Holiday Party Etiquette 101


At this time of year holiday parties and events are all around us. Whether you are a job seeker or already working at a company, navigating holiday parties can be tricky at times. After all, you don’t want to make a fool of yourself after one too many cups of punch or stand out like a sore thumb in your best ugly Christmas sweater at a black tie affair.

Here are some tips that might ease the way…

Dress appropriately

‘Tis the festive season but that does not give you a license to dress however you wish. My advice? Dress professionally. It’s great to roll out that party dress or Christmas tie. However, avoid anything too low-cut, with too much skin showing or that’s outlandish, and leave the denim for the weekend. After all, it’s the holidays and a great excuse to get dressed up! And, of course, if they have a set a specific dress code or theme, dress accordingly.

To drink (alcohol) or not to drink?

Here’s where your mom’s advice can come in handy. If you do drink, drink in moderation. Years ago a colleague of mine got so drunk he rode down the stairs on the ice-sculpture (a Santa on a motorcycle) at the company party. Sadly, to this day (he no longer works for the company), he is remembered most for this antic. Don’t be that person. You want to be remembered for your sparkling personality and your good conversation, not for any holiday stunts or drunk infused stupor.

Dancing anyone?

If you feel like hitting the dance floor, do it! But, again the rule of thumb I recommend is to keep it tasteful. Dancing a little too close with the CEO might not be appropriate and may cause some water cooler conversations come Monday. However, dancing in general is definitely a good thing. Time to enjoy some festive activities.

What are some conversation starters?

This time of year is a great time to be curious about others, whether they are your co-workers or other attendees of a colleague’s party or networking event. Ask questions and really listen. It’s not often we do this and especially this time of year when everyone is so busy. Try to take a moment to really listen to what someone is saying. You might try asking them what their holiday traditions are – keeping in mind everyone is different and there are many different holidays celebrated at this time of year. Avoid conversations around politics or religion. Try asking if they have time off and, if so, what they might be doing. Or if they have plans for the New Year. Being curious about others is a great way to start the conversation.


It’s a great time of year to network. In December, people are in a good mood and are often more generous with their time. I’ve had clients presented with job offers at this time of year – so networking could bring you some great leads and maybe even a job offer. Remember when networking, it is a two-way street. Ask how you can help the other person with their networking. Maybe there is someone you can connect them with. If you are job searching, a great tip is to mention companies/organizations you are interested in working for. Be open, thank people for their help and remember to follow-up. Having business cards with you is also appropriate.

‘Tis the season for giving, so bring a giving mind-set to the events or parties you attend. See just what happens. There just might be a Christmas miracle out there…

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Why Informational Interviews Are Essential to Your Career Change

Have you ever thought about changing your career, but wondered how to even begin?

Information Interviews are one of the best ways to discover what careers are available in your communities and how they may (or may not!) work for you. The information you can gain from information interviews can provide you with so much more than what you can get from social media or the internet.

Why would someone take the time to talk or meet with me?

People are often hesitant about approaching employers to conduct an information meeting. Having done over 20 information interviews over 3 career transitions I can tell you that employers are willing to give you the time, and more often that not welcome the interactions.

Here are 4 reasons why:

  1. People like to talk about themselves – think about the common question you are often asked when you meet someone at a party or event – what do you do?
  2. Proactive employers are always looking for new employees (even when there are no openings). There is always turnover in companies and so it makes sense to have people in mind in case openings happen. Smart employers know this.
  3. Employers may be looking to move to another industry, company or transition to a new career themselves, so they will be open to networking opportunities.
  4. Most employers also like to help people out – it’s human nature to want to help others. And by meeting people in person employers can learn a lot more about them, than can be found on a resume, application, or the web.

Pitfalls of approaching employers

When contacting employers to meet for an information interview avoid these pitfalls:

  • Asking for time – but not being specific.

Ideally you want to ask for 15-20 minutes of their time (conveniently a coffee break). This helps address the objection: “I’m too busy.” Honour the time you have asked for – making sure you wrap up when you said you would. Often employers will give you more time – but ensure you honour the time asked first.

  • Making it all about you!

Yes you want the employer to understand about your qualifications, but remember this meeting is about research – you are researching the company, the person you are meeting with and their role. It’s not about you monopolizing the conversation about how great you are!

  • Not asking for referrals

Always end your meeting with, “Do you know someone I could speak to further about _______ (particular career, industry, role)?

  • Being unprepared.

I’ve also conducted many information interviews from the employer’s side and seen my fill of too many unprepared jobseekers. Take the time to do a little research on the company prior to your meeting so you avoid asking obvious questions that can be answered by your research.

