5 Advantages You Didn’t Know a Certified Professional Career Coach Uses To Help Land Your Dream Job During COVID-19 in the Humanitarian Sector

One of the unfortunate consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the unprecedented loss of jobs worldwide. The UN labour agency predicted that covid19 could cause the equivalent of 195 Million job losses worldwide. In addition 38.6 Million Have Filed for Unemployment Since March in the United States of America

If you are one of the people who have lost their job due to the pandemic, you know the stress and challenges that come with navigating a job search during a pandemic. 

Who is hiring? How do I break through the sea of applicants?

As a Certified Professional Career Coach (a.k.a. CPCC), I hear these concerns first hand from folks who have not been on the job market in a long time, or never had to conduct their job search, now in a position to take control of their next move. 

Maybe you’ve been a pro at advancing your career but never had to face the obstacles that 2020 has handed you.

Now more than ever, having a professional help you manage your career campaign will provide the confidence, tools, and excitement as you start your search for organisations who are hiring for your next dream job!

“By collaborating with a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC), you will pinpoint the direction and create career management solutions to land employment quicker and more smoothly than going it alone,” says Diane Hudson, Director, CPCC program.

#1 Gain a Competitive Advantage (ahead of potentially hundreds or thousands of other applicants)

How do you stand out in a sea of applicants? It’s tough these days. So many talented people are entering the job market, looking for many of the same positions and companies who are hiring.

As a Certified Professional Career Coach, I know what hiring managers are looking for and how they process applicants through their ATS or applicant tracking system. We will work to give you that competitive edge through personalized materials and a one-of-a-kind approach.

When you work with a career coach, we will write and design your resumes together so you can shine above the rest! How do we do that? First, we will create custom tools like these that will highlight your strengths:

  • Multiple resume versions for each job opportunity 
  • Unique cover letters that resonate with their reader
  • Optimized LinkedIn profile to differentiate you from the competition

Your job search resumes will read smarter, look sharper, and provide value and show ROI to an employer or recruiter. 

You will also learn to interview smoothly and confidently and be prepared to put your best foot forward when onboarding. Having gained a renewed confidence level, you will learn to stretch your comfort level (maybe network more effectively) and reach for new horizons by forming a circle of accountable partners.

#2  Answer That Age-Old Question, “Why should they pick me for the job?”

I am often asked questions from job seekers searching for ways to differentiate themselves:

  • “Do I have any value to provide an employer?”
  • “How can I present that value on my resume?”
  • “How does the employer understand the value I offer?”

As a Certified Professional Career Coach, I will help you determine and articulate the value YOU offer an employer. By asking targeted questions, I will coach you to identify the strengths you bring to the role, focused by your target position, industry, and job function. Together we will be able to determine the ROI you will provide a new employer, and answer these important questions.

Together we will be able to determine the ROI you will provide a new employer, and answer these important questions:

  1. What can you contribute to the ultimate goal of accountability to beneficiaries and donors.
  2. Contribute to measurement and evidence of program impact.
  3. How well can you fix something that is broken? How can you bring about innovation.
  4. How well can you lead a new program or project that creates efficiencies and effectiveness?

These questions will determine your value and ROI.  We will incorporate these value statements into all your career campaign materials so it’s clear why you are the most qualified and talented candidate.

Remember: A jack-of-all-trades resume is not beneficial to an employer or recruiter.  It does not provide any unique value to answer why YOU are the perfect candidate.

#3  Get Personalized Tools to Make Your Job Search Easier!

Are you leveraging the wide variety of career management tools to make your job search easier?

A Certified Professional Career Coach will support you in developing resumes (yes, I said resumes – plural – resumes are no longer one-size-fits-all) and other written career management tools. 

A robust career management campaign includes all these tools and more:

  • Social Media Profiles
  • A strong resume that provides value to each potential employer and passes an automated applicant tracking system (ATS)
  • Interview question preparation (asking & answering!)
  • Succession planning and assessments
  • Salary negotiations
  • Dressing appropriately for the job interview
  • Onboarding
  • Skills development (leadership, public speaking, language skills)

Are you using any of these, or some already? We will work together to craft the perfect combination of these tools, so once you find that ideal job, you’ll be set up for success to land it!

Years ago, career professionals moved far beyond just writing résumés, as important as that skill continues to be. You deserve more than a commanding document. You deserve access to all the tools required to win the career you’ve always deserved. You need an expert on your team.

#4 A Professional Certified Career Coach Will Help Set Career Goals and Cheer You On!

