Make a Leap To Your Next Big Career Step

Make a Leap To Your Next Big Career Step

Whatever your career path, you’ll probably run into a few occasions when you’re faced with a decision that could dramatically change your future. With so much at stake, you want to do all that you can to be prepared. Maybe you’re torn between two attractive job offers, or asking yourself if a promotion is really worth uprooting your family to go live in an another state.

Figure out what’s important to you and take actions that will bring you closer to your goals. Try these suggestions that will build up your confidence for making big career decisions.

Gather Resources

Start collecting information and feedback now even if you’re not facing any major dilemmas in your work life. You’ll be glad that you got a head start before your decision making skills are put to a real test.

1. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and aspirations will help you to understand yourself. You’ll see how your priorities change over time and spot recurring patterns.

2. Take an inventory. Identify your strengths and the areas where you want to grow. Focus on what you like to do and what you’re good at.

3. Ask friends and family. Your loved ones can often provide valuable input. Maybe they’ll notice talents that you take for granted. 

4. Consult experts. Reach out to your college career center to see what services they offer for alumni. Ensure your network includes colleagues who can assist you with the next stage in your career path. If you hire a career coach, check references and credentials, and ask for a short-term contract so you can test your compatibility.

5. Browse online tools. Thanks to the internet, you’re no longer limited to making a list of pros and cons on the back of a napkin. You’ll find lots of free decision-making tools and templates online to help structure the process. 

Find Your Balance

Remember that there’s often no single correct answer, and you can use any choice as an opportunity to learn and grow. At the same time, understanding tradeoffs will help you to address your practical and emotional needs, and maximize the returns on your efforts.

1. What’s really important to you. Once you have enough funds to cover your basic expenses, nonfinancial factors may be more important to your happiness. Does the opportunity excite you and align with your values?

2. Breathe and make some space. Reconsider your conclusions after a good night’s sleep or a long walk. You may change your mind or confirm your first reaction.

3. Embrace the unknown. Remember that any move involves some risk. Focus on the issues you can control and make peace with the rest.

4. Build & Explore Possibilities. Examine various options before making up your mind. Then, come up with a short list to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

5. Look ahead. Visualize where you could be in 5 or 10 years if you make a certain decision. Ask yourself if this is really what you want for your career.

6. Test, Test, Test. If possible, find a way to test your decision before you make a final commitment. Maybe you can take a single course at night before you quit your job to go back to school full time.

7. Have a Plan B. Give yourself something to fall back on. Either you’ll succeed the first time or you’ll be in a stronger position to try again.

Sound decisions lead to smart career moves. Gathering information and deliberating carefully will help you to achieve work-life balance and find the job satisfaction you’re looking for.

I'm Steph Kelly, I help small businesses find, hire and keep employees with recruitment and career coaching systems.

13 Things Every Job Seeker Should Do After Sending An Online Job App

13 Things Every Job Seeker Should Do After Sending An Online Job App

In 2015 Pew Research reported 54% of US adults have gone online for their job search and 45% have applied for a job online. In the time since the report has been released, that numbers are only believed to have grown – substantially.

The fast growing role of the online job application in your career search is a double edged sword. The ease of clicking send on a job application is surprisingly easy; and a happy reinforcement of your movement as an action-taker to make a change in your career.

Yes, those online apps are convenient. But the dark side of the online job app is universally felt – your resume disappears, Poof! out into the recesses of the digital highway, with little emotional feedback that the action taking is actually moving your job search forward.

Well, it’s time to put yourself into the driver’s seat of the online job application process, at least a little. And, here are some ideas on just how you can keep that action-taking momentum moving in the right direction.

While some companies (often out of their own internal, feelings of helplessness and general humanness) tend to leave job candidates in job limbo, there are steps you can take.

Not only will these ideas help you own your job search process; you will also stand out from the pack by putting these steps into action and marketing yourself as a stand-out candidate after you’ve applied for a job opening online.

13 Things Every Job Seeker Should Do After Sending An Online Job App

1. Keep positive. Maybe you’re hesitant to follow up because you’re concerned about appearing desperate or annoying. Gracious and well-written messages show your interest and relevance as a candidate and reinforce you are real.

