Gone are the office parties and social festive gatherings of yesteryear, at least for this season!  Maybe you’ve already cringed at seeing the word networking in the title? Whether you are in a career transition or not, remember it is always good to stay in touch with friends, family and past colleagues. You may one day want to ask a question like “Do you know anyone in the ___________ field/industry?”

The pandemic is a perfect opportunity to get back in touch with people from the past.  Many people were reaching out in the spring with a “Thinking of you. How are you?” message.  So many of my clients regularly share how they have lost touch with people from long ago and feel awkward about reaching out.  Now is a good time for a holiday greeting of caring and connection.  If you are exploring a career shift or in the midst of the job search, keep it light and relationship-oriented. You can always follow-up in January.

It doesn’t matter that much whether it’s via Facebook, LinkedIn, email, phone call, text or a nice old-fashioned holiday card.

You might share something like:

“I know I’ve not been in touch for quite a while, but the pandemic got me thinking that I wanted to reach out and share a holiday hello.  I hope you and your loved ones are managing well enough during these trying times. (Can share a bit about yourself.) I look forward to hearing how you’re doing and maybe catching up a bit. Best wishes for a safe, healthy and meaningful holiday season.”

Don’t miss this unique time to reach out and touch someone!  Figuratively, of course!

Perhaps you are needing to reinvent yourself because the pandemic crashed your industry. Or you may be employed, but the pandemic has caused you to think about life, time, and greater happiness. Or you may be insecure in your job and want to have some back-up plans in place if needed.

Whatever the reason, it is important to think through a next step for greater happiness and success in a thoughtful way.  Even if you are unemployed and thinking “I’m open to anything” because you just want food on your table, it is still important to have grounded job targets; employers want candidates who are motivated to work for them. Being clear on goals and job targets will also make you more successful in your search since people can’t help you well with networking unless you are clear about what you want.  Networking is always the best job search method rather than simply getting sucked into the black hole of the Internet. Lastly, the clearer you are, the more likely you will land somewhere that is a good match and you won’t need to go through this all again too soon.

THE JOB MARKET

Before getting into a framework on how to best choose goals and have a successful job search, here’s a bit of information on the everchanging pandemic job market to help motivate you.  We all know the first wave most hit the hospitality, food, retail, and entertainment industries the hardest. There was also some hit to eds and meds, which are expected to continue or increase in the second wave, yes, even hospitals.  Government jobs are expected to be hit badly in the next waves of furloughs and layoffs.  Of the early layoffs, Bloomberg cited that 30% of lost jobs will never come back and University of Chicago predicted 42% not returning.

On the positive side, a June article from Marketplace.org noted the survivors from LinkedIn data which could be helpful in looking toward the future. During the April crash hardware and networking jobs increased by 2.3%, including semiconductor makers, internet service providers, wireless firms, and makers of networking gear. I like to remind people that these industries employ all types of people, including administrative, not just tech folks. Small business hiring went up a bit bringing back workers, while larger companies shed 10,000 workers, paring back by 39.6%. The Pittsburgh Business Times reported gains in Science R&D of 700 jobs in April. Financial services had a 1,000 job growth in April prompting an effort for recruitment with the PA Bankers Association, called BankWorks.

A University of Connecticut report noted current positive trends in jobs related to on-line shopping and mobile marketing.  Among the report’s post-COVID positive trends are Digital, Renewable Energy and Construction.  The Marketplace.org article noted positive longer-term trends for logistics and supply-chain management; automation, including robotics and coding related; and eldercare and home healthcare due to the graying of America.

“Your power to choose the direction in your life allows you to reinvent yourself,

to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.”

Stephen Covey

CAREER PLANNING FRAMEWORK

Briefly here are elements to be thinking about when exploring and planning your next steps. Career counseling can help you walk through it with tools, counseling insights, and even career assessments/testing:

Know Yourself

  • Interests – or at least liking tasks so you aren’t miserable when waking up in the morning
  • Skills/Strength – What comes naturally to you, or on the practical end, what can you leverage but not be unhappy? What transferrable skills do you have?
  • Personality – Who are you naturally and how does that fit or not fit a career field, industry or even specific employer culture
  • Values – What is important to you in a job and in life

Explore and Research What’s Out There:

  • Written resources – After connecting self to potential fields of interest, use neutral resources through the Department of Labor like the O*Net to learn and narrow down
  • Networking – Ideally talk to 2-3 people in 2-4 fields to get real world information and advice and check out feasibility in the job market
  • Professional Associations – This can be a source of written information and networking leads
  • Shadowing – Not so possible in pandemic times, but something to keep in mind for the future
  • Volunteering – This could be an opportunity to explore a career, gain experience for your resume and make contacts, even remotely
  • Internship – Similar to volunteering, you may be able to create a more meaningful, structured experience, even if not a current student
  • Coursework – Take a course or two (or training experience) to decide between two fields, test it out before enrolling in a program, or two increase a specific skill for marketability

