You’ve revamped your LinkedIn
profile, added new skills and credentials to your value proposition, and
practiced interviewing. You’ve re-written your resume for every job
opportunity, crafted your cover letters with the care of someone wooing a new
love interest, and sent follow-up messages to every hiring manager you’ve met.
You’ve even lost weight and refreshed your wardrobe.
If you are STILL getting no promotions
or compelling new job opportunities, you need to look beyond the standard
checklist of job search activities. You need to leverage the intangible
advantages employed by the most successful executives. Sure, skills and
experience are essential in an executive job search, but it’s your ability to garner
and harness these important, subtle, and sometimes elusive, qualities that will
really set you apart from your competition.
One of the most important of these is executive presence.
There is only so high that people
can advance in their careers with skills and experience alone. At some point
their prospects will level off if they don’t possess a characteristic known as
Although executive presence has been studied enough to have earned its own acronym (EP), it remains difficult to describe and even harder to obtain. It’s the certain je ne sais quoi that demarcates managers from executives. It’s a manner of looking and behaving the part of an executive that includes a combination of things like a firm handshake, good eye contact, dignified comportment, and appropriate dress. Someone with executive presence also exudes an ease of being, a sense of self-worth, and confidence that is neither arrogant nor pretentious. In short, it’s the “It” factor.
You know it when you see it. You also know it when it’s lacking. A senior executive of a New York City-based startup related his impression of a candidate who lacked executive presence during an interview:
I interviewed a guy with 30 years of experience for a position. He comes into the company, which is famous for being a startup, wearing an ill-fitting, strangely colored suit. Someone with executive presence would have understood, at a minimum, that wearing jeans and a sports jacket to an interview at a startup is appropriate. He also exhibited little confidence in himself, carried himself poorly, and lacked authority when he spoke. With 30 years of experience, this guy should have been at the executive level. But it was clear to me he was not an executive – he was a 30-year manager.
Your Executive Presence
Executive presence comes naturally
to some people. But it can also be cultivated through planning and preparation.
The first step is understanding specifically what you need to do to boost your
If you’re unsure of how to get started, engaging an executive career coach, such as those at The Barrett Group, is an excellent way to get help in targeting how you can up your game and perform at your best. Because they have their ear to the ground in the job market, they are best situated to help you play to your strengths, whatever those are, and exploit them to the best of your ability to yield better opportunities and higher compensation in your job search.
International Experience Differentiates You
Is international experience
relevant in your job search? If the job involves interacting with other
countries and traveling, then, yes, it’s relevant. But even if you’re seeking a
US-based job, having international experience allows hiring managers to tick
off the “preferred” box. It shows a little extra value about you.
If you’ve lived outside your own
country, it implies that you’re a risk taker and even that you are a higher
performing applicant. In addition, people who work in an international
environment, where business and cultural customs are different, demonstrate a
greater adaptability in carrying out their jobs than their local peers.
A recent article in CEO Magazine details several other reasons why international experience is important for executives, not least of which is that, in our increasingly globalized, technology-driven world, leaders with overseas experience will be crucial to driving future innovation and expansion.
If you have the opportunity to get international experience, and it’s not a hardship, get it and have it in the bank because you might find yourself looking for a job in the future where it will be important or useful.
It should be repeated often and vigorously to utilize your professional network (Read Hone Your Networking Skills…and Slip in the Backdoor to Land Your Next Job for more information). Networking is the biggest factor in finding a job for all types of people, and successful executives will tell you that most jobs, or even every job, they ever got was thanks to their network of relationships.
The most important thing to
remember about networking, however, is not to wait until you are looking to
switch jobs to build those relationships. You should build them when you don’t
need them. How? You do it by always going out of your way to help others – that
is, you pay it forward. Make it part of your business strategy to help others
and extend yourself for others in whatever way you can whenever you are in a
position to do so. If you do, when the times comes that you need help in a job
search, you will find that people in your network will be willing to help you
Executive positions are very competitive, so small advantages will make a difference. Some advantages are easy to manage, such as dressing the part for an interview, for example. But job seekers need to know what that means at each different company. In today’s casual workplace, fitting in could mean a full suit, or it could mean jeans and a t-shirt (as the anecdote above demonstrated). If you have piercings, tattoos, or an unusual hairdo, try to tone things down if the environment calls for it. How you dress for an interview is a slight “tell” on how well you did your homework on a company.
If you have cultural differences,
give special consideration to how to handle them in your job search. Someone
with a thick foreign accent, for example, might need to practice speaking
slowly and enunciating well. Orthodox Jewish applicants who need to leave
before sundown every Friday should volunteer specific assurances on how this personal
requirement will not affect their ability to get their work done.
Companies aren’t allowed to
discriminate against applicants, of course. And, at the same time, you need to
be yourself. But it shows a level of good judgement if you address these
differences head on, which interviewers will appreciate. And it shows a clarity
of mind that comes from preparation and forethought.
Mastering this and other intangible
advantages will showcase your personal brand, which may well tip the scales in
your favor in your job search.
Knowing how to read clients and colleagues, and understanding what underlying thoughts and emotions are influencing their actions and decisions, have long been useful skills in business.
These and related competencies, including staying calm under pressure, an ability to manage social relationships, being aware of your emotions and knowing how to channel them productively, comprise the rapidly spreading concept of Emotional Intelligence (abbreviated as either EI or EQ). These characteristics are recognized not only as important components of good business practices, but also a critical skillset in the modern workplace.
A Careerbuilder survey of more than
2600 U.S. hiring managers showed that a whopping 71% of employers value
emotional intelligence in employees over IQ, and 34% of them admitted to
placing greater emphasis on EQ when hiring and promoting employees. Nearly 60%
of them said they’d pass on a candidate with a high IQ but a low EQ.
survey was published in 2011, but the buzz about emotional intelligence has only
grown. Many businesses now study EQ and design programs to educate the masses
about its important contributions to organizations and how to harness its
benefits. The World Economic Forum even ranked emotional intelligence as one of
the top 10 skills in 2020 in the The Future of
– a skill that didn’t even make the top 10 list for 2015.
It’s clear that when it comes to employment and job seeking, emotional intelligence is now critical to have – perhaps even more so than skills and experience.
