Dream job: 5 steps to turn your passion into a job




Check out these top dream jobs you never even knew existed.

If you have something you love to do, there are ways to make it your profession.




·      The average American worker puts in 38.7 hours a week and works 46.8 weeks during the year, according to a Pew analysis of Labor Department data. Some workers bypass that number with 40% regularly working more than 50 hours per week, and 20% working more than 60 hours each week.

·      That’s a lot of hours to put in at a job if it’s not your passion. Some people, of course, are lucky enough that what they do for work is what they love. If you’re not one of those people — and you’re someone who counts the hours until you can leave work to get to your hobby — there is hope.

·      In many cases, you can turn your passion into a career. Doing so, however, requires having a plan, being aggressive, and sometimes making sacrifices.



1. Do a self-evaluation

Just because you love brewing beer on the weekends does not mean you want to turn that into a job. Before starting on a path to turn your passion into a career, you need to evaluate if that’s something you really want.


Be honest. In some cases, our hobbies bring us joy because we only get to spend limited time on them. You may love knitting or model trains, but you should really consider whether being part of that activity all day long will take the fun out of it.



2. Identify what the relevant jobs are

I love books and would happily read for a living if that was an option. Since it’s not, I had to examine what the actual jobs in the field are. In theory, I could work at or manage a bookstore, I could edit for a publisher, or try my hand at being a full-time author.


None of those appealed to me all that much, so I ended up as a writer. Call it a book-adjacent field, but by looking at my options, I decided on none of the above and kept my passion for books as a hobby while entering a related field.


3. Learn what you need


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7 Keys To A Successful Job Search



Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Nancy Collamer Nancy Collamer , Contributor


I’m always trying to keep on top of the latest career trends and recently read through the mother lode: The 2012 white paper published by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium. It’s full of useful tips, strategies and ideas for job seekers and I want to share my favorites with you.


The report summarizes the key findings of the consortium’s annual Global Career Brainstorming Day, an international, multi-city event that brings together nearly 100 career professionals — including coaches, resumé writers and college career services professionals — from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. “What’s consistent every year is the very fast pace of change,” says Louise Kursmark, co-director of consortium and one of the co-editors of the report.


Here’s what the experts said are seven keys to a successful job search in today’s competitive environment:



  1. Keep your resumé short and succinct. Despite reports of its impending demise, the experts said a resumé is still very much an essential tool of the job search. But hiring managers (and the computers they use to sort through resumés) are in a rush. So you need to format your resumé to be read quickly and in small bites. These days, a typical resumé is scanned for just six to 10 seconds, often on a mobile device.


Eliminate filler words, use numbers to quantify your impressive results (such as “boosted sales 83 percent”) and include relevant keywords that appeared in the job posting.


Limit your contact information to just one email address (old-fashioned AOL, no; contemporary Gmail, yes), one phone number and your LinkedIn profile URL.




Residential addresses aren’t needed, although it can be helpful to list your region (for example, New York Tri-State), so the employer knows you’re located near the open position.


  1. Create a portfolio of job-search documents. Want a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd of applicants? According to the Career Brainstorming Day pros, many job seekers are supplementing their resumés with collateral leadership briefs, blogs that establish their robust online professional identity and, among senior-level managers, one-page executive summaries.


  1. Consider hiring a coach to perfect your video interview skills. More employers are relying on Skype for long-distance and initial screening interviews. As a result, more job seekers are using coaches to help them excel in video presentations.


  1. Dive deep into LinkedIn. Over the past few years, using LinkedIn to find work has gone from a good idea to essential. “Having a sharp LinkedIn profile may be even more important than having a great resumé,” Kursmark says.


Nonetheless, the experts said, all too many job candidates fail to fully embrace this tool, especially older job seekers. To maximize the use of LinkedIn, engage more frequently with your LinkedIn networks. One of the best ways to do this is to actively participate in LinkedIn’s industry and interest groups.



