The other day, I joined Instagram (SaraTheCareerCoach). I've been avoiding joining because I knew that it would be a more personal way to connect with people. My confidence (and my INFJness) was getting in my way. So I began this practice which has helped me so much! Join me over on the 'gram where I go more Behind the Scenes while also still sharing motivational content.
Our lives aren’t a straight line always going up. Instead, the line is super squiggly with lots of ups and lots of downs.
So why should our job search or career changes be any different? Things can’t always feel easy, go smoothly or be full of wins. There will be weeks where nothing seems to be going right, with little to no calls for interviews. Where you are stuck in a serious drought and feel like giving up.
This holds true for our careers as well. Weeks of being on top of the world followed by weeks of drudgery and mistakes.
All of this takes a serious toll on our confidence. And if we aren’t careful, our self-esteem can continue to plummet making it difficult to recreate those seemingly perfect weeks.
When a client is faced with this, I immediately get them to do some self-appreciation exercises.
This is a consistent practice of sitting with yourself every day and asking yourself a few questions. You can sit in reflection, jot notes in your phone or on a piece of paper.
The main goal of this practice is to remind yourself just how amazing you are and to shift any cynical feelings into ones more optimistic. By doing it daily we are giving your brain “good things” to say to yourself which also means when you say these things to others (in a resume, networking meeting or interview) they will resonate more deeply because YOU will believe them.
But it also acts as a kind of meditation since you are sitting in reflection. This will allow yourself to be more mindful of your thoughts so that you can catch yourself when you go down a negative “I suck” spiral.
Do you want to institute your own daily Self-Appreciation? Just ask yourself these questions:
What are you proud of yourself for?
What did you work hard to achieve? This could be today, this week or even this year. Think through what YOU did to accomplish this.
This reminds you about what you have been able to do and motivate you to be able to do it again.
It can be as simple as, I’m proud of this awesome cover letter I wrote or as complicated as I’m proud of that major event I pulled off.
What about yourself are you thankful for?
A simple question that feels impossible to answer some days. In the beginning stages of this practice it is common to need some help with this. I encourage you to look into your superpower through some assessments, check out some performance reviews, and/or ask a family member, friend or trusted colleague.
This reminds you the specifics of what makes you so incredible and amazing. I love this list because whenever you are feeling especially negative you can return to it and pump yourself back up!
What are you celebrating today?
List at least 1 thing that has gone well today. It can be anything, meaning it doesn’t have to be specific to your career, job or job search. Maybe your coffee was excellent or you are having an exceptionally great hair day.
I want you to remember that even if one area isn’t going great it doesn’t mean your whole life sucks. Try and take some of the positive from other areas of your life to keep you moving forward on achieving your goals.
What are you looking forward to?
What are some things that you are excited about? I want these to be specific to your career change or job search. List them down and be detailed – why are you looking forward to these things.
I want you to get excited about your future and remind yourself why this is important to you.
Do this practice every day during your transition or reinvention. Even when everything is going peachy because when things aren’t you can reference those great days and use it to help inspire you.
If your confidence is at a rock bottom and you need help climbing out, consider a coach a lot of the work we do is in this arena. To see if I'm a good fit for you, feel free to schedule a free call.
When a recruiter opens your resume, they aren’t looking for why they SHOULD interview you.
Instead they are looking for reasons why they SHOULDN’T.
Which means that any glaring red flags are sure to put you in the NO pile and ruin any hopes you have for that job.
There will always be those jobs that we won’t get an interview for, maybe we are missing a key piece of experience or education or maybe there is a gap the hiring manager is trying to fill. We don’t want to stress too much about that because it is completely out of our control.
But there are many red flags that are entirely within our control, ones that we need to address in order to increase the odds of ending up in the YES pile and keeping our dreams alive for landing that job.
1. Resume is Messy
By messy I mean that there are mistakes present that shouldn’t be present. Typos, spelling mistakes and grammar issues are problems that could instantly destroy your chances of moving forward.
There are times when those errors are forgiven but for many roles that require writing skills or attention to detail then chances are this easily avoided mistake could be the end of the road for you.
Beyond the written aspect of your resume, pay attention to your formatting. Make sure it is consistent throughout and that there aren’t any glaring formatting errors. That way you can get that call inviting you in for an interview.
2. Resume is Confusing
As soon as the recruiter has to think about what you are trying to tell them you are in the NO pile.
If your resume is a Functional resume that is skills focused then chances are it is never even read by the recruiter. Why? It’s just too confusing and the recruiter has to figure out where you worked and where you used those skills. Too much work for a 6 second read.
Employment Gaps fall in this area too. I don’t stress too much about gaps that were more than 10 years ago, but if they fall in the last decade include them in your resume. Call it an Employment Sabbatical and describe quickly why you had the gap (in a way you are comfortable with and that is short and sweet).
This also goes for any interesting career journeys, maybe there was overlap in roles or you were working two jobs at once. If that is the case, edit yourself first. Keep only what matters to THIS job in the resume. If those extras don’t matter then keep them out. If they do, then using 2-3 words include a brief note in your content about the overlap.
If don’t want to raise a red flag, address these issues ASAP!
3. Resume isn’t the Right Length
If you have more than 5 years of experience then a 1 page resume might not be for you. If you have less than 5 years of experience, then don’t have a 3 page resume.
Create a resume that tells your career story, don’t skimp on it or pad it.
If you have 2 or 3 pages in your resume, make sure those extra pages are at least half full. A 1 ¼ page resume is annoying and not aesthetically pleasing!
Any of these mishaps can land you in that pile you dread.
4. Resume Doesn’t Sell You
There is a lot of push on accomplishment based bullets points and, honestly, rightly so. But what can get lost there are key tasks that are a part of your job and the job you are applying for. Your content for each position should demonstrate what you do, how you make a difference and your accomplishments.