Emotional intelligence is, as it sounds, the intersection of emotions and intelligence. It’s the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, manage the emotions so that they don’t control your own behavior, and use the information in a way that is productive and beneficial to relationships and circumstances.
For example, a manager with high EQ might recognize a worker’s struggle to make a standing 8:30am meeting because the drop-off time of his child’s school conflicts with it. She changes the meeting time to accommodate the worker. The manager has sacrificed little with the schedule change, but has gained enormous appreciation on the part of the worker and even, perhaps, other witnesses, by the gesture.
of emotional intelligence has evolved in different ways since its introduction
in the 1980s. Peter Salovey, currently President of Yale University, and John
Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire, were early
pioneers of the theory, publishing a foundational research article in 1989.
Daniel Goleman then popularized the concept with the release of his 1995
best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ.
The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute was created at Google in 2007 when a team of leading experts in mindfulness, neuroscience and emotional intelligence developed an internal course for Google employees. It soon became an incredibly popular training program and now serves companies, nonprofits and government organizations worldwide.
the RULER program, developed at
the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, has been sweeping the nation’s
schools using an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional
learning into classrooms.
Global management and consulting firm, McKinsey, has spotted the trend, estimating that, between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the U.S.
Benefits of EQ for Job Seekers
you still need certain skills and experience to get your foot in the door for
many opportunities. But having high emotional intelligence will give you
leverage over your competitors. Why? Because hiring managers know that people
with high EQ make good decisions, handle change well, respond well to feedback,
and are able to effectively solve problems. They stay calm under pressure,
support their co-workers, and cultivate relationships that help to create
productive work environments.
Hiring managers also know that people with high EQ are more likely to tough out a difficult situation, and direct reports of managers with high EQ are less likely to leave a company – 400% less likely according to one source!
employed, people with high emotional intelligence continue to be rewarded. The Careerbuilder
survey showed that a full three-quarters of employers said they’d be more
likely to promote someone with high emotional intelligence over someone with a
And, in case you’re wondering, that eventually translates into money. According to a 2017 time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary, college students identified as having emotional intelligence turned out to enjoy significantly higher salaries 10 to 12 years later, mainly because EQ helped them acquire the social capital necessary to be successful in their careers.
intelligence comes naturally to some people, but, as with music, sports or
languages, anyone can learn it with instruction and practice. If you want to
boost your EQ, you can peruse the abundance of literature available or take an assessment
test. You can also start with the following steps:
Become self-aware. Learn to identify your emotions as they happen. When you can label your emotions objectively, you can learn how to manage them so that you respond to them productively instead of reacting to them. Figure out your strengths and your weaknesses and learn how to maximize your effectiveness within these parameters.
Stop and think. You may not be able to stop from feeling an emotion, but you can manage your response to it. Pause before you speak or write back to someone in a moment of anger or frustration. In the face of criticism, warranted or not, ask yourself how you might learn from the situation.
Train your attention. Life is full of many distractions, but learning to focus on a goal or a purpose leads to calmness and clarity of mind. You can’t stop negative experiences or life stressors from occurring, but you can choose how you react to them. Daily journaling is one excellent way to process your frustrations and put things into perspective.
Talk less and listen more. The more you understand the perspective of others, the more empathetic you’re likelier to be. You don’t have to agree with the perspective of others, but your effort to see how they see things will result in deeper and better relationships.
Manage your relationships. Offer feedback, extend praise, and make apologies. Observe your surroundings and relationships and make concessions or accommodations to others, knowing that they your active efforts will result in better relationships and a more productive workplace.
important to continue to practice these steps to maintain a high level of
emotional intelligence. But the effort will pay off because people with high
EQs have an edge – in business and in all aspects of life.
You wrap up an engaging interview at a company and come away feeling that this position would be a great fit for you. You have the impression that the hiring manager feels the same way about you. He walks you to the door, you shake hands, say goodbye…and you never hear from him again. Ever. Not only does he not call, he doesn’t respond to your follow-up calls or emails. You’ve been ghosted!
If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. Companies have been ghosting applicants for years, and it happens across many different industries. A recent survey by Recruiting Daily Advisor found that among applicants that have gotten ghosted, 23% were seeking jobs at business, finance and legal companies, and 22% were job seeking at advertising, marketing, PR and media companies. Many other industries also make the list, including healthcare, retail & hospitality, and tech.
Ghosting is a term that got its start in the world of dating
when one person suddenly quits returning the phone calls, emails or texts of
the other with no explanation because, you know, it’s too awkward to tell
someone that you’re just not that into them anymore. Instead you just pretend
that they don’t exist until they quit trying to contact you.
In the business world, the reasons behind getting ghosted are usually not so petty, but it’s equally painful – perhaps more so because, your ego notwithstanding, there are mouths to feed and bills to pay. How long should you hang in there waiting for signs of life?
Some people experience ghosting at the application stage. They
send a resume to company after company with no response. There are several
reasons for this:
First, maybe you’re not qualified for the job. According to Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at The Barrett Group, the biggest mistake job candidates make is submitting an application that doesn’t have 100% of the “must have” job qualifications. It demonstrates two strikes against you: 1) You aren’t qualified, and 2) you didn’t follow instructions. In this case, applying is a waste of time.
If you are 100% qualified and your application still gets no traction, your resume might be to blame. Your resume should reflect ALL the job qualifications, and not just in the body of the resume, but also in the headline.
Most hiring managers handle huge numbers of resumes and only
read the top few lines of each one. If you’re applying to a position requiring “international
sales experience” and your resume headline reads “sales experience,” you won’t
get a response – even if your international experience is highlighted later.
At the same time, you should omit all skills outside the
scope of the job requirements. Many people include a laundry list of common
core competencies in their resumes, but this sometimes works against you.
Hiring managers might think you’re over-qualified, would become bored, or might
ask for too much money. It’s counter-intuitive, but if the requirement is for
20 years of managerial experience and you have 25 years of experience, write only
that you have 20 years of experience.
Lastly, if you’re applying as a stranger to a job posting, keep in mind that sometimes the job opportunities don’t actually exist. Companies often already have a #1 candidate in mind, perhaps through a referral or an internal promotion, but company policy requires that the job be posted publicly. If this seems unfair, don’t get mad; get a friend on the inside who can propel your candidacy.
