CareerCurve™

Where Coaching Counts

As a jobseeker, what are your plans for your activities during the holiday season?  Do you subscribe to the idea that employers delay looking for new candidates during this time?  Or do you assume no decisions will be made until after the first of the year so your approach can be more relaxed and casual?  With access to feedback from thousands of candidates, our own Dick Dawson has compiled great ideas on how to view your job search during the holidays.

Differentiating yourself during a job hunt is always important but below are 5 reasons why it is to your advantage to use this time of year to really make yourself stand out.

Less Competition.  The prevailing myth among jobseekers is that organizations change their search for key employees during the holiday stretch.  And sometimes they do – by increasing their interviewing and shortening their time to hire! Use the fact that other jobseekers put their search on hold over the holiday season to demonstrate your interest level, commitment and follow up.

The best excuses to network!  It never hurts to meet people face to face and holiday parties, happy hours, and lunches provide a perfect excuse to make that happen.  I’m not suggesting you bombard everyone you know with the status of your search by attending every gathering and passing out your resume, but use this as a reason to organize a get together or a lunch date.  Thank them for their support if appropriate, or simply meet to wish them good luck in the coming year.

You can make it personal.  The holidays provide a great opportunity for a personal touch.  A handwritten card, a token of appreciation, a heartwarming wish for a great upcoming year – all of these can set you apart from the competition.  If you have concerns about political-correctness, focus on the New Year.  Each and every one of us will be closing the book on 2013 and opening the book on 2014.  Use that as a touch point and see how that little effort will pay off.  Just don’t expect blast emails and status updates on social media sites to accomplish the same thing – this is all about using the season as a reason for a personal touch.

Job Openings.  Many times those who are moving on choose to work through the end of the year and make their announcement prior to the holiday season.  Just as jobseekers are inclined to see the end of the year as a natural time to make a change, employers see the 1st of the year as a natural start for new hires.

Budgets.  Often divisions and hiring managers have budgets with funds that they want to use before January 1st so they don’t lose them.  In addition, many times companies HAVE to use them or they will be given a reduced budget the following year.  This provides a great incentive for them to complete any hiring needs and make offers prior to the end of the year.  And that is a huge advantage for you!

 

 

 

 

No one enjoys being laid off.  But actually having to let someone go is no fun either.  A well thought out and executed process can make all the difference to all parties involved.  There are numerous reasons that proper preparation and a streamlined process are important.

 

Your Brand

How a company chooses to handle this says a lot about the culture within the organization.  If communication is handled effectively, most of the time, (there are always exceptions) the former employee will leave feeling respected which leads to calm resignation and few ill feelings toward the company.   This reduces the likelihood that the former employee will run around speaking negatively about your organization, or blasting ugly messages all over social media.

 

Morale of Those Left Behind

Most employees understand that sometimes business decisions require employees to be let go.  Treating those affected with respect and offering support for them even after they leave demonstrates to the employees who have retained their positions that the company will always do its very best to treat its employees well.  Even those that are leaving.

 

Attracting Quality Talent

At some point, your organization will be hiring.  You may even be hiring in some areas while simultaneously downsizing in others.  Providing outplacement goes a long way in attracting top talent.  Potential employees will be concerned with the culture within your organization and knowing that they will be treated fairly, even if they are let go in the future, makes a company that offers support services much more appealing than one who appears to have no regard for people who’ve been forced to move on.

 

Mitigating Risk of Legal Action

Employees who lose their jobs tend to be angry initially.  An instinctive reaction is to assess the fairness of the situation looking for reasons why they should not have lost their job.  Our coaches work with the former employees to get them focused on the future and to understand that it is counterproductive to their own situation to invest a lot of time in trying focusing on the negative.  If severance agreements need to be signed, our coaches are often pivotal in making that happen sooner, rather than later.

 

Offering Support is the Right Thing To Do

Although a layoff is best done professionally and without emotion, one way to show compassion is to invest in the future of the former employee.  Providing coaching for their search is a tangible way to let past employees know that, although the decision had to be made, the company is doing right by them.  Anyone at any time can experience losing their job and treating those impacted with dignity is the right thing to do.

