Written by Kesha Brown
Hello 2019! The New Year is always the time when we revisit where we are in our lives, assess our careers, and analyze if we are headed down the right path. I have been a career coach for almost two decades. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I have helped hundreds of women navigate their careers. I have coached stay-at-home mothers and womenpreneurs returning back to corporate America. I have coached and helped women with criminal histories/ex-convicts who were suffering from depression and allowing their mistakes to paralyze them. I successfully 360’d their attitude and self-worth and built-up their confidence to land jobs they did not think were in their path. I have coached entry-level to executive-level women, especially career-transitioners who struggle with the confidence to make a change. I have also coached high school and college women who have struggled with navigating their job search.
I have coached so many women in so many unique situations and have successfully helped them take their next steps. I have also successfully led various community workshops for churches and shelters with homeless mothers. If I could narrow down one thing that all these career superstars lacked, it would be confidence. They lacked the confidence to believe that they can take the next step, the confidence to do well during their next job interview, the confidence to feel they deserve that job, the confidence to feel they can change careers and find happiness, and the confidence to simply to believe that they have what it takes. While sometimes you can get in our own way by believing your thoughts that tell you that you can’t, it’s important to remember that you are the CEO of your career, and you hold the key to your future.
While confidence is the main ingredient in navigating your career effortlessly, I will also dish on five other things that will help you navigate your job search for the New Year.
- You must build up your confidence before you begin your job search
Reflect on when you meet someone for the first time. Most times if a person shows that they are not confident, you get turned off and are not interested even having a conversation with them. But a person that is bold, cracks a joke, and walks tall, they get your attention. Why is that? It’s simple. People are attracted to confident people. How will you convince your prospective employer that you can do the job when you do not display confidence during your in-person or phone interview, via email, or through your job application? All of these are an opportunity to display confidence. I won’t touch on all these areas today, but I will add that the most important impression is the in-person one because this is where you will have a chance to seal the deal. How exactly do you display your confidence in public? Your confidence is displayed by how you carry yourself, the way you stand (stand tall), the way you talk (speak slowly and clearly), the location of your eyes (make eye contact), your attitude (smile), the way you walk (walk tall with confidence), and how you interact (give-firm handshakes). You can also build confidence by believing that your employer likes you before you enter the room. This begins by changing your mind-set and telling yourself that no matter what room you walk into, your new employer already likes you. I guarantee that if you act confident and believe that your employer likes you before you enter a room, you will be able to convince them that you are the superstar candidate they need to give a chance.
- Envision the job that you want by creating a vision board
I never knew how impactful a vision board was until I became an entrepreneur. I started my entrepreneurial journey 18 years ago and noticed a pattern when I would take certain actions. It was always a habit of mine that for whatever goals I wanted to achieve, I would write them down on a post-it note, stick it on the wall where I could see it, and reflect on it daily. After careful reflection, I noticed that over time, everything I posted would become a reality for me. I was successful at accomplishing ALL OF MY GOALS simply by writing them down and putting them somewhere to look at each day.
That practice had a very powerful impact on my reality because each time I looked at that piece of paper, I envisioned my goal in my head.
A vision board is a must for every area of your personal and professional life. A vision board is a visual representation of your dreams, your desires, and your goals. It is useful to get clear about your intention and get clarity on your goals, and it is useful as a guide to help you make decisions that will support your dream life. Your vision board is an elegant representation of your “why”—why you’re taking the time and effort to make a change for the better.
Ask yourself the following questions: when you imagine finding your dream job, what does your life look like? What does your ideal workweek look like? When you think about being successful, what does that look like for you? When you were at your best and loving your work-life last year, what were you doing? If you could pick three words and phrases that represent you when you achieve your goal what would they be? These are all great questions to ask yourself to begin creating your vision board because this gives you a clear picture of what you really want. Why would you want to start a job search and not be intentional about landing the job of your dreams? You should be clear that anything that does not fit into your vision is probably something that is going to take you into a direction other than the one that you really want. It will also help you make decisions on what activities you need to say no to in your life.
Keep in mind, while thinking about what to put on your vision board, you’re not putting on it what you want to GET. Instead, you’re putting down what you want to CREATE in your life, not what you want to GET. Create your vision board today!