To determine how much focus you need to have on the tasks, take a look at your career and the role you are applying for. Is it task based or results based? If it is task based and you haven’t focused on that, then the NO pile is where you’ll end up.
5. Resume has a Bad Case of TMI
Is your resume full of information? A Skills Highlight section which is like an essay? Or a block of bullet points that looks like a copy and paste of the job description.
A recruiter is skimming resumes and when they skim, any big block of text will overwhelm them and raise a red flag. Which means you end up in the NO pile.
6. Resume Doesn’t Tell Your Story
Your resume is a marketing document, like an advertisement. It needs to tell the story of your career and how you are the ONE for the job. We tend to jump straight into our tasks or accomplishments instead of giving the recruiter a sense of what you’ve done. A simple sentence outlining the overall purpose of each role allows them to finish the skim satisfied. But if a recruiter skims your resume and doesn’t know exactly who you are and what you do then they won’t bring you in for an interview.
If you have one (or more) of these red flags, it is time to focus on a new resume. Take the time yourself or hire a professional to ensure you resume is red flag free and all set to nab those interviews!
2019 was the year of the Fiction book for me. While I could easily keep this list to 10, these are 10+ books that easily shine!
The list is book-ended (pun intended) by my top 2 nonfiction books of 2019.
1. Let That Shit Go by Nina Purewall and Kate Pettigrew
Full disclosure, Nina is a close friend. BUT, I'm a reader and I've read ALOT of books on mindfulness and meditation and let me tell you that this book belongs with the greats in that genre.
What I loved about it is that it is accessible because it is taking Nina's and Kate's research and knowledge and distilling it into a list of easy ways that you can implement mindfulness without feeling like you need to sit and meditate. The writing is conversational and fun making it easy to read and digest. A must read.
2. Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets by Jessica A Fox
This book had it all. It follows Jessica, a writer who works for NASA(!) who decides, while stressed to the max, to go work in a bookshop in a small town in the Scottish Highlands. I love reading books about writers, about bookshops and I'm a tad obsessed with the Scottish Highlands, so for me this truly had it all.
I found it dragged a little near the end but I think it was because I made the grave error of googling Jessica and some of the story. But this book is for anyone who has ever just wanted to check out of the drudgery of their lives for a month!
3. The Little Book of Ikigai by Ken'ichiro Mogi
This is a quick read of a book but one that I think you should read. It's about finding your true purpose - your reason for living. Your ikigai can't be summed up in one word as it is a Venn diagram where passion, purpose, vocation and profession all intersect. This book outlines the research of the Okinawa Blue Zone (see below!) and how having a reason for getting up every day can lead to a long, healthy and happy life. It also gives you some tools to help you on your path to discover your own ikigai.
4. The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
On Jan 11th I'm turning 40. Since this has been my last year of my 30's, I got a little obsessed with the concept of longevity and read a lot of books, studies and listened to a lot of podcasts on the subject. My favourite was this one, which is a series of lessons following the communities of people who have lived the longest like Okinawa, Linda Loma Adventists, Nicoya and Sardinia. It outlines habits and changes we can make in our lives (diet, community, purpose, etc) and it is absolutely fascinating.
Other notable books: Buettner's follow up, The Blue Zones Solution, The Longevity Diet by a leading longevity scientist, Valter Longo and How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger (I read this in 2017 and it drastically changed our eating habits).
5. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam
I read 2 books (this plus Off the Clock) by Vanderkam, on the recommendation of a friend, and both offered tons of tips and tricks. There were times that I felt that Vanderkam wasn't relatable at all (I don't have a full-time nanny) and our career goals are vastly different (I have no plans of ever working 50 hours/week) but I knew all that going in. I read these books purely for the productivity tips and how to rethink time management to be more productive.
6. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
One of my 2020 goals is to be more organized when it comes to administration. So I picked this book up as it came highly recommended by many entrepreneurs. Honestly a lot didn't really apply to me as I kind of already work/live by a profit first mentality. But, I'm so glad I read this book as it gave me a lot of other great information and I recommend it to anyone who is opening up their own business.
7. Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana Ayers
Inspired to read some running memoirs after watching my favourite movie of the year, Britanny Runs a Marathon, this one I read this year (the others are on my 2020 list). While I wish it had more of a story to it, it was fun to read. It is essentially a collection of race reports of half-marathons, marathons, ultras, OCRs and more. It definitely had me laughing!
8. My (part-time) Paris Life by Lisa Anselmo
A classic story of reinvention, this is a memoir about Lisa's life after losing her mother. She struggles with her identity and decides to buy a small apartment in Paris to find herself again. This is a touching book, one that had me in tears (from sadness and laughter alike). Her journey to finding herself included some changes to her career (of course!) which also helped to hook me.
9. Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker
This book chronicles the birth of profiling in the FBI and for a person who loves psychology, behavioural science and is fascinated by serial killers this book was right up my alley. Douglas is legendary in this field and this book talks about the study he ran interviewing serial killers already behind bars while also going through some of his most famous cases.
10. Running with Sherman by Chris McDougall
My top 2019 nonfiction read of the year. Chris McDougall is one of my favourite authors, so I was really excited about this book and I wasn't disappointed. This book follows the journey the McDougall family took while rehabilitating the donkey, Sherman. It dives into the world of Burro racing, which may sound weird (ok, is weird) but is actually so fascinating! While I never wanted to get a donkey, he does talk about running with goats and I did try bring up the idea of adding a goat to our family! McDougall wrote one of my favourite books, Born to Run which is another must read in my opinion!
What was your top nonfiction book of 2019?
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
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