How NOT to Get Ghosted
First and foremost is to avoid getting ghosted in the first place. How? By developing social ties and good communication.
Get on the Inside Track.
You should never apply as a total stranger to a company before exhausting all avenues to find a social connection. If you’re looking at $80K+ positions, you can be sure that the people who land these positions are not strangers to the company – they will have been recommended for the role. Find a friend to recommend you and you will have personal reputations and political clout to support you.
If that is easier said than done, don’t fret. Many successful professionals don’t know how to leverage networking to their advantage when they’re new to the job market. They’ve been on the giving, not the receiving, side of networking and may be out of practice with the slow, inconsistent process of building and expending social capital. But no one with 10-20 years of work experience, who has impacted people’s lives through hirings, promotions, and business deals, should have go into a job market cold. Always leverage your social capital first by asking your contacts how you might best proceed for a job.
Know Where You Stand.
When you’re in the screening process ask your counterpart (with a twinkle in your eye): “Do you think I’m a good fit for this opportunity?” Often, she will be honest and say, “Yes,” and tell you next steps. If the answer is “No,” it gives you the opportunity to offer more information about whatever reservations she might have.
As a general rule, the last item of discussion should always be a mutual agreement on next steps so you know the timeline for follow up communication. If they say, “We’ll get back to you by Monday,” and you don’t hear from them, wait one day and check in on Wednesday. If you haven’t nailed down a timeline, wait one week before reaching out to check in.
How to Handle Getting Ghosted at the Interview Stage
If you do get ghosted, there are several things you should keep in mind:
Be Patient and Courteous.
If you get no response to your check-in email, wait one week and call. If you get voice mail, leave your name, phone number and a short message saying, simply, that you’re checking in. Nothing more. DO NOT reference any other attempts to check in or offer reprobation about the lack of communication, lest it sound critical. Remember, this is the ONE person who can open a door for you. When all else fails, try to reach out to someone else at the company, preferably one with a social connection to you, who can advise you on how to proceed.
Don’t take it personally. The most common reasons applicants are ghosted by companies is simply bureaucracy or inefficiencies in the hiring process. Candidate selection processes are often handled by lower-tiered people who are overwhelmed or inexperienced. Sometimes decision-makers aren’t available for interviews during the given timeline. Confidential corporate changes might be underway that hiring managers are prohibited from communicating to applicants. Or maybe the hiring manager just got hit by a bus. In other words, it’s them, not you.
Don’t Give Up.
Resendes tells a story of a client who came to The Barrett Group for career coaching six months after being ghosted by a company. Although he felt like he was a perfect fit during the interviews, he got no response to inquiries about his applicant status. He grew discouraged and gave up. His career coach convinced him he had little to lose in following up again, so he called the company and was greeted with a surprising exclamation: “Thank God you’ve called! We wanted to hire you but misplaced our hiring files and didn’t know how to reach you!” The client swore that the coaching fee was the best money he’d ever spent because he would not have called the company again on his own. The takeaway: If you are running short of options, you have no reason to stop following up.
If schadenfreude is your thing, you’ll be interested to
learn that ghosting now cuts both ways. The incidence of job applicants blowing
off scheduled interviews or even accepting jobs only to fail to show up for
work without notice or further contact is on the rise. The trend has been
reported not only by professional social network, LinkedIn
and many news organizations, but also by the
Undoubtedly, the tight labor market makes it easier for job applicants to give companies a taste of their own medicine, but resist the temptation to do so.
Even if a better opportunity surfaces, it never pays to burn bridges. Keep to the moral high ground and hope that companies will learn their lesson about ghosting!
Employee benefits and perks have come a long way since the advent of company cars and casual Fridays. A review of emerging benefits and perks in today’s business world yields such novelties as “pet leave” for new pet owners, nap pods for sleeping breaks, and beer on tap. These kinds of offerings are certainly a testament to what appeals to millennial workers, who comprise an increasingly large share of the labor force. But it’s not just millennials who are driving this demand.
The volume and diversity of benefits and perks now available
to workers at companies bespeaks the growing value that employees place on them
in the workplace – a value that sometimes rivals hard cash. According to a 2015 survey by company
review website, Glassdoor, nearly 80% of employees would prefer new or
additional job benefits to a pay raise. They also play a significant role in
the job search process. Three
in five people report that benefits and perks are among their top
considerations in accepting a new job.
In an employment market as tight as the current one, employers need to pay attention because those who don’t risk squandering an opportunity to attract the best talent.
Family and Flexibility
In 2015 Netflix made headlines by offering unlimited
parental leave – to both moms and dads –in the first year after the birth or
adoption of a baby. That offer was in addition to its unlimited time-off policy
for vacation and sick leave.
Netflix is an outlier when it comes to such generous
benefits, but many companies are, nevertheless, trending towards more family
friendly and flexible leave offerings. According to the 2019
Employee Benefits Report of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM),
which surveys employers annually about their employee benefits offerings, more
than one in three U.S. employers offer paid maternity leave, up from 21% in 2015,
and many of them offer more leave than the federal and state mandates. In the
same time frame, the number of companies offering paternity leave (30%) has
almost doubled. Nursing moms will be happy to learn that this year more than
half of U.S. employers report offering lactation rooms, compared to just 35% in
Employers are ever more responsive to the high demand for flexibility in work schedules and remote working, with nearly 60% offering flextime during core business hours and almost 70% offering occasional telecommuting, up from 56% in 2015. In fact, more than one-quarter of respondents allow their employees to telecommute full-time.
Fastest Growing Benefits and Perks
The greatest increase in benefits were concentrated in health-related and wellness categories, with 20% of employers indicating they had increased offerings in those areas. Given the prominent role many employers play in providing health insurance to employees, they have a great incentive in keeping healthcare costs down and increasingly ply their workforce with wellness tips and information. About one-third have consistently offered an onsite fitness center, fitness classes, or memberships to fitness centers for the last several years. And just as many are offering a health insurance premium discount for participating in a wellness program, up from 17% two years ago. Nearly 40% offer company-organized fitness challenges.
