Looking for a career change? There’s a podcast for that.

Figuring out how to make a career change is a big barrier for many. After all, we were all sold on the idea that we simply needed a college degree and the right major and we’d be set for life. Nobody teaches us how to change careers. But the career ladder is dead, and the world of work has changed. This isn’t your dad’s workplace anymore.

We all need a bit of help when it comes to finding a new career. From how to pick a career path, to learning new skills, to starting a new job, switching careers is a daunting task for many.

How to Change Careers by Podcast

I launched the podcast 50 Conversations to help people change careers. Can you actually learn how to change careers by podcast? Maybe. But you can certainly get a lot of good advice on how to find a new career. The podcast offers 50 stories from people who have changed careers. They cover everything from how they knew it was time to change, how they found a new career path, to how they learned skills to make the jump. And at the end of each episode they give advice to future career changers like you.

Career paths, bootcamps, and career changes in your 30s, oh my

Career changes comes in many shapes and sizes. In my podcast for career changers, you’ll hear stories about people who took many different paths. You’ll hear about people who went back to school in their 30s and 40s. Listen to others explain how they choose a digital bootcamp or why they opted to go to community college. Hear stories from people who were burnt out and started their own business. You’ll also get to hear from people who have changed over and over again, always curious about the next opportunity. With 50 conversations, you’ll hear a variety of career paths, so expected and some less so.

“I need a career change but don’t know what to do”

If that phrase has escaped your mouth recently, the 50 Conversations podcast is definitely for you. The beginning of a career change doesn’t start with having a plan; it starts with exploring your options, commitment free. Listening to a podcast about how to change careers is an excellent start to the career change exploration process.

Free career advice in your pocket

Look, career coaches are fabulously helpful for helping you make a career change but they’re expensive. So consider this podcast for career changers a career coach in your pocket. You’ll learn how to make a career change in many different ways. Plus, I interview other career coaches to get their take on how they’re reshaping their careers.

Curious? Good!

Find 50 Conversations on iTunes, Stitcher, and direct at www.50conversations.com.

LinkedIn Course Syllabus: How to Upskill Yourself

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: LinkedIn is one of the least exciting places to spend your precious internet time. There’s good reason for that: it’s just a mixed bag of self promotion, #humblebrags, and weird nudges from LinkedIn to congratulate people you don’t know on their new job. There is far more interesting content to explore elsewhere on the interwebs.

I get that. I’m not here to convince you that LinkedIn is great. Instead, I want to make LinkedIn more useful for you. Whether you’re scanning LinkedIn because you need an escape from your job or because someone told you to be on LinkedIn because networking, I want people using LinkedIn to learn something tangible that improves their career situation.

For the month of August I’m teaching people how to upskill. Upskilling is the process of learning new skills to improve your professional life. It’ll also help you stay relevant in a rapidly changing workforce. With so many ways to learn new skills, from digital bootcamps to certificates to online courses to YouTube, figuring out how to make it work for your career can be a challenge. I’ll teach you how from LinkedIn.

This will be an experiment on my part. I wrote a book about upskilling and career changes, so I’m bursting with useful content to share. I’ll be using some content from my book, as well as videos, podcasts, and other media I’ve collected about upskilling and career changes along the way.

There’s no homework for this course. But you can still participate. Follow along and if you have a question or want to share your experience, comment on the posts. I’ll answer your questions.

Below is a syllabus for the themes I’ll cover each week.

Week 1

  • Upskilling: Nailing down a definition
  • Not just the robots: Why upskilling matters (hint: it’s less about robots and more about changing business models)
  • How to upskill: Bootcamps, online courses, and DIY learning, oh my!
  • Upskilling for career changers

Week 2

  • Power Skills: The skills employers want most
  • Evaluating upskill options: Online Courses
  • Evaluating upskill options: Bootcamps
  • Evaluating upskill options: DIY Learning
  • Evaluating upskill options: Workplace Learning

Week 3

  • Upskill now: Highlighting interesting courses and opportunities to get you to upskill this year
  • Skill-building bootcamp showcase
  • Online courses showcase
  • Open learning resources
  • How to find workplace upskilling opportunities

Week 4

  • Crafting a personal learning syllabus
  • Using the 2×2 method to keep you relevant in your workplace
  • Embracing career changes and skill building as the new model for career success
  • Wrap up and next steps

I encourage you to send me questions, ideas, programs you like, and more LinkedIn. Feel free to connect with me with a message letting me know you’re interested in following the Upskill Yourself experiment.

