Are Cover Letters Still Necessary?

Are cover letters still necessary?

With advancements in video interviews and social media job application processes, many clients ask about cover letters. Are cover letters still necessary?

At Power Writers, we always offer a bundled quote for clients which includes a cover letter. This is because as a guideline we lean in favor of cover letters still being necessary. However, there are many factors that affect this practice.

The first of which is ‘who’ the cover letter and resume will be reviewed by.  As an example, traditional hiring managers may lean heavily on the value of a cover letter. Whereas modern hiring practices are directed towards quick visual scanning of resume details for the purpose of quality filtration. 

What’s the Point?

Overall, the point of a cover letter is to build a bridge between you and the recruiter or hiring manager. Cover letters, when written properly show that you have something to say. They portray that you have something to add to the company and that you have extended forward thought into your placement within the company. 

When formalizing a plan for your cover letter, remember that a cover letter should address the following:

  • How you learned of the opportunity,
  • How your qualifications match the job requirements.
  • Your possible availability in the area.
  • How you can be contacted.

It’s common to wonder if writing the cover letter is even worth the effort since the carefully crafted letter won’t get read.

Recruiter and Cover Letters

A recruiter’s role is to focus on whether you have the skillset, education and years of experience required for the job. With recruiting firms acting as an extension of your potential new employer, cover letters are often only passed on to employers when requested.

Additionally, if employers are swamped with resumes, they may consider the cover letter unnecessary.  

That being said, it’s hard to know exactly. Yet strong arguments remain in favor of preparing a tightly written cover letter.

Major Career Change.

Our recommendation, if you are delving into a major career change then a well-written cover letter can be a powerful tool to aid the story the resume is portraying. This goes for those embarking on significant career growth as well.  

Big moves such as Senior Director to VP will be greatly complemented by an expertly written cover letter. As such, growth from Manager to Senior Manager will also be best highlighted by a cover letter written to align with the story told on the professional resume. 

Editing is Your Friend.

All this being said, if you do send a cover letter, be sure it is well written. A compelling cover letter is a powerful tool for securing a job interview.  In contrast, a poorly assembled cover letter can yield a completely opposite and much less desired result.

A well-written cover letter complements your resume and social media presence, pulling out the highlights most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Grammar or Go Home.

Like all angles of writing, never underestimate the importance of correct grammar and spelling. Hiring managers are rightfully critical throughout this first impression. A cover letter with inadequate proofreading can, and will, harm your chances of being selected for an interview opportunity.

Industry Trends.

What’s interesting is that we have yet to notice any significant industry trends in relation to cover letter requirements. It appears the requests for cover letters still spans across all industries.

Customize by Experience.

While you want to be honest about your work experience, you don’t necessarily have to include everything you’ve ever done in your cover letter. Remember this is a compliment to your resume.

Your cover letter should sum up the places you’ve been and the skills you’ve learned. Particularly those skills directly related to the job you’re applying for.

So if you’re applying for a marketing position and you’ve worked as a sales associate, include that. However, you probably don’t need to discuss the two years in college you spent as a waitress in your cover letter unless it somehow applies to your future marketing career.

Need help with the process?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

Along with Cover Letters, we offer Resume updates, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

3 Tips for Starting a New Job

3 Tips for Starting a New Job

The job search time has been invested.  The efforts are now paid-in-full. Your first day on the job is scheduled. Sweet victory! Now it’s time to focus on exceeding expectations after you join the company. Here are 3 Tips for starting a new job.

1. Make relationships your number one priority.

The first month in a job is an important time to meet new colleagues, both inside and outside of your team. It’s important to continue cultivating those relationships in the months that follow. 

Do this in ways that feel natural to you. If you’re a fan of formal feedback, schedule in periodic feedback chats with your manager and colleagues. If you’d prefer a more casual approach, put in the effort to organize coffee or drinks with coworkers.

Importantly, be sure these efforts are not just focused on your manager or people above you. While it is important to be on the radar of higher-ups, it’s equally critical that others get fair attention. This includes those you work with and who work under you.

Spending all your effort on people above you can be perceived as sucking up—which means you’ll not only not build relationships with other colleagues, but potentially that they’ll distrust your motives. 

2. Write down your goals, and get feedback on them

Your manager might have a very defined set of goals for you, particularly if you’re in a role like sales which typically has very measurable and predetermined targets. If this isn’t the case, however, it’s important to give yourself some goals to work towards. 

