1. “I’m looking for a new job, all I need to do is update my resume.”
So many professionals that are ready to switch jobs or overhaul their professional trajectory conclude that the first thing they MUST do to get a new job is update their resume. Yes, your professional profile (LinkedIn, Resume, website etc.) is an essential part of the process, but it is NOT the first thing you should set out to do. In fact, most people have no idea how to properly formulate their professional profile. Even executive level professionals with 25+ years’ experience in the workforce, don’t know the first thing about formulating a resume that will effectively reflect their professional impact and achievements. I recommend holding off on updating your resume all together and even when you do get around to it, seek out advice from a professional (someone that has proven success in drafting resumes that have led to job offers).
Either way, before you or anyone else starts re-writing and updating your resume you should have a very clear picture of what it is you want to do. I always tell my clients to work backwards. If you are super self-directed and analytical, you can do something like this on your own. But the reason most people come to me for support is to guide them through this self-reflection process. When professionals work with me, we take the first few sessions to peel back the layers and discover what types of roles they are most excited by, what industry they want to work in and finally what other aspects of the workplace are important to them in terms of their future professional happiness. It is not until we have established these priorities that we begin adjusting the resume accordingly. This is because your resume should not only highlight your current and past achievements but it should also illustrate how you possess the skills needed to advance the goals of your next employer.
2. “Even though I don’t have a background in that field, I have transferrable skills.”
My new favorite thing to say is that “NYC is the Google of this country’s workforce”. NYC has one of, if not the most, competitive job markets in the country. Sure, you might have 2 degrees and 15 years’ experience doing similar types of jobs as the ones you want to apply to. This might very well be true, but I have some unfortunate news for you; the hundreds of applicants competing for the same job your applying to, well they might have 3 degrees and those degrees are likely from Ivey League schools. That same candidate probably worked for the most successful companies on the planet doing the exact position you’re applying to. It’s also possible that they went to prep school with the CEO’s daughter or their dad is best friends with the President of the board. Sorry to dish it out so harshly, but that’s just how real it is in this fierce NYC workforce. So, if you think an employer has the time or willingness to consider “transferable skills candidates” over the numerous candidates who have experience in the exact field, a prestigious academic background and professional ties to the company, you are sadly mistaken.
Not to be a kill joy or rain on your parade, I only want to emphasize that just having “transferrable skills” will not get you noticed by a hiring manager. What can make you stand out as transferable candidate? Well, perhaps if you’ve learned how to tell a compelling story about your professional background and can clearly articulate your passion for the work you want to transition into, you might have a fighting chance. Better still, in the “transferable skills” case, it is pivotal that you can cultivate relationships; genuine, personal and professional relationships. These relationships will likely be the only linkages you’ll have to get a job as a “transferrable skills candidate”. Networking is a whole other beast that is too nuanced to describe here, but if you plan to be a “transferrable skills candidate” you better brush up on or learn some real savvy networking strategies.
3. “I plan to transition from public/non-profit to the private sector—maybe CSR.”
Welcome to the club. You and every 3rd person I do a career consult with is eager to enter into the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The magical land of helping people while also bringing in a high 6 figure salary…sounds like a dream, right? That’s probably because it is. Yes, these elusive departments do exist as many companies have established foundations or philanthropic arms; but what so many people fail to realize is that for all the money they give away and all the social impact programs they oversee, these departments (even in the largest companies) are very small. Not to mention that for the most part, the roles in CSR are typically given to people who already work in the company and want to make a lateral move. Or, in rare cases the best and the brightest are plucked from non-profit and public sector executive roles to work on CSR initiatives in the private sector.
The reality is for as much as these few professionals make in those select roles, they are working in or running very small departments. In which case, their job is probably just as demanding as any other corporate, cut throat position...is that really what you want? I too at one time had a goal of leading the charge in a CSR role so I get the allure and interest of trying to snag one of those coveted spots. But, my advice to the seemingly thousands of people (especially in NYC) holding their breath for a shot at maybe 1, if that, of these positions that might be open; exhale and start drumming up a pivot strategy. Make a move toward a role that is more feasible to attain but will bring you just as much satisfaction as you imagine you will get in a CSR job.
4. “I want to work with a recruiter/headhunter who can help me get a job.”
This feedback will be short and sharp. They don’t want to help you. Their job requires them to find the top tier talent in very specific roles that are standardly sourced through headhunter services. So unfortunately for the entry level newbies, middle managers and career changers out there, headhunters won’t be coming for you any time soon. Even if you do engage with a recruiter you better be super clear about the specific job title you want to work in because most recruiters don’t have the time or inclination to help you figure that out. THEY ARE NOT CAREER COACHES!
5. “I want to make a major change in my career but don’t have time to invest in the process.”
I saved the best for the last with this one. I speak to professionals all week, those that have hired me to be their coach and those inquiring about my services with an interest in working with me. Only my current and former clients can testify to the FACT that any change, especially a complete overhaul, in your career…TAKES TIME!! My shortest program is 5 weeks and my longest is 4 months. Yes, I’ve had clients get a job offer in the 2nd month of a 4-month program and in the 8th week of a 10-week program but they were absolutely the anomaly. For the most part, most of the job offers and transitions for my clients materialize weeks, sometimes many months AFTER our program expires. This is not because the coaching doesn’t work but rather because the job transition process involves many steps and often takes a very long time for most people to materialize their job change goal.
All my clients that have made the transition upon completion of our program have reported the news to me and thanked me for the invaluable preparation and strategy they acquired through our coaching program. Now, it is not my intention to take an iota of credit for the tremendous amount of effort my clients commit to manifesting change in their career. It is only to say that the time they spent with me each week to receive coaching services laid the foundation for their success. Coaching provided concrete resources, relevant strategies, consistent accountability, unwavering support and an extensive network of connections. All these services are an asset to any professional growth plan and I am proud to be a valuable conduit to the successes that my clients achieve in their perspective careers.
However, the true insight here is that NONE of it happens after just a quick consult call or a one-time “more bang for your buck” 60-minute session. Significant milestones and changes are made when the time and effort is put in by the very person that wants that change in their life. Even just moving the needle takes persistent effort and typically an outside force to give you a broader perspective than what you can come up with on your own.
So, whether you hire a coach or “go it alone”, just know that without a long-term commitment to the process and a willingness to consistently put in the work to manifest change in your career…change will not likely come for you.
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ShaynaLee Coaching, LLC
ShaynaLee is a Career Coach and Strategist with 15 years of experience creating and implementing professional development strategies.