Episode 102: Back to Work! Job Searching in the Age of ‘Rona with the Career Contessa

In Blog, Community, The She+ Geeks Out Podcast by Kaelyn Kam

Boy are you in for a treat! We spoke with the incredibly wise Lauren McGoodwin, aka the Career Contessa, to talk all things job search! We got super practical. We got fantastic answers to these questions and more!

  1. I feel overwhelmed by the different options of going back to school to get my masters in CS, getting a certificate, going to a bootcamp, or just trying to transition internally onto a software engineering team at work. Of course time and money are things I am heavily considering, and the opportunity cost of having to cut down time at my current job to pursue a program. Do you have any advice on what is the best path?
  2. How do I search for a new job while furloughed and pregnant?
  3. Is applying to jobs online worth it when people are saying that most new hires are based on referrals? Especially for people just starting out?
  4. How do you explain getting fired when applying for jobs?
  5. I realized through COVID that despite being in my current field for 10 years, I want to change careers. I know I’m going to have to start a few rungs down the ladder than I currently am, but how do I get a hiring manager to look at my application for those more junior positions without looking overqualified and out of left field.
  6. Is “loyalty” a thing anymore? If someone has a few jobs in a row of 12-18 months, does that start to raise red flags about loyalty or jumping ship? How long do I need to stay?
  7. How do you go about asking for the salary range of a position if it’s not stated in the listing? Is that seen as too bold to ask directly during an initial interview?
  8. Marijuana is legal in my state, but it seems like there’s still a lot of confusion around this. How could someone address this for a new job with a drug screen if I’m using it legally, either recreationally or medicinally? 
  9. What’s the best way to address career gaps? I took some time off when having children, but when I start to apply to go back, I’ll have a 6 year gap in my resume. How do I make sure I’m considered as a candidate with no recent experience?

Learn more about Lauren, get all of your career needs met, and buy her new book, Power Moves!


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Rachel: Recording to the cloud, and I apologize in advance if my cats are like, they’re like, I don’t know what they are on. They have like extra catnip or something I don’t know what’s going on. But welcome Lauren. Hello, Felicia. This is Rachel. Happy, happy blurs day as a way. Yeah.

Lauren: Happy to be here on another blurs day.

Felicia: At what is time anymore.

Rachel: Exactly. We are so excited to have you, Lauren, Lauren, is the founder, the CEO of career Contessa yes and the CEO of career Contessa and we are so thrilled beyond words to have you on here and we are such fans of you.

Felicia: I was gonna say, I think this is the first time we’re doing it, where you’re coming on.

Lauren: Our podcast. Yeah, I’ve been on

Felicia: Your podcast a couple times, but

Lauren: Yeah.

Felicia: We’ve never returned the favor. So here we go.

Lauren: Hey, we’re calling this

Rachel: And we’re calling this like the back to school back to work.

Lauren: I just got an email the other day that was like September’s the new January, and I also feel like that’s all I guess it’s kind of always been a thing because of back to school. But also, I just think everyone’s so desperate for, like, I need a new fresh start a new season I need something. I’m thrilled that we’re doing this because September can be the new January, we can get a January twice. I’m fine with that this year.

Rachel: I’m in.

Felicia: 2020 anything is possible. So January twice. Let’s do it.

Lauren: Yeah, exactly.

Rachel: So let’s, let’s get started. Um, let’s start with I’ve reached here before we get in because we’re going to do some AMAs for the job search stuff, but we want to know about you. Can you talk a little bit about your journey? How did you become the career Contessa?

Lauren: Yeah, I’ll try to keep it short, just because I’ve been running a career contessa since 2013 but it started as a prototype or out of my master’s thesis project. So, I’ve been thinking and talking about career contessas basically since 2010 so I’ll try to condense the last 10 years for you guys. So I graduated college during a recession 2009 NOT A GOOD TIME TO BE GRADUATING so I feel for all the grads right now and kind of did the thing where I moved, Tom, didn’t know what I wanted to do. Even though I had quote unquote checked all the right boxes. Eventually I moved from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles got a job as an admin assistant working inside of a dental school for a major university and super thankful I had the job, but also really I think that was where the soul searching slash internal battle happened between this is what I expected. And this was my reality and coming to grips with that and you know, Christine Hassler has this great term called expectation hangover. That’s exactly what I was experiencing for years and I just think being in a dead end job. Always makes you start to question what you are doing, how are you going to get out and I kind of become almost obsessive about it. And long story short, the obsession was very much around like what is it that I want to do. I had gone to school to become a teacher. I had decided I didn’t want to do that, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I got this random assignment to do some recruiting for the university. Someone was out sick and so they kind of sent me off and recruiting was like an irony of this is I’ve gotten all these career fairs, where you’re always talking to recruiters and didn’t connect the dots that recruiting would be a great career for me. And over about a nine month period I had over I reached out to for 70 plus informational interviews about 30 recruiters got back to me to talk to me about what it was like to be a recruiter, the different types of recruiting just all the ins and outs. It was almost like a self education about recruiting and I leverage those into becoming a recruiter at Hulu and that was really a fork in the road. I’m sure we all have these moments where we look back like, wow, had it gone differently. Who knows where my career would be and working at Hulu was really where I kind of caught the startup bug and being in those environments as you guys know, startups. It’s like urgency quick and you’re around smart people, and it was just a really good fit for me recruiting was a really good fit for me and I was now on the other side of the hiring table which was really fascinating, having been this very last job search or and I was learning a lot about that, but also I was writing getting ready to write my master’s thesis on millennial women and career resources because I knew that there. I wasn’t the only one who had kind of felt very lost and really confused, but also when I was working there wasn’t a resource that I could go to for questions or like how do you ask your boss for a raise, like the first mass for a raise. I started crying you know and so like ‘m just like, where do you go for the guidance and career centers which you get access to school or fine but you don’t. It’s like you almost don’t need that help yet, you really need a career center. When you’re an adult. Our when you’re working. So, um, long story short career contessa that was started as a pure side hustle. First for my master’s thesis, then I kept it around so I thought maybe I would leverage it into some other, you know, tech job opportunity. But then in late 2014 after lots of lots of thought and saving as much money as I could. I left my job at Hulu to work on career Contessa full time and that’s been a journey. I know you guys know this too with startups like started out as going to be some sort of tech related company then turned into this and our borderline a media company slash online education company. So it’s, it’s been a long journey. But here I am.

