You have had it! Enough is enough! You are out the door! You refuse to spend another day, hour, or second in your current job. Well, before you storm out, here are 10 things you want to do before you go. (more…)
External factors — that you have no control over — can also impact your decision to make a job or career change. These can include:
- The company you work for was bought (or they bought another company). Both of these can impact your job as company management assesses redundancies in personnel between the two companies.
New Job Or New Career?
Do you want to change the company you work for, or change your career path entirely? Take a look back at the assessment you just completed. Ask yourself if making a change to a new company would fix the issue or issues you identified. Or are they issues that are embedded within the industry itself, and would only be fixed if you changed industries entirely?
Also, think about how you feel about the actual work you’re doing. Do you still have a passion for the type of work you’re doing, but maybe not in this particular work environment? If that’s the case, changing jobs could improve your situation. You might not need to change careers.
Things to Consider
Even if you’ve identified that there are internal or external reasons that you may want to consider making a change, ask yourself this:
“Is there an opportunity to improve my current situation?”
As previously mentioned, some of these things may be temporary and the issue may resolve itself. But the other piece of the puzzle is you. Is there some way that you could make a change that would improve the situation? For example, could you transfer to a similar position in a different part of the company? Could you talk to your supervisor and see if there are opportunities for additional responsibility or advancement that you may not be aware of? Could improving your skills (for example, pursuing additional education, training, or certifications) help you?
If you feel your current situation can’t be improved, the next thing to do is develop a plan.
Make sure you have a plan for what you want to do next before you decide to make a change. Think before you act — don’t be impulsive. Change can be difficult — the bigger the change, the more difficult it may be. Also, you want to make sure you’re running towards something you want to do, and not running away from something you don’t. Being impulsive may lead you to do something you may later regret — like one of those viral “I Quit” videos that are fun to watch, but may lead to long-term ramifications when prospective employers Google your name.
- Assess your marketability at another company or for another career path. What skills, education, and experience do you have to offer?
- Inventory your accomplishments. In the next section, where we address practical strategies, we’ll talk about the value of having your résumé professionally written so you can see how you stack up on paper for your desired next job or new career.
- Consider the timing of making a change, if you decide that’s what you want to do. For example, you may not want to leave your job in November if you’d earn an annual bonus if you stayed another month. The same is true for things like vested options in a stock plan or retirement account — make sure you manage the timing of your departure to maximize your benefits. Basically, don’t leave money on the table if you can help it.
- Along with considering the timing of your departure, do you need to do some things before you change jobs or careers?Perhaps you need to take some classes or earn a certification before you’ll be prepared to make a job or career change.
- Create a Personal/Professional Development Plan (PDP) for yourself, outlining the steps you need to take to bridge the gap between where you are now (skills, education, and experience) and what you need in your new job or career. Checking off as many of those items as you can will help make the transition smoother.
- Finally, it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, so don’t just quit your job. And don’t burn bridges at your former employer, if you can help it. Give ample notice, offer to train your replacement, prepare a checklist or cheat sheet for your replacement, etc.
Practical Steps For Your Job or Career Change
Once you’ve decided that you do want to make a change — whether that’s a new company or a new career — here are some practical steps to take to make your transition move along smoothly.
The first step is to get your financial house in order.
You’ll be in better shape to make a change if you’re on sound financial footing. As you start this process, make sure a financial evaluation is part of your plan. Are there expenses that you can cut out — even temporarily — that will help you stockpile cash in the short term? Maybe you need money for additional training or certifications. Identify how you can save that money so that you have it ready when you need it. If your research shows that you may need to take a pay cut initially in order to make a job or career move, start cutting back now so that it’s not as big of a shock later.
The next step is to decide on a target — what do you want to do?
How will your next job— or career — be different from what you’re doing now? Take some time to identify what you want. Invest in career testing and/or meet with a therapist or career coach who specializes in helping with job change/career change. (This will also help you identify whether you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, which can affect your work, your decision-making ability, and your choices.)
Next, research your new career.
Talk to people who are actually doing the job you want to do — especially if you’re moving into a new career field. Research the qualifications for candidates who do what you want to do. Again, consider the idea of creating a Personal/Professional Development Plan (PDP) so you are prepared to make the transition.
Once you decide you are going to make a change, start slowly compiling the information you need.