 

In our next post we will discuss the steps involved in making this experience go as smoothly as possible for everyone.

 

Job searching has been and always will be stressful.  There is a reason job loss is on the list of top 5 life stressors.  With the advent of social networking and the multitude of platforms out there, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  It is even easier to spend hours and hours on online activities that don’t actually help the job search.

Networking is king.

Reality is that most people find jobs through the people they know.  Many displaced workers don’t realize they have a network, let alone know how to reach out to them effectively.  Identifying a list of colleagues, friends, family, and professional contacts is important.  Before using online resources to search for work, our coaches help create and prioritize the list of people most likely to assist in the quest to land a new position.

It’s all about strategy.

Having a social media strategy is imperative when looking for a new position.  CareerCurve’s personalized, one on one coaching programs help displaced employees develop a roadmap to lead a successful social media campaign.  Understanding the tools available and how and when to use them means time spent on the computer augments the traditional search process, rather than hinder it.

Coaching support is invaluable. 

A partner in the job search provides accountability, education, and emotional support.  It means a lot less wasted time and a targeted search.  It means less time spent simply trolling the internet hoping the perfect opportunity presents itself.  It puts the jobseeker in control and makes the search proactive rather than reactive.

What do you think, jobseekers?

Would guidance on social media help?  How much do you think your online activities really help your search?  Where do spend the most time?  Facebook? Pinterest? Blogs?  Can you share any funny stories about the internet and job searching?  Have you learned anything you can share with others?

To wrap up this series of posts meant to help our veterans with their job search, I spoke to Larry DiPasquale, our VP of Sales.  Larry has extensive experience in working with human resource professionals.  He is also a veteran himself.

In his opinion, one of the difficulties employers face is not knowing how to draw out the veteran or how to ask questions so they get the answers they are looking for while maintaining sensitivity to the veterans’ experiences.  There are stereotypes and perceptions that whether true or not, affect how an interview goes.  Knowing that this is the case, what can veterans due to improve their chances of having a great meeting with a potential employer?

Larry suggests that the veterans’ mindset is very important.  He said that due to the military experience, many times veterans tend to be very rigid.  Their background is full of structure and the culture has been “top down”.  Often veterans accumulated their experience in an environment where there was only one way to do things.  They got their orders, moved into their duty stations and didn’t have to convince anyone they could do the job.  All this varies greatly from working in the civilian world where you have to market yourself to win the job.  This is why the soft skills are so critical.

How does coaching help?

Veterans need to learn about and then practice “soft skills”.  They need to understand that skill and experience matter, but the veterans still need to connect with employers.  Employers are looking for people who are a good fit, therefore, veterans need to get the employers to like them.  Career coaches help with some of these important skills like:

  • making eye contact
  • smiling
  • being friendly
  • not being stiff
  • appearing more open, less rigid
  • building rapport
  • learning how they are perceived and making adjustments, if necessary
  • being likeable

According to Larry, employers are going to hire people they are comfortable with and those that are a good fit.  Career coaches help arm the veterans with the soft skills to show employers they are a good fit.  Yes, there are many, many initiatives around hiring veterans but veterans have to realize that this doesn’t mean it will be easy.  They really need to understand the importance of these skills and realize that they have to “win” the job.

Beginning a job search is overwhelming for anyone but as we’ve been discussing, veterans have unique challenges.  The feedback we are receiving is that many times it is difficult to know where to begin.  Finding a job requires a strategy and beginning a search without one can mean a lot of effort without much in the way of results.  This leads to a lack of confidence which then inhibits the entire process.  Thinking of a job search as a campaign and then breaking it down into steps that are tied to activity will provide the best results.  Career coaches are an integral part of this process, as you will see.

Step 1

Defining Career Goals

This may sound easy but when you dig deeper, it can prove to be more difficult than it seems as first.  This is especially challenging for veterans who may not have a solid understanding of what is even out there for them and the different aspects of the work life that they aren’t used to having control over.

How does coaching help?

