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Category Archives: Tips for the Job Hunt

Have you had to take a break from work? Maybe you were one of the 38 million people who resigned in 2021. Or, perhaps you had to take a break for personal reasons—starting a family, health issues (physical or mental), caretaking for an aging parent. Or maybe you felt undervalued or underappreciated at work, and decided to take a break to reassess your life’s path.

 Whatever the case, know that your reasons for quitting are valid. Other people may pass judgment, but they likely do not know or understand the full story. And you are under no obligation to justify yourself.

Besides, you now have the opportunity to find something better than you had before—a role that is well-suited to your personality, interests, and skillset. A position that pays well and offers excellent benefits.

The problem is, how do you reenter the workforce once your break has come to its natural conclusion?

What if a potential employer asks about your work gap? What if your skills are rusty? Or, what if you’d like to switch career tracks entirely?

These are all scary prospects, but fortunately, they are not insurmountable. If you’re thinking of dusting off your resume and searching for a job that sparks your interest, here are 5 tips:

Reflect

If you’re thinking about beginning a job hunt, don’t just jump in! The last thing you want to do is rush things and end up with a job that is not suited for your talents and interests. Instead, take the time to practice meaningful reflection. This could involve journaling, creating a vision board, meditating, or talking with a trusted friend or career coach.

When you’re reflecting, ask yourself questions such as:

  • When am I happiest? When do I feel like I’m thriving?
  • What are my favorite work memories? Least favorite?
  • Where do I shine? What are my top skills?
  • What are my interests? What excites me?
  • What are my career goals?
  • What does my ideal future look like?

Write a resume for the job you want

You never want to lie on your resume, but it is possible to tailor it for the job you want. Highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to your dream job. Make them stand out. For instance, if you would like to work in management at a company, it’s a good idea to emphasize your leadership skills and roles. Did you spearhead an important project at your last company? Do you lead your daughter’s girl scout troop? Have you led volunteer initiatives? All this experience counts and can appear on your resume.

Brush up on relevant skills

If you’re thinking about making a major career change OR if your skills are a little rusty (this is especially true for tech industry workers), it’s a good idea to update your skillset. Enroll in online courses, take a community education class, or sign up for a certification program. You could also take independent classes from informal online schools (such as Udemy or Teachable); although they will not earn you a formal certificate.

Another way to brush up on skills is to talk with people in the industry who have (or have had) a similar role. Ask if you can conduct casual interviews and ask questions about the skills required for the job. Talking with someone who has been “in the trenches” can reveal aspects of the role that you may not have considered.

Create a calendar

If you want to take the major step of reentering the workforce, it pays to have a game plan. Otherwise, you might feel rudderless or unsure of what to do on a given day. Having a plan can keep you focused and prevent you from mindlessly scouring the internet every day.

I recommend creating a calendar and making daily goals for yourself. The goals do not have to be large, but they should contribute to your job hunt progress. You might include items on your calendar such as:

  • Reflection/planning time
  • Skill-building
  • Sending out five emails requesting informational interviews
  • Spending three hours perusing job listings
  • Rewriting your resume
  • Writing a cover letter
  • Filling out two applications

Be Courageous

Most importantly, believe in yourself! Know that you have the grit to dive back into the workforce and the determination to be an outstanding employee. Have conviction in yourself and believe in your skillset. You DO bring value to the table, and it’s up to you to articulate that value.

Before beginning the interviewing process, be sure to practice speaking about your resume, background, and skills. Talk aloud to your mirror or practice with a friend or spouse. Anticipate questions the interviewer might ask and practice answering those questions. Go over this information time and again until it feels natural to you. Preparation and Practice are two vital components of courage.

This is your moment. Employers are hungry for dedicated, talented employees, and they ARE hiring. Even if you’ve taken a break from the workforce for a while, you can get back on the horse with a little reflection, skill-building, and planning. The most important part is believing in yourself and your abilities.

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. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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Valuable Interview Tip

One of my top interview tips is simply this: Ask for the job.

Though it’s easier said than done, it is one of the most effective ways to make yourself memorable and appear confident and competent to your interviewer.

Now, you might be thinking: “What?! What do you mean? How could I possibly be so bold?”

You can. And you should.

Keep in mind that you are one person amid a sea of candidates. Think of yourself as part of a gigantic choir. How will you make your voice stand out? How will you deliver a solo that can be heard above the rest?

