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How long should this job search take?

One of the number one questions I hear from job seekers is, “How long should my job search really take?” It’s a good question. Knowing what’s “normal” can help you to know whether you’re winning or losing at this game we call the job search.

Unfortunately, there’s no normal. Some job offers show up in days. Others may take months. And for a few, it can take a year or more.

If you’re feeling frustrated by your job search timing, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, is this the first time that you have proactively looked for a new job? When you look back through your resume, think about how you landed each job. Did you find your past jobs, or did they find you? For many people, jobs have landed in their laps over the years. At some point, they begin to want to take a more proactive approach and start searching on their own instead of waiting. Although this proactive search is preferred, it’s also more time consuming.

Are you changing industries or job functions? If you are switching from a for-profit to a non-profit, or from technology to marketing (for example), your search is likely to take longer. When you’re transitioning from one job to another very similar job, it’s easy for the hiring manager to see how your skills fit into their organization. But, when you make a big switch, you’ve got to find an open minded hiring manager. They’ll need to be someone who is open minded, who believes in you, and is willing to take a risk on you. This will take time.

Is your job function unique, and are you highly compensated? The higher you go up the company ladder, the fewer number of jobs are available. The more you make, the smaller your pool of options is. If you’ve been at the same company for a long period of time, you may not think about this at first. Perhaps you started at an entry level job and worked your way up. When you were hired in, finding a job was easy. You were at the bottom of the pay scale and there were many roles for your job function. But, after receiving promotions, the number of available jobs shrinks. So, finding a new job on the outside will take longer than you remember.

Do you need to stay in a specific location, or are there other constraints on your search? Requirements are a good thing to have. They help you to target the right opportunities. But, the more targeted you become, the harder it is to find a job that meets your specific needs. And, the harder it is to find a job, the longer it will take to land it.

When you’re looking for a new job, remember that it’s not the same search you did years ago. Therefore, the time it takes will be different. Focus more on your search rather than the perfect timing.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

It’s Not You

I think by now, we can all agree. The job search process can be a grueling one. If you’re actively looking for a job, you know what I’m talking about. You apply online and never hear back. Or, maybe you go through rounds of interviews that lead nowhere.

This process can be both frustrating and disappointing at a bare minimum. It leaves smart, accomplished professionals feeling less than. It leaves them wondering what’s wrong with them. Are they too old? Too young? Perhaps they have the wrong college degree? They wonder what it is about them that employers don’t like.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Today’s job seeker is frustrated and fed up. But, what if it wasn’t really you? What if the reason you aren’t getting calls back has less to do with you, and more to do with the process? Hear me out.

The standard line that almost every company says to job applicants is, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you.” Even at job fairs these days, many of the company representatives will opt out of taking your resume in person and will instead ask you to apply online. This would lead one to believe that applying online is the best route to finding a job, don’t you think?

The problem is, most people still find jobs the same way today that they did in 1990 – through their network of contacts. A hiring manager isn’t just dying to hire a random stranger off of the internet. And, the online tracking systems companies use are still a relatively new concept. I’m certain they will continue to improve over time, but as it stands, many of these systems struggle to get the right candidates in front of the hiring manager.

On top of this, company rules often dictate that they must post each and every job online – even if they already know who they’re going to hire. I’ve seen this first hand. Years ago, I started working at a company as a contract employee. I was brought in as a contractor so that I could start right away, and then was hired permanently months later. But, before I was hired, my job was posted online as a vacancy. It was the same job I’d been doing every day for months. It was the same job that I already had official business cards for. If anyone had applied or interviewed for the job, they may never have known why they weren’t hired.

So, what’s the answer to this problem? It’s not straightforward. But, one thing’s for sure. The reason you weren’t hired could have little to do with you and more to do with the company’s process. My best advice is this. Try not to take this process personally. Go through the interviews and take the opportunity to get to know the hiring manager. The more well connected you are before you apply, the more likely you will be the chosen one the next time around.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Advice to My Younger Self

In the past week, two interesting things have happened. First, I was asked the question, “What advice would you give your younger self?” Then, I attended my high school reunion. Walking through the old halls of my high school brought back memories of where it all started. Needless to say, both moments made me think about the past and what advice I would give a young person today.

