Careers

5 Job Search Activities That Will Keep Your Momentum Up, Even If You Slow Down

 

Now that Memorial Day Weekend is passed, we are ready to get into summer mode. We think we’ll be so productive, but let’s be real – we’ve been productive all year and it’s time to have fun.  Go ahead! Enjoy! Get to the beach, eat barbeque, drink frosty cocktails, pick up a good book, hit the pool, or travel.

A major benefit of coaching my clients in job searching is so that they spend LESS time getting MORE results. That leaves them more time for the good things in life.

No matter what you decide to make a priority for your summer, there are 5* kinds of job search activities that, if you do them at least once a week, will help you maintain and even build momentum while you enjoy your summer.

*Caveat: This is all assuming that your résumé, LinkedIn profile, bio and call to action powerfully make clear why you are the candidate that employers need to snatch up before the competition gets you! If you haven’t done these, then add one more activity to this list – Schedule a free branding breakthrough consultation with Epic Careering.

  1. Administration –
  • Set up your schedule, setting goals for things you control:
    • number of events to attend
    • number of new contacts to make
    • number of introductions requested
  • Select target companies on which you’ll focus
  • Make a call list of people with whom you will follow up.
  1. Research –
  • Do deep company research – search for press releases, journal articles, financial statements, and identify key people. Go way beyond the company website, LinkedIn page, and career page.
  • Do LinkedIn research – Look up key people profiles, evaluate employee profiles (and check out their past companies to identify new target companies), and search for these people on other social media to gain insight on how to build rapport.
  • Do networking research – Explore professional organizations, check out event calendars (Eventbrite, MeetUp), and ask people in your network about upcoming activities and opportunities (networking can include social events, too, as long as you deliver your call to action!)
  1. Massive Action – Make calls, send LinkedIn invitations (with customized messages), send cover letters (5 came with your package), follow up, and attend networking events.
  2. Network Nurturing – Recommend resources, send leads, do random acts of kindness, volunteer.
  3. Self-care – Engage in flow activities (yoga, walking, reading, theater, dancing, dinner/drinks with friends), pamper yourself (pedicures), get enough rest and eat well, also, meditate, journal, read – whatever floats your boat and your spirit.

Pick one activity per day or set aside a couple of hours every day so you can fit in all 5 each day.

Manage your energy well, and continue to manage your calendar – put these things your schedule, but feel free to schedule around fun. Allow yourself to be present for your summer and your loved ones.

Notice that none of these activities include checking job boards or filling out online applications. That is because neither of these activities are high impact, yet they are what everyone feels compelled to do, as though they can check the “done” box on job search activity. You can do that, but know that it won’t afford you the time to enjoy your summer. In fact, spending your time this way is a recipe for lack of results, frustration, questioning self-worth and viability of landing a job, even depression and anxiety.

Getting results is so much more fun than not getting results.

A couple of recruiters in my network reported that hiring did NOT slow down last summer and there are signs that this summer will be just as busy. September is the 2nd busiest hiring month (behind January.)  Keep up the great work so you can do great work!

Alice Cooper – School’s Out [Lyrics] [HD]

Alice Cooper – School’s Out [Lyrics] —– ENJOY!

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Job Security Now Through 2030

 

While some prospective clients come to me hoping I can help them land somewhere “stable,” another group come to me because they realize that their companies’ stability has become golden handcuffs, and has held them back from reaching their full potential.

Even if this was the time when you could graduate, land at a large company, work with them for 30 years and retire with a great nest egg saved up, it may not be in your or the world’s best interest.

Retention does not equal engagement, and now we know what disengagement costs companies (something around $400B+ in the US alone.) The pace at which companies need to innovate and evolve is exponentially faster than it was, and that is predicted to continue accelerating exponentially throughout the 21st century. Ray Kurzweil, developer of the Law of Accelerating Returns, proposed back in 1999 that in the 21st century we would in face experience 20,000 years of progress compared to centuries past.

Companies are already finding that by the time they roll out the technology in a large enterprise, it’s already outdated, or even obsolete.

Whew. Starting to feel anxious? It’s possibly because your brain would really love to protect you from all this change, but even it is operating on a default mode that in a much different day and age would have helped you survive, though today it can mean the opposite – in life and in career.

This Saturday, I spoke at The Jump Start Your Job Search event on how to create your own job security. There were really three major efforts that I outlined:

Branding: Being intentional about how you want to be regarded and building either a campaign, for active job seekers, or a broadcast plan, for those well on-boarded and looking ahead, around that.

High Performance: Leveraging neuroscience breakthroughs in human performance optimization to continually expand and develop by creating habits of mini-practices that enhance critical thinking, creativity, intuition, emotional intelligence, resilience, and even health.

Personal and Professional Development: Rather than relying on your company to invest in your development, own it by consistently assessing your desired growth trajectory, studying the market, acquiring new skills, enhancing your self-awareness, and consuming and creating in equal proportions.

My proven hypothesis – Doing all three of these on a consistent basis, dedicating at least 10% of your budgeted time and money to them, will shift your career management from being exertive and exhausting to management and magnetic, thus leading to sustainable job security.

Caveat: I cannot promise you that the role that you want and/or have right now will be stable in the future. That’s because 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 don’t even exist right now.

However, by doing as advised above, you will become a master of adapting and evolving, reinventing yourself, and staying viable and valuable into the future, however it may be.

