Archives for February 2017

Good News or Bad: Longer life > Longer career?

group of happy business people clapping by Tec Estromberg of Flickr

 

Trend alert: Employment for workers 55-74 is rising faster than any other age group.

Are you alarmed or encouraged by this news?

You might be alarmed if you were thinking that retirement was on the horizon. On the other hand, you could be encouraged if you already realized that retirement is years away and were concerned that you could face age discrimination.

I say, either way, if you are in either camp and no matter what age you are, it is time to decide. You are going to live a longer life. Are you going to live it led by passion or are you going to continue on with a career that pays your bills, but leaves you wanting more?

There are many great examples of people who have reinvented themselves late in life to achieve greatness.

Here are just a few:

Colonel Sanders, 65, was motivated to hone his recipe and franchise his restaurant by a new highway that had drawn customers away from his single store.

Laura Ingles Wilder, 65, put pen to paper and published Little House on the Prairie.

Grandma Moses, 76, created her first canvas painting when her arthritis prevented her from enjoying embroidery.

 

Consider this:

  • A majority of people dedicate their youth to careers that offer financial security.
  • 70% of these workers are disengaged in their work.
  • Having had dedicated decades to building a life and supposedly saving for retirement, they are finding that the lifestyle they imagined when they signed up for “corporate servitude” is not actually attainable with what they were able to save, if anything.

Or we could imagine a different scenario.

After retiring from the career that they dedicated decades and their youth to, they find they are still able-bodied and able-minded and want to spend the rest of those years, with kids grown and hopefully living life well for themselves, delving into their passions and finding new ways to make money pursuing those passions.

Some of them are finding more passion driven careers than they did as a corporate servant. That makes them wonder, “Why did I spend so many years consumed by consumerism?”

I’m not suggesting that having a corporate career is a waste of your life. I have many clients who feel completely fulfilled, are at the top of their game, enjoy going to work and get to enjoy their lives outside of work as well.

What I am saying is, if you are biding your time in a corporate career that you do not feel fully engaged in, why aren’t you reaching for something better? Better is possible.

In fact, my experience teaches me that so many do not reach for something better because there is so much doubt that something better is possible, or if something better is possible for THEM.

Before you can go from impossible to actual, you have to realize that what you suspect is impossible is possible. So, I am providing evidence to you that it is possible. If it was possible for some, than why would it not be possible for you?

Are you thinking it could be possible yet?

Okay. The next step is to make what is possible probable.  That is where we come in. This takes more than just influential content and a pragmatic plan of action. You may be in the “possible zone” now, but you have been in the “impossible” zone for quite some time, if not all your life.

You need tools, tricks and techniques, aka HACKS, to shift yourself to where you are in the possible/probable zone MORE of the time, and then MOST of the time. This is why our coaching, group coaching, and one-on-one programs are so much more than how-to-job-search programs. If you have been reading up on the best ways to find a job, attending seminars, watching videos, etc., and still have not been able to see a big difference in what you do and/or what results you get, or you have not been able to sustain those results, we know exactly how to help you!

You may inquire as to one-on-one coaching programs at any time, but why wait? Fill out a Needs Assessment form and have a free 30-minute consultation with us.

Or, RIGHT NOW you can still get into our six-week Epic Career Fast Track group coaching program. We’re getting started soon, though, so don’t wait!

 

Have You Been Broken by Losing a “Once-in-a-Lifetime” Opportunity?

Seven Years of Bad Luck by Blondinrikard Froberg of Flickr

This may sound obvious, but the way you perceive your world will greatly impact how you respond to challenges as well as the outcomes.

Not only have I seen many people become broken when an opportunity that I thought could be once-in-a-lifetime fell through, but it happened to me as well.

I was a few months into my job search in 2002 and still had a fair amount of optimism and confidence in the value that I could offer, yet at the same time it was a critical point for validation. I knew at that early stage I wanted to be a career coach, but that I did not have adequate experience to be a good adviser. I had the opportunity to interview with and be enchanted by a high-end career coach who was looking for a protégé and was hiring a job developer. This seemed like a perfect next step, leveraging my sourcing and research experience, and giving me a chance to see what it really takes to generate job leads.

He spoke with such passion and his office was impressive. I was even impressed by the monogrammed folder he gave me with information on his firm. I felt deep down inside that this person was going to be influential in my life and my career. I even had a touch of the “Irish weepies,” which is what I call it when I allow myself to be overwhelmed by joy or poignant emotion. That is why I have shied away from singing at weddings and funerals. I felt a little bit embarrassed by how I allowed myself to show my emotions, and he seemed to be empathetic and still very interested in vetting me as his protégé. I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The next steps were to hand in a detailed job description, as this was a new position he was creating. This assignment was super exciting to me and really made me visualize all that I wanted to do and all that I wanted to learn to be a valuable contributor to his firm while at the same time preparing myself for my ultimate career. I immersed myself in imagining what the day-to-day would look like, as well as short-term projects and long-term projects, and setting my own success goals for 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.

