As we usher out the last few days 2016 and make space in our lives for the New Year, here are five of the top blog articles published on ANNE MARIE SEGAL: THE BLOG this year. Please leave a comment below if you would like to let us know your favorite article of the year and how it has impacted your professional life.

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8 Core Qualities of Successful General Counsel and How to Achieve Them

I Don’t Want a Coach. I Just Want a Job.

Achieving Gratitude in a Macho Work Environment

Young woman showing her heartfelt gratitude

Successful Career Transition Stage 1: Start With a Creative Mindset

Get It Together: Organizing Your Job Search Leads

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Thanks to all my readers and followers!
I wish you all a prosperous and fulfilling 2017!

You may also like:

Why You Need a Strategy Before Writing Your Resume” on Forbes.com

Breaking Out of a Suffocating Job Search” on LinkedIn Pulse

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Anne Marie Segal is a career & leadership coach, author of Master the Interview and resume strategist/writer. She launched her coaching practice after 15 years as a practicing attorney. For more information about working with Anne Marie, please visit her website.

Images: Shutterstock/Adobe Images.

Through my work as an Advisor to the The Resume Exchange, a career development resource for University of Chicago students and alumni, I met Daniel Arking, its tireless Founder and chief Advisor.

Here’s a link to my recent interview with Dan about my new book, Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals.

Click here for the link to the Resume Exchange Interview

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Halloween is a day about getting scared – on purpose – and also about facing our very real fears. Prospective clients often ask if I can help them break out of a suffocating job search. They tell me that “everything they try” is not working. When we talk a bit more, what I often discern is the following:

  1. They have not settled on a target audience for their job search (or even a small set of audiences) but are sending out applications all over the place.

  2. They are not tailoring their applications to specific opportunities.

  3. They are relying mainly on sending their resumes into the “black hole” of online applications rather than leveraging contacts who may have or know about opportunities.

  4. They are limiting themselves to on-the-job experiences rather than seeking out additional outlets to grow their skills.

The problem with this approach is two-fold. First, while you can get lucky and get a “hit” on a great job – if you are a convincing candidate during the interview process – it rarely works to have a scattershot approach to your job search. Second, it wears you out, so you feel suffocated by the job search rather than energized by it.

Here is the better approach:

  1. Get very clear on your long-term and short-term goals. Figure out which audiences you are targeting, so you can refine your pitch and make each application count.

  2. Tailor your cover letter and resume to the field and type of role, with specific tweaks that relate to the specific job to which you are applying.

  3. Build and work your network. Keep online applications to a minimum, e.g., 10% of your overall job search. Get out there and create a pipeline of contacts through calls and face-to-face meetings, including informational interviews.

  4. Find coursework, individualized study or volunteer opportunities, or look for ways to supplement your current job, to get you closer to your end goals. 

No one wants to hire a candidate who is visibly floundering or suffocating from an ineffective job search, and it often shows when you are stretched thin. Break out of the cycle and make the best use of your precious time invested in your search. Not only will you have more interest from employers – which can raise your confidence level and fuel your energy – but you will perform better in the vetting process to achieve greater career-search success.

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her book on job interviews, Master the Interview, includes an entire chapter devoted to building one’s job search network.

Image above from Shutterstock.

 

 

 

Are you struggling to keep up with your job search? You probably know that you need to be organized and keep better track of your leads, but how do you achieve that?

How to organize your job search.

Getting organized in your job search means knowing with whom you are connecting, why and other important data points, so that you can recall them when needed. It is easy to keep 3 job targets in your head. Thirty is not so easy. You may think that you will remember information about the company, your value proposition for the role and other factors, but without this information at your fingertips, you are likely to miss something.

Essentially, you need to know and remember the “who, what, where, when, why and how’s” of your job search. If you keep track of this information, not only will it help you feel as though you are making progress on your job search, but it will allow you to keep up with the important contacts that you have made rather than losing out on opportunities because you failed to follow up.

 

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Organize your job search. Image from Adobe Images.

While it may seem like extra work to keep track of where you are applying, if it seems like too much effort to keep track of what you are doing, you are probably “doing too much” on the search front (i.e., sending out applications blindly without slowing down to think about whether the jobs to which you are applying are actually good fits for your talents, interests and skills). It is much more productive to slow down and be thoughtful about your applications than try to blanket the market with your resume.