Other notable changes in benefits and perks offered this
year include the rise in onsite stress management programs, company-paid
snacks, employee referral bonuses, and the number of employers who allow pets
at work. And the number of companies offering standing desks have jumped from
just 25% in 2015 to a whopping 60% this year.
Employers seem increasingly willing to invest in their
employee. Over half of employers offer tuition assistance, and the ratio of
companies offering student loan repayment, while still small, has doubled since
2015. In addition to professional development opportunities, which most
companies have offered for years, an increasing number of employers are
offering formal mentoring programs. And executive or leadership coaching, which
didn’t even make the list five years ago, is now offered by four out of ten
Not surprisingly, the most commonly offered employee
benefits are health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, retirement
benefits, and paid leave for vacation and illness. The roots of these old
standbys date to the 1940s, when companies were precluded by the Stabilization
Act of 1942 from raising wages (in an effort by the U.S. government to
prevent wartime inflation). Unable to compete with high wages for workers,
companies began offering health insurance and other non-income benefits as part
of their overall compensation package.
Today, nearly all companies offer these basic benefits in some capacity to their employees and have continued to add more. Over the 20th century the composition of benefits in employers’ total compensation costs has continued a steady rise, comprising about 30% in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What’s really interesting, however, is how much the variety
and volume of benefits and perks have exploded in recent years. Twenty years
ago, the SHRM tracked 60 employee benefits. In this year’s annual report, by
contrast, that number
has ballooned to 350 – and it’s likely to continue growing, according to
Why? One reason is that benefits enhance a company’s appeal
to workers without necessarily driving up fixed costs, as higher wages and
salaries do. Another reason is that in our increasingly stressful world,
workers are putting greater value on things beyond money. After all, how do you
put a price tag on a flexible schedule, an in-house mentoring program, or the freedom
to bring your dog to the office?
The growing importance of benefits and perks to workers
notwithstanding, the negotiation of any new job, naturally, starts with salary.
The first step in the process is to know what you’re worth. There are many online tools
to estimate the salaries of particular roles in particular industries. Some are
even able to calculate personal factors that could influence the estimate one
way or the other. The second step is to do your research. Know what companies
are paying for similar jobs in different industries, and how things may vary
based on geography.
When a job offer comes and it times to discuss compensation, don’t be afraid to negotiate. And if you’re like many workers in the job market today, you won’t limit yourself to discussing money.
The benefits and perks offered by a company shape its culture and values, which may translate into greater job satisfaction. Smart employers who don’t leverage these to get you in the door will lose out on attracting top talent.
Why is it that so many of us become dissatisfied in mid-career and begin to question why it is that we are doing the job that what we are doing? Sure, maybe it’s because you have been on the wrong career path all along. It’s more likely, however, that the original reasons you had for choosing your career are simply no longer valid.
It might be an indicator that you’ve reached full circle in
your career cycle and should reassess your current values and priorities so
that you can begin anew in a career that better suits your needs at this time
and place in your life.
Understanding career cycles and the stages within a cycle is
liberating because it helps you understand the progression of a normal work
life and enables you to anticipate stages before they happen so that you can
prepare for them. Transitions are challenging, so the more you know what to
expect, the better.
The concept of career cycles is one of several mainstream theories in career development to have emerged over the past 100 years. In the 1920s Frank Parsons, considered to be the founder of the vocational guidance movement, kickstarted the idea of career determination with his publication, Choosing a Vocation. According to Parsons, workers should match their personal traits to specific occupations.
In the 1970s, Albert Bandura promoted the concept of self-efficacy, which suggested that the greater an individual’s confidence in her capabilities to organize and execute a goal, the more likely she is to attain it. It became de rigueur in the 1980s to identify your personality type as a tool to ascertaining your ideal occupation (raise your hand if you have ever taken a Myers-Briggs test to learn your personality type).
Super’s model sees occupational choice not as one decision made at a single point-in-time, but as an unfolding process that spans a lifetime and is influenced by life events. It is an excellent way to look at career shifts in a society where rapid technological developments are upending industries and work as we know it.
He argued that vocational development stems from the process
of developing a self-concept and that people choose occupations that
enable themselves to express that self-concept. To develop a self-concept, you must
know yourself. What are your interests? What kind of worker are you? What is
important to you? What are your goals?
In addition to a self-concept, Super identified five stages of development in typical career cycle:
Originally, Super associated age ranges with each stage of development, with the first stage beginning in childhood and the last stage culminating with retirement. Over time, however, he acknowledged that an individual might cycle through all five stages multiple times depending on whatever life changes or new opportunities might crop up.
For example, if a worker wanted to change careers in her 40s, she might re-launch a career cycle by exploring new interests and passions, pursuing them tentatively at first, and following them through to fruition as potential leads opened up. Career cycle stages were, therefore, independent of age and a worker might expect to experience several mini-career cycles throughout her life.
Where Are You in Your Career Cycle?
There are development markers and tasks associated
with each of the five stages in a career cycle. Knowing where you are in your
career cycle now can help you anticipate next steps as you transition from one
stage to another.
In the Growth stage, an individual is expected to develop a self-concept that germinates in the fertile ground of fantasy, interest and a growing awareness of individual capacity and how it relates to the specific requirements of a job.
In the Exploration stage, an individual
hones his self-concept more realistically and identifies vocational
preferences, which he then implements experimentally in the form of hobbies, volunteering,
and part-time or otherwise low-commitment work. If a particular choice turns
out to be a poor fit, then he may pursue other interests.
When an individual enters the Establishment
stage, she endeavors to secure herself in a position in a chosen field of work,
establish herself, build good work relations, and pursue advancement
The Maintenance stage involves a
continuity of established work patterns and a preservation of one’s
achievements. Workers in this stage typically break little new ground in their
careers and may even plateau.
In the final stage, Disengagement, workers experience declining interest in their occupation and invest less and less energy into it. People over age 65 may mentally transition into retirement planning. For younger workers, however, this may be a point to reassess values and sources of satisfaction and re-launch a mini-career cycle by exploring interests that better align with their self-concept, which may have changed over time.
Is It Time to Consider a Change?
If you are unhappy in your work, feel stressed or
unchallenged, face a poor work-life balance, or lack a career-related identity,
you may be in the disengagement stage of your career. It’s important to reflect
on the source of your discontent, consider how your needs, interests and
priorities may have evolved, and acknowledge that it might be time for a
change. It is natural for your self-concept to change along with life events,
and your career choices should reflect that.