Make a Decision:

  • Career Field – What job title(s) or job functions
  • Sector – Business, Government, or Nonprofit
  • Industry – What product, service, issue or population
  • Education – Degree, training, or simply professional development course
  • Re-evaluate – If you are unhappy or unsuccessful in the search or job, review above steps

Job Search – Presenting Yourself:

  • Resume – This is a marketing document, not just a factual document. For those re-inventing, a skills-based or functional resume may work better than a chronological
  • Cover Letters – Yes, I still say to use them as a way to stand out even if only looked at during phone and video interview stages. It is your chance to tell you career shift story.
  • Interview – Even if you have good interpersonal skills, this is about strategy. This includes the case for your career shift and countering barriers like age or lack of experience proactively.

Job Search – Strategies:

  • Networking, networking, networking – With a 50-80% success rate, this is still the top technique, yes, even remotely. Spend at least 50% of your job search time networking.
  • LinkedIn – This is just one resource for networking, but important. Plus job listings.
  • Job Listings – Of course, you want to continue to do apply here, but don’t get lost in it with all your time. Plus try to infuse networking into this beside pure non-vacancy networking.
  • Employment Agencies/Headhunters – This works more for people who are job searching in their existing field than career changers. In bad economic times, employment often comes back here first in terms of temp or contract work
  • Job Fairs – Even though it is less personal with virtual fairs and employers may primarily direct you to on-line applications, still go so you can get a name for correspondence to stand out.
  • Spotting Opportunities – Keep abreast of news in terms of companies that are growing or nonprofits that are received grants, then follow them and/or network.

I would be honored to help you in your career decision-making and/or job search

to help save you time and heartache!

Coming in Part Two of Reinventing Yourself: Skills-based Resume and Transferrable Skills Assessments

Hopefully you’ve started adjusting to our new normal of isolation. Although parts of the job market are at a standstill, there are things you can do both for job searching and for thinking about a future career shift or further education.  Additionally, some industries are in big hiring modes, if you are in need of immediate cash flow; think warehouse, transportation, logistics, healthcare, food, pharmacy, and technology.  Now may be a good time to dust off or refine your resume, reflect on what you want out of your life and career, and consider adding to your skill set. Keep reading for my 7 career tips in uncertain coronavirus times.

Think: Be prepared, be ready!

I first started thinking about what makes sense to do during this time when a client emailed me even before the stay-at-home advisories asking “should we even meet about the job search since no one will be networking?”  At some level it reminded me of what clients say in December: “Should I even job search since no one will be hiring during the holidays?”  Even if not much hiring is happening, it good to keep things going since an according to the Department of Labor in 2019 an average job search took approximately five months. More time is needed if you are considering a career change. Some people may even have more time available for a networking conversation. In today’s new world of social distancing, people may actually welcome a remote opportunity to connect or may be in a more altruistic mood. 

1. Reach out for relationships and networking –Consider simply reaching out to someone you haven’t connected with to stay in touch and ask “how are you?”  Don’t forget to reply back.  My clients sometimes say they don’t feel like they can reach out to ask a networking question since they haven’t been in touch for a quite a while.  This is your opportunity to reconnect with people from long ago, and it won’t seem odd. When you do purposefully reach out for networking, remember that this is about seeking information and advice, not asking about job openings (they will tell you!). Offer support and assistance to others as well.

2. Reflect and reassess your goals – The upheaval may cause you to think about exploring a career shift for greater satisfaction.  Alternatively, you may have lost a job in an industry that is hard hit, and you need to explore a shift out of necessity. Typical steps of career exploration involve self-assessment, including interests, skills, personality traits and values/what you want from a job. Then explore and research career and education options, including the job market.

3. Build your skills – Through career research you may find a need to gain some skills for a career shift or to increase marketability.  Now may be a good time to catch up on the professional development reading you’ve set aside. New and free webinars are being offered to develop personal and professional skills.  Many free on-line education platforms exist, although some have a mix of free and fee-based offerings. Click here for a top 10 from Forbes and click here for a top 25 from LifeHack.

4. Upgrade your technology  – As part of developing your skills, give some special attention to technology since this is a necessary and marketable skill.  Learn tips on how to use and present your best self on video platforms like Zoom. Free conference call tools are another resource to learn about and use, even if just for family calls. This may also include upgrading your physical technology with better audio equipment. Employers are always looking for people comfortable with technology. Sharing that you’ve recently learned new tech skills will be a plus for your job search, especially if you are a mature job seeker.

