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When you thought it wasn’t personal

A reader recently wrote to me with a unique situation. They landed an impressive contract position. Everything was going along great for eleven months until one day, they were let go. The company laid off a large number of people all at the same time. After soliciting feedback, the reader was given a good review and sent on their way.

It wasn’t personal. Or, was it? Just a few days after being let go, their contract job appeared online as an open position. It was the same job at the same company. Then, a friend of the reader was hired at the same company. They asked what had happened. They were told the reader was let go due to poor performance issues.

How could this be? The reader had never been given any negative feedback. They were told it wasn’t about them.

After this incident, the reader has had multiple job interviews. This has left them with a difficult question. “What should I say in future job interviews if someone asks ‘Why did you leave the company?’ How do I honestly answer that without bad mouthing anyone?”

Reader, let me say first, I am so sorry this happened to you. Being let go from a company is difficult enough. Receiving conflicting messages about it later is even worse.

When you interview, it’s very important to be honest. It’s also important to be as accurate as possible. The problem here is that the company may not have been honest with you. If there was a performance issue as you have heard, it’s possible that your manager avoided their duties by not giving you direct and constructive feedback.

The problem is, you don’t really know the truth. What you’ve heard is third hand information at best. It’s tough to know how much of what you were told is a rumor and how much is reality. For example, did the feedback come from your boss or from an old coworker who likes to gossip?

In a case like this, it can be tough to know what to say in an interview. But, the best course of action may be to go with the company line. You were part of a random company layoff. It wasn’t personal. Your performance ratings were good. It’s what is documented in your employee file.

Unfortunately, when someone leaves a company, others have a tendency to talk. Often, they may try to guess the reasons someone left. This gossip can spread misinformation.

Even if the rumor is true, how would you validate it? And how would it benefit you to do so? It would not be helpful to provide unproven, negative information to a future employer. It would also not be helpful to explain a long story of events about your departure and the rumors that followed.

Stick with what you were officially told and move on to a more exciting and fulfilling opportunity with a manager who appreciates your skills and talents. Best of luck in your job search!

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

Breaking the rules and finding your perfect job

Sometimes in your career, things don’t always work out the way you plan them. For me, the first time I learned this lesson, I was in college. I went to one of those fancy, private schools to study computer engineering in the late 90s. I knew that an investment in such a great degree would guarantee me a job when I graduated. Not only that, it would guarantee me a great paying job.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The dot com crash came along right in the middle of my studies an put a halt on hiring. Even the recruiters that normally came to our school to hire students canceled their visits. It was something I’d never seen before and couldn’t have predicted.

This experience took me down a path of finding my transferrable skills and learning about new careers. Transferable skills are the strengths you can take from job to job. I also learned to interview for all sorts of jobs in many different industries – and I lost my fear of reaching out to strangers. It’s truly a skillset I developed out of survival. I needed to pay the rent.

I know it sounds strange, but when you look at interviewing from a different angle, it’s less scary and much more interesting. I looked at (and continue to look at) interviewing as making new professional contacts and learning about new jobs. I look at interviews as networking meetings, not as an opportunity to be rejected by a stranger.

And, you know what else? I don’t care as much if I meet every little minimum requirement on the job description. You know why? Because, truth be told, many employers don’t really care if you do. If an employer brings you in for an interview, it’s because they think you can do the job. Why not submit your application and let them decide?

If we could all spend a little less time worrying about being the perfect candidate, and a little more time just being the best candidate we can be, we’d all go a little further, faster. When I learned this lesson, my own career path changed dramatically. I went from being an engineer to a project manager then from a project manager to a digital marketing executive. Now, I’m a career coach. I could have never guessed in the 90s that my career path would have been so winding.

I was recently invited to share my own story of career success as a TEDx Talk. My talk, titled “How I broke the rules & found my perfect job,” shares my story of not waiting for permission and a little obsession I developed along the way. You may have already noticed. It turns out, I really like interviewing.

I invite you to check out my TEDx Talk on the TEDx Talk YouTube channel (http://bit.ly/broketherules). It’s my hope that you will be inspired to bend the rules in your own search, so you can find your perfect job.

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

Career Changes for Scientists

I’ve recently received multiple letters from scientists in the research community with questions about their career transitions. Most likely, this is because of the large number of folks I meet from the medical research community. They’re developing new technologies for things from vaccines to cancer cures.

Researchers struggle with a problem workers in all sectors face: how to change industries. Most get into research with a three- to five-year contract. But this is not before completing a lengthy Ph.D. program. By the time their contract ends, the researcher may be in their 30s or early 40s.

With no experience in corporate America, and with little support about where to begin, many of these brilliant scientists struggle to decide what’s next. The most common choices are to continue in research or to take the corporate route. Often, staying on the same path is easier, but it is not always the most desirable choice.

For those interested to make a transition, one of the first steps is to ask for help. Connect to colleagues you already know, whether they were classmates, professors or co-workers. Expand your network to corporate workers. Ask these connections, new and old, how they made large career transitions. Ask what they like and dislike.

Pay close attention to how you feel when you learn about their experience. Does the idea of sitting in a cubicle all day or being held to strict deadlines make you cringe? Or does working for a big corporation excite you? If you decide that corporate is for you, there are a few places to start.