- Experiment a little to see what works on your job search
If you really want to attack your job search, it all starts with strategic planning, which includes experimenting with different activities. What is strategic planning? It is planning that covers all grounds of the project you are attacking. Looking back at the last time you searched for a job, what worked well for you? What job search methods didn’t work? (online applications, job fairs, networking, working with recruiters)? What were your biggest job search time wasters? Really ponder on these questions and take notes. This will provide a clear guide as to the steps you need to take next. It is important to review all areas of your job search, which includes submitting applications on various job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Career Builder, etc. as well as researching various career fairs, connecting with employment agencies, exploring internships and networking opportunities, applying to internal job postings at your current employer, volunteering, posting job wanted ads, flyer distributions, and so on. Map out your weekly goals. Apply to 25+ jobs weekly and cover all the areas that you believe will be effective for your job search. Track your progress and make adjustments accordingly. The rule of the thumb is whichever methods offer you the most leads are where you should focus your attention. If you are still struggling with how to attack your job search/create a job search strategy, I suggest consulting with a career coach or getting in touch with me.
- Be bold enough to bring your own seat to get the job that you want
Stop allowing insecurities to hold you back from elevating in your career. One of the challenges that I’ve faced in my career was understanding that just because I don’t have a college degree does not mean I don’t deserve to sit at the table. I realized early on that the right attitude, hard work, and having a passion for serving others will take you to all the places in your career that you dream about. I have dedicated 20+ years of my life to corporate America: of which, 11+ years have been spent in a leadership capacity. During the 20 years spent in corporate America, I have spent 18+ years of them as a resume writer, career consultant, and entrepreneur. Additionally, I have also worked in the Human Resources industry for 11+ years executing all facets of Human Resources Management, including overseeing an 800+ staffed company. With only a high school diploma, I have been appointed a Board Member seat at Tomorrows Leaders NYC.
I am also in the running for two Board Chair seats with, again, only a high school diploma. I share this with you to show that you do to not have to have all the right ingredients to excel in your career. If you want that job, go after it. You have to bring your seat, be bold in your asks, and let individuals/corporations know what you bring to the table. As women, we are outnumbered by men in high ranking roles and that has a lot to do with us not asking for what we want. We are also still paid less than and constantly passed over by our less qualified male counterparts. We have to know how important it is for us to pitch and position ourselves with intentionality for what we want. For many of you who either have it all together or not, I want you to know that if you pitch and position yourself, you will be taken more seriously, which will make a difference in the salaries and the jobs you are offered. Bring your own seat, pitch, position, and repeat to get the job that you want.
- Speak up
Why do we struggle so much with this? Why don’t we feel safe to open up in full when it comes to our careers and nailing the jobs that we want? Society has done a great job of brainwashing us to think that we don’t have a voice. Remember, you teach people how to treat you. You should always be comfortable with addressing things that you are not comfortable with during your job search. If you go on a job interview and you are not comfortable with how the interviewer is communicating with or treating you, say so. If you are presented with a job offer that you are not interested in or believe to be degrading or below your qualifications, express to them truthfully how you feel about the opportunities presented. Don’t mask your feelings. If you are offered a salary that is below your worth, let them know why you are worth more. Stop accepting what is handed/presented to you especially if you know deep down you deserve more/better.
Be clear on what you want, don’t settle, and speak up. Be clear on what type of work drains you. Avoid this kind of work at all costs. Be clear on what type of work energizes you. This is what you should be doing 80% to 100% of the time during your workday. Be clear on what company culture you want to be apart of. Be clear on the salary you deserve so that when opportunities are presented, you can speak on them. It is crucial to identify what you want before starting your job search so that you can speak up at a moment’s notice.
- Keep your skills sharp
Continuous learning is a must! Considering the lack of jobs in an increasingly competitive job market, the likelihood of a job seeker taking a job within their industry is becoming less and less. Keep your skills sharp and ready to go! Actively seek ways to use your skills in your current job while you look for your new one. If you currently have a job, ask to be given more tasks at work! These new and challenging tasks will open up different opportunities for you to use your skills. It will also help you stand out and show your employer that you’re not afraid of a challenge.
The more you know, the easier it will be for you to find ways to utilize your skills and continue to be a valuable asset to the job market. Technology is evolving at lightening speed and is forever changing the way the world works. It can be a struggle to stay up to date on the latest trends and skills. Use the Internet to learn from the experts (Google, LinkedIn, and Lynda.com are my favorite sources). I think reading eBooks and info online (including articles, surveys, and anything interesting) is a very useful way to keep up to date with your profession’s demands. And if you want to go further, I think online courses and lessons, or even webinars and blogs, are even better choices. Get out of your comfort zone, and try new things. Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless lesson.
When I wanted to improve my leadership skills, I subscribed to a lot of team leading groups, both on LinkedIn and anything I found on Google. Keep on working, and encourage yourself to learn new things. Keep track! Write it down and follow your progress.
It is time to take charge of your career to design the job and life that you truly want, and it all starts with YOU!