5. Polish your presence – Revise your resume, making sure it is current and targeted to your goals. Enhance your LinkedIn profile by completing sections, inviting links with personal messages, giving and requesting recommendations, and participating in interest groups related to your career. If applicable, update or add to your professional website or portfolio.

6. Take action – Keep applying if you are in search mode even if you think people aren’t hiring or won’t respond. Don’t just bury your head in the sand. Recognize that the hiring process may take longer. Follow-up periodically to stay in the game and show interest.  Get creative. I recently advised a client applying for English instructor positions to send the department heads a few relevant, inspirational passages from literature as a follow-up.

7. Take care of yourself and others – Stay connected with people, get adequate rest, eat healthily, exercise, get out in nature, enjoy a favorite hobby, read inspirational material, meditate or pray. Take care of others too, such as calling relative, friend, or neighbor, sending someone an uplifting message, or volunteering safely if you can.

We’re all in this together and hopefully we will come out stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.

I am happy to help you whether for career and education goals or the job search, whether an immediate need or planning for the future. To keep us all safe, I am working remotely via video or phone. Call me at 412-977-4029 to explore or schedule. Gift certificates are available.

Don’t quarantine your career! 

Think: Be prepared, be ready!

Since I was interviewed twice in two months regarding the high cost of college, I thought I would share some top jobs that don’t need a bachelor’s degree. Most people are shocked to learn that of those entering a bachelor’s degree (thinking it will be four years), the actually graduation rate SIX years later is just 59%. Career counseling can help save individuals and families time, money and heartache! Do be sure to graduate from high school, and some type of training, certification or apprenticeship is a yes!

Employment Projections 2018-2028. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 4, 2019 News Release,

Of the 10 fastest growing occupations, projected 2018-2028, the first five do not require a degree:

  1. Solar Photovoltaic Installers, 63.3% increase, $42,680 median wage May 2018
  2. Wind Turbine Technicians, 56.9% increase, $54,370 median wage May 2018
  3. Home Health Aides, 36.6% increase, $24,200 median wage May 2018
  4. Personal Care Aides, 36.4% increase, $24,020 median wage May 2018
  5. Occupational Therapy Assistants, 33.1% increase, $60,220 median wage May 2018

CLICK HERE for the rest of the top ten and the full news release.

Highest Paying Jobs without a Degree, Best Jobs U.S. News and World Report, January 7, 2020

This data is part of a comprehensive report with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and interviews. The report includes information on mobility, stress, balance, unemployment rate and job links to vacancies.  Helpful is more salary data beyond the median wage, so can give a more realistic view of starting salaries. Job growth is noted at the end of the job descriptions, so keep reading. Numbers of actual expected to be created is important to know in addition to growth because if it is a very small field, even with rapid growth, opportunities may be limited.

Top 10 highest paying jobs without a degree:

  1. Patrol Officer, 5% growth with 34,500 jobs, $61,380 median wage
  2. Executive Assistant, -19.8% growth losing 123,000 jobs, $59,340 median wage
  3. Sales Representative, 1.7% growth with 23,300 jobs, $58,510 median wage
  4. Electrician, 10.4% growth with 74,100 jobs, $55,190 median wage
  5. Wind Turbine Installer, 56.9% growth with 3,800 jobs, $54,370 median wage
  6. Structural Iron and Steel Worker, 11.5% growth with 9,200 jobs, $53,980
  7. Plumber, 13,6% growth with 68,200 jobs, $53,910 median wage
  8. Hearing Aid Specialist, 15.9% growth with 1200 new jobs, $52,770 median wage
  9. Sound Engineering Technician, 1.6% growth with 200 jobs, $52,390 median wage
  10. Brick Mason and Block Mason, 9.7% growth with 8400 jobs, $50,950 median wage

CLICK HERE for details about these jobs, the rest of the top 25 jobs, and specifics about report methodology.

10 Highest Paying Jobs without a College Degree Paying more than $79,000, April 24, 2019

Also sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with just slightly older data, these fields are also worth a look:

  1. Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers, $94,730, 7% growth
  2. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators, $94.350, -10% growth
  3. First Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives, $89,030, 7% growth
  4. Power Distributors and Dispatchers, $86,410, -3% growth
  5. Commercial Pilots, $82,240, 4% growth
  6. Detectives and Criminal Investigators, $81,290, 5% growth
  7. Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay Electrical Repairers, $80,200, 4% growth
  8. Elevator Installers and Repairers, $79,780, 12 percent growth
  9. Power Plant Operators, $79,610, 1% growth
  10. Media and Communication Equipment Workers, $79,580, 8% growth

CLICK HERE for the article, including brief descriptions. It was source from prior Bureau of Labor Statistics data which had projections until 2026 rather than the more current 2028.  This is a good example of how employment projections data changes, so career decisions should be based on more than wages and growth because the job market can change. Making sure you have skills and interests that fit is important too.