When your occupation is aligned with your self-concept you will be the most satisfied in your job. Acknowledging where you are in your career cycle allows you to purposefully move yourself into the next stage.
Maybe you have a new baby and want to spend more time at home, or maybe your company is undergoing a round of layoffs. Not only are these kinds of life events normal, you should expect them. In fact, in the 21st century you should plan multiple mini-cycles because the rapid pace of technology is disrupting so many industries. Workers simply don’t stay in the same job throughout their lifetime as they once did.
The trick is to plan ahead and think strategically! Be open
at all times to recognizing new opportunities as they arise and be willing to
explore them. People who plan for change, even when things are going well, cope
the best with a career change. Pulling the trigger on something new when the
times comes can be scary, but the more adaptable you are, the easier it will be
to transition into the next chapter of your career.
Many factors affect hiring and recruitment. Some are internal to an organization, such as organizational culture, or company product releases. Some are external to an organization, like economic trends. Seasonality is definitely important. Naturally, industry fluctuations play a big role, too.
When you look at the larger picture, it’s clear that what influences hiring and recruitment is often cyclical or evolves over time. The better you understand these factors, the better you can take advantage of them to set yourself up for a successful career change.
Obviously, the economy is the paramount influence when it comes to hiring. A strong economy means a good job market. With the unemployment rate currently at 3.6%, a 50-year low, we are seeing a uniquely advantageous time to be job hunting. However, the situation is even more interesting.
It’s clear from the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that many aspects of the job market are in ground-breaking territory – much of it good news to job seekers.
Since hitting a low in July 2009, job openings have rocketed past the pre-recession peak of 5 million in 2014 to 7.4 million at the end of April 2019. Hiring increases have been even more impressive, surpassing pre-recession levels and peaking at 5.9 million hires, a series high.
What’s particularly notable about these figures is this: For most of the JOLTS history the number of hires (measured throughout the month) has exceeded the number of job openings (measured only on the last business day of the month). Since January 2015, however, this relationship has reversed, with job openings consistently outnumbering hires.
In other words, there are a LOT of open jobs.
In April, there were 1.5 million more job openings than there were newly hired
people. In fact, there are now more jobs available than there are unemployed
people! The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening was 0.8 in April
according to JOLTS.
Clearly, in this market, the onus is on companies to act quickly lest they lose out on hiring the best talent.
What Industry is Hot and What’s Not?
There is an unsettling truth to keep in perspective if you’re looking to change careers: One reason why there are so many more open jobs than there are unemployed people is because there is a skills gap. Many open jobs are in technical fields requiring skills that too few job seekers have. If you are in a position to do so, you can’t go wrong by improving your technical skills. Technical fields and technical industries are perennially hot when it comes to hiring.
But other industries are growing, too. According to a monthly analysis by LinkedIn, the industries with the most notable hiring shifts in May were Corporate Services (7.6%), Wellness & Fitness (7.4% higher), and Software & IT Services (6.7% higher).
Year to year, employment in professional and business services, and health care continue to trend up. The chart shows the yearly change in the hiring rate in several industries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Wondering which industries to shy away from? Answer: Mining and Logging, and export-producing goods industries, like Agriculture and Manufacturing – all of which are facing significant downturns in hiring.
A Season for Change
The granddaddy of all hiring cycles is the calendar. While some industries buck the historical trends, there are definitive hiring seasons during the year. Understanding the trends will help you choose the optimal times of the year to pursue a career change.
For several reasons, a New Year means new jobs. Companies have new hiring budgets and sales forecasts to act on at this time. Recruitment managers are refreshed after a holiday vacation and eager to start filling newly created positions. Moreover, many workers resolve at this time of year to make a career change, which creates opportunities in newly vacated positions. For all these reasons, the January-February time-frame is the springboard of a hiring season that continues throughout the spring.
The 2nd Quarter is also a good time to job search, although the later you wait, the fewer job options you might have. The ranks of new hires towards the end of this quarter tend to be filled out by newly minted college graduates. But hiring for many industries peaks in the spring, especially Construction, Tourism and Hospitality. It’s also common to find, at this time, many hiring managers scrambling to fill open spots before the office empties for the summer months.
Not surprisingly, hiring surges for seasonal industries like Tourism, and Outdoor & Leisure are typical during the summer months. Education also sees a big boost, as school districts seek to replace non-returning teachers. Professional industries, however, tend to experience a hiring lull. To the extent that companies are hiring, the available jobs are more likely to be seasonal or lower-level positions. After all, it’s hard to set up interviews and streamline the hiring process when people are on vacation.
Back-to-school season is also a “back-to-work” season, with hiring bumping up again. Rejuvenated once again from their summer vacations, hiring managers are keen to fill available spots in their departments during September and October. They are often motivated by a “use it, or lose it” mentality because whatever funds might remain in their hiring budget at the end of the year will disappear. In November and December, however, hiring falls of a cliff. The glut of major holidays and depleted budgets puts hiring on hold for many industries.
The chart on the left tells the basic story of hiring during the year, but remember that not every industry falls neatly into this pattern.
Hiring in Retail, Warehousing, Transportation and Customer Service, for example, surges during the end-of-the-year holiday season.
Likewise, because January to April is peak business season for Tax and Accounting professionals, hiring in these industries tends to happen outside these busy months.
Regardless of the season, you should never be doing nothing if you’re a job seeker. Slow times are ideal times to be researching new options, developing new skills and, most importantly, networking.
All of these tasks take time and are incredibly important in positioning you to act quickly when the right opportunity presents itself.
If you are trying to figure out the best time to start a career change, familiarizing yourself with cycles and trends that influence hiring and recruitment is a useful place to start. But careers begin and end regardless of whatever economic trends, seasonal cycles, and industry changes are doing. So, when you’re trying to decide the best time to start your career change, the answer is NOW.
The most important influences on your recruitment by a future employer are the ones that you create for yourself.
That means that you should keep abreast of what is going on at your target companies, watch for news announcements that may identify an optimal time for you to make your move. Some hiring managers budget for positions early, so plan ahead and be prepared to send a resume at anytime.
