Copeland Coaching | Career Corner Column Archives - Copeland Coaching

You weren’t picked. Now what?

April 26, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Corner Column, Interviewing, Job Search, Media, Rejection | By

Being overlooked for a job is the worst. It’s especially bad after you’ve had a series of interviews. You took off work (multiple times), bought a new suit, and updated your resume. How could they reject you after all of that hard work?

First, I’m with you. It’s pretty awful when a company puts you through the ringer, just to toss you aside in the end. Sometimes they don’t even notify you. They aren’t shopping for a new pair of shoes. You’re a person.

So, what are you going to do now that you’ve been rejected? If you’re like most people, you are going to stay as far away from the company as possible. It’s like a bad breakup. They rejected you. Clearly, they didn’t want you. Why would you want to pour salt in those wounds?

This is totally reasonable. But, what if we chose to see the situation from a different perspective? What if it wasn’t a complete rejection? Just maybe, hiring could have been put on hold. Another candidate could have been preselected. Your salary history could have been a bit high for the role. Or, perhaps the hiring manager felt you were overqualified for the job. Often, we don’t know what the real reason was. We make assumptions; assumptions that the company didn’t like us.

What if we decided not to take it personally? What if we looked at the interviews as the start of a longer conversation?

If we did this, we would probably reach back out to the hiring manager in the future. We’d keep an eye on new jobs in the same department. And, we might even meet up with someone from the team every now and then for a coffee.

What’s the worst that could happen? The hiring manager might get to know you better. They might really like you. And, they might call you the next time they’re hiring. In fact, they might call you before the position is posted online.

But, this approach takes two things. First, it requires you to separate yourself from the rejection of not being selected the first time around. You have to be confident enough in your skills to say, “This wasn’t the right fit this time” instead of, “this will never work.” Second, it takes longer. It requires you to put in more time. It’s not an immediate answer, and it could even take years to build a relationship with the company that rejected you.

I’d argue that it’s worth it. If you take this approach across the board, you will grow your network more than you can imagine. Instead of searching for a new job, jobs begin to come to you. Hiring managers will call you when you are a good fit. They will call when they can pay you enough and when they have a job that really meets your skills.

But, it requires looking at things differently when you’re not picked. So, what’s your next move – complete rejection or conversation starter?

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

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The Limits of Loyalty

April 19, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Coaching, Career Corner Column, Media | By

Loyalty is an important quality. It’s what helps bind friendships and loved ones. It’s what holds teams together. But, dare I say it – there are limits to loyalty.

Many of us were taught to be loyal to our companies. To some degree, this makes a lot of sense. We should all be truthful. We should keep trade secrets private. And, we should put in an honest day’s work when we’re there. We have a duty to be great employees each and every day.

In the past, loyalty at work also brought with it a number of great rewards. We could count on having a job every day. Job security was more of a given. Very often, hard work and commitment resulted in promotions and more money. And, years of service guaranteed a comfortable retirement. Putting the company’s needs first meant putting our own needs first to some degree.

But, times have changed. Without putting blame on one side or another, it’s fair to acknowledge that things are different in many modern workplaces. It’s no longer unusual for a company to restructure and cut an entire department – with no notice. It’s also not unusual for a company to look for outside talent to save the day when things are going wrong.

This new climate puts us at an increased risk of losing our job sometime during our career – no matter how great of an employee we may be. It also means the chances go up that we could be overlooked for an internal promotion. And, with the effort companies are putting into recruiting external talent, it means that we may also be overlooked for a pay raise along the way.

So, what can we do about this new environment? Well, first, keep being a great employee each and every day. You are your own personal brand. You don’t want to be any less of a good employee just because times have changed and you are adjusting your ideas on loyalty.

Second, focus on your long term goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Where do you want to be in ten?

As you work to achieve your goals, observe whether or not your company is supporting those goals. If you are being overlooked for promotions and raises, pay attention. The company is sending a signal. For whatever reason, they are not aligned to your goals. Your future success is dependent upon your acceptance of this unfortunate fact.

Expand your network and begin searching for a company that does align to your personal goals. When you switch companies, you have a chance to renegotiate your salary and your title. Instead of getting a two percent raise this year, what if you could have a ten percent raise (or more)?

At the end of the day, keep yourself and your future in mind. Don’t sacrifice yourself because you want to be loyal to an organization. If the organization needed to save money, their own loyalty would become much more optional.