Compile a list of questions you plan to ask so use the employer’s time wisely. This also shows you are organized and can manage time – both skills employers are looking for in new employees.

  • Lack of follow-up

Always follow up with a written thank you card after your meeting. Not an email that is easily deleted.

Continue to check in once a month with the person you met with, with a short note, email or call. Keep your new contacts in the loop as to how your research is going. If they do refer you to someone else to meet, ensure you thank them and let them know once you’ve met their referral how the meeting went.

Becoming a Therapist: Physical Therapy vs. Occupational Therapy

Progressus Therapy illustrates in this great infographic the knowledge that can be gained from an information interview. It demonstrates the differences between a career as an Occupational Therapist and as a Physical or Physio Therapist. Progressus Therapy is a national company that partners with school districts and early intervention programs to match therapy candidates with careers. They’re focused on placing professionals in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology, but they also offer a wide variety of careers on their site ( *

So why not try doing an information interview. It just might be the start to a new career! Reach out to me or another coach if you need the support to begin doing these meetings!

*Thanks to Samantha Trejo, Straight North for providing this infographic.

(This article was originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Intention + Focus = Results

Have you ever noticed that when you get a dog or a new car that all of a sudden you notice them more? When we bought our Golden Retriever suddenly everywhere I went I saw Golden Retrievers. Where were these Goldens before? Was there suddenly a huge increase in the breeding of Golden Retrievers, and everyone had one? Of course not, it was just now my attention was pulled to that type of dog. Looking to buy a new car? Maybe it’s a Volkswagon bug. Your attention will refocus and you will start to notice all the other cute bugs out there.  Just became pregnant? Bingo you will now notice all the other pregnant women around you. You start to notice the things you put your attention on. These things were there all the time, but you just didn’t see them.

I call this “putting it on the radar”. There’s a part of our brains called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS filters through our subconscious brain millions –actually about 11 million data bits – of information every second! And yet our conscious brain can only process about 40 bits of info per second.

Everything we hear, see, feel and experience daily goes into our subconscious. The RAS tells us to focus on particular information. Part of its job is to filter all this information from our subconscious. Where we choose to focus can change our thinking, intentions and results, and affect all areas of our life.

So what can this knowledge do for us? If you are a coach and you make a conscious choice to focus on one aspect of your coaching business, your brain will get that message. Say for instance you want to have 5 new clients in the next month. By writing down your goal where you can see it every day, your brain starts to believe it is a reality and results will happen. My business coach likes to call it “Measure what you treasure.” All of a sudden your intention is on growing your business, and you are tracking specific goals to see the results.  You are telling the RAS in your brain that these goals are important. Your RAS tells your unconscious mind to filter the info – in this case your goals – and move the info to your conscious mind.

One way activate your conscious mind is to choose a goal or two, write them down and then look at them at least once a day. I actually recommend looking at them twice a day – first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. Say it out loud – don’t just read it. Then track where you are with your goal. For instance as a coach you might choose to track your client base and the growth you want.  You could record:  “5 clients in the next month.” Then track your progress and record your growing clientele beside the “5”. Now watch the results. Business owners – what’s important for you to focus on?

Job seekers can apply the same principals. For example, by focussing on wanting a job in the hospitality industry, all of a sudden you will see help wanted signs everywhere, articles about that new hotel being built, or maybe a newscast with expansion plans for a restaurant chain. All this information can help you move forward with your goal of  working in that industry. Your radar is now alerted to everything in the hospitality industry and your brain will register that and lead you there.

So what do you want your brain to filter; what’s on your radar? Whether you are a coach, jobseeker, business owner, or someone wanting change in your life, try this out. Purposely focus on what you really want, then watch as you achieve results you’ve only dreamed of.

For more details on how to set your intention and focus on the companies you really want to work for contact Mary via email: [email protected]


Tapping into the Hidden Job Market – a Targeted Job Search

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  –  Henry Ford

So how do you look for work? Most people involved in a career/job search look at websites, social media and even the old classified ads for jobs. Because most people conduct their job search this way the competition is fierce and results are not always that great.

What if there was a better way to increase your results and get those job interviews?

What if instead of the ads dictating where the jobs were, you targeted where you want to work and stood out from the competition?

There is a better way! Check out these steps below:

Where Do you Want to Work? Consider where you want to work. How do you do that? Do your research. Think about the industry you would like to work in. Are you a corporate gal, or more of a grassroots person, or do you want to give back – maybe a non-profit? Talk to people in places you would like to work or even begin your career.

Start Your Leads List. What’s that? It’s a list of companies/organisations that you are interested in. Along with contact information of the decision makers. Hint: that’s not the HR department.