The best time to get a new job is always whenever the right job comes along. The timing of that might be unique – completely outside typical hiring cycles. It could be NOW.
So, continue to network regularly, build relationships, develop new skills for yourself, and prepare to move quickly when the right opportunity comes along.
Most people focus on their career in a reactionary instead of a strategic way. That means that if things go south, it is hard to understand what went wrong.
If you’ve adapted to the status quo, switching gears is hard. You may face barriers to change that sometimes feel insurmountable. Some of these barriers are very real, while others might be self-imposed.
Either way, overcoming barriers often involves a level of self-reflection during which you analyze your career and, more broadly, your life in order to assess your innermost goals and your value proposition – that is, everything that you can offer an employer. Only after you have taken stock of yourself and your dreams can you make informed decisions about how best to manage your career effectively and achieve your goals.
What is standing in your way? If you feel stymied in your efforts to advance your career, answering that question is the first step towards overcoming whatever barriers you face.
Maybe you’re worried about money. Maybe you don’t relish the idea of starting a new career at the bottom rung of the ladder. Maybe you struggle to find time in your day to job hunt.
Many people are paralyzed by fear – fear of losing their job; fear of speaking up at work; fear of getting passed over for a job because of age, gender or race. Or perhaps you have “impostor syndrome,” the fear that you aren’t qualified to do the job your hired to do.
Perhaps your problem is simply that you know that you are unhappy in your current job, but you just aren’t sure what else to do. Or maybe you know what you want to do, but you have no idea how to pursue it.
Some people worry about lacking experience. By the way, if this is you, you’re not alone. In today’s economy this should actually be everybody’s concern because the rapid change of digital technology is disrupting business processes in so many industries.
A 2016 report by the World Economic Forum forecast that within five years over one-third of skills that are considered important in the workforce will have changed.
Only after you identify what is standing in your way to a more fulfilling career can you focus on overcoming it. But be sure to give the question serious reflection. Arriving at an honest answer here is crucial, and it isn’t always easy.
You may need to dig deep to assess the real barriers between you and your goals. It may even be worth engaging the professional services of a career coach, such as those at The Barrett Group. Career coaches are a great resource for someone in a rut because they intentionally push clients out of their comfort zone and encourage them to consider perspectives and options they may not have thought of.
The methodology starts by investigating all aspects of what’s right and wrong in your life, including financial independence, business success, family and relationships, and health and fitness. Ask yourself challenging questions such as:
What are you most proud of?
What does success look like? or
What is the worst thing that could happen if you
don’t achieve your goal?
Such questions help differentiate between societal ideals of success (e.g. money or status) and personal successes (e.g. work-life balance and a happy family).
Use the “Five Whys” technique to drill down to the root cause of a problem. In this approach, you identify your problem (e.g. I’m unhappy at work) and ask yourself “why.” Repeat the question five times in response to each answer.
Typically, you will uncover alterable behavior on your part that could resolve the problem. When you ferret out self-imposed barriers in the path of your career advancement, you can think through how to dismantle them.
The process can be emotionally arduous, but, ultimately, it brings you clarity about priorities and personal values in your life, and it sets the foundation on which you can rebuild career aspirations.
The clarity process is the hard part. Once that is done, you just need to come up with a game plan for advancing your goals and commit to it. First, consider how you can lessen the barriers that you identified.
Lack of experience? Up your game through online courses, reading books, or volunteering to work alongside someone who can coach you. Of course, if you’re an older worker, don’t underestimate the value of your soft skills.
Lack of time? Completely understandable! Prioritizing a career change is very hard, especially given that it doesn’t provide immediate gratification. Still, the benefits of scheduling even a few hours per week into your calendar to promote your career will build up over time.
Unsure how to pursue your goal? Start by building and
nurturing your network of contacts. Reach out to them and have a conversation
or solicit advice. You’ll be amazed how informative and helpful people can be.
How to Stay Motivated
Change is stressful and the frustrations of a job search can wear down the best of us. Getting organized and structuring a routine in your job search will help. Set S.M.A.R.T goals – goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
For example, schedule 10 hours per week towards enhancing your career opportunities, target three resumes per week to send out, or plan to meet 10 people for coffee per month. Revise the numbers as necessary, but stick to it!
There are several other steps you can also take to stay motivated:
Focus on what you can control and not on the
things you can’t control.
Celebrate small victories whenever you can.
Make a list of all your accomplishments, which has
the dual benefit of making you feel good about yourself and providing you with
a handy reference of your career highlights to use for quick reference. It may
also spark ideas about how to link different career goals!
Take mental breaks – looking for a new job is
Don’t forget to keep things in perspective. If you ask people how they came to be doing what they are doing, they often answer that they fell into it due to chance circumstances. That may be frustrating to hear, but it should actually encourage you.
“Chance circumstances” is a testimony to networking. If you cultivate and grow your network, you will be surprised how opportunities will crop up.
Changing careers isn’t easy, but it’s easier than staying in a job you don’t want. It’s also easier when you have a strategy to overcoming the barriers to your success.
Did you know that 85% of all jobs are landed through networking?
If you know nothing else about networking, that statistic should focus your mind – and your approach to job seeking. Short of being born into royalty, networking is THE best way to land a job, bar none. And, therefore, it should comprise the lion’s share of any efforts you exert to find a new job.
Networking has been touted for years as a valuable tool during a job hunt. In the digital workforce, it is indispensable.
According to a survey published on LinkedIn, networking is the biggest factor in finding a job for all types of people – whether they are actively job hunting, employed, or any combination of the two.
In fact, the survey indicates that the people who get jobs from networking most often are actually employed and NOT actively looking for a job. In many cases, they’ve been offered a job before it was published. That’s some powerful networking!
Are you fully leveraging your network in your job hunt? If not, it’s time to hone your skills so you, too, can slip through the backdoor of a company to land your next job.
Sow the Seeds Early, Reap the Benefits Later
It has been said that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time is today. The same could be said of building a network of contacts.
A network is much more than the people whose business cards you collect. It’s about building valuable relationships.
Relationships develop over time and must be nurtured and maintained. Naturally, a network includes your professional contacts, but it also includes everyone you’ve ever met in any capacity: former co-workers, clients, vendors, school friends, people in your running club, members of your church – your family, of course…the list goes on.