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

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Career Interference

April 12, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Corner Column, Media | By

The job market often offers twists and turns you’d never expect. My first twist happened during college.

I grew up in the 90s, along with the internet. Companies like AOL were just starting. With a “fast” dial up modem, you could connect through your phone line. It was just the sort of thing a teenager dying to go to college out of state needed. It was an exciting time. Everything and everyone suddenly seemed magically intertwined in a new way.

Startups were popping up everywhere. Young people were getting investments to start business and were suddenly worth millions. It was like being a celebrity. The guarantee of a good job and a great financial future motivated me to study computer and systems engineering in college. I moved from Oklahoma to Upstate New York for the opportunity.

Midway through school, the dot com crash happened. Suddenly, startups were disappearing and jobs in the tech world dried up. Recruiters that came to my college to hire students canceled their visits. Not only were their visits canceled, the jobs they were hiring for were canceled too.

This was one of the scariest times in my career. It forced me to rethink the possibilities of what I might become. After some soul searching, I found a project management job. It wasn’t what I had expected to be doing, but the good news was, it was even better. This work capitalized on my strengths more than computer programming ever did, and it prepared me for my next challenge – graduate school.

Getting my MBA presented an entirely new set of hurdles. The first was saving enough money to quit my job to go. The second was to move cross country to a new city in California where I knew no one. While I was in school, the job market continued to be competitive. In fact, many employers were no longer paying for interns. The prospect of working for free was one catalyst to finish school early and to begin my new career.

Strangely, although I planned to change careers when I finished business school, employers didn’t initially see it the same way. One company offered me twice as much money to do the same sort of work I’d been doing before school. It was incredibly confusing. The money was great, but I’d quit my job so that I could change careers completely. I turned down the offer and kept searching. Eventually, I became a digital marketing executive and now, a career coach.

What I’ve learned along the way is that your path isn’t always as straight as you picture it when you’re eighteen. And, more importantly – that’s okay. In today’s job market, changing jobs every three to five years keeps you fresh. It diversifies your professional contacts and your experience. It turns you into a bit of a free agent so to speak. And, you have a chance to negotiate for more money every few years. Very often, unexpected career interference is a true blessing in disguise.

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

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Respect for athletes and actors

April 5, 2017 | Posted in Advice, Career Corner Column | By

In the business world, things move fast. You write a business proposal, seek approval, and move on to your next project. Efficiency is key in business. Move fast. Waste little time. Produce as much output as possible.

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to share my personal career story at a TEDx event in Worthington Ohio. Giving a TEDx Talk was a huge honor, but also a big responsibility. I wanted to be prepared. And, not the kind of prepared that I’ve been in the past when I’ve delivered some sort of PowerPoint presentation I whipped up for an executive meeting.

But, what does being prepared for something like TED mean? Fortunately, I had a great team of folks around me to serve as advisors, including a professional speaking coach, a professional speech writer, and a great TEDx team. I honestly couldn’t have felt more proud to have such a great group working with me that I could put my trust in.

What I quickly found was that preparing for a fifteen minute memorized talk was an entirely different animal all together. For the first time, I had a script. And, I didn’t just write the script once. I wrote and revised it ten times. Each time, the team would have feedback. Perhaps one word didn’t sound quite right. Or, maybe another sentence was needed to bridge two thoughts.

Then came practicing. Memorizing eight pages of text is not easy for anyone. That was the first giant hill to conquer. Once the memorization was under control, I focused on my delivery. Even tiny details like the regional pronunciation of words was on the table for discussion. I’ll be honest. At times, this level of commitment felt tough.

Then, one day, I bumped into a professional ballet dancer at the theatre where I was practicing. He was there, by himself, practicing his dance skills. You might think this was a sign that he had a big production just around the corner. But, it wasn’t. He was there practicing because he wanted to be his best at all times. He didn’t have a show around the corner. He had discipline.

It really hit home with me in that moment how hard actors and athletes work when we’re not looking. They are dedicated to be the best at one specific thing, for the fifteen minutes when we are watching. But, it’s not random that they’re at their best for those fifteen minutes. Hours of tiring practice have gone into that perfect moment; practice that nobody else sees.

This experience makes me wonder how much more effective, and efficient, we all might be as business leaders if we set aside a little more time to practice. Rather than planning to give a presentation once with no rehearsal, what if we took the time to hone our message? I hope to take my newfound respect for performers and athletes with me as I go back to my projects in the fast paced business world.

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


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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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