Imagine you receive a call from the HR department of one of your target employers. She says, “Hi, it’s Sherrie at Set Your Sights High,” and you say, “Ummm….”

If you were being completely honest, you may answer:

“Hi Sherrie, can you hold on…? I think I remember you but not your company. Actually, can I call you back when I figure out where you are calling from and why I sent you an application?”

I am sure you’ll agree that’s not your best look. 

I often suggest to my clients that they arrange their job search and interview information in a chart form, such as Microsoft Excel, with the headings of each column as follows. Here are examples of how to arrange it, with the bolded information sorted by columns and the data in rows.

Spreadsheet #1 – Target Roles (examples)

  • Contact at Target – Jorge Rodriguez
  • Target Company Name – Blankman & Co.
  • Nature of Relationship – our kids play soccer together
  • What I Offer this Target – my blend of technology and people skills plus large and small company expertise; they are growing quickly; looking for new COO; want someone decisive; my leadership roles and recruiting are a plus; they like that I have some sales background and can relate to sales team
  • Date/Stage of Last Contact – email on 6/1
  • Next Steps – follow up with phone call if haven’t heard by 6/15
  • Notes – also knows my good friend Ralph and probably Sara, need to bring this up somehow

Spreadsheet #2 – Connectors (examples)

  • Name – Lana Kinderman
  • Company Name – Kinderman & Associates
  • Nature of Relationship – known since graduate school
  • Reason for Connection – will refer me to an UN jobs or others where she has contacts; said I may need to first apply, then she will forward resume to right people
  • Date/Point of Last Contact – lunch on 5/10
  • Next Steps – invite her to September networking event; finalize resume to send her
  • Notes – remind Lana I speak fluent Spanish next time I see her

For the second spreadsheet, “Connectors” are people who are well poised to connect you to possible targets, and the “Reason for Connection” relates to the type of roles with which or individuals with whom they can connect you. For example, the Reason for Connection may be that the individual knows a number of private company CEOs or has other contacts in a certain field and is willing and able to help you connect with them (i.e., has a strong network and wants to support your job search by helping you make connections). Recruiters can also go on the Connectors chart, or a separate chart, since they also have the potential to connect you with a number of roles.

If you are applying to very different sets of roles (e.g., non-profit administration roles and corporate social responsibility (CSR) positions), I would suggest using additional sets of spreadsheets, or different workbooks within Excel if you find that easier, for each leg of your job search, naming them appropriately. The more structured you can make your approach, without complicating it, the better. (And if you find Excel intimidating, tables in Word also work. The point is to use this information to serve your job search, not to be tied to a certain format.)

Some of my clients prefer to include contact information for individuals in this same chart, although I generally keep that separate, so that the spreadsheet is still printable and readable on an 8 ½ x 11 page without heavy formatting.

Click here for a sample spreadsheet.

Alternatively, you can record your job leads and next steps online, rather than through a spreadsheet. This is entirely in the best interest of the job seeker rather than an issue of best practice. I like to see everything on a few pages, neatly organized, and do not want to have to sign in and remember passwords to access my information. Others may appreciate the support of a system. Jibberjobber.com works well for many candidates, for example, and it is free (at the time of this post) for a basic account.

Once you have an interview with a target company, I suggest creating more detailed pages outlining your research and talking points, which I will discuss in more detail in a future post.

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, writer and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. The above is an excerpt from her forthcoming book on job interviews. For more information about Anne Marie’s coaching practice, please visit www.segalcoaching.com.

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

Address Strong Superhero Success Professional Empowerment Stock
Is your childhood fascination keeping you from your dream job today?

Are You Judged By Your Email Address?
A Resounding Yes!

If you have an email address that starts like any of the ones below, or something similar, and you have wondered why you have had a hard time getting any traction in your job search, this is a post you need to read.

superboy7

batmanrocks2014

777goldrush

pushmybuttons29

bestrunner550

krisandstevesmith

kevinandamysdad

tommmons7

I’ve called this post “Immature Email Addresses Need Not Apply” because I can tell you from countless conversations with recruiters and hiring managers that they LOVE to see goofy, inappropriate, overly personal or hard-to-read email addresses. It makes their job easier. Resume, meet trash can. (Well, they actually cringe to see them with otherwise highly qualified candidates, because it puts everything else about the candidate’s application into doubt.)

