Archives for January 2015

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone and Accelerate Your Job Transition

Photo courtesy of BK on flickr creative commons (http://bit.ly/1CJ1zq1).

Photo courtesy of BK on flickr creative commons (http://bit.ly/1CJ1zq1).

You’ve decided to make a job transition and you want to do so as painlessly as possible. Getting out of your comfort zone is a big first step, and is the fastest way to land a new job. Remaining in your comfort zone will only prolong your efforts to find a new employer. If you’re part of the 70% of Americans unhappy at their job, your dissatisfaction will only fester. If you’re unemployed, being out of a job for more than six months can be detrimental to your long-term employment prospects. Leaving your comfort zone means trying something new everyday. Being adventurous, building new skills, and thinking outside of the box is a great way to kick your routine job search habits to the curb. It may be comfortable to seek out your favorite job boards, or to fill out impersonal online applications on employer websites. However, in my years of working with clients as a career coach, I’ve learned that fewer bolder actions can produce greater results and momentum than the many usual actions of job seekers.

Today, I challenge you to try a variety of job search activities. I’ve broken them down into numbered levels, with the difficulty ranging from easy, medium to hard.

Level 1:

Prepare for your next networking, meeting, or interview with an icebreaker: In this age of constantly changing technology there is no end to the news and information available. Before your next meeting event, look for tidbits of light news that fascinates you, and that would appeal to all religions and races. The news can be as simple as a fluff piece you read on one of your social network news feeds, an RSS feed, or even something on a local news station. This icebreaker will help you immediately engage others in conversation, and more importantly, help build rapport. For example: Did you hear about the astronaut who’s going to spend a year in space?

Invest in yourself and consider the long-term payoff: When you’re in a job transition, the finite reach of your finances are more salient than ever. You may want or need to cut back on expenses, including your investments. What you are willing to invest in yourself; however, is a direct reflection to others of how you value yourself. If you are not willing to invest in yourself, others will feel the same way. Consider yourself as an investment to your future employer. Spending money to invest in your professional capital is extremely important. Yes, of course I believe that investing in a professional résumé and a professional LinkedIn profile is important. But even more so, consider the immense payoff of paying for an event, even if that also includes paying a babysitter, where you meet your future employer who pays you your future salary. It is important to go out, live, and enjoy life during your transition. Just remember to nurture and leverage the relationships that result from your adventures.

Level 2:

Read at least one industry-related book per quarter and share the quotes through your social media status updates: Reading industry-related books on a regular basis is an excellent way to keep abreast of your industry, and to become an authoritative figure in your field. It is the difference between someone who’s passionate about their career, and someone who simply views their career as another job. By sharing quotes through your social media status updates you’ll demonstrate how knowledgeable you are to others. You’ll be able to recall the quotes better in conversation and further support your position as an industry insider. As a bonus, you may even inspire someone in your network.

Use your status updates to ask questions at least once a week: If you have pertinent questions about a particular employer, open positions, helpful ways to expand your network, or anything else related to job seeking, ask them! People love to give advice and share their opinion, leverage that to your advantage. The advice or answers you receive could be eye-opening, or may be fantastic food for thought.

Level 3:

Send five acquaintances a CUSTOMIZED invitation to join your LinkedIn network: The five acquaintances are people you already know, but are not connected to. This means you have to go to their profile and click on connect. In addition to your personalized invitation to connect, include an invitation to catch up them with in person or on the phone over the next few weeks. This is important because it helps you build upon a professional relationship. Networking in person is still meaningful, and impressions matter. The next time there’s an opening at your acquaintance’s company, he or she may provide a referral for you. You can also take your invitation initiative a step further. Go beyond thinking of your network as just current and former colleagues. Search LinkedIn for:

  • Neighbors
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Classmates
  • Colleagues that you KNOW or KNEW WELL
  • Your past supervisors
  • Health care providers
  • Parents of your child’s friends
  • Service Providers (plumber, landscaper, exterminator, etc.)

Soon you’ll have 100 new contacts, and you can do five new invitations every day, or even every week.

Conquer your phone phobia: It is important to pick up the phone, reach out and dial someone. Make at least one phone call each day with the goal of scheduling a networking meeting. This isn’t the same as asking for a job. Many people suffer from phone phobia, including skilled sales people and recruiters. If you have a case of phone phobia the best way to overcome it is to get on the horn and make some meaningful noise. Start small and reward your accomplishments by doing something you love. It could be as simple as marathoning Breaking Bad on Netflix, running for an extra mile during your exercise routine, or playing a few levels of Candy Crush Saga on your phone. The point is to positively reinforce the act of calling someone so it becomes easier the next time you do it.