Think about it like this: If you haven’t set yourself a target, how will you be able to measure whether you’ve done a good job after six months?

Putting tangible deliverables on paper—even if they change—is a good way to both stay on track as well as to create evidence for your manager and colleagues that you can deliver. This is no doubt helpful for formal reviews but can be equally as useful as a reflection tool to make sure you’re prioritizing the right things. 

You might write your goals in collaboration with your manager and/or colleagues. If you come up with them on your own, however, be sure to seek feedback from (at least) your manager, as you’re still new to the role and want to be sure you’re focusing on the right things. 

Lastly, remember that goals aren’t useful if you simply write them down and forget about them. Schedule yourself reminders to review your progress, either alone or with others, which can give you a chance to re-adjust if things aren’t going as planned. 

3. Keep an open mind and ask questions

While starting a new job can be daunting. There’s a lot to learn, being new to the company also gives you a fresh perspective—and one that can be invaluable to the rest of the team. Since you’re coming in without preconceptions or biases, you may well identify areas for improvement that others have overlooked. 

It’s therefore important that you ask questions when you don’t understand why things are a certain way. Rather than accepting them at face value. Just because a process, standing meeting or team structure exists in a certain way, that doesn’t mean that it’s a big picture ideal.

As a new hire, you’re in a unique place to be able to identify inefficiencies and broken processes. 

That said, approach areas for improvement with curiosity. There’s no room for judgment since there may well be a reason that something is done a certain way. It’s better to appear curious and learn something new than to assume you know the right answer. And potentially be proven wrong.

We hope these 3 Tips for starting a new job help. This can be a very playful time to relax, be yourself and get to know your new work environment.

If you wanted to take it a step further, check our previous entry on Setting Career Goals. We’ve put together 7 helpful tips here: https://powerwritersusa.com/7-success-tips-to-setting-career-goals/

Career Breaks and The Comeback

Career breaks and the comeback

Career breaks occur for all sorts of reasons.  Some may choose to take a step back in favor of dedicated family time.  Others come by a career break following redundancy in the company.  Perhaps you’ve decided to enjoy different experiences, such as traveling or to rediscover your interests. Whatever the reasoning, here are 6 tips on navigating career breaks and the comeback.

Whatever motives got you there, the time may come when you decide to jump back onto the career ladder.

Getting a job can be daunting enough, but it can be even more unnerving once you’ve taken a break from work. You may feel anxious about starting a new job or you may worry that your skills are a little rusty because a lot has changed since you’ve been away from the workplace.

If you feel you’re in this situation, below are six effective tips to help increase your chances of getting hired following a career break.

Six Tips to The Comeback

1. Assess your situation

Many people make the mistake of jumping straight back into the first job they can find. Firstly, if you’re not sure about a job, the interviewer may sense your uncertainty and will be unlikely to take you further in the hiring process.

Secondly, if you secure a job that isn’t suitable for you, you could even find yourself job hopping frequently before you find the right one. It’s therefore important to take some time to assess your situation first and decide what you want to do. Open your mind and remember, what was right for you before your career break, may not be what the best fit is for you now.

2. Update your resume with your career break.

It’s common for a candidate to believe that a gap in their resume will ruin their career.

However, instead of seeing it as a handicap, see it as something positive that can differentiate you from other candidates. If you haven’t been working for a long period of time, don’t hide it. A break can provide lots of benefits that can make you just as, if not more hireable, even if it’s just been a chance for you to take a step back and re-evaluate your future career.

Add all the new skills you may have developed during your break, and explain how these can relate to the job you’re now applying for. 

For example:

Did you take a diploma course specializing in new technology?

Did you do volunteer work and develop your leadership skills, which will help you to lead a team more effectively? 

Or perhaps traveling the world helped to give you a much-needed confidence boost?

3. Network

When looking for your first job after a career break, don’t forget to use your existing connections. Spend some time reaching out to your previous colleagues, clients, friends, and family. Let them know that you’re seeking a new position.

They may have the perfect job for you or be able to point you in the right direction. This is also a good opportunity to prepare any potential references that could support your new job applications.

4. Be prepared for your interview

Before you attend your first interview, make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about your career break. You may be asked why you have a career gap and what you did with your time. Honesty is the first step. Make it clear what you did during your break and why you decided it was the right thing for you to do.