 

Fleetwood Mac – Don’t Stop (Official Music Video)

You’re watching the official music video for Fleetwood Mac – “Don’t Stop” from the 1977 album “Rumours”. The new Fleetwood Mac collection ’50 Years – Don’t Stop’ is available now. Get your copy here https://lnk.to/FM50 and check out North American tour dates below to see if the band is coming to a town near you.

 

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If You Are Braving Résumé Writing On Your Own, Some Expert Tips

As an expert in a professional field, you face very different challenges than most other job seekers. Advice that you have been given by anyone outside of your industry could be misguided. If you are going to invest time and/or money in your résumé, you might as well know if what you are doing is going to get you results. We will examine the various ways your résumé can be received and the best ways to maximize the appeal of your résumé since there are many different kinds of individuals that will be reviewing it.

Here are some guidelines specific to IT résumés:

“Big” is relative

When it comes to your experience, start with what you accomplished. What were the challenges you and/or your department were facing?  If this was an official initiative, what is the size and scope of the project? How many users were affected? Detail what you used and how you used it to conquer the challenge. Include the result in quantifiable means whenever possible.

Do not enforce the usual page limits on an expert-level résumé. Hiring managers and recruiters need to know exactly what a candidate has done. Vague résumés will often get passed over for “lower hanging fruit.” Adding these details can make a résumé longer, but a non-technical recruiter, sourcing specialist or administrator would find it difficult to locate you among applicants and qualify you otherwise. Mid-level professionals, especially consultants can very acceptably have a 2-3 page résumé and executive or senior professionals can acceptably have a 3-5-page résumé, so long as the experience is relevant and written concisely. There is no need to add or subtract content strictly based on outdated length “rules.” As a caveat, you have to know your audience, too. If your audience wants the facts and only the facts, get to the point!

It’s all in the details

Any application/suite/module, database, language, tool, server, operating system, protocol, switch/router, etc. that you wish to continue working with should be included in the résumé. When a potential employer reviews your résumé, they want to know more than that you have worked with X technology. They want to know how much and how in-depth your experience is. The technology should occur proportionally as frequently in your résumé as you had worked with it. Frequency of keywords increases your relevance in the results of a keyword search making you further up on the list of candidates to call for further qualification. Include versions.

Some companies require a résumé to include 80% of the requirements listed in their posted job description. The initial gatekeeper has a checklist that includes the number of months/years of experience for each requirement. They systematically divide how many boxes are checked by the total number of requirements to see if you make it to the next round. In order for a skill to be considered a valid qualification, it must be substantiated. This doesn’t mean that your potential employment is always measured by these methods. It is evident that you should always include all details of your experience that are specifically requested in a job description. 

Alternate spellings

As you write your job descriptions, think about the step-by-step processes. Include tools, methodologies, applications that you involved and any corresponding acronyms.  Scan job descriptions posted by employers to see what variation of terms they use. For example, M is a common way to refer to MUMPS. Caché is a version of Mumps (which is a language and a database, so make sure that is clear). When applicable, add the alternate term in parenthesis a couple of times throughout the résumé. This will ensure that keyword searches will extract your résumé regardless of which variation the individual is using to search.

Training/Certification/Education

Placing this section at the top of your résumé versus the bottom is dependent on how much these qualifications are going to generate interest in an interview. Some certifications are very sought-after. Certain schools produce alumni that are highly recruited. If you know that this applies to you, make your credential obvious as an acronym next to your name or somewhere in a concise executive summary. Include a section at the bottom with the name of the establishments from which you received any training/certification/degree, even if it is a foreign university. Omitting it automatically generates doubt in the reputation of the establishment.

A lot of candidates put the logo for the certification they have received on their résumé, which looks great. However, applicant tracking systems usually do not store graphics or formatting because it takes up too much space/memory. The certifications should also be listed in text form (Acronym + full spelling).

Wasn’t me

It is not as important to a recruiter what your team or manager accomplished as what YOU had to do with it. Give yourself credit for your contributions. Avoid phrases like “involved in,” “contributed to,” and “attended.” These phrases communicate that things happen around you. If your résumé does not show off HOW you contributed, what your involvement was, it may have the opposite effect you want it to. It may make you look like an observer rather than an achiever. Conversely, do not take credit for other’s accomplishments. I often had candidates explain things in “we” terms. For example, “We reviewed the code, identified errors, and worked with the developers to remediate the problem.” What was really meant was that the individual reviewed the code, identified the errors, and the project manager worked with the developers.

Tell them what YOU did, not what the team or manager did, or you may wind up in a role that you are not qualified to do. Gaining employment by misrepresenting your abilities and experience can be the most detrimental career move. It ruins your credibility in a small world where recruiters move around and warn each other about the people that ruined THEIR reputation. Remember, résumé rules forbid the use of pronouns. In most cases, you can remove the pronoun or replace it by specifying who is meant by the pronoun without losing meaning or comprehension.

 Mingle it!

Most transition resources will tell you that networking is the best way to gain new employment. It is true what they say, “It’s all about who you know.”  This can be discouraging for people who are not lucky enough to have family connections, but you can always go out and meet people.  The good news is that there are new ways to introduce yourself completely virtually.

Online methods of networking include e-lists, user groups, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, and many more.  Whomever you do not know now, you can meet in cyberspace. The point of networking is to generate leads and referrals for employment. Referrals are recruiters’ favorite way to find new candidates, so an e-mail subject stating “John Smith referred me” is GOING to be opened and given priority! Remember that you can also introduce other people and the more you do it, the more it will be done for you. If you want to know the best way to present yourself to strangers, read How to Guerilla Market Yourself, Get What You Deserve! by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin.