Begin by cleaning up your resume or CV, and start applying for jobs. Don’t let the minimum requirements stop you. Keep in mind that it’s rare for a company to find the perfect candidate. If you’re confident that you can do a job, apply. Let the company decide whether or not to hire you.

Make sure you have at least one nice suit for interviews. Corporate is more formal than what you may be used to. Do your best to show you can fit into the new environment.

Practice your pitch. You need to be comfortable explaining why you want to make a career change. You are your own marketer and must help others understand your desire to make a switch. Not everyone you speak with will understand your industry jargon. Try explaining your job and career goals to an aging loved one to ensure you’re communicating in a clear manner.

Interview for as many positions as you can, at least in the short term. Remember that every interview is practice for the next one. If you don’t get this job, you’ll be more prepared for the next interview. Multiple interviews will also give you a better idea of what is available in the market, differences in companies, and your overall market value.

Being persistent with these simple steps will help you to take your career in a new direction, whether it’s from research to corporate or between other industries.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com 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
@CopelandCoach

 

111 | Paychecks & Balances – Interview with Rich Jones, HR Pro in San Francisco, CA

Episode 111 is live! This week, we talk with Rich Jones in San Francisco, CA.

Rich is a Technical Recruiter at a large dot com company. He’s a certified professional in Human Resources with over seven years of recruiter and HR experience. Rich also co-hosts the Paychecks & Balances podcast. Paychecks & Balances is a fun-formative podcast covering work and money for the rising professional.

On today’s episode, Rich shares the biggest financial issue faced today by professionals, how to ask your current boss for a raise, and secrets to effective negotiation at a new job.

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

To learn more about Rich’s podcast, Paychecks & Balances, visit his website at PaychecksAndBalances.com.

Thanks to everyone for listening! if you have questions, you can e-mail me at Angela(at)CopelandCoaching(dot)com. If you’ve enjoyed the program today, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!


Are you committed or complacent?

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You probably already know. There’s an ongoing debate going on. It’s growing as workplace philosophies continue to evolve.

This is the question. How long should you stay at your current employer?

If you leave too soon, your next employer will think you job hop. They may think you have a problem with commitment. Perhaps you’ve been fired before. Or, maybe they’ll assume you don’t get along well with others. You definitely won’t be someone they’ll want to invest their company resources into.

That’s true, right?

Not necessarily. Staying at a job too long may send signs you never even thought of. Your future hiring manager may think you’re the kind of person who doesn’t challenge yourself to grow. They may assume that your skills are rusty. They may wonder what’s wrong with you… (Yes, what’s wrong with you.)

In today’s job market, it’s not unusual to switch jobs every three to five years. In fact, many hiring managers appreciate someone with multiple companies on their resume.

Here are a few of the positive perceptions hiring managers have about employees who transition between different companies:

  • This person has a diverse skill set of knowledge
  • This person is a real go-getter
  • This person knows how to work well in many different environments
  • This person has many industry contacts
  • This person is self motivated

Don’t get me wrong, this perception varies by industry. In certain industries, it is more important to change frequently while in other industries, staying for a long time can be valued. But, overall, it’s becoming more and more expected that you change frequently. In fact, people hold more than ten different jobs in their lifetime today.

And, do you know what’s more? The data suggests that employees who stay at companies longer than two years get paid 50% less over the course of their lifetime.

50% – that earning figure sounds crazy! Well, until you think of how hard it is to negotiate a good raise within your company. Where do you think all the raises are going to? They’re going to outside candidates the company is trying to lure in.

So, what’s holding you back? Do you think your boss is eventually going to recognize your brilliance (one day)? Do you feel under-qualified to take another job? Are you afraid of the interview process? Are you convinced there are no good jobs out there?

Or, are you sure that someone is going to appreciate your long term commitment?

If this is your strategy, I hate to break it to you, but it may not work. In fact, it could backfire in a big way.

Imagine you live in a small city where you’re known for doing a particular kind of work for a certain company. You’ve earned respect for many years working at the same place. Then, you decide that you want to pick up and move to someplace bigger — maybe New York or LA.

And, all of the sudden, that longevity and respect don’t take you as far. You may just look like someone who’s comfortable… complacent… not committed to growth. You may have become someone with a tiny network of contacts.

Of course, the length of time truly varies by the type of profession you’re in. But, keep that in mind when your great uncle (who has never worked a day in your field) starts to give you a hard time about job hopping. These relatives will often scare you with stories about the unknown. They talk about the possibility of failure, of being laid off, and of losing your health insurance.

But really, you’re at risk anywhere you go. Jobs today are not a guarantee. But, if you do switch periodically, you will diversify your skill set – and your professional network. And, you will create a bigger safety net for yourself than you started with.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com 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
@CopelandCoach

 

Copeland Coaching Podcast Episode 9: Julianne Watt with RedRover Sales & Marketing

Episode 9 of the Copeland Coaching Podcast is live! I’m so excited to share this great episode with you!

This week we talk with Julianne Watt, Project Coordinator at RedRover Sales and Marketing. Julianne shares her secrets to changing career fields, and how to find your perfect next job.

Listen and learn more! (You can play the podcast below, and you can also download it on iTunes.)

If you’re not familiar with RedRover Sales & Marketing already, it’s an advertising agency that integrates sales training and coaching with marketing and public relations, combining traditional and guerrilla strategies.

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