So, let me begin by saying: Here's some irony for you... For years, I've struggled to properly explain what I do for work. Funny, right? The gal that has spent the last 15+ years of her life helping professionals with their personal brands, job searches, and career planning doesn't know what to label herself. Saying I'm a "career coach" has never seemed to properly convey the job. I feel that title makes light of the important work myself and my Work It Daily teammates do every day. And, I feel the term "career counselor" really speaks to those folks you find at high schools and colleges. But recently, a conversation about the evolution of Work It Daily provided me with a big ah-ha moment. Ever since that, I've wanted to post the following... "My name is J.T. and I'm a Career Therapist." (Finally! I said it.) I've known for a long time this is really my job. Each day, myself and a team of trained career support specialists give people a trusted, secure, and private place to talk honestly about their careers. This is no small thing. As humans, our identities, and subsequently, our happiness are tightly tied to what we do for work. When you spend 40+ hours each week doing a job, it can't help but define you and impact your ability to feel successful and satisfied in life. So, while I'm not a doctor (and I don't play one on TV), I am a career therapist. And, I'm no longer ashamed to say it. Why would I be ashamed? Glad you asked! Because getting career support is still seen as "taboo". When I decided to leave corporate America to become a career coach, my friends and colleagues thought I'd lost my mind. One former college classmate asked me if I was going to become some sort of new-age-hoohey-type (his words, not mine). I lost the respect of some people who thought I was throwing away a perfectly good career track (six-figure female HR executive), to do something weird. To them, people who used career coaches were "broken" and "unemployable." But over the years, these same people circled back, many of them asking to chat with me about their own career challenges. Still, those early years of criticism from my peers gave me doubts. But, fast forward to today and here's what I know... School teaches us a lot of things, but learning how to identify and pursue a meaningful career throughout our lifetime is not one of them. With more than 70 percent of the working population feeling disengaged and dissatisfied with their career success, we have an epidemic of professional happiness going on right now. And sadly, people don't seek the help they need. Even though we use trained professionals to fix all sorts of problems in our lives i.e. doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, physical therapists, etc. we still naively think we should be able to figure out our career problems on our own. The good news is, I think the thousands of people who have become members of Work It Daily in the last year would tell you: getting a little career therapy isn't a sign of weakness, it's a path to greatness. We refer to them as #WIDwarriors, and they're changing the world, one dream job at a time. So, to the millions of people sitting in silent disgust and desperation with their careers and failing to get the help they need (you might be one of them?), I say:
Have you ever been terminated from a job for some outrageous reason (like breaking a tooth)? The truth is, something bigger is going on when this happens. Today, career experts J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten get to the bottom of the problem. Dear J.T. and Dale, I am 30 years old and recently was terminated because I broke a tooth and left work early. I was great at my job. I thought I had finally found my career and was about to get engaged to the love of my life. I need a career track if I want to get married. Any ideas? - Mike According to O’Donnell, something doesn’t add up. If you were great at your job but got fired because you had to go to the dentist, something else is going on. “That’s not an isolated reason to let somebody go,” she said. If you got terminated for something like that, you have to look at the bigger picture. You were hired to do a certain type of work. The work is what you’re good at, the work is what you get paid to do. However, you’re also paid to be part of the team, and that’s the job, according to Dauten. “You have to wonder was it the work or the job,” he said. You might have been great at the work you did at the company, but maybe you weren’t the best teammate. If you can, chat with some of your co-workers and ask them for feedback. How could you have been a better teammate? You need to investigate what went wrong so you can learn and grow from it, and ultimately find another job. “Employers are going to want to hear that you have resolved whatever it was that caused you to get fired in the last case,” said O’Donnell. What could I do better next time? What could I have done to be a better teammate? Start asking those questions so you don’t run into the same issue in the next job. So, if you got terminated for something as silly as breaking a tooth, chances are there’s something bigger at play. Investigate and understand what the reason is so you can learn from it and avoid it in the future.
If you’re looking for a job, you probably know how FRUSTRATING it is to fill out online job applications. They take forever to complete, they can time out while you’re in the middle of filling them out, and after all of the time and energy you put into them, you RARELY hear back from employers. So, what are you doing wrong? Chances are, you’re making this tiny mistake when you’re filling out online job applications… This little error could result in your application getting tossed every single time you apply for a job. And that’s just a waste of time! What’s the mistake? You’re not filling out every single field listed on the job application. Sometimes you’re allowed to “skip” a field when you’re filling out an online job application. And you might take advantage of this, thinking, “Well, I don’t have an answer for that, so I’m just going to skip it.” Unfortunately, by doing that, you’re getting yourself disqualified. Here’s why.... The applicant tracking system, or ATS, gathers all of the data you’ve filled in and puts it into a “digital spreadsheet” of sorts. It immediately looks through this “spreadsheet” and compares all of the candidates on the list. With so much competition for jobs posted online, employers have to have a system to eliminate candidates that might not be worth reviewing. That’s where this “spreadsheet” comes in. Basically, the ATS eliminates anyone who didn’t fill out the online job application completely so it can narrow down the applicants. So, if you skip fields on the application, it will likely get pulled from the “spreadsheet” and no one will ever see that you applied. While it’s frustrating, it happens. So, if you choose to apply to jobs online, make sure you fill out every field, even the ones you can skip. If it does not apply to you, put in “N/A.” That way, you won’t be tossed on a technicality. In the end, though, applying for jobs online is a lengthy, frustrating process. Strongly consider other job search techniques that will help you move forward faster and more effectively - like strategic networking!
If you’re in the middle of a job search, you probably have lots of well-meaning family members and friends giving you advice on how to find a job as fast as you can. Unfortunately, these people could be giving you TERRIBLE job search advice without even realizing it. Do you ever hear people telling you to be “open to any opportunity” that comes along? Or do they advise you to “take anything that’s available”? This might surprise you, but these are actually the WORST things you can do for your career. Here’s why… Back in the day, employers were looking for hardworking people who could do everything. They wanted generalists. So, if you could do something, even if you weren’t the best at it and even if it didn’t relate to the job you wanted, you would put that thing on your resume. While this might have been sought after years ago, it’s not what employers want anymore. Employers are looking for specialists in their fields. They want to know that the people they hire know everything there is to know about the thing they were hired to do. Unfortunately, there are still lots of professionals out there who still brand themselves as “Jack- or Jills-of-all-trades.” They can do it all. They know everything. They’re generalists. And employers aren’t impressed. That's why it's important to showcase your specialty. What specific problem do you solve? How? That's what you want to focus on during your job search. So, before you take Aunt Hilde’s (accidentally) terrible job search advice from 20 years ago, think about how job search is being done today. What are employers looking for NOW?