Posts tagged #Career

Back To High School & Your Career: It’s Not Too Early To Start Planning

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It’s never too early to start planning for your future. A big part of planning for your life after high school has to do with what career path you want to be on. Are you interested in business? There are colleges known for strong business programs and alumni networks that can help propel your career after college. Or is your passion is science and medicine? Explore colleges with great science and research programs to foster your learning and grow your passions.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t quite know what you want to do. If that’s the case for you, this time is vital to really prepare for your future and explore lots of options!

Act on these tips to help you prepare for your life after learning, even if your path is still undecided:

Explore Your Interests

All your life you’ve been asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  High school marks the perfect time to explore those interests and see if you could picture yourself doing it as a career. If you aren’t sure what you want to be, brainstorm about what you love. Write down what you enjoy, what you could do everyday, what you don’t like, what you don’t like but would be OK with doing. All of these questions will help you narrow down the path to your future career.

Gain Experience

After you identify your interests, next find ways to gain experience. Experience comes in many forms – internships, jobs, clubs, volunteering, and shadowing are a few examples.

Finding these sources for experience can help you learn valuable skills about the job and gain confidence with firsthand experience. It’s also a great way to clarify whether it’s something you could see yourself doing long term. As you gain experience, you may find you like different aspects of your interests. For example, if you take an internship at a dentist office and you realize the techniques the dentists use to achieve patient's goals inspires you but you find the administrative tasks redundant. Keep pursuing the parts of the job that interest you.

Earn Certificates Beyond the Classroom

Certificates and courses help you stand out from the competition. Colleges and employers often look beyond the classes and the grades as a measure of aptitude. There are many in-demand skills employers desire that new graduates seldom have. Among those are critical thinking, project management, and problem-solving. They go beyond what can be taught in a classroom but are crucial for career success.

Find A Mentor

There is no substitute for wise advice. As a student, there is so much about college and the working world that you will do well to explore alongside a mentor. The perfect mentor for you will be someone you trust, admire, respect, and will be honest with about your strengths and weaknesses as you step into the world beyond high school. Think about who a great mentor will be for you and ask them if they would be willing to mentor you. Chances are, they’ll be thrilled you asked.

Invest in yourself and your future and learn skills today that will help you grow toward the career of your dreams. Contact us for more information on our personalized career coaching services.

Posted on September 12, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy.

What Is Your Body Language Saying During An Interview?

Body Language

Imagine you are at an interview and are sitting in a very comfortable office chair across from your interviewer.

You are probably imagining what the interviewer and the room look like. Forget about them. Imagine what YOU are doing in this scenario.

Are you shifting your weight in your chair? How is your posture? What are your hands doing? Where are your eyes looking?

Your body is always communicating to others. At home, at work, at the grocery store. The way you stand, your posture, your facial expressions, eye contact (or lack thereof), and personal “quirks” are all speaking something to those around you. Not with verbal words, but with body language.

If you’ve never thought about these things as they pertain to the job search, now is a great time to start. Your body language says just as much, if not more about yourself and your interest in a position than your words.

Posture

How you sit speaks loudly about your current mood and thoughts. Look down and observe how you are sitting right now. Are you laying on the couch with your laptop (casual)? Are you reading this on your phone while you pace the floor at the doctor’s office(impatient)? Are you sitting at your desk with your feet flat on the floor and back straight (productive)? Are you slouching (discouraged)?

Several years ago, I was interviewing a young woman who was sitting with one arm draped over the chair beside her and her legs spread widely - like a baseball player sitting on the bench. She was also chewing gum. I remember this particular interview well because her body language suggested she was not taking the interview very seriously and didn’t care one iota about what I thought of her.

Another interviewee’s brow was furrowed and his arms were crossed across his chest the entire duration of our time together. He didn’t seem happy to be at the interview, and exuded an arrogant demeanor by his stance.

Over the next several days, notice what your body is saying in different circumstances, personally and professionally. Ask the person you are with about what your body language is suggesting your mood or thoughts are. You might be surprised at how clearly your body language speaks!

Eye Contact

You should always look your interviewer directly in the eyes. It can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to doing it. Practice looking directly at your own eyes in a mirror to adjust to the new habit. Try to match a pleasant facial expression with your eye contact. Once you feel you are ready, try practicing with others. When you are checking out at the grocery store, look the clerk in the eyes as you interact. You can practice this skill every time you speak with someone, making it a quick habit to strengthen.

During yet another interview I was conducting, one particular woman checked her watch every five minutes and kept looking behind me at the door. I cut the interview short as it was crystal clear that she was anxious to be done with our time together.

Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, by thinking of a real-world example. Have you ever been talking with a colleague or friend and he or she never looks at your eyes, but instead looks at their computer or phone? In that moment, their eyes told you that whatever was on that screen was more important to them than you and what you had to say. Eye contact reveals distraction and priority, and that’s especially true in an interview setting.

You can see how body language and eye contact are important. Don’t dismiss the powerful language your body and eyes speak. Pay attention in every aspect of your life and you might be surprised to find you are often sending messages that you thought you were keeping internally.

Posted on March 13, 2018 and filed under Interviewing, Career.

Leveraging LinkedIn to Secure Your Dream Job

If you’re looking for a new position this year, leveraging LinkedIn is a must! We recently published Getting Your LinkedIn Profile Ready for the New Year which includes tips to create or update your profile to stand out among hundreds of others. While your profile is important, there are a few more steps you can take to achieve the best results when finding and securing your dream job.

Tips For Using LinkedIn To Find Your Dream Job

  • Check your account regularly. It’s important that you respond to messages and other notifications quickly. You may miss an opportunity if you aren’t checking LinkedIn at least once a day.

  • Post industry relevant content on the news feed. Adding useful content to the news feed puts your name in front of your connections on a regular basis. Ensure what you’re posting is professional, relevant, and non-controversial to put your best foot forward.

  • Connect with everyone you know. The more networking you do, the more opportunities will come your way!

  • Update your career interests. This will automatically funnel the right opportunities into your “jobs” section of LinkedIn. It will also clearly show recruiters what you are looking for.

  • Join relevant, professional groups. Groups provide a platform to discuss industry topics while networking with others in your field. Participate in discussions by adding well thought out responses or even adding your own conversation starters!

LinkedIn Premium Services

On top of the steps listed above, LinkedIn also offers four premium services plans: career, business, sales, and hiring. Here’s a bit about the career and hiring plans, taken from the LinkedIn Premium Services website:

Career Plan

  • Get hired 2x faster!

  • Stand out and get in touch with hiring managers

  • See how you compare to other applicants

  • Learn new skills to advance your career

This plan allows you to directly message recruiters, see who has viewed your profile, be a featured applicant when you apply for a position, online video courses, and more.

Premium is available for a fee, but you can get your first month free with a trial. We recommend clients upgrade to premium for the duration of their job search. Once you secure a new position, you can switch back to the free version if you no longer desire the benefits of Premium membership.

Will you use LinkedIn this year to find your dream job? If you’d like expert assistance to increase your success rate, contact one of our career coaches today!

Posted on January 10, 2018 and filed under Search Strategy, Career, Leadership.

Getting your LinkedIn Profile ready for the New Year

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LinkedIn is the top social network for working professionals. In fact, this recent LinkedIn article published the following statistics:

  • There are 467 million users on LinkedIn across the globe

  • There are 3 million active job listings on LinkedIn

Which means...

...If you are looking for a job, it’s essential to have a LinkedIn profile.

...If you are a working professional, it’s smart to have an updated LinkedIn profile.

...If you are looking to switch careers, it’s critical  to have a strategically built LinkedIn profile.

Resume and cover letter still reign supreme in the job search world, but a LinkedIn profile comes in at a very, very close third. The network provides an interactive, more visual way to show your skills and experience while allowing others to weigh in through on-profile reference recommendations and skill endorsement. It also provides amazing networking opportunities that were impossible before its existence.

With the New Year comes a refresh of many projects and budgets, opening doors for many companies to hire and shake things up a bit with lateral moves and promotions. This is the perfect time of year to give your profile a facelift. If you don’t have an account, sign up at www.linkedin.com.

Here are a few basic tips for updating your profile:

  1. Make sure your profile picture is professional and taken with good lighting.

  2. Update your current position description to be accurate. Include any of the new skills and projects you are currently working on!

  3. Eliminate generic descriptor words and instead opt for words that are dynamic and not over used (like motivate, help, work with, etc.)

  4. If you have new references, send a request asking if they can write up a recommendation to include on your profile.

  5. Look at other professionals in your industry to see if they have included something on their profile that you are currently lacking. Determine if adding a similar element to your profile would help your profile stand out.

Want to dig deeper? We are so passionate and about helping our clients build the perfect LinkedIn profile, we offer 3 different service packages, but our most popular service is Level 3:

Level 3 (the most popular LinkedIn service) - all Level 1 & 2 services plus:

  • After the initial consultation, we conduct keyword research for appropriate industry-specific and position-relevant keywords to include for optimal search visibility.

  • Following keyword approval, we complete a full draft of your tailored LinkedIn profile.

