Tag Archives: job search

Start Early

job search
job search

There are a number of factors that influence how successful your first job search will be, whether it’s for a summer internship or that all important first post collegiate professional role. By far the most effective thing you can do to improve your success rate is to start early. 

Fall is recruiting season on campus. College career offices know this and host career fairs and employer visits starting as early as September. If you have yet to visit your career office, run, don’t walk, there. The staff there can help you with your resume, interview prep and it’s all included in your tuition. Most colleges also offer free LinkedIn head shots. Taking advantage of these services is not only a smart move, it will save you time and money. Not sure where to start? Check out my tips for 9 smart moves you can make now.

According to NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average job search for recent college graduates is 7.4 months. If you wait until after you graduate, you’ll likely have a lot of uncomfortable dinner conversations with your parents about your job search. So help your success rate, and your stress level, by starting EARLY.

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LinkedIn – How to Gain Quality Connections

linkedin logo

As a professional career coach, I make an effort to be active and stay connected on LinkedIn. I regularly advise my clients on how to create effective LinkedIn profiles. I also teach them on how to use LinkedIn to gain quality connections.

There are a number of things LinkedIn users frequently do that reduces their effectiveness. One very common mistake is not customizing connection requests. I am continually amazed at the number of form requests I get to connect, from people I do not know. This is a serious LinkedIn rookie mistake. One that dramatically decreases the likelihood of me (or anyone else) accepting your connection request.

Quality vs. Quantity

Unlike Instagram, the primary goal on LinkedIn is not to amass a high quantity of connections. Rather it is to establish quality connections. Knowing how to network, both online and in person, is an essential tool for any job search. One of the most effective ways to create quality connections, provided you use it properly, is to leverage LinkedIn’s alumni tool. It gives you access to all your college alumni, sorted by location, field, major, among others.

Making the Request – the Right Way

If you are going to reach out to someone on LinkedIn, please do it the right way. Always craft a short, customized note to accompany your request, even if you know the recipient and especially if you do not. Let them know why you are interested in connecting. Also indicate what you hope to gain, and offer, in return for a possible connection. Do this and you’ll dramatically increase the number of your quality connections.

A Strong Profile

Next, to leverage LinkedIn effectively, you also will need a strong profile (All Star status). Without a strong profile, even the best crafted connection request will fall short. According to the Muse, professionals with an All Star status profile are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.

I am confounded when I see profiles with no headshot or cover photo. Having a professional-looking headshot (e.g. no photos in obvious wedding guest attire) is critical. Why? Profiles with photos are 21 times more likely to be viewed and 9 times more likely to get contact requests. But if you look like you just finished giving the wedding toast, skip the photo until you can post a professional one.

To summarize, to gain more quality connections:

  1. First, make sure your profile is polished and you have a quality headshot and cover photo.
  2. Next, leverage the alumni tool.
  3. Then craft a customized connection request.
  4. Finally, send a short thank you message to your new connections.

Follow these tips and you’ll soon be on your way to adding quality connections. Need help creating or strengthening your LinkedIn profile? Contact me to find out how I can help you get your profile to All Star status in no time.

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2018 Client Success Story of the Year

credit Bryant Archway

There are many factors that contribute to success. Two of my favorites are persistence and resilience. They are qualities any job seeker needs in spades. My 2018 client success story is a testament to the power of both. 

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, a certain toughness. Persistence is a firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of opposition or in face of repeated setbacks.

Persistence is different than the often quoted (and misattributed) Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Search “insanity”, sadly, is a quagmire many new job seekers find themselves stuck in – sending out endless resumes with no success yet not changing their strategy.

The Backstory

My client, Ben, had been job searching for nearly a year when we started working together. He was doing a lot of things right, but having no success in his search.  He suffered from a “structural deficiency” – a highly specialized degree (video game graphic artist) but no relevant internships. Every summer throughout college, he worked in his local supermarket.

Lacking relevant work experience meant that Ben’s online job applications never saw the light of day – they were trapped in the resume black hole, aka applicant tracking systems (ATS). ATS are designed as much to screen applicants OUT of the process as in. Without any relevant graphic artist work experience, no matter how many applications Ben submitted, they were rejected.

The Game Plan

Ben’s situation required a different approach. To break through the ATS, he needed to create a compelling story (a sticky message) and then leverage it to network his way inside the key video game companies. Our strategy – having Ben attend the annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in California on a discounted student pass.

Ben’s purpose for attending E3 was to source new leads and companies, NOT for him to hand out resumes or ask for a job. It was an opportunity for him to learn what was new in the industry. It also was a great way to create a sticky message. Flying across country to attend a conference, solo, with 30,000 attendees, just to learn about the industry is quite a sticky message. Ben led with this story in all his subsequent cover letters.

Ben continued to work hard on his search plan, while accepting a job outside of his field to earn money to pay his student loans that had come due. I encouraged him not to give up on his dream of working as video graphic artist. It was clear to me that Ben had the talent and motivation to succeed. He just needed the door to open for him. 