Remember, too, that once you make an online connection, the most effective and efficient way to further it is through voice-to-voice communication, whenever face-to-face communication isn’t possible. Pick up the phone and convert online relationships to offline relationships.

Call!

Unfortunately, the résumé you send may never reach a person. Sometimes applicants number in the hundreds to thousands and it is not humanly possible to review that many résumés, let alone send a response.  What can you do to make sure that your résumé doesn’t sit in a dummy inbox? Call!  Follow up.

Your résumé displays experience, skills, accomplishments, education, and certifications. What is not evident is your motivation. Your dedication to finding a job is an indication of how motivated you will be to bring value to your next position.

Your value and your ability to mesh with a company’s culture is what gets you a job offer.  If you reach voice mail, leave a polite invitation to learn more about what you can bring to this position. Say your number S-L-O-W-L-Y and spell your name so the recruiter or hiring manager can locate your résumé prior to returning your call.

Now, if the return call does not come, leave another message the following week reinforcing your enthusiasm for the job. Try a different venue, like LinkedIn or Twitter.

It is okay to keep trying. Sometimes, it can take four or five calls. You would probably be surprised how often the person called THANKED me or my client for diligence in following up. Most people don’t want to or mean to be unresponsive. So many of us experience time poverty. Empathize.

DO NOT leave any trace of a guilt trip. Understand that “Drop everything! This is HOT!” is the nature of a recruiter’s day. Priorities flip-flop and zig-zag. Plus, few people would be motivated by undue guilt, and do you want that to be their reason for calling you? Out of guilt?  Be patiently persistent. It may not get you a job, but it will most likely get you a response and a chance to introduce yourself.

 

I can do bad all by myself – Mary L Blige

Many people can relate to this song

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

When Is Self-Care Over-Indulgent?

 

I promote self-care a lot because I know that science supports it.  Stress in the workplace contributes to major chronic illnesses responsible for most early health-related deaths. It’s also a high cause of absenteeism. Self-care CAN be a way to manage stress.

However, since I teach generation Z and Millennials and work with Generation X through baby boomers, the chasm in understanding of the role of self-care and reasonable limits to self-care during work hours is vast and causing a lot of conflicts in today’s workplace, which has never had so many generations before.

Millennials have been accused of having a sense of entitlement. One of my current students, a millennial, even admitted that their reputation is earned.  However, the workplace also has much different expectations than when the generations before them entered the workforce. For the most part, there was a finite beginning and end to the workday. However, since internet and cell phone connectivity have enabled people to work remotely, the delineation between work hours and personal hours has been blurred. In some family-friendly companies, the employees who are parents enjoy more flexibility in their schedule, but the single employees are sometimes expected to pick up the slack.

How do we create boundaries around self-care that don’t cause drama that threatens collaboration and productivity? How does a company decide what is fair, enough, and truly restorative?

Firstly, it’s unrealistic and refuted by science to assume that people will fulfill all of their self-care needs at home. Brain fatigue starts to set in after just a few minutes of concentration. One or two 30-second breaks per hour to do something pleasurable is sufficient to restore the brain. Yawning and stretching (very slowly) are highly restorative exercises. This is a great time for mindfulness, like being present and still. The best part about mindfulness is that employees will start to become more and more self-aware and emotionally intelligent, and will naturally consider the impact of their self-care regimen on others.

Self-care does not have to consume a lot of time, in fact, less than a minute. But people misunderstand self-care and engage in activities that actually contribute to mental exhaustion, like social media, “venting,” and personal errands.

Even some fitness activities can be draining rather than restorative. It only takes 10 minutes to increase oxygen to your brain. There is some science that suggests that endurance training can make you more resistant to fatigue, but that doesn’t mean employers can allow employees to run a marathon during work hours.

If we follow a model that our country’s laws were designed around, your rights end where another’s begin.  Because emotional intelligence does not fully develop until the 3rd decade of life, usually well into a person’s career, most entry-level workers have blind spots around how their self-care impacts others, and they need to be coached here. They also have developed habits, especially social media, that can lead to greater distractibility and more frequent mental fatigue, which leads to more mistakes and less accountability.

In my career prep course, as well as in my coaching practice, I work with my students on defining who they want to be at work, what reputation they want to build, and how to brand themselves and deliver on that brand for optimal career growth. They are taught the neuroscience of mindfulness and are guided in making it a life-long habit.

My firm, Epic Careering, offers coaching to companies that achieve the same results, and as a byproduct employees spend less time in drama, less time in self-indulgent non-self-care, and more time cooperating, collaborating, and producing.

Schedule a consultation today and catalyze the growth of your employees’ potential tomorrow.

Bachman Turner Overdrive – LOOKIN’ OUT FOR NO.1

Bachman Turner Overdrive – LOOKIN’ OUT FOR NO.1

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If You’re Robbing Yourself of Fun and Self-Care During Your Job Search, You’re robbing Yourself of Results (Prescription Within!)

 

When I was out of work for 10 months after 9/11, I was not only in between jobs but also in between living arrangements. I wasn’t officially a roommate to my boyfriend (now husband) and his roommate since I was not paying rent, and I could not continue to live with my bachelor father, because some things you can’t unsee.

I had moved back in with my dad after leaving a cheating boyfriend at the age of 21, met my husband four months later, and was laid off six months into our relationship.

I had student loans to pay and some credit card debt that I’d accrued while searching for my first job after college. I had also finally bought a brand new car, a Saturn SL2, after being stranded one too many times on the side of the road with a broken down car, so I had a car payment as well.