Time for Research. Head to the web and yes, even the library. Check out the business section of the library and look at their databases, publications – Business in Vancouver is a great resource, so are the business sections in the newspapers, check out annual reports – if the company publicly trades, and even the yellow pages. Look at what companies are expanding, what’s the latest and greatest.

Build That List. Now that you have company names, do your research – take a look at what the company is about, see if you can find a decision-maker’s name.

Reach out to Employers. From your leads list start to make calls. Talk to the people who make the decisions – that’s the CEO’s, Executive Directors and Managers.

Ask for the Interview! The goal is to get face-to-face with the decision-maker.

For more details on how to tap the hidden job market and focus on the companies you really want to work for contact Mary via email: [email protected]


The Significant Benefits of Journaling in your Life and Career

Keeping a journal on a regular basis can change your life and work in a very positive way. There are different types of journals and different ways to journal. Let’s examine them.

Journal types

Journaling is often done with paper and pen. Some people prefer this, as they find they are freer and more creative when actually writing. There are some great journal books available (such as the highly popular Bullet Journal). Journals come in various forms including hardcover books, with simple blank pages inside, to allow for writing and sketching or doodling. Other journals are simply lined books. Still, other journals have prompts where they ask questions or inquiries.

Examples of questions could include:

  • What are you grateful for today?
  • What are your intentions today?
  • What are you avoiding?
  • How might you increase your happiness today?

Journaling can also be done online and is a popular option. Some of my clients find this a more convenient way to journal, as they just need access to a journaling app or program. With a cloud based-app/program you can journal on your laptop, tablet, phone or computer. Online journals/diaries are used for travel, tracking food or exercise, self-reflection and personal growth. Penzu, DearDiary and JRNL are a few popular journal programs available.

Whichever form you choose to journal – it’s a personal decision. My client Cheryl*, a busy executive and Mom of two boys, loves to use Penzu to journal. Penzu is a free app that allows Cheryl to log in from anywhere and record her thoughts. It is password protected, so your journal entries are kept private and cannot be read by others.

Four Benefits of Journaling

1. Accountability to yourself and your career/life goals

Journaling can provide clarity in both your career and life. It can show you what you’ve accomplished in the past and speak to your future goals. It’s also a great place to visualize what you really want in all aspects of your career and life, capture your goals and celebrate when you achieve them! Journaling is useful to reflect on your challenges and to help look at different solutions that you might not have thought of previously.

Cheryl* says, “For me, journaling has helped me remain grounded and accountable to both my personal and career development goals. It is my safe place to explore what’s working; what needs improvement and what I am proud of! If too much time has lapsed between my journaling that’s when I know I am not practicing life balance… it’s my cue to “get back to myself” so I can be a better colleague, parent, spouse etc. For me journaling is a personal investment that pays big time in terms of a more meaningful and fulfilling life!”

2. Focusing on the positive – gratitude journals

Studies show that when we are grateful on a daily basis our lives can benefit. Keeping a gratitude journal is one way to express your gratitude. It can be as simple as recording one or two things you are grateful for every day. When we focus on the positive, other areas of our life and career often benefit as well.

3. Reducing overwhelm

When my clients are overwhelmed in their work and family life I often recommend they do “brain dumps.” This is where they write down everything they are thinking about to clear all the messages from their head. It’s like taking the mental to-do list and getting it out and onto paper so to speak. First thing in the morning or before bed are good times to practice this. Often the result is relief that what they imagined was so overwhelming in fact is not as bad as they initially thought.

My client Jennifer* says, “Journaling is a way for me to tap into the sub-conscious. It’s a way for me to put pen to paper and pour my soul out, not exactly knowing where it will take me and often surprises me on what comes out. It’s also the best way for me to release something, for once it’s put on paper, it doesn’t have to take space up in my brain.”

Writing “morning pages” is similar to a brain dump. Conceived by author Julia Cameron, and discussed in her book The Artist’s Way.

Julia insists to do your morning pages correctly, you must write three pages a day (on paper) when you first awake in the morning – thus the morning pages. In a recent blog post she suggested, maybe her morning pages should be called mourning pages, since you are emptying your head of every conscious thought – both negative and positive.

What’s the benefit of doing this? By developing the habit of morning pages you clear your mind and get it all out on paper, you’re freeing up valuable brain space for other things and giving your productivity a boost. Deep-seated thoughts will come out, which frees up your brain to become more creative and you can begin to view things from different perspectives.