Stepping out of your job transiting comfort zone can be a daunting task on the surface. By taking a few simple and bold steps each day, you can build your confidence as you search for your next job opportunity, and more importantly, it will result in increasing your job momentum. If these activities work for you, and produce the desired results, by all means, do them again. The point is, you’ll reach a point of greater comfort and skill in your job transition. Doing some of the more difficult activities will become second nature, and once they are, you’ll be able use your new skills to accelerate your career and income from this point forward. Mel Robbins explains in her TEDx Talk “How to stop screwing yourself over,”  the importance of activation energy and why you need to get out of your comfort zone. In Mel’s own words: taking that first step requires you to FORCE yourself to do it, no one can do it for you.

Foo Fighters – Big Me

Foo Fighters’ official music video for ‘Big Me’. Click to listen to Foo Fighters on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/FooFSpotify?IQid=FooFBM As featured on Greatest Hits.

Are Careers Like Soul mates? Is There Only One?

Photo courtesy of Flazingo Photos on flickr http://bit.ly/1srWO1B.

Photo courtesy of Flazingo Photos on flickr http://bit.ly/1srWO1B.

Some people believe there is only one soul mate out there for us. Others believe we could have multiple soul mates, or that everyone has the potential to be our soul mate. There are also a few people out there who believe there is no such thing as a soul mate. Likewise, many people hold similar views on careers.

There are those who believe there is no set career path, and that anyone can do anything if they work smart enough. This may mean starting over and redefining themselves every few years. Or they may chase after their passions until they find a career that excites them.

Then we have those who believe we are all destined for something, or we should use our God-given talents to their full potential. It could be the boy or girl who discovers they love drawing at an early age and sticks with a career as an artist. These kinds of career paths aren’t always easy to follow, but those who stick with them are driven and passionate.

For many, the career paths we originally set out with turn out to be very different from what we ultimately settle on. We may switch careers multiple times within our lives. Or we may hold down more than one career at a time. Here’s an example of someone who has multiple careers:

A 2001 New York Times article titled “Traveling 2 Roads In One Life” profiled Angela Williams. She began her professional life as a lawyer. After a few years in the Air Force as a prosecutor, she moved on as a federal prosecutor in Florida. A year later she traveled to Jerusalem, and visited Biblical sites. Suddenly, she felt a strong calling to devote herself to the ministry. Within two years she began to study theology while she balanced her life as a lawyer. By 2001, Williams put in 50 hours a week as a corporate lawyer by day, and worked up to 40 hours per week as an associate minister at night. When Williams began her career as a lawyer, she never envisioned being a minister as well.

As I wrote in my article, “Your Attitudes About Work Can Shape the Career Path of Others,” the idea of working for one company in one field is a rarity in today’s world. We are living in a world where people either switch careers or are expected to juggle multiple careers within their lifetime. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 5% of the labor force are multiple job holders as of December 2014. Ed Dolan breaks this information down further and explains why people hold multiple careers in his EconoMonitor article. Data from a 2004 survey suggests about 25% of people have multiple jobs because of financial hardship and 21% of people care more about the value of a second job, rather than the extra money. These are people who are more interested in the experience a job brings, or because they enjoy doing the extra work. Another 38% wanted the extra income, and the last 15% gave no reason why they took on multiple jobs.

There are some people who feel drawn to a calling from a young age, and manage to stick with that calling. These people often buck the trend of conformity. They are not satisfied with being told what they should do, and instead pursue what they are passionate about. The pay may be low, or unstable but they are determined enough to walk a path that satisfies their calling. The career itself doesn’t matter in this case, as long as a person loves his or her work. Think of teachers, nurses, artists, performers, factory workers, and even mechanics. The work is less about career advancement and more about personal fulfillment. A 1997 research paper title “Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relations to Their Work” details why some people feel called to a particular career.

The reality shows the majority of adults will hold multiple jobs within their lifetime. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, working adults will hold an average of 11.3 jobs from the ages of 18 to 46. The data was collected from 1979 to 2010. In an employee tenure summary released in September 2014, the BLS noted salary and wage workers stayed with an employer for an average of 4.6 years. Management and professional occupations often stayed with employers a little longer, up to 6.9 years. New York Times Columnist Marci Alboher, states in a 2007 article that the wave of professional reinventions is rising. Corporate job security is no longer guaranteed, and millions of Americans are finding their own career paths. Some will work as entrepreneurs, others will become consultants, and some may bounce back and forth before returning to the corporate world. Entrepreneur and author Tim Clark outlines a similar path in his TEDx Talk “Say Goodbye to Career Planning.”

There is a generation of people who don’t subscribe to the idea of having multiple careers. Perhaps the idea of changing employers within a career is normal, but they’ve never once considered the idea of going into a new field. Or they may be part of a shrinking group of employees who expect to stay with an employer for a decade or longer. Forbes contributor David K. Williams gives us “10 Reasons To Stay At A Job For 10 Or More Years.” Stability, seniority, leadership opportunities, dependability, and a say in the company’s future are just some of the reasons why people may not believe in having multiple careers, or changing careers. After all, there are many people who balk at the idea of cashing out a 401K, or selling a home if a new employer requires relocation. For these employees, consistency and loyalty is king.

