How To Transform Your Career

When it comes to your career, the more knowledge and tools you can amass, the greater your chances of success (whether you seek status, compensation, satisfaction or any combination thereof). The workplace can be difficult to navigate, but with a host of resources on the web today, help and guidance are mere clicks away. One of our favorite destinations is The Muse, a modern career discovery website that also produces excellent, service-oriented content for users. Here to talk about the site (and how it can help you find your dream job) and share sage career advice is CEO Kathryn Minshew, who at just 30 years old has accomplished professional success many dream of.

Adam Katz Sinding

Advice For Working Women

"First, we care deeply about individual career paths. If you're using The Muse, we're going to give you everything you need to succeed—from advice to coaching to an inside look at companies and jobs. Traditional career sites were built for employers rather than candidates, but today these older tools don't serve either side of the marketplace very well. If you picture the typical legacy job site, two components stand out: the big, empty search box in the middle of the page, which is particularly useless for people who don't know what kind of job might be right in the first place; and when you do search, you get hundreds of pages of results featuring a sea of crappy job listings that all look the same.

We’ve built something entirely different with The Muse, because both people and companies deserve better. When it comes to job search, The Muse creates interactive, photo-and-video profiles for each client (companies like Facebook, Goldman Sachs, HBO, Dropbox, Slack, Aflac, Conde Nast, Gap), that showcase an organization's culture, current employees and office life alongside job openings. The goal is to give candidates a feel for what it might be like to work there before they even apply. The Muse also has a massive amount of advice, content and coaching on everything from getting a raise or promotion to managing a tough work situation to 'When are emojis acceptable in the workplace?' Over 50 million people use the platform to advance their career, and hundreds of companies trust us to help them hire those awesome people."

"I’ve always been one to interpret 'no' as 'not now, maybe later.' Rejection still stings, but I try my best to learn from it and to move on. In a way, I was almost fueled by how many people told me no in the early days—I thought, Okay, I’ll show you." Especially when people followed it with something insulting about our market ('Women don’t care about their careers') or our approach ('There’s nothing wrong with current job search sites'). It only made me more determined to prove them wrong.

One thing I’ve found helpful when dealing with rejection or negative feedback is to put it in the context of who it's coming from and how they relate to what you're trying to accomplish. For example, I received over 100 nos from investors while pitching our seed round. But at the same time, the feedback we were receiving from users of The Muse was incredibly positive, bordering on ecstatic. I was able to keep going because my target market, the people I was building The Muse for, loved what we were doing—even if the powers that be told us it wasn't going to succeed.

So in short: 1) Have conviction in yourself, your capability and your ideas; 2) Look for proof points (like user feedback in The Muse's case) to bolster that conviction; 3) Find motivation in getting turned down. The drive to prove doubters wrong can be powerful; and 4) Do your best to understand and learn from less-than-positive feedback, because even if you decide not to change anything, you never know how that insight or experience will serve you down the line."

"One of the worst mistakes a candidate can make during an interview is avoiding or not answering the question. The good news is that this is totally avoidable with the right prep. Sometimes people talk around a question and never get to the point, or fail to share specific examples that validate their response. Which is more powerful: someone telling you they’re an effective sales manager, or sharing that their team of six was at the top of the leaderboard for nine consecutive quarters—and all but one made the President's Club last year? Whenever possible, use numbers and specific examples—and go for clear, concise language over jargon."

"Quantity over quality. People rarely find success with 'spray and pray' methods, yet many will spend precious search time applying to anything and everything with a generic application, instead of tailoring their resume and cover letter for a smaller number of jobs that are a great fit. Chances are, if you're applying to everything under the sun, you're not taking the time to really communicate to an organization that you understand the role and company, and why you'd be an asset. The same thing can apply to interviewing. It's one of the reasons I'm such a proponent of research (including using The Muse’s company profiles) at every phase of your job search."

"The best advice I can give to job seekers looking to make a change is to take the time upfront, before you start applying to jobs, to really ask yourself what you want out of your next position and what you have to offer.

Job satisfaction is critical, but it's not only about the role and responsibilities. Other factors come into play, too: work schedule and flexibility, office environment, vacation policy, coworker fit, compensation and more. Sometimes, priorities shift over time (where compensation was once your main motivator, the ability to work remotely or have flexible hours may now take precedence), so it's important to reevaluate what matters most to you before starting a new job-search process—even if you think you know the answers.

With a clear picture of which factors are non-negotiable, which are important and which you can live without, you can screen for companies with the culture and policies that align with what matters most to you."

"I’m always checking out the latest productivity apps and tools, but I'm yet to find one that's supplanted my old-school(ish) to-do list method. I have a real-time draft open in Gmail at all times where I keep track of everything on my radar. I find it really easy to maintain, and if I need to reference or edit anything on the go, I know any changes will be reflected on my phone or computer. I'm also a big fan of the Gmail plug-in Boomerang, which allows me essentially to punt e-mails to a later date (or even later in the same day) when it makes more sense to address them in light of my other priorities."

"Whether you're an entrepreneur negotiating the terms of a round of venture-capital funding, or an entry-level employee negotiating your first raise (failure to do so, by the way, could ultimately mean leaving half a million dollars on the table over a 40-year career, which this article on The Muse explains in full), I can't overstate the value of strong negotiation skills for career success. Negotiating is not a piece of cake, but it does get easier with time and practice. For example, I threw up in the bathroom after the first time I asked for a raise; it felt completely terrifying at the time. The prospect of negotiating a $16M Series B would have been unfathomable. But it's all about baby steps. I'd recommend reading up on basic negotiation tactics, practicing in lower-stress situations or even working with a career coach to hone that invaluable skill set."

"Don’t give up easily! Building a business is hard, and there are few overnight successes. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or delusional. While it can seem that new winners are being created overnight, in reality, most successful companies spend years in purgatory before they break through. So you've got to build a strong support network, prepare for the long haul and accept that you'll spend a fair amount of time feeling like a failure (even if you're not—Hello, Imposter Syndrome).

In addition, I think investing the time to build a strong network can be invaluable for entrepreneurs. Yes, it's one more thing to do in an already packed schedule. But when I needed a second opinion on a line in a term sheet, or a back-channel reference on a critical candidate, guess who could help out? My network. I hardly knew anyone when I first got into tech, but after doggedly attending events and spending time with other founders, that soon changed. And it's made one hell of a difference!"