September 15, 2015 - In This Issue:
Persevere to find the right job for you--and know it won't be your only job.

Over the summer there was a lot of job search and career advice aimed at recent grads. Here are a few of my favorites.

From Hannah Morgan of Career Sherpa:  

This advice is customized for those who find themselves facing this Catch-22: "I need a job so I can gain experience, but all the jobs seem to require 3-5 years of experience." Hannah Morgan has great tips for:
  • how to gain some experience, 
  • where to look for job ads, and 
  • networking. 
It can be daunting and frustrating--and that's why the column at right is focused on resourcefulness and resilience. 

From Travis Bradberry, writing on  LinkedIn:

This article ties in with the resilience theme of this newsletter. 


Some of the habits are about embracing change, failure, and forgiveness. Others are about maintaining a positive outlook and taking care of yourself physically (a healthy diet, exercise and sleep are the big three--as always).  


My favorite insight: regret usually stems from what you didn't do rather than what you did do.  Don't be afraid to take some risks!


From Jeff Selingo, author of College (Un)Bound

The interview with the co-founder of Roadtrip Nation, Nathan Gebhard, examines the disconnect between what college prepares you to do and what employers need you to do. He urges young people to start with their own innate interests and build out from there to find career fit.  

When I read the interview, I think, "Roadtrip Nation is all about networking--getting out there into the world and making connections with working professionals."

From Jeff Haden on LinkedIn: 

These tips aren't so much about making a good impression with your body language or even how to best communicate with body language.  Instead, it's about how your body language changes how you think and behave. 


Haden offers concrete suggestions for using body language to improve willpower, confidence, determination, empathy and creativity as well as tips for reducing stress and conflict. 

I'll be on a campus near you
This fall I have campus visits planned in: 
  • Dayton, OH
  • Oak Park, IL
  • Wayne, NJ
  • Elmherst, IL
  • Valparaiso, IN

Let me know if you'll see me in any of those places or want to plan another campus destination.  I'm just starting to book date in spring 2016.

I coach people through all kinds of career transitions:
  • College to career.
  • First job to second job.
  • Retirement to post-retirement part-time work.
  • Assistant to associate professor.

Follow my blog, Facebook, or Twitter by clicking on the icons below to get tips, examples, and first-hand accounts from others in career transition. 

Two Keys to Career Success: Resourcefulness and Resilience
Have questions? Being resourceful means first trying to find answers on your own.
All the career coaching work I do boils down to two key factors: resourcefulness and resilience. 

Here are common scenarios that inspire this conclusion:


A job candidate knows he should address a cover letter to an individual by name, but doesn't know the name of the right person.  

Someone in mid-career transition who has had very little exposure to technology doesn't know how to save resumes & cover letters as PDFs and send them as email attachments.  

A student at a summer internship has to prepare and format a series of PowerPoint slides. She can't figure out how to get clear screen captures, type within a text box so that the text "fills in a blank," or figure out how to draw a red circle around key text.

These things can be simple or complicated: a jammed copier or empty paper tray, collaborating with 15 people in 4 states and 2 countries to get a single meeting time, independently completing an entire report.

The key in all cases is to try to find the solution (or as much of a solution as you can) on your own.


A frustrated job seeker says "I'll take any job! I'm desperate!"  

A recent grad who has been working odd jobs for the first year or two out of college loses sight of passions and career goals and instead lists salary, benefits and vacation requirements when asked "what are you looking for in a job?" 

A scholar gets a "revise & resubmit" decision on a manuscript and contemplates abandoning it.  

These things are indeed big life events, but resilience lets you get past the big-ness of it all.

The key is to start breaking down the tasks, planning do-able action items, and little-by-little tackling the the small projects that add up to one big one--and in so doing, overcoming the desperation or hopelessness that the big-ness inspired at first.


Resourcefulness: what to do?

Try to harness your inner resourcefulness by following these three steps and answering the questions for yourself:

1- Can I find the answer on my own?

2- Can I experiment in a low-stakes way?

3- Can I now complete the initial task--either partially or entirely--on my own?

Let's look at how to do each step for each of the examples above.

The job candidate who has to address a cover letter to an individual by name, but doesn't know how to find the name. 

1- Can you find the answer on your own? You shouldn't be surprised by this suggestion for how to go about getting answers on your own: Google, Google, Google.  First, search the job ad for a name to whom any questions should be address or a source for the job posting. Then Google the company and department to see if it's clear who the hiring manager or head of the department or program to which you are applying is.  If you can't find anyone who is clearly the authority "in charge" of the future workplace you aspire to, then make some phone calls.