Employer loyalty can be a particular sticking point when it comes to employers. Some people feel company loyalty is important and will ultimately be rewarded by employers, in the form of pensions and healthcare. There are those who believe there is no such thing as company loyalty. If a job can be wiped out by downsizing, why should anyone expected to have a long-term career within a single company?

The views on careers are diverse. The data shows us that the majority of adults will hold down multiple jobs within their lifetime. At the same time there are people who manage to find their calling in life early, and stick with their passions no matter the hardship. There are others who believe in a more traditional path of deciding on a career early, and sticking with it until retirement. The adventurous believe a career should be exciting and don’t mind changing fields until they find their passion and some workers believe it is possible to maintain more than one career at a time.

What are your beliefs about careers? Are we destined to only have one calling in our life? Or are multiple careers and career change inevitable?

Bob Marley – One Love

One love, One heart Let’s get together and feel all right Hear the children crying (One Love) Hear the children crying (One Heart) Sayin’ give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right Sayin’ let’s get together and feel all right Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One Love) There is one question I’d really love to ask (One Heart) Is there a place for the hopeless sinner Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?

Why I do what I do (part III of my series on work attitudes)

Photo courtesy of koka_sexton on Flickr creative commons: http://bit.ly/1Apu1uz.

Photo courtesy of koka_sexton on Flickr creative commons: http://bit.ly/1Apu1uz.

My mom was underpaid and underappreciated. She looked at numbers all day so when she got home she didn’t want to play cards with me. One my favorite things to do was play (win) Rummy.

My dad afforded a nice lifestyle pre-divorce. He napped when he came home when I wanted to play catch. I remember being really little and begging to play “horsey.” Then, the divorce.  It was a long emotional and financial battle that decimated our standard of living for a while. My mom recovered more easily because she continued working and re-married while my dad was forced into early retirement, working odd jobs and surviving on a lesser pension and eventually social security. Now, his health insurance was eliminated as a retirement benefit just when he needs it most.

My brothers enjoyed a higher standard of living for much longer. For the most part, their financial blueprint (J. Harv Eker’s term) was set during better years. All I learned about work and money was that it was tiring and no matter how hard you worked, eventually, there would be no pay off or not the kind that I wanted. I wanted a lot. I dreamt of a BIG life. When I played monopoly with my friend, Julie, we would daydream about huge houses with rooms for all the animals we would rescue and adopt. When I dreamt of a big life, there were always big things I could do for other people at the forefront and at the same time provide exotic opportunities for my kids.

So, going into college, my idea of being a “successful” adult was that you get a degree so you’re not stuck for 20 years in a dead-end clerk job. But I didn’t want to be the boss, either, because then I’d hold down the little guy. Choosing radio as my career was an anti-corporate statement to all of my seemingly misguided advisors. Not until I started attempting to make a buck while I worked in radio that I got to see that not all companies operate like, well, almost every company depicted in every sit com and movie up until…. uh… Grandma’s Boy (circa 2006.)

Then, I realized as a recruiter I could place people in the “good jobs.” At least, that is what I thought I would like best about recruiting, and it was…when it happened. However, speaking with 500 candidates every week and placing maybe one of them is hardly a record of success given my mission.  Plus, for a good percentage of the jobs, my position on the vendor chain didn’t allow me to fully assess the suitability of a job for a candidate. When I was able to get the goods on a job straight from the hiring manager, their budget often prevented me from presenting the best candidate.  So, it was frustrating, but enlightening. Meanwhile, it was becoming clearer what career was going to give me the best chance at really making a difference to professionals seeking career stardom, or even simply career satisfaction – career coaching. Right alongside that was résumé writing. IT résumés appeared to be enigmas for other professional résumé writers. I could tell when a candidate had paid someone to write it, but, unfortunately, oftentimes had to tell them to add or change something.

Eight years after I changed careers yet again, I cannot only say that I found my passion and my purpose, but I have embodied and developed a gift. Now that career fulfillment is something I can speak about first-hand, I want it for EVERYONE!  Thankfully, I have been able to dramatically impact people’s quality of life in a positive way, not that I deserve all of the credit – all of these people were already successful in many ways.  In fact, there is not ONE client that I would say was not BRILLIANT.

Looking forward, you will see an expanded offering of solutions that will fit virtually any budget, and they will generate superior results to anything else currently offered.  I vow to continue my own personal and professional development, and to expand my team in numbers and capacity to help you UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE.

May 2015 bring you better opportunities, better income, and better quality of life!

Heavy D & The Boyz – Now That We Found Love ft. Aaron Hall

Music video by Heavy D & The Boyz performing Now That We Found Love. (C) 1991 Geffen Records