opportunity to research the latest trends and share my findings freeing up your time to devote to figuring out your next, best move!
Book a free Discover Your Career call and we can strategize finding your way to a more fulfilling career.
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Are you on the hunt for more fulfillment and happiness in your career? Here are the best three books to help guide you towards Career Happiness
Like I said last week in “I Choose To Be Happy”, a few years ago I did a deep dive into the world of Happiness, specifically reading lots of books, listening to podcasts and challenging myself to work on feeling more joy and happiness in my everyday life. At the start I only focused on my personal life and it wasn’t until I picked up some of the following books that I realized that this idea of going after Happiness can be extended to the workplace.
Like many of you, I’ve believed the message that you should be content with what you have and that in order to be truly happy you just focus on just being grateful for the life you are currently living. And while I do think that going after something just for more money or a better title isn’t going to bring me happiness, the following books helped me realize that going after a career that brings more meaning to my life (and others) is not only okay but vital for my overall happiness.
I wanted to write this post because I know we all tend to hold ourselves back from pursuing our dreams – either from a fear of failure, an uncertainty of where to go or a feeling of worthlessness – and I want to provide some resources that can help you get unstuck and move your career forward.
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
Tal Shahar is a Harvard lecturer and psychologist, one of the pioneers of Positive Psychology, considered to be the newest branch of psychology looking at how to create optimal conditions allowing us to thrive (instead of just surviving as many other branches of psychology focus on).
Happier is a book that examines how we can attempt to create more time in our lives for meaningful activity and he provides many exercises that allow us to figure out how to find that meaning and how to start to live a more meaningful life.
I find that there is a message that exists that you can either go full on 100% into a career (as Tal calls it the “rat racer”) or 100% into happiness but that you can’t have both. What this book did for me was to show me that you can strive for career success while still having some “balance” and that can lead to happiness. Tal showed me that the message, that wanting success makes it impossible to also achieve happiness, is wrong and that you can actually have both. If you are striving for success in a way that makes your life meaningful and in a way that focuses on the journey not the outcome (the elusive I’ll be happy when…) then you are putting together a winning formula.
What this book did for me was give me permission to strive for that success in my career.
10% Happier by Dan Harris
This is one of my favourite books on Happiness and I always recommend it to clients, friends and colleagues. The story starts with an outline of Dan’s career working as a journalist in battle zones leading to a cocaine addiction and culminating with him having a full blown panic attack on air. The book then explores his search for answers – how can he learn to overcome his addiction, reduce stress but not lose his competitive edge so that he could still progress his career. He reaches out to all of the normal self-help gurus – Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle (in many laugh out loud moments!) leading him to Mindfulness Meditation.
He talks about how Mindfulness Meditation has allowed him to be more successful in his job, especially as it taught him how to respond not react to situations, how to manage stress and how to harness his competitive edge to greater success.
For me, I know that in order to try and give my 100% to my family, my health and my career that I need to ensure I’m taking care of my mental state which, for me, includes an active meditation practice. When I am meditating daily I notice a difference in my ability to handle difficult situations, my creativity and my stress levels allowing me to do all three more effectively.
While Tal gave me permission to strive for happiness through career success, Dan gave me a tool that sets me for success while reaching for the stars.
Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (and the follow up Happier At Home) was really my first foray into this world of Positive Psychology and Happiness. Those two books allowed me to make small changes in my personal and home life that led to joy. And her third book built upon that but for the first time it also had me focusing on how to take what I was learning and apply it to my day to day life at work.
Better Than Before is not a traditional book about Happiness, instead it is about habits and how the formation of habits can lead you to happiness or can lead you to despair. In it she describes her Four Personality Types (further explored in her most recent book, The Four Tendencies) that she has noticed when it comes to sticking to habits. You have the Upholder (habit sticker), Questioner (habit sticker ONLY if it makes sense), Obliger (habit sticker ONLY to make others happy) and the Rebel (habit sticker ONLY if they feel they aren’t sticking to expectations). What I love about this is that she gives tips and tricks on how to form or break habits based on your tendency, so as a Questioner I have to find habits that can withstand my critical eye! She also discusses the 10 Obstacles to Habit Formation, essentially the excuses we create to not stick to our new, good for us habits.
This book really helped me think about some of my work habits and allowed me to come up a plan on how to create some good habits (like administration) and how to break some bad habits (like using work to procrastinate from things like administration!).
Better than Before was really the next logical step for me, I now had given myself permission to go after my dreams, I had a tool that ensured I was able to manage the ups and downs that are natural in the workplace and with this, I now have the foundation of day to day habits that allows me to focus my mental energy on building and developing my coaching business.
These three books really helped me to get to where I am today and I hope that they help illuminate your next steps as well!
In case you aren’t a book reader, Gretchen’s and Dan’s podcasts which also provide some tips and help:
Happier – Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft
10% Happier – Dan Harris and a variety of guests
Have you read any happiness books that have really helped you? Drop a line in the comments to let me know.
Are you realizing that maybe it is time to start your own search for happiness but not sure how – let’s figure it out together. Set up a FREE Discover Your Career strategy call today.
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In case you didn't know, today is the #InternationalDayOfHappiness! Here is my story on how I made the decision to choose to be happy.
