Finding a leadership mentor within your company is a great way to grow professionally. Though most people know this and strongly agree, they feel hesitant moving forward, not sure where to begin. If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone! Here are 5 simple steps you can take to get started:

1.) Understand what mentorship is.

A mentorship is where one working professional guides another by providing career advice, support, and assistance. They are usually someone that has a similar background and is now working within a field or position the “student” aspires to. Though some companies offer formal mentorship programs, most do not, so the decision to obtain and work with a mentor rests solely on the employee’s shoulders.

2.) Know your goals.

Before you ask anyone to be your mentor, you need to figure out what your professional goals are, both short and long-term. Knowing what it is you want to accomplish will help you decide who is best suited to lead you. You should also determine what your expectations are for the mentorship. Remember to be reasonable. (For example, monthly coffee dates are a fair ask, but lunch meetings 3 times a week are not).

3.) Pick a mentor.

Is there someone within your office who has skills you want to emulate? Are they in a position you hope to be in over the next 5+ years? If so, ask. This should be someone you already have a positive working relationship with, who has been within their role for an established length of time. Make it clear you are in no way trying to take their job, you simply admire what they do and feel there is a lot you can learn.

4.) Have a plan.

Share your professional struggles and goals and how you envision the partnership working. Though most people are honored and happy to help, some may not be able to, through no fault of their own (they may be caring for an ill family member, or are perhaps looking for a new job). Be understanding and respectful if that is the case, thanking them for their time and consideration. 

5.) Be committed.

If your mentor assigns you a book to read, read it. If they ask to meet up for coffee, meet with them. Asking and then not moving forward could hurt you professionally. Remember, a great mentor is one that will challenge you and push you from your comfort zone (in an encouraging way). Be ready to take compliments, and constructive criticism, to improve your overall performance.

Michelangelo once said, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” Aim high, ask for help and watch as your career blossoms into what you want it to be.

Having a short, professional bio is an important part of your career, especially if you are an executive. Whether you are searching for a new job or looking to strengthen your company’s brand, what you say can help you (and your company) achieve business objectives, by showcasing your work and personality.

A bio is different from a resume and LinkedIn profile as it does not need to be optimized or made ATS friendly. It is usually requested by a potential (or current employer) to measure your candidacy or promote their business, which makes it a little more challenging to write.

If you are unsure of what to write or where to begin, you are not alone. Writing about yourself in a promotional way can be a challenge! Here are 3 simple tips that can help:

1.) Decide whether you are going to write your bio in the 1st or 3rd person.

When writing a bio, you can do so in the first person (I, my) or third person (Your Name, she, her) format. Typically, a person using a bio for employment purposes would write in the 1st person, while a person using a bio for branding purposes would write in the 3rd person. Both are acceptable if the “person” you choose remains consistent throughout the entire piece.

2.) Identify the accomplishments you would like to highlight.

It is important to pick specific accomplishments or bullets that strengthen your candidacy (or company brand). I recommend using the job description as a guide, listing the top 3 achievements that align with what the company is looking for (or wants to demonstrate to clients), with a specific focus on the last 10-15 years.

3.) Determine if you would like to include any fun information.

Feel free to include a fun fact, or an interesting experience to help showcase your personality. Remember, a bio is not only meant to highlight your skills and experience but to give your employer (or customer) a glimpse into who you are as a person! Essentially, the format would be, Introduction, Skills and Accomplishments, Fun Fact, and Closing, and about 4-8 sentences in length. For example:

Tammy Homegardner is a Best-Selling Author, Forbes Contributing Editor, and one of the most sought-after Job Search Coaches in the country. Best known for her comprehensive training program at The Job Search School, Tammy has helped thousands of job seekers successfully navigate the ever-changing job market. Through a comprehensive plan and a personalized approach, Tammy’s clients find employment faster (and at a higher salary) than they would have on their own. When she’s not helping clients land their dream job, you can find Tammy whipping up her favorite pasta dish, or spending time with her 3 yellow labs. Learn more about the programs Tammy offers by attending her FREE Masterclass, today!

I have had countless clients and job seekers, in general, contact me over the past year concerned about a gap in employment due to COVID-19. Depending on their industry, some individuals have been out of work since March 2020 – a long time! With the pandemic now at a year and a half, I can understand their concern.