Find relevant groups by going to your LinkedIn home page, clicking on the Groups tab and search the “groups you may like” or “groups directory” tabs. Then join a few groups and post links to interesting articles, participate in discussions and share helpful resources. You will become known as a go-to resource and improve the likelihood that you will get noticed by recruiters, referral sources and hiring managers.


  1. Use Twitter and other forms of social media to attract the attention of employers who are hiring. According to the white paper, “employers will move from using external recruiters to an internal hiring process that will depend heavily on identifying prospective employees through their online presence and through referrals of existing employees. Personal websites, social media presence, development of subject matter expertise and a well-defined personal brand will be the requirements for gaining the attention of prospective employers.”


  1. Limit the amount of time you spend on job boards. As Next Avenue has noted, job boards are one of the least effective ways to get hired. The Career Brainstorming Day experts said it’s generally only worth applying for a position through a job board if your resumé matches 80 to 85 percent of what an employer asks for in a posting.


Job seekers continue to be frustrated by computerized Applicant Tracking Systems that scan applicants’ resumés for keywords. “This finding underscores the importance of direct, targeted search with networking as its core component as the most important method for finding a job,” Kursmark says.


To maximize your chances for success using job boards, focus on smaller, regional and industry-specific job boards, as well as aggregator sites, like Indeed.com and Simplyhired.com.



  1. Start your search sooner rather than later.


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Five Job Search Tactics That Don’t Work — And Five That Do







Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


If you haven’t job-hunted in a while, you might be surprised to see how the talent market operates now. Job-hunting has changed a lot.


Between 1995 and 2005, almost all of us learned how to fill out online job applications and then wait to hear back from employers. That is a waste of time these days!


If completing online job applications and waiting for responses is your entire job search strategy, you could be job hunting for years.



You are very unlikely to hear a peep back from employers when you pitch applications or resumes into their automated recruiting portals.


Stodgy, robotic resumes are another staple of a nineteen-eighties or -nineties job search that can only hurt a job-seeker now.


Here are five job search tactics that haven’t worked for years — and five new-millennium tactics that will help you find a job that deserves your talents.


Five Job Search Tactics That Haven’t Worked For Years



  1. Job fairs.


  1. Resume-blast services.


  1. Reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn to ask them to refer you into their company.


  1. Using the same resume for every job you apply for.


  1. Completing online job applications.


Job fairs used to be a great way to get hired, but then for some reason employers stopped allowing their recruiters to interview candidates live at the job fair. That makes no sense.



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10 Unconventional (But Very Effective) Tips For Job Seekers



Jacquelyn Smith , FORBES STAFF


If it has to do with leadership, jobs, or careers, I’m on it.

In the market for a new job? You’ve probably been urged to “pursue your passions,” “leverage your network,” “tailor and tidy up your resume,” “do your homework,” and “dress for success”—among other things.


“These are foundational aspects to job seeking that are timeless,” says Teri Hockett, the chief executive of What’s For Work?, a career site for women.


David Parnell, a legal consultant, communication coach and author, agrees: “Much of this has been around long enough to become conventional for a reason: it works,” he says. “If you take a closer look, things like networking, research, and applying to multiple employers are fundamental ‘block and tackle’ types of activities that apply to 80% of the bell curve. They hinge upon casting a broad net; they leverage the law of averages; they adhere to the fundamentals of psychology. It’s no wonder they still work.”


But some of it “does get old and overused, because job seeking is as unique and creative as an individual,” says Isa Adney, author of Community College Success and the blog FirstJobOutofCollege.com. “When you ask any professional who has achieved some level of greatness how he or she got there, the journey is always unique, always varied, and rarely cookie-cutter. Most have, in some capacity, followed their passion, used their network, and had a good resume–but those things are usually part of a much bigger picture, and an unpredictable winding path. Instead of always following the exact by-the-book job seeking formulas, most were simply open to possibilities and got really good at whatever it is they were doing.”


We’re not saying you should discount or disregard traditional job seeking advice altogether. But it can’t hurt to mix it up and try less conventional approaches until you achieve your goals, Hockett says.


