How to Love Writing Your Cover Letter (at Least Tolerate it)

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

When I ask about the cover letter portion of an application, most everyone I talk to resists it for the same reason: “I hate selling myself!” This is because those who say this to me are helpers at heart – a service-oriented professional who finds purpose in removing the barriers to success for others. My response? Instead of selling yourself – which makes it so personal – offer to help. To do that, you would need to think of the job announcement not as a Save the Date invitation to a party but as a distress signal for a ship taking on water.

The Job Description as a Cry for Help

Photo by Sebastian Grochowicz on Unsplash

The reason a company will pay good money to advertise a role in their organization is that they need more hands-on-deck to support a project or program that already exists or is being launched. If someone has vacated the role, then it is a matter of maintaining the size of the crew with a clear understanding that every pair of hands or mind matters and can contribute to the success of the whole.

Using this shift in perspective, the job description can help you identify pain points.  If you feel called into service – by applying for the job – then it is your task to pinpoint the opportunity to contribute to the rescue or support mission by echoing industry keywords as if they were a response to an SOS signal in Morse Code. Incorporating keywords into your cover letter also shows how well you can listen and decipher a company’s needs even when they cannot properly articulate them. In this section, you will also want to briefly outline one solution or illustrate how you have and can use the skills that will help the ship – the company – chart its course for the island of success.

Answering the Call

I understand that it is one thing to feel better about writing the cover letter and another thing to do it when you are faced with a blank page. Because I am a fan of simple approaches that make daunting tasks more manageable, I suggest following the Simon Sinek method of inspiring others:  Start with Why.

Why

The first sentence of the cover letter, as I would recommend it, is your why.  Why you are the best candidate or why you are in the industry in the first place.  This is usually aspirational in nature because it can cut through the clutter to get the attention of the reader.  The rest of the first paragraph is for why you are writing to these poor people when clearly they have a lot on their minds.  Be direct so they can hear you through the SOS signal and their own attempts to save themselves.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

How

Next is the second paragraph, which can also be a set of bulleted content since you may be sending this via email. Here, explain how you can help. Give an example of your approach to assisting businesses and teams, solutions you have devised to overcome challenges or even your unique method of problem-solving that could turn the tide of the situation at hand.

Next is the second paragraph, which can also be a set of bulleted content since you may be sending this via email. Here, explain how you can help. Give an example of your approach to assisting businesses and teams, solutions you have devised to overcome challenges or even your unique method of problem-solving that could turn the tide of the situation at hand.

What

Finally, there is the close. You have just thrown out a rescue line, so it is important to deliver a call-to-action regarding what is next that inspires them to grab onto the lifeline that you have just thrown them. Whether they are in full-on panic mode or simply just extremely distracted with busyness, your message must be clear and to the point so that the company understands that you ‘get it.’  From there, you will be invited aboard to begin assessing the situation in what is commonly known as the job interview.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Why This Matters

Hiring is already scary. It has already cost a lot of money.  The company needs to know that you mean it when you say you are interested just as – with a big breath – you need them to know you are here to help.

Speaking of which, I am also here to help. If you still feel as though you need help with your cover letter, you are invited to join me for the next Career Q&A session.

Posted in Awareness, Coaching, Communication, Cover Letters, Job Hunt GPS | Leave a comment

What Do You Wish I Had Asked You?

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

This is the question I have learned to ask at the end of any mock interview I

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

facilitate. While some struggle to know at that moment if I am asking them as an interviewer or as a coach, few do not have an answer. As if in a Breakfast Club montage, they say:

  • I wish you had asked me about my strengths.
  • How my strengths from my previous career carry over to this one.
  • Where do you get your inspiration from?
  • What is the most important lesson I have learned?
  • Who I am.

If any of these are what you have thought at the end of any job interview, I ask you this:

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

What Are You Waiting For?

It may be easier to see while in the middle of a pandemic, but time is precious. I recommend sharing who you are and what you are about from the beginning of a job interview.  Work it into the famous “Tell Me About Yourself” setup, the recounting of a favorite project that relates to the role you are targeting, or even in the time when you ask questions of the employer.

The reason is that nothing is ever perfectly scripted.  Even the Game of Thrones series felt rushed and not entirely thought through at the end of its reign. Before the interview is even scheduled think through:

  • What the three most important things are for you to convey to the listener
  • Why it is important
  • Why it matters.

