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Ask a Career Coach

  • 27 October 2020
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Do you have a question about your job search? The Coursera Career Services team is taking your questions! 

To ask a question simply reply to this post with your question (don’t start a new topic!). A Coursera Career Services team member will post a reply and tag you, so you receive an email notification. Please give us a few days to write a full reply! 

You can also submit your question anonymously by filling out this short form.

 

Tip: Keep in mind that the more specific your question is the better answer we will be able to provide. For example, instead of asking “Do you recommend a specific resume format?” you will get a much more detailed answer if you ask “What resume format would you recommend for someone in the United States, who does not have a college degree and worked as an office manager for 5 years, who is now looking for a role in Data Analytics after completing IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera?

 


24 replies

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I’ve been trying to break into the data science profession.  I’m a PhD candidate in International Studies, and I’ve completed six specializations and professional certificates--but after more than six months of job searching I haven’t gotten a single invite to an interview.  I’m still not sure what I’m doing wrong.  My wife has been prodding me to get ANOTHER degree, but I’ve looked at their curricula and its mostly things I already know.  What am I doing wrong?

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I’ve applied to the Coursera IT Helpdesk Associate position.  Do you know when I might get a response, or should I apply again?

 

Thank you!

Preston C. Wertz

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Anonymous Question

I am a law enforcer with 8 years of experience. I have a secondary, post secondary and diploma education level. My question is I have more than 10 short online courses (Google Cloud Engineer Course and running Google IT support), where should I place those courses in my resume? At the education section?

 

Answer

To make the most out of the hard work you’ve put into completing these courses, consider what role you expect these courses to play in your job search. What do you expect the reader (recruiter) to learn about you through these courses?

  • The courses contribute to your job search in a unique way, you might want to pull them out in a separate section and highlight it. For example, if your formal education and experience are in accounting and you are now transitioning into IT, consider calling out these courses in a section called IT Training or Trainings & Certifications and putting that section towards the top of the resume.
  • If your formal education and experience are in a similar field, these courses can show your commitment to continuous learning. In that case, you can include them in your Education section. Consider whether they are important enough to list them out individually or including them as a single summary line “Courses on <list of topics> through from Google on Coursera” and listing a date range when you took them. Keep in mind that the more space you give to something on your resume, the more important the reader will perceive it to be. 
  • If the courses are not directly related to your job search, consider the purpose of including them on your resume. For example, if you are a marketing professional and looking for a role in marketing, IT courses might not be directly relevant but can show your technical acumen. In that case, you can list these courses under Education section and include a line in the Summary section providing the context for them, i.e. “marketing professional with great technical acumen achieved through completion of multiple IT courses from Google on Coursera."

In addition, always consider which of the skills you learn in your courses should be added to the Skills (or Technical Skills) section of your resume!

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I’ve been trying to break into the data science profession.  I’m a PhD candidate in International Studies, and I’ve completed six specializations and professional certificates--but after more than six months of job searching I haven’t gotten a single invite to an interview.  I’m still not sure what I’m doing wrong.  My wife has been prodding me to get ANOTHER degree, but I’ve looked at their curricula and its mostly things I already know.  What am I doing wrong?

 

Answer

@Chris P, first of all, I’m sorry to hear that you are struggling with getting interviews because I know how frustrating this experience can be. It sounds like you might have all the right skills to do the job but maybe missing job search skills. The good news is those can be easier to develop than getting a whole new degree.

In order to understand what’s going on, there are two questions you need to answer: 

  • Do you have the right skill set for the jobs you are applying for?
  • Does your resume properly communicate your skills and abilities? 

I assume you have already thought about these questions but now is the time to dive into both of them deeper. This Coursera Career Change Guide provides guidance on how to do that. If you have already researched the job descriptions and did your best effort on tailoring your resume to it, focus on speaking with industry professionals. People working in your target roles will provide you with the best advice on what you need to succeed in the job search process because they’ve done that themselves! 

One last tip: you can use a free service such as JobScan.co (no affiliation with Coursera) to compare your resume to a job description and see how the skills you are listing match up to what’s required for the job.