You could tailor your answers to demonstrate how your break will benefit the role you are now applying for. Think critically about some of the concerns an interviewer may have. They may wonder whether you’re ready to get back on the career ladder for example. In this case, explain why you have decided to re-join the workforce, whilst emphasizing your passion, drive, and focus.

5. Look for career returner programs

As well as using job boards to search for jobs, research the various career returner programs that may be available. Deloitte is just one example of an organization that runs this kind of scheme. Their return to work program lasts for 20 weeks and is aimed at men and women who have taken a career break. Whether the break has been for family or other reasons, the scheme provides tailored support and experience to help you readjust to being back at work.

JP Morgan is another business offering a similar scheme. Their global ReEntry Program provides networking and mentorship opportunities to senior executives who are looking to re-join corporate life after taking a career break.

6. Be confident

Whether you’ve been away from work for 12 months or 2 years, getting back into the hiring pool can be nerve-racking. However, the most important thing is that you remain confident in your abilities.

Without confidence, you can easily undervalue what you can offer an employer. Write down your skills and strengths on a piece of paper. Refer to this during your job search, to help give you a boost of energy.

If you’re uncertain, ask friends and family to share their feedback on where your strengths lie. They may offer some suggestions that you had not previously considered.

If you’re concerned that your skills are no longer up-to-date, take a refresher course. Make sure you do your research too. Look at the employer’s website and social media channels.

You should also look at their competitors, read the latest industry news and research industry trends. Knowing you have all the information you need, will help you to be much more confident, especially during interviews.

Everyone has their own career path

Taking a career break is more common than you may think, despite the stigma that is sometimes attached behind how potential candidates will fill that void. Everyone has different career ladders they climb at their own pace depending on what their goals are in life.

So if you’re feeling apprehensive about jumping back into the workforce after a career break, remember these tips to put you on the right path with renewed confidence.

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

6 Quality Interview Questions

6 quality interview questions

The key to getting a great job offer is portraying an authentic, positive and lasting impression. Whether you’re a seasoned employee or just getting started, these 6 quality interview questions can help the process.

With a professional resume, this is achieved in the first point of contact.  In addition to this, you’ve got to nail the job interview. Asking insightful questions during a job interview demonstrates professionalism, thoughtfulness, and commitment.

That being said, candidates can get lost when it comes to asking the right sort of questions. This blunder shows either a lack of preparation or the stress of the interview. Neither of which leaves a positive impression. 

Like much of life, the failsafe is to be present during the entire interview. Presence shows confidence. Additionally, the best interview questions are oftentimes the ones asked naturally from engagement in the conversation. 

6 Quality Interview Questions

1. What is the history of this position?

It’s valuable to ask about the history of the role. In this case, the answer is useful to know what environment you’re entering.   Furthermore, it shows forethought and attentive care for the position. 

Perhaps this opening was recently created to support company growth. In which case, ask a follow-up question about who owned the responsibilities up to this point, and how the duties will be transitioned.

If you are interviewing for a position left vacant by someone’s departure, get a sense of what happened.

  • Why did the predecessor leave the job?
  • Where they promoted or internally transferred?

If the predecessor was internally repositioned, ask about direct training potential.

2. How does this position support management and serve direct reports?

Certainly, the answers to this question will help you gain insight into the position and how it fits the framework of the company as a whole.

  • Who is your support?
  • Who will you supervise and guide?

Consequently, understanding this will offer a glimpse of what skills are critical for your success.

3. In the first 6 months, what accomplishments would you like from me?

This targetted question shows your commitment to adding value and delivering on expectations. It’s one thing to understand routine tasks and responsibilities, it’s yet another to fully understand expectations.

Altogether, an interview has a singular goal. To demonstrate your fit for the position.  Inquiring about expectations directly speaks to this goal.

4. Which part of the position has the steepest learning curve? What can I do in order to get up to speed quickly?

For some jobs, learning the technology or the internal company procedures is the most challenging aspect of coming on board. For others, it is about understanding the human network. Therefore, guidance on how to speed up the learning process can give you a significant advantage.

5. How is the feedback process structured?

Feedback is how humans improve. To excel in a new role, you’re going to need analysis as a way of marking the perimeter of success. 

Does this company limit its feedback cycle to the annual reviews? Does the hiring manager make it a priority to deliver just-in-time acknowledgment and suggestions for improvement?