MOST POPULAR Why So Many Millennials Experience Impostor Syndrome


“Times are always changing and while it’s always good to follow the basic advice, we also have to get rolling with the times,” says Amanda Abella, a career coach, writer, speaker, and founder of the Gen Y lifestyle blog Grad Meets World. “For instance, group interviews are making a comeback, we’ve got Skype interviews now, or you may interview in front of a panel. All this stuff didn’t happen as often before–so while the same basic stuff applies, we have to take into account all the new dynamics.”


Hockett agrees and says if you are going to try some unconventional job seeking methods, you should “always be grounded with solid research and a clear direction of your intentions; then you will be ready for any opportunity to make a connection resulting in a positive impact on a hiring manager.”


Parnell says generally speaking, unconventional methods should be used sparingly, judiciously and only when necessary. “And when you do decide to use them, factor comprehensively by recognizing things like industry standards, personalities involved, and the general ilk of the position’s responsibilities, before strategizing.”


Here are 10 unconventional (but very effective) tips for job seekers:



  1. Be vulnerable. It’s okay to ask people for advice! “Too often we think we have to sell ourselves as this know-it-all hot-shot to get a job, but I have found the best way to build relationships with people whom you’d like to work with (or for) is to start by being vulnerable, sharing your admiration for their work, and asking for advice,” Adney says. “I recommend doing this with professionals at companies you’d love to work for, long before they have a job opening you apply for.”


  1. Don’t always follow your passion. “Follow your passion” is one of the most common pieces of career wisdom, says Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. “It’s also wrong.” If you study people who end up loving their work, most of them did not follow a pre-existing passion, he says. “Instead, their passion for the work developed over time as they got better at what they did and took more control over their career.”


Adney agrees to some extent. She doesn’t think job seekers should completely disregard their passions–but does believe that “challenging this conventional wisdom is vital, especially since studies still show most Americans are unhappy in their jobs.”


  1. Create your position.


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First impression: Send a message that gets you hired


When it comes to freelancing, your first impression might be the only impression you ever get.


Often, that first impression is made over online messaging, and there can be a variety of outcomes. Some are good: you get in touch, get the job, and get paid. Some are frustrating: you get in touch, get no response, and you are left thinking “what did I do wrong?”


This comprehensive list of best practices is meant to help the ambitious freelancer avoid making mistakes that could mean one less job. These simple steps center around speed, intelligence, and content, so if you get sweaty palms before sending that first message, take a breath and remember these three tips.



  1. The need for speed


There are two things you should know about potential on-demand employers:


They want the job done fast and

They don’t want to spend too much time hashing out the details.

Therefore, speed and responsiveness are essential.


When you first see that job alert or online post, you want to be the first person to talk to the job owner and make your availability known. Avoid overemphasizing your eagerness — temper your excitement and take a moment to read through the job. Understand the details of the job, the skills required, and the time frame. This way, you can be informed and concise when you speak to the job owner.


To cut out even more talk time and ensure it’s easy for the job owner to hire you on-demand, you should have an online profile or website. Moonlighting is a versatile, on-demand hiring app that provides users with a space to post skills and services, show reviews, and make payments. With an online medium, your potential employer doesn’t have to ask you 20 questions before deciding if you are a good fit.


After you send that initial email or chat to start a conversation, make sure you keep up with your potential client. If they respond to you, reply in a timely manner, otherwise they could move on and start a conversation with someone else.


In an on-demand economy, timeliness and responsiveness are two sides of the same coin, a coin that could very well end up in your proverbial pocket.


  1. The game of telephone


Once you are speaking to someone and responding quickly, the next step is saying the right thing. You want to put your best foot forward, so don’t forget to triple-check your words to make sure your message is understandable and reads well.


Be polite, try to anticipate what they are going to ask you, and clearly communicate. Be sure to tackle the following important questions so that everyone has a clear understanding of expectations:


Talk about payment. What are they expecting and what are you expecting?