Slowly start disengaging yourself from your current job/current employer. You don’t want to take a full box of knick-knacks home at once, but you may start decluttering your files (both paper files and on your computer) and taking some personal items home so that you don’t have to pack them up all at once. Be careful when doing this, however, as it may tip off co-workers — or your boss — if too many personal items start disappearing.
Take calls from recruiters — or reach out to connect to them.
However, keep in mind this strategy will only work if you’re staying in the same industry. Recruiters specialize in placement, so they want to put “round pegs in round holes.” They won’t be interested in helping you make the change from being a computer software developer to a teacher.
Finally, one of the best things you can do, once you have a job target in mind, is to engage a professional résumé writer to help you develop a résumé for your desired job.
Especially if you are considering a career change, this can help you identify transferable skills that you have to offer and boost your confidence when you see the evidence of your qualifications on paper. Your résumé writer can also help guide you in collecting the information you need to develop your new career documents.
Be prepared to invest in yourself and in the development of this document, because your résumé writer will have to spend a considerable amount of time to prepare a résumé that demonstrates how your skills, education, and experience are applicable to your new career path. But it can be a worthwhile investment as a tool as you make a change in your job or career.
STEP THREE: Evaluate Your LinkedIn Presence
LinkedIn is likely your most visible employment-related social media profile, and you should spend some time making sure that it represents you well.
Answer these questions:
- Have you set up your personalized URL for your LinkedIn profile?
- Does your profile picture represent you well?
- Do you have your contact information available on the profile?
(phone number andadditional email addresses)
- Have you included all the languages you speak?
- Are the key projects you’ve worked on including in your profile?
- Have you included all the courses you’ve taken?
- Does your information on LinkedIn match up with your résumé information?
- Review your Groups — are there any “weird” ones in there you should remove?
You also want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile meets the site’s definitions of “profile completeness.”
LinkedIn has its own criteria for “profile completeness,” which has changed somewhat over time. As of April 2015, to be considered “complete” by LinkedIn’s standards, you need these items in your LinkedIn profile:
- Your industry and location
- An up-to- date current position (with a description)
- Two past positions
- Your education
- At least three skills
- A profile photo
- At least 50 connections
Having a strong LinkedIn network is also important, so you need to assess the strength of your network. While LinkedIn only requires 50 connections to be “complete,” you need to grow your network beyond this. You should have a minimum of 100 connections; however, the more connections you have, the better LinkedIn will work for you.
STEP FOUR: See If There Are Any Gaps
While it’s not necessary to have accounts on multiple social media platforms, you need to identify if there are any industry-specific or job-specific social media accounts you need to have in order to boost your credibility as a candidate.
For example, if you are a developer, consider an account on GitHub. If you’re a photographer, you definitely need a Flickr and/or Instagram account. If you’re a designer or artist, consider an account on Behance. If you’re a writer, think about signing up for a Tumblr or Medium account.
How do you know what profession-specific social media presence you need? Ask colleagues. Google others in your profession and see what social media platforms they use. Inquire of your professional association contacts. Read industry trade journals and see what apps and websites are mentioned.
STEP FIVE: Assess Your Total Social Media Presence
The final step is to ensure consistency across all your social media profiles. For example, consider using the same professional photo on all your social media accounts (especially LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) so it’s easy for the prospective employer to see that it is your profile.
Go back to Step One and Google yourself again, and continue to do that weekly and see how your results change as you pay more attention to building and maintaining your social media profiles.
If you’d like more information about personal branding and cultivating your profile online, check out these books:
- Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand (William Arruda, Kirsten Dixson)
- Ditch, Dare, Do: 3D Personal Branding for Executives (William Arruda, Deb Dib)
Your online social media profile can positively or negatively impact your job search. This audit will help you evaluate whether your online accounts are helping or hurting your chances of employment. More than half of employers say they have rejected an applicant because of what they have found on the jobseeker’s social media profiles.
You may have accounts on multiple social media services — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram — and more. The most important, from a job search perspective, is LinkedIn. We will assess all your social media accounts, but there is a separate section for evaluating your LinkedIn presence.
In general, you want to avoid controversy on your social media accounts when you are in the midst of a job search. That means avoiding religious or political status updates or shares and “scrubbing” posts that show you engaging in anything that a prospective employer may find offensive or inappropriate.