As a result, asking these questions represents your intent to learn and grow with the role.

6. What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?

Does the company offer formal or informal mentoring and coaching? Does it invest in continued education or professional training?

Great companies want to hire people who are dedicated to personal and professional growth. Show your hiring manager that continued development is important to you.

Close the interview on a high note.

As a bonus, there are several questions one must never ask during an interview. 

Asking about money, raises and promotions are taboo and can show yourself as arrogant and self-serving. 

Stay away from company gossip. It matters not what your friends, friend says about the company politics or a piece of news read in a local paper, keep your head in the game of professionalism and acknowledge the interview as an opportunity. 

The goal is to end the interview in a powerful and impactful way. For this reason, maintaining professionalism, acting authentically and these 6 quality interview questions are all part of the equation of your success.

Pursuing a Career in Data

Pursuing career in data

Over the years skilled data analysts have become one of the most sought-after professionals in the world. The reasoning? Supply and Demand. With the mass increase in companies relying on data as a business tool, the need for analysts has boomed. As a result, trends are in favor of those pursuing a career in data.

The pool of educated and experienced data analysts is limited.

On the supply side of the equation, there has been a consistent lack of skilled and experienced professionals to fill the increasing demand. Due to this shortage, even at the entry-level, data analysts can command huge salaries and excellent perks.

What do Data Analysts do?

Right now, some of the top jobs in data analysis involve helping employers make investment decisions, target customers, assess risks or help decide on capital allocations.

As data analysts, you probe through mountains of data to spot trends, make forecasts, and extract information. This, in turn, helps employers make better-informed business decisions. 

The career path a data analyst can take depends, in large part, on what industry holds there interest. As a result, they could work at big investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. They could also work in health care, marketing, retail, and/or insurance.

In general, data analysts are everywhere.

As a matter of fact, financial institutions such as investment banks are a great entry-level career direction. Doors to management can be opened when highly-skilled data analysts excel in this area.

After all, who better to shepherd new hires into the company than you?

Tech companies are big business.

Big tech companies such as Facebook and Google analyze big data to a dizzying degree. To do so, they employ many of the top data analysts for a variety of purposes including advertising and internal and user analysis.

Moreover, it’s widely known that technology changes rapidly.

Due to this, the structural dynamics of tech companies are constantly evolving. New departments are created that incorporate new challenges and pursue new market opportunities.

Data analysts who excel in their existing tech roles are oftentimes the first chosen as leaders of these newly created departments. 

Data Analyst – Education

For those interested in pursuing a career in data, the majority of colleges in the US offer data analytics or data science as both a major or minor. Beyond the bachelor’s degree, there’s also a vast number of data science master’s programs.

That being said, if you’re interested in building your skills in a more flexible or shorter timeframe there are also multiple certification programs and courses available from a variety of educational institutions.

Graduating from a data analysis program with a strong grade point average should lead to an entry-level data analysis position without much trouble.

Alternatively, even a less-focused degree in mathematics, statistics or economics is enough to get your foot in the door.

Data Analyst – Annual Compensation

Some of the top jobs in data analysis can reach as high $100,000 annually during the first year out of college. Experienced professionals are making double that or more.

With that in mind, education is often the most important thing on your resume when applying for a data analyst job. Few people get hired without strong academic performances in math-related fields of study.

Data Analyst Career Paths

Overall, data analysts are good at working with numbers and details. Additionally, they are confident and organized in managing multiple tasks, data programs, and data flows.

You’ll also have strong presentation skills. Typically, with this role, you are required to present your analysis visually and/or orally on a regular basis.

A solid rule, pick an industry that sparks interest. Then pursue the education that backs you up. As mentioned, data analysts are in great demand. Choose wisely and have fun pursuing a career in data.

14 Potential Career Directions:

  • Business analyst
  • Management reporting
  • Corporate strategy analyst
  • Compensation and benefits analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Insurance underwriting analyst
  • Actuary
  • Sales analytic
  • Web analytics
  • Fraud analytics
  • Credit analytics
  • Business product analyst
  • Social media data analyst
  • Machine learning analyst

For resume guidance, our team at PWU offers Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Profile Optimization, Interview Coaching, and Recruitment Services. 

Connect with us here for a free 15-minute consultation. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

Where Do You See Yourself?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

For many people, answering the interview question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” can be overwhelming. If this is you in a nutshell, worry not. Hiring managers aren’t really that concerned with the specifics of your answer anyway. 