After being informed that cleaning and tidying were insufficient forms of rent, and if he (the roommate) were me he wouldn’t be doing pilates at 3 PM or hiking in the middle of the day, but hitting the pavement.  I felt added pressure to spend all my time either working doing anything so as not to be home when he was home, but also not spending my time on self-care. I walked to a business within walking distance, since gas was a luxury I couldn’t always afford, and worked for minimum wage doing menial tasks while neglecting self-care. My depression worsened, and interview anxiety manifested, whereas I’d never had interview anxiety before.

As an employee, I was known to be sharp, intelligent, forward-thinking, and organized. As an unemployed sponge, I was now considered a burden, a leech, and essentially useless. Even though some friends were helping me out, giving me referrals for jobs, I was not making them look good at all. I was showing up as the unemployed sponge, not the confident, value-adding, trend-setting, technology-savvy people person.

After the business down the street told me their business slump meant my minimum wage job was no longer, I went back to taking care of myself. Neglecting myself wasn’t working; it was backfiring. So was doing work well below my capacity and potential. Something else I realized – my husband and his roommate didn’t know how to land a corporate job. Hitting the pavement was not producing jobs that would position me to pay my bills and rent and sending online application after online application left me powerless and dejected. I had to go back to my network, which I avoided when I was depressed and doing demeaning work. I had to show up as the person who would add value

I went back to pilates and hiking regularly. I spent my transition time finding out who my network knew (this was before LinkedIn). I shifted my criteria to target GROWTH opportunities that required a college degree, whether in recruiting or not, and challenged myself to find ways to have fun that didn’t require spending a lot of (or any) money so I could remember why people wanted to be around me.

I landed, finally, and then was laid off again three months later, but landed again five weeks later, and then was promoted three months after that. I knew that eventually, I would teach people what I learned about making a job search effective AND fun, and how essential both are.

Nearly 16 years later, here I am with 13 years of experience doing just that under my belt and when my clients express to me that their emotions and thoughts are getting the best of them, I prescribe them fun and self-care. Now, after years of studying human performance optimization and neuroscience, I have an even better understanding of exactly why fun and self-care are essential to job search success.

Do you remember learning about Pavlov’s dog?  Reinforcement is key to learning positive behaviors and making them habits. Reward yourself for engaging in job search activities that are effective, but perhaps stretch your comfort zone, like attending networking events, asking your friends and contacts for introductions, inviting hiring managers to speak or meet, and calling to follow up. The more you associate these activities with a reward, the more motivated you will feel to do them.

And, once you get results this way, the shot of endorphins will further compel you to want to repeat them.

Make sure your self-care routine incorporates exercise AND restoration. Exercise is not just healthy for your body, but also has proven clinical impacts on your mental state, helps you feel more confident, and increases oxygen to your brain to make you smarter! Restoration and recuperation is key to preventing physical fatigue and brain fatigue, both of which can negatively impact your performance and mood. Making time for stillness and reflection is essential to seeing where and how you can improve as a human being, teammate, and as a performer.

To take this all a level up, identify and engage in activities that put you in the flow. The more you can put yourself in a state of flow, the better you intuitively, swiftly solve problems and make decisions. For me, being in the woods or out on the water, coloring, making crafts with flowers and plants, swimming in the ocean, sitting in my hot tub, dancing to live music, attending development-related classes and webinars, watching sports, and yoga put me in a flow state.

Make a list of activities that make you feel like you’re in the flow, and set time aside on your calendar each week for these. Steven Kotler, NY Times best-selling author on the subject of flow, recommends at least 15% of your time be allocated for this each week.

Also, don’t avoid people because you fear their judgment. Isolation is a confidence killer and anxiety inducer.  Invite the people who know and appreciate the “real you” to spend time with you at least once a week. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t require spending money, such as a game of catch, card and board game potlucks, picnics, and gathering to watch your favorite show or team. Keep up your team skills while in transition. You can even invite them to volunteer with you.

Having trouble justifying this to the stakeholders in your job search? Tell them it is a prescription, professor’s orders, and show them this:

 

If you want additional emotional support and guidance (not just advice, which I give freely here) on how to spend your days to optimize your performance and results, schedule a free consultation.

Put The Lime In The Coconut

AND SHAKE IT ALL UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

How to Manage a Job Search on Top of it All

 

Before I start, let me be completely transparent- I do NOT have it all together. I feel overwhelmed and behind sometimes (many times.) And, I know I’m not alone – by far!

Also, let me give you kudos for taking on change. While I am sure there will be a great payoff for your efforts, in the meantime it can be quite scary. Our brain doesn’t like change. It tries to protect us with stress responses. This physiologically can limit our brain’s ability to handle stress we’d otherwise feel completely capable of handling, but you are growing and developing. It will feel like quite the bumpy ride until you adjust and form new habits to support new activity.

Just stay mindful – allow the stress. Welcome it, even. Dare I say be grateful for it. Forgive yourself for things that slip through the cracks. You’re learning to handle more, new things. You will find a rhythm as long as you can override your brain’s resistance and follow the tips I share here.

We all know by now that self-care is critical. That being said, we need support in doing so. I can’t just run off to the spa. Someone has to get done what I’d normally be getting done, like picking up the kids, or whatever (I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about it.)

SET BOUNDARIES

Also, I’m self-employed, so technically I make my own schedule. However, that gives other people the illusion that I have more time, when really what it means that ANY time I am not working, I am missing earning opportunities, and money goes out the door. I am the only person who can create and enforce boundaries around my time, so I have to do just that. Sometimes I have to say no to things that I really want to do. It took some practice saying no to things I felt I “had to do.” If you’re an obliger, a la Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies, this is definitely against your nature, but necessary to avoid burnout.