I have several strategies for developing your “solo” (if you’d like to learn more, let’s talk), but one of my key strategies is to have the confidence to ask for the position you’re seeking. Note that this is different than begging. You’re not on your knees, desperately pleading with the interviewer. Instead, you’re self-assured, enthusiastic, and authentic. You demonstrate that this job means a lot to you and you know it’s aligned with your skill set.

So, HOW do you ask for the job?

Start by affirming that, yes, this is the right fit for you. Research the company and the position. Read reviews on Glass Door. And listen to your gut–if you walk into an interview and notice that everyone in the office seems to be anxious and stressed, this might not be the company for you. Or, if your interviewer is curt and unfriendly, that might be a warning sign of what’s ahead. Trust both your instincts and your research. If you’re impressed with the company and you get a good feeling when you walk through the doors, that’s a good sign you should make the bold move of asking for the job.

When you’re asking for the job, timing is everything. Your ask should come toward the end of the interview. Usually, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions or anything you’d like to add. This is your chance to make your move.

Start by complimenting the company (but be sure you sound sincere). Say something like: “When I researched ABC Company, I was really impressed by your annual growth and the way you give back to the community. Now that I’m here in person, I’m even more impressed by the atmosphere and the way everyone has treated me with such warmth since the moment I walked through the door…”

Then, deliver your ask. Be confident. Practice asking for the job in front of the mirror so you become accustomed to how it might sound. Here are a few ways to do your ask:

“Your company seems like a great fit and I can picture myself thriving here. What can I do to convince you that I’m the right person for this position?”

“I can tell this position aligns with my skill set and I would very much like to work here.”

“This job sounds like a perfect match for my skills and experience. What can I do to demonstrate that I’m ready to work with you and your team?”

“I’m even more enthusiastic about this position than when I came in this morning and I’m confident I would be a good fit. What is the next step in the hiring process?”

REMEMBER: Go into your ask with grace, confidence, and the realization that the interviewer may respectfully decline OR hire you on the spot. Are you ready to get out there and put your new skill to work?

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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There you are, day in and day out, punching the clock. Suddenly, after many dedicated years at an okay job, you are laid off. Unfortunately, that seems to be the story for so many individuals over the last few years. What to do now?

Most people dive into the traditional job search, seeking out something similar to what they had done before. But, that’s not the only option. You could take your experiences and acquired skills and strike out on your own! Or, you could go back to school, even taking just a few classes, and gain new skills for a flourishing business.

Here are a few resources to help get you started when you find yourself thinking about entrepreneurship (running a business), or even becoming a solopreneur (running a business on your own, such as freelancing).

Program Specifically for Laid Off Aspiring Entrepreneurs:

Here in Minnesota, the government offers the Dislocated Worker Program to laid off employees. If you want to start your own business, you can take advantage of their Converting Layoffs into Minnesota Businesses (CLIMB) sub-program. CLIMB allows you to work toward building your business full-time while still collecting unemployment, eliminating the “regular” job search stress. They offer counseling, training, and financial help to guide you on your self-employment journey.

Programs for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: 

  • S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers counseling, classes, loans, and special services for minority and women-owned small businesses.
  • WomenVenture provides women with classes, counseling, and loans for successfully starting a small business. Their Guided Business Plan course is a six-month long program intended to help you complete your business plan and strategize every aspect of your business.
  • SCORE is a free mentoring program for small business owners. They also offer workshops and tools to get started and thrive.

Training and Development for Aspiring Entrepreneurs:

 Bolstering your education or training can give you a leg up for starting a thriving business. I know one woman who was laid off after eight years on the job. Because she felt that her skillset was outdated, she decided to take advantage of the classes offered in the programs mentioned above. The classes renewed her confidence and gave her the courage to start a freelance writing business, something she had considered doing for a long time.

Another option to brush up your skills is to take classes online or complete an online degree. Many universities and colleges also offer continuing education certifications if you want a shorter time commitment. The CLIMB program can help pay for these classes.

Use any of the above resources to see if they offer training that may help you move forward in your quest for self-employment. There are many other resources in Minnesota; check out this website for further information on starting a business in this state.

 

It can be scary to suddenly find yourself jobless. But it can turn into an exciting journey toward entrepreneurship, and this state has excellent resources for successfully starting a business. Don’t be afraid to take the path less traveled toward a new career where you call the shots. Contact me if you would like support with your self-employment goals.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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