Consider time-frame. When are they expecting the job to be finished and does it fit with your current schedule or workload?

Is the job local or remote? Do you need to meet in person at any point and if so, when would that be?

Remembering to discuss these few topics will benefit both parties and will demonstrate your professionalism.


Always remember that your employer likely wants the job completed as soon as possible, so the less work they have to do to hire you, the better. Messaging efficiently and intelligently will go a long way to improve your chances of getting hired.



  1. Content is key


Not everyone is a writer, so some of these tips might seem daunting. But, don’t worry. Here are a few ideas of what exactly to say. Use these as a rough guide, but also be sure to let your unique personality and talents shine through when you’re talking with someone. Loosen up if you can.


Hesitate to use a template. If you usually send out a single template inquiring about a job, make sure it is relevant and without errors, but also take a moment to add a personal touch.

Introduce yourself. Ask how they are doing, and at the end, thank them for taking the time to read your message.

Make those sentences count. You want them to be short and to the point. Be sure your first message is limited to two short paragraphs of 2-3 lines each.


The key here is to reach out to a potential client so they don’t have to work to reach out to you. For example, if you’re applying for a painting job, explain that you have been painting home interiors for seven years and you estimate that their job for painting a guest room will take you one and a half days at $40/hr. Request a follow-up meeting, letting them know when you are available to talk through the additional details you need to provide a more accurate and personalized estimate. The faster you can get the ball rolling, the closer you’ll be to helping them get something done and putting money in your pocket.


Best practice takeaways


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10 Best Jobs for Millennials

Meghan McCallum has an enviable commute. The 30-year-old starts her morning with a leisurely cup of coffee at home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then takes a few steps to the office set up in her spare bedroom. There, she pores over emails from clients in France and Quebec before diving into her work translating documents from French into English.



Meghan McCallum, 30, is self-employed as a French-to-English translator. She appreciates that her job allows her flexibility in both work hours and location. (COURTESY OF MEGHAN MCCALLUM)


As a self-employed translator, McCallum enjoys the flexibility that comes with her career, which requires only an internet connection, the right software and a love of the written word.


“It’s so far from the traditional 9-to-5,” she says. “I feel more of a work-life balance now that I’m working for myself.”


She’s not alone in valuing that freedom.

Millennials rank work-life balance second only to salary when it comes to making career decisions, according to the U.S. News 2017 Best Jobs for Millennials rankings, which identifies the jobs that best match the priorities of today’s young professionals. Web developer, dental hygienist and software developer top the list.



Also included are professions that often offer workers the ability to set their own schedules: interpreter/translator, insurance sales agent and massage therapist.


The results make sense to careers experts, who have observed that, in the workplace, millennials crave flexibility, learning opportunities, teamwork and projects that contribute to the greater good.


“In these careers, you have that opportunity to really become an expert in a less siloed way,” says Jenn DeWall, a career coach who works with millennials. “They dovetail meaning and connection.”



Measuring Priorities


Millennials now make up the largest segment of the U.S. workforce. As they flood the job market, these workers, ages 20 to 34, often look for job opportunities that provide benefits different from the ones their predecessors sought.


Some young professionals are even “willing to forgo money- and title-related promotions to maintain that lifestyle balance that feels comfortable for them,” says Dan Ryan, principal at Ryan Search and Consulting, a firm that helps businesses recruit and train employees.


To determine what career characteristics matter most to millennials, U.S. News sent a survey asking people ages 20 to 34 to rank nine job traits.


Not surprisingly, salary topped the list for the more than 1,000 respondents. After all, this is a generation saddled with student loan debt: 68 percent of the people who graduated college in 2015 had student loans, at an average amount of $30,100, according to the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success.


But respondents also prioritized work-life balance and low stress levels, suggesting they’re looking for jobs that allow them to maintain their preferred way of life. That’s true for McCallum.



“I’m the kind of person who will buckle down and work as much as I need to to get things done, but I feel free to work around personal events,” she says. “I feel really passionate about both. It’s important to stick to your own interests and hobbies.”