Recruiters and hiring managers LOVE to see goofy, inappropriate or hard-to-place email addresses. It makes their job easier. Resume, meet trash can.

One of the important vetting points for a job candidate is to determine whether he or she has good judgment. Whether you’ll be a law firm associate, marketing manager or receptionist, if you don’t have good judgment, you are missing one of the essential elements that makes a good employee. So demonstrating your bad judgment in the very document that is meant to market you is clearly counterproductive to, if not fatal for, your chances as a job candidate.

You would be surprised how often I need to say this to clients, and it is not only junior people who have never held a job before. I have had this same conversation with executive candidates who have been in the workforce for 20 years or more.  I would guess that everyone knows someone who has the “wrong” type of email address to grace a professional job application, but few of us know how to tell our friends that they need to change it.

Don’t use an email address that includes your street address, is awkward to type, alludes to your hobbies or religious beliefs, or is anything other than an easy derivation of your name. Outside of a professional context (a world that is admittedly getting smaller and smaller with social media, if not disappearing for most of us), you can email from butterfly2000@gmail.com, soccerhead4769@hotmail.com or whatever you like, but not in the job search or on work-related matters thereafter, if you want to be taken seriously.

Keep your resume out of the trash can.

Judgment. It’s that important. Review every aspect of your resume and other career documents to see if there is any hint (or shout) of bad judgment, from an immature, unprofessional, irrelevant or hard-to-spell email address or otherwise.

Email addresses are not the time and place to get creative.
Not when you are in job search mode.

People often want offbeat email addresses to express their individuality. That’s great, go crazy, but create a new one for your job search. In a very small number of highly creative fields, a call-attention-to-your-uniqueness style of email address can work (although none of the above addresses are actually creative, just off the mark). In almost all cases, however, the tried and true combination of firstname.lastname@emailserver.com is the best bet. In addition, some career experts recommend that Gmail and Hotmail are the best servers to show that you are a tech-savvy candidate. If the firstnamelastname combination is not available, lastnamefirstname, firstnamelastname10, firstnamemiddleinitiallastname and other combinations of one’s name and initials make your email (and, by extension, your job application) easier to find and retrieve among a pool of hundreds or thousands of candidates, so you can get the call for the interview and job offer.

On a similar note, if you use your married name professionally, don’t use your maiden name in your email. If you use your middle name as a first name, don’t start your email with your “real” first initial (unless it is also on your resume), so if someone wants to start typing your name, they know which letter comes first (which often populates the “To” field in their email message).  If you have a difficult to pronounce or spell last name that is 29 letters, consider shortening it to 5 or 8 letters in the email, cutting it off at a natural breaking point. In all cases, what you are trying to do is make it easier on the person recommending, interviewing (and, hopefully, hiring) you.

Keep your eye on the prize. The purpose of a job search is to get the job. 

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She is currently completing her first book, on job interviews, which will be available in early 2017. To join her monthly mailing list and receive a preview of the chapter on value propositions, please click here and write “Book Preview” in the comments section.

 

[Note: Any reference to actual email addresses in the above is unintentional. These addresses are cited for illustration purposes only.]

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.
Photograph above from Adobe Images.

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Kristina has always secretly dreamed of owning a vineyard in France.

She has other dreams, too. But this one just won’t go away.

How can Kristina, from her windowless desk at a bank in New York City, figure out how to bring more of her dream life into her actual life?

Exploration is the first stage of a successful career transition, as I covered in my prior post. Stage 2 is a decision-making process that involves vetting the ideas that have been uncovered through brainstorming, research, informational interviews, networking and other means of discovery. We vet against a set of factors that we have enumerated, such as our values, talents, interests, skills, financial needs and the market.

These two first stages (exploration and vetting) work in tandem but are distinct. In fact, we do them naturally every day, but not always intentionally.  More importantly, too often we rush to judgment about our ideas without fully opening ourselves to the brainstorming process, missing valuable information about ourselves and our true career goals as we try to vet while still exploring ideas. Often this rush is triggered by our own anxiety about transition, while at times it is the expediency of the situation.

In the best case scenario, we will explore and vet in a cycle, which will look a lot like the following image. We explore ideas, we vet them, and then we explore again. In other words, each time we make an interim decision about career transition that has not led us to a final conclusion, we go back to the proverbial drawing board with an open mind, returning to further vetting until we make a final decision (about one or more options to pursue in our career transition).