Felicia: Wow. I love it. I also love, I don’t know, I feel like we talked to so many women during that time period around 2013. I don’t know what was in the air, but, that was such a pivotal time for so many of us like that’s when Rachel and I met like there’s just a lot of stuff that happened in that time period. So yeah.

Rachel: I’m sure that’s something to do with the Mayan calendar or something.

Felicia: Is in 2012 when the world ended. Yes, exactly. Yeah, forging our new pathways in this crazy world that were. Well, you just mentioned a couple of the shifts that have happened since you originally launched, but can you talk a little bit more about how the focus has shifted during this hell escape is 2020.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. And so when I first started Career Contessa I will say also in hindsight, I should have never left my job. I had no idea how I was going to make money or what I was doing, but that is sort of the pros and Cons of entrepreneurship. Some people are much different. I wasn’t nearly as organized and part of that as I didn’t raise money, so I didn’t have any. I didn’t wasn’t like being required to think, some of the story, but, um, so when I first launched Contessa. It was just an interview series. So I would basically obviously I believe in the power of informational interviews. And so I was interviewing women on what is your career and how did you get there and what I wanted to do to shed light on the variety of career opportunities because, for example, I never knew that recruiting was a job. And once I did it really kind of helped me kind of figure out what I wanted it. So we started as that and then over time. What I wanted to become is basically a job search site where you could easily apply for jobs and you can save them but that wasn’t what the community kept coming to us, or they kept coming to us for really all the stages of their career. So while job search was important. It wasn’t the only reason why people were sticking around. And so my focus or just shift. To become more of a kind of a media platform, which is what we are now we’re a hybrid between media and online learning. Just because everything we’re doing is basically a learning tool, but we do have online courses and so over time, we’ve expanded the resources on Career Contessa.

Based on what the audience needed or also the stage to kind of meet them at the stages of their career. So the stages. For example, at a career contessa we’ve kind of looked at it in like, okay, there’s five main pain points, obviously there’s a lot more. But you have to be able to put these into broad categories. So there’s a career fit for the person who’s trying to figure out what it is that I want to do. Job Search. That one’s obvious and then there’s career growth. So that’s everything from leadership to I got the job after I went through this transaction. How do I manage up? How do I manage the dynamics with a team? Money because careers and money really do go hand in hand. And obviously, a lot of salary stuff. We even have our own anonymous salary database called the salary project. Which that came about, just as like a random idea I had as a that turned into Google Doc that now as a whole database so

a lot of this stuff was like, you know, started is like just this random one off thing and then grew into something else. And then the last category is work life balance. I know we all hate that word, but It’s meant to encompass all the other parts like time off productivity routines rituals, things like that. And then we also started offering you the other services career coaching online career courses, our podcast I recently wrote a book, all the things because we don’t want to just be a job site. We want to be a career site. And in order to do that you have to be a very comprehensive resource. And when people say, Oh, I’d love to create exactly what you’re doing. It’s like great, but I just say no. This has taken me 10 years to create. And I think that’s something people need to keep in mind with these comprehensive resources is that you’re not going to be able to create all this stuff in in one night, and that’s a good thing because you want to know what the audience’s pain points are so that you’re developing products or services to meet them there.

Rachel: Yeah. Wow. And I don’t want to talk about the book. But I’m curious about career coaching. And how that because you’re working with it, it looks like there’s a variety of coaches that people can reach out to. I would love to hear how you develop that. Now that’s going

Lauren: Yeah, so that was actually the very first service that we started off paid service. So one of the other things I really wanted to do is I wanted to make sure that most of the things on credit contessa summer free I didn’t want the access to career advice and figuring out your next move to only be for some people. And so actually when we did add paid services career coaching was one of the first ones. And the reason why is because careers are so personal. And so while we are giving advice on a variety of topics. At the end of the day, there was always a person who was like, so I read this article, but my boss did this thing. And now I’m wondering about this co worker and it’s like okay that’s hyper specific and very unique to you, and there was, how can we scale that how could we offer that advice without me just answering emails all day long and if you google career coach. There’s like 30 million results that pop up. And so I think there’s a couple things about career coaching one, I believe that it truly does work. I think it’s overwhelming to find a career coach and three. Most people think that career coaches are only for executives or bosses or leaders or whatnot. So this was another thing where I wanted to make it very like there’s no long term commitments, the way our career coaching platform works is we pre that we call them mentors or coaches, how we use those terms interchangeably but we preach all of them. So there’s about 50 on there. And the reason why I do that is because I don’t want a ton of coaches who overlap in the same skill set. And I’m not trying to give you so many choices that overwhelms you. I’m trying to say here are the best people who specialize in these industries or maybe they’re full time coaches. We also have recruiters on there, which is always really interesting and you don’t have to buy a coaching package. There’s no long term commitment you can pay and use or work with a mentor one on one, when you need it. So that was another thing that didn’t really exist. Most of them were thousands of dollar packages. And that was really important to me because if you need one on one advice. You want to know, where can I go to get it quickly. And a trusted resource. And so that’s ultimately what the coaches have grown into is this very trusted resource where you don’t have to go through Google results for hours and hours and then the other thing about career coaching is that not only should it be something that you’re using throughout your career, but also it you know there isn’t there are credentials, but there aren’t credentials, if that makes sense. And so knowing if the person can actually give you the advice is sometimes scary and when you’re forking over 200 bucks a session. I think what’s nice is that career conduct is built. A relationship with our readers, so that they know we’re recommending something or someone. It’s because they’re good, and you can trust it. So, that way, I love the career coaching. I truly believe in the power of, like, sometimes you just need to talk one on one with someone who’s not your mom or your best friend and get advice from them, you know.

Rachel: I had no idea that you actually like vetted all of the coaches on there. That is huge.

Lauren: And I personally prevent them, I onboard them and I personally manage the whole thing.

Rachel: Wow.

Lauren: It’s my baby, I love, I love.

Rachel: That’s amazing.

Felicia: That is a lot of work and means to totally feel that, you know, it’s your baby angle for sure, obviously. How big is the team right now?

