Copeland Coaching | Blog - Career tips from a job and career coach

Is College Really Worth the Investment?

March 29, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Corner Column, College, Media | By

I’ve met a number of people lately who have said something that’s surprised me. They’ve told me that they aren’t sure if college is really worth it. They believe it would be a waste of money to pay for something they might never use, especially if they change their mind on a career path later.

The group I’m talking about is made up of twenty-something millennials. They are college age and very unsure if they trust this system. They’ve seen their friends go to college and end up with little more than a pile of student loans and a degree that seems to open zero doors. They see friends living at home with parents, unable to get their own apartments.

The economy has struggled for years. College tuition is at extremely high levels creating high student debt. And older workers are being forced to stay in their jobs for longer than ever before, leaving fewer good jobs for new graduates.

When you think of it this way, this perspective makes sense. It can seem that the return on investment just isn’t there to justify spending the money. It also ups the importance of picking the right degree.

But, this perspective worries me. In today’s workforce, a college degree is often considered the minimum threshold for entry. It’s similar to how a high school diploma was perceived in a previous generation. Without one, a job seeker will likely be at a disadvantage compared to someone with a degree.

Very often, the specific degree is less important than having one. Ask anyone over the age of forty what they studied in college. There’s a decent chance you’ll be surprised by their answer because they likely have switched fields along the way.

When I hear this new doubt about the value of college, I think about a number of the older job seekers I’ve met along the way. Early in their careers, they were leaders in their field — perhaps in something like sales. They worked at the same company for years, building up clients and a big paycheck. Then one day, the industry shifted. The company they worked for went out of business and they were out of work.

Suddenly, the successful, seasoned professional they were disappears. They feel helpless. They feel lost. Employers are less interested in them. They have all the right experience and the right knowledge, but they don’t have a degree. They don’t meet the basic requirements. They struggle to find work that will pay the bills to maintain their existing lifestyle. This experience is devastating.

If you’re struggling to decide, remember the long game. Education is expensive, but it’s worth it. Think of how much you’d be willing to pay for a new car, because it drives you around. Education gets you places too, but just in a different way. And, if college isn’t for you for whatever reason, consider a trade program. Additional training will put you ahead of your competition, and help to secure your future.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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126 | 20-min Networking Meeting – Marcia Ballinger, Ballinger | Leafblad in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

March 28, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Networking, Podcast | By

Episode 126 is live! This week, we talk with Marcia Ballinger in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.

Marcia is the Co-founder and Principle at Ballinger | Leafblad, an executive search firm focused on serving civic clients including foundations, non-profits, and higher education intuitions. She’s also co-author of The 20-Minute Networking Meeting.

On today’s episode, Marcia shares her secrets to getting and executing a 20-minute networking meeting successfully. If you’re struggling with networking, this episode is a must listen!

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.

To learn more about Marcia, visit her website at, or check out her book, The 20-Minute Networking Meeting here:

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching. Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!

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How do you spell success?

March 27, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Coaching, Newsletter | By

Wow, spring is really here! This weekend was so pretty. I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

This weekend, I was back at home. Last week, I traveled to Worthington, Ohio (a city near Columbus) to give a TEDx Talk about career success in the face of interference. Giving the talk was a huge accomplishment. Thank you to everyone who helped me prepare along the way!

I look forward to sharing the full talk with you very soon. When it’s available, I will be sure to email you.

In the meantime, I want to touch on a related topic — measuring success. Someone recently asked me, “Angela, how do you measure the success of your work as a coach?”

It’s an interesting question. If I were going the business route only, I’d probably just measure dollars and close rates. But, coaching is different. There are more layers to it. It’s truly special. I get a chance to be part of the lives of individual people.

After I check the numbers, I look at a few things that are a little harder to quantify in Excel. First, I look at the success of my clients. Were they able to make the switch they were aiming for? Did they successfully rebrand themselves? Do they enjoy their new career? For those clients who prioritize salary, how much of a financial jump was the client able to make with their switch?

Then, I look at something I didn’t expect to be thinking about when I started Copeland Coaching. I look at referrals. Surprisingly, most of my new clients come from current or former clients. They send me their friends, their family, and their colleagues.

On a number of occasions, I have had the chance to work with three members of the same immediate family — on three separate searches. I never in a million years expected that. It’s a huge honor when this happens. An entire family is inviting you into their world, to help them get closer to their personal goals.

So, the long story short is: Was a client able to achieve their goals and transition into a better career? And, was the client happy enough to recommend the process to loved ones?

I’m very fortunate to work with my clients. I get to help play a small role and their future, and for that I’m grateful.

