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Help With A Search

Dear Career Tips: Where to Get Help with a Search

From Career Tips, 2022 Volume 1, January 2022


Reaching For Help

When I was in my career search two to three years ago, some of the most difficulty I had was assessing where I fit in the employment market.


I had worked many years in a university as a Research Analyst, finally got my M.Sc in Statistics, which is supposed to be very employable, then promptly found out nobody wanted to hire me.


One of the most difficult parts was trying to figure out why my search wasn't going well. I endlessly revised my cover letter and resume. Finally, I gave up and wrote really short ones. I sent out about 100 resumes to get 6 interviews to get one job offer. I took it. Better pay, bigger organization. I got a temporary promotion to management in just over a year.


I suppose my most vexing question is, "when one's job search is going poorly, where does one get the right help? Who can help?" There are career coaches such as yourself, but as an analyst/data scientist, not an actuary, it seemed no one specialized in my area. They often cost a lot too.


Dear Helpless:

I'm glad things ultimately worked out for you!


To your questions:


"when one's job search is going poorly, where does one get the right help? Who can help?"


Obviously I'm going to suggest career coaches who specialize in job search, but there are also lots of career search oriented networking groups out there.


There are hundreds just in the NY – NJ – Eastern PA – Southern CT area, and a coach in the area maintains a list of all of them and their info on his website. There are similar concentrations in other metropolitan areas – Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco region, etc.


Those are great free or very low cost resources for job seekers, providing expert advice on all aspects of job search, and the chance to practice those skills, especially on networking techniques. (I speak at many of them.) And even if you are in an area that doesn't have any, many provide virtual meetings and webinars that you can attend remotely, particularly so during the past two years.


There are also many webinars and other on-line resources being offered by coaches and others helping out in the job search arena. Those range from expensive to very inexpensive. Marty Latman and I did a series of “Ask The Expert” webinars on job search issues last year for $20-$30 each.


"There are career coaches such as yourself, but as an analyst/data scientist, not an actuary, it seemed no one specialized in my area. They often cost a lot too." 


Here you may be looking at this the wrong way.


First, actuaries by training and education are highly analytic, and do a lot of data analysis, so that they would have a pretty good understanding of the issues faced by an analyst / data scientist, and how to present what you have.


Second, you don't really need someone who specializes in your area. You need someone who is an expert in how to market yourself for a search. 


A search is a marketing and sales campaign, not an analytic exercise. In other words, you want a coach with marketing and sales savvy. If that person also has expertise in your specific industry / type of role, so much the better, but that is the least important part of what they would offer.


You already understand your industry / job area, and you want someone who can show you how to market and sell what you have. That's really about psychology, confidence, story-telling, situational awareness, marketing and sales technique, etc.


In my own case, although I was an actuary in the insurance industry, and then a system consultant also in the insurance industry, people from that combination of industry and role have made up a minority of my clients. That's because they aren't coming to me for that background, but rather for my career search coaching expertise. I've coached investment bankers, educators, scientists, lawyers, young people just starting out, older people seeking their 'final stop', and even someone seeking a TV production role (they landed it).


As to the cost, you are correct, a coach will cost a lot. Only you can decide whether that is worth it for you. The key is to look at it as an investment.


If you were seeking, say, a $100,000 compensation level, that would mean that every week your job search extends costs you $2,000. So any coaching program that you were confident would help you land even just a few weeks early would have a huge return on investment. And that doesn't take into account the impact of landing a better job, and the future impact of a higher salary and the future increases based on that higher salary.


I hope that helps, and hopefully you won’t need any of these services for a long time!


Final Word from Helpless:

This is great advice, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me. In hindsight I should have just spent the $$ to work with you. I did get some coaching, and she at least taught me how to interview better, but I never did get my resume/cover letter rewritten with her.


I think one thing to consider in the marketing materials you have is that analyst types can be very literal. I kept thinking Analyst doesn't equal Actuary, as well as being in Canada vs the US.


The value proposition of coaching is an excellent case for it! In my case I did have a job, but was very unhappy in it.


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