ASK FOR/ACCEPT SUPPORT

Sometimes I feel as though people think I should be giving more support to them, so I don’t ask for it as often as I really need it, and by the time I do, I am in bad shape. It’s a cycle I recognize and am trying to break. I have to love myself through that. I’m also trying to stop martyring myself for the things I take on while silently overwhelmed. It’s my own standard for myself that causes such inner conflict.

If any of this martyring or self-neglect sounds familiar to you, quit it. Maybe like me, you learned somewhere that it was wrong to ask for help. I heard someone call this “rugged individualism” in a MindValley masterclass last week. She was referring to a value growing in popularity in America that is causing increasing loneliness at epidemic levels. Vishen Lakhiani, MindValley’s founder, reported, and research supports, that loneliness has been found to be more lethal than 15 cigarettes a day. According to studies it contributes to suicide, which seems pretty common sense. But did you know that it’s also linked to Alzheimer’s disease, immune and cardio-vascular deficiencies, and neuroendocrine changes?

Perhaps we need to be better at reaching out for help, and perhaps if we receive more help we’ll feel more capable and willing to give help to others. What I have experienced is that too many of us feel incapable of handling helping others because we don’t feel supported. So, people you ask may not give you support for this reason. And you may feel hesitant to ask someone you feel is overwhelmed themselves. Getting a no might feel worse than trying to cope on your own. If your mental state is already fragile, it can be hard to not make that “no” mean something about you – you’re unworthy, unlikeable, doomed, etc.

Somehow, this cycle has to break. Go about asking for support with the expectation that you might get 1 yes for every 10 nos, and it has nothing to do with you. Everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see. Vow to be supportive of others once you get yourself stabilized and follow through.

MAKE TIME FOR REFLECTION/MINDFULNESS

I have become aware of my tendencies through reflection, journaling, meditation, and personal development immersion. However, the awareness at first is painful. Again, I have to allow that pain and be grateful for it because it means I am growing. I don’t always have time for this reflection. That, I feel, is the biggest danger in society today. So many of us are too busy to consider how we can respond better to stress, conflict, etc., so we defend our actions and opinions fiercely. This stifles our emotional intelligence and leads to continued conflict.

I know – on top of making time for job search activities I’m also suggesting that you make time for reflection and emotional health. That might seem like a bit much, but if you are going to expand your capacity to do anything, you have to mind your mind. Going through the motions of your job search activities and a campaign is a surefire way to get mediocre results and prolong landing. So much of your success depends on the impression that you give other people. You have to be “on” most of the time.

Facing some disappointments isn’t necessarily inevitable, but it is to be expected. Mindfulness promotes resilience so that you can bounce back sooner, and reflecting will help you recognize how you can perform better next time.

LEVELING UP

Besides just making sure that you are mentally, physically, and emotionally rested to handle the added stress, you can also level up your capacity by mastering flow. Flow is a word that describes a heightened state of mind that occurs when you are fully immersed in an activity and your skills express themselves subconsciously, without conscious effort. What neuroscience has taught us is that we can recreate this state of mind, which we normally experience with activities that we enjoy deeply, to tackle more challenges with ease. Perhaps it doesn’t seem like the time to take on learning a whole different skill set. That might be true. It could also be true, however, that if you invest time in the front end learning and applying a fraction of the practical science of flow that your job search will be accelerated and help you land an even more ideal scenario. Is it smarter to use your time to start whacking away at the tree you want felled, or is it smarter to sharpen the ax first? Is it smarter to plan ahead to where you want the tree to go and make precise cuts to direct the tree where it’s safe to land? Which brings me to my next tip:

KNOW YOUR TARGET

Even if you’re desperate to land quickly and even if you think that any situation is better than the one you’re in, I’ve witnessed too many hasty, but “successful” searches result in a cascade of even worse scenarios. Don’t assume that you can’t afford to be picky; you can’t afford to NOT be picky! Don’t assume that you’ll land faster if you set your goals lower. As good as you think you can fake being motivated, most employers see past this, and they’ll look right past you to candidates who aren’t at risk of disengagement. You’re more likely to land a job that excites you, and good employers want to give employees opportunities to grow and expand.

Your brain knows better, and you need to leverage every brain hack known today to keep up your motivation to face challenges. That requires having a goal that excites you. Even if you achieve 80% of your ideal scenario, you’ll enjoy a much better outcome than targeting only what you think is achievable. Challenge yourself on this. Assuming what’s easy is best is just your brain protecting you from scary change. You can handle it!

HABITS and BELIEFS – OUT WITH THE OLD; IN WITH THE NEW

Mindfulness usually leads us to make new discoveries about why we have fallen short of our goals in the past, and in most cases, it’s 1 of 2 things: Habits or beliefs. Both of these either takes discipline to change, or hypnosis to change – your choice. Hypnosis is safe (though vastly misunderstood) and quick. Discipline takes longer, but proving you have discipline can help you unlock greater confidence. Just don’t conclude that you can’t achieve something because you fell short in discipline. Hypnosis is still an option. So many people turn to hypnosis as a last resort only to wish they’d done it sooner.

There are a ton of devices and apps available to keep you reminded and on track if you choose discipline.