What they want to know is a glimpse into your ambition, goals, focus, and drive.

They want to know you’ve at least considered your future and what you’d like to accomplish. 

Even if you don’t know exactly where you see yourself in five years, there’s still a right way to answer this question during an interview.

Why ask this?

Asking “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is more about getting insight into your hopes and aspirations. Interviewers are seeking objectives to give an inside look into how you operate and structure your thoughts.

Naturally, a potential employer wants to understand your career goals to assess how their position fits into your grand plan. Companies want trustworthy, detail-oriented, and dedicated team members who are willing to take a leap — not a noncommittal employee who is only sticking around until a better opportunity arises elsewhere.

The question itself can be phrased in a multitude of ways. All of the below examples aim to uncover similar information for hiring managers to review: 

  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • Do you have an ideal job at this stage in your career?
  • What are you looking for?
  • How do you define success?
  • What is most important to you in your career?
  • Do you have goals planned for the next five years?
  • Where will you be in five years?

Tips: Before the Interview

Life gets tricky and, ultimately, no one person knows completely where they will be in five years.  Hiring managers are aware of this. Focus on what your dreams are, where you would like to take your career, and how you plan to do this.

Also, be sure to focus on how you plan to help the company. Show yourself as someone who will add value to the team and help advance the company. 

While developing your answer, keep in mind what the interviewer wants to know when they ask you this question: your work-related goals, ambitions, desired training, and so on. What type of positions do you see yourself occupying? What type of training? Are you interested in leadership positions, or would you like to keep your focus on the technical aspects of your work? Provide direct and relatable answers.

If the answer doesn’t come to you at first, think about how you have grown over the last five years.

Consider the natural flow of progression in your career thus far and what aspects sparked joy and curiosity in your daily efforts.  These aspects are a great benchmark for navigating the direction forward. 

During the interview

Answering “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

When answering this question, be honest and be yourself. Sharing what you think the interviewer ‘wants to hear’ may seem like a good idea, but if it’s out of alignment with your truth, you can get in trouble down the road if you do get hired. Plus, it’s much easier to be yourself than to try to be someone you’re not.

Be specific and keep it work-related.

The interviewer doesn’t need to know that you plan on having two kids and a white picket fence in five years. Keep your answers to-the-point and about your work goals and visions.

An example response:

Let’s say you’re interviewing for an HR position at an organization and are asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” You might answer as follows:

“I’d like to expand my horizons by jumping in feet first and learning as much as I can, as quickly as I can, with the organization. From there, I’d seek out opportunities — at least one to two a year — to expand my knowledge through training and educational opportunities to support my job. I’d love to participate in at least one project geared toward leadership training if the opportunity arises. I also understand that the organization has a strong volunteer team, and I’d like to be an active participant in that team, as well. At some point, I’d also like to be considered for a supervisory or management level role.”

Keep it primarily work-related, show ambition, show that you’ve done your homework, and provide quantifiable goals. The key is to be confident, honest, clear, and succinct, and, of course, to answer the question.

What Not to Say.

Whatever you do, do not respond with, “I don’t know.”

To answer “I don’t know” shows that you haven’t given any thought to your future with the company or life in general. Again, one of the main reasons this question is asked is to find out if you have goals, ambition and a good work ethic and that you’ve considered how you might handle the position should you be hired.

So there you go. While the chances are good that you’ll be asked this question at some point during your career, the ball is in your hands to answer like a touchdown pass from inside the red zone. 

Need to get ready for job search success?  Our team at PWU is here to help.

We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

Executive Job Search Strategy

Executive job search strategy

Remember when you were early in your career and you’d apply for a job then go home and wait?  You knew you had all the required skills and experience, so it was just a matter of time. A few days go by and the call comes in. The next day is the interview.  3 days later you have the job and you start next week. Well, those days are long since gone! Nowadays if you don’t have an executive job search strategy, you come close to setting yourself up to fail.

Truthfully, now that you’ve positioned your career higher up the salary chain, those quick job search turnaround days are non-existent. The path to senior and executive-level job placement is an extended process that requires patience and good strategy.

Pro Tip: Manage Expectations

The challenge is to manage expectations that meet the reality of your job search. On-average an executive-level job search requires 4 months to 1 year from the initial point of contact to an actual first day of employment.