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I’ve applied to the Coursera IT Helpdesk Associate position.  Do you know when I might get a response, or should I apply again?

 

Thank you!

Preston C. Wertz

@PrestonWertz, we are not able to provide insights into hiring for specific roles at Coursera here but I can address the general question on what to do if you had applied for a role and didn’t hear back. Often, you will not hear back about your applications that don’t result in an interview because recruiters don’t have the bandwidth to follow up with everyone. Re-applying will not hurt your chances but also not likely to yield a different outcome than your original application. 


If you want to follow up on your application, your best course of action is to find someone at the company who can do that for you. LinkedIn is a great way to find relevant people. LinkedIn People Search Advanced search advanced filers allow you to filter people to “Current Company”, i.e. company the person currently works at. 


Now that you know how to locate people who work at the company, the next question is who are the right people at the company. Recruiters are a great starting point. A small company might have only one recruiter but large companies might have hundreds. Look for those that you think are likely to be hiring for the role you are applying for, based on their job title and description in their LinkedIn profile. Alternatively, you can look for people who are likely to work close to the role you are applying for - someone with the same or similar job title. 


Once you locate the people, reach out to them to ask about the status of hiring for the role. If you don’t have InMail credits and the person doesn’t list their email address in their profile, you can send a connection request with a note explaining why you are reaching out.

 

Connection request note example:

Hi <name>, I am reaching out because I noticed <company> has an opening for a <role> that I might be a great fit for and I’m trying to find out more about it.

 

Important: If the person accepts your connection request, send a follow-up with a separate message because people often don’t respond to connection request notes. In the follow-up message, thank them for accepting your connection request and reiterating your question about the status of the role. Keep in mind that not everyone will respond to you, so you might need to send out messages to a few people.

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What resume format would you recommend for someone in the India who do possess a college degree in Computer Science Engineering and working as an intern since last 8 months, who is now looking for a role in Data Analytics after completing IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera?

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Hi, my name is Sean and I’m looking for some possible guidance and advice on next steps.

To give a little context, I have been working as a crew member in the film industry for the last 14 years, and while it’s been fun I’ve really been wanting a change. Long story short I enrolled in and completed the IBM Applied AI Pro Cert course and I’m not really sure where to go next?

I have no field experience in AI, this course is my first experience with AI. I did complete an online course with CodeAcademy in python 3 to strengthen my coding skills. I am eager to continue learning and adding value so I have enrolled in the Machine Learning course with IBM and look forward to finishing that course as well.

What would the guidance or advice be on what to do next? And what roles in this field am I honestly qualified to pursue?

Thank you so much,

Sean

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Hello, I'm Ankit ,I want your assistance and guidance in the following questions, but before that let me tell you about my self, I'm an undergraduate student in Odisha, India studying Btech in computer science and information technology. I'm also an artist, I like to create new things and give an artistic touch to what already exists. I have done my UI/UX Design Specialization course from Coursera and I'm currently doing UX research Specialization from coursera.

As of now I have done many projects in Ui/Ux design and I also have done internship for a duration of 1 month.

So my question is like this:-

"As a fresher how can I land an Ui/Ux design job in foreign countries"

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Dear Vera, 

Thank you for your availability and your time. I am Francesca, living and working in Italy.

I have a degree in foreign languages (English, German and Arabic). Straight after graduation I obtained a scholarship for a professional course in International trade for SMEs, which unfortunately was provided by a governamental Italian Develpoment trade office and consequently is not internationally recognized. 

I have been working as Customer service back-office in different industries (bank, Food&beverages, Industrial automation) for the past 9 years, now I would like to make a step in career as project manager or process improvement/optimization (I mean, I have until now been the one who “does the work” but the credit goes to the “bosses”. I would like to be held responsible and be valued for results instead of just “keep doing”). 

My question is: which courses on coursera would you advise? I am thinking about going back to university as part time student and get a Degree in Economics. Do you think that might be a good move or not? (i have been considering that since a lot of Job post require Economics degree).

Best regards

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What resume format would you recommend for someone in the India who do possess a college degree in Computer Science Engineering and working as an intern since last 8 months, who is now looking for a role in Data Analytics after completing IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera?