2. Keeping it real. As easy (and genuine) it is to feel rejected when your phone isn’t ringing after you press send on your app, avoid taking it personally. Did you know that typically 118 people apply to the average job? As impersonal as it feels to you; most employers would never have the capacity to call every applicant personally. While your job search is about you; you need a bit a thick skin, because the process is about the process.

3. Keep moving forward. A recent thread on shared an interesting job candidate tale of applying to 680 jobs, and getting hired from application #620! Your job search job isn’t over, until its over.

4. Be flexible. Even if you don’t receive a job offer, you can’t ever predict the value of the relationships you should and might build. Make LinkedIn invitations; invite relevant players into your other personal networks. Gather insights about other environments and learn!

5. Set a task in your calendar. Note if there’s a close date on the job notice. If not, anywhere from 5 to 10 days is usually a reasonable window for confirming your application and trying to continue the discussion.

6. Personalize it to you. Pick the approach that lets you shine. Write an email or pick up the phone depending on the situation and your strengths.

7. Plan, plan, plan. Outline your thoughts before making contact. You want to sound as articulate and thorough as possible.

8. Ask great questions. Ask pertinent questions if you get the chance. Find out more about the selection timeline and hiring priorities.

9. Use snail mail. Sending a hard copy of your application by snail mail sometimes gives you a second chance to capture an employer’s attention. Think twice if it’s an environmental organization that prides itself on being paper free or a technology company that might think that’s old fashioned.

10. Phone (or make) a friend on the inside. If possible, research the company in advance so you can address your application to a specific individual. Afterwards, continue using your network to identify other company personnel you could consult with.

11. Be in the know. You’ll make a more favorable impression if you have something substantive to say instead of just asking the hiring manager when they’ll make a decision. Try commenting on industry news or one of their social media posts. Look for ways to work your relevant accomplishments and qualifications into the discussion by using Google Alerts and

12. Juggle multiple offers. Congratulations if you receive a competing job offer while you’re application is pending. You may want to ask the company about their hiring schedule so you can make a decision or withdraw from consideration.

13. Track communications. Keep a log of your job applications and related interactions. It will help you to schedule future action, stay in touch with valuable contacts, and evaluate your progress.

Bonus: Keep in mind, by some estimates, as many of 80% of all ‘real’ jobs aren’t even advertised. So, in addition to putting yourself in the drivers seat by being proactive in your job application process – you should also take it one more step further. Consider crafting a career networking system to connect yourself to the decision makers of those hidden jobs in your space.

So, what feels better to you clicking send and waiting? Or, picking up the reigns of your job search and driving the process? While the effort of your time will certainly increase, not only will you find the overall process less stressful, you’ll find your job search outcomes will improve greatly, too.

Five Super-Simple Ways To Be Your Own Career and Job Search Superhero

Five Super-Simple Ways To Be Your Own Career and Job Search Superhero

As a recruiter, I’m an expert in a profession that supports two of the most dreaded activities in employment: job hunting and recruiting.

Many, if not most, hiring managers have some level of dread surrounding the hiring process. Generally, it’s just simply the feeling of overwhelm.

And, candidates are well documented to really dread, resent and hate the job hunting process. There are a litany of valid reasons. Spending precious time on a really personal and important life goal and need (career fulfillment and making money to live) that sadly can feel dismissive, intrusive and offensive. Good times, right?

I get it – from both the hiring manager and candidate side. These emotions are actually some of my biggest drivers and then parts of my career that cause me sleeplessness. As an empathetic person, I’ve often been a part of systems and events that have unintentionally someone with a few of those feelings.

There are a ton of high-value ways that employers can take control in this scearnio – whether its a job seeker or employer’s hiring market.

All too often, though candidates don’t know there are a number of really super-simple things that you can do to take back some power, gain confidence and be in a better position to make better job search decisions. Really, simple things.

1) Create your ‘business’ card.

