Archives for September 2014

Kick butt in your job search – hike with me!

Baby Daisy and I hiking circa fall 2010

Baby Daisy and I hiking circa fall 2010

Can kicking butt in a workout help kick start your job search? We often find ourselves at a creative peak while we are giving our bodies a moderate workout. Recently, a client of mine was following popular advice: incorporating stress-relieving physical activities into a job seeking regimen. I realized I would have much rather had the conversation with her while we were hiking. She ultimately inspired me to combine two of my passions, hiking and career coaching. (I’ll expand on this in just a moment.)

 

The positive link between exercise and mental clarity is well established. Exercise can stimulate the brain by providing more oxygen and releasing hormones that nourish the cells. Furthermore, exercise can increase brain plasticity by encouraging the growth of new cell connections. Exercise alone is a great way to focus your mind and to reduce stress. Even so, the benefits of exercise can be taken to the next level by combining a work out with brain entrainment. John Assaraf is the CEO of PraxisNow, a brain research company, and he has extensively written about brain entrainment and meditation. In his article “Train Your Brain with Meditation,” Assaraf notes meditation allows you to take control of your brain waves, so you are able to focus on your goals. Think of the combination of physical exercise and brain entrainment as a form of kinesiology.

 

Kinesiology is the study of motion and how muscles coordinate to move the body. More broadly speaking, Kinesiology is a form of natural therapy that seeks to treat the mind, body, and soul. As the body is treated individual goals and self-improvement can aid the brain in forming new habits by creating new nerve connections. T. Harv Eker sums it succinctly in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, “Where attention goes, energy flows and results show.” (By the way, T. Harv Eker’s Millionaire Mindset Intensive, a financial breakthrough event, may be in a city near you! Go. Here – my gift to you – free admission. Visit www.MMIgift.com and enter the Ambassador 2.0 code MMI39526.)

I want to literally take my career coaching in a new direction by combining it with hiking sessions. I’d like to extend an invitation for local job seekers to join me on the trail this Tuesday in Valley Forge, PA at 9:30 AM. This will not only be a hike, but a job search coaching session. I will discuss the value of my coaching and the advice I have to offer. I will cover writing résumés, getting interviews, acing interviews and negotiating coaching. If you have burning job search questions you want answered, if you want to achieve better job search results and momentum, and if you love to hike and want a GREAT way to leverage a physical activity for your job search, please join me on 9/30 at 9:30. RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/job-seekers-hike-tickets-13284300701

Only 15 spots (to ensure I can answer everyone’s questions.)

The initial event will be free, but I expect to move administration of the group to Meetup and will be charging a nominal $5 per person to cover the administration fees for subsequent Hiking/Job Search Coaching events. Depending on the size of the group, the event may be weekly, biweekly or monthly.

This hike will be moderately challenging. Check with your doctor to make sure you are physically able to participate in this activity.

You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Epic Careering from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising as a result of participation in this event.

 

What the hell made me think I could do a triathlon? (Part 1)

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I’m pretty sure I shocked and surprised many Facebook friends and family when I shared my friend’s picture of us from the Marshman sprint triathlon last weekend. (She’s the one who looks like a triathlete.)

When she asked me the day before why I wanted to do this*, I said, “It’s a new way to challenge myself. I don’t really want to compete against other people; I just want to see what I can do. I never fancied myself a triathlete before.” Perhaps, I thought, there was a triathlete inside me. Something inside me was really excited to do this, even though I didn’t think I had prepared or trained enough.

* (Note: This is a special preview to a full-length article that will be included in the Epic Careering Fall Newsletter next week.  I will include: people who created the desire by inspiring me, the event chronicle, and more about why you would have NEVER thought that I would be a triathlete if you knew me in my youth) To subscribe, please fill out the form in the right column.

I didn’t even commit to doing it until the day before. I had a lot of reasons to NOT do it.

  • My bike was not a road bike. It was a “Charlie Brown” mountain bike, put together by my husband just so I had something to ride. Only 3 of the 22 speeds worked and the tires were cracking.
  • While I had been pulling about 80 lbs of kids and toys in a trailer with this bike 10 miles, it was 10 FLAT miles. Rarely did I get out on my bike alone on the road to ride the bigger hills.
  • NOT ONCE had I done a lap all summer. I swam – with my kids in the shallow end, leisurely.
  • Though I did complete my first 5K in June, and had resolved to train all summer to drop time and do another one in the fall, I had not dropped any time and went a couple weeks without running at all.
  • We were warned that triathlons were somewhat of a “contact sport,” and while I played rugby in college, I did not like the idea of full contact going 20 MPH on my bike.
  • Our health insurance coverage has been much poorer with our newer plan, and sometimes claims would get rejected for obscure reasons; if something happened to me, it could mean financial disaster.
  • It was an expense that came at an inopportune time, at the end of my husband’s “dry” work season and when pre-school tuition was due for both girls.
  • It was REALLY early in the morning. I am a night owl, NOT a morning person. Not only did I have to be there by 7 AM, but so did my family.
  • I have never combined swimming, biking or running.