 

@on_way_kid, great question! There isn’t a single “right” template you must use. What’s important is that the template you chose has a clean design that is easy to read for both humans and machines. Since you are early in your career, you should plan to limit your resume to one page.

There are many templates available online, and you can access them by typing “resume templates” into your favorite search engine. You can also find Google Doc templates by going to Google Docs and clicking Template Gallery at the top right.

Here are a few layout recommendations specific to your situation:

  • As a recent graduate, put the Education section towards the top of your resume since that’s what employers will be most interested in seeing.
  • As someone with little professional experience, include a Projects section to highlight the most important projects you have completed as part of your education or on your own time. This will demonstrate to the employers what you can accomplish professionally and will help you stand out from your peers.
  • As a technical professional, make sure to include a Technical Skills section and list your specific technical skills, specifically those directly relevant to the roles you are applying for. 

Finally, if you haven’t already done that, I recommend that you review this Coursera Resume Guide, to familiarize yourself with the best practices of writing resumes.

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Hi, my name is Sean and I’m looking for some possible guidance and advice on next steps.

To give a little context, I have been working as a crew member in the film industry for the last 14 years, and while it’s been fun I’ve really been wanting a change. Long story short I enrolled in and completed the IBM Applied AI Pro Cert course and I’m not really sure where to go next?

I have no field experience in AI, this course is my first experience with AI. I did complete an online course with CodeAcademy in python 3 to strengthen my coding skills. I am eager to continue learning and adding value so I have enrolled in the Machine Learning course with IBM and look forward to finishing that course as well.

What would the guidance or advice be on what to do next? And what roles in this field am I honestly qualified to pursue?

Thank you so much,

Sean

@sean_michael , congratulations on embarking on a career transition to pursue your interests! Your question is very common at this stage of the career transition. It’s one thing to develop technical skills, and another to fully understand the career field and various jobs within it. This is where networking becomes very important. Speaking with professionals in your target industry will help you understand the roles better. I recommend that you use the process outlined in this blog post Project Career Research to find and connect with professionals in the fields of Machine Learning, AI, and Data Science (use more specific job titles if you have an idea of what you are interested in). Ideally, you should look for professionals with a similar background to you because they had solved the problem you are trying to solve (transitioning into the field without relevant four-year education) and will be able to provide the best advice. That said, any relevant professional should be able to provide valuable insights into your best employment options and next steps.

Additionally, there are many networking communities built around topics of AI, ML, and DS, where you can get advice, and connect with professionals. You can start with Coursera’s AI Community and DeepNet group on Facebook. You can also check Meetup.com for groups local to you, as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking platforms for other relevant groups you can tap into. Best of luck to you!

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Anonymous Question

I'm 50 year old and stuck in my career. I worked as a secretary all my career. How to change quickly to new career?

 

Answer

Keep in mind that changing careers usually makes the job search more complicated than continuing an existing career. The only exception to that rule is if you are working in a field where the number of opportunities is shrinking, and finding a new job is very difficult. 

It sounds like the reason for your career change is a lack of growth opportunities or dissatisfaction with your work, rather than the inability to find employment as a secretary. If that’s the case, it is important to outline what specifically you are looking to achieve through your career change, so you can start identifying target roles that meet those needs.

Consider the following factors when thinking about how difficult or easy the transition will be for you:

  1. How relevant your experience is going to be to the new role. The more you can leverage your past experience, the easier the transition is going to be. For example, if you decide to move into a project management role, you will be able to use your experience as a secretary to demonstrate your ability to multitask, manage projects, communications skills, and much more - all skills and qualities foundational to the success of a Project Manager. However, if you decide to become a Data Analyst, you will need to build out a whole new set of core skills and prove to your potential employer that you can be successful in the role.
  2. How much competition there is in the market for your target roles - how many jobs are available in your target field and how much talent is competing for those roles. This will vary by area, and you should look into your local data to understand which roles are in high demand and available to career changers.