To identify the top 10 jobs for millennials, U.S. News used the results of its survey on top job traits to weight data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) and the U.S. News Best Jobs rankings. The new list reflects the priorities of salary, work-life balance and low stress level, and takes into account the percentage of people ages 20 through 34 who work in the field as well as the degree to which each job offers upward mobility to young professionals. None of the jobs requires more than a bachelor’s degree.



Top 10 Jobs for Millennials


  1. Web Developer


Median salary: $64,970


Work-life balance: high


Stress level: below average


Some millennials are native to the digital era, having never experienced life before email and the internet. Their tech savvy makes the job of web developer a natural fit for many of them. The career demands technical skills, such as computer coding and an understanding of web traffic analytics. It also requires an artistic sensibility and graphic design knowledge, since the internet is a highly visual medium. Strong communication skills help web developers translate client demands into a functional, attractive finished product. Web developers may work as independent contractors or as employees at corporations or other organizations. Web developers often are able to work remotely – a benefit that appeals to many millennials.


  1. Dental Hygienist


Median salary: $72,330


Work-life balance: high


Stress level: average


When you head to the dentist’s office, you likely spend the majority of your appointment with a dental hygienist. These health care professionals clean teeth, take mouth X-rays and provide preventive services such as screening for cavities and oral cancers. They educate patients about proper brushing and flossing techniques and suggest products to use. Dental hygienists should be good communicators able to engage with all kinds of personalities, and they must pay close attention to detail, since they are responsible for keeping track of dental records. About half of dental hygienists work part time, which may suit the flexible lifestyle some millennials are seeking.


  1. Software Developer


Median salary: $98,260


Work-life balance: above average


Stress level: average


Many of the conveniences of modern life – and the entertaining applications that run on smartphones – stem from the innovations software developers create. They may design custom programs for clients or fix bugs in extant software. This career demands computer coding prowess, attention to detail, creativity and the ability to solve problems. It often involves teamwork and sometimes remote work, both of which may be attractive to millennials. Some software developers have become successful technology entrepreneurs, a possibility that holds allure for many young coders hoping to launch the next Snapchat.


  1. Computer Systems Analyst


Median salary: $85,800


Work-life balance: average


Stress level: average


The essential responsibilities of computer systems analysts are understanding clients’ business needs and how technology can meet them. They also help install new and upgraded digital systems and train other employees how to use them. These information science specialists must be able to analyze problems, devise solutions and communicate with both business managers and technology workers. They also often develop expertise in a particular topic, such as health care or finance. Computer systems analysts can work directly for companies or as consultants who take on projects for different clients.




  1. Mechanical Engineer


Median salary: $83,590


Work-life balance: above average


Stress level: average


Mechanical engineers design, build and test tools and machines. In their jobs at manufacturing companies and engineering firms, they need to be good at math, problem-solving and mechanics. Creativity helps them imagine solutions to complex problems, while strong communication skills and the ability to work in teams allow them to collaborate on projects. Millennials who like to see tangible results from their labor may enjoy working as mechanical engineers. It may also appeal to those who like to work with innovative technology, such as 3-D printers.



  1. Interpreter and Translator


Median salary: $44,190


Work-life balance: high


Stress level: average


Communication is key for translators, who convey written information from one language to another. Interpreters do the same with spoken language. These careers require fluency in at least two languages, plus strong reading and writing or listening and speaking skills. The work interpreters and translators do can vary day by day, which makes for many opportunities to learn. About 20 percent of people who do these jobs are self-employed, which affords them the flexibility many millennials crave. Others work for agencies, or in courtrooms, schools and hospitals.


  1. Radiation Therapist


Median salary: $80,220


Work-life balance: above average


Stress level: below average


Providing medical care to cancer patients in their most vulnerable moments is the specialty of radiation therapists. They use CAT scans and X-rays to determine precisely where to target radiation treatment, administer radiation doses and keep detailed records of their work. Radiation therapists work closely with doctors and nurses to carry out treatment plans, and they communicate with clients and their families. They need to be able to operate machinery and have the empathy to listen to and work with people suffering from cancer. Millennials hoping to make a direct difference in people’s lives may be drawn to this career.