There are five steps in this audit. The first is to establish what is already out there about you —locating and documenting your profiles. The second is to evaluate your presence on existing social media channels. The third step focuses on your LinkedIn profile specifically, since LinkedIn is an important tool in your job search. The fourth step helps you assess whether you should set up additional profiles. The final step is to take a “big picture” approach to your social media accounts.
Not only is it important to have some kind of social media presence, but you also want to evaluate what that social media presence says about you. Does it present a positive or negative impression of you? Does it establish you as an expert in your field or a thought leader?
STEP ONE: Google Yourself
Log out of your Google accounts (i.e., Gmail, YouTube, etc.) if you have them. Clear your browser cache. Then, Google your name.
Hint: “Think like a hiring manager or recruiter” when conducting your Google search.
- Start with just your basic name, but narrow it down by including your geographic location (“Jane Jobseeker Omaha”) or job title (“Jane Jobseeker public relations”) if you have a common name. But don’t try to get too specific or you won’t be seeing the same results that the hiring manager will see when he or she Googles your name.
- You may wish to conduct two or three searches and answer the following questions and/or fill out the worksheet a couple of separate times to see the different results you receive.
Answer these questions:
What is the total number of responses Google came up with:
- How many images or videos of you are on page 1?
- Are there any endorsements from others about you on the first page of your Google search results? (Yes or No)
Next, for your first 1-3 pages of search results, assess each result with the following information: Source, whether it pertains to you, and whether the impact is positive, negative, or neutral. Use this worksheet to rate the first 20 results in your Google search.
Now, assess your total scores.
How many YESES do you have? In other words: How many of the results listed are about you (and not someone else)?
Next, assess how many POSITIVE results you recorded. Are at least 70% of the results that are about you positive — or at least neutral?
If you have negative information about you on the first page of your Google search results, you will need to do some work on your online reputation management. One of the best ways to do this is to claim your social media profiles (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and to publish content (i.e., writing articles, being published in periodicals associated with your profession, writing LinkedIn posts, etc.).
You can also use an online tool like the Reach™ Online ID Calculator™ to assess your online presence. You can find the tool here.
STEP TWO: Assess Each Social Media Profile
Assess each of your social media profiles and determine if there is any information that could potentially be harmful to your employment search. Check for completion of information (especially in the “bio” section of each profile) and consistency in imagery and message.
Fill out one box on this form for each social media profile — for example, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Quora, and YouTube.
If you have any controversial or inappropriate information on your profile, either delete the post (preferred) or set the setting for that post/picture to private. Remember, however, that once information is posted online, it lives online forever. And, even if you have your privacy settings set to “Friends Only,” that doesn’t mean that the information won’t be shared. Any of your friends can take a screen shot of your information and share it.
Next, you want to make sure that you are active on all the platforms you have an account on. Delete — or make inactive — any accounts you’re not currently using regularly.
Also, check your user names — particularly on Twitter. Make sure that they are all in “good taste.”
On Facebook, in particular, it’s important that you have some information that is public. Your profile photo and employment and education information should be visible to all visitors, so make sure your privacy settings are set to allow that.
You also want to look at your friends/follower counts. This is your network. Identify whether you need to increase the number of people you are connected with.
Stay tuned for steps 3, 4 and 5 in 2 weeks!
Best Practices for Working With Applicant Tracking Systems
- When applying for a specific position, include that job title on the résumé.
- Use the descriptors “phone:” and “email:” in front of the phone number and email address so the applicant tracking system (ATS) can identify this information.
- When listing dates for employment or education, put the dates to the right of the information or on a separate line.
- Include section headers to make it easy for the applicant tracking system to categorize the information.
- If you are working towards a degree or certification that is a requirement for the position, include it on the résumé — but make sure you include a phrase such as “Pursuing (name of credential)” or “Degree anticipated (date).”
- Do not include skills you don’t possess on the résumé as an attempt to “trick” the applicant tracking system into selecting you. (Remember, the résumé will eventually be reviewed by a human.)
- Check your email after applying for a position online. Some applicant tracking systems acknowledge submissions, but because these are automated responses, it may be diverted to your spam folder.
- Be mindful of special characters and accents you use on your résumé. Some words and phrases can be misinterpreted by an applicant tracking system — for example, accented words. The word “résumé” itself is not ATS-friendly. The ATS does not recognize the accented letters. Instead, it reads it as “r?sum?.”
- Do not list your credentials (MBA, CPA, etc.) next to your name. Include that information on a separate line.
- Do not mix different fonts and sizes in your résumé.