Once you have some ideas around roles that might meet your needs, I recommend that you speak with a few professionals to validate your assumptions about what it’s like to work in that role and what it takes to find a job (for example, what - if any - training do you need). Project Career Research provides a framework for doing that. 

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Hello, I'm Ankit ,I want your assistance and guidance in the following questions, but before that let me tell you about my self, I'm an undergraduate student in Odisha, India studying Btech in computer science and information technology. I'm also an artist, I like to create new things and give an artistic touch to what already exists. I have done my UI/UX Design Specialization course from Coursera and I'm currently doing UX research Specialization from coursera.

As of now I have done many projects in Ui/Ux design and I also have done internship for a duration of 1 month.

So my question is like this:-

"As a fresher how can I land an Ui/Ux design job in foreign countries"

@AnkMohan, the first thing for you to understand is visa requirements for the countries you are considering. Those are going to vary by country. We cannot provide immigration advice, but once you identify your target countries, you should be able to find relevant information online. 

The other thing for you to consider is what’s more important to you - working abroad in the short term or pursuing your career in UI/UX design. It sounds like you passionate about starting your career in UI/EX design, but it is generally easier to be hired from abroad if you have experience in addition to academic training. For a young professional, it might be easier to find a program that would take them abroad in a non-career role, such as those available through GoAbroad (no affiliation with Coursera).

Userlevel 6
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Dear Vera, 

Thank you for your availability and your time. I am Francesca, living and working in Italy.

I have a degree in foreign languages (English, German and Arabic). Straight after graduation I obtained a scholarship for a professional course in International trade for SMEs, which unfortunately was provided by a governamental Italian Develpoment trade office and consequently is not internationally recognized. 

I have been working as Customer service back-office in different industries (bank, Food&beverages, Industrial automation) for the past 9 years, now I would like to make a step in career as project manager or process improvement/optimization (I mean, I have until now been the one who “does the work” but the credit goes to the “bosses”. I would like to be held responsible and be valued for results instead of just “keep doing”). 

My question is: which courses on coursera would you advise? I am thinking about going back to university as part time student and get a Degree in Economics. Do you think that might be a good move or not? (i have been considering that since a lot of Job post require Economics degree).

Best regards

@Francesca C., since you already have a university degree and some relevant experience, so you might not need a whole new degree to transition into a career as a Project Manager. Depending on specific roles you will pursue, you might want to get a Project Management certificate such as PMP or Prince2. 

Keep in mind, that project management is a broad field: there are technical project management roles and a variety of non-technical ones. You should begin by identifying the type of role that would be the best fit for you - likely the ones where more of your existing experience would be applicable - and researching requirements for those roles. Reviewing job descriptions and LinkedIn profiles of people who are project managers is a great starting point. This Coursera Career Change Guide provides a framework for researching roles and then positioning your experience and skillset in the most relevant way. 

Once you have a clear understanding of the role you are pursuing, it will be easier for you to understand what kind of education or training you need. Coursera offers everything from individual courses to PMP prep courses (such as this one from UCI), and Google will be launching their Project Management Professional Certificate on Coursera soon as well.

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 I'm enrolled in Google IT Support Professional Certificate which is comprised of 5 individuals courses. I want to ask that should I mention all those 5 individuals courses on my resume or should I mention just Google IT Support Professional Certificate? 

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 I'm enrolled in Google IT Support Professional Certificate which is comprised of 5 individuals courses. I want to ask that should I mention all those 5 individuals courses on my resume or should I mention just Google IT Support Professional Certificate? 

Great question @AliHassan. You should include Google IT Support Certificate, but recruiters also appreciate a short description of the program next to it such as: 

Five-course program covering technical support, computer networking, operating systems, IT infrastructure, and IT security

 

In addition, make sure to include the skills you had developed through the program and outside of it in a separate separate section at the top of your resume. Example:

Technical Support: Installing and configuring hardware, software, and networks

Computer Networking: Standard protocols regarding TCP/IP and networking services

Systems Administration: Server management, User/information management

IT Security: evaluating potential risks and utilizing encryption algorithms and techniques

Office 365 Administration: deployment, troubleshooting, and security

 

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Anonymous question:

I have completed my graduate degree in mechanical engineering. I am fresher. I have not experience in my field. I am looking for job but all companies prefered experience people. If i know any company want this skill. I will learn about this skill. But i don't know . All company want different skills. I don't know how to start my career. I don't know who will give me job. Thank you.