A few years ago I went through a big "Happiness" phase reading as many books as possible on the subject including Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness, Dan Harris' 10% Happier and Gretchen Rubin's books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. I spent a lot of time focusing on what I could do in my life to be happier. I began meditating, found more joy through running, focused on little traditions with my family and many other small things. And in general all of those little things worked, I became much happier. At home, in my personal life.
However, I ignored a large part of my life. My career. I think in large part I was conditioned that I couldn't have it all. I had a job that gave me freedom, gave me flexibility and I was doing something that I was good at. However, it didn't leave me feeling fulfilled. And during stressful times in my job I couldn't sleep, laying awake for hours stressed out and worried. I stopped meditating, because I became too afraid to tap further into that unrest and unease, I was scared of my own thoughts. I would feel sorry for myself and then I would feel guilty for feeling sorry because I didn't have it so bad and who was I to think that I deserved it all. It was a vicious cycle.
Then things changed. My grandfather passed away, someone who strived for it all, someone who in his 80s searched high and low for a company that would let him skydive and when he couldn't find it he "settled" for paragliding! As clichéd as it sounds, his death woke me up. Well technically I was already awake, one of the many sleepless nights worrying and stressing now with an added layer of grieving. Why was I staying with something that didn't leave me feeling fulfilled? I wanted to help people but wanted to continue to work from home and for myself. So I made a choice. I chose to make it happen. I chose to try and work my hardest to have it all.
From that day on I put in the work. I found Classy Career Girl's podcast and did my own introspection on my interests, motivations and skills. Realized that this is what I had wanted to do all along. I began conducting informational interviews with other career coaches, finding mentors, learning about starting a business, designing my own webiste and am still learning so much every day. And I am still recruiting, as I have a client I love, meaning I am working longer and smarter each day to make it all happen. At night though, I meditate (I'm not scared of my thoughts anymore), and go to sleep feeling satisfied and fulfilled. Because I made my choice and make that same choice everyday. I choose to be happy.
If you are feeling unhappy in your current job, you can make a choice to change! Don't know where to start? My Job Search Roadmap email course is a good place. Also, feel free to book a free strategy session, let's chat and brainstorm how to change your life.
Going by the statistics alone, chances are you have not been chosen for an interview that you should have been, meaning you have missed out on an opportunity. What do I mean by that? Well 72% of resumes submitted to jobs are read by an Application Tracking System and of those 75% are immediately disqualified, even if a person has the right experience!
To me, as a career coach and resume writer, those stats are just downright scary. To a job searcher you may feel like it is a losing battle and will either stay put in a boring job or settle for any old offer because you think that dream job is out of reach.
I don’t want that and you don’t want that, so I did the work and the research. I’ve listened to podcasts, read countless articles, reached out to Talent Acquisition friends to find out what you need to do to optimize your resume and your LinkedIn profile in order to get noticed!
First off, what is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), well it is a computer system that reviews and compares your resume (and sometimes LinkedIn) to the job description and gives you a grade based on how you match up. Then the candidates are ranked and a list is created that is sent over to the recruiter who then scans through the ones that scored the highest, on average only about 25% of the total number of applicants.
To start off, I wanted to caution against coming up with some sort of wacky workaround just to get seen. At the end of the day a person will eventually review your resume. Some scams I’ve seen are filling white spaces on your resume with keywords in white so that they aren’t seen by a person but will be picked up by the ATS, sneaking keywords in (like learning to code in Java) and filling out your experience with keywords and nothing else. The thing is though, you still won’t get interviewed if you aren’t a qualified match for the job whether the ATS puts you through or not!
So I sorted through all my research and have compiled a list of how to optimize your resume and LinkedIn profiles. Make sure you read to the end, there is some key information at the bottom of each section.
How to Optimize Your Resume
How To Optimize LinkedIn
So I know a lot of people optimize LinkedIn for recruiters and some have started to optimize for ATS but there are some things I’ve discovered in my research in talking with my peers within large organizations that I haven’t seen or heard about in my research. I’ll start with the basics of what you need to do with your profile and then go into the new findings.
After you have done the above, do a search. Plug in the keywords and job title of the role you applied for. Narrow down on location. And see where you land. If you land on the 3rd or later page, then you have work to do. The goal is to end up on the first or second page.
Okay, you have done all the hard work on filling your resume and LinkedIn with relevant information and keywords and you still didn’t get the call. Well there could be another reason. A new function on some of the Application Tracking Systems is to scan your connections and your engagement. I know what you are thinking – what?! I know I thought that too. The reason for this is to establish how well connected you are within the industry. They want to see a decent number of connections and they want to see a good amount of connections within the industry. They also want to see how engaged you are within the industry, so are you liking or commenting on relevant posts and are you posting content/status updates relevant to the industry.
Now I’m not suggesting you go out there and engage and connect with everyone within any industry for every job you have applied to. If you have completed my 5 day email course then you will know that I’m a big believer in focusing your work where it matters. So if there is a specific company within a specific industry (or even just a specific industry) that really excites you start there. Also, through my course, you know that I am also a big believer of networking and leveraging LinkedIn for that purpose. So by using LinkedIn to reach out to people within a specific industry and then engaging on their shares/updates and posts or commenting on articles they have also commented on, not only are you increasing your network as it looks to the ATS but you are creating valuable connections that will help lead the way to a fulfilling career!
I hope those tips help. Let me know – engage on my Facebook page or through LinkedIn. If you want to sign up for my free email course you can do so below or my clicking here.
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Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.