4. Health benefits

According to research from the American Psychological Association, journaling can help improve your immune system and reduce the symptoms of even life-threatening diseases. I think my friend, Barb*, whose husband and herself suffered from cancer says it best how journaling impacted her life:

“I need to write and write and write. Journaling is one of the ways I grow, one of the ways I heal and one of the ways I make room fro laughter and fun in my daily life. I couldn’t laugh and joke and skip and play if I didn’t journal. Journaling has let me talk to my dearest friends to loved ones that are no longer here. Journaling has helped me heal daily from the onslaught of medical problems. I can look back at the past __ years and recognize my own growth, like the height markings on the kitchen wall.”

University of Texas psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker believes that regular journaling strengthens our immune cells. Other research indicates that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker contends that writing about stressful events in your life can help you come to terms with them and accept them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health and well-being.

Whether you prefer traditional journaling in a book or like the convenience of online, why not try journaling? Make the time today and see what the impact will be!

*Names changed to protect confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


What Training do Career Coaches Have?

“Career coach training is as varied as coaches themselves.”

The coaching industry is not regulated. So what does that mean to someone looking to hire a career coach? It means that anyone can throw their hat into the ring and call themselves a career coach. Whether someone has taken a one-year course, a weekend online course or no training at all, they can legally call themselves a career, business or life coach.

In order to get a qualified professional career coach, ask the coach about their experience, training and credentials. A safe bet is if the coach has a coaching accreditation from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF grants accreditation based on the courses you have taken from an accredited school, the number of hours you have coached, and a final written and oral exam.

When coaches get listed on Noomii, the company verifies which coaches have ICF accreditation. Then once the credential is verified, Noomii prominently displays the relevant ICF accreditation on the coach’s profile. When choosing a coach, you may want to ask them if they have an ICF designation. This guarantees that you are dealing with a certified coach that adheres to ICF standards and ethical guidelines.

The ICF has three designations:

  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC) – 60 training hours + 100 hours of experience
  • Professional Certified Coach (PCC) – 125 training + 750 hours of experience
  • Master Certified Coach (MCC) – 200 training hours + 2500 hours of experience

Career Coach Training

When looking at a career coach’s training find out where they obtained their coach’s training, how many coaching hours were involved and if they have ICF certification.

ICF accredited schools

The ICF lists approximately 100 accredited coach training schools. Here are some of the biggest ones:


In Canada, UBC, SFU and Royal Rhodes are all universities that offer accredited coaching programs.

The US also has many options, such as:

What else is there to consider with career coach training? This depends on the type of career coaching you want and where you are in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the different services and tools used by career coaches at different stages in the career process.

Career Exploration

If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up and lack focus, you may benefit from a career coach that has a career exploration background. This type of coach may offer assessment tools to supplement their coaching. Most assessments create awareness around your personal values and beliefs and where your blind spots might be. Alternatively great results can also happen with a coach who listens deeply, is curious and asks powerful questions – It’s really up to you.

Let’s take a look at a few of the many assessment tools that a career coach may be trained in.

Career & Personality Assessment Tools

Strong Interest Inventory (SII)

A questionnaire that analyzes your interests in general areas and specific occupations. Your results indicate where your interests fit in six areas: social (helping, instructing), conventional (accounting, processing data), artistic (creating or enjoying art), investigative (research, analyzing), enterprising (selling, managing) and realistic (building, repairing).

The Leadership Circle Profile (TLCP)

It’s a competency based 360 degree assessment that measures leadership types and is rooted in Appreciative Inquiry.

O*NET Interest Provider

This is based on the Holland Codes. It helps people discover their interests through a 60-question assessment that looks at various work activities. This information can lead to career types people may wish to explore further under the guidance of a career coach.


This tool describes your strengths, priorities and challenges of your behavioural style primarily in one of four areas:

D= Dominance; I=Influence; S=Steadiness; C=Conscientiousness

Kolbe Index

A strength-based assessment that measures the actions you take based on your natural instincts.


As the title indicates it is a self assessment to identify your strengths. Once you do the assessment your coach unpacks the learning and how it relates to you and your potential careers

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Myers Briggs is one of the most popular and well-known personality assessments. The tool based on Carl Jung’s work was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her Mother, Katharine Briggs. It describes your personality type based on how you perceive the world and make decisions. You are assigned a 4 digit code such as INFP that describes your personality type.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Career Coach Training/Assessment Tool

Personality Dimensions

Personality Dimensions is another type of personality assessment. It is also based on the work Carl Jung, as well as David Keirsey and Linda Berens. It incorporates the Introvert/Extrovert piece. Rather than letters, the assessment uses four colours to describe which personality temperament dominates. (Inquiring Green, Organized Gold, Authentic Blue and Resourceful Orange). Of course people are more rainbow or plaid, in other words a combination of colours.