Of course, you may also want to engage a partner who will help you make sure the time you have to invest in your job search is invested in the wisest most results-producing resources and activities, who will offer emotional support and help you find other kinds of support, and who is experienced, trained and certified in modalities that support habit development. (Wink, wink 😉

 

The Police – So Lonely Video

Listen to more from The Police: https://ThePolice.lnk.to/Essentials Explore the incredible history of The Police and this classic song here: http://www.udiscovermusic.com/artists/the-police Listen to The Police playlists here: http://playlists.udiscovermusic.com/playlist/the-police-best-of Experience The Police on Half Speed Mastered Vinyl LP: https://lnk.to/CfAvq Music video by The Police performing So Lonely. (C) 1980 A&M Records Ltd.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Why Recruiters Ask You Questions That Your Résumé Clearly Answers Already

 

Have you, like many other job seekers, noticed that it seems sometimes like recruiters, maybe even hiring managers, ask you questions that have clearly been answered already in your résumé?

Like, “Do you have experience with business intelligence tools?” while your last position was “Business Intelligence Analyst.”

You’re getting all kinds of advice from career coaches like me to do your research and come to interviews prepared to intelligently talk about the company’s specific goals or challenges, but you get to the interview and it feels like you’re just interview number 9 today, not their potential next highly valued employee.

Experiences like this are just one of the hundreds of gripes that I see job seekers making online, and I have been collecting them for over a year now. (I also procure gripes from recruiters about job seekers, recruiters about HR, recruiters about hiring managers, HR about recruiters, HR about hiring managers, and hiring managers about HR – what a mess!)

I have to admit that as a recruiter, I have been guilty of this. Here’s what happened:

  • I had a third party recruiting firm play bate and switch with me, sending candidates to interviews who didn’t match the résumés they presented. As a result, I made a bad hire that I had to replace for the client. From that point on, I always asked clients to validate what was on their résumé. Once you uncover deception, you become skeptical. Once you get burned, you become cynical. I’d rather have a candidate insulted that I was asking them questions that I should have already known from their résumé than hire someone who was misrepresenting their skills and qualifications.
  • Coincidentally, I had some very indignant candidates who were quite put off that I would ask them such questions. The worse they took this experience, the more I worried about their temperament. I had candidates who seemed completely professional in their interviews get to the client, have a bad experience, and completely lose their cool, as well as their chances with that client and me. I also had a candidate I referred to another firm get escorted out by security for becoming threatening. In this day and age of employee sabotage and mass shootings, a person’s temperament is always being evaluated.
  • From time to time as a recruiter on top of still needing to fill hot job requirements, you have to put fires out, such as when my candidate was fired and needed to be replaced. Sometimes I was not as prepared for a candidate interview as I liked to be. I would normally just be upfront about this and apologize. Under stress, however, I might not have been as empathetic. I had some bad days as a recruiter, and I may have come off as aloof, scattered, or insensitive.  I wasn’t my best self, and all I can do is aim to be better. I’m a decade (plus) older and much more emotionally intelligent than I was then. Not all recruiters get how their candidates’ experience affects their long-term success, and even if they do, they can’t always buck the broken system and fix their candidate experience. I’d like to think that eventually, especially if the candidates’ job market continues, more recruiters will have to evaluate and improve how they treat candidates, acknowledging them as people, not commodities.
  • Résumés are rarely written to include “behind the scenes” details that demonstrate and prove a candidate’s qualifications. Often it’s a list of what a candidate was supposed to do, not what they did or how well they did it. So, a phone screen or interview was your opportunity to tell a compelling story that demonstrated your value. The résumé was just a tool to get me to invite you to an interview. If you have qualities and skills I felt would impress the client, the résumé also had to inspire the client to interview you, but I need to take it up a level. You may have stated that you did something on your résumé, but I need to know more to enhance the résumé. AND, I need you to be able to articulate your experience to the hiring manager and other stakeholders. I’m not just making sure you have the experience required; I’m making sure you can effectively communicate this to me, and therefore others.

I’m definitely not condoning recruiters’ negligence to understand a candidate’s experience prior to an interview; it goes against common sense best practices. However, I find the volume and extremity of the gripes I have been procuring online for over a year now to be disturbing and discouraging.  Solutions that truly disrupt and overturn the broken system cannot be devised until all parties involved in hiring and careering can understand the other parties’ perspectives. I don’t want to take sides; I want to bring the sides together.

This may or may not ease your frustration with the recruiter experience, but ultimately you are absolutely capable of landing your next job without them, and you will probably find those activities much more enjoyable. Eliminate or manage as many stressors as possible so that YOU can be your best self more of the time. If you want to know how to execute a career campaign without recruiters, schedule a free consultation.

If you want to learn how to get recruiters to call you back MORE often, download my free report.

 

This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” from Disturbia

Get it at iTunes: http://bit.ly/DisturbiaMusic CD: http://bit.ly/DistCD SUBSCRIBE: http://www.youtube.com/LakeshoreRecords This World Fair “Don’t Make Me Wait” music video. From the movie and Soundtrack to DISTURBIA. www.LAKESHORE-RECORDS.com

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Believe It or Not, This Cover Letter Got Me an Interview

 

I have been a student and a teacher of making compelling, persuasive pitches. Nothing big is a solo job. Whether you have to convince someone to take a job, give you a job, offer or invest their hard-earned money, approve of plans, or adopt big change, you ultimately have to make a pitch.

At some point during my second startup journey when I was deep into learning about angel investors and venture capitalists, I heard a story about an unlikely recipient of huge Series A funding. It was unlikely because of the unconventional way the founder convinced investors to fund his idea. I wish I could remember the founder’s name and company. (If you know it, or a story like it, feel free to share!)