- Do not submit multiple résumés to the same company. Applicant tracking systems have a memory — all those previous submissions remain in the system. You can apply to multiple, related positions, but make sure the résumé information is consistent (i.e., the number of years in a particular job, for example), because the hiring manager will have access to the other versions too.
Frequently Asked Questions: Understanding Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Question: How do I know if a company uses applicant tracking system software?
More than one-fourth of all companies use some kind of an applicant tracking system to manage applications and candidates, and this number continues to grow. ATS software is more likely to be used in large companies (more than 100 employees) and certain types of industries — technology, healthcare, and government organizations. Unless you’re personally handing your résumé to the hiring manager, it’s possible an ATS might be used in the applicant screening process. (And even then, the résumé may be scanned in!) When in doubt, submit an ATS-friendly résumé. You can always follow-up with a hard copy of a more formatted (non-ATS-friendly) résumé or bring the formatted version with you to the interview.
Question: What is an ATS-friendly résumé?
An ATS-friendly résumé is formatted in such a way that it can be easily imported and read by the ATS. However, because there is no industry standard, the general guidelines are: No charts, graphs, or special formatting. Use only keyboard characters (*, >, /, etc.) to separate information. Save the file in .DOC or .TXT format (do not upload a PDF, RTF, or JPG).
Question: If I’m given the chance to upload my résumé or copy-and-paste it in, which should I do?
If you’re given the choice, upload a Word file with your ATS-friendly résumé. Larger companies are likely using newer ATS software that will keep formatting mostly intact. For smaller companies, copy-and-paste an ATS-friendly text file into the application form.
Question: How do I know which keywords will be used in the ATS search?
Many times, you can identify the keywords that will be used by reviewing the job posting for the position and job postings for similar roles. Also, check out skills and other qualifications in resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/) and O*Net (www.onetonline.org).
Question: How does the length of the résumé fit into this?
Résumés that will initially be screened through an ATS can be longer because the computer file generally doesn’t show pages, only characters. Some ATS software has character lengths — but you’ll generally only see that if the résumé is copied-and-pasted into an online form. In those instances, it will list a character limit (for example, “Submissions are limited to 20,000 characters.”). But not many systems have that limitation.
Question: How can I bypass the ATS?
Remember: People hire people. Ultimately, if you can get your résumé in the hands of the hiring manager, recruiter, or company owner directly, you don’t have to worry about making it out of the applicant tracking system in order to get an interview. Research shows that approximately 75 percent of jobs are never formally advertised or posted, and only about 5 percent of candidates are hired from job postings. So focus on getting your résumé to the right person in order to land an interview. It’s especially important to bypass the ATS if you don’t have the “perfect” qualifications, as outlined in the job posting.
Can I Get A “Generic” Résumé?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to create an effective “generic” résumé that will be truly effective in helping you land your dream job. A résumé that is not tailored towards a specific type of position is a “career obituary” and tells the story of the past — not the potential you have to offer to a prospective employer and how your specific experience, education, and skills can benefit the company or organization.
An interview-winning résumé spells out the specific value that you have to offer the prospective employer without including additional, irrelevant experience. To create such a document, it is important to understand the specific needs of that particular role — and, in many cases, tailoring the résumé for the needs of a specific company.
With this in mind, it is important for you to identify a specific job title that you are pursuing, and even more helpful to collect 3-5 job postings for this type of position, even if these job postings are no longer active and even if you do not wish to apply to this specific company. Being able to incorporate relevant keywords while describing current and past work experience is one way to demonstrate value to a prospective employer. An analysis of relevant job postings helps make this possible.
Note, however, that you can craft multiple versions of your résumé in order to target different types of job postings — assuming, however, that your relevant experience and education is transferable to the different types of positions being pursued. In contrast, however, please note that you are limited to a single LinkedIn account, so it may be necessary for your LinkedIn profile to be a bit more “generic” than a customized résumé used to target a specific job type.
Résumés use a unique style of writing to emphasize brevity in order to maximize the reader’s time. Many people find this style of writing a bit confusing when they first encounter it, so I wanted to clarify for you how résumés are written.
Résumé Tense Examples:
- Résumés use a version of first-person style, but omit the subject (“I” / “me” / “my”).
- We use present tense for activities you currently perform, and past tense for past activities and achievements (particularly for older positions on your résumé, but also to describe responsibilities you once performed in your current job, but no longer do).