True Colors

True Colors was the first to use four colours (Green, Gold, Blue and Orange) to describe someone’s personality temperament. Founded by Don Lowry in 1978, some say this is derived from theory found with Hippocrates and Plato around character and personality.

Insights Discovery

Also based on 4 colours (not related to Personality Dimensions or True Colors). It also provides insight into your personality, interpersonal skills, communication and relationships.

Job Search Techniques

If you know what career you are interested in, but don’t know where to look or how to proceed, a career coach that has a background in job search techniques may be a good fit. They can assist you with everything from developing a strong marketing package (resume, cover letter, career portfolio) to providing the nuts and bolts of a successful interview.  This type of career coach can help you with the mechanics of job search and even enable you to receive a better salary.

Darleen* was a client of mine who was a new immigrant and had very little Canadian work experience. As a result she thought she couldn’t ask for a competitive wage when it came time to negotiate her salary in a new job. We worked together and Darleen saw the value she offered to employers. When it came to salary negotiation, Darleen did her research and countered with a wage that was $2 per hour higher than what the employer originally offered. And what happened? Darleen got the wage she asked for!

Career Designations

Other qualifications a career coach may possess are designations:

  • Job Club Leadership Training Certification (JCLT)

Now what to do with all this information?

As you can see, the training a career coach can have is widespread and varied. When choosing a career coach first determine if you have sufficient focus and want to work with a coach that specializes in career exploration, or one that focuses on job search techniques, or possibly one that has experience in both areas. Next, ask the coach what credentials and experience they possess. Don’t rule out their overall experience, because it might be the deal breaker.

Whether you choose a career coach who has a portfolio full of assessments, or a coach that has accredited coach training and extensive experience, the choice is ultimately yours. By being informed you can make the right choice for you. And lastly, no matter what qualifications and experience a career coach has, it is up to you to find a career coach that is the right fit for you. One that you can trust, feel comfortably with and relate to. Many career coach’s offer a sample session, which is a great place to determine if the coach is a match for you!

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


How to Re-enter the Workforce With Confidence After 10 Years

What is it like to re-enter the workforce after 5, 10 or even 15 years?

Are you scared, excited, worried, lacking confidence, stuck or unsure where to begin? These might be some of the feelings you are experiencing when thinking about returning to the workforce after a significant time away. However, if you take a look at what you’ve been doing while you’ve been off work and take an inventory of the skills you’ve learned, you’ll be able to re-enter the workforce with confidence no matter how long you’ve been away.

Highlight what you were doing while not working

It’s important to first identify what you were doing during your time away from traditional work. Were you looking after a parent or an in-law? Or were you raising a family? Or maybe you took a sabbatical. Whatever the reason, it is valuable to include this information in your resume as it will account for any time gaps.

When looking for candidates to hire, human resources executive Roberta Fidalgo said that she is looking for someone with transferable skills and the willingness to learn.

“There are many skills that are transferable, such as leadership, sales, project management and problem solving. For example, these skills can be gained during the time you were providing child or elder care, volunteering in your community, leading the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) at school or managing a renovation. These are absolutely invaluable and can help you in returning to the workforce.”

Take a skills inventory

Next, I recommend doing a skills inventory. So what exactly does that mean? It means taking a full inventory of what you have done during your time out of the workforce. People often discount valuable experience they have gained while doing other things that are not considered traditional “work”.

Here’s an example: my client Donna* was asked to consult on what colours the church she attended should be repainted. Donna had an eye for colour and design and was a great asset when the church decided to redecorate. These are transferable skills that can be used in a new career like interior design.

Bobby*, another client and stay-at-home mom, has volunteered to do catering events at her church. She purchased food and beverages, organized volunteers, ensured the food was prepared according to health standards and arranged the food in a pleasing manner – all skills that could be used in event planning, catering, restaurant management or maybe running a business. Work does not need to be paid to be valuable to employers.

List volunteer work/community service

People often discount the value of doing volunteer work or community service. Employers want to see volunteering on a resume. Why? It shows that you want to give back to the community, as well as that you have been developing skills while away from “traditional paid work.” Again, the skills you have learned here can be invaluable in getting your next job. Just think of that time you organized a parent-teacher fundraiser or your child’s After Grad. There are some great skills here that you can contribute to your next job.

Identify transferable skills

Now that you have done an inventory of your skills it will be helpful to look at how they might transfer into your next job. Whether you are doing a career transition into something completely different or returning to an old job, every skill acts as a stepping stone towards your new job.

Let’s take a look at the example again of Bobby*, who has been homeschooling her three sons for over 10 years. Any thoughts on what some of her skills may be? Well, Bobby deals with whining and grumpy children almost daily. She also encourages them to learn new things and uses different methods to appeal to their learning style. And on a regular basis they do art, math and social studies. So how does that transfer into skills for the workforce? Check it out!