Come to think of it, if you have not yet been introduced to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why,” or it has been a while and you could use reminding, allow me to share:

How you talk to and about yourself matters. That is why what I post and what I encourage you to say to yourself tends toward the positive. I deal in do’s not don’ts. I want to be and am here to be your cheerleader, your reminder, your partner in a journey to be your best self.

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Career Wake Up Call

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

To me, louder than a church bell on a quiet Sunday morning, was the statement by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, “We’re never going to be the same again.

He is right.  We are forever changed. I say this not just because I think in terms of habit formation and some of us are at or nearing the 21 days in captivity, but because we have a whole generation – actually two –  who must build their careers out of a crisis. I understand every generation has its own crisis to rise above, but it never seems fair does it?

“Careers are disrupted every day regardless how well an individual performs.” ~ Patricia Romboletti

What is important to know and realize is that this time – this Corona Cocoon – that has us all frozen in place or frantically fighting for survival is both a gift and a wake-up call. In her Ted Talk “The Gig Economy,” Patricia Romboletti recognizes that we must consider every role is a gig because just as we may all swear that this will never happen again and plan to save more money in a nest egg or work for a larger company to create a sense of stability, businesses are doing the same exact thing.  Romboletti points out that during a retail renaissance where many companies were reinventing themselves, that restructuring meant companies did not need the same workforce with the same skillset they required before. If they are realizing it, so should you.

“[Companies] have to remain nimble in order to remain relevant.” ~ Patricia Romboletti

Remembering a time when I was beta testing a new service called Netflix, I had a vague recollection of pulling DVDs out of a mailbox thinking it was a long time between movies.  I do not remember when they moved to streaming but I do remember the fuss that was created when the pricing was restructured. Romboletti points out that not only did Netflix disrupt itself twice to remain relevant (in moving from DVDs to streaming and again in moving into original content creation), but that disruption – change – is and will continue to be at an accelerated pace. This means the lifespan of a company or of tenure is significantly less than it was a generation ago.

I have built and evolved my own practice, Sacred Time, to coach people through change because I recognize that it happens by chance or by choice and is always disruptive. What this change – this Corona Cocoon – has afforded many of us is the chance to rethink our approach to our lives and our careers. According to Romboletti, even as some return to the role of being an employee, it is important to inhabit the gig economy mindset in order to have viable careers. Her tips for staying agile in a dynamic world include:

  • Constantly build and expand your network
  • Partner with those who have different skillsets so you can expand your offerings
  • Always be looking (ABL) for your next gig
  • Carve your own career path
  • Watch for larger economic trends

Your career is your company and it is time to prepare for what will come in a post-pandemic world. While it can be helpful for a business to layout a path of promotion for each employee, it will be one that fits in with their needs and their vision for the future. It is important for you to look outside your role, your team, and your department to see what opportunities excite you because this is where true career satisfaction comes from.

I invite you to both follow me and walk with me. Together we can look forward to success.

References

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/video-audio-photos-rush-transcript-governor-cuomo-how-covid-19-will-change-society-were-never

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonselk/2013/04/15/habit-formation-the-21-day-myth/#1942aeebdebc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y180PWHdYLA

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Nama-slay

Posted in Life Vision, Narrative Ecopsychology | Leave a comment

Questions for Your 2020 Vision

James Lipton changed my life.

The career change that transformed my life was inspired by the questions Mr. Lipton would ask at the end of every episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio.

While I shared my process for career transformation at a conference for establishing a vision for 2020 (ironic, no?), the exact questions are a part of my Pioneer a Career seminar. In memory of James Lipton and to empower you, here are questions to inspire your career pivot:

  • What is the best possible future for yourself if you continue to work? 
  • What is the best possible future for yourself if you didn’t have to work? 
  • What turns you on (creatively, spiritually, and emotionally) 
  • What turns you off (creatively, spiritually, and emotionally) 

 

  • What is the worst possible future for yourself if you continue to work? 
  • What is the worst possible future for yourself if you didn’t have to work? 
  • What’s your favorite word?  
Posted in Awareness, Career, Career Development, Change, Decisions, Reflection, Stuck, Wilderness | Leave a comment

Make Way for the New

This is tough to do.

What a great example of stepping aside and allowing the next generation to earn their wings. The more room we make for our elders, the easier it will be for them to move into that ancestral role of storyteller where they share the traditions that have made us great.