I had been thinking a lot about it, in spite of these reasons NOT to do it. I trained anyway and had my husband reserve off of work for that Saturday, so that I could go to the 1st-timer orientation and do the swim clinic, and for the event on Sunday.

Last week I asked my husband if he did, indeed, have off work. He shook his head no, and I said, “Oh, well.” Then, he asked why. He remembered that the triathlon was why I was asking. Suddenly, he who would usually put work as top priority during this financial “catch up” time and resist any extraneous expenses, especially after learning that he had to replace his work truck by the end of the month, was trying to help me make it happen.

“But, I’d have to take my bikes in and see if they can get them race-ready. I may even need a new bike.”

“You deserve a new bike,” he said. I almost cried. He wanted this for me.

Then, I started to think about reasons I should believe I can do it:

  • I can run a 5K, even if it takes me 36 minutes, and the last event was only a 2 mile run.
  • I can bike 10 miles pulling a trailer with about 80 lbs.
  • I used to play RUBGY!
  • I was the MIP of my varsity softball team.
  • I am not averse to swimming in cold water, and often swim in the ocean in May and October when everyone else stays cozy and bundled up.
  • The #1 reason I should believe I can do it – I birthed 2 babies naturally (and Daisy gave me back labor for 4.5 days before making her arrival!)

So, I got a new bike. I tested it, and it actually didn’t seem to perform as well as my old bike, but I was now pulling the trailer up hills. That night I called my friend, who I had not committed to, and told her that I was IN. She said, “Wait. Back up. Before you go any further, I had actually decided this week NOT do it.” She told me about all of these “signs.” In spite of a foot infection, she had gone with some other participants to test out the bike course (12.5 miles) and thought it was crazy hard. She was most afraid of the swim portion (.25 miles.) However, when I told her I was in, she was back in. Though, because we were both very uncertain about the swim, we decided that we would do the swim clinic, where we had the opportunity to swim in the very same COLD lake water. (It was 70 degrees on race day.)

After the clinic, with the encouragement of the staff who insisted that even the experienced triathletes will be less trained for the swim, and with the reassurance that lifeguards and buoys would be available if we needed rest, we committed. And, we agreed that no negative influences or thoughts were going to enter our heads from that point forward. We were totally focused on mentally practicing the optimal performance, the knowledge that we are very powerful, strong women with a lot of resolve, and the exhilaration of crossing the finish line able to proclaim, “We are triathletes!”  We also made the agreement to stick together, for better or worse.

From the picture above, you know that we got that moment. We did it, but it was a challenge, mentally and physically. I had issues shifting gears, and “we” did not perform well comparative to the other athletes. In a way, I feel like I never really did anticipate a strong performance, and I wonder, even in spite of bike issues, if I could have resolved earlier on to keep going, even if I had to stay in a higher gear, we both would have done so much better. I wonder in general – if I had higher expectations, would we have finished sooner? Perhaps I/we will find out next year.

In the meantime, my experience reinforced for me that I need look no further than deep down inside me to know if I can do something or not. More importantly, I feel like I can better reinforce for my daughters a few very important life lessons that I hope inspire them to challenge themselves to reach their greatest potential:

  • “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
  • “We’ve been taught that if we want something, we have to go out and get it; when, in truth, we have to go within and let it out.” – Derek Rydall
  • There is NO can’t; only “I don’t know how yet.” – ME


(P.S. – Bonus pic! Here’s me singing with the above singer/songwriter, Jeffrey Gaines – another highlight of my life.)

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More résumés ≠ better results

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An investment in multiple resumes usually doesn’t pay off the way people intend them to. There are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part this is usually true. Of course, when you think about it, not everybody fits in a box or a job the way a company might write a description so there are usually multiple jobs that people qualify for. However, just because you’re qualified for a job doesn’t mean that it is something you should be pursuing.

Let me explain. When I was a recruiter, often IT candidates had several different IT disciplines in their toolkit.  At the same time they could be a project manager, a program manager, a business analyst, a developer, a QA tester–all of that balled into one. As a recruiter, I wanted my candidates to be as marketable as possible for as many jobs as possible, especially the candidates that I knew were really great performers and would represent the firm very well. When I transitioned into being a career coach, I have a much different perspective on the strategy of having multiple resumes.