As any good quality effort would require, I had other people review it and offer feedback. I wanted to make sure that it was a top notch submission. It occurred to me that he could just be using me as an applicant to write a job description for him, and that did not even matter because I was so sure that I would impress him and he would excitedly offer me the position.

This was not what happened.

I literally sat by the computer after sending it thinking that my phone would ring any second or an email would come back instantly. A few hours passed and I rationalized that he was probably busy with clients because he is a successful career coach, and I should give it the obligatory two days before following up, like dating, which was the world I knew much more about at the time than job searching. I followed up after two days with an email confirming that he received it and scheduled to call in two more days if I had not heard from him. I left a message reasserting how much I enjoyed the assignment and really being able to visualize myself in this job and was excited to hear his feedback. After the weekend I received a one line email.

It went something like, “Thank you for your efforts, it was not exactly what I was hoping for. More feedback to come.”

But there was no more feedback to come, and there were no more communications from him even after following up three or four more times. With each call I had to muster up more courage and confidence where there was none, and pretend that I was just patiently waiting, when in fact I was a nervous wreck, and I was angry and hurt. The longer I waited without a response from him, the surer I was that he was not at all empathetic and most likely did use me to write a job description for a job that someone else was going to fill.

It broke me. I felt broken. I felt used, undervalued, unworthy, and hopeless. Do you think I was able to ace any interviews I went into as this person? Nope.

Seven or eight months later I did wind up landing in a job that was a step back and not at all on the career coach track. I got back on track eventually, as you know.

With a more experienced perspective, I look back at that time and realize everything that I did wrong, and I make it my mission to save people from being broken from similar circumstances.

Here are a few things that I know now that I wish I had known then:

 

  1. Once-in-a-lifetime is an enigma

There are many roads to success. Relying on one resource, or one person, or one company as your primary means to achieve success is disempowering and misguided. You do not have to align yourself with unscrupulous people, you do not have to sacrifice your values, and you do not have to let yourself be taken advantage of or neglect your health in order to achieve success. It may not come instantly, you will face challenges, you will need to take inspired action, but with passion, persistence and resourcefulness, it will happen if it is right, and if it is not there is something better.

 

  1. There is no lack of resources, only resourcefulness

When I gave up my idea of how my career path was supposed to look, I found many other paths that I could take to get there. I had to recover my sense of hope before I could see alternative solutions, and that was not easy, honestly. However, once I reclaimed my resolve to make my career work for me, I found that so many more friends were willing to help me, and I could be that person in an interview who could inspire confidence, and ultimately get the offer.

 

  1. Don’t get stuck in the shoo-in trap

After more years in the employment industry as a recruiter, seeing how much can happen in the hiring process that can impact a successful offer and acceptance, I would have warned myself not to be too dependent on this one position being the key to my happiness. That feeling I was so certain of, that this was it, I would have encouraged myself to keep the enthusiasm, but also keep up all efforts to generate opportunities. Perhaps if I had been talking to one of his competitors that career coach would have found me to be more of a competitive advantage in his business, and I most likely would have seen that he was just one of many people that could have taken me on as their protégé. Perhaps if there was another career coach they could have been an even stronger mentor for me. I would not have relied on his positive response to validate my worth.

There were certainly some practical job search tactics and strategies that I failed to implement during that job search, which I know now. That said, there is also the mindset and emotional component of job searching that is far too overlooked by jobseekers, the stakeholders in their lives, as well as a lot of career coaches.

 

I may not always be able to prevent you from being broken in your job search. If I can, I will. However, if you have been broken, let us mend you. Mindset mastery is a primary component of our six-week, three-month group, and one-on-one coaching programs. Do not underestimate how pivotal this can be to your job search success, and your career success going forward.

Join us for our upcoming six-week epic careering fast track program and a live group coaching program which is starting soon. Space is limited! Or, fill out a Needs Assessment Form and take advantage of a free 30-minute sampling of our one-on-one coaching.

Unveil your brilliance!

 

How Can Anybody Get Anything Done These Days?

Social Media by Magicatwork of Flickr

 

It has been an interesting past few months on social media. I can personally say it has been much more of a distraction now than it has ever been.

My usual tricks for limiting the amount of time that I spend engaging in non-work related activities on social media have had much less of an impact, and in a lot of cases it’s like I’ve forgotten all about them.

(I will share them in a bit.)