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Qualities of a Successful Job Seeker

by Tiffany A. Dedeaux

Whether new to the act or it’s simply been a while, most everyone who works with me as a Career Coach asks me what are the keys to success in the job search. The truth is there is no one secret, it’s a balance of everything: networking, applying, studying… What works for one person (like networking) doesn’t necessarily work for others for consistent job search traction. What I have noticed is that there are three qualities successful job seekers display or are prepared to display by the time the offer hits their inbox: persistence, resilience, and confidence.

PERSISTENCE

To persist in a job search means that you, like the legs of the Road Runner when escaping Wile E Coyote, never stop moving. If a job is put on hold you keep going; while you’re waiting for the offer paperwork, you keep going; if and when the going gets tough you keep going. Why? Because you don’t get anywhere standing still.

I have seen offers come in after a quick search, making the process anti-climactic for the seeker, who then wonders what else is out there. I have also seen it when the search has been a long slog of misery so the resulting offer has you feeling like Aaron Rodgers on Draft Day: determined to show everyone who passed on you that you are in fact the rising star you promised you would be.

In fact, I recommend that until you have turned in a signed offer, your job search continues. Then, once you’ve submitted all the paper work and got your start date, you can turn your attention to networking, studying, and applying what you’ve learned to reach the next level of your skill set. This continued movement is not just called change, it’s called career development, and it’s what takes a job and makes it a career.

RESILIENCE

Being resilient means you’re like Chumbawamba, when you get knocked down you get up again. No one or nothing should keep you down. There are all kinds of rejection in a job search from the blatant words saying “you’re not a fit,” to the passive recommendation that they keep your resume on file for future opportunities. For a true, active, full-time job search there is enough rejection that it can lead to doubt, grief, and even be debilitating if you let it. Rejection should never stop you. Not in a job search.

It is true that not every door you come to will open because not every opportunity is for you. Part of the job search is also timing and fit. When a need is identified a role is open, and how you will fit together with the team (or lack of team) that’s already in place matters. When you find your door and it opens, even after all the sweat, tears, and certainty that went into your job search, you will know that this is either the next step you have been searching for or everything you’ve needed all rolled into one offer.

CONFIDENCE

Confidence is the certainty you have in yourself or in the direction you’re headed. It is the boldness that has you, in your own way, saying “you will give me a chance and I will get this job done for you.” Confidence is also the humility of knowing you can and will also learn what needs to be learned in order to get the job done.

This feeling of certainty, or assuredness, can come out of ‘faking it until you feel it,’ having one or many eye-opening sessions with your career coach or advisor, or it can even come from the momentum of the search when silence is broken and you are trying to juggle different levels of interviews…and study…and apply…only to find one offer rolls in and you know others are on their way.

Confidence comes because you have been through stuff and you know no matter what happens you will rise up and persist. It is not a time of cockiness and it does not come from the quiet isolation where you try to learn and know everything before you step out in the direction of your dreams. You don’t shy away from job descriptions because of one or two words, conversations that will help you understand if you’re ready, or companies you dream of because you can’t figure out how to write the cover letter. Confidence is a time of deliberate and purposeful action toward your dream job.

So you see, there is no one thing that will guarantee a pot of gold at the end of your job search rainbow. It is an investment. An evolution. It is a mix of a lot of things that makes it its own job. What you can be sure of is that when it’s all over and you have come out on the other side, you will be better, stronger, and wiser for it.

It should be a celebration not just about getting the job offer, but in taking a step toward becoming the professional you’re meant to be and living your dream.

Posted in Awareness, Career, Career Development, Change, Decisions, Grief, Job Hunt GPS, Professional Development, Stuck | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Determining Your Path to Career Satisfaction

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

The best way to prepare for the Career Journey ahead will be to think through the type of company you want to work for, the roles that they have or that you would enjoy filling, and what you have done before (that you would like to keep doing).

What is a Career?

For the purposes of this journey, I’m defining career satisfaction as the series of jobs that lead you to achieve your ultimate goal. Two keys to this definition are:

  1. One job is not a career
  2. You must define your ultimate goal

A goal must be defined and measurable, and for a series of jobs to lead you there, you must have a theme or relationship that ties them together. A series of jobs can be in one industry such as:

If you’re a Career Changer (or Transitioner as some of you have referred to it) you might look at what you love about coding or data science and what you want to create, because your skills can be used in whole other industries such as:

The series of jobs that make up your career can also be framed as the problem you solve (example: creating applications that public school teachers will use to increase their effectiveness with students)the difference you wish to make(example: enabling micro contributions that have a macro impact in the non-profit and social justice space), or a topic you are passionate about(linguistics). While these are just a few examples, I have chosen them based on my conversations with more than 400 bootcamp graduates.