From a recruiting perspective, you can be much more marketable for many more jobs. If you are, say, a consultant, that’s a good thing. There’s a higher probability of you being able to land your next gig. Even though you may have skill sets in various different IT disciplines, you still can be niched in clinical trials, academic pursuits, financial applications or merchant services and still continue to get work as a consultant in those various positions.

However, people who are searching for a full-time opportunity have two choices if they are one of those people who have multiple disciplines. Number one is to target a company that needs you to fill all those jobs simultaneously. They’re usually the starter companies, the smaller companies, or the flat organizations. They usually want people with dynamic backgrounds to come in who can plug-in wherever. Those are the types of situations where, if you have a varied toolkit or a skill set and you want to be able to apply that in different ways every day, then that would be a really good target for you.

However, if you’re looking for larger organizations where positions tend to be more siloed and you’re one of these people with a varying background, you can spend a lot of time writing and sending your multiple resumes to various job descriptions that ask for a specific title and get very few results.  This can make you feel you are undesirable to that company. From the company’s perspective, especially if they see one candidate applying for multiple positions, it looks unfavorable. It looks risky. It makes you look like either you don’t know what you want or that you’d pretty much take anything.

Think about the kinds of companies that would be attracted to a candidate who’d be willing to take anything. Not many good companies want to hire a candidate who is willing to take anything, unless they’re willing to offer you the job where you have to be willing to do anything on the job. I know there are a lot of job seekers out there who are in that situation. You might have been applying to multiple jobs for a long period of time and getting very few results and feeling like at this point you just have to be desperate. You have to apply to anything. You have to accept anything that comes your way. The problem with that is you’ve come to a conclusion about your viability in the job market based on a flawed distribution strategy.

If you are one of those people with varying skill sets who is apply for a job in a larger corporation, the fastest way to your next opportunity is actually to pick the role that you want to spend most of your time doing and then market yourself specifically for that role. You can include information about the other disciplines that you also have experience with, but you have to brand yourself based on the primary position. Then when you get into that role, you can always look for ways to make yourself more valuable by lending those skills and talents to other departments or projects, other teammates, other supervisors.

A résumé is an investment. My goal as a résumé writer and a career coach is that when you make that investment, you get a return on that investment.  A return on your investment that a professional résumé produces is engagement, interviews, and ultimately a job offer. Not just any job offer, but a job offer that you find desirable that enables you to really thrive and succeed in your career with the optimum career and income growth.

So before you make a decision to have multiple résumés, think about who it is you’re targeting as an employer.  If you are targeting smaller startups, family-owned businesses or flat organizations—places where they like people to have multiple hats, that’s an opportunity for you to brand yourself as a multi-skilled talent.  You must make sure that you’re targeting a specific audience with your résumé so that you’re not wasting your time and then coming to conclusions about your viability based on a lack of response.

Recruiters and employers are not going to take their time evaluating your resume in detail to determine where it is you fit best in their organization. They’d rather move on to somebody they are sure fits the job description. You are not increasing your competitive edge in the job market by being somebody who is multi-skilled and applying for siloed positions.

So you have some decisions to make. I am here to help you make them, if you need me to. When you are ready to choose one or the other, then you are ready to brand yourself and market yourself effectively to an employer who will appreciate what it is that you are bringing to the table and extend that job offer.

 

5 Positive Ways to Deal with Job Rejection

I-really-wish-I-was-less Job rejection can send you into a panic, especially if you pour all of your mental energy into one ideal job believing that the employer will easily see that you are the perfect match. You may have even gotten as far as the second interview, and yet, in spite of your enthusiasm and efforts, you receive a rejection letter rather than an offer, or worse, you never hear back from a prospective employer at all.

 

You’ve heard this before, perhaps: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Yet, you know why you’re not getting a response from most applications; they’re not quite the right job. But then you find one perfect posting and you meet every qualification. They lights shine down from heaven and you hear a choir singing Hallelujah. Of course you’ll get a response. Of course they’ll have to agree that you are just right for this.

 

There are a few misconceptions at play here

  • There is only one or few ideal jobs available.

Truth: Most people use job postings to direct their job search activities, which is deceiving and does not represent the hidden job market.

  • You are the only qualified candidate.

Truth: Companies usually narrow their candidate choices between 2-4 equally qualified candidates and choose to give an offer to the candidate that best fits their culture.

  • Someone will see your application.

Truth: Keyword optimized or not, unless your résumé is physically placed in front of the hiring manager, the chances that your application will get seen is 25%.