Here is what this might look like.

Exploration - Vetting

As we covered in the prior post, there are three aspects of the brainstorming phase:

Creative Mindset – Facts – Exploration

Kristina can generate ideas about her vineyard dream, conduct actual research into what it takes to own a vineyard and explore her questions with people who are already in her dream space.

As a coach, one of the points I would try to tease out from Kristina is what exactly appeals to her about this dream. Some of the appeal may be one or more of the following:

  • Living on the land; more in-tune with the seasons
  • Being involved with the wine community
  • Making money while drinking wine! 🙂
  • Doing something completely different than her current job – i.e., curing burnout
  • Feeling relaxed, the way she feels on vacation
  • Owning her own business; being her own boss
  • Living in France; speaking French
  • Feeling as though she has made an impact on the world
  • Leading a team of people committed to a quality product

For your own dream job, I would encourage you to do the same brainstorming about what exactly is appealing about that dream. Think through what is missing in your life that this dream job would offer. Imagine what you would be doing every day and how that would support your values and vision of yourself.

Notice that we haven’t yet vetted anything. We don’t know if Kristina has the money it takes to buy a vineyard (or could get financing), the talents to do it, the stomach for the risks or the true interest in doing the day-to-day work of running a vineyard. We also don’t know if she would be any good at it – would she be able to sell any wine? There are a hundred questions she would need to answer before actually moving forward, and each of those questions (and their answers) may open more ideas to explore as well as offer good feedback to Kristina about how a successful career transition would look.

The reason for separating exploration and vetting is that we often try to make decisions with too little information. Kristina will not know why this particular dream keeps coming up if she does not explore it, without the shoulds getting in the way. (You know the shoulds, I am sure. She should be practical. She should stop wasting time with something that will never happen…. And the rest of their should cousins.)

As part of her exploration, Kristina can explore vineyards from Long Island to Provence and beyond. She can talk to people in the business. She can sign up for Alliance Francaise, if her French is a little rusty. If she feels ambitious and tentatively committed to see if this could go anywhere  – or just for fun, to give it a whirl – she can create a business plan for the vineyard. In other words, Kristina can bring her dream world a bit more into her real world and recall the sensation of being carried away by an idea. 

In summary, the openness and creativity resulting from Kristina’s indulgence of her dream job idea may at some point lead to the actual result of opening her own vineyard – if it passes the vetting process – or it may throw off side ideas that are a better fit.

If you are ready to move to Stage 2, here are the main points to vet:

Values – Talents – Interests – Skills – Needs – The Market

Like Kristina, once you have some ideas on the table and have done your initial exploration with an open mind (whether these ideas represent dream jobs or simply “a bit better than what I have now” jobs), you are ready to subject these ideas to the vetting process. As an overview, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Your Values: Will the targeted role be meaningful to you? Will it meet your top values or will there by any values that need to be compromised (or left unmet) in this role?
  • Your Talents: Does it play to your strengths, and will it best utilize your greatest talents?

To insert an example here, in Kristina’s case, does she understand the how to market wine (or could she learn it) and would she enjoy doing that? What about how to run a farm? Run a business? Manage people? Manage cash flow?

What other talents will she need, and which of these play to her strengths?

  • Your Interests: Will the role be challenging and interesting on a daily basis? Are the problems that arise ones that you enjoy solving?
  • Your Skills: Do you have what is needed for the targeted role and if not, how can you acquire those skills? What commitment is needed to close the gap?
  • Your Needs: Will the role serve your financial needs? Will it meet other needs, such as the need for autonomy, the need to feel part of a team or the need to be recognized for good work?
  • Your Temperament: Will the minor annoyances in this job one day become major ones? Are you well suited to the day-to-day aspects of the role?
  • The Market: Does the marketplace need what you would like to do? How many of this type of role is available at the level that will meet your financial needs? Note: If it is a new idea or a niche market, you may need to conduct market research to know the answer to this point – don’t assume that just because you build it (and love it yourself), they will come.

Through thoughtful exploration and careful vetting – which is not all work, it can be fun too! – you will find new ways to frame and “reframe” your ideas and decisions about career transition. Whether you are looking to make a major change like the one above or if you simply want to tweak your current role, putting structure and organization around the process helps you make better decisions. You also may, as part of the process, find a “bridge job” that will help you incorporate into your life some aspects that are missing, as you continue to explore and vet your longer vision for your career.