Lauren: So there’s three of us full time and then there’s three people who helped on an ongoing basis on like a very part time basis, but they’re like one person’s worked with us. She’s our jobs manager, for example, since 2017 she’ll spend a couple hours calling BS man stuff so I think building a team is trial and error.

Rachel: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Yeah. That is how I have found from me and my management style or less is

Lauren: More in a way. But I mean, to each their own, you know, some people and I I like being in the weeds of things, some CEOs are leaders really only want to do strategy, you know, high level strategy, I would say that that’s not my strength as much high level strategy, but you know execution and like day to day and getting, you know, the processes of stuff. I’m really good at that. So I’m probably also more prone to having a smaller team because I like doing a lot of that stuff.

Rachel: Or in Europe, people

Felicia: Literally speaking our language. I had one more question too and then I also want to hear about the book more too. But, um, you mentioned your community and, especially, you know, starting up and then building and growing and hype and adding all these resources. So how did the community come about, especially in the beginning was it kind of word of mouth or like, where did that base come from.

Lauren: Yeah. So, in the very beginning, it was definitely word of mouth but also when I first started, I was a recruiter still at Hulu. And so I could pitch like pop sugar refinery 29 any outlet. I could find podcasts weren’t as big back then. So you weren’t like the pressing would be pitching was more like for articles. So I would constantly and pitch. And I would just find the authors of articles that were related to work and then I would send an email saying You know, hi. I’m the founder of Career Contessa I’d loved. Can I write about this? So I did a lot of guest blogging. Eventually, sometimes people would profile me and career Contessa I remember the first time we had something go live on refinery 29 we got 500 email signups the day, you know, stuff like that. And time and then you just keep pitching yourself for in person things and other stuff. And sometimes people will come to you, you know, after a while they’ll come to you, but there was no magic bullet. It was all just like one foot in front of the other day by day. A one thing I definitely regret, because it’s hard to build a community if you don’t have an email list so I was pretty slow. I was probably like two years in before I actually started doing something with that email list and really focusing on it. So today we’re a much more well oiled machine of like if you visit Korea contessa that we’re going to try to hold on to you so that you’ll revisit multiple times, which is truly what builds the communities repeat visits and that repeat relationship but it took me. It took me a while to understand, like, Oh, how do you do that like I want people to do that. But how do you do that, and especially now, as you guys know, there’s so much noise on the internet so yeah, I mean, it was pitching and then also just being consistent. So social media, putting it out every day. Finding a schedule in the beginning, I only published every Tuesday and Thursday. But you know, it’s okay. Even if you publish once a week, it would be fine, or you did something once a week. That’s fine. Just being consistent so people know what to expect. I think it is important.

Rachel: Absolutely.

Felicia: And I was just remembering. I did a webinar for you. A couple months ago I was truly impressed by people who were on the webinar. First of all, and then they were from all over the world. And I was just like whoa.

Rachel: Amazing.

Felicia: And so I will say, you know, you mentioned the well oiled machine now and absolutely so really kudos to you.

Rachel: For you know, getting it all together because very impressive from our perspective.

Lauren: Well, that is nice of you to say because my very first. So my very first webinar. It was a Google Hangout and it broke in the middle. Just so you guys know, there’s no, like, just joined the Google Hangout. Again, or at least back then it was like, if the link was that the link was that, oh no, it’s funny you say that because it’s taken us. It’s been a lot of trial and error and then the very first time we did an in person event, the bathrooms broke. There were no bathrooms.

You know, you have to like to take this, all in stride and know that it’s better to get started, even if it’s messy because you will eventually smooth out those bumps in the road, but so yeah you’re you also joined the webinar. Three years ago as a lot messier.

Rachel: That’s great advice revenue and gotten to the vice part. And that’s all. One more question before we get to the advice, it will lead right into it. I’m sure is your Book powerhouse.

Tell us what is this?

Lauren: Yes. So power moves teach women how they can pivot, reboot and build their own career. And selfishly, you know, I’ve been getting the best career advice straight from women who have been there and successfully done that for seven plus years. And not to mention my own career journey. And the book is really the culmination of the best pieces of advice, but I wanted to create almost like a formula or a system that people could use so power moves is obviously my terminology, because at the end of the day what I realized that the most successful people have in common is they take action, they make these power moves so a power moves is an intentional action you are being proactive versus reactive. And I think that’s really, really important and kind of what I was just saying like consistency in the small things you do every day. They add up. They really do add up and so power moves really teaches women how to approach their careers by integrating power moves whether their daily power moves medium power moves or big power moves into their lives to to build a career on their terms which is there are plenty of people who have successful careers that they hate and there will pay for them.The people who have careers that are built on their terms that are successful by their own definitions that they, you know, love. I’m not saying that every day is easy. Those people are making power moves and so I really felt like I was selfishly keeping the secret to myself if I didn’t share it and the book seemed like the best way to share that. So the book is then divided up so there. You’ll learn the power moves approach. And then what I did is I divided into these four components. So it’s a relationship or sorry, self care relationships career money and it’s done in that order. Very specifically, because each of those builds on each other.

Rachel: That is so awesome. Thank you for sharing. 

Felicia: Can’t wait to check it out.

Rachel: Exactly. I’m like, I’m ready to buy it. Was or would you like to do the first question, or shall I and

Felicia: My way of guessing, so  I’m going to start off with some of our questions.

Rachel: And it is worth noting that we asked our community ahead of time. So that’s where we’re pulling these questions.

Felicia: Just coming out of thin air. So the first question is, I feel overwhelmed by the different options of going back to school to get my masters in computer science, getting a certificate, going to a boot camp. Or just trying to transition internally onto a software engineering team at work, of course, time and money are things I’m heavily considering and the opportunity cost of having to cut down time at my current job to pursue a program do you have any advice on what the best path is?

