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Depending on where you are in your professional journey, you may still be invested in a traditional career — one that begins with intensive training or education, and then progresses to accepting an entry-level job, climbing the corporate ladder and eventually retiring after building up enough years of service.

Perhaps along the way, there will be an unexpected layoff or a career gap to care for family, or a few years pursuing additional certifications or a Masters’ degree in the evenings to supplement your skills.

Although this used to be the standard model, many things have changed in the last…


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When I was interviewing for a popular consulting firm early in my career, the hiring manager joked that one of the perks was employees could wear jeans on Saturdays.

At least I assumed it was a joke at the time. The unfortunate truth was that we could wear jeans on Saturdays and Sundays, and needless to say, I wore jeans to work a lot.

Red flags differ for each employee based on their current values, priorities and goals. For example, eager to make a dent in my career in my 20s, I didn’t really mind the weekend work. …


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A distant acquaintance recently contacted me on social media to ask for a reference for a company she was applying to. I had met this person briefly in a class I taught five years ago and aside from the five-minute encounter (in a group of 100 people), I had zero interaction with the individual since that time.

Clearly I declined since there wasn’t any way for me to give a detailed or honest professional reference that would help her to land the job (in fact, my vague reference would likely have hurt her chances).

While most job seekers immediately understand…


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It you peruse online job descriptions, you’ll often find terms like “highly organized, team player, adaptable, strong leadership skills, ability to solve complex problems, learn quickly and prioritize” on nearly every list of preferred qualifications.

It seems a more concise way to summarize these qualities might be “military skills suite.” While direct experience in the military isn’t required to obtain these skills, it’s highly likely most veterans possess these coveted qualities.

Unfortunately, it’s tough for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to measure these essential transferable skills, so many military switchers get weeded out because they don’t possess the right key words…


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If you tend to be a frequent work traveler or regular conference attendee, it’s likely you’ve seen many of these events move to an online platform in the last several months.

While something is better than nothing, Zoom conferences certainly lack the engagement and energy that comes with traveling to a different place, dining with new people, stepping out of your day-to-day routine and being focused on a particular topic for a few days while your “Out of Office” message earns you a small breather.

Perhaps you have an upcoming conference scheduled for early 2021 and you’re holding out hope…


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One of the most popular questions I receive as a career coach is, “How do I develop an ongoing relationship with a new contact?”

It’s a valid question because a “one and done” approach isn’t really networking, even though many approach it that way and then wonder why they’re not seeing results.

The primary goal of an initial meeting or introduction to a new person when networking should always be to get a second meeting. While you may also receive helpful guidance, valuable feedback or even an introduction to another contact, those are secondary to building the relationship. …


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The labor forecasts are dismal, predicting steep increases in additional layoffs with hiring being relatively stagnant. These statistics are enough to depress any job seeker.

However, if you’ve been applying online and hearing crickets, you’re not alone. An online job search may feel productive, but it’s actually one of the most competitive and least successful ways to search for new employment. Afterall, since more than 70% of the available openings are in the hidden market (aka, not advertised in public), applying online means you’re competing with 100% of job seekers for 30% of the available roles. The odds are already against you.

So, the trick to finding new employment in a tough job market is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing…


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When I was hiring a program manager for the career team a few years ago, the two finalists had very different backgrounds. The first had ideal experience on paper including roles in human resources and knowledge of international visas. Skilled at interviewing, the candidate was prepared with relevant accomplishments and had stellar references who’d been coached in advance to address perceived skill gaps (something I’d highly recommend if you’re in a job search!).

The second candidate was a double-switcher, moving from retail to an academic setting, and shifting from a busy, hands-on sales management function on a large dynamic team…


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The first time I got laid off, it hit me like a semi-truck. I’d recently been promoted, was receiving great performance reviews, and saw a long-term future at a company I enjoyed where I’d managed two regional functions and built relationships across multiple offices.

Then, poof! Just like that, I received a call at 5pm on a Tuesday saying my job was gone. It was 2002 and I was working for Arthur Anderson.

I was shocked, terrified and completely lost. My core identity had been ripped away, even though I’d been doing everything right — working long hours, taking initiative…


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A listener looking to make a career switch called into my weekly radio show on SiriusXM to ask if I could help hone his professional introduction. When I asked what he did for a living, he immediately confessed, “Well, right now I’m unemployed, but…”

Immediately I cut him off (something I rarely do), because unemployment is a temporary state and never a part of your brand (the brief clip can be heard at the start of this montage).

For far too long, we’ve felt embarrassed of being unemployed, or experiencing a layoff, or even asking for help in a job…

Dawn Graham

Career Switch Coach | Wharton EMBA Career Director | Author of SWITCHERS | SiriusXM (132) Host "Dr Dawn on Careers" | TEDx Speaker | LinkedInLearning Instructor

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