A career coach with exposure to the civilian marketplace can help veterans determine both the activities and experiences they’ve had that they enjoyed and those that they would prefer to shy away from.  The coach will ask very pointed questions that help to determine which direction the veteran should head.  This is true for the type of work, the work atmosphere, and the day to day duties that will be performed.  Once these things are established, the coach can help steer the veteran to particular industries and even specific companies.

Step 2

Developing an Effective Resume

As I posted previously, this step can be the most challenging for veterans.  How does military experience translate to the civilian world?  What should be included and what is better left out?  How technical should the resume be?  What language should be used to explain activities in a way that employers will understand?

How does coaching help?

Coaching provides the expertise and knowledge of the civilian market to answer these questions on paper in a way that employers will respond to.  See here for more information on this step.

Step 3

Starting the Search

The first two steps need to be completed before jumping into the job search.  A targeted search will be much more effective and generate much better results.  Once it’s time to begin searching, many components work together simultaneously.

How does coaching help?

A career coach will explain the daily activities that make up a successful search.  This covers everything from using social media to defining and accessing your network to reading job descriptions and completing job applications effectively.   Each of these is critical and most of this happens all at the same time.  Career coaches are invaluable, particularly for veterans, when it comes to not only defining what they should be doing each day, but how to do it well.   We regularly hear that veterans are doing their best with what they know but many times this means randomly sending out hundreds of resumes hoping for a response.  A career coach will make sure not only the goal is targeted, but that the activities involved in the search are targeted too.

Step 4

Interviewing

This is also a challenge for veterans.  Not only do they need a solid resume, but they need to be able to speak to it in a language that makes sense to employers.  Veterans need to know the value they bring to the table in order to be able to confidently market themselves in an interview.  Essentially, they need to learn to sell themselves.

How does coaching help?

Coaching in this phase of the search allows the ability to role play and actually have mock interviews.  Having a coach who can help with research and preparation, explain what to expect, and even discuss the best answers to common interview questions can make all the difference in how the interview goes.

Step 5

Negotiating Offers

This is a completely new concept for veterans.  Coming from the military, there is little control over pay or benefits or many other aspects of a new job.  This is completely opposite in the civilian world.

How does coaching help?

Evaluating offers is where career coaches can really demonstrate their worth.  Having already helped define the things a veteran needs in a new career – whether that is fulfillment, finances, benefits, or opportunity for advancement – now means that the coach can help prioritize and assess the offer that is on the table.  What is most important?  What is fair regarding pay in relation to experience?  Should you ask for more?  Will you be happy in your new role?  For how long?  All of these are areas that coaches help evaluate to provide the best chance for success.

Step 6

Starting a New Career

Moving into an unfamiliar environment can be very stressful for a veteran.  Not only is it a new place with new people doing new things, but it is a completely different atmosphere for most veterans.

How does coaching help?

Coaches provide information that helps veterans understand what to expect the first day, the first week, the first few months.  They can help explain some of the differences they will face from what is familiar and what is appropriate when it comes to managing this change.  Can you ever question your boss?  How do you interact with your colleagues?  What is the onboarding process and what can you expect during the training or orientation phase?  What do I need to do to be successful?  What makes a great employee?  These are all things career coaches understand and assist with.

Thinking of the job search as a large process with small pieces makes it more manageable.  Concentrating on the small steps and having a coach to work with on each can make the difference between a successful search and one that relies more on chance.

Next we will discuss what employers are looking for in candidates.

 

Last week I posted about the importance of identifying skills when preparing a job search.  While this is crucial for all jobseekers, it is particularly important for veterans because of the translation from military experience to civilian experience.  Once these skills have been identified you can use them to assess the industries and organizations that look for those skills and begin the process of creating a targeted resume.

Developing a resume can seem like an overwhelming task for anyone, but especially for veterans.  Many veterans haven’t had a need for one and they must first understand what a resume is designed to do before they can sit down and start creating one.

