How to Find a Job You Love
9 keys to successfully managing a career change from Career and Life Coach Melanie Mitchell-Wexler
The alarm goes off. Your first thought is, “What day is it?” When you realize it’s a workday, you roll over and try not to think about it. Your work is a grind. You don’t like your boss, your coworkers, or your customers. You know you need to look for a new job, but who would hire you? How would you even start to look for a new job? If you have had a version of this pillow talk with yourself, you are not alone.
A recent Gallup survey on job satisfaction found that only 15% of 1 billion full-time workers around the world classify themselves as being happy and productive in the workplace. That means about 849,999,999 other people are waking up feeling the same way about their jobs as you do about yours.
Fortunately for you and your fellow restless warriors, I had an opportunity to interview veteran Career and Life Coach, Melanie Mitchell-Wexler, on my Communications Czar Podcast. She shared exactly what you need to do to make the transition from pulling the covers up on a workday to jumping out of bed with excitement to conquer your next work assignment.
Mitchell-Wexler spent nearly two decades as a corporate recruiter. She did some hard time in a toxic work environment, navigated a career change of her own, and emerged happy, whole, and ready to help others do the same.
Mitchell-Wexler has placed hundreds of people in everything from entry-level to C-Suite positions in many industries throughout the United States. She has been the person responsible for combing through hundreds of resumes to find the perfect candidate for a job. These experiences, combined with her passion for helping others navigate the sometimes murky waters of a career change, make her perfectly suitable to give you an overview of the current career change climate.
Here are 9 keys to a successful career change in today’s workplace:
1. Be kind to yourself and get help if you need it.
Acknowledge the challenge that you face when you are going to embark on a job or career change. It requires enormous momentum to go from a comfortable predictable position to putting yourself out there and jumping back into the job search process. If it has been 5 or more years since you last looked for a job, things have changed considerably. Give yourself credit for trying, and don’t be afraid to get help from a trusted mentor or a professional coach like Mitchell-Wexler. You do not have to do it alone.
Remind yourself that a career transition is a significant undertaking. It is going to require a firm commitment. Mitchell-Wexler has seen many people drop out of their job search before they even start. “I think that people get so caught up and overwhelmed in this process that they often either don’t do it because they’re afraid of the time commitment, or they get so overwhelmed that they stop in the middle of it and then don’t really make an effort,” she recalls.
2. Don’t talk yourself out of making progress
Mitchell-Wexler acknowledges that she learned this lesson the hard way. “I stayed with my company because I had a lot of freedom,” she recalls. “I didn’t want to lose the freedoms I had, and while those were good freedoms, they came at a price in terms of some salary issues and just not being a good supportive company, and I kind of turned my back to those for a long time. I just dug my head in the sand,” Mitchell-Wexler admits.
3. Schedule regular blocks of time to devote to your career change project.
Include time for working on your career in your weekly schedule. “When you are first starting out, it may just be is a matter of saying to yourself, ‘I’m going to work on my resume for 40 minutes today and know that you’ve accomplished that and then maybe later on in the week you say, ‘I’m going to activate my network,’” Mitchell-Wexler suggests. “Start reaching out to people that you used to work with. I’m a big proponent, a big advocate of LinkedIn,” she says. “Start reaching out to the people that you used to work with, that you have connections with, let them know, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about looking for a new job; I want to kind of see what’s out there.’ Just start talking to people,” she implores.
4. Identify your non-negotiables
Invest some time to make a list. Consider, “The thing or things that are really important to you; is it work-life balance? Maybe the title is no longer important to you; maybe you no longer want to manage people. How do you pivot, going from a manager to just being a producer? It’s literally like looking at a map and going, ‘Well, I could take this road, or I could take this road,’ but you know where you end up is going to be in a different direction than you are currently heading. Understanding what things that you’re not willing to negotiate on, these are the things that are your absolutes, your non-negotiables,” Mitchell-Wexler advises. Now that the world is going to be heading back to the office, she also encourages you to consider if you prefer a traditional versus a hybrid work schedule.