- To emphasize brevity, we remove most articles (“a” / “an” / “the” / “my”), except when doing so would hurt the readability of the sentence.
- We write in a strong, active style, emphasizing action verbs (“direct” / “manage” / “conduct” / “develop”) instead of passive descriptions of activity.
- Most often, numbers one through nine are spelled out; numbers 10 and above are expressed as numbers.
If you have any specific questions about the language used in your résumé, let me know! Otherwise, please be assured that I have written your résumé to conform to the generally-accepted principles of résumé writing. Check out more ways to properly write a résumé here.
There is no “rule” that a résumé should be only one page. In fact, there are many instances when a multi-page résumé is not only appropriate, it’s expected.
Length is not the only consideration for a résumé’s effectiveness. Yet, the one-page résumé myth persists. Jobseekers are being misled that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals won’t read a résumé that is longer than one page. That’s simply not true.
While recent research shows that a résumé will be read for only seconds when it is first screened, the first review is only to determine if it is a match for the position. If the job seeker is considered a serious candidate, the résumé will be read again.
Job seekers who believe a HR professional won’t read a two-page résumé should stop and consider the résumé screening process. The résumé screener’s boss is asking him or her to come up with four or five people to bring in for an interview. If a candidate with 5-10 years of experience tries to condense that to fit an artificial one-page limitation, you’re asking that HR person to make a decision about you, based on what amounts to a few paragraphs.
Given a choice between a well-written two-page résumé or a cluttered one-page résumé which omits notable accomplishments in the interest of saving space, the HR professional is likely to choose the longer résumé.
If you submit a two-page résumé and the person reading it decides you’re not a match for the job, he or she will stop reading. But if you do seem to fit the job requirements, that person will want to know even more about you. A well-organized two-page résumé can actually make it easier for the screener to do his or her job by allowing him or her to easily determine if you’re a good match for the position.
So why does the one-page myth persist? Some recruiters are vocal about their desire for a one-page résumé. However, not all recruiters share this preference. There are certain recruiters who say they will only read one-page résumés.
However, recruiters are responsible for placing fewer than 25% of candidates in new jobs, and not all recruiters subscribe to the one-page limit. If a particular recruiter requests a shorter résumé, you can always provide a one-page version to him or her.
When hiring managers and HR professionals are surveyed about résumé length, the majority express a preference for résumés that are one page OR two pages — the general consensus is “as long as needed to convey the applicant’s qualifications.”
College professors also share some of the blame for perpetuating the one-page résumé myth. Some professors — who have no connection to the employment world — believe “their way” is the right way to do things.
They provide a template to their students and require advisees to use that format, even if the person is a non-traditional student who has an extensive work history or career path that sets them apart from other job candidates with similar educational backgrounds.
It would be unusual for most 21-year-old students to need two pages to describe their education and work history, but it’s not unrealistic to expect that an accomplished graduate might have internships, projects, activities, and honors that would make it necessary to exceed the one-page length.
If you doubt the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, ask any professor to see his or her résumé. Chances are, it will be at least two pages long to include consulting work and works published, in addition to classroom teaching experience. But professors call their résumés “curriculum vitae,” so they don’t have to follow their own one-page résumé limit.
Résumés submitted online are also less likely to be affected by the one-page résumé myth. That’s because the one-page format is unique to the printed page. Résumés uploaded to company websites aren’t affected by page limits.
Approximately 30 percent of résumés are only stored electronically. They’re never printed out, so the screener never knows it’s more than a one-page document.
Length does matter. Your résumé should only be as long as it needs to be to tell the reader exactly what he or she needs to know to call you in for an interview … and not one word more. Learn more about how to craft the perfect résumé here.
Here are some guidelines for deciding résumé length:
• If your résumé spills over onto a second page for only a few lines, it’s worth editing the text or adjusting the font, margins, and/or line spacing to fit it onto one page.
• Don’t bury key information on the second page. If the first page doesn’t hook the reader, he or she isn’t even going to make it to the second page.
• Don’t be afraid to go beyond two pages if your experience warrants it. Senior executives often require three- or four-page résumés, as do computer programmers and many professionals (physicians, lawyers, professors).
• Traditional college students and those with five years or less of experience should be able to fit their résumés onto one page. Most everyone else, however, can (and should) use one page
• Make sure that everything you include — regardless of length — is relevant to your job target and what the hiring manager will want to know about you!