And if you’re curious about how to upskill and change careers, I’ve got just the book for you.

Is LinkedIn a Learning Platform?

Full confession: I spend more time on LinkedIn than Instagram. My friends make fun of me when I tell them this. It’s embarrassing because LinkedIn is easily the least exciting social platform to spend your precious internet time on. But I speak and write about emerging careers and trends in upskilling, so LinkedIn is part of my daily internet consumption routine and embrace the awkwardness of it.

This week LinkedIn popped a recommended course into the top my feed.

That action reminded me that LinkedIn has an entire catalogue of courses on offer, a fact that I’d totally forgotten. Clearly this was the intent of the designers. They wanted to remind users like me that LinkedIn isn’t just a place to read professional #inspo stories of people you don’t know.

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50 Curious Conversations with Career Changers

Tldr: I want to interview career changers for a mini-podcast launching this summer. Submit your info here to be interviewed!

My new book for career changers is moving right along. I’ve just given it over to the publisher this week which feels damn good. With the first draft completed and editing in progress, I have some free time on my hands.

With this new free time I’m launching a new summer project. It’s based on my love of podcasts, conversations, and people. 50 Conversations is a limited run, mini-podcast featuring informal conversations with career changers.

Mini-podcast is really just code for informal podcasting because these audio nuggets won’t include intro music, editing, or sponsors. It’s simply short conversations with people who have made the jump from one career to another. You can sneak a listen to these stories on your commute and between meetings.

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Hey career services, you all ok over there?

Seriously. How you doing career services? Hanging in there?

I ask because things are looking a bit rough. I just read a summary from  NACE’s 2018 Student Survey on the resources students use most in the full time job search. The numbers are bleak.

NACECareerServices

Source: NACE, The Job Search Resources Students Use, Find Most Useful

Yiiiiiikes. Only 26.2% of students who used career fairs found them helpful, 9% for virtual career fairs. Career services puts in a ton of work for these events and students are like,

Only 20% of students surveyed found employer presentations useful. Same for having employer reps on campus. Both resources takes a tremendous amount of coordination and logistics in career services.

Alumni relations touts the benefits of connecting current students with alumni but alumni-as-a-job-search-resource didn’t do much better. Only 15% of students who tapped alumni found them useful.

But the worst bit is that 50.3% of students considered company websites useful in the job search while only 21.6% considered the career center useful.

Ouch.

If students find company websites more helpful than the entirety of resources and people within career services, then what is the goal of career centers?

With this kind of data it’s pretty clear career centers need to change things up. And that probably feels like an overwhelming task right now.

I know you guys work your faces off. You’re underfunded and understaffed. After being the department that was ignored for years, all eyes are on your department because now you’re suddenly responsible for all the outcomes. As a former university MBA career coach I worked in a system that valued outcomes above all else. In MBA land, outcomes = rankings and rankings > everything else. Tying your work to student outcomes with metrics defined by outsiders doesn’t make change any easier. In fact, it makes it harder.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you can’t, and shouldn’t, change it up. Those numbers don’t lie. Students don’t find value in what you’re offering.

I’ve had plenty of positive, passionate conversations with many of you who are bursting with ideas to change the status quo in university career centers. I know that many of you feel limited in your ability to make change happen.

So here’s my advice to you, the career services professional who has refreshing, bold, impactful, fabulously bad ass ideas that will transform career services for the better: make it happen in 2019.

Wait, wait. Let me rephrase.

Here’s what I want you to do:

Go rogue, break the all the damn rules. 