It’s not uncommon for job seekers to struggle with frustration or even lowness (e.g., if they receive a “rejection” letter) in the job search process. During this pandemic, a job search can amplify the uncertainty.

That is why Certified Professional Career Coaches serve as Chief Motivational Officers. A CPCC’s main job is to help you develop new perspectives to set and reach goals. Identifying and adjusting goals is a critical component of career management and action planning, and my training and education as a CPCC will show you how to navigate these seemingly impossible tasks.

A coach is there to hold your hand and guide you despite potential setbacks like job search fatigue, unemployment rates rising, and other pandemic induced challenges.

We will cheer with you when you enjoy successes and talk you through the challenges. We relish the joy of knowing you attained an interview, received a job offer, or negotiated a higher salary! 

#5  It’s Our Job to Get You A JOB

Just like you go to the doctor when you are sick or the auto mechanic when your car breaks down, consider working with a career coach to diagnose and put a treatment plan together for your career health! 

You need someone on your side to connect the value you offer with what companies need. That’s what career professionals do. Professionalism and certification go hand in hand. Do more than ask which certifications someone holds. Find out how competitive those credentials are, which skills they validated.

As a Certified Professional Career Coach, we will have completed the comprehensive Certified Professional Career Coach program, a certification of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC).

PARW/CC is the longest standing professional resume writing and career coaching association in the industry with more than 2,000 members and offering four career management credentials.

CPCC’s have the backing, support, and resources of the membership of PARW/CC and other CPCC’s via LinkedIn Groups and other Professional Forums. 

So when you work with us, that means you will too!

Whether you’re new to the job hunt, or a job seeker that just hasn’t found the right fit yet, a Certified Professional Career Coach could be just the thing you need to get you to the next level. 

Don’t let COVID-19 get you down. There are still opportunities out there that we will find for you together.

If you want to learn more about how to engage my services, make sure to e-mail me at batje@humhr.org.

Working together, we can move forward to better things for years to come.

Life is a game of inches and so is your job search.

One of my husband’s favourite monologues is from the Al Pacino movie “Any Given Sunday”. In it, Pacino who plays an ageing coach gives his (American) football team a rousing halftime pep talk. 

The most stirring lines of the speech are:-

“You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small.”

And so, it is the same when searching for a job. When you submit your resume in response to a job advert, you are up against hundreds if not thousands of other candidates who are just as qualified as you. A small thing like formatting your resume properly and optimising it for ATS can make the difference to get you past the first screening to the “person screen” where small things like white space, readability and content will get you shortlisted for the interview. As silly as it sounds, I have first-hand experience of candidates being shortlisted for an interview only for them to be unreachable because they changed their contact details and did not bother to update their resume.

During the interview, the interview panel will compare your responses and performance to the other candidates and to the model answers that they have. Small things such as spending some time preparing for the interview, aligning your responses to the job description, your demeanour, your dress sense, your confidence and the questions you ask the panel can be the difference between being offered the job or not.

The sum of all these small things, these inches, will be all the difference between landing that job or coming a close second, and no-one remembers who came second. Don’t believe me? Tell me who came second to Usain Bolt at the Beijing Olympics in 2008? And that’s the point; Life (and your career advancement) is a game of inches.

We at HUMHR can help you gain those inches. Get in touch with us and let us help you inch closer to your career goals.

Artificial Intelligence in HR – and the implications for your humanitarian career!

A few years ago, while attending a conference in Hyderabad, India, I sat in on a presentation on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing given by IBM Master Inventor, Neil Sahota. It was well presented and surprisingly easy to follow even for a non-techie like me. The presentation focused on cognitive computing solutions such as how IBM Watson could be applied to solving relief and development challenges faced by humanitarian organisations. At the time, I thought it was interesting but never really thought the concepts of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing could apply in my field of specialisation– how wrong I was.

What is AI?

Britannica.com defines Artificial intelligence as  – “ the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings” and IBM says this :-Cognitive computing refers to systems that learn at scale, reason with purpose and interact with humans naturally. Rather than being explicitly programmed, they learn and reason from their interactions with us and from their experiences with their environment.”

In a nutshell it is about digital systems that try mimic human intelligence. Examples of AI include self-driving vehicles and the accurate diagnosis of pulmonary conditions based on reading an X-ray. While nascent, AI is also being applied in the HR field particularly in the recruitment and onboarding process. Applications of AI in HR include the analysis of facial expressions during interviews, (helping determine whether a candidate is being truthful in her responses) and the analysis of candidates’ social media footprint and posts to shortlist the candidates with the best cultural fit to the hiring organisation.