If you have a job gap due to COVID, please know that you are not alone. You, along with millions of other professionals, have experienced quite a challenging time. Recruiters and hiring managers understand this. And, while you are likely aware that a COVID gap is an acceptable one, you may still be worried about how to position yourself.

A gap in employment is not an issue but a lack of growth is.

Everyone understands that this past year and a half has been anything but ordinary – employers as well. You need to demonstrate that you have been active throughout this season: taking additional training courses, obtaining a certification, managing various personal projects, volunteering within your community, or consulting.

If you have been unemployed for more than a year, including a job gap statement

Everyone knows that COVID resulted in mass unemployment – so when you create a job gap statement, do so without referring to the pandemic. Within your job gap statement, list your desired title. Then include a snippet of your experience and what you have been doing. State that you are now interested in obtaining full-time employment.

Be confident when explaining your gap.

Develop and practice a response to describe your gap so that you are comfortable when asked. For example:

As an Event Manager, I was furloughed in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. I had a difficult time finding a new, permanent role due to the ongoing shutdowns. During this time, I worked as an Event Consultant for ABC Company and 123 Company, managing numerous events and administrative projects. With businesses beginning to reopen, I am looking forward to obtaining a full-time position within Event Management. I believe my skills and experience are well suited to your needs.

Ask for help.

Though numerous employers are hiring, the job market is more competitive than it ever was before. Many people are looking to transition into new industries, and negotiating the terms of employment has never been more challenging. My free job search masterclass can provide you with some additional tips and tricks to navigating this tricky market so that you can obtain a position you genuinely love. Sign up today to learn more!

If you have made it through to the interview process, congratulations are in order! The first hurdle is complete – making it past the ATS. You’ve done something right! So, now, it is your time to shine! Here are the top 3 ways to make sure your interview is a success:

1.) Research the company thoroughly.

It is in your interest to research the company you are interviewing with thoroughly so that you can have a better understanding of the company’s work culture and long-term goals.

This will help as you craft and prepare answers, and questions (which you absolutely should do). More importantly, this will confirm your decision to move forward with this opportunity, because truth be told, if the company’s vision doesn’t align with your own personal values, it may not be a job you want.

I recommend searching through the company’s website to read press releases and mission statements,  in addition to social media accounts (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc..). I would also sort through employee reviews on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed.

2.) Dress for success (whether in person or virtual).

No matter how your interview is being conducted, it is important that you put your best foot forward by dressing up for the occasion. I am not saying you are being judged or should be judged by your appearance, but I am saying that dressing up demonstrates that you care about the position and WANT to make a good impression.

And let’s face it, your appearance is the first impression you can provide. So, regardless of if you are meeting with a hiring manager in person or online, dress to impress!

3.) Rehearse responses beforehand.

If you were let go from your previous employer, have a gap in your resume, or a specific item you want to highlight, have your statement prepared ahead of time. This will ensure that you are comfortable with your answers, articulating them in a concise manner. 

Remember, it is important that you never speak negatively about a previous employer, no matter what the circumstance. Always provide a positive spin on anything you may discuss.

For example, I had worked for ABC Beverage for 8 years; however, after numerous shifts in leadership and budget cuts, I became increasingly concerned about my ability to complete various complex projects without the tools necessary to succeed. My manager, Frank, made the most of this challenging situation, but I did feel it was time to move on and am excited about this opportunity.

Whether you have just started on your job search journey, or are well on your way, my comprehensive training program here at the Job Search School can help! With courses ranging from salary negotiation, ageism, virtual interview mastery, and much more, I am committed to helping make your dream job a reality. Contact me today to learn more! 

There’s no doubt about it – networking is vital to any job search. If the idea of networking makes you uneasy, know that you are in good company.

I cannot tell you just how many job seekers cringe at the thought of networking, and with good reason! Talking about yourself is awkward, let alone when you are doing so with a big ask in mind. The thing is, the idea of networking is overblown (but not overrated). As is the “big ask.”

Let me explain.

Networking is essential, but the pressures that are associated with networking are not.

Forget the big ask, and therefore, the pressure.

Sure, you may view a specific individual as a means to an end (in other words, a means to employment), but that shouldn’t be the primary goal. While there may very well be an opportunity to ask for something, networking is nothing more than making connections with people. It’s that simple.