 

Misconceptions in job transitioning are abundant and dangerous, because you can easily make the rejection mean that YOU are not hirable or desirable, when, in fact, it is just a matter of using a better system based on how hiring is actually done.   It can be difficult to arrive at your next job interview when you’re in a negative mental state. Not obtaining the job you want can become an incredible opportunity.

Before you let rejection swallow you into an abyss of hopelessness, evaluate if you are operating under one of the misconceptions above and give yourself time to do what you enjoy the most. It may sound counterintuitive, but taking your mind off of job rejection can allow you focus on what you really want. Try these five ways to deal with job rejections so you can focus your positive energy and bounce back refreshed and ready to advance your career. Do not overlook the competitive advantage of showing up at your next job interview with mental clarity and a sense of calm confidence.

1. Volunteering.   Volunteering is a great way to get in touch with your altruistic side. Not only will you help others in need, but you’ll also help yourself. The very act of devoting time to being valuable to others can take your mind off the negativity of job rejection. Brightening someone’s day can be extremely rewarding. Furthermore, it is a great way to network with others, hone the skills you already possess, and even learn new skills. Furthermore, that next successful job could come from a contact you made through volunteer work.

2. Meditation.   Meditation is an excellent way to self-sooth. Contemplating and reflecting on your actions can help you focus. Being rejected isn’t always about you and it is important to not let negativity control your thoughts. Dr. Christopher Lloyd Clarke explains some of the great benefits of meditation in his article “The Most Important Reasons to Meditate.” Stress reduction, emotional stability, and positive thinking can help you recover from a job rejection and prepare for the next career opportunity.

3. Get Away.   A change of venue can put your thoughts into perspective. If you can’t go very far, look no further than a local park. Going hiking will help you connect with the great outdoors. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as visiting a forest in the mountains, walking beside a beautiful flowing river, or even passing through a majestic desert landscape. Spending time with nature provides you with a break from the mundane and also gives you a sense of how large the world is. Not getting the job suddenly feels insignificant when you are surrounded by the grandeur of the natural.

4. Video games.   Video games can be a great way to relieve stress. I recently listened to NPR’s Planet Money podcast titled “Doing Business Like A Refugee.” A refugee named Mohammed Osman Ali credits his PlayStation 1 for his mental well-being. I couldn’t help but be awed at how a refugee in Uganda effectively used video games to cope with his stress. He even built an arcade to help refugees escape from their worries for a short time. Not getting the job isn’t as dramatic as being forced to flee your home, but positively coping with stress is still vital. Consider taking your mind off of rejection by tackling a difficult dungeon in World of Warcraft, getting to a new level in Candy Crush Saga, or decimating the competition in Forza Motorsport. We are currently developing a mobile app that turns job seeking into a game, so in the future, searching for your next job will be as enjoyable as playing a video game.

5. Exercise. Hitting the gym or your own workout area at home is a fun and natural way to deal with the stress of job rejection. Not only does working out build confidence and muscle, but it also releases serotonin and dopamine into the brain. These neurotransmitters decrease stress and boost feelings of well-being. A half an hour on the treadmill or lifting weights can go a long way in refocusing your job search efforts by helping to clear your mind.

These five positive items are not only important for feeding your soul, but are also crucial to maintaining your mental clarity and competitive advantage. Once you’ve managed to sooth your stress and tried a few new things, you will be ready to come back with a vengeance. You may even try repeating a mantra to help you focus on those new positive vibes. Rid yourself of negativity. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, network for new leads, and even have your résumé reviewed. It is crucial to be proactive in your job search rather than reactive. Ultimately, job rejection is just a temporary road block to overcome as you boldly focus on your strengths and target the next opportunity.

We recognize that enjoying these five items may produce feelings of guilt about being unproductive in your job search. Your friends and family may even scold you for not constantly being in a job seeking state of mind. Know this: much of the activities that job seekers partake in produce few good results. You will be more successful in your job search if you do fewer higher-impact activities than if you do many low-impact activities, such as trolling job boards and sending online applications.

If this knowledge does not sooth the pressure, turn the five positive ways to deal with job rejection into a reward.

Coaches challenge: Write down three things this week related to your job search that are out of your comfort zone, but that you know or have been told work.   Here are some suggestions from us:

  • Attend an industry networking event and meet 5 new people.
  • Identify three hiring managers in companies you find desirable and call them directly through the company switchboard.
  • Turn a social interaction into a conversation about what you ultimately want to offer as a professional and for whom and ASK for leads.
  • Dressed professionally, walk to the closest business, résumé in hand, and ask to speak to human resources.