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How To Create A Job Search Support Group


Even in a hot job market like the one we’re in, looking for work can be a challenge. For people over 50, who often face age discrimination and longer than average search times, the hunt can be especially fraught — a recent Pro Publica/New York Times investigation revealed that Facebook isn’t showing some job-post ads to older job seekers due to their age.


Sadly, there are no quick fixes to ageism or the vagaries of the job search. But one way to make the make the process of finding work easier and more efficient is by creating or joining a job search support group.


How Job Search Support Groups Work


Job support groups, also known as job networking groups, come in many varieties: Some are online, others are local and in-person; a few combine the two. In certain cases, they’re initiatives facilitated by nonprofits and private membership groups like ExecuNet.com, that include networking groups as part of their offerings.



But whatever their format, job support groups offer many benefits including:


Opportunities to network, share leads and learn about jobs from other job hunters like you

A safe zone where participants can vent and swap war stories

Workshops taught by experts on topics related to transitions and job search success


A job support group “brings together people with similar interests, needs, challenges and goals in a group format, and that creates a ‘communal approach’ to the process,” says Susan Drevitch Kelly, a Boston-area career coach and director of the free 50+ Job Seekers Regional Networking Groups (an initiative for Massachusetts residents supported by the Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging).


Kelly launched the groups in 2016 because she saw a need to help older job seekers combat ageism and improve their employability. All sessions are facilitated by career coaches and include guest speakers on job-search topics from developing an elevator speech to leveraging social media. In program evaluations, participants said that the groups helped them better understand their value, gain confidence and learn how to master today’s digital networking job search process. “The program gave me hope that I really can find a job despite my age,” wrote one job seeker.


Finding a Job Search Support Group


To find a group like this one locally, inquire at your local library, colleges or state unemployment office. Many houses of worship sponsor job search support groups as well. Online, you can find groups through listings on Meetup.com or by doing a Google search. Be sure to also ask friends and colleagues for recommendations of suitable groups, too.


But if you don’t find a group that meets your needs, you might consider starting your own, which could provide a boost to your psyche and job search. Kelly says forming a job search support group isn’t as hard as it sounds.


7 Tips to Start a Job Search Support Group


Here are seven steps to do it:


  1. Ask people you know who are looking for work to join your group. Approach friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, gym buddies and others. You could form a general job search support group or a group focused on a specific population, industry or location (such as New York City professionals earning six figures or women in finance or executives over 50). Try to get at least five people to participate in your initial group.


  1. Agree on the group’s mission and purpose. Identify specific topics members want to cover such as self-assessment, overcoming ageism, resumé development and using LinkedIn. Be flexible, and touch base with others in the group often to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.


Insist that all meetings are confidential and conducted in a productive businesslike way. Promote what Kelly calls the G2G Rule: Give to get! Networking is always most effective when you give and support others, before you ask for anything in return.


  1. Decide when, and how often, the group will meet. Consistency in the meeting day, time and place is essential to a group’s success. Many groups meet weekly, Kelly’s groups get together biweekly. Sessions generally last two to three hours, with time allocated for networking, guest speakers and progress reports.


  1. Choose a group facilitator: Every group needs someone to keep the direction, momentum and commitment going. Sometimes a member or two will step forward and volunteer to be co-facilitators. Alternatively, you might suggest a rotational assignment. Either way, there should always be someone in charge so the schedule, topics and deliverables are communicated to everyone.


  1. Find a meeting place. If the group is small (under six to eight people), you can probably meet at a café or coffee shop during a quiet time of day. Or you might opt to meet in a member’s home, if participants feel comfortable with that.


But once the group expands, you’ll need to find a more appropriate venue. Ask your local houses of worship, library, town hall school or community center if they’d be willing to host your group. Many will do so at no charge or for a nominal fee. If needed, you can always charge a small amount to cover the cost of rentals or refreshments.