For example, say that Kristina decides that she does want to go for it and open a vineyard in France – not an immutable decision, but a concrete goal – and that she has or can find the means to do so. She may first move from her bank job in New York to a similar role in Paris – admittedly also a move that takes effort – as a way to get geographically closer to her goal, meet more people who can make it a reality and satisfy a number of points on her dream list that appeal to her. Alternatively, she may seek a role at a vineyard (or a service provider to vineyards) in some capacity that is closer to her current role and uses her current skills, learning the business as she goes.

Remember: neither is not a compromise, either is a bridge. As she takes smaller risks and gets closer to the life she desires, Kristina will increase her resilience, self-awareness and capacity for change. 

Hungry (or thirsty) for change? What will your next move be? 

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She helps clients with career exploration and other stages of the job search process. For more information, please visit her website at www.segalcoaching.com.

 

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

First image above: Shutterstock.

 

shutterstock_201564593 (cropped woman jeans red light bulbs)Marilyn hates her job. She has many ideas about where she would like to land next and needs help sorting them out.

Rob is stuck in a rut. He has spent so long at the same role that he can hardly imagine doing anything else. He wants to identify new possibilities and opportunities.

Jamie likes what she is doing and would like to stay in the same field, but she wants to find a way to advance within her company or, if necessary, outside of it. She is also open to changing to a new job altogether, if it does not require starting over.

Each of these career-transition questions inhabit Stage 1 of the Career Transition Process.

The Marilyns, Robs and Jamies of the world crave structure around their exploratory work. Otherwise, they live in their own heads, and they fail to make much real progress that will help them out of their current situations and into a better place. I know, because I was there myself once. I also know because I see it every day in my coaching practice.

  • Stage 1: Explore: Are you open to and ready for change at this time? What options are available? How and where can you explore further? Who can help?

A successful career transition begins with creative brainstorming, targeted research and empirical exploration.

Creative Mindset and Brainstorming

Having a creative mindset allows you to generate ideas and be open to a range of possibilities. Brainstorming isn’t about vetting, that comes later.

Stage 1 is the “what if” stage.

  • What if you changed industries, practice areas or careers?
  • What if you stayed in your current role? How could you improve it?
  • What if you decided to go for CEO, another C-level role or partnership?
  • What if you gave up one of those roles to pursue something new?
  • What if you took a risk and …?

Research

While keeping an open mind, research facilitates brainstorming. I often suggest that clients search job descriptions (not to apply, as background material), and read through what they describe as the basic components of the job. Along with job descriptions, they can often pull up resumes of individuals who are already working in similar jobs from a simple internet search. These resumes can give key insights into what actually goes into a particular job, which may be much different than the job seeker had imagined before such research was conducted.

In addition, job seekers in the First Stage of their job search can research:

(1) industries, fields and companies,

(2) what skills they would need to acquire to achieve certain roles, and what that skill acquisition would entail,

(3) compensation in the desired field, and

(4) information about analogous roles that would help them widen their net of possible roles that could be a fit for their talents, skills and interests.

Remember: If you have gone through job descriptions in the past with a feeling of dread, kick that feeling to the curb. These words on a page have no hold over you. You are simply brainstorming to help yourself get on the right path.

Exploration

In addition to analytical research, the third means to open your mind to the possibilities in your job search is to meet and spend time with individuals in your target fields.

“Hi Pam, it’s Marilyn. Confidentially, I am considering a career move that would put me in a role similar to yours. Would you have some time to meet me for coffee near your office sometime next week? I would like to ask you a few questions so I can better understand what your day-to-day workload is like before I make the leap.”

Take time to network and conduct what are called informational interviews (as opposed to job interviews – you are asking for information, not a job) as you continue to generate ideas and ask people what they know, and who else they may know, to help you explore possibilities.

It is worth noting that you should choose your networking contacts carefully at this fragile Stage 1 of your job search. The proverbial Debbie Downer (who sees everything negatively) will not be helpful for you as you are trying to keep an open mind. Keep Debbie for the vetting process, which is Stage 2 and will be covered in my next post.


Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She helps clients with career exploration and other stages of the job search process. For more information, please visit her website at www.segalcoaching.com.

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

Image above: Shutterstock.