What is Career Satisfaction?

The key to picking a career that will lead to your satisfaction comes from identifying what you are looking to accomplish or the purpose you’re looking to fulfill. All of these things we will look at in this article, including what you can expect once you invest in a job hunt after graduating from a bootcamp, and how to determine which job or career path will help you accomplish your ultimate goal in a way that you will define as successful and will make you happy.

Factors that contribute to your satisfaction will be the company you work for and how much you love what you do because this is just the beginning! Immersive programs such as bootcamps tend to practice the 80/20 rule which means they focus their curriculum on the 20% you need to know to make things work so that you have a framework with which to build the rest of the 80% on your own through avenues like Meetup, hackathons, and jobs like temporary and contract work.

What Can I Expect Right Out of a Bootcamp?

About 75% of students are looking for a job in the tech industry. The key to fine-tuning your job hunt will be in knowing what you can expect. Usually what is daunting about a career change, transition, or investment is the unknown, so among the most common job titles, according to Course Report, for coding bootcamp grads are:

  • Software Engineer – develop, create, and modify computer applications or utilities/research design, develop operating systems-level software.
  • Software Developer – develop applications to accomplish tasks or underlying systems that run devices.
  • Web Developer – designs and creates websites.
  • Front-End Developer – in charge of the user interface and style of a website.
  • Junior Web Developer – designs, develops and implements software packages for websites, usually with less than three years of previous experience.

Data Science bootcamp grads, according to the 2016 Course Report Ultimate Guide, can expect job titles such as:

  • Data Analyst – draw actionable conclusions out of large datasets.
  • Data Scientist – identify opportunities to use data while finding appropriate sources and performing analysis through an entire problem/solution cycle that requires diverse coding skills.
  • Database Administrator – use software to store, organize, and secure data so that it is available for users.
  • Data Engineer – captures and analyzes data so that they can make recommendations based on their findings.

The way that the industry is right now, there is no standardization with job titles between companies so you will have to do your homework in order to know if the job title is what you expect for the job role. In fact, some cases Software Engineer seems to be used synonymously with Web Developer, and I have seen a Hiring Manager post that they need a Data Scientist when their job description was titled BI Engineer.

How Do You Solve Problems?

To give you a further idea of what roles will be available to you and how they (and you) fit into the industry depends on your approach to problems, according to Google Software Engineer Martin Puryear:

  • Hack or Hacker is not necessarily a great keyword to describe yourself in terms of your skills and abilities because it can imply a lack of expertise through patch work that’s not clean and a lack of understanding of why it may work.
  • On the other hand, a Web Developer would have clean code that actually solves problems.
  • Software Engineer solves long-term problems in any number of ways. They will often answer a question with ‘well, it depends,’ because they would choose a solution based on the situation and then measure the results for performance.
  • Junior roles, whether a Developer or Test Architect, has more to do with experience and maturity in terms of knowing what to do when something unusual happens.  This could even be a Software Engineering role depending on the company, so be sure to do your homework about yourself and the expectations of the Hiring Manager.

Not All About the Skill?

Not everyone who graduates from a bootcamp takes or wants to take on jobs that deal with coding or data every day all day. If you want to talk code or data but you don’t necessarily want to do it for work, here are some paths to consider:

  • Dev Ops or Development Operations can be another title for Customer Support but it can also mean full stack expertise in getting all things deployed and knowing what to revise in requirements change. The person in this role should have the mindset of a developer and not just be an operations person. An Ops or Operationsperson thrives on consistency and control in an ideal world where nothing ever changes. This person is about the entire network and getting power to the system. While not change averse, they may also automate as much as possible so as not to wake a Developer in the middle of the night. A Developer always wants to add a feature and will admittedly never get it right the first time so there will always be bug fixes which is where the learning comes in…
  • Junior or Senior Tester is someone who can test the front- or back-end, is usually more of a Back-End Developer with good technical sensibilities.  Usually, this person loves to work with puzzles and is always on the lookout for the trick that will be a breakthrough to the solution. Often times this prowess comes so easily for the person in this role that they often take it for granted to everyone can do it…
  • Business Development is about building a company, most likely to be bought by another company.
  • Tech Writer, Tech Evangelist, Data Journalist are all about getting other companies to be excited about some technology the company creates.
  • Program / Project / or Product Managers are connectors which means they connect all the pieces for the development lifecycle so that deadlines can be met.
  • Field and Sales Engineers work with larger companies in order to get them to buy software-as-a-service (SaaS) and then help them to integrate the software into their current workflow.