5. Honestly evaluate your current situation
Once you’ve identified your career non-negotiables, you can apply those things to your current job and see how it stacks up. When you know what you need versus things that would be nice to have but not necessary, you can identify what you currently have and what is missing. “That’s going to help you really determine, ‘Do I need to start making that change?’ and when you do start to make that change, you also then can use that list as a way to help you identify, ‘Where am I gonna go?’ and ‘What do I want to look for?’ so you’ll know the path you should be taking,” says Mitchell-Wexler.
6. Give your resume a refresh
Despite a significant change in the job search process, you still need a resume, so now is the time to give it an update. Even if you have to blow the dust off of it, get out your resume and start editing. “I’ve had a few clients even this week that haven’t touched their resumes in ages,” Mitchell-Wexler shared. “Your homework right now is literally sitting back and really going through and thinking of highlights and achievements that you have gained through the years because that’s going to be important, regardless of what field you are in,” she counsels. “People are going to want to know what you did and what makes you stand out.” You may not enjoy talking about yourself, but the job search process demands that you do.
“Humility in this situation is not necessarily a desired gift,” Mitchell-Wexler warns.
“There’s a fine line between a lack of humility and cockiness, but this is the time that you need to shine,” she says.
7. Change your approach to suit today’s hiring practices
You may not realize it, but there was a time when you would mail or personally deliver your resume to a company, and the next thing you knew, you would get calls for interviews. Those days are gone. Now, because everything is online, you have to take a different approach. Mitchell-Wexler encourages her clients to, “Set themselves apart using the law of averages, the more you input to something, the greater the result.” She learned this approach from the time she spent working in sales, “I had to work directly with clients so, of course, the more calls I made, the more connections I made, the greater chances I had to make a sale.”
“I tell people all the time, ‘It’s not enough anymore to apply for a job online and hope for the best,’” she says.
“Yes, people get hired all the time when they apply online, but we need to communicate beyond pressing send.” Mitchell-Wexler advises.
She acknowledges, that reaching out can be scary, especially for introverts. “But,” she says, “I can tell you as a recruiter, it’s not uncommon to get 500 resumes for one job, for one opening, and I can tell you, I never go through 500 resumes.” So, it is up to you to stand out, to catch the hiring professional’s attention. Beyond having the right keywords in your resume, you also need to understand the attributes of the positions that you’re applying to. Do your homework and customize your cover email to the person or company that you are contacting.
8. Focus on quality prospects instead of quantity
Resist the temptation to just send out your resume to as many places as possible in hopes of getting someone to notice you. “I would rather you tell me the top three jobs you’re most qualified for and take the time to hone your resume to those jobs as opposed to just applying for 10 jobs, seven of which you’re like, ‘Yeah, those are okay, but they’re not great.” Instead, Mitchell-Wexler suggests you take a deep dive approach. “LinkedIn is a great search engine, so start connecting with people there. That is actually how I got my last job,” she recalls. “When I applied for the job, I stopped what I was doing, I got on LinkedIn, and I found two people that were in the company where the job was listed. I knew the job reported to the CFO, and I found somebody also in accounting/H.R. I reached out to both of them, and I had an interview within 24 hours. All I did was say, ‘I just applied for this position, and I am very interested.’ I can’t guarantee everybody will get a response. But it did, and I can tell you as a recruiter, if somebody does that to me, I’m going to actually go check out your resume.”
9. Make things easy for the hiring professional
“If you can make my job easier as a recruiter, and I’m don’t have to sift through hundreds of resumes to find that one perfect candidate, then I’m all for it!” Mitchell-Wexler contends.
Do this by connecting the dots for them, message them and highlight your qualifications and how they will benefit the company you want to work with. Taking the extra time to do this will set you apart from the competition.
Take some action on Mitchell-Wexler’s advice to successfully navigate your career change today. You can look forward to tackling projects and tasks that leave you feeling fulfilled and excited to get to work. You, and your snooze button, will be glad you did!
Listen to the complete interview with Career and Life Coach Melanie Mitchell-Wexler on The Communications Czar Podcast on your Apple or Spotify or my website, www.CommunicationsCzar.com.