When you want a little help finding your next dream career, you might consider working with a career support specialist or career navigator. Similar to a recruiter, these professionals help those they work with connect with career opportunities that are relevant to a job seeker’s expertise and skillset. But instead of focusing solely on placement numbers, career support specialists use a holistic approach to help candidates achieve their overall career path goals.
If you’re interested in getting professional help to assist you in your job search, use these tips for successfully working with a career navigator.
1. Find a Career Navigator Who Aligns With Your Interests
First, take time to research career support specialists so you can find one who matches your career goals. Look for someone who:
- Specializes in the industry you want to work in
- Has worked with employers you respect and are interested in
- Has a stellar reputation in the industry, demonstrated through past client testimonials
Career support specialists typically focus on long-term job/employer placement. If you’re just desperate for a job, any job, and you don’t intend to stay in a position or work with an employer for a significant amount of time, it’s best not to waste a career support specialist’s time. If you do, that could damage your professional reputation and harm your chances of working with other career navigators in the future.
It may be helpful to consult with several career navigators before you decide on one to work with. If their work doesn’t align with your goals, it’s better to respectfully move on rather than have them work on your behalf for a role or roles you’re not really interested in.
As you search for and compare career navigators, be aware of recruitment fraud and scams. These include:
- Someone asks you for money in exchange for guaranteed job placement.
- A “recruiter” asks for sensitive information, such as a Social Security number or driver’s license photo.
- Career support specialist communications contain grammar and spelling errors.
Career opportunities that seem too good to be true may be a red flag. If you’re unsure about who to work with, ask the specialist if you can talk with their past clients to get a better understanding of their work.
2. Update Your Resume
A career support specialist will want to see your work history, all the way up to your most recent role. Make sure you update your resume and use the following resume writing best practices.
- Edit past roles to align with responsibilities and skills that translate to the ideal position you’d want next.
- Quantify your accomplishments as much as you can. For hirers who scan resumes, numbers stand out.
- Lead with strong action verbs to demonstrate your impact.
- Add recent certifications, licenses and other educational achievements.
- List out technology platforms you’re skilled in.
If there’s a particular role you’re interested in, use those job requirements to guide your edits. If you have skills or experience that matches keywords in an ideal job’s description, feature those in your resume so it matches up with applicant tracking system scanning.
3. Organize Work Examples
It’s helpful for job seekers to provide career support specialists with work examples that demonstrate skills and achievements. For example, if you work in a creative industry, like web design or video editing, create and/or update your work portfolio with projects you’re proud of.
If you don’t work in a portfolio-friendly industry (tourism or healthcare, for example), think about at least three work achievements you’re most proud of. You can feature these in a “Selected Achievements” section of your resume and talk about these with a career navigator. Specific work examples help a career support specialist demonstrate your value when identifying clients to refer you to, as well as help you match up with the best opportunities.
4. Create a Career Map
A career map shows where you want to be in your career 1, 5, 10 years and more in your journey. This is helpful to career navigators, because it helps them see the full view of your career goals, so they can help you find opportunities that best position you for long-term career growth success.
Use Pipeline AZ’s career resources to determine what your dream career looks like. You can start by taking a career assessment. Then, explore in-demand careers in industries that interest you. Share what you learn with your career navigator.
Having a long-term vision of your career goals can help you find the best roles now. You can adapt your career map over time, based on where each role takes you.
5. Strengthen Your Online Presence
While a career support specialist will do a lot of work for you in connecting you with open positions at various companies, you can also take steps to strengthen your candidacy. Start by registering for a free Pipeline AZ career profile, then add up-to-date details for each field so employers can find you.
Another place to focus on is the world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn. After you create a free LinkedIn profile that describes your professional journey, make sure to:
- Update LinkedIn fields with keyword-optimized resume content to make your profile as complete and comprehensive as possible.
- Turn on the LinkedIn #OpentoWork feature, which signals to recruiters and hirers that you’re available for open positions.
- Grow your network by adding past professional connections you respect, including those who have managed you, those you’ve managed and previous workplace peers.
- Ask trusted connections for LinkedIn Recommendations, which serve as testimonials that you’re someone they’d recommend in the workplace.
- Upload work samples to relevant positions. You can link to external portfolio or blog websites and/or upload media, including presentations, documents and videos.
“Forbes” reports 95% of recruiters look for job candidates on LinkedIn. Most hiring managers also look at candidate LinkedIn profiles, to see if there are any shared connections and to get a better sense of a candidate through the professional site.
You can add a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume. While much of the information on your LinkedIn page and resume may be similar, your LinkedIn profile has no limit on how much content you can add to demonstrate your value as a candidate.
6. Get Letters of Recommendation
Speaking of recommendations, you can also help your career navigator by providing them with letters of recommendation from past colleagues. You can ask those who provide you with a letter of recommendation to adapt their recommendation for your LinkedIn profile, as well.
Letters of recommendation give a career support specialist a better idea of your impact as a candidate. They also give a career navigator more to work with when they’re contacting clients on your behalf.
To get a letter of recommendation, follow these steps.
- Ask former colleagues you trust and who understand your contributions. If there’s a particular reason you’re asking someone (a specific project, for example), reference that so they have inspiration and a starting point when writing.
- Explain what kind of role(s) you’re interested in, so the letter writer can tailor what they write with that role in mind.
- Provide anyone you ask with a copy of your resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile, so they can reference your experience and accomplishments as they write.
- Offer to return the favor. If they’re interested, write one for the person you’re asking for as soon as you can. That can help motivate the person you’re asking to write one for you more quickly.
In addition to having the letter writer adapt their recommendation for LinkedIn, you can also upload letters of recommendation to a professional website or online portfolio. Share any letters your receive with your career navigator, to give them more context into your career achievements and how you can deliver similar results to potential new employers.
7. Be Respectful, Prompt & Accommodating
How you treat your career navigator reflects on how you’d be as a worker. Since a career navigator serves as a direct contact to companies, interact with them as you would someone who’s hiring you. Be sure to:
- Be prompt when responding to requests from a career support specialist.
- Treat the recruiter with kindness.
- Use professional communication skills.
- Provide detailed feedback on roles, employers and interview opportunities they present you with, so they can better understand what you’re interested in.
- Always lead with honesty. Never lie on your resume or when you’re talking about your work experience.
The stronger the relationship you can build with your career navigator, the more effectively they can help you. Be respectful of the career navigator’s time, and be transparent about where you are in your career journey at all times.
Find Your Next Job on Pipeline AZ
If you’re in search of your next job, check out the Pipeline AZ job bank. We have thousands of job opportunities from Arizona employers, in industries including information technology, startups, STEM and more.