What Makes a Good Fit?

You are reading this article because you want to have and build a better future. With research that engineers, developers and other IT specialists are less happy than those who work in non-tech sectors, the key to your success is owning your own professional development so that:

  1. Your opportunities for growth are clear
  2. There are opportunities for growth

This goes for your professional growth and development within one company as well as within the tech industry. As a way to keep us focused on what impacts your career satisfaction, let’s look at Careerealism’s four essential P’s of your dream job:

  1. People
  2. Purpose
  3. Product
  4. Potential

People: Because “you are most productive with teammates you can relate to and rely on” who you work with and who you work for matters. How do you like to be managed? Mentored? Who do you do your best brainstorming with? The more you know upfront, the better you’ll be able to make a decision when opportunities start rolling in.

Purpose  Have a focus for your motivation so that those around you better understand who you are as a professional, and who you are striving to be. The key to your purpose is working for a company that aligns with your values so that you’re both happy to go to work as well as happy tell others where you work.

ProductEspecially if you are looking for work, you are selling a product (ex: websites) or a service/skill (ex: data science), so it’s important to have everything you put into your applications reflect what you’re ‘selling,’ just as the companies you are applying to need to be your ideal target ‘customer.’ Just as a company must align with your values, you must also believe in the product or service you are contributing to because that is key to your career satisfaction.

Potential: In order for you to have a “shot at something bigger,” you have to know where you want to be or what you want to be doing in the years ahead. Look at how to leverage what you’re doing right now so that you can see and be seen for future opportunities.

Where You Work Matters

It’s great to know what kind of work you could do after you graduate from an immersive training program, but how can you tell if a role will be a good fit for you?  The key to this is to know what you like (or don’t like). You can focus on a role but you can also set your sights on a specific company.

Where you work will impact what kinds of things you could be doing for your first job after graduation. A smaller company or startup will give you the chance to do all kinds of different things – utilizing your full-stack capabilities. Startups move so quickly with deadlines and opportunities that you will get the chance to take on work beyond the scope of your role so your potential for growth is great. I would say that one week with a startup can equate to one-month of work somewhere else, so you would need to move quickly according to the needs of the company. If this excites you, there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Size of the team. If you’re the only one, then everything relies on what you can do. If there are others, you can brainstorm or debug together, and if they have more experience, you could even be mentored.
  • Years in business. The first five years is a make or break time for a business to know if they will succeed. The more years they’ve been around the more likely they have figured out how to keep their employees paid. There are no guarantees, as large companies have failed, but it is important for you to realize that there is a risk.

Larger companies give you a chance to specialize. While your experience may not be broad on a large team or within a large company, it will be deep. The key to taking on this opportunity is to stay current regarding industry and technology trends so that you don’t find yourself in a niche that becomes outdated. Two things that can help is picking a company focused on innovation and picking one that values continuing education so that you are immersed in a culture that supports your need to keep evolving with the rest of the industry.

Determining What You Need

In determining which roles will be your career satisfaction mecca or mirage, consider your answers to the following questions:

Can you work remotely? If not, then you should steer clear of jobs where you will have to find and harvest self-motivation, independent work habits, and virtual team-building. What is also important to consider is that Hiring Managers such as Jeff Rodenburg from Valassis Digital sees remote work as requiring the ability to learn and listen. Because comradery can be important, companies like Amazon and Facebook are opening satellite locations in order to broaden their access to talent like you.

Are you willing to travel? If you are working remotely you will likely need to travel in order to meet with other members of your team. As an example, the Senior Director of Technology at A Place for Mom, Justin Saul’s role evolved, he had to travel more in order to connect with his team and handle deployment challenges.

What are your work/life balance requirements? If you have a family or are planning extensive travel that might open your eyes to remote opportunities. If you prefer stable, predictable schedules, a larger company might be more your speed. If you want to go for a startup but you’re not sure what they would require, and they’re not yet listed on Glassdoor, take the interview opportunity and ask questions. You don’t want to come right out and ask about work/life balance because that can appear as though you are unwilling or unable to do what they need you to do.  There are certain questions that you can ask in order to find this out including:

o  What does your sprint cycle look like?

o  How frequently do you push to production?

o  What does a day-in-the-life of someone in this role or this team look like?

o  I put in 70-90 hours a week during an immersive bootcamp, what would you say is the average work week expectations for this role?