This can be a physical card; but at the very least you should have a digital ‘card’ that

    • you have as a stand-alone contact on your phone that you can zap to people right away
    • you add to the end of all your personal emails
    • you add to your resume
    • you add to your social profiles

To create your business card, first you’ll need to gather all the content to add to you. Physical address is optional, I would suggest maybe just your City and State as the only real necessities here. You’re not throwing a party; you’re just creating relevance – I live in the physcial market of the job in question. But, you do need to go around and gather all the URL’s of your social profiles that are relevant to your career.

The trickiest of these profiles is often your LinkedIn profile, which you can find here:
The URL for your LinkedIn profile doesn't always stand out to people. Here's where you can find it

Once you have your business card information gathered, consider:

  • a small (you can get going for less than $25) investment in physical cards, which can never harm the impression you make, and give them out when you meet new connections
  • creating your About.Me landing page and using that as your digital landing page
  • sharing your digital card from your phone, with a professional address entry that you can text on the fly whenever anyway asks for your contact info

2) Speaking of Social Profiles. Know Thyself…

There is no such thing as you can’t find this profile; I’ve got it locked down. Just trust me on this one, ok?

So, as you create social profiles, just be aware. Be aware that there is this thing called the Way Back Machine that finds really old content. Be aware that what you post, even if it is on ‘fun’ network like Snapchat, can and just might reflect on you. Be aware that what your friends post about you can, too.

So, understand how to lock down your profiles, restrict people tagging you in photos that you don’t want shown. And, also, make a decision about the what you’re ok with your employer learning about you. If you’re offended that an employer might make a decision on your desirability as a candidate after find something about you partying hard in a bar (even if it was a Bar Crawl for a completely respectable charitable cause), you need to understand that employers actually do that. 

This begs a completely unresolved question of ethics and employment law – that you and I are not going to resolve personally.

However, here are the choices you own in this process: decide to broaden your hire-ability by cleaning up and locking down your social profiles OR decide that you don’t want to work in an environment that cares if you take part in a charitable pub crawl or something that you choose to participate in as an adult in your free time.

Case in point: I’ve made this decision for myself over time on another topic – children. Years ago I was given the advice to *never* discuss that I wanted or (eventually would) have children because it would limit my career. After I was given this advice, I heard a male leader once discussion how he didn’t want to work with someone who was always balancing being a Mommy with work. So, it happens – clearly bias (and a whole different topic for an entirely different post), but it was real. I opted to not go the exhausting route of hiding my motherhood. 

So, make your choice.

3) Lockdown your LinkedIn Profile

For years, one of the red flags of an employer was the alert of an employer suddenly freshening their LinkedIn profile, adding connections (hmm, why so many recruiters?), and adding recommendations to their profiles.

Now, as a recruiting and career coach professional, I would chastise that these are things that should be done overtime anyway. Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t necessarily be a grave yard until you need it. (For that case, nor should your resume).

But, chances are you’re reading this because you need to understand how to revamp your LinkedIn profile now. So, before you do any updates there are three things that you should do on the ‘back-end’ of your profile.

4) Job Searches Aren’t Events

You’ve heard this a bizillion times before, but its true. Keep your network current. Have a professional group you can belong to? Join it and attend. Or, branch out and consider bigger networking opportunities, like Toastmasters, or a Meetup Group. 

5) Coffee, E-Prime Your Resume & Keep It Current (Just Because)

Coffee? Not literally, but a metaphor. Imagine that you’re grabbing a cup of coffee with your mentor and want to talk about your career – where its been and how it’s prepared you to move on. It’s a conversation, right? No therefore, hereto’s or untold’s are involved. You’re using comfortable, digestable language. Well take your resume and read it, as if you were reading it over coffee with this trusted person. If it’s hard to read; edit it. If the grammar is stilted or too technical; edit it. If the grammar is wrong; edit it. Reading text out loud actually helps the brain edit easier; so, you’ll catch more by actually putting your text to spoken word.