If you’re anxious about getting started with networking, these are the people you should reconnect with first. Sure, your aunt is probably not the one who can help you get a job at Google. But her neighbor’s daughter’s boss might. You’ll never know unless you reach out to connect with her.
When you reach out for the first time, find out what people are up to. Typically, you will catch up a bit and talk about family, work and aspirations for life. When you enter into those conversations, focus on giving to the relationship, not taking.
At some point in the future, your contact may talk to someone about something that reminds them of the conversation with you and they’ll reach back out to you. It may take a short time or a long time – but the opportunity will grow only if you’ve planted the seed.
Continue to build these connections and expand your circle. Surprisingly often, they lead somewhere.
While a business lunch is still a perfectly acceptable way to network, the best way to build and maintain the informal relationships that are most useful in job hunting is through social media. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are popular options with younger folks. For more seasoned professionals, however, the most important one is LinkedIn, where 56% of workers go to job search.
Unlike other social network websites, LinkedIn is uniquely designed for professional networking. You can summarize your career and highlight certain skills and expertise. You make connections by inviting people to join your network. This enables you to see their connections and even the connections of those connections. Through this visual web of professional connections, you can develop new ones at the companies or industries that interest you.
Members in your network can also endorse you for skills, which increases your professional value in the eyes of other members of your network. Your goal should be to get endorsements from 99+ people in your network.
How? The easiest way is to endorse people in your network yourself. People will often return the favor. What’s more, the activity might also lead to a phone call in which you verbally reconnect, catch up and possibly learn about upcoming opportunities.
Three Types of Networks
As you build your professional network, you should remember that networking is not just for jobseekers. Everyone should always be networking because there are so many other tangential benefits. Networking is a great way to build up references, meet potential new clients and vendors, and learn the perspective of people outside your industry.
Operational – this is the group that you engage
with in a professional sense and upon whom your success hinges. These are the
people around you that you need to do your day-to-day work – your immediate
Personal – this group includes those
individuals that you trust and to whom you can turn for advice or just to
discuss career options, even in a social setting, like coaches, mentors or
people you might ask to be a reference.
Strategic – this network may overlap the other
two. These are peers, industry leaders or other contacts with whom you can
share ideas, discuss future initiatives and how to realize your goals. Building
and maintaining this network takes time and attention away from your routine,
so it is typically the most neglected of the three networks. But it is,
arguably, the most crucial one to build.
Whenever possible, you should always try to be on the giving end of a relationship with anyone in your network; it builds good will and you never know when you might need to exercise some of that social capital for your own benefit.
Success in Any Industry Starts with Networking
No matter what industry you are in, it is smart to develop a strong network, especially one that spans many other industries, because you just never know where an opportunity might arise.
He used LinkedIn Analytics and was soon referred by someone in his network to two scientists who were trying to produce an artificial sweetener. He went to work for them, and in his second year made over a million dollars. He never used a recruiter or even a resume. It was all word of mouth.
“This happens all the time,” said Resendes. “Of our clients, 75%
land a job through their social networks.”
leverage your networking skills, you learn about potential opportunities before
they even become available. With luck, that creates an opportunity – and then
you slip in the backdoor.
Lawyers often spend years of their life and heaps of money earning a law degree only to find themselves overworked, highly stressed, and underpaid – or even, in the case of solo practitioners, not paid at all. Then they suffer the indignity of being the butt of numerous jokes in popular culture.
An especially insidious stressor for many lawyers is the frustration of having no idea how to escape career pressures. They can’t change positions because who will take them on unless they come with their own book of business? They can’t leave law because they don’t know how to transfer their skills.
Lawyers, take heart! There is a way forward. You have more transferable skills than you realize. And changes in the legal profession over the past 10 years may well present you with opportunities you never considered.
Evolving Legal Industry
The legal industry is a different world compared to just ten years ago. New legal technologies, for one, have dramatically changed the way legal services are delivered. eDiscovery automation software has slashed the time it takes lawyers to sift through documents for relevant evidence. Digital business management platforms allow lawyers to automate many processes of case management. And new companies like LegalZoom offer customers standardized, professionally vetted, legal documents at a cost-effective rate for simple contracts.
In addition to technological efficiencies, cost-conscious clients and the pressures of globalization and business have drawn law work from many firms towards corporate legal departments and non-law firms. The result has been the downsizing or merging of traditional law firms.
Others favor a position at a modern mid-size law firm. The resistance of traditional law firms to industry changes has prompted many to pop up. Leaving the law industry for a non-law company where legal expertise is valued is another valuable option.
Legal delivery is no longer just about lawyers and the practice of law – it involves a host of non-lawyers who work in business and technology, conjointly, with legal professionals in a newly developing field. “The practice of law has morphed into the delivery of legal services,” writes legal business consultant, Mark Cohen. Cohen sees this evolution as akin to the way the practice of medicine morphed into the field of healthcare. “Legal expertise is now but one leg supporting legal delivery’s three-legged stool that also includes technology and business,” he writes.
The job market has changed quite a bit, and good attorneys will find that they have many skills that can benefit them as they consider a career change. Some skills are inherent to the profession, such as being organized, logical, and a good communicator.
“They have to work well with clients, opposing counsel, and judges. They are also good at looking at large amounts of data and building a coherent argument.” Add in negotiating, public speaking, and a facility for giving presentations – these are skills that translate well into many areas of business.
Many other transferable skills are developed throughout a career. Lawyers who focus on certain industries, for example, become de facto specialists in those industries. “Solo practitioners representing small businesses don’t realize they have learned a lot and contributed to those businesses,” says Donna Mase. “They could easily go in and take on roles that would be enjoyable to them, beneficial to the company, and play upon skills they have.”
How to Parlay Your Skills into Opportunity
lawyers seeking a job change struggle to figure out how to parlay their skills
into a new opportunity. They exhaust the formal side of the job market speaking
to recruiters who tell them they must have X years of experience and Y degrees
if they want a new job, and they come to the wrong conclusion that “those are
the rules.” They are stuck with their lot.