2- Can you experiment in a low stakes way?  Instead of picking up the phone and calling people who you think might be in charge directly, try finding a main number with a receptionist or administrative assistant answering the phone. Then simply ask for the name of the hiring manager or the person to whom cover letters for the position should be addressed. If you don't want your name and number on a caller ID, borrow a friend's phone--or even have a friend make the call for you. Friends are great resources!

3- Can you complete the initial task?  In this case, yes!  You might never be 100% certain that you have the right name, but being resourceful means taking risks while mitigating them wherever possible.  Once you've done your due diligence in items 1 and 2 above and identified a key & important person, you're not likely to go wrong by addressing the letter to that person by name.

The mid career technophobe who needs pdf attachments or the perplexed summer intern with a PowerPoint assignment.

1- Can you find the answer on your own? I can't say it enough: Google, Google, Google. Literally, type any question into the search bar and you're likely to get item-by-item to do lists, YouTube tutorials, screencasts--more resources that you could possibly want or need.

For saving a document as a pdf and attaching it, you'll find a video or screencast that walks you through it. You can pause as you simultaneously work through it step-by-step on a Word document.  If the video shows a Mac and you use a PC, go back to Google and edit your initial question to include "on a PC" or just click on another of the many resources that came up with your first search.

For editing PowerPoint slides you might find a bulleted list that says: 
  • on the Insert menu, scroll down to text box 
  • click on the slide approximately where you want to insert the text box 
  • compose your text 
  • move cursor over text box until you see the four-way arrows and click 
  • use arrows on keyboard to move up, down, left, right until text box is positioned exactly where you want it 

2- Can you experiment in a low stakes way?  Try saving a Word doc with just a few characters typed on it as a PDF to make sure you can do it and that the result is what you want. Then attach it in an email to yourself to make sure it works.


Use a single blank PowerPoint slide to insert screen captures, insert & move text boxes, and draw circles of different sizes and colors with fill and no fill. Get comfortable with all the features you'll need as an exercise unto itself.


3- Can you find the answer on your own?  Yes!  Once you've practiced in a low stakes way, you'll be comfortable enough to save your resume as a pdf, check the formatting, and attach to an email.  Once you've played around with an empty PowerPoint slide to make sure you can use all the editing features you need, it will seem easy--and much less frustrating--to apply those skills to the "real thing."

Resilience: what to do? 

1- Take the long view.  

Think of other times in your life when the whole world seemed to ride on some big event or decision--the college admissions letters; choosing a major; landing your first job; moving far away from home, friends and family. In hindsight, those "big" decisions can seem like foregone conclusions--you can't imagine that there ever were other choices because the choice you made quickly starts to feel like the only choice you ever had.  

Now apply this to your current situation--know that whatever action you take, it will quickly become your normal reality.  Don't settle for any old job, don't lose sight of what it is you really want to spend your time doing day in and day out--because whatever you end up doing, it will just be your normal reality.

Keep the big goals in mind, then start doing the work little-by-little. Find the job ads that intrigue you, talk to anyone and everyone about what and who they know, update your resume and cover letter to match every single job you want to apply to, apply, get informational interviews, etc. 

If you're the scholar with a "revise & resubmit" decision on your hands, print out the comments you have to address, start making the easy changes and cross those items off as you go. Make the necessary edits to your literature review: find any new readings, extract the pertinent bits, work them into your text, add them to your reference list.  Then cross all that off your list! Put one foot in front of the other and little by little get the big tasks done.

2- Treat the tasks like a child learning to tie shoes or ride a bike.

How many failures and missteps lead to acquiring those basic skills? The failures and missteps are what eventually lead to the lifelong skills. You have to keep trying, keep failing, take a break, learn from mistakes, and return to the task.   

Did you send out 100 generic resumes and never hear back from anyone? Well, it was a mistake. Learn from it: do your research, customize your letters, get networking and send out one well-composed, targeted letter at a time.  

You didn't explain your key terms well in the manuscript you submitted? Use your phone app to record your voice as you explain out loud what you mean by the key words, transcribe it, fix it up and insert into your article.  When you read it the next day, you'll think it's been improved. Then fix whatever the next thing is...

Darcy Lear, PhD

25 E. Washington, Suite 1717
Chicago, IL 60602

Navigating your career transition