I discussed this topic with Linda Williams, one of our career coaches who has worked with over 100 veterans to help them create a professional and effective resume.  These individuals were separating from the military with the goal of transitioning to a civilian role.  As Linda says, “a resume is simply a document that is meant to get you a conversation with a potential employer.”  According to Linda, the most important questions that need to be answered are:

 

  • How can you get an employer to recognize the advantage in hiring you?
  • Does the resume display a balance between military experience and civilian skills?
  • Is the resume formatted in a way that will speak to an employer?
  • Does the resume combat any perceived biases those in the private sector may have regarding military experience and what you, as a veteran have to offer?

 

How does coaching help?

 

Linda knows that the value for the veteran is in the one-on-one conversations that allow him/her to identify a direction so that the resume will be highly targeted.  “Veterans must be able to highlight their experience in a language that is specific and most meaningful to civilian employers”.  In addition, the veteran must be able to speak to this experience and that is where the coaching is invaluable.  As Linda says, “since the resume is meant to get an interview or a conversation, understanding the language of the resume and being able to speak to it is the crucial element in creating it.”  She goes on to state that coaching helps because the career coach will:

 

  • Explain to veterans the significance of having a couple of different, highly targeted, resumes.
  • Show the veteran how to layout the experience in a structure an employer will relate to.
  • Prioritized the significance of experience so that it makes sense and is structured in a way that works in today’s job market.
  • Help the veteran learn how to talk about accomplishments rather than responsibilities. Simply listing responsibilities is no longer effective.  These responsibilities need to be tied to outcomes and effectively explained in the Career Summary and Accomplishments sections of the resume.
  • Help veterans not only create the document, but help them translate the language so that they have a clear, confident understanding of the resume and have learned how to speak to it.
  • Career coaches understand the civilian marketplace and know what works when designing a resume.

 

As Linda knows from her experience in working with veterans, many have highly focused training, often providing stronger skill sets than those with a civilian education.  The key to a great resume is translating this specific education so that civilian employers can see right away that this is a huge advantage.

The resume is what determines whether or not you get an interview.  Once you get the conversation, being able to confidently speak to the experience the resume demonstrates is of utmost importance and that ability is honed through the process of working with a coach.

At this point, you have identified your skills, experience, and targeted employers who need these.  You’ve  gotten it on paper with an understanding of how to talk about it.  So what do you do next?  In my next post, the discussion turns to understanding how to execute a successful job search.

 

 

 

Understanding that having the confidence to market themselves effectively in the civilian world can be a major obstacle for veterans, I am going to break that down into the different components of the job search and how each impacts this confidence.

Mastering each of the components in this series of posts is important when running a job search campaign.  Career coaching not only educates veterans on the tactical parts of the search, but the process of working with a coach on these individual areas gives veterans a feeling of confidence that is difficult to achieve without that personalized attention.

Identifying skills is harder than it sounds, particularly when it comes to the differences between employment with the military and employment in the private sector.

I spoke with one of our Career Coaches about this topic, Brenda Dilts.  Brenda has firsthand knowledge of the challenges for veterans transitioning into the civilian world – she is a retired Senior Master Sergeant from the Air Force.  She agrees that many veterans will tell you they are unsure of where to start.

To confidently and effectively market themselves, veterans must start by understanding exactly what they have to offer.  Brenda explains that “one thing veterans may not be able to realize on their own (simply due to a lack of experience in the civilian world) is that although skills that have been learned throughout their career may not have the same labels in the private sector, the experience and requirements of the position are often very similar.”  Many times veterans have a military perspective that makes it difficult to understand how to use their skills in a civilian world, which doesn’t necessarily have the same structure.

How can coaching help?

Brenda says “career coaching is invaluable when it comes to identifying skills.  Coaches help veterans see things from a different perspective by helping them explore questions” such as:

 

  • What are the similarities between the job criteria and what you’ve already done?
  • What are the differences?
  • What experience do you have that directly relates to these job requirements?
  • How do you breakdown a job description into bullet points and correlate past activities to each point?

 

Brenda states that “coaching helps veterans better understand the experience they possess but then takes it a step further.”  Creating the list of activities that make up their overall experience helps veterans explore things like:

 

  • What careers might require these skills?
  • Which skills do I have that I enjoyed doing?
  • Which skills do I have that I acquired because I had to do them and not because they provided me with any satisfaction?
  • Which skills do I have that I would like to continue to use and how do they create value for different career options?
  • Which ones do I want to be sure not to have to do again?