Here’s how to do that:

  • Ask for forgiveness not permission.
  • Don’t wait for leadership to change things. Change begins with you.
  • Apply for leadership roles even if you’re not qualified. Push through personal doubt.
  • Pitch radical presentations and workshops for every single university career services conference. If they don’t accept yours host a webinar at your school or for your personal network instead.
  • Actually, host a webinar on the subject anyways. You’ll learn valuable marketing and public speaking skills in the process.
  • Join the conference committee for your regional or national career center conference. Vote for radical presentations from underrepresented voices.
  • Listen to and lift up underrepresented voices in the industry. Change and new ideas come from diversity of perspectives and experience.
  • Apply for board openings at national university career organizations. Challenge outdated ideas.
  • Experiment with new workshops and coaching methods (even if its your first year on the job).
  • Host a design thinking workshop to get better ideas into your department. Then execute on them.
  • Question the status quo. Ask why. Keep asking why.
  • Find your power squad. Find the people who ask why, who challenge the status quo. Get inspired. Then build something together.
  • After you build it, reflect. What worked? What will you do differently next time?
  • Strive for impact not outcomes.
  • Measure your impact. Then promote the shit out of your success. Don’t expect others to notice.
  • Make a list of every.single.resource and workshop your department offers. Then ask why. “Why career fairs? Why resume reviews?”
  • Then ask how. “How might we do this instead?”
  • Every time your department or leadership claims they are innovating, ask how. Then ask what makes those initiatives innovative.
  • Get students involved. Ask them what they need.
  • Better yet, give them a budget and support to create a program they need so they get experience creating and collaborating.
  • Stop looking for ideas at elite schools and in departments with all the money. Instead, look at all kinds of institutions for new ideas (especially community colleges)
  • Get to know recent alumni (ignore alumni relations – reach out on LinkedIn personally). Interview them. Translate alumni insights and experiences into new initiatives.
  • Learn about new hiring algorithms and how they’re making old school career advice obsolete.
  • Upskill regularly.
  • Take an online course in change management to learn how to influence change.
  • Commit to chaos in 2019.

Disrupt is an overused phrase. But career services needs to change and change fast. If students get more value out of a company website than they do your center, things are really not ok in career services.

So to my fellow career coaches who are nodding their heads along to this article, bursting with ideas: go forth and create chaos. Wreck the status quo. Challenge your leadership. Become the new leadership.

Commit to chaos in 2019.

Could machine learning replace career coaches?

Buried at the bottom of an an HBR post titled 8 Ways Machine Learning is Improving Company Processes, is a little nugget about the ways machine learning might soon affect career planning. Machine learning could help employees in navigate their career development by providing:

Recommendations (that) could help employees choose career paths that lead to high performance, satisfaction, and retention. If a person with an engineering degree wishes to run the division someday, what additional education and work experience should they obtain, and in what order?

Could this be a career coach in the future of work? It’s a fascinating idea and I’d love to see it in practice. We’ve already seen machine learning technology take over some parts of a career advisors job. There’s even a chatbot in development that’s trying to be a career coach (let’s hope they’re better than LinkedIn’s mediocre job recommendation algorithm.) IBM uses AI to guide job seekers through their search.

A good career coach will listen to you, help you work out ideas, guide you through an ambiguous process, support you emotionally, and reflect your own words back to you. Machine learning technology can’t do this yet, in answer to my clickbait title.

But there aren’t enough good career coaches to go around. And few people can even afford a good career coach. Moreover, not every organization offers career coaching that helps employees navigate their next steps. Tools that help people navigate a world full of increasingly ambiguous career paths are mighty helpful.

Like many jobs, career coaches won’t be fully replaced by robots or artificial intelligence anytime soon. There will always be people who prefer working with people over machines. But the role of career coaches will change as new tools and technology emerge. Career coaches need to be aware of these changes. The workplace and available roles are shifting rapidly. Career coaches need to be able to coach their clients through these changes. They need to rethink outdated career advice, especially given that our job search is becoming less human. University career departments in particular need to upskill.

Today’s post is brought to you by my half way mark to 50K words for #NaNoWritMo. I’m deep into a chapter on the future of work for my book and still finding a ton of good content to write about. The challenge of course is to write about it and not just read about it. Reading is not writing, I have to remind myself a bajillion times a day.

If you’re into this type of stuff, subscribe and I’ll send you things about careers, future of work, and probably a bunch of gifs.

Career Services needs to upskill. Here’s how.

I originally wrote this as a guest post on Switchboard, an alumni platform that connects students and alumni. Switchboard is one of the few ed-tech companies who understand the nuances of higher education transformation. Their higher education innovation fellowship and upcoming conference ListenUpEDU are models for professional development in higher education. And they kill it with good advice for the future of alumni relations

By now we’ve all seen the headlines about the future of work. Beyond headlines about job-stealing robots, the reality is that machine learning and artificial intelligence technology are disrupting career paths. According to the World Economic Forum’s latest report, The Future of Jobs 2018, AI will create 58 million new jobs within the next five years. In a 2017 Deloitte report, Catch the Wave: The 21st Century Career, the authors note that only 19 percent of companies even have traditional career pathways. The future of work is filled with ambiguity and non-linear career paths.