First and foremost, focus on your strengths. Growing up, there’s often a large emphasis placed on being well rounded and equally good at everything. We spend so much time trying to be better at skills we struggle with. In reality, it’s the things that we’re good at that make us special. You will go much farther pouring your time into an area where you excel than stumbling around in something you are weak at. Worry less about your weaknesses and instead, celebrate your gifts.

Second, listen to your gut. Other people with good intentions will try to guide you along the way. They may be parents, teachers, or friends. Some of their advice may be helpful, but some may not. It’s your job to sort out the good from the bad. Do a gut check with yourself before you make big decisions. And remember, most people are best at giving advice for one specific area. Seek out mentors to help with specific decisions rather than all areas of your life. If you begin to head down a path that doesn’t feel right, take a step back and reassess. Similarly, if you’re on a path that you are sure about and are receiving negative feedback from those who may not be in a place to advise you, take your time before switching paths. When I made the decision to move from Oklahoma to upstate New York to study engineering, I received some negative feedback. But, I’m very glad I stayed focused on my mission because it was the best choices I could have made.

Last, your path may not be straight – and that’s okay. Today’s professionals will change their career path many times over the course of their working life. There’s a good chance you will change roles, industries, or fields more than once. Each change will take you closer and closer to your ultimate destination. Be prepared for this change. It’s not the same as failure. Don’t dwell too long if something isn’t working. Adjust your path and continue to move forward in a new direction. That’s where you will find your success.

One of the most important elements of finding your way is to stay informed – and to be prepared for change. It’s not always possible to predict what change will happen, but change itself is inevitable. Being nimble, aware of your strengths, and willing to listen to your intuition will take you far. This is the advice I’d give to the younger me. And, with the ever changing job market, it’s a good future lesson to remember too.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

McDonald’s Recruits Employees Using Snapchat

When most job seekers think of using social media to apply for a new job, they think of networking website LinkedIn. But, McDonald’s and Snapchat recently pushed the boundaries of recruiting. McDonald’s partnered up with Snapchat to recruit and hire new employees this summer. Previously rolled out in Australia earlier this year, they’re calling the recruiting effort “Snaplications.”

According to the Washington Post, McDonald’s plans to fill 250,000 summer jobs. Most are front-line customer service employees in their teens are early twenties. And, those job seekers are using Snapchat. The app has approximately 166 million daily users, with the largest group being in the same age range that McDonald’s is targeting for future hires.

A job seeker is given the opportunity to submit a ten second video through Snapchat. Then, the job seeker is directed through a lengthier, traditional online application process. The video sounds similar to an elevator pitch, or the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.”

In an ever changing online world, it’s tough to know exactly what to make of this unusual application process. But, in a certain regard, the concept of applying quickly is similar to what other job sites are already trying to create for job seekers. Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed offer easy application processes that are often just one click. The job seeker pre-loads information about their work history. Then, when they see a job they’re interested in, their application can be submitted in just seconds. This allows the job seeker to apply quickly to many different jobs.

The other factor at play with a quick video application is the first impression. Research shows that the average time you have to make a first impression is approximately seven seconds. And, in many fields, much of the job seeker’s success is tied to just that – first impressions. So, a video application is not that different in certain ways then what happens in real life. (It should be noted that just because first impressions matter doesn’t mean they’re fair. Videos, much like photos or age, have the potential to introduce bias into the job search process.)

Also in real life, you must decide quickly and on the spot as to whether or not you’re interested in a particular job. Decisions become more of a gut reaction than we might like to admit to ourselves.

When I reached out to Snapchat to learn more, I found that the McDonald’s campaign recently ended. But, another company may soon hire through Snapchat too. McDonald’s used existing Snapchat advertising technology to create the Snaplications campaign. That same technology could be taken advantage of by other companies seeking to recruit young talent.

Right or wrong, one lesson to take away from Snaplications is this. You never know when or where you may be hired next. Do your best to represent yourself in a professional light no matter what setting you’re in – online or offline. And, be ready to submit your application and your resume wherever you happen to be.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

What is your time worth?