Lauren: So whenever I feel overwhelmed. The best resource I have found is having informational interviews with people who have done all of those options, basically collecting as much information as you can because the best decisions are informed ones right and so I would talk to five people who have gone through each of those options. Learn the pros and cons why it worked for them, why it didn’t work for them what they would have done differently. And then what I would do is what, like, look at all that information, see one really stands out more to you as being a better fit and why. And also, I might have a conversation with your manager and your team about it and I think it’s never a bad idea. If the company, obviously, sounds to me like she’s Interested in having a future at this company. So if that’s the case, it’s never a bad idea to also have them be you know involved in the decision or not necessarily involved, but like at least talk to them about what you’re thinking. They might have some advice too and I would also maybe have some informational interviews with people on the engineering teams at your company. So before I would apply for a program or spend a dime. I would do all this research ahead of time. I think it’s also going to help you feel less overwhelmed because you will be taking action on the reasons why I think people feel anxious if they’re kind of like sitting still, with all these ideas bouncing around in their heads and this will allow you to come and get that nervous energy out as well.

Felicia: I love that. I especially love talking to the people currently on the team and just being like, how did they get there. Yeah, that can be so helpful. So thanks for kicking us off with that.

Rachel: I love that advice and just the action focus is like you’re so right. It’s so key so easy to get. Was it? What do they call analysis paralysis?

Lauren: Yes.

Rachel: Total so so real. Next question. How do I search for a new job while furloughed and pregnant?

Lauren: Well, first take care of yourself, you are pregnant, that is already a full time job you’re growing a human. Is really amazing to me with a human body. So I would say, first make sure your own needs are being met. You know, there’s this thing called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and it’s all about making sure that your needs are met. First, because you’re not going to be able to make very good decisions. If you’re not able to take care of yourself. So, prioritize that. And then once you do prioritize that. Then the next question whether you’re pregnant or not all

This is sort of, I guess, relevant from the standpoint of, I’m going to give the same advice you have to figure out what it is that you want to do next. Are you thinking about going into the same type of career, you were in before, are you thinking about making a shift. And one of the other things that you could think about too, if that question seems a little overwhelming is maybe think about your target, I call them your target companies and I talk a lot about this in the book. But how can you find companies that align with your what I call your career ideals, easier wants and your needs. So when you have, you know, you’re about to be a parent. It’s probably important to you to work for a company that has other working parents and maybe has some programs or benefits in place like health care is probably a benefit that is really important to whereas if you were 22 going to work at a startup that doesn’t even have a maternity leave and everybody is expected to work hundred hour weeks. Okay 22 year olds can maybe do that and that’s like a learning for its own reasons, right. And so I would say first, take care of yourself and also figure out what your runway is your financial runway. Do you need to get a job tomorrow or can you find a job in six months. Because also if you need a job tomorrow go where the companies are hiring today, don’t worry about it being your dream job. Or not, you can always focus on that later. And then just going back to that last piece is also important to understand your career ideals, which are your wants and needs. What do you need in your next job? And if you don’t know the job title, then go for the company and figure out the five to six companies that offer what you need to make work and life work for you and target jobs all at those companies.

Rachel: I think it’s such a great answer.

Felicia: Yeah, so good so much information. I also was thinking how it’s so interesting to given where we, a lot of us are at this point with the new virtual sort of work environment. How it probably is a lot easier to hide pregnancy.  Then yeah, for me, and  I’m just like, I mean, I don’t think that’s a good or bad thing, but it just really struck me, where as before, like walking into an interview.

Lauren: Totally

Felicia: Seven months pregnant.  Like it’s really obvious for a lot of people that you’re pregnant versus like chest up or neck up.

Lauren: Yeah.

Rachel: You would have no idea. Interesting.

Lauren: Someone did ask us this day and a DM, she was, she said, I’m pregnant, but I’ve been interviewing virtually, they don’t know. Do I tell them after I signed the job offer or do I do it beforehand and look my answer was, like, this is very much your you can do either way I my gut reaction to that question was, for thinking about the employer is I would want to start the relationship off on a with trust and that goes both ways. And so It for me, I would want to share with them, hey, maybe once you get to that place where they’re drafting up an offer. Hey, I wanted to let you know I’m seven months pregnant so you know, be going on maternity leave. At this time, legally, they can’t take the offer away from you, but I would. So this is a tough one because generally they can’t do that, but also I would want to let them know because I would want to have this relationship of trust again going both ways from the get go. But I understand that hesitation, especially right now. During coronavirus where you feel like you are just so lucky to get the job offer that you don’t want to say anything to jeopardize it. So I’m just, I’m very torn on that and

Felicia: Yeah, it’s a hard one. I mean, I like your approach is sort of waiting till it’s like they want you and they’re like drafting it up because I also think that that’s the point where you would want to be asking about what they’re like, and you probably aren’t going to know what their maternity leave policies or parental policies are even before that point anyway. So you’d want to know is this actually a company that would work for you. You know when you come to that time.

Lauren: Yeah, and I just feel like at that point you have the leverage as a recruiter, I can tell you they want you. They don’t want to have their search over total everyone already agree that you’re the one. Um, and so, for me, I find, like that’s what a nice compromise between the, like, don’t tell them at all and being honest.

Rachel: Man, it’s tough. It’s a tough one. Yeah.

Felicia: For sure.

Rachel: My goodness. Thank you for sharing the extra you gave us.

Felicia: Alright so the next question is, is applying to jobs online worth it when people are saying that most new hires are based on referrals, especially for people just starting out.

Lauren: You’re correct most jobs are hired via referral though, and it’s here’s what I tell everybody applying online because a lot of times they say you have to apply online also when I was a recruiter, we need to apply online because a lot of companies are using job applicant tracking systems. And so it’s like we need you to fill all that out. So you’re in the system. So we can move you along. And if you ever got an offer. That’s how we would do it too. So I would always apply online, but I would never just apply online. I would apply online. And then I would find a real person to send your resume to whether that’s looking at what is the recruiters name, who is the hiring manager and drafting a individual email of, you know, interest and attaching your resume. That’s kind of my tried and true of like you haven’t finished applying unless you’ve also sent it to a non general email address.

Felicia: And so I guess. Follow up question on that.

Rachel: One.

Felicia: And I’m asking this question as Rachel and I have just gone through the hiring process. So it’s very fresh in our minds. As a recruiter when you are doing full time recruiting if you got those unsolicited emails from candidates, where they had already applied online, but they were reaching out to you. Like, was that something where you are like, Oh this is awesome. I’m going to take another look at their profile or you’re like, oh, let me put this into the folder of emails that like I don’t really look at her like what was your sort of reaction if you are getting those emails.

