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The Value of College

College is expensive. Private college is even more. My undergraduate school is now charging approximately $50,000 per year, just for tuition. Assuming you’re paying of pocket, that’s two hundred thousand dollars for a four-year degree, not including room and board.

I love my college, but this is bananas. The idea that a student or parents are expected to come up with this much money for school is difficult to wrap the mind around.

The high cost of college makes you wonder what the money is for. College is more than a finishing school. It’s more than a place to learn about history. It will set the foundation for your future professional career.

To facilitate this career, many colleges offer a career resources center. But, they are typically opt-in. In other words, career resources isn’t a priority.

If finding a job is the ultimate goal, why doesn’t every college offer a mandatory class about just this topic? Along with history, math, and writing, why isn’t there a class in how to get a job? After all, we spend four years learning the skills we need to do the job. Why not have a course in how to get that job?

It seems simple. Universities could use leverage existing career resources staff, or they could find outside coaches or professionals. Fundamentals might include elevator pitch, resume writing, and professional networking.

If students knew how to get a job, they would be more likely to land one upon graduation. They very well might make more money, and in turn, the school would become more valuable. If your school already has a program like this, that’s excellent news. But, sadly, most of the students I speak to don’t have such a course.

If you are evaluating where you want to go to college (or graduate school), consider this. Most schools publish what’s called a post-graduation report. You can typically find it through a straight forward internet search such as “post-graduation report for Harvard University.” This report will typically share information, including: which industries graduates work in, which companies hire graduates, where graduates live geographically, and how much graduates make.

The how much graduates make portion is important. Graduates from certain colleges (or with certain degrees) make much more (or much less) than other graduates. This is real. Companies will very often pay a graduate from a pricey school more than one from another school. Or, they will pay graduates with science or computer backgrounds more than those with art or history backgrounds. This may seem intuitive, but the post-graduation report outlines it clearly.

The next question is – will this education have a good return on investment? Education is an investment. It’s an investment in future income. Fortunately, there are ROI calculators online that can help think through this process. At the end of the day, the college and major you select may be influenced by the ROI of the degree.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

Love Your Job

The month of love is upon us again. Happy Valentine’s Day! It always happens just after we create our latest New Year’s resolutions. We’re often still thinking about career goals, and future plans. All these goals bring up an important question. Do you love your job?

If the answer is no to this question (and you have fallen out of love with your job), this is the perfect time to make a change. The first step is to identify what you like (and dislike) about your current job. Being in tune with your feelings will help you to spot your perfect job, and career, in the future.

If you don’t love your job, what is it that would make you want to go to work every day? Are you looking for more meaning? Would you like a bigger paycheck? Do you prefer more autonomy and respect from your boss? Perhaps you want all of the above.

What do you like about your current job? Hopefully, there are good parts to your less than ideal situation. Do you feel that you’re working on something with a purpose or a mission that motivates you? Does the job give you flexibility in your daily schedule? Maybe there’s something else that you enjoy about your work.

When we’re unhappy at our current job, we often start by looking through job postings for the perfect job title. We assume that the right title and job description will make all the difference. Although this makes perfect sense, it’s rarely that straightforward.

Finding the right job is often about finding the right situation. It’s about finding a supportive boss, and good coworkers. It’s about finding a reliable company in a stable industry.

Would you agree? The perfect job title doesn’t mean much if you hate your boss, or your workplace. Alternatively, you might be willing to make a little less money if you could just find a job you loved to go to each day.

Remember, finding a job is a lot like dating. If we breakup with one person, but we don’t take the time to reflect on what went wrong, we very well might end up in another equally unhappy relationship. This is often the case when we run from one job to another due to a difficult situation.

Once we have a good idea of the pros and cons at our current job, we should start building up our professional network. Even if we’re not ready to switch today, we will need our network when we are. Plus, finding a job through networking gives us a higher chance of success. We may already know our future boss. Or, a friend may share how great their company culture is.

Like dating, the more you know about the company going in, the more likely you are to find a match. After all, finding a job you love is all about fit.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

Diversity in Today’s Workplace

LinkedIn released its report on 2018 Global Recruiting Trends. They surveyed 9,000 recruiters and hiring managers from around the world on the state of hiring. Their research found that the biggest game changer in the hiring space is diversity.

LinkedIn broke down diversity into multiple pieces: diversity, inclusion, and belonging. “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is dancing like no one is watching.” Belonging is a level of psychological safety that someone feels when they’re truly able to perform at their best. LinkedIn found that 51 percent of companies are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ focused on diversity, 52 percent are focused on inclusion, and 57 percent are focused on belonging.

Interestingly, companies are focused on different aspects of diversity. Employers are the most focused on gender diversity, followed by racial and ethnic diversity. Then, they are focused on diversity based on age, education, disability, and religion.

Beyond attracting diverse talent, companies are beginning to look at how their culture embraces diversity. After all, what’s the point of attracting diverse talent if you can’t retain them? 67 percent of companies said they are working to foster an environment that respects different opinions. 51 percent want to encourage people to be themselves at work. 45 percent are embedding diversity in their company mission and values. And, 44 percent are emphasizing diversity in the leadership team.

