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 It’s more likely, however, that the original reasons you had for choosing your career are simply no longer valid.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.
46% of employers in the U.S. report difficulty recruiting talent. If job searchers or career changers were not successful in their search to date, how did they position themselves? Did prospects hear any of the talent shortage drivers below as reasons why they were not hired?
Relevant drivers of Talent Shortage:
Lack of experience
Applicants lack required hard skills
Applicants lack required soft skills
Applicants expect higher pay than offered
Applicants expecting better benefits than offered man
“The first quarter of 2019 will continue to be tight labor market; it is strong despite uncertainty with Tariffs and trade.”
These trends are sometimes overlooked, hidden in the unemployment figures.
The Baby Boomers will continue to work. They’ve been told for 30 years that Social Security will fail, and they’ve seen the values of their 401(k)’s plummet overnight several times, along with property values.
The Millennials (and now Gen Z) are radically changing the definition of jobs in general, and are ignoring traditional employment, as well as owning cars or houses, or marrying and having children.
So how does this affect those in pursuit of a career or job change?
It’s somewhat counterintuitive: The media tells them there are millions of jobs waiting to be filled, but many career or job changers were either rejected as “not qualified,” or they didn’t want the jobs as advertised.
The executive level jobs in corporate America are either already held by someone who refuses to move on, or, when they do, they are not replaced, as the 40-hour workweek, salaried executive position no longer fits the fixed costs averse, bottom line operational mentality.
Opportunities for executive career or job changers are not that common; but there is hope: The Barrett Group has an excellent track record of finding them.
As the executive job market is a rarified target, those looking for a job will need to “be everywhere at once, all the time, in order to be in the right place at the right time.” That is part of the service The Barrett Group provides.
The Bureau of Labor lists these Fastest Growing Management Occupations from now to 2026, growing at an 8% rate with average median wage of $102,590:
Management (Plan, Direct & Coordinate)
With the “Top Executives” growing at 8%, it seems unlikely that there are enough qualified people ready to move into these emerging opportunities – which is good news for executive career or job changers.
Fast Growth Regions
The area with highest job growth continues to be the Sunshine State of Florida. The strongest growth industries are Hospitality, Transportation and Utilities.
The Barrett Group is a boutique career management firm for executives with a basic service philosophy focused on serving each unique client employee uniquely. We do not believe in a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. Our service delivery is designed around this belief.
“The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, the country has seen eight years of job growth and the market is a job seeker’s dream. So, why is it so challenging to find a job?”
Sound familiar? The answer to the question might be different for you than it is for someone else: Maybe it’s your age; maybe robots are consuming the jobs in your field; or maybe it’s simply that the method for job hunting has dramatically changed since the last time you did it. Despite the seemingly rosy employment picture these days, the search for the perfect job can sometimes seem like a quest for the Holy Grail – you search near and far, for months on end, only to end up wondering whether it actually exists.
Whatever the reason, don’t despair!
And take some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.
Part of the difficulty is that you’re facing more competition. Thanks to technology, recruiters can now cast a wider net than ever before to find candidates with the right skill set.
What’s more, there are more people in the market because a job seeker’s market entices more workers to re-enter it to look for a better option.
A report published in 2017 by nonprofit Mental Health America and the FAAS Foundation found that, of 17,000 U.S. workers surveyed across 19 industries, 71% were “thinking about, or actively looking for new job opportunities.”
It may also be that occupations in your field or industry are in decline.
Many technology-based industries, for example, have gone bust in the wake of recent technological changes. The Data Recovery Services industry, which developed in response to a demand for salvaging data from damaged hard drives, now numbers one of the top 10 dying industries in North American due to the emergence of cloud computing and storage, according to IbisWorld.
Also on the list is the Wired Telecommunications Carriers industry, which has been sidelined by the emergence of wireless cellphones and smart phones. If your career was forged in a declining industry, you need to think about how to transfer your skills to a different one.
If you’re over 50, the insidious effects of ageism are an unfortunate reality. According to a recent AARP survey, 61% of respondents reported seeing or experiencing age discrimination on the job.
An age bias risks diminishing your career prospects or lengthening the time it takes you to find a new position.
These challenges might seem like “barriers to entry” to prospective jobs, but none of them is insurmountable.
There are steps you can take to increase your value to employers and develop a competitive edge to ensure that it is you who stands out from the crowd.
The Many Benefits of Networking
For many reasons, a successful job search begins with networking. Most jobs are filled through networking. Job board postings usually happen only after someone has been earmarked for that position. Professional connections, however, enable you to learn about potential opportunities before they become available.