I do not post or comment a lot on political subjects, but I do feel a need to stay informed. This leads to observing very heated discourse between people on both sides of various topics.

I do not seek to persuade anyone, but I do seek to understand both sides. Unfortunately, in most cases I don’t find understanding. Instead, I noticed that I’ve just wasted an extra 15 minutes, sometimes even longer, reading commentary that upsets me. Then I spend another 15 minutes trying to find content that will help me get back into a healthier, more positive, more productive mindset.

Generally, I have noticed that I feel a little more powerless and that has led to a lot more anxiety. I have noticed that people I like to spend time with, I avoid now, knowing that they are very vocal on the opposite side of my beliefs. This makes me sad and I do not feel as connected to these people who used to bring such joy to my life.

I have a given an exception for invitations to meet new network contacts, and favor shorter get-to-know-you phone calls to avoid topics that usually tend to emerge when you sit down with someone for longer than a half hour.

My practice of being happy has required a lot more diligence to overcome these obstacles. I tend to want to immerse myself in more positive content just to normalize myself into a state where I can get done what is on my agenda to fulfill my mission.

Then I wonder about all of these people who are engaging in heated discourse. Some of them seem to go back-and-forth all day defending their original statement and refuting others. I’m seeing referencing data, which may not have just been at their fingertips. It is clear that they have taken the time to search and find this data simply to prove to a stranger that they are right and the other is wrong.

The upsetting thing for me is not that people disagree. I believe that is part of the beauty of our country. The upsetting thing is the name-calling and the dismissing other people’s opinion as being a product of ignorance, lack of morals, or low intelligence.

As a human being prone to bias just like anyone else, as per my previous post, I may make the same initial assumptions, but I know logically that even if there is a different belief system driving people to reside on an opposite side than me, my beliefs are not better than theirs, nor are they worse. It is just very difficult using the medium of social media and a venue like emotionally-charged sound bites, to really get down to the understanding that would enable me to draw a more accurate conclusion.

This desire to understand, however, is not only unsatisfying but unproductive. Especially while my first quarter initiatives have been riddled with technical setbacks and difficulties, it has been even easier for me to justify the distraction of so called informing myself and seeking understanding. I’m at a crossroads and I have to make a change.

No, this isn’t my usual “insight, expertise and practical tips” post. This is something I am still in the middle of figuring out, and I know that I’m not alone. I am hoping we can help each other figure it out. Here are some things that I have done in the past that have been successful in helping me curb succumbing to the siren of social media:

 

Lists on post-its

I cannot always opt to just to avoid social media; it is part of my job. Not only do I market myself on social media, but I also help others leverage it to increase opportunity. That means staying in tune with changes, staying up on navigation and future updates, and listening and observing to help others effectively use social media. Lists may not seem like that ingenious of an idea, but the key is keeping them visible. I write a sticker for whatever I am there on social media to accomplish and stick it to my screen. It serves as a constant reminder that I am there for a purpose.

 

A timer

It is a best practice to decide the night before what I really need to accomplish the next day and break my day up into segments. If you are someone who experiences high-level anxiety when things don’t go as planned, this may actually increase your stress. The purpose is not to be rigid, but to be intentional. If something happens to take longer than anticipated, I know that I have to adjust the rest of the day and the activities, perhaps making some sacrifices to make sure that the most important things get done.

In The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I learned that we will tend to take as long as we give ourselves to complete a project. This is why some people wait until the last minute to finish a project– they feel it will ultimately take them less time than if they started early. Of course, waiting until the last minute can cause problems when unexpected events and challenges occur. Tim Ferris does not recommend waiting until the last minute, but he does recommend giving yourself and others an early fake deadline. In applying his advice, not only will I manage a larger project like this, but also milestones, mini-projects and tasks.

When it comes to things like writing and social media, I know my tendencies are to get sucked in and take too much time. These are the things that I time. I might give myself an hour to write a blog, but when it comes to social media I will keep the time very short, I favor multiple short visits versus blocking a significant amount of time to get everything done. For instance, I will avoid social media until I have gotten the most impactful things out of the way. I will have already have meditated, and I certainly will have already broken my day down. Then I will schedule three 10 minute time slots intended for short postings that I will write outside of social media first. The next day I will allocate an hour to posting a client’s LinkedIn profile content. Then I plan when I will engage in social media for personal pleasure and interaction. I usually do this during a meal, unless I am eating with someone. I may slip in again while my kids brush their teeth at night. This is ideally where it would stop.

 

Turn off notifications

Social media designers know what they’re doing, and their intention is to make you come back over and over again. They want you addicted. Turning off notifications can be tough when potential clients and customers reach you through these venues and their needs are immediate, for instance if you’re a plumber and you deal with a lot of plumbing emergencies. Realistically, you would want to have someone else handling any incoming inquiries, because most of your time would ideally be spent helping customers. When you have a different quandary – make sure whoever is assisting you with incoming leads isn’t wasting their time on social media.