  • Handling complaints, client (your kids) or customer (teachers, volunteering)
  • Motivating people, groups (again your kids or maybe even looking after another mom’s kids)
  • Using various methods to present information to appeal to different learning styles – sketching diagrams, pictures, charts (homeschooling)

There are many more skills that come out of homeschooling but these are just a few to get you thinking.

Re-enter the workforce with a career coach

Now you may be wondering how you can uncover all those great skills you’ve learned and gathered during your time off. Working with a career coach can help you identify those transferable skills and more. A career coach offers you an unbiased perspective, and can really draw out those experiences, personal qualities and attributes that make you unique and valuable to an employer. A career coach will provide structure, help you increase your confidence and set up a plan to re-enter the workforce in a position that you love!

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Does a Career Coach Actually Help You Find a Job?

Working with a career coach can help you accelerate your job search and increase your chances of success. So who will benefit from a career coach? How do you choose a career coach? And finally, what are the benefits of working with a career coach? Let’s break it down.

Who will benefit from a career coach?

A career coach can provide assistance if you are currently employed and looking to transition to another industry or job or if you are re-entering the workforce. A coach can help you find direction when you lack focus, and don’t know what your next steps are. Whether you are nearing retirement and want to start a whole new career, or are a new graduate fresh out of college or university, a career coach can help ease the transition and get you where you want to go faster and with less stress.

How do I choose a career coach?


First, it is important to establish a good rapport with a coach. Fit is everything. Most career coaches will offer a complementary strategy/sample session where you will learn about them and their unique style, and have the opportunity to experience their coaching.  This is when you can ask how the career coach structures their coaching sessions, what tools or assessments they may use, how much they charge, what their qualifications are, and the average length of a coaching relationship.

Areas of specialty

Search out a career coach that meets your specific needs. You may require help with job search strategies such as interview preparation, salary negotiation or polishing your resume. Or maybe you need help gaining focus and figuring out what you really want in life. In all cases a career coach can help you.

What are the benefits to having a coach?


A coach is there for you. They actively listen to what you are saying and what you aren’t saying. They will create a safe environment where you are comfortable and can talk without judgment. Looking for work can be extremely isolating. Working with a coach provides the necessary support to move forward. A coach provides non-judgmental guidance and can see things from the 30,000-foot view, offering different perspectives and opportunities.  They’ll help you identify where you are stuck, what the obstacles are between you and your dream job, and illuminate the path to what you really want.

Structure and accountability

A coach will set up regular coaching meetings with you (by phone or in person) and assist in developing a plan to achieve your career goals. Looking for work can be frustrating, annoying and demoralizing and it may be difficult to know where to start. Having regular coaching sessions will lend structure and stability to your career transition.  A career coach will customize a program to suit your individual needs and meet you where you are, whether at a career crossroad or in job search mode. They will provide the necessary accountability for you to achieve and exceed your goals, far faster than you would on your own.


A career coach will help you focus on what you really want to do and where you want to do it by identifying your values, interests, talents and passion. They will help you discover what is really important to you and how that relates to finding your ideal career.

Case study

Sam*, a self-proclaimed type A personality, was in a high-powered leadership role that drained him physically and mentally, leaving nothing left for himself, his wife or two small children. He came to me wanting to make a change. Through coaching he discovered that what he really wanted/needed was to take some time off and be with his kids. Sam quit his job and became a stay-at-home dad and is loving the opportunity to honour his values around family and community, achieving the balance he longed for.

Confidence and your personal brand

When you are out of work you may lack self-confidence and your perspective on successfully finding work may become clouded. Career coaching can provide you with fresh perspectives on the challenges and opportunities when finding meaningful work, give you better awareness of your strengths, accomplishments, unique value proposition and your own personal brand.

Your inner demons

  • “You aren’t smart enough.”
  • “You aren’t good enough.”
  • “You are too old.”

Recognize any of these words? We all have them, those inner critics, saboteurs or gremlins in our head. They keep us sheltered, prevent us from growing, and from trying new things. A career coach will help you identify those inner critics, acknowledge them and then create a plan for you to overcome them.

So, does a career coach help you find a job. You bet! Together you and your career coach will develop an action plan, identify your challenges and obtain that dream job that will have you jumping out of bed Monday mornings.

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


7 Steps to Job Searching at 50

Many folks in their 50s may be struggling to reenter the workforce or are feeling stuck in a job that they hate. Does that sound like you? If so, here are seven steps that may open up opportunities to a new career.