Alright e-priming is maybe not ‘super simple’ (don’t sue me), but it is super achievable. And, a rarely applied approach that will create a subtle differentiation to your resume. So, if you’ve not heard of e-prime, it is an area of linguistics that suggests dropping ‘to be’ and derivatives from our lexicon. Essentially, you will remove anything like: 

      • be
      • being
      • been
      • am
      • is; isn’t
      • are; aren’t
      • was; wasn’t
      • were; weren’t
      • Contractions formed from a pronoun and a form of to be:
        • I’m
        • you’re; we’re; they’re
        • he’s; she’s; it’s
        • there’s; here’s
        • where’s; how’s; what’s; who’s
        • that’s
(source Wikipedia)

And finally, keep your resume current. Are you noticing a theme? Yes, if you want to be confident at any point in your career (and trust me if you’ve lived through a layoff, even as a ‘survivor’, you do); then working through all of this as a routine is essential to positioning yourself as the leader of your career.j

Interestingly, you internal social capital to your current company is likely to improve, too.

So, now that you have five really easy ways to start owning your job search; what’s the next step your looking to take in your career?
If you’re in the market for a new position, you can take a look at my current search projects, and bookmark to stay up-to-date.

I'm Steph Kelly, I help small businesses find, hire and keep employees with recruitment and career coaching systems.

25 Best Careers of 2016

25 Best Careers of 2016

Glassdoor release its top 25 Best Career list, which, they say:

have the highest overall Glassdoor Job Score, determined by combining three key factors – number of job openings, salary and career opportunities rating.

According to Glassdoor, the ranking for 2016 are:

1. Data scientist


• Job Score: 4.7
• Number of Job Openings: 1,736.
• Median Base Salary: $116,840
• Career Opportunities Rating: 4.1

2. Tax Manager


• Job Score: 4.7
• Number of Job Openings: 1,574
• Median Base Salary: $108,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.9

3. Solutions Architect

• Job Score: 4.6
• Number of Job Openings: 2,906
• Median Base Salary: $119,500
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

4. Engagement Manager

• Job Score: 4.6
• Number of Job Openings: 1,356
• Median Base Salary: $125,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.8

5. Mobile Developer


• Job Score: 4.6
• Number of Job Openings: 2,251
• Median Base Salary: $90,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.8

6. HR Manager

• Job Score: 4.6
• Number of Job Openings: 3,468
• Median Base Salary: $85,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.7

7. Physician Assistant


• Job Score: 4.6
• Number of Job Openings: 3,364
• Median Base Salary: $97,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

8. Product Manager

• Job Score: 4.5
• Number of Job Openings: 6,607
• Median Base Salary: $106,680
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

9. Software Engineer

• Job Score: 4.5
• Number of Job Openings: 49,270
• Median Base Salary: $95,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

10. Audit Manager

• Job Score: 4.5
• Number of Job Openings: 1,001
• Median Base Salary: $95,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.9


11. Analytics Manager

• Job Score: 4.5
• Number of Job Openings: 982
• Median Base Salary: $105,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.7

12. Software Development Manager

• Job Score: 4.4

• Number of Job Openings: 1,199
• Median Base Salary: $135,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4


13. Product Marketing Manager

• Job Score: 4.4
• Number of Job Openings: 1,111
• Median Base Salary: $115,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.5

14. Marketing Manager


• Job Score: 4.4
• Number of Job Openings: 2,560
• Median Base Salary: $90,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

15. QA Manager

• Job Score: 4.4
• Number of Job Openings: 3,749
• Median Base Salary: $85,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

16. Finance Manager

• Job Score: 4.3
• Number of Job Openings: 1,632
• Median Base Salary: $115,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

17. Business Development Manager


• Job Score: 4.3
• Number of Job Openings: 2,906
• Median Base Salary: $80,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

18. UX Designer

• Job Score: 4.3
• Number of Job Openings: 863
• Median Base Salary: $91,800
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.6

19. Strategy Manager

• Job Score: 4.3
• Number of Job Openings: 631
• Median Base Salary: $130,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.7

20. Technical Account Manager


• Job Score: 4.2
• Number of Job Openings: 1,160
• Median Base Salary: $69,548
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.7

21. Consultant

• Job Score: 4.2
• Number of Job Openings: 1,071
• Median Base Salary: $84,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

22. Construction Superintendent


• Job Score: 4.2
• Number of Job Openings: 1,054
• Median Base Salary: $78,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

23. Nurse Practitioner

• Job Score: 4.2
• Number of Job Openings: 5,624
• Median Base Salary: $99,500
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.1

24. Electrical Engineer

• Career Score: 4.2
• Number of Job Openings: 2,516
• Median Base Salary: $76,900
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.3

25. Software Architect

• Career Score: 4.2
• Number of Job Openings: 653
• Median Base Salary: $130,000
• Career Opportunities Rating: 3.4

Wondering about the methodology and what the rankings mean? 