The average time it takes to find a job depends on many factors such as:

  • Time of year
  • Geographical demand for your skills
  • Whether you encounter ageism
  • Experience and salary requirements
  • Professional network
  • Job search skills

Time of Year

Q4 is traditionally the slowest hiring period so don’t go rushing into October with high hopes of December placement. However, in contrast, the busiest season for hiring is the first quarter. Manage expectations and remain positive to keep pushing on through slower times of the year.

Geography

All across the country, there are region-specific industry dominants. Depending on your career path, your advancement could depend on your flexibility towards a potential move of house and home.  Consider your chosen industry and region when outlining your timeline for ideal job placement.

Experience & Salary

Aim for your goals, however, do a little research into the companies you are applying to. You want to ensure they have the capacity and need for your set of skills and salary requirements.  Are they in an upswing or decline?  Have their social media channels just blasted news of a hiring fair? These elements can either hinder or expedite the hiring process and in turn, your job search strategy.

Your Network is Gold.

We’ve mentioned this in previous posts and it’s worth rehashing. Your network is solid gold.  At the Senior and Executive career levels, your LinkedIn profile should already be well polished with several years of connections to draw from. When it comes to job searching, this is your ideal go-to for making quick work of landing a job with ease and accuracy. 

Your job search skills.

How’s your job search game?  Ultimately, your drive dictates how fast a job can be obtained.  The steps are defined, now it’s on you to get organized and progress with confidence.

A quick note on ageism.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, the chances are good that you’ve seen or experienced age discrimination at work—as two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 have at some point, according to AARP. From a recruiter’s perspective, there are concerns that older employees not only require increased salaries but will be with the company for a shorter period.   Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for the big picture. 

Ageism can slow your job search process by the assumption that retirement is near.

If you are in a category susceptible to ageism, be prepared to talk about how much longer you plan to work.  Make sure you’re up to speed on technology and current education, as applicable.

Additionally, find the right company by considering what work environment is ideal for your own daily routine. Some company cultures trend younger – startups, for instance- and you may not want to be significantly older than everyone else in the room.  Or that could be exactly what you seek. Either way, due diligence is highly beneficial.

Resume specifics: To show yourself in the best light, hire a professional resume writer to modernize and retool your resume. Seriously, at this stage, a professional is a value-added investment to career advancement.

Extensive work history can begin to look muddled on a resume, as can the skills section after a few decades of career growth. Allowing a professional to optimize your resume, and LinkedIn for that matter will give you the leg up with ATS and recruiter processes.

Here is a link to our schedule at Power Writers USA so you can see availability and book a free 15-min consult. https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

7 Success Tips to Setting Career Goals

7 steps to planning career goals

With the beginning of every new year and now a new decade, many are looking within and setting career goals for short and long-game success.  Have a read for 7 success tips to setting career goals at any time of year!

Setting goals is a significant component of the career planning process. To have a successful and satisfying career, it’s best to define your goals and devise a strategy to achieve them. Having a career action plan is like a roadmap that will guide you from choosing a satisfying occupation to progressing through an extended and successful career.

How Setting Goals Affects Your Career Success

Look at your career action plan as a 2-sided approach with both long and short-term goals. Without a doubt, the more specific you can be about each step will greatly increase your probability of achievement.

Especially if or when barriers get in the way.  Life moves quick and ultimately we never know what experience is just around the corner. Your plan can be your peace of mind in the event of sudden unexpected changes.

The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals

Consider a short-term goal as obtainable in approximately six months.  Long-term goals look ahead to roughly three to five years to achieve. Naturally, the timelines are somewhat fluid. Sometimes you can crack a short-term goal in fewer than three months and other times a long-term one may reach fulfillment towards the end of a decade.

Just ask Bill and Melinda Gates how long it’s has taken to eradicate Polio in 3rd world regions or how many years they’ve been working on developing clean and safe nuclear power plants for global benefit.

To achieve each long-term goal, you must first accomplish a series of short-term goals.

For example, let’s say you aspire to become a doctor. That may be your ultimate long-term goal, but before you can tackle it, you must achieve a few others, such as complete college (four years), medical school (another four years), and a medical residency (three to eight years).

Along the road to reaching those long-term goals, there are several short-term goals to clear as well. Such as, excelling in entrance exams and applying to college, medical school, and eventually residencies. Since grades matter when it comes to achieving those goals, it is necessary to break your short-term goals down even further, like earning a high-grade point average and remembering to eat healthy along the way.