Just think, you make connections every day: at the grocery store, at a child’s birthday party, or hanging around the dog park with your pups. Networking is making those connections and using them in a professional capacity. Plus, you can network effectively in person AND online!

Here’s how:

1.) View every connection made as an opportunity to network.

Share what it is you do and what it is you are looking to do. There is no harm in putting feelers out there, even in a non-formal setting. So, the next time you have a conversation with someone of interest, let them know what you do for a living. And listen when they share what it is they do as well. You may be able to help each other.

2.) Attend formal conferences or networking events (in person or online).

Conferences and networking events are easy places to network since everyone has the same objective: expanding a business and achieving goals. You can be a part of that! Whether the event is held virtually or in person, take some time to attend these professional events, getting to know peers and industry leaders. No connection made is wasted, so speak with everyone you can and have your “pitch” in mind.

3.) Use social media to the fullest potential.

Social media platforms, especially professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn, are an excellent tool to expand your network. You can reach out to recruiters and hiring managers from any company or industry, join various industry-specific groups, and follow specific companies of interest. Best of all, if your profile is optimized, you will show up in numerous recruiter searches, increasing your chance of employment.

Whether you are new to the job search scene or have been at this for quite some time (with little success), my comprehensive program here at the Job Search School can help. Learn how to find positions that fit your skills, optimize your LinkedIn and resume, connect with key professionals, nail your interview, negotiate your salary, and more!

Sign up for my FREE Job Search Masterclass today!

Once the pandemic hit and millions of people lost their jobs, LinkedIn got creative in allowing people to display that they were open to working by creating an Open to Work feature. You have likely seen it as you have scrolled through profiles, shown as a green frame around photos with the #hashtag (you’ve guessed it) that says Open to Work. But the benefits of Open to Work go far beyond just the photo opportunity provided.  Here is how this LinkedIn feature works:

When you select the Open to Work Feature, recruiters become aware of your search.

Millions of recruiters that work directly for companies or through independent agencies utilize LinkedIn to source candidates. LinkedIn’s Open to Work feature allows you to show up with priority in their searches since you are actively searching and open for work. This is excellent news if you are searching for a job since a recruiter (or hiring manager) can come across your profile and reach out, knowing you will be interested.

Though LinkedIn’s Open to Work Feature is an excellent tool to use, it is not Ideal if you are currently employed and searching for a job.

Do note that though LinkedIn takes various precautions to ensure no one from your present company sees that you are searching (if you are searching for a job while employed), nothing is ever foolproof. As such, I only suggest using this feature if you are unemployed and looking for a job, not if you are employed and searching. If your employer gets wind that you are job hunting, it could make for an uncomfortable situation.

How to set up LinkedIn’s Open to Work feature.

Select your profile picture, then “view profile.” At the top of your profile is your introduction card.  Click the “Open” button and provide the requested information. You can then select whether all LinkedIn members or only recruiters can see that you are open to opportunities. As stated before, if you are currently employed, I firmly advise avoiding this feature altogether (even if you are only on recruiters’ radar). But, if you are unemployed, select whichever you prefer.

LinkedIn’s Open to Work feature is only one part of the job search spectrum.

Though this new feature is undoubtedly beneficial, you cannot just set it and hope for a recruiter to reach out magically. Your LinkedIn profile has to be optimized to meet the needs of the positions you are searching for so that you show up as a qualified candidate within recruiter searches. This is achieved by utilizing various keywords within your headline and summary and carefully crafting your most recent experience and accomplishments in a way that enhances your candidacy.

I have helped thousands of professionals craft LinkedIn profiles that provide them access to opportunities that would otherwise have been out of reach. No matter where you are in your job search journey, my comprehensive training program here at the Job Search School can help. Learn more by signing up for my FREE webinar today. Your dream job is waiting!

Let me tell you a secret: There is a Hidden Job Market out there, and it is responsible for filling over 70% of positions. If you have never heard of the Hidden Job Market, you are not alone. Most job seekers aren’t aware that one exists, unsure of what it is or how to access it! In short, the Hidden Job Market is a list of open positions that NEVER make it to the job boards. Instead, they are filled by people directly through strategic networking. Best of all, whether you are networking in person or online, LinkedIn is an incredible resource you can use! Here’s how you can tap in:

1.) Optimize your LinkedIn profile.

Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is optimized by using various keywords across your headline and summary. List your most recent accomplishments and work experience (10-15 years), as well as your educational history (sans dates unless you earned a degree in the past 3 years). You want to make sure you are highlighting what your top skills are, as well as what you can achieve.

2.) Expand your network

The more connections you have on LinkedIn, the better your chances of being found by a recruiter, hiring manager, or fellow employee.  This goes beyond just connecting with individuals directly. Expand your network by hundreds or thousands by joining various industry-specific groups, as well as following companies of interest.

3.) Maximize your presence

Post relevant topics, respond to related materials, utilize hashtags, and follow the latest trends. Remember to always remain professional, never engaging in political or religious banter. Cheer on your fellow colleagues for their achievements, and be bold in sharing your own. Doing so can draw attention to your candidacy.

4.) Reach out to recruiters and hiring managers

Messages can be sent to any 1st-degree connection with a free LinkedIn account. And you can make new and beneficial connections, but be sure to include a note. You can, for example, say: Hi Jim: I see that you are a Senior Recruiter for [company name]. I am interested in talking with you. Can we connect? Rachel.

Or, if you are already connected: Hi Jim: I have been a Project Manager for 10+ years, and am most interested in working for [company name]. Any direction you could provide would be much appreciated! Thank you! Rachel

5.) Don’t stop there…

While most people focus on connecting with recruiters and hiring managers only, it is wise to connect with peers as well. For one thing, numerous companies offer employees a bonus for finding candidates that meet their needs, meaning people who are not necessarily within a position to hire are financially motivated to help fill a role. The more people you know, the better your chance of being that person! A simple message such as “Hi Jamal: I see you work for ABC company – I’ve heard many great things. I’m expanding my network and thought it made sense to connect. Thanks! Samuel” can open many doors!

No matter where you are with your job search journey, my comprehensive training program here at The Job Search School can help. Learn how to tap into the Hidden Job Market, optimize your LinkedIn profile and resume, nail your interview, and much more! I have helped thousands of job seekers land their dream job, and would love to help you too! Contact me today!

If you are transitioning from the military and into the civilian workforce, I must start by thanking you for your service. While you may feel a bit unsure about this change, please know that individuals and companies alike value and appreciate what you have sacrificed for our country. With a bit of guidance, you will be well on your way to success.

You have soft skills that will transfer to almost any industry

Technical skills consist of a specific program or mechanical knowledge needed for certain industries. Still, soft skills are necessary for many jobs, such as team leadership, communication, project management, customer service, etc. So, while you may fall short with some technical points, soft skills can enhance your candidacy.

Know what you want to do before you start your search

Once you figure out what your top skills are, try to decide what positions are a match for you. Reflect on what industries spark your interest and what tasks make you feel fulfilled. I also recommend thinking about your salary requirements, desired benefits, and what you need from a position as far as work-life balance.

Create an ATS-friendly resume and an optimized LinkedIn profile.

Companies now use ATS (applicant tracking system) software to pre-screen applications. The higher your resume scores, the better your chance of an interview. To get your resume through the ATS, it needs to be free of formatting (such as images or borders) and customized for each position. Your LinkedIn will need to be updated as well, using industry-specific keywords.

Network with other professionals and locate military-friendly employers

Countless companies are committed to hiring and training veterans, encouraging service members to apply (and given preference). The US Department of Labor website and Veterans’ Groups are a great place to start. Networking with other professionals (in person or online) is essential as well, informing them of your search and interest.

Know that sometimes, internal candidates are involved, listings close, or companies change their offerings. As such, rejection can happen, and a job search can take some time. Continue to apply to jobs of interest, even if you are working through the interview process with numerous companies. It is best to keep the ball rolling until you have a firm offer in hand.

If you need additional assistance with your job search, my comprehensive program here at the Job Search School has helped thousands of professionals land dream positions. I am proud to say that many of them are veterans. With information on finding jobs of interest, creating the perfect resume, optimizing your LinkedIn profile, nailing your interview, and more, I would be honored to be a part of your journey.

Sign up for my FREE masterclass today to learn more.