One company that’s doing especially well is a Silicon Valley startup called Lever. Of their 150 employees, 50 percent are women. 53 percent of its managers are women, 43 percent of its engineers, and 40 percent of its board of directors.

To achieve this level of gender diversity, Lever employs unusual hiring tactics. First, they have removed the requirements section on the job description. Studies show that women are much less likely to apply for a job if they don’t meet all of the requirements. Lever avoids hiring decisions based on “culture fit,” a technique that often results in more sameness on a team. They have also developed a compensation philosophy that benchmarks the value of each role. It doesn’t rely on a candidate’s past salary to predict their future earnings.

An increased focus on diversity can be seen around the globe, with an average of 78 percent of companies focusing on diversity. In the United States, 78 percent of companies are focusing on diversity, compared with 77 percent in Brazil, 82 percent in the U.K., 73 percent in France, and 85 percent in Australia.

It’s clear that diversity in hiring is here to stay. Companies identified three top reasons to focus on diversity. 78 percent want to improve their corporate culture. 62 percent want to improve company performance. And, 49 percent want to better represent their customers. Companies are beginning to think beyond checking a box. They’re focused now on indicators that impact financial performance, showing that diversity adds value on multiple levels.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

People Hire People

If you’re looking for a job, there’s a good chance you’re applying online. And, chances are good that applying online is your go to option. It makes sense. The last time you reached out to a HR person at a job fair or on LinkedIn (or anywhere else), they said, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you!” They may even have said, “Don’t reach out to us. We review every application carefully.”

Don’t be fooled. In most cases, they’re giving you the company line. They’re telling you the official rules of the game. But, this is the thing: people hire people. Yes, you heard me right. People hire people.

Most hiring managers do not post a new job and then think, “I sure hope our company website lands me a great hire this time!”

Most hiring managers post their jobs to the company website because they have to. It may even be automated. When they got the approval to hire someone, the powers that be took a copy of the job description and uploaded it into a system somewhere – and bam, it showed up on the company website.

When a hiring manager gets approval to hire someone, this is what they typically think. “Hmm… do I know anyone who might be able to do this job? Or… I wonder if I know anyone who knows anyone.”

This process makes sense if you think about it. When’s the last time you found a new doctor solely from the internet? You probably asked friends for a recommendation. Iif you couldn’t find a recommendation, you may have looked at reviews online. But, chances are good you asked around first. It works the same way with hiring.

Does this mean you shouldn’t apply online? No. Apply online. But, then think of how you can meet the real life people who will be making this important hiring decision.

If you go the route of applying online only, it may take you hundreds of applications to land an interview. I hear from people every day who have applied to 100 or more jobs online, only to receive very few callbacks.

If you’re the exception to this rule, awesome. There are exceptions. For example, you may have a skillset that’s rare where you live. Or, maybe you do something that’s incredibly specialized. I have a friend who is an Abinitio developer. Ever heard of it? Me either. And because this friend has such a specific (and rare) skillset, he could probably apply online and get a call back. But, most jobs aren’t like that.

Go old school with your job search to find success. Find the hiring manager and get your resume to them – via a friend, email, or US Mail. The internet is amazing for research. Never have we had so much data about companies at our fingers. But at the end of the day, people hire people.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

The Myth of the Perfect Resume

I love resumes. They’re a very important part of your job search. They allow you to brand yourself. You can feature your past work experience. A resume allows you to highlight accomplishments, such as awards and education. It allows you to share who are you, and who you want to be in a future career.

But, if you had one hundred hours to use on your job search, how exactly would you divide up your time?

Many job seekers would devote ninety-five percent of their time to their resume. It makes sense, right? If your resume is perfect, then you ought to get a job faster. Because, job fit is determined by experience. And, experience is outlined in your resume, right?

Well, sort of. But, not exactly. In reality, many job offers are determined by other factors – like who you know. Look back at your own resume and think about how you got each job. If you landed every job by applying online with the perfect resume, you’re an exception to the rule. Most people find jobs through other people.

Does that mean resumes don’t matter? No, they’re important. But, it does mean that you should update your resume and then move on to other job search activities. For example, spend more time researching the companies you want to work for. Devote time to meeting new people and networking with people you already know.

One of my most successful friends has a six page resume. For years, I’ve had a burning desire to update it and shave it down to two pages. But, before I have ever been able to get my hands on that resume, the friend has already landed a new job. He has both unique skills and a strong network of contacts. Most likely, his resume is a complete afterthought. It’s a formality. After a company has decided to hire him, he submits the resume to complete the hiring process. It’s simply a checkbox.

What’s the lesson in this? Is it that you should forget your resume completely? No. The resume remains an important part of your job search materials, along with your cover letter, your elevator pitch, and your LinkedIn.

But, your resume is not the ultimate destination. If you feel that your resume is high quality and you’re still not landing interviews, step back and look at the bigger picture. Take a look at your entire job search process. Aside from updating your resume, what else could you do?

Consider spending more time at networking events. Ask more friends to have coffee meetings with you. Connect to new people you want to know (but don’t yet know) on LinkedIn. Volunteer for nonprofit boards.

If you spend your time looking for ways to connect and to grow your professional network and your business skills, you will go much farther in your job search than if you stay behind your computer screen.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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