First impressions

It is said that you never have a second chance to create a first impression. That first impression happens when you walk into the place you are interviewing. It starts with how you greet the receptionist, whether it be in person or on the phone. When working for MTI (Metro Training Institute) in Vancouver, BC, our receptionist had a call from a job seeker that was rude and impatient. He insisted on being put through to the director. The receptionist politely took a message. I later saw the message she wrote and then used it in my job search program of what not to do. It said how rude and disrespectful this man was. In the end, did the director call the man back? Of course not.

So how can you create a good first impression? By dressing professionally and greeting both reception and the interviewer(s) with a smile and a firm handshake. And go easy on the cologne or perfume – you don’t want people to smell you before you actually arrive!

Stress the advantages of being in your 50s

There are a lot of great reasons why you can be a valuable employee now that you are in your 50s. Stress the extensive experience you have, the flexibility now that your kids are grown up and the fact that you can be a mentor to others. Fifty-year-old’s bring wisdom from life experiences that can’t be taught and are a real benefit to companies and building teams.

Rob Crawford, Senior Human Resources Consultant says, “Companies are looking for people that are experienced and willing to stay on longer. Companies value flexibility–older workers may have the flexibility to work part-time rather than full-time.”

Target employers that value a little gray hair

“Even in careers, 50 is the new 40. There are organizations that value the experience and retired people as well.  Home Depot values seniors.  Walmart is another retailer that does this. They recognize the value in these individuals.” -Rob Crawford, Senior HR Consultant

Target companies that want to hire older workers. Canada’s Top 100 Employers publishes annually a report called, Top Employers for Canadians over 40.

From 2002 to 2013, the US AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), along with co-sponsor, the Society for Human Resource Management, ranked companies that value people and actively recruit over 50s in their Best Employers for Workers Over 50 awards. Although the AARP is no longer hosting this award, the information in these rankings can be invaluable. It provides lists of US companies that recognize the value in older workers and hire them. Why not contact some of these companies?

Avoid telling your whole life story

My family always accuses me of starting conversations with, “I was born in Kamloops.”  I admit I’m a talker, but when it comes to sending out your resume be selective and targeted with outlining your experience.  You may have heard the recommendation to go back 10-15 years on your resume for your Employment History. Sometimes you may have valuable experience dating back further than this but you don’t want to include specific dates, aging yourself.

Prior to 2002

A great trick to use in the Employment History Section of your resume is a subheading called: Prior to “Date”

This allows you to include relevant information that may be 20 years ago without having to list the actual dates.

Always cater your resume to the job you are applying for. Include only relevant experience and never include your age. A client of mine had his birth date in his email address ([email protected]). When I pointed out that it made it obvious he was 66, he quickly changed his email address.

Stay up-to-date with technology and current trends

Some of the stigmas that come with being an older candidate is the employer’s concern about your computer skills and internet know-how. Brush up on these skills with a course at your local college or community centre.

And make sure you can navigate social media. Develop a presence on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat.


Getting out there and networking will enable you to meet like-minded people and gain contacts that can help you find work. Many jobs are in the hidden job market—not advertised in traditional methods. Your network can help you access these jobs. Combining traditional networking such as attending special interest groups, meet-ups, school alumni events, professional association meetings and coffee with past colleagues and friends, with social media networking on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, will help build your community and ultimately assist in your success for finding the meaningful work you desire.

And finally…

Believe in yourself

Have you heard the saying “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right?”

Well, it really comes down to what’s going on in your head. Also known as the inner game, it can show up as self-doubt or inner voices saying that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, young enough—you get it. What we believe in ourselves is what will be portrayed to an employer. If you believe you have a lot to offer an employer, then this is exactly what will come across during that interview. If you think you are too old for the job, then that will come across too.

As we get older our confidence can wane. As a career coach that returned to school and started my own business at the age of 50 I can honestly say that there are days where I want to throw in the towel. Working with a coach has helped me stay focused, motivated and have the confidence to know that I can make a difference in other people’s lives. If you want a little help and encouragement reaching your career goal, hiring a coach is a great option. I took back my life, now take back yours!

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)


Why Didn’t I Get The Job? 10 Reasons You May Have Been Overlooked

We’ve all been there. Had a great interview, or maybe two, think we aced everything and then heard nothing. Upon following up we find out that they’ve hired someone else.

After high school I remember my daughter Leah interviewing for her first real job. The decision-maker told Leah at the end of the interview that they were 98% sure she had the job. We even went out and bought Leah new work clothes. A week later she heard nothing, then after another week I encouraged her to follow-up. When Leah called the company she was told they went with someone else. So, what can you do to avoid this from happening?