Glassdoor’s 25 Best Jobs in America report identifies specific jobs with the highest overall Glassdoor Job Score. The Glassdoor Job Score is determined by weighting three factors equally: earning potential (median annual base salary), career opportunities rating, and number of job openings. Results represent job titles that rate highly among all three categories. The Glassdoor Job Score is based on a 5-point scale (5.0=best job, 1.0=bad job). For a job title to be considered, it must receive at least 75 salary reports and at least 75 career opportunities ratings shared by U.S.-based employees over the past year (1/8/15-1/7/16). The number of job openings per job title represents active job listings on Glassdoor as of 1/8/16. This report takes into account job title normalization that groups similar job titles.

How to Not Break Your Career On Your Leave Of Absence

How to Not Break Your Career On Your Leave Of Absence

A leave of absence doesn’t need to mean that you are dooming your career. We’ll give you solid insights on how you can make sure you keep your career on track; and take care of yourself and you family.

For most of your working life, you’ll probably juggle your responsibilities at home and the office, but sometimes personal issues demand your full attention. Maybe you’re expecting twins or undergoing major surgery. Maybe you’re joining the army or going back to school temporarily.

A leave of absence can be the ideal solution for such major life events. However, it’s important to take precautions so you’ll be able to resume your career when things settle down.

After all, life is full of uncertainties. One day you’re paying for monthly parking, and the next you could be considering taking an extended break from your job. Use these ideas for taking time off without sacrificing future opportunities.

Planning Your Leave of Absence

Save money. Unless you’re on disability, you probably won’t receive any pay while you’re away from work. Build up your cash reserves in advance. Reduce your housing expenses if possible. Cook at home instead of dining out.

Research your rights. You may be legally entitled to some forms of leave, especially if you’re covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act that allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year if you or your immediate family have a serious health condition or you’re having a baby. Check your employee manual or speak with your HR department, or consult with a lawyer to understand your legal rights.

Weigh the consequences. Clarify what level of job protection you’re provided. With mandated leave, there’s usually a guarantee you’ll be reinstated. With voluntary leave, you could be terminated if there’s no suitable opening available when you return.

Cover your responsibilities. Assure your boss that you care about your job. Present proposals for how to cover your tasks while you’re out.

Give prompt notice. Let your employer know about your plans as soon as possible. Cooperating on a smooth transition will help everyone to adapt to the changes.

Taking Your Leave of Absence

  1. Provide updates. Keep your boss in the loop. Tell them about any developments in your medical condition or other circumstances that would affect your return to work.
  2. Remain accessible. Of course, your situation will impact your co-workers as well as your boss. If you’re able to stay in touch, give a trusted team member your contact information so you can answer questions as they come up.

Stay active. Look for ways to minimize gaps on your resume. If your condition allows, do volunteer work or take on consulting assignments. Join a committee at your professional association.

Protect your health. For some workers, staying home can be more stressful than keeping up their usual 9 to 5 routine. Pay extra attention to eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and sleeping well. Spend time with family and friends.

Returning From Your Leave of Absence

  1. Contact your employer. Thank your employer for accommodating you and let them know that you’re eager to be back on the job. Discuss what would be the most productive way for you to catch up.
  2. Modify your job. In some cases, you may need to make a phased return to work. Ask your employer about altering your hours or responsibilities or adapting your workspace.

Negotiate offers. What about job hunting after a leave of absence if you decide to move on or your employer needs to terminate you because there’s no immediate openings? Find out what salary range is appropriate for your skills, and rehearse a brief explanation of the situation that you can deliver with confidence when you go on interviews.

Preparing for emergencies gives you peace of mind and more control over your future. Collaborate with your employer so you can maintain your professionalism while taking off the time you need for personal obligations.