How To Get Referred For A Job

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

If you are tired of your application falling into a black hole and want a better way to communicate with a potential employer and secure an interview, then you need to get referred. Here's how to make contact and what to say! Referred Candidates Are The Top Source Of Hires. Companies report that employee referrals beat out all the other hiring methods including applications from job boards, promoting internal candidates, candidates sourced by company recruiters, and even candidates from the company's career website. In fact, referred candidates are hired more often than any of those other sources. What does this mean for you as a job seeker? If you are randomly applying for jobs online without asking an employee you know to refer you, your chances of getting an interview and getting based on your amazing qualifications are slim.... Read more

Create a complete career with VA's surprising employment benefits

By VA Careers | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2023, Reprinted with permission

You already know that VA offers a number of employment benefits that make us an excellent place to work (so good, in fact, we're one of the top five Best Places to Work in the Federal Government). With things like extensive paid leave, federal health insurance programs and an unmatched retirement system, we'll set you up for success and help you make the most of your chosen career. But what if you're looking for a little something more? A little something extra from your employment benefits? We've got you covered there too. Whether you're interested in research or looking to be a leader in your field, VA has opportunities for you. Ready to unburden yourself from your student loans? Maybe you want access to peers in your field to make sure you're providing the best care to Veterans? Don't worry: VA has got you covered.... Read more

Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up: Here's What To Do

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Quitting without another job lined up can be scary, and for many people it's not the right move. But there are situations when making this decision can help you advance your career or improve other areas of your life. This guide takes a look at all of them! The Pros of Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up. It's usually the case that quitting without another job lined up is not ideal, but there are some potential advantages that come from taking that route. It's also important to note that in recent years, more people have quit without another job lined up, making it less of a black mark on your work history. Here are some that might make this decision worth your while. You Can Recharge Before Stepping Into Something New. ... Read more

Exploring psychedelics for the treatment of Veterans

By VA Careers | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2023, Reprinted with permission

VA is committed to safely exploring all avenues that promote the health of our nation's Veterans. In line with this goal, VA conducts studies under stringent protocols at various facilities nationwide to identify if psychedelic compounds can treat Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and potentially other mental health conditions. In the new podcast series, New Horizons in Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, VA under secretary for Health, leads a candid discussion on psychedelic assisted therapies for Veterans experiencing a number of mental health conditions. A Marine and Army Veteran who participated in a research trial nine years ago describes the experience and his life after recovery from PTSD and suicidal ideation. Elnahal is joined by VA subject matter experts who describe in detail the research experience for Veterans and the many safeguards in place to allow Veterans to participate in the programs.... Read more

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How To Get Referred For A Job

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

If you are tired of your application falling into a black hole and want a better way to communicate with a potential employer and secure an interview, then you need to get referred. Here's how to make contact and what to say!

Referred Candidates Are The Top Source Of Hires

Companies report that employee referrals beat out all the other hiring methods including applications from job boards, promoting internal candidates, candidates sourced by company recruiters, and even candidates from the company's career website.

In fact, referred candidates are hired more often than any of those other sources.

What does this mean for you as a job seeker?

If you are randomly applying for jobs online without asking an employee you know to refer you, your chances of getting an interview and getting based on your amazing qualifications are slim.

You see, hiring is risky.

Employers want to eliminate the risk of hiring the wrong candidate. And one way to do this is to hire someone who is a known entity. This happens when an employee can vouch for you as a candidate.

There's evidence that referred candidates stay longer, perform better, and come up to speed quicker in new jobs.

This is one powerful reason why companies are keen on interviewing and asking for referred candidates.

The Majority of Companies Offer Referral Programs

More than three-quarters of U.S. workers say that their company has an employee referral program according to talent acquisition solution provider iCIMS's 2017 Modern Job Seeker Report. This means there is an incentive for employees to refer candidates for job opportunities. Why is this? Referred candidates stay in the role longer and make better employees.

  • 70% of referred employees surveyed have not changed positions since being hired. (source: iCIMS)
  • 60% of employers believe referrals bring in candidates that are a better fit for the company. (source: iCIMS)
  • 86% of employees say they would expect to be happier at a job they were referred for than one they were not referred for. (source: iCIMS)

But financial incentives aren't the only reason employees refer people for openings in their company. Believe it or not, people want to help you and help their company. All you have to do is ask. There are two ways to get referred – proactively (before a job is posted) or reactively (after a job is posted).