The Result

Several months later, I received an email from Ben:

“Today I was hired as a game artist with Epic Games in North Carolina. I’m going to be working on new content for the game Fortnite. This is an amazing company and I couldn’t be more proud.  Thanks so much for all your help along the way and helping me get here.” 

These outcomes are why I love what I do – seeing clients land great jobs that leverage their skills, talents and passions.

It took Ben a TON of hard work, along with loads of resilience and persistence, to land his role at Epic. I’m thrilled that his efforts paid off. I’m also confident that Epic has made a fantastic hire. Congratulations Ben, client success story of 2018!

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How to Interview Effectively

How to interview effectively

Learning how to interview effectively is a skill, one that requires lots of preparation and practice. This McKinsey video is an excellent example of how to prepare for an important interview. It also contains suggestions on how to stand out. The advice contained in the video is applicable across the board, no matter what your career interests are.

Management consulting interviews often focus heavily on case studies. Like all interviews, they also seek to see how well you would fit into the team and the company culture. It’s critical to remember that while results definitely matter, how you achieve them, and your impact on others, is important. Being a high producer, but a terrible team player, is a certain route to career trouble.

Looking to boost your interview confidence? Check out the key to interviewing confidently here.

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The College Graduate’s Job Search Checklist – 9 things to do to kick start your job search

College Career Coach

College graduation is in the rear view mirror for the class of 2018. The road ahead offers endless career options for recent graduates – perhaps too many. In my work as a career coach, I see daily the paralysis that too much choice brings. Bright, motivated college graduates who are so anxious about what’s next they have no idea where to start.

In his TEDTalk, psychologist Barry Schwarz discusses the “paradox of choice”: why too many options can be paralyzing. Anxiety often results when you think you have to figure everything out alone. Not knowing where to start can be daunting, yet the most important step in any job search is starting.  That’s why I created the college graduate’s job search checklist: to ease your anxiety and help you kick-start your job search. (more…)

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How to Learn the Skill (& Art) of Good Decision-Making

decision-making, career coach

Good decision-making is a critical skill that has an enormous impact on your life. Whether they are decisions about your career, relationships or everyday life, developing skill and confidence in your decision-making will pay huge dividends. Good decision-making is learned – learned from practice, from trial and error, from taking risks and by (gulp) making mistakes.

As a career coach working with college students, recent graduates and young professionals, I see the anxiety many of my clients face when making a big decision. The first major decision most undergraduate students have made is where to attend college.

For a significant percentage of college freshmen, that decision will have been a poor one. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, of those attending four-year public universities, nearly 30 percent will transfer after freshman year, compared with a 25 percent freshman transfer rate at four-year private colleges. Either way, those numbers are high and can be costly.

An article in the Graziodo Business Review (Pepperdine’s School of Business and Management), cites decisiveness and the ability to make challenging decisions as a critical trait of great leaders. Developing strong decision-making skills requires emotional intelligence, the ability to manage uncertainty and limit choices, and good intuition.

So, how do you develop better decision-making skills and reduce the associated stress and anxiety? (more…)

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15 Things to Do on Winter Break

winter break

There’s nothing quite like endless papers to write and final exams to set you dreaming about winter break. That said, sleeping in late and lounging on the couch binge watching Netflix is not the best use of your time off. Nor is it likely to impress your parents.

Ramping up your job search over winter break will help you make the most of your senior year. Having a job lined up before graduation or better yet, by spring break, is the best way to really enjoy your final time on campus.

Here are 15 things to do on winter break to make the most of your senior year. (more…)

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Is Your Job Search as Busted as Your March Madness Bracket? 8 tips for getting back in the game.

Luke Maye

Photo by Kevin C. Cox

It’s March Madness when everyone becomes a basketball fan, if only for the office bracket pool. If your job search is feeling as busted as your March Madness bracket, take a few lessons from your favorite team to re-ignite your search. Below are 7  tips to help you get back in the game.


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Life Lessons Learned on the Iconic Tour de France Climb

life lessons learned on the iconic Tour de France climb

life lessons learned on the iconic Tour de France climb

Life can throw amazing lessons at you, especially when you aren’t looking. The life lessons I learned on the iconic Tour de France climb might help you conquer the challenges of searching for a new job.

Our trip included cycling up Mont Ventoux, a bucket list item for many avid cyclists. Nicknamed “The Beast of Provence,” the climb boasts:

  • winds that blow an average of 90kph (56 mph) most of the year
  • a mountain summit of 1,912 meters (6,269 feet)
  • 21 km (13 miles) of continuous climbing at grades averaging 9 percent.


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50 Frank Tips for New Grads Working In The Real World


This post was also published in the Bangor Daily News on 6.13.16

Transitioning from college to career is a major life change and successful navigation is not guaranteed. The cultural shift from campus to corporate is a big one. Understanding office protocol and its unwritten, often unspoken, rules can make a big difference in how easily you assimilate and ultimately, how well you do.

Here are 50 things you need to know about working in the real world. These tips will help you hit the ground running as you launch your career. They also might help you avoid major embarrassment, or worse. (more…)

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