Lauren: So I didn’t mind it most of the recruiters. I know I don’t mind it. But we’re human, right, if you get us on a bad day. If you get us on a busy day if you send us a job that we’re not hiring for, you know, like it. It is possible that you can do that. It goes nowhere. That’s also why I like it when people. I like to tell people to follow up, you know, if you haven’t heard anything from a week and a half later, follow up. Because maybe it was just like, Hey, they came back from vacation. They had tons of emails and you know what that role. They’re not the role they’re recruiting for that one’s not a priority right now. So they just sort of like deleted it or they put it in a folder that they never actually go back to, and I’ll tell you the way I got my job at Hulu, is I reached out to them so their company was in LA, I was working for a university that was based in LA. And I said, I went to the Career Center. And I was like, I work here. I’m also technically a student that was a master student. Do you guys have anybody in the Rolodex that works at this company and they gave me the name of somebody. And I sent my resume and he, you know, an email of interest to her in hindsight, I never should have sent it to her. She was the director of communications and I was applying for a recruiting role, even that. So I’ve learned a lot since then, but she never looked at it, but she forwarded it off to a recruiter who did look at it and then gave me the call. So my bias in this is that I feel like, why would you not take the shot at sending it to somebody, because the worst thing is that they don’t look at it at all.

Rachel: But I personally wasn’t annoyed with that. Like sometimes I would like it because going through online resumes is really boring and it’s not easy to look at everything and one in, like, you’re not going to print them all out and also some jobs get like thousands of especially right now. Thousands of resumes within minutes. And so

Lauren: You can you can filter them a little bit, but it’s why a lot of recruiters will sometimes just source on LinkedIn. Look at referrals or wait for someone to be clever to send a resume to their inbox.

Rachel: Yeah so real good. That’s great. That’s really helpful. I am the person who was doing the initial screening for me. What’s so important is, is a cover letter. I feel like it’s so boring. And so when people actually write something that’s interesting and relevant and clearly they’ve done a little bit of work. It makes it feel like, Oh, they’re not just clicking a button to

Lauren: Apply and that’s the funny thing about cover letters in general is everyone has an opinion about them. Some people are like, I never read them. Some people love them. I had a recruiting manager who would not look at your resume, unless you sent in a cover letter. So what I tell people like these are humans, they get to have their preferences. Why would you not go above and beyond and check every box because you don’t know if they’re and yes, for sure. With a cover letter for God’s sakes. Please make it interesting. To read something boring.

Rachel: Please put in the right company.

Lauren: I know

Rachel: You copy paste 

Lauren: Very careful I got in general like reading over your material. Like one time someone sent me an email that said, Yo, and I was like, no, I did not mean to say that I know.

Rachel: It’s so funny. Oh, yeah. Cubans. You’re right. Yeah. Um, okay, next question. How do you explain getting fired when applying for jobs?

Lauren: Yeah, so I think this is a really the guy and I kind of default to honesty. So if you were fired from your last job. And, you know, I’m kind of a fan of saying fired without actually using the word fired. So a lot of times they might say, oh, they’re looking at your resume, most likely, the question is going to be phased as, like, oh, I saw that you left your last job in January and it’s June that we’re interviewing you, like, Why did you leave your last job. And you can say, you know, I was let go from my last job due to XYZ, but trying to make the storyline makes sense of why that wasn’t a good fit like in hindsight, you know, and in hindsight. That role for me just probably wasn’t the world’s best fit. That’s why I made sure that when I applied for this one here, here’s what I know is a good fit. So, like, what is the lesson that you’ve learned from that, how is it that this job is the right one. And so what I would definitely be prepared to get the question, and I would just say, make sure the storyline makes sense like being laid off or Fired. Fires are usually for performance. So you might be able to even describe them and what I like is it’s better to have the storyline worked out ahead of time, because otherwise they get to make assumptions and if they hear fired. A lot of people think of performance and that makes them nervous. So maybe you can say something like well, the performance of the whole team or, you know, my performance on this project wasn’t where it needed to be and they were making cuts that are what I don’t know that the point being is like, because again, this is why working with a career coach can be really helpful because you guys can come up with your storyline together but i do think that honesty is important with but once you’re honest then connect the dots for them so that it becomes a non issue.

Rachel: Love that you’re really good at this. You know,

Felicia: For jobs right now, I’d be all over Korean

Rachel: I’m not looking. I know it’s not like a

Lauren: Yeah, you guys are all sudden, you may get lots of Regents at the minute you say that

Felicia: Next question. I realized through coven that despite being in my current field for 10 years I want to change careers. I know I’m going to have to start a few rungs down the ladder. A few rungs lower than she currently is. But how do I get a hiring manager to look at my application for those more junior positions without looking overqualified and out of left field.

Lauren: Yeah, I mean one I would challenge you with the assumption that you have to start more junior and sometimes that’s the case. Sometimes, you actually have a lot of transferable skills that you just need to highlight so that the focus is on what you have. That is common with the role and if you’re doing something completely different. Yes, maybe, maybe you have maybe want to start a little more junior right, maybe some people actually prefer that because they’re like, I know I need the training of this and so, same thing. What I like to do with a resume. When you are transferring, trying to transfer industries is like making the header that says relevant experience and then a dish, and then a second one that says additional experience. For the relevant experience. You can put all the stuff that you’ve done, whether it was your last job, or maybe the job before that that is relevant to the role and then so doesn’t have to be in chronological order, or most resumes are reverse chronological order. So your most recent job is up at the top right so you don’t have to do that with this format. I’m listening and that will allow the recruiter to see what you’ve done, that is similar to what they’re hiring for right away. You always want to put the most important information up at the top. The other thing is a cover letter is going to be really, really important for this and to kind of connect the dots with you know, I’ve been doing this. Here’s why I want to do that. So when I was going from an admin assistant to recruiter, obviously, that’s something that I had to do and. And the other thing I would say about those transferable skills that you are doing is make sure to explain why it is you’ve chosen this career. So I remember in my interviews at Hulu, they were asking me a lot of things like why I was recruiting. How did you decide you wanted to be a recruiter, and you know I beat out applicants who had already been doing recruiting roles and part of that was and I had this a great storyline and like, Well, I’ve, I’ve actually spent the last nine months, having informational interviews with recruiters and I’ve learned this and this and this. Also, when you do want to transfer jobs, it’s helpful because you can use the information from those informational interviews and throw some of that into your resume, so you’ll know like oh candidate experience is really important for recruiters as an admin assistant. I’m thinking about the experience of people all the time. But you wouldn’t maybe normally connect those dots, unless you were literally having a conversation with someone they were saying how important that is. So, find a way to show some sort of proof that you didn’t just pick this career out of thin air that you actually want it and again it’s I know people are probably tired of me saying the storyline but storytelling is very, very important. Especially when you maybe don’t have an obvious line of connection to what you want to do next.