Humanitarian organisations are notoriously slow to embrace technology, but we think a number of factors will see a rapid acceptance of AI within the HR space. Primarily because as budgets tighten in the post-COVID world, HR departments will be asked to do even more with less. As it is recruiting teams are swamped as currently a single job posting will attract thousands of applications which will be whittled down to several hundreds after going through an  Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which parses several keywords from the candidates resume and compares it to keywords in the job description. The current model is not sustainable, and it is a matter of time before more organisations start looking at more efficient means of recruitment.

We predict that as a result of a combination of Big Data analytics, tightened budgets and greater collaboration between the humanitarian and private sectors coupled with a desire to get the best candidate, AI will start to grow in leaps and bounds and will constitute a large proportion of how humanitarian organisations do their recruitment within the next decade. Candidates must be equipped to succeed in this new environment where most decisions related to a candidate’s potential recruitment are done by a robot.

At HUMHR we offer interview coaching that will help you navigate this increasingly largely human-less process and boost your chances of landing the dream job. In addition, we can help you optimise your social media activities and help align your resume, career goals with your social posts. Get in touch with us and we will “partner with you to do good

HUMHR’s CPCC qualification set to enhance Career Coaching Sessions

In this blog, I will talk about how I found my career purpose and what led me to pursue and attain my career coach certification the Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

As well as, how I worked with a coach to learn and strengthen my coaching skills, transforming my career into something I did not envision at the age of 23 when I embarked on my HR graduate trainee program.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

In junior school, I wanted to be a lawyer. In high school, I wanted to be an accountant. If you asked me in my 20’s “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time”- my response would have been as HR Lead / Director in the financial services sector.  The common thread was that I saw myself rising up the corporate ladder to the executive level.

For a prolonged period, I was focused on climbing up that ladder, starting off my career with an HR graduate training program for a big conglomerate and then rising up the ladder in the HR management field for a financial institution.

 Then life happened and it took me on a long, scenic sojourn punctuated with highs and lows.

The Journey of Self-discovery:

My journey physically took me to many different countries globally, having relocated from my home country many years ago. I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to live and work in places in southern Africa, the United States and the Caribbean.

In 2010, I moved to Haiti where my husband had been deployed to assist with the Haiti earthquake response. That is the place where I truly found my passion. For the first time in my career, I was exposed to the humanitarian world initially as a volunteer, before becoming a member of the HR team with an international NGO.

I met and worked with truly amazing people – those who have the heart to serve the most vulnerable in this world and I got a chance to meet people who literally had lost everything:- I will never forget meeting a young man who lost his parents, home, all his worldly possessions but yet he still managed to smile and have a positive outlook on life. 

My experience in Haiti had a profound effect on me. It put a lot of things in perspective and made me realise that while there may be degrees to suffering, the power of the human spirit is universal in everyone.  I unearthed an innate desire and skill to help humanitarians with their career needs. I found myself giving advise on how to develop their careers and how to handle sensitive work situations.

As my reputation grew, I started getting numerous requests from friends and friends of friends. The myriad of requests included: –  

  • CV reviews
  • answer questions related to their careers
  • which jobs I thought they should apply for
  • how to negotiate contracts,  
  • 2 offers – which one should they take?
  • how to handle issues with their supervisors and subordinates;
  • how to manage performance and how to deal with conflict in the workplace etc.

I became a sounding board for all career related issues to my friends and their networks. I didn’t even know that coaching was a thing at the time but that is what I was – “a career coach”.

Initially I did it in my free time but as the positive feedback grew on how my insights and advice led to desired and sometimes life changing outcomes, I decided to make a career out of it. Words cannot describe the immense satisfaction I feel when I contribute to people achieving their career goals. This has always been a passion of mine and that’s how HUMHR was born!

In hindsight, Haiti was a blessing in so many different ways, one of which was the conception and birth of HUMHR.

The Certified Professional Career Coach journey

In January this year, I decided to hone my coaching skills and enhance the techniques in order to better serve my clients and provide them with the support they need to be successful in their careers.  

I needed to get a coach 😉 and a certification. After much research, I settled on the Certified Professional Career Coach program (CPCC), a certification of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches (PARW/CC). Directed and coached by Diane Hudson, the investment was worth it. I completed the program in six months (the goal was three months but then once again life in COVID happened).