 

Answer:

It’s common to feel the way you do. You are anxious because there is important information you are missing, specifically you are not sure what companies are looking for when hiring candidates who are only starting their careers. The best way to find that out is to speak with industry professionals who can help you understand what their companies are looking for. Once you speak with 5-10 people, you will be much more confident about your job search. You can achieve that through interviewing, so if you haven’t started applying for jobs this is a great time to do that. If you have started applying and are not getting invited for interviews, you can start with informational interviews. Project Career Research provides a step-by-step framework for connecting with people outside of the traditional interview process.

Finally, I encourage you to remember that every professional started with no experience, and most were feeling the way you do at the beginning of your career. You have set yourself up for professional success through education and hard work!

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Hi I recently signed up for the Health Systems Development Course and I would like to know the possible career options that it falls into. Thank You!

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Hi @VeraF, Do you know any IT and Telecom recruitment company in England or Canada ?

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I have a BS in meteorology and MS in geosciences. I am taking the GIS series to hopefully make a career change. I am an older student and feel like companies will not hire me because of my age despite my experience and skills. Do you have an advice for securing a job In GIS when I complete the five course series?

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Hi I recently signed up for the Health Systems Development Course and I would like to know the possible career options that it falls into. Thank You!

Hi @Ms. Sabby, thanks for your question! Coursera courses are designed to help learners develop career-relevant skills, but often these skills can be applied across a variety of job titles. (One exception is Professional Certificates, which are designed to filly prepare the learner for a specific job role).

At a high level Health Systems Development Specialization is aligned with careers in public health, but your individual career options will depend on your experience, education, and skills.

To understand the range of career outcomes for a particular course and identify possible paths for you, I recommend the following steps:

  1. Identify career keywords from the program description. Review course information for keywords indicating learning outcomes and skills developed. For example, the Health Systems Development Specialization uses terms such as “health system reform" and "healthcare policies.” 
  2. Use LinkedIn to research people who match the keywords from Step 1. To do that, enter your keywords in the search box at the top of your LinkedIn page, and then select “People” as a filter. This should yield a list of people who list your target keywords in their profiles. Review the profiles to understand where these people work and identify which roles are most aligned with your background and interests.
  3. Speak with industry professionals. Once you identify some roles that you think might represent good career options for you, begin speaking with people experienced in those fields. From these conversations, you will be able to understand whether a particular career is a good fit for you and what you would need to pursue it. Refer to Project Career Research for more guidance on this process.

 

 

 

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Thank You @VeraF  I really appreciate the feedback.

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Hi @VeraF, Do you know any IT and Telecom recruitment company in England or Canada ?

@Javad Abbasi - Coursera does not currently have established relationships with such employers, so we cannot provide recommendations, unfortunately. Depending on the type of role you are looking for, I would recommend reaching out to professionals in the field for such recommendations.

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I have a BS in meteorology and MS in geosciences. I am taking the GIS series to hopefully make a career change. I am an older student and feel like companies will not hire me because of my age despite my experience and skills. Do you have an advice for securing a job In GIS when I complete the five course series?

 

Hi @Rich J. First of all, it sounds like you have the skills and the experience to support your career transition, and that’s what’s important.

It’s not uncommon for older job seekers to be concerned about age - but it does not mean that there is something you need to do differently. I once coached a software project manager who had been laid off at the age of 73, and he ended up with 7 offers from top tech companies in the Silicon Valley within a few months. He achieved that by doing exactly what any job seeker needs to do to stand out: fully committing himself to the job search process and engaging his network. 

To put your mind at ease, you can also do a little extra research on companies that you are considering applying to. Company cultures vary in many ways, and some might have a younger workforce than others. I recommend running a People Search on LinkedIn for “GIS” using your target company as a filter, and you’ll get a sense of whether the people working there are the type of people you would like to be coworkers with. 

Best of luck with your search!

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