Rachel: Fantastic you. I love it. Thank you. Okay, next question is loyalty, quote unquote loyalty a thing anymore. If someone has a few jobs in a row of 12 to 18 months, does that start to raise red flags about loyalty or jumping ship. How long does someone need to stay?

Lauren: Yeah, I’m also known as job hopping. I mean, I think there was a time where that was very alarming to people I think especially when covered right now. It’s not going to be nearly as alarming. And as long as you have a good storyline and why you’ve moved roles. So the other thing I really like on resumes is after you’ve listed. Your job title company, kind of in that header area, adds a one to two sentence overview. So that would be like the storytelling piece. So let’s say you switch jobs in a year, maybe you’ve got the first time you had. And then the second job that you got a year later, maybe for the one to two sentence overview, you could say like you know, train or move to this role or like was reached out to about this role was an awesome opportunity and I and I always want to work in the tech space. So I took it, you know, somehow, you can kind of connect the dots of why you move quickly and I like that because, again, I like the idea of giving the recruiter. Anything you think the recruiter might be like now and put you in a notepad try to address it so that they’re the answers are there for them. I don’t think job hopping or or look for some companies they’re, they’re really going to like that they’re going to like the fact that you stayed for a while and that you’ve got that longevity and but just be prepared for them to ask you that question, if I was interviewing someone I and I would probably ask them like, Hey, it looks like you’ve switched jobs every year like what, why is like if you come and work here. You only get to stay for a year and they might be really blunt about it. So I think maybe that’s the opportunity for us to say you know, I’ve moved jobs every year because of this reason. That should be good and make sense to the other person, then you can say something like, but ultimately, what I want is to grow within a company and I’ve researched.

This company and this role. Whereas before, I’ve only researched the jobs or something like that.

Rachel: Love it.

Felicia: Yeah, I think it’s so important, especially you know I’m seeing a lot more people having Frank transparent discussions around leaving companies because of toxic managers. Especially if they’re in underrepresented groups. And so, you know, they join a company, they’re not being supported, they leave, then it looks bad on their resume. Yeah. So yeah.

Lauren: Yeah. And if there’s a way to, like, come up with some terminology to politely say that without throwing your boss under the bus. You know what I mean like less opportunities are left for more opportunities, bigger, bigger challenges. You know, if you can find a way to not kind of like I guess like be negative about your employer that’s that’s always a good thing to yeah, for sure. Totally.

Felicia: Okay, next question. How do you go about asking for the salary range of a position. If it’s not stated in the listing is that seen as too bold to ask directly during an initial interview.

Lauren: Know, most of the time, a recruiter will probably ask you, and then initial phone screen. What are your salary expectations? If they don’t maybe not in the initial phone screen, but maybe if you get a little further down on i would i would let you know maybe ask them, hey, do you know what is the once you’ve kind of build that rapport and you’ve had a couple of interviews and you know that okay they like you, at least, then I think, and if they haven’t brought it up already. Then I think it’s a good idea to say, and you know, one thing we haven’t touched on. That’s part of the logistics is what is the salary range for this position. I’ve done some research and I’ve come up with my own range which I’m happy to also share with you.

And that gives them the opportunity to either share what range. The company’s already come up with a compensation analyst who does this all day and they will literally tell the recruiter. Here’s your range, you know, but there are other companies where if you throw out the first number and the range. There’s this I guess like phrase in salary negotiations called anchoring bias where you anchor the conversation and whoever throws out the first number so I’m kind of a fan. If you get the opportunity to do that because, but it should be well researched because if you threw out $100,000 and the range that they have in front of them is 60,060 or 70,000 they’re literally going to quickly go back to you and say, How did you come up with that number?”

Because there’s probably even a part of them that is like what the hell, like you almost like annoyed. Like did you pull that out of your ass or and so just know that you can’t this anchoring bias doesn’t like get you away from having to explain the number and also just make sure that  it’s actually based in like reality that you can back up and I because I’ve seen people do this sometimes I’m just like, okay, I know you’ve got this advice to ask for more. But this this is you’re missing part two of that advice, which is like you don’t always have to ask for more if they’re giving you the market value of that range and also, if you are going to ask for more, and you’re going to throw out some crazy thing. You better be able to back it up with something other than, like, Oh, well that’s what I was making my last job, similar to how we’re not going to pay you based on what you were making your last job, you don’t get like the rules go both ways. And I think that people have kind of lost the fact that this is supposed to be a two way relationship versus sometimes they’ll just do this crazy stuff with companies. And it’s like, well, whatever. It’s not my money. It’s like well, then you’re probably not going to get the job because they’re going to have to, they’re going to ask about it and vaccination better be dead.

Rachel: And there’s so many resources now that where people can actually do that. I mean 10 YEARS AGO. YOU COULDN’T FIND OUT. Yeah, companies were paying similar roles.

Lauren: Yeah, I’m just curious. Yeah, you took what you got. And you were thankful for it. Now you should do research ahead of time when people ask, Where do you do it?” Obviously, there’s tons of online resources, but also if you’re having those informational interviews, a good question to ask people in those informational interviews, especially when you’re just trying to learn more about is, ask them like hey, what, what kind of a salary range, if you don’t mind sharing. Are you making because I want to move into this and I want to be realistic and you obviously have a lot of experience. So your range wouldn’t be the range, I would ask for, but can you share with me, just so I can get some data.

Felicia: Yeah. You know, because I was thinking to like the other side of it is what if you don’t do your research you throughout the number first to anchor it and it was like on the low end of their range.