7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Reaching Your Goals

Your hard work will play the most prominent role in your success, but if you don’t formulate your goals correctly, it will be much more challenging to accomplish them. Ideally, your short-term and long-term goals meet the following criteria:

#1: Have specific goals. You might say, “I want to be successful.” Well, who doesn’t? But can you define what success means? Success to one person may mean becoming CEO of a company while to another person it may mean getting home from work no later than 6 p.m.

#2: Your goals must be measurable. Have a timeframe for achieving your goals and a way to determine when you have reached them.

#3: Don’t be negative. Your goal should be something you want rather than something you want to avoid. It is much better to say, for instance, “I want to improve my skills over the next four years so that I qualify for a better job” than “I don’t want to be stuck in this job for another four years.”

#4: Be realistic. Your long-term goals must be compatible with your abilities and skills. Stating “I want to win a Grammy Award” if you can’t sing or play an instrument will set you up for failure.

#5: Your goal must be reachable within your time frame. Break a long-term goal down into smaller goals. It is better to take baby steps than one big giant leap.

#6: Pair each goal with an action. For instance, if your goal is to become a writer, sign up for a writing class. 

#7: Be flexible. Don’t give up if you encounter barriers that threaten to impede your progress. Instead, modify your goals accordingly. As an example, say you need to continue working but this is keeping you from going to college full-time. Be flexible. Although it won’t be possible to finish your bachelor’s degree in four years, you can still enroll in school part-time and take a bit longer.

The point is, goals can become actuality with patience, perseverance and a solid plan. Need help?  Our team at PWU is here to help. We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization, Recruiter Services, and Professional Career Coaching.

Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca

How To Choose a Career Coach

Choosing the right career coach

With the closing of the decade, we’re seeing all sorts of 10-year reflection content on social media right now.  Have you seen it?  Perhaps it’s the end of an era that sparks the human interest to compare and assess using time as the main reference. Whatever the reasoning now is a great time to check in on career goals. Here are our tips on how to choose a career coach, should you be so inclined.

What A Career Coach Can Do

Some of you would have been in school at the crack of 2010 and are now well seated in your chosen careers.  Others may have changed directions several times and are looking back at an intersection of self-discovery and career interests. Looking forward, consider the benefits of sourcing, vetting and connecting with a career coach who can help you identify goals for the next 10 years of career growth.

6 Tips for Choosing a Career Coach

1. Define The Problems.

Ask yourself: Why do I need a career coach? If you’re not clear, take out a piece of paper and write down every question that comes to mind about your career transition.  Once you understand your needs, you can identify the best type of coach for the job.

If you’re interested in changing career directions: Find a coach who is experienced in career reinvention.

If you are looking to stay in your field but need help navigating the job search process: Find a coach who has strength in resume writing or has exceptional referrals to a professional resume writer.  Additionally, this coach should also have good tactics for job searching via social media and other job-hunting avenues.

2. The Interview

Yes, of course, it’s recommended to interview potential coaches! This is your career. You’re in the driver’s seat so vet ay potentials and set up some meetings.

Keep in mind, some coaches offer a free introductory call, while others only do so unless you sign on for three months or more. Also, it’s common for people to work with career coaches on a shorter-term basis, such as three sessions for job-search coaching or six sessions to complete a career exploration package.

Smart questions to ask during the interview:

  • How would you describe your coaching style?
  • What should I expect from our work together?
  • What are your fees, packages and/or recommended routes?
  • Can you share some of your success stories? (Listen to see if the coach tends to work with people like you.)

3. Choosing The Services Best Suited to You.

Coaches charge in a variety of ways: by the hour, by the month, by the task or some combination of all three. Some ask for a multi-session commitment; others go session-by-session.

Some offer full branding packages that include reworking a resumé, LinkedIn profile and cover letters while others offer each of those services a-la-carte.

Ask a lot of questions and be sure the coach is clear about what you’ll get for your money before you start work together.

4. Ready Yourself to Win.

Coaching sessions are generally about an hour long and to the betterment of both parties, you want to go in prepared.  Ready any questions or specific topics of direction.  Organize relevant documentation. Speak your mind. Be honest about the process, if the coach is doing (or not doing) something that doesn’t sit right, share and help the relationship achieve full potential.