 

Working with a coach to answer these questions helps veterans (and all jobseekers) determine what type of job to pursue.  And a targeted job search is the most successful kind.

Another reason Brenda believes that identifying skills is so important is because for veterans, this may be the first time in their career they’ve truly had choices as to what comes next.

In the military, there are often few choices.  Veterans may have had general options as to the types of jobs they could do or they may have just been assigned to do them.  Even if they chose the type of work, they had little to no say in what their daily work environment was like.  They didn’t have a choice in the location of their job, what the work atmosphere was like, etc.  This is very different in the private sector and veterans may not have thought this through simply because they are unaware of just how much control they actually have.

Brenda says, “for many veterans, identifying and assessing these things will help them gain a clear knowledge of not only what type of job they’d like to find, but also the culture and atmosphere they’d like to work within.”   This can be a foreign idea to veterans.  They may have had little control over those things before and it can make a difference in their long-term job satisfaction.

In addition, veterans may have lost the sense of purpose they had by being in the military and that makes the process of identifying new career options even more important.  How else can they seek employment that will continue to provide a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment without the understanding of the choices they have?  Or without investing the time in analyzing skills, likes and dislikes?

Identifying skills and areas that these skills can be applied is an important first step in any job search process.  In the next post, I will discuss the sometimes overwhelming task of creating a civilian-friendly resume.

 

As you may know, CareerCurve is in the midst of a best practices case study for returning veterans seeking employment.  This study includes 2 hours of no cost career coaching and a completed resume for each participant.  I wanted to spend some time explaining in further detail our approach, what this program will do for veterans and why recently separated job seeking veterans should register for the program

I’ve enlisted the help of Bob Scudder, a retired Navy Captain, who played an integral role in the development of our veteran job search program.   Bob is also one of our career coaches and based upon his own transition, he understands the true value of one-on-one, personalized career coaching from all perspectives.  I’ve interviewed him on the subject of moving from a military role to a civilian career and the particular challenges that this transition entails.  That interview, combined with the feedback we are receiving from the participants in our case study, have led to what has turned into a series of posts discussing the veteran job seeker’s unique challenges, what Bob, as a coach and 24 year Navy veteran, does to help build our veterans’ confidence in promoting themselves as strong candidates in the job search process  and how career coaching pulls it all together.

Understanding that not everyone can or will participate in this program, our goal is to provide added value through our study for all veterans while we work to create expanded career transition offerings. Using the expertise of coaches like Bob to jumpstart more and more veterans in their job search in a very high-touch way will not only reduce the time and frustration experienced by so many job seekers but will also result in a better “fit” for the veterans in their new careers.

Bob explains that ”one of the biggest hurdles in job seeking for veterans is a lack of confidence in their ability to navigate the job search process.  Building confidence is the area where coaching has the greatest impact.”  As Bob says, there are many key aspects to the search such as identifying and translating military skills to match the civilian marketplace, creating a great resume, networking, etc. and with the increased confidence in tackling each of these pieces, veterans can and will get to the place they need to be in order to effectively market themselves to an employer.  And confidently being able to relay the depth and breadth of knowledge a veteran possesses is the real key to getting hired. 

Here are a few of the many reasons a high level of confidence may be lacking:

Differences in military life versus civilian life can leave a veteran feeling as though he/she is speaking a different language.

Lack of experience in the technical areas of the job search like resume creation and interviewing.

Lack of understanding/appreciation of the transferability of skills from the military to civilian jobs.

Many veterans haven’t needed to identify, let alone access, their network of contacts in the past.

How does coaching help?

Bob states that the term emotional support is commonplace when it comes to helping veterans adjust back to civilian life.  He goes on to suggest that “while career coaching IS a form of emotional support, it is also much more than that.”  Having someone you’ve created a professional relationship with coach you through the mechanics of job seeking not only helps at a technical level, it builds confidence through discussion.  Effective career coaches do not do the work for the veterans but instead provide a roadmap and explain the steps and reasons behind the process.  This in turn enables veterans to see themselves for what and who they really are – experienced, skilled assets to an organization.   The career search process enables personal growth in how the veterans view themselves and this is possibly the most powerful element when meeting with a potential employer.

