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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Job Search

Clouds spelling the word "Change"
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

You’ve known it for a while. You’ve been plugging along in the same old job, doing the same set of tasks for years now and you’ve simply had enough. You need a change, a fresh start. Maybe you need a change of scenery and, potentially, a new set of co-workers, colleagues, and higher-ups. Alternatively, if the pandemic has left you unemployed or furloughed, maybe it’s time to explore different career paths in entirely different industries.

Whatever the case, you’re restless and something needs to change. Soon.

But how can you make a change while everything is in flux? With the coronavirus still rampant (at least in the U.S.), it’s difficult to think about leaving your job or making a major change. That might be so, but I would argue that now is the perfect time for some deep reflection and decision-making. Even if you don’t act until after the pandemic has passed, it’s still a good idea to prepare.

Begin with intentional reflection.

Sit down with a pen and notepad, find a quiet place, and start jotting down your thoughts. Reflect and write notes about the following:

  • What do you like about your current job (or the last job you had)? What do you dislike about it?
  • What were some of your favorite tasks/assignments? When did you shine or feel fulfilled?
  • What are five things your next job needs to have?
  • What are your talents? How could these skillsets be put to better use?
  • What are some alternative career paths you’ve considered? (Dare to dream!)

Once you’ve thought about your preferences, skills, and dreams, you may want to consider a deeper exploration.

Sometimes, we’re not always the best judges of ourselves and our own talents. Sometimes, it’s best to use outside help or a trusted tool to uncover the root of who we are and where we excel. One of my favorite evaluation tools is Insights Discovery (and Insights Deeper Discovery). This science-based assessment can help you identify your communication preferences, your preferred work atmosphere, how to define your “living legacy,” and the potential areas that need improvement/attention.

As a licensed practitioner of Insights Discovery, I’ve worked with a wide range of people to help them unearth their core aptitudes and preferences, and to define their path, going forward (For more information about Insights, please visit my website). If you’d like to have a conversation about Insights Discovery, please feel free to send me a note.

Once you have a good handle on where you’d like to take your career (and life!), it’s time to start planning.

Start thinking about your next steps by asking yourself future-oriented questions:

  • What additional training will you need in order to step into your ideal career? What might that entail on a practical level (online courses, additional education or certificates, etc.)?
  • How much do you know about your dream job? Is additional research necessary?
  • Do you know anyone in that role? If so, could you set up an informational interview?
  • How much time might it take to make the transition? Will you (and your family) be fine with a period of income uncertainty?

Even though it may be difficult to think about your next steps during such an uncertain and volatile time, it is a good idea to do so. Planning can help you take some measure of control of your future, and it can re-energize you and give you hope. And, once the dust has settled, you’ll have a full-fledged plan that you can put to work. I believe in you!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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woman on laptop in bed

When you’re stuck at home all day, with only your cat or a couple other people to keep you company, professional networking may sound like a strange term from a long-ago place!

Not so. Networking is just as (if not more) important than ever. If you’ve recently been furloughed or lost your job, it’s important. If you’re looking to transition to another career, it’s important. If you’re hoping to gain a promotion or move into a leadership position at your organization, it’s important.

What’s more, if you decide to put effort into networking now (when so many people are caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic and not focusing on their careers), you’ll gain an edge over your peers.

How can you approach virtual networking?

Cathy Paper, founder of RockPaperStar, is a professional coach and marketer. She suggests starting your networking with people you already know (those who are well-connected or influential) and expanding it from there. Ask for introductions, so you’re networking won’t be “cold,” but “warm.”

Cathy also suggests going into your networking with a plan. Think about how many people you would like to connect with each week, and aim for that. Also, consider your approach. Will you be emailing? Calling? Sending a LinkedIn message? Keep in mind that not everyone will respond, and plan accordingly.

When you send a message, it is useful to bring up what YOU offer, and not just what you want. Show that you’re useful and willing to help. Otherwise, your invitation to connect will appear to be self-serving. By approaching networking with a mentality of service, you will show that you’re just as interested in helping as being helped. Networking should never be a one-way street.

You may also want to show your creative side when networking. How can you help others remember you? How can you stand out? You don’t want to be tacky, but you do want to be unique. Come up with a catchy phrase that captures what you do, or direct your potential connect to a resource that might be useful for them.

Follow-up and stay connected! New connections aren’t useful if you let them slip through the cracks. Stay connected by sending out regular emails or adding them to your newsletter list (with their permission). You could also post articles on your blog and share them through social media, to A) stay top-of-mind and B) demonstrate that you have valuable information to share.

Virtual networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Make a list of potential connections, ask for an introduction (if you have a connection), and send a thoughtful email or message that conveys who you are and what you do. And don’t forget to follow-up. In many ways, virtual networking is easier than face-to-face networking because you can sit behind your screen and think about what you’d like to say before you say it.

The real key: Just do it! Put yourself out there, take a risk, and start making connections today.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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First published in 2016.

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you’re probably well-aware of the importance of a compelling cover letter. It’s how you can stand out from the crowd, how you can demonstrate a slice of your personality that you really can’t convey in your résumé. It’s also a great way to take a deeper dive into some of your past experiences and really highlight your accomplishments.

How do you write a cover letter that gets noticed? Seems like a daunting task, right?

It doesn’t have to be. I’ve laid out several simple pointers below that will guide you through the cover letter writing process and help you create something that is polished and memorable.

Remember: Cover letters are not just a repeat of your resume—viewing them as such will put you at a serious disadvantage.

Cover Letter Basics:

  • Name, address, and date at the top of the letter
  • Cover letter addressed to a specific person if possible. If individual unknown, send letter to the title of recipient (Production Manager, Technical Director, Human Resources, etc.)
  • State your interest in the position
  • Make note of special skills that qualify you for the job
  • Provide contact info and a time you can be reached
  • Thank the contact and close with “Sincerely”
  • Always ask someone else to proofread your letter and resume—don’t miss simple grammatical errors!
  • Sign your letter with either blue or black ink, NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Be concise and to the point (no cutesy statements or overbearing comments)
  • Use the same paper as your resume
  • Avoid using “I” too often or repeating the same words

Beyond the Basics:

  • Focus on two (or, at the max, three) major accomplishments in your career and really dive into them
  • Use concrete facts whenever possible. For example:
    • I saved XYZ Company $3.5 million dollars in their annual budget by…
    • During my time at ABC Inc., I trained over 200 people in…
    • I helped Company X grow by 4% through my….
    • I was the top salesperson at ABC, Inc., selling $$ annually
  • Let your authentic voice come through, but don’t sound too casual. It’s a fine line to ride and you may need a friend to weigh in.
  • Do your homework. Understand the company’s values and what they’re looking for in a new employee and make sure you highlight those parts of your experience.

Interested in learning more about creating an effective cover letter or interested in consulting a professional to ensure that you land that next job opening? Contact Me Today to learn about career coaching and UXL’s public workshops!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S NEW ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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