Get out of the house, attend networking events and professional conferences, especially those where you will meet professionals that can refer you to influential people inside your target company.
If you do learn about a great opportunity on your own, do not send a cover letter and resume until you figure out an “in” at the company. The first thing you should ALWAYS do, according to Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer of the Barrett Group, it to consider whether you have social capital that connects you to that company, and whether that person would advocate to the company on your behalf.
Leveraging social connections is the most effective way to get your foot in the door.
Sometimes a social connection is reason enough for a company to create an opportunity. Employers understand that current employees, who know the company culture and mission, are uniquely qualified to identify excellent candidates.
So, they are more receptive to employee references. With a good enough pitch, you might convince a hiring manager that hiring you will solve a problem he didn’t know he had!
Keep Your Skills Current
Whether its industry-specific professional development, knowing the latest digital productivity tools used by your company or just embracing new work modes, it is incumbent on you to continually develop yourself. If you don’t evolve, you will be left behind. Companies value most the employees that can keep up with new skills. And doing so is crucial if you want to get a leg up on the competition. Today, having top-notch skills is a more valuable currency than an impressive resume.
Virtually all job communications today, including sending resumes, happens electronically. If your resume submissions seem to be going into a black hole, they may be getting punted out of contention by ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems. ATS software offers hiring managers numerous filters to quickly scan thousands of resumes for keywords that match the job description. If your resume doesn’t include those keywords, it won’t be seen by human eyes.
Therefore, you must tailor your resume for every single job, structured according to what the company’s known needs are and including all the right keywords.
The success of your application might hinge on one word. The length can be as long as necessary to show employers that you offer tremendous value, but limit the content to that which will make you appear like the perfect fit.
If you haven’t gotten a response in a week or two, follow up. Sometimes that extra effort, demonstrating your interest and attention, is enough to move your resume to the next round.
Engage a Career Management Firm
There are innumerable benefits to hiring a career expert to help you navigate the waters of your job search. These professionals can give you a fresh perspective on shortcomings you need to work on, the value that you offer, and suggestions on how to parlay your skill set into opportunities that you may not have thought about. They can also offer support to rejigger your job hunt and professional profile that will turbo-charge your efforts.
Are you a victim of ageism? A career professional will coach you on how to leverage your experience to your advantage and convince employers that companies that value mature workers make for more successful companies.
Stuck in a dead-end field? A career professional will help you translate your skills and previous work experience into another field.
Lacking confidence? A career professional will help you understand the rules of the game, give you the tools that you need to market yourself, and advise you on the best way to focus your efforts so that you can attain the optimal position. She will review your resume, coach you on interviewing skills – perhaps even suggest a wardrobe refresh (ever so delicately, of course!).
Above all, if you are to convince an employer that you will be successful, you must believe it yourself. Armed with the help that a career management firm offers, you can commit yourself with confidence to your job search.
Most job seekers are concerned with finding out about the company, opportunity, the compensation and individuals with whom they will work. All interviewers are concerned with finding the most qualified candidate.
The most important strategy when preparing for interviews is
to focus on qualifying yourself for the opportunity. Any concerns about the company, opportunity,
compensation and the team should always be deferred until you receive an offer.
It may seem odd, but it is critically important to focus the limited about of time you have during the interview to ensure the interviewer feels that you are expertly qualified. Even when they ask you for any questions you may have.
When asked for their questions, most job seekers will ask questions related to the company’s plans for growth. Some will ask questions about how employees are treated.
Many people ask about the culture of the company, the opportunity for advancement, tools they will have at their disposal or even dive into questions about salary or compensation. This is a BAD strategy.
Remember the famous quote from John F. Kennedy?
Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.
By asking questions that prove to the interviewer that you are concerned with their needs, you will uniquely qualify yourself as the only job seeker who is on the same page as the company.
Considering you have approximately 35-60 minutes to prove you are a
perfect fit, you should instead ask the following questions:
What are the major challenges my department is facing?
Are there any burning issues that need to be addressed?
What will be my #1 priority?
What are the successes that my department is most proud of?
What are the department’s weaknesses?
If you were in my shoes, what would you focus on for the first 30 days?
Which liaison partnerships are the most important for success in this position?
Given the makeup of the team and individuals I will be working with, what type of management style would you suggest as being most effective?
What is the “customers” expectation?
What is the most important area that you will view when judging my success?
Ask your boss: “Let’s say that you hired me 6 months ago and you feel that I am the best hire you have ever made. What would I have had to accomplish during that time to make you feel that way?