  • The same procedure is then followed as with Level 2 service, with emphasis on the industry-specific and position-relevant customization of your profile.

Contact us to build the perfect LinkedIn profile today!

Posted on December 15, 2017 and filed under Search Strategy, Career.

Do You Need A Sabbatical?

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Have you ever felt you needed a break from your career? Not just a vacation, but a get-away-from-it-all-for-months break?

That is the purpose of a sabbatical.

What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a paid leave from your career that is usually 6 weeks to one year in duration. Traditionally, a sabbatical has a specific purpose: to take a break from the norm to study a new skill, to travel to conduct field research, to complete a book, etc. More recently, “sabbatical leave” has been added by employers as an employee benefit - an extended period of time away solely for the employee’s benefit.

Usually, the sabbatical is offered on top of normal vacation days, which makes this benefit even more appealing! At many companies, it’s also encouraged (sometimes required) to take the full amount of leave at one time, meaning you can’t take a week here and there throughout the year. The whole point is to take a large, refreshing break to rejuvenate you after years of working hard.

Historically, the word sabbatical comes from a Biblical practice in which every seventh year the land was to be given a rest from being planted and tilled. Debts were also to be forgiven every seven years. The point was to rest, and to start again with a fresh slate.

Who Gets A Sabbatical?

The practice is most common in an academic environment (e.g. professors, researchers), although some agencies and corporations also offer this perk. Industries range from tech to restaurants to retail and the offering for each company is different. Some require a minimum of five years employment before you can take a sabbatical while others require 15 years of service. Some are paid, some are partially paid, others are unpaid.

You can find a well researched list of employers offering sabbaticals on yoursabbatical.com. It’s a site that not only provides comprehensive information on sabbaticals, but also arms employees (like you!) to campaign to get sabbaticals at your company.

Do You Get A Sabbatical?

If you don’t know, ask! And even if this benefit isn’t offered now, you can request that it be considered for the future. And if you’re looking for a job and benefits like a sabbatical are important to you, seek out employers who are competitive in their benefits offering. Not many employers are detailed on their websites about benefit packages. It’s helpful to network with employees within the company to uncover this information. You can also ask benefit questions during an interview.

Curious about how a sabbatical differs from vacation days, sick days, and personal leave? Read more here.

 

Posted on November 29, 2017 and filed under Career.

Career Planning - Short & Long Term Strategies

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You want your work to have meaning, to give you a purpose, and to continue to challenge you throughout your life. Experiencing growth, satisfaction, and fun while making an income is important. But how do you get all of that? You must have two things:

  1. A short term career planning strategy

  2. A long term career planning strategy

But here is where most people make a big mistake: You can’t make effective short term goals without first setting long term goals. Let’s break down each one.

Long Term Career Planning Strategy

Having a long term strategy to achieve your career aspirations will help you in many ways. You’ll be able to make career decisions more easily. You’ll work with more purpose and fulfillment knowing where you are headed. You also won’t get stuck in a job that isn’t a right fit, because your goals won’t align with what you’ll achieve in a “bad” position.

Sit down and think about big picture questions, such as:

  • Where do I want to be in 10 years?

  • What gives me purpose in my career?

  • What three to five goals would I like to achieve by retirement?

  • What is most important to me at work?

  • Do I want to manage a team or work solo?

Write a letter to yourself, describing exactly who you want to be and what it is you want to achieve in your career. This exercise might be awkward at first, but it will help you visualize your future and think through the direction you’d like to go.

Post this letter in a place where you can see it regularly. Read it every month. Adjust it as things change, which can, and maybe should, happen from time to time. Perhaps you start a family or your priorities change as you get older and it affects your long term goals. It’s good to be flexible. Having a long term strategy should guide you, not rule you.

Short Term Career Planning Strategy

With your long term strategy put in place, a short term strategy will be easier to implement. Do the same exercise for short term planning, but adjust the questions slightly. The questions you ask yourself might look something like these:

  • Where do I want to be this time next year?

  • What three to five goals do I want to achieve this year?

  • What small, attainable steps do I need to take this year to get closer to my long term goals?

Write a letter to yourself and place it where you can review it regularly. Since this is a short term strategy, update it every six months to one year. Hopefully you will achieve everything you wrote down, which will keep the momentum going for your long term strategy. If not, that’s OK! Adjust as needed and keep going. Again, this is meant to be a guide to help you reach your long term goals. It should guide you, not rule you!

Let WCG Partner With You!