Additionally, maintain open lines of communication regarding any personal challenges impacting your career plans.  The goal is to craft a realistic action plan.  To do this, all facts should be on the table.

5. Respect The Process.

To achieve a deeper understanding, many coaches use one or more industry-specific assessments.  Techniques such as personality tests and interest inventories help you identify your strengths, interests and best work options.

Now, while these are helpful, they can’t always provide you with “the answer.”

All career changes involve a process of assessment, reflection, research, and testing. As well as hard work and patience. This all takes time before you gain real and lasting clarity. 

6. Manage Timeline Expectations.

There is no clear timetable for a career change. It truly depends on you, your goals, the state of the economy and a thousand other variables. From a coach, you may only need a couple of brainstorming sessions, or you may get into the process and realize you’d prefer a few months of support.

Just know, you are going to hit plateaus and they will be frustrating. Be patient and loving to yourself.

Ultimately, the key to a good coaching relationship is finding the right coach for your specific needs and then working together effectively.  Some coached are available to advise clients in person; others use a mix of phone, video conferencing and in-person meetings. 

Ideally when vetting a potential coach think about what best suits your style of work ethic and daily practices. On our team at PWU, we have exceptional career coaches available. Reach out if you would like a recommendation and contact details.

Whether you are anticipating a new career direction, seeking advice on the job search or planning for semi-retirement, a good coach can help you reach goals faster and more successfully than by going it alone.

4 Career Benefits of the Holiday Season

4 career benefits of the holiday season

The holidays are just around the corner and with them are a much-needed break. For many, especially if you’ve recently started a new job, it’s tempting to skip the holiday downtime for fear it will reflect badly on your productivity. Truly though, with a bit of planning and heart, these 4 holiday season career benefits

1. Taking breaks improves productivity

It’s easy to believe that working late and not taking time off means you will get more work done. However, recent research has found that when working long hours, employees lose creativity while also find it hard to maintain the same intensity level in their work. So, by working yourself too hard, it could actually be detrimental to the quality of your work.

A better strategy is to budget your time around daily, weekly, monthly tasks.

Especially if you’re seeking to maximize the career benefits of the holiday season.

To help manage the workload try assembling a plan.  Take early stock of all high-level tasks that must be finished before your break.  Write these into your schedule and tag them for importance.  This is your mandatory list.

Secondly, form a list of mid-level tasks.  These are the non-immediate-but-overall-important tasks that will greatly benefit current and upcoming workflows.

Lastly, write yourself a bonus list. I find this one the most fun to write.  These are the tasks that if you got to them, it would be considered stepping ahead of your goals. Be specific here to help guide the process.

What small elements would boost your current progress to the next level?

These 3 lists combined will not only gain you traction on the current momentum, but they’ll also greatly ease your mind when away from the office.

2. You’ll be healthier

If you don’t take the time off to relax and unwind, you are putting yourself at risk of becoming overly stressed. We all know stress has negative implications for your health with outcomes such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression.

It’s important to look after yourself, as well as your workload. 

With an increase in spending and pressure of family, it can be easy to lose focus on your self-care needs at this time of year. 

Now is a great time to use those massage gift certificates or max out the annual health benefits package.  Book the acupuncture, check-in with the chiropractor, make the time for a little pampering.

3. Quality time with loved ones

Chances are that if you’re working long hours, you don’t get to spend as much time with your loved ones as you’d like to.

By taking this annual leave from work, you set time aside to connect and appreciate, whether it be at home or on a trip together. Spending time with your friends and family may be just what you need to unwind and improve your mood after a stressful period at work.

4. Work-Life balance is important

If a good work-life balance is not met in your job, it’s likely that you will start to build negative feelings towards work or your employer. In order to be happy at work and maintain the drive to work to the best of your ability, it’s important for you to balance work and your personal life.

There is so much to do and see in the world, which just isn’t going to happen from the confines of your office. Take a break and experience new things, or you may regret it later.

If you’ve been meaning to take up a new hobby, this could be your chance to give it a go and you never know, it may even open doors to new opportunities in the future. Step away from the computer and go enjoy yourself over the holidays! 

As always, if needed, our team at PWU is here to help. We offer Resume updates, Cover Letters, LinkedIn Optimization and Recruiter Services. Book a free 15-min consult here https://calendly.com/powerwritersusa-ca