Proactively Get Connected (then referred)

Before a job is posted, contact people who work inside companies you are interested in working for. You can learn more about creating a target list of companies here.

It's best to start with the people you already know who work inside these target companies. They are more likely to have a conversation with you because they already know you.

Even if the person you know isn't in the right department, they still have opinions about what it's like to work for the company. Once you've had a conversation, you can ask if they will introduce you to someone who works in the department you are interested in.

Remember, your objective is to speak with people inside companies to learn what it is like to work there.

The best time to do this is before a job is open because once a job does get posted, lots of people will be reaching out and asking for these meetings.

The secret is staying in touch with these insiders so that when a job is posted they will think of you and reach out to let you know about the new opportunity.

So what do you do if you don't know anyone inside the company?

You can still politely reach out via email or through LinkedIn and ask someone who works in the role or department you are interested in if they have time for a 15-minute call with you so you can learn about their experience with the company.

Since the person does not know you, the odds are a bit slimmer that they would take time to speak with you. So it's important to look for and mention things you have in common such as:

  • Cities you've both lived in
  • Organizations you both are part of
  • Schools you've both attended
  • Companies you've both worked for before

When reaching out to ask for a conversation, be sure to mention what you share in common. This makes you seem like less of a stranger and a safer person to speak with. And this increases the likelihood of their accepting your request for a call.

Reactively Find A Referral

The second way to get referred happens after you've found a job opportunity.

Use your in-person network, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook to identify friends or friends of friends inside the company.

Use every means possible to find someone who knows someone inside the company with the job! It doesn't matter what role your contact holds. What is important is that you reach out and ask for a referral.

You can email all your contacts and ask who they know inside the company

Always tap into your existing network first. Ask the people you know inside a company with a posted job what they know about it and who they recommend you speak to. Don't let them suggest Human Resources. You can't network with them. You need to speak with someone in the department/area that is hiring.

Keep in mind, that it is easier and faster to reach out to the people you know inside a company and ask them to refer you for the job than to try to build new relationships with employees you do not already know.

LinkedIn's Get Referred Feature

Not only can you search for people you know inside a company using LinkedIn, but you can also now use LinkedIn's job search filter to search for jobs where you have connections.

With Ask for a Referral you can:

  1. See jobs where you already know someone through the “In Your Network” search filter on LinkedIn Jobs.
  2. Easily request a referral by clicking the “Ask For A Referral” button on jobs where you know people.
  3. Know what to say with suggestions on how to craft your message and put your best foot forward.

Learn more about it on LinkedIn's blog here.

When asking for a referral, either choose either someone you know well or someone who is familiar with your work. Asking someone you don't know very well to refer you can be awkward and may not get the desired results.

Email Your Inside Contact Instead

Many people are either not regularly active on LinkedIn or do not receive email notifications from LinkedIn so you may want to reach out via email instead. Here's what your email message should include:

  1. Remind your connection how you know each other
  2. Reference the job
  3. Explain why you're a good fit
  4. State why you're interested

Here's a template to help make it easier to ask (and get) a referral.

The best way to get your resume to the top of the stack is to tap people you know (or meet) inside the company.

Before Your Request A Referral

It's important to note that you must be a good match for the job. Simply knowing someone inside a company isn't enough to land you an interview.

Be sure you do these two things to prove you are a strong candidate for the job:

Thoroughly read the job posting, line by line, to understand what it is requesting. You do not need to meet every qualification, but you do need to have 60% or more of the skills and experience they are asking for.

Also, make sure you have a good understanding of the company and its culture. This allows you to express why you are interested in working for them.

After You Request A Referral

One of the most important things you can do for your career is to learn to stay in touch with people who have helped you. This is particularly important when someone has referred you for a job.

Thank the person who referred you and keep them updated on the progress you are making. While you may not think this is important to them, it is. They took their time to help you and they are curious about the outcome. Thank them and keep them in the loop.

Doing this shows you appreciate their help and makes it more likely they will help you again in the future.

Who knows, they may even be able to share what they hear about how the hiring process is going, delays or changes, or perhaps even who your competition is for the job.

Nurturing your network means giving and receiving help so be sure to listen for opportunities to offer assistance to this person in the future. You can even ask if there is anything you can do to show your gratitude.

Take Action Today

Many candidates will miss out on job interviews because they didn't get referred. Start reaching out to people you know today and expand your network so you will find it easier to ask for a referral in the future.