We would love to come alongside you and help develop your short and long term career planning strategies. Our team of career consultants can help you craft the perfect strategy to achieve career success. We use proven assessments to examine your personality type, interests, and strengths. We align the results with your goals to create a strategy for future growth and development through your current position or a new one. Our career coaching empowers you to flawlessly execute your strategy in any situation! You can learn more about our services and packages available here.

Posted on November 1, 2017 and filed under Career, Leadership.

What, Why & How To Write A Cover Letter

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Resume and cover letter. Resume and cover letter. Resume and cover letter.

You’ve probably heard this short phrase more times that you want to count since searching for a job. It’s because these two things - your resume and cover letter - will ultimately land you the job. Even if you networked well and “know a guy,” someone will look at your resume and cover letter before hiring you. It’s THAT important.

What Is A Cover Letter?

When applying for a job, a cover letter is your opportunity to explain the content of your resume. It is a separate document, written as a letter, addressed to the hiring manager or Human Resources contact for the job for which you are applying.

Why Write A Cover Letter?

Primarily, it allows you to highlight experiences, circumstances, or skills that are not obvious in your resume. For example, employment gaps, school/training status, career changes are all examples of situations that should be addressed in your cover letter.

Many online application systems mark ‘resume’ as required and ‘cover letter’ as optional. Always send a customized cover letter. It shows you want the job enough to put the extra effort into writing a cover letter and provides the opportunity to stand out in a stack of resumes.

How Do I Write A Cover Letter?

Keep your cover letter short, sweet, and to the point. Your cover letter often times decides whether or not the hiring manger ‘turns the page’ to review your resume, so it needs to get their attention quickly.

Below you’ll find a template that you can use to be personalized and customized for the position, and company you are applying for. This template provides a general idea of what you should include. You need to have a customized cover letter for every single position that you apply for - no exceptions. Hiring managers can spot a generic cover letter from a mile away.

Cover Letter Template

Full Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip

E-Mail

 

January 23, 2017

 

Mr. /Mrs.

Person title

Company Name

Address

Houston Texas, 77489

To Whom It May Concern:

I am excited to apply for the position of ______ (#_____) that was listed on the job site ______/your company careers page/your staffing agency website.

This role appeals to me because ____. My background makes me an excellent fit for this role because. (EXPLAIN ANYTHING ELSE THAT ISN’T OBVIOUS FROM YOUR RESUME IN 1-2 SENTENCES, SUCH AS SIGNIFICANT EMPLOYMENT GAP DUE TO CHILD REARING, SCHOOL, CAREER CHANGE, ETC.). I would love the opportunity to leverage my experience working with X.

I have attached my resume for your review. I welcome the opportunity to personally discuss my qualifications with you, and I’m very interested in your thoughts on what roles would allow me to make this transition successfully, as I am flexible in this area. Please contact me at ###-###-#### or email at your convenience.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to review my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Full Name

###-###-####

email

 

Posted on October 19, 2017 and filed under Search Strategy, Resume.

How To Be A Life Long Learner: Building Your Skill Set

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One of the most exciting things when you finally have your diploma in hand is that you never have to do homework again! Right? Well, sort of.

Things change over time. Technology, best practices, the market, systems, people, expectations. Even in industries that don’t move as quickly, if you don’t learn anything new, your knowledge will be outdated in a decade.

Be a Life Long Learner

Even if you are fresh out of college, it’s best to have the mindset of a lifelong learner. That means you are continually seeking new knowledge and skills to improve yourself both personally and professionally. Keeping up with current events, self study to learn a new skill, getting a mentor, taking one-off classes, and reading books are all examples of habits of lifelong learners. In fact, highly successful people, like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, read for hours every day according to this Observer article. The type of books matter - reading comic books may be entertaining, but likely won’t affect your skill set. Here’s a great list of books that are recommended for all business-minded professionals.

It might be daunting to think about your to do list as a lifelong learner. But keep in mind that the more you learn, the most successful you will be. Learning new skills can help land that promotion you’ve been wanting, or change careers to something more fulfilling. Bettering yourself will give you confidence in your responsibilities and workplace relationships. Not to mention that being a lifelong learner will keep your brain sharp as you age.

A recent study, published on the Association for Psychological Science website here, says:

“At the end of [the] three months [study], …[it was] found that the adults who were productively engaged in learning new skills showed improvements in memory compared to those who engaged in social activities or non-demanding mental activities at home.”

That alone should be motivation for us to keep challenging ourselves to learn more!

Put together a long term plan for yourself and your learning goals. What qualifications do you need to meet to take the next step in your career? What skills do you want to master?  What would be fun and fulfilling that you have yet to do or try? As you achieve your goals and add more skills, don’t forget to update your resume and LinkedIn!

Posted on September 27, 2017 and filed under Career.