Lauren: Yeah yeah, sounds like that, that definitely happens and then people are like, well, irritated at the employer and it’s like, Okay, if, if someone was trying to buy your car or sell you a car and you throughout like I guess sometimes I’m like, Look, I know you’re irritated. You feel like personally offended by that but you would probably do the same thing you were able to get something for a lot lower, and you’d be like, oh, this person selling you this selling this to me for only 100 bucks. And it’s worth 1000 like would you go, no, no, no. That’s way too low. Maybe some people would, but I think the majority of you probably run with paying less, you know.

Felicia: Yeah, I mean, I heard, I forgot who it was, but I did hear a woman speak years ago where she was saying how she was trying to support underrepresented groups within the workplace that she was working at. And so she had shared how she had someone come in for an interview they threw out a number. It was ridiculously low. And so what she did was instead of being like you’re really undercutting herself, she said something like, why don’t you take some time to think about this like, do your research. Do your research.

Rachel: Yeah.

Felicia: Come back to me tomorrow and just confirm that that’s the salary you want. So, of course, they actually did. Yeah, back with a higher number and I think that’s a great way to sort of manage it. If it’s truly like egregiously out in the range. I think that if it’s within the range that the company has, but it’s on the lower end, I think that’s where it gets a little bit more of a gray area because it’s like well out of the realm of right to get paid. So that’s where it really does pay off literally to do the homework and the research into.

Lauren: I completely agree. I, the other one I get is people will be like, oh I don’t know, like, whatever you guys are willing to pay. And I will always respond back with like so we have a range, but I think it would be super helpful and just like good experience in general for you to do some research and you can come back and partly, you have to remember critters are advocates for the company, but they also, you know, they’re also advocates for you. They want you to take the role and be happy here and be successful in it too. So again, we’re talking about the fact that these are humans not everybody’s created equal. I do think there’s more awareness around this today, and especially for, you know, underrepresented groups. And women. We know there’s a pay gap. And so hopefully more companies would be doing something like that, where if it was significantly lower they would just nudge in the right direction of, like, you know, give that some more thought and then get back to us, you know, because it is, it’s a good lesson to learn to is like I’m not saying the lesson should be never accept the offer some people do put like for example at Hulu, the philosophy was we don’t undercut you and then try to negotiate. We make you the best offer from day one. Right and so some felonious yeah, and like I just our CTO, he was like, I don’t like this game. I don’t want to be this bad boy. I don’t have time for it. So he’s like make them the best offer with this, this and this and if it works for them. Then grey and if it doesn’t then then we’re not the right fit. So like every. You just have to remember like every company and employer and philosophy is going to be different in a lot of ways that comes from the top down to. So all this to say that, like do research. It’s, it’s always, it’s always valuable to start there.

Rachel: I love that. And I’m a big proponent of just being really honest and transparent and not like that’s the sticker price, really, that is what it costs and it’s really hard because you also on the flip side, you want to have. You want to encourage people to negotiate and advocate for themselves, too. So, but I do want to recognize the time we both have a meeting with ourselves.

So I think we can go over each question. So the question is, are. Do you have a few extra minutes

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Rachel: Oh, you’re amazing. Okay, so we’ve got two more questions and then some fun rapid fire questions. So I love this next question, because I would have no idea how to answer it, and you’re a very smart person so someone asked marijuana is legal in my state, but it seems like there’s a lot of confusion around this. How could someone address this for a new job with a drug screen if I’m using a legally either recreationally or medicine medicine only medicinal. Medicinal is not instant.

Lauren: That is a really good question. I’ve never been asked that before, um, I don’t know the answer to that. But what I would do is be a fine and employment lawyer. A lawyer who studies employment law and by an hour of their time to ask them if most of the jobs you’re applying for. This is something that’s coming up. That’s going to be worth it to ask somebody. Hey, got a question. What do I do with this because legally they’ll know the right answer to, to for that. I mean the only other thing I would say, and this is like, I guess the cheaper answer to that is have some informational interviews. Or even try to find recruiters that you can have informational interviews with. And if you’re comfortable. Like, they’re not companies, you’re gonna want to work for on the off chance that that sets them off. You could ask them about that too. 

Rachel: Love it. Thank you for giving your best legal and

Lauren: I’m not a lawyer, so I definitely think it’s a

Felicia: Good lawyer because I think it’s complicated. That’s like my favorite answer is

Lauren: Yeah yeah

Felicia: Alright, last question from the community. What’s the best way to address career gaps? I took some time off and had kids, but when I started to apply to go back. I’ll have a six year gap in my resume. How do I make sure I’m considered as a candidate with no recent experience?

Lauren: Yeah, so I guess the annoying answer is, see if you can find some recent experience so that it doesn’t go six years back right away. And it’s just if you, if you are looking at a resume and the date starts at, you know, six years ago. You might just get disqualified for that simply. Um, so what I would do is try to find some recent experience, even if it’s within your like your kids school or your community or something that maybe you weren’t paid for, but it’s a way to have something under that relevant experience header. And the other thing I know with career gaps that is really, really important is networking so network, network, network, figure out the companies you want to work for and what it is that you want to do next. It’s really hard for people to help you if you don’t know what you want to do. In fact, it can be a little irritating for people because they’re cool. I just gave you like 30 minutes of my time and we’re chatting about this, but like, where are we going with this. So do the research ahead of time to know what companies, you want to work for what it is that you want to do next fill any skills gaps have the informational interviews with people who are in those roles so that you truly are coming to the table like well prepared for closing this career gap for your actual resume. I’m less worried about that because you know, you have to do part one of all this part two would be hopefully somewhere in there, you’ve found something that’s relevant that you can put on your resume. If not, maybe you’ve got some ideas on what you can do. That’s probably even if you’re taking online classes or doing projects or something like that. You could put those under a relevant experience. And then I would say networking is really, really important and it’s in also. It’s not a bad idea to talk to people who have for your informational interviews, like there’s two varieties. One is like the person who is doing the job that you want to do, but also talk to other people who have had career gaps and how they’ve managed to get back into the workplace. My own mom had a gap of like 30 years and was able to get a job. So she didn’t like her dream job should apply for stuff she eventually became an admin assistant somewhere didn’t love and then through networking was able to get into property management started at the bottom is like working her way up. So the point being is that unlike property management isn’t an industry that she would have thought of before but by letting people know, like, Hey, I’m doing this thing. You know, I don’t love it, but I’d love to be doing something more. So that helps too and I mean, I’m only using that as an example, if you if you had liked her gap was so big. You don’t have that big of a gap but it’s good to talk to people who have come back from gaps and see what strategies. They’ve used to and have had success with.