If these strategies alone do not help you minimize the amount of time that you spend not getting closer to your goals, there are some apps that can help you block websites for periods of time. SelfControl, StayFocsd, and Cold Turkey may help. If your job requires you to be on social media, these tools maybe too inhibitive for you.

If you have noticed a decrease in your quality of life and relationships, and you believe there might be a correlation between this and your social media usage, I encourage you to try these tricks.

However, if these tricks do not work and you sense that your social media habits will continue to have a cost to your life, consider that you might be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out). While this legitimate syndrome recognized by psychologists is not just limited to social media and users thereof, you may be able to look at your social media usage as either a symptom or a cause, and reach out for help.

 

As I am committed to relieving myself from the potential costs that social media has been imposing on my own life, I would love to hear others strategies and tactics.

 

Refuse the Box: The Perils of Vanilla Branding

Checked Tick by Oliver Tacke of Flickr

 

Are you dynamic? What does that even mean?

Very few people who have had that word in their resume have been able to tell me what it really means. Most of them just thought it sounded good.

It is true for most people, however. I could definitely say it has been true of all my clients. To me dynamic means multi-dimensional, having a diverse set of interests and skills, and having a certain intrigue.

While some companies are investing millions of dollars and allocating work hours into creativity boosting exercises, other companies seem to stifle individuality and expression.

It certainly does take all kinds of people to make the world go around, and so you could conclude that the same could be true about businesses.

My friend who works at a very conservative financial services company shared a story that in a conference a report was distributed that misspelled “assess” very prominently and in several places. She would not dare laugh. I know she loves her job and her company, but I could not personally work somewhere where we all couldn’t get a good laugh out of that mistake.

Most of my clients agree with me. For my clients’ sake, I am willing to take a risk early on in the writing process. We have an initial 90-minute branding consultation in which I use my intuition and investigative skills to uncover what makes my clients so special, and by that I mean really unique. I craft four-to-six branding points and then provide them with a request letter that they sent to their trusted inner circle for feedback. This is risky for me because often these branding points represent the softer, qualitative aspects of my clients and I have found many people consider these to be “nice and true, but not necessarily relevant.”

I beg to differ.

The other risk is that these branding points tend to be quite wordy, and not really representative of the kind of concise, quantitative content that I would write for a résumé. Often these branding points portray multiple aspects. It is challenging and excessive to explain how these branding points are used for my internal writing process. Basically, they help me make sure that all of the content has a “so what” feel and that every piece of content I write for my clients presents a clear and consistent brand.

The feedback that my client receives from his or her inner circle usually has a fair amount of commentary on the complexity of the bullet points and skepticism on the relevance. The feedback that I dislike the most, however, is when someone takes a strength, like forthrightness, and advises that we either hide this strength because it is not appreciated by some companies. Or they advise we make it sound more vanilla, aka generic, such as to say “effective communicator.”

The intention is good – they want my client to be marketable and attractive to as many companies as possible, thinking that is the best way to succeed. However, then this forthright client finds himself in a company that values passive-aggressive communication, bureaucracy, and pardon my language, ass-kissing. Not only is he miserable, but he sees how the company’s culture is strangling its own progress and he can’t be as successful as he could be were his honest input valued.

I do not mind sorting through the feedback, good or bad, because I get to reinforce for my clients that they do not need to fit someone else’s idea of who they should be.

You do not need to check all the boxes, or fit inside a box in order to be successful.

Certainly we do not step into a job interview spilling our guts about our failures and weaknesses, but no one would believe us if we were perfect anyway. There is quite a sense of freedom in believing that you can be authentic and be valued.

At this point in the process, they have to take a leap of faith that they actually can be accepted and successful, that the job exists, and the offer will come.

This process also uncovers pure gold. The aspects of my clients that I may have missed, the things about them only someone who worked side-by-side with them would be able to notice, or even what their spouses admire about them.

With a renewed appreciation of who they are, a résumé that substantiates their skills and validates their value, and a new hope that they will be compelling and attractive to the right company and the right boss, they actually become excited to be in action. They feel ready to take on whatever challenges present themselves in the transition process. And of course, I will be there to make sure they know exactly what to do when challenges arise.

If the thought of having to check boxes or fit your dynamic self into a box saps any energy you could possibly muster up to conduct a job search, please know that there is another way and we would love to help you discover and execute it. Our six-week Epic Careering Fast Track Program is starting soon!

The more people we help realize a new idea of authentic careering, more people believe it is possible, and the more companies may realize that a “dynamic” culture is in demand.