At the end of the day, success is something that’s measured differently in each business or industry. Regardless of your situation, it can be good to occasionally take a step back and ask yourself what success looks like where you work. What can you do to constantly improve your results?

Although this is a simple question, it really got me thinking. And, I wanted to take a few moments to share those thoughts with you.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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Prioritizing Your Search

March 22, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Corner Column, Job Search, Media | By

When you’re truly unhappy in your current job, a new one can’t get here fast enough. Having to drag yourself to the office each day can be the worst. When you’re caught up in the emotion of it all, you begin to wonder why you don’t have a new job yet. Is it a problem with your resume, your cover letter, or your LinkedIn? Panic and frustration begins to set in as each day goes by.

But, sometimes it’s none of those things at all. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of time. What I mean by this is, it’s easy to get swept up in our everyday responsibilities. Whether it’s a current job, children, a side project, or social commitments, there’s always something pressing to do. The job search gets pushed to the side, like a treadmill bought with the best intensions that’s gathering dust in the corner.

The problem is, just like physical health, your dream job will rarely find you without some real work. It’s possible that a so-so job that pays almost enough will fall into your lap. But, with that job, there’s no guarantee that it will actually be better than the one you have now. That high paying promotion you’ve been dreaming of will not be found easily. Those jobs are harder to find and to get. They require treating the process of getting a job like its own job.

Believe me, I wish there was an easier way. But, for the most part, elbow grease is the only answer. Making your job search the most important thing you’re doing will move it forward faster.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe that preexisting commitments, such as family, should take top billing. It’s the right decision and one that I truly respect. But, the higher you can prioritize your search and the more time you’re able to pour into it, the faster things will come together.

Start by deciding how many hours each week you’d like to work on your search. Then, picture when would be the best time to put in those hours. Are mornings easier for you? Is right after work the best? Or, is Sunday afternoon ideal? Whatever time you select, hold yourself to it. Let your family know that you’re going to need a little extra time to focus on your search. Consider tracking your progress in a spreadsheet or on a calendar.

As I write this, I’m reminded that prioritizing your search is in reality a lot like prioritizing yourself, and your own happiness. It’s making time for your future goals. It’s making time for your future self. It’s a way of saying that you will not wait until your current job is so miserable that you can’t stand it anymore. You won’t wait for another tiny raise or a nonexistent promotion. You’re ready to take your search into your own hands because it’s a priority for you. Only then will you find what you’ve been hoping and searching for.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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Waiting for permission isn’t working

March 15, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Corner Column, Media | By

Today’s job market is tough. If you’re trying to find a new job, or to get a promotion at your current job, you can probably relate. One of the most frustrating things, if not the most frustrating, is when your current boss is overlooking you.

Perhaps the boss has created a new role that would be perfect for you. You’ve been with the organization for five years and this job is a step up from what you’re doing today. You’re committed to the company, and plan to be there for a while – maybe even until retirement. The new role is an obvious progression to anyone but your boss. The boss is too busy trying to scour the earth for the perfect candidate, when the best person is right under their nose. Even after you’ve pitched your idea, they aren’t interested.

I’ve got to be honest. I don’t have much patience for this waiting game. If you’re good at what you do, and you’re doing your best, it’s time to consider moving on if your boss is unwilling or unable to recognize you. The exact reason why this is happening isn’t the most important thing. Your boss may be judging you on something unrelated to your job, they may not picture you as an ambitious person, or there may be some other reason unrelated to you.

Rather than try to fix a broken situation, why not refocus your energy? If this boss doesn’t appreciate you, there’s most likely someone else out there who will. Why not try to find them?

The truth is, many companies don’t value their existing employees as much as we all wish they would. The high turnover companies experience could contribute to this. And, the competitive environment we’re in doesn’t help either. The companies aren’t all to blame, but it doesn’t really help you as an individual either way. Why not try to find a company and a boss that values their employees?

I know it can be hard, especially if you were planning to stay at a company for the long haul. Switching companies can feel like failure. It can feel like a loss – a big one. I’m with you.

But, think of how you might feel if you did find a better situation, a better boss, and a better company. I’ve never met someone who’s made a positive switch and then said, “Man, if only I’d stuck around a little longer to see if I could have gotten my boss to like me.” Instead, each person says, “I’m so glad I made that change” or “Wow! I wish I’d had the courage to change jobs sooner. I don’t know why I waited so long.”

I get it. Changing companies wasn’t on your plan. But, neither was waiting to be told you’re good enough. Let me put it this way: If switching companies also meant more money and a better title, would you give it a shot? You will never know until you try.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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