It’s popular advice to think of why an investor would not want to invest and nullify those points, but it’s quite another thing to start a pitch with “Why not to invest in me.”  That’s what the hero of the story above did, and what I finally tried and found, too, that it worked!

A word of warning: This won’t work with all audiences. It most likely works best with progressive rebels, disruptors, and other unconventionals/non-traditionals. AND: The reasons to [fill in the blank] have to outweigh the reasons not to.

Some background:

Some of you know from this blog series that I had a rough spring healthwise, and a scary spring and summer financially as a result of not being able to work for 2 months. It took me a while to get back up to full-steam with my energy and my business. It was an awakening and I realized that I ought to look into various other streams of income to avoid being made or broken by an ill-timed illness.

At the same time, a brewery was opening down the street from me – walking distance. I met the owner at a local breakfast event. He was quite busy with the opening, but I kept in touch, and of course, visited multiple times. On opening night I offered to organize an event for a group of fellow beer lovers who were quite attached to a local brewery that closed down (and each other.) I learned by speaking with him that they were hiring a part-time events manager. I let him know that I wanted to apply and he introduced me to his COO who was handling all hiring.

Though there were a lot of things to consider about accepting a role where I would be busy weeknights and weekends, I was very enthusiastic about the company, the owner, future plans, the proximity to my house, and the buzz in the community. I was already organizing an event for them – 2 in fact. I found myself visualizing all of the fun things I would want to make happen and all the people I could bring together. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but it would take something to make it work. I had wanted to see if the “reverse sell” approach that worked for the founder would work in a cover letter, but I wouldn’t dare use my clients as a guinea pig for this experiment. Plus, I have a résumé (if you can imagine) but it’s much more geared toward people and leadership than events. This was a great opportunity to see if a reverse sell cover letter would work, and it served as a way to include a plethora of relevant experience missing from my résumé.

Though I pegged the owner and COO as relatively conservative, I also saw them as trailblazers and risk takers. I was a LOT edgier than I would normally be; I even cursed, which I would not advise!

To my pleasant surprise, I was invited to do a phone interview, which happened just before the events I organized.

Below is the cover letter with recipient information changed.

Ultimately, the job went to someone else. The cover letter didn’t get me the job, but it did get an interview, which is its job. The experiment was successful.

Please use good judgment if you decide to try your own experiment. It’s successful experiments like this that challenge the “always” and “never” advice that is dangerously rampant. If you’re ALWAYS doing what everyone else does, you’ll NEVER stand out. Part of being a leader is knowing when to deviate from the norm and trust your instincts.

“Fortune favors the bold.”

The Fugees – Ready or Not

The Fugees’ official music video for ‘Ready Or Not’. Click to listen to The Fugees on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TFSpot?IQid=FRON As featured on Fugees: Greatest Hits.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

We Need More Better Bosses

 

The Twitterverse: where I’m never really sure if someone is being complimentary or sarcastic. I err on sarcastic.

When I proposed to an HR consultant on Twitter that leadership coaching and skill/career development would prevent disengaging the employees who tend to get overlooked, the middle 80%, he called it “such a simple solution.”

 

Was he being sarcastic?

Conceptually, it certainly is, and data proves that it is effective. Logic also says that if 50% of employees have left jobs because of bad bosses, then the way to retain talent is to have better bosses. Retention does not equal engagement, however.

Now that engagement is on everyone’s radar and it’s all the rage at human resources and human capital conferences galore, why haven’t we gotten past the fact that this works and getting on to executing?

Ah, executing. That’s what has proven to be NOT simple. Or is it?

I recently saw the advice on LinkedIn to choose your boss, not your job. It was advice that was highly lauded by other career professionals and corporate professionals alike. Choose your boss – that’s good advice, but NOT choosing your job is like determining that you can’t have both. You can! The problem is that good bosses don’t seem to be plentiful enough for people to believe they can have both, so they better grab a good boss when they find one, regardless of what they will be doing for them. We need more better bosses, and there’s ALWAYS room for improvement.

I noticed that many articles refer to this kind of leadership development as “executive” coaching. There certainly are particular challenges that executives face for which coaching would help them. And, when executives are conscious leaders who make conscious decisions, it does tend to influence a positive work culture and benefit everyone, but executives are not the only leaders who would benefit from skill, professional, and personal development. Frankly, too many companies exclude personal development as a focus of coaching, when in reality, this is where development makes the most difference in employee/boss dynamics. Personal development is how individuals expand their self-awareness and sense of accountability for results and effective communication. This type of coaching benefits front-line employees, support teams and leaders alike.

If a company is leveraging the creativity of all of its workforce, its leaders need to create an environment and provide coaching that helps all employees handle creativity-killing stress. It also needs a fair system and conscious leaders to vet ideas.

Aspiring leaders need this kind of coaching to understand how to transition from being a doer to a delegator and all that comes with handling people problems, holding others accountable, keeping others motivated, and reconciling orders from above with their own wisdom.  They need to build confidence in this area in order to continue growing.

Mid-level and experienced managers need this kind of coaching to help them handle increasing pressure and responsibility of making decisions, dealing with the consequences of bad decisions or unpopular decisions, as well as managing other managers. Also, even a great leader can be vulnerable to situational greed, and once you have had the taste of promotion, you might be easily influenced to do unethical things as directed with the promise of future promotion.

