Back in June I met Jennifer Armitstead who runs a career coaching company and does a weekly radio program called Job Club Radio. She does career coaching at both the corporate and individual level so she has some great insights into current issues on what it takes to find and get an ideal job.
She graciously agreed to be interviewed about some of the current trends in the job market and career planning.
I know you work as a career coach, but what exactly does that entail? Can you give us an idea of what you do for clients?
As a career coach, I work with people one-on-one to help them improve either work situation. If it’s an unemployed person, it’s usually to help them to land a great job. If the client is employed, the career coaching is usually focused on helping them to be the best they can be and to have a strategy to better manage their career.
Whats the single most important piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to get a different job in today’s job market?
If it’s a different job in the same industry, I’d say to network with other professionals that are in your field. If it’s to make a move to another industry, that can be harder right now because the hiring managers may find hiring someone from outside the industry/work experience to be a hurdle. It’s possible to make a career change, but having a solid strategy behind that change is critical to a successful transition.
What is the biggest mistake you see people make who have been laid off and are looking for a job?
There are a couple of mistakes I regularly see: 1) Don’t start looking quick enough 2) Don’t have a plan for what they want to do next. If you get laid off and have severance, save your money and start looking immediately. Too often I’ll see people say that they want to take a month off, relax and then do the job search. While I think it’s important to get your head on straight, it’s important to take the time and create a solid plan. Nothing is worse than receiving a call from a friend who is looking for work, but can’t tell me what they want to do… As their friend, I want to help them, but I’m not going to determine their destiny. It’s easier for me to help them if they are able to tell me what type of work, types of companies, industries, etc. they are focusing on.
When it comes to delaying their job search, I have seen some people put off their job search because their confidence was shattered by being fired. Do you have any tips for people who are struggling with self-confidence after being laid off?
The only reason why companies hire people is because there is a problem to solve. So, if you go into an interview with a negative attitude, or come across as a “beaten dog” with no confidence, how will the company know that you have the attitude and capability of solving the problem? I recommend the following steps:
- First take a minute to get your head screwed on straight… go for a walk, meditate, etc. Do whatever comes natural to you to “feel” the emotions of being laid off. Losing work is one of the 5 most stressful things in life. It’s akin to death of a family member. So, take the time – not a lot of time – and get your head screwed on straight and then you’ll be ready to move forward with a strategy.
- Write out your successes. Write them. Don’t type them… there is something very encouraging, thought provoking and embedding to the mind and soul when it’s hand written.
- Call past co-workers to dialogue about the projects you worked on. Get their feedback about how great you did. Use that conversation as an opportunity to ask them if they would be willing to be a reference.
Typically, doing this steps helps the job seeker to be more confident because these are all confidence boosting activities.
What are some of the important trends people should be aware of in the job market over the next 5 years?
Today, there are more baby-boomers working than teenagers, so we aren’t filling in the ranks with enough “younger” employees. In the long run, our businesses will be competing for talent. Anyone who is aged 30-45 right now will become more in demand as the baby-boomers retire. So, if you’re between 30-45, it’s important to build your brand and focus on what you want to be known for in your career and become an expert in a field, an industry, a line of work, etc. Businesses are going to need superstars to take business to the next level.
So what is causing this trend? Is it just a matter of population distribution? Are factors like a relatively high minimum wage keeping employers from hiring younger workers?
Baby boomers are working longer because their 401K and retirement plans have been hammered by the markets over the last couple of years. Many were planning their exit strategies, but now are working longer to make up for the lost money in their accounts. With the baby boomers staying longer in the workplace, companies have been able to use the same employees and not have to back fill with less qualified candidates. Eventually, these employees will really lose their steam and productivity will sharply decline and that’s when I think we’ll see more forced “early” retirements. Hopefully, companies will see that they need to hire junior level employees before those lay-offs so that the senior employees can “brain dump” to the new employees.
Can you elaborate on the concept of a “personal brand”?
Personal brand is what you want to be known for in your career and in your life. I always tell people: “If you don’t have clarity around what you want to be known for, you’ll be known for nothing.” A good way to know your brand is to ask people what they would say about you. If there is a consistent theme; such as: Reliability and consistency of meeting project deadlines. Then, this person’s brand could be based on that. But, if you find that there are inconsistent answers that will indicate that you haven’t been managing your personal brand. I like to think of Nike’s “Just Do It!”. This is a great brand because they are encouraging anyone to get out there and do something… whatever it is that you want to do. Nike is authentic to what they want to be known for – helping you to be athletic and enjoy sports – while at the same time having flexibility in their product lines and capturing market share in many different sports (tennis, basketball, soccer, etc.). So, when you’re thinking of your “personal brand”, think of what you want to be known for in your career and life… Which should be authentic and natural to your core self.
I found learned about you through Job Club Radio. Tell us a little about that podcast and its goals.
I started Job Club Radio with a friend, but he decided to bow out because he was so busy with his full time recruiting position. I have continued with the show because it’s a great forum to talk about all things work related. Some of the topics covered thus far are: Resumes, Interviewing, LinkedIn, Image, Working overseas, Higher education, etc. I’ve heard from listeners that they find the show to be helpful with insights about different topics. I purposefully keep the show to less than an hour, so that people can listen on their lunch break or download the archive for commuting time. With 12+ years in the recruiting industry, I have a lot of knowledge to help the listeners, but I aim to have varying guests on the show so that it’s not just the world according to Jen!