Rachel: I love that, too. And for people who are like, how do I network in this new coven world. I will tell you there’s so many groups. Obviously, there is one of them. But there’s so many groups that are doing virtual networking and yeah online stuff and LinkedIn obviously is a great resource to. So yeah, that’s awesome advice. Thank you so much. I know our community will get a lot out of it. And now we have the fun rapid fire questions. Are you ready?

Lauren: Yes.

Felicia: First, what is next for the career contessa?

Lauren: Oh man, that’s well and 2020 I feel like survival. No.

Rachel: Real

Lauren: A real real strategy now for our team. So our director of content just came back from maternity leave, so like the absolute next for us will be kind of getting some of our processes and workflows back together and then I think for 2021 we’re going to focus a lot on scale. So I don’t know about any like new fancy, you know, items that will be on the site, but it’s going to be

how do we, and this kind of happens to a lot of businesses is once you’ve built a lot. You’ve got your products and services, how do you scale them so that they do more for you. So that’s going to be the big focus of 2021. It’s not glamorous, but it’s really, really valuable for us. Yeah.

Rachel: Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, next question. What do you geek out about not job search not career coaching not

Lauren: Not anything related to careers. Yeah, I’m big into interior design and always rearranging furniture or looking at design blogs and designers and I follow a lot of them on my own personal Instagram. So I don’t know if it’s just my age, you know, at 34 all you think about is how to arrange furniture and HGTV. Or this quarantine. I don’t know.

Rachel: Well, it’s funny because I just moved into a house, and it’s like so much decorating and

A little overwhelmed.

Lauren: Yes.

Rachel: Because I thought I liked interior design, too. And I was like, I cannot choose a rug. Yeah, how to do that?

Lauren: I completely agree. We had something flooded in our house. And so we had to redo some of our floors and so I’m back in my office, but I’m rearranged and I’m having the same vein, like I don’t know where to put anything. I don’t know what to do with this. So I just look at pictures all day long. I’m home office set of aliens because I didn’t really use my home office not often before now obviously I’m using it a lot. So I’m thinking about it very differently. Yeah.

Felicia: Absolutely. Same here. All right, favorite way to practice self care.

Lauren: I go for a walk every day, most of the time. It’s in the morning, but I probably go for it. I’ve got a about a five mile loop that is halfway there. I reward myself with a coffee bean iced coffee. I know you guys don’t know what that is on the East Coast, but it’s

Felicia: Oh, I’ve been trying to copy.

Lauren: Oh, yeah. I mean, everyone has an opinion. But I love coffee and they have the little ice and their iced coffees and so that’s my big thing, and I almost always listen to podcasts or books on tape. So it sort of kills two birds with one stone. I get to walk and do something physical, which is, you know, that’s kind of the lifeline here in quarantine but also I get a lot of books read that, you know, quote unquote, read that way and I love it.

Felicia: That’s awesome. That’s actually literally something I’m trying to start as my daily practice so I hear you.

Lauren: Know, like all these people who are like killing themselves on the peloton which I know there’s somebody who’s going to ask me for that like non pals. I just don’t have a place to put one. Honestly, it’s probably why I’m just envious that you all can do this, but like I have found walking to the also from a health perspective, for me at least, the best. And it’s like, I’ll, I’ll keep it going. So that’s always a word.

Rachel: I love that. And if you have a nice five mile loop like yes. Yeah. You know, I think, is that the healthiest way to live. I feel like I gotta start my day. I know because everyone that I know is east coast hours. Yeah, and I’m starting my day so early, but I go, we’re trying to do an afternoon walk.

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah, I will. I like quarantine. I was in the morning walks to the community and I’m adapting logs more. I don’t know. I really would like to get back to the morning situation that because it’s over and done with, you know,

Rachel: Yeah, me too. And also the morning so common pizza.

Lauren: Yeah yeah.

Rachel: We have a question, but I actually want to go to the next two because they were related to what you were just saying. Can you tell us about your favorite books and podcasts?

Lauren: Yes, so I’m reading the vanishing half right now and it’s really

Felicia: Really good friend that I loved it.

Lauren: I am okay so I’m at the point where I’m like some big thing is going to drop pretty soon to this all this build up. So I’ve been reading that I lead. I also read a lot of books for take because I read a lot of books for work. So we have a monthly book club and we read bias last month, which was all about bias. That was really good too. How to be active or how to be an anti racist we read that, too. So we’ve had this for a while, but obviously we kind of go back and forth between fiction nonfiction, so I won’t give you the whole list that’s that’s reason. Oh, the confidence code is one of my favorite books. I think everyone should be that obviously power moves, um, and then for yeah obviously for podcasts. I kind of go back and forth between things that are about business. So I like to dig a day, which is a podcast about things like the media. I like the good podcast, because it’s stuff that I’m like, usually not thinking about and then I’ll go to like murder mysteries also. So, like, my favorite murder.

Felicia: Also huge wars.

Lauren: Yeah. So it just depends on them. It’s like if I get too much business advice, then I start to feel anxious and then I have to go back to, like, you know, dirty john kind of asked podcast where it’s more storytelling and there was another one that I think then sent to you guys were and it was just like it had nothing to do with real life, but it was like that’s sometimes what you made it a podcast.

Rachel: Definitely love it.

Felicia: So many good recommendations. Thanks so much, Lauren, we appreciate you taking the time where people can find you if they want to learn more, if they want to connect. How can people get in touch?

Lauren: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me on your show and then to stay in touch. We’re at career contessa on every social media platform, you can think of. The website is career contessa calm and I’m born a good one. And then if you want to learn more about the book, obviously, you can go to career contessa calm but also power moves book calm is kind of the one stop shop for all things book related to

Felicia: Wonderful, thank you so much.

Rachel: That was amazing. We continue to be fans of you like, how can I do more with this?

Incredible brain of yours. Wonderful, thank you so much.

Lauren: And yeah, thank you.

Rachel: I’m sure we will talk soon.

Lauren: Alright, sounds good. Have a good one guys. Bye.