Executive leaders need this kind of coaching because the stakes are high, they can easily forget the real challenges that their employees face to be able to effectively support them, and the prestige, power, and prosperity can become a drug, making decisions for them. If their wits don’t stay intact, they can be seduced by what looks like easy money and fail to do their due diligence. They can make decisions purely devoid of consideration of human factors – what actual humans do when subjected to adverse situations, and the costs thereof.

So far disengagement is not exclusive to any one demographic of corporate employees. Any employee can become disengaged, though leaders, I’ve found, tend to be engaged for the sake of their team over the sake of the organization. Each group can also learn to support the other, exponentially fortifying an organization’s ability to perform and profit.

Of course, not all development coaching is created equally.  The Epic Careering development programs leverage current and proven neuroscience and human performance optimization breakthroughs that accelerate and reinforce the process from self-awareness to transformation.  Conventional coaching isn’t ineffective, but it is inefficient considering the increasing pace of technology and the necessary pace of corporate evolution.

Epic Careering is currently offering retained programs to 4 growing organizations for 2019. If you want all the benefits of professional development without the wait, book a consultation to learn more now.

 

Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch

Bruce Springsteen’s official music video for ‘Human Touch’. Click to listen to Bruce Springsteen on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/BSpringSpot?IQid=BSpringHT As featured on The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

If Your Company is Doing Career Development To Increase Engagement This Way, It Will Fail

 

Career Development as a tactic to increase engagement theoretically works because:

  • We know that the #1 reason people quit is lack of growth opportunity
  • And we know the main reason they leave a job for a new job is better growth opportunity
  • It is an expression of caring on behalf of executive leadership that enhances employment brand and loyalty
  • It increases the value that an employee can offer the organization, and thereby would theoretically increase their compensation

So, it seems logical that by offering your employees career development you would improve retention and engagement by offering them a chance to develop new skills.

However, I have been seeing some “experts” advise companies to go about it in a way that will backfire, sending retention numbers, morale, and employee/leader relations downward while costs increase – at worst, and produce little to no ROI – at best.

Don’t decide what skills you want to develop in your workforce by evaluating which would help them do their job better. Decide by helping employees understand how they can make increasing contributions that are meaningful to them. If an employee is really going to feel as though they are growing, these contributions have to be acknowledged and rewarded by leadership, and their influence has to expand in correlation with their expanded expertise. The means that the organization has to recognize that job satisfaction and engagement are two different things. Also, make sure your organization is keeping abreast of future trends, devising and implementing plans to leverage up and coming skills, and offering employees who want it, a chance to gain exposure and training in these skills. Yes, this will make them more marketable for other jobs and more attractive to your competition. As Richard Branson said…

“Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to.”

Don’t decide which employees you will train now or later based on management’s assessment of an employee’s aptitude to perform.  It is a flaw of management theory that if you invest in developing and tending to the top 10% and the lowest 10% of your talent that you are covering your bases. However, theories like that are what contribute to such a prolonged, high rate of disengagement. How can you expect 80% of your workforce to be engaged if leadership is not engaged with them? ALL employees need this type of offer. Some may not take advantage of it, but you can’t have an inclusive workforce if you exclude anyone from growth opportunity.

Don’t decide whether you will use internal or external resources for skill development based on what is most cost-effective. Focus on the option that represents the best chance of the desired outcome, otherwise, you will not get a return on your investment. You have to be able to objectively assess if an internal resource will be credible and trusted.  Maybe using an internal resources is cheaper, but there’s already been evidence that people have suffered for being honest, you will need an external resource who can build rapport and trust. However, if employees expect that their manager is supposed to look out for them, hiring someone from the outside may seem lazy.   Another option is to train managers to be better career developers (we help with that, too.)

The most desired outcome for an employee of true career management is control. Some people may suffice to take their company’s direction and grow in the ways that benefit the organization most. These are the employees who usually wake up sometime in their midlife wondering how they got here, and if they’re where they want to be, where they could be, and if it’s not too late to decide and arrive where they would be happiest. I know because these people are my clients. In fact, career coaches everywhere who niche in senior corporate professionals or executives will likely echo the same thing.  If your company experiences a strange exodus of mid-level to senior-level tenured talent, this is why. You have exerted too much control over their career. Some companies will at this point rely on retirement benefits or accrued vacation to retain this talent, and that might be effective in retaining them, but it won’t engage them.

Don’t only frame career development in terms of what benefits the company most. You will get biased assessment results that fail to address the real aspirations of people, which may not backfire right away, but it will backfire eventually. Let people grow in the way that serves them best, and if the organization can benefit from it, make it work. If not, let them go, and I don’t mean abruptly or without an exit plan that supports them transitioning out while you transition someone else who would be more engaged in.

I can understand why it might seem counterproductive to implement career development plans “my” way; it seems as though you will inadvertently encourage employees to follow career paths that place them outside of your organization. That will happen, and it will present the costs of replacing that talent, but you will also be ridding your organization of people who represent high risks of disengagement.

If your company doesn’t have:

  • Trust and rapport between employees and an internal career development coach, manager or not
  • Confidentiality assurance
  • A culture that honors honesty without executing punitive consequences for it
  • The competency to help employees determine their most ideal career path
  • The resources and budget to train employees into growth roles once a growth role is identified
  • A culture that will give employees a two-way communication channel to assert their influence
  • A way to leverage skills that are increasing in demand
  • The means to compensate employees more overtime for the organizational advancements to which they contribute

… then career development is not going to work as a way to increase engagement. In fact, you can expect that low engagement will persist and that it will continue to cost your organization 35% of your compensation expenses and render your human capital investments, if any, void of ROI.

 

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime (Official Video)

Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” from the 1980 album Remain in Light

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.