I completed a comprehensive training/coaching program that provided solid tools for career management and job search coaching in today’s employment market. I submitted a testing portfolio that included documented coaching hours.

The modules and video training were intense and provided me with tools and techniques that complimented my experience to date. I had to log some of my coaching sessions, and I found that the skills I was learning were adding immense value to my clients.

My top two takeaways from the coaching program:

  • The structure provided helped me to develop my own systems and tools in my coaching programs.
  • Incorporating Diane’s “whole person theory” and using the query process to bring revelations about values and motivation. I used the values exercise to determine my values and which areas in my life needed improvement. This helped me in setting my goals and putting in plan an action plan for my business and my individual development while focusing on my whole person as a totality.

The program helped me gain clarity on which direction I wanted to take my coaching programs and HUMHR as well as establishing my identity as a certified professional career coach drives passion and energy towards those goals.

The journey to self- discovery has been long, winding and continues but for now, I can say that I have found my purpose and that purpose is linked to your career success. I look forward to partnering with you to do good!

Take advantage of our current promotion! Get the newly revamped Platinum Package at the old price here.

Hiring Humanitarian professionals in COVID times

COVID-19 has radically changed recruitment in humanitarian agencies… or has it? The advent of the COVID-19 virus has led to dramatic changes in the way humanitarian staff work, with most staff having to work from home and the downscaling of fieldwork.

With regards to the HR function, recruitment has had to be conducted remotely with the use of telecommunications technology such as ZOOM, WEBEX and Teams.

 It does not seem, however, like there has been a sweeping freeze in recruitment as one would have expected – a quick search on the UN JOBS website on the 26th of May 2020 shows 1,806 open positions being advertised and from informal discussions, with HR colleagues only one organization seems to have implemented a complete freeze on recruitment. 

In addition, OXFAM recently announced a major restructuring resulting in their withdrawal from 18 offices globally and the laying off 1,450 staff in part, due to the “financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic”. Apart from this, it would appear most humanitarian organizations are still recruiting, albeit remotely. Of course, this may change as the impact of COVID-19 continues.

An argument could be made that the move to remote recruitment may disenfranchise potential candidates who may not have access to reliable internet connectivity, but this is a topic for another blog. 

Recruitment in most humanitarian agencies typically follows the following cycle: –

  1. Needs definition and identification  
  2. Sourcing (e.g. advertising)
  3. Screening (level 1 screening typically done automatically by an Applicant Tracking System – ATS)
  4. Shortlisting of candidates
  5. Selection broken down into
    1. written assessment
    2. Interview
    3. Hiring – Offer
  6. Onboarding

Each of these stages can and have in the past, been done with very little physical interaction with candidates. For over a decade, humanitarian organisations have been using tools such as Skype to conduct interviews.

As an example, in 2011 I was recruiting international staff for an international NGO in Haiti; the entire recruitment process (including on-boarding) for international staff was conducted remotely. We only got to physically meet the new staff member when they reported for their first day of work! 

Furthermore, organisations increasingly are looking at potential candidates’ online profile, scouring the internet for publicly available information on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Be sure to read my upcoming blog on social media review and branding to learn how to maximise on your online presence. 

As broadband and mobile connectivity have become ubiquitous, there has been an exponential increase in the use of technology in the recruitment process including the conducting of “person less” video interviews – where candidates log in to a website and have to record themselves responding to a number of questions. 

The responses are reviewed at a later stage by a panel who in most cases are sitting in remote locations. An example of this automated video interviewing solution is SONRU. I personally know of a number of people who were recruited in this manner.

From the foregoing, it is somewhat surprising that there has been incessant chatter about how COVID-19 has had a profound impact on how humanitarian agencies conduct their recruitment. Based on my research and experience, it appears that most humanitarian organisations have been to a large extent performing remote recruitment, perhaps not at the same level as pre-COVID, but pretty close to it. 

In my view, the aspects of the recruitment process adversely affected include physically reporting for work at the designated work location. Due to COVID-19 induced lockdowns and travel restrictions, some humanitarian organisations have resorted to having new hires working from their “home location” or in some cases from the locations where they found themselves “locked down” in at the time of hiring. 

Another recruitment activity that has been impacted by COVID-19, is the requirement for medicals prior to starting employment. Access to testing facilities combined with a desire on the part of the candidate to minimize exposure makes it extremely difficult to facilitate pre-employment medicals. From a recruitment perspective, the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of utilization of appropriate technological tools in the recruitment process, but it has not changed the process itself. 