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Create a complete career with VA's surprising employment benefits

By VA Careers | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2023, Reprinted with permission

You already know that VA offers a number of employment benefits that make us an excellent place to work (so good, in fact, we're one of the top five Best Places to Work in the Federal Government).

With things like extensive paid leave, federal health insurance programs and an unmatched retirement system, we'll set you up for success and help you make the most of your chosen career.

But what if you're looking for a little something more? A little something extra from your employment benefits? We've got you covered there too.

Whether you're interested in research or looking to be a leader in your field, VA has opportunities for you. Ready to unburden yourself from your student loans? Maybe you want access to peers in your field to make sure you're providing the best care to Veterans?

Don't worry: VA has got you covered.

We offer a number of surprising employee benefits that you can't find in other health care systems, things that help make us a cut above the rest, and things that can turn "just a job" into "a career that counts."

Work at VA

If you're looking for an employer that can offer you a little something extra, head over to VA Careers to learn more about the uncommon employment benefits we offer through our nationwide network of facilities.

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Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up: Here's What To Do

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

Quitting without another job lined up can be scary, and for many people it's not the right move.

But there are situations when making this decision can help you advance your career or improve other areas of your life. This guide takes a look at all of them!

The Pros of Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up

It's usually the case that quitting without another job lined up is not ideal, but there are some potential advantages that come from taking that route. It's also important to note that in recent years, more people have quit without another job lined up, making it less of a black mark on your work history. Here are some that might make this decision worth your while.

You Can Recharge Before Stepping Into Something New

Let's face it: Everyone deserves a break. It doesn't matter why you're leaving your current job. The fact that you're considering quitting without another job lined up likely means that it was emotionally taxing on some level.

When you quit before having another job offer, one benefit is that it gives you some time to recharge and regroup. It's an opportunity to take some time away from the workforce and give yourself room to breathe.

Many professionals rarely spend any time unemployed, and it's not hard to see why. Not having a paycheck coming in can be scary! But having time to refresh a bit might be exactly what you need.

You have more freedom than you do during your standard vacation or transition time when switching employers. Spend a few weeks traveling or devote some time to improving your mental health. Whatever you do, that time can help you gather your thoughts and prepare to step into something new.

It Gives You More Time to Pursue New Opportunities

Another perk of not having something lined up when you quit a job is that you have time to explore new opportunities. Having a fulfilling career is important, but your life is probably different now than when your career began.

Is the line of work you do now going to continue being meaningful in the future? While you may switch employers, you'll likely work in the same field and do many identical tasks.

Having time to reevaluate your career goals can be quite helpful and give you an opportunity to explore new possibilities that excite you. You may want to use your skills to pivot to a new industry or take your career in a different direction. Or maybe you want to enter an exciting field you have no experience in!

Whatever the case, it's your chance to make those decisions. You can reevaluate what you want, figure out how to get there and take steps to have a fulfilling career.

Jumping immediately into another job often doesn't allow you to take a step back and rethink your long-term goals, so having a brief employment gap could benefit you.

You Won't Have a Draining Job Impacting the Rest of Your Life

If you're leaving an emotionally draining job, taking some time could help you get back on the right track. Many fields take a lot out of workers. While you may have had no problems tackling tough challenges or dealing with high-stress situations in the past, things might be different now.

Many realize that those once fulfilling careers now impact their family, social life and mental health. Taking a short break can be an effective way to ease that burden. You can take time away from work to step back and see what's important. It's a chance to reevaluate your career and find ways to ensure that it's no longer affecting your life in the way it is.

For example, that break could help you realize that the long work hours you've put yourself through for years are no longer sustainable. So, you find new opportunities that allow you to find the right work-life balance.

The Cons

Now that you know about the potential benefits, let's talk about the risks of quitting your job without another lined up. While it might seem appealing to take several months off work, it's not always possible. Here are some reasons you might want to reconsider going down this road.

Financial Uncertainty

The biggest reason people usually try to align their departure from an old job with the start of a new one is to prevent financial uncertainty. Your job now provides a steady paycheck you model your entire life around.

Whether you're a strict budgeter or not, you rely on that paycheck to cover your living expenses and support your lifestyle. Abruptly ending that income stream can be scary!

If you don't have any money saved up, this is not something you can ignore. You need money to pay your rent or mortgage, recurring bills, etc. Without savings or incoming money, you could easily ruin your financial situation and experience pitfalls that continue to hurt you for years.

The Stress of Wondering When Your Next Opportunity Will Come

Finding a new job isn't always easy. Some industries have high demand, and you can easily find another job in the area without much issue. But for other fields, you could be in for a long waiting game.

