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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.

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.

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.

Key To Winning Job Candidate’s Heart? Flexibility

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to meet a number of folks who work at the job website Indeed.com. If you’ve looked for a job in the last ten years, there’s a good chance you’ve visited Indeed. In 2010, they passed Monster to become the highest trafficked job site in the United States. In May, a report from SilkRoad found that Indeed helps people get more jobs than all other sites combined. According to SilkRoad, the site delivered 72% of interviews and 65% of new hires in 2016. That’s powerful stuff.

I spoke with Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources. I wanted to get his take on what job seekers are looking for in a future employer. Not only does Paul lead the charge on Indeed’s hiring, but he has insight into the hiring process at companies around the world.

As you might expect, one of the key things employees are looking for is flexibility. Since 2014, job searches including words related to flexible work arrangements (think ‘work from home’ jobs) has been on the rise globally. “Flexibility is a big thing,” said Paul. “With the advances of technology, you can do your job from any place really.”

Student debt is also on the minds of job seekers. 25% of students say that loan assistance is a high priority for them, while just 3% of employers are offering it. “In some cases, it takes twenty-one years just to pay off your four-year degree. You’re in a hole before you even start your career, which is tough.” For the companies that do offer this benefit, some structure it around specific performance goals similar to a bonus payout, while for other companies, it’s a fixed amount.

Paul is an advocate of unlimited paid time off too. I’ll admit – I find this concept a little hard to picture at first. Paul explained, “I want our employees to be happy. I want them to continue to nurture relationships outside of the company – with family and a significant other, friends, colleagues.” Paul says he wants his employees to take time off before they hit a wall. “As a HR leader, I know that when you hit the wall, productivity is not great. Your work product suffers. You have probably become a little disengaged at that point.”

Paul also observes other trends related to flexibility, such as expanded maternity and paternity care plans that offer longer leave periods.

Indeed’s employee tagline is, “We care about what you care about.” Ultimately, if a company wants to capture the hearts and minds of their employees, they need to find out what’s important to them. I speak with job seekers every day who would give up a portion of their paycheck in exchange for flexibility, respect, and fulfillment. It seems that Indeed is finding the same to be true within their organization.

For my entire interview with Paul Wolfe and to learn more about Indeed, watch for the upcoming podcast episode on iTunes.

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 really okay to say no.

Okay, this is going to sound strange. But, bear with me. After having coached hundreds of folks on their job searches, I’ve noticed a pattern. And, it’s not one I would have expected.

What’s one of our number one fears when it comes to job searching? It’s actually that we will get the job! That’s right. We are afraid of being offered a job.

Why in the world would that be the case? It’s a great question, and the answer to this important question could unlock a key to the job search.

First, let’s rewind a bit. Think back on how you got your current job. Then, think about how you got the job before and the job before that. If you’re like most people, you got most of your jobs through a networking contact. Someone happened to know who you were. They thought you might be a great fit, and they offered you a job. It was as simple as that.

This makes our deliberate job search so much more difficult. We have much less experience selecting what we want to do, and then going after it. We’ve typically just gone with the flow. If a friend thought we might be good at sales, we tried sales. If an uncle had an operations role available at his company, we gave it a shot.

Proactively and deliberately searching for a job takes on so much more responsibility for our own futures. So, why would we fear a job offer when we are clearly looking for a new job?

Well, if you’re like most people, you have taken most every (if not every) job you have ever been offered. When your friend or your uncle told you about a great opportunity, you went for it.

The thing is, when you aren’t quite sure what you want to be, you might be afraid of getting a job offer because it could mean taking a job that’s not right for you. We are afraid that we will be offered something because we assume that being offered a job means taking a job.

So, we sit and stir. We think and think about what we might want to be – one day. But, we are so paralyzed with fear about making the wrong choice that we make no choice.

But, what if – what if we decided that it would be okay to say no to a job offer that didn’t feel like the right fit? What if we decided that it wouldn’t be wasting the company’s time to go through the interview process, even if we didn’t take the job?

My guess is that we would be less paralyzed by fear. We would look at job searching more like a fact finding mission rather than a scary commitment. And, why not? The company would happily interview a candidate five times before walking away if there wasn’t a good fit. Why wouldn’t we as candidates be willing to do the same thing for ourselves?

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