The series of posts being created will discuss the various aspects of running a successful job search campaign for veterans and how it all ties into the increased confidence that is so critical to landing a position, the right position, in the civilian world.

Our next conversation will be on the topic of identifying and translating skills, another extremely important aspect of transitioning back into a civilian role.

 

Free Program Providing 2 hours of 1 on 1 Coaching & a Completed, Professional Resume For Eligible Veterans – Registration Begins at 8am Tuesday, April 17th!

CareerCurve is proud to announce the launch date for our free coaching program for Veterans.  CareerCurve has partnered with JSTN to provide 2 hours of free, one on one coaching plus a completed, professional resume to the first 50 qualified Veterans who apply. The application process is set to launch April 17, 2012. 

CareerCurve, as a workforce solutions organization with vast experience in the career transition arena, is aware of the emotional difficulties that come along with job seeking.  We also know, as I posted previously, that the challenges for Veterans are unique and can prove to be even more trying due to additional components such as learning to navigate corporate America, learning to translate and effectively communicate skills and abilities both on paper and during interviews, as well as managing all the emotions that come along with transitioning from a military environment into the civilian world.  Because we also know that 61% of our candidates value coaching more than any service during the job search and because we have coaches who have come from the military themselves to deliver this coaching, the development of this offering gives us the opportunity to use our experience to truly help our Veterans.

We have the support of DEA (Direct Employers Association) and Univers.Jobs and our Free Career Coaching Program for Veterans is a pilot program available to the first 50 eligible Veterans who apply.  We hope this will lead to expanded offerings that will allow us to use our experience to reach even more Veterans currently making the transition to the civilian workforce.

Please click here for specific details about the program and to find out where to go to apply on April 17th to become one of the 50 Veterans who will receive this valuable assistance.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with all the publicity surrounding hiring veterans.  But do you understand why this is so?  The initiatives being created, the programs being implemented and the financial incentives for hiring veterans go beyond a moralistic desire to help simply because it is the right thing to do. 

Take a look at these statistics.

  • The unemployment for vets is 12% – quite a bit higher than the national average
  • The  unemployment rate for vets between the ages of 19 and 24 is 29%
  • 300,000 more vets will be coming out this year
  • Our military represents 1% of the US population
  • The last 10 years represents the longest period of time in our history where we have been actively at war/conflict  

 

 No one is suggesting we give all of our jobs to vets but there ARE important reasons the job search can be more challenging for them.

  • Vets lack the skills in translating their military experience, skills & training to civilian roles
  • Employers lack the skills in understanding how military experience, skills & training translates to their job openings
  • Employers have a subconscious bias against hiring veterans because of perceived cultural fit issues despite feeling it is the right thing to do
  • Many employers lack pro military hiring programs
  • Most employers vocally support hiring veterans but in most cases, they just don’t do it
  • Veterans are becoming demoralized by their long job search and their inability to secure meaningful employment
  • The veteran problem is compounded by slow job/economic growth

 

I’ve written before about reasons to hire vets and the challenges in interviewing them, but I’m happy to change the topic a bit to solutions for veterans and employers.

We are in the midst of a lot of creative problem solving and some really neat offerings are being developed, both for employers and vets looking for work.  In fact, CareerCurve is in the process of developing our own pilot program (scheduled to launch April 17, 2012) for veterans.  We will be providing an introduction soon.

In the meantime, check out this site that connects employers with job seeking veterans.  Milicruit is using the latest technology to hold virtual career fairs.  Companies can market all they have to offer and speak in real time and online to veterans looking for work.  Another neat tool offered by Direct Employers Association  and The National Labor Exchange is their Military Crosswalk.  Using the Military Crosswalk, veterans can enter their military occupation plus the .jobs suffix to find relevant civilian jobs. 

Can you provide any other creative solutions you’ve seen either for employers or for veterans?  Please share any valuable resources you’ve discovered in the comments and don’t forget to come back to read the introduction to our program.