If you're at a dead end in your career, Rita Friedman can help. As a job coach and career expert, she helps job hunters find the career right for them at Philly Career Coach. She spoke with us about finding a job and keeping it.
What form does career coaching take?
Career coaching can take a range of forms, and career coaches use varied techniques, but it's basically a worker / job seeker and a coach working together to develop career plans. Typical topics can include trying to figure out which jobs to target, how to navigate job boards, what to say (and not say) on a resume, interview prep, salary negotiation, managing the transition to a new role, establishing career milestones and strategizing for longer term growth.
Why are career coaches more important than ever in the current job market?
The job market has become increasingly complex - sometimes a job seeker doesn't even know how to look for good information or opportunities; sometimes there's just so much to sift through.... But even an experienced person can use an objective third party to create a sense of accountability and provide support.
How have changes in the economy affected job seekers? What do you find people are looking for in a job?
The recession really shook things up in a lot of ways. Of course, a lot of people lost their jobs; others who survived layoffs often had to assume additional responsibilities - that instability created a lot of fear, and I think it also decreased employee loyalty. But it also showed people there are other ways to work, including holding multiple positions concurrently or taking on some freelance work. I see more people looking for work they find meaningful, maybe in part because if the idea of stability is shattered, people feel they might as well go after what they really want to be doing anyway. I also see job seekers evaluating potential employers' stability and shying away from companies they think are likely to restructure.
What can job boards do to better find the job seekers they need?
Job boards have gotten more sophisticated recently, and a lot of them have gotten pretty good at organizing information so job seekers can sort through a high volume of postings. Niche boards hold a certain appeal and can create a loyal base. In terms of functionality, it absolutely has to work across all platforms - a lot of people want to apply from their phones or iPads. Transparency is always a big turn-on for job seekers who like knowing who posted a job, how long it's been listed, how many people are in the running and if a job posting appears because it's sponsored. Providing links to actually relevant info - not just filler content - and serving as a knowledge bank can attract and keep visitors. And a good job board is easy on the eyes - sleek and instantly navigable. And each job board should have its own flavor - it's not enough just to look good; there has to be some reason why it stands out.
How can employers write postings to attract the applicants they're looking for?
Be specific. If something is really non-negotiable, make that clear in the posting. If there's a definite salary attached to the role, including it in the job posting can help filter out the wrong candidates. Including mention of any special perks - such as the ability to work remotely, flexible hours, a generous vacation policy - can make even a boring job sound exciting. Be sure to include keywords so that job seekers can find the listing from searching beyond job titles. Do show some personality or company culture, but don't write a flashy or sassy job posting if it's not in line with the actual work environment.
How are careers changing? What will employment be like in the future?
One of the biggest changes we've seen in the employment landscape is a broader range of ages in any given workplace - from college students completing mandatory internships to workers retiring later in life, or even coming out of retirement to return to the workforce. And with people working for so long, we're going to continue to see people who switch careers multiple times during their professional lives. There's also a move towards portfolio careers, where an employee is likely to have a couple of part-time jobs instead of one full-time position. Finally, employees want flexibility more than ever, and even though most people still want to be part of a great team, autonomy seems to be especially valued by workers right now. People want to use web-based technologies to work on their own terms - and companies are starting to realize they actually get more out of their people as a result.
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