What are your location requirements? Consider where you would work on a regular basis if you need to be onsite. You might have to take the cost of living, commuting, and parking into consideration. Another key component of this in the Greater Seattle Area is time, so consider the traffic patterns around stadiums, bridges, and tunnels.

All of these factors will and should influence your decision. Answer these questions before you begin your job hunt so that you know how much money you would need to make in order to be comfortable.

Money, Money, Money.

In order to know if a role is worth your investment, you should first find out how much it pays. If this isn’t your highest priority, I recommend you at least know the numbers before your first interview – especially with a recruiter – so that you both know the value of the position, what you offer, and whether or not the situation in front of you could even work for you. Besides asking your peers and mentors what you can expect to make as a Web Developer or Data Scientist, there are at least two places I recommend for finding out what the going rate is for a role: Salary.com and Glassdoor.com. While you can also look at PayScale.com and LinkedIn.com, I do recommend you pick sitesthat take more than self-reporting into account and you are consistent with the 1-2 you choose so you have a consistent context to work from.

Salary.com

Salary is great because you can both get a job description – so that you know you’re qualified – and a salary range – so that you know your value. For example, the national median for an entry-level Web Applications Developer is more than $58K. With full benefits – did you forget you may want those too? – that role is valued at $84K+. This is an increase of $3K from a year ago. For a Data Scientist, the national average is $122K as a base and $176K with benefits.

These numbers will vary according to location:

Glassdoor.com

When you look on Glassdoor you can get information on the culture of a workplace, interview questions, and salary information. For example, the national average for a Web Applications Developer is $77.3K, slightly down from the $77.5K that was reported a year ago.

Your Decision Is….

All of this is great, but when faced with multiple opportunities, how do you know what to choose? You can take the emotion out of the choice with a decision grid. I find this to be a useful to quantify my client’s priorities. Many times I don’t need the grid because I can tell which way someone is leaning by how they talk about a role and what they say. If you want to work this out on your own or with an accountability partner, here is what you need to do:

Pick your top 2-3 roles based on the work involved and technology used. Go through the list I offered you here, based on roles taken by other graduates, or you can go through job titles listed at sites like BLS.gov or SkillCrush.

Pick the top 5-7 criteria that will impact your satisfaction in that role, based on everything we have covered including:

  • Size of the company/team
  • Location
  • Work / Life Balance
  • Compensation
  • People
  • Product
  • Purpose
  • Potential for your growth

Any criteria you might get from an assessment such as:

  • VIA which assesses your key strengths and values
  • MBTI which is the Myers-Briggs personality assessment
  • CVI which assesses your core values

Create a grid where your ideal roles are listed along the left-hand side and the criteria are along the right:

Give each determining factor a value on a scale of 1-9 using only odd numbers for each job. You can use the same number twice.

Notice this graduate used even numbers. They had to justify it to me as to why those categories were neither a 9 nor a 7. This whole exercise also ended in a numerical tie. Without me having to point out the excitement in their voice for one job over another, they realized which job they wanted just by talking it through. I also had them decide, of all the criteria, which was the key one or the deal-breaker in terms of what they needed from their next job. The answer was potential to grow.

This exercise can be used for any decision. While I’m using it here to help you realize which path you would be happier pursuing, the example grid is actually from a decision between two job offers. Because potential to grow was the most important key factor for a next role, the graduate chose that job and is living…er…working happily ever after.

Test and Learn

If you still feel uncertain about which direction to go, handle it like you would any bug fix: test and learn. Go to events put on by your schoolCareers Team, or Meetups to talk to people who already work or are active in the industry and ask them questions. Research the role on the BLS website so you know more about what that role does, what the work environment is like, and the job outlook. These are all great ways to gather information, the next thing to do is act. Take a step in one direction and see what happens. Keep going in that direction until you know for sure that you can work happily ever after.

Then What?

Once you pick a role you should continue to learn about technology, trends, and innovations in that area. Your projects – whether they are bootcamp assignments or ones of passion – should reflect your interest. Publish at least two profession-relevant projects from your bootcamp experience, and then continue to produce portfolio pieces until, during, and even after you’ve gotten a job.

What We Learned

What we learned in this article is what that a career is a series of jobs leading you to your ultimate goal.  Satisfaction in that path has a lot to do with how you define success and what you are looking to create. While bootcamp graduates tend toward being a Web Developer, Software Engineer, or Data Scientist, there are also roles that you can take where you can talk the talk and not necessarily have to walk the walk.