Let’s look at what can happen between the interviews and the job offer. (Note: Some of the reasons may surprise you).

Reasons fit into two categories:

  1. Circumstances beyond your control
  2. Within your control

Beyond your control

1. Your appearance

You remind the interviewer of their ex-wife/partner/or someone else they dislike. Or maybe you look like the interviewers archenemy from high school. Now this sounds prejudicial and it is. As human beings, sometimes prejudice or rules can get in the way of the decision-maker’s judgment. It’s not fair, nor is it right, but it happens. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it – unless of course you have considered plastic surgery!

2. The interviewer has hidden agendas

Hidden agendas might include companies hiring only family friends and relatives. Sometimes it is that the interviewer has low-confidence and self-esteem. They may be intimidated by your qualifications and not want to hire someone that they think is smarter than them, due to their education or other factors. Or they want to give the impression of a youthful company so they only hire people under 30. Against Human Rights? Yes! However, it is very difficult to prove that these hidden agendas caused you to not get the job. And if you do uncover the real truth, do you really want to work for one of these places?

3. The company is playing games

Companies have been known to advertise jobs because it is a requirement or policy, when all along they have an internal candidate in mind for the role. They may choose to interview external applicants to check out the competition. Or a hiring freeze can happen right in the middle of a recruitment process, effectively shutting down the possibility of filling the position.

4. You weren’t the right fit

Do you fit within the team/organization/culture? You don’t know ahead of time what the team and company are like, so for the most part whether you fit or not is beyond your control. Information interviews can provide some insight into the company culture and the team. If, for instance, the decision-maker is looking for a particular personality type, this is beyond your control, apart from “faking it,” which I don’t recommend.

Sometimes companies are mandated to hire people that are in a minority (could be race or disability). If you don’t fit into this particular sector you may not get hired. This can happen in government or public organizations.

5. It just looked like you got it

A good recruiter will make you feel comfortable so you will reveal things about yourself. In my experience recruiters do want you to answer to the best of your ability. Recruiters may purposely make you believe that you are going to get the job—when this may not be the case. As well, the recruiter or interviewer may not be the one that actually makes the final decision. It could be someone else in the company that you never get to meet.

Within your control

6. Research

Researching the company prior to your interview, and even before submitting your application, is a priority. Knowing about the company and its goals, values and culture will give you the competitive edge you need. Often the last question you will be asked in an interview is, “Do you have any questions?” If you ask something that you could have found out by looking at annual reports (public companies), on the web or other social media, it demonstrates you didn’t take the initiative to do some research. To be a successful candidate you want to stand out from the competition and that means taking the time to do your homework—so do your research.

7. Experience

You may not have the skill set or amount of experience the company is looking for. The decision-maker may feel you cannot do the job. It is your place to bring out your experience and strengths in the best way you can. That’s within your control. Having the right amount of experience that a company wants is not within your control. However, there are ways a career coach can help you identify transferable skills and strengths that can help in this category.

8. References

Your references can make or break whether you get the job. Make sure you know what your references are going to say about you. If in doubt have a friend do a reference check on your behalf. And provide your references with your updated reference and the job posting/job description for where you are interviewing.

9. Preparation

Not being adequately prepared is not a good thing. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. This quote, attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, shows that we make our own luck. Don’t leave your success to chance. In the case of employment interviews you need to treat the interviews like studying for an exam. Prepare and practice! A good way to prepare is to write down all the questions you think might be asked (these days many are behavioural questions) and then write your answers down as well. This uses the other side of your brain and helps the information “stick.” Then elicit the help of family or friends to do mock interviews. This is also where a career coach can help.

When Bill* was looking for a promotion to management within his organization, he hired me to help him prepare for the interview process. Bill and I spent three sessions going over the types of questions he might be asked, doing a mock interview and focusing on the values he wanted to show up in. Bill got the job and attributes a big part of his success to our coaching sessions and the preparation he made. A colleague of mine, Sally* used to practice interview questions with her family at dinner every night. Rehearse and have answers formulated.

10. Attitude and enthusiasm

80% attitude over 20% aptitude is one of my favourite sayings that I tell my clients. Ask most recruiters and they will say attitude really matters. Many employers are willing to train the right person, but if their attitude is negative they won’t be interested. Speaking of interest – employers love to hear that you are interested in working for their company. Think about the common interview question, “Why do you want to work here?” This is the time to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in both the role and the company. Employers hire people that want to work for them! So say it —enthusiastically!

Ultimately, there are factors in the hiring process that are out of your control, but many are within it. Working with a career coach can help you polish your interview skills and other job search skills and provide support and accountability so that you get hired for the job you want!

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

(Originaly posted on Noomii Career Blog)