“I’ve seen some truly amazing things happen – not because of who the lawyer knows, but because of who the people they know know. One client thought he had no experience with the nonprofit world, but 75 people in his LinkedIn profile were directly connected to nonprofits. He leveraged his social capital to land a job there. Your social connections are the most important asset!”
Even before leveraging your social capital, however, you should thoughtfully consider what you want and what you can offer. This is your value proposition. Why do you want a change? What are your core drivers and values? People for whom this isn’t clear might consider hiring a career coach who can guide them through a self-discovery process. Once you know what your ideal work environment is and what your strengths and weaknesses are, you will be ready to search for your ideal job.
you do, do NOT send 300 resumes into cyberspace. This is akin to throwing stuff
against the wall to see what sticks. You will not get a job this way. Start by
picking up the phone and being social. If you’re willing to put in the work and
think outside the box, these baby steps will get you to the summit of Mount
Life is not easy for the owners of small law firms. They
have to wear many hats: be an attorney, bring in the business, manage
employees, and run the firm. In this video, law firm growth expert Alay Yajnik talks
about his passion for helping attorneys increase their income and take more
It’s Monday morning. How do you feel about getting out of bed to go to work?
With luck, you are among the 51% of U.S. workers who are satisfied with their jobs. This figure, reported last fall by the Conference Board, a business-research group, represents the highest level of job satisfaction since 2005. If you are among the remaining 49% of Americans, however, whose feelings range from a lack of passion to dread about starting a new week at work, it’s time to consider a change in your life.
Maybe some event has happened, like an illness in the family or a merger at work, that has turned your normal upside down. Maybe you feel under-appreciated by your boss. Maybe you feel that you are doing a good job with what’s within your control, but things outside of your control are preventing you from feeling successful.
Or maybe you just have a gnawing sensation that you want to do something different with your life.
Any of these situations should trigger you to re-balance your life so that you can approach your work with new energy.
Even if you’re satisfied, don’t wait until things go south at work to figure out how to improve your career prospects. It’s hard to understand why things are going wrong when you’re reacting to a bad situation. NOW is always the right time to think about your career strategically.
Before making any professional move, you need to figure out where you want to go. That’s harder than it sounds because there are many underlying factors to consider. For most people, work and every other aspect of life are closely tied together. It’s crucial, therefore, to find balance in your life.
The key to finding balance is, first, ascertaining what your non-negotiable goals are; these will be your beacon as you chart the course of your career.
Start by reflecting on what is right and wrong about your life – not just your work life, but every aspect of your life. What makes you happy and unhappy? How do you define a successful life for yourself? What do you most value?
There are no wrong answers to these questions as long as you are being honest with yourself.
Next, ask yourself what obstacles you face in achieving your goals. What will it take to overcome them? Warning: You may need to dig deep for that answer and you may not like what you discover (because sometimes the biggest obstacle you face is you). But if your goals are valuable enough to you, the pursuit of them is worth the challenge.
If this first step sounds more like life coaching than career advice, you aren’t wrong. “Life coaching is a foundational process because I can’t help people with their careers if they don’t have that foundation,” says Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at career management firm, The Barrett Group.
Resendes touts the merits of The Barrett Group’s well-developed Clarity methodology, which calls on clients to rank their overall happiness, on a scale of 1-10, in four categories: financial independence, business success, family and relationships, and health and fitness.
“We ask our clients to set short- and long-term goals to get the highest score possible in all four areas. This process gives people clarity on how to see what is right and wrong about their lives and helps them make informed decisions. It gives them a roadmap.”
Create a Roadmap for Your Career
Once you have clarity about where you want to go, you can plan your path to get there. Know your core competencies – where are you an expert? This includes both hard skills (e.g. specifically learned skills) and soft skills (e.g. naturally acquired skills, such as ability to communicate or work in a team setting). You should also know your weaknesses. Are there gaps between your skillset and those in demand in your target career? If so, figure out how to acquire them.
Whenever possible, ramp up your skills. Read books, join professional groups, take courses, attend conferences and talk to people who do what you want to do. In the fast-paced business world of today you will lose your competitive edge if you don’t make upskilling a regular focus of your career strategy.
The value of networking cannot be overstated when it comes to career changes.
Most new jobs are landed when people leverage their social capital, according to Resendes. “Of our clients, 75% land a job through social networks – and many of those are unpublished jobs,” he said. No wonder then that The Barrett Group urges all clients to kickstart a career change by reconnecting with friends, family and business acquaintances.
That doesn’t mean floating your resume around or asking people for jobs. It means focusing on nurturing relationships – spending time to catch up and strengthen social connections. At some point the conversation may come back to you – your work and aspirations – and could yield some benefits. It may not happen immediately, but at some point in the future your friend may talk to someone about a topic related to you and will think of you.
If you are very serious about making a career change, you should consider working with a professional career coach. A coach can reframe things differently, help drive and navigate the process, and hold you accountable, like a trainer.
A coach can be more objective and ask hard questions that you won’t ask yourself. She can help you think outside your comfort zone and stretch your perspective. Once you do, you may stretch more than you ever thought you could – and change more than you ever thought you would.
Of course, a coach can also be invaluable in offering best practices when it comes to resume and cover letter preparation, interviewing, and job offer negotiations among other things.
What to Expect from Getting Unstuck
Be prepared for some discomfort as you travel your new career path. There will be highs and lows and the process may be fast or slow – it all depends on your circumstances and how much time and effort you put into it.
Indeed, you should be prepared to spend at least three hours per week working on your career plan. Treat your career with the same importance you do your work and your family by scheduling time on your calendar to work on it.
For many, time management will be a bear, especially during the self-reflection part of the process. Not only is it hard to make time to ask yourself uncomfortable questions, but also there is no immediate gratification.
Still, the biggest obstacle to achieving success is spending 100% of your time taking care of your family and job. Sure, it seems honorable, but if you aren’t committed to working on your career, nothing will change.
Professionals that commit themselves to the journey they have charted for themselves are always the first to land new opportunities. And those that continue to focus on their careers in a strategic, not reactionary, way will continue to discover new opportunities going forward.
Are you in a midlife career change? Are you changing careers at 30, 40 or 50 years of age? Do you need a new career? If you are currently experiencing difficulty in your job search, we’re here to help. Please send a message with your information or call.