To know if a role or career path is right for you, you must first determine what you need or want from your next role. If you can’t decide, you can test and learn but you must, above all else, act! Once you step out in the direction you believe is right for you, pursue it with all your mind, heart, and soul and do the work you’ve always imagined.

 

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How to be a Successful Job Seeker

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

You may notice, on occasion, I have gone from saying “Job Search” to “Job Hunt.”  The reason for this is to ensure that the person I’m speaking with realizes that this is an active rather than passive process.  I find that by reframing the Search as a Hunt, expectations, and actions change, and the person in the process begins to realize that they have more control over their results.  To help you take charge of the hunt ahead, here are some answers to your key questions:

How Can I Be a Successful Job Seeker?

While in my mind I hear the phrase “seek and ye shall find,” the initial search for a job is a lot like a company’s search for a diverse candidate:  you can’t expect to keep doing the same things and get different results.  That’s why I think it’s important o know that successful Job Seekers search smarter so that the hunt, although a lot of work, is not always a full-time endeavor.  They did this by:

  • Conducting targeted job searches by matching their qualifications to job requirements and not just applying for every open position in a ‘spray and pray’ approach.
  • Creating customized application materials by using keywords and skills from the job description in addition to what could be found through research and informational interviews.
  • Organizing records with detailed notes and weekly goals using tools like Airtable, which can cut your job search activities down by 1/3.

Just to be clear, I would classify a Job Hunt as an active process of looking for work that requires an investment on average of 30-40 hours a week.  Less than that would be a passive Job Search because you’re likely focused on other things (work, family, continuing your studies) and the tendency is to ‘fit it in’ when there is time and energy.  The other thing I noticed about the Passive Searcher versus the Active Hunter is that since the Passive Searcher usually has something else going on, whatever opportunity comes their way needs to be good enough to be worth changing their routine which is why Recruiters have a different approach for Active Candidates and Passive Candidates.

For example, if your less-than-ideal job brings in $50-60K a year, you are more likely to negotiate or only go for roles that will provide you more value such as more pay, better benefits, or a better work environment.  If you’re unemployed and looking for work or and suddenly you need a job yesterday, you are more likely to accept the first offer that promises to pay you.

What Can I Expect? 

You can expect that the Job Hunt will take longer than you plan; as many as 3.5-4 months in some cases.  When I asked some of those who accepted roles shortly after graduating from a training program what their secret was, the simple answer was that they didn’t wait to graduate before they got started on the hunt.  What I also noticed is that they networked whether it was online or in-person.  On average I’ve seen an entire class, from minimal previous education to Masters in Computer Science, get jobs within four months even when they weren’t living in an ideal location because of the effort they put into the Job Hunt.

There are many factors as to why a Job Hunt can take a long time.  In some cases, it’s the time of year.  Little gets done, including hiring, between mid-November and mid-January.  The number of people who seek career advice or hire those who are seeking also drops off in the Summer – what I call a Summer Slowdown – because of family vacations and a general desire to rest or be more social after a Winter hibernation.  By the same token, there are spikes of activity in the Spring with the sense of new beginning and hope, and in the Fall when many students go back to school and the weather sends us back indoors.

Other factors in the length of a Job Hunt include the process itself.  Glassdoor has reported a longer interview process, which of course vary by location.  Seattle and San Francisco average 23-25 days, and the larger the company the longer the process.

Sacred Time Career Coaching - Job Interview Process Length

Based on some of my conversations with bootcamp grads, the average process moves from an application which can be anything from submitting a resume and cover letter to filling out an online form, into a second stage that includes either a 20-30 minute behavioral phone screen or even video upload of recorded answers.  The technical interview has included whiteboarding, live coding, side-by-side debugging, and timed tests, challenges, or assignments.  The final stage usually includes an onsite interview where, if you haven’t already, you get to meet your potential boss and the rest of the team.  The onsite interview can last anywhere from a few hours to half the day and can include job offer.

Using a sampling of job titles from students who have graduated from programs such as bootcamps, the average time-to-hire for these roles are:

What Should I be Doing?