AND… FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION:
Do you feel my background and experience are a good fit for your needs?
Asking the last question above is critically important. “Do you feel my background and experience are a good fit for your needs?”, allows you to know where you stand and offers the opportunity for you to correct any misperceptions as well as providing additional critical information.
You will be able to clearly define next steps and timing. You will always end the interview knowing how well you did.
If asked, “Don’t you have any questions about the company, the pay or the people with whom you will work?” You can simply state, “Sure, but I am more interested in qualifying myself for the job.”
Once the top candidate has been selected, then the timing for questions about what is in it for you would be appropriate.
The Barrett Group is a boutique career management firm for executives with a basic service philosophy focused on serving each unique client employee uniquely. We do not believe in a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. Our service delivery is designed around this belief.
The job market is conducive to finding a job. The unemployment rate is down, there are more jobs open than potential candidates available to fill those roles. If you have been job searching for a while and with limited success, it is reasonable to ask yourself why that is, and what you can do to succeed in finding a job in 2019.
With many online job search tools available today, it is easy and convenient to find job postings and apply. It is a surefire way to keep busy. Some people believe it is a numbers game – you submit so many applications, one will eventually lead to an interview, possibly to an offer and a new job. But there is a better way!
Have you ever considered going about your job search strategically?
Treating it as a work project? If not, why not? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)
If you want different results in your job search than what you’re currently getting, you may need to try different approaches.
Some of these techniques include networking, job fairs, research, cold calling, informal interviews and working with recruiters, headhunters, and a personal career management consultant.
Networking as part of your job search – think outside the box!
Of course, you want to include your family and friends, neighbors, college alumni, co-members of associations, co-board members and your professional connections… in addition to asking them for support, also ask whether they have relevant contacts in your desired job role, industry, company, or geographic area and whether they would introduce you. Then add new contacts to your network, either by attending events, researching and connecting with contacts at companies you admire, or networking sites like LinkedIn.
They offer an excellent opportunity to network, much like industry-association meetings. At job fairs, everyone talks about the job market – you can find out which companies are hiring, laying people off, or looking for specific skill sets.
Recruiters attend career fairs – a great way to mingle with the recruiting community and practice interviewing skills.
Save time by attending online job fairs. Always research job fairs, attend those that are most relevant for your skill set and prepare well before you show up.
Research should be a cornerstone of your job search!
Research all companies you would like to work for, visit their websites. Review the job roles you would like to apply for and find out who at those organizations works in your areas of interest and reach out to them. Continue with national, regional and local professional organizations in your field, connect with peer professionals and find field-specific job listings on their websites or printed publications. Apply out-of-the-box thinking to your job search and be strategic about how you invest your time.
Once you know where you want to work and found out who may be in a position to hire you, reach out to them. When calling, be prepared and have your pitch ready to launch.
This will give you the chance to make yourself known to the employer, make a connection, build a relationship and inquire about what skills and qualities are required to work within the company.
Make informal interviews or exploratory sessions part of your job search strategy – they are a great way to get to know and learn more about a potential employer – keep in mind, of course, that this is a two-way street! Come prepared with research about the company and your contact, be ready to discuss your career path and goals, as well as ideas on how and on which level you could fit within the company. Working with a personal career consultant can help you with all types of scenarios you encounter during your job search.
Work with recruiters and/or head hunters
First, understand that recruiters, etc. are paid by their corporate client companies, either by retainer, contingency – or salary, in case of internal recruiters. In all cases, the service they provide is filling open job orders. Accordingly, a great deal of their effort is expended on obtaining these job orders and winning favor with the HR department and hiring executives so the stream of job orders continues. They do not get paid to get people jobs; indeed, a private individual can’t “hire” a recruiter, as they only work for companies, not job seekers. For more information on how to effectively work with the recruiting community, click the button below.
Keep in mind that 60%-80% of all jobs are never advertised. Tapping into the unpublished market is completely different than working through job postings, creating job feeds, dealing with 3rd party recruiters and head hunters. It takes about two to three months to successfully market your reputation and leverage your value/social capital to targeted companies. This approach requires more personal investment and you may need to step out of your comfort zone, but it supplements every job search and possibly offers greater rewards in a shorter time span.
Career Management by The Barrett Group
The Barrett Group is a professional career management firm that specializes is helping clients land at their dream jobs faster and at a higher compensation package than they would be able to achieve without our team of career management specialists by their side.
We’re proud of our 90% success rate and invite you to introduce yourself to our team and tell us about your background and where you want to go next.
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.