Since I was in North Carolina this month visiting family and walking on the beach, I’m inspired to share and repost an article I wrote in 2016 following an earlier visit.  Perhaps it can help you if you are in search of the elusive “perfect” career (or perfect anything) and encourage you to tap into your intuition.

Repost from June 2016:

I was recently in North Carolina for my great-niece’s college graduation and received some insights on perfection and intuition. After a nice meal we all meandered along the beach. Naturally I started looking for sea shells.  With being mid-day, the pickings were slim.

I picked up one smooth amber shell that was lovely. But it wasn’t a complete shell, so I kept looking.
Next was a pock-marked amber shell.  Wow, so cool and intriguing. I wasn’t sure I’d seen anything like it. But where was that whole, ideal shell?
There it was, the next one…whole and perfect…and surprisingly boring. But surely this is the one I want, the one I was looking for.
The final black smooth shell was a contrast and much more interesting and exciting. Could it be that I like this and the other two imperfect partial shells better than the perfect one I sought and found?
Perhaps you are in search of the perfect career? Perfect job? Perfect mate? Perfect pet? (yes, I’m looking for another doggie now).  Intellectually we know there is no perfect answer or decision. Sometimes we find something different than we were looking for, and it is just right (like the 11 year old dog, Tika,  I adopted when looking for a 3-5 year old).
So even though it is good to have goals and ideals, it is also good to be open to what might present itself. Sometimes the quest for perfection could cause a person to not make progress or a decision.  An answer may come with that quiet voice of intuition that tugs at you and takes you perhaps to someplace unexpected.

A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.” Charles M. Schwab, American Steel Magnate

The happiest and most successful people usually are pursuing something passionately. Employers want an employee with “fire in their belly.” Your job search could be a crossroads to pursue a “calling” which is actually the root word of vocation. Often we made early career and job choice with little guidance. A career change can be complicated, yet the rewards can be vast.

Reflect on trends in what you read, what you do when not required, and what gives you energy. Think about your past and notice patterns. Get help from a career counselor if your mind is spinning. Ask yourself, if not now, when?

Perhaps you’ll decide you can’t or don’t want to explore a new career passion now for financial or other reasons. At least bring that passion into your life whether via a class, hobby or community activity. It may be fulfilled in many ways whether for yourself or as an offering to the world.

I honor my passions whether in a career or personally.

Copyright 2018, Karen Litzinger, excerpt from in progress book, Inspiration for Job Seekers. Feedback is welcome at Karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com.  This excerpt may be shared with the entire credit blurb, www.KarensCareerCoaching.com.

Remember when gigs mostly referred to music jobs or other cool, hippie-like short-term engagements? Investopedia defines a gig economy, as one where “temporary jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.” Many experts note we are in that economy with approximately one third of our workforce as independents per a recent NPR report. Last year CNN reported that that 44 million Americans make money outside of their job with side jobs.

Read on for a new series sponsored by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh called “Side Hustle” featuring several gig economy programs.

Sometimes a person chooses entrepreneurship or contract work for freedom and independence. Sometimes it’s a part-time gig to supplement retirement income or a low wage job with an employer. And sometimes it is all a person can get whether due to ageism, lack of skill or other barriers.

Prudential conducted a research study which illustrated some of the plusses and minuses of the gig economy. The research showed gig worker income at $36,500 per year compared to $62,700 for full-time employees, but people were working a median of 25 hours per week as compared to 40. Maybe that’s why they are happy with their choice with only 19% wanting to move to a traditional work arrangement. Of boomers in the gig economy, 75% said they are “extremely satisfied with their work situation”. Click here for more on the research about the pluses and minuses of working in the gig economy.

For four Wednesdays in February and March the Carnegie Library in Oakland is hosting a series called

Side Hustle

February 14: Selling on Etsy

February 21: Online Earning with YouTube, Podcasting, and Air BnB

February 28: Consulting and Freelance

March 7: Driving for Uber or Lyft

Click here for information on all four and to register.

Welcome to the first blog entry of my completely revised, spiffy website! Thank you for your interest in my take on career planning and business etiquette to help people be more confident and competent in this aspect of life. Besides practical tips and information, I also like to share stories that can educate and inspire. So I would like to share links to five of my favorite older newsletter posts that are important to me or don’t quite lend themselves to be rewritten, yet still could be useful.

Take Your Passion and Make it Happen

Thank You Notes: My Etiquette Take on a Post Office Sign

Student Loan Forgiveness

Is a Degree Worth It?

Perfection Reflection and Intuition Insights