The pandemic has, however, impacted other HR processes especially those that fall within the employer-employee relationship, such as leave policy. An intriguing issue right now is the mandatory quarantine period being enforced by most countries and its implications on leave especially if a member of staff travels. 

Questions related to whether the time spent in quarantine constitutes part of the leave or whether the organisation is liable for payment of quarantine facility bills should their employee is placed under mandatory quarantine have no easy answers. I will tackle these and other questions related to working from home and flexible working arrangements in an upcoming blog on COVID-19 impact on the broader HR functions. 

To conclude, in my view HR recruitment in the humanitarian sector has not radically changed as a result of COVID-19.  Career opportunities still exist within the UN agencies and a plethora of NGO’s. It would be good to heed our mantra at HUMHR, “Panic not, but Prepare” during these uncertain times. We can work with you to help ensure that your career marketing documents are excellently written and walk with you on your career journey.  Our next blog will discuss the skills needed in a post-COVID-19 world.

The Only Job Search Checklist You Will Ever Need

Do you ever feel like every effort you put into getting a job always lands you at the same place?

“We regret to inform you..”

I have been there too. What is really demotivating is that you do your best and are the best at what you do, but somehow your best is never enough.

How should you prove that you deserve a chance? And how can you be mindful about how you go about finding a job?

Are there any tricks? Or hacks that make hired candidates any different from you? The answer is a resounding YES!

Like everything else looking for a job requires a good strategy. And that begins with an understanding of what is required from you.

In this blog allow me to give you some useful tips nobody tells you about. In your lifetime you will probably make the mistake of foregoing one of these major steps. Here is to never again!

Determine your job search objective.  

Ask yourself the following upfront.

What, When, Who, Why and How?

  • Why do I want/need a new job?
  • What kind of job am I looking for? (Area of interest).
  • When do I need a new job?
  • Who do I want to work for?
  • Where do I want to work?
  • How am I going to look for THE job?

Be clear with yourself what kind of development work you want to do. Do you want to work locally or abroad? What are you good at? Which organisation could use your skillset?

Doing this allows you to target your efforts. It gives you perspective on what to study for and the kind of experience you need.

Update your Resume/ CV/ LinkedIn profile.

Do an online review of all your social media accounts and clean up any “incriminating” posts.

Keep it clean. Online reputation is critical.

This also means updating your work experience as you grow in your career by removing some outdated resume items. Also tailoring your resume for the job you are applying for.

Read our resume writing tips on this link to get more appreciation on how to use job descriptions and keywords.

Research the targeted organization

Whether it be the UN, IFRC, The World Bank, World Vision or any current or potential future openings.

Think around what the world concerns are visa vi your areas of interest.

If you are interested in protection and security for children you might want to target Save the Children or World Vision for instance.

Migration issues could lead you to the IFRC, IOM or NRC.

If you don’t have enough experience you can start by volunteering locally and build your way to the top.

Networking is key

Distribute your resume to potential employers/ apply to the advertised position.

Always include a Cover letter.

There are different strategies you can employ when applying – passive or active.

Passive means you are waiting for openings to be advertised while active means you are actively enquiring from your network, from recruiters and on social media for any opportunities and you can often get invited to apply to a job before it goes public.

Prepare for interviews

This is a great time for you to start practicing common interview questions.

Particularly the “easy” questions

“Tell me about you”? (Have your 60-second elevator speech ready)

“Where do you want to be in five years?”

Don’t forget to send “Thank you letters” after interviews.

For a more in-depth interview preparation write up, follow this link and start practising!

Be prepared to negotiate your contract

Not always the salary!

Even start dates can be negotiated.

Things such as benefits, bonuses,contract renewals, performance evaluations etc. can be discussed as well.

The Avant Garde

When developing your career plan/strategy you need to ask yourself a LOT of questions.

Here are some more to think about in addition to the ones above.

  1. Why am I looking for a new job? What are my key selling points?
  2. What kind of job am I willing to accept? What kind of job will I not accept? Am I willing to relocate? Do I want a family post or a hardship post?
  3. What salary do I need?

Congratulations on your new assignment!

HUMHR wishes you all the success as you continue to establish your career in the Humanitarian world.

As you start your new assignment remember that your performance is key and you need to have career goals and manage them well to be successful!

As a career coach, I partner with you to unravel these questions and develop a strategy that you can follow step by step and be accountable for. We develop your script for success!

Feel free to engage me on a job search strategy anytime. My email is batje@humhr.org


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