With so much change ahead, career centers need to rethink outdated career training models. Career centers’ primary focus should not be to prepare students for linear careers anymore. Instead, they should prepare students for a lifetime of career changes. Navigating these ambiguous career paths requires students and alumni to embrace upskilling and lifelong learning. This same advice applies to careers services staff too.

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21 uncomfortable truths about your industry

20. That travel and hospitality schools, barring few exceptions, are training the young for jobs of the previous generation, instead of all the new types of positions opening up in travel and allied sectors. In fact, the deans, professors and teachers are more clueless about the current and future of the travel industry than the students they are teaching. – 21 Uncomfortable Truths That I Have Learned About the Travel Industry

The founder and CEO of Skift, a global travel intelligence company, wrote a killer post on the uncomfortable truths about the travel industry.  Having worked several years in the travel industry, it was refreshing to read it. Most of these truths are usually confined to conference conversations after a few drinks. They’re rarely shared publicly. Judging from the shares and comments on the article, it’s clear it resonated with others too.

I would love to see this list for other industries.

Do employers care about your online certificate?

Recently I came across a certificate in Higher Education Administration from Northwestern. For $19,975, I can “deepen (my) understanding of the field and expand (my) networks.” Details on career outcomes or paths are notably absent. Instead the page offers the basics of college career services: “access to ongoing professional development support, one-on-one career coaching, academic advising and networking opportunities.”

The certificate reminded me of a Northwestern ad I saw last year promoting a $10,000 global mobility online certificate. The ad was marketed towards future international education professionals. As someone who has worked in international education for over a decade, I got a bit riled up. Aside from the fact that you don’t need a $10K certificate to get a job in international education, the program’s career preparation promises were lackluster at best. The lack of testimonials from employers raving about the certificate, or explaining how the certificate signaled a candidate’s competitiveness, was telling.

Despite my frustrations with certificates with lackluster career promises, I recognize the role certificates play as career paths and institutions adapt to changes in the market. Certificates are revenue generating programs which help institutions shore up revenue from diverse sources. Certificates also provide an attractive option to employees who want to upskill or change careers. They usually take under a year to complete. Certificates are frequently associated with a university brand name. While affordability varies by institution and certificate program, they’re cheaper than a full degree and they qualify for financial aid.

However, data on career outcomes from non-degree credentialing – i.e. certificate holders – is hard to come by. Employers’ attitudes towards certificate holders are difficult to pin down, which makes it hard to know if certificates hold their value in the market or even determine the ROI on a $20K certificate.

Thankfully we’re a bit closer to understanding employer attitudes to non-degree credentials thanks to a new report by Burning Glass Technologies. A recently released report, The Narrow Ladder: The Value of Industry Certifications in the Job Market, examines how employers use certifications (not certificates) in the hiring process. Using their vast database of over 700 million job postings, Burning Glass Technologies examines the types of certifications that employers value, along with the skills and salary bump employees receive post-certification. It’s well worth a read for anyone who advises students or mid-career professionals about their upskill options.

“It’s not that the “non-degree” credentials are rare; more than a quarter of the employed U.S. population holds a license or certification, on top of any degrees they may hold. Certifications can be precisely tuned to industry needs, and they hold the promise of reducing the need for employers to rely on imperfect proxies, like college degrees. In certain occupations, certifications outline career ladders that define industries and give employers and job seekers alike guidance about what skills are necessary to advance.
Those occupations, however, are the exception, and if the nation is to close the skills gap, perhaps they should become the norm.”

Though the report focuses on certifications, its analysis provides material for examining certificate programs as well. Most importantly, it provides a clear difference between between certifications and certificates. The report examines employer attitudes towards certifications, which are “awarded by a certifying body, often an industry association or trade group, based on an examination process assessing whether an individual has acquired the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job.” This differs from certificates, which the report defines as “short-term, professionally oriented credentials awarded by an educational institution (as opposed to an industry body) based on completion of specific coursework.” 