Hiring processes are lengthy, and you may go through several rounds of interviews with multiple companies without getting a single offer.

That uncertainty can be difficult to manage. Many people struggle to deal with the stress of waiting. Even highly qualified professionals with great credentials have no guarantees. You never know when opportunities will come, and you're at the whims of an ever-evolving job market.

Why You Might Decide It's the Right Move

With those risks, most people will only consider quitting if they have something else lined up. Despite the potential benefits, many feel the stakes are far too high.

But there are many situations in which quitting without another job makes sense. Here are a few examples.

You Need Time for Education or Training

If you're leaving your current job because you want to further your career, you may need time for additional training or education. For example, your desired position may require another degree or specialized credentials. Or, you may need to obtain new skills to move into another type of role.

Working full-time doesn't give you much time to pursue those endeavors. In that case, taking time off could be your only option.

A gap in your career affords you the freedom to pursue additional education or training, and it's easy enough to explain when you start interviewing for new jobs.

You're Burnt Out

Burnout is very real, and the stresses of your career can easily seep into other areas of your life. Most employers get that, so explaining a gap in your employment history usually isn't a problem.

When you feel you're on the brink and need time to focus on your mental or physical health, please do it (assuming you can afford to make this move of course). There's no shame in taking a brief sabbatical and prioritizing your well-being. In fact, it can benefit you in the long run.

That time off allows you to refocus and recharge. You can figure out your next steps without the pressure of finding a job. You might discover new passions or unlock opportunities you didn't think were possible in your career.

Most importantly, you can focus on yourself, ensuring you reenter the workforce confident and ready for action.

You Have a Financial Safety Net

Having a financial safety net is one of the biggest hurdles for people wanting to take time off. So if you have one and seriously want to take a break, this will allow you to do so.

A financial safety net means you have enough savings to support your life and fiscal responsibilities as you take time off. Alternatively, you may have a partner who makes enough to take care of your family while you're in between jobs.

If you're lucky enough to be in that situation, the risks of quitting without another job lined up aren't as severe. But remember to crunch the numbers conservatively when determining this!

It's the Right Time to Pursue One of Your Passions

If you have passions you've considered pursuing, now might be the right time to do it. Maybe you've thought about turning a hobby into a full-fledged career or toyed with the idea of starting your own business. If you have good financial stability and can afford to take time off, there's no better time to see what you can make from your passions.

Many people have things they want to pursue, but their jobs prevent them from seeing the full potential of those ideas. When you're ready to move on from your current job, you may consider spending a few months seeing where those passions take you.

Who knows? It could uncover new opportunities and a brand-new career that you love.

You're Working in a Toxic Work Environment

Finally, let's talk about toxic work environments.

Many people quit without having another job lined up because they're at their wit's end about where they work now. Toxic work environments can drain you of your joy and happiness and make an otherwise great career feel numb and meaningless.

It's not great for your mental health to continue operating in those environments. If you have everything else in order and can realistically take time off, removing yourself from the equation could be what you need.

While some people might not agree with your choice in those moments, leaving a toxic work culture is often the right way to prioritize your well-being. Sure, you'll have to spend time searching for new employment. But at least you can do so at your pace while recharging and taking steps towards greener pastures.

A Checklist for Quitting Without Another Job Lined Up

After weighing your pros and cons, you decide that quitting without another job offer on the line is the right move for you. What now?

Preparation is key. Follow these tips to prepare for your departure.

Figure Out How Much Time You Can Afford to Be Without a Job

The first thing you need to do is crunch some numbers!

Finances are the most important thing to consider before taking any time off. You need to cover all your bases to ensure you're not strapped for cash while searching for another job.

Take a hard look at your spending to create a realistic budget. Focus on the essentials like your living expenses. You have more wiggle room with discretionary spending. It's up to you whether you want to stretch your budget or limit your time off to maintain your current lifestyle.

Don't forget to consider any traveling you want to do.

Another consideration is health insurance. Think about how you will obtain and pay for coverage while not employed.

Your goal is to understand how long you can go without a job before things get serious. That timeframe will give you peace of mind and help you plan your upcoming employment gap.

Next, you'll have to look at your finances and set aside money to last as long as needed. The general rule of thumb is to have approximately six months of living expenses saved because a full-time job search will take longer than you expect.