For the most effective Job Hunt I recommend a balance of online and in-person activities.  In order to make this happen, you must create an online presence by establishing yourself on profession-related social networking sites like LinkedIn, as well as using a professional filter with regard to what you share on other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter because they are or can be made public.  Here is an abbreviated list of sites where I recommend you create a presence and post your resume:

After you’ve set up your profiles and launched your accounts, this is the time to start creating the templates that will streamline your Job Hunt workflow.   Here is your to-do checklist:

Next, create a plan for your job search activities.  Only you will know how much structure you need so plan accordingly even if you must schedule how much time you are applying for work, networking, and practicing your skillset.  Here is an example:

The key aspect of this sample schedule is that you make a plan, practice what you need to in order to stay sharp, and notice what is working for you and what isn’t so that you can adjust your activities next week.  In fact, if you are not moving along in the hiring process in a month, then it’s time to debug your job search.  Here is a diagram of where to begin:

If you are not getting as many interviews (or even responses) as you think you should, this would be an indication that something in your resume and cover letter is not effective.   Not making it beyond the phone screen?  Then how you frame your experience and what you understand about the work that you would be doing may need some fine-tuning.  If you’re stumped at the technical interview, chances are you’re either not connecting with the team – who would be your co-workers – or you’re not clear in sharing your thought process so they know you understand what is going on even if you don’t know the correct answer – assuming there is one.

The onsite interview is a test for culture fit in addition to a behavioral and technical interview.  Your prospective team needs to know they can work with you, not just whether you can do the job.  For example, no one willingly wants to work with a know-it-all, someone who doesn’t work well under pressure, and no hiring manager is looking for an employee who is going to make their life more difficult.

In the end, the job offer comes down to your ability to do the work as well as your ability to work well with the rest of the team.  Stumble on any part of this and not adjust or connect with the person on the other side, and you could have a longer Job Hunt.

If you are someone who needs measurable goals to hold yourself accountable, here is an example of what your Job Hunt workflow could look like:

Looking for work is sales.  Just like a sales person generates leads with a flurry of activity, you must generate opportunities.  I recommend 15-20 touches – points of contact – a day which can include any mix of applications, networking or interviewing events, reach outs, and follow-ups.

As an example, you could find out about a job through an advertisement and apply (touch 1), then find the recruiter or hiring manager on LinkedIn and reach out to thSacred Time Career Coaching - How to be a Successful Job Seekerem to introduce yourself and see if you can get more information through an informational interview (touch 2), then reach out to someone from that team to get a better sense of the workload (touch 3), followed by reaching out to your network to determine the best way to prepare for this company’s interview process (touch 4), in addition to searching Facebook, Meetup, or Eventbrite and then attending any relevant community events the company is hosting or sponsoring (touch 5).

To be a Successful Job Seeker, you must work smarter and not necessarily harder because there are a lot of factors that determine whether the hunt is over in four months or four weeks, and you can’t reasonably engagement in a job search a couple of weeks and think, like magic, it’s going to work.  Just like you invested at least three months in leveling up your skillset, you must be prepared to invest at least the same amount of time to reach your next goal:  career satisfaction.

 

 

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Hiring Lifecycle: What a Job Seeker Needs to Know

by Tiffany A. Dedeaux

I’m aware of my assumption that hiring slows down in the summer and during the holiday season. It makes sense, right? Everyone – or at least key personnel – goes on summer vacations. In my mind, everyone does it as a road trip, because that’s how I grew up: long windy weeks on a highway in middle America with little to no access to technology. Then there are the end-of-year holidays where the social calendar is so demanding that the weight of everything else just rolls off it’s back.

Why does this matter?  If you’re looking for work it is important to know how much of the void — no responses, callbacks or signs of life – are actually because of your application versus circumstances beyond your control. In a targeted search of the internet, for my own benefit of knowledge, I found and pulled together what I would call a Hiring Lifecycle where Job Seekers can see dips in hiring and can plan for them.  Here is what I found out and what I recommend you do about it:

Notice that I labeled the stages Q1 – Q4. Hiring does, in fact, pick up starting in mid-January and again in September. Based on this, I recommend that during the Summer Slowdown you focus more on networking and leveling up or adding to your skillset. For the end-of-year holiday season, my recommendation is that you spend your spare moments thinking about your Career Resolutions and create templates and update your resume to fit in with your new career goals.

From my own experience as a Career Coach, I have seen a stronger surge of clients in the Fall when, coincidentally, summer is over and school is back in session. Depending on your audience – list of target companies – the hiring lifecycle may not be this simple, which is why mastering your market through research and the ever-important informational interview will help you set both the tone and expectations for the job search ahead.

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