  1. Identify guest speakers. Reach out to local career coaches, recruiters and HR professionals who’d be willing to speak for no charge on one of the topics identified by the group. To find them, ask colleagues for recommendations and check the online directories of the National Career Development Association or Career Thought Leaders —industry associations for career coaches, recruiters and others in the careers world.


  1. Continually promote the group. As members of the group find jobs, there will be others who still need support and community. So, over time, promote the program through LinkedIn, local news coverage or word of mouth. That way, there will always be new people joining when others leave.


  1. Recruiters ask you “Are you sure you don’t want to focus on higher-level jobs?” and your answer is “No, those jobs take too long to fill. I want to start working right away.”


  1. You can feel the awkward energy in the room or on the phone as the interviewer realizes you know way more about the topic than they do.


  1. Late at night your trusty gut tells you “This isn’t working — you need to take your job search up a notch!”


It can be easier to land a higher-level job than a lower-level job, because the executives who manage higher-level employees are thinking about different and higher-altitude topics than managers of folks with less experience.


You can start a meatier conversation with a VP than you can with a first-level supervisor, all other things being equal.


Your job is to lift your job search sights to focus on the roles that will make the most of your talents, and leave the artificially-depressed job search path behind you.


Step into your power. When you feel it, everyone around you will feel it too!



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Ten Signs You’re Shooting Too Low In Your Job Search


Dear Liz,


I’ve been job-hunting since October. Maybe I was naive thinking my job search would be quick and easy. I’ve been in the insurance industry for over twenty years.


I’ve been an agent, an office manager and held almost every insurance job there is.


I’ve only had one in-person job interview so far. I’ve applied for numerous jobs but in the other cases I either got a phone interview or no interview.


They keep telling me I’m overqualified for the jobs I’m applying for. If I’m overqualified doesn’t that make me the perfect candidate, because I can obviously do the job?


I thought if I took my target position down a level or two from the last few jobs I’ve held, I would get hired much faster. I’m applying for jobs I performed fifteen years ago and I thought that would do the trick but it’s not working.

Recommended by Forbes


I’m sick of job hunting. I would accept anything. I still have my savings and retirement accounts because I’ve been living frugally since October, but I’m tired of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible. What am I doing wrong?



Dear Harlan,


It sounds like you’re shooting too low in your job search, and that is almost always a show-stopper. Employers don’t want to hire people who could perform the job with one hand tied behind their back.


Here are some of the reasons why not:


  1. They are afraid you’ll quit for a better job the minute you have the opportunity to do so.


  1. They are afraid that even if you say “I’ll take this job, a lower-level role that pays less than I’ve earned since 2004 — no problem!” you won’t be happy. You’ll be antsy. They don’t need that.


  1. They want to hire someone they can train their own way.


  1. They get spooked by any candidate who seems to know more about the field than they do.


There could be an age-discrimination aspect depending on your age, but the key is that you are shooting too low and recruiters can tell that you’re doing so. They don’t want to hire somebody for whom this job is not a natural step along your career path.


How can we blame them for that? It’s fear that is making you shoot low in your job search and even though everyone can relate to that fear, the remedy for the fear is not to take any job you can get but to stop and think about what you do best and what you really want to do.


You have to do some reflection to figure out where your sweet spot lies — at the intersection of the things you do well, the things you love to do and the needs in the talent marketplace.


Your fearful mindset (“I still have my savings, but I’m sick of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible!”) is killing your job search.


People can read energy very well.


Fearful energy is not appealing in a senior-level candidate or any candidate. Your need to get hired fast is what’s artificially depressing your job-search altitude and keeping you from having the conversations you should be having with hiring managers in pain.


You have breathing room. You have your savings and retirement accounts. Take time to stop and figure out your next step. Give up the idea of getting any job at all. Employers want to hire somebody who is dying to do the job they’re hiring for — not somebody who’s merely willing to do the job because it represents a break from job-hunting.