Remember: You'll have no money coming in. Whether relying on savings alone or budgeting with a partner's income, you must set as much aside as possible to accommodate your gap.

For some, it can be helpful to set this money aside in a way that prevents them from accessing it on a whim. Again, prioritize the essential living expenses and bills. Put that amount aside, and don't touch it. You'll need it to ensure your time off doesn't cost you in the long run.

Research the Job Market & What Other Opportunities are Out There

It doesn't matter how long you take off or what you plan to do during your employment gap. You need to do your due diligence and research the job market.

You can't go into this experience blind. Learn as much as you can about the current market and think about what opportunities you want to pursue once you start your job search. You should look at job boards to see the types and quantity of jobs available in your desired field. Also, talk to people in your profession to get their take on the job market.

Knowing what opportunities exist can dictate how you spend your time off. You may realize employers are more likely to hire people with credentials you don't have. Or, you may find fewer positions in your area than you initially thought.

What you learn during your research will help you make informed decisions about what to do next.

Update Your Resume

The best time to update your resume is before you resign. The information is fresher in your mind and you won't have the stress of updating it under pressure later. You won't have much luck finding a new job if your resume is outdated and doesn't reflect your current experience.

Take time to update this document to make it as impactful as possible. The information you include should include relevant information and include accomplishment bullets. Researching current resume formats is also a good idea, especially if it's been more than a few years since you last updated it.

Some hiring managers you speak with during your job search will question you about the gap in your employment. Prepare for that discussion and consider using your resume to explain it. You can include details about how you took time off to improve your skills or expand your horizons.

Reach Out to Your Network

Just because you're leaving the workforce for a bit doesn't mean you should ignore your network. Reach out to your professional contacts to get some feelers about the industry. Use networking platforms like LinkedIn to let others know you're searching for opportunities.

Contacting people in your network is a great way to learn more about the industry. You can see what opportunities exist and better understand how you can make yourself more competitive once you start your job search.

When you are ready to job search, reach out to these contacts and remind them that you are now actively looking for new jobs and specifically state the type of role and companies you are interested in.

Take the Leap

Once you take care of the logistics, it's time to make your move!

Planning is essential when you want to quit your job without another opportunity lined up. Follow the previously covered steps and get your ducks in a row before you leave.

When the time comes, remain professional. Don't let your emotions get the best of you. How you resign can still reflect on your professionalism.

Give your current employer proper notice and spend your remaining time working as hard as you would if you weren't quitting. Leave on a good note, and your employer may put in a good word for you once you start searching for your next opportunity.

Conclusion

As you can see, there's a fair amount of preparation that needs to be done before quitting a job without another lined up. You need to look at your financial situation, the job market, and figure out what you want from this change in your life.

But if you've done the planning and everything checks out, making this decision might benefit you in the end!

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Exploring psychedelics for the treatment of Veterans

By VA Careers | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs © 2023, Reprinted with permission

"When it comes to mental health, all options need to be on the table."

youtu.be/gxKuqYgeKh4

An audio-only version of podcast can be found here.

VA is committed to safely exploring all avenues that promote the health of our nation's Veterans. In line with this goal, VA conducts studies under stringent protocols at various facilities nationwide to identify if psychedelic compounds can treat Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and potentially other mental health conditions.

In the new podcast series, New Horizons in Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, VA under secretary for Health, leads a candid discussion on psychedelic assisted therapies for Veterans experiencing a number of mental health conditions.

A Marine and Army Veteran who participated in a research trial nine years ago describes the experience and his life after recovery from PTSD and suicidal ideation.

Elnahal is joined by VA subject matter experts who describe in detail the research experience for Veterans and the many safeguards in place to allow Veterans to participate in the programs.

Safety considerations

Research trials include medical monitoring with proper medical and psychiatric screening done in advance. The researchers also make sure Veterans have the necessary social support and structure around them during the trials.

The panel discusses some of the risks with the drugs used and how to manage expected side effects and the monitoring of Veterans during the therapy.

A very important issue discussed is self-medication with the drugs mentioned. The risk for serious injury or death from using drugs that are not prescribed under the care of a medical professional is too high. The research protocols also ensure a Veteran receives the essential psychotherapy component of the treatment needed to achieve positive results.

VA is excited about the potential of these treatments and getting the scientific questions answered. If the science supports it, we want to bring the best and most innovative therapies to Veterans across America.

If you're a Veteran having thoughts of suicide or concerned about one who is, reach 24/7 crisis support through the new Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) number: Dial 988, then Press 1.

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