This distinction is important since few people outside of mobility circles realize the difference. There is a critical difference between these types of upskilling. With such similar terms an employee looking to upskill could be forgiven for thinking a university certificate in higher education administration will provide the same signal to future employers and salary bump as a CISCO Cisco Certified Network Professional certification (it doesn’t). The former is a revenue generation program from a university with little focus on skill building and an unclear career trajectory. The latter is an industry-approved career training model with clearly defined career paths.

What struck me most from this report was the role that certifications played in outlining both the skills and career paths that job seekers and employers agree on. Certifications are built from industry needs. Here’s an example of the skills needed for a AMA Digital Marketing Certification:

Are university certificate programs mapping their content offerings to industry needs? Maybe but we don’t know. The report also finds that employers value certifications that improve technical skills. Do employers feel the same about certificates? Hard to know.

On top of that, the report finds that employers vastly prefer certifications over certificates.

In 2015, the demand for certifications is approximately 1.5 million job postings, whereas only about 130,000 postings ask for certificates.

Is it possible that employer demand for certificates aren’t as in-demand as universities promise? Again, we don’t know, but this stat and the lack of employee perspectives in program marketing for certificates is telling.

Among the most important takeaways from the report, however, is this nugget:

Relatively few certifications actually have market value, and there is a shortage of easy-to-find information to sort out which credentials are pathways and which are blind alleys. More transparency in the certification market can significantly improve the returns people receive on their certification investments.

Finding out which credential pathways are legitimate is difficult. I’d argue the same for certificate programs. Will a certificate in higher education administration make a candidate more desirable than a candidate with 5+ years working in higher education? Will a certificate provide a salary bump or launch a job seeker into a more senior role? Will a certificate ensure the skills learned are still relevant in the next five years? The lack of this data makes it tough to answer these questions.

Since we don’t have those answers yet, it’s up to the job seeker/future certificate student to ask the hard questions before taking on a certificate. So for job seekers thinking about getting any certificate – online or in person – ask yourself these six questions before committing:

  • Does this certificate add to or improve your technical skills?
  • Does this certificate put you on a path to a hybrid job?
  • Does this certificate map to industry needs?
  • Does this certificate frequently appear as a requirement in your future job posting?
  • Will this certificate give you a salary or title bump? 
  • Will this certificate be relevant in five years? 

If you can’t answer these questions on your own or through a Google search, ask admissions. You’re investing in a certificate; it’s perfectly fine to ask about career outcomes. Ask to speak to participants in the program (don’t rely on testimonials). Look at LinkedIn profiles of certificate holders to understand their career paths. If you don’t get a clear answer, consider other options that are either cheaper (i.e. MOOCs), bootcamps, or certificate programs that detail the results.

Employees will need to upskill throughout their career. Certifications and certificates are one of many paths to do so. To make sure they’re actually beneficial to job seekers, we need a lot more data like the recent report from Burning Glass Technologies.

Higher education should do their part by ensuring their certificate programs bring career outcomes data – or employer perspectives towards their certificate – to the forefront of their marketing and information websites. Because right now career outcomes from all these certificate programs basically look like this:

Certificate programs career outcomes page

Don’t trust employers with your career plans

Here are two brutal quotes from an Axios post reporting on executives’ attitudes towards general pay raises and employee retraining. There were made during a conference for CEOs titled “Technology-Enabled Disruption: Implications for Business, Labor Markets, and Monetary Policy.”

“Executives of big U.S. companies suggest that the days of most people getting a pay raise are over, and that they also plan to reduce their work forces further.”

Damn. And then:

The moderator asked the panel whether there would be broad-based wage gains again. “It’s just not going to happen,” Taylor said. The gains would go mostly to technically-skilled employees, he said. As for a general raise? “Absolutely not in my business,” he said.

The CFO of AT&T also said that he doesn’t have a need for so many call center employees or guys that install their cables.

The message is pretty clear: employers don’t need you.

The idea that employees should be loyal to companies is a hold over from traditional career narratives. We’re still waiting for old school career narratives to catch up the present reality of work. But in the meantime it’s a good reminder that companies aren’t looking out for your best professional interest. Waiting for your employer to give you a raise, direct you to the next step, or reward you for your hard work – that’s not going to happen. Instead, it’s going to be up to you to figure out your next move and make sure you have the skills to get a pay upgrade. Don’t expect your employer to do it.