Here are ten signs you’re shooting too low in your job search:


  1. Recruiters view your LinkedIn profile and say “Wow! You have lot of heavy-duty experience. Are you sure you’re interested in this much lower-level job?” They are skeptical. Do you think your hiring manager will be any less skeptical? Don’t use your precious mojo trying to talk anybody into interviewing you!


  1. When you show up for an interview or get on a call for a phone interview, the interviewer’s voice indicates surprise or puzzlement. They can’t match the person on the phone (you) with the job opening they’re ready to interview you for.


  1. Whenever you get a “no thanks” notice, it gushes about your vast experience and skills and closes with “….but we need someone with a background closer to the job spec.”


  1. Recruiters always express surprise that you’re willing to work for the salary number you give them. The gap between your expected salary target and your actual salary target is almost always a red flag for recruiters — whether you are asking for more or less money than the position pays.


  1. When you tell recruiters you’d be more than delighted to take a step down in your career they sound less than excited to hear it. Naturally they wonder “Why can’t this candidate get a job at their level?”


  1. On your job interviews, you answer every question with a precise, expert opinion on the spot. The interviewer is taken aback — maybe even intimidated. Most companies don’t hire people who intimidate their interviewers.


  1. You’ve heard at least one hiring manager say “Heck,you could do my job!” and they’re right.


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Are You Job Search Ready?


When was the last time you were in a full-on job search? Tw0? Five? Fifteen years ago?


While the saying is true that you never forget how to ride a bike, unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the job search. Unlike riding a bike, which hasn’t changed much in the last 150 years, the job search process has changed drastically.


So, if it’s been a while since your last career transition, now is a perfect time to catch up with the latest:


Social media has taken center stage, yet applying online has one of the lowest return on investments as compared to strategies like networking.

Well-crafted resumes and cover letters continue to be a necessity, but are no longer simple historical accounts of your career based on past job descriptions.

Competition has expanded beyond traditional candidates to a new group of career switchers who are vying (successfully!) for roles they don’t have deep experience in.


It’s confusing, and in a market where there’s more opportunity than ever, a lack of savvy job search skills keeps well-qualified professionals stuck in unsatisfying careers, contributing to why 70% of Americans are disengaged at work (Gallup, 2017).


Whether you’re looking to move to a similar role in a different company or industry, or if 2018 is your year to make a complete switch to a new function, review this 15-item checklist to learn if you are job search ready:


Job Target/Audience



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Ten Quick Resume Tweaks That Will Improve Your Executive Job Search

When I’m working with my six- and seven-figure executive clients, I often notice certain resume hiccups that detract from their main message of value when communicating with hiring authorities. By making some easy and subtle yet powerful changes, executive search candidates can frequently accelerate their interactions with decision makers and expedite their searches.


Here are my top 10 suggestions.


  1. Fix that email address. Nothing will date you faster than an email address that is associated with a company that peaked before the 21st century. Rather than using your prehistoric AOL or Yahoo address, create a Gmail account for your job search activities. Consider it part of the normal technology evolution process. You parted with your rotary phone, fax machine and Blackberry. You can let go of this, too.


  1. List your cell phone rather than your home phone. This is another dinosaur. Even if you still have a home phone, isn’t your cell phone the best way to reach you? You want to be available to recruiters and hiring managers quickly; it makes sense to give them the fastest way to contact you.


  1. Eliminate subjective words and descriptions of personal attributes from your resume summary. These words do little to position your value to an employer. Nix words like “seasoned” or “veteran” (translation: old), “high energy” (translation: you sound insecure) and “accomplished” (you’d better be; you’re a senior executive). Replace these with a synopsis of career highlights where you helped the companies you supported make money, save money, save time, grow the business or keep the business. Showcase tangible skills (e.g., turned around three companies, led 12 acquisitions, took $6 million of expenses out of the business, etc.) to validate your worth to an employer.


  1. Step out of the 90s and update your resume format.


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