A reader recently wrote to me with an interesting question. He was seeking advice on how his teenage daughter might find an after school job for her high school years. His logic makes sense. He wants her to learn discipline and to gain a work ethic. These are great qualities for a young student to develop. Although I respect this method of getting there, I also suggested an alternative path.

When I was growing up, I was also encouraged to take a high school job. Where I lived, most options for teenagers focused on fast food. Although I could have made extra money this way, I decided to try something else. And, I’ll be honest – it was fairly controversial at the time.

I made the decision not to take a job during high school. In order to do this, I committed to spending as little money as possible, and to saving everything I could. This made my plan more feasible.

Then, I set out to use my spare time differently. I studied day and night in order to get the best grades I could. With my remaining free time, I looked for volunteer projects. I also founded a mentorship program at my high school for high risk third graders. Nobody paid me for these projects. But, they were an investment in myself, and in my community. I learned similar lessons about disciple and I gained a work ethic.

When it was time to apply to college, I now had a wealth of experience that I could include on my applications. I had initiated a community project that made me stand out from the other college applicants. I gained real experience that I could include on my resume. This experience, along with my high marks, resulted in scholarship money I desperately needed to go away to college.

In fact, the scholarships I received were for far more than I ever would have made working after school and on the weekends for a tiny paycheck. Given the minimum wage at the time, it would have taken me four years working full-time forty hours per week to earn the amount of money I received in scholarships.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that choosing not to work during high school is a luxury that not all kids have. I don’t want to knock on the teenagers who are working many hours on top of high school in order to contribute to their family’s expenses. I have incredible respect for these teenagers.

But, for the high schoolers who are lucky enough to get to choose, think past the basic options. Soon, you’ll pay someone else thousands to take college courses you may never use. Don’t assume being paid is always the number one priority. Think about what profession or real world cause you’d like to learn more about and go from there. You will gain new skills, differentiate yourself from your peers, and may even get a little scholarship money along the way.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Bullying 2.0 – Mean Coworkers

Growing up, it seemed like one of the perks of being an adult was a lack of bullies. After all, bullying stops after high school graduation, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. A few bullies sneak through life without giving up their bullying ways. Often, these meanies resurface at work, making your eight hours there much less rewarding. Maybe they’re unhappy with their own lives, or perhaps they have other personal issues at play. Whatever the cause, being on the receiving end of bullying is never fun.

After meeting a number of people who have experienced bullying, a few common themes emerge. First, being bullied is something we feel shameful about. We don’t talk about it openly because we feel bad that it’s happening to us. We assume we are the only person it’s happening to. We keep our thoughts locked up and allow them to eat away at us.

But, bullying is real. According to a 2017 study released by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 19% of Americans are bullied at work and another 19% witness it. Bullying affects 60 million Americans.

If we’ve been bullied, we may wonder what’s wrong with us. We assume the bullying is a reflection of us. We think that maybe we’ve chosen the wrong career path. Maybe we’re completely unqualified. We’ve been pulling off a total show until this bully figured out our game.

This internalization of workplace bullying is one of the most toxic experiences we can go through at work. It’s stressful. It takes away our power. And, it can undermine our confidence and our performance. 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects.

Because I have the good fortune to meet many job seekers, I get a chance to see behind the curtains of what we’re all going through. If you are on the receiving end of bullying, you should know that you’re not alone. A workplace bully’s efforts is not a reflection of your abilities.

Aggressive behavior, whether it’s name calling, back stabbing, or undermining, is never okay at work. Period.

If you have found yourself on the receiving end of a bully, work to build your personal team of advocates. Find people you trust that you can talk to and who will be supportive of you as you find a way out of this situation. Document your experience, so you can reflect back on what’s happening over time. Look for opportunities to reach out to folks within your organization for help, such as your manager, coworkers, or human resources. And, consider looking for a job at a new company.

The solution to making it through bullying is not to just survive the day. Your end game is to thrive. You deserve to be treated with respect. Sticking up for yourself in this time of crisis is critical to your future success. Don’t let a bully’s efforts go on until you are both physically and emotionally run down. Work to end this cycle of unhealthy behavior today.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.